Building Bridges

The monthly newsletter of the Prison Action Network

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

October 2010

Throughout the month we post late breaking news and announcements. Scroll down to go directly to the October 15 newsletter. Thank you.


POSTED 11/11 NATIONAL CALL-IN DAY TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 16th
 
TO SUPPORT SENATE PASSAGE OF THE
NATIONAL CRIMINAL JUSTICE COMMISSION ACT!
 
BACKGROUND INFO:
 
In 2009, Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) and 15 bipartisan cosponsors introduced the National Criminal Justice Commission Act, legislation that would create a bipartisan Commission to review and identify effective criminal justice policies and make recommendations for reform.  Both the House of Representatives and Senate Judiciary Committee have reviewed and favorably passed the bill, and now the bill awaits passage by the United States Senate. 
 
ACTION NEEDED: NEW YORKERS WILL BE PLEASED TO KNOW THAT THEIR SENATORS, SCHUMER AND GILLIBRAND, ARE CO-SPONSORS, SO THERE IS NO NEED TO CALL THEM.




POSTED 11/11 TONIGHT! NOVEMBER 11, 7pm -10pm
NYCAHN/VOCAL 10th Anniversary Gala!

We are exciting to be honoring these leaders for our community during our 10th Anniversary Gala:

Congressman Jerrold Nadler
Senator Thomas K. Duane
Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries
Wanda Hernandez

Tickets start at $35. For more information contact Charles Long: charles@nycahn.org or 347-200-7248.

Location: 1199 Penthouse, 330 W. 42nd St. 33rd Floor



POSTED 11/10 - Four events that are likely to be of interest to our readers are coming up in the next 3 days: Thursday, Friday and Saturday. See details below:

Thursday, November 11, 7:00pm–8:30pm Panel on“Experiments in Social Isolation Communications Managements Units and the Expansion of Unconstitutional Detention Policies in the post-9/11 Federal Prison System”

Panel members: Jenny Synan and Noor Elashi, family members of a CMU prisoner; CCR Staff Attorneys Alexis Agathocleous and Rachel Meeropol; CCR Education and Outreach Associate Nahal Zamani

The Bureau of Prisons claims that CMUs are designed to hold dangerous terrorists and other high-risk inmates, requiring heightened monitoring of their external and internal communications. Many prisoners, however, are sent to these isolation units for their constitutionally protected religious beliefs, unpopular political views, or in retaliation for challenging poor treatment or other rights violations in the federal prison system. Unlike other prisoners in the federal system, CMU prisoners are categorically denied any physical contact with family members and are forbidden from hugging, touching or embracing their children, spouses or loved ones during visits. The CMUs are an experiment in social isolation.

Sponsored by: South Asian Americans Leading Together; The Arab American Association of New York; Support Daniel McGowan; and CUNY Law School National Lawyers Guild Chapter. For more information, click on the Center for Constitutional Rights website  here.

Location: The Unitarian Community Church of New York City
40 East 35th Street (6-train to 33rd Street, BDFMNQR-trains to 34th Street)



Friday, November 12 National Reentry Resource Center Will Broadcast the Prisoner Reentry Institute’s Occasional Series on Reentry Research

The National Reentry Resource Center will carry a live broadcast on the center’s website of The Occasional Series on Reentry Research, hosted by the Prisoner Reentry Institute at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. The event will begin at 9:00 a.m. ET, Friday, November 12, 2010. This installment of the series is titled: “Parole Release Decisions: Impact of Victim and Nonvictim Input on Parole-Eligible Inmates” and will feature Joel M. Caplan, assistant professor, School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University; Commissioner Christina Hernandez, New York State Board of Parole; and Yael Shy, director of development and Education, New York University’s Center on Violence and Recovery.

According to the Prisoner Reentry Institute:
“This study analyzed administrative data from the New Jersey State Parole Board to determine the extent to which victim and nonvictim input impacted parole release decisions. Positive and negative input, in both verbal and written forms, was studied for a representative sample of 820 parole-eligible adults. Results suggest it can no longer be assumed that victim rights laws and public participation at parole hearings guarantee victim-desired outcomes. Policy and practice implications will be discussed.”

To watch the live broadcast, please visit www.nationalreentryresourcecenter.org on Friday morning and click on the link in the “What’s New” section, or click here(this link will not be active until Friday morning). Event materials, including Power Point presentations, panelist biographies, and a list of relevant resources, will be available on the Prisoner Reentry Institute’s website: www.jjay.cuny.edu/centers/prisoner_reentry_institute/2704.htm.

