Non-Profit | March 18, 2020
We are HERE for you: Root & Rebound’s Response to COVID-19
[Updated April 1, 2020 at 3:35 p.m. PT]
Please continue to check this page often for updates.
On this page, you will find information about Root & Rebound’s response to coronavirus (COVID-19) as it impacts formerly incarcerated, currently incarcerated, and justice impacted people and their families — the communities we serve in California, South Carolina, and across the United States. We will be updating this page at least weekly, throughout the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. You’ll find…
- Information on how we are continuing to provide access to our legal services to support justice system-impacted people, including currently and formerly incarcerated people and their families.
- Information about the advocacy efforts we are involved in at the state, local, and federal levels to protect the rights and lives of the communities we serve.
- Information and links to community resources and legal protections that might be helpful to our clients and those who support them–and that also explain new and evolving protections in place at the local and state level with regard to housing, employment, and financial wellness.
Dear Beloved Community:
Given the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its impact on you, your families, our supporters, and the nonprofit community, we wanted to share what Root & Rebound is doing to support justice system-impacted people, continue our services, and keep our staff, clients, and community safe and healthy.
If you have any questions or need support during this difficult time, please call us at 510-279-4662 or email us at email@example.com (general/California) or at firstname.lastname@example.org (South Carolina).
Root & Rebound’s Legal Services
The most important thing for our community to know: We are NOT closing. Our legal team continues to be available to you. Keep reading to learn how we will continue to make our legal support accessible and available.
Root & Rebound’s California and South Carolina services will be offered remotely (through phone, video and mail) in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. We are taking these precautions because social distancing is one of the most effective tools for slowing the spread and transmission of the virus, and this adjustment can help prevent our hospital systems from becoming overloaded.
During times of emergency, we know that justice system-impacted people, especially currently incarcerated people, are particularly vulnerable and need Root & Rebound to be available and ready as a team of strong advocates.
Here’s how we are remaining highly accessible to our community, as well as adjustments to be aware of:
CALIFORNIA: Our California legal team will continue to operate our free Reentry Legal Hotline every Friday from 9 AM – 5 PM PT at our main phone number: 510-279-4662. Our hotline is free and open to anyone in California with a reentry-related legal issue, question, or concern, including those who are currently incarcerated. Root & Rebound will continue to accept and pay for calls from people inside prison and jail. You may also email our California legal team at email@example.com
SOUTH CAROLINA: Our “email hotline” in South Carolina remains strong and operational. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org for reentry-related issues and legal questions.
- Friday, March 20th was our first time operating the California Reentry Legal Hotline outside of our headquarters office. Our amazing team is taking hotline calls remotely. If for any reason, your call does not get through on the first attempt, please call us back at 510-279-4662, so we can be sure that technical issues don’t stop you from reaching a Root & Rebound advocate.
- We will take urgent and sensitive calls Monday – Thursday, where clients identify emergency issues.
Root & Rebound is always looking for creative ways to bring our legal support to people impacted by the justice system, and people facing discrimination because of their arrest or conviction history. We are known for our community legal clinics to help people overcome barriers because of their past system involvement. In California, we have upcoming clinics for the Central Valley, Oakland, and Tribal Communities in the next two months. These will continue as remote clinics.
- Our goal is to continue to operate all of our planned community reentry legal clinics through remote support, by setting up phone and video conferencing appointments with both new and existing clients.
- ** Please note: If you currently have an appointment for our March 21st clinic in Fresno, we will be contacting you to schedule a phone- or video-conferencing appointment with you. You can also contact Root & Rebound at 510-279-4662.**
People seeking Root & Rebound’s reentry legal support can continue to write us legal mail at our office address at Root & Rebound, 1730 Franklin Street, Suite 300, Oakland, CA 92612, which we will pick up on a weekly basis.
In order to protect the health of our clients, staff, volunteers, and community, we cannot accept public visitors, including any drop-ins or walk-ins, at our office locations for the time being. We will let you know when this changes.
Root & Rebound’s Advocacy Response
We are advocating as strongly as ever for policy reform that puts the needs of system-impacted communities front and center.
