Building Bridges

The monthly newsletter of the Prison Action Network

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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

August 2007 Edition

Late Additions:

GRAZIANO CASE [see report of the July 20th hearing in article 7, below]:
The parties to the pending class action suit, Graziano, et.al. v. Pataki did not reach a settlement by their second deadline of Aug 17. Robert Isseks, the lead attorney in the case, reports: "We asked the Court to defer decision because we are still working on a settlement." You are invited to check back here for all updates about the case.

FAMILY EMPOWERMENT DAY 3 ADDS TWO MORE EVENTS TO ITS 2007 SCHEDULE
3 Dates! 3 Locations! 3 Opportunities! FED3/NYC, FED3/WNY, and FED3/ALB.
"Educating for Empowerment" will present successful strategies for changing incarceration-related conditions in NYS.
Check back here after September 1 for details, or call 518 253 7533.

TROY DAVIS DEATH PENALTY CASE:
For those of you following the Troy Davis case: Great news! Troy Davis, who won an unheard of 90 day stay of execution within 24 hours of being killed by the State of Georgia, will receive a hearing by the Georgia Supreme Court, which has agreed to consider the new evidence. Supporters feel the new evidence will completely exhonerate Mr. Davis.

Dear Reader,

As you are well aware, there are many ways the system needs changing. Prison Action Network finds it impossible to select only one to work for. We want to change the whole system! But of course that won’t happen all at once. Nevertheless, thanks to years and years of struggle by some of the veterans of the movement for criminal justice and prison reform, we are seeing a shift in the consciousness of the public and of our state government. We want Prison Action Network to join them in becoming agents of change. For that reason, this year’s Family Empowerment Day 3 theme is ‘Educating for Empowerment’. Through speakers who’ve had experience creating change; through workshops where we can learn how to start taking actions for change, Family Empowerment Day 3 will take us on the first step of a year long Campaign for Change. So if you are tired of complaining and want to start working, please set aside Saturday, October 20 to come to Columbia Law School and make it happen. We’ve included a flyer at the end of this letter to help you spread the word wherever you go. We can’t do it without YOU!

Big ups! to all who sent donations in response to last month’s call for help in keeping Building Bridges afloat. We can’t afford to send thank you notes but please know you touched our hearts and our pocketbook in a positive way.

Have a wonderful month!


ARTICLES

1. BECOME ACTIVE - "I have high regard for the Otisville Lifers who created the concept of Family Empowerment Day, and to PAN, CPR, and all the other organizations involved in the struggle to make the world a better place." - Zayd Rashid

2. CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS - Help change the public’s perception of ex-prisoners; if you’re a formerly incarcerated entrepreneur please contact Sheila Rule about being included in her upcoming book of essays.

3. CONGRATULATIONS ON PASSED BILLS - We all did an amazing job this legislative session getting some decent bills passed that will contribute to a better quality of life for many of us. We have made a difference!

4. CURE-NY NEWSLETTER - Summer 2007 is out, and better than ever!

5. FORGIVENESS AT THE HEART OF CHANGE - "Forgiveness and redemption -- especially forgiveness of oneself -- are crucial to promoting social change." - Tony Papa

6. FAMILY EMPOWERMENT PROJECT SEEKS REPS - Family Empowerment Project; become a REP for FEP - you’ll be glad you did and being glad is one of the greatest achievements! - Joe Rudd

7. PAROLE - Report from Graziano VS Pataki hearing; Facilities report July parole stats

8. PRISON RADIO - Turn off your TV and tune your radio to programming that reports the truth of incarceration

9. SUPPORT MEETINGS - Opportunities to meet other people who have a loved one in prison

10. TELEPHONE JUSTICE CAMPAIGN - "GTL is the [new] holder of the contract, [but] they are using much of the infrastructure that MCI/Verizon has built over the years.", After 3 years of struggle, victory!!

11. TRANSPORTATION TO PRISONS - From Albany: cheap or free, weekends or weekdays

12. VOTER REGISTRATION IS IMPORTANT! - THE REGISTRATION DEADLINE FOR THE 2007 PRIMARY ELECTION IS AUGUST 24TH

13. WHAT’S HAPPENING AROUND NEW YORK STATE - In Buffalo, Prisoners Are People Too!, in NYC FEP is going strong preparing for FED3.

