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Prop 57 offers better options to juveniles and nonviolent offenders

By Katie Ly

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Ranging from increasing the tax on cigarette packs to legalizing marijuana to continuing the death penalty, there is a diverse number of propositions to vote for on the California ballot on Election Day.

Proposition 57, or the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016, which changes the parole system for non-violent felons and eliminates the practice of direct file, also happens to be on that ballot.

On Nov. 8, voters will determine the fate of this proposition, which, if passed, would change the tough-on-crime policies California has created for non-violent and violent criminals, including juveniles.

Here are some reasons why you should consider voting for Prop. 57.

Instead of focusing on punishment and long sentences, this proposition focuses on the rehabilitation of juvenile and adult inmates.

Offering more good opportunities for criminals convicted of non-violent crimes, it gives these individuals a chance to start a new life for themselves once they have served their full sentence for their primary offense and demonstrated that they do not pose a public threat anymore through evidence-based rehabilitation.

There are some concerns about which non-violent crimes are applied under the proposition, but if it does not pass, our California prisons will continue to overcrowd and criminals will continue to live behind bars without proper guidance to simply get better.

The purpose of the proposition is to not freely release non-violent felons for no reason, but it is to effectively rehabilitate those who deserve support and resources.

Also, the more criminals we keep behind bars, the more taxpayer money California will waste on inmates who have the chance to rehabilitate themselves. Essentially, our skyrocketing capital costs for the construction and operation of prisons will continue to be persistent as ever.

Unfortunately, the current system perpetuates long sentences without possibility of parole for non-violent criminals as well and that can stop with your vote.

Not only will it alleviate the issue of disproportionate sentencing for adult inmates, but it will also prevent juveniles from facing long sentences in an adult prison.

This proposition will give the discretion from prosecutors and district attorneys to judges to decide on whether a juvenile should be tried in an adult court.

Today, a juvenile, as young as 14, can be sentenced as an adult by a prosecutor without a hearing. In certain situations, these individuals are no longer eligible for juvenile court and have no choice, but to transfer to an adult prison facilitation.

In a juvenile hall, the focus is on rehabilitation whereas in adult prisons, the focus is far from providing resources to help inmates. Giving the prosecutor the discretion for juvenile sentencing puts juveniles in a position where they are more likely to be sentenced to an adult prison with a longer sentence without possibility of parole.

This is not what we want for our future generations.

Juveniles should not have to grow from an adolescent to an adult in a prison. Juveniles should not have to face a longer sentence with fewer resources for rehabilitation when their age is far from being considered as an “adult.”

We have separate systems for adults and teens when it comes to schools, hospitals, and programs. Why are prisons any different?

Without this proposition, we will continue to perpetuate the unequal sentencing of juvenile and adult inmates and waste taxpayer money on overcrowded prisons.

But, this does not have to continue if you decide to go out and vote ‘yes’ on Prop 57 on Election Day.

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