An Open Call to Support on May 13, 2013Formerly Incarcerated People, Their Families, Friends, Allies and ComradesWe are seeking your participation in a very unusual event – a day-long grassroots lobbying visit to the California State Capitol led by formerly incarcerated people. As formerly incarcerated people we have been told on more than one occasion: “you have the right to remain silent!” However, when the suffering becomes too unbearable and negatively impacts all aspects of our personal, professional, family and community life, we have an obligation to speak up. The need to speak up is especially acute when it appears that this suffering has been designed to outlast our jail or prison sentences.
On May 13, 2013, we invite our brothers and sisters, supporters, allies, friends and comrades to join us and support the formerly incarcerated members of our community who have been rendered silent.
On several occasions we have been asked, why this year? Why not go to Sacramento some other time? Here’s why THIS time is an opportune time. There are currently a number of bills being considered that directly relate to our capacity to thrive as human beings. The stakes are high: our right to vote, our right to work, our right not to languish in a gang-database for the rest of our lives, and our ability to seek expungement relief – all these issues are being considered. We are witnessing the greatest change in the criminal injustice system in over 50 years. If this is not the time, then when?
We are just now beginning to secure support for the buses that will be rolling out of both Northern and Southern California. We are lining up various legislators to support this effort. We are beginning to contact the various caucuses in the State House for support.
If you are formerly incarcerated – Please join us! And to all other people of good will, please come out and support formerly incarcerated people in our fight for inclusion. Come out and support us speaking in our own voice. Help us speak truth to power and regain our dignity.
Please share with allies and invite people via facebook and twitter by clicking here
Organizer, All of Us or None
Organizer, All of Us or None
SUPPORTING THE CALL:
All Of Us Or None (Statewide)
Project Rebound-Associated Students Inc (SFSU)
Center for Young Women’s Development /CYWD (San Francisco)
New Way Of Life (Los Angeles)
Fathers and Families of San Joaquin
Safe Return (Richmond)
Contra Costa County Interfaith Supporting Community Organization/CCISCO
California Coalition of Women Prisoners / CCWP
United Playaz (San Francisco)
Homies Unidos (Los Angeles)
Starting Over (Riverside)
Life Support Alliance (Sacramento)
San Francisco Bay View National
Occupy 4 Prisoners (Bay Area)
Youth Justice Coalition (Los Angeles)
Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People’s Movement /FICPM (Nat’l)
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (San Francisco)
Families to Amend Three Strikes (Sacramento)
Office of Restorative Justice of the Los Angeles Archdiocese
Justice Reform Coalition
Associated Prison Ministries
United for Change
NMT/The Ripple Effect
Insight Prison Project
Prison Watch Network
California Families Against Solitary
Prison Reform Movement
Prison Nation: A Young Black Man With No Diploma Is More Likely to Be in Jail Than Find a Job
Carl Harris rejoined his wife, Charlene Hamilton, and their two daughters after 20 years in prison.
By JOHN TIERNEY
Why are so many American families trapped in poverty? Of all the explanations offered by Washington’s politicians and economists, one seems particularly obvious in the low-income neighborhoods near the Capitol: because there are so many parents like Carl Harris and Charlene Hamilton.
For most of their daughters’ childhood, Mr. Harris didn’t come close to making the minimum wage. His most lucrative job, as a crack dealer, ended at the age of 24, when he left Washington to serve two decades in prison, leaving his wife to raise their two young girls while trying to hold their long-distance marriage together.
His $1.15-per-hour prison wages didn’t even cover the bills for the phone calls and marathon bus trips to visit him. Struggling to pay rent and buy food, Ms. Hamilton ended up homeless a couple of times.
“Basically, I was locked up with him,” she said. “My mind was locked up. My life was locked up. Our daughters grew up without their father.”
The shift to tougher penal policies three decades ago was originally credited with helping people in poor neighborhoods by reducing crime. But now that America’s incarceration rate has risen to be the world’s highest, many social scientists find the social benefits to be far outweighed by the costs to those communities.
