Building Bridges

The monthly newsletter of the Prison Action Network

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Monday, June 29, 2009

JULY 2009

Periodically during the month we post bulletins sent to us from members. You'll find the July Building Bridges immediately following the announcements. Thank you for joining us in our efforts to bring more justice into the world.

POSTED JULY 10, FROM PETER WAGNER OF PRISONERS OF THE CENSUS, EVENTS AND AN UPDATE:

New York City, Monday July 13: Peter Wagner will be speaking about prison-based
gerrymandering at a CLE Seminar during the NAACP Convention.
2:35pm Gramercy Suite, New York Hilton.

Philadelphia, Tuesday, July 21: Peter Wagner will be speaking about the legal and
technical issues involved in states changing how people in prison are
counted for redistricting purposes at the National Conference of
State Legislatures Legislative Summit.
1:15pm, Convention Center 112AB--Street.

* * *

NEWS UPDATES:

Last week I wrote about Wisconsin State Representative's Census
Correction Amendment at
www.prisonersofthecensus.org.

Shawn Johnson on Wisconsin Public Radio reported on the amendment,
and the Associated Press then produced a story that appeared in
papers across the state. You can listen to Wisconsin Public Radio's
report at:
clipcast.wpr.org:8080.



BUILDING BRIDGES, JULY 2009

Dear Reader,

We suffered a major setback this Spring, as you all know. I won’t even try to assess the damage done by some members of the Senate. The details change every day, but the tragedy goes on. Many important bills, including those we champion, will not get passed this year. We are apparently helpless to do anything about it, so let’s concentrate on what we can do.

Prison Action Network and the Coalition for Fair Criminal Justice Policies will continue to work hard to design a new parole policy that will emphasize evaluation and support rather than punishment and retribution. There are over 2300 men and women who have served their minimum sentences and are still in prison. Many of them because the Parole Board sees fit to punish them more severely than the judge who sentenced them thought necessary. We see no benefit in this. These people have served their time in prison; if they have grown and rehabilitated themselves we need them out here where they can work at our side to heal the community. This can only happen if we change the way we look at incarceration and parole. The whole criminal justice system needs remediating and that’s our ultimate goal, but these 2300 men and women should not have to wait that long for justice. We must all work together to free our family members and friends once they have demonstrated their community readiness. Therefore we are working on revising 259-i with an emphasis on evaluation and support, and a reduction, if not elimination, of punitive functions.

One way you can help with that is to make sure that everyone of those 2300 people fill out the questionnaire on pages 9 and 10, which was developed by Citizens Against Recidivism who will tabulate the results and share them with all of us who are working on parole reform.

Be well, have hope, and please, join us on the journey to justice.


In this Issue

1. Abuse of incarcerated youth
2. Actions you can take
3. ICARE Reports
4. Legislation
5. Lifers and longtermers clearinghouse
6. Parole news
7. Prison closures - what replaces them?
8. Prison media
9. Prisoners of the census
10. Transportation to prison
11. Citizens Against Recidivism questionnaire


1. ABUSE OF INCARCERATED YOUTH: AT A HEARING HELD IN JUNE “LISTENERS” WATCHED A THEATRE PERFORMANCE BY HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS AND HEARD TESTIMONY FROM YOUNG PEOPLE, ADVOCATES, AND FAMILY MEMBERS.

On June 12th and 13th, the Urban Justice Center’s Mental Health Project, Riverside Church’s Prison Ministry, and the American Friends Service Committee organized a hearing on the abuse of incarcerated youth. Topics included physical, sexual, and mental abuse, solitary confinement and mental health, and re-entry and transformation of the system. Young people, advocates and family members testified on all of these topics. A highlight from the event was a theatre performance by high school students from New Jersey. The play, titled ‘Our Children’s House’, addressed young people’s experiences of being locked up and the many horrors involved. It was a powerful event, where many horrors were brought to light. The hearing will be followed by a report including recommendations from the listeners who participated.