For more information about the Prisoner Reentry Institute or the Occasional Series on Reentry Research, contact Anna Crayton.



Please join us to honor and remember Marilyn Buck

Saturday, November 13, 4:30 pm to 7 pm - celebration of the life of Marilyn Buck
followed by....
7 pm to 11 pm - Second Annual Freedom Dance, honoring Marilyn and the six New York State political prisoners: Herman Bell, David Gilbert, Robert Seth Hayes, Abdul Majid, Jalil Muntaqim and Sekou Odinga.

The Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Center, 3940 Broadway (at 165th Street), Manhattan

For complete information: 917 648 7768 or click here

MARILYN PRESENTE!




Dear Reader,

We are moving full steam ahead with the campaign to end parole denials based on the nature of the crime. We insist the job of the parole board is to evaluate the person not inflict the punishment!

Over 5 years ago Prison Action Network, at the suggestion of the Otisville Lifers Group, became involved in educating and mobilizing the families and friends of people who keep getting denied parole release because of the nature of the crime for which they have completed the minimum sentence. At that time many families thought their incarcerated loved ones had done something wrong to deserve the denial. 

Family Empowerment Day 1 in 2005 opened their eyes to the truth.  And by Family Empowerment Day 4, in 2008, over 400 family members, friends and advocates came together to hear the head of Parole tell us that if we wanted to end the practice of parole denials based on the crime, we had to change the law.

And that's exactly what we are ready to do!  We have spent over a year working to change the parole statute, Executive Law 259-i, so that the parole board will not be able to resentence people, but will have to base their decision on the parole applicant's record while incarcerated. We say, "Evaluation not Punishment!" In order for our suggestions to become law, we need the support of other advocacy organizations, and a majority of the voters in NYS rising up and demanding this change.  

That's where you come in. If you support parole reform and you vote, we need to provide political cover for our friends in the legislature, to give them the courage to support changes they know will put NYS on the map for having the most progressive parole board policy in the US.  If enough voters demand that their representatives support legislation that will take the nature of the crime out of the list of reasons the parole board can deny parole, those legislators will not be able to say, "this bill does not have enough support to pass". We all must convince our representatives in the legislature to support these changes. We're going to have to work hard to counteract the opposition, but we're no strangers to hard work, are we?

If you represent an advocacy organization, we need you to publicly state your support. If you have questions about the proposal, or about how you can sign on, we're available to meet with you to discuss them.   Please invite us by contacting Judith Brink at prisonactionnetwork@gmail.com or at 518-253-7533.  We love to share the good news! People have the power!

[For more details on the campaign's progress please see article #2. You may also write us for our one-page description to send to your legislators and anyone else you want to convince to support our cause.]

Please be well, keep the faith, and share the news!


ARTICLE INDEX

1. Activism: actions, meetings and events
2. Campaign for Parole Reform
3. Erie County Prisoners Rights Coalition
4. Mental Health Guide
5. Parole News
6. Sen. Schneiderman and Rev. Sharpton
7. Voting Rights Rally
8. Women's special needs
9. Work Release letter sent to governor

[For copies of any document, article or legislation referred to, or excerpted from, in this issue, please write Building Bridges with a request clearly stating name of the document and the date of the Building Bridges in which it was used -Ed.]


1. ACTIVISM: ACTIONS, MEETINGS AND EVENTS HAPPENING AROUND THE STATE THIS MONTH;

ACTIONS

A1. WORK RELEASE; SOMETHING YOU CAN DO TO MAKE IT POSSIBLE:

Julia Long, Prison Action Network member and public servant, sent a proposal to Governor Paterson outlining many reasons why it would make good sense for him to repeal "Executive Order #5: Repealing Work Release for Violent Felony Offenders". If you support her call for repeal of the executive order that eliminated work release for violent felony offenders, please call or write the governor: Gov. David A. Paterson, State Capitol, Albany NY 12224, 518-474-8390; email the governor
 
You could say something as simple as this: I am aware that there is a proposal on Gov Paterson's desk, sent to him by Ms. Julia Long, to repeal Executive Order #5 which denies Work Release for Violent Felony Offenders. I agree with all the reasons she gives for returning eligibility for work release to persons convicted of violent crimes. Please do this one last "smart on crime" act before you leave office. Thank you.


A2. NATIONAL CRIMINAL JUSTICE COMMISSION ACT, H.R. 5143 / S.714 [COMMONLY KNOWN AS JIM WEBB'S BILL]

There is still time to call your U.S. Senators to ask them to prioritize and support Senate passage of the House-passed National Criminal Justice Commission Act, as soon as possible!