“Prison has become the new poverty trap,” said Bruce Western, a Harvard sociologist. “It has become a routine event for poor African-American men and their families, creating an enduring disadvantage at the very bottom of American society.”
Among African-Americans who have grown up during the era of mass incarceration, one in four has had a parent locked up at some point during childhood. For black men in their 20s and early 30s without a high school diploma, the incarceration rate is so high — nearly 40 percent nationwide — that they’re more likely to be behind bars than to have a job.
No one denies that some people belong in prison. Mr. Harris, now 47, and his wife, 45, agree that in his early 20s he deserved to be there. But they don’t see what good was accomplished by keeping him there for two decades, and neither do most of the researchers who have been analyzing the prison boom.
The number of Americans in state and federal prisons has quintupled since 1980, and a major reason is that prisoners serve longer terms than before. They remain inmates into middle age and old age, well beyond the peak age for crime, which is in the late teenage years — just when Mr. Harris first got into trouble.
‘I Just Lost My Cool’
After dropping out of high school, Mr. Harris ended up working at a carwash and envying the imports driven by drug dealers. One day in 1983, at the age of 18, while walking with his girlfriend on a sidewalk in Washington where drugs were being sold, he watched a high-level dealer pull up in a Mercedes-Benz and demand money from an underling.
“This dealer was draped down in jewelry and a nice outfit,” Mr. Harris recalled in an interview in the Woodridge neighborhood of northeast Washington, where he and his wife now live. “The female with him was draped down, too, gold and everything, dressed real good.
“I’m watching the way he carries himself, and I’m standing there looking like Raggedy Ann. My girl’s looking like Raggedy Ann. I said to myself, ‘That’s what I want to do.’ ”
Within two years, he was convicted of illegal gun possession, an occupational hazard of his street business selling PCP and cocaine. He went to Lorton, the local prison, in 1985, shortly after he and Ms. Hamilton had their first daughter. He kept up his drug dealing while in prison — “It was just as easy to sell inside as outside” — and returned to the streets for the heyday of the crack market in the late 1980s.
The Washington police never managed to catch him with the cocaine he was importing by the kilo from New York, but they arrested him for assaulting people at a crack den. He says he went into the apartment, in the Shaw neighborhood, to retrieve $4,000 worth of crack stolen by one of his customers, and discovered it was already being smoked by a dozen people in the room.
“I just lost my cool,” he said. “I grabbed a lamp and chair lying around there and started smacking people. Nobody was hospitalized, but I broke someone’s arm and cut another one in the leg.”
An assault like that would have landed Mr. Harris behind bars in many countries, but not for nearly so long. Prisoners serve significantly more time in the United States than in most industrialized countries. Sentences for drug-related offenses and other crimes have gotten stiffer in recent decades, and prosecutors have become more aggressive in seeking longer terms — as Mr. Harris discovered when he saw the multiple charges against him.
Continue Reading @ NY Times (page 2)
- Incarceration rate for African-Americans now six times the national average (rt.com)
- Prisons of Poverty (misbehavedwoman.wordpress.com)
- How Prisons Amplify Poverty (reason.com)
By Katti Gray
Via @ The Crime Report
Paroled from prison in August 2010, Sandra France was bent on finding a job that steered young people away from the drug addiction and drug-related crimes that had her cycling in and out of prison for 35 years.
Then she heard about Project ReNu, launched in early 2012 by the Brooklyn, NY-based Center for NuLeadership On Urban Solutions to help the formerly incarcerated figure out precisely whether their recorded criminal histories were undercutting their employment prospects and, where possible, boosting the ex-offenders’ image among potential employers.
Project ReNu’s sole counselor—one of four full-time members of NuLeadership’s staff—steered France through a process aimed at equipping ex-offenders with the details of their “records of arrests and procedures” (or RAP sheet) and correcting errors that those documents sometimes contain before a potential employer sees them.
