Building Bridges

The monthly newsletter of the Prison Action Network

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

MAY 2008 EDITION

Please scroll down to get to the Building Bridges monthly newsletter.

POSTED MAY 29: IMPORTANT news re: GRAZIANO VS. PATAKI HEARING

The trial will NOT start on June 13, as expected by Mr. Graziano and your editor. A call to the lawyers informs us that the appearance on JUNE 13 will merely be a scheduling conference at which it is hoped the date of the trial will be set. Please check back after June 16 for more information.





Posted May 26: REMINDER: F.R.E.E. FAMILY EVENT THIS SATURDAY 5/31/08

Dear friends, families and colleagues,

We are reminding you of this important family event on Saturday May 31, 2008 from 11am to 4pm at our offices at 81 Willougbhy Street in Brooklyn, NY. This day long event focuses on relationships with people who are incarcerated and the ways we maintain our sanity as well as help our families wade through all of the unexpected expenses and circumstances that result from the incarceration.

The first panel will be moderated by SAFIYA BANDELE, of Medgar Evers College and wife of Ibn Kenyatta, who was incarcerated in 1974 for defending himself in a situation with NYPD. This panel will help us take a deeper look at our relationships and maintaining mental health.The afternoon panel will feature KATE RUBIN, of the Bronx Defenders organization, www.bronxdefenders.org, discussing all the hidden factors related to incarceration.
We will end the day with a panel discussion of family members, wives, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters, who have endured prison sentences and lived to see the day their loved ones have come home.

REAL LIFE, REAL TALK...

I hope that all of you that we've met over the past years at the busses, at workshops, online and through our network of organizations working to end injustice, will come out and support our efforts on May 31, 2008.

R.S.V.P. by calling 718-852-0012 choose mailbox 3, event registration.



Posted May 8: MERIT TIME BILL S7889 (Montgomery), A10716 (Aubrey)

SUMMARY:
Montgomery
Amended S803, replaced sub 2-b, Cor L
Allows all qualifying inmates to be granted a merit time allowance; increases the merit time allowance credit against indeterminate and determinate sentences to one-third of the minimum and maximum periods.

You may read the entire bill by going here and putting in the number of the bill.

04/28/08
Referred to Crime Victims, Crime and Correction



Posted May 8: GRAZIANO ET.AL. Vs. PATAKI UPDATE:

There will be a pretrail conference on June 13, by which time it is expected all discovery will be completed. It might be worthwhile to attend. Location: Second Circuit Court, Southern District, 300 Quarropas Street, White Plains NY. Parking in the White Plains Galleria, a big shopping center 1 block behind the courthouse.

Please check back at this site as the date gets closer.




May 5: report from Western NYS

Alternative Sentencing and Reentry in Erie County, New York
Erie Community College City Campus
121 Ellicott St., Buffalo (Rm 420)
Sat., May 17, 2008, 9:00-4:00

Sponsors: Buffalo Unit, League of Women Voters Buffalo/Niagara and
Action for Mental Health, Inc.

Presenters:
Sr. Janet Kinney, Executive Director, Providence House, NYC
Sr. Connie Kennedy, Program Director, Providence House, NYC
H. McCarthy Gipson, Commissioner of Police, Buffalo
Donald Livingston, Deputy Superintendent Erie County Correctional Facility, Alden
Honorable Judge Robert Russell, Buffalo Drug and Mental Health Courts
Michael Ranney, Director, Intensive Adult Mental Health Services
Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples, Erie County, NY Legislator
Maria Whyte, Erie County, NY Legislator
... and others.

Special thanks to the American Association of University Women for contributing to the funding of
this event.

Preregistration is necessary!!!!!!

Event is free with $5.00 to defray the cost of lunch.
!!!!! Students are eligible for Free Lunch. Scholarships available !!!!!

For further information or to register call:

T. Warden 833 7124; theresewarden@verizon.net
B. Bernardis 884 1806; abbeybernardis@verizon.net
B. Blum 871 0581; bartb@actionformentalhealth.com




May 2: Report from Osborne Assoc.

The Osborne Association's Prison Family Support Group .
175 Remsen Street, 8th flr.
Brooklyn, NY  11201
1-800-344-3314
 
Wednesday, May 7,  2008
5:30 - 7:00 pm
Mr. John Chaney, Deputy Executive Director, ComAlert, Kings County District Attorney's Office.
"Second Chance Act - How It Affects Communities." 
Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes* [schedule permitting]



MAY 2008 EDITION

Dear Reader, Knowledge is power. Please send a link to this site to others who might be interested.


In this Issue

Last Minute Report:
Post Release can only be mandated by the Sentencing Judge

Announcement: FAMM seeks commutation cases from New York
Civil Confinement Law being tested
Edgecombe Residential Treatment Facility opened April 2008
From the Inside: Abdul Malik Shabazz
Lifers and Longtermers’ Clearinghouse
Parole
Prison Closures
Prison Radio - Fancy Broccoli schedule
Reentry
Sentencing minutes
Subscription rates for Building Bridges settled
Transportation to prisons
What's happening around New York State
Wrongful convictions

THIS JUST CAME IN!

New York court rules that only judges can impose post-release supervision after prison terms.

By MICHAEL VIRTANEN, Associated Press
Last updated: 6:02 p.m., Tuesday, April 29, 2008

ALBANY -- New York's highest court ruled Tuesday that the Department of Correctional Services cannot impose post-release supervision on inmates as they exit prison when the sentencing judge neglected to.
The Court of Appeals concluded that Elliott Garner was subject to five years of mandatory supervision as a second felony offender. However, Garner said he first learned about that when corrections officials presented him with a conditional release agreement four years later as he was leaving prison. He signed it "under protest." Because of continued drug use, he was sent back to prison for violating terms of his supervision.

A convicted burglar, he filed suit challenging the authority of corrections officials to add to the 5-year sentence he had been given under his plea bargain.

"The sentencing judge -- and only the sentencing judge -- is authorized to pronounce the PRS component of a defendant's sentence," Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick wrote. Chief Judge Judith Kaye and judges Victoria Graffeo, Susan Read, Robert Smith, Eugene Pigott and Theodore Jones concurred. "PRS represents a significant punishment component that restricts an individual's liberty."

They reversed a lower appeals court, which had concluded corrections officials were "only enforcing, not imposing" a part of Garner's sentence automatically included by law.

Corrections spokesman Eric Kriss said Tuesday the ruling may affect 700 current inmates, as well as others currently on post-release supervision. "We are still unclear and uncertain as to the various avenues of relief that may be available to inmates," he said.

"Garner is on parole," Kriss said. "I think what this ruling means is he's a free man."

The unanimous Court of Appeals said its ruling does not prevent state officials from seeking to have Garner, 45, resentenced "in the proper forum."

However, his attorney Elon Harpaz doubted that will happen. The corrections department will now have to delete post-release supervision from the record of Garner, who will no longer be on parole, he said.

It was estimated that corrections officials added post-release supervision to 8,400 defendants, and the state Parole Division can no longer enforce those, said Harpaz, of the Legal Aid Society of New York City. "That's the bottom line right now."

A call to the Parole Division was not immediately returned Tuesday.

The court said Garner was not advised of the additional five years of post-release supervision either when his plea deal was explained or at sentencing in Brooklyn, and it was not recorded on his sentencing commitment order.

In five other cases Tuesday where inmates challenged supervision that wasn't mentioned at sentencing, the Court of Appeals sent them all back to the trial courts for hearings "that will include proper pronouncement of the relevant PRS term."

Two cases involved plea bargains, according to the court. In one, the five years of additional supervision was recorded only on a commitment sheet prepared by a court clerk. In the other, it was noted on the commitment sheet, on a worksheet signed by the judge and was mentioned when the plea deal was explained.

Three cases involved jury verdicts where the commitment sheet and another court document cited the post-release supervision.

"In all five of these cases, there exists no procedural bar to allowing the sentencing court to correct its PRS error," the court ruled unanimously.

In 2006, a federal appeals court said the department's administrative addition of post-release supervision not included at sentencing violated another inmate's "due process guarantees."



ANNOUNCEMENT: FAMILIES AGAINST MANDATORY MINIMUMS (FAMM) IS A NONPROFIT, NONPARTISAN SENTENCING REFORM ORGANIZATION THAT ADVOCATES FOR THE REPEAL OF MANDATORY MINIMUMS AT THE STATE AND FEDERAL LEVEL. THEY ARE SEEKING COMMUTATION CASES FROM NEW YORK.

FAMM’s Commutation Project pairs the cases of nonviolent drug offenders serving excessive sentences with pro bono lawyers who help the offender file and raise support for a petition for a commutation of sentence.  When possible, FAMM also provides suggestions and support-raising help to those who have already filed commutation requests.
 
The Commutation Project is launching a campaign in New York.  We are looking for cases that fit some or most of the following criteria:
o       Non-violent drug offender;
o       No gun involved;
o       Played a minor role in the offense;
o       First-time offender or very few (1-2) nonviolent prior convictions;         
o       Excessive sentence:  Rockefeller drug law mandatory minimums, sentence over five years for a first-time offender, long drug sentence with no parole eligibility;
o       Prisoner accepts responsibility for the offense (no claims of innocence);
o       Sentence of at least 10 years;
o       Prisoner has served at least half of their sentence;
o       Prisoner is not eligible for parole for at least one more year;
o       Prisoner has shown extraordinary rehabilitation and good conduct in prison;
o       All legal remedies have been exhausted, no pending cases or motions.

FAMM uses a two-page Case Summary Form to review cases and determine whether they are potential clemency cases we can assist.  Information contained in the Case Summaries is kept strictly confidential.  As we are a small organization with limited resources, we can work on only a very small number of clemency cases each year.  We do not provide prisoners with legal advice or representation, and we cannot guarantee that anyone who seeks clemency will receive it. If you have a case that meets FAMM’s criteria, you may send for a summary form If you have a case that meets FAMM’s criteria, you can find a Case Summary Form at www.famm.org, fill it out, and fax or mail it to:
FAMM, Attn:  Molly M. Gill
1612 K Street NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC  20006
(202) 822-6700 (phone)     (202) 822-6704 (fax)    mgill@famm.org



CIVIL CONFINEMENT LAW BEING TESTED; SOME SEX OFFENDERS BEING HELD IN PSYCHIATRIC CENTERS. BELOW ARE PORTIONS OF AN ARTICLE FIRST PUBLISHED BY KATHY PARKER,  DAILY GAZETTE   APRIL 6, 2008. PLEASE EMAIL PAN FOR A COPY OF THE ENTIRE ARTICLE.
 
