This Op Ed – Gov. Newsom must release more people from prisons to protect Californians and save lives – was co-authored by Danica Rodarmel, the statewide policy director of the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, and James King, the State Campaigner at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights who was formerly incarcerated inside San Quentin. Here, the authors argue to remove the stigma and fear of releasing human beings from prison in the midst of a deadly pandemic.
“Let us be clear – nobody wants harm to happen, but talk of ‘violent and serious offenders’ and ‘non-non-non’s’ prevents a responsible plan that centers the most vulnerable. Data has consistently shown that people who have been convicted of serious or violent crimes have the lowest recidivism rates. As we teeter on the brink of an uncontrollable outbreak, we can’t afford to let fear or bias drive policy, when science proves that conviction alone says nothing about who that person is today or their readiness to reenter society.”