November 14, 2014
Making Investment a Criminal Justice Strategy
Judy Belk joined ten other California foundation CEOs in signing a joint statement in support of the passage of Proposition 47, The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.
Last Tuesday night, our state made an important statement: the best way to deal with crime is by preventing it. And the best way to do that is to invest in our young men and women so that they remain on the right track and on the path to healthy and prosperous futures.
With the passage of Proposition 47, the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, Californians have made a decision to improve community safety and position California as a leader in rightsizing our criminal and juvenile justice systems.
Beginning on November 5th, Prop 47 allows our communities to both hold our young men and women accountable while providing them with additional support from schools and community-based programs instead of being sent to prison. Prop 47 now gives us the ability to address the “school to prison pipeline” and some of the root problems which drive so many young men and women, especially young men and women of color, into the criminal and juvenile justice systems.
Perhaps most importantly, though, Prop 47 allows us to acknowledge that a lack of healthy environments and uneducated and unhealthy people are the largest drivers of crime and violence. Enabling criminal and juvenile justice systems to better meet their public safety and rehabilitative goals by ensuring that some of their most vulnerable youth achieve the behavioral, physical, mental health, and education outcomes associated with healthy transitions to adulthood is a promising solution that we wholeheartedly support.
According to an analysis of Proposition 47, there can be an annual savings of between $400-700 million at the county level. These savings will be shifted into K-12 school programs (25%), victim services (10%) and mental health and drug treatment (65%). As it is implemented, communities will need to make important decisions about their local governments’ spending priorities. Last Tuesday a majority of Californians said they want our state’s criminal and juvenile justice strategy to progress. With such a strong endorsement, we encourage California’s counties to invest in bold, fresh ideas, and proven approaches that both to reduce crime and violence, and promote education, health and wellness.
Philanthropy has a continuing responsibility to help our state create opportunities for all Californians to fully participate in the state’s economy and civic life. We believe that criminal and juvenile justice reform is one of the core opportunities to achieve this. We look forward to continuing to work with community organizations and with our state and local governments to identify ways to support the effective implementation of this new law.