Building Bridges

The monthly newsletter of the Prison Action Network

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Wednesday, November 05, 2014

November 2014


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

 If you would like to receive a copy in your email in-box every month, please send a note.

During the month we post late breaking news and announcements here, so please check back now and then.  Scroll down to read the November newsletter.

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Click here to sign the Amnesty International petition to request to the US to allow UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez into US supermax prisons and then please Tweet it, put it on Facebook, email it etc.  





Posted November 24 - Amazing Opportunity!


JustLeadershipUSA Launches 12-month 
Leadership Development Opportunity

Leading with Conviction

JustLeadershipUSA is dedicated to cutting the US prison population in half by 2030 while reducing crime. 
  JLUSA empowers people most affected by incarceration to drive policy reform.

* Have you been involved in the criminal or juvenile justice system?
* Are you a leader?
* Are you committed to criminal justice reform?

Apply by Dec.1 to be considered for JLUSA's inaugural cohort of leaders:

www.justleadershipusa.org,  click on leadership tab.
or read the application.




Posted November 19 - 
THE 2ND ANNUAL WORLD HUMAN RIGHTS DAY CELEBRATION
Celebrating Human Rights and Social Work
Saturday, December 13th
10 am to 9 pm
Free and Open to the Public
Fordham University Lincoln Center-Pope Auditorium
                             113 West 60th Street, NYC

Day Event: Demonstrating Human Rights
10:00 am-10:30 am: Registration
10:30 am-12:30 pm: Student Poster Presentations
12:30 pm-1:30 pm: Human Rights Film Shorts-Discussion (Lunch will be served)
 1:30 pm-3:00 pm: Human Rights Experiential Exercises
 3:15 pm-5:00 pm: Student Poster Presentations
**Finalists for the exemplar poster will be considered for the advocacy award at graduation**

Evening Event: Human Rights Films and Facilitated Dialogue
5:00 pm-7:00 pm: Edie and Thea: A Very Long Engagement (LGBT Rights)
7:00pm-9:00 pm: Building a Partnership Society (Right to Equality and Participation)
********Evening event films are followed by an expert panel and/or facilitated discussion*********


For more information contact btep@fordham.edu 

Sponsors Include: Be the Evidence/Fordham University GSS Policy-Human Rights Social Justice Sequence/ LIU/ Ramapo College/Amnesty International/SW Rising

12/13/14 EVENING FILM DESCRIPTIONS
Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement

In the closeted 1960s, two young women met and fell in love and so began the extraordinary tale of Edie and Thea, whose engagement to each other would span more than forty years. It is a lovingly crafted documentary in which Edia and Thea recount how their improbable romance ignited a lifelong journey around the world and through history. Though touched by events like the civil rights movement and the Stonewall riots, Edie and Thea’s relationship transcends politics and is a shining example of loves ability to endure. Ultimately, in their 70s, with Thea s health in rapid decline, the two seize the opportunity to fulfill their dream of getting married. The film captures their inspiring journey.


Building a Partnership Society
Directed by: Jay Weidner 


Riane Eisler, author of the Chalice and the Blade, has made it her life’s work to study many of the historical social systems of the world. In her studies, she noticed patterns of events highlighting a constant struggle between partnership-based systems and domination systems.  Eisler offers steps that we can take to bring change to our own societies. From altering the public conversation to discovering the tools that can be used for cultural transformation, we all can help in building a partnership society.



Building Bridges November 2014
Dear Reader, 

We wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!  No matter how desperate the situation, I hope each of you can find one thing to be grateful for.  I know I am grateful for you and all the great people I’ve met on this journey for justice and for all we’ve accomplished over the years.  There’s not much instant gratification in this work; it can take years to see any progress, but we haven’t lost any ground [written before last night's election reports] and I believe the goal is in sight.  I pray you stay patient and committed. Together we will prevail!  If you’re not already involved, please read on for opportunities to get involved.

The results for the mid-term elections are not finalized as we go to press.  Please see Article 13 for the preliminary results, check back here in mid-November for the final numbers, or look for them in our December issue. 

