Everyone deserves to have their voice heard in our democracy. But people who have completed their prison sentence are being denied the ability to vote for representatives and issues that impact them. Below we highlight 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 Prop 17.
“Voting is important to me because it builds a sense of social responsibility and involves you in your community.”
Veronica was incarcerated 10.5 years and on parole for 2 years. Since her release from prison, she has contributed to her community as a Policy Intern at the Ella Baker Center and a Case Manager with at-risk youth in San Francisco’s Mission District where she facilitated a job training course for youth.
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“Voting is important because I would like to be able to do my civic duty. I pay taxes, live in a community, and would like to have a vote that could influence what happens in the community.”
Niki was in prison for 25 years and has been on parole for 17 months. Since coming home, Niki has focused on helping other formerly incarcerated people by working as a mentor for youth coming out of juvenile hall with Youth Empowerment and as a Case Manager for the adult reentry program. She is also a teaching artist with the Old Globe Theater and volunteers with the Sister Warriors Freedom Coalition and National Conflict Resolution Center. Niki has never been able to vote and she says, “Voting is important because I would like to be able to do my civic duty. I pay taxes, live in a community, and would like to have a vote that could influence what happens in the community.”
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“Voting is necessary if I am to utilize my power as a citizen. My power is my voice, my vote.”
Ms. Betty spent 27 years in prison and has been on parole for almost 3 years. She has never been able to vote. Since returning to her community, Ms. Betty has reconnected with family and friends and her own spirituality. She is a motivational speaker, certified healing to advocacy facilitator, and organizer with Initiate Justice and Essie Justice Group.
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“My people fought and died for my right to vote. I want to uphold that in which they fought so courageously for. I must carry on the torch of change and justice.”
John was incarcerated for 30 years and has been on parole for the last 18 months. Since returning home John has been a motivational speaker and consultant with Uncommon Law and has connected with several other nonprofit organizations. He has worked to assist and provide transportation to people who are released on parole through Bonafide and Inside Prison Project and has worked with Prison Employment Connection to link people to employment opportunities. He also makes time and uses his story to coach and mentor youth and young adults in his community and has made it a priority to reconnect and mend familial relationships. John has never had the opportunity to vote, however, he says, “My people fought and died for my right to vote. I want to uphold that in which they fought so courageously for. I must carry on the torch of change and justice.”
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JOSE GRANO GONZALEZ
“It allows one to participate in changing one’s immediate and future world.”
Jose first encountered the carceral system at the age of 12, spent nearly 20 years in a California state prison and has been on parole for the last 5 years. Since returning to his community Jose has gone back to school and given back by volunteering and works hard to provide for his family. Jose has never voted, but when asked why the right to vote is important to him he stated, “It allows one to participate in changing one’s immediate and future world.”