CONGRESSWOMAN BARBARA LEE AND LEADING NATIONAL CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM GROUPS ENDORSE PROPOSITION 17

– “YES” on Prop 17 Restores the Right to Vote to Nearly 50,000 Californians Who Have Completed Prison Terms –

For Immediate Release

October 22, 2020

Contact: Shay Franco-Clausen, media@yeson17.vote, 408-966-8157

SACRAMENTO, CA – Today, the Yes On Prop 17 campaign announced endorsements from Congresswoman Barbara Lee and leading national criminal justice reform groups in support of Proposition 17, a November ballot measure that would restore the right to vote to nearly 50,000 Californians who have completed their prison terms.

Fair and Just Prosecution, The Justice Collaborative, The Ladies of Hope Ministries, Prison Policy Initiative, and REFORM Alliance are the latest to join a growing and diverse coalition of organizations and civic leaders in endorsing Proposition 17. Congresswoman Lee is the fourth member of Congress to endorse the measure.

Proposition 17 would amend the state constitution so that all Californians who have completed their prison term would automatically regain their right to vote. The Yes On Prop 17 campaign is based on the belief that these individuals, having completed their prison term, are entitled to have their voices heard in our democracy, and that the current law is a relic of California’s 19th century efforts to disenfranchise Black, Latino, and Asian American citizens.

The campaign’s website highlights the personal stories of Californians who have been impacted by mass incarceration and who would regain their voice in our democracy with the passage of Proposition 17. Read more here.

“Voting is a fundamental right,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “Individuals who have already paid their debts to society should have their voting rights restored. As we promote rehabilitation, being able to vote is a key to success. Every voting-age citizen should be encouraged to vote, to become a member of our community, and to be part of our democracy. I encourage all Californians to Vote YES on Prop 17.”

“Prop 17 is about justice, and we’re so pleased to have the endorsement of Congresswoman Lee and leading organizations devoted to promoting fairness and justice,” said Taina Vargas-Edmond, executive chair of the Yes On Prop 17 campaign and co-founder and executive director of Initiate Justice. “These are true advocates for equal rights, and we’re confident that with the help of their leadership, tens of thousands of Californians will have their voting rights restored on November 3.”

“The right to vote is central to American democracy, yet far too often those who have been involved in the criminal legal system have had this fundamental right stripped away from them,” said Miriam Aroni Krinsky, founder and executive director of Fair and Just Prosecution. “These antiquated disenfranchisement laws, which disproportionately affect people of color, rob returning citizens from having a say in the leaders who fund and oversee criminal justice in their communities and other policies that impact their daily lives. Individuals who have been held accountable for past mistakes and fully served their sentence deserve to participate in our democracy and, indeed, enabling them to do so promotes successful integration back into society in a manner that benefits all of us. Civic engagement makes our communities safer, stronger and healthier.”

“The mark of a true democracy is one in which all citizens have the right to vote and a meaningful access to exercise that right,” said Kate Chatfield, director of policy at The Justice Collaborative. “We hope that those in California who can vote in this year’s election extend this right to all of their fellow citizens who have completed their prison term by voting YES on Prop 17.”

“I’ve witnessed firsthand the pain that mass incarceration has created for Black and marginalized women, and I also know how hard it is to reenter a society that thinks less of you,” said Topeka K. Sam, founder and executive director of The Ladies of Hope Ministries. “Sisters need a support system to help them reestablish themselves through education, entrepreneurship, and spiritual empowerment, but the most important thing we can do to support is to give us our voice back. That starts by restoring our right to vote, and that’s why Prop 17 is so important to the successful reentry of thousands of women reentering society.”

“Mass incarceration has broken communities and fractured the lives of countless Americans,” said Aleks Kajstura, legal director of the Prison Policy Initiative. “Prop 17 offers Californians the opportunity to right a historical wrong and to restore a fundamental right to almost 50,000 Californians who should have never been barred from the voting booth in the first place. When citizens are disenfranchised, our democracy is put at risk.”

