Ode to Prop 17 and the Sweetness of Second Chances

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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.