FAC has joined a broad coalition of organizations supporting Senate Bill 254, introduced by Sen. Nancy Skinner, that would ensure journalists have meaningful access to California prisons and local jails and the ability to seek interviews with incarcerated people. California prisons and jails have been less accessible to the press since the mid-1990s, during the state’s tough-on-crime era of Three Strikes laws and through lawsuits challenging unsafe conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a letter authored by the California News Publishers Association, which is a co-sponsor of the bill along with the California Broadcasters Association, a coalition of 12 open-government and press advocacy groups said:
Passage of SB 254 would accomplish twin aims bringing more transparency to one of the most crucial parts of California’s criminal legal system and aiding advocates and policymakers in considering possible reforms. The free flow of information is an invaluable component — and precursor — of any effective reforms.
The state’s prison system costs $14 billion per year, according to Sen. Skinner’s office, and increased press access, along with increased access for certain legislative and other government officials, would bring more accountability.
Visit the California Legislature’s website to track the bill.
Read more about the legislation:
- Editorial: Pass and sign SB 254 for a more informed, more humane California (Orange County Register)
- Bill would open California’s Secretive state prison system to public scrutiny (Times of San Diego)
- Bill Aims to Lift Veil of Secrecy off California Prisons (KRON4)
- New Bill Would Restore Media Access to California Prisoners (San Francisco Chronicle)