France completed Project ReNu with what she hopes is a ticket for entry into a legitimate world of work with which she is barely familiar: a state-sanctioned “certificate of good conduct” granted to successful Project ReNu clients who, like France, have multiple felony convictions.
(A “certificate of relief” is available to persons with just one felony conviction.)
In addition to that certificate, France received a document detailing her criminal history, including the date and time of her convictions. And she was schooled in how to articulate other aspects of her life, such as her ongoing drug rehabilitation and involvement in peer support groups, her active church membership, and her on-the-job training in the field where she hopes to be hired.
“These documents show how far I came [and] that, although I have been incarcerated and I’ve been on drugs, I’ve been doing a lot of positive things,” said France, who is now interning at an outpatient clinic for substance abusers—a step toward becoming a certified alcohol and substance abuse counselor.
Those accumulated documents are a package that can be given, perhaps preemptively, to employers.
With several studies linking gainful employment to lesser rates of criminal recidivism, jobs—and housing—top the list of the most critical material needs of the formerly incarcerated, Shelli Rossman of the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C. told The Crime Report.
And, notes Rossman, ex-offenders not only require the tools essential for what can be the monumental task of landing a job—especially during a lingering recession when employers have their pick of prospects who’ve never been to prison—but they also need help hanging on to the jobs a fraction of them do manage to get.
“My hunch is that part of the difficulty in job retention is the nature of the job to begin with,” said Rossman, a senior fellow at the Institute’s Justice Policy Center. “These are high turnover, like food service jobs, where … they’re constantly hiring and replacing staff, not just this population.
“These tend to be low-level jobs without benefits. They …not only undermine the individual financially, but also in terms of morale.”
Even so, findings of the Urban Institute’s five-year “Returning Home: Understanding the Challenges of Prisoner Reentry” study of ex-offenders in Maryland, Illinois, Ohio and Texas included this one: “Former prisoners who held an in-prison job, participated in job training while incarcerated, earned a GED during prison, and/or participated in an employment program early after release, work a greater percentage of time the first year out than those who did not.”
The key assumption of Project ReNu is that paid wages will reduce the likelihood that a previously convicted person will return to crime and to prison, , says Divine Pryor, executive director of NuLeadership, which is housed in the same Brooklyn building as the agency where parolee France is interning.
Another foundational principle is that if potential employers can see that formerly incarcerated job applicants are confronting their past, and can articulate their achievements during a job interview, then that forthrightness just might work in the applicant’s favor, says Prior, whose organization offers a broad menu of prisoner re-entry services and criminal justice policy programs for both juveniles and adults.
“The best way to empower yourself is to know everything that other people know about you,” he adds. “If you’ve ever been arrested for anything, it’s on your RAP sheet—every single encounter you’ve had with law enforcement that causes you to be fingerprinted.”
According to Prior, the “labyrinth of challenges” facing ex-offenders as they re-enter society can include correcting errors that may have been made by the system or have cropped up through other means, such as identity theft.
Continue Reading HERE
Two ex-inmates are trying to bring higher education to the incarcerated, one maximum security facility at a time
“When college was removed, instead of having a line of people walking to school, we had people sitting up in the day rooms playing cards, playing dominoes, getting in fights,” said Boudin, now the director of the Columbia University School of Social Work’s Criminal Justice Initiative.
Boudin — a former member of the counterrevolutionary group Weather Underground who served 22 years for her role in an armored truck heist that left three dead — and other inmates were determined to complement the prison’s GED program with a college education.
After the program’s launch in 1997, similar initiatives were started by New York’s Sing Sing prison and Bard College. Their successful struggle ultimately brought college back to a dozen prisons throughout New York, and helped form the backbone of a decade’s worth of inmate education advocacy. Today, there are programs that bring college to prison in half a dozen states.
