Building Bridges

The monthly newsletter of the Prison Action Network

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Friday, December 01, 2006

December 2006 Edition

Dear Reader,

Here we are, in the last month of 2006. We’ve come a long way in the past year. Building Bridges considers it an honor to be part of this network, and have taken great satisfaction in reporting [May issue] on the birth of a new organization, the Coalition of Families of NYS Lifers, the successes of ICARE, and the rousing success of Family Empowerment Day 2, among others. As we get ready for 2007 we might want to take some time to appreciate all we accomplished in 2006 and the many new friends we made as we worked together. Then let’s roll up our sleeves and continue the work we started: getting signatures on the letter to Gov. Spitzer and on the petition for Parole reform, as well as begin new projects. Read on to see what others are saying and doing.

May your holidays contain peace and joy, and may you feel, as we do, that we are family and we are here to support each other.


Articles:
1. FED2 Follow-up Meeting - Coordinators discuss past experiences and future plans. FED2’s participants will set 2007 agenda. Robert Isseks and Peter Sells to be interviewed on Dec 3 and FED2 speeches broadcast Dec 12 on the Fancy Broccoli Show .

2. Inmate Family Committees and Council - Proposal for an Inmate Family Committee, similar in function to a facility Inmate Liaison Committee, but serving as the voice of inmate family members rather than inmates. The Inmate Family Council would work with the Commissioner and the Department's Central Office.

3. Interfaith Initiatives - Blessings Beyond Bars, a new prison ministry under the auspices of progressive Faith Evangelical Ministries, in Troy, N.Y. invites new members; ICARE advocates for legislation, some of which passed last year; Justice Committee at FUUSA engages in numerous efforts to involve Unitarians in criminal justice reforms; Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Saratoga Springs will vote in December on whether to sign on as a church to NYADP's petition calling for an end to capital punishment in New York State.

4. Meetings - announcing new meetings and new times for on-going meetings

5. NY City Prisons - The Board of Corrections met on November 9, 2006 to discuss the proposed revisions to its Minimum Standards for New York City Correctional Facilities.

6 Parole Article - Joan Coazum was granted parole on eve of a contempt hearing against the parole board.

7. Parole Release Info? - Please report parole releases to Building Bridges for publication

8. Parole Story - John Valverde has fulfilled the requirements of the Executive Law in a most exemplary fashion. Yet, John has already been denied parole three times.

9. Radio Programs - Fancy Broccoli will be interviewing Robert Isseks on December 3, and broadcasting the Family Empowerment Day 2 speeches on December 12

10. Reentry Article - Many former inmates slip through the cracks and end up jobless and homeless - and two-thirds of them get rearrested within three years. The sensible alternative to this would be to carve out a slice of the city and state Correction budgets - 5% or about $18 million a year would be a good start - and invest it in housing, jobs, education and addiction treatment right there in [their home community]. quoted from article by Errol Louis in NY Daily News

11. Reentry Conference - Free day-long conference on December 6 from 8am to 3:30 pm, at New York University; a series of facilitated panels between practitioners, advocates, people directly affected by the criminal justice system, New York State and New York City criminal justice and workforce development policymakers and other stakeholders.

12 Ride Board - look here for ride sharing to prisons

13. Transportation to Prisons - from Buffalo and the Capital District, low cost. Please tell us about options in your area....

14. Words from Inside - “What binds us to this unjust, cruel world called prison? ...We can hold on but so long.”

15. Words from Ramon - “Are you getting your money’s worth? What is the return on your $493,000 investment for the 14.5 years of my incarceration?”



1. FED2 FOLLOW-UP MEETING

Judith Brink, Mark Chapman, and Willie Thomas, three of the coordinators of Family Empowerment Day 2, met on 11/11 to discuss the experience and talk about where to go from here. We agreed that it was not up to us to decide where to go from here. It is up to you. Building Bridges will continue to work as the communications link, so your ideas can come to us and readers can join those whose ideas are similar. Please make sure to include ways other readers can contact you. The three of us will be happy to serve as consultants for whatever comes next. We also decided to work together to continue putting pressure on Governor Elect Eliot Spitzer to do the right thing regarding parole. We need you to continue to gather signatures on the letter [enclosed in November’s issue] to Spitzer. In early January Mark will call the governor’s office, and begin establishing a relationship with the staff member in charge of criminal justice/prison issues. He will ask how many letters they’ve received, and what the governor’s response is. Before ending the call Mark will make an appointment for members of the Coalition of Family and Community to have a face to face meeting with Governor Spitzer or his representative. Following the phone call and meeting, we hope to have some sense of what we can expect from our new Governor in respect to our issues. We commit to pursue parole justice until we see some positive changes, and we count on your continued support, as you can count on ours. The Otisville Lifers began this, and many of them are still being denied parole releases, despite their readiness. ReEntry must seem like a distant possibility for them, but we have fanned the winds of change and expect to soon be preparing for their successful reentry into our communities.