“Our country should do everything it can to help people successfully return home and heal after incarceration,” said Erin Haney, national policy director of REFORM Alliance. “Fully restoring a person’s rights–especially the right to vote–is a critical part of the reentry process that strengthens communities by giving people a say in how they’re governed. Prop 17 is an important step toward ending unjust felony disenfranchisement and ensuring that people on parole have their voices heard and their votes counted. We strongly support Prop 17 because it recognizes the dignity and contributions of people on parole and increases participation in our democratic system, which benefits us all.”

Congresswoman Lee, Fair and Just Prosecution, The Justice Collaborative, The Ladies of Hope Ministries, Prison Policy Initiative, and REFORM Alliance are now among the more than 350 advocacy groups and individuals who have endorsed Proposition 17, including American Probation and Parole Association, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, and San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin. In recent weeks, the measure has also been endorsed by leading national advocacy groups, including NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Human Rights Watch, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Urban League, The Sentencing Project, and UnidosUS. (The complete list of endorsers is below.)

If Proposition 17 is approved, California would join 19 other states, both red and blue, and Washington, D.C. that already include citizens who have completed prison terms in their democracy. California will also become the first state to restore voting rights via statewide ballot measure since the 2018 passage of Amendment 4 in Florida.

**Media interviews are available upon request**:

  • Taina Vargas-Edmond, executive chair of the Yes On Prop 17 campaign and co-founder and executive director of Initiate Justice.
  • Californians who have been impacted by mass incarceration can share their personal stories and why regaining their voice in our democracy with the passage of Proposition 17 is so important to them.

Endorsements of Proposition 17 as of today:

Elected Officials:

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, Congressman Ro Khanna, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Congressman Eric Swalwell, Governor Gavin Newsom, Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis, Secretary of State Alex Padilla, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, Assemblymember Marc Berman, Assemblymember Rob Bonta, Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo, Assemblymember David Chiu, Assemblymember Kansen Chu, Assemblymember Cristina Garcia, Assemblymember Mike Gipson, Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, Assemblymember Laura Friedman, Assemblymember Marc Levine, Assemblymember Evan Low, Assemblymember Ash Kalra, Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager, Assemblymember Kevin Mullin, Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva, Assemblymember Bill Quirk, Assemblymember Luz Rivas, Assemblymember Mark Stone, Assemblymember Shirley Weber, California State Board of Equalization Chair Malia Cohen, Candidate for State Senate District 15 Ann Ravel, former State Senate Pro Tempore Kevin de León, State Senator Jim Beall, State Senator Bill Dodd, State Senator Lena Gonzalez, State Senator Scott Weiner, State Senator Bob Wieckowski, City of Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín, City of Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, City of Morgan Hill Mayor Rich Constantine, City of San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, City of San Jose Vice Mayor Charles “Chappie” Jones, and Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker.

Cities and Counties:

City of Berkeley, City of Long Beach, City of Morgan Hill, City of San Jose, City of West Hollywood, Los Angeles County, Marin County, San Francisco City and County, and Santa Clara County.

Activists, Celebrities, and Leaders:

John Legend, Kimberly Ellis, Brandon Flynn, Annie Gonzalez, Siva Kaneswaran, Matt McGorry, and Kendrick Sampson.

Community Organizations and Business Organizations:

#cut50, Active SGV, Advancement Project California, Alameda County Community Food Bank, Alliance for Boys and Men of Color, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Action, American Association of University Women, American Friends Service Committee, A New PATH, A New Way of Life, APLA Health, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Asian Health Services, Asian Solidarity Collective, Bay Rising, Ben & Jerry’s, and Black Lives Matter – California.

