What issue would drive Academy Award winning actor Tim Robbins to come out on a Saturday morning to speak with community residents in South Los Angeles?
What issue would inspire multi-faceted artists like Patrisse Cullors and Patrick Martinez to share their personal stories with the world?
What issue would motivate artists like Olivia Wilde, Aloe Blacc and John Legend to encourage people to vote on November 4th?
What issue would galvanize Jay Z to stand up in front of tens of thousands of people in L.A. and San Francisco and scream, “California, build more schools less prisons?”
The answer is Proposition 47, a groundbreaking California ballot initiative to reclassify six nonviolent, low-level felonies as misdemeanors and then use the salary savings – in the hundreds of millions – for prevention, education and mental health treatment.
Prop. 47 is an opportunity to not only change the course of history, but to change the lives of countless families who have been devastated by the prison system.
In short, Prop. 47 is our generation’s legacy project.
As someone who has been actively involved in criminal justice issues for over 15 years, I know the critical significance of this effort and am working tirelessly to ensure its passage.
The truth of the matter is that our justice system is completely broken and has destroyed millions of lives all across America.
In California alone, we have built 22 prisons and only 1 public university in the last 25 years.
As a result, California taxpayers now spend $9,100 per K-12 student while spending $62,300 per prisoner each year.
The fact is that we are wasting costly prison space on minor offenses that takes money away from education, treatment and other social services proven to increase rehabilitation and stop the cycle of crime.
This is not just morally and fiscally irresponsible, this is simply not right.
But for me, the issue of mass incarceration is also very personal.
I remember being a child and going with my mother to pick up my uncle from jail.
I remember being a child and watching my cousins going in and out of prison because they had no access to services or treatment to address their underlying addiction.
And I remember thinking that I had to do something to stop this madness.
Today, as a father of two young children and as someone committed to changing our world, I know that the time has come to rebalance our justice system and to focus our resources on what we value most – our children.
And that’s why I’ve joined Artists for 47, a growing coalition of artists that includes well-known artists and activists like Brad Pitt, Jasiri X, Cameron Diaz, Russell Simmons and others committed to the passage of Prop. 47.
These artists are utilizing their voice and their platform to shed light on the opportunity we have in California to dramatically invest more in schools than in prisons.
And these artists are following in the footsteps of Harry Belafonte, Billie Holiday, John Lennon and others who have utilized their art to not only help people re-imagine a different society, but to drive people to action.
So I’m asking you to help make history.
I’m asking you to help us stop the cradle-to-prison pipeline by voting Yes on Prop. 47.
For more information and to learn how you could get more involved in this historic effort, visit www.artistsfor47.com
Mike de la Rocha is an LA-based musician, entrepreneur and co-director of Artists for 47. To find out more about Mike visit www.mikedelarocha.com and follow him on Twitter at @mrmikedelarocha
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