Building Bridges

The monthly newsletter of the Prison Action Network

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Graziano Settlement Reached

An article was published in today's NY Law Journal about the tentative settlement in the case of Graziano et.al. vs. Pataki. It is a report, but not the settlement itself. The formal agreement is being written and, once approved by both parties, will be publicly released. According to the article by Joel Stashenko, the agreement gives all members of the class a rehearing as soon as possible; the commissioners who hear their applications will be chosen by the class; and the instant crime will not be allowed to take precedence over other factors [in most cases], nor may the commissioners base their decisions on their personal penal philosophies.

The NY Law Journal article reports that Mr. Isseks declined to discuss the settlement except to say that "everything is subject to the final review process." He said he did not believe Judge Brieant has to sign off on the settlement.

Prison Action Network has been informed by members of the class that they have received letters advising that they will be receiving new hearings very soon.

We will update you as information becomes available.

Prison Action Network celebrates this victory and credits it to the hard work of EVERYONE who lent their voice to the outcry against the unfair parole policies of the Pataki administration which continued into the early months of Spitzer's. Let's take some time to celebrate! This is a major victory! It will probably result in continued higher release rates of community ready individuals. It certainly sends a message to the Parole Board. But let's not be lulled into complacency. We must publicly and privately express our appreciation for all positive changes we observe, but there is still much more to be done before we can retire from this struggle.

Read now!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

November 2007

Dear Reader,

Greetings! Family Empowerment Day 3/NYC was a great success!! We couldn’t have done it without your help, so please take a lot of credit! This was your event. Our workshop leaders were amazing and everyone learned a lot. The Family Empowerment Project Board has met to debrief and we’ve begun planning Family Empowerment Year 2008. Our message? It is this: We are the families, communities and individuals impacted by the high rate of incarceration in New York State and the unfair parole practices of the NYS Division of Parole. Through the use of effective social, educational and political actions we intend to build a power base strong enough to effect change, restore fairness to the parole eligibility process and improve the quality of life for affected individuals and communities.

One of our concerns is that some of you speak as if you are not one of us. Organizations that could have been part of a Family Empowerment Day 3 event scheduled their own events at the same time. We got a letter from someone yesterday that said there was nothing wrong with us always asking for donations, but “it would be better if PAN could generate its own money to cover the cost of all functions”. We want you to know we did generate all our own money. Prison Action Network IS ALL of us. The director and the board are working diligently to provide a vehicle - Building Bridges newsletter - for sharing the ideas of all members of the network, and to create a space - Family Empowerment Project events - for those of us on the outside to work together to change the conditions which result in so many people being locked away from us. Everyone one who reads this IS part of the Prison Action Network! The agencies, the organizations, the lawyers and educators, the individuals who care - on both sides of the wall - who are working for change are a part of us, not separate. We are a statewide network, and we are here to support anyone who agrees with our mission. We don’t ask for money from people outside of our network. We do not want to be beholden to anyone else; we want to be totally self-supporting. We only spend as much money as we have. If we don’t have enough to do something it will mean you don’t want it badly enough and then we’ll cut back on what we are doing. It’s life. Change does not get handed to us. We have to work for it, we have to sacrifice for it. With our dollars and our time and our hearts. And you know what? It’s a great feeling! It may appear to be a sacrifice from the outside, but in our hearts don’t we feel fortunate? We are working for a better world, and that feels a lot better than settling for the one we’ve been handed! We raised over $4000 for FED3; the largest donation was $300, and it came from someone in prison. This is grassroots at its purest!

Welcome to all our new readers who subscribed at FED3/NYC! You’re invited to send in your announcements, reports, and opinions as well as read those of others. Submissions of around 300 words are encouraged.

Please share your copy of Building Bridges.


ARTICLES

1. BUDGET BATTLES ENDANGER PRISON COUNT - “As the New York Times reminds us, an accurate [census] count is essential to representative democracy.”

2. FAMILY EMPOWERMENT DAY 3/NYC - Some comments from people who attended: “definitely more than what I expected” “not enough people I see in the visiting rooms were there”

3. FAMILY EMPOWERMENT DAY 3/WNY - Eight workshop choices are now confirmed for the conference which will take place in Buffalo on November 3, from 8:30am - 3:30pm at the Cold Spring Church of God in Christ, located at 107 Verplanck Street.