California Alliance for Retired Americans, California Association of Nonprofits, California Calls, California Coalition for Women Prisoners, California Common Cause, California Environmental Justice Alliance Action, California Families Against Solitary Confinement , California Food & Farming Network, California Health Advocates, California Immigrant Policy Center, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, California League of Conservation Voters, California NORML, Californians United for a Responsible Budget, California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, CalPACE, Campaign Legal Center, Causa Justa:: Just Cause, CAUSE Action Fund, Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund, Center for Employment Opportunities, Center on Policy Initiatives, Chinese for Affirmative Action, Chispa, Chrysalis, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Color Of Change PAC, Community Health Councils, Courage California, and CURYJ.

Defy Ventures, Dignity and Power Now, Disability Rights California, Dolores Huerta Foundation, Downtown Women’s Center, Drug Policy Alliance, East Bay for Everyone, East Bay Housing Organizations, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Empower to Change, End Citizens United, Equality California, Equal Justice Society, Essie Justice Group, Evolve California, Fair Chance Project, Fathers & Families of San Joaquin, Fresno Sunrise Movement, GLIDE Center for Social Justice, Greenlining Institute, Homeboy Industries, Homies Unidos, Housing California, Human Impact Partners, Hustle 2.0, Indivisible CA: StateStrong, InnerCity Struggle, Justice LA, and Justice Reinvestment Coalition of Alameda County.

La Defensa, LA Forward, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, Let America Vote, Los Angeles Regional Reentry Partnership (LARRP), MALDEF, Manhattan Beach for Justice, Mid-City CAN (Community Advocacy Network), Mothers Out Front California, Move in Unity Victory + Action (MUVA), NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., NARAL Pro-Choice California, National Center for Youth Law, National Urban League, Northern California Grantmakers, Northern California Innocence Project, Our Revolution East Bay, Outten & Golden LLP, Pasadenans Empowering Parent Participation in Education Governance, People over Profit – San Diego, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, PolicyLink, Prison From-TheInside-Out Inc., Public Advocates, and Public Counsel.

Re:Store Justice, Represent Justice, Right2Vote Campaign, Rock the Vote Action Fund, San Bernardino Free Them All, San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), San Francisco Rising, San Francisco YIMBY, Secure Democracy, Showing Up for Racial Justice – Bay Area, Showing Up for Racial Justice – Marin, Sierra Club California, Sierra Club San Diego, Silicon Valley DeBug, Success Stories Program, TechEquity Collaborative, TheatreWorkers Project, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, The Million Voters Project, The Sentencing Project, Time for Change Foundation, Transformative In-Prison Workgroup, Transforming Justice Orange County, UnCommon Law, UnidosUS, Union of Concerned Scientists, United Way Bay Area, United Way of Greater Los Angeles, United Ways of California, UNITE-LA, Western Center on Law and Poverty, We the People – San Diego, Women’s Foundation of California, Young Women’s Freedom Center, and Youth Leadership Institute.

Criminal Justice and Public Safety Organizations:

American Probation and Parole Association, Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, Coalition for Juvenile Justice, Fair and Just Prosecution, The Justice Collaborative, The Ladies of Hope Ministries, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, Prison Policy Initiative, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, REFORM Alliance, and Smart Justice California.

Faith Organizations:

Anti-Defamation League, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, CAIR-California, California Council of Churches, California Religious Action Center (RAC-CA), Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice, Friends Committee on Legislation of California, Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace, Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, Jewish Center for Justice, Jewish Community Relations Council, LA Voice, Lutheran Office of Public Policy – California, Multi-faith ACTION Coalition, National Council of Jewish Women, People Acting in Community Together, PICO California, and Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry of California.

