WATCH Keith Wattley's recent discussion with the Anti-Recidivism Coalition's Sam Lewis on COVID-19 in the California prison system. JOIN US in demanding that Governor Newsom take immediate action to release at-risk individuals in the California prison system before it's too late.
UnCommon Law has identified the following levers that Governor Newsom has at his disposal to provide immediate relief to at-risk folks inside as COVID-19 continues to spread through the California prison system:
Monthly releases for ALL those who are either within one year of their scheduled release date or have served at least 70% of their sentences.
Testing and Safety
Immediately test every person in state prison (staff and residents). Provide safe, sanitary, respectful isolation protocols for those who test positive. Provide appropriate PPE and social distancing for EVERYONE inside.
Commute sentences for everyone with a compromised immune system or high-risk medical condition, as well as all parole-eligible people currently deemed “low risk”.
Review all pending commutation petitions, paying special attention to people over the age of 50 who have served at least 20 years in custody.
Commute the sentences of anyone who has served at least 10 years with credible evidence indicating their offenses were directly related to intimate partner battering and its effects.
End ICE Cooperation
Immediately stop cooperating with ICE to facilitate deportation of those released from state prison.
Immediately release those who have already been found “suitable” for parole by the Board of Parole Hearings, as well as all those with terminal conditions who have six months or less of remaining life.
Release everyone eligible for expanded medical parole onto actual parole.
Release everyone eligible for youth parole consideration (i.e., those whose crimes occurred when they were 25 years old or younger and who have been incarcerated for at least 15 years) as long as they have been free of any violence for at least five years.
Immediately re-sentence those who have been recommended for resentencing by CDCR staff or by the District Attorney’s Office.
Allocate $10 Million of emergency funds for Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) to provide pre- and post-release planning for people transitioning back to the community under any of these release measures. Ensure that CBOs have timely access to institutions and identifying data to perform this function.
The current COVID-19 outbreak has shed new light on issues of overcrowding, unsanitary conditions and a lack of safety in our nation's jails and prisons. As concerns over the safety of our incarcerated population grow, the men and women UnCommon Law serves continue to be left out of initiatives aimed at safely reducing the California prison population.
ABOUT THE HEALTHY AND HOME CAMPAIGN:
UnCommon Law brings people home. Our parole and policy advocacy work has helped hundreds of people achieve freedom from decades-long prison sentences, and many of the men and women we have served are now doing critical work to reduce cycles of violence, heal the communities they once harmed, and using their own transformations to help others change their lives. The data shows that Lifers and those incarcerated for violent crime are the least likely to recidivate back to prison, but Lifers continue to be left behind in conversations around meaningful reform and prison population reduction.
Those serving decades behind bars for crimes committed in their youth are uniquely at risk during the spread of COVID-19. The social and political lines drawn between people who have committed violent crimes and people who haven't perpetuates a false dichotomy: that people who have committed violent crimes are less human, less capable of change, and less deserving of health and safety than others. And now, as COVID-19 has the potential to turn a life sentence into a death sentence, this damaging narrative is more dangerous than ever.
It’s time to broaden the conversation about safe prison population reduction to include ALL incarcerated Californians - and it's time to rethink the negative narratives and stereotypes that allow Lifers to be left out of reforms in the first place.
Funding raised through this campaign will support UnCommon Law’s continued direct services (including expanding our scope to reach all people in need of parole preparation materials as the spread of COVID-19 continues to drastically affect access to programming and resources inside prison), as well as our ongoing advocacy and policy work geared towards getting Lifers included in meaningful justice reforms. Most importantly, funding raised through this campaign will enable us to continue our work bringing Lifers safely home from prison, returning leaders, activists, mentors, change makers, family members and friends to their communities and creating opportunities for healing in communities devastated by the effects of overincarceration.
If you believe that everyone deserves the chance to be healthy and home, we hope you'll join us.
...And, be sure to check out UnCommon Law's work on SB1064; legislation to ensure due process protections for individuals appearing before the parole Board!