Peace and love to all who are working to make this a better world,   The Editor





CONTENTS
1.  Parole News - September release rates;  October Parole Board Business Meeting; DOOCS Medical Parole Board annual report
2.  Anthony Singfield's wife pleads for more support for her petition
3.  Peter Graziano, Victor Pate and Kim Fudge report on their successful re-entries
4.  Forced confession repudiated after 30 years, conviction overturned 
5.  NYS agrees to improve criminal defense services, as result of ACLU lawsuit
6. New Monthly Column inaugurated with an essay on Freedom by Matthew Hattley, columnist for the Shawangunk Journal.
7. Buffalo reviews the 5 year history of its SNUG Program
8. Ashley's law requires that DOCCS makes each prison’s visiting rules publicly available
9.  Downstate residents now have a new transportation service to most upstate prisons
10. Educational opportunities increase for ex-offenders,with promises from 3 colleges
11. Free college tuition if you can speak German and can afford living expenses in Germany
12.  Media Recommendations: Stories about the School to Prison Pipeline;  The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace; and Mumia Abu Jamal reports on legislation to silence him
13.  Preliminary Results of the 2014 midterm elections
14.  NetWorks reports on November 1st Community Speak Out on Police, Prisons, and Mass Incarceration
15.  Rochester group reports on month of events to end mass incarceration

16.  Riker’s Island resistance movement

 [For copies of source articles,  please send a SASE with the title and the date of this issue]



1.  Parole News - Release rates  

SEPTEMBER 2014 PAROLE BOARD RELEASES Of A1 VIOLENT FELONS,  DIN #s through 2001  unofficial research from parole database

September 2014 Summaries

Total 
Interviews
# Released

# Denied
Total
Rate 
of Release
Year to date 
release rate
Initials 
3
19
22
14%
23%
Reappearances 
21
54
75
28%
30%
Total 
24
73
97
25%
28%
September  Releases 
by Age 
Released
Denied 
Appeared 
Percent Released
60-69
7
22
29
24%
70-79

2
2
0%
80+
1
1
2
50%
Total
8
25
33
24%

September 2014 Initial Releases

Facility
Age
Sentence
Offense
# of Board
Fishkill
36
17-Life
Mrd 2
1
Fishkill
54
25-Life
Mrd 2
1
Fishkill
63
25-Life
Mrd 2
1


September  2014 Reappearance Releases

Facility
Age
Sentence
Offense
# of Board
Bare hill
58
29-Life
Mrd 2
6
Clinton
51
25-Life
Mrd 2
5
Coxsackie
64
20-Life
Mrd 2
3
Fishkill
50
15-Life
Mrd 2
10
Fishkill
55
15-Life
Mrd 2
8
Fishkill
53
15-Life
Mrd 2
De novo 5
Fishkill
51
27-Life
Mrd 2
2
Greene
60
25-Life
Mrd 2
7
Greene
69
20-Life
Mrd 2
6
Mohawk
49
15-Life
Mrd 2
9
Orleans
60
22-Life
Mrd 2
5
Otisville
62
20-Life
Mrd 2
9
Otisville
56
25-Life
Mrd 2
5
Otisville
47
20-Life
Mrd 2
5
Otisville
58
24-Life
Mrd 2
4
Otisville
54
15-Life
Mrd 2
3
Otisville
46
27-Life
Mrd 2
2
Shawangunk
49
21-Life
Mrd 2
4
Walsh Medical Center
86
17-Life
Att Mrd 1
De novo 7
Wyoming*
50
9-Life
JO-Mrd*
12
Wyoming
50
18-Life
Mrd 2
6

* Lets take a look at this man who was a Juvenile Offender (JO) and given a minimum sentence of 9 years, the most a youth can be sentenced to by law, because the people of NYS understand that young people have not matured enough to fully comprehend future consequences.  The Parole Board denied him parole 11 times, thereby adding at least 20 years to his sentence.  He was 17 when arrested which tells us he has spent all of his adult years in prison.  Because the Parole Board habitually bases their decisions only on the nature of the crime, and not on risk, he may have been rehabilitated for much of that time.  Think of what his family and community has lost if that’s true.

At the October 20th business meeting of the Parole Board (video-tape available at https://www.parole.ny.gov/parole-board-videos.html ), Prison Action Network learned that within a week of parole interviews, the facility staff submits questions or comments related to the interviews to the Parole Board, and the Commissioners at that hearing each submit their report to Tina Stanford, the Chair of the Board, who then distributes the reports to everyone on the PB.  Stanford advised the Board that they didn't have to take attendance of the facility staff in the room, but they should know who they are.  In other words, the Parole Board must know who is in the room with them, but apparently the parole applicant does not.

