Oakland church

End Mass Incarceration of People of Color: Yes on 47

Published in the Northern California Nevada Conference UCC Listserve:

prison_032911-thumb-640xauto-2730Dear Colleagues,

Last week, we represented the UCC clergy of California, taking part in a delegation of clergy leaders of all faiths, at a conference to discuss our broken and overwhelmingly overcrowded prison system. The conference was sponsored by the California Endowment and the PICO national faith based community network.

The conference continued to open our eyes to the racism reflected by our criminal justice system. Consider just a few facts:

* Incarceration has exploded in growth within the US: From 300,000 in 1980 to over 2,000,000 in prison & more than 7,000,000 today-1 in 31 adults-behind bars, on probation, or on parole.

* Here in California, from 1982 to 2000, we built 23 new prisons, at a cost of $300,000,000 each (and built only 1 public university).

* Nationwide two-third of those imprisoned are black & Hispanic.

* Nationwide two-third of those imprisoned are black & Hispanic.

* Nationwide, although most drug users & dealers are white, three-fourth of those imprisoned on drug charges are black or Latino.

* We spend $62,000 a year per prisoner.

We committed ourselves, along with clergy from across the state, to stand in solidarity with the movement to end mass incarceration of people of color, nationally, and here in California. We urge you to join us and vote yes on Proposition 47 in the upcoming election.

Our denomination, the United Church Christ, has been in the forefront of civil rights issues, and we passionately believe that ending the system of mass incarceration, so racially based, is the civil rights movement of our day and that we must do our part with the fierce urgency of now. There are many reasons to support Prop 47, but for us the primary reason is ending our current system of mass incarcerarion.

Over 50 years ago, in the crucible of the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr. proclaimed, The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice”. There’s much more bending to do. Bending the bars that imprison so many people in this country: the largest incarceration in human history, especially men of color.

We encourage you to raise the awareness with your congregation of the racism of our current system of mass incarceration. Let us join together in ending the cradle to prison pipeline in our country, and in our state, by activating the vote and lifting up the prophetic voices of our times. The Spirit of the Lord is upon US all! Now is the time!

Laurie Manning Pastor: Skyline Community Church    https://skylineucc.org   510-531-8212 www.ccsm-ucc.org

Penny Nixon  Sr. Minister, Congregational Church of San Mateo   www.ccsm-ucc.org     650-343-3694 x2  http://www.piconetwork.org/issues/let-my-people-vote

Michelle Alexander: The New Jim Crow. http://youtu.be/Gln1JwDUI64 

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