donate or subscribe
Follow Us Twitter Facebook

Healed people heal people: Use Prop 57 to restore leadership and strengthen communities

July 24, 2017

by Forrest Lee Jones

Proposition 57 was supposed to save taxpayers money and promote public safety, but it will deprive communities of leaders that could make them safer.

Expanding Prop 57 could complete and end this cycle by bringing home older and wiser former prisoners to lead youth in a better direction. – Art: Arkee Chaney, A71362, P.O. Box 1327, Galesburg IL 61401

The reason is that the regulations California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitiation (CDCR) promulgates to execute Prop 57’s provisions are applied too narrowly. They focus on people who committed non-violent crimes. Common wisdom says that public safety requires the continued incarceration of any person who committed a violent crime, but in this case, common wisdom is wrong.

I am not a “violent offender.” I am, however, a third-striker serving 25 years to life for burglary of an unoccupied dwelling. For the past 21 years, I’ve changed my life. Through self-help groups, cognitive therapy and rigorous introspection, I’ve come to understand the underlying causes of my drug addiction and criminal conduct. With this understanding came the tools to change my life.

As I changed my life, I watched other men changing their lives. These men had committed violent crimes, but I watched them take the same tools I’d used and transform themselves into productive citizens dedicated to making amends for the harms they’d caused. Some mentor kids, attempting to steer them clear of cycles of violence. Some cooperate with assistant district attorneys in an attempt to slow rates of incarceration. And others dedicate their time and life to healing and empowering survivors of crime.

The regulations California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitiation (CDCR) promulgates to execute Prop 57’s provisions are applied too narrowly.

I’ve seen these men take the tools that have transformed them into community servants and place them in the hands of other men. The latter changed their lives too, showing me how contagious change can be. There’s a saying in therapeutic groups: “Hurt people hurt people.” However, once people’s issues are addressed through therapy and peer counseling, they are healed, and the saying changes to “healed people heal people.”

I’ve seen the truth of this statement in the restorative justice circles I attend every week. Imagine the force for change these healed people could be in their communities. Imagine the at-risk kids they could save from gangs or drugs. Despite their violent histories, these reformed men could decrease the violence in their communities. It feels like a waste of tax dollars to house reformed people in prisons when they could be paying taxes and disrupting cycles of incarceration in their communities.

There’s a saying in therapeutic groups: “Hurt people hurt people.” However, once people’s issues are addressed through therapy and peer counseling, they are healed, and the saying changes to “healed people heal people.”

You can make this possible through Prop. 57, which authorizes the CDCR to create a new regulation to implement an earlier parole process and award credits to prisoners who demonstrate that they have changed and will be productive citizens. Expanding CDCR’s proposed regulations to encompass even people who committed a violent crime will put them in the communities that need them quicker, where they can be a positive impact on others who could benefit from reformed incarcerated people’s therapeutic skills.

I’m asking that legislators extend Prop 57’s 50 percent time credit to violent and serious offenders, apply the credits retroactively and include non-violent third strikers in the parole eligibility process. I’m also asking that community members contact their representatives in support of the same.

Your help will be beneficial to all communities.

I’m asking that legislators extend Prop 57’s 50 percent time credit to violent and serious offenders, apply the credits retroactively and include non-violent third strikers in the parole eligibility process. I’m also asking that community members contact their representatives in support of the same.

Send our brother some love and light: Forrest Lee Jones, E-89706, San Quentin State Prison Facility 4-W-4L, San Quentin CA 94964. Jones is a Journalism Guild writer. He is a third-striker serving a 25 years to life sentence at San Quentin.

Time to take action on CDCR’s proposed Regular (permanent) Prop. 57 regulations

by Initiate Justice, a member of CURB

Click to enlarge

Last Friday, CDCR released their proposed Regular Regulations for Prop 57 implementation. We, the people, have a right to weigh in during a 45-day written public comment period, which ends Sept. 1, 2017, at 5 p.m. There will also be a public hearing on Sept. 1, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. in Sacramento – and we will show up strong!

What CDCR is proposing

Unfortunately, the proposed Regular Regulations are unchanged from the Emergency Regulations released back in March. Full text of the draft can be found here, but a short summary is below:

Non-violent early parole:

  • Initial screening for nonviolent parole (to determine if the “nonviolent” offense is eligible) began June 1, 2017; second screening (to review rules violations etc.) began July 1, 2017.
  • Parole process will be a “paper process,” not a formal hearing.
  • People with violent enhancements or who have to register as sex offenders will be excluded.
  • Lifers and Third-Strikers will be excluded.
  • If a person is eligible, they will be notified by their counselors.