Last week marked the first anniversary of New York’s civil confinement law, which allows judges to lock up some convicted sex offenders beyond their prison terms.

In the past year, 111 sex offenders finishing prison terms and evaluated by the state Office of Mental Health were recommended to be considered for civil confinement. So far, 17 of those prisoners were sent to state psychiatric centers, 11 were ordered to undergo strict supervision and treatment, and four were released after a trial. The rest are waiting for court dates or for judges to decide how they will be confined.

The state’s Department of Criminal Justice Services now has an office of Sexual Offender Management, which works with the New York Office of Mental Health in determining which prisoners should be considered for civil confinement. DCJS spokesman John Caher said of 1,249 cases reviewed by the Office of Mental Health in the last year, 111 were referred to the Attorney General’s Office, which is responsible for bringing the cases against the prisoners to a civil jury and a judge The state’s Office of Mental Hygiene Legal Services provides the prisoner with a defense team arguing he or she should be released.



EDGECOMBE RESIDENTIAL TREATMENT FACILITY OPENED IN APRIL 2008. THE FORMER WORK RELEASE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY IN UPPER MANHATTAN NOW PROVIDES 30-DAY TREATMENT PROGRAMS FOR UP TO 100 MALE PAROLEES WHO COMMIT TECHNICAL PAROLE VIOLATIONS INVOLVING SUBSTANCE ABUSE. IT IS BEING OPERATED IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE DIVISION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE SERVICES, DIVISION OF PAROLE AND OFFICE OF SUBSTANCE ABUSE SERVICES.

Four Agencies Collaborate to Establish Treatment for Chemically Dependent Parolees
Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) Commissioner Denise E. O'Donnell, Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) Commissioner Brian Fischer and Division of Parole (DOP) Chairman and CEO George B. Alexander joined with Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) Commissioner Karen M. Carpenter-Palumbo on March 31. to formally open the facility.

Karen Carpenter-Palumbo said, "We know that about 72 percent of state parolees have a substance abuse problem and effective treatment is the best way to help them return to their communities and not to prison. "

Denise O'Donnell said, "It would be easy to dismiss 're-entry,' or efforts to transition released prison inmates back to the community, as a 'soft on crime' approach to criminal justice. The reality is precisely the opposite. If you accept the fact that we cannot and should not lock up every single criminal for life, and acknowledge the fact that nearly all of the offenders we imprison will eventually go free, it is incumbent on us to take whatever action we can to lessen the chances that an offender will re-offend. In short, re-entry is a public safety initiative. The Edgecombe project recognizes that we can reduce crime and victimization by employing smart re-entry initiatives."

Brian Fischer said, "A short-term, treatment-intensive program makes more sense than another stay in an upstate prison both for technical parole violators and State taxpayers. "

George B. Alexander said, "Edgecombe is an opportunity for us to address technical parole violations without having to resort to sending a parolee back to state prison. The collaboration between Parole, DOCS and OASAS allows us to pool state resources and establish a drug treatment center which will divert these technical parole violators from the traditional violation process."

The Technical Violator Parole Diversion Program (TVPDP) is available to men released from prison who are under parole or post-release supervision within the geographic boundaries of New York City. It will house up to 100 men for 30-day treatment programs that will be administered by OASAS staff until a provider from the region takes over the treatment duties.[PAN wonders why women are not included?]

The TVPDP is designed to provide intensive services to parole detainees with the aim of returning them to their communities and engage them in further addiction treatment.



FROM THE INSIDE: ABDUL MALIK SHABAZZ RECRUITING FOR PRISON HOSPICE PEN-PALS; REMARKS ON THE STATE OF INCARCERATION TODAY.

Greetings to my friends, PAN, all its readers and contributors,

I am looking to link men and women in prison hospice units with a pen pal for the purpose of compassionate connection in their last days. As a Hospice Aide I see the need for this. If you are interested please contact me [through PAN] for more information.

I am also concerned about the fact that one out of every 100 Amerikkans are in prison, and about the disproportionate number of Blacks and other non-whites who are filling these repressive institutions. I'm alarmed at the number of innocent people spending decades behind bars, only a few of them lucky enough to be exonerated through the efforts of organizations like the Innocent Project. I'm alarmed at the growing number of young boys 16 and 17 being sent to prison for crimes that clearly warrant probation or other alternatives to incarceration. I'm alarmed at the number of invisible prison deaths. I'm alarmed at the numbers of people suffering from too lengthy drug law sentences that most of the public now recognize as unjust and unproductive. And we all should be alarmed by the amount of money being spent on incarceration when it should be used for education, housing, and other services needed in our communities.

-- With Affinity, Abdul Malik Shabazz



LIFERS AND LONGTERMERS’ CLEARINGHOUSE, A PROJECT OF PRISON ACTION NETWORK, PROVIDES THIS NEW MONTHLY COLUMN FOR THOSE SERVING LONG OR LIFETIME SENTENCES AND THEIR FAMILIES. IT ESTABLISHES A BRIDGE CONNECTING INSIDE GROUPS WITH COMMUNITY BASED ORGANIZATIONS IN ORDER TO FORGE A PATH TO PARTICIPATION IN SOCIETY, BEGINNING DURING INCARCERATION. THE FIRST STEP IS TO FORM AN EFFECTIVE LIFER AND LONG-TERMER ORGANIZATION:

Essentials of an Effective Lifer and Long-termer Organization 

The development of a strong working relationship with community organizations is vital to the effective operation of a lifer and long-termer organization.

The primary mission of a lifer and long-termer organization is to establish linkage with community organizations in an effort to jointly develop programs and services that reverse criminal behavior in incarcerated individuals and improve their opportunities for release.  Reversing criminal behavior involves a holistic approach that requires not only efforts directed toward changing the individual offender, but which enlists and empowers the offender to play a participatory role in the crime reduction efforts of his/her community.

The above paragraph should be stated in every lifer and long-termer organization’s mission statement because it not only states the essential relationship between the lifer organization and the organized efforts of the communities to which its members will return, but it also sets forth the goals to be achieved in the relationship between the prison organization and the community organization.

It must be remembered that the imprisoned are first and foremost members of the communities they come from, whether that community is referred to as ‘my hood” or any other colloquial reference.  This is recognized by the policy and procedures of the DOCS and the Division of Parole both of which make it extremely difficult to be released to any community other than the one where you were living at the time of your arrest.

Lifers and long-termers should never relinquish ties to their communities, for to do so is to abandon themselves and to live like a ship without moorings, and in a prison setting you will become prey for both the administration and your peers!

Because the membership of a long-termer organization not only has ties in the community, but are tied to it, the first effort of the organization should be to identify, contact and develop linkage with the organized elements of the community.  The communities I am referring to are the home community of any member of the lifer organization and to all the communities of all the members collectively.  This means communities in general and not any specific geographical location.

When I refer to the organized elements in communities, I am talking about any community organization willing to address issues of criminal and social justice reform.  In the broad and general sense this includes prison reform in all its aspects, e.g., sentencing reform, prison conditions, and parole reform.

Although I put emphasis on community organizations, this does not preclude identifying, contacting and establishing linkage with influential individuals who represent specific interests in the community and can influence criminal justice policy.

Establishing a working relationship with a community organization is not an easy matter; the process of identifying, contacting and making linkage is made difficult by the fact that with the ascendancy of reentry as the dominate theme in criminal justice, more emphasis is being placed on issues of release from imprisonment than on in-prison matters.

In an effort to assist lifer organizations make contact with community organizations we will compile a listing of community organizations that have established themselves as advocates for the imprisoned.  With minimal staff, we appreciate any help you can provide. If you have established such a relationship already, please let us know the name of the person with whom you are in contact at the organization. We will also be making inquiries and gathering information, so stay tuned for more information in the coming months.



PAROLE: GRAZIANO CASE UPDATE; PAROLE HEARING DATES CHANGED; JACK SOUTH’S CASE ELICITS REFRESHING RESPONSE FROM JUDGE GOODMAN; REPORTS FROM CHERYL KATES, ESQ, FISHKILL, WOODBOURNE, AND WYOMING ON PAROLE RELEASES;

GRAZIANO VS PATAKI UPDATE
At the April 4 hearing the case was adjourned until May 2, which should also be a scheduling conference.

PAROLE HEARING UPDATE
We have just learned that Parole will see parole applicants 4 months prior to their earliest release date in order to make time to prepare them for re-entry if they are released. They have adjusted most peoples' dates in the computer and they will be seen 2 months earlier than they were already scheduled.


JACK SOUTH a/k/a DERRICK CORLEY, for Judgment under Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules, -against- THE NEW YORK STATE DIVISION OF PAROLE and GEORGE B. ALEXANDER, CHAIRMAN. From the written decision:

EMILY JANE GOODMAN, J.S.C.:
This Article 78 proceeding is a challenge to Petitioner’s sixth parole hearing. In a charming irony, the Attorney General concedes, in effect, that “the constable has blundered,” and the hearing was hopelessly flawed. The New York State Division of Parole, in other words, seeks another chance to obey the law. And that is precisely what the Petitioner is doing in asking to be paroled - - another chance to obey the law. Petitioner, a 58-year old, honorably discharged veteran of the United States military, has been imprisoned for almost 19 years on an 8-to-life sentence following his guilty plea in Brooklyn. During his imprisonment he has been a near “model prisoner,” and has accomplished the very things a “correctional service” might encourage if the goal was rehabilitation and reform. His impressive educational achievements are an example of his efforts. Moreover, Petitioner, who has a serious illness, has been accepted into a residential program for veterans, a program specializing in counseling and job preparation, to which he would go upon release.

The sixth hearing, the subject of this proceeding, took place in New York County, as designated by the Parole Board, and was summarily conducted by members of the board in person, while the inmate was electronically conferenced into the premises of the New York State Division of Parole on the westside of Manhattan while he was in Elmira [sic] at Wende Correctional Facility. Accordingly, the Article 78 venue was properly set in New York County (see Matter of Phillips v Dennison, 41 AD3d 17 [1st Dept 2007]; Matter of Ramirez v Dennison, 39 AD3d 310 [1st Dept 2007]).

Parole was denied for the sixth time with the unexplored conclusion that there was a “reasonable probability that [he] would not live and remain at liberty without again violating the law.” The transcript of the abbreviated hearing suggests that the decision was a foregone conclusion before it even took place. In fact, the brief record demonstrates no probing beyond the conclusory statements that this man, whose crimes were unquestionably serious, weapon-based robberies, including one in which an individual sustained an injury, could not be and should not be allowed to live in the community after 19 years of confinement, notwithstanding his certificate of earned eligibility for parole, which creates a presumption in favor of release, and his good institutional record (see Correction Law, art 24, §805). Furthermore, he unambiguously acknowledged his guilt and expressed remorse.