4. FAMILY EMPOWERMENT DAY 3/ALB - December 1 - Please see flyer on the last page for information about the Albany version of FED3. Upstate needs to be educated and empowered.

5. NYS SENTENCING COMMISSION PRELIMINARY RECOMMENDATIONS - call for a more simplified and streamlined system focused on public safety, consistency and fairness. The Commission will release its final recommendations and report in 2008, incorporating feedback from future public hearings.

6. NYS COMMISSION ON SENTENCING REFORM INVITES PUBLIC COMMENT - Sign up to speak up! Manhattan:Tuesday, November 13; Albany:Thursday, November 15; Buffalo:Monday, November 19, 2007

7. OTHER CRIMINAL JUSTICE PUBLICATIONS - CURE-NY’s glorious Fall 2007 issue is available; CPR’s newsletter, The Deuce Club, is in the works

8. PAROLE - Releases; Report from Woodbourne; Otisville Broadband Support features John “Mojo” Flynn

9. PRISON RADIO - Al Lewis Lives will broadcast FED3/NYC speeches as soon as ready; The Fancy Broccoli Show interviews S. Quinones and John Cutro in November; Democracy Now! airs in-depth coverage of current events; Justice Pages Audio at http://www.justicepages.org; Voices from the Prison Action Network calls for interviews

10. PRP2! IS PROFILED IN ARTVOICE - thanks to Leslie James Pickering, PRP2! was profiled in a recent issue of "Artvoice" (Buffalo)

11. RESEARCH GRANT OPPORTUNITY - The aim of this research project named "Community Leadership and Education After Re-entry," or CLEAR, is to engage formerly incarcerated scholars in research related to race, class, gender, and mass incarceration.  Accepted applicants will receive a small stipend.

12. SUPPORT MEETINGS - Info on Albany, Buffalo, North Babylon LI, Poughkeepsie, Schenectady groups

13. TELEPHONE JUSTICE CAMPAIGN UPDATES ON THE NY PRISON TELEPHONE CONTRACT: - rates reduced again; new payment plan for direct remit customers postponed

14. TRANSPORTATION TO PRISONS - From the Capital District: The NEST Prison Shuttle; Justice Committee door to door, free rides; Statewide: DOCS Free Bus

15. WHAT’S HAPPENING AROUND NEW YORK STATE - Buffalo: next PRP2! meeting on November 26.; New York City: Osborne Association Focus Group November 17

16. WORDS FROM INSIDE - George BaBa Eng announces December parole hearing

17. FED3/ALB FLYER


1. BUDGET BATTLES ENDANGER PRISON COUNT
[URL: http://www.prisonersofthecensus.org/news/2007/10/30/budgetbattle/]

Resource: The New York Times editorial, Counting Americans, is available at www.nytimes.com/2007/10/29/opinion/

The New York Times editorial page reported yesterday that a budget dispute between the Bush Administration and Congress is endangering the 2010 Census. In response to the budget shortfall, the Census Bureau has canceled next year's practice count of people in prison, military barracks, college dorms, nursing homes, and shelters. Further cuts in Census preparations are expected unless the budget is restored by mid-November.

The Census Bureau picked San Joaquin County in California and nine counties near Fayetteville, North Carolina for the practice count because these counties contain the diverse populations, large prisons and military bases where the Bureau has historically had the most difficulty.

Congress should act swiftly to prevent further cuts to Census Bureau programs, and work with the Bureau to develop a funding plan that restores the test count of prisons and military barracks.

The Prison Policy Initiative has long argued that the Census Bureau needs to develop a new methodology to count people in prison at their home addresses. With the 2010 Census rapidly approaching, the Bureau should be taking large steps forward, not being forced backwards. As the New York Times reminds us, an accurate count is essential to representative democracy.

Peter Wagner - Dir. Prison Policy Initiative


2. FAMILY EMPOWERMENT DAY 3/NYC

Family Empowerment Day 3/NYC has happened. One down, two to go! May all of them be as successful as the NYC event. We had over 250 people in attendance. The workshops were well presented, and the most frequent complaint we heard was that it was too hard to choose among them. There was a lot of time for networking.

Close to 2/3 of the people who filled out an evaluation sheet said that parole was their primary issue. 1/3 listed reentry. Health services, innocence and visiting conditions were listed as next in importance.

