How My First Felony Leads Me To My First Time Voting (By Steeda McGruder)


Steeda McGruder shares her testimony at a Yes on Prop 47 event with labor and youth advocates.

My first charge as an adolescent was a petty theft. When I think back 19 years ago my reasons for my actions seem so juvenile — peer pressure, lack of adult influence in my life and simply boredom growing up in a small town population 26,000 and a huge drug scene. A petty theft was simply entertainment to young people back in those days. When I turned 18, I was super excited to have shook the juvenile system. I had many great plans and ideas of what my life would be like now that I was free from the juvenile system. I guess you could say I had hope for my future, but to my surprise shortly after I turned 18 I was incarcerated for another petty theft.

My behaviors had never been addressed, just pushed aside. I had time to serve, but never the support or tools needed to be truly corrected. I’m sure you can imagine at the age of 18, my ideas about life are completely different than at the age of 12, especially being a single mom at the age of 18. Life showed up, and when it did, I behaved in a way that screamed “just survive.” Continue reading

LA Times: Californians would rather ease penalties than pay more for prisons

LA Times poll showing Californians in favor of reforming 3 Strikes Law

According to a LA Times poll, Californians are calling for the reduction of prison inmates and also reduced sentences for three-strikers. The article points to two reasons for this: (1) The large hole left in the wallets of hard-working Californians, whose tax dollars have been spent in giant sums ($38,000 per inmate per year) to support the prison system…  And to make matters worse, the global stock market just had its worst plunge since 2008, this week. This means the economy is only getting worse. (2) The June 2011 Supreme Court ruling (Brown v. Plata) which declared that California’s prison are overcrowded. The Supreme Court has ordered the State of California to begin releasing 31,000 inmates.

Preparations for the release of prisoners is already underway. Reducing the population of the prisons will help California save a lot of money. However, there is a responsibility that falls upon all members of the public. This responsibility is to make sure that the inmates who are being released have received the rehabilitation and reentry support they need to reenter society. A lot of prisoners experience a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Since they are being released back into our communities, we need to make sure we give them the support they need. This means that all Californians, regardless of political party, need to hold our county and public officials accountable in helping to make sure that these inmates are made ready to reenter our communities.  Also read: California’s Goal to Reduce Prison Populations Hinges on County Plans.  — post submission by Ernest Chavez Continue reading