FED3 FLYER



1. BECOME ACTIVE
In March of 2006 I was shocked to learn that no one at the facility to which I had been recently transferred had heard of Family Empowerment Day 1 (FED 1). I attributed this, in part, to the fact that the facility was in west hell, and seemingly cut off from progressive developments affecting prisoners and their families. Not long after, I was transferred to another prison, in NYC, and forced to reassess the situation, as no one I spoke to there had heard of FED 1 either, or was aware of the upcoming FED 2.

After some serious work and the formation of a Lifer's organization, things there are much different now. However, I can assure you that if information was not reaching them it is fair to assume that it was not reaching many other prisons. Consequently, if we are going to be more successful at the upcoming FED 3, this is an issue that we will have to confront and resolve.

Speaking from experience, I can assure you that unless we unite, become active, learn to speak in one voice, and work hard for the greater good, we will continue to find ourselves disadvantaged by years of ill conceived legislative mandates and executive agendas. There have been some recent long deserved changes, but there is still a lot of work to be done. If you think I am kidding, read the July issue of Building Bridges.

Too often we depend on just a few individuals to carry the torch, leading to burn out and frustrations. Moreover, in these times, this is not enough. We need everyone on board, and we need everyone to contribute according to their ability. My advice is to join Prison Action Network and CPR, stay informed, spread the word, and encourage your families and friends to attend FED 3. -Zayd Rashid


2. CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS
I'm compiling a book of essays by formerly incarcerated men and women who've become entrepreneurs. The book is the first in a series that my publishing company, Resilience Multimedia, is developing with the aim of changing the negative images of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people in this country. If you were incarcerated and now operate your own business -- or know of someone who fits that description -- I hope you'll contact me at resiliencemultimedia@verizon.net or 212-645-5045.
Thank you. Keep the faith, Sheila Rule


3. CONGRATULATIONS ON PASSED BILLS!

from CCR’s COALITION FOR WOMEN PRISONERS:

Great news: Governor Spitzer signed the Medicaid suspension bill.  Congratulations to the Coalition's Reentry Committee and to all who worked so hard to make this happen! (The law will go into effect in April 2008. -editor)
 
If you are interested in working on next steps related to Medicaid and on other issues facing women in reentry, please come to the next Reentry Committee meeting on Friday, September 7 at 3pm at the CA. The Coalition has a new metro card policy!  We are now able to offer formerly incarcerated women who need assistance with transportation two $2 metro cards for Coalition and Committee meetings and events.  Please contact the address below about this policy and how to sign up to receive metro cards. 
 
Tamar Kraft-Stolar, Women in Prison Project Director,Correctional Association of New York, 135 East 15th Street, New York, NY 10003 Tel 212-254-5700 x306 tkstolar@correctionalassociation.org, www.correctionalassociation.org

from ICARE:

We are very excited to report that two of ICARE's "Restoration of Rights" agenda items--the Medicaid Suspension Bill and the Family Connections Bill--were signed into law by the governor! Congratulations to everyone who raised your voice on these issues--people of faith were continuously highlighted for speaking out with moral conviction. We particularly applaud the Correctional Association's Coalition for Women Prisoners and the Center for Constitutional Rights' Telephone Justice Campaign, which put tremendous resources into the passage of these two bills.  Thanks to their efforts and yours, people on Medicaid will not lose their health benefits should they become incarcerated, and families will not be financially exploited when their loved ones call from prison.

We are also pleased to highlight that S1602/A03208 was signed into law. Led by the Legal Action Center, the signing of this bill means that Corrections Law 23-a now extends protection from criminal record based discrimination to current employees and licensees, rather than just applicants.

Momentum continues to build, and your voice always matters. Faithfully, Rima

from LAC’s NATIONAL HIRE NETWORK:

The Legal Action Center's National HIRE Network, working collaboratively with local advocates, recently celebrated a significant legislative victory for employees with criminal records in New York State.   We commend Governor Eliot Spitzer for his insightfulness in signing the bill, as well as members of the legislature who sponsored the measure and helped to shepherd it through the legislative process.
 
