Building Bridges

The monthly newsletter of the Prison Action Network

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Sunday, December 04, 2016

December 2016


Welcome to the site of Building Bridges, Prison Action Network's newsletter 

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Building Bridges December 2016

Dear Reader,  
Just in case you don’t know what we do:

 Our mission is to replace New York State’s criminal justice system with one that is truly rehabilitative and restorative.  In other words, to end mass incarceration.  We provide information for people who don’t have the same access we have to the internet and other media sources.  We visit our readers/members in prison, when we’re in their area.  We receive about 15 letters a week.  All of them are read with interest.  Some of them are very long and some ask for information that will take a long time to find.  We do our best to provide the requested information, but it’s impossible to respond to everyone. The frustration of that is the hardest part of our work.  We try to answer the letters with the articles we publish each month;  Articles 4, 5, 6 and 8 are examples.  

Ten days every month we do little else than gather material and compose the month’s Building Bridges.  What about all those other days?  We take calls from family members, emails from other advocates, attend meetings with other groups involved in the same struggles we are, trying to replace the punitive and downright cruel and torturous ways this society deals with social problems.  We have our finger in a lot of pies. But all the time we’re thinking of our friends in prison and how much we wish they weren’t in prison. One of these days, our wish will come true!!  

Glenn Martin, founder of JustLeadershipUSA, recently said in a internet post:  The election of a man who is no friend of the values we fight for – compassion, justice, inclusion and redemption, will not cause us to change gears, mope, or retreat.  We will double-down. We will work harder than ever to make sure our voices are heard. Our voices, stories, experience, ideas, criticisms and leadership not only matter; there is no movement without them.  The ‘we’ he was speaking of were formerly incarcerated, currently incarcerated, and their families;  people who’ve been directly impacted by the criminal justice system:  you who are reading this.....
Sending you love,   Your Editor 

Table of Contents

  1. NetWorks- Inside Out: Lessons from the Belly of the Beast: how to survive and resist a regime of extreme oppression
  2. Parole News - October 2016 Releases
  3. The Scourge of Racial Bias in New York State’s Prisons - and Parole Board- N Y Times, Dec.4
  4. A brief history of the SAFE Parole Act and why it’s been worth it
  5. A man in prison, his daughter and a Lifer’s Group organize a statewide prisoner/family letter writing campaign:   http://tinyurl.com/ParoleCampaign1-1-17      
  6. Cuomo’s Clemency not affecting many
  7. Life after Clemency, by Anthony Papa
  8. False Hope -How Parole Systems Fail Youth Serving Extreme Sentences
  9. Judge Mott shows courage and wisdom
  10. Filling vacancies on the NYS Court of Appeals
  11. Ending on a High Note