Unions and Associations:

AFSCME, AFSCME 3299, Berkeley Tenants Union, California Association of Nonprofits, California Faculty Association, California Federation of Teachers, California Labor Federation, California Medical Association, California Primary Care Association, California Psychological Association, California Public Defenders Association, Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County, Contra Costa Labor Council, IBEW Local 11, IBEW Local 477, IBEW Local 569, IFPTE Local 21, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, Los Angeles County Medical Association, Los Angeles Public Defenders Union Local 148, National Association of Social Workers (NASW) California Chapter, National Union of Healthcare Workers, San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council, San Francisco Human Services Network, San Francisco Tenants Union, San Mateo County Central Labor Council, SEIU California, SEIU Local 1021, SEIU Local 221, SEIU Local 521, SEIU Local 721, SEIU-UHW, South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council, UAW Local 5810, UAW Western States, UDW/AFSCME Local 3930, UFCW Local 324, UFCW Local 770, UFCW Western States Council, United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals, UNITE HERE Local 2, and Valley Industry & Commerce Association.

Media:

Los Angeles Times, Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Sacramento Bee, Orange County Register, Fresno Bee, Los Angeles Daily News, The Press-Enterprise, Daily Breeze, Daily Bruin, East Bay Times, El Tecolote, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Long Beach Press-Telegram, The Modesto Bee, Monterey County Weekly, Mountain View Voice, Palo Alto Online, The Press Democrat, Random Length News, Redlands Community News, San Bernardino Sun, San Francisco Bay Guardian, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Santa Barbara Independent, and Santa Cruz Sentinel.

Political Organizations:

Alice B. Toklas LGBTQ Democratic Club, Auburn Area Democratic Club, Bernal Heights Democratic Club, Beverly Hills Democratic Club, Black Women for Wellness Action Project, Black Women Organizing for Political Action, Butte County Democratic Party, California Democratic Party, California Democratic Party Black Caucus, California Democratic Party LGBT Caucus, California Democratic Party Progressive Caucus, California Young Democrats, Clairemont Democratic Club, Contra Costa Young Democrats, Democratic Alliance for Action of Santa Clarita, Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley, Democratic Socialists of America – Los Angeles, Democratic Socialists of America – Orange County, Democratic Socialists of America – San Diego, Democratic Socialists of America – San Luis Obispo, Democratic Socialists of America – Santa Cruz, Democratic Socialists of America – Silicon Valley, East Bay Young Democrats, Green Party of California, Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club, Heart of L.A. Democratic Club, Libertarian Party of California, Los Angeles County Democratic Party, Los Angeles County Young Democrats, Peace and Freedom Party, Peninsula Young Democrats, Pilipino American Los Angeles Democrats, Placer County Democratic Party, Richmond Progressive Alliance, Sacramento County Democratic Party, San Diego Democrats for Equality, San Francisco Eastern Neighborhoods Democratic Club, San Francisco Green Party, San Francisco Women’s Political Committee, San Francisco Young Democrats, San Mateo County Democratic Party, Santa Barbara County Democratic Party, Santa Clara County Democratic Party, Santa Clara County Libertarian Party, Silicon Valley Stonewall Democrats, United Democratic Club, Valley Grassroots for Democracy, Ventura County Democratic Party, and West Hollywood Democratic Club.

Student Organizations:

Berkeley Journal of Criminal Law, Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice, Bruin Democrats, Cal Berkeley Democrats, California High School Democrats, Cal Poly Democrats, Chico State Democrats, Chico State Democrats, College Democrats at UCI, Davis College Democrats, Student Senate for California Community Colleges, Underground Scholars Initiative, Underground Scholars Initiative – UCR, Underground Scholars Initiative – UC Santa Barbara, Underground Scholars Initiative – UC Santa Cruz, and University of California Students Association.

Proposition 17 is sponsored by Yes On Prop 17, a campaign by and for Californians directly impacted by mass incarceration, and the following organizations: ACLU of California, Anti-Recidivism Coalition, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law, Initiate Justice, League of Women Voters of California, Mi Familia Vota, Vote Allies, Voting Rights Lab Action, and White People 4 Black Lives. To learn more, visit yeson17.vote.

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