Alexandra H. Smith, MSW, Soros Justice Fellow, Mental Health Project, Urban Justice Center 123 William Street, 16th Floor, New York, NY 10038 Tel: (646)-602-5683 Fax: (212) 533-4598
asmith@urbanjustice.org


2. ACTIONS: WHAT CAN YOU DO? HERE’S A LIST OF THINGS TO START WITH

BUFFALO:
Monday, July 27, 6:30pm - 8:30pm Prisoners Are People Too will meet at the Pratt-Willert Community Center, 422 Pratt Street in Buffalo. This meeting will open with a screening of the documentary film, “A Justice That Heals,” produced and directed by Jay Shefsky and Window to the World Communications: Chicago, Illinois, 2002. Although the term “restorative justice” is never used in the film, we see evidence of a form of justice that is truly “restorative” as two families, that of a murder victim and that of the perpetrator, have an opportunity to meet and share their stories, their feelings, and their loss.  A tragic incident that could have divided the community, ultimately serves as a vehicle for bringing two families together.

Our guest speakers will be members of two local families who have journeyed a restorative path together, in the aftermath of a murder, seeking restoration and reconciliation.

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; karima@prisonersarepeopletoo.org.


NEW YORK CITY

Thursday, July 2, 12 - 4 pm The Bronx Defenders will be hosting their annual Block Party, a great event with free fun, games, food and entertainment for children and their families. 160th Street between Melrose and Courtlandt Avenues. The Bronx Defenders is an organization of lawyers, social workers, investigators, community organizers, parent advocates, and support staff working to transform the role of public defender in the Bronx. For more information about the block party, please contact Lise Radhert at Liser@bronxdefenders.org

Saturday July 11, 10:30am - 1pm Coalition For Fair Criminal Justice Policies - NYC Chapter Meeting
The meeting will start sharply at 10:30 am.  The Policy Committee will report on their June 20 meeting, and those who worked on the Media Campaign will report their results.  We will take the first step in our Public Relations campaign to change the public perception of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people and their families.  Please bring a pen/pencil and paper.
Fortune Society Castle, 630 Riverside Drive, at 140th Street.  City College/137th St. stop on the #1 train. [Please note the Fortune Society is not a sponsor of our events].  
To help us plan please RSVP to prisonactionnetwork@gmail.com or call 518 253 7533.

Saturday July 18, 12 noon - 2 Joe Gonzalez's First Annual Reentry Walk-a-thon
For people who labor in the reentry industry in a salaried or volunteer capacity; a cost-free event where we will fellowship and renew ourselves and our commitments to a more just society while engaging in the healthy exercise of walking. Gather at the corner of West 59th Street and Central Park. We'll start walking north on Central Park West to West 110th Street, promptly at 12:30pm. This is all sidewalk except for four traffic stops that allow for roads in/out of Central Park. For those who can't make the whole distance, they are advised that the NYC subway runs north and south along this stretch of Central Park West about every seven blocks.

Questions should be e-mailed to Joe Gonzalez at reentryevents@aol.com


AT A COMPUTER
Today! Drug Policy Alliance has set up an action center where you can make your voice heard. Some New York Senate politicians are trying to stir up press attention by calling this April's hard-won reforms of the Rockefeller Drug Laws the "Drug Dealer Protection Act," and calling for repeals of critical aspects of the program. We can't afford to let their cynical opposition erode the progress we've made. Help us set the record straight: Let Albany know that a majority of New Yorkers support Rockefeller Reforms and want to keep them in place. Send a letter today.

SEND THE SURVEY AT THE END OF THIS LETTER TO SOMEONE YOU KNOW IN PRISON
Right now! Citizens Against Recidivism, Inc. want to consult with people in prison on the issues that affect them.  Citizens is interested in the views on parole of those who are incarcerated.  We believe we cannot make any argument about parole without their input.  We want your help in reaching as many people in prison as possible.  The brief survey will help us when we speak about this issue. 



3. ICARE REPORTS WILL BE TAKING THE SUMMER OFF. LOOK FOR THE NEXT COLUMN IN THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE.



4. LEGISLATION: [Copies of all bills mentioned can be found at http://public.leginfo.state.ny.us/menuf.cgi]

UPDATES
Penal Law 803-B Six Month Credit Time Allowance:
Upon further investigation and the help of a reader, it now seems clear that only those with a determinate sentence will be denied the 6 month credit because they had good behavior time credit withheld.

