Principal Budget Consultant, Public Safety, Corrections, and the Judiciary, California State Senate
Christopher Francis, the son of immigrants from Jamaica and Guyana, Chris’ personal experiences growing up in The Bronx influenced both his academic and career pursuits. In high school, his experiences with and observations of daily metal detectors and policing, high crime, the lack of books and lockers, and an overcrowded school population began his awareness of resource scarcity, inequities, and other social policy issues. This awareness became underscored once he attended MIT—where he felt that his experiences were uncommon to the majority of MIT’s student population. At MIT, Chris took social policy courses and special projects to gain a context for the root causes of these inequities and to understand policymaking. In 2012, Chris obtained bachelor’s degrees from MIT in both Materials Science & Engineering and in Political Science with a U.S. Social Policy concentration. He then obtained an M.S. in 2014 and Ph.D. in 2017 in Materials Science & Engineering from UC Berkeley. During his graduate school career, Chris participated in UC Berkeley’s Getting into Graduate School program and mentored STEM undergraduates of color in their pursuit of graduate school admissions. Additionally, during this time, Chris decided to pursue a public policy career, citing the need for different perspectives when crafting policy, for evidence-based decision making in the name of the public good, and for increased access to opportunities for underrepresented and under resourced groups such as the ones he came from. Chris then became a California Council on Science and Technology Fellow in 2017 and was placed in the Senate’s Budget and Fiscal Review Committee. As a fellow, Chris became the California Senate’s lead consultant for Public Safety, Corrections, and The Judiciary budgets. Now, as the current principal consultant, he is responsible for an annual portfolio totaling $20 Billion of California’s state budget. His chief responsibilities include informing, influencing, and driving the California State Senate’s spending on policies, programs, and services that strive to expand criminal justice reform and increase judicial branch services. Since 2018, he has secured policy packages totaling over $120 million in additional spending for reentry, wraparound, and rehabilitative services for people during and post-incarceration. Additionally, he helped negotiate major policies to eliminate criminal administrative fees throughout the state, bolster California’s diversion programs to direct a defendant away from criminal proceedings to a treatment program or other alternative, close the state’s youth prisons, expand elderly parole eligibility, and expand postsecondary education opportunities for people with criminal records.