The annual Medical Parole Board report has been posted on the DOCCS website. [http://www.doccs.ny.gov/Research/Reports/2014/Medical_Parole_Report_2013.pdf]

The report includes the following statistics:
  1. The past five years showed an average of 13 applications submitted per year: 12 in 2009; 10 in 2010; 10 in 2011; 18 in 2012 and 17 during 2013. (a total of 67 submissions in those 5 years)  
  2. Medical Parole Stats for 2013:  Certified Applications Received: 17;  Closed (died) prior to interview: 1;  Met with Board: 16;  12 granted (11 released, 1 awaiting release);  2 of the 11 released, died post release;  9 of the 11 released are under medical parole supervision.  4 were denied 
  3. For those inmates appearing before the Parole Board through December 2013, an average of 22 business days elapsed between the date the application was received and the date of the Board appearance; however, excluding the statutorily required 15-day waiting period, an average of 7 business days elapsed. 
  4. For those inmates granted release in 2013, an average of 21 business days elapsed between the Board appearance date and the release date. 
  5. Thus it took a total of 41 days from application to release.
  6. The 17 parolees under medical parole supervision at the end of December 2013 had been under supervision for a total of 5,387 days, or an average of 317 days per parolee. Each parolee’s medical condition is assessed every six months to ascertain the appropriateness of their continued status on medical parole. 

Conclusion (by DOCCS)
The medical parole program continues to meet its primary objective to provide a compassionate release mechanism for sick or dying inmates. As the medical parole program marked 21 1⁄2 years of existence at the end of December 2013, only 5 of the 327 medical parole releasees (2%) had been returned to prison. Since program inception, it is estimated that approximately 56,531 prison days have been saved.


2Anthony Singfield
Carmen Singfield has posted a Change.org petition asking Parole Board Chair Tina Stanford to help return her husband, Anthony Singfield, to their home. She explains how badly she and her children need their husband and father home; how prison staff have agreed that her husband is a changed man and a man of God.  Prison Action Network has known the couple for almost 10 years. They are wonderful people, as are their children, and we are aware of nothing that is gained by keeping him in prison so long. We are taking this unusual step of promoting an individual’s petition.  Carmen has not gotten the support she needs.  

3.  Honoring the successes of formerly incarcerated men and women

Corporate media mainly reports on the failures of formerly incarcerated people;  we want to spotlight the many successful people we’ve met on the path toward justice.  Each month we’ll publish more stories, if you submit them.  
Peter Graziano
Peter Graziano was sentenced in 1986 to a 15-life term for murder in the second degree. He spent 27 years in various New York State prisons. If you believe in numbers he went to his 7th parole hearing on 12/12/12, after 12 years of hits, when he was finally released. He worked as a jailhouse lawyer and litigant throughout his incarceration. You may know him as the lead plaintiff in Graziano v. Pataki . Coincidently, he was not released until the parole case was dismissed in November of 2012. Because of his litigation against parole, Graziano wisely decided to leave New York State and resides in New Jersey. He is presently semi-retired and does freelance paralegal work.
Victor Pate
Victor Pate spent a total of 20 years in prison for crimes including robbery, drugs and assault.  He earned a GED in prison as well as various certificates, including a Legal Research Certificate which opened doors when he returned to his Harlem community.  His support systems had all dissolved by the time he was finally released at his first parole board appearance.  He had to rebuild it from scratch.  One of his happiest accomplishments has been reconnecting with his two sons and building a positive relationship with them.  His path, since coming home, has been mostly about advocacy, because his years in prison showed him how great the need was.  He has worked as a court advocate, an intake worker in an Alternatives to Incarceration program, a legal assistant for the City Corporation Counsel, and earned an Associate's Degree in Paralegal Studies since his release from prison.  Working with Fortune Society and the Osborne Society gave him opportunities to get involved in prison reform, and it was his subsequent involvement with the Correctional Association's Drop the Rock campaign that taught him what he knows about strategies.   Along the way he joined the National Action Network where he created the Second Chance Committee, NY City's only chapter of the National Action Network that deals with the issues of the formerly incarcerated.  Mr. Pate currently serves as the Volunteer Coordinator of Community Outreach for the R.A.P.P. (Release Aging People in Prison) Campaign.

Most of his time is spent volunteering for prison reform. To support himself he works for a retail clothing store in Harlem.

Kim Fudge
Mr. Fudge served 36 years and 10 months for an A1Violent Offense.  He was released in 2011 after his 12th parole board.
He lives in NYC with his wife and is currently employed by a gas company.  Kim has a message for those he left behind, with special mention to D.H.:  "Please stay encouraged.  I am living proof that a productive life can be led after prison.  Never give up!!!  I didn't.  I also do occasional volunteering.  Today I am a contributing member to society and my community.  God bless, and know you are never forgotten!!  Stay up." 

4. Another conviction overturned, another forced confession repudiated nearly 30 long years later
from Wednesday Watch on Injustice, vol. 4/No 179, October 22, 2014
In 1986, 16-year old David McCallum was convicted of the 1985 kidnapping and murder of Nathan Blenner. One week ago, at the request of Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson, Judge Matthew D’Emic overturned the conviction. Sadly, this occurred after McCallum, now 45, spent some of the most critical years of his youth and adult growth, behind bars.

