(CALMATTERS NETWORK) – As Californians for Safety and Justice launched its new public education campaign called “Just Safe” , word of another mass shooting was reported.
“This is horrible. I can’t imagine what the families in Monterey Park are going through,” said Will Matthews, a spokesman for the nonprofit.
“If we balance the scales on preventing crime and harm in the first place with mental health and drug treatment and balance the scales, as opposed to the billions we spend in our prison system to over-enforce and incarcerate , we might prevent crime and harm in the first place, but we don’t make the same investment,” said Matthews.
Matthews and other members of the organization believe that the keys to real and lasting security in our communities are “crime prevention and the overall well-being of the community.”
The organization launched a 60-second commercial this week as the focal point of its “Just Safe” campaign, sending the message that being or feeling safe is equated with stability and meeting basic needs. Actress Jenifer Lewis is among those featured in the commercial.
“California is at a tipping point,” said Tinisch Hollins, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice .
The organization, which is supported by philanthropic foundations, advocates for strategies that they believe are best practices to stop the cycle of crime and incarceration dependency.
“From the local news to the state legislature, misinformation about crime has flourished in recent years, while the real needs of the people have continued to go unmet.”
Hollins is a crime survivor who has lost three brothers to gun violence. He is credited with playing a critical leadership role in defeating Proposition 20 in 2020 which sought to repeal criminal justice reforms and added more crimes to the nonviolent felony list.
Hollins believes that California is a national leader in advancing effective security solutions that have addressed the root causes of crime, but sees the tide turning with less support for progressive policies.
“Recent years have seen a resurgence of tough anti-crime rhetoric that threatens to return to the failed approaches of the past that left our communities overly incarcerated, underserved and less safe,” he said.
Hollins describes the organization’s campaign as “boldly proclaiming what both research and the public’s own lived experiences reveal to be true: “Over-reliance on law enforcement and incarceration only exacerbates the conditions that lead to violence and does nothing to prevent crime in the first place.”
The centerpiece of the organization’s campaign is the commercial currently being shown online and on streaming platforms.
Viewers are told to close their eyes and imagine a time when they felt safe.
The commercial highlights multi-ethnic California residents who have been affected by crime and violence, describing the things they believe create safety for their families and communities. It offers one of the main themes of the campaign: that “security is more than the absence of crime, it is the presence of well-being.”
Those in the video refer to having a home, their families, a job that helps them feel safe and secure. There is no mention of having more police on the street or more prisons to make them feel safe.
“That does not work. And, when you listen to crime survivors, what they want more than anything and what they express, “is to stop this from happening to someone else.” Matthews said. “Mental health and drug treatment is needed. We need stability for the people who live on the margins,” he said.
“There are too many of us living in crisis, without access to the treatment, support or healing they need,” Hollins said. “But we know that when everyone is supported, everyone is safe, and at the end of the day, we all want to be safe.”
In addition to streaming platforms, the commercial will be shown in theaters across California.