It’s Bigger Than Bail

By Anne Price, Medium

Our criminal justice system is broken. Reforming, fixing or better yet reimagining how we think about safety and justice in America is imperative in our work toward racial and economic justice. All across the country, grassroots organizations led by communities of color, women, advocates and progressive policymakers are shedding light on how our current system perpetuates racial and economic inequities, and are joining campaigns to eradicate fines and fees, mandatory sentencing requirements and money bail.

What is becoming increasingly evident, is that we must ground our work in a proactive vision of what safety, justice, and liberation means to us versus focusing on ending a specific practice. This week’s legislation to end money bail in California is a prime example of this need.

A few days ago, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 10 (SB10) to end the heinous system of money bail in California. While this seems like a great win, the legislation actually replaces money bail with racially bias risk assessments and a subjective evaluation process giving too much power to the discretion of judges and prosecutors, who studies show are prone to implicit racial bias. We’ve effectively replaced one terrible practice with yet another one that will continue to harm Black and Brown communities. For more on the problems with Senate Bill 10, read our Director of Policy and Research Jacob Denney’s piece on this matter.

Click here to read the full feature.

SB10 Will Hurt, Not Help

By Jacob Denney, Medium

This week, California legislatures moved forward in passing Senate Bill 10 to eliminate money bail. While eliminating money bail is desperately needed to fix our broken criminal justice system, the bill as it stands now will do nothing to disrupt the legacy of racial and economic injustice that has shaped our state’s criminal justice system. In fact, the bill will likely ensure a continuance of that legacy.

To be clear, we must get rid of money bail in order to address the deep inequities of our current criminal justice system. Money bail disproportionately punishes people with low incomes and people of color. It creates a two-tiered system of justice, one where those who can afford it are released from pretrial incarceration and everyone else is trapped in jail, unable to work, support their families, or assist in their own defense. This system reduces economic stability, particularly for families who are already struggling, and destroys thousands of people’s lives in California every year. Senate Bill 10 is likely to do the exact same thing.

Senate Bill 10 would replace the discriminatory money bail system with a new structure where anyone accused of a crime can be held pretrial, regardless of the circumstances. Dubbed “preventive detention,” this discretionary evaluation process would enable judges and prosecutors to hold people accused of crimes in jail with remarkable ease. This means that more, rather than fewer, Californians would likely end up behind bars while waiting for trial.

Click here to read Jacob’s full op-ed.

City Visions | KALW Radio Program

Anne Price, alongside Chris Hoene, Executive Director of the California Budget & Policy Center, and Taylor Jo Isenberg, Managing Director of the Economic Security Project, explored the promise of universal basic income in California on KALW City Vision radio program.

The three shared their knowledge and research to answer the following:

  • Are monthly cash transfers the social safety net of the future — addressing poverty, racial inequity and automation-induced job losses?
  • Or, is basic income just a costly addition to our current, some would say failing, social assistance programs?
  • And more from listeners who called in to ask their specific questions!

Click here to listen to the full conversation.

A True Reconciliation: Addressing Our Nation’s Social Safety Net

By Anne Price, Medium

Last week, remarks from a Minnesota lawmaker surfaced in which he was reported as referring to people receiving public benefits as “parasites” and “scoundrels.” The Congressman also suggested that Black people on public assistance have substituted “one plantation for another.” While stoking fears and fueling divisiveness through degrading and dehumanizing rhetoric have become startlingly commonplace under the current Administration, the blatant use of language that strips the poor and people of color of their basic humanity is long-standing.

Nour Kteily, a psychologist at Northwestern University who studies our ability to see each other as human, found that many people are capable of othering and it’s not uncommon for them to compare other groups to animals or lower life forms than human beings. Both our history and cognitive research show that when we refer to people as “parasites,” “takers” and “animals,” it activates a mental switch in our brains that can provoke hostility and antipathy towards others.

