The mission of Proyecto Common Touch (PCT) is to defend, educate and empower California female parolees. This shows our commitment to ensuring the protection of the human rights of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated persons, as well as goals of reducing the number of persons incarcerated and strengthening the leadership and activism of prisoners and former prisoners.
Proyecto Common Touch works to reduce incarceration numbers by reducing the number of Parole Violators Returned to Custody (PV-RTC), and to reduce the numbers of those incarcerated Pending Revocation. We have a specific focus on female parolees. According to figures of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), 56% of the female arrivals in prison facilities in 2007 were either parole violators or those being held pending revocation proceedings. Even if one excludes those who also had new prison commitments, the figure is 43% of arrivals were either pending revocation proceedings or being held for parole violations without convictions of new offenses. Seven out of ten California parolees are returned to jail within three years, the highest rate re-imprisonment rate in the nation. In spite of these huge numbers, the problem of parolees’ re-incarceration is too often overlooked, due in part to the relatively short period of imprisonment resulting from any given violation. But the impact on parolees of the constant threat of being re-imprisoned for minor or imagined violations is a significant impediment to their reintegration into society. For this reason, PCT focuses on the due process rights of parolees.
PCT is involved in identifying and challenging custody policies in both CDCR prisons and county jails. We expose those policies which effectively block due process rights. For example, alleged parole violators are, in the crucial early stages following their arrest, typically denied access to the information and means for obtaining it (such as the use of jail or prison law libraries) which would help empower them and allow them to gain understanding about their options, and denied the ability effectively to communicate with those on the outside who might provide information or assistance. We also work to expose how the State’s policies prevent implementation of parolee rights under the consent decree in the Valdivia case.
A primary goal of Proyecto is to see female-identified parolees who have benefitted from the knowledge imparted by PCT programs themselves experiencing the strengthening and self-empowerment which will enable and encourage them to themselves become defenders and ultimately policy specialists with the “inside looking out perspective”. Knowledge sharing can shift the dynamics of the process, as survival tactics and information are disseminated by former parolees to parolees facing revocation.