Although we lacked the time or financial resources to move our initiative to the ballot in time for the November 2018 elections, we started a powerful grass roots movement of dedicated volunteers and family members with loved ones who have been unjustly incarcerated. Our immediate objectives now are to grow our membership, raise the financial resources we will need for a ballot fight in 2020 (approximately $2 million) , and begin preparing to launch signature gathering efforts for The People’s Fair Sentencing & Public Safety Act by the Fall of 2019. We are also working on a legislative effort with the California Assembly and Senate to allow early release and re-sentencing for nonviolent third strikers.
We are determined to make a difference and bring an end to mass incarceration!
A MESSAGE FROM OUR FOUNDER, MITCH MCDOWELL
I’d like to start by saying THANK YOU to the hundreds of volunteers that have joined our organization’s efforts to reform California’s 3 strikes sentencing structure. My sincerest thank you goes out to our core group of members (too many to name) who have spent tireless hours day and night lending their time and expertise to advance our cause. With- out you all we wouldn’t have gotten anywhere, so to you I give many thanks.
I would next like to briefly explain what happened with our 2018 initiative. The People’s Fair Sentencing and Public Safety Act of 2018 gained much traction and public awareness and, despite its ultimate failure to qualify, had a really incredible all-volunteer effort toward gathering the 500k signatures needed to qualify for the ballot. Originally, our initiative’s deadline was July 16th.
Even though attaining the funding needed to qualify strong for the ballot was a struggle, we still had a couple months left to achieve our goal when the Secretary of State’s office announced they were moving up the cutoff date to submit signatures to May 11th.
Their reason was that due to the amount of initiatives filed for this year’s ballot, they wouldn’t have the allotted time to count the signatures to qualify for the 2018 ballot if the date was not changed. You still could have continued to gather signatures and turned them in, but those would be used to qualify for the 2020 ballot. Receiving this surprising news of the earlier cutoff date definitely caught us off guard. As much as it hurt me as well as the others in our organization, I had to make a decision.
My decision was to pull the initiative on the 2018 campaign and focus all of our momentum towards the 2020 ballot. With us filing our initiative again in approximately 12-13 months from now, that allows us the time to build our volunteer base, increase our funding stream, and really be ready to push harder and stronger for the 2020 ballot.
Just like the majority of us in our organization, I also have a loved one, my younger brother, doing life in prison for a nonviolent Three Strikes case. If you are affected by this inhumane law, either by being incarcerated or a loved one of someone incarcerated, we at UTP want you all to know that WE WON’T STOP UNTIL YOU GUYS ON THE INSIDE ARE HOME!!!
In closing, I want to leave you with this… There is power in numbers!! We have the numbers, we have the people, and we have partner organizations all working with us to create change. Now all we have to do is to come together, work together, and most importantly — NOT GIVE UP!!! Asking nicely for change, for the system as a whole to treat people humanely, doesn’t work. It hasn’t worked yet, and won’t work until we all get fed up with this unfair treatment of the disadvantaged community. I’d like to extend my personal invitation to all people, and all other social justice organizations out there, to join us in this movement to DEMAND FAIR SENTENCING LAWS!!! Let’s not talk about it anymore. We know what the problem is and why it is. We’ve talked about it long enough. It’s time to DEMAND CHANGE AND BRING OUR LOVED ONES HOME!!!
PPI’s “Correctional Control: Incarceration and Supervision by State” is the first report to aggregate data on all types of correctional control nationwide.
“No one – not even the government itself – has ever been able to specify with any certainty the precise number of federal crimes defined … in the 27,000 or so pages of the U.S. Code.” In the 1980s, lawyers at the Department of Justice estimated that the criminal code contained 3,000 crimes. Today, the Heritage Foundation estimates the federal laws currently enumerate nearly 5,000 crimes, a number that grows every year.
Holly Harris, Executive Director of the U.S. Justice Action Network, told Foreign Affairs Magazine in “The Prisoner Dilemma” March /April 2017 www.ForeignAffairs.com