Nearly a year ago, California voters overwhelmingly voted to pass Proposition 47 to shift public spending away from prisons, and invest in prevention and treatment strategies that work. Prop. 47 is the most significant criminal justice reform in a generation. Advocates of reform are asking: where are the resources to implement Prop. 47?
A central part of Prop. 47 was to use the savings (from not incarcerating people for low level offenses) to invest in community programs to help former inmates get back on their feet. A few weeks ago, private foundations and community organizations carried out a resource fair that became the largest outreach effort to help people released under Prop. 47 to get connected to services. Where was the support from the Los Angeles County? No where to be found.
Meet Tanya. For over 10 years, she struggled with drug addiction and alcohol abuse, but instead of getting treatment, she was sent in and out of prison. Now Tanya has been sober for five years, but she’s struggling to find a job, clean her record and to find permanent housing.
Tanya’s experience demonstrates the lack of support and services for the formerly incarcerated. Even though, she has all the drive and will in the world to better herself, she’s have a very difficult time accessing services that will allow her to be a productive member of society.
In the 1980s at the height of the tough on crime policies, we saw an incredible increase in police presence, heavy investment in building new prisons, and an increase in public dollars towards mass incarceration. Today we ask: where are the outreach workers to help thousands of people like Tanya? Where are the increase dollars for treatment programs? Where is the political will to implement Prop. 47? Let’s not forget we, the voters approved Prop.47 and our county agencies are in charge of implementing our will.
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First, we express our deepest condolences to the families of the victims of the recent mass shooting in Oregon. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you.
The aftermath of a shooting of this kind has become a story too familiar to all of US. The family of the shooter apologizing, victim’s families suffering, the Presidents traveling to the scene of the incident and an army of pundits debating gun control and the second Amendment. Many take to social media to express their frustration, people talk about during lunch at work, and politicians give press statements. Yet time and time again nothing gets done.
Comedian and TV host Stephen Colbert captures the feelings of millions of Americans frustrated over the explosion of gun violence. It’s a powerful reminder that something should and must be done. It is a call to be honest with ourselves and stop pretending that nothing could be done.
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