California’s governor has granted pardons to seven people who transformed their lives after spending years in prison — most of them for nonviolent drug offenses. Among those pardoned was Los Angeles activist Susan Burton, founder and executive director of A New Way of Life, a nonprofit that provides housing and other support to formerly incarcerated women. In her memoir, “Becoming Ms. Burton,” she describes her journey from a childhood filled with abuse to drug addiction as an adult, and then to the fight to address the underlying issues that send women to prison. This is Susan Burton speaking with Democracy Now! in 2015.
Susan Burton: “We spend hundreds of thousands a year on a person just warehousing and incarcerating them. In California, it runs out about $67,000 a year, depending on how healthy you are, up into the hundreds of thousands. And when you get back to the community, you can’t get any types of supports or services. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”