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For the past 3 months, communities and congregations across the country have worked together to shift the narrative about what it means to be a faith voter. Together, they put in countless hours phone-banking, door-knocking and fellowshipping to remind people that their life, voice and vote matters. The message: every single one of God’s children deserves the opportunity to live free from the ills that plague communities. Here are some stories that lift up the victories and triumphs in LIVE FREE communities and congregations:

California Proposition Says Yes to Redemption, Yes to Second Chance 

In an historic move that will have repercussions throughout the country, Californians passed Proposition 47!California is the first state in the nation to end felony sentencing for non-serious and nonviolent crimes such as drug possession. In doing so, we will permanently reduce incarceration and shift over $100 million in the first year from state corrections to K-12 school programs, victim services, as well as mental health support and drug treatment.

PICO California issued the following statement in response to the historical passage of Proposition 47:

“The passage of Proposition 47 by California voters provides a hopeful sign that we can reverse the trend of mass incarceration that is plaguing our nation,” states Corey Timpson, PICO California Director. 

By passing proposition 47, California is the first state in the nation to end felony sentencing for a select group of non-serious and nonviolent crimes. In doing so, California will permanently reduce incarceration and shift over $100 million in the first year from state corrections to K-12 school programs, victim services, as well as mental health support and drug treatment.

PICO California clergy from across the state have also weighed in on the historic passing of Prop 47: 

“Today, Californians expressed their voice with the humanization of all people being worthy of redemption. This victory of Proposition 47 begins our necessary journey of reforming our criminal justice system in a way that is fiscally responsible and represents our moral values. While there is more work to be done, we celebrate this important milestone,” said Rev. Ben McBride, Director City Team Ministries.

Click here to read the full statement

Ferguson Residents Cry for Democracy in the Streets and through the Vote

The cry of, “Show me what democracy looks like!” has reverberated across the country as PICO leaders and staff have joined with young people and community members of Ferguson marching in bold, peaceful protests. Armed with nothing but their conviction and cries for justice, they've continually faced brutality and arrests by police officers suited up in riot gear with guns and teargas in hand. And they chant: “This is what democracy looks like!”

In this election season, PICO joined with Ferguson congregations and communities to make democracy real, not only by marching for racial justice, but by making over 1100 phone calls, talking to over 2000 neighbors and encouraging people to make their voices heard at the polls. Every door knocked on, every phone call made was a radical act of love, working for the full inclusion of all God’s people in our democracy. It required ALL acts of courage to create the powerful movement needed to put communities and the country on a new and better path – one with equal justice and opportunity for all of our loved ones.

Ohio Students and Leaders Vote for Justice

In 2014, Ohio will spend $1.8 billion on rehabilitation and corrections. In fact, fully 90 cents of every dollar will be spent on incarceration, and only two cents per dollar on rehabilitation. While Ohio continues to imprison individuals suffering from drug addiction and mental illness, our communities continue to deteriorate.

“I grew up in Beavercreek and am connected with many different communities affected by the case of John Crawford III. I'm tired of seeing black lives lost senselessly, and no one being held accountable. This year, I will be voting for candidates that reflect my concerns and will work with me to change the way the justice system handles cases like this and in the future.” 

Youth of color like Darsheel Kaur, Dayton resident and Ohio Student Association leader, face a harsh reality that their lives are rendered unimportant and summarily ended by police officers. Though they are sworn to protect all communities, the lack of deep relationships in communities of color combined with implicit bias and stereotypes, leave a many neighborhoods vulnerable to the violence of police officers.

Darsheel votes to see justice served for John Crawford III and countless black and brown youth victims at the hands of police violence.

 

Our Souls, Our Polls: Florida Clergy Leaders Urge Thousands of African Americans and Latinos to Vote Early in Statewide Souls to the Polls Events

Faith in Florida’s staff, clergy and leaders participated in the “Praise in the Park & Souls to the Polls” gospel concert and rally at Hungerford Academy in Eatonville as well as additional activities in Tallahassee, Cutler Bay, Belle Glades, Lauderhill, and Daytona Beach where they prayed, sang, ate, and enjoyed the festivities. Faith in Florida also provided buses for several AME Congregations in St. Augustine, Jacksonville, Cocoa, Melbourne, and New Smyrna, Florida.

This event was part of a massive statewide effort by hundreds of congregations to hold transformative conversations across race and faith as a key component of the faith community’s voter engagement throughout Florida where unlikely and first-time voters play a key role in the outcome of the governor’s race.

Read more about their souls to the polls victories.

With each election, we are one step closer to creating communities that thrive, communities that stand and say we will LIVE FREE as children of God. Continue to walk with us on this journey of redemption.

Blessings,

LIVE FREE Campaign Team

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