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Speech delivered for Mianta by Julia Arroyo of the Young Women’s Freedom Center at the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March Aug. 19, 2017, in San Jose, Calif.: My name is Mianta McKnight. I am the Community Engagement Director at Justice Now. As a person who came home from a women’s prison after serving 18 years and one day on a 15 to life sentence, I realized exactly how important transitional resources and assistance are.
Aug. 19 at 11:00 a.m., courageous and loving folks in San Jose, Calif., joined with sister marches and rallies throughout the country in support of prisoners’ human rights and amending the 13th. Their courage is found in the rejection of an institution so prevalent and insidious that any criticism can bring a mountain of ridicule and judgment. It is an institution shielded by a centuries old narrative that tells people, “They are not like us,” and consequently, “they” are undeserving of our humanity.
Black people are genetic experts at dislocation and assimilation; what with centuries of practice, we come to this place with authority and grief. However, Saturday, July 30, at the fifth OG or Original Good Community Barbecue, children, youth and adults had a chance to mingle, eat and enjoy the chance to introduce Gen X to those elders who made this city situated between Silicon Valley giants – Palo Alto and Menlo Park – what it was, if not what it is now.
The budget signed June 27 by Gov. Jerry Brown reflects Sacramento’s relentless reliance on incarceration. Although the budget includes some repairs to the social safety net, it nonetheless aggressively builds up California’s system of imprisonment, adding another $270 million to the state’s large-scale jail construction program, extending contracts for private prisons, increasing the number of prison guards and funding construction on a dilapidated prison in Norco.
This report reveals the failure of CDCR’s efforts to sustainably reduce incarceration and resolve the humanitarian crisis of its prisons and instead outlines a concerning vision for an expanded and more powerful prison system. We must begin making investments that will sustainably reduce incarceration, close prisons and provide true opportunities for people in low-income communities to thrive.
Something very significant is brewing in California right now. Female prisoners in the Yuba County Jail are organizing in solidarity with immigrants in detention. On Monday, Dec. 14, a group of women began a hunger strike, joining hundreds of other detainees taking part in hunger strikes at facilities across the country. The Yuba County Jail hunger strike is led by, and in support of, Rajeshree Roy.
Since my release in October 1981, my deepest commitment in life has been to fight for the full restoration of civil and human rights of formerly incarcerated people and for those who have the current misfortune of occupying cages. It is through this lens that I attempt to come to grips with the tragic murder of Hugo Pinell and its possible ramifications.
Calling all families: Come out for ‘A Fair Chance to Advance’ on Saturday, Aug. 1, 11-2, at At Thy Word Church, 8915 International Blvd, Oakland, to see how Prop 47, reducing many felonies to misdemeanors, can free your family – presented by Bay Area Black Workers Center, Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice, East Bay Community Law Center, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and Assemblyman Rob Bonta.
By now, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard of Proposition 47 (Prop 47). With more than 3,200 people released from state prisons and 115,000 petitions filed under the law within the first six months of its passage, Prop 47 is likely the most significant reform to California criminal justice policy since 2011’s Realignment. It is critical that individuals with eligible criminal convictions act quickly because the law created only a three-year application window.
California draft budget backslides into aggressive prison construction, punting durable population...
The May Revision to Governor Brown’s 2015-16 budget delays plans to close the notorious decaying prison in Norco, a move supported by Sen. Hancock and CURB members earlier this week. The corrections budget continues to account for a total of $12.676 billion with plans for “aggressive” prison construction at Donovan and Mule Creek over the next year.
When I was in prison, I used to work out with heavy weights constantly. But when I started to understand that my best chances of survival were actually centered on education, I focused more on that instead, and it has made all the difference in the kind of life I now have. When I was released, having a student aid package was what kept me from having to go back into the underground economy in order to survive.
On Nov. 4, California voters passed criminal justice reform measure Proposition 47. Proposition 47 changes the lowest level drug possession and petty theft crimes from felonies to simple misdemeanors for some people. Although re-sentencing is not guaranteed, up to 10,000 people in California’s prisons and jails will be eligible for resentencing, and newly sentenced individuals who meet the requirements will be under county jurisdiction.
You may be aware of California’s ballot initiative Prop 47, which would reduce six crimes that could be charged as felonies to misdemeanors and prevent thousands of people from being incarcerated. Prop 47 represents an important opportunity to push back on overcharging people for crimes that leads to mass incarceration. All of Us or None will continue to loudly demand an end to overcharging and for the freedom of our people.