Building Bridges

The monthly newsletter of the Prison Action Network

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

SEPTEMBER 2008

Please scroll down past the late breaking news to get to the Building Bridges monthly newsletter.


Posted 9/15; from People's Movement

"What do we want?-JUSTICE!"
"When do we want it?-NOW!"

Many of you are fully aware of the activities we have engaging on in order to
bring about much needed change and fair opportunities for our fellow peers.
One of the issue's we've been waging against is the creation of the new bronx
jail being planned for hunts point, thus i forward this new website so that the
resources being provided can be fully utilized and passed on to the families,
friends, and loved one's with someone in jail whom you may know of.Let's
continue to ensure that those already in nyc jails with a mental illness
diagnosis recieves prior to being released appropriate discharge planning.
Let us continue with our push for crisis intervention teams within the
precienct here in nyc so that we may be able to keep our peers from being
placed in jail, possibly being hurt by an nypd officer due to not being
appropriately trained to handle situations involving peers overwhelmed
psychiatrically.
We are having our next meeting on September 17th, 2008 at 1750 Davidson Avenue
-(East 176st Street, in the bronx)- the meeting is being held within the
community room at 6pm.
contact lisa via phone @ 646-260-6575 or carlos @ 718-825-9284

looking forward to seeing you all there.

For those who hadn't noticed, the New York City Board of Correction now has a
website:

www.nyc.gov/html/boc/html/home/home.shtml"

"Only Through Direct Action Will Change Take Place".....




Posted September 15; from Amnesty International re: TROY DAVIS:

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole denied clemency to Troy Anthony Davis on September 12, but can revisit this decision at any time between now and September 23.

In July 2007, they issued a decision to stay the execution of Troy Davis in July 2007, stating that the Board "will not allow an execution to proceed in this State unless and until its members are convinced that there is no doubt as to the guilt of the accused." In March, the Georgia Supreme Court denied Troy Davis a hearing, so doubts of his guilt will always remain. Therefore we urge them to commute his sentence.

Mr. Davis has been on death row in Georgia for more than 15 years for the murder of a police officer he maintains that he did not commit. Davis' conviction was not based on any physical evidence, and the murder weapon was never found. Instead, the case was based solely on the testimony of witnesses, many of whom now allege police coercion, and most of whom have since recanted their testimony. Despite mounting evidence that Davis may in fact be innocent of the crime, appeals to courts to hold a hearing on this evidence have been repeatedly denied for procedural reasons.

This case has generated widespread attention, which reflects serious concerns in Georgia and throughout the United States about the potential for executing an innocent man. Nothing can undermine public faith in a criminal justice system faster than an execution when serious doubts about guilt have not been resolved. The power of clemency exists as a safety net to prevent such an irreversible error and preserve public confidence in the state’s capacity for justice. The integrity of justice in Georgia is at stake in this case.

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole can either take into account compelling evidence challenging his guilt, or they will choose to ignore that evidence and allow his sentence to stand. They have to power to stop this indefensible execution and we must implore them to make the right decision.

Can you take 30 seconds and help save the life of a man who is almost certainly innocent? You can learn more and take action here:

takeaction.amnestyusa.org



Posted September 15, from Telephone Justice Campaign,CCR:

The NY State Comptroller is currently investigating Global Tel*Link’s claims that the bidding process for the NY prison telephone contract was unfair. We know that it was fair because it complied with the Family Connections bill, which we all worked together to get passed last year. Please click on the link in the message below to sign a petition to the Comptroller asking that they speed up the process and give us our new contract!

in struggle,
___________________ _____________________
lauren melodia | center for constitutional rights | 666 broadway 7th floor | ny ny 10012 | 212.614.6481 | lmelodia@ccrjustice.org

Dear Supporter,

Put an end to 10 years and $225 million of an illegal NYDOCS tax.

Sign a petition to the New York State Comptroller and help expedite a new prison telephone contract to ease the financial burden on families with loved ones in New York State prisons. It has been more than a year since we passed the Family Connections Act and ended the 57.5 percent kickback to the State on all prison calls.