1.  NetWORKS: the monthly column of the New York State Prisoner Justice Network
Inside Out: Lessons from the Belly of the Beast
Most people in our social justice and anti-incarceration movements are devastated by the election of Donald Trump. They are wondering how to survive and resist the wave of repression, racism, surveillance, police state violence, and hate targeting which they fear may be approaching and which in fact has already begun.
People in prison, formerly incarcerated people, prison families, and all of us who spend or have spent time locked inside those walls and who are suffering in the criminal legal system have a useful perspective to offer to this conversation.
We are already living in that fascist universe.
Arbitrary and irrational use of force? Invasion of privacy? Hate-based harassment? Abuse of official power and position? Racist, sexist, homophobic, and transphobic targeting? Intolerance for dissent? Punishment of opposition? Suppression of free expression? Tell us about it!
By definition, justice exists equally for everyone, or it isn’t justice. Even before the election, justice did not exist at all for some. Our experience of prison as the denial of the most basic human and civil rights was a sign that no one’s rights were safe. Another sign was the suffering of people around the world in U.S.-sponsored wars and violence. In the slogan of one criminal justice reform organization, “It could happen to you.” If it can happen to the most vulnerable members of society, it is bound to spread to others. Ask those who live in the world of incarceration.
So what do we know about survival and resistance in the face of extreme oppression that might be useful to others?
It’s not cheerful news, but it’s not without inspiration either. Not everyone survives. It’s not a given. Some are broken, body and soul. They are no less deserving than those who survive, only unluckier. But many do survive – not just physically but with their human spirit intact – and they have important lessons for everyone. 
The first people I think of in that category are the formerly incarcerated who are on the front lines of the anti-incarceration movement. Many are older and have spent most or all of their adult years behind bars before finally being released. They are faced with the formidable challenges of trying to survive now, outside, in a world bitterly hostile to them because of their past. One would certainly forgive them if they never wanted to hear the word “prison” again. But instead they never stop thinking of those they left behind. They infuse our movement with their love, dedication, and energy focused on one objective: to get people out. Theirs is the foremost lesson of survival of the spirit in the face of oppression: love for, and solidarity with, the oppressed.
And then I think about the people who are still inside and their strategies for survival. Political prisoners – those who are in prison because of their involvement in movements of resistance to injustice –are often a model for survival in prison. Although they may be remorseful around specific actions, political prisoners deliberately took the risk of confronting a powerful system in order to try for a better world. They knew they might end up dead or in prison. I asked a political prisoner who has done hard time for 35 years whether, if he had known it was going to be this bad, he would still have participated in the liberation movements of his day. He said, “I thought it was going to be much worse.” So one lesson is to not sugar coat the danger, not have false expectations, but fully face the system for the menace it is.
The other survival lesson from the political prisoners is their continuing involvement and participation in movements for social change. Their contributions to our movements are vital: they give us an understanding of what life is like under these conditions so we can be effective in our struggles for change; and they give us a reason to believe that humans are capable of surviving under conditions of great repression.  They teach us that in dangerous situations, carefully chosen forms of resistance are an essential survival strategy.
Prisoners find sources of joy in unlikely places. I asked another long-term prisoner to tell me about his experience of solitary confinement, expecting to hear a depressing story of deprivation and torture. Instead he regaled me with hilarious tales of the many tricks by which isolated prisoners manage to communicate with and help each other.
Other strategies that help people survive prison: maintaining relationships with outside family and friends; working hard at education and other programs; fighting your case; getting right with God – in other words, putting your heart and soul into some form of beneficial action for and with others.
We who live in the world of incarceration know that it is possible to survive and resist a regime of extreme oppression.  The tools you need are love, solidarity, perseverance, joy, humor, integrity, thoughtfulness – and more love. Just ask us, we’ve been there.


2.  Parole News - October Release Rates
PAROLE BOARD RELEASES - A1 VIOLENT FELONS DIN #s through 2001  
unofficial research from parole database


October 2016 - Interview Summaries
Type
Total 
# Released
# Denied*
Rate of Release
Year to Date Release Rates
Initials 
17
5
12
29%
31%
Reappearances
71
20
51
28%
30%
Total 
88
25
63
28%
30%
*3 of the denials were de novos


October 2016 - Initial Releases
Facility
Age at hearing
Age @ Commitment
Sentence
Offense
# of Board
Fishkill
58
24
35-Life
Mrd 2
1
Fishkill
53
31
25-Life
Mrd 2
1
Fishkill
44
23
25-Life
Mrd 2
1
Green Haven
57
34
25-Life
Mrd 2
1
Ulster 
51
28
25-Life
 Mrd 2
1


October 2016 - Reappearance Releases by Facility
Facility
Age at hearing
Age @ Commitment
Sentence
Offense
# of Board
Auburn
51
30
25-Life
Mrd 2
2
Bedford Hills
44
21
25-Life
Mrd 2
1
Fishkill
47
28
16-Life
Mrd 2
3
Gowanda
44
21
15-Life
 Mrd 2
6
Great Meadow
53
21
20-Life
Mrd 2
8
Great Meadow
49
26
25-Life
Mrd 2
2
Green Haven
59
27
20-Life
Mrd 2
8
Green Haven
43
21
21-Life
Mrd 2
2
Otisville
63
36
25-Life
Mrd 2
3
Otisville
40
18
20-Life
Mrd 2
3
Otisville
42
21
15-Life
Mrd 2
5
Shawangunk
63
28
25-Life
Att Mrd 1
7
Shawangunk
48
21
27-Life
Mrd 2
2
Sullivan
66
51
15-Life
Mrd 2
2
Sullivan
43
20
18-Life
Mrd 2
4
Woodbourne
53
19
28-Life
Mrd 2
5
Woodbourne
66
39
27-Life
Mrd 2
3
Woodbourne
62
39
25-Life
Mrd 2
2
Woodbourne
39
19
16-Life
Mrd 2 *
4
Wyoming
66
45
20-Life
Mrd 2
2
* parole violation