BACKGROUND INFO:
In 2009, Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) and 15 bipartisan cosponsors introduced the National Criminal Justice Commission Act, legislation that would create a bipartisan Commission to review and identify effective criminal justice policies and make recommendations for reform.  The House of Representatives and Senate Judiciary Committee have reviewed and favorably passed the bill, and it is now awaiting passage by the United States Senate.  The results of this Commission would likely strengthen our arguments for the changes we here in NYS are seeking in our criminal justice system.

MESSAGE: I am calling to ask the Senator to prioritize and support immediate Senate passage of the House-passed National Criminal Justice Commission Act, H.R. 5143/S. 714, because:
•  Having a transparent and bipartisan Commission review and identify effective criminal justice policies would increase public safety.
• The increase in incarceration over the past twenty years has stretched the system beyond its limits.  These high costs to taxpayers are unsustainable, especially during these tough economic times.
• The proposed commission would conduct a comprehensive national review – not audits of individual state systems – and would issue recommendations – not mandates – for consideration. 

If you live in NYS, the senators to call are: Kirsten E.Gillibrand - (D - NY) - (202) 224-4451, and Charles E. Schumer, - (D - NY) (202) 224-6542


A3. WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 20TH, 4:45PM VOICES OF COMMUNITY ACTIVISTS & LEADERS (VOCAL) TOWN HALL ON PAROLEE RIGHTS

Where: 113 E. 13th St. (betw 3rd and 4th Ave., in Manhattan)

TALK TO city and state agencies that have a significant impact on the lives of people who are currently and formerly incarcerated about housing, voting rights, parole eligibility and re-entry services.
INVITED SPEAKERS: •New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) •New York State Department of Corrections (DOC) •New York State Division of Parole (DOP)

Transportation assistance and food available Info at (347) 849-2486 or alfredo@nycahn.org


A4. SUNDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2:30 PM IN YOUR FACE RALLY - FREE!!!-
THE RALLY OF THE CENTURY!!! UNFORGETTABLE TESTIMONIES!!! UNBELIEVABLE FACTS!!! Slavery was never abolished, it was merely adjusted - WE’LL TELL YOU, WE’LL UNVEIL THE TRUTH – WE’LL PUT THINGS – IN YOUR FACE!!
Location: Union Temple of Brooklyn, 17 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11238

How can one be charged for a crime, serve the minimum time to which they were sentenced and do so with substantial progress, yet be denied continuously THEIR freedom due to the crime for which they were incarcerated for in the first place? If after 10, 15, 20, 25 years a person has yet to be rehabilitated, then do we not have a broken system!! Hence what is the purpose of the system!! A parole board who seemingly spends more time hindering ones freedom vs. assisting one in regaining access to their freedom! So the question is: What then is the purpose of the parole board?
Well we say NO MORE! What’s worse than a sick twisted system, is the people who KNOW the ills of this system and who sit back, idling, doing nothing to speak up for those who are falling victim to the system every single day! What we do not uncover, expose and start to correct in our lifetime, we leave for our children to live through in the next…In some way, we ALL are affected by this sick prison/parole board system …..



MEETINGS:
ALBANY:

EVERY TUESDAY AT 6PM P-MOTIONS (PROGRESSIVE MEN OPERATING TOWARDS INITIATING OPPORTUNITIES NOW) A men's support group which meets weekly at the SEFCU building, 388 Clinton Ave (look for the bright red roof).  Facilitation shared by Sam Wiggins, Monroe Parrott and Malik Rivera.  For information call Malik at 518 445-5487.

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 17, 7:00 PM THE NEW YORK STATE PRISONER JUSTICE NETWORK MEETING
Agenda: Outreach/planning for regional meetings: NYC, Buffalo (possibly including Rochester), Central New York. Discuss lobby day proposal as part of agenda for regional meetings. Goals for regional meetings. Reports: communications committee, prison voices committee. Work party: mail directories to participating organizations and to people in prison.