Continue Reading @ Salon
This article is a feature on my friend, John L. Please join me in congratulating him by posting comments of encouragement for continuing sobriety and staying OUT!!
Story by Dixie Reid | Photo by Tim Engle
John Lewis Sullivan was addicted to drugs at age 13, stealing to support his habit and generally making mischief of varying degrees. He’s since spent 18 of his 42 years in jail or in California’s prison system.
“I’d never been out a whole year until I decided to change my life,” Sullivan says. “Don and his program helped me.”
Don Troutman, a recovering alcoholic, is the founder of Clean & Sober Intentional Living, a communal-living program for people committed to a lifetime of sobriety. It’s the oldest and largest such community in Northern California, with 15 residences in Orangevale and Fair Oaks.
“After they leave treatment, a lot of people think they have it made,” says Troutman. “You get a guy detoxed and send him through treatment and then put him back into his old environment, and he’ll start using again. The expectation is that he is what he is, and everything he’s learned goes away.”
Troutman got into the recovery-home business in 1989 as a way to keep himself sober after his brother died of an overdose. He calls himself “Resident No. 1.” He currently has 130 men and women in his program, all determined to stay clean for life.
Rent ranges from $450 to $795 a month, and the average length of residency is two and a half years. The longest anyone has been in the program is 16 years, making Sullivan a relative newcomer.
“Last winter,” Sullivan says, “I was pretty much homeless, running the streets, stealing copper to supply my drug habit. I was living in a tent on the river, and I just said, ‘God, there’s got to be more than this.’ I hit my rock bottom. I didn’t want to do it no more. I was freezing cold, and I was getting the flu. I went and told my parole officer that I needed help.”
Sullivan was sent to an intensive drug-use modification program and afterward moved into a recovery home.
“The people in the house weren’t serious about their program. They were still drinking,” Sullivan says. “So I got a hold of Don Troutman and told him my situation.”
Continue Reading @ ComstockMag.com
At one level, this probably sounds absurd.
A group of faith communities from around the state is revving up a campaign to cut the Wisconsin prison population in half by 2015. That would mean reducing the current inmate population of almost 22,000 down to 11,000.
One initial reaction? You’d let all those convicted criminals out of prison? What about safety? What about justice?
And even if you agree with the concept, do you really think that the renewed control of Wisconsin government by conservative Republicans is the sort of political environment that would be receptive to such an idea?
But there are other questions worth asking as well.
Consider this: Half of the people behind bars in Wisconsin are there for nonviolent crimes. Half of them have issues with drug and alcohol abuse and/or mental illness. And most of them are going to return to our communities at some point. Life sentences are rare.
If our correctional system is just about punishment and cannot help inmates transform their lives, then we are inviting trouble down the line.
Consider this: We went through a great prison-building boom in our state — and across the nation. The war on drugs caught lots of people in its clutches. The efforts to make sentences longer and to do away with allowing good behavior to reduce a prison sentence has kept the prisons jam-packed.
None of this comes cheaply — and part of the cost has been a diminishment of treatment resources to keep people out of prison on the front end and to help them while serving their terms.
Consider this: Over the past generation, Wisconsin has chosen a very different path than our neighbors in Minnesota. Two states with a lot of similarities in demographics and crime rates, with nearly the same populations — yet in 2010, Wisconsin had 22,000 people in prison and Minnesota had 9,500 people in prison. Wisconsin spent $1.3 billion on its corrections budget in 2009 and Minnesota spent less than half of that — $521 million.
There are lots of differences in criminal justice strategies between the two states that are worth exploring elsewhere, but the main point is that the Wisconsin way is not the only way. And from both a human and a financial standpoint, it is not the best way.
The Rev. Jerry Hancock, a former assistant district attorney and a former assistant attorney general, knows something about the criminal justice system. Now he is an ordained minister at Madison’s First Congregational Church. He leads the Prison Ministry Project and is part of the leadership of the 11X15 campaign of the faith groups.
