I'm writing this after a day of rage and heartbreak at the racist police violence that continues to tear through our country. In the midst of the Derek Chauvin murder trial, twenty year old Daunte Wright is taken from us. Thirteen year old Adam Toledo, taken from us.
And despite the increased attention on mass incarceration, so many continue to be locked up amidst a pandemic where outbreak after outbreak continues.
It's understandable to feel hopeless and to get cynical. However, powerful work is being lead by abolitionists. Real, systemic change is on the horizon if enough people get involved right now.
All too often the reforms that get passed in the wake of police violence is more funding and resources towards the police and prisons. This further entrenches state violence instead of reducing it.
Abolitionists know that the reforms we advance must divest from the inherent violence of policing and imprisonment and invest in community wellness programs that get to the root of issues: healthcare, schools, housing, etc.
The Colorado Freedom Fund and others have carefully crafted a series of laws that would reduce incarceration and invest in public safety.
The first is will be voted on soon. Now is the window in which legislators will decide whether or not to support it.
So we need as many people as possible to tell their state representatives to support the bill.
SB21-062 Reduce People Being Jailed
Colorado's jail population has grown an incredible 800% since the 1970s.
Spending time in jail sends many into a spiral of harm - losing a job, getting behind on bills, no longer being there for family.
This bill would reduce jailing in two ways:
- Increases the use of summons instead of jailing
- Reduces the use of cash bonds
You can read more about the bill at https://passsb21062.org/
To get this passed, your representatives need to hear from you.
- Find your legislators
- Call them. You can use the script below (written by the Support SB21-062 folks) to help you prepare what you're going to say.
Support SB21-062 Phone Script
Hello [Senator/Representative] (say their last name), my name is (your name) and I live in (your zip code) want to support SB21-62 because (state one reason). Please vote to end the broken system of mass incarceration and champion pretrial justice. Thank you!
I believe arrests shouldn’t be our first response to homelessness, substance abuse, and mental illness.
I want to end Colorado’s addiction to incarceration; our jail population has exploded 800% since the 1970’s. Locking more people up has not decreased crime, but it has increasingly harmed our most vulnerable communities.
Arrests for low-level offenses disproportionally affect Black people and people of color AND result in disproportionate conviction and incarceration. At its heart, SB21-062 is a racial justice bill aimed at righting some of the harms done to our communities of color by our system of mass incarceration.
60% of people in Colorado jails aren’t convicted of any crime — there only because they cannot afford bond.The cash bond system criminalizes poverty and further harms the poor by cutting them off from their families and their jobs.
The second leading cause in prison is suicide, and Colorado has a higher rate than most states. Too many Coloradans have died by suicide in jail because they cannot afford bond and this bill could have saved them.
Change Is Possible, But Only If We Organize For It
Change can and does happen, but only when people organize to the point where those in power recognize they have to concede to our demands in order to keep their seat.
SB21-62 has done the groundwork to succeed, but is facing fierce opposition from police unions and conservative politicians. Still, with a democratic majority in all three chambers of state government it can pass if enough of us mobilize for it.