2. INMATE FAMILY COMMITTEES AND COUNCIL

My proposal for Inmate Family Committees and Inmate Family Council would create a committee at each of the State's correctional facilities comprised of inmate family members in order to foster positive communication between inmate family members and the facility administration, address family-related issues and provide suggestions for family-related programs to the administration, all with the intent of promoting and maintaining family ties and enhancing the rehabilitation of inmates. The Inmate Family Committee is similar in function to a facility Inmate Liaison Committee, but would serve as the voice of inmate family members rather than inmates.

Whereas the Inmate Family Committees address issues at local facilities, the Inmate Family Council will work with the Commissioner and the Department's Central Office on issues which effect statewide or multiple facility inmate family issues and programs. The Inmate Family Committees would liaison with the Inmate Family Council to achieve common goals and to provide a clearinghouse for information from the individual Inmate Family Committees.

A complete copy of the proposal is available on the Inmate Family Council's website at www.ifc-ny.com. I encourage everyone to read this proposal and support it by writing to the Commissioner and indicating your support. One of our goals is to see regulations codified under Title 7 of the New York Code, Rules and Regulations recognizing the Inmate Family Committees and Council, but this can only be accomplished if our legislatures hear from enough people, so please write! It will only take a few minutes of your time, and your letter can make a difference.

Inmate Family Committees will become a reality if everyone will help out and support this proposal by writing letters, sending emails, and making phone calls. Inmate family members must have a voice with the DOCS, and to ensure we accomplish this goal, you must raise your voice now. Please go online, read the proposal, and support it fully.

Thank you, Pete S.



3. INTERFAITH EFFORTS:

BLESSINGS BEYOND BARS

A new prison ministry under the auspices of progressive Faith Evangelical Ministries, Inc. 2801-2805 Fifth Avenue, Troy, N.Y. 12180 invites those of you from the capital district and beyond  to be our guests for services. Our church welcomes former inmates and their families and families who currently have incarcerated loved ones. Our new prison ministry is implementing programs specifically for your needs!! Some of our outreach services will include the following: 

                     Literacy programs, Individual and Family Counseling, Prayer and Healing, Letter writing, Job Counseling, Parenting Skills, Reentry Support and other programs specified by your requests!! Call the church for worship times and more information      Church number (518)272-7217, prison ministry coordinator (518) 383-5726


ICARE [Interfaith Coalition of Advocates for Reentry and Employment]

ICARE has grown tremendously in the first year of our “Restoration of Rights” campaign: we have point people in five New York State regions who are taking the initiative to set up local “Restoration of Rights” meetings with their representatives and we have developed strong relationships with key staff within the legislature.  We have also begun to work with New York City council staff to provide official birth certificates to incarcerated men and women, and without charge. During the 2007 legislation session we will be proposing legislation on occupational licenses, child support, and higher education in addition to supporting existing legislation. Locally, we will launch a “Circles of Care” prison ministry project, led by our new Outreach Coordinator, Willie Thomas.
 
Bills we support and their current status:

PASSED: Sentencing and Reintegration: S7588, sponsored by Senator Dale Volker.  Same as A10832, sponsored by Assemblymember Jeffrion Aubry.
This amends the penal law to promote reintegration at the time of sentencing.

DID NOT PASS EITHER HOUSE: Employment:  S7730, sponsored by Senator Dale Volker.  Similar to A10986, sponsored by Assemblymember Jeffrion Aubry. 
This bill amends Corrections Law 23-a to extend protection from discrimination to current employees and licensees with criminal convictions.   

DID NOT PASS THE ASSEMBLY: Higher Education:  A11652, sponsored by Keith Wright.  This amendment would render it illegal for an institution of higher education to flatly discriminate against individuals with criminal convictions simply because of a criminal record.
 
DID NOT PASS EITHER HOUSE: Sealing of Criminal Convictions (Second Chance Act):  A10988, sponsored by Assemblymember Jeffrion Aubry.  No Senatorial sponsor. .
The proposed bill, which has support from former mayor Ed Koch, allows individuals convicted of non-violent drug offenses to seal their criminal records after a period of time and if they have completed certain programs (such as substance abuse).

