Mass incarceration isn’t a topic most of us are comfortable discussing. But it’s a problem that affects every Californian on many levels. When nonviolent, low-level offenses are treated as felonies resulting in extensive prison time, it wastes taxpayer money that could be going to schools and services. It fuels the cycle of poverty and imprisonment. It siphons resources from fighting dangerous crime. It’s an affront to justice.
This November, California voters will decide the fate of Prop 47 – The Californians for Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act. Prop 47 is a groundbreaking initiative that would redirect wasteful prison spending on low-level offenders for drug and petty theft to treatment, education and prevention. The California Labor Federation enthusiastically supports Prop 47 because every dollar that’s wasted on prison spending for low-level, nonviolent crime is a dollar California could be using to protect our neighborhoods and invest in our schools. And even more importantly, it offers a chance at redemption to many good people who have made mistakes as a result of addiction.
On Friday in Los Angeles, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka spoke about the national implications of passing Prop 47 in California.
I support Prop 47, because it says every single one of us… every one of us deserves the chance to turn our life around and to stop the cycle of prison and crime. Prop 47 offers an opportunity for a better life for Californians.
When you pass Prop 47, our entire nation will be forced to re-examine what we thought we knew about criminal justice.
Supporting Prop 47 doesn’t mean we’re soft on crime. Just the opposite. When cops are pulled off the streets to testify in court on nonviolent drug offenses, it leaves our neighborhoods vulnerable. Prop 47 retains current sentencing guidelines for violent offenses like rape, murder and assault. And it redirects precious resources to prevention and education, which, ultimately, make us all safer.
While some may not see Prop 47 as a “labor issue,” Trumka powerfully refuted that notion in LA.
(Prop 47) is a labor issue, because labor rights and social justice and civil rights are intertwined. In America, 99% of us have to work for a living. We work together. We live side-by-side. We share the same communities. We share so much, and so we know that when we find injustice… we must call it out for what it is, and fight to make it right.
The California Labor Federation strongly urges a “Yes” Vote on Prop 47 this November.