Building Bridges

The monthly newsletter of the Prison Action Network

Translate this page:

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

OCTOBER 2009

Periodically during the month we post items of interest which have been sent by our members. You are invited to check back regularly. Please scroll down to read our current issue of Building Bridges.


Posted October 30
GOVERNOR VETOES BILL A4809 TO GIVE WOMEN IN PRISON EQUAL REHABILITATION OPPORTUNITIES.

Bill A4809, same as S5993
Requires Equivalent Rehabilitation Programs for Males and Females in Prison [Details below]

This bill passed in both houses and was delivered to the Governor on Oct 16.

Bill A04809/S5993
Requires that rehabilitation programs for female inmates in state correctional facilities be equivalent to those provided to male inmates of correctional facilities elsewhere in the state; provides that such rehabilitation programs shall include, but not be limited to, vocational, academic and industrial programs.

SPONSORS: Weinstein (MS) Hassell-Thompson (SEN)



Posted October 21:

JOB ANNOUNCEMENTS
FACES NY
New York, NY

FACES NY, Inc. a nonprofit agency in Central Harlem is seeking three full-time staffing positions for an Office of Minority Health funded re-entry initiative titled HIRE NY (Health Improvement for Re-entering Ex-offenders). The HIRE NY Project will coordinate a system of care for individuals re-entering NYC from jails and prisons needing HIV/STI prevention education, HIV/AIDS treatment and care, substance use and mental health, and family reunification support.

Job Title: Project Coordinator
Reports To: Director of Education & Client Services
Hours: 35 hrs/weekly
Salary Range: $40,000 - $45,000/yr

Job Summary: Will have the responsibility of providing clinical supervision and administrative oversight to program staff, group intervention development and facilitation, program development, resource development, data collection and reporting and participation in project evaluation activities.

Qualifications: MSW or its equivalent in health or social service field, with 3 -5 years background /knowledge in substance abuse/mental health counseling, HIV/AIDS and co-occurring conditions and supervisory experience in individual, family and group counseling. It is preferred that the candidate be bilingual, Spanish-English speaking. FACES NY, Inc. is an Equal Opportunity Employer.


Job Title: Re-Entry Case Manager
Reports To: HIRE Project Coordinator
Hours: 35 hrs/weekly
Salary Range: $30,000 - $35,000/yr

Job Summary: Will be responsible for providing and/or facilitating access to comprehensive and integrated social services and treatment to offenders that include, but not limited to, case management, supportive substance abuse/mental health counseling, service coordination and referrals, service plan development and implementation and advocacy.

Qualifications: BA degree in Social Work and/or 5 years, minimum experience in substance abuse/mental health counseling or related field, strong knowledge of chemical dependency issues, familiarity with MICA, homelessness, entitlements, HIV/AIDS and co-occurring conditions and criminal justice system. Bilingual skills desirable. FACES NY, Inc. is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

ALL POTENTIAL CANDIDATES MAY SUBMIT THEIR RESUMES WITH COVER LETTERS TO:
Antonio Rivera, Director of Education & Client Services
Fax #: 212 864-1614 or via email arivera@FACESNY.org







Posted October 20:
*NYSACDL's POST CONVICTION SEALING HOTLINE*

The New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is collecting stories from people who have been adversely affected by an old conviction in order to convince the government to allow people to apply for their records to be sealed after staying out of trouble for a period of time. Please call the hotline at 1-888-898-0700.

If you are uncomfortable using your real name, you may remain anonymous. The hotline will be staffed on Fridays, but you may leave a message at any time and someone will get back to you.



Posted October 19:
ONE THOUSAND COATS FOR CHILDREN OF THE INCARCERATED

Winter coats will be distributed by Kerwin Phillips Foundation's Prison Brake Network following their free "Save Our Children: The Fight Continues" event at 2 pm on Saturday, October 24, at New Covenant Dominion Catherdral, 1175 Boston Road, Bx NY. Children ages 5-18 who attend the event and fill out a form will receive a new or gently used winter coat. For more information you can visit www.kphillipsfoundation.org and click on "Coats for 1000's" in the left hand column. Donations of coats are also welcomed. For more details about receiving or giving a coat, you can also call 866/611-0678, X1.


BUILDING BRIDGES OCTOBER 2009

Dear Reader,

This issue is so full of exceptional writing and important reports that I have nothing to add. Except to say, be well, have hope, and please, share your copy of Building Bridges.