DiD NOT PASS EITHER HOUSE: Health Care:  A03924, sponsored by Assemblymember Jeffrion Aubry.  No Senatorial sponsor. The Bill requires that an application for medical assistance through Medicaid be filed for every inmate confined to a state or local correctional facility, 90 days before their release. 

PASSED THE ASSEMBLY: Voting:  Sponsored by Assemblymember Keith Wright.   No Senatorial sponsor (we have approached Senator Flanagan). 
This bill requires that both the Department of Correctional Services and the Division of Parole notify all persons who reach their maximum sentence of imprisonment about their right to vote in writing and that the State Board of Elections be notified about all persons who are again eligible to vote.  The State Board of Elections must then transmit this information to all local boards of elections. 
 
PASSED THE ASSEMBLY: Telephone Justice:  S5299-C, sponsored by Senator Michael Nozzolio.  Same as A07231-C, sponsored by Assemblymember Jeffrion Aubry. .
Provides inmates with telephone services utilizing a debit card system and reasonable collect call system rates.  It will likely pass the Assembly this year (as it did last year).  It is currently in the Finance committee in the Senate. Assemblymember Aubry and Senator Michael Nozzolio have passed the bills out of committees. 


JUSTICE COMMITTEE AT FUUSA

Outreach to other congregations to involve them with prisoners, a trip to introduce congregation members to the Otisville Lifers, the presentation of Parole Profiles and opportunities for support, during Sunday’s Social Hour, an investigation of Albany resources for released parolees, the Spitzer letter campaign, request for congregational support of ICARE's Restoration of Rights Campaign, and presenting opportunities to send Holiday cards to people in prison are all activities in process at First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany.


UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST CONGREGATION OF SARATOGA SPRINGS

“Capital Punishment: The Inevitability of Caprice and Mistake" a presentation by Jack Carter, Sunday, November 26. Jack Carter is a founding member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Saratoga Springs and a lawyer for New York State. His presentation was the culmination of the UUCSS Social Justice Committee's three year educational program on the death penalty. The congregation will vote in December on whether to sign on as a church to NYADP's petition calling for an end to capital punishment in New York State.


CRIMINON

Thanks to all who responded to the article on Criminon(tm) and are now profiting from their Way to Happiness correspondence course. I would like to share with you another inmate success story.
               " I was a sad, violent, lost man who had given up on life. I'd lost faith and these walls and blood seemed to be the size of my hope. Five years ago out of boredom I started a Journey of Self; A Journey of Growth; an unknown trial of myself.  I have become a man who can be trusted, a man who has found and embraced my spirit. I'm no longer part of any gang. I've earned and won my freedom from solitary. I've gained my family back.  I've become a brother, a son, a friend worth having. I've even learned to like myself, as strange as that may seem. And believe it or not, parole is a very real possibility for me. These courses have the tools to break the chains we've tied ourselves with. They can teach us that no matter where we are or how thick the bars are, we have the keys to our own freedom. "
                                                                            inmate A.H.
               
                   The Way to Happiness course teaches common sense values that anyone can use to live a stable and productive life and, most importantly, to regain and maintain self-respect.  To sign up for the course, write: Criminon, P.O.Box 231, Boothbay, Maine 04537



4. MEETINGS

**NEW**. Buffalo: Ex-Offender Support Group for Men meets on Thursdays, 5:30-6:30 at GROUP Ministries, Inc., 1333 Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo. The program is FREE and CONFIDENTIAL and provides an opportunity to discuss issues of Family Life, Housing, Recidivism, Employment, Rights of Ex-Offenders, etc. For more information: 716-539-1844.

**NEW Time and Place**Poughkeepsie PFNY Support Group will move to Room 306 of the Main Building of Family Partnership at 29 North Hamilton St. Poughkeepsie, NY. We are no longer in the annex building. Meetings will be held on the 2nd and 4th Mondays of the month at 7pm.

The Coalition for Restorative Justice will meet at 6pm, one hour before the Poughkeepsie PFNY meetings.



5. NYC PRISONS

Board of Corrections Update:
The Board of Corrections met on November 9, 2006 to discuss the proposed revisions to its Minimum Standards for New York City Correctional Facilities.  The Board did not announce the substance of the revisions at this meeting, but they did say that the Law Department was expected to finish its review of the proposed revisions within the next few days.  They also said that they were approximately a week away from “moving forward” with the announcement.
 