While making the case for reversing the conviction, Brooklyn prosecutor Mark Hale noted that the statements Mc Callum made to law enforcement in 1985, "were the product of improper suggestion, improper inducement and perhaps coercion.” The resulting justice was finally achieved in the face of arrogance by former Brooklyn County DA Charles Hynes' cosmetic Prosecutorial Integrity Unit which did not deem earlier pleas for re-investigation credible. As noted by McCullum’s attorney Oscar Michelin, "They basically told us, “Call us when you find the real killer.”
In addition to the earmarks of a false confession, investigators found that DNA on the victim did not match that of McCallum.  Now ask yourself, what happens to the district attorneys and assistant district attorneys involved in taking away years of an individual’s life as a result of wrongful convictions or destroying individual reputations resulting from false indictments? These are true stories you have learned about in Wednesday Watch on Injustice, in your local newspapers and television and radio across the country.  The simple, sad answer is nothing. Tens of unjust years behind bars, zero attempts to cure this disease!  No formal process to review what went wrong, no process to establish if discipline of prosecutors is warranted, no process to monitor the powerful prosecutorial establishment, no process to establish uniform best practices for prosecutors.

Support the common call to establish the New York State Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct and help establish a new bar for every state in America. Simply go to  www.itcouldhappen2you.com and help make the Commission happen - for you and everyone you know.

The author,Graham Kates, is Deputy Managing Editor of The Crime Report. He can be found on Twitter, @GrahamKates. He welcomes comments from readers.


5.  Progress in balancing the pendulum of justice!
Wednesday Watch on Injustice  vol. 4/No 180, October 29, 2014

In recent years a broad coalition  of organizations have waged an aggressive campaign to provide effective New York State public defense services that match the enormous and powerful resources at the disposal  of prosecutors. 
This is about to change. As a result of a lawsuit filed against the state by the New York Civil Liberties Union seven years ago to improve criminal defense services, on Tuesday Oct. 21, 2014 the NYCLU and Governor Andrew Cuomo reached an agreement. The agreement will require the state to ensure in 20 months that defense attorneys appear at poor defendants first court appearances in 57 counties outside of New York City and 10 months later to ensure public caseloads have been reduced to an acceptable level. It also commits New York State to spending $4 million over the next two years for investigators, experts and training.


6.  Guest Columnist of the Month 
Freedom is a Must  ~ by Matthew "Red" Hattley, Woodbourne Correctional Facility
I have currently been incarcerated for 267 months.  During this time I have personally seen and experienced much: the anger, pain, frustration and psychological suffering are real.  I will remember many events for the rest of my life.  Others, I do my best to forget.  However the one thing that has never changed is my desire to be reunited with my family - as a FREE man.  I would rather spend thirty years struggling in society than one great day in prison.  After being deprived of so much for so long, I yearn for the opportunity to live a normal life.  I imagine most of us feel the same way.
For this to become a reality, the current laws governing our criminal justice system must be amended.  Specifically the parole commissioners' discretionary powers.  Thanks to the Internet, these issues have been receiving a lot of attention over the past several years.  Unfortunately, not enough of our own people are personally getting involved.  This is where the Prison population is needed.  Let us all unite for a common cause - FREEDOM!  We must inform our families and friends that the time has arrived to become proactive.  Our window of opportunity has finally opened.  We must take advantage of this before it's too late. Over the past two decades there have been various advocates and organizations who have lead this fight.  However, for them to be successful, they require our participation.  Let's stop playing games and show society that we are genuinely ready to reenter society by giving these dedicated and loyal individuals our full support.
Our loved ones can start by volunteering their time and support to dedicated organizations by participating in rallies, attending meetings and events, writing letters, making calls, visiting their state representatives.  To start this process simply call 518 253 7533.
If we made it this far without giving up hope, why falter now?  We must remain strong and optimistic throughout this ordeal, regardless of how difficult things may become.  Our strength comes in numbers; the things we could accomplish TOGETHER are limitless.  To keep motivated, always remember this . . .Freedom is a must!

[If you’d like to share your thoughts with our readers, please submit your essay on a topic relevant to the criminal justice system.  It must not exceed 400 words, and arrive in our mailbox by the 20th of the previous month.  Please let us know how to attribute it.]



