From ACLU of Northern California <[email protected]>
Subject 2 Victories for Criminal Justice Reform in CA
Date November 20, 2020 4:00 PM
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Read our analysis on the implications of Propositions 17 and 20.

Friend –

Amid the ongoing drama of the presidential election, it’s easy to forget the results of the state-level ballot initiatives that will impact communities here at home.

But these initiatives are important. They’re direct questions posed to voters that can have a significant impact on the civil rights and civil liberties of all Californians.

Learn more <[link removed]>

Two propositions from this year’s ballot, Propositions 17 and 20, deserve recognition for the ways that their fates have brought California a step closer toward true criminal justice reform. Here’s why:

* Prop. 17 expanded our democracy. It amends the California Constitution to allow people on parole the right to vote. This means that some 50,000 people returning to their communities can now cast a ballot for the policies and politicians that will impact their lives. The old Constitutional provision that blocked parolees from voting had largely impacted people of color, who are disproportionately incarcerated.

* Prop. 17 helps to strengthen our communities. Numerous studies have shown that when formerly incarcerated people reenter society and are able to vote, they are more invested in their communities and have significantly lower rates of recidivism and a more successful reentry.

* Prop. 20 tried to erode criminal justice reforms—and failed It would have rolled back the reforms that Californians had already approved at the ballot box, which are aimed at decreasing the population of our state’s sprawling prison system. As such, it would have deepened the racial disparities that lie at the heart of the incarceration system. (In California, Black people make up approximately 28% of the prison population but are only 6% of the state’s population.) Californians roundly rejected it.

Read more about the origins and implications of Props. 17 and 20 on our blog. <[link removed]>

The ACLU of Northern California is committed to transforming our criminal justice system so that the rights and dignity of incarcerated people, formerly incarcerated people, and their loved ones are respected, and strengthened.

The approval of Prop. 17 and the rejection of Prop. 20 bring us nearer to that vision of justice. Thank you for helping to make this progress possible.


Abdi Soltani
Executive Director, ACLU of Northern California

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