Some of the other comments we’ve received: DC: ”.. just wanted to send you my compliments on how great a day it seemed to me although I didn’t leave the wonderful table you provided me much. I did get lots and lots of signatures for some great needy guys and so the appreciation will go on and on as they receive them. Just wanted to tell you how great I thought everything went.”; PW: “Let me congratulate you for a very successful FED3. Sadly, I missed the sessions and didn't get a chance to talk to everyone, but we were overwhelmed with the huge crowds. We helped more than 60 people send out almost 200 letters about census reform and we made a number of important contacts for the future.”; AJO: “I think you and your crew did an outstanding job. I am proud to have been a supporter of it. It was great to meet Ramon! The networking was great and it was invigorating to see so many people involved. I hope the one in Buffalo is as successful!”; “this event was exceptional;” “definitely more than what I expected”; “workshops were very informative”; “it fostered community within the prison community”; “very enjoyable, like a family reunion”; “I've been to all 3; it's growing”; “attendees were given the chance to ask questions, receive valuable information, pick up brochures, and sign petitions/mailing lists”; “professional speakers who are on the actual front lines”; “Clarity of message, strength of argument; I was encouraged by how many people came”; “opened my mind to how many problems are involved in changing the system for the betterment of our family members in prison”; “not enough people I see in the visiting rooms were there”.


3. FAMILY EMPOWERMENT DAY 3/WNY - NOVEMBER 3

Reminder: FED3/WNY OFFERS 8 WORKSHOP CHOICES IN BUFFALO

Eight workshop choices offered at the FAMILY EMPOWERMENT DAY3 conference which will take place in Buffalo on November 3, from 8:30am - 3:30pm at the Cold Spring Church of God in Christ, located at 107 Verplanck Street. Call Karima at 716-834 8438 to register.


4. FAMILY EMPOWERMENT DAY 3/ALB - DECEMBER 1

Please see flyer on the last page for information about the Albany version of FED3. The theme will be educating ourselves about the impact of incarceration on families, congregations, and communities. Please spread the word! Upstate needs to be educated and empowered.


5. NYS SENTENCING COMMISSION PRELIMINARY RECOMMENDATIONS
News from New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services
For more information contact: John Caher, 518-487-8415

ALBANY, NY (10/16/2007)-- The New York State Commission on Sentencing Reform today outlined several major preliminary recommendations to improve the state’s current sentencing structure, calling for a more simplified and streamlined system focused on public safety, consistency and fairness.
• In a preliminary report to the governor, legislative leaders and Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye, the Commission detailed several important reform proposals. This represents the first time in over 40 years that New York’s sentencing laws have undergone a thorough and comprehensive review.
• “Our failure to comprehensively reform our sentencing laws has resulted today in an overly complex, Byzantine system that is fraught with opportunities for injustice,” said Denise E. O’Donnell, chairwoman of the Commission, commissioner of the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, and assistant secretary to the governor for criminal justice. “Today, we have outlined a way to go forward that will help improve a sentencing system that has often become virtually unintelligible to prosecutors, defense attorneys, defendants and crime victims alike.”
Some of the Commission’s major recommendations include:
• Abandoning New York’s indeterminate sentencing system and creating new determinate sentences for more than 200 non-violent felonies. Currently, New York employs a combination of fixed (or “determinate”) sentences and more variable “indeterminate” sentences, where a judge imposes a prison term with a minimum and maximum term, and the parole board decides when the offender is actually released. Under New York’s “hybrid” sentencing structure, defendants, crime victims and even judges often leave the courtroom with only a general understanding of how long an offender will actually spend behind bars.
• Modifying New York’s sentencing statutes to expressly permit a court to sentence certain non-violent drug-addicted felony offenders to community-based treatment in lieu of state prison when the judge, prosecutor and defendant all agree that this is a just outcome.
• Examining the broader use of “graduated sanctions” – such as curfews, home confinement, electronic monitoring and re-entry courts – to help end the “revolving door” of incarceration for certain offenders under parole supervision who violate one or more conditions of parole but commit no new crime.
• Enacting new laws, and better enforcing existing statutes, to further protect victims of crime and enhance their right to have a meaningful voice in the criminal justice process.
• Expanding prison-based educational and vocational training, enhancing employment and housing opportunities and utilizing other cost-effective measures designed to reduce recidivism and increase public safety.
• Establishing a permanent sentencing commission to serve as an advisory body to the legislative and executive branches.