7.  Have You Heard? Buffalo SNUG is Here!
by Karima Amin

It was December of 2009 when Senators Malcolm A. Smith and Antoine Thompson announced the advent of  “Operation SNUG” (“guns” spelled backward) and we learned that several Erie County community organizations would receive $500,000 for the prevention of gun violence. At that time, Senator Smith said, “Today marks a turning point in community safety…. Gun violence affects us all- white or black, rich or poor, illegal guns terrorize neighborhoods and tear apart families. For too long, the deadly specter of illegal guns has gone unchecked. In cities across the state, our children are dying at the hands of gun violence, but through our commitment to SNUG, we can put a stop to that deadly trend now and return our streets to their rightful owners, the people of New York.”

Senator Thompson concurred, saying, "Gang violence and illegal gun use has been a problem in Buffalo and across the state for too long.  Operation SNUG will hopefully cut down on excessive gang violence that many communities face."

On February 5, 2014, Senator Tim Kennedy announced the re-launching of “Operation SNUG,” awarding  $366, 400 to Back to Basics Outreach Ministries, which is implementing a targeted neighborhood violence prevention project. Believing in the promise of “Operation SNUG,” Senator Kennedy said, “This funding will target neighborhoods hardest hit by street violence and apply a tried-and-tested model of street outreach and violence intervention to cut down on gang activity and reduce violent crime from the frontlines.”

Pastor James E. Giles, President/CEO of Back to Basics Outreach Ministries said, “These state resources will allow us to implement a Cure Violence program, enhance the work of the Buffalo Peacemakers and keep violence interrupters on the streets looking out for our neighbors and preventing crime.” Back to Basics is one of seven groups across the state that have received state funding to implement a coordinated, community-based strategy that seeks to prevent violent crime and encourage high-risk youth to avoid criminal activity and instead pursue positive opportunities.

Time has passed. Has SNUG been a success? Is there more or less gun violence today than we had in 2009? What has been the community’s response to “Buffalo SNUG?”*

[Those who attended the October meeting of PRP2 heard] Rahel Weldeysesus, the Program Manager for “Buffalo SNUG.”  She previously served as the Program Development Director at Back to Basics. For two years, she was the Community Relations Director for New York State Assemblyman Sam Hoyt. When I first met her, she was the Development Coordinator for Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York. She is diligent and passionate about her work.

*Building Bridges hopes to have a follow up report on how Ms. Weldeysesus answered those questions in our Dec. issue.

For more information: 716-834-8438 or Karima@prisonersare peopletoo.org  or BaBa Eng,  g.babaeng@yahoo.com.



8.  Ashley's law 
Senate Sponsors: Montgomery, Dilan, Parker, Perkins, Savino, Stewart-Cousins
Assembly Sponsors:  Rosa, Fahy, Scarborough, Aubry, Perry  
Signed into law on August 11 2014/

Ashley's Law was inspired by the compelling story of Ashley Duncan, a young woman whose father was incarcerated.  The legislation, which amends §  138-a of the Correction law, was signed by the governor on August 11, 2014 and will go into effect in November.  The law will require DOCCS to provide information on their website as well as a telephone line that will provide the visiting rules, regulations, policies and and procedures for each correctional facility.



9.  Upstate Family Transportation
We frequently get asked about bus transportation, and while visiting saw this information posted. 

Upstate Family Transportation takes people from NYC (Bkln, Qns, Bx and Manh) , Kingston, and Albany to most upstate prisons.  For more info, including schedules and prices, call 1 800 693 9646, or www.upstatefamilytransport.com. They claim to have the lowest prices.  Photos of buses look new and well maintained.  Please write Building Bridges with your reviews, as we cannot vouch for anything other than the helpfulness of their recorded message.


