Building Bridges

The monthly newsletter of the Prison Action Network

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Monday, November 30, 2009

DECEMBER 2009

This month's edition of Building Bridges begins below late breaking announcements:

Posted December 16: from NEW YORK STATE PRISONER JUSTICE COALITION

NEW YORK CITY PLANNING AND COALITION BUILDING MEETING
SATURDAY, JANUARY 16, 2010, NOON - 3:00, RIVERSIDE CHURCH, MANHATTAN, ROOM 9-T (entrance 91 Claremont Avenue at 120th Street)

NYC activists and organizations involved in issues of prisoner justice are invited to participate in the planning of the New York State Prisoner Justice Conference, to be held in Albany on March 27, 2010.

The New York City planning meeting for the statewide conference will be hosted by the Riverside Church Prison Ministry. There will be representatives of the upstate and NYC groups currently involved in the conference planning. Activists and organizations are invited to hear reports and updates on the plans so far, and have a voice in the planning of the conference.

A summary of the goals and mission of the conference, and the current participating organizations:


The New York State Prisoner Justice Conference: Connecting Regions, Issues, and Strategies

Albany, NY - March 27, 2010

The goal of the conference is to bring together under one roof a wide range of New York State organizations working on a diversity of prisoner justice issues to share ideas, information, energy, strategies, hope, and inspiration. Issues to be addressed include public defense, sentencing, racial disparities, Rockefeller drug laws, parole, disenfranchisement, juvenile justice, targeted and vulnerable prison populations (immigrants, Muslims, trans people, political prisoners, mentally ill, elderly, long termers, youth, women), re-entry, prison families, and prison abuse. The issues will be summarized briefly in the morning sessions, for an overview of prisoner justice work throughout the state. In the afternoon sessions, participants will come together cross-issue and cross-region to inform, discuss, analyze, and strategize. The conference will be an opportunity to network, to model successful practices, to coordinate strategies for change, and to create ongoing communication among organizations and movements working for prisoner justice in New York State.


The process of planning for the conference is part of building this statewide communication and collaboration. All prisoner justice organizations and activists are invited to join the NYS Prisoner Justice Coalition formed to plan the conference. There are statewide conference calls for all participating organizations and individuals, with updates on the progress of the conference and an opportunity to have input into the planning. There is a listserv currently, and a wiki and website are coming soon.

Mission statement. The mission of the New York State Prisoner Justice Conference is to bring together the varied and diverse organizations working for prisoner justice in New York State. There are approximately 60,000 people currently incarcerated in New York’s prisons – people of all ages, sexualities, genders, abilities, and documentation statuses. The overwhelming majority are people of color and of low income. Dozens of organizations address issues of concern in regard to prisoners, their families, and those impacted by the criminal justice system. The goal of the Prisoner Justice Conference is to bring these organizations together to share information, energy, strategies, concerns, ideas, best practices, and hopes at the conference itself; to institute continuing communication after the conference; and to create a statewide movement for change, justice, compassion, and more human and humane solutions to social problems in place of reliance on incarceration.

List of participating organizations (in formation):
Buffalo Prison Abuse Project
Center for Community Alternatives (NYC, Syracuse)
Center for Constitutional Rights (NYC)
Center for Law and Justice (Albany)
Citizen Action (Albany, NYS)
Citizens Against Recidivism (NYC)
Coalition for Parole Restoration (NYC)
CURE-NY
Fortune Society (NYC)
Free Mumia Coalition (NYC)
Furnace (Albany)
Jericho Movement (NYC)
Lawyers Guild (Capital District Chapter)
Neighbors Establishing Support in Troy – NEST
New Sanctuary Movement (Albany)
New York Civil Liberties Union (Albany & NYC)
NYS Defenders Justice Fund
NYS Task Force on Political Prisoners
New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty
Political Prisoner Support Committee (Albany)
Prison Action Network (NYS)
Prison Families of New York (NYS)
Prisoner Legal Services (Albany)
Prisoners Are People Too (Buffalo)
Resistance in Brooklyn
Riverside Church Prison Ministry (NYC)
Social Justice Center of Albany
Southern Tier Advocacy and Mitigation Project - STAMP (Ithaca)
Sweat Free SUNY (Albany)
Women on the Rise Telling HerStory - WORTH (NYC)

 



December 2009 Building Bridges

Dear Reader,

Soon many of us will be traveling across town, or across the country, or even across the ocean to be with family for the holidays. We wish all a safe journey and a wonderful time with your loved ones. In prison, however, the day may be a sad reminder of how much time has been lost, while at home families will ache for the person missing from the table. Jafar Abbas eloquently describes his holiday experiences as a child, in prison and since, in the ICARE column [Article #5]. Perhaps you would be interested in trying to lighten up the holidays by greeting your loved ones over the radio, at Calls from Home [#2]. No matter where you are, there’s a place where we can be together, and that’s in our hearts and our minds. So let’s all take a minute at every opportunity during this season to think of those who are unable to be with us and send more and more love to all.

Be well, have hope, and please, stay with us in the struggle.



In this Issue

1. Activities around NYS
2. Calls from home
3. Coalition for Fair Criminal Justice Policies
4. Correctional Association's executive director is leaving
5. ICARE column
6. Lifers and longtermers clearinghouse
7. Lynne Stewart goes to prison
8. Parole news
9. Prison media
10. Prisoners of the census
11. The Telephone Justice Campaign
12. Transportation to prisons


1. WHAT CAN YOU DO? HERE’S A LIST OF ACTIVITIES

BRONX
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 12, 12 NOON TO 4 PM COALITION FOR WOMEN PRISONERS’
HOLIDAY REUNION-TALENT SHOW
The purpose is to get the members of the Coalition under one roof once again so that we can be reacquainted with each other and our work. You know the saying, “All work and no play” can sometimes keep an advocate drained. If you are talented, please please sign up to audition by contacting Stacey Thompson, Coalition Associate, Women in Prison Project/CA: (212) 254-5700 x333 or email Stacey.

Location: True Gospel Tabernacle Church, 11 Tremont, Bronx, NY 10455 Directions: D train to Tremont Ave. & walk to Jerome Ave. or #4 train to Burnside Ave. & walk back 2 blocks to Tremont Ave. RAFFLE Prizes (tickets on sale now) & prizes for talent show winners. Metro cards available for formerly incarcerated people who need them.

We’re also doing a toy drive from now up until the event. Please drop off any new toys at the Correctional Association! 2090 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd between 124 & 125 streets, Suite 200. www.correctionalassociation.org


BUFFALO:
PRISONERS ARE PEOPLE TOO! WISHES EVERYONE HAPPY HOLIDAYS..... monthly meetings will resume in January 2010 


CAPITAL DISTRICT:
SAVE THE DATE! SATURDAY MARCH 27, 2010, NEW YORK STATE PRISONER JUSTICE COALITION PRESENTS A NEW YORK STATE PRISONER JUSTICE CONFERENCE
Location: First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany

The goal of the conference is to bring together under one roof a wide range of New York State organizations working on a diversity of prisoner justice issues to share ideas, information, energy, strategies, hope, and inspiration. Issues to be addressed include (but are not limited to) parole, Rockefeller Drug Laws, juvenile justice (the schools to prisons pipeline), discriminatory and cruel treatment of trans and mentally ill prisoners, merit time, political prisoners, and other prison justice campaigns being waged by New York State activist organizations. The conference will be an opportunity to network and strategize across issues, to model successful practices, and to create ongoing communication that will inform and strengthen our organizations and movements going forward beyond the conference.

If your organization is interested in participating in the planning, or attending, the New York State Prisoner Justice Coalition and Conference, please contact Naomi. We want to know what kind of agenda would interest you.