In its report, the Commission concluded that piecemeal attempts at reforming New York’s sentencing structure have created a situation that is a model for the “law of seemingly unintended consequences.” As just one example, the Crimes Against Police Act, which was enacted to increase penalties imposed on those who attack law enforcement officers, imposes on a repeat felony offender convicted of certain crimes against police or peace officers a less severe penalty than that imposed on a first-time offender convicted of the same crime.

The Commission, however, stressed that while New York’s sentencing structure is ripe for major revision, the state has achieved dramatic decreases in crime. A recent report from the FBI shows that New York is the safest large state in the nation and the fifth safest overall. Additionally, New York is the only large state to see a consistent decrease in crime, offender recidivism and prison population over the last several years.

The 11-member Commission includes criminal justice experts as well as representatives from the prosecution, defense, legislative, victim and judicial communities.
Commission member Cyrus R. Vance Jr., a partner at Morvillo, Abramowitz, Grand, Jason, Anello & Bohrer, a law firm in New York City, said: “The report recognizes the primary importance of maintaining public safety, and suggests sound changes in policy and programs to achieve effective probation and parole supervision, reduce recidivism, protect victims’ rights and prepare offenders for re-entry into society.”
Brian Fischer, a member of the panel and the commissioner of the state Department of Correctional Services, said: “The Sentencing Commission’s report is a very positive first step in an ongoing process to improve the criminal justice system that affects so many New Yorkers. The Commission’s goal was to begin to address issues that too often have led to confusion and at times the appearance of inequity. The ultimate purpose of the Commission is to provide everyone with a better understanding of the system so that we can enhance public safety.”
Commission member Michael P. McDermott, a partner at the law firm of O’Connell and Aronowitz in Albany, said: “This preliminary report represents the concerted efforts of the Commission members to cut through the thicket of New York’s current criminal sentencing laws and blaze a path toward a more logical and coherent system.”
Tina M. Stanford, chairwoman of the state Crime Victims Board and a member of the sentencing panel, said the Commission was committed to “following Governor Spitzer’s mandate to include consideration of public safety and the rights of innocent victims of crime in our effort to recommend sentencing reform that is constructive, comprehensive and just.”
Commissioner Anthony Bergamo, chairman of the Federal Law Enforcement Foundation, said it “is a privilege to be associated with my fellow commissioners and to have an opportunity to work on this sensitive and timely issue that has a great impact on our society.”
Senator Eric T. Schneiderman, a member of the Commission, applauded the recommendations on expanding alternatives to incarceration and improving re-entry services.
“Our draft report goes beyond anything we have ever attempted in New York State in these critical areas,” Schneiderman said. “However, as we move forward toward a final report, we still have a lot of work to do in our efforts to reform New York’s draconian drug laws. There are thousands of families, in my district and across New York State, suffering unnecessarily because of our antiquated drug sentencing structure. We currently spend millions of dollars on unduly long sentences that neither reduce recidivism nor reduce drug crime.”
Judge Juanita Bing Newton, the deputy chief administrative judge for justice initiatives and a Commission member, said: “Sentencing reform is an important topic for the people of New York, and the opportunity to make real change is now. Working with each and every member of the Sentencing Reform Commission has been a privilege, and I look forward to continuing to work together as we bring to life the recommendations that are enclosed in the preliminary report.”
Governor Spitzer established the New York State Commission on Sentencing Reform through Executive Order No. 10 on March 5, 2007 to conduct a comprehensive review of New York’s “current sentencing structure, sentencing practices.” The Commission will release its final recommendations and report next year, incorporating feedback from future public hearings.

The full preliminary report and transcripts of commission meetings are available at www.criminaljustice.state.ny.us/legalservices/sentencingreform.htm


6. NYS COMMISSION ON SENTENCING REFORM INVITES PUBLIC COMMENT

THE SUBJECT: THE FUTURE OF SENTENCING IN NEW YORK STATE. Many of you reading this announcement are experts in the topics being discussed (see below). I urge you to sign up to speak. We who experienced incarceration first hand know more about these topics than many of those who have only studied them in books.

