Asian and Pacific Islander Civil Rights Organizations Announce Support for Proposition 47: Invest in Schools, Not Prisons
San Francisco – Chinese for Affirmative Action, Chinese Progressive Association, and Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus have announced their strong support for Proposition 47 and urge community members to vote YES for this important ballot measure. Proposition 47, also known as The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act of 2014, would change sentencing for low-level non-serious, nonviolent crimes such as simple drug possession and petty theft from felonies to misdemeanors, and reinvest the savings into truancy prevention, victim’s services, and mental health programs.
If Prop 47 passes, California will lead the nation in ending felony sentencing for low level, nonviolent crimes and as a result, relieve unconstitutionally overcrowded prisons through new approaches for public safety.
The measure will have a direct impact on the Asian and Pacific Islander community, which comprises at least 3.4% of the prison population in California. The API population is growing as well, with incarceration rates quadrupling between 2000 to 2010. They are predominantly immigrants and refugees, as indicated by one study from the Asian Prisoner Support Committee, finding that in California, 64.6% of API prisoners are foreign-born.
“Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus supports Proposition 47 because we know first-hand from serving members of the API community, the devastating impact of felony convictions. Passage of Proposition 47 would reduce harsh immigration consequences, keep families together, and allow community members a chance to rehabilitate and reintegrate back into society,” said Angela Chan, Policy Director and Senior Staff Attorney.
Many organizations agree that it will generate much needed funds. Proposition 47 is estimated to save anywhere between $400 million to $700 million per year, and reinvests this savings towards K-12 education and vital community services.
Grace Lee, CAA Policy Director stated, “The current models of highly punitive law enforcement and mass incarceration are simply not working to improve public safety and our communities are frustrated with needless spending on prisons. Funding from this initiative will go directly to the root causes by supporting mental health programs, substance abuse treatment, and reducing or preventing truancy and dropout rates.”
Jon Osaki, Executive Director, Japanese Community Youth Council, added, “Continuing our society’s focus on punitive measures is not making our communities safer. It is time to redirect vital resources towards practices and interventions that can make a real difference for our communities.”
CAA, CPA, and Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus also emphasized that the three organizations were coming together to support the measure to promote racial justice and civil rights.
“Prop 47 is about racial justice. People of color, especially Blacks and Latinos, are arrested and convicted at higher rates and sentenced more harshly. While Asians are a smaller percentage of the population, our communities are still affected by this discriminatory system,” said Ken Wang with the Chinese Progressive Association. “Furthermore, California spends more on prisons than on higher education. This means hundreds of millions of tax dollars goes to private corporate prisons instead of education and social services. Prop 47 is a step in the right direction towards reforming our criminal justice system.”
Proposition 47 has received strong support from faith-based organizations, community organizations, victims of crimes, organized labor, education, elected and political officials and organizations, judicial officers, law enforcement and public safety. For a complete list of endorsements, visit http://safetyandschools.com/.