Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg Serving As Governor’s Lead Advisor
By Genoa Barrow | OBSERVER Senior Staff Writer
In naming his San Quentin Transformation Advisory Council in May, Gov. Gavin Newsom chose individuals with years of experience and unique perspectives. Some have worked in the prison space and others lived in it. The 21-member council is charged with “reimagining” the state’s oldest prison into one better focused on rehabilitation. The council will provide recommendations and a plan to “bring transformational programmatic, cultural and physical change that can serve as a symbol of hope and change.” Among those serving on the council are Sacramento’s mayor and five African Americans from throughout California.
“In order to transform San Quentin into the nation’s most innovative rehabilitation facility focused on building a brighter and safer future, we need a deep and diverse bench of expertise,” Newsom said.
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg acts as co-chair and the governor’s lead advisor on the council. Elected in 2016, Steinberg has been at the helm of a capital city that is grappling with economic instability, housing insecurity and a skyrocketing homeless population. Steinberg is equally lauded and criticized for his leadership through tough times. Steinberg previously served as the state senate pro tem, a role in which he authored landmark mental health legislation and helped craft public policy in the areas of education, foster care and housing.
Tinisch Hollins serves as the executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice, a nationally recognized criminal justice reform advocacy organization that works to reduce jail and prison spending and advance common-sense public safety solutions that address the root causes of crime and achieve long-term safety. Hollins is also the state director of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice and serves as vice chair of the San Francisco African American Reparations Advisory Committee.
Ayanna Lalia Kiburi is deputy director of the California Arts Council. Kiburi directs the internationally recognized Arts in Corrections program in collaboration with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation that serves all adult institutions in California.
Terah Lawyer-Harper is executive director of the Bay Area-based Creating Restorative Opportunities and Programs. Lawyer-Harper oversees the strategic vision and implementation of CROP’s $28.5 million investment from the state to launch the organization’s Ready 4 Life reentry workforce and housing program. She is the former associate director of Impact Justice’s groundbreaking reentry program, The Homecoming Project, a $3.5 million housing innovation that matches eligible returning citizens with compatible hosts to rent rooms. While incarcerated, she was active in developing impactful programs, including the Offender Responsibility program, which is still offered at Central California Women’s Facility and the nonprofit Criminal Offense Reform Establishment, or CORE, which provides correspondence courses to incarcerated people nationwide.
Chrisfino “Kenyatta” Leal is a founding member of the Last Mile program at San Quentin, which provides education and technology training for prisoners. After being released in 2013, Leal became a reentry manager for Next Chapter, an apprenticeship program at Slack that helps the formerly incarcerated find work and succeed in tech. He now serves as Next Chapter’s executive director.
Sam Lewis is the executive director of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition. Based in Los Angeles and Sacramento, the organization works to end mass incarceration in California and empowers formerly and currently incarcerated people to thrive by providing a support network, comprehensive reentry services, and opportunities to advocate for policy change. Lewis is a former life prisoner.
Over the coming weeks, “Inside Out” will highlight the experiences of formerly incarcerated individuals and their families, look at efforts to improve local jail and prison facilities, and share the perspectives of Black correctional staffers and attorneys who work on change from within and activists who have dedicated their lives to shining a light on the inequities of the criminal justice system.