Tell the State Comptroller, who is currently investigating complaints by the phone company that previously held the contract, that he should approve the new contract now so that families can finally get the fair rate they deserve.

In related news this week, CCR attorney Darius Charney made oral arguments in an appeal before the New York State Supreme Court to challenge the constitutionality of the unlawful tax. We asked the court to reverse the most recent dismissal in Walton v. NYSDOCS and allow families to be com pensated for 10 years of the unjust, illegal tax, which amounted to $225 million out of their pockets. It is also critical that the court rule in the case so that no future administration can bring back the kickback contract.

Thank you for your help.
Sincerely,

Annette Dickerson
Director of Education and Outreach
Center for Constitutional Rights





BUILDING BRIDGES, SEPTEMBER EDITION:

Dear Reader,

Are you aware that volunteers produce Building Bridges and present Family Empowerment Day and don’t get paid one penny for their labors? In fact money comes out of our pockets when there's a shortage. We don't do it for the glory, believe me. Sometimes our loved ones complain bitterly that we spend more time doing PAN work than with them. But we do it because working for justice is the best antidote to despair there is! We invite you to join us in this work and the spiritual rewards it brings.

To make Family Empowerment Day 4 a success, we need everyone reading these words to spread the word, encourage everyone in your family and circle of friends to attend, and dig into your pockets to help pay for it. No amount is too small. We've always paid for it with lots and lots of small donations plus a few big ones from people who can afford it. What's important is that in the end we all can feel proud of what we accomplished together.

I've been wondering why it should be so hard to achieve the changes we seek. We aren't asking for anything that would not benefit everyone, so why do we come up against so many obstacles? We're asking for justice, fairness, forgiveness, and second chances. Those are the values we believe in. Who on earth does not want to be treated justly and fairly, forgiven when we do wrong, and given a second chance to do right? Well, if we want it for ourselves then we must provide it for everyone. It could be you next who is unjustly arrested, convicted or held forever in prison. For some readers it already has been.

Many of our opponents scream "public safety!" whenever anyone is released on parole. Understandably they're afraid that someone who’s released will commit another crime. We all want to live in a safe society, not worrying that harm can befall us at any moment. But I believe it’s more likely that we’ll be harmed by injustice, inequity, inequality, prejudice and hate than from crimes against property or life. If you agree, please join me at Family Empowerment Day 4 - NYC when we plan to take action in support of OUR values: Public Safety through Justice, Fairness, Equality, Acceptance, and Love!


Our new mailing address is Prison Action Network, PO Box 6355, Albany NY 12206. (Where you can send donations for Family Empowerment Day! Please....)


In this Issue:

1. Abuse of women in prison
2. Clemency study looking for people
3. Family Empowerment Day 4/NYC
4. FBI urges public tours of prisons
5. Legislative updates
6. Lifers and Longtermers Clearinghouse
7. Parole
8. Prison radio
9. Reentry
10. School to prison pipeline
11. Transportation to prisons
12. Voting
13. What's happening around New York State


1. ABUSE OF WOMEN IN PRISON: MORE THAN 50 PER CENT OF ALL WOMEN IN U.S. PRISONS HAVE BEEN SEXUALLY ABUSED
Excerpts from an article published Monday, Aug 11, 2008, By Kaleem Omar, The News (Pakistan)

[send for complete article by sending a request to PAN]

More than 50 per cent of all female prisoners in the United States have experienced some form of sexual abuse. Seventy per cent of guards in the 170 state prison facilities for women across the United States are men. In Canadian women’s prisons, 91 per cent of the guards are female.

An Amnesty International report says, “Sexual abuse is virtually a fact of life for incarcerated women in the US.” The report’s findings are reinforced by a study conducted by the US-based Human Rights Watch, which says that “being a woman prisoner in American prisons can be a terrifying experience.”