Merit Time Bill S2932/A6487
Passed out of the Senate Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections Committee and was waiting to be put on the Calendar, when the Senate fell into total disarray. It did not get out of the Assembly Corrections Committee before the end of session, so it’s dead for this year. We’ll have to see if it’s reintroduced next session, or if yet another Merit Time Bill will be drafted in an attempt to satisfy more people.

Domestic Violence Merit Time Bill A4516-C/S3438-C
Passed in the Assembly after revision, was sent to the Senate, and you know about the Senate stalemate.

Adoption Policies Affecting Children of Incarcerated Parents A5462/S2233
Passed in the Assembly, sent to Senate, and.....



5. LIFERS AND LONGTERMERS CLEARINGHOUSE: THE BURNING QUESTION IS HOW WILL YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE WHETHER SERVING A PENAL SENTENCE, SURVIVING A SITUATION OF ABJECT HOMELESSNESS, OR DEALING WITH INCURABLE CANCER.

THE PRISONER'S PERSPECTIVE

Checking things out from a prisoner’s perspective is both enlightening and instructive.  It is also emancipating in that it provides a point of view grounded in the experiences of the imprisoned rather than relying on the pronouncements of the controlling authorities.

A prisoner’s perspective begins with the realization that the situation that you find yourself in is not merely one concerning a prison sentence.  That you are not just serving time, but more importantly that you are living your life and your sentence is merely an aspect of that life.

Your sentence, no matter how long, is only a feature or consideration of a life that will ultimately determine how you will serve that sentence.  In other words it is your life not your sentence that should be the controlling factor. The burning question is how will you live your life whether serving a penal sentence, surviving a situation of abject homelessness, or dealing with incurable cancer. 

How you live your life during imprisonment determines if you are doing a beneficial or painful bid.  As I have taught over the years, a prisoner must construct a prison life.  You alone must determine how you will live your life during the course of your sentence, not the authorities or anyone else.  The decision about how we live our lives is always, knowingly or unconsciously, a deeply personal decision. The crucial question is "who is driving the car?" 

Once you realize and accept that you are in charge, and then base your everyday decisions on living an intentional and meaningful life, the trials and tribulations of doing time diminish and serving your sentence becomes a challenge.  And challenges are never good or bad, they are merely the tests of your will and your will is what drives your life!!!

Once you realize that serving time is all about living your life, rather than serving a sentence, then your perspective changes.  You begin to understand that how you perceive and respond to your imprisonment has value and needs to be shared and articulated. But developing a perspective and articulating it requires a knowledge of the subject matter.  It is not just a matter of opening your mouth and expressing a wild opinion. 

In order to merit serious consideration, your perspective should be based upon studied facts, not emotional outbursts.  Given your status as prisoner, your perspective should seek to not only improve your social standing, but also to inform others; and not only other prisoners but those in the free world as well. Because your perspective seeks to improve their condition, it must not only inform, but must also be instructive. 

Instruction is most effective when it is exchanged. In next month's Building Bridges I'll be discussing in depth the perspective you need to articulate to community organizations providing correctional rehabilitation programs and service. -Larry White


6. PAROLE NEWS: ANDREA D. EVANS IS THE NEW HEAD OF PAROLE; PART 7 OF PAROLE HANDBOOK; MAY AND JUNE PAROLE STATISTICS; UPDATE ON GRAZIANO

NEW CHAIR CONFIRMED BY SENATE. On Monday, June 8, shortly before the Republicans threw the Senate into upheaval, Andrea D. Evans was confirmed by the NYS Senate as Chair of the Parole Board, and CEO of the Division of Parole. Prison Action Network congratulates her, and looks forward to working with her to make NYS a leader in reintegrative justice based parole practices.

