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Ode to Prop 17 and the Sweetness of Second Chances

Donney Rose
Nov 4, 2020 - 3:55

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In a history-making Election Day decision, California voters voted to pass a measure restoring the right to vote for felons on parole. 

The measure, known as Proposition 17 (Prop 17), will change the state’s constitution to restore voting rights to an estimated 50,000 formerly incarcerated people. Supporters of the measure believe that those who will be most impacted have paid their debts to society and should be able to choose their community’s representatives and decide on policies that affect their daily lives.

This is an ode to Prop 17 and the sweetness of second chances:

When I first heard the word     [recidivism]
I remember being drawn to
the musicality in its intonation
and ruined by
how often its definition materialized
in the fates of boys who
tried being better

Recidivism is the tendency of a convicted criminal to re-offend
or the hunger from empty cells
waiting to be filled with flesh
recidivism is…
the dinner bell of salivating metal
or the certainty of an economy
growing plumper by
feeding off the harvest of
prison labor

The opposite of recidivism is…
family photos that everyone is in
an unsupervised walk
a conversation uninterrupted by
waning minutes on a calling card
or a shower in complete solitude

The opposite of being
property of the state
is being able to decide
on the ways the state
handles those it ensnares
it is an unshackled hand
casting a ballot for the first time
or a reunion of citizenship

All praises to the sweetness of second chances
the nectar of new beginnings
the power of choices within our control
May our next time
always be our best time
may we never remain chained
to our worst moments.

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