To solve the crisis in our prisons does not take rocket science, he says. “We need treatment on the front end to keep people out, help on the back end to keep people from going back into prison after release and a way to allow people in prison to earn their way out. If we did all three of those things, we could solve this in three years.”
Well, sure. Except for the politics of it. Not to worry, says Hancock. This is not a partisan problem. It was the policies of both Democrats and Republicans that got us to this point. “This is both a fiscal and a moral crisis that crosses party lines,” he said. “It will take a bipartisan effort to solve the problem.”
One step in that direction will be a rally at Fountain of Life Church, 633 W. Badger Road, Madison, on Sunday, Nov. 18, at 4 p.m. to launch a Madison group called MOSES, the local branch of a statewide network known as WISDOM, an interfaith movement for social justice. The 11X15 campaign is the top issue for the group.
And last week’s election actually offered a few glimmers of political hope. When Colorado and Washington voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in their states, the votes represented a shift in public attitudes about the war on drugs. And voters in California eased the three-strikes-and-you’re-out law that has trapped people in prison for unduly long times for relatively minor offenses.
An absurd idea to reduce Wisconsin’s prison population by half? Maybe not. It’s at least worth a serious discussion rather than a glib dismissal.
Phil Haslanger is pastor of Memorial United Church of Christ in Fitchburg. He spent about 35 years as a journalist at The Capital Times before moving on to a career in ministry.
This column originally ran in The Capital Times on Nov. 13, 2012.
Via @ WiscNews
The scenario: John is looking forward to returning to his hometown in April. He worries that while he’s been away, he may have fallen out of step with the technical and real-world skills employers demand. He would like an entry-level job in an athletic apparel store; his long-term goal is to own a retail store.
Over the past 18 months, he’s made great changes in his attitude and outlook. He has picked up important technical classes and worked on his “soft skills” — public speaking and interviewing. John sees his first job as a path to his new career, his redemption. He knows there is another conversation to prepare for: Explaining his felony conviction for drug distribution, and why his past doesn’t define or determine his future.
About 566,000 ex-offenders leave prison and enter parole each year. An estimated 95 percent of the 2.3 million others in prison will eventually return to society. Once released, probation officers will work with them to reintegrate into daily life, to find work and a stable home — not easy steps.
John recognizes that the people who hire entry-level workers worry about the risks of employee turnover, the risks of loss from theft and the comfort of co-workers or customers with any new employee. These uncertainties are balanced against real investments in training. John knows that adding a past crime can tip the balance away from hiring someone who is otherwise qualified. So how can he transition to productive employment and then, ultimately, as an employer, business owner and taxpayer?
Continue Reading @ Washington Post
- New technology helps Oregon inmates stay connected (oregonlive.com)
- Inmates get first dibs on jobs through federal program (foxnews.com)
New York corrections officials say they have graduated 45,000 inmates from military-style boot camp over the past 25 years and data shows that most don’t commit new crimes.
Established around the country in the 1980s as an alternative to regular prison, the so-called “shock camps” got mixed reviews and several states dropped them. New York kept three camps going with a model they say is effective and cutting down the rate of repeat offenses and saving money.
Only prisoners convicted of nonviolent crimes who volunteer and sign contracts go to the camps. Many drop out or are kicked out before completing the six months of mandatory physical training, manual labor, education and drug counseling, scrutinized by drill instructors. The prize for completing the course is a shortened sentence.
“It’s a highly disciplined program. There’s orders you’ve got to follow every day,” said Steven Wetmore. He completed the Monterey program in 2002 following DWI convictions and said most inmates choose it thinking it will be easier than their original sentence. “We started with a platoon of 46 and 23 graduated.”
Some observers say the lower recidivism is predictable because it’s a self-selected and motivated group of inmates who prove capable of finishing the program. They also note that the lower recidivism, far lower in the first year, starts rising after that.