PART 7 ON PAROLE AND PAROLE BOARD ACTIVITIES IN STATE CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES
[available online at http://parole.state.ny.us/Handbook.pdf]

What is the purpose of the initial parole board appearance?
Upon serving the minimum term of an indeterminate sentence, you are automatically scheduled to make an initial Parole Board appearance. This is your first opportunity to be considered for discretionary release by the Parole Board. It is at this appearance that the Board examines your institutional adjustment, including your disciplinary record and earned eligibility status. The Board also reviews your criminal history and other factors required by law to determine whether release should be granted. Shock Incarceration participants usually do not have a personal appearance before the Parole Board, but are considered for release by the Board before completing the program.

Who will be present at the parole board interview?
Release interviews are conducted by a panel of two or three members of the Parole Board; facility Parole staff and a hearing reporter will also be present. The hearing reporter will record what is said during the interview.

May I appear before the parole board for a release interview with an attorney?
No. Counsel may not be present at such interviews.

What is temporary release? what is parole’s role in temporary release?
Temporary Release is a program under the jurisdiction of the Department of Correctional Services, which authorizes your temporary release from a correctional facility into the community for specific purposes. Every correctional facility has a Temporary Release Committee to screen and process applications from eligible inmates for program participation. A Parole Officer will supervise you in the community if you are approved for temporary release. Details about Temporary Release Program eligibility requirements and application procedures are available from DOCS staff at the facility where you are confined.

What is shock incarceration and how does it affect parole eligibility?
Shock Incarceration is a program under the jurisdiction of the Department of Correctional Services in which selected, eligible inmates participate in a structured six-month program at a Shock Incarceration facility. Generally, participants who successfully complete the program are issued a Certificate of Earned Eligibility and are eligible for parole release consideration prior to completing their court-imposed minimum sentence.


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

Total Interviews /# Released /# Denied /Rate of Release
9 initials / 0 /9 /0%
60 reappearances /11 (1 female) /49 /18%
69 total /11 /58 /16%

Initial Releases None

Reappearances
Facility /Sentence /Offense /# of Board /Eligibility Date
Cayuga /13 2/3-Life /Murder 2 /4th /9/10/03
Clinton /1 ?- Life** /Murder 2 /???** /3/25/08**
Gouverneur /25-Life /Murder 2 /5th /9/13/01
Mid Orange /15-Life /Murder 2 /6th /9/20/99
Mid Orange /15-Life /Murder 2 /7th /4/12/98*
Mohawk /20-Life /Murder 2 /4th /9/18/03
Oneida /18-Life /Murder 2 /4th /1/25/03
Otisville /7-Life /Murder 2 /5th /9/26/01
Otisville /20-Life /Murder 2 /4th or 5th /10/27/03*
Taconic /15-life /Murder 2 /2nd /10/19/08*
Wallkill /20-Life /Murder 2 /5th /9/30/01

*Special Consideration Hearings
**Sentence not our typo, parole eligibility date not a typo


MAY RELEASES FROM PRISON REPORTS. (Please note that the following statistics are not all limited to people convicted of A1 Violent felonies - some include all parole hearings):

MID-ORANGE
June 16 - Ludlow, Elovich
25 appearances (13 A1VO)
6 were paroled (3 A1VO; 1 non viol. at de novo; 1 persistent Lifer on 6th board; 1 violent on 1st board)
2 postponements
1 refused to appear

SULLIVAN ANNEX
June - Casey, Smith, ?? (Grant maybe?-see below)
5 appearances
All were paroled: 4 non-v, (1 merit, 1 presumptive, 1 initial, 1 on 2nd board) 1 viol., (on 4th board),

WOODBOURNE
June - Grant, Casey, Smith
21 appearances:
8 were granted parole (4 A1VO; 20-life on 2nd board, 15-life on 2nd board, 18-life on first, 25-life on first.
5 postponed
A1VO: 7 seen, 4 granted, 2 denied, 1 postponed


GRAZIANO VS PATAKI: The lawyers for Graziano submitted written questions to Pataki; his responses are not due for another 3 weeks or so.