Manhattan: Tuesday, November 13, 2007 9:30 AM – 4:30 PM
New York City Bar Association, 42 W. 44th Street

Albany: Thursday, November 15, 2007 9:30 AM – 4:30 PM
Roosevelt Hearing Room C, Legislative Office Building - 2nd Floor

Buffalo: Monday, November 19, 2007 9:30 AM – 4:30 PM
Buffalo and Erie County , Public Library Auditorium, One Lafayette Square, Buffalo, NY

Issues that the Commission is interested in exploring at the public hearings include, but are not limited to, the following:

• How do New York’s existing sentencing laws impact offenders, victims and their families? How should these laws be streamlined, simplified or otherwise revised?
• The State’s drug sentencing laws were last revised in 2004. What, if any, additional changes should be made to these laws?
• Should the State expand its use of alternatives to incarceration if such expansion can be accomplished without compromising public safety?
• What, if any, steps should be taken to enhance the quality and availability of substance abuse treatment programs and other community-based programs throughout the State?
• What improvements can be made to the manner in which offenders are supervised in the community and how should supervision be aligned with risk?
• The Commission has recommended that certain offenders who violate the terms of their supervision be subjected to graduated sanctions or other alternative sanctions in lieu of being returned to State prison. What types of sanctions should be utilized and how should they be implemented? How can New York improve institutional programming for incarcerated offenders, such as Shock, CASAT and Willard?
• How can New York’s existing policies and procedures for preparing offenders for re- entry from prison to the community be improved?
• Are New York’s laws governing the rights of crime victims in the sentencing and correctional process adequate? What, if any, statutory or other changes should be made to enhance the rights of crime victims in the sentencing and correctional process?


THE FUTURE OF SENTENCING IN NEW YORK STATE REPLY FORM
RESPOND BY NOVEMBER 5, 2007
Mail, fax, OR Email to:Patti Greco, DCJS-CSR, 3rd floor, 4 Tower Place, Albany, NY 12203; fax: 518-457-2416; Patricia.Greco@dcjs.state.ny.us

Oral testimony will be limited to 10 minutes in length. If you are testifying, twenty copies of your written statement should be submitted on the day of the hearing at the hearing registration table. Alternatively, written testimony may be e-mailed as an attachment to the address above. Written testimony should be submitted no later than one week after the hearing date.

I request the opportunity to testify at the __ [November 13/NYC] __ [November 15/Albany]
__ [November 19/Buffalo] hearing.

I request the opportunity to attend, but not testify, at the __ [November 13/NYC] __ [November 15/Albany] __ [November 19/Buffalo] hearing.

I will require assistance and/or handicapped accessibility information. Please specify the type of assistance required:

NAME:
TITLE:
ORGANIZATION:
ADDRESS:
E-MAIL:
TELEPHONE:
FAX TELEPHONE:
TOPIC OF TESTIMONY:

Questions about this hearing may be directed to Patti Greco of the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services at (518) 485-6084.


7. OTHER CRIMINAL JUSTICE PUBLICATIONS

CURE-NY’s Fall 2007 issue is out, complete with color photos and a comprehensive report of their annual meeting! It’s available online at www.bestweb.net/~cureny, or by mail when you become a member. Send an email to cureny@bestweb.net or write to PO Box 1314, Wappingers Falls, NY 12590. Include your name, mailing address or email address if you wish to join or just receive the newsletter. Basic membership is $10, newsletter only is $5, and membership for incarcerated persons is $2.

THE DEUCE CLUB, CPR’s newsletter: a bulletin will be out in November and the regular newsletter will be online in January at http://www.parolecpr.org, or by mail when you become a member. Send an email to membership@parolecpr.org or write to PO Box 1379, New York, New York 10013. Include your name, mailing address or email address if you wish to join, membership is $10 per year for families and $2 for people in prison.


8. PAROLE
Released in October: Louis Mortillaro was given a 6-mo release date for April 2008.
Cheryl Kates, Esq. reports the following successes for October: Earlayne Castranova 1-3 DWI 3rd off. de nova, (initial); Harry Price 2-life for the charge of Attempted Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the third degree, 7th appearance, de nova; Charles Shepherd 15-life for his conviction of Murder in the second degree.(2 counts), fourth Parole Board appearance.
[We get our reports from you; send word and we’ll publish.]