What This Is About:
The Board of Correction’s Minimum Standards set the basic rules for humane treatment of prisoners in the jail system.  These rules cover nearly every aspect of daily life, from the right of pre-trial detainees to wear their own clothing to the number of people who may be crowded into dormitories.  These rules also affect families, covering visiting policies, telephone access, and correspondence with jail inmates.  (Medical and mental health care are addressed in a separate set of standards that are not at issue -- yet.)
The Board is proposing revisions to these rules, but the proposed new standards were formulated by a subcommittee of the Board in closed meetings with the Department of Correction.  Because the process has not been open to the public so far, we do not yet know the substance of the revisions.  Everything we have heard, however, suggests that the revisions will worsen how people in the jails are treated: the new rules will likely mean less autonomy and more crowding for the people who are held, as well as fewer opportunities for visits and phone contact with family and friends. 
 
What The Board Has Done So Far:
At its last meeting, the Board voted to send the proposed revisions to the New York City Law Department for review, and indicated that the revisions will be released for public comment after that.  The Board also has announced that they will allow a 90-day comment period before the final rules are adopted.
 
After we learn the specifics of the proposed changes, we will be in touch again to set up a meeting to discuss how we should respond.  If you or your organization would like to be part of our planning process, please contact Amanda Lockshin at ajlockshin@legal-aid.org,
or (212) 577-3344.  Be aware that we may not be able to get back to you right away, but we will add you to our list and we will be in touch as soon as we know more.

- Thank you! The Legal Aid Society

On the other hand, the Albany Times Union carried a piece on the front page of their Sunday 11/26./06 edition which was originally published in the Washington Post by Michael Powell on Saturday 11/23/06, stating that : “Big Apple takes bite from city crime rate: Rikers Island jail cells empty as policies counter prison trends”. The article claims that New York City has seen the fastest drop in crime in the nation, and “it happened while locking up a lot less people ... The number of prisoners in the city has dropped from 21,449 in 1993 to 14,129 this past week.” ..."If you want to drive down crime, the experience of New York shows that it's ridiculous to spend your first dollar building more prison cells," said Michael Jacobson, who served as New York's correction commissioner for former mayor Rudolph Giuliani and now is president of the Vera Institute of Justice, which studies crime-fighting trends worldwide. "I can't tell you exactly why violent crime in New York declined by twice the national rate. But I can tell you this: It wasn't because we locked up more people."..."Crime is down and people realize, sure, we can lock up more people, but that's why your kid's pre-K class has 35 kids -- all the money is going to prisons," Jacobson says....Barry Campbell, who works at the Fortune Society, a prison reform organization in Manhattan, did 15 years behind bars on sundry charges. . Ask him about New York's experience in driving down imprisonment and crime, and he is not surprised. "Prison is a place where someone heading down a path of destruction is propelled at 90 miles an hour."
 


6. PAROLE ARTICLE

Joan Coazum was granted parole on eve of a contempt hearing against the parole board - She had served nearly 23 years of a 15 - Life sentence for a 1981 felony murder. The next day a sympathetic judge, who had previously ordered the parole board to grant her a new hearing after their last denial, was scheduled to hear a contempt motion based on the parole board’s second denial, this time citing her “escalating criminal conduct” despite no evidence to support that claim. Ms. Coaxum was released within five days. It usually takes several weeks before a paroled inmate is set free. This story was reported by John Caher, Albany Bureau Chief of the NY Law Journal, on 11/1/06



7. PAROLE RELEASE INFO?

If anyone knows the statistics for parole releases for November, whether for a specific prison or for all, including the number of violent felony releases and releases of Lifers, please report them to Building Bridges for publication. We want to know if there is a new trend toward appropriate releases. [this came in today, after the paper copy was printed: Otisville: with Jenifer Arena, recent lame duck appointment to Board of Parole, presiding: 31 men were heard. 6 were released, 3 of them for deportation, 1 with a non-violent crime, and 2 with violent crimes. The latter three had Life at the end. One of the 25 who were not granted parole release was denied for the 7th time.]