S.1602/A.3208 – Amends Article 23-A §752 of the Correction Law so that individuals who are employed, as well as individuals who are applicants for a job are protected from unfair employment discrimination. Article 23-A of Correction Law currently prohibits unfair discrimination against individuals with criminal records whose convictions are unrelated to the job sought and do not constitute a threat to safety, and encourages “the licensure and employment of persons previously convicted of one or more criminal offenses.” However, the anti-discrimination protections in §752 applied only to applicants for employment or occupational licenses who have criminal convictions. The law provided no protection to current employees or license holders who face unfair discrimination based on criminal records that predate their employment or licensure. 
 
S.1602/A.3208 extends the anti-discrimination protections to current employees and license holders whose convictions predate employment or licensure, since it is inconsistent to require employers to individually consider each person with a criminal history who applies for a job but not extend that protection to individuals who are already employed.   
 
Note: S.1602/A.3208 will not protect individuals who lie on an employment application, as it is legal for an employer to fire someone for lying on an application. 

from PRISON ACTION NETWORK:

We all worked hard to make sure the The SHU bill (S333B) passed, but we have to wait for the Fall Legislative Session for the Assembly to approve the revised version (A9342). The New York Law Journal reported on July 19 that the governor and the senate had agreed to a compromise bill, and the assembly was sure to follow. [Copies of the NY Law Journal Article and/or the revised bill are available from PAN by request with a SASE.]


4. CURE-NY NEWSLETTER
The Summer 2007 edition of the CURE-NY Newsletter has been mailed and is now available on the CURE-NY website, http://users.bestweb.net/~cureny/.  You'll find info on:
New leadership for CURE-NY;  Issue priorities of CURE-NY; The Sept 25 Annual CURE-NY Meeting;  A Spring 2008 Reentry Conference; The May 29, 2007 DCJS Reentry Panel;  The PFNY 2007 Family Retreat;  and Legislative Activity.


5. FORGIVENESS AT THE HEART OF CHANGE 
By ANTHONY PAPA

(First published: Saturday, July 21, 2007, The Times Union (Albany NY):

God works in mysterious ways. Sometimes life's path is cut out for you in ways that might not fit your liking. This was true for me when, in 1985, I was sentenced to 15-years-to-life stemming from my involvement in drugs. My life was dramatically altered forever. At the time of my arrest I was 29 years old, married, with a 6-year-old daughter. I made the biggest mistake of my life when I delivered a package of four ounces of cocaine for the promised sum of $500.

Nothing in the world could have prepared me for life in prison. I was sent to Sing Sing, a maximum security prison in Ossining. It was a living nightmare. Not only did I lose my family, I lost my life as I knew it.

When I arrived at the prison I was surrounded with a sea of faces of men who had lost all faith in their lives. It was the lowest point in my life and I surely thought that God had abandoned me.

Soon after, I was walking past a row of cells that sat on the top tier of the A Block housing unit. I inhaled the odor of paint and followed its trail to a cell. I looked in and saw the most magnificent paintings. They belonged to a prisoner named Indio. We became friends and he taught me how to paint.

I began absorbing myself in my art. I was hooked. In 1988, I was sitting in my cell when I picked up a mirror and saw a reflection of a man who was going to be spending the most productive years of his life locked in a cage. I set up a canvas and captured the image. I named it "15 to Life." As my art became more and more a center point in my life, I realized that God had not abandoned me but, instead, given me a vehicle to find real meaning and purpose in my life.

I entered a graduate program in 1994 offered by the New York Theological Seminary at Sing Sing prison. I studied liberation theology with an emphasis on urban ministry. The center of our teaching was based on praxis. We were taught that we could talk all we want about tradition and the Bible but that, without a tangible action, our intentions would be meaningless. The program's director, the Rev. Bill Webber, who became my spiritual father, had given me vision to become an agent of change and transformation.

In 1995, my self-portrait, "15 to Life," was exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art. I received a lot of media attention and, in 1997, I received clemency from Gov. George Pataki. My art became my ministry. I had exhibits and used my art as instrument to speak out against inhumane drug laws.

