15 and Tackling Mass Incarceration

April 7, 2015 /

photo: Claudia Gonzalez

as told to Claudia Gonzalez

Editor’s Note: Jaylin White, 15, served as co-chair at a March 26th town hall event in Fresno around mass incarceration. The event, organized by Faith in Community (FIC) and People Improving Communities through Organizing (PICO),  brought organizers, youth, and community members together with the Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) to discuss solutions to incarceration, community violence, recidivism and the implementation of Proposition 47.

Before I was even born, someone decided that my life did not matter. As it turns out, [California’s] infamous three strikes law actually originated in Fresno after some very serious crimes occurred in the area. But after it passed, people of color were mostly targeted. This is not fair, because Black lives do matter.

Right now, there are too many people in jail. It is an injustice. Instead of investing in rehabilitation and programs, we are investing in incarceration.

People in power were elected to serve us, but they are not doing their jobs.They say things are bad and that Prop 47 is the root of the problem, but that is not true. An event like this town hall allows us to voice our opinions, because they need to listen to what we have to say. Having safer communities does not mean we have to incarcerate more people.

What we need is more cooperation between law enforcement and the community in order to create a more positive environment. Every single one of us needs to invest in human dignity and life, not death and injustice, but people in power need to be more committed in investmenting in our communities.

I think law enforcement needs to change the way they view policies such as Prop. 47. They need to start supporting these laws and see them as an opportunities to better serve and protect the community. We voted for these laws so they have to respect and follow them.

My name is Jaylin White and I am only a 15 year-old in high school, but my main goal is to be an example for youth. It is necessary for kids my age to get involved because if we want to have positive change, we need to create it ourselves. Incarceration is affecting youth of color mostly and the community is not doing enough to address this issue. We need to change that. We need to mobilize, and we need to act. It is very important to have more events and more roundtable discussions so that people know we are serious about changing our community.



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