It can be examined in terms of powerlessness, humiliation, retaliation and fear. If a woman is sexually abused, she cannot escape from her abuser. Grievances or investigatory procedures, where they do exist, are often ineffectual, and correctional employees continue to engage in abuse because they believe they will rarely be held accountable, administratively or criminally. The women are often afraid to report such incidences. Guards frequently threaten to take away visitation rights to keep them quiet. Male correctional officers and staff have also engaged in regular verbal degradation and harassment of female prisoners, thus contributing to a custodial environment in the state prisons for women, which is often highly sexualised and excessively hostile.

In some instances, women have been impregnated as a result of sexual misconduct, and some of these prisoners have faced additional abuse in the form of inappropriate segregation, denial of adequate health care, and/or pressure to seek an abortion, says the Human Rights Watch report. One of the clear contributing factors to sexual misconduct in US prisons for women is that the United States, despite authoritative international rules to the contrary, allows male correctional employees to hold contact positions over prisoners, that is, positions in which they serve in constant physical proximity to the prisoners of the opposite sex.

Under the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Standard Minimum Rules), which constitute an authoritative guide to international law regarding the treatment of prisoners, male officers are precluded from holding such contact positions. However, since the passage of the US Civil Rights Act of 1964, US employers have been prohibited from denying a person a job solely on the basis of gender unless the person’s gender was reasonably necessary to the performance of the specific job.



2. CLEMENCY STUDY LOOKING FOR PEOPLE CONVICTED UNDER THE ROCKEFELLER DRUG LAWS

Clemency study looking for people convicted under the Rockefeller Drug Laws who have submitted clemency appeals or are thinking of doing so. Please contact Prison Action Network for more information or to submit your/another person's name and DIN with a short (100 word) description of why you think your/their situation is particularly deserving.



3. FAMILY EMPOWERMENT DAY 4/NYC: SPANISH-ENGLISH TRANSLATOR NEEDED; STRUCTURE OF EVENT EXPLAINED

Translator: We received an unsolicited Spanish translation of the FED4/NYC flyer in the mail, which was a wonderful gift, but it doesn’t make sense to use it unless we can provide translators for the event itself. If you are, or know anyone who is, fluent enough in both English and Spanish to provide rapid on the spot translation, we would like to to discuss how to provide this service for the many Spanish-only speakers in our community. Please contact PAN at 518 253 7533 or email us.

Structure of FED4/NYC: We are very ambitious about what we want to accomplish this year. We are truly tired of doing nothing but talk. The Family Empowerment Project Executive Committee did its best to create an agenda that will take people step by step through a process that starts with analyzing important issues and ends with a goal and a game plan. In order to do that, we are going to need to stay VERY focused, because the process needs to happen within a limited number of hours. It is very important that everyone is there for the whole day (9am-4pm). Each part of the process is necessary for the success of the last session, where we "get down to business!"

It’s an interactive event; that's why we’re investing big bucks to rent the Columbia Law School building with microphones at every seat. We’re urging participants to come prepared with well thought out questions and suggestions, all focused on getting the answers you need to decide on a goal at the end of the day.
 
The day will include the screening of “The Visitors,” a documentary about families who take the buses to upstate New York prisons.  It will be followed by a panel discussion which will point out the film’s relevance to parole issues. The panel will be composed of Melis Birder, the filmmaker; Denise Robinson, one of the main characters in the film; Dr. Divine Pryor, Deputy Executive Director of the Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions; Ernest Henry, who received visitors while incarcerated; his wife Kathy Ernest,who visited him; and the moderator and analyst, Rev. Vivian Nixon, who, as a formerly incarcerated person herself, will add an imprisoned woman's perspective to the discussion.
 
Lunch will provide time for talking to friends new and old, and for visiting the Action Tables where representatives of organizations will be able to answer questions and where there will be actions that can be taken then and there, such as petitions and letters to sign, pledges to be involved in some future event or to vote, taking part in a video interview on the impact of incarceration, and more. There will be a table where family members can sit with their parole support petitions. (Please call or email PAN to reserve space.)
 