Report from WOODBOURNE: Out of 22 who appeared at the Sept. board, 6 (all with A-1 violent felonies) were immediately postponed for 90 days because no sentencing minutes were in the folders. One other (A-1 violent) was postponed for 1 month for an unusual reason. He was appearing for a de nova hearing (the board had failed to consider 11 CO’s letters) when near the end of the hearing he asked if these important letters were in the folder. Neither commissioner had mentioned them. They were not. Now he needs to resubmit the letters (as well as approximately 56 other documents he acquired throughout his 22 years of incarceration, that were also missing.) 89 year old Graziano lawsuit plaintiff Charles “Doc” Friedgood was one of the 7 postponements. However his sentencing minutes were located the next day and he was rescheduled for November. RESULTS: 4 people were granted parole, one A-1 v.f.o. on his fifth appearance.

OTISVILLE BROADBAND SUPPORT: This month we present JOHN “MOJO” FLYNN DIN 76B1669 for your consideration. He is scheduled for his fifth board on Nov 14 at Otisville, and is sponsored by the Otisville Lifers Group, who say, “As John’s co-workers, friends and peers, every day we see the fruits of Johns’ efforts at self-transformation. We give our full support to his release”. While incarcerated, John Flynn has received a GED certificate, learned food service skills, earned certificates in human services, heavy machine operation (laundry) and American sign language. He has a list of 15 therapeutic and volunteer programs to his credit. Mojo writes powerful poetry.
John states, “to say that I am deeply remorseful for taking a life so foolishly would be an understatement. Every human being has the right to live, and no one should violate that right. My life has become a testament of atonement and repentance, and I seek to live humbly with this heavy burden. ”
PAN endorses his parole release, and the Justice Committee at FUUSA has committed to provide support once he is released Letters of support are needed immediately. Please write a letter that explains how you know him ( it could be through reading this letter...), why you think he would be good candidate for release, and what you are prepared to offer him in support upon release. We suggest you ask the board to consider his impressive lists of accomplishments and his good disciplinary record. Please send copies of your letter to Mr. George Alexander, Chairman of the NYS Division of Parole, 97 Central Ave., Albany NY 12206, Mr. James Cassel, Sr. Facility Parole Officer, Otisville Correctional Facility, PO Box 8, Otisville, NY 10963, and one to John Flynn DIN 76B1669 at the same Otisville address.


9. PRISON RADIO

AL LEWIS LIVES, hosted by Karen Lewis, broadcasts on Saturdays from noon to 1:30 pm on WBAI, 99.5 FM, NYC.  Tune in every week and one of those times you may hear a recording of some of the FED3/NYC speeches.

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'. Next show, November 11 is S. Quinones, a formerly incarcerated man that served over 20 years and finally made parole. Nov 25 is John Cutro, a restorative justice practitioner and a promoter of the concept of Parallel Justice, seeking justice for both the offender and the victim.

DEMOCRACY NOW!, with Amy Goodman airs around the country, check www.democracynow.org to find the station nearest you or to read the transcripts. While not solely devoted to prison issues, she provides in-depth coverage of some of the most serious prison and criminal justice issues.

JUSTICE PAGES AUDIO at www.justicepages.org/

VOICES FROM THE PRISON ACTION NETWORK: No new programs in a long time - been busy with FED3! But if you’d like to be interviewed by telephone (or in person) please call me to set up something for the future. 518 253 7533. Archives available at radio4all.net and www.hmimc.swapspace.com


10. PRP2! IS PROFILED IN ARTVOICE

Thanks to Leslie James Pickering, PRP2! was profiled in a recent issue of "Artvoice" (Buffalo). Mr. Pickering is the Chair of Arissa, a social justiceorganization, and he was PRP2!'s guest speaker last month. The September meeting is always a tribute to the 1971 Attica Rebellion. Mr. Pickering is the author of "Mad Bomber Melville" which tells the story of Sam Melville, born in Tonawanda, NY, who was murdered in that Rebellion. This book is available at Amazon.com and will be available at the Family Empowerment Day Conference (FED/WNY) in Buffalo on November 3. To read the "Artvoice" article, check out: www.artvoice.com.


