In the beginning of 2015, families and communities we work with had a total of 1,862 years of Time Saved from incarceration through their efforts. The term Time Saved is a phrase we came up with as a way to encourage family and community involvement in partnering with defense attorneys on behalf of their loved ones. We say it to families who are attending their first participatory defense meetings who are unsure about the court process, and what role they can play. What we say is the system is going to give your loved one “time served” if left to its’ own devices, but that they can turn time served into time saved if they engage, participate in the process, and partner with their defense attorney.
As 2015 ends, we have updated our Time Saved number based on the work of families and attorneys to win dismissals, acquittals, and reduced sentences. Our current total as we enter 2016, is 2,570 years of Time Saved!
And considering it costs California roughly $63,000 a year to incarcerate someone in the prison system, families and communities have also saved millions of dollars for the state. But most importantly, each year saved from incarceration means families and communities made whole.
There are participatory defense meetings now happening in three other states beyond California (Alabama, Kentucky, Pennsylvania through our public defender and community partners), and more set to get started in 2016. We are excited to see how the power of family and community can challenge mass incarceration, and bring loved ones home. Here are a few of the time saved stories from 2015 that made up our current total: