When I was elected in 2010, I found a prison system bursting at the seams, zero rehabilitation and a shocking recidivism rate approaching 70%. The penal code, littered with thousands of provisions, had become utterly counterproductive and a far cry from a fair and effective system of criminal justice.
For over 30 years California was inundated with hundreds of new criminal laws, resulting in a 500% increase in the prison population and the building of 23 new prisons. Things got so bad - - mass overcrowding, violence, no rehabilitation, unconstitutional health care - - that the United States Supreme Court itself stepped in and ordered radical change. But, even after significant improvements, the state does not have a durable plan to deal with prison overcrowding and still faces the prospect of a court ordered release of thousands of inmates.
That is the reason for the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016, an initiative now being circulated. It is intended for the November General Election and it needs your help if we are to gather the necessary signatures by the end of next month.
You can assist in the process by contacting the campaign and committing to help gather signatures.
The measure is straightforward: 1) it says judges, not prosecutors, can transfer juveniles - - 14 and above - - to adult court; 2) provides the possibility of parole for nonviolent offenders; and 3) establishes a system of credits that can be earned by inmates who achieve educational and rehabilitative milestones.
This initiative will protect public safety by providing incentives for prisoners to stay away from gangs, follow the rules, educate themselves and take charge of their lives.
The Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act offers a long overdue correction by encouraging prisoners to earn their freedom by turning their lives around. It won’t work for all inmates but for those non-violent prisoners who can change their criminal thinking, get into programs and follow the rules, it offers a chance. That makes sense and it’s good for public safety.
Will you help us get this initiative on the November ballot? Please contact the campaign to lend your support.
Most importantly, this measure will stop court ordered prisoner releases by establishing a fair system of earned credits and the possibility of parole for nonviolent inmates who turn their lives around. This will sharply reduce recidivism, thereby enhancing public safety.
Please help and get as many signatures as you can.