By John Lam
Journalism Guild Writer
In a letter addressed to all concerned parties, Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) founder Scott Budnick urged readers to become involved in the effort to get Governor Brown’s criminal justice reforms approved in the November 2016 ballot. Budnick is asking for help from incarcerated people to promote awareness of these proposed reforms.
Governor Brown’s proposed criminal justice reforms include:
Granting the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation the authority to award credits for inmate to reduce their sentences, by participating in educational, vocational and self-help programs.
Requiring persons convicted of a non-violent felony offense and sentenced to state prison to be eligible for parole consideration after completing the full term of his/her primary offense. In other words, the time served would be limited to the longest term of imprisonment imposed by the court for any offense, excluding enhancements, consecutive sentence or alternative sentence.
“Imagine the impact if everyone inside got just one person to vote”
The determination of charging minors in juvenile or adult court would shift from prosecutors to juvenile court judges and require them to consider the youth’s developmental status, cognitive ability, and social history.
“Californians will have their say in November. There will be a lot of people in support of this effort, and many in opposition…There are others who will spend the [upcoming] months scaring the public into believing that violent offenders will be set free to rape and murder innocent people,” Budnick wrote.
“The President of the District Attorneys Association and former Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley have already said this initiative will erode public safety, as have Republican Senators Andy Vidak (Hanford) and Senator Jim Nielson (Gerber).”
Budnick gives the following suggestions for contributing to the effort:
Make sure all family members and friends, who are legal US citizens and not on parole, register to vote on Nov. 4.
“Imagine the impact if everyone inside got just one person to vote, we would have 130,000 additional YES votes for this initiative. If everyone in CDCR got 10 people to vote, we would have an additional 1.3 million votes,” Budnick wrote.
“This could ultimately encourage people to grow, change, rehabilitate and come home to their families. We all know this will enhance public safety, not jeopardize it,” noted Budnick
Other ways that incarcerated people can help includes raising awareness through artwork.
“We will hold an art auction in the fall to raise funds and awareness for this movement. The funds will help us fund reentry programs, housing, mentoring, job training and support for people coming home.”
The auction will be held in a major museum, with celebrity art auctioneers, and a considerable amount of funding, all to benefit the nonprofit organization and also the artists inside (50/50). “We have many board members with powerful connections in the art world, and believe art inside could sell at five to 10 times normal rates,” he added.
For more information about the proposed ballot, or how to get involved, write to:
448 South Hill St.
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Or contact Caitlin Ahearn, Associate Director of development and Communications at Anti-Recidivism Coalition, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (213) 955-5885.
Scott Budnick is the founder and president of ARC, a social advocate, and Hollywood producer known for “The Hangover” films. His work in criminal justice reform includes playing a significant role in help making into law SB9, SB260, SB261 and AB1276.