“Our view is that it’s somewhat mixed, but there are definitely some positive elements to it,” said Jack Beck, who directs the visiting project for the Correctional Association of New York. “The regimentation is so different from what these individuals will experience on the outside, it’s very hard to translate those experiences into something when they return home.”
New York has 1,087 inmates at the shock camps, Moriah in the Adirondacks, Lakeview in western New York’s Chautauqua County, and Monterey in the Finger Lakes region. All are minimum-security without fences and set in rural areas. Before the state shut the Summit camp southwest of Albany in 2011 to save money, there were 1,284 offenders in the shock program. The system has some 56,000 inmates in 60 correctional facilities, down from a peak 71,600 in 1999.
Continue Reading @ Wall Street Journal
- The Test Case Behind Goldman’s Investment in Jail Inmates (prisonmovement.wordpress.com)
DON THOMPSON Associated Press
Jeff Rutland was released from San Quentin State Prison nearly two years ago, ready to leave behind a 25-year criminal career.
But the 48-year-old former crack cocaine addict quickly realized that his past was not ready to leave him. Almost without fail, he would notice a chill descend on job interviews whenever he had to explain to potential employers why he hadn’t filled out the section of his application that asked about felony convictions.
“It’s very discouraging because a lot of these jobs I know I’m qualified for,” said Rutland, who sought in vain to land a manufacturing job. “As soon as I check the box, the demeanor changes.”
Prompted by stories like Rutland’s, California lawmakers are considering three bills ahead of a June 1 deadline that would make it easier for ex-convicts to get jobs.
One in the Assembly would make it easier for former prisoners to get their criminal records expunged, while another would make California the latest state to remove the felony conviction question box from public-sector job applications. In the Senate, lawmakers will consider a bill that would make possessing drugs for personal use a misdemeanor instead of a felony.
State Sen. Mark Leno said California should follow the lead of 13 other states that classify possession for personal use as a misdemeanor. Leno said the experience in those states, which include Massachusetts, Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Wyoming, shows an increase in drug treatment and a decrease in drug use. The difference is that those states promote rehabilitation over incarceration.
Moreover, addicts avoid felony convictions that make it more difficult to get housing, an education and employment.
“Good luck getting a job that’s above minimum wage, if you can get a job at all,” said Leno, a Democrat from San Francisco.
He said a felony conviction is more than just a stigma.
“It is a real barrier to success in life,” he said.
The maximum sentence would be reduced from three years to one year behind bars for possessing drugs for personal use. Leno’s bill, SB1506, would not apply to possessing drugs for sale.
The shift would result in 2,000 fewer state inmates as California is reducing its prison population to comply with federal court orders, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office. That’s partly because misdemeanors cannot be counted as a “strike” for those facing much longer sentences for repeat offenses, Leno said.
Opponents say the switch would send more offenders to increasingly crowded local jails, while removing much of the incentive for addicts to get treatment.
He says it’s also “a real barrier to success in life.”
“We’re now taking a wholesale step on dangerous drugs and saying it’s not as dangerous as it used to be,” said Cory Salzillo, director of legislation for the California District Attorneys Association.
The association opposes all three bills, although Salzillo said it is not opposed to helping felons get jobs and reintegrate into society after their release.
Leno’s bill is supported by the American Civil Liberties Union, defense attorneys, drug treatment providers and advocates for changing the nation’s drug policies.
Meanwhile, Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, is promoting a bill that would prohibit cities and counties from requesting criminal background information on initial job applications.
California adopted similar standards for state employees in 2010. It would join five other states with similar restrictions if AB1831 becomes law.
The bill would let those with a criminal history “compete fairly for employment without compromising safety and security,” Dickinson said in a statement.
Local governments could still run background checks after they decide the applicant is initially qualified for the job and could request criminal history information immediately on applications for law enforcement jobs or those that require working with children, the elderly or disabled.