Parole Chairman George Alexander will give a keynote speech on "The State of Parole Today". Rev. Dr. Mark Chapman, who has been part of every FED since its inception, will moderate the Q&A session that follows. We hope participants will confine themselves to one question per person, and keep it general and focused on clarifying what Alexander, as the head of parole, can do or can't do, to restore justice and fairness to the parole process. We want to find out how/if we can support him in bringing deserving parole candidates home, and how/if he can support whatever action we decide to take to make that possible.

There will be a short time between the keynote speech and the action planning session for participants to debrief after hearing Mr. Alexander. Following the debriefing, we'll move on to suggestions for goals with assistance from our team of advisors:  Eddie Ellis, host of WBAI’s “On the Count!: The Prison & Criminal Justice Report”; Robert Isseks and Peter Sell, lead attorneys in Graziano vs. Pataki; Amy James-Oliveras, Co-host and Co-producer of the  Fancy Broccoli Show;  Glenn Martin, Vice President of Development and Public Affairs of the Fortune Society;  Sheila Rule, Publisher, Resilience Multimedia; and others who have not yet formally confirmed. The advisors will comment on the goals suggested by families and other representatives of people in prison, and perhaps suggest some that weren't mentioned. Then we'll vote, using Approval Voting, where people vote for all of the goals they would support, and the goal with the most votes wins. Our advisors will then help us plan how to achieve the goal. We'll announce the time and place of the next meeting before leaving.

At the very end, participants will be given evaluation forms and a raffle will be held. Raffle tickets will be the completed evaluation sheets (which will include a space where participants can sign up to work to achieve our goal). Prize to be announced.



4. FBI URGES PUBLIC TOURS OF PRISONS

I draw your attention to an article in the June 2008 edition of the FBI's Law Enforcement Bulletin. The FBI agent-author's article openly encourages public officials to permit public tours of their jails for various stated reasons. This is huge! That magazine is widely read across the law enforcement and legal world and carries great influence. I say we now walk thru the door the FBI has opened. For too long the jails have been a closed society. You can access the article at: www.fbi.gov and choose publications, then Law Enforcement Bulletin, then June 2008
- joe gonzalez




5. LEGISLATIVE UPDATES ON BILLS SIGNED INTO LAW BY GOVERNOR PATERSON; SOME CLARIFICATIONS ABOUT THE PAROLE DISCRETION LAW AND A QUESTION ABOUT THE PRS LAW [copies available by emailing the number of the bill to PAN.]

A9727/S6731 - RESTORING DISCRETION TO THE PAROLE BOARD, SIGNED BY THE GOVERNMENT ON JULY 21ST

Introduced by M.of A. AUBRY, and Sen. VOLKER: An act to amend the executive law, in relation to restoring discretion to the board of parole to discharge any person for whom the board of parole is satisfied that a discharge from parole supervision would be in the best interests of society

Some clarifications: From 1930 to 1998 the Board of Parole had discretion to grant discharge from parole supervision after three consecutive years of unrevoked parole to any person for whom the Board of Parole determined that such discharge would be in the best interest of society. In 1998, however, discretion to grant a discharge from parole was removed for one class of persons - those who had been sentenced to an indeterminate sentence with a maximum sentence of life. This bill restores that option for those people. 

Note #1: This law does not make release from parole automatic or even mandatory.  Parole officers will have the discretion to release people from parole whenever (after at least 3 years) and if ever they think it's good for the community and good for the parolee.  Some people might NEVER be discharged.  In the best of worlds the decision would depend on the person's behaviors.

Note #2:  We're dealing with a big bureaucracy here!  It will take awhile to put the procedures in place.  Estimates have been made for early September before all parole officers will all have been officially notified of their new discretionary powers, and another 30 days before all the policies may be in place and ready for implementation.


A10288A/S7638A - THE EMPLOYER EDUCATION ACT, which was described in the August Building Bridges, was signed into law by the Governor on Aug. 8.
Thanks to everyone who called the Governor's office to voice your support. And congratulations to the David Rothenberg Center for Public Policy which worked hard to get the bill passed!

