Unite the People
Unite the People is a nonprofit organization promoting social justice in the United States and fighting our nation's mass incarceration epidemic.
Started 4 petitions
End Private For-Profit Prisons in California - YES on AB32!
"There is simply no place for the private prison industry in a progressive state like California," said state Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher. That’s why she and other California elected officials are sponsoring Assembly Bill (AB) 32 to prohibit the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) from entering into or renewing contracts with private, for-profit prisons beginning January 1, 2020. For-profit prisons do not serve the best interests of Californians, nor are they in line with our values. No one should profit off human incarceration, especially after we have refocused our corrections system away from incarceration and towards rehabilitation. In addition to prohibiting the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation from entering into or renewing contracts with a private, for-profit prison, all state prison inmates would need to be moved out of existing private, for-profit prison facilities no later than January 1, 2028. Private prisons are considered a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States. Approximately 27 states, including California, have private prisons. AB 32 is joint authored by Assemblymembers Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), David Chiu (D-San Francisco), and Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego). Now it is time to get the rest of the California Assembly and Senate on board—It's time to ban the practice of incarcerating Americans in for-profit prisons for good! Join us in calling for the passage of AB 32 today!
Repeal and Replace the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
The text of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution states, in Section I, that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” This Amendment was said to “abolish” slavery in the United States, but it clearly states that slavery is permissible as a justification for criminal punishment. This actually expanded slavery in the United States. We believe that the second part of Section I must be stricken entirely, and that all labor laws must apply equally to all Americans, including prisoners. In fact, the original proposal for the 13th Amendment stated, "everywhere within the limits of the United States, and of each state or territory thereof, all persons are equal before the law, so that no person can hold another as a slave." We endorse this alternative Amendment. The current state of prison labor in the United States has distinct roots in slavery traditions. The passage of the 13th amendment in 1865 allowed those incarcerated to be forced to work without constitutional rights granted to them. The forced prison labor was then used to reinforce a system of racial control for years past. Southern states would criminalize minor crimes through "black codes" which drove up the arrest rate of freedmen and forced them to participate in penal labor when they could not afford the fines. During the Reconstruction era, in order to boost the Southern economy, the institutionalization of convict leasing began to take effect. Although the name "convict leasing" has been abandoned, the system still persists through government subsidized programs like the WOTC that gives corporations large tax write-offs for "employing" essentially free prison labor. Since large corporations benefit from this arrangement, they have no incentive to find a solution to the criminal justice problem. In fact, they have an incentive to send more people to prison to increase their “workforce”. Prisoners are expected to serve their debt to society by spending time in prisons which are supposedly “correctional” facilities. If these prisoners are not paid the prevailing market wage for the labor they perform in prison, it is very difficult to survive once released from prison. Some argue that this prison labor gives the prisoners an opportunity to learn skills and gain work experience. While this may be true, it is also necessary to leave prison with some capital in order to reintegrate into society. This increases recidivism, and creates a vicious cycle that disproportionately affects racial minorities. We are calling on all elected officials of the United States to advance legislation repealing and replacing the 13th Amendment. It is time to end prison slave labor in the United States.
Commute Ceasar McDowell's Unjust Sentence
Ceasar McDowell has been given three concurrent life sentences under California's "Three Strikes" law, with his third strike resulting from a non-violent domestic dispute. Background: In his community, Ceasar was well known for being a great father to his children and a hard working provider for his wife and children. He was always very involved in his children's schooling, after school programs, and taking the kids to-and-from school daily. One day after returning home, Ceasar was informed that his wife and the mother of his children was having an affair with a local Riverside, California police officer. This was the cause for Ceasar and his wife to have an argument that lasted on and off for a few days. There was screaming and yelling about the affair, which is not unusual for a married couple in this circumstance, but there was no physical harm or violence. As Ceasar packed his things to leave while they still continued to argue, the neighbors, over-hearing the argument, decided to call the police. This phone call to the police ended with Ceasar, who was 26 years old at the time, being sentenced to three concurrent life sentences under California's draconian "Three Strikes" law - for criminal threats, misdemeanor false imprisonment, and misdemeanor child endangerment (arguing in front of a child). At the time, many also believed Ceasar was treated unfairly by the courts because of his ex-wife's affair being with a police officer. California's "Three Strikes" law is the harshest in the nation and routinely results in multiple mandatory sentences for non-violent offenders. Now, 18 years later at 44 years old, Ceasar has missed out on his children's entire lives. He's missed their proms, birthdays, holidays, the births of his grandchildren, etc. His children were also deprived of their father. With no good time credits allowed for the majority of his sentence (fortunately, Prop 57 changed this and he has accrued 10 months so far), Ceasar will have served nearly 25 years before attaining eligibility for parole, at a cost of nearly $2 million to California taxpayers. Ceasar has filed for a sentence commutation with Governor Gavin Newsom. We are asking everyone to sign this petition and support us in asking Governor Newsom to please commute Ceasar McDowell's sentence. Thank you.
Support AB 2138 - Give Former Offenders a Fair Chance at a Job!
Across the nation, millions of people with arrest and conviction records face overly restrictive barriers to obtaining a job. Poorly written, outdated, and inhumane “tough on crime” policies have lead to an epidemic of mass incarceration and arrests, resulting in more Americans than ever having an arrest or conviction record. When rehabilitated former offenders can't find careers because of unfair business practices and draconian state licensing laws, they are often left with very few options to put food on their tables or a roof over their heads. It is clear that policies that make it easier for people with records to work strengthen our economy, improve public safety, reduce crime and recidivism rates, help employers find good workers, and advance racial and social justice. California has a chance to lead the way by passing "fair chance" licensing reforms that open up occupations with good pay to rehabilitated offenders. In California, several bills (AB 2138, SB 1298, AB 3039, AB 2293) have been introduced to improve access to a range of occupations by requiring fairer consideration of records and removing most blanket bans. Help us get these bills out of committee, through the legislature, and onto the governor's desk this year.