Other Group

Smart Justice

Website:

www.smartjusticeca.org/

Formation:

2017

Project of:

Tides Advocacy

Type:

Criminal Justice Reform Advocacy

Director:

Anne Irwin

Smart Justice California is a left-of-center criminal justice advocacy group. It is a project of Tides Advocacy, the arm that supports lobbying and electoral advocacy projects within the network of funds and nonprofits known as the Tides Nexus. [1] [2]

Smart Justice California was founded and is directed by criminal justice activist Anne Irwin. [3]

Activity

Smart Justice California is a collective of donors that aims to overhaul criminal justice laws in California. It provides educational materials and policy suggestions to politicians and other policymakers that promote more lenient criminal justice policies. It also attempts to influence the electorate to vote for left-of-center candidates and ballot initiatives. [4] Smart Justice engages in lobbying, “grassroots activation,” support for electoral campaigns, policy briefings, and “educational retreats.” [5]

Besides attempting to influence policy at the state level, Smart Justice seeks to change the outcome of prosecutor races by convincing donors to fund their campaigns. In addition, it tries to pressure district attorneys, even left-of-center ones, to enact more radical policies and practices. The group claims that “most” district attorneys in California “still promote practices that undermine the health and safety of the communities they represent.” One of the major ways it seeks to change criminal justice policy is by significantly lowering incarceration rates. [6]

After being formed in 2017, Smart Justice immediately began supporting elections. Smart Justice spent $100,000 defending Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), the left-progressive chair of the Assembly Public Safety Committee, who was being opposed by police unions. [7]

Smart Justice director Anne Irwin chaired a committee supporting left-progressive criminal justice policy supporter Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) when she was running for Los Angeles County Supervisor against a Democrat that was supported by police unions. [8]

In 2019, Smart Justice led a major campaign to help Democrat George Gascon in the race for district attorney of Los Angeles County. Irwin called Gascon a leader in the “movement to end mass incarceration without compromising safety.” [9] Gascon has been criticized for his lenient policies toward criminals since his election as district attorney. [10] [11]

In July 2021, Politico reported on Smart Justice’s coalition with a few other criminal justice leniency groups to influence the 2022 state attorney general race. Smart Justice and its director Anne Irwin were put in charge of an independent fundraising committee to collect donations for a prospective radical candidate. [12]

Smart Justice California is not only a project of Tides Advocacy but is listed as one of its partners “at the leading edge” of its advocacy efforts. [13]

Funding

Smart Justice California was established in 2017 to change the state legislature, which according to Irwin was preventing ballot initiatives enacting lenient criminal prosecution and punishment policies from being realized. Major funders that were instrumental in creating the organization include prominent California criminal justice policy donors Patty Quillin (spouse of Netflix CEO Reed Hastings), Quinn Delaney (spouse of Bay Area real estate developer Wayne Jordan, who runs a criminal justice foundation with her), Elizabeth Simons (daughter of hedge fund billionaire and philanthropist James Simons) and Kaitlyn Krieger (spouse of Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger). [14] They continue to make major donations to the organization as of early 2022. [15]

Leadership

Anne Irwin is the founder and director of Smart Justice California. [16] She is vice president of the JK Irwin Foundation (JKIF) and daughter of its founder John Irwin. [17] [18]

Irwin is also a donor to Democratic candidates for public office. [19]

When Smart Justice California was first formed, it received development support from former California Democratic Party executive director Shawnda Westly and Dana Williamson, an adviser to former California Governor Jerry Brown (D). [20]

References

  1. Smart Justice California. Accessed January 2, 2022. https://www.smartjusticeca.org/ ^
  2. Tides Advocacy. “Project Archives.” Accessed January 2, 2022. https://tidesadvocacy.org/news/our_services/project/page/2/ ^
  3. LinkedIn. “Anne Irwin – Founder and Director- Smart Justice CA.” Accessed December 31, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/anneirwinsmartjusticeca. ^
  4. Smart Justice California. Accessed January 2, 2022. https://www.smartjusticeca.org/ ^
  5. Smart Justice California. Accessed January 2, 2022. https://www.smartjusticeca.org/ ^
  6. Smart Justice California. Accessed January 2, 2022. https://www.smartjusticeca.org/ ^
  7. Jeremy B. White. “4 wealthy donors fuel overhaul of California’s criminal justice system.” Politico. Accessed January 1, 2022. https://www.politico.com/states/california/story/2021/07/17/four-wealthy-donors-fuel-overhaul-of-californias-criminal-justice-system-1388261. ^
  8. Jeremy B. White. “4 wealthy donors fuel overhaul of California’s criminal justice system.” Politico. Accessed January 1, 2022. https://www.politico.com/states/california/story/2021/07/17/four-wealthy-donors-fuel-overhaul-of-californias-criminal-justice-system-1388261. ^
  9. Nathan Solis. “San Francisco DA Resigns to Explore Run for Office in Los Angeles.” CourtHouseNews. Accessed January 1, 2022. https://www.courthousenews.com/san-francisco-da-resigns-to-explore-run-for-office-in-los-angeles/ ^
  10. Emily Bazelon and Jennifer Medina. “He’s Remaking Criminal Justice in L.A. But How Far Is Too Far?” New York Times. Accessed January 1, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/17/magazine/george-gascon-los-angeles.html. ^
  11. Danielle Wallace. “GOP congressman calls on LA DA Gascon to resign over ‘diversion’ program for teens accused of sex crimes.” Fox News. Accessed January 1, 2022. https://www.foxnews.com/us/los-angeles-da-gascon-diversion-program. ^
  12. Jeremy B. White. “4 wealthy donors fuel overhaul of California’s criminal justice system.” Politico. Accessed January 1, 2022. https://www.politico.com/states/california/story/2021/07/17/four-wealthy-donors-fuel-overhaul-of-californias-criminal-justice-system-1388261. ^
  13. Tides Advocacy. “Our Partners.” Accessed January 2, 2022. https://tidesadvocacy.org/about/partners/ ^
  14. Jeremy B. White. “4 wealthy donors fuel overhaul of California’s criminal justice system.” Politico. Accessed January 1, 2022. https://www.politico.com/states/california/story/2021/07/17/four-wealthy-donors-fuel-overhaul-of-californias-criminal-justice-system-1388261. ^
  15. Jeremy B. White. “4 wealthy donors fuel overhaul of California’s criminal justice system.” Politico. Accessed January 1, 2022. https://www.politico.com/states/california/story/2021/07/17/four-wealthy-donors-fuel-overhaul-of-californias-criminal-justice-system-1388261. ^
  16. LinkedIn. “Anne Irwin – Founder and Director- Smart Justice CA.” Accessed December 31, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/anneirwinsmartjusticeca. ^
  17. LinkedIn. “Anne Irwin – Founder and Director- Smart Justice CA.” Accessed December 31, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/anneirwinsmartjusticeca. ^
  18. Kevin Fagan, “Criminal turned criminologist John Irwin dies.” SFGate. Accessed December 31, 2021. https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Criminal-turned-criminologist-John-Irwin-dies-3205069.php. ^
  19. Center for Responsive Politics. OpenSecrets.org. Donor Lookup. “Anne Irwin”. Accessed December 31, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/donor-lookup/results?name=Anne+Irwin. ^
  20.  Jeremy B. White. “4 wealthy donors fuel overhaul of California’s criminal justice system.” Politico. Accessed January 1, 2022. https://www.politico.com/states/california/story/2021/07/17/four-wealthy-donors-fuel-overhaul-of-californias-criminal-justice-system-1388261. ^
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