MONDAY DECEMBER 14, 7:00-8:30 PM PRISON FAMILIES OF NY-SPEAKER SERIES
Karen Murtagh-Monks, Executive Director of Prisoners Legal Services, will speak on Legal Issues of NYS Prisoners. Q&A will follow.
For more info please call Alison Coleman (518) 453-6659
Location: Women's Building, 373 Central Avenue, Albany, NY


SECOND AND LAST THURSDAYS FROM 6-8 at Christ United Methodist, 35 State Street, at 4th Avenue, Troy, NY 12180.
3rd Thursdays from 6-8 at Trinity Institution, 15 Trinity Place, Albany NY 12202
ROOTS "RE-ENTRY RESOURCES ORIENTATIONS" FOR MEN AND WOMEN
Call ROOTS at 518 434 1026 for more details.


MANHATTAN
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 11, 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM OCCASIONAL SERIES ON REENTRY RESEARCH
A Natural Experiment on Residential Change and Recidivism: Lessons from Hurricane Katrina

David Kirk, Presenter
Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Texas at Austin

Discussants will include:
Andrea Evans, Chair, New York State Board of Parole
Dorick Scarpelli Program Director, NYC Justice Corps Phipps Community Development Corporation

Men and women coming home from prison often return to the same geographic place they lived prior to their incarceration.  This research explores the impact returning to the same place has on recidivism rates in pre- and post-Katrina New Orleans. 
RSVP to Amelia Thompson (212.484.1399; amthompson@jjay.cuny.edu).

Location: John Jay College of Criminal Justice, 899 Tenth Ave Rm 630 (b/w 58th and 59th Sts).


FRIDAY, DECEMBER 11, 6:00 PM - 10:00 PM A SPECIAL INVITATION TO JOIN WENDELL NILES AND FRIENDS 4TH ANNUAL HOLIDAY TOY DRIVE “Party With A Cause”
On behalf of so many needy children, come out and show your support, as we party to “Old School R&B and Live Salsa”.

Admission: New unwrapped toys, clothing, educational materials or games valued at $20. for boy or girl (ages 2-12 years old).

Recipients: Yaffa Cultural Center, Inc., Little Sisters of Assumption Family Health Services, Inc.,
Rachel Robinson Children's Library
RSVP is highly recommended. 212-283-0995 or wniles@nilesadvertising.com
 
Location: Aurum Mediterranean Bar and Grill, 1st Avenue @ 116th Street, NYC


SATURDAY DECEMBER 12, 10:30 AM - 1:00PM COALITION FOR FAIR CRIMINAL JUSTICE POLICIES
General Membership Meeting to review the Policy Committee’s proposed changes to Parole Statute 259-i.

Location: The Fortune Society’s Academy aka The Castle, at 630 Riverside Drive corner 140th Street. City College/137th St. stop on the #1 train. (The event is not sponsored by the Fortune Society; so please call PAN at 518 253 7533 for information.)


WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 16, 1:30 - 3:00PM NY REENTRY ROUNDTABLE
Come celebrate the important work of the NY Reentry Roundtable and network with your colleagues at our Fourth Annual Celebration. There will be food and music.

Kindly RSVP to Gabriel Torres-Rivera at grivera@cssny.org or call 212 614 5306

Location:105 East 22nd Street, corner Park Ave South, conference room 4A. The 6, W/R trains to 23rd St.



2. CALLS FROM HOME IS A HOLIDAY RADIO BROADCAST FOR PRISONERS AND THEIR FAMILIES. THOUSAND KITES WANTS YOU TO LEND YOUR VOICE TO A POWERFUL GRASSROOTS RADIO BROADCAST THAT REACHES INTO OUR NATION'S PRISONS AND TELLS THOSE INSIDE THEY ARE NOT FORGOTTEN.

From now until December 7th, you can call the toll-free line 877-518-0606, 24 hours a day, and speak directly to those behind bars this holiday season.  An answering machine will record your message.  Read a poem, sing a song, or just speak directly from your heart. Speak to someone you know or to everyone---make it uplifting. 

Thousand Kites is making a special call to poets to support the project this year. We want to gather a thousand poems to reach the 2.4 million people in our nation’s prisons.  Will you help? We are asking you to submit a work on the themes of incarceration, family, the power to endure and anything that would lift the spirits and spark creativity in our thousands of prisoner listeners.  Speak from the heart. Your work will be added to our website, broadcast on over 200 radio stations as part of Calls from Home and released as part of a CD celebrating our ten years of creativity, radio, and the power of community. Poets click here.

You can submit your poem, or read a prisoners poem if you have permission, by calling it into our toll-free line and recording it on our answering machine at 877-518-0606.  Don’t worry if you slip up, we will edit all calls. 

CALLS FROM HOME will broadcast on over 200 radio stations across the country. CALLS FROM HOME is a project of Thousand Kites/WMMT-FM/Appalshop Campaign Center and a national network of grassroots organizations working for criminal justice reform. For more info. click here.



3. COALITION FOR FAIR CRIMINAL JUSTICE POLICIES ANNOUNCES DEC 12 GENERAL MEETING TO PRESENT THEIR FIRST DRAFT OF A REVISED PAROLE STATUTE 259-I WHICH THE POLICY COMMITTEE HAS FINALLY COMPLETED.

The Policy Committee will present the first draft of the revised 259-i at a member comment session on Saturday December 12, from 10:30 to 1. Participants at Prison Action Network’s Family Empowerment Day 4 in October 2008 called for a change in the current parole law to make it conform to community standards of fairness and justice. This revised bill has been produced in response to that call, guided by feedback from members of the Coalition for Fair Criminal Justice Policies.



4. CORRECTIONAL ASSOCIATION'S BOB GANGI ANNOUNCES RESIGNATION AFTER ALMOST 30 YEARS OF SERVICE.

Many of our readers may already know that Bob Gangi is stepping down as Executive Director of the Correctional Association on October 1, 2010. Thankfully that's over 10 months from now, so we'll have time to digest the idea of a CA without Bob's wit and passion for the struggle. Under his direction the CA has become one of brightest stars in the effort to create a criminal justice system that treats people with dignity and justice.  You can express your appreciation with a personal email message or send a letter to him at Correctional Association of New York 2090 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd, Suite 200 New York, NY 10027

On October 12, Robert Gangi wrote an Op Ed piece for the NY Times. Called “The High Cost of Empty Prisons”, it made the following points: Policy makers saved us close to $52 million over the next 2 years by ordering 3 prison camps and 7 prison annexes to be closed. He suggested they save more money by increasing the number of participants on work release, reducing the number of people returned to prison for technical parole violations, granting parole to more prisoners with good institutional records, and expanding eligibility for merit time releases to people convicted of violent offenses many years ago. He ended by pointing out that some research suggests that time in prison makes people more prone to violence, not less, and it devastates the low-income minority communities where most of our prison population comes from. We hope our policy makers are paying attention!



5. ICARE COMMUNITY EDUCATOR JAFAR ABBAS WRITES ABOUT HOLIDAY TIME THEN AND NOW.

In prison the holiday season comes bearing both joy and sadness. For me not one of the twenty-five Christmases I spent in prison came without the sadness of being away from family and friends. I remember spending a lot of time thinking of how much I missed my family and how different I wished things were. I dare to guess that many other prisoners were having the same thoughts as I, especially those with small children. It is funny how the sounds of the holiday season would so quickly bring me back to childhood. Back to building snowmen, looking for Santa, opening gifts on Christmas morning and having a good time with family and friends.

In my family’s history there were two types of Christmases: pre- and post- the separation of my parents. These Christmases were as different as winter and summer. When my parents were together we had some of the best Christmases one could imagine--thinking of them a lifetime later still brings a smile to my face.

My father would come home a week after Thanksgiving with a tree tied to the top of his car. We would help, in our small ways, to set the tree up in the living room and decorate it with lights, ornaments and my favorite candy canes. By Christmas morning the floor beneath the tree would be filled with presents, everything we had asked Santa for.

The post-separation Christmases were the ones where my mother as a single parent had to make the best out of the little she had. We did not get many toys these Christmases; mainly it was clothing to wear to school. No matter how difficult things were for my mother she made sure we had a Christmas tree and there were at least eight gifts under it, one for each of her children.