At the same time, I made trips to Albany to speak with legislators. Most of them had a dual view of reforming the laws. Their public view was that the Rockefeller Drug Laws were working fine. Behind closed doors they agreed the laws needed to be reformed. But they were afraid of publicly speaking out against them because it would cause their political deaths. I decided at that point that I was spinning my wheels by trying to convince them.

I remember reading a book titled "The Upside Down Kingdom" by Donald Kraybill. It basically spoke about how Jesus created change from the bottom up, instead of the top down.

My idea then was to try and change the way politicians thought about New York's drug laws by changing their constituents' views. I took that concept and, in 1998, I co-founded the Mothers of the New York Disappeared. This advocacy group was comprised mostly of family members of those imprisoned by the Rockefeller Drug Laws. We formed a street movement that generated tremendous press by utilizing the human element of the issue.

It was a long row to hoe, but we managed to shift public opinion and exert public pressure on the politicians. In 2004-05, the first reform changes were passed with hope that more will follow.

Forgiveness and redemption -- especially forgiveness of oneself -- are crucial to promoting social change. What gets in the way are the psychological and spiritual walls we build to separate us from one another. If we apply these concepts, we can break down these barriers so that positive change can take root

Anthony Papa is a communications specialist for the Drug Policy Alliance.


6. FAMILY EMPOWERMENT PROJECT SEEKS REPS

Family Empowerment Project (FEP)

THIS IS HOW WE GET DOWN FROM NOW ON!

POSITIVE ATTITUDE + MOTIVATION = SUCCESS

To Think Only the Best,
To Work Only for the Best and to
Expect and Accept Nothing But the Best.

Do you want to be a REP for FEP? To be involved in something positive? Do you want to press on to greater achievements? Do you want to help yourself while helping others? Do you have an attitude that reflects hope, desire, self-belief and supports positive projects? Then you have the right attitude we are looking for, because the person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing and becomes nothing.

Become a REP for FEP to gather support for our October 20, 2007 Family Empowerment Day 3 event at Columbia Law School. (Use flyer below to recruit attendance and donations) You’ll be glad you did and being glad is one of the greatest achievements.

- Jumping Joe, Public Relations, PAN/F.E.P.


7. PAROLE
GRAZIANO, ET. AL VS PATAKI HEARING:
Building Bridges attended the hearing before Judge Brieant on July 20, 2007. We didn't see any reporters there - no NY Law Journal, so we’re sharing our notes. We regret the gaps in our recall of the arguments.

Judge Brieant was a very likable, seemingly fair and honest man. The Attorney General had 2 representatives (AG1, AG2) , AG1 argued to dismiss, AG2 argued against the class action suit. Robert Isseks, Esq. (I), accompanied by Peter Sell, Esq., argued alone and spoke very directly and without a lot of legal jargon. Judge Brieant (J) also avoided legal jargon.

AG1: moves to dismiss on grounds claims are now moot.
J: why moot if allegations are true? many of complainants are still entitled to some relief.

AG1: Change of administration, and statement by George Alexander (Parole Commissioner) makes claim of mootness valid.
J: I already said claim was valid w respect to Alexander's statement, but it's not moot for the complainants still held as a result of past administration's policies.

AG1: we object to class certification. several of original claimants have received a new hearing and the rest will by the end of the summer.
J: Why not review all of them NOW and really make it moot? I have to take their claim seriously.

AG1: Graziano and Tally were seen already, Buckley and Harris ( are scheduled?? I can't remember what was said about them...)
J: There's a large number of people who belong to the class out there. I know. They've been writing to me. If they are denied their rights to a proper hearing a court can order a re-hearing.

AG1: Alexander has issued a statement to the board saying to consider all factors.

I: Rehearings are needed for all those who were denied parole since before the Alexander memo.
J: If Alexander says they've changed their policy we have to assume they did.

I: The same parole board members who did not follow the law before Alexander was appointed are still there.

AG1: But you said they were not acting on their own principles but following orders from Pataki. Pataki is no longer in charge and Alex. has said they have to consider all factors.
J: Original claim said outside influence had affected their behavior.

I: Agents of Pataki supported our observations. Katherine Lapp said Pataki rejected the possibility of rehabilitation for violent felons. Instead of following the statute the parole board made sure violent felons would be kept in. When a board rejects the idea of rehabilitation they are unable to fulfill the statute.
J: an officer of the law has to follow the law regardless of own feelings.

