February 28, 2003

  ----- Original Message -----
From: H Jones
Sent: Friday, February 28, 2003 8:09 PM
Subject: [patrickcrusade] Your Voice is Important!

For those who were able to attend the The Joint Hearing on February 25, 2003, on the subject of Aging prisoner:  A Call for Reform, and also those who were unable to attend, please forward a thank-you message to Senators John Vasconcellos, Senator Gloria Romero, and Senator Bruce McPherson for this hearing, and the promising outcome.

We must keep the momentum going concerning the critical issues and changes that will effect all of our incarcerated family members as well as ourselves, and by expressing our gratitude to these representatives of the Legislature, we validate that we want to insure change and reform, as well as a showing in our numbers as they continue to grow.

California is facing a major crisis within the prison industry, as was well
documented by Jonathan Turley who holds the J.B. and Maurice Shapiro Chair for Public  Interest Law, at George Washington University Law School.  Mr. Turley also is the founder and Executive Director of the Project for Older Prisoners (POPS), the oldest legal organization dedicated to the issue of older and geriatric prisoners.

Jonathan Turley was the guest speaker on Tuesday at this last hearing, and his critique of the California Prison System as it is today, validated that California is facing a dangerous combination of  recidivism, overcrowding, budget shortfalls, and acute demographic shifts in the population.  He has recommended to the Senate Chairs of this Joint Committee the options that can be used by the state to deal with low-risk, mid-risk, and high-risk older prisoners. He also explained that while chronological measurements of age---(meaning in years), the number of inmates that are aging (in years) is currently 6,000, or about 4% of the prison population, the CA Legislative Analyst's Office projects that the over-55 population will approach 50,000 twenty years from now, growing at a rate faster than the prison population as a whole.  However, the reality is that the number of physiologically older prisoners will be and is  greater (meaning, that prisoners age at a greater pace than those who are not imprisoned--so a prisoner who is 45 years of age, is 'physiologically' 55 years of age).

The POPS Program has a recidivism rate of 0% for older inmates who have been approved for release through this program.  Since its inception, California has never considered introducing this program due to political pressures. Please support the POPS PROGRAM, those AB and SB Bills before the Legislature, and as well as each other, for if we do not, all of us who do have incarcerated loved ones will be affected far more greatly than how we have been affected in the past.

As Senator Vasconcellos has stated, "This is not a time for timidity or passive observation.  Causes and issues your group has fought for over the decades are 'on the line', and the structural and political problems preventing thoughtful solutions are deep and abiding.  They will not be solved without a clear and sustained demand from the public to do so."

Will you and/or your group sustain and maintain?  Will you and your group come together with other individuals from throughout the state to meet and discuss collectively, the issues, the Legislative Bills, and a collective effort to be represented through the Bill process, as well as other ideas?  If so, please e-mail me at:  Due to time constraints with so many Legislative Bills coming up, and also the finalizing of the 2002-2003 state budget, which is currently being debated, a meeting date and time is now being considered, and will be set in the near future.  This meeting will be held on a Saturday, in Sacramento.  We must be prepared as the fiscal year (2002-2003) ends June 30, 2003, and new Bills will begin to be considered for the fiscal year (2003-2004) as of July 1, 2003.  We also must be aware of the possibilities of the Governor's recall.  Please contact me.

Jamie M. Meyer
4908 Orchid Way
Sacramento, CA 95841