8. PAROLE STORY

December 1, 2006

In 1991, John ended the life of a Manhattan serial rapist known as the beast of West Street. This man had raped John's girlfriend. After going to the police on 4 separate occasions and being told there was nothing they could do, John used poor judgment and decided to confront the offender on his own. He wanted the offender to know of the damage he had caused and make the offender feel accountable in some way. This naive attempt to do what was right, turned very wrong. During his trial the District Attorney from New York County portrayed John's crime as a murder. We understand the D.A's professional desire to obtain a conviction on the most serious charge, but a jury completely rejected this portrayal, acquitted John of murder, and found that John acted under extreme emotional distress when he fired one fatal bullet. Instead of murder, John was convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon. John's case was highly publicized in the media and he appeared on The Donahue Show, the Maury Povich Show, and Inside Edition while out on bail in 1992. During sentencing, the judge stated that she was making an example of John to send the message that taking the law into one's own hands will not be tolerated. John was sentenced to 8 - 24 years and 2-6 years, respectively, for an aggregate of 10 to 30 years in prison. This made him eligible for parole at the ten year mark, as long as he met all the standards outlined in Executive Law 259-i and displayed remorse, responsibility, redemption and rehabilitation. We believe that no one exemplifies these more than John Valverde and that no one has fulfilled the requirements of the Executive Law in a more exemplary fashion. Yet, John has already been denied parole three times.

Frank Valverde, Rivkin Radler LLP.
926 Reckson Plaza
Uniondale, New York 11556-0926
(516) 357-3339



9. RADIO PROGRAMS

Fancy Broccoli will be interviewing Robert Isseks on December 3, and broadcasting the Family Empowerment Day 2 speeches on December 12. Both programs are from 3 - 6pm on Independent Radio WVKR 91.3 FM, Poughkeepsie NY. WVKR streams online - you can go to www.Live365.com and search for WVKR.



10. REENTRY ARTICLE IN THE NY DAILY NEWS
What N.Y. owes ex-cons - and their neighbors, by Errol Louis, originally published on November 10, 2006 - Daily News

Summary by BB Editor:

127,000 people are released from prisons and jails around the state every year. On average, 55% of state prisoners come home within 48 months. Most are from New York City - and from a handful of our neighborhoods. The communities where most of the ex-prisoners will end up - upper Manhattan , the South Bronx, central Brooklyn and southeast Queens - are already overwhelmed by poverty and other problems. Many former inmates slip through the cracks and end up jobless and homeless - and two-thirds of them get rearrested within three years. The sensible alternative to this would be to carve out a slice of the city and state Correction budgets - 5% or about $18 million a year would be a good start - and invest it in housing, jobs, education and addiction treatment right there in Brownsville. The savings, in human and economic terms, would be profound and immediate.

Chauncy Parker of the state Division of Criminal Justice Services and a few other forward-looking New York officials - notably, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs and city Correction Commissioner Martin Horn - have spent the last few years laying the groundwork for a new approach to reentry. They have lately joined forces with thinkers like Jeremy Travis , the new president of John Jay College, and Susan Tucker of the Open Society Institute to push for radical changes in how New York spends its jail and prison dollars.

"We overuse incarceration," says Horn, who now spends $10 million a year on reentry programs for inmates leaving Rikers - more than any city or county in America .



11. REENTRY CONFERENCE
If anyone is planning to attend this event and would be willing to take Prison Action Network literature, along with copies of the letter to Spitzer and the Parole Mandate petition, please let us know.

"NYS, Reentry and Employment: A Current Snapshot and Recommendations for the Future"

This free day-long conference will take place on December 6, 2006 from 8am to 3:30 pm EST, at New York University’s Vanderbilt Hall in the Greenberg Lounge. This event will be a series of facilitated panels between practitioners, advocates, people directly affected by the criminal justice system, New York State and New York City criminal justice and workforce development policymakers and other stakeholders. To ensure meaningful community participation and make the event more engaging, we have carved out time from each session for questions from the audience. We hope you will be able to take advantage of this early notification and plan to join us at Vanderbilt Hall on December 6, 2006.

Please RSVP as soon as possible to gmartin@hirenetwork.org,
or phone Glen Martin at (212) 243-1313, x 132, as seating for this event will be limited and reserved on a first come basis.



12. RIDE BOARD

To Bedford Hills from Albany - Qasim - freeb2beme@yahoo.com
To Gt. Meadow from Albany - Qasim - freeb2beme@yahoo.com
To Adirondack from Albany - Tanya and son Anthony - tanyaj810@netzero.net
To Greenhaven from Albany - just Tanya - see above



13. TRANSPORTATION TO PRISON

From Buffalo:

New bus service to Wende, Attica, Wyoming, Orleans, Albion - "CONVENIENT TRANSPORTATION SERVICES" will be providing weekend  (Saturday and Sunday) van service for family and loved ones who desire to visit their husbands, wives, friends, and significant others who are incarcerated throughout various Correctional Facilities located in Western New York. The round trip cost will be $40. The cost for children requiring a seat, age 12 and under, is $10. Those who sign up for December's first run, will be charged a discounted price of $25. This service is tentatively scheduled to begin on Saturday, December 16, 2006.