In this Issue

1. Actions you can take
2. Alternatives to incarceration
3. Buffalo citizens prevail
4. Family Empowerment Day 5
5. Coalition for Fair Criminal Justice Policies
6. ICARE introduces new team member
7. Larry 'Luqman" White wins Citizen's Award
8. Legislation
9. Lifers and Longtermers Clearinghouse
10. Manhattan’s D.A. Race
11. Parole
13. Prison Media
14. Prisoners of the Census
15. Transportation to prisons
16. 'Visitors' shows at Arthur Kill


1. ACTIONS: WHAT CAN YOU DO? HERE’S A LIST OF THINGS:

ALBANY:
Friday Oct 9, 11 am
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI-NYS)'s 27th Annual Educational Conference

The Friday portion of the conference will once again focus on criminal justice and veterans issues. [Non NAMI-NYS Members $125 includes 2 meals and one year membership to NAMI-NYS.] Our featured speaker will be one of the nation's most progressive judges, Robert Russell. Judge Russell will be speaking on The Future of Veterans Courts. Judge Russell, who created Buffalo's Drug Treatment Court in 1995 and Mental Health Treatment Court in 2003, discusses the city's newest initiative, the Buffalo Veterans Treatment Court. This program, created in 2008 by the Buffalo City Court to keep veterans who are non-violent offenders out of jail, is the nation's first veterans treatment court.
Also featured on Friday is US Navy clinical psychologist Heidi Squier Kraft, PhD. Dr Kraft will describe the challenges, heartbreaks and triumphs of serving in combat as a clinical psychologist, in addition to describing her own struggle with combat trauma, and the journey of healing that became her book, Rule Number Two.
Paul Burke, Executive Director, American Psychiatric Foundation will give Friday evening's keynote address Typical or Troubled?-School Mental Health Education.
Complete agenda of the conference is available here.

Location: The Desmond Hotel and Conference Center, 660 Albany Shaker Rd, Albany, NY 12211


BUFFALO:
Monday October 26, 6:30-8:30pm
Prisoners Are People Too

Presents the program originally scheduled for September, featuring Dr. Catherine Fisher Collins, author of  The Incarceration of African American Women: Causes, Experiences, and Effects (1997-2007), (details appear in last month’s ‘Building Bridges’). It was postponed to introduce the newly formed organization, “Buffalo Prison Abuse Project” (BPAP), a coalition of various organizations which believes that “prisoners are people too.” For the last two months, BPAP’s committed members have been demonstrating in front of the Erie County Holding Center in Buffalo, raising the community’s  awareness of the urgent need for a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the conditions and management of the Holding Center and the Erie County Correctional Facility in Alden. Mental, physical, and fiscal abuse have been documented. Yet, the county’s attorney, Cheryl Green, has barred federal investigators and has directed Sheriff Timothy Howard and County Executive Chris Collins not to discuss the issues. The meeting further indicated the need for more public outrage at the various ways that  incarcerated people have their human, civil, and constitutional rights violated. BPAP is bringing pressure to bear on the County Executive, the Sheriff, the county’s Comptroller and the Erie County Legislature. (see update below in article # 2)

Pratt-Willert Community Center, 422 Pratt Street, Buffalo, NY

PRP2 programs are sponsored by The Circle of Supporters for Reformed Offenders and Friends of BaBa Eng. For further information, contact: Karima Amin: 716-834-8438.


MANHATTAN
Wednesday October 21, 1-3 pm
NY Reentry Roundtable Hosted by The Community Service Society of New York

Speaker Divine Pryor, Ph.D., Executive Director, Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions, School of Professional and Community Development, Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York on A History of Incarceration

105 East 22nd Street at Park Avenue South, Conference Room 4A
Take the 6 or W/R trains to 23rd Street
Please RSVP to Gabriel Torres-Rivera, or at 212.614.5306


Wednesday October 30, 6 pm.
Citizens Against Recidivism, Inc.'s Third Annual Citizens’ Awards

The Citizens’ Awards acknowledge the successes of formerly incarcerated people and are a public acknowledgment of the contributions these outstanding individuals have made since their release from prison.

Public perception and media portrayal of people with criminal records is predominantly negative, many in the public are unforgiving, and the atmosphere is such that many of those returning from prison find it difficult to make a successful transition into our communities. Research citing the percentage of people who return to prison following their release is well known - often 67% within three years of release. However, few efforts seek to highlight the successes.

Our past honorees include leaders in education, grassroots advocacy, religion, public service, policy change, and management-level personnel of social service programs.