11. RESEARCH GRANT OPPORTUNITY FOR FORMERLY INCARCERATED

In close collaboration with Professor Patricia T. Clough and the Department of Sociology at the City University of New York Graduate Center, the College & Community Fellowship (CCF) has developed a research project named "Community Leadership and Education After Re-entry," or CLEAR.  The aim of CLEAR is to engage formerly incarcerated scholars in research related to race, class, gender, and mass incarceration.  CLEAR is open to CCF students, alumni, and to all formerly incarcerated individuals who have a bachelor's degree and are currently engaged in criminal justice/reentry reform.
Accepted applicants will receive a small stipend . Due to limited funding, we are only able to accept 10 participants in this program. If you are seriously interested, please complete the application, and submit a 500-word essay.  Your application will not be considered without the essay. Please call 212 243-1313 to request an application.


12. 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: Next PFNY meeting will be a party on Dec.20 from 7-9 pm at First United Methodist Church - 603 State Street - entrance on Chapel Street - behind MVP Building.  Jeanette: 518 346 5653.


13. TELEPHONE JUSTICE CAMPAIGN UPDATES ON THE NY PRISON TELEPHONE CONTRACT:

1. RATES REDUCED AGAIN!
Remember when Governor Spitzer eliminated the state’s 57.5% commission from the prison telephone contract, but only reduced the rates by 50%?  As we have mentioned previously, Gov. Spitzer had DOCS reduce the rates only by 50% for the first 6 months of this change, because they were worried that the phone systems might fail if call volume increased as much as they anticipated.  Well, 6 months has passed and DOCS has reduced the rates by the additional 7.5%.  This change went into effect last Friday, October 5, 2007.  The new rates are $1.28 connection fee and 6.8 cents per minute!  Please check your bills and records to make sure that your bills comply with the new rates. 

1. NEW PAYMENT PLAN FOR DIRECT REMIT CUSTOMERS:
Also starting this month, Global Tel*Link has changed its direct remit account (the accounts where customers are required to put $100 in upfront and have limitations on the number of calls you can receive).  If this is the type of payment plan you have, you should have received a letter in the mailing explaining that you will no longer have a call limitation but rather a dollar limitation. “[In the future] your Global Tel*Link direct remit account will change from a call limit balance to a dollar limit balance. [This change was announced in a Sept. letter from Global Tel; but on 10/22 we got a letter stating that the Cot 10 conversion plan was premature. They first must gain approval from the NYS Dept. of Public Service, and they do not yet have that. ...the editor] The new plan will allow you to accrue up to a $100 in call charges before you are required to pay down the balance to receive more calls from the New York Department of Corrections.  Below is an explanation of the provisions regarding this new service.
      You will be allowed to accept collect calls every month up to the $100 limit.  When this limit is reached, your telephone number will be blocked until a full payment of the $100 is made, then the block will be removed.
      Payments may be made multiple times within a month to reset the dollar limit.
      You will be notified by an automated call when you are close to reaching your dollar limit.  You will also be notified by an automated call when this limit has been reached and your telephone number is blocked.  You will be unable to receive additional calls until the balance is paid.
      Payments may be made with a credit card by calling Global Tel*Link at the number below or with a check/money order using the remittance slip that is furnished with your monthly invoice.  Credit card payments can also be made via the web at: https://www.correctionsgtl.com
      With established good credit in the first 3 months, you may request an increase of your limit to $150 a month.  Continued good credit for the following 3 months permits you to increase your limit to $200.  You must be in good credit standing with other Global Tel*Link services in order to qualify for these requested increases.
      You will receive monthly invoices with remittance slips.
      The Company may terminate your account if your account balance remains unpaid 21 days after the date of the invoice.”

[As stated above, these changes are not going into effect until further notice. --the editor]


14. TRANSPORTATION TO PRISONS

FROM THE CAPITAL DISTRICT:

The NEST Prison Shuttle schedule: Mt. McGregor, Washington, and Great Meadow CFs on Sat, Nov 3 ($30 adults, $20 children), Coxsackie, Greene, and Hudson CFs on Sun, Nov 11 ($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, Nov 17 leaving Troy at 5 AM and Albany bus Station at 5:15. Sullivan (Ulster, Eastern, Woodbourne, Sullivan CFs) on Sat, Nov 24  leaving at 6 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.