October 2016 - Over 60 Age Summary
Age Range
Total seen
# Released
# Denied 
October Release Rate  
Year to Date Release Rate
60-69
23
6
17
26%
26%
70-79
6
0
6
0%
22%
80+
1
0
1
0%
33%
Total
30
6
24
20%
25%



October 2016 - ALL Parole Releases  (including the A1VOs reported above)
Type of Release
Total  Seen
# Released
# Denied
Rate of Release
Year to Date Release Rate
Initials
365
86
279
24%
26%
All other decisions
334
99
235
30%
33%
Total Interviews
699
185
514
26%
29%
Includes Merit time cases



3.  The Scourge of Racial Bias in New York State’s Prisons and For Blacks Facing Parole in New York State, Signs of a Broken System, two articles exposing the NYS Prisons and Parole Board Practices, respectively, were released by the NY Times on Sunday Dec 4. Both articles were written by Michael Schwirtz, Michael Winerip and Robert Gebeloff.
A New York Times investigation draws on nearly 60,000 disciplinary cases from state prisons and interviews with inmates to explore the system’s inequalities and the ripple effect these can have. The review by The New York Times of tens of thousands of disciplinary cases against inmates in 2015, hundreds of pages of internal reports and three years of parole decisions found that racial disparities were embedded in the prison experience in New York.  Read it here:


A companion piece by the same authors came over the internet hours later. Among other implicating statements, it quotes former parole commissioner Bob Dennison reporting that Boards often had made their decisions before beginning the interviews.  The article can be found at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/04/nyregion/new-york-prisons-inmates-parole-race.html 


4.  The Safe and Fair Evaluations (SAFE) Parole Bill Report
A brief history of the SAFE Parole Act
Some people believe that the Safe Parole Bill has failed.  They assume that because it has been 5 years since the bill was first introduced we should look elsewhere for relief from unfair and torturous parole board denials.  But they haven’t looked at the bigger picture.  Bills can take years to become laws because it involves educating a lot of people about the need for such a bill before the legislators are willing to put their names on it.  Especially if it’s criminal justice legislation. It’s not easy to change our culture of punishment and revenge.  First the people who are most directly impacted have to be persuaded to tell their stories, because it is stories that change people’s minds and hearts.  For most stakeholders, that’s a huge step outside their comfort zone.  But the more people who speak up, the more others are encouraged to do so.  If you look at the history of the SAFE Parole Act, you may be amazed at how far we’ve come from a few individuals attending the first Family Empowerment Day who wouldn’t sign the registration sheet because they feared the stigma attached to being related to someone in prison, to becoming part of groups who attend public demonstrations and loudly speak truth to power;  putting the blame on those who inflict unnecessary and illegally long prison sentences instead of on their transformed loved ones who are unjustly kept in prison by a parole board whose motivation can only be guessed at.

So how does that relate to the SAFE Parole Act, now a bill with 30 legislative sponsors?

Anyone can draft a bill, but only a legislator can introduce it.  Courageous (now retired) Senator Tom Duane, after we worked on him for nearly a year, finally agreed to introduce the SAFE Parole Act.  And soon after, Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry joined him.  When Tom Duane retired, Senator Parker immediately became the primary supporter of the Bill.  More and more legislators have become sponsors, with 20 in the Assembly (one Republican) and 10 in the Senate.  

As more and more spoke out, signed petitions, wrote letters to legislators and made phone calls, small groups began to form until now there are over 100 groups who have signed a letter supporting the SAFE Parole Act, and better still a good number of the largest ones have made it a top priority of their legislative agenda. 

In the early years, our incarcerated brothers and sisters would urge us to get law students involved, and get the major news outlets to cover our stories.  We found it difficult to get even our local papers to pay attention.  Yet, during all these years advocates continued to walk the halls of the State capital, held petitioning drives, gave talks whenever anyone invited us, no matter how small the audience, and never giving up.  And then the victims of parole denials started winning in court.  Judges started writing opinions that sounded a lot like the SAFE Parole Act!  The NYLJ got some good stories, Democracy Now! began to give more attention to criminal justice issues, the NY Times started featuring opinion pieces, not just on parole but on the Parole Board practices themselves.  Big name organizations starting joining our ranks, and more and more New Yorkers became educated about what was happening in our jails and prisons and at parole board hearings.  The Marshall Project has become one of the most informative online sources of important news from the entire criminal justice system and they feature a regular column, Life Inside which is written by people in prison.