I am now home enjoying family and friends, and the holiday season still comes bearing both joy and sadness. The sounds of the holiday season bring me not only back to childhood, but also to Christmases spent in prison. Back to the friends I grew up with behind the walls and think of all the time. Back to the Christmas shows we put on in prison auditoriums with such seriousness and dedication. Back to the smiles of children in visiting rooms receiving gifts from fathers trying to make Christmas special for their children.

Many gifts will be given this holiday season; some of greater use then others. My gift is in my poetry, in my telling my story and I pray this poem Dreaming will bring the gift of hope to those in need of hope:

DREAMING by Jafar Abbas

I dreamt
I knew freedom
As you know freedom
On a first name basis.

We stood I to I
Then walked
Across an ocean’s wave
Without getting wet.

I danced with it
Across the orange thickness
Of the Sun’s set
To tunes blown sweet
By the wind.
Did you hear our laughter?

How it rang out in the darkness
Across the cosmos
Spreading fragrances of peace
That filled my soul
With joy.

We shall meet
In this life
At the lines where
Black doves
Cross in flight with
White crows
Giving birth to new beginnings
And
Lasting friendships.



6. LIFERS AND LONGTERMERS CLEARINGHOUSE: THE CASE FOR PAROLE REFORM

The Prison Action Network's Parole Policy Committee is in the process of finalizing its work on legislative revision of Executive Law 259-i Discretionary Release.  The purpose and intent of the legislative revision is to redefine the role of the Parole Board from that of the punitive and sanctioning body it has become, back to an entity that was originally designed to function solely in an evaluative capacity.  

To fully understand the legislative intent of our proposed revisions, it is crucial that you who are incarcerated and subject to discretionary release on parole have a basic understanding of the New York State sentencing scheme and its components. The N.Y.S. Parole Board does not function in isolation, but as a component in a state sentencing scheme composed of the judiciary (sentencing courts), the state corrections agency (DOCS), and the state Division of Parole.  Each component has a clear and defined role to play in carrying out the imposition of a penal sentence.

To provide a precise and authoritative explanation of the role and function of the sentencing court as a component of the state sentencing scheme, I refer to and quote extensively from an article entitled "Commentary on Parole" written by Edward Hammock and James Seelandt, published in St. John's Journal of Legal Commentary (Vol.13:527).

"Imposition of a sentence upon conviction for an offense is a judicial function. The exercise of judicial power in this regard must be performed free from outside pressures and is closely delineated by legislation. Ideally, a court exercises its sentencing authority only after careful consideration of all the facts available at the time of sentencing.  Hence, not unlike the task of the Parole Board, the trial court must also balance conflicting concerns to take into account, among other things, the crime charged, the particular circumstances of the individual before the court, and the purpose of penal sanction, i.e., societal protection, rehabilitation, isolation, retribution, and deterrence."

When an indeterminate sentence has been imposed, the minimum term "is a penal sanction which is commensurate with the perceived severity of the crime".  The maximum term sets the period when expiration of sentence takes place. "The sentencing judge determines the ultimate question of an appropriate sentence for the offender, based on a number of criteria including, but not limited to, the seriousness of the offense, the social history of the offender, and any aggravating or mitigating circumstances unearthed during trial, plea or sentence proceedings.  Also factored into the judicial determination are any memoranda submitted by the probation department and the recommendations made by the District Attorney and the defense counsel."

"In meting out a sentence, a judge gives express or implied guidance to a future Parole Board as to how the offense is to be viewed.  First, we will consider what is implied by a judge who is silent as to a sentence that has been imposed. We will also consider the impact of a judicial "recommendation"." 

"Whether a judicially imposed sentence constitutes that statutory minimum or maximum - or anywhere within that range - is of no import.  The fact remains that, absent express guidance from the sentencing court, it must be presumed that the term ultimately imposed was determined upon evaluating all relevant factors, and that it was therefore appropriate.  Accordingly, in the rare instance where a sentencing judge finds that the sentence imposed is inappropriate, the record will certainly reflect as much.  A reasonable inference to be draw, then, is that, if due consideration has been given by the court to the length and type of sentence imposed, parole release should occur at the first instance of eligibility."  
 
"Under this theory, there should be a presumption that the inmate's institutional programming and disciplinary record [are the criteria to be used in making the decision of when to] release to parole supervision. What the board should be doing in making the release assessment is determining the overall comportment of the inmate during the period of incarceration. In addition, when the minimum term has been served, the board should concern itself primarily with the inmate's rehabilitation.  In such cases, since parole would not deprecate the seriousness of the instant offense, parole should be granted at first eligibility. Such a decision would be appropriate because as it has been argued above, a penalty commensurate with the severity of the crime charged has been paid for.  To hold otherwise, would contravene the sentencing policy of this state as set forth by statute."

"Given the strong presumption of correctness inherent in any sentence, the Board of Parole should give due deference to a sentencing judge's "recommendation", placed on the record.  Of course, absent ambiguity, any recommendation made by the sentencing court must be interpreted by the fair import of its terms and should not be second-guessed.  In this regard, the Board, in deferring to the sentencing court's discretion, must logically  reconcile its release decision with that determination."

"The Case For Parole Reform" will continue in the January edition with explanations of the role and functions of the state correction agency (DOCS) and the Division of Parole as components in the state sentencing scheme.

Larry Luqman White



7. LYNNE STEWART GOES TO PRISON FOR TWO AND A HALF YEARS FOR HER "ZEALOUS" REPRESENTATION OF CLIENT SHEIKH OMAR ABDEL-RAHMAN.

Well known civil rights attorney Lynne Stewart has been ordered to prison to begin serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence after a federal appeals court upheld her conviction on Tuesday. A three-judge appeals court panel ordered the trial judge to revoke Stewart’s bond and said she must begin serving her twenty-eight-month sentence. The panel rejected Stewart’s claim she was acting only as a “zealous advocate” for her imprisoned client when she passed messages for him. The appellate ruling said, quote, “a genuinely held intent to represent a client ‘zealously’ is not necessarily inconsistent with criminal intent.” Lynne Stewart was found guilty in 2005 of distributing press releases on behalf of her jailed client, Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, also known as the “Blind Sheikh,” who is serving a life sentence on terror-related charges.

Prosecutors had sought a thirty-year sentence, but Stewart was sentenced to two-and-a-half years after the judge rejected the prosecutors’ argument that she threatened national security and ruled there was no evidence her actions caused any harm.



8. PAROLE NEWS: CLEMENCY RE: THE PAROLE HANDBOOK; PAROLE STATISTICS; GRAZIANO UPDATE; RULING IN SHU’AIB RAHEEM’S APPEAL FOR PROHIBITION OF RECISSION HEARING

THE ENTIRE PAROLE HANDBOOK IS AVAILABLE online at Parole's website, where you need to click on Program and Resources, and then Publications.

Since Clemency is usually granted in late December, it seems timely to look at the what the parole handbook has to say about it. This is SECTION NINE of the handbook.

1. WHAT IS EXECUTIVE CLEMENCY?
Clemency, as defined by the State Constitution (Article IV, Section 4), provides the Governor “the power to grant reprieves, commutations and pardons after convictions for all offenses except treason and cases of impeachment, upon such conditions and with such restrictions and limitations, as he may think proper...” Only the Governor may grant clemency, and it is only granted under the most compelling circumstances.

2. WHEN ARE PARDONS CONSIDERED?
Pardons may be considered if no other adequate administrative or legal remedy is available:
• To permit a conviction to be set aside where there is overwhelming and convincing proof of innocence not available at the time of conviction;
• To relieve a disability imposed upon a conviction (this is rarely used since relief may generally be obtained by means of a Certificate of Good Conduct or Relief from Disabilities); or
• To prevent deportation or to permit reentry into the United States.