I: Katherine said they were willing to reject the law. Alexander tells them to obey the law, but they've shown themselves to be willing not to. We want the court to rule that the Board has to follow the law, because obviously members of the parole board still feel they have the right to decide a judge's sentence was not long enough. Under Pataki, the parole board was operating outside the law. The current administration is complicit because they are still appealing decisions that were made against the board for ignoring the law.
J: your argument for class action?

I: we have received many hundreds of unsolicited letters from inmates who have provided documentation showing they are eligible to be members of the class.
J: The State argument?

AG1: I'd like to just point out that the complainant has changed the complaint to be against Parole not Pataki.
J: I don't see it that way. (and explained, but I don't recall the argument...)

AG2: (re class action) Plaintiffs failed to provide evidence of numerosity.
J: But it's a matter of public record, is it not?

AG2: Yes, but we asked for a formal statement. Plaintiffs are supposed to be present... (I couldn't understand her arguments. The judge stopped asking questions and just let her finish.)

J: I'm going to reserve judgment. I want to speak with both sides privately in the courtroom. If you'd like a few minutes before that to talk between yourselves, that would be agreeable with me. We will meet here in 15 minutes.

The courtroom was then cleared.

I understand Judge Brieant gave them until August 3 to reach a settlement. If an agreement cannot be reached by then, he will render a decision - reported by J. Brink


PAROLE STATISTICS:

AT OTISVILLE - Only 2 out of the 23 seen were granted parole. 1st board for one with a 20-Life and the other person was a deportation. 3 merit board applicants were denied. A man with 25-Life suffered his 5th hit. James Ferguson and Vanessa Clarke presided, with recently (6/14) appointed Sally Thompson observing. Ms. Thompson is a former NYPD detective who investigated violent crimes, and prior to that was in the Bx Narcotics/Major Case Div.

ARTHUR KILL - Of the 90 people interviewed, 14 were given a date. Among them, 4 Lifers were granted parole; 2 at their 1st appearance, and 2 at their reappearances. Out of 4 Merit time interviews 2 were given a date. All who were denied were given 24 months. Before the Pataki era 24 months was the exception, unlike under Pataki and Spitzer where it’s been the rule, claims our source.


PAROLE SUPPORT
This month’s featured parole hearing is that of JOSEPH RUDD who will see the Parole Board on September 10. Joe was born and raised in Williamsburg, Brooklyn where he lived in the family home until incarcerated in 1982 on a murder conviction. Prior to this he had attended Catholic grammar school and obtained a GED while working with local 32B union as a heating plant technician. He and his fiancé of 6 years had planned and scheduled a wedding date. Upon entering prison in 1983 he realized that in order to truly seek redemption he could not wait until released back into society. Through lots of soul searching and deep faith he began to take steps to change his life. Joe Rudd is known throughout the prison system as a caring and committed man with deep religious convictions who invests all of his time in helping others as well as in his own personal growth. While he understands that none of his prison accomplishments will ever compensate the tragic loss of life for which he is responsible and deeply regrets, he hopes they will serve as an honest testimony to the sincere and positive changes in his life.

Please write Joe for more details or send your letter of support to: Joseph Rudd 83A7286, Arthur Kill Correctional Facility, 2911 Arthur Kill Road, Staten Island, NY 10309


8. PRISON RADIO

AL LEWIS LIVES, hosted by Karen Lewis, broadcasts on Saturdays from noon to 1:30 pm on WBAI, 99.5 FM, NYC., or live stream at WBAI Tune in Aug 18; you may get a pleasant surprise.

THE FANCY BROCCOLI SHOW: Fancy Broccoli airs on WVKR, 91.3FM, Poughkeepsie NY. on Sundays from 3 - 6 pm, Eastern Time, and streams online - go to WVKR.org and click on (or near) the word 'LISTEN'. The lineup for the next 3 shows: 8/5 - Felix Rosa, the executive director of parole. The next show is Vernon Manley. The one after that will be no guest due to the fund raiser and after that is Ron Hayes, a formerly incarcerated individual who is a social worker that specializes in PTSD for guys that have done time.

