Congratulations! On a tough election day, you and millions of other Californians did something incredible. Voters overwhelmingly approved the Prop 47 ballot initiative and gave Black Californians a fighting chance to interrupt the vicious cycle of addiction and mental-health related incarceration. Voters have changed the course of decades of misguided, incarceration-only policies, which have destabilized Black families and drained valuable resources from Black and brown communities.
But there’s one big problem: many of the same lawmakers who have lacked the political courage to end the state's four-decade long mass incarceration crisis are now responsible for implementing the reforms and allocating Prop 47 resources. While we celebrate this incredible victory, we must continue to organize or else lawmakers could dismantle our historic reforms during the implementation process and upcoming budget negotiations. We've worked too long and too hard to let that happen.
Will you chip in $5 or whatever you can afford to help us hold our leaders in government accountable for policy and budget decisions that deviate from the intent and spirit of Prop?
Currently, California spends $62,396 per prisoner annually, while only spending $9,200 per student. The state has built 22 new prisons in the past 30 years, and only one public university.2 Now that voters have approved Prop 47 and reformed the broken sentencing laws, fewer people will be sent to prison, meaning that the state will have no reason to continue its prison building addiction. By pushing the state toward alternatives to mass incarceration there may come a day when the state builds 22 new schools, instead of 22 new prisons. But that's a long way off and we’ll need your support to get there.
With Prop 47, the possibilities in front of us are endless. Now that the state is no longer focused on overcharging and filling costly and dangerous prisons with low-level non-violent Black and brown folks, finite state resources can be spent where they’re most needed: to fully fund education and interrupt the vicious cycle of recidivism.
Thank you for showing up to the polls this past Tuesday and taking reform into your own hands! Now this hard work and sustained organizing must continue. Prop 47 reforms and resources will be rolled out over the course of the next 5 years,3 and we’ll need lots of support from members like you to sustain this powerful movement and to push back against lawmakers who seek to defy the will of voters by working to restore the state’s failed mass incarceration agenda.
There’s just one more Prop 47 related action left for you to take this week. Chip in $5 or whatever you can afford to help us organize and hold key leaders accountable for the duration of the Prop 47 implementation process.
Thanks and peace,
— Matt, Rashad, Arisha, Jamar and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
November 7th, 2014
P.S. If you can't donate please share this image to spread the news of our amazing voter-powered victory.
1. "Prop. 47 puts state at center of a national push for sentencing reform," The L.A. Times, 11-01-2014
2. "Can California’s Prop 47 counter the problem of overcrowded prisons?," Al Jazeera America, 10-30-2014
3. "California Just Became the First State to Defelonize Drug Use," Vice, 11-05-2014