Prop 47: From second sentence to second chance

Ricky Hernandez made choices throughout his youth and early adulthood that landed him behind bars. After being released, Hernandez learned that his sentence did not end the moment he walked out through the prison gates. Then came Proposition 47. “Hernandez went down to the Public Defender’s office to seek help and was informed that he qualified for reclassification. Within a couple of months, […]

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With Prop 47, relief from the stigma of a felony conviction

Last November, California voters approved Proposition 47, a measure that reduces some nonviolent felonies to misdemeanors. Since then, more than 500 people have been released from custody and over 1,000 people have had their felony convictions cleared in Contra Costa County. “It takes the stigma away and boosts your confidence. To have that removed is just […]

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The torment of isolation: Ending juvenile solitary confinement

California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation agreed to drastically reduce the use of solitary confinement in state prisons. But as prison and human rights advocates celebrated the victory, the legislature put on hold a bill that would have curbed the practice in the state’s juvenile detention facilities. “I eventually lost count of my time spent in […]

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Letter to my brother in prison

We’Ced contributor Alyssa Castro addresses her older brother Ignacio, who’s currently incarcerated. She tells him about life in Merced, members of his family, and her hopes that they’ll reunite soon. “I don’t like asking how you’ve been or what you’ve been doing because those questions run up against the harsh reality that you’ve been in […]

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Forgive

A poem by M., a 17-year-old ward of the court in Los Angeles, relates the emotional pain wrought by drug addiction, neglect, and experiencing the loss of an estranged parent. “As we were driving to the hospital I was asking why, but nobody would look me in the eyes.” The poem comes from The Beat Within and is posted on […]

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Obama’s commutation of drug offenders: youth journalists weigh in

President Obama recently commuted prison sentences for 46 more nonviolent drug offenders, and became the first sitting president ever to visit a federal penitentiary, El Reno prison in Oklahoma. In his statements, he pointed out that many of the bad decisions made by offenders were made in the throes of drug addiction. Days later, young people who’ve experienced the fallout of drug abuse […]

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Unlocked: from probation to incarceration

Probation is considered an alternative to incarceration in juvenile and adult criminal justice, but for many youth entering the system for the first time, it’s an alternative in name only.  Arrested youth, their families, and their advocates say that probation rules end up acting as a circuit leading back to lockup. Probation violations are the leading cause of incarceration for […]

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Caravan seeks to end mass detention

Immigration advocates, youth leaders, and community organizers caravanned from Oakland to Bakersfield, converging in a protest at Mesa Verde, a privately owned detention center. A recent campaign successfully pressured officials for the release of Ghanaian Kwesi Amuse, who was seeking U.S. asylum and was being indefinitely detained. “Black immigrants from Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean are overrepresented in immigration detention centers at […]

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