It is important for the world to see that people do turn their lives around and that they work to change the course that those at risk of incarceration are likely to take if no one reaches back to help them. These attitudes and tendency would make no room for the possibility of change, of personal transformation, or of attempts to right wrongs. The Citizens’ Awards are an effort to break the silence. They are an attempt to promote the rise after the fall, the good deed that follows wrong done and to offer hope to those who are still in prison.

The Citizens’ Awards help us combat the pervasive and negative stigma that bars people who are trying to successfully reintegrate from accessing the necessities to lead a law-abiding life. The awards honor what is possible in each of us when we give ourselves a chance.

THE KEYNOTE SPEAKER WILL BE FORMER PAROLE CHAIRMAN, GEORGE B. ALEXANDER

Special invited guest: NYS Senator Bill Perkins
Other Confirmed Guests Include: NYS Assemblyman William Scarborough, Representatives of NYS Senator Malcolm Smith, and Imam Talib ‘Abdur Rashid.

At the Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center, 3940 Broadway (164th and Broadway) Manhattan.

Entertainment  and Refreshments Provided  Advance Tickets at $40 ($45 at the door)
For information about group sales inquire at info@citizensinc.org.  For advance tickets send check or money order to:
 
Citizens Against Recidivism, Inc. (Awards)
137-58 Thurston Street (Lower Level Suite), Springfield Gardens, New York 11413

To place an ad in our program or to be listed as a sponsor, click here.




2. ALTERNATIVES TO INCARCERATION- ROCKLAND COUNTY LAUNCHES VETERAN’S ALTERNATIVE TO INCARCERATION PROGRAM

Mid Hudson News August 31, 2009

NEW CITY – Rockland County officials launch the Veteran’s Alternative to Incarceration program.
 
Many vets returning from active duty in Iraq or Afghanistan turn to drugs and alcohol in an effort to self-medicate service-related issues. Others facing readjustment are left to struggle through a range of unwanted emotional responses to the trauma of combat. Those vets often enter the criminal justice system in Rockland County.

District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said the program would not be a get out of jail free card. “This is not about going soft on crime or somehow excusing unlawful behavior by people who are now separating from the military. Instead, it’s about diversion and accountability and getting them the treatment that they so necessarily need,” he said.

As part of the program, as announced by District Attorney Thomas Zugibe, County Executive S. Scott Vanderhoef and Veterans Services Director Jerry Donnellan, returning service members facing nonviolent criminal charges in Rockland will be identified and screened, then linked with veteran-specific substance abuse and mental health treatment programs as alternatives to incarceration.   

The goal of the program is to reduce criminal behavior and re-arrest rates, while helping veterans turn their lives around.



3. BUFFALO CITIZENS PREVAIL! STATE SUES SHERIFF TO COMPEL THE COUNTY TO OPERATE ITS JAIL IN A SAFE, STABLE AND HUMANE MANNER, AS REQUIRED BY LAW.

The Commission of Correction has made repeated efforts to help Erie County comply with regulations designed to ensure the safety and security of the Erie County Holding Center, and ultimately the public safety.
...We have repeatedly advised the county of its myriad delinquencies – which range from failing to provide inmates with reasonable access to a toilet and a bar of soap to troubling denials of due process in disciplinary matters – and offered to work with local officials to address deficiencies which we believe undermine the safety and security of the facility and needlessly expose the county to civil rights actions.
...We are asking only that Erie County comply with the same set of minimal standards routinely followed by the vast majority of correctional facilities across the state.
...When a county refuses to abide by those regulations and abdicates its responsibility to local taxpayers, as Erie County has, the Commission is obligated to pursue a legal remedy.
NYS Commission of Correction, Albany NY [http://www.scoc.state.ny.us/]

[For a copy of the entire article, please send an email to PAN including the name of article and month of Building Bridges]



4. FAMILY EMPOWERMENT DAY 5 - READERS OF BUILDING BRIDGES WILL BE AMONG THE FIRST TO KNOW

Prison Action Network has been receiving mail and phone calls asking about the next FED. Because the last 3 FEDs were scheduled in October, folks expect one this October and want to be sure they save the date. Be assured, you will NOT MISS THE ANNOUNCEMENT!

However, there is no FED5 in the works although we have been thinking about it. FED4's attendees called for a parole bill that would result in the release of community ready individuals who are continually denied parole based on the nature of their crime. FED5 will likely be the unveiling of the bill that results from that mandate. We will need a large group of committed people, prepared to roll up their sleeves and share in the labor and fund-raising necessary to produce such a large event. Together we can change the world, but alone we’re a voice crying in the wilderness.



