Realignment and Re-Entry Support

Like most states, California has never seriously invested in helping ex-offenders re-establish themselves in society after serving their time. Because California is now required by a federal court to reduce state prison populations, this could be an opportunity for low-level offenders to be released into re-entry programs. Instead, under what is called “realignment,” many sheriffs are seeking to keep low-level offenders locked up rather than assist in their successful re-entry. We need to fight for comprehensive re-entry support in order for realignment to be meaningful.

Child Support Relief Coming for Incarcerated Parents

Squeezing in an executive action just a month before President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, the Obama administration on Tuesday quietly unveiled a new federal regulation that will allow incarcerated parents to lower their child-support payments while they are in prison. The new rule, published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, requires states to notify all parents incarcerated for more than six months of their right to ask the child support agency for a temporary … [Read more...]

A Lifer Goes Free

This 'Unsung Hero' was a convicted murderer until Gov. Brown set him free immediately e stared across the San Quentin State Prison yard at an old man, a lifer hopelessly sitting, white hair, slumped shoulders, blending into the gravel dust and beige brick. It was 2003, 10 years into his own 25-to-life bid. That image – of an aging man eroding into his surroundings – changed everything. “I can’t do this,” convicted murderer Tung Nguyen of Santa Ana said to himself. He was 26 at the time. … [Read more...]

A Compassionate View on Crime

The passage of Prop 47, the 2014 bill that reduced six types of low-level, nonviolent felonies to misdemeanors, came with a lot of controversy. Surely, committing crime should have consequences, but some feared that without any real punishment beyond tickets and minimal fines, crime would go up. On the other hand, how harsh should punishment be for petty theft or drug use? Voters erred on the side of hope and second chances. This week, USA Today reported that nearly 200,000 felony charges in … [Read more...]

How California’s Job Standards Worsen Recidivism

California has one of the highest recidivism rates in the country: Fifty-eight percent of individuals released from prison end up back in the system within three years, compared with the national average of 40% when excluding California, according to a 2011 study by the Pew Charitable Trusts. Although there are a host of reasons for this unfortunate distinction, one is that the Golden State government makes it unusually difficult for its struggling residents to find jobs. All states have … [Read more...]

White-Collar Supremacy

Richard B. Spencer is one of the main figures of the alt-right movement, a former doctoral student from Duke whose movement supports the creation of “an ethno-state” for white Europeans and “peaceful ethnic cleansing.” The Southern Poverty Law Center describes him as “a suit-and-tie version of the white supremacists of old, a kind of professional racist in khakis”; a recent Los Angeles Times profile ran with a photo of him in sunglasses and a black shirt, looking more like a hipster academic … [Read more...]

LA County Counted on Prop 47 to Save Money: It Hasn’t Yet

A California law that turned some felony offenses into misdemeanors to save costs has had no monetary benefits so far for Los Angeles County, according to a report presented on Tuesday. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors heard updates from eight department leaders – including Sheriff Jim McDonnell – on whether or not Proposition 47 has had any cost saving effects. Overall, departments either reported increased workloads or else a lack of a solid data system to track … [Read more...]

Prop 47 Brings Arrests To 55+ Year Low

California saw its overall arrests plunge to a record-breaking low last year following the adoption of Proposition 47, a voter-approved initiative to reduce penalties for drug and property crimes, changing them from felonies to misdemeanors. According to CBS, California saw 52,000 fewer arrests overall in 2015 compared to the previous year – the lowest arrest rate in the state since 1960 when they began keeping arrest records. “I think it’s quite clear that Prop. 47 is the major contributor … [Read more...]

Prop. 47 Working? Depends Whom You Ask

The premise behind the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, or Proposition 47, overwhelmingly approved by California voters in November 2014, was simple: Reduce the penalties for nonserious, nonviolent offenses such as drug possession and minor theft and pass along the savings from less-crowded prisons and jails to programs that would reduce recidivism and crime and help victims. But nothing about Prop. 47 has been simple in the 21 months since then. As intended, the law has prevented … [Read more...]

Get on the Bus 2016

In celebration of Father's Day, dozens of children, many with painted faces, spent the morning of June 17 in a prison visiting room, laughing and playing with their incarcerated fathers. The event, held at San Quentin State Prison, also accommodated 35 adult sons and daughters. "Children and incarcerated people don't have a voice. They are some of the least powerful in society," said co-coordinator of the event, John Kalin. “That’s what draws me to Get on the Bus.” The Get on the Bus … [Read more...]

Grassroots Prisoner Reentry Programs Show Progress

Weekly through the winter in Santa Ana, a group of about 20 young men and women would meet in a circle to share their experiences about leadership. The lessons they learned, however, weren’t from traditional sources but from the mean streets of Orange County or the corridors of California prisons. The group was a mix -- some who had spent a short time incarcerated, but turned their lives around, and others who spent decades behind bars. In June, they graduated from the community … [Read more...]