Dear Governor Brown,
We, the men of the Progressive Programming Facility at the California State Prison – Los Angeles County, ask that you consider us in your decisions on who might be released from prison.
The Progressive Programming Facility is a voluntary program that requires of prisoners a commitment to growth and rehabilitation, participation in programs designed to break the negative cycle of recidivism, and an acceptance of personal responsibility. The program has been in existence now for more than 13 years, and during all that time we’ve been working to create something better out of the dysfunction of the prison system.
We were around before the word “rehabilitation” was resurrected and reattached to the name of the prison system, and we are pleased to learn that the leadership of the system is planning to model its ideas of what a programming facility should look like on what we’ve built here on the Progressive Programming Facility. It’s a powerful validation of what we’ve worked together to accomplish.
We are, nonetheless, dismayed by the characterization that there are no prisoners left in the system that could be safely released to bring down the population of the prisons. That’s not accurate, and it is unfair. The truth is there are many men and women who have served far past their eligibility dates, who have worked very hard to reform themselves, who have grown up and matured into better people, and who would not pose an unreasonable threat to society if they were released.
While not all of these lower risk prisoners are housed on the Progressive Programming Facility, many of them are and you should consider them. In the coming years, as the prison population drops, we believe there will be opportunities to rethink the very nature of incarceration in California. Holding people in prison for life on account of nonviolent crimes is simply irrational. Holding people in prison for life for crimes committed as young people is irrational. Holding people in prison until they’re senior citizens is irrational. We appeal to you to exercise your rational judgment. We appeal to you to lead this state out of its irrational reliance on imprisonment as the first and only response to misdeeds.
The men of the Progressive Programming Facility are committed to pursuing a path toward rehabilitation and reform. This will continue as long as it’s possible. We urge you to remember this group of men when the time comes for decisions as to who goes and who stays.
Thank you, in advance, for your consideration.
The men of the Progressive Programming Facility
- Governor says no easy answers on troubled prisons (sacbee.com)