5. COALITION FOR FAIR CRIMINAL JUSTICE POLICIES REPORTS ON GENERAL MEETING AND POLICY COMMITTEE PROGRESS

The GENERAL MEETING'S Public Relations Campaign is looking for someone who can help produce on their computer the cards for which we have the photos and text. As soon as that is done we will have quantities printed and a street action will be planned where we will hand out our cards and talk to people about their perceptions of us.

The POLICY COMMITTEE has been meeting weekly whenever possible. We invite your input about parole policies as we continue the work of revising 259-i. We are especially interested in what you think about the use of risk assessment tools, and what criteria you think should be considered in making parole decisions. Please send your ideas immediately to PAN at one of the addresses in the footer of this page so we have them at our next meeting. We will include your contribution in our deliberations and report back to you with our decisions, on which you will be invited to comment. A first draft is expected to be ready in October, at which time we will seek a final opinion from all those who contributed their ideas. We plan to have a final draft ready no later than January 1.



6. ICARE REPORTS - JAFAR ABBAS JOINS THE ICARE TEAM AS THEIR NEW COMMUNITY EDUCATOR. BESIDES WRITING A MONTHLY COLUMN IN BUILDING BRIDGES, MR. ABBAS WILL ALSO BE AVAILABLE FOR SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS.  

Jafar Abbas is a formerly incarcerated man who has been home for two years.  He is currently residing in Staten Island and works as a Research Assistant for Clinical Directors Network in Manhattan, putting research into practice by helping health clinics provide quality service.  In prison he discovered his gifts as a writer and performer as well as an analytical thinker.  This past June he appeared in the theatrical exploration, What it Means to Cross the Threshold from Incarceration to Freedom, where he was discovered by a member of the ICARE board.

CAGED

Have you ever wondered how a human being can spend years of life in a prison cell and not become animal? I never gave any thought to the tigers pacing back and forth in their zoo cages, not until I had a cage of my own. It wasn’t until then that I wondered if they felt the same about their captivity as I did mine. After all, our stories aren’t much different.

My caged life started in Juvenile Institutions at a young age. I soon graduated to the County Jail and eventually to the “Big House” - the New York State Department of Corrections. I was twenty years old when I took my ride ‘up the river’ and twenty-five long years later I came back down.

I went through my rites of passage in Attica Correctional Facility and saw how far down a person could go and I witnessed how far up a person could climb reclaiming their lives on their upward journey to freedom.

I could with ease describe for you a host of deplorable and degrading prison conditions. I can tell you first hand of the tension that filled Attica when I first walked through its walls in 1985. I can tell you how tear gas smells three days after it’s been dropped. How riots build unnoticed then burst unexpectedly into uncontrollable rage. I can tell you how night provides no sleep for men who fight demons when the Sun goes down. I can tell you of all this, but I will not. I will not tell you any of these things for they give breath to the well known down sides of prison life and ammunition to those seeking to shoot down the calls for humane treatment of incarcerated men and women; a treatment marked simply by the absence of neglect and abuse.

I want to give you a glimpse of the human struggle for life that exists in prisons throughout this country and exists with such audacity and power that it leaves us continuously asking the question, “How does a human being spend years of life in a prison cell and not become animal?” Most people (even those in prison) have absolutely no idea.

My way was to occupy myself with programs and hobbies that consumed time. If I hadn’t, time would have consumed me! One such hobby was the writing of poetry. Poetry allowed me to use it to make sense of my environment and to understand my past. I wrote to learn, to teach, to struggle, to live.

In the course of these monthly columns I will be sharing parts of my life and poetry with you so you can see how a human being can spend years of life in a prison cell and not become animal. -Jafar Abbas



7. LARRY "LUQMAN" WHITE WINS RECOGNITION FOR A LIFETIME OF SERVICE TO PEOPLE IN PRISON

On October 30, 2009, Citizens Against Recidivism, Inc. will host its Third Annual Citizens’ Awards (see Article #1). Readers will be happy to learn that Larry White, who contributes a regular column to this newsletter (Lifer's and Longtermers Clearinghouse, see Article # 9) will be one of the people receiving an award.

Much of Larry's incarceration was spent mentoring others in prison with him and since being released two years ago he has continued to devote his life to those he left behind. We are thrilled he won this much deserved award.

Please contact us if you would like to be part of Prison Action Network’s group reservation to attend the Awards Ceremony. If there are 10 of us, we will earn a discount of $10 each (individual reservations are $40).