7. PRISON CLOSURES: IMAGINE A WORLD WITHOUT PRISONS, AND YOU HAVE…WHAT ELSE? THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES HAS TO COME UP WITH RE-USE PLANS FOR THREE FACILITIES BY OCTOBER 1, 2009

by Lauren Melodia
For the first time in recent history, New York State is decommissioning some of its prisons.  The impetus for the prison closures is not because the State finally realized that prisons don’t work, but because of a state fiscal crisis and a shift in State Senate politics this year.  But the closure of Camp Pharsalia, Camp Gabriels and Mt. McGregor Camp give us an exciting opportunity to come up with other ways those spaces can be used.  How can those facilities or the counties in which they are housed be used so that they don’t have to be reopened and so prisons are no longer an economic answer to a rural economy’s needs?

Who do you think will come up with a re-use plan that is best for families and a sustainable and just economy?  The government? Or you?  Residents of these counties, people in prison, and prison families know what is best for these communities.  Let’s be creative and come up with some solutions that build a healthy economy and good jobs that don’t depend on keeping people in cages.

People in prison and residents of upstate New York! People in prison and residents of Chenango, Saratoga and Franklin counties! Prison families! Think about the prison where you are incarcerated, where you visit your loved ones, where you live.  What else could that space be used for?  What was there before the prison?  What are the strengths of the county and town where that prison is now and how can that prison facility be used in another way that is economically viable for the area?

Please send your ideas in words and/or pictures and/or drawings to Lauren Melodia at laurenmelodia@yahoo.com or by mail to Lauren Melodia c/o Karen Jones, Center for Community Alternatives, 115 East Jefferson Street Suite 300, Syracuse, NY 13202. Send your ideas and help start a critical, statewide discussion on rural prison economies this year.  

Lauren Melodia is a 2009 Soros Justice Fellow who will be working with community members in rural “prison towns” to re-imagine their local economies.  Melodia’s project involves a collaborative effort to help these rural areas develop sustainable models for growth that do not depend on keeping people in cages. 



8. PRISON MEDIA: RADIO - AL LEWIS LIVES, FANCY BROCCOLI, SOUL SPECTRUM WITH LIBERTY GREEN; PRO SE REPORT; STILL HERE HARLEM [Video] PRODUCTIONS PROFILES POLITICAL CANDIDATES, IS LOOKING FOR ADDITIONAL STAFF; ‘THE VISITORS’ VISITS PRISONS

WHERE'S KAREN LEWIS?
We haven't been able to contact Karen, host of Al Lewis Lives, in months. Past phone numbers are out of service. Emails are not delivered, and we received no response when we asked the station manager at WBAI. Does anyone know what has happened to Karen Lewis, host of Al Lewis Lives? Please let us know. [prisonactionnetwork@gmail.com] We hope she is ok.

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.

SOUL SPECTRUM WITH LIBERTY GREEN, WJFF Radio Catskill 90.5FM - Thursday evening from 10pm to 1:30am. [www.wjffradio.org] PO Box 546, Jeffersonville, NY 12748 Voice Box Call-in Comment Line: 845 431 6500 Email:libertygreen@citlink.net

PRO SE REPORT, THE LATEST (SPRING 2009) ISSUE, published by Prisoners Legal News contains the following articles:

A Win in the Supreme Court
Resentencing for Certain Class B Drug Offenders
Medical Parole Expanded
Questions about Time Served on Illegal Post-Release Supervision

Pro Se is published four times a year. Pro Se accepts individual subscription requests. With a subscription, a copy of Pro Se will be delivered directly to you via the facility correspondence program. To subscribe, send a subscription request with your name, DIN number, and facility to Pro Se, 114 Prospect Street, Ithaca, NY 14850.
Pro Se Wants to Hear From You! Pro Se wants your opinion. Send your comments, questions, or suggestions about the contents of Pro Se to Pro Se, 41 State Street, Suite M112, Albany, NY 12207. Do not send requests for legal representation to Pro Se.
Pro Se On-Line: Inmates who have been released, and/or families of inmates, can read Pro Se on the PLS website at: www.plsny.org.

STILL HERE HARLEM PRODUCTIONS - [www.allthingsharlem.com]

We’ve started a series of profiles of candidates running for political office in the Harlem community.  Chuck Berkely, from 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement and Landon Dais have been covered so far.  We take no position pro or con on the candidates.  We leave that to the community members.  You can read an article about us in The National, a middle eastern paper out of Abu Dhabi. 