REQUEST FOR INFORMATION: Does any reader know of a lawyer working on a class action suit for those who were illegally incarcerated without post release supervision?  A man who recently was released from a year's time for being late for curfew wants to know, because it turns out he never had PRS on his commitment, and a judge ordered him released. Email PAN.



6. LIFERS AND LONGTERMERS CLEARINGHOUSE - SPECIAL NEEDS OF LIFERS-WITHOUT-PAROLE ARE ACKNOWLEDGED AND A NEW COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION HAS BEEN FORMED TO ADDRESS THEM.

This is an alert to all approved organizations operated by incarcerated individuals, and concerns those who are serving life-without-parole sentences. There are more than 200 persons serving life-without-parole sentences in the N.Y.State prison system and they are housed primarily in maximum security facilities where their numbers are relatively small.

They represent the truly left behind for they have received the ultimate penal sentence of having to spend the remainder of their life in prison.  They are condemned and abandoned in that they receive no special provision from the department of correctional services; no adjustment or coping programs or counseling services are provided or have been developed to meet their unique needs.
 
For the convicted person sentenced to spend the remainder of their life in prison, the mechanics of "doing time" becomes their total experience rather than simply an interruption in their life.  Lifers-without-parole are not tourists in prison; they are not "just passing through." 
 
The plight of those serving such sentences has come to the attention of both the commissioner of corrections as well as community advocates of the incarcerated, and efforts are being marshaled to address their special needs.  As leader in such efforts and someone who has served time and worked with lifers, those serving extended sentences, and those serving life-without-parole, I want to bring to the attention of the leadership of lifer and other approved prison organizations the need to address the special concerns of lifers-without-parole. 
 
Because their numbers are relatively small it is unlikely that facility administrations will approve organizational status for lifers-without-parole.  However, approved lifer and long-termer organizations can establish committees to address special concerns and they might consider setting up a committee that would address lifer-without-parole concerns and be headed and composed entirely of such persons.
 
It is important that Lifers-without-parole have some organizational or group structure to be identified with, because a new community organization named "The Doing Justice Coalition" has been formed to address the needs of lifers and long-termers and specifically lifers-without-parole.  The Doing Justice Coalition is a collaborative partnership between faith communities and criminal and social justice practitioners to improve criminal justice outcomes by integrating the basic concepts of faith, hope and enduring beliefs with evidence-based practices and non-traditional approaches to criminal justice. 
 
The Doing Justice Coalition is in the process of developing orientation and direction programs for persons serving extended prison terms. Members plan to visit as soon as institutional authorization is given, to form linkages with lifer and long-termer organizations.  More on this subject in the next issue of Building Bridges.

--Larry White
Co-chair, Prison Action Network Clearinghouse Project




7. PAROLE: JENNIFER ARENA LEFT AFTER HER TERM EXPIRED, JOSEPH CRANGLE IS NEW COMMISSIONER, AND THERE'S AN EMPTY SEAT; YEAR-TO-DATE A1VO PAROLE RELEASES; FACILITY STATISTICS FROM ARTHUR KILL, FISHKILL, FRANKLIN, GROVELAND, MID-ORANGE, OTISVILLE, WOODBOURNE AND WYOMING PRISONS; RARE RESCISSION HEARING SCHEDULED FOR 9/5

PAROLE BOARD APPOINTMENTS:
Jennifer Arena is gone from the Parole Board, much to the relief of everyone who knew that she lacked the minimum qualifications specified for the job. Joseph Crangle is newly appointed. Since 2000 he has been an Assistant Court Analyst with the New York State Office of Court Administration assigned to the Domestic Violence Part of the Buffalo City Court where he monitors defendants compliance with court orders. From 1998 to 2000, Mr. Crangle was a Probation Officer with the Genesee County Probation Department, where he oversaw the Pretrial Release Under Supervision program. Mr. Crangle received his BA from Canisius College and his JD from the City University of New York. There is now one empty seat remaining on the Board.


