Modern form of slavery

Examining the California SAFE Act

By: Calvin D Chism

The Campaign to End the Death Penalty sent a questionnaire into over 200 prisoners in San Quentin seeking their thoughts about the SAFE Act. Below is one of the many responses we received. 

I am not in favor of the SAFE Act! This proposal is a modern day form of slavery.

The SAFE Act strips a man of his right to challenge injustice. The SAFE Act deprives a man of hope by silencing his voice. When you put that man in a lose-lose situation (life without the possibility of parole) with no legal recourse, give him a prison job at $.43 max per hour, and then force that man to pay 55% restitution back to the prison, leaving that man with slave wages.

It's amazing that when our education system is on the brink of callous school closures and our future (our kids) are testing at an epidemically low range with little chance for advancement; the system’s priorities are on paying more tax dollars to a broken California justice system that claims to “promote public safety”. But California has more prisons than college scholarships.

We need more education than alienation with a bias Department of Justice funding! Vote no on SAFE!

Calvin D Chism is on death row in California. You can write to Calvin at:


San Quentin, California 94974


In November, the people of California will be voting on a ballot measure that could repeal the death penalty there. Since it won a place on the ballot, the SAFE Act has been a topic of discussion and important debate among criminal justice reform activists.

  The measure has the potential to take over 700 people off death row in one of the largest death penalty states - yet the "tough on crime" proposals at the heart of the SAFE Act are leading a growing number of activists to turn against it.

0ver the next several months the Campaign to End the Death Penalty will be providing a forum about this debate on our website through a new blog titled "Examining the Califonia SAFE Act."

This blog project aims to collect various news articles, editorials and especially prisoners writing about this initiative.  We would love folks to send our way any articles or writings that you think will add to this discussion.  Contact us at or