While we are growing in our connectivity to the community we continue to be short on staff, both administrative and technical. If you have skills in journalism, administrative skills, marketing and promotion, and the technical skills needed for video production please contact Joseph Jazz Hayden, "Still Here" Harlem Productions Inc.at jazz@allthingsharlem.com.  We need your help.

New videos are available on our website [www.allthingsharlem.com] covering the shooting of Omar Edwards, Charles Barron, Charlie Rangel, Al Sharpton, the Party For Socialism and Liberation Conference, Frances Villar, candidate for Mayor of New York and others.

THE VISITORS, COMING TO A PRISON NEAR YOU (MAYBE): A NOTE FROM THE FILMMAKER
We were at Arthur Kill Correctional Facility with Denise [main character in the film]. We screened the film to Lifers and Longtimers. It was a great experience as they loved the film. Some of them were in tears. We received great feedback and comments.
The counselors who arranged the screening where also very supportive of the film. Our next goal is to reach out to other prisons. We welcome invitations from any facilities. Melis Birder, 347-272-3097, melisbirder@yahoo.com.





9. PRISONERS OF THE CENSUS: CALLS FOR THE COMMISSIONER OF THE MAINE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION TO DECLARE PRISON-BASED GERRYMANDERING A VIOLATION OF THE PRINCIPLES OF ONE PERSON ONE VOTE

In January, I released a report, Phantom Constituents in Maine's Regional School Unit 13: How the Census Bureau's Outdated Method of Counting Prisoners Harms Democracy, which identified how the town of Thomaston, Maine, is able to use Census counts of a closed prison to exercise undue influence over a school board.

Each town is given a number of votes in proportion to its population, but because the board used Census Bureau counts that included the now-closed Maine State Prison, they unintentionally gave Thomaston more votes than its population was entitled to. (Unlike the Census Bureau, Maine state law says that incarcerated people remain residents of their home, not prison, addresses.)

Earlier, the Commissioner's office told the board that the impact of the prison was too small to matter, so our letter reviews the relevant legal precedent and the appropriate way to calculate vote dilution. We found that crediting the prison to Thomaston results in inflating the weight of a vote in that town by almost 9%, which is significantly more than the 5% allowed by Supreme Court decisions. When compared against the weight of a vote in the other towns, the distortion is also larger than the maximum deviation allowed by controlling precedents.

Some members of the school board want to reject the flawed census counts and update their voting system without regard to the prison population. If successful, each resident of the school district would have an equal say over the education of their children.

But before proceeding with changes, state law requires the Commissioner of the Maine Department of Education to declare the current voting system in violation of the principles of one person one vote. The Commissioner has not yet responded to our letter.

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 contributions via Network for Good or via a paper check sent to this address, please do so today.

Peter Wagner
Prison Policy Initiative
PO Box 127 Northampton, MA 01061



10. TRANSPORTATION: CAPITAL DISTRICT
NEST Prison Shuttle schedule: Mt McGregor, Washington, Grt Meadow CFs on Sat, Jul 4 ($35 adults, $25 children), Coxsackie, Greene, Hudson on BOTH Sat, Jul 11 & 18 ($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 Jul 25 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



BUILDING BRIDGES IS A JOINT EFFORT OF PRISON ACTION NETWORK AND THE JUSTICE COMMITTEE AT FUUSA
PLEASE SEND YOUR ANNOUNCEMENTS FOR PUBLICATION TO PRISONACTIONNETWORK@GMAIL.COM
OUR PHONE # IS 518 253 7533
Membership dues are $12/yr. Please send check made out to PAN, at PO Box 6355, Albany NY 12206


11. THE QUESTIONNAIRE:

Citizens Against Recidivism, Inc.

We at Citizens Against Recidivism, Inc. feel that we must find more ways to consult with people in prison on the issues that affect them. We firmly believe that we cannot represent their issues if we do not consult with them. We want your help in reaching as many people in prison as possible. We have developed a brief survey that will help us when we speak about this issue. Please ask those you know who are in prison to complete the questionnaire and return it to Citizens Against Recidivism, Inc. Box 9 – Lincolnton Station, New York, New York, 10037. We will report and share our findings with all.


