PROP 6 and 9 = More for 69

By Guest Columnist Oct 16, 2008

By Truc T Nguyen, Generations Ahead November is a hefty month for the future of America with a historical presidential election at stake and, for Californians, an opportunity to prove our humility on the ballot. A quarter of the propositions in CA are law enforcement measures. In particular, Propositions 6 and 9, if passed, will undoubtedly compound and exacerbate the systemic racial bias in the criminal justice system in conjunction with the already passed sham titled Prop 69, “DNA Fingerprint, Unsolved Crime and Innocence Protection Act.” Under Proposition 6, the “Safe Neighborhoods Act/The Runner Initiative,” any youth 14 years or older convicted of a “gang–related” felony, will be prosecuted as an adult—which conveniently qualifies them to have their DNA collected and added to the California state DNA Database through Prop 69. California has the third largest criminal justice DNA database in the world and raises a host of troubling concerns such as the unfair and discriminatory profiling of communities of color. Proposition 9, poised as the “Victims’ Rights and Protection Act of 2008,” has provisions that would include lengthening the parole hearing wait for lifers from five to 15 years. The Innocence Project, an organization that works to exonerate wrongly convicted people through post-DNA testing, has provided proof that wrongful convictions are not isolated or rare events, but arise from systemic defects. How can we secure basic rights to due process when we create another mechanism to intensify systemic racial bias for people who have already been unfairly treated by the criminal justice system? There is a snowball effect happening through the proliferation of “tough on crime” legislation and expansive “criminal” DNA databases sweeping up much needed resources, and our children and families in its path. This rhetoric has become code for tightening the chains of the prison industrial complex and excessive surveillance of communities of color for the 21st Century. In the shadow of a growing police state, there is an opportunity to push back against the momentum. It begins with a consciousness of how language and technology are being used to discriminate and segregate. The opportunity lies in our willingness to make choices that address the roots of violence, not just it’s aftermath. Voters have an opportunity this election to be part of making a historical change on a national and local level, to tip the scale towards a more equal society for all of us. A step closer to truly safe neighborhoods and protecting our shared rights means saying “NO” on Propositions 6 and 9.