8. LEGISLATION: SIGNED! IN ADDITION TO THE ANTI-SHACKLING BILL, THE DOH OVERSIGHT BILL IS SIGNED BY GOVERNOR PATERSON; SOME BILLS TO WATCH.

The Coalition for Women Prisoners is excited to report that Governor Paterson signed into law the Department of Health HIV/Hepatitis C Oversight Bill.  This advance comes after years of advocacy on the part of the Coalition for Women Prisoners, and many other advocates in NY.  Now, people living with HIV and hepatitis C in NY's prisons will receive the same quality of treatment and care as people in the community.  

We are grateful to every one of you who called and emailed the Governor, attended the rally in front of the Governor's office and shared your lived experiences.  Your advocacy was central to this victory.  Congratulations to the Conditions & Reentry Committee, co-chaired by Jess Ross and Rusti Miller-Hill, whose main legislative focus was the passage of this important bill. 

We would like to thank Tracie Gardner, Director of New York State Policy at the LegalActionCenter's Women's Initiative to Stop HIV/AIDS (WISH) and Jack Beck, Director of the Prison Visiting Project at the CA, whose commitment to passing this legislation has been tireless.  We also thank the Latino Commission on AIDS, the Women's HIV Collaborative, Women on the Rise Telling Herstory (WORTH), Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC), Fortune Society and so many other organizations who signed on in support. 

We would like to extend thanks to Sen. Thomas Duane and Assm. Richard Gottfried who championed this bill as well as Assm. Jeffrion Aubry and Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson.

[If you’d like to read one or both of two related articles, a New York Times editorial "Medical Inattention in New York Prisons", and "HIV-Positive Inmates: The Neglected Population" by Kathleen Reeves at the blogspot RH Reality Check, please send an email to PAN including the name of article and month of Building Bridges.]

THE DOH BILL:
A00903/S3842 SPONSOR:Gottfried (MS)
Amends S206, Pub Health Law
Summary: Authorizes and directs the department of health to review any policy or practice instituted in facilities operated by the department of correctional services and in local correctional facilities regarding human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), and hepatitis C including the prevention of the transmission of HIV, HCV and the treatment of AIDS among inmates.


BILLS THAT BEAR WATCHING:
The following bills all have sponsors in both houses of the legislature, and by the end of the last regular session had been sent to the appropriate committee in each house. While they will have to be reintroduced in January when the new session begins, they are bills that affect our readers and we will be keeping an eye on their progress as well as others that will be reported on in November. If your senator or assemblyperson is one of the sponsors, you might want to thank them and offer your support.

A3770-a Assem.Mbr Aubry /S4686 Sen.Hassell-Thompson Allows qualified individuals with criminal records to be employed in certain establishments that hold liquor licenses. Rules calendar.83, Investigations Committee and State Operations Committee.

S4684 Sen. Hassell-Thompson/A8178 Assem.Mbr Aubry Allows modification of child support orders or judgments for persons whose income has been reduced due to incarceration. Finance Committee, Judiciary Committee

S3559 Sen.Adams/A6853 Assem.Mbr Camara Requires written notice be given to people discharged from prisons and discharged from parole or conditional release, of such persons' eligibility to vote. Corrections Committee.

A6065 Assem.Mbr Lentol/S 1708 Sen. Sampson Permits the sealing of records of certain nonviolent misdemeanor or nonsexual misdemeanor criminal offenses Codes Committee

A5474 Assem.Mbr Boyland/S1297 Sen.Montgomery Provides that Correctional institution officials shall provide instruction to and assist certain prisoners, at least 90 days prior to their release, to apply to receive Medicaid. Correction Committee, Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections Committee

A5946 Assem.Mbr Espaillet/S1633 Sen Schneiderman Directs that State Board of Elections obtain residential data on incarcerated persons to be used in creating congressional, senate, assembly, and county districts. Election Law Committee.

A3260 Assem.Mbr Benjamin/S1294 Sen. Montgomery Relates to prohibiting colleges from denying formerly incarcerated individuals’ admittance to college based solely o their incarceration. Education Committee and Higher Education Committee.

[Copies of any bill can be had by sending an email to PAN including the name and number of Bill, and the month of this issue]



9. LIFERS AND LONGTERMERS CLEARINGHOUSE - SENTENCE PLANNING: WHETHER ONE IS A PRISONER SERVING A SENTENCE, A HOSTAGE IN A KIDNAPPING, OR A CAPTIVE IN A WAR.