Problem or question? Want a copy of the minutes of the last meeting? Call the Social Justice Center 518-434-4037.
Location: The Social Justice Center, 33 Central Avenue, Albany.
Call-ins welcome 712-432-0111 access 106007#

MONDAY, OCTOBER 18, 7:00–8:30PM PRISON FAMILIES OF NEW YORK SPEAKER SERIES
All Welcome – Free and Confidential. An evening of Q&A with Ed Fraley and Joe Ingemie from  NYS Div of Parole
Call 518-453-6659 for more information
Location: The Women’s Building, 373 Central Ave, Albany


BROOKLYN:

EVERY WEDNESDAY AT 5:30PM VOCAL PAROLEES ORGANIZING PROJECT [See article 8 for more on VOCAL]

Visit www.VotingRightsForNewYork.org and join us to build power among people who are formerly incarcerated to reduce mass incarceration and fight discrimination against people with criminal records. For more info call 917 676-8041, write jeremy@nycahn.org

Location: 80A 4th Ave. in Brooklyn


BUFFALO:

EVERY WEDNESDAY FROM 5-6 PM ERIE COUNTY PRISONERS RIGHTS COALITION DEMONSTRATION in front of the Erie County Holding Center, corner of Delaware and Church, in Buffalo. [See article 3 for more on ECPRC]

MONDAY, OCTOBER 25, 6:30-8:30PM PRISONERS ARE PEOPLE TOO! MEETING

FAMILY COURT CRISIS -- PART 2: We will re-visit last month’s topic which was “Family Court Crisis.” Last month, we heard the child custody story of Ms. Jacqueline Bontzolakes who explained how her Family Court experiences landed her behind the walls of the Erie County Holding Center. She is one of many parents who attest to the fact that Family Court did not work for their family and that it didn’t do what it might have done to keep the family intact. Our second speaker was Ms. Eula Nailor, a longtime community activist who works with families negatively impacted by Family Court and the Foster Care system. An audience of nearly 40 attendees made it abundantly clear that there is great interest in some critical issues surrounding Family Court procedure.

As a result, this month’s guest speaker will be the Honorable Debra Givens, who comes to us with a wealth of experience, having been a judge in various courts for 11 years, with a strong background as a Matrimonial and Family Law Attorney. She has served as a Law Guardian to more than 100 children for 8 years; a Family Court Support Magistrate for 4 years; a Buffalo City Court Judge, presiding over the Domestic Violence Court for 2 years; and currently serving as an Acting Family Court Judge. The Judge will talk about Family Court procedure and her role as a judge in several capacities as indicated above. Honoring judicial ethics, she will not talk about the facts of any pending or impending cases.

The film being screened is “Family Court Crisis: Our Children at Risk,” produced by the Center for Judicial Excellence. (Last month we screened the film's trailer.)

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.

Location: Pratt-Willert Community Center, 422 Pratt Street, Buffalo


MANHATTAN:

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 20, 1:00-3:00PM NY REENTRY ROUNDTABLE
Education Inside, Out: Increasing Access to Higher Education for People in and after Prison.
Guest Speakers:
Vivian Nixon, Policy Association, College and Community Fellowship
Glenn Martin, Dir. of David Rothenberg Ctr for Public Policy, V-P of Fortune Society
Leslie Campbell, Recruitment, Intake, Retention Coordinator at College and Community Fellowship.

Please RSVP to Gabriel Torres-Rivera (grivera@cssny) or 212 614 5306
Location: CSS, 105 E 22 St. corner Park Ave So., Conf Rm 4A, #6 or W/R train, 23rd St stop


WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 20 6:30PM RECEPTION, 7PM PANEL DISCUSSION
hosted by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Common Cause and American Constitution Society for Law and Policy

Obstruction in the Modern Senate: Is Reform Possible?

Panel Moderated by Stephen Younger, Pres. NYS Bar Association: Emmet Bondurant, Common Cause; Olatunde (Olati) Johnson, Ass. Prof of Law, Columbia Law School; Mimi Marziani, katz Fellow, Brennan Ctr for Justice; David Walman, contrib. Editor, Daily Kos and Congress Matters

Location: NYU School of Law
RSVP, or call 646 292 8371 for Room Name.


FRIDAY, OCTOBER 22, 10AM-NOON THE COALITION FOR WOMEN PRISONERS
All interested persons are invited to attend this meeting about domestic violence survivors in the criminal justice system.
Location: 2090 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd., Suite 200


EVERY FRIDAY 6-9PM - RIVERSIDE CHURCH BOOK STUDY GROUP- SEE ARTICLE # 8 ON THE NEW JIM CROW


NIAGARA FALLS:

TUESDAY OCTOBER 19, 6:00–7:30PM NIAGARA PRISON FAMILY SUPPORT GROUP
For families and friends of prisoners, formerly incarcerated people and their families, and interested community members. Free and Confidential
Guest Speaker: Eric Boerdner
Re-entry Coordinator, Niagara County Re-entry Task Force Community Missions, Inc.