PAROLE BOARD RELEASES – A1 VIOLENT FELONS [A1VO]
Year to Date A1VO Parole Release Summary - unofficial research from parole database
Year to date through July 31 there were 106 initial interviews with 7 released: 7%
Year to date through July 31 there were 721 reappearances with 94 released: 13%
In total, 827 appearances with 101 releases: 12% release rate through July 31.

July A1VO Parole Release Summary – unofficial research from parole database
120 interviews (no women) of which 14 were initial appearances and 106 were reappearances
15 people were granted parole*
2 were released on their initial interview
13 were released on a reappearance

*List of the 15 July A1VO parole releases by prison:

Initial:
Otisville : 25-Life for Murder 2nd degree on his 1st board.
Washington : 20-Life for M2 on 1st

Reappearances:
Cape Vincent : 25-Life for Murder on 6th board
Clinton : 15-Life for Murder 2nd degree on 4th
Fishkill : 15-Life for M2 on 2nd
Gouverneur : 15-Life for M2 on 2nd
Gowanda : 25-Life for M on 8th
Gowanda : 25-Life for M2 on 5th
Great Meadow : 20-Life for M2 on 7th or 8th
Hudson : 15-Life for M2 on 7th
Mt McGregor : 17-Life for M2 on 3rd
Mid-Orange : 15-Life for M2 on 7th or 8th
Oneida : 22.5-Life for M2 on 6th
Otisville : 20-Life for M2 on 4th or 5th
Otisville : 17-Life for M2 on 6th


May, June, July, August 2008 Releases based on Reports from the Inside:

ARTHUR KILL
July-August - Ferguson, Arena, Thompson
60 saw the board, 5 were granted parole
25 were initial interviews; 3 were granted parole
34 were reappearances; 1 was granted parole
1 parole violator was released

FISHKILL
August - Casey, Grant, Hagler (with Mary Ross observing)
7 A1VOs saw the board, 2 made it, one 15-Life on 1st board after a July split decision, the other a 20-L on 4th board after July split decision.

FRANKLIN
July
12 merit hearings; 5 were granted
17 initial interviews; 8 were granted
14 reappearances; 4 granted
2 parole violations; both denied
2 PIE (?); both denied
2 Conditional releases; both denied.
1 Supplement Merit (?); denied

August:
5 merit hearings; 2 granted
21 initial interviews; 2 granted
2 presumptive releases; 1 granted
12 reappearances; 1 granted
6 parole violators; 6 granted
2 PIE; both denied
12 conditional releases; 12 granted
1 supplement merit; denied

MID-ORANGE
August - Henandez, Lemmons
24 were interviewed; 12 made it! (7 A1VO, 1 Persistant Lifer, 4 non-Lifers)

OTISVILLE
May - Ludlow, Thompson, Smith
42 were interviewed; 9 made it.
Of the 33 denied, 29 were reappearances, 4 were initials.

June- Ludlow, Casey, Ortloff
37 were interviewed; 5 (3 Lifers) made it.

July - Ferguson, Lemmons, Hagler
18 were interviewed; 5 (3 were Lifers) made it.


WOODBOURNE
July - Lemons, Ferguson, Thompson
29 saw the board; 3 (1 A1VO) were granted parole
Of those denied, 7 were A1VO

WYOMING
August - Kevin Ludlow, Chris Ortloff, William Casey
24 saw the board; 2 were granted parole
13 were initial interviews; none were granted parole
5 were reappearances; 1 was granted
6 were merit boards; 1 was granted

INDIVIDUALS RELEASED: A PAN member and close friend was granted parole in August, and we are sooo excited! But he doesn’t want us to identify him for reasons that are personal. We had to say something..., so: “We can’t wait til you are home, working with us on the outside!”

