Susan Burton is a prime example of how burdensome an old felony conviction can be on people desperate to turn their lives around. Susan suffered from addiction, but was able to get sober in the 90s. Today, she provides the very reentry support and resources that she was unable to access in the fifteen years she spent moving in and out of the criminal justice system.
She started simply, by inviting people recently released from jail to crash in her Los Angeles home. Her program, A New Way of Life Outreach, has mushroomed, and is now five homes that help women find their way after serving their sentences.
Before she was able to reclassify her own felony conviction under Prop 47, though, she was often barred from even entering these prisons and jails to help prep the women about to be released.
For Burton, being labeled a felon severely affected her ability to do her job. For too many others, it holds them back from securing employment, finding affordable housing or even being able to regain custody of one’s children.
“We need a movement to uphold and implement Proposition 47 and to hold accountable every judge, prosecutor, attorney, jail administrator and probation officer responsible for putting it into practice,” said Burton.