3. WHEN IS COMMUTATION OF SENTENCE CONSIDERED?
Commutation (reduction) of your minimum period of imprisonment may be considered to enable you to appear before the Board of Parole for release consideration at a time earlier than permitted by the court-imposed sentence.
Except in extraordinary circumstances, a case will be reviewed for possible commutation of sentence only if:
• Your term or minimum period of imprisonment is more than one year;
• You have served at least one-half of the minimum period of imprisonment;
• You will not become eligible for release on parole within one year from the date of application; and
• You are not eligible for release on parole in the discretion of the Board of Parole.
The Board of Parole is an independent body charged with the duty of determining which inmates sentenced to imprisonment and eligible for release on parole may be released, when they may be released and under what conditions. The Governor will, therefore, not intervene in such matters by considering for clemency any inmate who is eligible for parole release.

4. WHAT IS THE FUNCTION OF THE EXECUTIVE CLEMENCY BUREAU?
The Executive Clemency Bureau within the Division of Parole serves three primary functions:
• To screen candidates for satisfaction of the Executive Clemency eligibility requirements as set by the Governor’s office;
• To gather materials concerning clemency applications; and
• To respond to letters from applicants and others regarding clemency applications.

5. WHERE MAY I OBTAIN MORE INFORMATION ABOUT EXECUTIVE CLEMENCY?
A two-page document entitled “Guidelines for Review of Executive Clemency Applications” is on file in the law library of each correctional facility for your reference.


OCTOBER 2009 PAROLE BOARD RELEASES – A1 VIOLENT FELONS WHO'VE SERVED 15 YEARS OR MORE – unofficial research from parole database

Total Interviews ..........# Released.........# Denied.........Rate of Release
19 initials..........................0......................19.......................0%
81 reappearances............16 (1 female)......65.....................20%
100 total.........................16.......................84.....................16%

Oct Initial Releases: NONE

Oct Reappearances:
Facility......................Sentence............Offense.............# of Board
Fishkill......................25-Life................M2-2x ................7th
Fishkill......................15-Life................Murder 2.............3rd
Fishkill......................15-Life................Murder 2.............3rd
Fishkill......................25-Life................Murder 2.............3rd
Fishkil.......................15-Life................Murder 2.............5th
Fishkill......................22-Life................M2-2x.................2nd
Great Meadow...........25-Life...............Murder 2..............2nd
Groveland.................15-Life................Murder 2.............8th
Mid Orange...............15-Life................Kidnap 1.............3rd **
Mid Orange...............15-Life................Murder 2.............2nd
Mid Orange...............25-Life................M2 & Consp1.......5th
Orleans.....................15-Life................Murder 2..............4th
Otisville.....................25-Life................Murder 2..............2nd **
Sing Sing...................25-Life................Murder 2..............2nd
Taconic......................18-Life...............M2-2x..................7th
Wende........................25-Life...............Murder 2..............6th
**Released for Deportation Only



OCTOBER/NOVEMBER RELEASES FROM PRISON REPORTS. (Please note that the following statistics are not limited to people convicted of A1 Violent felonies - but they all represent people with indeterminate sentences)

MID-ORANGE
Oct - Ludlow, Thompson, Smith
Scheduled:.................20
Appearances:.............17......(2 postponed, 1 refused)
Releases:.................... 6

Nov - Ferguson, Casey, Thompson
Scheduled:............33......(12 were A1VO)
Appearances:........27......(6 postponed)
Releases:.............. 3......(2 were A1VO)
All hits were for 24 months.


WOODBOURNE
Oct - no commissioners’ names available
Scheduled:...........23 appearances (9 A1VO)
Appearances:.......22 (1 postponed)
Releases:.............. 1 (non-violent)
A1VO appearances:......all 9 denied (2 on 1st board, 3 on 2nd, 2 on 3rd, 1 on 4th, and 1 on 8th)

Nov. - Casey, Grant, Elovich
Scheduled:..........17 appearances (7 were A1VO)
Appearances:......13 (4 postponed, 2 were A1VO)
Releases:............. 3 (1 A1VO, on reappearance)


GRAZIANO UPDATE: The case is still alive. Parties are waiting to learn the outcome of a case before the second circuit that could impact the Graziano case.

SHU’AIB RAHEEM RECISSION DECISION: The State of NY Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Judicial Dept. denied Mr. Raheem’s appeal from a judgment of the Supreme Court entered on October 8 2008 which dismissed Mr. Raheem’s application, in a proceeding pursuant to CPLR article 78, to, among other things, prohibit the NYS Board of Parole from commencing a parole recission (reversal) hearing. Among the reasons given: “as none of the victims had previously submitted any victim impact statements, their statements constituted significant information not previously known by respondent (the Parole Board). The court found that the Board has the discretionary authority to rescind or modify any of its decisions, and may waive any filing deadlines.

[copies of the judgment may be had by contacting PAN with your request. Be sure to include the title of the document and the month of this issue.]


ISHMAIL FURQUAN MUHAMMAD wrote Building Bridges telling us that he was granted parole at his second board! His projected date is in early December. He'll be living with his sister in NYS until parole works out his transfer to Florida where his wife and other family members live. We wish him a wonderful homecoming and the best of luck as he navigates his re-entry.



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

ALL THINGS HARLEM - www.allthingsharlem.com, community reporting at it’s best.
Click here
to see coverage of a shooting incident in Harlem.  Says producer Joseph “Jazz” Hayden, “This incident is typical of similar incidents happening in all the Harlem's of America; black and minority youth violence against youth who are no different than them; if they looked in the mirror they would see that they are no different than the victim they shot and abused.  I call it "madness" for lack of a better word.  Weigh in on this issue, send your comments and solutions to www.info@allthingsharlem.com; this is "our" problem. 

Joseph Jazz Hayden, CEO Still Here Harlem Productions, Inc. 201 West 138th St. Suite 1 New York, NY 10030 1(212) 234-0596, jazz@stillhereharlem.com, and 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. - Saturdays 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. Send an email.



10. PRISONERS OF THE CENSUS - NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL HOLDS HEARINGS ON PRISON-BASED GERRYMANDERING RESOLUTIONS

New York City Council considers resolutions to end prison-based gerrymandering
By Peter Wagner

In November the New York City Council held a hearing on two prison-based gerrymandering resolutions. One, put forth by member Larry Seabrook calls on the Census Bureau to count incarcerated people as residents of their home addresses rather than at the prisons in future Censuses. The second one, introduced by member Robert Jackson and 11 co-sponsors could influence the 2012 round of redistricting after this Census, as it calls upon the New York State legislature to pass bills S1633 and A5946 which would require that state and county legislative districts be drawn on adjusted data counting incarcerated people at their home addresses.

The joint Committees on Civil Rights and on Immigration took testimony on the resolutions and will vote on these resolutions in the near future. Testimony was submitted by State Senator Eric Schneiderman, Sean Barry of New York City AIDS Housing Network, and Susan Lerner of Common Cause/New York.

It is too late to change where the Census Bureau is going to count incarcerated people in 2010. However, the City Council is pointing to an important interim solution that will restore fairness to redistricting, and is calling for the Census Bureau to change its counting method in the future.

Many rural counties in New York have already rejected the Census Bureau's prison counts for their own legislative districts and supervisory boards. Essex County's apportionment plan included an explanation of why they adjusted the data, and the chair of the Franklin County legislature told North Country Public Radio that adjusting the Census data was a "no-brainer".

Bills S1633 and A5946 would eliminate the data adjustment burden on individual counties and mandate one fair source of data for redistricting both state and county legislative districts. Now is an excellent time for local officials of all types to ask the legislature for better data on which to base their districts.


Peter Wagner has bumper stickers for sale on his website which say “ END PRISON-BASED GERRYMANDERING - NO REPRESENTATION WITHOUT POPULATION. 1 bumper sticker, $5, 5 bumper stickers, $10, 20 bumper stickers, $20, Click here to order online,
or send a check made out to Prison Policy Initiative, to PO Box 127, Northampton, MA 01027



11. THE TELEPHONE JUSTICE CAMPAIGN HAS LOST AN IMPORTANT BATTLE

In November, the Court of Appeals of the State of New York affirmed the dismissal of Walton v. New York State Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) that challenged the practice that raised millions of dollars in revenue for DOCS through kickbacks from monopoly prison phone contracts. Walton asked the court to declare the practice unconstitutional and sought compensation for years of what was an unlawful tax on prisoners' families and loved ones.

