Tuesday, April 29, 2003


California: On behalf of Senator John Vasconcellos, I am pleased to inform you he has authored and introduced Senate Constitutional Amendment (SCA) 8 pertaining to prisoners and asks for your support of this important legislation.

SCA 8 seeks to place a proposal on the ballot for the people of California to express themselves and make their own choice regarding how best to assure their public safety. This measure proposes to reform our corrections system to live up to its name, and to advance and assure the public safety of all Californians by attending to inmates in ways that hold the most promise for empowering them to cure, or at least curb, their dangerous ways upon their release from prison.

The primary purpose of the entire system of law enforcement and corrections should always be to promote the public safety of all Californians. However, our current system is profoundly failing - having a recidivism and failure rate of close to 70%.

Greater public safety will only be attainable when we better prepare our inmates to live constructive lives. Canada has in place a system which includes the provisions of this bill, and has a success rate of nearly 85% .Louisiana, Ohio, Minnesota, and Maryland have all implemented portions of what is prescribed by this bill, and are having similar success rates.

Maryland, Minnesota, and Ohio did a Tri-state longitudinal study on more than 3000 inmates who received curriculum to enhance their educational level (just one of the rehabilitative components of this legislation). There was a 23% reduction in recidivism with a showing that for every $1 spent on education, there was a $2 return in reduced prison costs.

SCA 8 would require, commencing January 1, 2005, the Director of the Department of Corrections to cause each person incarcerated in state prison, within 90 days of their entry, to be smartly evaluated with respect to his or her educational and vocational level of development and capacity, and with respect to his or her psychological level of development and ability to lead a constructive life.

Based on these evaluations, a program be prescribed and implemented for the inmate that addresses his or her deficient level of psychosocial, educational, and vocational development -- so as to better equip him or her to lead a constructive life upon release from prison so as to promote the public safety upon that person's release from prison. Please send your letters of support to our office for inclusion in upcoming committee hearings.

By Senator John Vasconcellos posted 29 April 03