Petitioner also argues that his underlying history had all been taken into consideration by the highly esteemed Hon. Albert Tomei presiding in Supreme Court, Kings County (Brooklyn), in setting the original indeterminate sentence at a minimum of eight years, though a harsher sentence was available, thus implying that with his thorough knowledge of the case, it was not Justice Tomei’s intention or hope or desire that the Parole Board add on indefinitely, with actual lifetime incarceration as their apparent goal, notwithstanding the Court’s sentence and notwithstanding the contrary established guidelines for length of incarceration prior to parole (see 9 NYCRR §8001.3). In fact, it is also instructive to note that Justice Tomei elected to run lesser sentences concurrently and not consecutively, indicating that he did not anticipate that this individual would serve more than 2-1/2 times the eight years imposed (with “life” at the back end). But there is no indication in the record or transcript indicating that sentencing minutes or statements (if any) from Justice Tomei were considered, or referencing Petitioner’s
successful efforts to be rehabilitated and educated.

Furthermore, the Board failed to set forth its reasoning in denying parole which cannot be based on offenses alone (see Wallman v Fravis, 18 AD3d 304, 307-08 [1st Dept 2005]). In other words, the established maximum standards for a parole hearing were not met (see Executive Law § 259-i [2] (c) [A]). Still, one is left with the impression that the State’s position is that because of this man’s past crimes, there would, in essence, never be a time that he would be suitable for release, no matter what he has accomplished in 19 years of imprisonment, even though the lengthy confinement and punishment are not in accord with cases of similar seriousness. The Court is mindful that Executive Law § 259- i [2] (c) [A] provides that “[d]iscretionary release on parole shall not be granted merely as a reward for good conduct or efficient performance of duties while confined but after considering if there is a reasonable probability that, if such inmate is released, he will live and remain at liberty without violating the law, and that his release is not incompatible with the welfare of society and will not so deprecate the seriousness of his crime as to undermine respect for the law.” Moreover, not each element of the Executive Law must be analyzed as pertains to the pending application, nor given equal weight (see Matter of Leopold Siao-Pao v. Dennison, 2008 NY App Div LEXIS 2010 [1st Dept March 11, 2008]).

Based on the acknowledged flaws, the Respondent, State of New York, has essentially “confessed error” and conceded that this hearing was improper and did not meet the requisite standards. Therefore, the Attorney General, as counsel for Respondents, has consented to - - even proposed - - a hearing de novo. The State’s desire to vacate the hearing, hold a new hearing, correct the Board’s errors (and, perhaps reach the same result), would appear to resolve the matter and render it moot and the
matter would proceed to a hearing de novo, by court order, on consent (see Matter of McLaurin v. NYS Board of Parole, 27 AD3d 565 [2d Dept 2006]). Yet, Petitioner does not join in seeking that result, and, in fact, opposes it to some extent. First, Petitioner moves for an order that he be paroled, a remedy which this court is powerless to impose.

In addition, Petitioner’s counsel suggests that Respondents are forum shopping. Venue for this litigation was established in New York County because the parole hearing was conducted in New York County as described above. But when the Petitioner commenced this litigation, he was summarily and unexpectedly transferred to a different prison, for the purpose, he suggests, of setting a new locale for a new hearing and thereby removing jurisdiction and venue from New York County for any future litigation. That is, Petitioner suggests that Respondents have chosen a different institution where the Parole Board would convene and that they plan to hold the hearing there, so that in the event of another denial, Supreme Court jurisdiction would be the Third or Fourth Department (see Judiciary Law §§70 and 140). However, although Petitioner inmate was in an upstate facility when the hearing upon which this Article 78 proceeding is based was held, that hearing was held in New York County, facilitated by modern technology. Therefore, the Court would expect that in good faith, and unless Petitioner’s claims of forum shopping are, in fact true, the same procedure would be followed, i.e., having the Parole Board again meet in New York County, conduct a hearing in conformity with the law, and have Petitioner participate electronically, as before. If the prison at which Petitioner is currently lodged lacks such capability, whether or not that is what motivated the relocation, the Court is confident that the Department of Correctional Services or the Division of Parole can make the necessary arrangements for a video hook-up, or removal or return of Petitioner to a facility so equipped, such as the one he just left.

Accordingly, it is ORDERED and ADJUDGED that the Petition is granted to the extent that a seventh parole hearing take place de novo, forthwith and, that said hearing be conducted in the same venue as the prior hearing, it is further ORDERED that Petitioner may be deemed present by electronic means.

This constitutes the Decision, Order and Judgment of the Court.
Dated: April 8, 2008
ENTER:
_________________________
J.S.C.


PAROLE STATISTICS:
We didn't receive many parole stats this month. We are printing what we have, and requesting that in the future the stats for A-1 VOs be reported separately, as that is the category under closest public scrutiny. Thank you to all our volunteer reporters!

FISHKILL had only info on the A-1 VO appearances. Of the 10 known to our reporter, all were hit with 2 years, 4 on their 3rd board, 3 on 4th, 1 on 7th, 1 on 8th. (1 unknown).

WOODBOURNE - correction to March report: 20 were seen, 2 (both non-vio) got paroled. 5 A1VO were denied, 1 on 11th board, 1 on 7th, 1 on 6th, 2 on 2nd.
April: 22 seen, 1 (non-vio) made parole. 12 were initial boards, 2 were merit time. Board: Casey,Greenan, Ludlow.

WYOMING - April: total seen: 31; granted: 12; of 10 who were merit time, 6 granted; of 17 initial, 5 granted; of 4 reappearances, 1 was granted. Board: Wm Smith, Hernandez, Hagler.

RELEASES reported by Cheryl Kates, Esq., Parole Specialist:
January: Cynthia Pugh, had professionally prepared parole plan (4P); Dennis Anthony, 4P

March: Justin Landauer , 1st Board, 4P; A. Calderone, 4P.

Reversals: Frederic Jennings, granted a de novo hearing by administrative appeal. Reappearing in May.

The case of Anthony Bottom v. NYS Division of Parole, (Jalil Muntaquim) is scheduled to be heard in the Third Department, Appellate Division in September 2008: whether a person can be denied the opportunity to be heard in the courts and to reappear if they have been extradited to another state. This is an open courtroom. Date TBA.



PRISON CLOSURES: LESS CRIME: NO REASON TO SHUT PRISONS, BY JIM DWYER. PUBLISHED BY THE NEW YORK TIMES : APRIL 12, 2008

Less Crime: No Reason to Shut Prisons
By JIM DWYER
Published: April 12, 2008

For nearly a decade, one of New York City’s major exports — criminals — has been in decline, a result of less crime. In the alternative universe of state government, this is the textbook definition of catastrophe. A steady supply of criminals is the foundation of the economy of large swaths of New York State, which has 70 prisons that employ about 20,000 people as correction officers.

The prisons are also a source of political power to upstate Republicans because the inmates are counted as permanent residents when legislative districts are drawn — even though they cannot vote and their actual homes may be hundreds of miles away.

In January, the State Department of Correctional Services said that because the state had 9,000 fewer inmates than it did in 1999, it would close four prisons that had space for 1,346. Another agency said the state should close five mostly unused juvenile facilities because even empty beds cost $140,000 to $200,000 each to maintain with staff and other services.

These proposals drew roars across vast reaches of New York. Two weeks ago, the state’s leading Republicans led a rally of prison guards on the steps of the Capitol. It amounted to a declaration of their confidence that evil would endure, a faith in human weakness that is perhaps warranted and inarguably useful.

“What happens the next time — and there will be a next time — we have a crack epidemic?” asked Senator Michael F. Nozzolio of Seneca Falls, who is chairman of a committee that oversees crime and prisons, according to The Adirondack Daily Enterprise. “They’ll be double-bunked, they’ll be stuffed into the medians, and we’ll have another prison riot on our hands.” Senator Nozzolio was joined on the steps by the Senate majority leader, Joseph L. Bruno. The guards chanted his name. He did not let them down.

This week, the Legislature and the governor agreed to keep the four unneeded prisons open at a cost of $33.5 million next year. If they are kept open much beyond that, they will need $30 million in capital repairs to keep them in shape, according to the corrections department. The Legislature did agree to shut four of the five juvenile facilities, but kept open one, Great Valley, which is about 350 miles west of New York City. It is less than half full, but the state senator from the district, Catharine M. Young, was on the budget committee. (Pyramid in the Bronx, a sixth juvenile institution that the state wanted to close on the grounds that the facilities were inadequate, was also kept open.)

The state went on a great surge of prison building during the 1980s and 1990s, continuing even after the rate of violent crime had crested. During the administration of Gov. George E. Pataki, the penalties for certain nonviolent crimes — especially those involving drugs — were eased.
“With the reforms, there are fewer nonviolent inmates, and a greater percentage of violent inmates among those that remain,” said Erik Kriss, a spokesman for the corrections department. “That was an intentional policy under Governor Pataki.” Since 1999, the state says, the number of prisoners has declined by 13 percent, to 62,500 from 71,600. Three governors in a row — Mr. Pataki, Eliot Spitzer and, now, David A. Paterson — tried to close adult prisons. The minimum- and medium-security prisons were simply not being used as much.

Even so, prisons in New York are like military bases in other parts of the country, and closing them is just as difficult. In prison towns, schools, churches and Little Leagues all depend on the families that have built their livelihoods on the prison economy. Year after year, the prisons survived during the legislative budget negotiations, which are always conducted under information blackouts. Last year, Governor Spitzer proposed that the Legislature set up a commission to study which prisons were needed, to make plans to help the communities where they would be closed and then to openly vote for an entire package. The Legislature declined. The question of prison closings returned to the back room.

“It’s really a jobs programs for economically depressed upstate communities,” said Robert Gangi, the executive director of the Correctional Association of New York, a nonprofit organization that has oversight responsibilities for the prisons. “But it’s a jobs program that has a direct negative effect on people’s lives. It’s not like the manufacturer of widgets. It’s based on the warehousing of human beings that has very negative effects.”

Senator Bruno said that the decline in crime was a result of criminals being locked up — and others argue that should crime rise anew, all the prison cells will be needed once again. The state said it has an ample reserve of emergency beds in case there is a sharp increase.

For now, with tax revenues in decline and every agency being ordered to cut its budget, the prison machinery rolls on — less crime or not.

The peace dividend has been postponed until further notice.