This is a major disappointment. For the last 10 years, CCR has worked tirelessly with a coalition of prison families and advocates who together succeeded in convincing former Governor Spitzer to end the kickback and the legislature to outlaw the practice. And while we are gratified by the policy change since the fight began, the families and loved ones of NY State prisoners are still feeling the effects of the illegal taxes-that resulted in millions of dollars to the DOCS-levied on them for years as a result of MCI and Verizon's monopoly contract. They deserved to be compensated.

We know the fight is long and hard, and while this is a major loss for prison telephone justice in New York State, we trust that it will not hamper the amazing work being done to end this unconstitutional practice across the country. Thank you for standing with us.

Yours truly,
Annette Dickerson
Director of Education and Outreach



12. TRANSPORTATION TO PRISONS: REASONABLY PRICED RELIABLE VAN SERVICE, FREE DOOR TO DOOR CAR SERVICE WHEN AVAILABLE

CAPITAL DISTRICT
NEST Prison Shuttle schedule: Mt McGregor, Washington, Grt Meadow CFs on Sat, Dec 5 ($35 adults, $25 children), Coxsackie, Greene, Hudson on BOTH Sat, Dec 12 & 19  ($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 Dec 26 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 now has 6 volunteer drivers, thus increasing your chances of getting a ride when you need one. So if you have a loved one in prison and you have no other way of getting there, call us at 518 253 7533


Building Bridges is the monthly newsletter of the Prison Action Network.
For information on joining, please call 518 253 7533, or write us at PrisonActionNetwork@gmail.com

Read now!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

NOVEMBER 2009

Below the following late-breaking announcement you will find the November issue of Building Bridges.



POSTED NOV.6 -
NEW YORK FUNDING ACTION ALERT

It is very important that you contact the governor and your state senators (email PAN if you need help finding out who they are and how to reach them) to urge them to protect and maintain funding for the programs that are so necessary to those of us who are directly impacted by the newly implemented Rockefeller drug law reforms. These reforms provide for alternatives to incarceration (ATI) and for a reentry system that supports reintegration into our communities.

Message to Legislators:
Alternatives to Incarceration (ATI) and reentry programs play an essential role in the successful implementation of the Rockefeller drug law reform and are a key element of public safety that makes New York one of the safest states in the country. These programs are the foundation upon which the state has made its wise investment of federal funds. Please stand fast on your critical and longstanding support for community-based ATIs and reentry programs so that New York can further reduce crime, save lives and money, and strengthen families and communities.

Background:
Governor Paterson has called the Legislature back to Albany for a special session next week to reduce state spending. We recognize the need to do more with less, but that should not mean devastating budget cuts to vital ATI and reentry programs that are poised to serve the people and communities who will be impacted by the newly implemented Rockefeller drug law reforms. The Governor and the Senate must be urged to remember that federal funds are not enough to meaningfully implement Rockefeller. The State’s commitment to the ATI and reentry infrastructure must be protected.

Action:
Today please call Governor David Patterson at 518-474-8390; Senator John Sampson AND your own State Senator (Senate at 518-455-2800) and ask them to protect ATI, reentry and related programs that are the backbone of Rockefeller Reform.




Dear Reader,

I read a lot of prison related material, and some of makes it into these pages. But September's issue of Prison Legal News, Vol. 20 NO. 9 won’t fit, and I can’t condense it! I had hoped that it was available at every NYS prison library, but was told by the publisher that they didn't think any NYS prison library subscribes to it. How can that be? Surely it's a legal reference that should be available in any law library, in prison or out. So let me tell you a little about it, and maybe you’ll be able to subscribe.

The cover article is 13 pages long, including extensive footnotes. It's called "Anatomy of the Modern Prisoners' Rights Suit: A Practitioner's Guide to Successful Jury Trials on Behalf of Prisoner-Plaintiffs", written by Alphonse A. Gerhardstein.

The article not only is a guide for lawyers, but also for "prisoner-plaintiffs" who might be doing their own legal work. And it helps lay people understand what can be expected from a good lawyer. Attorney Gerhardstein spells out in detail what preliminary work is necessary to win a case. It's a lot of work! So for those who might be encountering the law for the first time, this article can also serve as a guide for questions you might want to ask when you seek legal help.

Here are some section titles to give you an idea of what you would learn by reading it: Trying Prisoner Cases to Win, A) Client Selection, Case Selection and Discovery, B) The Final Pretrial Conference, C) The Verdict Form, D) Jury Instructions, E) Jury Selection, G) (there was no F.)Trial Presentation: Tell an Honest Tale, H) Witness Order, Topics, I) Admissibility of a Prisoner's Criminal Record and Other Bad Acts, J) Admitting a Prison's Internal Investigation into Evidence, K) Damages,
L) Attorney Fees.

Other articles I enjoyed in the Sept issue were 'NY's Correction Law 24 Held Unconstitutional by US Supreme Court' and ‘Federal 3-Judge Panel Orders Calif. to reduce Prison Pop by 44,000 within 2 yrs.’ There were more of course.

Building Bridges will not be able to send you copies of the article. But you can subscribe online for $30. a year, Professionals: $80 for a year.

Be well, have hope, and please, share your copy of Building Bridges.



In this Issue

1. Activities around NYS
2. CFFCJP reports
3. Gardening at prison
4. ICARE column
5. Job opportunities
6. Lady Penumbra and Ty Conscious
7. Legislation
8. Lifers and longtermers clearinghouse
9. Obituary
10. Parole news
11. Post-conviction sealing hotline seeks input
12. Prison media
13. Prisoners of the census
14. Telephone rates lowered
15. Transportation to prisons

1. WHAT CAN YOU DO? HERE’S A LIST OF ACTIVITIES IN BKLYN, BFLO, THE CAP. DIST., AND MANH:

BROOKLYN:
WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 18 - FRIDAY NOVEMBER 20 9:00-5:00 PM MEDGAR EVERS COLLEGE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYMPOSIUM

A series of specially designed seminars to help professionals in various disciplines work more effectively with formerly incarcerated people and their families. Seminars will be taught by Dr. Divine Pryor and Mr. Eddie Ellis, M.P.S., nationally and internationally recognized experts in the field of criminal justice reform. Both have served on the National Re-entry Policy Council for the Council of State Governors and numerous other national criminal justice boards.

Mr. Ellis and Dr. Pryor serve as Executive and Deputy Executive Director, respectively, of the Center for Nu Leadership on Urban Solutions at Medgar Evers College, CUNY.

Seminars are open to community or faith-based service providers, law enforcement officers, social service workers, educators, government agency personnel, attorneys, students and community residents. Coffee and light morning refreshments served.
Contact: Medgar Evers College, 718-804-8850 ace.info@mec.cuny.edu, www.mec.cuny.edu.
Location: School of Professional and Community Development, 1534 Bedford Avenue, 2nd flr, Brooklyn,


BUFFALO:
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 6:30-8:30PM PRISONERS ARE PEOPLE TOO will revisit a topic that was featured in May of this year: mentoring children of incarcerated parents. (Film: tba.)

There will be several guest speakers. Melissa Mowrey is Director of Client Services at “Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County.” Her many responsibilities include matching carefully screened adult mentors with children who have incarcerated parents in a federal, state or local prison. Karen Bartkowiak from “Compeer of Greater Buffalo,” who spoke to attendees in May, will return to provide a brief update of their program, a national initiative called “Mentoring Children of Prisoners: Caregiver’s Choice.” Bro. Charles Burgin of “Brotherman’s Progress” will be on hand to share what he has learned from volunteering his services as a mentor at a local charter school.

Location: 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; karima@prisonersarepeopletoo.org.


