Last November, California voters passed Prop 47, a measure that reclassifies felonies involving theft and property destruction under $950, as well as simple drug possession, to misdemeanors. Because Prop 47 is retroactive, it has already had a dramatic impact on reducing the sentences of incarcerated people.
For formerly incarcerate people, having a felony conviction can be a tremendous obstacle with employment, housing, public benefits, immigration, adopting children, voting, and education. Legal services providers can now help clients relieve the discriminatory consequences of having a felony criminal record, including by providing them with expanded record clearance options.
Though there is still much work to do to end mass incarceration in California, Prop 47 represents an important turning point in the trend to incarcerate people for minor offenses.
Under the new guidelines of Prop 47 tens of thousands of formerly incarcerated people will qualify to clear past convictions. Since its passing, LSPC has helped organize various Prop 47 Record Clearance Clinics around the Bay Area. At the clinics, people with conviction histories can receive information about their legal rights under Prop 47, fill out a Prop 47 petition onsite, and learn about other expungement relief. So far, we have been able to provide Prop 47 relief to over 70 people!
Learn more about these events and Prop 47 by watching below. Many thanks to Silicon Valley De-Bug for putting this video together of our last clinic in East Palo Alto!
Also, check out a recent article about Prop 47, written by our very own staff attorney Brittany Stonesifer for the SF BayView, here!
Our Prop 47 legal manual
LSPC published our most recent edition of Using Proposition 47 to Reduce Convictions and Restore Rights in September, 2015. This guide is intended to help advocates in restoring the basic rights of your incarcerated and formerly incarcerated clients and, in turn, their families.
For San Francisco Bay Area residents in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, San Francisco and San Mateo counties we also have the Prop 47 Bay Area Resource Guide.
For more details on how LSPC is addressing the increased need for clean slate services or additional information on the topics in this manual, please contact staff attorney Brittany Stonesifer at brittany(at)prisonerswithchildren.org.
January 2015 Prop 47 Community Forum
On January 25th LSPC and Golden Gate University Law School in San Francisco co-sponsored “Prop 47 Community Forum: Progressives’ Role in Implementation.” Over 100 attorneys, advocates, formerly incarcerated people, and other community members attended. Read our report back of the event here:
Prop 47: We Support it, But it’s Complicated
(Published on October 24th, 2014, as a response to some parts of the Prop 47 campaign’s messaging.)
Dear Family, Friends, Allies, Associates and Supporters,
You may be aware of California’s ballot initiative Prop 47, which would reduce six crimes that could be charged as felonies to misdemeanors and prevent thousands of people from being incarcerated. Prop 47 represents an important opportunity to push back on overcharging people for crimes that leads to mass incarceration. All of Us or None will continue to loudly demand an end to overcharging and for the freedom of our people. However, I need to state that this proposition has proven to be complicated for us. I am writing to share with you our perspective on the opportunities and challenges represented by Prop 47.
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and All of Us or None support Prop 47. We worked tirelessly collecting signatures to qualify it for the ballot. All of Us or None is particularly engaged in regions that prove most challenging to changes in the criminal justice system.
Prop 47 rightly reduces these wobblers to misdemeanors because people should not be caged for minor survival acts or medicating themselves. However, it does not shift the paradigm, and law enforcement, conservatives, as well as liberals, will continue using old and unchallenged arguments to imprison and kill us.
Prop 47 frees some of us while at the same time arguing others should or will not be considered for fundamental relief. It puts us in the position of having to choose between our loved ones. Creating an artificial dividing line for sentencing reform reinforces the idea that certain people with convictions are deserving of justice, while others are beyond redemption. All of Us or None was created to fight for the full restoration of the civil and human rights of ALL incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people.
We need to be honest about violence. We know that people are afraid and their fears are often exploited. It takes a society to raise a child to become a violent person. Violent social practices, both historical and present-day, have a major influence on the past and present violence in the lives of currently, and formerly-incarcerated people and our families. It takes collective social responsibility to stop violence and to raise our next generations of people free from the systemic and interpersonal cycles of violence.
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and All of Us or None want our families, friends and neighbors free. We are committed to freeing whoever we can now and we will continue to fight to free more whenever we can.
However, we must point out that the language and practice of separating us presents real challenges to organizing the full body of our community. It suggests not all lives are important and perpetuates thinking that enables mass incarceration. We hope to engage in a robust discussion about these issues at the conclusion of this election cycle. Once again, our commitment is to freeing our people and Proposition 47 is one step in that direction.
In pursuit of Justice,
On behalf of All of Us or None and Legal Services for Prisoners with Children