Upcoming Speaker: November 16th – Karima Amin, Executive Director, Prisoners Are People Too

For further information and to leave a confidential message: Claudia 236-0257 or e-mail
Location: Niagara Falls Public Library 1425 Main St. 2nd fl.



2. CAMPAIGN FOR PAROLE REFORM IS ON THE MOVE

The Campaign Strategy Team has met twice, on Sept 30 and Oct 5. Eight representatives of activist organizations have joined with the Coalition for Fair Criminal Justice Policies to plan our strategy for passing legislation that would end the practice of basing parole decisions on the nature of the crime.

Is your organization committed to this campaign? Let us know. If not, we are available to meet with you to discuss our proposal for amending Exec.Law 259-i.. Email Prison Action Network to schedule a meeting at a location of your choosing. A phone conference is also possible. Two groups have already invited us.

We are putting together a list of radio, video, print and TV reporters for our media campaign. Please help us by sending the names of any sympathetic columnists or reporters with whom you have developed a relationship.

We'll keep you informed through this monthly column. Send a request for the bill and a one-page description, and use them to get others to support our proposal.



3. ERIE COUNTY PRISONERS RIGHTS COALITION: STILL STANDING - NO MATTER THE NUMBERS, WE HAVE STOOD STEADFAST, DETERMINED TO KEEP ISSUES OF ALLEGED JAILHOUSE ABUSE ON THE FRONT BURNER.

by Karima Amin
On Wednesday, August 5, 2009, we stood on the corner of Delaware Avenue and Church Street, in front of the Erie County Holding Center, in protest for the first time. Calling ourselves the “Buffalo Prison Abuse Project,” about a dozen of us carried signs, protesting Erie County Jail Management’s desire to keep Department of Justice investigators out of the Erie County Holding Center. We stood on that corner, determined to be “a voice for the voiceless,” chanting: “Prisoners are people too; it could be me or you!” and “No excuse for prisoner abuse!” Men’s voices from inside thanked us and chanted with us. A brief meeting followed that first standout and we agreed to do it again…and again…and again, every Wednesday thereafter, between 5:00 and 6:00pm. In January of this year, we changed our name to better reflect our mission: Erie County Prisoners Rights Coalition.

Through sun, wind, rain and snow and too many suicides, our core group of about 10 people, ballooned to a high of 20 and dwindled to a low of 2. No matter the numbers, we have stood steadfast, determined to keep issues of alleged jailhouse abuse on the front burner. These ugly allegations of abuse are not new. They have been a fact of life for decades. Current and former detainees say, “I would tell what I know but who would believe me?” Current and former staff say, “I would tell what I know but I might lose my job.” Former and current deputies say, “I would tell what I know but there’s a thin, blue line that I had better not cross.” Fear is a horrifying, and crippling thing that has an unquestionable stranglehold on all of them.

Everyday I wonder if there will ever be a huge public outcry about the people whose lives have been lost or damaged in our downtown county jail. I wonder too if there will ever be a public outcry about taxpayer dollars being spent on lawsuits that could have been avoided if humane and professional service had been rendered. I have been told that my wondering is naïve and pointless. There are people who actually benefit from the ugliness on the inside so the status quo must be maintained. Everyday I wonder if someone will confirm or refute my belief that every suicide was not, in fact, a suicide. Everyday I wonder, in my naïveté, when someone in power will come forward and say, “Power be damned; I will tell the truth.”

For more than a year, I have been waiting for our ranks on that corner to grow. We stand there every week, believing that we are no different from the detainees on the inside. We understand that any one of us could be on the outside today and confined inside the Erie County Holding Center tomorrow. This happens more than we want to believe but it’s a reality that we cannot deny. We cannot separate ourselves from our sisters and brothers on the inside whom some view as criminals and nothing more. It’s scary for them to think that we are more alike than we are different.

Here we are, thirteen months later, still standing and believing that there is some good in everyone and together we can change things for the better if we would simply acknowledge that everyone is not blessed with privilege and opportunity. There really is no liberty and justice for all. The status quo is working for some but the end result is too many haves and way too many have-nots.

So here I am…here we are…still standing.



4. WHEN A PERSON WITH MENTAL ILLNESS GOES TO PRISON: HOW TO HELP, A GUIDE FOR FAMILY MEMBERS AND FRIENDS. [See last paragraph for ways to get your own copy]

The Urban Justice Center’s Mental Health Project (MHP) and the National Alliance on Mental Illness – New York State (NAMI-NYS) are pleased to announce the publication of this guide which provides comprehensive information about the New York State prison mental health system and contains suggestions for supporting people with psychiatric disabilities in prison.  We hope it will serve as a valuable resource for family members struggling to protect their loved ones.