Dehumanization is linked to support for policies that punish or exclude marginalized people in our social safety net system, including programs like Food Stamps (SNAP), Medicaid, Unemployment Insurance, and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. A new study from UC Berkeley and Stanford University shows a causal relationship between attitudes to public assistance and threatened racial status. Researchers found that racial resentment increases and support for social safety net declines in selected periods, like after the Great Recession and the election of Barack Obama in 2008. Racial resentment is heightened when whites fear that their population is declining or their status is being threatened, and thus call for deeper cuts in social safety net programs. Researchers discovered that whites also support cuts if they perceive those programs are primarily helping people of color.

Although it won’t be easy, we have the capacity to forge greater compassion and understanding to address our social safety net system protecting those most vulnerable in our society.

Click here to read Anne’s full piece.

Episode 15: Dr. Lori Pfingst

Listen to Anne Price and Dr. Lori Pfingst discuss how the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services is addressing poverty through an equity lens, using the power of data, storytelling and building authentic community relationships.

Dr. Lori Pfingst is a skilled writer, speaker, and storyteller who uses the power of data paired with community voice to foster systems-level change for children and families throughout the state of Washington. She currently serves as the Chief of Programs and Policy for the Economic Services Administration in the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS).

Anne Price, President of Insight, welcomed Lori on the podcast to discuss her work in addressing poverty through the social safety net. Over the course of her career, Lori has focused on the issues of poverty reduction, income inequality, and tax policy through a racial and gender lens. Lori notes that there is growing momentum and commitment to equity in tackling poverty. She finds that, “once you see how structural inequities undermine people of color, women and low income families, you can’t unsee it. When we reach critical mass of people that have that understanding, structural change is possible.”

More recently, she has conducted several listening sessions around the state to build authentic relationships with underserved groups. She has heard first-hand the challenges people face and how the current economic system is rooted in racial and gendered narratives that ultimately hold back families from getting the resources they deserve. She noted that for Native communities for example, historical trauma, healing, and resilience were identified as major tenets of repairing the tremendous harms inflicted on Native families.

“These sessions really show the hunger of the people of Washington who want to share their stories and want to be heard to improve not just their lives, but all of the lives of the people we serve,” said Lori.

To listen to the full discussion, use the audio player above or subscribe to the Hidden Truths podcast on iTunes.

To learn about the poverty reduction work Lori describes in the podcast, please click here.

Seeding a Generation with Wealth

An Interview with Anne Price, BlackHer

Building our personal, economic, and political power by getting educated and organized, and taking action for progressive change, that’s what we’re all about at BlackHer!

This week we were thrilled to catch up with Anne Price, president and CEO of the Insight Center for Community Economic Development.  The Insight Center is “a national research and economic justice organization working to ensure that all people become and remain economically secure.”

Me:  Anne, I’m so excited to connect with you.  I’m so impressed with your research on the racial wealth gap.  There is so much focus on income inequality in the U.S.  While that is an important issue to address, why we don’t hear more about the gaping wealth gap between Black and white folks?

Anne: Part of the reason that we’ve focused on the income gap and wage disparities for so many years is that data on wages is readily available.

Click here to read the full interview.

Delayed Liberation

By Anne Price


Last week, Insight hosted its first Juneteenth economic forum commemorating June 19th, 1865, when a reluctant Texas state government finally emancipated a quarter of a million people enslaved in the state two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was put into effect.

As Vann R. Newkirk II at The Atlantic most brilliantly notes, Juneteenth is “the observance of a victory delayed, of foot-dragging and desperate resistance by white supremacy against the tide of human rights, and of a legal freedom trampled by the might of state violence.”

This year, Juneteenth served not only as a rallying call to end the criminalization of economic migrants and the inhumane policy to separate children from their parents at our nation’s southern border, but an opportunity to examine the age-old tactic used throughout our history to control and decimate communities of color for profit. We are reminded, yet again, of how engaging in blatant dehumanization of people of color lays the foundation for state sanctioned violence and criminalization.

The crisis at the border provides space to understand how these historical policies and practices continue to manifest. It also shines a light on how forced family separation is pervasive, long-standing, and universal among communities of color, resulting in both similar and strikingly different economic and life outcomes.

Click here to read Anne’s full piece.