MANHATTAN
MONDAY NOVEMBER 9, 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM NEW YORK CITY BAR ASSOCIATION PRO BONO CLE, MAKING THE RIGHT HIRE: EMPLOYER RESPONSIBILITIES AND BEST PRACTICES WHEN HIRING PEOPLE WITH CRIMINAL CONVICTION HISTORIES

The program will address employers' state and federal law obligations - and best practices - when hiring people with criminal conviction histories. It will also include discussion of resources such as tax credits, bonding, and workforce development programs.
Moderator: Lou Miceli Executive Director, Workforce Professionals Training Institute
Speakers:
Alphonso David, Civil Rights Bureau Chief, NYS Office of the Attorney General
Tani Mills, Chief Program Officer, Center for Employment Opportunities
Keisha Ann Gray, Senior Counsel, Proskauer Rose LLP
Elaine Kost, Workforce Programs & Federal Bond Coordinator, NYS Department of Labor
Carl Hum, President & CEO, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce

The program is open to attorneys and to others interested in these issues. CLE credit is available to attorneys who register by the deadline below.
This program is free of charge, but registration is required. To register, please send an e-mail by November 2, 2009, and indicate if you wish to receive CLE credits

Location: House of the Association, 42 West 44th Street, New York, NY


CAPITAL DISTRICT:
EVERY THURSDAY, 5:30 PM CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE, INC.
Re-entry meetings for those on parole or otherwise interested in discussing the barriers to successful reentry in our area. Location: Albany Public Library, 161 Washington Ave. Albany NY| 518.427.4300.

SUNDAY NOVEMBER 8, 11:30-12:30, FIRST UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST SOCIETY OF ALBANY FORUM: DAVID SOARES, ALBANY COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY WILL BE SPEAKING ON RACIAL PROFILING IN ALBANY:
Is it an issue? D.A. Soares will address this question in light of the publicity surrounding the arrest of Professor Gates of Harvard, at his home, a few months ago. What kind of incidents are happening in Albany? What guidelines do the police have in stopping people, and do they follow them?
Free and open to the public. If child care is wanted, please call the church office at 463-7135 by noon Friday before the Forum.
Location: 405 Washington Avenue (nr Robin) in Emerson Hall.

MONDAY NOVEMBER 9, 7:00-8:30 PM PRISON FAMILIES OF NY-SPEAKER SERIES
The speakers at the second of this ongoing series taking place the 2nd Monday of every month, will be the Re-Entry Services Coordinator of Region 4, NYS Division of Parole and a NYS Parole Officer. Q&A will follow.
Call Alison Coleman (518) 453-6659 for details. The location: Women's Building, 373 Central Avenue, Albany, NY

SUNDAY NOVEMBER 22, 11:30-12:30, FIRST UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST SOCIETY OF ALBANY FORUM: PATTI JO NEWELL, ACTING CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, NYS COALITION AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.
What would it really take to prevent domestic violence? Surprisingly, not as much attention has been given to this question as one might think. Intervention demands so many resources, prevention has typically been relegated to the back burner, or even thought of as a luxury. But, finally, prevention has garnered the attention it deserves as communities begin to wrestle with this profound question in light of a pervasive and persistent problem.
Free and open to the public. If child care is wanted, please call the church office at 463-7135 by noon Friday before the Forum.
Location: 405 Washington Avenue (nr Robin) in Emerson Hall.

ROOTS "RE-ENTRY RESOURCES ORIENTATIONS" FOR MEN AND WOMEN
SECOND AND LAST THURSDAYS FROM 6-8 AT
Christ United Methodist, 35 State Street, at 4th Avenue, Troy, NY 12180.

3RD THURSDAYS FROM 6-8 AT
Trinity Institution, 15 Trinity Place, Albany NY 12202
Call ROOTS at 518 434 1026 for more details.



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

The GENERAL MEETING has suspended meetings for the time being. We will reconvene when the Policy Committee is ready to present the first draft of the revised 259-i for a public opinion session.

The POLICY COMMITTEE appreciates all the feedback we’ve received. We are trying our best to write a proposal that will bring about the reforms you are asking for. Although the process is taking longer than we anticipated, we feel it’s worthwhile to spend time on deliberations which will result in a stronger proposal. We still plan to have a final draft ready by January 1.

RESEARCH in support of our efforts is being provided by the Fordham Law School Prisoners' Rights Advocates, a group of motivated law students who have volunteered their support.



3. GARDENING IS A SOURCE NOT ONLY OF NUTRITION BUT OF IDENTITY. THE QUALITY OF YOUR PRODUCE ALSO DEFINES YOU. ONE SEGMENT OF SOCIETY ESPECIALLY IN NEED OF BOTH NUTRITION AND IDENTITY ARE THE INCARCERATED.

SPREADING OUR GARDENS, SPREADING OUR HOPE. BY EDGAR NKOSI WHITE

If ever there was a time for gardens that time is now.  In this time of global meltdown and anxiety there can be no finer remedy than that of returning to the earth.  Gardening provides a hands-on therapy because it is one of the few remaining outlets for those of us who feel increasingly powerless in the face of corporate forces which threaten to overwhelm us daily by trying to convince us that we do not exist.

A garden is a source not only of nutrition but of identity.  The quality of your produce also defines you.

One segment of society especially in need of both nutrition and identity are the incarcerated.  Prisoners are woefully neglected when it comes to diet.  Prisons are a haven for junk food and of course the junk food industry.  The prison diet at best is massive carbohydrates augmented with sweets and powdered substitutes.  The most difficult thing for those incarcerated is to obtain any fresh vegetables.  These cannot be gotten from the canteen at any price.  A family member may send a candy bar in a package but not an onion or a carrot.  I find it interesting that they may send the latest sneakers but absolutely nothing of any nutritional value to an inmate.  

Why don't the powers that be allow gardens?  A garden in any prison facility allows much needed healthy and rewarding exercise as well as a remedy for the malnutrition which results so often in dental agony.  (This is usually the first visible sign of incarceration).  A green garden would supply a much needed sense of responsibility as well.  Many prisoners take up food collections (that is to say that they contribute to food pantries by way of churches).  I have seen this at Sing-Sing Prison as well as Green Haven in Connecticut at the time of the Hurricane Katrina outreach.

To enter prison is to lose even the right to your name.  It is for this reason that a number is assigned and the individual is made to relinquish all rights to identity and become, in effect, "a package."  A package may be shifted about at will.  Moved arbitrarily from facility to facility without any advance warning.  How therefore can a package transcend itself and become human?  I think the answer may be found in the garden.

What can give a person a greater sense of worth than to know that they are actually still able to contribute something to society despite being incarcerated?  Learning to tend a garden provides not only a form of release but an inspiration and a useable skill as well for the future.  Indeed, to tend a garden is to know that there is still such a thing as a future.

To paraphrase Voltaire the French philosopher and satirist, all we can do in the end is tend our garden, for even a slave while he tends his garden is not a slave but a gardener. Every garden is therefore a victory.

[This is a condensed version of the original article. You can find the original
here]



4. ICARE COMMUNITY EDUCATOR WRITES ABOUT RECLAIMING AND REBUILDING HIS LIFE:

Events happen in our lives as children and they live packed neatly away in our hearts and minds throughout our adult years, never being brought up or out again. The pain, anger, love, frustration, and disappointment are turned into weights that we carry through our adult lives. For me these weights had become so heavy over the years that they slowed the upward movement of my journey to freedom. The power in this poem helped me to unpack those boxes and simply let go. I pray (if needed) it will do the same for you. Even though I have been home for close to two years my reclaiming, rebuilding and upward journey to freedom and a better life continues.

-- Jafar Abbas

I AIN'T BLAMING YOU

Oh! I’m sorry
I hope I wasn’t
Writing too
Loud.

I had
Absolutely
No idea that a pen
Could so easily break through
This forced internal silence
And set free so many Externally loud Noises.

I was afraid to talk about it
Even to myself
I was afraid.
But I needed
To confront it right?

