“Law enforcement has been on an incarceration binge for 30 years, and it hasn’t worked,” said George Gascón, the San Francisco district attorney and a former police chief. In a recent New York Times article the corrections situation in America was clearly detailed, it’s pretty sad. Three strikes and you’re out has failed miserably. We the taxpayers are paying the freight but it’s the inmates and their families who have really paid an incredible personal price.
Proposition 47 in California would not have seen the light of day were it not for the budget busting size of corrections in California. The recent movement for prison and sentencing reform has been politically motivated by budget woes, no money left for political pork; hopefully it will end with meaningful legislation. The importance of Proposition 47 is easily lost in the media with high profile stories like Ebola, ISIS, Ray Rice, Ferguson, Missouri again and Hong Kong dominating coverage. But Proposition 47 is big and long overdue; even law enforcement leaders are disagreeing amongst themselves in public.
Why do I care? What’s in it for me? Absolutely nothing. It’s too late for my wife, she did her Federal time and got slammed with $500 per month restitution payments for good measure; don’t get me going. I care for those behind the wire who are dying with their eyes open, grinding through another day of a lengthy sentence; left behind by life. How about their kids growing up in a fractured family with dad or mom in the slammer? Believe me everybody is doing time, kids included. The collateral damage is immense. So where is the hope?
I hope Proposition 47 passes, that would be good. I believe Attorney General Eric Holder wants to initiate real changes in law enforcement to return calm and trust in many of America’s communities. We have enough stress and fear without white rogue cops over reacting weekly, on camera no less. All they do is stain the reputation of thousands of honest cops who work really hard every day dealing with really nasty stuff we don’t want to know about. I think Chuck Colson’s Prison Fellowship, the Fortune Society, Crossroad Bible Institute, Families Against Mandatory Minimums and all those volunteering to do church services in prisons across America, are the change agent and heroes of hope.
Digressing briefly, there is a lot of fear and over reaction in this country regarding ISIS, Ebola and police brutality. I believe with time, ISIS will be crushed and severely downsized; let the pro’s do their job. Ditto with the CDC and Ebola. I have faith that it will be contained but many will be lost in Africa; very sad to watch. I believe law enforcement will do a series of lesson learned on the multitude of recent bad scenes that have played out for all to see in America; training will improve, trust between cops and people of color will improve, slowly.
Finally, I have faith that the America’s incarceration bender is headed to detox. When politicians finally start doing something, the work of the true leaders on prison reform is finally paying off. I remember when President Ford pardoned Richard Nixon, I was really offended. I thought Nixon should have done time, held legally accountable just like everybody else. I was glad to see his cronies get charged and convicted, that included Chuck Colson. Decades have passed. With hindsight, President Ford was right, I was wrong; Chuck Colson became the real deal, once he got out of politics and prison.
I have changed. My wife served time, I now enjoy contemporary church music and we even have a micro blog, it’s all pretty amazing. I do believe Proposition 47 will pass in California. Oh one last thing; a Connecticut man, Kenneth Ireland, served 20 years wrongly convicted of rape and murder. He was exonerated by DNA testing and now is on their state parole board. Now that’s an answer to prayer. God bless America.