This includes our continued fight to reform occupational licensing laws, remove higher education barriers, rework parole and probation systems, ensure protection for housing, enforce the Fair Chance Act, and many other political actions to protect the well-being of our clients.
Right now, during this critical time, we are joining national and statewide calls in California and South Carolina, and TAKING ACTION to reduce the number of people in prisons and jails, protect people under parole and probation supervision, and advocate for the health and safety of justice-impacted people. Currently and formerly incarcerated people matter, their lives matter, their families matter, and we will never cease in fighting for their safety and well-being.
- Read the letter that Root & Rebound wrote with 60+ organizations and advocates joining us to California leaders including the directors of Parole and Probation agencies across the state, outlining critical steps the state needs to take to protect people on supervision, their families, and public health. We are calling for the following actions:
- Parole and Probation must reduce and suspend in-person meetings to limit risk and exposure to COVID-19.
- Allow people on supervision to live with family — both to give and to receive care as well as to open up spaces in transitional homes. Open up housing to people who need it most.
- Provide proactive support to people on Parole and Probation – including support with housing, financial assistance, health care access, obtaining prescriptions, and obtaining ID, and allowing Internet access.
- Offer Early Discharge from Parole and Early Termination of Probation for people who meet specific criteria.
- Expedite Grants of Parole.
- Stop enforcement of technical violations and unreasonable conditions to reduce entrance into the County Jail and State Prison systems.
- CDCR, County Jails, Parole and Probation shall not contact ICE, notify ICE of people’s release dates, or facilitate any immigration enforcement action against any person.
- Develop clear and remotely accessible protocols and procedures for people to submit grievances to Parole and Probation agencies.
- Modify Electronic Monitoring / GPS conditions and Special Registration requirements.
- Suspend all criminal justice-related debts, fines and fees.
- Read the letter we signed onto to California Governor Gavin Newsom and key members of his team, calling for 6 actions:
- Release all medically fragile adults and adults over the age of 60 to parole supervision.
- Release all people who have anticipated release dates in 2020 and 2021 to parole supervision.
- Expedite all review processes for people already found suitable for release, lift holds, and expedite the commutation process.
- Immediately suspend all unnecessary parole meetings.
- Eliminate parole revocations for technical violations.
- Lift all fees for calls to family members.
- Insist that CDCR adequately address how they will care for people who are incarcerated.
- Political actions to combat the negative impact of COVID-19 on currently incarcerated people and justice-impacted people are happening across many states and the entire country. You can learn more about these policy efforts from our partner, The Justice Collaborative, at their website linked here.
- Read the letter Root & Rebound and our partner Soteria CDC wrote to South Carolina Governor McMaster, Attorney General Wilson, SCDC Director Adger, and other criminal justice system stakeholders including Solicitors and Defense Attorneys, advocating for a swift response to protect incarcerated individuals across the state.
- ACLU calls for release of people in prison and immigration detention who are vulnerable to COVID-19: see article linked here.
- The following resource page on COVID-19 among vulnerable groups provides an overview, fact sheets, and best practices to help deal with the virus in prisons and jails. The page even includes sample letters to send to government officials urging prompt, responsible action to help incarcerated people: thejusticecollaborative.com/covid19
- COVID-19: What Federal & State Prisons Can Do: https://thejusticecollaborative.com/covid19/emergency-response-prisons/
- COVID-19: What Local Jails Can Do: https://thejusticecollaborative.com/covid19/emergency-response-jails/
- The info above is based on work done by the Prison Policy Initiative: www.prisonpolicy.org/virusresponse.html
- Support people in immigration detention and vulnerable to ICE enforcement practices:
- Sign this petition calling for ICE to release its detainees:#ReleaseThemAll: Calling for Release of People in Immigration Detention
- Share this: DHS Must Suspend Certain Immigration Enforcement Practices During the Coronavirus Outbreak
- Prison Policy Initiative: https://www.prisonpolicy.org/virusresponse.html
- ACLU (national): https://www.aclu.org/press-releases/aclu-demands-release-prisons-and-jails-communities-vulnerable-covid-19
- New York State:
- Sign this Color-of-Change petition asking New York’s governor to stop exploiting NY’s prisoners during this crisis: https://act.colorofchange.org/sign/ny_cuomo_coronavirus/?source=WorthRises
- COVID-19 Policy Tracker:
- Keep track of multi-State policy activity at: https://www.multistate.us/pages/covid-19-policy-tracker
We will continue to share advocacy efforts with you – and opportunities to join in calls for ACTION in California, South Carolina, and nationally.