If I was ever
Going to move forward
With my life.
To deal with it
So I could deal
With myself.

I think I
Can tell you
About it now that
I had it locked up inside
Me for so long.

I was mad at you!

I bet you didn’t
Know that.

You know
We got the same blood?
Well really not the same
Half of mine’s belongs to Mommy
But you already knew that.

Did you know
Your half still fights
With Mommy’s half and
I’m still stuck in the middle
Siding with Mommy
Needing my father
Wanting my own blood.
Did you know
I didn’t always like this blood?

The way it ran through my veins screaming
”I should kill you!”

Did you know
I didn’t always like this blood?

This red stuff
That made the world
Look at me and see you
“He looks just like his father.”

I didn’t always like this blood
This blue stuff
This you
In me.

I thought
It would make us
A part of each other
How far a----------part
From each other
We have
Grown.

Maybe
That’s the part of you
That abandoned
Me?

Or
The part of me
That abandoned
You?

I
Never
Told you
That I was
Scared.

That I swore
“When I get big!”
“You wait, when I get big!”

I never told you
How I cried all by myself
That day you said
“Good-bye.”

That day
My small world
Broke into a million
Confusingly tiny
Pieces.

I should
Have told you
That I loved you
And things may
Have been
All right.

But
I ain’t blaming you
And it’s never
Too late.

I
Love you
Daddy.

Jafar Abbas



5. JOB ANNOUNCEMENT AND GREEN JOBS TRAINING PROGRAM

1) FACES NY, Inc., a nonprofit agency in Central Harlem, is seeking full-time staffing for an Office of Minority Health funded re-entry initiative titled HIRE NY (Health Improvement for Re-entering Ex-offenders).

Job Title: Project Coordinator Hours: 35 hrs/weekly Salary Range: $40,000 - $45,000/yr
Qualifications: MSW or its equivalent. 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 Hours: 35 hrs/weekly Salary Range: $30,000 - $35,000/yr
Qualifications: BA degree in Social Work

For details, contact: Antonio Rivera, Director of Education & Client Services Fax #: 212 864-1614 or via email.


2). Do you know of someone interested in participating in a Green jobs training program? 
The Green Training focuses on:
·         Green Construction
·         Home Energy Audits
·         Home Heating and Cooling
·         Home Tightening and Ventilation
·         Installing Insulation “Blown In”, Vapor Barriers and Drywall
·         Caulking and Sealing

Contact Citizens Against Recidivism, Inc, ask for Mika’il DeVeaux at 212.252.2235



6. LADY PENUMBRA AND TY CONSCIOUS PERFORMED AT MID-ORANGE'S HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH CELEBRATION IN OCTOBER

Recently Mid-Orange Correctional Facility invited Lady Penumbra and Ty Conscious to participate in their Hispanic Heritage Month Closing Celebration, sponsored by the Chaplain's office. The over 100 men who participated loved not only the poetry, but the very fact that there are so many people out here who remember them and recognize their humanity / humanness. They send their greetings back out to you.

Seven of the incarcerated people have formed a salsa band, The Mulattos de Salsa,who besides performing their own program also provided backup music for the poetry reading. At the end of the afternoon, when the band played its best selections, Lady Penumbra was invited by Deacon Rosado to dance some salsa for the audience. The entire afternoon was quite a success!

You can reach Lady Penumbra and Ty Conscious at PO Box 1784 NY NY 10035



7. LEGISLATION: ACTUAL INNOCENCE ACT; A4809-A EQUIVALENT REHABILITATION PROGRAMS FOR WOMEN VETOED BY THE GOVERNOR
[Copies of all bills mentioned are available from PAN by sending an email with the number of the bill and the month in which we reported it.]

ACTUAL INNOCENCE ACT OF 2009
On October 21, 2009 Sen. Eric T. Schneiderman (D-Manhattan/Bronx) and Assm. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) unveiled legislation to help exonerate innocent people who are wrongfully convicted in cases that lack DNA evidence. The "Actual Innocence Act of 2009" establishes "actual innocence" as a lawful basis for vacating a prior conviction and removes certain roadblocks that can prevent the wrongfully convicted from presenting proof that conclusively establishes their innocence.

Said sponsor Sen. Eric T. Scheiderman, Chair of the Senate Codes Committee and member of Chief Justice Lippman's task force on wrongful convictions. "This 'actual innocence' legislation is about justice and fairness - it ensures that innocent people don't spend decades behind bars while the real criminals go free."

"Prolonged and unnecessary incarceration of the innocent is detrimental to all - the wrongfully incarcerated, society, the criminal justice system and the victim. I can only hope that the proposed legislation ensures the others wrongly incarcerated like me, never have to suffer like I did in securing their freedom through the criminal justice system," said Marty Tankleff, who was wrongfully convicted for the murder of his parents based on a false confession.

"New York State's criminal justice system, like many other states’, has too often stressed the 'criminal' more than the 'justice,' sometimes resulting in innocent people being convicted and incarcerated....." said Sen. Velmanette Montgomery (D-Manhattan). "If the bill provides for the exoneration of just one person it will be worth it."

see article here.

UPDATE
A4809-A  - EQUIVALENT REHABILITATION PROGRAMS FOR WOMEN Weinstein (MS)   Same as S 5993  HASSELL-THOMPSON 
Passed both houses (the Assembly unanimously) and was sent to the Governor on Oct. 16, who subsequently vetoed it.

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.



8. LIFERS AND LONGTERMERS CLEARINGHOUSE: LONG-TERMERS HAVE TO DEVELOP ADJUSTMENT AND COPING STRATEGIES DIFFERENT FROM THEIR SHORT-TERM COUNTERPARTS. DOCS POLICIES ALLOW INDIVIDUALS SERVING LIFE, LONG-TERM, AND LIFE-WITHOUT-PAROLE SENTENCES TO FORM LONG-TERMER ORGANIZATIONS AS A MEANS OF ADDRESSING ISSUES.

The New York State Department of Correctional Services does not provide special counseling or programming services specially designed to assist long-termers adjust or cope with long-term sentences. 

A problem faced by all persons in prison is the development of a strategy for doing time.  For persons serving short-term sentences, release from confinement is an attainable goal in the not-too-distant future.  On the other hand, release from confinement for persons serving long-term sentences is not a realistic goal for some time.  Therefore, long-termers have to develop adjustment and coping strategies different from their short-term counterparts.

It is the policy of the state Department of Corrections to allow individuals serving life, long-term, and life-without-parole sentences to form long-termer organizations as a means of addressing issues relevant to coping with long-term confinement.  The policy and procedures for formulation of lifer and long-termer organizations is set forth in DOCS Directive 4760 Inmate Organizations.

An approved lifer and long-termer organization provides an avenue for the collective participation of long-termers in the development of programs and services that address their adjustment and coping needs.

Lifer and long-termer organizations play a crucial role in establishing internal order within a correctional facility. Lifer organizations become stakeholders in the orderly functioning of facility operations so as to assure the continuation of a climate in which the organization can further its beneficial initiatives.

When individuals serving long-term sentences (10 years or more) compose a significant percentage of the population of a correctional facility are not provided with specialized correctional programs and services to meet their adjustment and coping needs, a level of frustration and tension develops, and overtime constitutes a tinderbox of discontent.

This is specially true when long-termers are denied by the facility administration the opportunity to form a lifer-and long-termer organization. The level of frustration, tension, and discontent created then grows and festers, available for any otherwise provoked incident to ignite.

When long-termers at a facility where a significant percentage of the population are serving long-term sentences are denied the opportunity to form a lifer organization, they should each individually write the Commissioner and/or the Deputy Commissioner for Program Services.  The more individual letters the better, stating such relevant information as the approximate number of long-termers in the population at that facility.  And please familiarize yourself with Directive 4760 to be sure you are grounded in your complaint.

Larry Luqman White



9. OBITUARY:
We are sorry to report that Reverend Lonnie McLeod died on Oct 25 of a heart attack at the age of 61. His funeral took place on Saturday, October 31st at St. Marks United Methodist Church. He is greatly missed by many in the prisoners advocacy community.


