THE BLOG
10/27/2014 10:56 am ET Updated Dec 27, 2014

Change in Our Justice System Is Long Overdue; Pass Prop 47!

Michael Kelley via Getty Images

The right to vote is central to any movement for social change.

In the 1960's, voter registration drives were a central strategy to the civil rights movement and today voting continues to play a pivotal role in our democracy.

As someone who cares deeply about education, I felt compelled to make this video increase voter participation and raise awareness of the need to stop the growing school-to-prison pipeline.

In the last three decades, prison spending has grown exponentially faster than spending on education. In fact, in California alone, we have built 22 prisons and only 1 UC University since 1980.

Today, we incarcerate five times more prisoners than 1980 and prison spending has increased by 1500 percent. The devastating impact of this dramatic growth has not been felt evenly - African Americans are seven times more likely than whites to be incarcerated and Latinos are twice as likely.

America's incarceration addiction has torn apart communities, disenfranchised millions of people -- most for nonviolent offenses -- and denied countless individuals an opportunity to gain employment, housing and even some of their most basic human rights. And it hasn't made us any safer -- more that 6 out of 10 prisoners return to prison after release while communities struggle with run down schools and inadequate resources.

Change in our justice system is long overdue. That's why I'm advocating so strongly for the passage of Proposition 47, a groundbreaking sentencing reform initiative in California that will begin to reverse decades of over-incarceration and reallocate prison spending to schools, prevention and treatment.

Prop. 47 will change six low-level nonviolent drug possession and petty theft crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, and invest the prison cost savings -- in the millions of dollars -- into K-12 schools, mental health treatment and victim services.

It's supported by law enforcement, crime victims and teachers, along with a diverse coalition of business leaders, civil rights organizations, community groups, faith leaders, artists and many more.

And it will pass if each and every one of us decides to exercise our basic right to vote.

I urge you to tell your neighbors, co-workers, family members and friends about the critical importance of voting Yes on Prop. 47.

This election -- less than two weeks away -- will make history not only in California, but also in the rest of the country.

Now is the time to act. Now is the time to vote Yes on Prop. 47.