The guide was written by Alexandra H. Smith, Soros Justice Fellow with MHP from 2008 through 2010, and Jennifer J. Parish, MHP’s Director of Criminal Justice Advocacy.  Funding for the project was provided by the Jacob and Valeria Langeloth Foundation, the Open Society Institute, and NAMI-NYS. 

You can download the publication at www.urbanjustice.org/pdf/publications or order a copy by contacting Jennifer Parish at the Urban Justice Center, 123 William Street, 16th floor, New York, NY 10038 or email jparish@urbanjustice.org.



5. "THE NEW JIM CROW, MASS INCARCERATION IN THE AGE OF COLORBLINDNESS", WRITTEN BY MICHELLE ALEXANDER, ARGUES THAT "MASS INCARCERATION IS, METAPHORICALLY, THE NEW JIM CROW AND THAT ALL THOSE WHO CARE ABOUT SOCIAL JUSTICE SHOULD FULLY COMMIT THEMSELVES TO DISMANTLING THIS NEW RACIAL CASTE SYSTEM [p.11].

Riverside Church in NYC has taken this call very seriously. Starting last Friday (Oct. 8) a study/workshop group is studying and discussing the book chapter by chapter and then working to develop a collective action the group can undertake. This approach is developing across the country in order to start a movement.

The book study group meets every other Friday and a Prison and Parole group meets on the following Fridays.  Jazz Hayden and Alison Alpert head the book study group and Larry White heads the Parole and Prison group.  IT IS NOT TOO LATE TO JOIN. The next book study group meeting is Fri Oct 22, 6-9pm. We hope you'll buy or borrow the book, read the first chapter, and show up for the next meeting. An interview with the author is available at YouTube.com.

For more information contact Rev.Alison Alpert (abalpert@gmail.com); Jazz Hayden (jhayden512@aol.com), 917-753-3771; Larry White (lw77a3272@yahoo.com), 646-796-4203.

Location: Riverside Church, 91 Claremont Ave, (north of 120th St , one blk west of Bdwy.)
Ask at the front desk for directions to Room 10T in the MLK Building



6. PAROLE NEWS: SEPTEMBER 2010 PAROLE BOARD RELEASES OF A1 VIOLENT FELONS –
DIN #s through 1999, unofficial research from parole database

Total Interviews......... # Released...... # Denied........ Rate of Release
25 initials............................2....................... 23....................... 8%
79 reappearances............. 10....................... 69....................... 13%
104 Total.......................... 12....................... 92....................... 12%

Initial Releases
Facility....................... Sentence......... Offense
Clinton....................... 25-Life............ Murder 2
Coxsackie.................. 25-Life............ Murder 2

Reappearances
Facility....................... Sentence......... Offense.......... # of Board
Clinton....................... 25-Life............ Murder 2........ 2nd
Fishkill....................... 15-Life............ Murder 2........ 7th *Special Consideration/De Novo hearing
Great Meadow............ 15-Life............ Murder 2........ 4th
Mid Orange................ 20-Life............ Murder 2........ 6th
Mid Orang.................. 15-Life............ Murder 2........ 2nd
Midstate......................15-Life............ Murder 2........ 10th
Mt McGregor.............. 18-Life............ Murder 2........ 3rd
Otisville.......................25-Life............ Kidnap 1......... 3rd
Otisville.......................25-Life............ Murder 2........ 4th
Southport....................15-Life............ Murder 2........ 4th

If your loved one has a parole hearing, please send the name of the facility, the date of the hearing and the names of the commissioners. Prison Action Network needs that information for research purposes. Thank you.



7. SEN. ERIC SCHNEIDERMAN AND REV.AL SHARPTON: SCHNEIDERMAN SAYS THAT HE WOULD FOLLOW IN SHARPTON’S FOOTSTEPS IN PURSUING JUSTICE FOR NEW YORKERS.

In an OpEd entitled “The Rev. Al Sharpton, Our Next Attorney General?”, which ran in a local publication in Alfonse D’Amato’s home base of Long Island on Sunday, 10 Oct 2010, the senator-turned-lobbyist wrote a harsh opinion of Senator Schneiderman's public vow that if he is elected attorney general of NYS, Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network and the House of Justice, its Harlem headquarters, “will have an annex in Albany for the first time in state history.”