10.  A chance at college for ex-offenders
The New York Times published an editorial on their Opinion Pages, September 22, 2014, about the obstacles formerly incarcerated community members and individuals with any criminal history face when trying to gain access to higher education.  Writer Brent Staples was moved to write the editorial after moderating a conversation between Vivian Nixon, Executive Director of College and Community Fellowship and Co-founder of Education from the Inside Out,  and Piper Kerman, author of Orange is the New Black: My Year in Women's Prison.  Some excerpts appear below and interested readers can find the editorial at   http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/22/opinion/a-chance-at-college-for-ex-offenders.html
“There is a widely overlooked obstacle to higher education that confronts at least 70 million Americans who have criminal records — often for relatively trivial transgressions in the distant past. Many colleges ask applicants about criminal convictions before deciding on their suitability as students. And since criminal records are often inaccurate and misleading, these screening systems are inherently unfair.
Bills pending in both houses of the New York State Legislature would require colleges to judge an applicant on academic merit and other normal criteria and ask about run-ins with the law later.  The need to change the way criminal records are weighed in college admissions was underscored in a 2010 study by the Center for Community Alternatives, a nonprofit organization. The study, which involved surveys of 273 colleges, found that two-thirds of them collected criminal conviction information on applicants.”  The study concludes on page 42 by saying:
“There is growing support for returning higher education to correctional facilities. The Second Chance Act, which passed Congress on March 11, 2008, and the Senate and House versions of H.R. 4137, the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007 all include provisions that improve access to higher education for people during their incarceration. It is ironic that as the doors to higher education are reopening in prisons, they are closing on the outside. Given what we know about the commission of serious crimes on campus— that they are most often committed by students without criminal records - excluding people with records from attending college will only serve to create a false sense of security.
Sensible and proven measures to increase campus safety include education and discussion among students on campus about excessive use of alcohol, education about what constitutes healthy and consensual sexual relationships, campus-wide responses to hate crimes, and making changes to the physical environment of a college such as improving security in dormitories. Barring people with criminal records from attending college does not improve campus safety, but does undermine public safety in the larger community. Finally, because of the enormous racial disparities found at every stage of the country’s criminal justice system, policies and practices that exclude people with criminal records from institutions of higher learning are a setback to the gains earned through the long and arduous struggle of civil rights activists to open higher education to all people, regardless of race or ethnicity.”
Postscript: In an article in the New York Times published on October 26, 2014, by Ariel Kaminer, NY Attorney General  Eric Schneiderman is reported to have responded to the concerns as raised by the Center for Community Alternatives by reaching an agreement with St. John’s and two other NYS institutions under which the schools will drop such questions from their standard application process. “An arrest or police stop that did not result in a conviction, or a criminal record that was sealed or expunged, should not – indeed must not – be a standard question on a college application,” Mr. Schneiderman said in a statement. “Such a question can serve only to discourage New Yorkers from seeking a higher education."  In addition to St. John’s, a private Roman Catholic university with 20,000 students on four New York campuses, the schools mentioned are Five Towns College, a tiny for-profit school located in Dix Hills, Long Island; and Dowling College, which is primarily situated in a former Vanderbilt estate in Oakdale, Long Island. 


11.  Free College Tuition (if you can speak German, can get to Germany, and can afford to live there)
All German universities are now free to Americans and all other international students. The last German state to charge tuition at its universities struck down the fees this week.

Why are they offering such a generous plan?
In explaining why Germany made this move, Dorothee Stapelfeldt, a Hamburg senator, called tuition fees "unjust" and added that "they discourage young people who do not have a traditional academic family background from taking up study. It is a core task of politics to ensure that young women and men can study with a high quality standard free of charge in Germany."
The perks don't end at free tuition:
Even before Germany abolished college tuition for all students, the price was a steal. Typically semester fees were around $630. What's more, German students receive many perks including discounts for food, clothing and events, as well as inexpensive or even free transportation.
Considering the average student loan debt in the U.S. is $29,400, a lot of U.S. high school students would do well to start learning German.



12. Media Recommendations 
Two very compelling stories we discovered recently include “Is This Working?” a This American Life one-hour radio story:  http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/538/is-this-working, about different ways teachers deal with "difficult students".  Listeners hear preschool and older kids and their parents talking about being suspended from school, and upper school students who find it impossible to maintain the restorative justice practices that are useful in school when they are out in the community.  

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, a brilliant young man who left Newark for the Ivy League, by Jeff Hobbs.  A 402 page non-fiction book which just came out in September 2014: (it’s the true story of a brilliant young man whose father is charged with murder and sent to prison.  Rob Peace is given a full scholarship to the college of his choice and finds the dissonance between his life in the hood with the Yale University student culture a dilemma he never resolves.

Democracy Now! Hear journalist and former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal’s response to a Pennsylvania bill critics say will trample the free speech rights of prisoners.  The so-called "Revictimization Relief Act,"authorizes the censoring of public addresses of prisoners or former offenders if judges agree that allowing them to speak would cause "mental anguish" to the victim. The measure was introduced after Mumia Abu-Jamal delivered a pre-taped commencement address for graduating students at Vermont’s Goddard College earlier this month. The speech was opposed by the widow of Daniel Faulkner, the police officer whom Abu-Jamal was convicted of killing.