Litigation keeps moving us closer and closer to the NYS Court of Appeals, the highest court in NYS and thus their decisions cannot be appealed (unless to the Supreme Count of the United States) Petitioners like  Bruetsch, Cassidy, Ciaprazi, Duffy, Gonzalez,  Hawkins, Hawthorne,  Linares, MacKenzie, Stanley, Platten, Rabenbauer, Stokes others have had some positive lower court decisions.  What we need is a positive decision in the Court of Appeals.  It looked like we might get one with John MacKenzie’s last petition to the court.  His lawyer is waiting to find out if it will be accepted by the Second Department.

By the way, there’s a list of people with violent crimes who’ve been released, after court action,
and since then not reimprisoned:  Friedgood ’07, Malone ’11, Mitchell ’09,  Winchell ’11 and more.
  
Legislators have been educated by thousands of letters men and women in prison have sent, in which they not only described the unfairness of their parole denials, but also included their parole transcripts and parole denial documents.  As a result Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell and Senator Velmanette Montgomery along with other compassionate legislators have drafted several bills recently which when passed will also make the chances of a fair parole hearing more likely. Letters and calls from family members have also humanized the people in prison by describing how much their loved ones are missed and needed to make the family whole again, and how damaging the 2 year cycles of hope and disappointment are to the emotional health of the family.

So whether or not the SAFE Parole Act passes this session or not, it has inspired many other strategies to put the nature of the person at the center of parole decisions, and prevent the nature of the crime from being the sole consideration.  

In other words, everything you’ve done over the years is bringing us that much closer to the day when NYS may be a leader in sensible and effective parole board practices.  Don’t stop now, it’s time to double down!  (the next article presents one easy way to start the year off with action)



5.  A statewide prisoner/family members letter writing campaign!
A man in prison, his daughter, and a prison’s Lifer’s organization have put in hours of work organizing a statewide prisoner/family members letter writing campaign.  They have a plan for flooding both the Governor’s and Legislators’ offices with 100‘s, if not 1,000‘s of letters, starting on January 1, 2017.  

Do you have a loved one who deserves a fair parole hearing?  The SAFE Parole Act will make that more of a possibility.  Do you want them to have that advantage?  Then visit  http://tinyurl.com/ParoleCampaign1-1-17 to get started.

With the Governor coming out at his State of the State Address, and not only talking about the parole system, but also about many other issues dealing with the prison system, this could be the perfect time to convince him and the legislators to make the passage of the SAFE Parole Act become a reality in 2017.   

Mr. R., his daughter and the Lifers group have done all the hard work.  We just need to visit their website: http://tinyurl.com/ParoleCampaign1-1-17 and get everyone we know, especially your family if you’re in prison, to do the same.  Do it right away!  January 1 is right around the corner!

On the website we will be able to request a free packet that explains the process, and provides instructions about mailing pre-written letters to the governor and legislators, complete with their addresses, and 3 articles to include with the letters. 

What could be easier?  They’ve done all the work and provided all the tools we need to make this campaign a success.  Do it for your loved ones.  Could be the best present you ever gave them!


6.  Mr. Cuomo’s commitment to giving people a second chance is being tested.
One year ago, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (scroll down) announced a “clemency project”(worth reading).  Since then we’ve been hearing from people in prison who have been provided with a volunteer lawyer recruited by the governor to help them fill out the application.  They were hopeful they were on their way home, and wanted to know if we had heard of anyone who had been granted clemency yet.  Sadly we hadn’t and still haven’t.  According to a recent [Nov.22] New York Times article, Cases of 3 men convicted of murder - show difficulty of Cuomo’s clemency push, it’s not as easy as the governor thought.   According to Alphonso B. David, Cuomo’s chief counsel, there have been only 6 “robust” applications.  “We have to think about giving people a second chance,” Mr. David said. “At the same time, we have to look at them also through a prism of not putting anyone at risk.”  We guess the NYSPBA straightened them out about that.


7.  Life after Clemency

Anthony Papa, who spent 12 years in prison 18 years ago and was released primarily due to the paintings he produced while in prison, is also a writer.  He asked us to tell you that his new memoir  This Side of Freedom: Life After Clemency is available for free to all prison libraries.  With the book he hopes to reduce mass incarceration by sharing the story of his journey after serving 12 years for a non-violent drug crime in NYS.  It brings home the plight of returning to society and finding roadblocks at every turn in trying to become part of society once again as rehabilitated tax paying citizens.  A study guide was also created http://www.drugpolicy.org/sites/default/files/This_Side_of_Freedom_study_guide.pdf to help individuals understand the issues outlined in the book.

