On August 22nd, the Pajaro Valley Federation of Teachers, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, drafted a letter in support of expanded educational program to inmates in the Security Housing Units across the California prison system. Jenn Laskin, a grievance officer and teacher in the Pajaro Valley Unified School District, formally submitted the letter from the PVFT and spoke during the public comments of the August 23rd hearing of the California Assembly’s Public Safety Committee hearing on solitary confinement.
Click here for a PDF of the letter from the Pajaro Valley Federation of Teachers.
Public Comment by Jenn Laskin at Hearing of California Assembly Public Safety Committee, August 23, 2011.
Aside from the fact the CDCR segregates all inmates based on gang affiliation, a root cause of gang issues and violence is indeed, poverty. Spending $56,000 a year per inmate and approximately $6000 a year per K-12 student exacerbates the problem. I believe it is public policy and the mis-allocation of resources to expensive prison guards contracts and prison bureaucracy that is a major cause of increased violence both in the streets and out in the community . Without more resources allocated to rehabilitation, public services, and related resources such as job development, education and healthcare it will remain a challenge to find a lasting solution to gang violence.
I am here today to present a letter signed by most members of the Executive Council of the Pajaro Valley Federation of Teachers. We represent over 1100 teachers, psychologists and counselors in South Santa Cruz County. This letter supports a call for expanded educational programming to SHU inmates. We believe that the cuts to public services exacerbates the school-to-prison pipeline. Expanded access to educational programs would give inmates the education they need to improve their moral and the horrid, negative psychological effects of the SHU. Ultimately this will keep staff, other inmates and the general public safer upon these inmates release.
Thank you for your time and for holding this hearing today.