Schneiderman’s remarks were made prior to the Democratic primary, after Sharpton had endorsed him over his Democratic opponents. Schneiderman won the nomination. Some say this connection with Rev. Sharpton has hurt Eric Schneiderman's chances, but we'll let the voters decide that, won't we?!

Schneiderman called Sharpton’s endorsement the “Good Housekeeping seal of approval from the man from the House of Justice.”



8. VOTING RIGHTS - ELECTED OFFICIALS PRESS FOR VOTING RIGHTS ON DAY BEFORE REGISTRATION DEADLINE. SENATORS HASSELL-THOMPSON & PERKINS, AMS O’DONNELL, JEFFRIES & WRIGHT, AND COUNCIL MEMBER JACKSON, PAROLEE HECTOR MARTINEZ, FORMER PAROLEES LARRY WHITE AND JOSEPH “JAZZ” HAYDEN, AND LEGAL ADVOCATES ERIKA WOOD & TRACIE GARDNER FROM LEGAL ACTION CTR ALL SPOKE. [Click here to View on youtube, , thanks to Jazz Hayden.]

Advocates Urge Gubernatorial Candidates To Clarify Stance on Restoring Voting Rights For 41,000 New Yorkers On Parole
 
New York, NY, Oct.7 – Elected officials joined members of VOCAL New York outside the Board of Elections in Manhattan today to call for restoring voting rights to 41,000 New Yorkers on parole. When factoring in those who are incarcerated, more than 108,000 New Yorkers are currently disenfranchised due to a conviction in their past. The rally was timed the day before the voter registration deadline for the upcoming election on November 2nd.

“I'm 51 years old and this November will be the first time in my life I get to vote because I've either been behind bars or on parole until being discharged last month,” said Ramon Velasquez, a VOCAL New York member. “I'm trying to give back to my community – I volunteer at a homeless program, run recovery support groups, and support my family. But I was denied the right to vote until recently just because I was on parole.”

Advocates also urged gubernatorial candidates Andrew Cuomo and Carl Paladino to clarify whether they support restoring voting rights for people on parole. “We need a Governor who stands up for civil rights and commits to end a law that seems designed to prevent large numbers of African Americans and Latinos from exercising their right to vote,” said Maria Diaz, a VOCAL member from Westchester.

Assembly Member Daniel O'Donnell and Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson have introduced legislation (A2445/S4643) that would automatically restore voting rights for people who have completed their prison sentence.

Elected officials who spoke during the press conference provided the following statements expressing concern about felony disenfranchisement:

“The exclusion of parolees from our state's voter rolls must end. These individuals have served their prison time and should be encouraged to reintegrate and invest in their communities, not remain disenfranchised on the fringes of society. With democratic participation already at low levels, enfranchisement of marginalized groups supports both good democracy and a stronger society,” said Assembly Member Daniel O'Donnell.
 
"In a Nation and State so proud of our 'freedom', its downright shameful that laws still exist to purposefully disenfranchise our citizenry. Our State needs to lead the way and not only allow those on parole to vote but also inform the currently and formerly incarcerated of their exact voting rights. As a former Chair of the State Assembly Committee on Election Law, I made it a priority to end these discriminatory practices and introduced legislation to empower our communities by giving all parolees the right to vote. It is time that we get back to 'one person, one vote' and away from 'one felon, no vote'," said a representative from Assembly Member Keith Wright's Harlem office.

“One of the most important civil right issues facing us today is the rights and dignity of the incarcerated and newly paroled who disproportionately represent the Black and Latino populations. It is more than a little ironic, and tragically so, that New York is more than willing to count inmates for the purpose of drawing congressional district lines, but then not allow them a vote upon their release. This is a critically important civil rights issue that must be carefully considered by both city and state governments,” said Assembly Member Hakeem Jeffries of Brooklyn, a sponsor of the new law ending prison-based gerrymandering.

“America long ago expanded the concept of imprisonment to emphasize rehabilitation. It's time to fully recognize that by restoring the right to vote to those people the courts have deemed to have paid their debt to society and it's time for this restriction to be recognized as the civil rights issue it really is,” said Council Member Robert Jackson of Harlem.
 
Voices Of Community Activists & Leaders (VOCAL) and the NYC AIDS Housing Network (NYCAHN) is a grassroots membership organization led by people who are living with and affected by HIV/AIDS, drug use and mass incarceration.



9. WOMEN'S SPECIAL NEEDS: ON SEPTEMBER 15TH, HIRE HELD ITS 5TH ANNUAL NYS REENTRY POLICY CONFERENCE ENTITLED, "ELEVATING WOMEN: STRENGTHENING POLICIES & PRACTICES TO SUPPORT THE NEEDS OF JUSTICE-INVOLVED WOMEN."