RARE RESCISSION HEARING ON FRI. SEPT. 5.
In 1973 Shu'aib Abdur Raheem was convicted of murdering a police officer in a robbery. Since his sentencing he has been a model prisoner, staying out of trouble and earning college degrees as well as helping other incarcerated men. He expresses remorse, and in November 2007 he was granted parole. The Patrolman's Benevolent Assoc. was outraged, marshaled their forces and found a loophole that sabotaged Raheem's release. On February 8, 2008, the parole board caved in and rescinded Raheem's release.
Shu'aib Abdur Raheem will face a rare "rescission hearing" on September 5 in Albany County Supreme Court, on Eagle Street, across from City Hall. It’s scheduled for 10:30 am. Index # 3883-08.  Shu'aib A. Raheem v. Board of Parole.. He requests as many of you as are willing, to be there to support him.



8. PRISON RADIO -
Paulie Santos will be on the Fancy Broccoli Show on September 13. He’ll be talking about his journey from childhood to his present living situation at the Fortune Society Academy. No other interviews are scheduled for September.

“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'.

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



9. REENTRY: “WOMEN, REENTRY AND EVERYDAY LIFE: TIME TO WORK?”; HELP NEEDED TO FIND PROGRAMS MANDATED BY PAROLE; CHARLES J. HYNES, KINGS COUNTY DA, DESCRIBES HIS REENTRY PROGRAM CALLED COM ALERT

The Prisoner Reentry Institute invites you to attend our Fall Occasional Series on Reentry Research kick-off event on Friday, September 12, 2008 from 8:30am to 10:00am.  Venezia Michalsen, a professor at Montclair State University and formerly the Research Director at Women’s Prison Association (WPA), will present the results of a new WPA report “Women, Reentry and Everyday Life: Time to Work?”  Respondents will include Alison Link, a Consultant at the Leisure Link, and Nancy O’Brien, Transitional Advocate at the Center for Community Alternatives.

Location: John Jay College of Criminal Justice (899 10th Ave, between 58th - 59th Streets) Room 630.  Please RSVP to Amelia Thompson (212-484-1399;amthompson@jjay.cuny.edu).


Prison Action Network has been told by people on parole that they're mandated by their parole officers to take certain programs as a condition of their parole, but you're on your own to find one. Sounds like ComALERT, featured below, might have some answers, if you qualify. But we’d like to make it easier, so if you attend a group other than ComALERT - an anger management group or any other type of program, either in fulfillment of parole's demands, or just because you want it, please send us the days, times, place, and contact numbers. Please rate it on a scale of 1-10, 10 being very useful and 1 being a waste of time. We'll pass the information on to our readers.


CHARLES J. HYNES, Kings County District Attorney, has developed a reentry program called ComALERT. He wrote this about it:

Finding a job in today’s economy is difficult enough for a college graduate. Imagine how difficult it is for an offender who has just been released from prison and is trying to re-establish himself in the community. Eventually, many of the 65,000 offenders currently incarcerated in the New York State prison system will return to our communities under some form of probation or parole supervision. Sadly, many will be back in prison within three years due to a new arrest or parole violation. This cycle of failure is devastating to the offenders, their families and their neighborhoods.

As District Attorney, I recognized the need for law enforcement and community service providers to work together to find a solution to the problem of recidivism. Toward that end, I developed a program called ComALERT – Community and Law Enforcement Resources Together. ComALERT represents a coalition of service providers who help released offenders by counseling them on a host of issues ranging from housing, education, and employment to physical and mental health, and substance abuse. ComALERT provides the help these ex-offenders need in order to resist the temptation to return to a life of crime.

ComALERT reduces crime and also makes good economic sense. Each time a person is re-arrested and sent to jail, it costs taxpayers $175 a day to house him. Contrast that with the $43 a day per client spent by one member of our coalition – the Doe Fund – which provides ex-offenders with civic-modeled transitional employment and housing.

ComALERT provides rapid assessments, referrals, on-going case management and re-entry services for up to nine months. Participants must be on parole for at least six months, and must be motivated to become self-sufficient, gainfully employed, and drug-free.