DEMOCRACY NOW!, WITH AMY GOODMAN, WBAI, 99.5 FM in NYC (or see link above) from 8AM-9AM weekdays and on www.democracynow.org, WVKR every weekday from 5PM-6PM, and also WRPI Troy, 91.5 FM (www.WRPI.org) from 9AM-10AM.

JUSTICE PAGES AUDIO at www.justicepages.org

VOICES FROM THE PRISON ACTION NETWORK: Available on a new site that might be easier for you to access: www.hmimc.swapspace.com. It’s also still available at www.radio4all.net, where it is podcast.


9. SUPPORT MEETINGS

ALBANY: PFNY meeting at 7:00 pm every Monday at the Women’s Bldg, 79 Central Avenue. Please call ahead: Alison 518 453 6659

BUFFALO: Groups for men and women meet separately on Thursdays, from 5:30-6:30pm at GROUP Ministries, Inc., 1333 Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo. These programs are FREE and confidential. For more information, call 716-539-1844.

NORTH BABYLON LI: Prison Families Anonymous meets on the 2nd and 4th Wed of each month at 7:30 pm at the Babylon Town Hall Annex. You are welcome if you have a family member in prison. For more info you may call Barbara: Ph: 631-630-9118, Cell: 631-943-0441

POUGHKEEPSIE: PFNY Support Group Room 306 of the Main Building of Family Partnership at 29 North Hamilton St. Poughkeepsie, NY. Meetings will be held on the 2nd and 4th Mondays of the month at 7pm. The Citizens for Restorative Justice meet the first Monday of the month, 6:30 to 8:00PM. The location changes so call ahead of time, 845-464-4736.

SCHENECTADY: PFNY meeting at 7pm on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of every month at First United Methodist Church - 603 State Street - entrance on Chapel Street - behind MVP Building.  Jeanette: 518 280 0354 anytime after 6pm.


10. TELEPHONE JUSTICE CAMPAIGN
Thanks to Lauren Melodia for supplying families with the following information:

1. While Global Telephone Ltd. is the new holder of the contract, they are using much of the infrastructure that MCI/Verizon has built over the years.  This includes the customer service phone number that you previously used with MCI 1-800-388-7346 and the website you had previously used to make payments: https://corrections.mci.com/.

2. You DO NOT need to set-up a new account with GTL.  If you had an account with MCI/Verizon, GTL has acquired it and it will remain your active account.

3. Your previous account balance (if you had one) with MCI/Verizon will remain in your account.

4. You should call (800) 388-7346 if you have any problems, questions or would like to make a payment.  You should continue to use https://corrections.mci.com/ to make payments online.  You will be redirected to a GTL online account system that is specific to New York.  Do not call any of the other GTL customer service numbers.  Do not try to make your payment by logging onto GTL’s general online payment system through their website.  GTL has trained customer service staff who understand the terms of the contract in New York State who will field your calls at (800) 388-7346.

5. You will NOT be charged $9.50 processing fee for paying online or 19% processing fee for paying over the phone.

6. If you opened a direct remit account with GTL in the past week or two, GTL will make sure that you will receive proper credit from your previous MCI/Verizon account.

7. GTL was experiencing several technical difficulties with the system last week, which they are working to sort out immediately.  If your phone was blocked from receiving collect calls last week and you were up-to-date on your payments, etc. the block was as a result of technical difficulties and should be resolved soon if it has not already been resolved.

8. GTL will be posting all policy information online at https://corrections.mci.com as soon as possible so that everyone has the information they need to pay their bills, receive calls and deal with problems.

9. If your experiences last week do not comply with numbers 1 – 8 on this list, please call (800) 388-7346 to sort out any difficulties with GTL staff.  If you still have problems, please call Tom Herzog at DOCS at (518) 457-2540.

AFTER THREE YEARS OF TIRELESS WORK, WE WON!
In January 2007, newly-elected New York Governor Eliot Spitzer agreed to eliminate the State’s 57.5 percent kickback commission and reduce the prison telephone rates by 50 percent; more savings are due in September.

In June 2007, the New York State Legislature passed our Family Connections Bill and made it law that the State will not profit from any future prison telephone contract and that any future contract instead must “prioritize the lowest cost to the consumer.” (Previous contracts were awarded based on which bid would provide the highest commission for the State.) Last week, Governor Spitzer signed the bill into law.