13. The 2014 NYS general election preliminary results: as of midnight Nov. 4

Governor:
Cuomo 55% , (45% Dem., 3.12% Working Families Party)

Hawkins  5% Green
Atty General:
Eric Schneiderman 51.5% (44.5% Dem., 4.3% Working Families


Senate: 
The majority party is not yet decided   

Dist 9:  Skelos won with 68%
Dist. 10:  James Sanders,  Jr. 85%
Dist 11:  Tony Avella  75%
Dist. 21:  Kevin Parker  90%( primary sponsor of the SAFE Parole Act, S1128)
Dist. 22:  Golden  64%
Dist. 27:  Brad Hoylman  80%
Dist. 28:  Liz Krueger  72%
Dist. 30:  Bill Perkins  88% (signed the SAFE Parole Act)
Dist. 31:  Adriano Espaillat  76% (signed the SAFE Parole Act)
Dist. 33:  Gustavo Rivera  76%
Dist. 34:  Klein  71%
Dist. 36:  Ruth Hassell-Thompson  88.5%
Dist. 49:  Madelyn Thorne was defeated by Farley 64%
Dist. 52:  Anndrea Starzak lost to Libous 59%
Dist. 61:  Elaine B.Altman lost to Ranzenhoer 61%
Dist. 63:  Tim Kennedy  78% (signed the SAFE Parole Act)

Assembly: .
Dist. 1:  Fred Theile, Jr.  57.5%
Dist. 4:  Steven Englebright  55%
Dist. 15: Michael Montesano  59% (Republican) (signed the SAFE Parole Act)
Dist. 43:  Karim Camara  89%
Dist. 44:  James Brennan  80.5% (signed the SAFE Parole Act)
Dist. 51:  Felix Ortiz  78% (signed the SAFE Parole Act)
Dist. 58:  Nick Perry  91% (signed the SAFE Parole Act)
Dist. 65:  Sheldon Silver  77% (Speaker of the Assembly - a very powerful position)
Dist. 68: Robert Rodriguez  82% (signed the SAFE Parole Act)
Dist. 70:  Keith Wright  88%
Dist. 71:  Herman Farrell  80% (signed the SAFE Parole Act)
Dist. 75: Richard Gottfried  81% (signed the SAFE Parole Act)
Dist. 84:  Carmen Arroyo  84% (signed the SAFE Parole Act)
Dist. 85:  Marcos Crespo  86% (signed the SAFE Parole Act)
Dist. 87:  Luis Sepulveda  88% (signed the SAFE Parole Act)
Dist. 104:  Frank Skartados  57% (signed the SAFE Parole Act)
Dist. 106:  Didi Barrett  too close to call (signed the SAFE Parole Act)
Dist. 109:  Patricia Fahy  62% (signed the SAFE Parole Act)
Dist. 125:  Barbara Lifton  55%

Dist. 128:  Sam Roberts  54% (signed the SAFE Parole Act)



14.  NetWORKS: Monthly Column from the New York State Prisoner Justice Network

Police, Prisons, and Mass Incarceration: A Community Speakout for Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation
This is a remarkable time for our movement(s) against incarceration and for justice. After decades of invisibility, our issues are attracting everyone’s attention, it seems. Once again, we had a successful, passionate, well-organized and well-attended program, speaking truth to power and mobilizing grassroots energy for change. And once again, we are challenged to find the most effective ways to translate that success into measurable changes on the ground for those caught in the jaws of the criminal INjustice system. In this case, “we” is a coalition of 10 Albany-based organizations*, and an auditorium full of concerned community members.
The Community Speakout in Albany on this rainy Saturday, November 1st, drew more than 150 people. The keynote address was delivered by Alice Green, director of the Center for Law and Justice, whose campaign to petition the Governor for a Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission was the inspiration for this day. Dr. Green gave a history and an overview of the problem of  mass incarceration, its impacts on communities of color, and the struggles to change it. Two wonderful facilitators came all the way from New York City and volunteered their time – because they care about these issues. Dozens of those who attended had valuable, though often painful, experiences and thoughts to share.
There were formerly incarcerated people, families of incarcerated folks, a letter from a current prisoner, change agents in multiple programs and projects, and caring community members. There were many voices of men of color, who are so greatly targeted by the criminal justice system; but there were also voices of deeply affected groups who are marginalized within the marginalized – incarcerated women, trans people, people with psychological and physical disabilities, children of incarcerated parents, Muslims entrapped in sting operations, Cubans imprisoned for interrupting U.S.-supported terrorism against Cuba. One little boy who desperately misses his dad left us with a roomful of wet eyes.
People spoke of the obstacles to successful re-entry; of post-prison discrimination in jobs and housing; of the worry and pain of having a loved one behind bars; of racial targeting in policing and prosecution; of the dangers of simply being – or parenting, or loving – a young person of color. 
There was some healthy disagreement in the room – a sign that we are being real and paying attention to each other. One woman said she is glad her boyfriend is behind bars and hopes he stays there – why did he do something so stupid? A man said anyone can make it after prison if they apply themselves, and others objected, saying that for most, it takes a lot of community support and given all the barriers, sometimes even that is not enough.
And then, since this was a speakout for Truth (the problem), Justice (solutions), and Reconciliation (the common good), there were many speakers who are working hard within the community to implement solutions. There were re-entry, mentoring, restorative justice, and policy-challenging programs. Connections were made between people working on –or wanting to work on – similar projects. In line with the concept of Reconciliation, clergy and public officials were invited; a few showed up to say they heard us and to pledge their support for change: an Albany County legislator, a Troy City councilwoman, the Mayor of Albany, the head of the New York State Council of Churches, and a candidate for Governor.
Sustained by passion for the cause and a delicious brunch, people stayed and talked for hours. During the last section, everyone had a say about next steps. Many called for unity and acting together as a community. Capital Area Against Mass Incarceration, the group that initiated the speakout, invited everyone to a follow-up discussion at the next regular CAAMI meeting, November 11th, 6:00 p.m. at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Avenue in Albany. In the Capital District we have a caring community and a lot of information and expertise. November 11th will be an opportunity to translate those ingredients into action for ending mass incarceration and all its collateral consequences.