PRISON RADIO SCHEDULES. IF YOU WANT YOUR PROGRAM LISTED, PLEASE SEND NEXT MONTH’S TOPICS OR GUESTS. FANCY BROCCOLI: MAY-JUNE GUESTS: EDDIE ELLIS, DIVINE PRYOR, BLOGSPOT PEOPLE, TINA STANFORD, JEFFRION AUBREY, SHEILA RULE

Fancy Broccoli airs on WVKR, 91.3FM, Poughkeepsie NY on Sundays from 3 - 6 pm, Eastern Time, and streams online - go to www.WVKR.org and click on (or near) the word 'LISTEN'. Coming up on May 4 their guests will be Eddie Ellis and Divine Pryor. On May 18 the Prisoner’s Blogspot People will be guests. Tina Stanford, Director of NYS Crime Victims will be interviewed on June 1st; Assemblyperson. Jeffrion Aubrey on June 8th, and on the 29th of June, Sheila Rule, Owner, ResillienceMultimedia Publishing. Visit archives www.fancybroccoli.org to find lots of other good interviews. Write Fancy Broccoli Show, WVKR, Box 726, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY 12604-0726

On The Count, WBAI, 99.5 FM NYC OR WBAI, 99.5 FM, NYC. No program listing is available. Call into Fancy Broccoli on May 4 and ask Eddie Ellis himself or write him: Eddie Ellis, WBAI, 120 Wall Street, 10th Floor, NY NY 10005.



REENTRY HAS BECOME THE MONEYBAG, THE CATCHWORD FOR FUNDING ALL PROJECTS RELATED TO INCARCERATION, FROM SENTENCING TO PROGRAMMING TO PAROLE TO SUCCESSFUL INTEGRATION INTO SOCIETY. AND IT MAKES PERFECT SENSE. WHEN A PERSON HARMS ANOTHER, OUR SOCIETY ATTEMPTS TO SANCTION THEM IN SOME WAY APPROPRIATE TO THE SEVERITY OF THE HARM, AND IN MOST SITUATIONS THE OFFENDER IS EXPECTED TO SOMEDAY REJOIN THE COMMUNITY HE OR SHE LEFT BEHIND. DOESN’T IT MAKE SENSE TO BEGIN PREPARING FOR THAT DAY IMMEDIATELY? WOULDN’T THAT PROMOTE A FEELING OF SAFETY ON THE PART OF THE COMMUNITY WHEN THE OFFENDER RETURNS? BUILDING BRIDGES HAS THEREFORE ADDED THIS NEW SECTION TO COVER REENTRY ISSUES.

TWO NY TIMES ARTICLES ON REENTRY:
1. Seeking Redemption After Prison
NY TIMES EDITORIAL Published: April 12, 2008

The compassion and bipartisanship that President Bush promised in the 2000 election campaign made a long-awaited appearance this week as he signed a law to help prisoners re-enter society. The Second Chance Act, five years in the making, is a welcome relief from the simplistic lock-’em-up posture of recent decades that has the United States leading the world in incarceration. It is an important start, but more still needs to be done.
Close to 1.6 million Americans are in prison, a figure that does not count the more than 700,000 people held in local jails. While 650,000 prisoners are released each year, an estimated two-thirds of them can expect to return to prison within three years. Little help is extended for newly released prisoners making this an unpromising transition, particularly compared with society’s mammoth investment in building more prisons.
The failure to integrate former prisoners into society is bad for them and for society, since it leads to more crime. The new law offers grants to state and local governments and nonprofit groups specializing in housing, health and employment for ex-prisoners. It emphasizes vocational training, individual mentoring and better drug treatment. And it calls for pilot programs for elderly nonviolent offenders, who cost more than $20,000 a year to keep in prison, as well as alternatives to jail for parents convicted of nonviolent crimes.
The $326 million that the law promises has yet to be appropriated. [Emphasis added.] Congress should quickly allocate the money as a down payment on a goal that Mr. Bush described as redemption, as he alluded to his own past struggle against alcoholism.
The Second Chance Act should be the start of a new, more enlightened approach to criminal justice. The obvious next step is for the administration to retreat from its support for unduly harsh prison sentences, which are enormously expensive — and leave the criminal justice system with too few resources to do the sort of rehabilitative work the new law wisely calls for.

2. U.S. Shifting Prison Focus to Re-entry Into Society
By ERIK ECKHOLM, Published: April 8, 2008

Back in the 1970s and ’80s, high crime and “get tough” laws meant longer sentences and more emphasis on punishment than on rehabilitation, and the federal and state governments spent billions building prisons.
Today, as a legacy of those policies, not only are record numbers incarcerated, but also about 700,000 state and federal prisoners are released annually, many of them with little education or employment prospects and destined to be imprisoned again within a few years.
In a sharp change in attitudes about incarceration, many states and private groups have recently experimented with “re-entry” programs to help released prisoners fit back into their communities and avoid new crime.
The strategy will get a major boost this week. President Bush is to sign the Second Chance Act in a public ceremony on Wednesday, making rehabilitation a central goal of the federal justice system. In a sign of how far the pendulum has swung, the measure passed Congress with nearly unanimous bipartisan support.
With the new law, the federal government is to provide more money and leadership in a field where progress is likely to be difficult at best, experts agree.
“From our perspective, this is a huge development,” said Michael Thompson, director of the Justice Center of the Council of State Governments. “Governors, legislatures, corrections and law enforcement agencies around the country were all very supportive of the act.”
The new push to help prisoners reintegrate into society has been driven in part by financial concerns: states cannot afford to keep building more prisons. It also reflects concern for the victims of repeat offenders and for the wasted lives of the offenders themselves, who are disproportionately black and from neighborhoods of concentrated poverty.
The act authorizes $165 million in spending per year, including matching grants to state and local governments and nongovernmental groups to experiment with efforts like more schooling and drug treatment inside prison and aid with housing, employment and the building of family and community ties after release.
It also directs the Justice Department to step up research on re-entry issues and establishes a national Reentry Resource Center to promote successful approaches and provide training.
“This act represents a major change in crime policy,” said Jeremy Travis, president of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, who as a Justice Department official in the Clinton administration and the author of “But They All Come Back: Facing the Challenges of Prisoner Reentry” (Urban Institute Press, 2005) helped promote the shift.
Over the last decade, the re-entry cause has been embraced by an unusually wide range of groups and individuals, including evangelical Christians and liberal activists. Mr. Bush called for such a law in 2004 and in Congress, key sponsors included Senator Sam Brownback, a conservative Republican from Kansas, and Representative Danny K. Davis, a liberal Democrat from Illinois.
“It’s been a bipartisan coalition,” Mr. Travis said, “the sort of thing that doesn’t happen in Washington these days.”


NY TIMES REVIEW OF PLAY ABOUT THE CASTLE, THE FORTUNE SOCIETY’S HALFWAY HOUSE, STARRING ANGEL RAMOS, VILMA ORTIZ DONOVAN, KENNETH HARRIGAN AND CAS TORRES, CURRENT AND FORMER RESIDENTS | 'THE CASTLE'

From Prison to Freedom, and Telling Their Tales
By ANDY WEBSTER
Published: April 28, 2008

Politicians have said plenty about zero tolerance for criminals, and the country has an overcrowded prison system to show for it. “The Castle,” a simple, fascinating production about four ex-convicts, presents the other side of the coin, describing the obstacles that criminal offenders face upon their release.

“The Castle” had its origins in 1967, when David Rothenberg, the show’s director, produced “Fortune and Men’s Eyes,” an Off Broadway play about a man’s experience in a youth detention center. He went on to establish the nonprofit Fortune Society, which seeks to improve prison conditions and help ex-convicts. The Castle in the title is the society’s stately halfway house on the Upper West Side, for people newly out of the penal system.

Four players on stools onstage — Angel Ramos, Vilma Ortiz Donovan, Kenneth Harrigan and Casimiro Torres, who all collaborated with Mr. Rothenberg on the script — tell their true stories. Mr. Ramos, abused as a child, is an affable man who learned computer programming during a 30-year stretch for a violent altercation. He explains that convicts, desperate to be accepted, are as afraid of civilians as civilians are of them. Ms. Donovan, a former Long Islander who left home at 9 and eventually became a drug dealer, served two prison terms. Mr. Harrigan — weathered, quiet and dignified — refused a basketball scholarship so that he could be a D.J. Later addicted to crack cocaine and sentenced for burglary, he rediscovered his faith and studied law.

Mr. Torres, muscular and understated, has the strongest presence, and the most disturbing account. In a childhood on streets populated with heroin addicts, he was once forced to fight his siblings while onlookers bet on the outcome. A woman’s love was his salvation.

This is theater nearing a public service announcement. (More humor would add leavening.) But it gives voice to a growing segment of the public, urging that we reconsider how we treat former offenders. You have never seen four people more proud to declare their status as taxpayers.

“The Castle” is at New World Stages, 340 West 50th Street, (212) 239-6200, telecharge.com. Show times 5pm Sat and Sun through May 18.


PAROLE NEWSLETTER, POSTED ON THE NYS DIVISION OF PAROLE WEBSITE, APRIL 3, 2008:
THIS ISSUE OF THE PAROLE NEWSLETTER IS FOCUSED ON THE DIVISION’S BIGGEST ROLE IN PROTECTING THE PUBLIC: REENTRY.

Public safety is one of the foremost responsibilities of state government and I would like to thank the hard-working men and women of the Division of Parole for their dedication to that mission. It is a difficult task to protect the public while giving former offenders the chance to become assets to their communities and I commend the Division’s employees for their efforts.

This issue of the Parole newsletter is focused on the Division’s biggest role in protecting the public: Reentry. According to the federal government, New York is the safest large state in the nation and the fifth safest overall. The dramatic decrease crime over the past decade has come even as the number of people in our state prisons has dropped substantially. Those declines have led us to now focus on the thousands of prisoners who will soon complete their prison sentences and return to society. It is on reentry that we as a state must hone our efforts to continue the historic reductions in crime and save taxpayer dollars. Here in New York, there are about 63,000 inmates now in state prison.

This year, 25,000 of those inmates will be released. More than one-third of those will return to prison within three years. The vast majority will be sent back to prison for violating the conditions of their parole. This fact alone demonstrates the need to develop successful reentry programs.

An offender’s ability to successfully transition from prison to life on the outside is linked to his or her success in securing stable housing and employment and getting treatment for drug or alcohol dependency. Only through the development of reentry strategies using community based programs and opportunities can we make sure that those challenges do not become insurmountable for the formerly incarcerated.

