This morning, Gov. Jerry Brown gave his final State of the State address. He closed by addressing public safety, showing his support for each and every member of our community, and making a plea to the people of California:
“Take time to understand how our system of crime and punishment has evolved, how other states and countries have devised their prison systems and what changes might we now make. I urge that instead of enacting new laws because of horrible crimes and lurid headlines, you consider the overall system and what it might need and what truly protects public safety.
Certainly, we need more mental health and drug treatment programs and better training and education. Those we are getting, but more is needed, particularly hope. When a human being gets a 20-or 40-year sentence, as tens of thousands do, incentives to reform weaken and hopelessness and violence take over, making prison gang influence all the more powerful. That is why recent measures are so vital which allow the possibility of earlier parole and milestone credits for those who turn their lives around.
Equally important are the correctional officers who walk the halls and put their lives on the line in direct contact with all manner of inmate. Their job is to keep the place safe, never an easy task, and to create an atmosphere of respect and order — and foster a spirit of rehabilitation whenever possible. There are thousands of others who work in the prisons who also deserve our support.
It is all out of sight, but profoundly important because most inmates will be returning to their communities and we want them to be as reformed and rehabilitated as possible.” Read the full transcript here.
Alexandra Mallick is the Executive Director of Re:store Justice. Her work in California includes policy and advocacy to advance criminal justice reform. In addition to working on legislation, she works with incarcerated individuals to help change the narrative and shine a light on the power of rehabilitation.