A major problem facing a prisoner serving a long-term sentence is how to plan the service of his/her sentence such as to achieve the greatest benefits.  The prospect of an extended period of imprisonment raises urgent questions of personal survival that for long-term prisoners are of such immediacy that urgent questions of personal development seem impractical.

The ability to plan for the future, to develop a definiteness of purpose, to consider the need for intellectual and spiritual growth, requires a positive life-giving attitude about one's situation.  Such an attitude is not an inherent aspect of long-term imprisonment, but requires an organized, programmed effort to develop.

As in any endeavor designed to produce beneficial results, a well thought out plan of action is required.  Such a plan should be based on sound principles and effective guidelines.

Long-term prisoners need more than just prison program planning; they need sentence planning.  Sentence planning refers to the need to address the totality of extended prison existence for long-term prisoners through integrated approaches, rather than simply plugging them into traditional correctional programs .

Sentence planning as defined here is the process of utilizing universal principles of behavior during confinement to structure the service of a prison sentence.  Contrary to popular belief, there are principles that form the basis of codes of behavior governing prisoners of every kind and designation.

Whether one is a prisoner serving a sentence, a hostage in a kidnap, or a captive in a war, there are two primary principles governing behavior during confinement: 1) to gain one's freedom as quickly as possible, and 2) to leave confinement in better condition than when one began it.  These principles are universal in that they apply to all forms of confinement.

THE FIRST PRINCIPLE

The first principle: to gain one’s freedom as quickly as possible - not only identifies the ultimate goal to be reached, but it also provides guidelines for achieving that goal - to act as quickly and expeditiously as possible.  To act expeditiously is to take no action that would impede or delay achievement of one’s freedom.  This requires a critical awareness of one's behavior and a commitment to a process of liberating action.  Liberating acts are behavior designed to expedite rather than impede one’s freedom.  Liberating acts are the result of a process: REFLECTION AND ACTION.  When faced with a decision, the prisoner reflects upon the guiding principle and then acts accordingly.
 
THE SECOND PRINCIPLE
 
The second principle - to leave confinement in better condition than when it started - provides direction and guidelines for personal growth and development during confinement.  This principle directs prisoners to pursue a course of growth and development throughout their imprisonment.  Just as freedom is an essential attribute of human existence, the ability to grow and develop to the full extent of one's ability is an inherent expression of that freedom.  That is why the two principles must be carried out in conjunction, prisoners must not only struggle to obtain their freedom, but as a complement of that struggle, prisoners must pursue every opportunity for the growth and development of their human potential.
 
LIVING BY PRINCIPLES
Because principles provide rules and guidelines that govern behavior, living a life governed by principles may not be an easy matter for many prisoners.  The discipline and commitment required must be learned and internalized. 
 
The learning process begins with an understanding of the principles and a belief that strict adherence to them will achieve positive and beneficial results.  Understanding the principles may not be a problem, but developing a motivating belief that such principles can easily be followed in a prison setting requires serious consideration.
 
One such consideration is the popular belief among many prisoners that strict adherence to prison rules and regulations is a sign of weakness and an inability to stand up to authority, of "being down with the administration".  Such beliefs may be popular with peers and provide a fashionable image, but they do nothing to enhance efforts to free oneself or positively affect your growth and development.  If your beliefs do nothing to motivate behaviors toward freedom, or improve growth and development then they must surely foster actions that result in continued confinement.
 
APPLICATION OF THE UNIVERSAL PRINCIPLES
Although these principles are universal in their application to the conditions of confinement, they are generally adhered to in all situations.  Hostages in a kidnap or a botched robbery who endure lengthy periods of confinement instinctively follow these principles without specific instructions about them.  They certainly do not engage in mindless macho contests to the detriment of their own freedom and well being.  Soldiers captured in a state of war have been trained and instructed regarding aspects of these principles and follow them with strict discipline .  Yet state prisoners who are subject to greater periods of confinement would seem to be oblivious to these principles and their application in a prison setting. -Larry White


10. MANHATTAN'S DISTRICT ATTORNEY RACE: CY VANCE WINS PRIMARY ON A PLATFORM OF COMMUNITY BASED JUSTICE, SAYS PRISON SHOULD BE A LAST RESORT.

Defense lawyer and political scion Cy Vance won Manhattan's Democratic primary with close to 44 percent of the vote in a three-way race. In an interview with All Things Harlem (see link below), Mr. Vance stated many views supported by members of the Prison Action Network. His past record includes working as a prosecutor for former DA Robert Morris Morgenthau (who is resigning after 35 years), serving on NYS's Sentencing Commission, and practicing as a Defense Attorney.

