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Related Categories: California | Police State and Prisons
Federal Court's Tentative Ruling Attempts to Stop Overcrowding in CA Prisons
by Cat Azedeh,Black August Organizing Committee
Thursday Feb 12th, 2009 4:26 AM
For Immediate Release: February 11, 2009
Contact: Shaka At-Thinnin, (510) 597-1504


(Oakland, CA-February 11, 2009) – Federal judges tentatively ruled on Monday that California must reduce the number of inmates in its overcrowded prison system. While the Black August Organizing Committee (BAOC) is encouraged by the Federal Court ruling, we recognize there is still much work to be done before California can say it has made significant headway toward creating a more just and humane correctional system.

“California has one of the world’s highest incarceration rates and the majority of prison construction occurred at a time when crime rates were actually decreasing”, said Shaka At-Thinin, Chairman of the Black August Organizing Committee.“Prisons are not now, nor have they ever been, a solution to address rising crime rates.

Indeed research has demonstrated that society would be much better served – and crime rates lowered- by addressing issues such as education levels, employment levels and poverty levels.

California now spends almost as much on incarcerating its citizens as it does in educating them. In this current fiscal crisis, the state should be more thoughtful and strategic in how it utilizes tax payer’s funds. Rather than wasting billions of dollars on incarcerating people who would be better served in rehabilitation programs, California should pour those funds into programs that have the ability to improve the overall well being of the community like education, social service programs and job creation and training programs.

“Until California is willing to address the societal inequities that force people into the underground economy or to seek comfort in substances to deal with the harsh realities of their lives, it will not achieve the change it seeks in lowering crime rates”, said At-Thinin. “The correctional system is lying to the citizens of this state when it tells them that incarceration is the answer to keeping them safe”.

The BAOC urges that in addition to investigating the inhumane and unconstitutional conditions plaguing California’s 33 prisons, Proposition 9 - which unfairly keeps people in prison longer under the guise of ‘victims rights’ - be amended or repealed immediately. This will have an immediate impact on reducing the numbers of people crammed into California’s prisons.

Finally, California Legislators need to change the policies and practices that make it difficult for parolees to successfully re-enter society. Rather than focusing on violating parolees for minor infractions, the state needs to implement practices that help people returning home get on their feet, access necessary resources and obtain gainful employment.

The Black August Organizing Committee is a grass-roots community organization that has been in existence for 30 years. We exist to change the conditions within the prison system and within our communities. Our programs exist to educate and uplift. Our dedication is to those freedom fighters still in the concentration camps after decades of incarceration, as well as to the youth of our communities who are in danger of joining them, or dying in the streets.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Madeline Wright
(JOHNSONBbygrl47 [at] Monday May 11th, 2009 8:52 PM
I agree with the BLACK AUGUST ORGANIZING COMMITTEE, the prison system need to restructure their system to alleviate the overcrowding by releasing non-violent offenders & repeat offenders for non-violent drug offenses that are in our prisons. The non-violent drug offenders get more time in prison especially if they have a prison prior, than murderers, bank robbers, home invasion robbers , & rapists, etc. There should be some kind of programs for the non-violent offenders such as job readiness training to help them get in/back in the work force to become a productive citizen again. Their offenses and mistakes shouldn't be an example or guidelines for others who have committed harsher crimes. Instead of putting money into building more prisons to house more and more offenders, no matter what their offenses are, why not put the money into rehabilitation programs, education programs, & job training programs to help these offenders build their self esteem so they feel useful, worthy, grateful & inspired to give something back, help others, and become a productive member of society again.