Think Outside the Box: Josh & Angela

Oct. 23, 2012 / By and

Every tax dollar funneled into jails and prisons takes funding away from other services and needs, including K-12 and higher education. California currently allots $10.7 billion to its criminal justice budgets.

In the last two weeks, VoiceWaves asked its new youth reporters how they would change the system by entering the Think Outside The Box Contest.

Think Outside the Box is a project of the ACLU of California whose objective is to engage voters, youth and young adults around the California budgeting process.

The youth were asked to answer questions like, “What do you care about?”; “What would you do with the money saved if you were Governor of California?”; and “What kind of difference could you make?”

Every few days, VoiceWaves will be releasing two youth entries. Below are the entries of Joshua Jimenez, 18 and Angela Or, 17.

By Joshua Jimenez

Verse 1 (Intellect):

Now let me tell y’all,

The population, the working class amongst the victims
The injustices committed by the state, picture so vivid
So never will I bow down to a failed system
While we always wonder why our tax money’s missin

I care about rebuildin’ the hood, makin’ it good
For the governor, I make sure the struggle is understood
Guilty of the color of my skin, that’s imprisonment
No justice, no peace, for the poor and innocence

We’re spendin’ our figures, makin’ their pockets thicker
The state of denial, California prisons getting bigger
While oppression exists, we just maintainin’ the status quo
Marchin’ to the capital makin’ a change that is radical
See the solution, ain’t incarceration
Yet the FEDS steadily waitin’ for the infiltration
With every chance they get, they want to lock us up
More state prison bunk beds, they want the profit up

Black and brown youth in the system overcrowded
Sacramento politicians ain’t gon’ do nothing about it
So they roll with the punches, Jerry brown is just a puppet
$7.3 billion dollars in prison funding

Instead of spendin’ billions on sentencing the innocent
We need to fund schools, with education that is relevant
That’s why its up to us, change from the bottom up
Break it down chop it up so my people know what’s up

The California justice system is failing on us. The War on Drugs? It’s an attack on the working class people. More prisons means more poverty and more injustice.

We got to educate organize mobilize our communities to fight against these unjust laws that are made to oppress the working class. Folks just like you and me. I’m just statin’ the truth from the facts.

By Angela Or

California spends an unnecessary amount of money on incarceration. That money could be used for other things that are important, such as education. As the state budget decreases due to how much money California wastes on housing inmates, the K-12 budget also decreases. In California, the student to counselor ratio is 810 students per counselor. The textbooks at school aren’t up to date. Classrooms barely have supplies provided for students to work with. The restroom facilities aren’t clean enough or stocked daily. Even prisons provide their prisoners’ bathrooms with toilet paper.

[pullquote]It isn’t fair that a student should be turned away from school because they can’t afford it. Education is of great importance to me. Students who work hard should be allowed to go to school. A person goes to college to develop a career, which results in them making money in the future. Their livelihood is dependent on a good education.[/pullquote]The system discriminates against the poor and people of color. California is known for its diversity. Many families in California have emigrated here from different countries, so the system instead should benefit people of color. If California gave the children from those families financial assistance in education to develop a career through college, it could help provide income for those families so they wouldn’t have to rely on welfare and housing. That could result in saving taxpayers’ dollars as well.

The share of the state budget going to Corrections has grown from 4 percent to 10 percent in 25 years. That’s huge. If we could reduce that, we would save money and be able to use the money saved on issues in our community. If I were the governor of California, I would invest most of it on providing financial aid to students and providing more teachers and classrooms to students.  Kids are the future and if they aren’t given the tools to succeed now, we as a society won’t progress far in the future.

If we could provide a better education to people, we could increase peoples’ skills and increase jobs. It would help provide income for poor families. If I were governor, I would make sure we were contributing to the futures of the youth in California. By keeping kids in school, we keep them out of trouble and in the long run, it will also result in less people incarcerated. Then California really wouldn’t need to waste unnecessary money on incarceration.

 

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Joshua Jimenez

Joshua Jimenez

Joshua Jimenez is a 21 year old Filipino-American, born and raised on the Eastside of Long Beach. Growing up on the Eastside was rough, especially for Joshua. Growing up in gangs, drugs, and seeing struggle with his close friends and family. It wasn't until he started getting involved with the Filipino community that he was getting in touch with his culture. He now educates and organize the Filipino youth and his peers about their culture and the issues we all face in our community. Joshua wants to use his passion of film-making and making documentary films about the stories of working class people in his community, especially giving voice to the working class Filipinos in the city of Long Beach.
Angela Or

Angela Or

Angela Or is a 19 year old Cambodian and Thai American in Long Beach. She is a graduate of Lakewood High and a student at Cypress Community College. She comes from a family of nine which includes her parents, her six sisters, and herself. She is interested in advocating for equality and volunteering for charity. Angela is a youth-leader from CCEJ and facilitates the Building Bridges human relation camps. She has also volunteered with the GSA-Network and the Free the Children foundation, buying goats for families in India and helping build a clinic in Kenya with a humanitarian club. At her high school, she was the president of the Human Relation's Club, co-president of the Film Club, and a member of the Best Buddies' Club, devoting her lunches to spend time with youth with disabilities. Her goals include graduating college with a Bachelor's Degree or higher and having a career as an ultrasound technician. Angela aspires to make the world a better place through being an activist and using digital media to express the voices in our community.