The Division of Parole, working with the Department of Correctional Services and the Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services, this past August began a pilot project at the Orleans Correctional Facility in western New York. As part of the program, inmates are moved to the prison, close to the communities to which they will soon return. Prior to release, participants are matched up with any necessary programs, such as job training, anger management or substance abuse counseling that will help them avoid returning to their old ways. They will also have the chance to reunite with their families, a key component to reducing recidivism.

State agencies are creating partnerships with local Social Service offices, faith-based organizations and non-profit groups to assist in the cause of reentry At the same time, the state is providing dollars to County Reentry Task Forces that coordinate and mobilize community resources to address the broad spectrum of needs of offenders transitioning to the community.

We must continue to explore new strategies to drive down the number of individuals who reoffend to achieve our goal of making New York State an even safer place to raise our families and operate our businesses. This will not be easy, but I am confident that through these efforts we can both reduce crime and successfully transform former offenders into productive members of society. — George B. Alexander, Chairman and CEO, NYS Division of Parole


REENTRY W/EMPLOYMENT CONFERENCE
SATURDAY MAY 10, 2008, 10 A.M. - 3 P.M.
ALBANY PUBLIC LIBRARY-MAIN AUDITORIUM
161 WASHINGTON AVENUE, ALBANY

*Keynote Speakers* - Community Leaders - Re-Entry Organizations - Service Providers   - NYS Division of Parole 

*Information * - Federal Bonding Program  - Tax Credits for Employers - New York Dept of Labor 

*Resources* - Links to Employers - Job Readiness Support Services for People Returning to the Community after Incarceration 

*Lunch* - Enjoy a free lunch and network with other individuals interested in supporting those re-entering the community after incarceration! 

Sponsored by: The Center for Law and Justice, ROOTS, America Works and One Hundred Black Men.
Made possible by donations from: Stewarts Shops, One Hundred Black Men, America Works.
Info or to register: ROOTS (518)434-1026; the Center for Law and Justice(518)427-8361



SENTENCING MINUTES DECISION

A new decision has come down in 3rd Dept regarding the inmates ability to get PSI from sentencing court at time of parole board appearance, See: Gutkais v. People __ AD 3d ___. 2008 NY Slip Op. 2055 (3rd Dept, 2008).
It reads in part; “as petitioner had notice of an impending hearing before the Board and his presentence report was one of the factors to be considered by the Board in determining his application for release (see Executive Law § 259-i [1] [a]; [2] [c]), we find that petitioner made a proper factual showing entitling him to a copy of the report after in camera review and such redaction as County Court may find appropriate.”



SUBSCRIPTION RATES FOR BUILDING BRIDGES SETTLED, THANKS TO A GENEROUS GRANT FROM THE COMMUNITY CHURCH OF NEW YORK, UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST.:

A subscription to Building Bridges is a benefit of membership in Prison Action Network. Membership is open to anyone who sends a donation of any amount. It costs us $12 a year to print and mail the newsletter so we need to ask you to please try to send as much of that as possible. However, for those who can’t afford the full amount, the Community Church of New York, Unitarian Universalist has awarded us a generous grant which will allow us to make up the difference. We join readers in saying thank you to Community Church!



TRANSPORTATION TO PRISONS: THE JUSTICE COMMITTEE IS STILL LOOKING FOR VOLUNTEERS TO DRIVE PEOPLE TO VISIT THEIR LOVED ONES IN PRISON. CALL PRISON ACTION NETWORK TO DISCUSS POSSIBILITIES. OTHER OPTIONS FOLLOW.
From the Capital District:
NEST Prison Shuttle schedule: Mt. McGregor, Washington, and Great Meadow CFs on Sat, May 3 ($30 adults, $20 children), Coxsackie, Greene, and Hudson on Sat, May 10 ($15  adults, $10 children) from Oakwood Ave Presbyt. Church parking lot, Troy at 7 AM, then to Albany Greyhound bus station at 7:15. Trip to Utica (Midstate, Marcy, Mohawk, Oneida) on Sat, May 17 leaving Troy at 5 AM. Sullivan trip (Ulster, Eastern, Woodbourne, Sullivan) on Sat, May 24 leaving at 6:30 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.

CarPooling: Please call 518 253 7533 if you would be willing to take a passenger or if you want 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



WHAT’S HAPPENING AROUND NEW YORK STATE: ALBANY REENTRY CONFERENCE, COMING HOME LOBBY DAY, ROOTS CAFE, F.R.E.E. SEMINAR ON ROCKEFELLER DRUG LAWS, PRP2! SCREENS “THE 2003 SUNDIATA SADIQ SHOW, FEATURING GEORGE BABA ENG”; PRISON POLICY INITIATIVE INVITES YOU TO A WINE AND CHEESE RECEPTION, and GOSPEL CONCERT TO BENEFIT NEST PRISON SHUTTLE, IN TROY.

Albany:
REENTRY W/EMPLOYMENT CONFERENCE 
Saturday May 10, 2008, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., Albany Public Library-main auditorium  161 Washington Avenue. Sponsored by: The Center for Law and Justice, ROOTS, America Works and One Hundred Black Men. *See article under Reentry, above.

COMING HOME LOBBY DAY, Addressing the Issues Faced by the Formerly Incarcerated as They Re-enter the Community,
Organized by Community Service Society (CSS) of NY.
Tuesday May 20.

Issues: Employment and Restoration of Rights, Voting Rights, Higher Education, Sentencing, Financial Debt. Upstate advocates, please call PAN for information. New Yorkers please contact Gabriel Torres-Rivera at grivera@cssny.orgor 212.614.5306, or Annette Foy at afoy@cssny.org or 212 614-5495.

ROOTS CAFE - Last Saturday of each month (May 31) join formerly incarcerated individuals, their families and friends for a delicious breakfast and informal conversation about the challenges of reentry. 15 Trinity Place in downtown Albany. For more information, please call ROOTS (Re-entry Opportunities and Orientations Towards Success) at (518) 434-1026

Brooklyn:
Families Rally for Emancipation & Empowerment (F.R.E.E.) is offering a series of trainings at 81 Willoughby Street, Brooklyn, Suite 701. The last, 'The Rockefeller Drug Laws:Know the Facts', takes place on May 6, 2008, 6pm to 8pm:

Also: Relationship & Empowerment Brunch on May 31, 2008 from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at our offices, FREE, 81 Willoughby St. # 701, Brooklyn, NY 11201. Speakers include:  Safiya Bandele of Medgar Evers College, Kate Rubin of the Bronx Defenders Office and a family panel to discuss re-entry obstacles. A delicious brunch will be served.

Folks must R.S.V.P. by May 20, 2008; (718)852-0012 or pfcf@verizon.net. For more information: pfcf@verizon.net or 718-852-0012.

Buffalo:
Prisoners Are People Too! meets monthly in Buffalo at the Pratt-Willert Community Center, 422 Pratt Street from 6:30-8:30pm

This month’s film dates back to 2003 to a past program of “THE SUNDIATA SADIQ SHOW,” which originates in Ossining, NY. In large part, this program was dedicated to the life and work of George Baba Eng who was facing his second parole hearing at that time. Those of you who have been following the work of Prisoners Are People Too!, know that Baba has now been denied parole four times and that he was the inspiration for the founding of Prisoners Are People Too! in 2005. He is well-known for his litigation skills and his writing and for his being a strong proponent for more humane conditions behind bars. He has many supporters in Western New York and beyond who respect and appreciate his wisdom and his dedication to serving others. Incarcerated for 31 years, Baba Eng, is a reformed man who has been a teacher, mentor, brother, and friend to many behind the walls and to a few here in the community.

A panel of guest speakers, including Evangelist Nora Massey (Women in Travail Ministries), Abu Bilal Abdur-Rahman (Reducing Recidivism), and Chuck Culhane (Jesus the Liberator Seminary), will share their opinions of George Baba Eng. They will describe their relationships with a man whom they deem to be a parole-ready community asset.

Letters of support for George Baba Eng (77A4777) should be sent to: Sr. Parole Officer Robert Butera, Auburn Prison, 135 State Street, Auburn, NY 13021. !!!!!Copies should be sent to: Karima Amin, c/o Prisoners Are People Too!, P. O. Box 273, Buffalo, NY 14212.!!!!!

The next meeting of Prisoners Are People Too! is scheduled for June 23. Film and guest speaker(s) TBA. PRP2! programs are sponsored by The Circle of Supporters for Reformed Offenders and Friends of Baba Eng. For further information, contact Karima Amin at 716-834-8438 or karima@prisonersarepeopletoo.org

New York City:
Prison Policy Initiative invites you to a WINE AND CHEESE RECEPTION
Saturday, May 10, 2008 from 4:30 - 6:30 pm
145 Nassau St. New York, New York
Space is limited, so please RSVP to: staff@prisonpolicy.org, 413/527-1333.

Wine and cheese plus a short presentation by Peter Wagner, Founder and Director of the Prison Policy Initiative, who will demonstrate how the U.S. Census policies dilute minority voting power and distort the democratic process. Remarks by special guest State Senator Eric Schneiderman

This reception is a benefit to support the work of the Prison Policy Initiative, which receives no government funding. Donations at all levels will be gratefully accepted, but please be as generous as possible.

Troy:
GOSPEL COMMUNITY CONCERT to benefit the NEST Prison Shuttle Project, at First United Presbyterian Church, 1925 Fifth Avenue, Troy, NY. on May 16 at 7pm, $20. Dinner also available at 5:30pm, North Carolina-style Chopped Barbecued Pork or Louisiana Seafood Pilaf, with sides, dessert and beverage $8. (at door) or $25 for both with advanced tickets. Contact Linda O'Malley at 518 - 273-5199



NEWSDAY.COM APRIL 12, 2008, TANKLEFF ATTENDS CONFERENCE ON WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS BY ZACHARY R. DOWDY

He spoke nary a word, but Martin Tankleff and his experience with the criminal justice system took center stage yesterday at a conference highlighting cases his supporters say are examples of wrongful convictions, a plague that organizers said could be checked if police interrogations are taped.

"It's our job to learn from wrongful convictions," said Barry Scheck, an attorney and co-founder of the Innocence Project at Cardozo Law School in Manhattan.
Scheck was the first expert to speak at the New York State Democratic Task Force on Criminal Justice Reform event on wrongful convictions, held at Stony Brook University.
Scheck, who supported Tankleff in his successful bid to overturn his conviction for the Sept. 7, 1988, murders of his parents in their Belle Terre home, cited the State Investigative Commission's report that chided Suffolk homicide detectives for their interrogation tactics.
Supporters of taping believe it will discourage abusive questioning and false confessions.
"In light of that background, it's no surprise we have Marty Tankleff's case," said Scheck, one of several to speak at the event.
The conference is one of several being held across the state by the task force, headed by state Sen. Eric Schneiderman (D-Manhattan). The task force is working toward a law to require police in New York to videotape interrogations.
Other legislators include Sen. Eric Adams of Brooklyn, Sen. Bill Perkins of Manhattan, Sen. Velmanette Montgomery of Brooklyn and Assemb. Charles Lavine of Glen Cove.