From left to right: Cat Brooks, Nwamaka Agbo, Mia Birdsong, and Anne Price

Families Belong Together

We at the Insight Center are horrified and outraged at the Trump administration’s inhumane policy to separate children from their parents at our nation’s southern border. From mid-April to the end of May, close to 2,000 children – many of whom are infants and toddlers – have been forcibly removed from their parents and loved ones due to new policy dictated by the current administration. We call for an end to this practice immediately, and an end to the criminalization of immigrants and refugees coming to the U.S. in search of safety, economic mobility, and a better life.

Make no mistake – family separation is an age-old tactic used throughout U.S. history to dehumanize, subjugate, and break communities. Enslaved Africans and their descendants routinely had their children, partners, and siblings stripped from them as a means of control. Native American communities suffered such cruelties when the government forced children into boarding schools far away from their families. The intention was to sever these young people’s connection to their community, culture, and identity, and such a practice has had profound and disastrous effects, both psychologically and economically, on Native communities.

In addition to the fundamental wrongs of family separation, history and common sense tell us that tearing apart families has immediate and long-term social and economic consequences, deeply harming affected families and communities, and our society at large. We at the Insight Center believe that all people, regardless of race, zip code, gender, or immigration status, have the right to economic security, and that security begins with the safety of our families. Family separation clashes at the deepest level with our values and mission as an economic and racial justice organization, and we stand with those calling for an end to family separation and the return of children to their parents and loved ones.

Los Angeles County Can Do Better by Its African American and Latinx Populations

By Jhumpa Bhattacharya


A lot happened on election day this week, including the San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors unanimously passing vital legislation to waive all unpaid debt and eliminate county-level administrative fees that are currently charged to people exiting the criminal justice system. Los Angeles County can and should follow suit to help families who have struggled under the burden of a biased criminal justice system.

Introduced by Supervisor and Mayoral candidate London Breed in February, the San Francisco ordinance ends 10 common criminal justice administrative fees that get attached to items like court ordered alcohol testing, emergency medical response, and electronic monitoring.

The unjust nature of fines and fees has gained national attention in recent years since the release of the Ferguson Report. The reality is that the purpose of these types of fees is to raise revenue. Charged to people who have already paid their debt to society, they serve no formal punitive function and cause undue harm to low-income communities and communities of color by pushing them into debt.

Click here to read the full article.

Juneteenth: A Vision for Black Economic Liberation

    President of the Insight Center
    Senior Fellow at the Economic Security Project
    Executive Director of the Justice Teams Network, Co-founder of the Anti Police-Terror Project, and Oakland Mayoral Candidate
    Restorative Economics Practitioner and Principal & Founder of Nwamaka Agbo Consulting


For many, Juneteenth is a day of celebration, reflection, and reckoning.

Commemorating June 19th, 1865, when a reluctant Texas state government finally emancipated a quarter of a million people enslaved in the state two years after the official Emancipation Proclamation, Juneteenth serves as a reminder of how the road to freedom and liberation for Black people in America is complex, laden with naysayers and barriers, yet achievable.

It is in this spirit that we bring you our latest Insight Conversation, Juneteenth: A Vision for Black Economic Liberation. Please join Anne Price, Mia Birdsong, Cat Brooks, and Nwamaka Agbo on June 19th for a lively discussion on why we need to be talking about Black economic liberation, what it looks and feels like, and the challenges and opportunities we face in achieving economic justice and self-determination.

Hosted at the Insight Center in downtown Oakland, this event is open to a limited number of in-person attendees, and will also be live-streamed for the general public.

The in-house event will run from 10am-12pm and include light refreshments and an informal reception. To join us in person, please click here or on the “Attend in Person” button below.


Can’t join us in-house? We’ll livestream the discussion beginning at 10:30am. To register for the livestream, click here or on the button below.


Follow and add to this conversation on Twitter with #BlackEconomicLiberation & #Juneteenth.

Have questions for the panel? Submit them in advance to Panelists will also address questions from the in-person and online audiences.

Unable to attend? All registrants will receive an invitation to access the recorded video and podcast.