For more information, please contact Lance Ogiste at (718) 250-2295, or visit www.brooklynda.org



10. SCHOOL TO PRISON PIPELINE DEMONSTRATION

An enterprising young man, with the use of what I imagine to be a cellphone video camera, attends significant meetings around NYS and posts them to the web at YouTube. The latest is from a demonstration in support of the School to Prison Pipeline: The Student Safety Act. It features students and their adult supporters speaking out about the way schools criminalize our youth for essentially teenage-appropriate behavior. View Here

This was how organizers described the event:
Support The Youth, Ensure their Futures, Urge New York City Council Members to sign on and support the School Safety Act. Let's break the School To Prison Pipeline, Let's bring about more Transparency and Accountability within the actions being taken by the School Security Guards and the NYPD, Let's ensure those with Learning Disabilities are not Targeted, Let's Create a more Healthy place for our Youth to Learn in.

For more information about the School to Prison Pipeline: Student Safety Act, see the link on the right side of this page.



11. TRANSPORTATION TO PRISONS
From the Capital District:
NEST Prison Shuttle schedule: Mt. McGregor, Washington, and Great Meadow CFs on Sat, Sept 6 ($35 adults, $25 children), Coxsackie, Greene, and Hudson on Sat, Sept 13 ($20  adults, $15 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, Sept 20 leaving Troy at 5 AM. Sullivan trip (Ulster, Eastern, Woodbourne, Sullivan) on Sat, Sept 27 leaving at 6:30 AM ($45 adults, $30 children). Reservations: Linda O'Malley 518- 273-5199.

Door to door, free rides are offered from Albany to prisons within 150 miles by a volunteer of FUUSA’s Justice Committee. Please contact us at 518 253-7533 if you need a ride.


Ride wanted: Carolyn, a 62 year old woman who is unable to drive due to a recent automobile accident, is eager to visit her fiancé in Wende C.F. She lives in Port Jervis, NY, which is near Middletown. If you would be willing to take her, even just once, she would be very appreciative. Please call 845 672 3967

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



12. VOTING IS THE LEAST YOU CAN DO TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE! ARE YOU SURE YOU WILL BE ABLE TO? HERE’S AN EASY WAY TO MAKE SURE YOUR VOTER REGISTRATION IS UP TO DATE
VERIFY YOUR REGISTRATION:

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PAID FOR BY MOVEON.ORG . POLITICAL ACTION. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.



13. WHAT'S HAPPENING AROUND NEW YORK STATE

Buffalo:

Prisoners Are People Too is a justice advocacy program that meets monthly on selected Mondays in Buffalo at the Pratt-Willert Community Center, 422 Pratt Street from 6:30-8:30pm. Each meeting features a documentary film, related to some criminal justice or prison issue, and one or more guest speakers who address that issue.

The news of torture occurring in Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq was a shock to the American public. Now it’s almost forgotten. News of similar violence occurring inside state prisons and jails throughout the USA is rarely considered. At its next meeting on Monday, September 22, 2008, Prisoners Are People Too will screen the documentary, ”Torture: America’s Brutal Prisons.” The film takes a look at prisons in Texas, Florida, and California. So, --what about the abuse of prisoners in New York State? Our guest speaker, Mr. Gary Craig, an investigative reporter from Rochester’s “Democrat and Chronicle” newspaper, will share his thoughts about a system that is steeped in punishment, rather than rehabilitation.

The next meeting of Prisoners Are People Too is scheduled for October 27. 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 karima@prisonersarepeopletoo.org or 716-834-8438.

NYC:

Family Empowerment Day 4/NYC “Taking Action to Bring Our Loved Ones Home"
Saturday October 25 2008 9am - 4pm
Columbia Law School,  Jerome Greene Building 
435 West 116th St. (corner of Amsterdam), Manhattan
MAKE SURE YOUR FAMILY IS THERE!
For more information: contact us at 518 253 7533 or email PAN for a flyer.


Your organization’s announcement could be here. Building Bridges wants to help promote the activities of all groups doing something to aid the cause of justice. Share your successes, share your activities, and bring hope to the apathetic and hopeless. Please submit your announcements by the last week of each month (email is preferred), and we will do our best to include them in the next issue.


Prison Action Network thanks the Community Church of NY, Unitarian Universalist, for their support.

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