By Elizabeth Lasensky
(Editor’s note: the writer notes that this was submitted to the Enterprise and not printed in the paper).
Yes, endorsements do matter because they attempt to sway public opinion. In the area of criminal justice reform, they tell us whether a candidate or official supports the status quo in Yolo County or whether they have a broader vision for where we could go in the future.
While Yolo County has a below-average crime rate, Yolo County has a higher than average percentage of youth who are either incarcerated or on probation. Since 2013, 93% of youth charged in our county as adults have been Latino, creating a racially-linked school to prison pipeline. The majority of people in our county jail are there because they cannot afford cash bail. While in jail, they cannot earn money to post bail, support their families, or get an education. It costs $75,560 a year to house a prisoner in California, which is more that a year at Harvard or Stanford.
Because 40 residents signed a letter voicing dissent from the status quo, because we had the audacity to question the power structure that continues to listen mostly to itself, we have been labeled hateful and uncivil. Yet what the original letter asked was to invite in new ideas and new voices to the discussion of criminal justice reform in our county. We think that with new creative vision and inclusive leadership, we could embrace another model, one that invests in social services and other programs for our residents and communities.