Tankleff, who was convicted in 1990, largely on a confession he said was coerced and didn't sign, sat in the audience during the event. But he also appeared on the stage while his spokesman, Lonnie Soury, reviewed his case.
In a written statement issued as testimony, though, Tankleff said everyone suffers when convictions are misplaced.
"Who pays the price for wrongful convictions?" he wrote. "It's not just the wrongfully convicted and their family and friends. ... The whole community suffers, because when someone is wrongfully convicted it means that a criminal walks the street committing additional crimes."
Late last year a state appellate court overturned Tankleff's conviction, citing the emergence of new evidence.
"We need mandatory electronic recordings so that justice is carried out with precision," Schneiderman said. Copyright © 2008, Newsday Inc.

Read now!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

APRIL 2008 EDITION

Please scroll down to get to the Building Bridges monthly newsletter.


Posted: April 22 By: Prisoners Are People Too!

Date: Monday, April 28, 2008
Time: 6:30-8:30pm
Place: Pratt-Willert Community Center, 422 Pratt
Street, Buffalo, NY

Film: "Inside Out"-- Incarcerated men and women plead with youth to make good choices. (Suitable for youth ages 11+.)

Guest Speaker: Mr. Antwan K. Diggs, Sr., Program Coordinator of Buffalo's "Weed and Seed" program, tells his story of interrupted education, incarceration, and redemption.





Posted: April 21, 2008

New York City’s Marijuana Arrest Policy Thirty Years after Decriminalization
Wednesday, April 30, 2008 6:30 pm
Association of the Bar of the City of New York
42 West 44th Street
New York, NY, 10036

Members of the Association, their guests and all other interested persons are invited to attend. There is no fee for attending the program. Registration is necessary: https://www.nycbar.org/cgi-bin/calevent_all.pl

Moderator:
JOHN H. MCWHORTER
Senior Fellow, The Manhattan Institute Columnist, New York Sun

Speakers:
JOHN A. ETERNO, Ph.D.
Chairperson and Graduate Program Director, Department of Criminal Justice, Molloy College Managing Editor, Police Practice and Research NYPD Captain (ret.)

BRUCE D. JOHNSON, Ph.D.
Director, Institute for Special Populations Research, National Development and Research Institutes, Inc

HARRY G. LEVINE, Ph.D.
Professor of Sociology, Queens College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York

EDWARD D. MCCARTHY, J.D.
Criminal Defense Division, Legal Aid Society of New York

DEBORAH P. SMALL, J.D.
Executive Director, Break the Chains

Sponsored by:
Committee on Drugs and the Law, Noah Potter, Chair

Co-Sponsored by:
Corrections Committee, Judith M. Whiting, Chair

In 1977, New York State decriminalized possession of personal use amounts of marijuana. Nonetheless, researchers report that New York City is now the national leader in detaining individuals for possession of personal use amounts of marijuana.

Beginning with the advent of quality of life policing, the New York City Police Department dramatically increased the number of arrests for marijuana possession: from 1997 to 2006 the Department arrested 362,000 people for possessing marijuana; in 2006 alone it arrested 33,000 people for possessing marijuana. The Department also commonly holds marijuana possession arrestees in detention for up to 24 hours pending arraignment. Published research indicates that the marijuana possession arrests are not in central business districts, and that the police primarily make the arrests in Black and Hispanic neighborhoods.





Posted: April 21, 2008
FAMM SEEKS COMMUTATION CASES FROM NEW YORK

Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan sentencing reform organization that advocates for the repeal of mandatory minimums at the state and federal level.

FAMM’s Commutation Project pairs the cases of nonviolent drug offenders serving excessive sentences with pro bono lawyers who help the offender file and raise support for a petition for a commutation of sentence. When possible, FAMM also provides suggestions and support-raising help to those who have already filed commutation requests.

The Commutation Project is launching a campaign in New York. We are looking for cases that fit some or most of the following criteria:

o Non-violent drug offender;
o No gun involved;
o Played a minor role in the offense;
o First-time offender or very few (1-2) nonviolent prior convictions;
o Excessive sentence: Rockefeller drug law mandatory minimums, sentence over five years for a first-time offender, long drug sentence with no parole eligibility;
o Prisoner accepts responsibility for the offense (no claims of innocence);
o Sentence of at least 10 years;
o Prisoner has served at least half of their sentence;
o Prisoner is not eligible for parole for at least one more year;
o Prisoner has shown extraordinary rehabilitation and good conduct in prison;
o All legal remedies have been exhausted, no pending cases or motions.

FAMM uses a two-page Case Summary Form to review cases and determine whether they are potential clemency cases we can assist. Information contained in the Case Summaries is maintained exclusively by FAMM and kept strictly confidential. As we are a small organization with limited resources, we can work on only a very small number of clemency cases each year. We do not provide prisoners with legal advice or representation, and we cannot guarantee that anyone who seeks clemency will receive it.

If you have a case that meets FAMM’s criteria, you can find a Case Summary Form at http://www.famm.org/Repository/Files/case%20summary.pdf, fill it out, and fax or mail it to:

FAMM, Attn: Molly M. Gill
1612 K Street NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 822-6700 (phone) (202) 822-6704 (fax) mgill@famm.org





Posted: April 18, 2008
GRAZIANO VS PATAKI UPDATE

At the April 4 hearing the case was adjourned until May 2, which should also be a scheduling conference.




Posted April 15, 2008 - by Prison Policy Initiative

You're invited to a wine and cheese reception for the Prison Policy Initiative
Saturday, May 10, 2008 4:30 - 6:30 pm

145 Nassau St. New York, New York
Space is limited, so please RSVP to: staff@prisonpolicy.org, 413/517-1333

Wine and cheese plus a short presentation by Peter Wagner, Founder and Director of the Prison Policy Initiative, who will demonstrate how the U.S. Census policies dilute minority voting power and distort the democratic process.
Remarks by special guest State Senator Eric Schneiderman

This reception is a benefit to support the work of the Prison Policy Initiative, which receives no government funding. Donations at all levels will be gratefully accepted, but please be as generous as possible. We have a donor who will match gifts to the event up to $10,000, and we want to be certain to get the full benefit of the matching gift.



Posted: April 9, 2008 - by Cheryl Kates, Esq.
PAROLE HEARING UPDATE

We have just learned that Parole will see parole applicants 4 months prior to their earliest release date in order to make time to prepare them for re-entry if they are released. They have adjusted most peoples' dates in the computer and they will be seen 2 months earlier than they were already scheduled.



BUILDING BRIDGES, APRIL 2008 EDITION

Dear Reader,

Despite everything else that may be happening in our struggle for justice, there are some very positive signs. Several Prison Action Network members joined the Drop the Rock Campaign to repeal the Rockefeller Drug Laws at their Lobby Day on March 27. Over 200 people took to the halls of our State Capitol to explain to our representatives why these laws need to be repealed. Most of the lobbyists were in recovery and/or formerly incarcerated, so knew first hand about these laws, the long sentences, and the alternatives to incarceration which finally helped them. Several full buses came up from New York City, and the energy was high. At the conclusion of the day we heard many moving testimonies to the power of the day and the passion for change behind it. Caitlin Dunklee from the Correctional Association’s Public Policy Project did a fabulous job of coordinating the day’s activities. Glenn Martin from the Fortune Society, in his role as MC, revealed a touching sensitivity and a comedic sense which put us all at ease. Bob Gangi threw bagels to the crowd (you had to be there....). We were well led in what was for some the first time at a lobby day. Hopefully we will return frequently to speak truth to power. We the people have the power to make this a better world!

Please share your copy of Building Bridges.


In this Issue

Sagewriters 1st annual book competition for writers in prison
Politics: Barach Obama speech; Eliot Spitzer's fall from power & inauguration of David Paterson
Parole: Case law, Statistics, Releases
Prison Action Network invites participation in projects
"Prison Nation", N Y Times Editorial about explosive growth of prisons, as reported by Pew Center
Prison Radio Programs for your April listening
ReEntry: Theology and Reentry event scheduled for June at Auburn Seminary
Subscription rates for Building Bridges clarified, sort of
Transportation to Prisons
What's Happening Around New York State
Leading Presidential Candidates’ Platforms on Criminal Justice Policy compiled by The Sentencing Project


IN SYMPATHY:
We offer our sincere condolences to Bryce Sonny Rudert upon the passing of his father on Monday March 24 after a long illness. We are grateful Sonny was home to be with his father during his last days.

CORRECTION:
Last month we misspelled Cardell Shaird's name, for which we apologize. We also made a typo in Nancy Wright's address, which might have caused a problem if you sent any photographs. She lives at 17 (not 14) Dixon Court, Queensbury, NY 12804

SAGEWRITERS 1ST ANNUAL BOOK COMPETITION FOR WRITERS IN PRISON
CATEGORIES: Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoirs, biography, autobiography, essays, political, inspirational, urban fiction, historical fiction
GRAND PRIZE: Publication and distribution by Infinity Publishing with marketing and promotion by Sagewriters, which has published eight books so far, of literary and social merit by people in prison. A $500+ value
2ND PRIZE: an extensive critique of your work by Sagewriters staff and a complete set of Sagewriters' books, a $300 value
3RD PRIZE: A critique of your work and three Sagewriters' books, a $200 value
FIVE HONORABLE MENTIONS
Multiple entries are accepted. For more details: Sagewriter's Annual Book Competition, Box 215, Swarthmore, PA 19081, email



DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE BARACH OBAMA, IN RESPONDING TO CRITICISMS OF HIS RELATIONSHIP TO THE MINISTER OF HIS CHURCH, MADE AN ELOQUENT SPEECH IN WHICH HE ADDRESSED THE ISSUES OF RACE AND POVERTY IN AMERICA.

TO LISTEN OR READ THE ENTIRE SPEECH, CLICK HERE.
The last 2 paragraphs:

This is where we are right now. It's a racial stalemate we've been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naive as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy - particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.

But I have asserted a firm conviction - a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people - that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice if we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.