*The organizations: Capital Area Against Mass Incarceration, Center for Law and Justice, Citizen Action of New York, Friends for Racial Justice, United University Professions, New Jim Crow Study Group, Organization for a Free Society, New York Civil Liberties Union-Capital Region, New York State Prisoner Justice Network, and the Social Justice Center of Albany. 


15.  Rochester reports on series of October events on Ending Mass Incarceration
During October, the Flying Squirrel, a community space in Rochester, NY hosted a month of events organized around the theme of Ending Mass Incarceration. The schedule included panel discussions, a film series, and hands on workshops. 
On Friday Oct 24th, a panel entitled “We Are All Attica”  focused primarily on current day conditions at Attica prison. The evening featured partial film clips of Teresa Miller’s film, “4 Myths of Attica,” which gives viewers unprecedented access to facets of life inside Attica.  Participants heard a spoken word performance by A.T. in Attica.  A Community member, Ricardo Adams, read a compelling and disturbing story entitled “The Wall” written by an Attica prisoner.  Scott Paltrowitz, an organizer with the Correctional Association’s Prison Visiting Project joined us via Skype. He discussed his agency’s report on Attica’s current conditions followed by a call to action to close Attica and and end the violence and abuse across prisons state wide.  The forum allowed for lots of discussion. Family members of loved ones who are incarcerated and members of the community shared stories and ideas about how to deal with immediate and long term results of mass incarceration in our region. 
If you would like to be involved in the campaign to close Attica/end the abuse and violence there will be a meeting on Monday Nov. 10th at 6:00pm at the CA headquarters in East Harlem. Participation via teleconference  is possible, for more information contact www.CorrectionalAssociation.org or call 212-254-5700.
 For information to volunteer with the Alternatives to Violence Project at Attica please contact Dawn Zuppelli at artemiswill@gmail.com   585-415-7808



16.  Riker’s Resistance
We had an amazing show of love and solidarity for our incarcerated brothers and sisters three weeks ago (Check out the videos), and this weekend we turn up the volume. We need your help! Here's three ways to #ResistRikers this week:
Banner-Making Party WEDNESDAY Nov 5 - 7pm-10pm
at Project Reach, 39 Eldridge St, 4th Floor (between Hester St & Canal St) Manhattan 
We will have ample supplies to make banners and signs for Saturday's action - bring your talents, friends and any extra art stuff!
Day of Mass Outreach FRIDAY Nov. 7 - 8am-12pm
at Queens Plaza and on the Q100 Rikers Express Bus (meet at Jackson Av & 42 Rd)
Flyer with us along the Q100 and engage people going to visit loved ones at Rikers.
#ResistRikers Rally Against Solitary Confinement and Youth Detention SATURDAY Nov 8 - 3pm-5pm
Meet in front of the Rikers Sign, 19th Av & Hazen St, Queens 
Mass rally at the gates of Rikers Island until the walls shake! Family and friends of incarcerated people speak out with demands.  RSVP and Share on Facebook!

Since our last rally, 3 top officials at Rikers have been forced to resign. And in this time we have been in the streets flyering and talking to people about the ways that mass incarceration affects our lives and harms our communities. We had over fifty people at our last rally, and we all pledged to bring at least three friends out to the next action. 

#ResistRikers Action Committee


Building Bridges is Prison Action Network’s way to communicate with our members. 

Please contact us if you’d like to join.


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