April 2016: Dear Editor


Dear Editor:
Governor Brown has proposed a bill far overdue, and I question his motives. I mean, is he just now realizing the prison problems for the first time? No. He has helped to perpetuate this mess, now he’s trying to clean up his legacy to distinguish his administration from the failures of the past, think Davis and Wilson. Had there been another less benign option, no question we’d be talking about something else right now. Also, the changes he is proposing to make are band aid measures, and are probably in response to some of the recent Black Lives Matter protests, the implications here are obvious, Brown is trying to protect his legacy by being on the right side of history, but I really think he hates to do it.
It’s a pity this State has visited so much evil upon the criminalized and disenfranchised poor minorities. The statistics have been known for many decades that locking up people for long stretches of their lives, has the affect of ultimately destroying the fabric of the community from which they come. Families are the real victims of mass incarceration, and ending the dreams and aspirations of men and women thru incarceration has far reaching impact on our collective conscious; or do you think we are not so linked?
People are waking up to this evil system, the demands for a better way are increasing. Deterring crime, at the expense of human lives, not to mention tax dollars, by giving people outrageous sentences serves a darker purpose. Crime increases as families lose the ability to raise the next generation because older members are locked away forever. We have lost multiple generations this way and communities do feel the difference in the newest gen.
Most lifers in the prison system are not violent criminals, but have no incentives for rehabilitation because they’ll never get out anyway. The 64 years to life I got for property crimes can only be described as an instance of genocide at work. Nothing in my record has ever indicated a propensity for violence, yet the Court has little regard for these kinds of considerations. My residential burglary of an unoccupied house is non- violent, but it is considered as equivalent to manslaughter or kidnapping.
California hands out decades to repeat offenders under the Three Strikes law, and the recent changes, and even the proposed change by Choose1.org, will have no impact on nonóviolent repeat offenders like me. Nothing I said at court at my sentencing, including the poverty I had to endure and my past in foster homes, mattered. It’s just ëone size fits allë and off you go! In my letter to the judge, I tried to explain that minorities are disadvantaged as a start, but that I was even more so because I had a felony record and could not get a stable job or even some public benefits.
Anyway, I do hope the measure passes, I am ready for a chance at freedom and redemption. Let’s pray that Governor brown’s initiative passes, even if I have my doubts as to its real intent.
Chris Young #AB0174, Mule Creek State Prison, PO Box 409020, Ione CA 95640

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