The following comes from an August 1 California Conference press release:

SACRAMENTO, CA – The California Catholic Conference (CCC) of Bishops offers its support for Proposition 57: The Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act.  This balanced approach to the criminal justice system in our state would advance the well-being of our residents and communities by re-focusing our collective efforts on rehabilitation, treatment and education programs.  In addition, the initiative will place the decision to try juveniles as adults into the hands of those who best understand the intricacies of dealing with young people – the juvenile court.

Every day, in our parishes and ministries, we witness the devastating impact of crime on the people and families of our communities.  Victims, whose lives have often been shattered, search for answers, look for healing and seek an opportunity to voice their needs.  Families of perpetrators hide their pain, alone in their anguish and afraid to ask for help.  And the incarcerated fruitlessly search for hope as programs that offer the possibility of rehabilitation are scrapped in lieu of the high costs of prison construction.

Many policy initiatives like “three strikes” laws and longer and mandatory sentences have tried – and failed – to correct our dysfunctional criminal justice system.  The lack of resources for crime prevention has only led to overcrowded prisons, foreseeable recidivism rates and unsafe communities.  These policies often result from fear, a natural spontaneous response to violence.  We are called to take more constructive action by designing policies that employ resources most effectively, are based on the best available research and offer reasoned approaches.   Appropriate and wisely-developed policies – such as offered in Prop 57 – will actually result in safer communities rather than a continuous cycle of crime and incarceration.

The Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act offers alternatives: an increase in public safety leading to less crime; programs to promote healing and rehabilitation; the means to deal with offending juveniles as the wounded children that they are; placing more decisions in the hands of impartial judges; and a chance at parole for non-violent offenders.