LIVE FREE: Public Safety & Justice System Reform

We envision a community and country where all people can LIVE FREE. 

LIVE FREE is a statewide and national campaign of our PICO Network that is organizing faith communities to end mass criminalization of Black and Brown people.  As part of this movement, PACT organizes locally and statewide to reform our public safety and justice systems and the community-to-prison-pipeline that criminalizes people of color and low-income communities. 

Click here for News & Stories with updates, media coverage, videos and reports about our public safety and justice system reform work.

To get involved, contact Akemi at akemiflynn@pactsj.org or Jesus at jesusruiz@pactsj.org.

Our Key Strategies:

Three teams work in parallel to make systemic change for public safety and justice system reform;

  • Beloved Community & LIVE FREE Team is working with local law enforcement,
  • Safe Cities Coalition promotes gun safety in local government, and
  • Night Walks in Alum Rock builds community through neighborhood walking.

Beloved Community & LIVE FREE Team

In response to the killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and too many other Black and Brown lives taken at the hands of the police, faith leaders from PACT, NAACP, and many diverse congregations launched the Beloved Community movement to work for justice in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We are working toward a vision of a public safety system that truly protects and serves through building understanding between the police and community while creating systemic policy change. Law enforcement transparency and accountability are essential for community trust and to protect safety and justice. See our team at work in these videos and photos of our Beloved Community Dialogues & Actions.

Our current priority is to establish independent oversight of the Sheriff’s Office, including both patrol and custody operations, and to make significant changes to the culture, policies, training and conditions that impact incarcerate people and their families.

Gun Violence Prevention Team (Safe Cities Coalition)

PACT has spearheaded the Safe Cities Coalition, which is answering the call to take responsibility for our children and neighbors to ensure that all are safe from gun violence. The Safe Cities Coalition began as a small grassroots group and has grown into a community-wide mobilization that includes individuals, organizations, and faith-based communities.With the passage of state laws in 2016, we are now focused on getting the San Jose City Council to pass our proposal for safe firearms storage in homes in 2017. Learn more about the campaign and the Safe Cities Coalition.

To get involved with the Gun Violence Prevention Team, contact Ivy at ivyhest@pactsj.org.

Night Walks in Alum Rock

PACT believes in a community where all members live in safe neighborhoods and have opportunities to live healthy, productive lives; a community in which all people have inherent worth and dignity. Our Alum Rock Leaders promote community safety and solidarity through Night Walks on Friday nights. To meet your neighbors and make new friends with us at the Night Walks, look for our events on facebook.

Beloved Community & LIVE FREE Victories

City Justice Reform: The Clergy-led Beloved Community series of Community Dialogues and Actions starting in January of 2015 have already made a difference in community-police relations in San Jose. Working with the Mayor and City Council, Police Department, and Office of the Independent Police Auditor, PACT’s Beloved Community has provided leadership for systemic changes on: 

  • Implicit bias and procedural justice-principled policing training for all SJPD officers,
  • External review of racial profiling data,
  • Body worn camera implementation with community input on the policy,
  • Expanded definition of use of force and changes in policies, training, practices and public reporting to reduce use of force, and 
  • Six community dialogues with over 1,500 community members, law enforcement officials and other public officials to build understanding across different experiences and roles. 

County Justice Reform: PACT Leaders were selected to serve on the Santa Clara County Blue Ribbon Commission on Improving Custody Operations along with county officials and representatives from other community organizations.  The Blue Ribbon Commission was formed by the Board of Supervisors in response to the beating death of Michael Tyree and following years of health and civil rights violations identified by inmates and their families as well as outside investigators.  

The Blue Ribbon Commission developed a jail reform matrix wither 600 recommendations, based on its own work and 14 other studies of the Sheriffs’ department and custody operations.  Click here to follow the progress on these recommendations.

Statewide and National Victories

California Proposition 57 (Public Safety & Rehabilitation Act): Through PACT’s 2016 voter engagement work with our PICO CA network and allies, California voters passed Prop 57 to increase rehabilitation in the criminal justice system, focusing resources on rehabilitating juvenile and adult inmates.

California AB 953 (Anti-Racial & Identity Profiling Law): In 2015, PACT leaders travelled to Sacramento to support change state law by securing Assembly Bill 953, to curb the harmful and unjust practice of racial and identity profiling, and increase transparency and accountability with law enforcement agencies. 

California Proposition 47 (Safe Neighborhoods & Schools Act): (link) With our PICO CA network and allies, PACT engaged voters to passed Proposition 47, the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act in 2014. The measure undoes some of the worst excesses of the war on drugs -- and its severely disproportionate impact on communities of color -- by changing some of the most common nonviolent felonies/wobblers into simple misdemeanors, meaning these offenses would no longer result in a prison sentence. Learn more about how Prop 47 is transforming lives.

More Community Safety Victories

PACT has worked to improve community safety in our neighborhoods and across San Jose and Santa Clara County for many years, including:

  • Securing new policies and practices with the Police Department and Sheriff and District Attorney’s Offices to improve trust between local law enforcement and immigrant communities by ensuring that their departments will not conduct federal immigration enforcement,
  • Creating excellent new schools and youth programs so that young people make healthy choices instead of getting involved in gangs or other criminal activities,
  • Initiating the creation of the nationally recognized San Jose Mayor Gang Task Force, and
  • Winning street improvements and new stoplights to make our neighborhoods safe for residents.

PACT led the community campaign in the 1990s to make San Jose one of the safest and most youth-friendly big cities in the country.  The persistent work of hundreds of grassroots leaders pressured the City to prioritize safety, bringing millions of dollars into a coordinated effort involving new after school programs and homework centers, creative new law enforcement strategies, and cooperation among the City’s top civic leaders.