We’re not finished yet – we continue to fight the legal battle with our case Walton v. NYSDOCS and MCI, which seeks a court judgment that the State’s commission is an illegal and unconstitutional tax. A victory in the case would prevent future legislatures from creating similar contracts and would compensate affected families for the years that they’ve overpaid to remain connected to their loved ones. We argued the most recent round in June and are awaiting a decision. [ from a message by Annette Warren Dickerson, CCR Director of Education and Outreach]


11. TRANSPORTATION TO PRISONS

From the Capital District:
THE NEST PRISON SHUTTLE schedule: Mt. McGregor, Washington, and Great Meadow CFs on Sat, Aug 4 ($30 adults, $20 children), Coxsackie, Greene, and Hudson CFs on Sun, Aug 12 ($15  adults and $10 children), from Oakwood Ave Presbyt. Church parking lot, Troy at 7 AM, and Albany Greyhound bus station at 7:15. Trip to Utica (Midstate, Marcy, Mohawk, Oneida CFs) on Sat, Aug 18, and Sullivan (Ulster, Eastern, Woodbourne, Sullivan CFs) on Sat, Jul 25 leaving at 5 AM ($40 adults, $25 children). Reservations: Linda O'Malley 518- 273-5199.

Door to door, FREE RIDES are offered from Albany to prisons within 150 miles by volunteers of FUUSA’s Justice Committee on weekdays only. Please contact us at 518 253-7533 if you need a ride.


12. VOTER REGISTRATION
Today I signed up to go door to door getting signatures on a petition to nominate someone for Albany’s school board. Anyone who thinks they can’t make a difference should consider what a difference a few hours of my time could make. Albany’s youth are in much the same predicament as New York City’s youth. The schools are failing them. I believe the candidate I will be petitioning for will bring some realism and some wisdom to the board - some insight into the role racism plays in the way our schools are run. It’s not earth-shaking, but if her election could mean the difference in even one child’s school life, wouldn’t you agree my time was well spent? Let’s ALL get informed and out in the streets making a difference!

THE REGISTRATION DEADLINE FOR THE 2007 PRIMARY ELECTION IS AUGUST 24TH (that’s THIS month, folks!). Only enrolled party members can vote in the primary election. Party members who help nominate candidates by signing petitions and voting in the primary have greater political clout than non-enrolled voters who can vote only in the general election. Also, you are not obligated to vote for your party’s candidate in the general election. In November you can vote for any candidate from any party.

The deadline for registering to vote in the General election is October 12.

ANYONE WHO IS A U.S. CITIZEN, WHO WILL BE 18 OR OLDER BY ELECTION DAY, AND HAS COMPLETED THEIR SENTENCE FOR A FELONY CONVICTION IS ELIGIBLE TO REGISTER AND VOTE IN NEW YORK STATE.

If you’re not eligible to vote, you can still register people to vote and have even more impact than if you simply voted. Everyone who wants to change the laws that oppress us SHOULD get involved in registering voters. It’s our most powerful tool. You may think it doesn’t make a difference, but that’s only because so many people DON’T VOTE and don’t get EDUCATED about the issues.


13. WHAT’S HAPPENING AROUND NEW YORK STATE

BUFFALO AREA:

1. Prisoners Are People Too!
is a justice advocacy program that meets monthly on selected Mondays in Buffalo at the Pratt-Willert Community Center, 422 Pratt Street from 6:30-8:30pm.

On Monday, August 27, 2007, PRP2!’s guest speaker will be Ray Barnes, who serves as the Coordinator and Reintegration Specialist for Upstate Reentry Net/NY. He advocates against the discriminatory barriers that formerly incarcerated people face upon reentry. Mr. Barnes, who earned several college degrees during his  imprisonment, also works with youth and young adults as a violence prevention facilitator. Ray has 25 years of experience in this area. 

Preceding Mr. Barnes’ presentation, PRP2! will screen the documentary film, “Ray’ Redemption,” a Syracuse University production about the speaker’s life which details his crime, his incarceration, and his subsequent reentry in November of 2005 after 30 years in prison.