Anthony Papa | Manager of Media and Artist Relations
Drug Policy Alliance,
131 West 33rd Street, 15th Floor
New York, NY 10001
PH: 212.613.8037 | 




8.  False Hope
In November, the American Civil Liberties Union released False Hope; How Parole Systems Fail Youth Serving Extreme Sentences, a report which not only presents the outrageously harsh ways our system treats young people who commit serious crimes, but also how the Parole system collaborates in harming them, as well as the adults they become. It’s a very thorough examination of the problem, and is full of true stories that make the text come alive.  Below are some of the beginning words of the report, which is 106 pages.  If you want to read it, you can download it at: https://www.aclu.org/feature/false-hope-how-parole-systems-fail-youth-serving-extreme-sentences  

“Parole’s Illusory Promise of Release”  Parole boards today are both ill-equipped to provide meaningful individualized review and resistant to releasing people who, even if they were children at the time, committed a serious offense.  Parole boards’ hesitance to release individuals is evidenced by the abysmal rate at which many states grant parole, particularly for people serving life sentences or those convicted of violent offenses [in their youth].   ....the seriousness of the offense should be and is ... considered by the court at sentencing, in determining the type of sentence and its length, and also when a person will be eligible for parole.  But at the parole review, the focus on the severity of the original offense obscures a meaningful parole examination and release decision based on who the person is now and the life they could live if released.  Parole board members may never know about the success stories--people convicted of serious crimes who, once released, have become successful community leaders supporting themselves and their families, who grew up and moved beyond the worst thing they ever did.

They may never hear about people like Eric Campbell, who spent 13 years in prison for felony murder, a botched robbery in which he was not the triggerman.  Mr. Campbell went to prison at age 15, and the first few years, he recalls, were “gladiator school.”  But Mr. Campbell took every class he could in prison, eventually facilitating and designing other courses and composing music to help other prisoners and himself learn and grow.  He says it was seeing his co-defendant again after several years that helped him stop being angry and start to confront his own actions and responsibility for the crime: “It was my do-dependent’s genuine apology that changed me.  And I realized, he didn’t ruin my life, I did.”  
Released at 30 by the parole board, Mr. Campbell went on to get a stable job packaging and handling art for galleries and also works as a music producer.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization whose stated mission is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States."  It works through litigation, lobbying, and community empowerment. The ACLU provides legal assistance in cases when it considers civil liberties to be at risk. Legal support from the ACLU can take the form of direct legal representation or preparation of amicus curiae briefs expressing legal arguments when another law firm is already providing representation. It has local affiliates in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

9.  We like State Supreme Court Justice Richard Mott
The judge from Columbia County did a very courageous thing, he sentenced a defendant convicted of being a "major trafficker," to the shortest sentence possible. He did it for all the right reasons, at least in our opinion.  Mott refused to punish the defendant for refusing a plea bargain; before the trial, prosecutors offered the defendant a plea of 23 years in prison. He rejected it. So the prosecution asked for the maximum sentence, ... the highest sentence that someone convicted of murder could get.  The case involved no violence.  Mott did not think the co-conspirators, who were equally involved, should have received lesser time or were not even indicted in the case.  Mott said another reason was the "fear that I have" that if he imposed an indeterminate sentence that parole officials would deny the defendant parole based on the mere nature of his offense. "Having read hundreds of opinions of the parole board, I know that the likelihood of them ever granting parole to someone convicted of an A-1 felony is remote because of the factor that no defendant can change the nature of offense," Mott said.

Mott asked if the prosecutor was asking for the maximum sentence 
A. "Yes," 
Q.  "Is there any violence in this offense here?" 
A.  "There was no violence alleged in the trial," 
Q.  "No guns found?" the judge asked.
A. "That's true," 
Q  "Should [the defendant] be punished for going to trial? "
A. "No," 
Q.  [For ] "exercising his constitutional right to do so?"
A. "Of course not,"

The reporter, Robert Gavin of the Albany Times Union presented the prosecution’s views as well, noting that to some, Mott seemed to be “more concerned in sending a message to the parole board than to heroin traffickers peddling a deadly drug wreaking havoc, ...[and leaving] “a wake of overdoses across New York.”  Gavin quoted the prosecutor as saying [the defendant]“was not concerned with the pounds of poison he distributed throughout New York as long as that poison produced a good rate of return on his investment.”