Which of the following do you believe will result in your earliest release from prison?
(Circle only one response)

Win on appeal
Clemency or pardon
Release at first board
Release at later board
Release before conditional release (C.R.) date
Conditional release
I have a determinate sentence and will do 85% of my sentence
I am going to max out


In your effort to get released, how important do you believe doing the following things are?
Please rate your response: 1 Very unimportant; 2 Unimportant; 3 Important; or 4 Very important

Working on an appeal [ ]
Seeing a psychologist [ ]
Taking part in an Alcohol Substance or Abuse Treatment Program (ASAT) [ ]
Taking part in an Alternative to Violence Program (AVP) [ ]
Taking part in Alcohol Anonymous (AA) [ ]
Getting a high school equivalence diploma (GED) [ ]
Getting a college degree [ ]
Learning a vocational skill [ ]
Maintaining a good assignment record [ ]
Maintaining a good disciplinary record [ ]
Getting important people to help you [ ]
Transitional Services Program [ ]
Taking part in a Network/Therapeutic Community [ ]


Circle the item below which you think is the most important. (choose only one response)

Working on an appeal
Seeing a psychologist
Taking part in an Alcohol Substance or Abuse Treatment Program (ASAT)
Taking part in an Alternative to Violence Program (AVP)
Taking part in Alcohol Anonymous (AA)
Getting a high school equivalence diploma (GED)
Getting a college degree
Learning a vocational skill
Maintaining a good assignment record
Maintaining a good disciplinary record
Getting important people to help you
Transitional Services Program
Taking part in a Network/Therapeutic Community


How much time do you spend engaged in the following activities because you think it might expedite your release.
Please rate your response: 1 None 2 Little 3 Some 4 A lot
Working on an appeal [ ]
Seeing a psychologist [ ]
Taking part in an Alcohol Substance or Abuse Treatment Program (ASAT) [ ]
Taking part in an Alternative to Violence Program (AVP) [ ]
Taking part in Alcohol Anonymous (AA) [ ]
Getting a high school equivalence diploma (GED) [ ]
Getting a college degree [ ]
Learning a vocational skill [ ]
Maintaining a good assignment record [ ]
Maintaining a good disciplinary record [ ]
Getting important people to help you [ ]
Transitional Services Program [ ]
Taking part in a Network/Therapeutic Community [ ]

How close do the statements listed below come to expressing your personal reasons for involvement in these activities?

Please rate your response: 1 Very untrue 2 Somewhat untrue 3 Somewhat true 4 Very true
Will provide me with the skills I need to stay out of prison [ ]
Help me to keep busy and not think about when I am going home [ ]
Allow me to maintain come personal control over my situation [ ]
Are things I do to impress the parole board [ ]
These activities will help me to improve myself [ ]


Some people have suggested experimenting with contracts between prisoners and the parole board. At the beginning of a sentence, the prisoner would negotiate the things he needs to do to ensure his release after a specific period of time or possibly accelerate the release date. Some states (like New York) use determinate or flat sentencing for certain offenders. In those situations, the judge sentences the prisoner to a specific period of time without the possibility of parole. His release date is fixed.

Do you prefer to (circle one answer only)
Leave things as they presently are
Be able to negotiate a contract
Have a determinate or flat sentence
Don't care one way or another

Please indicate how closely the following statements describe the reason why you chose the above option.

Please rate your response: 1. Not close at all 2 Not very close 3 Somewhat close or 4 Very close

It would lessen the stress and anxiety of not knowing when I might be released [ ]
It would provide the personal control I need to obtain the earliest possible release [ ]
It would eliminate the games I must play to gain a favorable decision from the parole board [ ]


Tell us just a little about yourself:

Age ___________

How much time have you spent in prison on the present sentence ____________

How many more years do you have to do before seeing your next parole board ____________

If you have been in prison before, how much time have you spent in prison on this and other sentences? _________

Race: [ ] Black [ ] white [ ] Latino [ ] other_____________

Please return survey to: Citizens Against Recidivism, Inc. Box 9 – Lincolnton Station, New York, New York, 10037

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