Pepper Spray Victory
Last fall, we shared with you the story of Alma, a mother who was pepper sprayed when she was visiting her son in the Division of Juvenile Justice. Hundreds of Californians stood with us to demand an immediate end to this practice. For months, DJJ made excuses and told our Books Not Bars staff that pepper spray was in the DJJ to stay. We stayed committed to the idea that no one- youth nor visitors to the youth prisons- should be subjected to pepper spray.
Finally, it looks like we won.
Last week, Alma called us to say: "You may think you don't make a difference with the work you do, but you do. And I want to thank you for it." The last time she was visiting her son, a fight broke out. But the guards didn't use pepper spray to break it up.
Even small wins like these deepen our resolve to take Books Not Bars to the national scale. This year we're going even bigger. We're launching a campaign to reduce the incarceration rate by 50% over the next ten years. We spend over $60 billion a year to lock people up -- money that should be used for education, health care and creating opportunities.