Credit earning:

May 1, 2017

  • good time credits to be expanded from 15 percent to 20 percent for people with “violent” offenses or lifers with the possibility of parole
  • good time credits to be expanded from 20 percent to 33 percent for people with “serious” offenses
  • two-for-one good time credits awarded to people already eligible for fire camps, 50 percent credits for people with violent offenses who go to fire camps

Effective Aug. 1, 2017

  • everyone now eligible for Milestones earns a max of 12 weeks per year (up from six weeks)
  • completion of 208 hours of Inmate Leisure Time Activity Groups (ILTAG) will earn additional four weeks off per year
  • one-time retroactive three-month credits will be awarded for earning high school diploma or GED
  • one-time retroactive six-month credits will be awarded for earning AA, BA, postgraduate degree, or Offender Mentor Certification Program

What we want

Based on our Prop 57 Survey results and in partnership with Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), we developed the following recommendations in response to the draft Emergency Regulations, and they are the same for these Regular Regulations:

  1. Allow all people in prison to earn 50 percent good time credits.
  2. Make all good time credit earning retroactive.
  3. Include Third Strikers in the non-violent early parole.
  4. Award retroactive Education Merit Credits for each achievement.
  5. Allow every person with a Youth Offender Parole Date or Elderly Parole Date to earn time off of their earliest parole date.

What we can do

  1. Send written comments to CDCR. CDCR must respond to every written comment, so make them count! Feel free to use the five demands listed above in your comments. Deadline is Sept. 1, 2017, 5 p.m. Contact Timothy M. Lockwood, Associate Director, Regulation and Policy Management Branch, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
  1. Come Out to the Prop 57 Regulations Hearing! In addition to sending written comments, if you want to attend, please sign up here. It’s Friday, Sept. 1, 2017, 9 a.m.-12 p.m., in the Department of Water Resources Building Auditorium, 1416 Ninth St., Sacramento, CA 95814.
  2. Donate to support Initiate Justice! Initiate Justice is a small, volunteer team that cannot do this work without the support of individual donations. Help pay for stamps to mail the regulations to people inside and support our mobilizations to Sacramento. Every dollar helps!

What is next?

Initiate Justice team

After the 45-day public comment period ends, CDCR will finalize their regulations, submit them to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL), and then the OAL must submit them to the Secretary of State for final approval and implementation. This process will take a few months, so stay ready to keep up the hard work!

Thank you so much for your participation, and stay hopeful. Together, we can make sure that Prop 57 will help folks come home to their families. Stay tuned for more updates!

Initiate Justice is a member of Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), which can be reached at 1322 Webster St #210, Oakland CA 94612 or Chuco’s Justice Center, 1137 E. Redondo Blvd., Inglewood CA 90302.

Tags

Filed Under: Prison Stories
Tags:

2 thoughts on “Healed people heal people: Use Prop 57 to restore leadership and strengthen communities

  1. Dalyce Kelley

    Thank you, I just used this to put together a letter on behalf of my loved one that other people can use to send to CDCR:

    Dear Mr. Timothy M. Lockwood,
    We would like to write you this letter in support of Jonathan Curry (#P-35660) and would appreciate your consideration with his early release. He has never gotten into any trouble during his almost 20 years of incarceration. He was convicted for a non-violent crime back in the late 90s and with his good behavior and educational credits earned, under Prop 57, Mr. Curry and other inmates like him should be included for early parole release promised in Proposition 57. Voters overwhelmingly approved this and the purpose and expected outcome of the bill passed is now being reneged on. Voters thought we were passing a bill that would increase rehabilitation services and decrease the prison population. In the bill, the California Supreme Court clearly stated: parole eligibility in Prop. 57 applies "only to prisoners convicted of non‐violent felonies." This is what voters thought they were voting for. Proposition 57 was supposed to save taxpayers money and promote public safety. Expanding Prop 57 could complete and end this cycle by bringing home older and wiser former prisoners to lead youth in a better direction.

    We propose and fully support the following in response to the Emergency Regulations filed back in March:

    Allow all people in prison to earn 50 percent good time credits.
    Make all good time credit earning retroactive.
    Include Third Strikers in the non-violent early parole.
    Award retroactive Education Merit Credits for each achievement.
    Allow every person with a Youth Offender Parole Date or Elderly Parole Date to earn time off of their earliest parole date.

    I am totally against greedy corporations, mass incarceration and this horrible crime against humanity. Let our brother, father and family member come home. He has paid triple the time for his crime. Enough is enough.

    Thank you,
    Dalyce Kelley
    819 Sunburst Way
    Pomona, CA 91767
    214-560-8811

    In support of my family member:

    California Men's Colony State Prison
    P.O. Box 8101
    San Luis Obispo, CA 93409-8101
    Attn: Jonathan Curry
    CDCR# P-35660 Cell # E-7-28

    Reply
  2. Sig Verano

    I wholeheartedly support Proposition 57 and hope most of us understand the blessings that it brings to the Families of young persons who made the mistakes that put then on their current situation.
    As we have seen a great majority of these individuals come out of there totally changed and willing to serve & give back in very positive way to Local, State, and country society & therefore becoming exemplary Citizens in many ways.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

BayView Classifieds - ads, opportunities, announcements