Community Resources & Legal Protections
We are not alone in addressing the needs of system-impacted people during this time. Below are some great resources. We will continue to update this resource list through this page.
- IRS Website on “Economic Impact Payments- What you need to know”
- Legal Aid at Work: Coronavirus – Frequently Asked Questions
- CA Labor and Workforce Development Agency: Benefits for Workers Impacted by COVID-19
- CA Employment Development Department: Q&A: Benefits available corona
- CA Governor’s Executive Order: Waives one week waiting period for unemployment/disability benefits
- CELA Worker’s Rights FAQ
- Labor & Workforce Development Agency: CA Workers’ Right’s & COVID-19
- US Equal Opportunity Commission: What You Should Know About the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and COVID-19
- Helpful FAQ about the $1200 stimulus checks approved through the new federal CARES Act: https://www.nytimes.com/article/coronavirus-stimulus-package-questions-answers.html
- A great summary of benefits available in California, and efforts to expand access, can be found on our partner Western Center on Law & Poverty’s page here: Coronavirus Information & Resources
- California Governor Newsom Executive Order regarding Public Benefits: Executive Order issued March 18th, 2020 – linked here.
- The Order waives eligibility re-determinations for 90 days for Californians who participate in:
- Medi-Cal health coverage; CalFresh food assistance; CalWORKS; Cash Assistance for Immigrants; and In-Home Supportive Services.
- The change will allow current recipients of these safety net programs to continue receiving them without interruption.
- The Order waives eligibility re-determinations for 90 days for Californians who participate in:
- Emergency Medical Benefits (also available to Undocumented People): Medi-Cal Eligibility and Covered California – Frequently Asked Questions
- COVID-19 related Unemployment Benefits Application
- File a Paid Family Leave Claim in SDI Online
- DMV — check out website (linked here) for up-to-date information about delay for in-person appointments, delay of driving tests, etc.
- Voting: The following Special Elections will use vote-by-mail procedures following an Executive Order by the Governor (issued March 20, 2020)
- City of Westminster, Orange County on April 7
- Request an absentee ballot from California
- Search for any COVID-19 Emergency Tenant Protections in your area through the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project’s website, linked here.
- Governor Newsom issued an executive order with some extra protections for tenants if they can’t pay rent due to COVID-19 (see the order here) — BUT UNFORTUNATELY, it’s not as strong as it sounds. Read our partner’s analysis of the disappointing order linked here.
- Many cities and counties in California have passed local policies to protect renters against evictions during COVID-19.
- To find out if there are new protections for tenants where you live, first check out a trusted government website like your City Mayor’s webpage, County’s government website, and local County Superior Court’s website. You can also search for any COVID-19 Emergency Tenant Protections in your area through the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project’s website, linked here.
- In California, local governments that have passed eviction restrictions and other legal protections — each different from the next — for tenants during COVID-19 include the following: Agoura Hills, Alameda (City), Alameda (County), Alhambra, Anaheim (Ordinance; additional information available here), Arcata, Baldwin Park, Benicia, Berkeley, Beverly Hills, Burbank, Camarillo, Chula Vista, Clearlake, Costa Mesa, Culver City, Davis (additional information available here), Delano, Duarte, Elk Grove, El Monte, Emeryville, City of Fresno (Ordinance), County of FresnoGarden Grove, Glendale, Goleta, Grass Valley, Hayward, Inglewood La Verne, Long Beach, City of Los Angeles (additional information available here), County of Los Angeles (Order), Marin (County) (additional information available here), Moorpark, Monterey (County), Mountain View, Nevada City, Nevada (County), Oakland, Ojai, Oxnard, Palm Springs, Palo Alto, Pasadena, Pomona, Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands, Richmond, Rosemead, Sacramento (City) (Ordinance), Sacramento (County), San Bernardino (City), San Bernardino (County), San Diego (City) (Ordinance), San Diego (County), San Francisco, San Joaquin (County), San Jose (Ordinance), San Leandro, San Luis Obispo (County), San Mateo (County), Santa Ana (Ordinance), Santa Barbara (City), Santa Barbara (County), Santa Clara (County), Santa Cruz (City), Santa Cruz (County), Santa Monica, Scotts Valley, Shasta (County), Simi Valley (additional information available here), Sonoma (County), South Pasadena, Stockton, Thousand Oaks, Union City, Vallejo, Watsonville (additional information available here), West Hollywood, West Sacramento, Whittier, Woodland, Yolo (County)
- Other Bay Area resources related to housing:
- South Carolina:
- The Chief justice in South Carolina has halted eviction proceedings until May 1st, except in “matters that involve essential services and/or harm to person or property.” A copy of the order is linked here.