10. PAROLE NEWS: PART 11 OF PAROLE HANDBOOK; PAROLE STATISTICS.

PAROLE HANDBOOK ON LETTERS OF SUPPORT, QUEENSBORO C.F.’s ROLE
[available online here ]

WHAT IF MY FAMILY, FRIENDS, EMPLOYERS OR OTHER INDIVIDUALS WISH TO SEND LETTERS IN SUPPORT OF MY RELEASE FOR REVIEW BY THE PAROLE BOARD?

All letters of support should be sent to the Parole office in the facility in which you are confined. Additionally, any written statement you wish to make on your behalf should be sent to the facility Parole office. All letters received will be placed in your file for review by the Parole Board at the time of your appearance.
Letters should not be sent directly to the Parole Board Offices as your file is maintained at the facility. Sending materials to the facility is the best way to ensure that all letters and statements will be included in your file before you appear.

WHAT HAPPENS AT QUEENSBORO CORRECTIONAL FACILITY?
If you are being released to an address in New York City, Westchester, Nassau or Suffolk county, you may be sent to Queensboro Correctional Facility to await your release date. While at Queensboro, you will have an opportunity to attend classes designed to help you think about what you will do after release to insure that you do not return to prison. In addition, you will receive a substance abuse assessment and referral to treatment if you require it; a chance to apply for Medicaid benefits if you need assistance to pay for treatment; a referral to a group designed to strengthen your relationships with your family; and assistance in finding somewhere to live.


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

Total Interviews.............. # Released....... # Denied.....Rate of Release
25 initials.................................5..............................20.................20%
122 reappearances.................30..............................92..................25%
147 total ................................35..............................112 ...............24%

Initial Releases
Facility...................Sentence..........Offense
Livingston ..............25-Life ...........Murder 2
Livingston................15-Life ..........Murder 2
Mid Orange..............20-Life ..........Murder 2
Woodbourne............20-Life...........Murder 2
Otisville....................15-Life...........Kidnap 1

Sept. Reappearances
Facility .....................Sentence........Offense ...............# of Board
Arthurkill.................15-Life...........Murder 2...................6th
Arthurkill.................25-Life...........Murder 2...................4th
Bare Hill...................8-Life.............Murder 2...................6th spec consideration
Bayview....................25-Life...........Murder 2...................4th
Clinton.....................15-Life............Murder 2...................11th
Clinton.....................15-Life............Murder 2...................4th
Elmira.......................15-Life............Murder 2...................4th
Elmira.......................25-Life............Murder 2...................5th
Fishkill.....................20-Life............Murder 2...................3rd
Fishkill.....................25-Life............Murder 2...................4th
Franklin....................15-Life............Murder 2..................6th
Franklin....................15-Life............M2 2x.........................6th
Franklin....................15-Life............Murder 2...................9th
Franklin....................15-Life............Murder 2...................5th
Gowanda..................15-Life............Murder 2...................8th
Groveland................21-Life............Murder 2...................2nd
Marcy........................15-Life............Murder 2...................3rd
Mid Orange..............15-Life............Murder 2...................4th
Mid Orange..............20-Life............Murder 2...................6th
Mid Orange..............20-Life............Murder 2...................2nd
Mid Orange..............20-Life............Murder 2...................3rd For Deportation Only
Mid Orange..............15-Life............Kidnap 1...................2nd
Mid-Orange..............15-Life............Murder 2...................9th
Mohawk....................20-Life............Murder 2...................6th
Mt. McGregor...........25-Life............M2 2x.........................2nd
Orleans......................15-Life............Murder 2...................8th
Otisville....................20-Life............Murder 2...................5th
Otisville....................15-Life............Murder 2...................5th
Sing Sing...................25-Life............Murder 2...................4th
Wallkill.....................25-Life............Murder pre 74 .........11th


SEPTEMBER RELEASES FROM PRISON REPORTS. (Please note that the following statistics are not limited to people convicted of A1 Violent felonies - but all are people with indeterminate sentences)

MID-ORANGE
Sept - Ross, Grant, Greene
Appearances: ..........23............13 released (7 A1VO)
Initials:......................11..............3 indeterminates released ( (2 for deportation; 1A1VO)
Reappearances:........12..............8 indeterminates released (6 A1VO)

WOODBOURNE
Sept - Clark, Grant
13 appearances (7 A1VO)
1 release (A1VO)
9 denials (3 A1VO)
1 postponements (A1VO)
2 split decisions (A1VO)



11. POST CONVICTION SEALING HOTLINE SEEKS YOUR INPUT
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.



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

ALL THINGS HARLEM - www.allthingsharlem.com Community based reporting at its best. 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 - ARGUMENTS FROM BOTH SIDES AGREE PRISONERS NEED TO BE COUNTED IN THE COMMUNITIES FROM WHICH THEY CAME; MAINE RESIDENTS TAKE UP PETITION AGAINST PRISON-BASED GERRYMANDERING IN SCHOOL DISTRICT

ON SATURDAY, THE WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES in upstate New York printed a letter from Daniel Jenkins calling for the upstate counties to continue to adjust the federal census to exclude prison populations. He called on the Bureau to separately report the prison count to facilitate this process:
[click here for article]

ELI LEHRER WRITES IN THE CONSERVATIVE NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE that the Census Bureau should change where it counts incarcerated people: "Prisoners aren't, in any real sense, residents of the places where they are incarcerated. Their victims and families very likely live in the places where they came from. In short, the costs that prisoners impose on society fall on the municipalities where they lived and will probably return after release."
[See: Eli Lehrer, How Should the Census Count Prisoners? National Review Online]

THE RESIDENTS OF MAINE'S REGIONAL SCHOOL UNIT 13 HAVE LAUNCHED A PETITION DRIVE to end prison-based gerrymandering in their school district. The school district's voting system is based on Census Bureau estimates for 2006 that credited the town of Thomaston with the population of the Maine State Prison that had closed 4 years prior. Not only does Maine state law say that a prison is not a residence, the prison counted in the Census did not even exist at the time of the count.
Unfortunately, the school board has refused to change the voting system, and to date the Commissioner of Education has ignored requests to intervene.
By Maine law, voters can use a petition to require the Commissioner to rule on whether a voting system violates the constitutional principles of One Person One Vote.

The Prison Policy Initiative depends on the support of the people who receive this newsletter. To help support our work with a tax-deductible contributions visit www.PrisonersoftheCensus.org or contact Peter Wagner.



14. TELEPHONE JUSTICE AT LAST! A NEW CONTRACT HAS BEEN SIGNED AND THE INSTALLATION WILL BEGIN. WHEN THE SWITCH IS COMPLETED, A 20 MINUTE CALL WILL BE LESS THAN $1.

Over the next few months a switch will be made from GTL to a new provider of telephone service to people in NYS prisons. The Unisys Corporation along with Value Added Communications, Inc. will be the new provider. The new rate will be less than a nickel a minute, and there will be no connect fees. The cost of a 20 minute call will be 96 cents.

After the switch has been completed, and you are receiving calls through Unisys, you will be able to obtain a refund of any remaining funds left in your GTL account by calling Global Tel Link at 1 866-230 7761.

The first time someone in prison makes a call on the new system, unless the called party's phone company has a billing arrangement with Unisys, Unisys will offer it as a free 60-second call followed by an automated process which will allow the called party to set up a pre-paid account so that future calls can go through.

There will be a number and a website where you can get answers to any questions after the new system goes into effect.



15. TRANSPORTATION TO PRISONS:

CAPITAL DISTRICT
NEST Prison Shuttle schedule: Mt McGregor, Washington, Grt Meadow CFs on Sat, Nov 7 ($35 adults, $25 children), Coxsackie, Greene, Hudson on BOTH Sat, Nov 14 & 21  ($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 Nov 28 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 the monthly newsletter of the Prison Action Network.
For information on joining, please call 518 253 7533, or email PAN.

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