Empower Summit: uniting communities for criminal justice reform and healing in Kern County

September 27, 2023 /

Care First Kern (CFK) is hosting a free, two-day community event to cultivate empowerment around criminal justice reform. 

The Empower Summit will be held on Friday and Saturday, September 29 and 30, from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Friday will be for adults ages 24 and older, and youth ages 14-23 are encouraged to attend on Saturday.

The event will be at 1610 19th St, Bakersfield, CA 93301 and there will be lunch provided for those who pre-registered.

There will be games, interactive activities, and healing. Adults can participate in community conversations regarding safety, care, and investments.

Rosa Lopez, a Senior Policy Advocate and Organizer with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California in Kern County and with CFK, spoke to Kern Sol News about this week’s event.

“We’re hoping that people that join this conversation are somehow interested whether they themselves have been impacted by the system or family members, and want to learn more, and maybe get engaged to improve that,” Lopez said. 

A primary focus for Lopez is creating a space for healing at the summit. She stated they will have a healing activity to facilitate connectedness between participants.

Lopez explained that she wanted individuals to feel inspired to get involved with advocacy, like investing in businesses that embody community care where people are listened to and told accurate information. 

The Kern County chapter of the CFK coalition that Lopez works with wants this summit to be the first step to collaborating with more organizations. Lopez stated that CFK is currently prioritizing decreasing incarceration rates by holding local and state officials accountable who support harmful government policies like pretrial detention.

“We’re hoping to reduce incarceration rates, specifically ending pretrial detention and finding alternative ways to support our community to exit the criminal system, and- hopefully- through the community programs they need to thrive,” said Lopez.