California Prison Reforms
Karen is a student at Grossmont College in San Diego. She studies criminal justice and wrote Mass Incarceration Reforms:
“Mr. Santos: I am a big fan of yours and have read a couple of your books. Your life is a testament to fortitude, discipline, resolve, and what the human spirit can achieve and endure.”
When I received Karen’s message, I felt immediately moved. While serving 26 years in prisons of every security level, I aspired to work toward connecting with society and contributing in any way that was possible. As a university student who aspired to improve outcomes of America’s criminal justice system, Karen reached out with some questions on massive prison-reform legislation that has taken place in California. She wanted me to provide my thoughts on AB 109 and Prop 47.
Although I served my entire sentence inside the federal prison system, rather than the state of California prison system, I had some insight to both of those laws. In fact, I published a few articles on AB 109 for the Huffington Post.
Mass Incarceration Reforms
Both of those laws resulted as a correction to the wrongheaded commitment California made to mass incarceration. This state once led the way in building prisons and prison population levels. When the recession hit, legislators began to rethink the wisdom of mass incarceration. The Supreme Court forced California’s hand with a ruling that indicated California violated the constitutional rights of prisoners. The high court ordered California to reduce its prison population by a massive amount. That led to reforms like AB 109 and Prop 47.
In today’s podcast, I responded to Karen’s questions about prison reform and explained my perspective on why every American citizen should be concerned with reforms that would lead to a more effective criminal justice system. It’s my hope that she found some value in my response and that listeners will as well.