- Root & Rebound: Emergency Basic Necessities Fund
- A New Way of Life Reentry Project: Response Fund
- Berkeley Relief Fund: Application
- Oakland Fund for Public Innovation: Relief Fund
- Service Worker Relief Funds:
- South Carolina:
- South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) is posting updates about its response to COVID-10 is posted online here.
- National Advocacy:
- California Youth Justice Alliance: General Resources for Undocumented People/Ask to release from detention
- California Immigrant Policy Center: COVID-19 Resource Guide for Immigrants in California
- San Francisco Fund for Undocumented People: UndocFund SF
- California Partnership to End Domestic Violence: Resources and Information
- The California Department of Education has posted a list of all the school districts and locations offering ‘grab-and-go’ meals during the COVID-19 school closure: https://t.co/m18iX5pGli. They have also made an app to help families locate meals: https://t.co/nUab76ZlUn
- Expensify: $50 SNAP Grocery Reimbursement
- Dynamic Resource Guide for Los Angeles and Bay Area — One of our partners created a google doc to immediately distribute to our community in the Bay Area and Los Angeles with a list of resources for people affected by COVID-19, either medically or financially. Updated daily at 2pm PT. The guide includes basic needs such as food, financial, and childcare resources, and we’ll be adding more. It will be available in Spanish later this week, too. Honestly, we struggled with whether or not to update our database directly, but we decided to go with creating this google doc because it’s faster and allows us to not expend double the resources of updating data twice (once during this crisis and then when it’s over). It’s not perfect, but it should help meet the need for right now.
- All East Bay utility companies have suspended service disconnections due to non-payment during the COVID-19.
- San Francisco Food Bank Locator
- San Francisco Transitions Clinics
- Communication FIRST: COVID-19 Disability Rights Toolkit
- Disability Justice Collective: Disabled Folks Support Request Form
- Oakland at Risk Match: Matching low-risk people with elders or immunocompromised people for support
- Alameda County: Alameda County Social Services Senior Housing Guide
- Student Loans: Federal Student Loans can be paused for two months without interest accruing. (Must reach out to the loan provider to set this up).
- What the CARES Act Means for Repayment of Federal Student Loans
- Governor Newsom’s COVID-19 Actions
- California Supreme Court Guidance
- These internet companies are stepping up to expand their WiFi, hotspot coverage for Americans
- Ca. GOV COVID-19
- Alameda County COVID-19 info
- PBS/Health/How to Help Neighbors
- Ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in different languages
- Energy and Communications: PG&E and our local Community Choice energy providers have suspended shutoffs during the crisis. Also, most cell phone carriers and internet providers have signed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) pledge to provide certain benefits during the COVID-19 emergency. The pledge requires companies to keep providing service to people unable to pay their bills due to the COVID-19 pandemic, waiving certain fees, and easing data restrictions to allow consumers to freely use data during the emergency. Find out here if your company signed.
- San Francisco: Crisis Support & Mental Health Support Information
- Western Center on Law & Poverty: Coronavirus Information & Resources
- Bay Area Legal Aid: BayLegal’s Coronavirus Response
- Disaster Legal Services CA: COVID-19 Legal Resources & Announcements
- The Justice Collaborative: COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Response & Resources
- California-Based Legal Resources for vulnerable people and families during the Coronavirus
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