Gavin closes by saying “Indeed, if a defendant was offered a 10-year plea deal before trial and rejected it, why should that person be hammered with a 40-year term afterward unless it is to punish the person? It remains a legitimate issue of fairness that should probably be explored more often in New York. rgavin@timesunion.com • 518-434-2403 • @RobertGavinTU

Prison Action Network wants to point out that drugs, both legal ones and illegal ones (most of them poisonous if used wrongly) are used to make people feel better.  In these times there is a lot to feel bad about: especially our unequal, unfair, and unsafe economic, criminal justice, educational and health care systems, and I don’t need to name all the other dangerous things.  Doctors and pharmaceutical companies are profiting from legal and regulated drugs that promise relief from physical and emotional pain.  Major drug traffickers are profiting from the criminalization of other drugs, which promise the same relief.  All of it is about money.  10, 20, 30 years in prison are not the answer, they’re part of the problem!


10.  How vacancies on the NY Court of Appeals are filled

The Commission on Judicial Nomination announced on Thursday, December 1st that it had tapped seven candidates to fill the upcoming vacancy on the New York Court of Appeals, the highest court in our state.  The vacancy will be created by the mandatory retirement of Judge Eugene Pigott Jr. at the end of December. The commission received 35 applications. Cuomo must pick from the list. Cuomo will have a month to review and then must make a nomination to the state Senate between Jan. 1 and Jan. 15. The Senate, within 30 days after the governor's choice, must confirm or reject the appointment.



11.  Ending On a High Note
By Karima Amin

Every year in November, at our last meeting of the year, we try to end on a high note. The work has been good but the New Year seems uncertain to many of us, especially so soon after the presidential election. “Stop and frisk” may become legal policy nationwide. No doubt this would increase the number of Black and Latino men and women in prison, as “stop and frisk” is code for “racial profiling.” Under a Trump administration, this could lead to more arrests, convictions, and higher rates of incarceration. In November 2015, Obama “banned the box” on federal job applications—the box being a standard question about prior convictions—because former prisoners often find their criminal history is a barrier to employment.  A simple executive order from Trump could erase Obama’s banned box. This would lead to higher recidivism rates, as this barrier to employment may force a former prisoner to leave a law-abiding path. The United States is the only country in the world that sentences juveniles to life without parole. At this time, more than 150,000 men, women, and children are serving life without parole.  Under a Trump administration, that seems unlikely to change. President-elect Trump, ran his campaign as the “law and order” candidate but it should be obvious that he has no interest in criminal  INjustice reform.

Last year in November, our guest speaker was Mr. Sha-teek Howse  from Buffalo, NY who spent 20 years incarcerated in New York State. He shared his thoughts about mass incarceration as well as some insights regarding solitary confinement. Mr. Howse, who was released 4 years ago, recently published a book, WHAT DID I SAY?: IT’S SOMETHING LIKE POETRY, which chronicles his struggles as well as his successes.  This year we have another author, willing to share his thoughts with us.  TheArthur A. Duncan II, Esq. is the author of FELON-ATTORNEY.  Mr. Duncan is also from Buffalo, NY but he was raised, for a time, in South Central Los Angeles. Upon returning to Buffalo, his grandparents had a hand in his upbringing. In spite of that, he fell in with the wrong crowd and he started dealing drugs.  After 3 years in prison, he left his drug-dealing days behind. After some ups and downs and close calls, he attended Erie County Community College, earned an undergraduate degree at the University of Buffalo, completed law school, and passed the bar. I’ll let him tell you about his life, his family and his plans for the future, at our meeting.

We know that people can change for the better. PRISONERS ARE PEOPLE TOO, INC. has shared many examples over the years. I began by saying that we want to end this year on a high note. Mr. Duncan’s story should make you feel good about life and give you hope for the future. Next year, Erie County Community College will honor Mr. Duncan with its Distinguished Alumni Award.  
We meet on the last Monday of the month at Pratt-Willert Community Center, 422 Pratt Street in Buffalo, from 7:00 – 9:00 pm.  November 28 was the last meeting for the year.  We ended on a high note. 

Need more info: Karima Amin, karimatells@yahoo.com, 716-834-8438



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