WE ALL KNOW ABOUT ELIOT SPITZER'S FALL FROM POWER AND THE INAUGURATION OF DAVID PATERSON AS GOVERNOR. NOW WE HOLD OUR BREATHS AS WE WAIT TO SEE HOW THE CAUSES OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND PRISON REFORM WILL BE AFFECTED.

Building Bridges urges patience. Let's give Gov. Paterson some time to prove himself. He's definitely got a different style than his predecessor and it will take time to see how it plays out. We only hope David Paterson does right by us. It’s too soon to know how his confessions of extramarital affairs and drug use are going to fly, but he apparently realized it would come out someday and it might as well be from his own mouth. Then he called for the resignations of all state commissioners, which is a formality, but we’d still like to know if any of the crimal justice people are likely to be affected.



PAROLE: ALBANY TIMES UNION EDITORIAL AND NY POST ARTICLE USE MEASURED TONES TO DISCUSS CRIMINAL JUSTICE ISSUES; MICHIGAN - EX POST FACTO CLAUSE OF THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION CASE; REPORTS FROM ARTHUR KILL, CAPE VINCENT, CAYUGA, FISHKILL, MARCY,WOODBOURNE, AND WYOMING; ANTONIO CALDERON AND JOHN VALVERDE GRANTED PAROLE IN MARCH.

ALBANY TIMES UNION EDITORIAL
Truth In Numbers

First published: Monday, March 31, 2008

This is the last paragraph: [click here for the complete article]

Mr. Bruno has his reasons for making parole an issue, of course. Most state prisons are situated in upstate communities, where they add jobs to the local economy and where the inmates are counted as residents of Senate districts largely held by Republicans. If the census declines, Republicans could lose seats in the Legislature. That is one reason why Senate Republicans had opposed Mr. Spitzer's proposal to close several upstate prisons, and why they continue to protect their turf as they negotiate a final budget with Mr. Spitzer's successor, David Paterson. But the Republicans are wrong -- wrong on the numbers and wrong on the reasons for keeping prisons full.

THE ISSUE: No felons who were recently paroled have returned to crime.
THE STAKES: Republicans should stop stirring false fears.


PAROLE

The 1992 and 1999 amendments to the parole law and policies violate the Ex Post Facto Clause of the United States Constitution.

Kenneth Foster Bey, et al v John S. Rubitshun, et al
#05-71318, October 23, 2007
BATTANI

Granted plaintiff's motion for summary judgment; denied defendant's motion for summary judgment.

The class of plaintiffs is defined as all parolable lifers (with the exception of “drug lifers”) in the custody of the Michigan Department of Corrections who committed crimes for which they received a parolable life sentence before October 1, 1992, and whose parole the new parole board has denied, passed over, expressed no interest in pursuing, or otherwise rejected or deferred.

For entire article (which is pretty hard to understand for this layperson) click here and scroll down til you get to the posting.

The remedy is to be determined.


PAROLE STATISTICS:

ARTHUR KILL
March-April - 28% release rate
77 saw the board; 22 were granted parole
35 were initial interviews; 9 received dates, 22 were denied parole, 4 were postponed
39 were reappearances; 12 received dates, 25 were denied parole, 2 were postponed
3 merit time interviews; 1 received parole, 2 were postponed

CAPE VINCENT
March - 77% release rate
13 went, 10 made it

CAYUGA
March - 24 % release rate
50 went, 12 made it, 8 were first time boards

FISHKILL
March - Ferguson (only name remembered) anecdotal report from one person’s housing unit
Maybe 1 A1VO released, and 2 other long termers (both on 1st board)

MARCY
January - 19% release rate
31 seen; 6 granted parole, 19 denied, 6 postponed
15 were initial interviews; 4 were paroled, 10 denied, 1 postponed
15 were reappearances; 2 were paroled, 8 were denied, 5 postponed
1 merit seen, 1 denied

February - 16% release rate
24 seen; 4 granted parole, 18 denied, 2 postponed
13 were initials; 4 granted parole, 8 denied, 1 postponed
9 were reappearances; 0 were released, 8 denied, 1 postponed
2 were merit time; 2 were denied

March - 13% release rate
23 seen; 3 granted, 20 denied
10 were initials; 2 were paroled, 8 were denied
9 were reappearances; 1 was paroled, 8 were denied
4 merit time, f4 denied

WOODBOURNE
February - 16% release rate
23 appearances (6 were A1VO, 1 man., 1 lifer)
4 granted (1 A1VO, 3 Drugs)
4 postponed (1 A1VO)
15 denied

March - 33% release rate
20 appearances; 7 were granted parole (2 non-violent, 5 A1VO)
For one it was his 7th appearance, one was 6th, one was 11th, two on 2nd. (not sure of this - writing was hard to read - ed.)

WYOMING
February - Jennifer Arena, Chris Ortloff, William Casey - 30% release rate
23 hearings; 14 initials, 3 Reappearances, 6 merit time reviews
7 granted,
8 initials were denied, 6 got parole
3 (all) reappearances denied
1 merit times were granted, 5 denied.

March - William Smith, Gerald Greenan, Henry Lemons - 18% release rate
33 hearings; 23 initials, 6 reappearances, 4 merit time reviews
6 granted
20 initials were denied, 3 got parole
5 reappearances were denied, 1 got parole
2 merit time got parole, 2 denied


PAROLE RELEASES:
Antonio Calderone and John Valverde, two people well known to Building Bridges readers, were granted parole at their March hearings, after serving long years in prison with past denials based solely on their crimes.

We appreciate those who report the statistics and release information published here.



PRISON ACTION NETWORK’s CURRENT PROJECTS AND HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED. PLEASE SEND YOUR MESSAGE OF INTEREST TO PrisonActionNetwork@gmail.com INDICATING WHICH PROJECT YOU WISH TO JOIN, AND WHY.

Parole Support - write and gather letters of support for people known to be deserving, generate high profile support to put pressure on parole board to do the right thing.

Transitional Housing - join in investigating the possibility of opening a Transitional Residence specifically for Lifers and
Longtermers; funding, mortgage, and real estate experience needed.

Lifers and Long-termers Clearinghouse - help research answers to Lifer’s or Long Termer’s questions, offer your organization’s support and/or sponsorship of Lifers and Long Termer’s groups; visit with such groups to provide realistic reentry preparation.

Phoenix Rising - help raise funds to pay for day trips to places outside the city limits for inner city youth; supervise youth work groups during neighborhood beautification projects.

Reentry Support Group - Spread the word about and/or attend this 12-step group for formerly incarcerated people, which meets monthly from 6-8pm at St. Ann's Church, 295 St. Anns Ave, in Bx . Facilitated by Willie Thomas. (See Support Groups, below)..

Journalism Project - Help develop a list of reporters and experts to generate media attention for our agenda of criminal justice and prison reform; monitor media for all related stories; write letters to editor and politicians as part of rapid response team..

FED4 - join in planning this year’s Family Empowerment Day project.



“PRISON NATION”, NY TIMES EDITORIAL REPORTS ON EXPLOSIVE GROWTH OF NATION’S PRISON POPULATION WHICH HAS REACHED 1 IN 100 AMERICAN ADULTS BEHIND BARS, SURPASSING ALL OTHER COUNTRIES.

New York Times, March 10, 2008, Editorial

Prison Nation

After three decades of explosive growth, the nation’s prison population has reached some grim milestones: More than 1 in 100 American adults are behind bars. One in nine black men, ages 20 to 34, are serving time, as are 1 in 36 adult Hispanic men.

Nationwide, the prison population hovers at almost 1.6 million, which surpasses all other countries for which there are reliable figures. The 50 states last year spent about $44 billion in tax dollars on corrections, up from nearly $11 billion in 1987. Vermont, Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan and Oregon devote as much money or more to corrections as they do to higher education.

These statistics, contained in a new report from the Pew Center on the States, point to a terrible waste of money and lives. They underscore the urgent challenge facing the federal government and cash-strapped states to reduce their overreliance on incarceration without sacrificing public safety. The key, as some states are learning, is getting smarter about distinguishing between violent criminals and dangerous repeat offenders, who need a prison cell, and low-risk offenders, who can be handled with effective community supervision, electronic monitoring and mandatory drug treatment programs, combined in some cases with shorter sentences.

Persuading public officials to adopt a more rational, cost-effective approach to prison policy is a daunting prospect, however, not least because building and running jailhouses has become a major industry.
Criminal behavior partly explains the size of the prison population, but incarceration rates have continued to rise while crime rates have fallen. Any effort to reduce the prison population must consider the blunderbuss impact of get-tough sentencing laws adopted across the United States beginning in the 1970’s. Many Americans have come to believe, wrongly, that keeping an outsized chunk of the population locked up is essential for sustaining a historic crime drop since the 1990’s.

In fact, the relationship between imprisonment and crime control is murky. Some portion of the decline is attributable to tough sentencing and release policies. But crime is also affected by things like economic trends and employment and drug-abuse rates. States that lagged behind the national average in rising incarceration rates during the 1990’s actually experienced a steeper decline in crime rates than states above the national average, according to the Sentencing Project, a nonprofit group.

A rising number of states are broadening their criminal sanctions with new options for low-risk offenders that are a lot cheaper than incarceration but still protect the public and hold offenders accountable. In New York, the crime rate has continued to drop despite efforts to reduce the number of nonviolent drug offenders in prison.

The Pew report spotlights policy changes in Texas and Kansas that have started to reduce their outsized prison populations and address recidivism by investing in ways to improve the success rates for community supervision, expanding treatment and diversion programs, and increasing use of sanctions other than prison for minor parole and probation violations. Recently, the Supreme Court and the United States Sentencing Commission announced sensible changes in the application of harsh mandatory minimum drug sentences.

These are signs that the country may finally be waking up to the fiscal and moral costs of bulging prisons.



PRISON RADIO SCHEDULES THAT HAVE BEEN SENT TO US. IF YOU WANT YOUR PROGRAM LISTED, PLEASE SEND A SCHEDULE OF YOUR MONTH’S TOPICS OR GUESTS. FANCY BROCCOLI. - APRIL GUESTS: LINDA HOFFMAN, MIKA’IL AND WANDA DEVEAUX, MAKING CONTACT - A CRISIS OF CARE: GINA'S STORY; HER LIFE AND HER DEATH AS A PRISONER OF THE CALIFORNIA CORRECTIONAL SYSTEM

FANCY BROCCOLI airs on WVKR, 91.3FM, Poughkeepsie NY on Sundays from 3 - 6 pm, Eastern Time, and streams online - go to www.WVKR.org and click on (or near) the word 'LISTEN'. Coming up on April 6 their guest is Linda Hoffman reading poetry written by the guys inside. April 20 is Mika'il and Wanda Deveaux of Citizens against Recidivism and The Muslim Re-entry Initiative. Visit archives at www.fancybroccoli.org to find lots of other good interviews. Write Fancy Broccoli Show, WVKR, Box 726, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY 12604-0726

MAKING CONTACT - a weekly international radio program can be heard at www.radioproject.org
A Crisis of Care: Gina's Story (Part 1),March 26, 2008; The story of Gina Muniz, her life and her death as a prisoner of the California Correctional System is, ultimately, the story of a family. Not a perfect family, but one based on faith and commitment to each other. A family not so different from ones many of us know. But Gina's story is also a recounting of how a state-sanctioned life sentence became a state-sponsored death sentence. A story far too common in California prisons. At the heart of the matter is this: Gina Muniz should not have died. And for this reason, it's important for each of us to know and understand her story.