The next meeting of Prisoners Are People Too! is scheduled for September 24.  Film and guest speaker(s) TBA. PRP2! programs are sponsored by The Circle of Support for Reformed Offenders and Friends of Baba Eng.

2. Quality of Life Associates, Quality of Life Films, Parents Encouraging Accountability and Closure for Everyone (P.E.A.C.E), and Buffalo Area Neighborhood Study (BANS): University at Buffalo, Sociology

Invite you to participate in
“WE MISS THEIR FOOTSTEPS:A SILENT MARCH”
To observe the magnitude of lives lost through homicides in Buffalo, NY
Bring one pair of shoes, and a small picture, to be placed on a monument to represent your loved one

FRIDAY AUGUST 10th 2007
2PM - 6:00 P.M. – RAIN OR SHINE
AT THE MCKINLEY MONUMENT
(IN FRONT OF CITY HALL)
The event will be filmed for the upcoming movie Lessons from Homicides: The Buffalo Story

For additional information call:
Dr. Peter K. B. St. Jean, 603-0992; Dave Collins, 563-6415; Teresa Evans, 400-9762; or Brad Watts, 435-5639



METROPOLITAN NYC:
The Family Empowerment Project (FEP) announces Family Empowerment Day 3 ! ! !

We'll be starting our preparations for Family Empowerment Day 3 scheduled for Saturday October 20 at the Columbia Law School. Those who would like to join are invited to attend our next General Meeting on Monday August 20 from 6 - 8pm. (If you're planning to be picked up, I'd suggest arranging that for 8:30pm to allow time for personal conversations.) We'll be at the Puck Building, in NYU's second floor conference room.

The Puck Building is at 295 Lafayette Street in downtown Manhattan, between Prince and Houston Sts. It's the Broadway/Lafayette stop on the B,D,F,V trains (the stairs labeled Hudson/Lafayette take you right there). On the #6 train, it's the Bleeker St. stop. The N,R,W trains stop at Prince.

Please bring the following:

1. a friend, to lighten the workload
2. your calendars
3. a bag for the flyers we'll have available for you to hand out
4. and your checkbooks. We will be taking up a collection in support of Family Empowerment Day 3 expenses.

Readers of Building Bridges are at the forefront of this movement. Let your light shine!
Please copy the flyer below, and pass it out wherever you go.

We need everyone to get involved in creating change!

"EDUCATING FOR CHANGE"
FAMILY EMPOWERMENT DAY 3
Saturday, October 20, 2007
9:30 am - 3:30 pm
Columbia Law School 435 W.116th St., Manhattan

We are working to bring our incarcerated loved ones home ready and able to contribute to the communities they left. Family Empowerment Day was the brainchild of people in prison. We are working with them to make this a powerful event. You can help by:

* Skipping your visit to your loved one on October 20! (it's only this one time and it could bring him or her home sooner)

* Attend Family Empowerment Day 3! (and please prepare your loved one’s favorite dish to share in his or her name)

* Sending a donation! (last year's event was financed by hundreds of donations, ranging from $.50 to $200. No amount is too small ...or too large.) Please send checks made out to Prison Action Network to PAN, HM-IMC, PO Box 35, Troy NY 12181.

This year's Family Empowerment Day will be bigger and better
because it's time to start DOING, instead of just TALKING.

Tentative Agenda:
Theme: We will focus on 3 strategies: Legal Avenues (lawsuits and appeals), Legislative Actions (writing bills and lobbying our legislators to pass bills we support), and Grass-roots Organizing (knowing our rights, voter registration, rallies, lobbying).

Speakers: Representatives of organizations that have had successful campaigns will tell us how they did it, and we will do on-the-spot letter writing, petition signing, and telephone banking. Family Empowerment Day 3 will kick off a year-long campaign, at the end of which we expect to have something to celebrate on Family Empowerment Day 4!

Music: All successful social movements have relied on music to inspire and energize. We'll be looking for musicians to help us find our songs. Your suggestions are welcomed.

Food: Pot-luck lunch (we’ll all bring a dish to share)

Networking and sharing stories

"How to" sessions Legal, legislative, and grassroots actions. Actual on-site voter registration, petition writing, phone banking

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

FOR INFORMATION PLEASE CALL 518 253 7533.