The Huffington Post interviews Lenore Anderson, a former punk drummer turned prosecutor who has been a linchpin of criminal justice reforms in California. She was the co-author and campaign chair of Proposition 47, the state ballot initiative that reclassified several felonies, and the nonprofit she leads has organized a network of crime survivors pressing for expanded reforms. Her new organization, Alliance for Safety and Justice, will deploy a similar model in a host of other states with large prison populations. The group is organizing new networks of crime survivors and pushing more states to shift resources from incarceration to effective alternatives.
“Our most important goal is safety,” Anderson said. “Over-incarceration is really unsafe. So our intervention is to ask, how are we spending our safety dollars?” California’s arrest rate last year dropped to its lowest level ever recorded, and many cite Anderson’s initiative to reclassify several nonviolent felonies as misdemeanors. Funds saved by the drop in arrests are being shifted to other priorities like victim services and mental health treatment. State residents with criminal records are benefitting from the opportunity to remove certain felonies from their records. Anderson’s network of crime survivors have lent their moral authority to reform efforts.