STATEWIDE:

DOCS Free Bus - to find out how to sign up, from NYC area: Deacon Mason on Tues & Fri, 212 961 4026 and from Albany: on Wed & Thurs, 518 485 9212; from Buffalo area: Rev. Roberson 716 532 0177, x4805; from Syracuse: Sister Patricia: 315 428 4258


15. WHAT’S HAPPENING AROUND NEW YORK STATE

ALBANY:

Reducing Community Gun Violence Symposium:

Wednesday and Thursday November 7-8 from 9:30-5 pm at The Egg, Kitty Carlisle Hart Theatre. Walk-ins will be welcome if there is room. There is no registration fee. Speakers include: Ron Barrett, Dept. of Youth, Albany NY; Daniel Stevens, Detective, Albany PD; Andrew Cuomo, NYS Attorney General; David Soares, Albany County DA; Gerald Jennings, Albany Mayor, James Tuffey, Albany Chief of Police. For more info: 1 800 345 1322, x159 or lduckworth@magloclen.riss.net.

BUFFALO:

Prisoners Are People Too! will meet in Buffalo at the Pratt-Willert Community Center, 422 Pratt Street from 6:30-8:30pm on Monday, November 26, 2007 for a presentation on Buffalo’s “Growing Green Gardening Project,” which exists, in large part, to keep youth off the street and out of trouble, while engaged in a productive activity that promotes pride and community building.

The documentary film for this month’s meeting is “City Harvest,” produced and directed by Philadelphia filmmaker Deborah Rudman. It describes a special project, the “Roots of Reentry Greenhouse” which allows a select group of prisoners at the Alternative Special Detention to participate in a gardening project which allows them to connect with “community gardens” around the city of Philadelphia as well as local food pantries for the poor and elderly.

The next meeting of Prisoners Are People Too! is scheduled for January 28. PRP2! programs are sponsored by The Circle of Supporters for Reformed Offenders and Friends of Baba Eng.


NEW YORK CITY:

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 17th 2:00-3:30p.m. At The Osborne Association office in Downtown Brooklyn, 175 Remsen Street, 8th Floor. IS YOUR HUSBAND OR BOYFRIEND INCARCERATED? The Osborne Association is holding a FOCUS GROUP to learn about the health care concerns and experiences of women whose partners are incarcerated. Women whose husbands or boyfriends are incarcerated are invited to join a small group of other women to talk about their experiences. Feedback from these groups will help us to plan Osborne's programs. On-site children's programming available.

FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO SIGN UP: Call Michelle at 718-637-6578 or email mportlock@osborneny.org
$25 gift card per participant and a chance to win an pod!


15. WORDS FROM INSIDE

George BaBa Eng (DIN 77A4777) announces his upcoming fourth parole board hearing in December. “ I have earned 3 college degrees, and certifications from every program offered, some of which I and others together created for our collective benefit. My family and community are consistent in their support of my release, and I would hope that I have the support and prayers of those I have worked with for these many years. Letters of support may be sent to my support committee at : Karima Amin, Prisoners Are People Too!, Box 273, Buffalo, NY 14212.” Peace.- G.Baba Eng

16.
FAMILY EMPOWERMENT DAY
COMES TO ALBANY!

Saturday, December 1, 2007
9 am- 2 pm
405 Washington Avenue, Albany NY
First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany (FUUSA)

PRESENTED BY THE FAMILY EMPOWERMENT PROJECT OF THE PRISON ACTION NETWORK
Co-sponsored by FUUSA's Justice Committee and Prison Fellowship Ministries

Conceptualized by the Lifers Group at Otisville Correctional Facility in 2005,
Family Empowerment Day events provide an opportunity for prison family members and supporters to come together to further the work of improving conditions behind and beyond the wall.

"Educating for Empowerment"
The Impact of Incarceration on Families, Congregations, and Communities

We invite you to join us for a day of discussion and community building. Let's talk about how our religious and neighborhood communities can join in efforts to lower the rate of incarceration that is devastating our society.

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS:

David Soares, Albany County DA
Rev. Peter Young, Volunteer CEO, PYHIT


Registration and a light breakfast from 8 -9 am.
Free lunch will be provided

This is a grass roots project! Donation jars will be available for your contributions to the cost of the event.


For more information: 518 253 7533, prisonaction@hotmail.com

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