What’s the problem that the Safety and Rehabilitation Act is meant to address?

Answer: Currently California’s prison population is exploding. We spend more than 10% of our general fund on prisons. This Act would provide for substantial savings and reduction of our non-violent population. For Governor Brown, it provides him a personal opportunity to reverse the harms of the mandatory sentencing bill he had passed in his previous term in the 1970s. This is not an action that will gain Governor Brown political favors. He told 25 of us rabbis 10 days ago that this measure is a matter of “prophetic justice.”

What can we do to significantly protect public safety, reduce California’s prison population of non-violent criminals, reduce tax payer expense, and help convicts rehabilitate?

Answer: Help get one million signatures by May 1st to get this measure on the November ballot.

What does “The Safety and Rehabilitation Act” specifically do?

For a complete answer, see http://safetyandrehabilitation.com/.

Also, see my blog “The Public Safety & Rehabilitation Act of 2016”  https://rabbijohnrosove.wordpress.com/2016/04/14/the-public-safety-rehabilitation-act-of-2016/

Quick answer: There are three main points to this bill:

1. Provides for discretionary parole of non-violent criminals after the main determinate sentence is served. California has a system of “determinate sentencing” that mandates minimum sentences for many crimes and mandates additional years (called “enhancements”) to sentences if the main offense involved such circumstances as, but not limited to, prior crimes, guns, gangs, great bodily injury, or carjacking. The Act would (It is important to note that parole would be determined by the State Parole Board, made up exclusively of law enforcement so no violent criminals and threats to public safety would be released.)

2. Requires judges, rather than prosecutors to determine if youth as young as 14 should be tried as adults. The bill mandates a process whereby the judge will take into consideration the youth’s prior record, life circumstances and facts of the crime. Currently this is solely up to the prosecutor who makes the decision in 48 hours.

3. Reinstates funding for rehabilitation and other educational programs within prisons. The change in sentencing would incentivize the enrollment and completion of these programs, as well as other “good behaviors.” Those who have undergone rehabilitation have a 1% recidivism rate!

My synagogue’s Social Justice Committee Task Force, as part of Reform California (the statewide partnership between Just Congregations, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis), has made a commitment to gather a mere 500 signatures!

At our synagogue (Temple Israel of Hollywood) we will have a table designated once our full time schools are back in session after Passover break for people to sign petitions. We will also have a table for signatures set up next Friday evening, April 29 before Kabbalat Shabbat for you to sign.

What do you need in order to collect signatures?

Answer: We can mail to you an official petition page – please contact RA@tioh.org

Time is short. Please help! This is not only for the good of the state of California, but it is a core Jewish value to effect t’shuvah (repentance) and rehabilitation. This bill will serve this grand purpose, and that is why we as a Jewish community ought to support it and do everything we can to put it before the voters of California in November.