In just three weeks, Californians will have the opportunity to change the state’s criminal injustice system and reduce the deeply destructive impact that our enormous and expensive prisons have on more than 1110,000 people, our families and our communities.
On Election Day, November 8th, vote YES on Proposition 57 to both protect California youth from harmful transfers to adult court and to help people in prison return to their families and communities.
Over the past thirty years, California has built 21 new prisons, and the state’s prison population has grown from 26,000 in 1980, to nearly 175,000 in 2010. By implementing three significant changes to the way California addresses prison sentences and juvenile court transfers, Prop 57 will help us shift away from the trauma and dehumanization of long sentences and hyper-criminalization, and towards rehabilitation and release.
Proposition 57 will protect our young people by ending the power of prosecutors to “direct file” youth as young as 14 into adult court without a hearing before a juvenile court judge, repealing the current, predatory system in which prosecutors have unilateral authority to transfer youth cases into adult court. Prop 57 will also make transfer hearings more fair by presuming that youth should remain in juvenile court, and shifting the burden from youth and their defense attorneys onto District Attorneys to prove that youth and society would be better served through a transfer.
Prop 57 will provide support for incarcerated people to return home to their communities by implementing a system that will allow people to earn credits towards their release by avoiding disciplinary write-ups and by participating in rehabilitative programs such as counseling, job training, and education.
Prop 57 will reduce the high social and financial costs of extreme prison sentences by allowing people with non-violent convictions to be considered for parole after they have completed the prison term for their primary offense.
Although Prop 57 will not automatically release anyone from incarceration, it will give us more power to continue organizing and fighting to bring people home, reduce the prison population, and shift hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars away from punishment and control, and to essential community resources.
The last day to register for the fall election is October 24th. You can register to vote through the online application or by picking up voter registration forms from your local post office or public library.
If you have a past or current conviction, you may still be able to register to vote! In California, you can vote if: you are currently detained in jail or juvenile hall going back and forth to court (pre-trial) or if you are serving time on a misdemeanor; you are on probation, mandatory supervision, or post-release community supervision (PRCS); or you have completed parole.
Help us put an end to California’s violent and discriminatory history of prison expansions by making sure you are registered to vote in the upcoming elections and voting YES on Prop 57, and getting all your people to vote!!!
And if you are interested in putting together an event to share information on Prop 57 with your community and connect folks to the tools they need to register to vote, please contact the Youth Justice Coalition at action@Youth4Justice.org.