This is the first of a three-part series, "A Crisis of Care," a look inside the prison health care system in the state of California.

ON THE COUNT, WBAI, 99.5 FM NYC OR WBAI, 99.5 FM, NYC. No program listing is available. Write Eddie Ellis, WBAI, 120 Wall Street, 10th Floor, NY NY 10005



REENTRY EVENT AT AUBURN THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY IN MANHATTAN IN JUNE WILL EXPLORE WAYS TO BRING HEALING AND WHOLENESS TO FORMERLY INCARCERATAED WOMEN AND MEN

SAVE THE DATE! June 12-13, 10am - 6 pm
Becoming the Promised Land: Faith, Community, and the Prison Reentry Population
Co-sponsored by New York Theological Seminary and Union Theological Seminary
Free and open to the public, registration required. Call 212 662 4315, or visit www.auburnsem.org for more information.

This weekend we’ll explore the biblical and theological foundations and contexts for work with and among the prison reentry population. How churches and other communities and organizations can and do work with formerly incarcerated women and men to bring about God's healing and wholeness.



SUBSCRIPTION RATES FOR BUILDING BRIDGES CAUSE CONFUSION TO ALL . . .UNDERSTANDABLY, BECAUSE WE OURSELVES ARE AMBIVALENT. THE DILEMMA IS THIS: WE ARE NOT A MONEY MAKING BUSINESS; WE DO NOT SELL SUBSCRIPTIONS. THEY ARE A BENEFIT OF MEMBERSHIP IN PAN, YET IT COSTS MONEY TO PUBLISH

There is some confusion about the subscription fee for Building Bridges. We do not, trust me, make any money on it. All labor and office equipment are donated and a year’s subscription costs us $12 to print and mail. We understand that not everyone can afford to make a membership donation large enough to cover that. People with computer access can always read it on the internet and most communities these days have libraries with free internet access. Our readers in prison have no choice but the mail. We want to send it to everyone who is interested in reading it and who will make good use of the information. That is our only goal, actually. If someone can send a donation of $12 or more, there’s no problem, but if not, what can we do? One thing occurs to us: if a person has a family member or a friend with email to whom we can send a copy, they could print and forward it. If that doesn’t work, send whatever you can and when possible we will make up the difference (from funds donated by other members).. (PS If any readers would like to subsidize subscriptions please make a donation to PAN earmarked for Building Bridges.)



SUPPORT MEETINGS: ONLY NEW MEETINGS AND TIMES ARE MENTIONED. SEE PAST ISSUES FOR OTHERS, OR CALL PAN 518 253 7533.

Manhattan:
Reentry Support Group - 12-step group for formerly incarcerated people, meets monthly from 6-8 at St. Ann's Church, 295 St. Anns Ave, in Bx . Facilitator: Willie Thomas. Next meeting is on 4/24. Metro cards provided.



TRANSPORTATION TO PRISONS: THE JUSTICE COMMITTEE IS LOOKING FOR VOLUNTEERS TO DRIVE PEOPLE TO VISIT THEIR LOVED ONES IN PRISON. CALL PRISON ACTION NETWORK 518/273-7533 TO DISCUSS POSSIBILITIES. OTHER OPTIONS FOLLOW.

From the Capital District:
NEST Prison Shuttle schedule: Mt. McGregor, Washington, and Great Meadow CFs on Sat, Apr 5 ($30 adults, $20 children), Coxsackie, Greene, and Hudson on Sat, Apr 12 ($15 adults, $10 children) from Oakwood Ave Presbyt. Church parking lot, Troy at 7 AM, then to Albany Greyhound bus station at 7:15. Trip to Utica (Midstate, Marcy, Mohawk, Oneida) on Sat, Apr 19 leaving Troy at 5 AM. Sullivan trip (Ulster, Eastern, Woodbourne, Sullivan) on Sat, Apr 26 leaving at 6:30 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.

CarPooling: Please call 518 253 7533 if you would be willing to take a passenger or if you want 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



WHAT’S HAPPENING AROUND NEW YORK STATE: BROOKLYN: FAMILIES RALLY FOR EMANCIPATION & EMPOWERMENT (F.R.E.E.) IS OFFERING A SERIES OF TRAININGS; BUFFALO’S PRP2! SHOWS “INSIDE OUT”; NYC’S JERICHO MOVEMENT HOSTS 4TH ANNUAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH INTERNATIONAL POLITICAL PRISONERS, NYC: ARMS REACH, DRUG POLICY ALLIANCE AND SEVEN NEIGHBORHOOD ACTION PARTNERSHIP PRESENT BEYOND THE ROCKEFELLER DRUG LAWS—PUBLIC HEALTH OR CRIMINAL INJUSTICE?

BROOKLYN: Families Rally for Emancipation & Empowerment (F.R.E.E.) is offering a series of trainings in April and May at 81 Willoughby Street, Brooklyn, Suite 701

The kickoff took place on March 29 with a welcome home to our brothers and sisters who are returning to the community and an invitation to form a network of united, strong families who will not be defeated by the system. The trainings will be the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of each month starting on April 1, 2008. For more information: 718-852-0012, pfcf@verizon.net or founderpfcf@yahoo.com

EVENT: Re-entry & Relationships featuring Safiya Bandele
DATE: April 1, 2008 6pm to 8pm

EVENT: Understanding Sentencing & Beyond; A legal workshop for families
DATE: April 8, 2008 6pm to 8pm

EVENT: Women of Substance: Women & The Rockefeller Drug Laws
DATE: April 15, 2008 6pm to 8pm

EVENT: The Rockefeller Drug Laws: Know the facts
DATE: May 6, 2008 6pm to 8pm


BUFFALO: PRISONERS ARE PEOPLE TOO! meets monthly in Buffalo at the Pratt-Willert Community Center, 422 Pratt Street from 6:30-8:30pm.

The documentary film for this month’s meeting, on Monday, April 28, is “Inside Out,” by Dr. Shelley Stewart and John Zimmerman of “O2 Ideas” which is based in Birmingham, Alabama. Produced in 2007 and filmed behind the bars of two maximum security prisons, this film has been described as “gripping,” “powerful,” “sobering,” and “real” as prisoners share their stories of pain and regret. All of them dropped out of school, the youngest at age 11 and all are currently incarcerated. How did this happen? Why did this happen? Why does the United States spend $40 billion every year on prisoner incarceration and so much less on education and rehabilitation?

Our guest speaker will be Mr. Antwan K. Diggs, Sr. who is the program coordinator for Buffalo’s highly successful “Weed and Seed” initiative. Mr. Diggs understands, from the “inside out,” the connection between dropping out and going to prison.

The next meeting of Prisoners Are People Too! is scheduled for May 19. Film and guest speaker(s) TBA.
PRP2! programs are sponsored by The Circle of Supporters for Reformed Offenders and Friends of Baba Eng. For further information, contact Karima Amin at 716-834-8438 or karima@prisonersarepeopletoo.org

NEW YORK CITY:
The Jericho Movement invites you to an EVENING OF CULTURE AND POLITICAL UPDATES on our Fourth Annual Day of Solidarity with International Political Prisoners in and out of U.S. Borders and Honoring Comrades who have Transitioned. Saturday, April 19, 2008 @ The Brecht Forum “Manhattan's Left Bank” at 451 West Street (that's the West Side Highway) between Bank & Bethune Streets from 6 to 10 p.m.

Featuring:
Chrystos, Native American poet! Fred Ho, Jazz Musician; Lamis Deek, Al-Awda co-chair; Report from the Basque Country; Gabriela Network and other comrades to be announced

Refreshments and Cash Bar!
Sliding scale: $6/$10/$15 Nobody turned away!
• 212-242-4201 • brechtforum@brechtforum.org
Sponsored by: NYC Jericho, NY Leonard Peltier Support Group, Gabriela Network, Al-Awda, ProLibertad, Big Red Media, Plaid Dragon Collective, Malcolm X Commemoration Ctte. nycjericho@riseup.net • 718-853-0893


BEYOND THE ROCKEFELLER DRUG LAWS - PUBLIC HEALTH OR CRIMINAL JUSTICE?
A Community Forum about Drug Treatment, Incarceration, and the Future of Drug Policy in New York

Assemblyman Keith Wright, In Arms Reach, Drug Policy Alliance and Seven Neighborhood Action Partnership Present...
7 – 9 pm, Thursday April 10, 2008, The City College of New York
Room 1/201, 1st floor, NAC Building, Enter at 138th St.

Panelists:
Assemblymember Keith Wright (D-Harlem)
Terrence Stevens, formerly incarcerated under the RDL’s; and Executive Director, In Arms Reach
Cheri O’Donoghue, mother of incarcerated son, co-founder of FREE
Gabriel Sayegh, Director of the State Organizing and Policy Project, Drug Policy Alliance
Panelist TBA, Seven Neighborhood Action Partnership
Deacon Ken Radcliffe, Moderator

This is a free program Space is Limited. Light refreshments will be served
To RSPV for this event, or if you have any questions, please contact Jill at jbattagline@drugpolicy.org or 212-613-8053



A SUMMARY OF THE PRIMARY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES’ POSITIONS ON THESE CRIMINAL JUSTICE ISSUES HAS BEEN PREPARED BY THE SENTENCING PROJECT: MANDATORY MINIMUM SENTENCES, “THREE STRIKES AND YOU’RE OUT” LAW, APPROACH TO “WAR ON DRUGS”, CRACK/POWDER COCAINE DISPARITY, DEATH PENALTY, DISPROPORTIONATE MINORITY REPRESENTATION IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM, EX-OFFENDER RE-ENTRY INTO COMMUNITIES, FELONY DISENFRANCHISEMENT, PAROLE.

READ 10-PAGE REPORT HERE.

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