With the upcoming November midterms, there are opportunities to resist the criminalization of our communities.
Two key ballot initiatives—one in Ohio and one in Florida—will create justice in those states and strategically push forward this movement in other states as well.
In Ohio, Issue 1—Safe & Healthy Ohio (Drug & Criminal Justice Policies Initiative)—will reduce non-violent crimes such as drug possession and probation violations from felonies to misdemeanors retroactively, freeing thousands from state prisons and disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline. Issue 1 also includes parole reform which will greatly reduce recidivism rates. Savings from reduced prison costs will be directed to community-based re-entry, drug treatment, counseling, and services programs.
In Florida there are 1.4 million people with past convictions who would gain the right to vote if Amendment 4—Second Chances Amendment (Voting Rights Restoration for Felons Initiative)—is passed. Florida is one of four states with a lifetime ban on voting for anyone who has served time for felony convictions, a law stemming from Jim Crow-era voting restrictions.
Both initiatives are led by Black organizers, the formerly incarcerated, and directly impacted people engaged in front-line community organizing including the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition and the Ohio Organizing Collaborative. They have built broad coalitions and are working with many partner groups and faith communities. Getting wins in Florida and Ohio will not be easy but is something we can help achieve. Further, these ballot initiatives are part of long-term strategies to end criminalization and mass incarceration and to build power for racial and economic justice.
We need you.
Love Resists is joining two monthly Unitarian Universalist Phone Banking Days on Tuesdays, September 11 and October 9, from 5:30-8:30 pm ET (2:30-5:30 PT) urging Florida voters to Vote Yes on Amendment 4. Anyone from any state can participate from home.
Once you sign up you’ll receive a link to a 15-minute webinar and instructions. Sign up and invite your congregation to sign up as well.
If you are in Florida, join a canvas on the third Saturday of the month. Unitarian Universalists will be canvassing together along with UUA President Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray in Sarasota County on October 20. Sign up here for Oct. 20 and other Get Out the Vote volunteer opportunities.
If you are in Ohio or can travel to Ohio, sign up to help canvass, phone bank, and get out the vote.
Please contact everyone you know in Florida and Ohio to ask them to vote Yes on Amendment 4 and Issue 1 and to send them information and opportunities to volunteer for the Second Chances Coalition and the Safe & Healthy Ohio Campaign.
While Love Resists focuses on these two key ballot initiatives that will help build the movement to end criminalization nationally, we also encourage you to raise these issues in local and other state campaigns and to support candidates running for district attorney and county prosecutor positions who align with our values.
The movement to end criminalization can take a big leap forward this fall and open up new ground to live out our values and collectively resist!