Associations representing prosecutors and police chiefs oppose the measure, saying it would waste time and money while delaying the inevitable by forcing local governments to initially consider ex-convicts who are unlikely to be hired.
The Assembly also will consider a bill by Assemblyman Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, that responds to the state’s realignment law that took effect Oct. 1. Under realignment, felons convicted of nonserious, nonviolent and non-sexual offenses serve their sentences in county jail instead of state prison.
AB2263 would let judges expunge the criminal records of felons who are sentenced to county jail once the offenders complete their probation.
The district attorneys’ association objects to making it easier for felons to clear their criminal records simply because they are now serving their time in local jails. It says the standards should be different because felonies, by definition, are more serious crimes and often reflect a more serious criminal history than do misdemeanors.
Rutland, who most recently completed a sentence for felony assault, has given up on finding the kind of job for which he feels most qualified. He considers himself lucky to have landed a part-time position at an urban agriculture program in the San Francisco Bay area.
He believes that for others like him, the ability to have a record wiped clean could mean the difference between being able to re-enter society and remaining on the margins.
“Anybody coming home, all we want is that one break,” he said. “Sometimes you’d be surprised by what that one little break can be that will change the course of a life.
Via @ The Republic
- US prison inmates returning to society: How will they be received? (csmonitor.com)
- Bill Would Eliminate Criminal History Box On Some Job Applications (sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com)
How I wish news organizations would revert to the professional ways of thoroughly vetting a story before rushing to publish tabloid-style cant. Case in point: a recent account in the Sacramento Bee on Gov. Brown’s affirming the release of “more killers” than his predecessors.
Wow, great headline. Sounds dramatic, important and even a little scary.
It’s also incomplete.
The true part: Brown has indeed declined to review most life-term inmates’ parole grants given by the Board of Parole Hearings. That doesn’t mean he’s done a wholesale release of “killers.” And you may be interested to know that many life term prisoners are in prison for non-lethal offenses.
Brown’s office reviews each parole grant, looking for something missed by the parole commissioners in their grueling, often hours-long review of a lifer’s crime, circumstances and suitability at a parole hearing.
Keep in mind, most of the parole commissioners come from a law enforcement-connected background, are largely conservative and none could be described a flaming liberal on law and order. If this review finds the parole board did their due diligence and their job, laws were followed and the parole grant duly given, the Governor allows the grant to proceed.
If there is something that catches the Governor’s eye, he can rescind the grant of parole. He’s done this before and it’s something his immediate predecessor did about 80 percent of the time.
And what then?
Usually, the prisoner files a court action on the governor’s reversal and this action takes its path through the courts, racking up expenses in court costs, legal fees and continued incarceration time for one, two or even three years. And the outcome?
Under the Schwarzenegger regime, about 80 percent of his reversals were eventually overturned by the courts, reinstating the parole of the prisoner, but only after considerable costs in both monetary and human terms. And to what end? Pretty much nothing. No great increase in public safety, no fanfare, just a lot of money wasted.
Want more truth?
Not all parolees are the same. Until the recent realignment changes, nearly everyone who went into state prison, whether for a life term crime or for a determinate sentence, was placed on parole when released.
The vast majority of these parolees was never lifers, never had to go before a board to prove they were no longer a threat to public safety and never had to bother with rehabilitation. They were simply released on parole at the end of their sentence. These are the individuals the media so often headlines in the “Parolee commits XYZ” stories. The fact that these re-offending individuals were never life term prisoners is never mentioned.
California’s present recidivism rate for all prisoners released on parole hovers around 70 percent, pretty bad for a state agency that claims “rehabilitation” as a goal.
And what about the recidivism rate for those life-term prisoners who manage to rehabilitate themselves, turn their lives around and prove to both the parole board and the governor that they are changed and no longer a danger? It’s less than 1 percent!
That’s right, less than 1 percent.
Continue reading @ Capitol Weekly
- Brown allows parole for murderers at greater rate (mercurynews.com)