Alliance (ESAA) in Oakland hosted a high energy townhall meeting about Propositions 6 & 9 and the need to defeat them. Over 75 youth packed the room, eager to learn how these Propositions target youth of color, immigrants and those currently incarcerated. Maisha Quint from ESAA opened the event by explaining that if passed these two propositions would greatly expand California?s prioritization of prison spending over education, and stressing the importance of becoming involved in the mobilization to defeat them.
Alicia Criado from Books Not Bars and the No On 6 & 9 Coalition, focused on the terrible provisions of Prop 6. Prop 6 creates over 30 new crimes. Any youth 14 years or older charged with a ?gang-related? felony must be tried as an adult. Penalties for a wide range of offenses would be increased and undocumented persons charged with a violent felony could not be released on bail. Prop 6 would cost at least $965 million to implement in the first year alone at a time when the state budget deficit is already in the billions.
Nia Sykes and Shawna Sanchagrin from CCWP went on to explain how Prop 9 would keep people in prison once Prop 6 put them there. Prop 9 talks about protecting victims? rights, but victims already have their rights protected through the 1982 Victims Bill of Rights. Prop 9 prohibits the release of any prisoners to relieve overcrowding. It would extend the average amount of time between parole hearings up to 15 years for prisoners with an indeterminate life sentence. Prop 9 would pour millions of more dollars into a broken prison system that is already at 150% capacity.
After the presentations, everyone broke into small groups. People talked about how the police already were all over the community, how schools were more and more like jails and how these new propositions would only make things worse. They brainstormed ideas for letting others know about how dangerous these propositions were. The event ended on a strong, positive note as everyone signed up to do phone banking, door-to-door mobilizing and an art-making day to DEFEAT PROPS 6 & 9!
Prop 6 goes down but Prop 9 wins
The overwhelming defeat of Proposition 6 (70% to 30%) sent a strong message that the public does not want to spend millions of more dollars on a failed prison system. Proposition 9 passed (53% to 47%), but only due to a well-funded media campaign filled with misleading information. Many provisions of Proposition 9 are illegal and unconstitutional. Attorneys are now getting together to figure out legal challenges to Prop 9, and grassroots organizations have begun mobilizing community responses to this outrageous proposition.