Demand Governor Newsom Close at least 8 More Prisons by 2025!

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    Demand Governor Newsom Close at least 8 More Prisons by 2025!

    Right now, Californians are facing unprecedented fires fueled by climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic and a reckoning on racial justice. These intersecting crises have exposed what many Black and marginalized communities have known for decades: there’s nowhere worse to be during dangerous times than inside a toxic prison. 

    In The People’s Plan for Prison Closure, advocates inside and outside of prisons have identified some of the worst prisons in California. We must shutter these cages immediately in the interest of racial justice, environmental justice, economic justice, and public health. 

    One of the most harrowing sites of harm identified by The People’s Plan for Prison Closure is Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP) in Delano, CA. We have been told by people inside about power outages that have led to dangerous conditions, overcrowding, medical negligence, and the rampant use of solitary confinement to silence people’s demand for humane treatment.

    People at KVSP also continue to lack adequate PPE and medical care as the newly detected Omicron strain of COVID-19 surfaces in the state. Corrections officers are refusing to get regular testing, have consistently low rates of vaccination compared to the general public, and are routinely responsible for bringing the virus into the prison. Additionally, people incarcerated at other facilities who have tested positive for COVID-19 are being transferred to KVSP. This is a blatant disregard for human life and is leading to people’s severe illness and death. 

    Many of these terrifying conditions exist in all California prisons.

    The campaign to close at least 8 more prisons by 2025 challenges the role of prisons in the creation of safe and vibrant communities and extends the belief that communities need adequate resources, jobs, housing, food, and education - not prisons and jails.

    Prisons must be torn down, and the people caged inside must be reunited with their families, beginning with elders and the most medically vulnerable. 

    An earnest plan for prison closure requires the reduction of prison populations through releases, not transfers to other unsafe facilities.  It will require state lawmakers to slash corrections budgets - over $18.3 billion in 2022 - and shift resources to community-based, community-led reentry services and care, prioritizing the voices of justice-impacted people and their families. California must develop labor solutions that prioritize healthy and stable economies for any person impacted by prison closures. 

    History is watching us, and waiting for California to finally address what are the most significant moral and ethical issues of our time. 

    To protect lives, we’re asking you to join in demanding Governor Newsom and the California Department of Corrections close KVSP and other prisons across California and end these abusive conditions. 

    Add your name to the fight to prioritize care over cages today!

    Below is the letter we will send to Governor Newsom and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: 

    Here is the Petition:

    Dear Governor Newsom and the CDCR, 

    We are writing to you as concerned California residents asking you to commit to closing at least 8 more California state prisons before 2025.  

    Right now, Californians are facing a number of emergencies including unprecedented fires fueled by climate change, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and a reckoning on racial justice. These simultaneous crises have exposed what many Black and marginalized communities have known for decades: There is nowhere worse to be during dangerous times than inside a toxic prison. 

    It is clearer now than it has ever been that prisons are a public health disaster. More than 50 percent of people incarcerated in California have already tested positive for COVID-19. Multiple power outages have led to dangerous conditions, and the lack of access to adequate PPE and medical care in the face of newly detected cases of the Omicron has led many inside California prisons to fear for their health and wellbeing. 

    Advocates have been told by people inside about medical negligence and the subsequent use of solitary confinement to punish those who have asked for care. With over a quarter of the incarcerated population over the age of 50, action is urgently needed. The time to end California’s longstanding practices of mass incarceration is now, and the only way to do this is to shutter prisons and invest in care over cages. 

    The reality is that mass incarceration disproportionately impacts Black people and communities. Black and brown people represent more than 70 percent of the prison population in California and nearly two-thirds of the people who have been sentenced to life without parole. For far too long, racist policing and draconian sentencing have been California’s only answers to socioeconomic inequities and failing rural economies. And yet, prisons in California are filled with our loved ones - our mothers, fathers, cousins and friends. 

    Through The People’s Plan for Prison Closure, advocates have identified the worst prisons in California, ranked on indices that include overcrowding, unsafe and unsanitary health conditions, and the extreme cost of incarceration. To protect lives, we’re asking that you revisit your plan to close two prisons in California and commit to closing at least eight other prisons across the state. Just last month, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced a plan to close six state prison facilities, citing that the state just did not need as many prisons as it had built.

    We must shutter these cages immediately in the interest of racial justice, environmental justice, economic justice, and public health. 

    One of the most harrowing sites of harm identified by The People’s Plan for Prison Closure is Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP) in Delano, CA. We have been told by people inside about power outages that have led to dangerous conditions, overcrowding, medical negligence, and the rampant use of solitary confinement to silence people’s demand for humane treatment.

    People at KVSP also continue to lack adequate PPE and medical care as the newly detected Omicron strain of COVID-19 surfaces in the state. Corrections officers are refusing to get regular testing, have consistently low rates of vaccination compared to the general public, and are routinely responsible for bringing the virus into the prison. Additionally, people incarcerated at other facilities who have tested positive for COVID-19 are being transferred to KVSP. This is a blatant disregard for human life and is leading to people’s severe illness and death. 

    Many of these terrifying conditions exist in all California prisons.

    The campaign to close at least eight more prisons by 2025 challenges the role of prisons in the creation of safe and vibrant communities and extends the belief that communities need adequate resources, jobs, housing, food, and education - not prisons and jails.

    An earnest plan for prison closure requires the reduction of prison populations through releases, not transfers to other unsafe facilities.  It will require state lawmakers to slash corrections budgets - over $18.3 billion in 2022 - and shift resources to community-based, community-led reentry services and care, prioritizing the voices of justice-impacted people and their families. California must develop labor solutions that prioritize healthy and stable economies for any person impacted by prison closures. 

    History is watching us, and waiting for California to finally address what are the most significant moral and ethical issues of our time. 

    To protect lives, we’re asking you to prioritize care over cages and close at least 8 prisons by 2025.