For additional information: Mr. Bruce Betton- 716-605-3179, Ms. Karima Amin- 716-834-8438


From Capital District:

Rides are offered by volunteers of the First Unitarian Universalist Society’s Justice Committee, for a donation of any size, with the following limitations. Please contact us at 518 253-7533 if you need a ride.
Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays only
the prison must be within 150 miles of Albany [300 miles round trip]
driver is willing to wait 2-3 hours while you visit
driver is willing to start, from your home, as early as 8:00 A.M.
driver is willing to get back to Albany as late as 6:00 P.M.
car seats 5, though for a trip of 150 miles, sitting in the middle of the back seat would be a tight squeeze.


From Albany/Troy:

The NEST Prison Shuttle schedule includes a trip to McGregor, Washington and Great Meadow on Dec 2, and Coxsackie, Greene, and Hudson Correctional Facilities on Saturday, Dec 9 and Saturday, Dec 23 from Oakwood Ave. Presbyterian Church, Troy at 7 AM and Albany Greyhound at 7:15 AM. The Shuttle trip to Utica (Midstate, Marcy, Oneida and Mohawk facilities) leaves Oakwood parking lot at 5 AM, and Albany Greyhound at 5:15 on Dec 16. Call Linda O’Malley for prices and reservations at 273-5199.



14. WORDS FROM INSIDE

REALITY
Loflin Jackson 93A2234

What binds us to this unjust, cruel world called prison? Our measly possessions are worthless and our time, if not spent in study, reflection, self-improvement and self-empowerment, is in vain. Having much time to think you really can scrutinize this world in and out. Throughout this nation said to be free with equal opportunity there is no single spot however desolate where a man can place himself and say he’s safe and free. The laws that govern us have been trampled upon by men thought to be above the law and therefore untouchable. they advocate chaos and destruction, make rules and laws impossible to follow. However they are portrayed to be of a warm heart and good spirit to the public’s eye.

My friend, until we and those like us have been rescued and released from the dark prison houses there shall be no safe place to seek asylum. There are terrible chastisements which have been inflicted upon us in prison throughout this country. Unjust parole practices have been perpetrated upon us not unlike in the days of slavery. Not in body but in mind and spirit. When, when shall we unite as human beings and bring about social justice reform? We can hold on but so long.



15. WORDS FROM RAMON

E PLURIBUS UNUM / OUT OF MANY, ONE

I am a man convicted of a crime and sent to prison to be resocialized with the skills, knowledge and ability to be sent back to society and live a law abiding life. That is why prisons are called ‘Correctional Facilities”; that is what the tax payer pays approximately $34,000. each year for: a recycled human being.

This prisoner doesn’t feel he actually got $34,000. worth of goods and services during my entire 12.5 year prison term, plus 24 month old. But the big question remains, are you getting your money’s worth? What is the return on your $493,000. investment for the 14.5 years of my incarceration? Let’s also not forget the State Parole Board, which is comprised of nineteen appointees of Governor George Pataki, who are collectively paid $1,979,600. of your money annually with perks and benefits, and who disregarded the law and in essence resentenced me to another two years behind bars. All done with the full knowledge that there is nothing more that I need, am required to take, or even have available to me; knowing it would cost you another $68.000.

That’s close to half a million dollars just to keep me behind bars; someone who has already paid his debt, recognizes his error, is remorseful and has been rehabilitated to the extent that I am parole and community ready.

Of course, I’m not the only one, there are at a minimum 5,000 (a moderate estimate) of parole and comity ready prisoners who are members of the ever-growing Deuce Club after serving long periods of incarceration. Do the math. To add insult to injury, did you know that since 1995 Governor Pataki’s administration also quietly pocketed over $200 million in tax dollars in Federal Grants to keep parole eligible prisoners beyond their already overpriced minimum sentences?

Since the minimum sentence is the penal sanction equal to the severity of the crime, any punishment contemplated by the Court, acting on the community’s behalf , was satisfied when I completed my Court imposed minimum sentence.

By any objective criteria I should be released, so there’s no plausible reason why I haven’t been. What your money is really spent on remains a mystery, but always remember you heard it here first...E PLURIBUS UNUM.

A Conscious Individual,
Ramon Gonzalez, 92A7663