By Susana Jurado
Opposition to Proposition 20 is receiving quite a bit of attention after several of the largest crime victims’ organizations in California banded together to send out a letter Friday to mayors across the state asking for their support in opposing the passage of this controversial state ballot initiative.
The letter—supported by district attorneys, state judges and crime victim organizations—argues this initiative would be costly, increasing incarceration at inexplicable rates, and cutting down investments in rehabilitation services to assist in the healing process of crime survivors.
Some of the partnered coalitions that have fought against the initiative include California’s largest crime survivor network, Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence and Ruby’s Place. These are just some of the places that assisted victims of human trafficking and domestic abuse by providing them the services they needed, such as shelter and therapeutic counseling.
The letter outlines how Proposition 20 will actually take California back 20 years when it was the leader in mass incarceration because punishment is considered far more valuable than rehabilitation.
According to the letter, the proposition fails to prevent crime from occurring because of the lack of funding it promotes for rehabilitation facilities and does not meet the needs of struggling crime survivors.
This letter has been sent across the state to mayors in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Fresno, Sacramento, Long Beach, Oakland, Bakersfield, Anaheim, Riverside, Santa Ana and Stockton, and there have already been agreeable responses to oppose the initiative from Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.
“As crime survivors and those who work on their behalf every day, we support policies to prevent crime, reduce recidivism and address barriers that prevent healing,” highlighted the letter, “More than anything, most victims want assurances that what happened to them will never happen again – to them or anyone else.”
Proposition 20 threatens the savings of hundreds of millions of dollars that have been brought to existence by recent justice system reforms, causing a dramatic reduction of incarceration in California.
This initiative would reinvest the money elsewhere such as local communities, and officially take away the funding of dozens of trauma recovery centers that provide victims of crime just the right resources they need to heal from their abuse.
California reports recently released indicate lower statewide crime rates at present than any other time in recorded history, but when talking about the rehabilitation services provided to crime survivors, only 1 in 5 people in the past 10 years have received the assistance they needed to recover from their traumatic experiences.
The letter maintains the importance of investments in community health instead of incarceration and its ability to prevent an increase in crime. It takes note of the thousands of Californians that grapple with mental illness, addiction, and trauma. Especially when untreated, these health vulnerabilities are indicated as well-known drivers of crime.
“We believe in treatment programs and addiction services to break the cycle of crime,” the letter clearly stated, “We believe mental health challenges should be handled…outside of traditional courts and prisons.”
Repealing justice reform would cause 10,000 more people to be incarcerated each year in California’s state jails and prisons, as a result of this proposition passing.
Proposition 20 is also opposed by a number of leading labor, civil rights and business organizations, including the California Teachers Association, Chicana Latina Foundation, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), California Labor Federation, United Domestic Workers of America, California Correctional Peace Officers Association, California Fire Chiefs Association, United Way of California, Sierra Club, California Black Chamber of Commerce, Asian Americans Advancing Justice (CA) and the Chief Probation Officers of California,.
“We cannot and must not turn back the clock,” affirms the letter. “We ask you to help us continue the progress we have made together in California by standing with us in opposition to Proposition 20 and a return to the failed policies of the past.”
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