Care First Concepts & Language

Care First ideology centers the well-being of our people and spaces, and is rooted in inclusive, people-first language. This philosophy recognizes the intersectionality of individual and global health; Healthy environments support healthy communities, and healthy communities can support individual health. When humans are thriving and acting as good stewards of our natural spaces and cultural identities, our economies also thrive. This is a quick guide to some of the foundational concepts used in Care First spaces. 


Abolition is the action or an act of abolishing a system, practice, or institution. It is the dream we use as a blueprint to build the future we envision.

Modern day abolitionists imagine a time when we are not policed, surveilled, oppressed, when our community members are not killed and taken by law enforcement, when our families are not torn apart, when we do not rely on the Prison Industrial Complex as an economy, when care and support is provided to all members of our society.


Coalition leader Diana Zuñiga

What is it?

The language we use to identify human beings, their conditions, circumstances, and the many aspects of their identities is powerful. It can be used as a weapon to vilify entire communities and groups of people, or it can be used in a way that fosters inclusivity and empathy and removes biases and prejudices. Being thoughtful, intentional, inclusive, and supportive is a cornerstone of Care First culture.


A Just Transition describes how we shift political and economic power back toward our communities, as we transition away from harmful capitalist systems.

Just Transition is a framework developed by the trade union movement to encompass a range of social interventions needed to secure workers’ rights and livelihoods when economies are shifting to sustainable production, primarily combating climate change and protecting biodiversity.

A Just Transition describes how we move away from harmful capitalist systems and into systems of care, from an extractive and punitive system, and into one that is restorative and supportive. 


Across the United States the use of electronic detention (EM) has expanded rapidly, particularly in areas where bail reform is being implemented. The use of EM has increased by more than 140% in a ten-year period with over 200,000 people* assigned to EM on any given day. Electronic monitoring is a highly punitive condition of release. With limited research on the effectiveness of this tool while findings about the negative consequences are universal.

Research on EM does not support its widespread use. There is little evidence that the use of EM is more effective than traditional community supervision nor does it increase the likelihood of new arrests or ensure an individual’s return to court. EM also has a “net-widening” effect, pulling people deeper into the system.

There are also significant disparities in the use of EM. Like all forms of mass incarceration, electronic monitoring is disproportionately applied to Black people and exacerbates existing inequality for women, LGBTQ+ people, and other people of color.

Additionally, EM is often seen as a cost-effective alternative to detention, but that is only because costs are pushed onto the individuals being monitored. Amounting to thousands of dollars, an amount far out of reach for many people coming into contact with the criminal justice system.


Moving Pretrial Reform
in the Right Direction

PRE-TRIAL DETENTION is the incarceration of people who have been accused, but not convicted, of a crime. One of the fundamental tenets of our legal system is the presumption of innocence, yet, over 11 million people in the United States go to jail without being convicted every year. Since the 1980s, the U.S. jail population has more than tripled, and the primary driver of this jail boom is pre-trial detention.

The harmful impacts of pretrial incarceration during the phase of presumed innocence are well-documented. Research has demonstrated that the more time someone spends in jail, the more likely they are to reoffend. Just two to three days in a cell can result in loss of employment, a vehicle, housing, or custody of a child, with successful life outcomes overall decreasing by over 40%.

Those issues are compounded for Black and Brown people, who are more likely to be detained even though they’re technically innocent, especially when coupled with the predatory bail industry. 

The Care First Coalition has developed an alternative to our failed pretrial system and the powerful forces that are moving California in the wrong direction.  

» Read more about Care First CA Coalition’s Preserving the Presumption of Innocence Bill