Among policies he promised in his interview with Jazz Hayden:

community based justice (teams assigned to neighborhoods, to know a smaller area well, and take pride in reducing crime there as well as winning cases)

DA's office will be full partner with community leaders as well as Probation and Parole.

diversion to alternative programs for minors and low level offenders.

will help people returning from prison to find housing, a job, and treatment, in order to prevent recidivism.

acknowledged the racial imbalance in the composition of arrests and prosecutions and incarceration and promised his office would use their power to administer justice fairly so as to bring safety to our communities and fairness in our courtrooms.

for his office a crime prevented is far more powerful than a crime prosecuted. Prison should be a last resort. 

Watch and listen to the interview.



11. PAROLE NEWS: PART 10 FROM THE PAROLE HANDBOOK; PRESUMPTIVE RELEASE; JULY and AUGUST PAROLE STATISTICS

PART 10 ON PAROLE AND PAROLE BOARD ACTIVITIES IN STATE CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES (#s 12,13,14 IN THEIR HANDBOOK)
[available online at http://parole.state.ny.us/Handbook.pdf or from PAN for a donation of $4 or more - it’s approximately 50 pages]

WHAT IS PRESUMPTIVE RELEASE?
In 2003, Section 806 of the Correction Law was amended to enable the Department of Correctional Services to grant presumptive release to an eligible inmate upon serving a prescribed term of his or her indeterminate sentence. Conditions of release for persons granted Presumptive Release is set by the Board of Parole.

If you are granted Presumptive Release, you will be released from prison and supervised by a Parole Officer. You are not eligible for Presumptive Release if you are serving a sentence for or previously convicted of any of the following:
• An A-1 felony offense;
• A Penal Law Sec. 70.02 violent felony offense;
• Manslaughter 2nd degree;
• Vehicular manslaughter 1st and 2nd degree;
• Criminal negligent homicide;
• Penal Law Article 130 or 263 offenses; or
• Incest.

Presumptive Release may be withheld if, while incarcerated, you commit a serious disciplinary infraction or if you have initiated a frivolous lawsuit or have had sanctions imposed against you under Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for litigation you have commenced against the State or its employees.

If you meet the above criteria and also meet the criteria for Merit Time, you may be entitled to Presumptive Release at the expiration of five-sixths of your minimum term or aggregate minimum term. You should talk with your Correction Counselor regarding program application.

WHAT IF I AM DENIED PRESUMPTIVE RELEASE?
You will appear before the Parole Board for discretionary release consideration, based on either a merit time allowance or satisfaction of your minimum term.


AUGUST 2009 PAROLE BOARD RELEASES – A1 VIOLENT FELONS – unofficial research from parole database

Total Interviews...# Released........# Denied.........Rate of Release
18 initial ................... 2.................... 16................. 11%
88 reappearances ...... 7.................... 81................. 8%
106 Total................... 9.................... 97................. 8%

August Initial Releases
Facility..................... Sentence .........Offense........... # of Board
Bedford Hills............. 20-Life.......... Murder 2 .............initial
Clinton...................... 25-Life.......... Murder 2.............initial

August Reappearances
Facility....................... Sentence......... Offense......... # of Board
Clinton....................... 25-Life............ Murder 2 ....... 2nd
Clinton ...................... 7-Life.............. Murder 2........ 11th**
Great Meadow............ 25-Life............ Murder 2........ 4th
Otisville..................... 15-Life............ Murder 2........ 5th
Otisville..................... 15-Life............ Murder 2........ 4th
Shawangunk.............. 20-Life............ Murder 2........ 4th
Wallkill...................... 25-Life............ Murder 2........ 7th
**Special Consideration Hearing


SEPTEMBER RELEASES FROM PRISON REPORTS. (Only one prison reported this month):

OTISVILLE
Sept - commissioners’ names were not given, total number of appearances was not supplied
8 were paroled, 2 were A1VOs.
3 of the 8 were for deportation



12. PRISON MEDIA: ALL THINGS HARLEM, FANCY BROCCOLI, ON THE COUNT, SOUL SPECTRUM WITH LIBERTY GREEN

ALL THINGS HARLEM - www.allthingsharlem.com
Watch and listen to the interview with Cy Vance (reported in Article #10), as well as many other videos likely to be of interest to our readers.  New coverage is added regularly.  See their TV program on MNN.  If you know of events in the community that you think are worth covering please contact Joseph Hayden at info@allthingsharlem.com.

FANCY BROCCOLI RADIO SHOW, WVKR,  91.3 FM - Sundays - Jazz & Prison Talk, 3:00-6:00 pm
Box 726, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie NY 12604-0726
Fancy Broccoli streams online - go to www.WVKR.org and click on (or near) the word 'LISTEN'.
Visit archives to find lots of other good interviews.

ON THE COUNT, WBAI, 99.5FM. - Sundays 10:30am-noon. To listen live on your computer, visit www.wbai.org. To listen later, visit their archives.

SOUL SPECTRUM WITH LIBERTY GREEN, WJFF Radio Catskill 90.5FM - Thursday evenings from 10pm to 1:30am. PO Box 546, Jeffersonville, NY 12748 Voice Box Call-in Comment Line: 845 431 6500 To listen on your computer, live, click here: www.wjffradio.org. To send an email, click here: Email:libertygreen@citlink.net



13. PRISONERS OF THE CENSUS - THE BURDEN TO ELIMINATE PRISON-BASED GERRYMANDERING IS SHIFTING TO THE STATES. IN WISCONSIN, A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT WOULD REQUIRE THE STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TO IGNORE THE PRISON POPULATIONS WHEN DRAWING DISTRICTS.

WISCONSIN AMENDMENT CORRECTS CENSUS
by Peter Wagner, September 14, 2009
[read entire article here]

The 23rd decennial Census will again be counting incarcerated people in the wrong place. But if a proposed constitutional amendment in Wisconsin passes, the state's days of using prison counts to distort districts (and influence elections) will be over.

Ideally, the Census Bureau would change where it counts people in prison. But the pace of change has so far been slow, and with time running short before the next Census in April, the number of options are limited.

Now, the burden to eliminate prison-based gerrymandering is shifting to the states. In Wisconsin, Rep. Frederick Kessler has introduced a constitutional amendment that would require the state and local governments to ignore the prison populations when drawing districts. This approach would not credit incarcerated people back to their homes in Milwaukee and other urban areas, but it would end the practice of crediting them to the rural districts where they count for as much as a tenth of a state legislative district.

On September 15th, I traveled to the Wisconsin State Capital to testify in support of the Wisconsin Census Correction amendment which would direct state and local governments to omit the Census Bureau's incarcerated population when drawing legislative districts.

The Prison Policy Initiative depends on the support of the people who receive this newsletter. If you can help support our work with a tax-deductible contribution it can be done at Network for Good.



14. TRANSPORTATION TO PRISONS:

CAPITAL DISTRICT
NEST Prison Shuttle schedule: Mt McGregor, Washington, Grt Meadow CFs on Sat, Oct 3 ($35 adults, $25 children), Coxsackie, Greene, Hudson on BOTH Sat, Oct 10 & 17  ($20  adults, $15 children) leaving Oakwood Ave Presbyt. Church parking lot, Troy at 7 AM, then Albany Greyhound bus station at 7:15. Sullivan trip (Ulster, Eastern, Woodbourne, Sullivan) on Oct 24 leaving at 6:30 AM ($45 adults, $30 children). Reservations: Linda O'Malley 518- 273-5199.

Free door to door rides from the Capital District: The Justice Committee at the Unitarian Church has 3 volunteer drivers. If you have a loved one in prison and you have no other way of getting to see him or her, maybe we can help. Call us to find out: 518 253 7533



15 "VISITORS" SCREENING AT ARTHUR KILL CORRECTIONAL FACILITY ON STATEN ISLAND RAISES AWARENESS OF FAMILY SACRIFICES: REPORT FROM MELIS BIRDER, THE FILMMAKER

On June 17th, we had a screening at the Arthur Kill Correctional Facility for a group of inmates who were members of the “Lifers and Long Timers Group”. The screening turned out be a moving experience both for the inmates and myself. We received many insightful feedbacks and comments.

During the Q & A session, the inmates emphasized that “the film raised an awareness about the trials and the tribulations that their loved one's go through year after year thus giving them strength and hope to continue to do what’s right.”

The counselors who arranged the screening were also very supportive of the film. A few days following the screening, one of them told me that “the film created such a positive buzz at the facility that the men couldn’t stop talking about it. ”

Our next goal is to reach out to as many correctional facilities as possible.

You can contact Ms. Birder at melisbirder@yahoo.com. Some quotes and comments by men who saw the film at Arthur Kill Correctional Facility are posted here.



Building Bridges is the monthly newsletter of the Prison Action Network.
For information on joining, please send an email to prisonactionnetwork@gmail.com .