The Conference was co-hosted by HIRE, Brandon House Inc., and the Women In Prison Project and made possible by the generous support of the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services and the Langeloth Foundation

“Elevating Women” was marked by both policy discussions and poignant stories. It highlighted a key problem in the criminal justice system: Though women have a different set of needs and experiences during and after incarceration, most discharge and reentry planning focuses on men.

In the face of this bias, women face not only practical difficulties, but also a higher level of stigma. Kathy Boudin, director of the Criminal Justice Initiative at Columbia University: “On the one hand, you can be invisible for a while and on the other hand, if you’re going to deal with the stigma, at some point you have to come to terms with it, so you can use yourself as an example.


10. WORK RELEASE: JULIA LONG SENT A CITIZEN'S LETTER TO GOV. PATERSON ASKING THAT HE REPEAL EXECUTIVE ORDER #5. PRIOR TO 1995, VIOLENT FELONY OFFENDERS WERE ALLOWED TO PARTICIPATE IN THE WORK RELEASE PROGRAM. UNDER EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 5 SIGNED BY FORMER GOVERNOR GEORGE PATAKI, THIS PRACTICE ENDED. HER ARGUMENTS FOLLOW.

1. The Work Release Program costs $7,500 per prisoner to operate, compared to $32,000 for a general population prisoner (not including medical, mental health services and capital costs, which can be as much as $50,000 per year per prisoner). According to the NYS Department of Correctional Services 2009 annual statistical report, there were 35,411 violent offenders, and 4,740 coercive offenders [considered violent offenders] incarcerated in the NYS Department of Corrections in 2009. They total 40,151 individuals and cost the state $1,284,832,000 to house them in general population correctional facilities. Nearly two-thirds (64%) or 25,760 of them have less than two years to their earliest release date. The state pays $824,320,000 to house them in general population correctional facilities as opposed to $193,200,000 by allowing them to participate in the work release program – a savings of $631,120,000 per year. This cost savings would be immediate.

2. NYS DOCS 2006 annual report states that just 2,207 work release inmates earned $4,279,388.80.
a. they paid $1,275,755.75 in federal, state and local taxes
b. they sent home $243,369.55 in support of their families, reducing public support

3 A-1 Violent Felony Offenders have the absolute lowest rate of recidivism according to the National Institute of Corrections absent SHOCK incarceration participants (partly due to their lengthy prison stay -they are older as they become work release eligible- [2 years before initial parole board appearance]) & because crimes involving violence are not typically correlated to income producing – robbery being the exception- as opposed to drug sellers who earn their income through illegal activity. Violent acts are for the most part a one-time occurrence.

4. 98.7% of all violent offenders are eligible to be released from prison to return to their communities. For those whom have been removed for lengthy periods of time, work release offers a positive transition back into the communities from which they came thereby promoting public safety.

5. The work release program which included violent felony offenders was highly successful from its inception in 1970 up until former Gov. Pataki’s 1995 Executive Order to eliminate violent offenders from the program. In 1994, NY officials estimated that the program would save the state $96 million each year in operational costs-in 2010, 16 years later, due to cost of living increases, the savings can be doubled. It was eliminated based on a “get tough on crime” initiative, not because the program was failing.

6. The total point system required to enter the work release program is 32 points-1 point earned for every 6 months of positive program participation and good behavior. By maintaining the point system as a prerequisite to participation in the work release program, positive behavior is fostered within the prison system including participation in education and vocational training.

7. Behavior that allows for prisons to be safe is a learned behavior, once learned it is applicable to one’s personal life and then to the community from whence the offender came.

For the above listed reasons, the undersigned respectfully requests Executive Order No. 5 be repealed or to be modified so that A-1 violent felony offenders (who have served the longest period of incarceration of all violent felony offenders and would be most likely to succeed in the temporary release program – work release are able to participate in the program).

A month later she followed up with these requests: I also ask that you repeal Executive Order number 9, a subsequent order continuing the original order penned by Governor Pataki

Let A-1 violent felony offenders be considered the top priority as statistics prove that they are the least likely to recidivate. They have served longer sentences, are more mature and realize the ramifications of violating this opportunity, should you allow these Executive Orders to be repealed.

All other category of violent offender has already received a determinate sentence effective 1998 and are therefore eligible for conditional release with intense post release supervision.

The New York State Department of Correctional Services has recently upgraded its report on the statistical analysis of the inmate population to include those under custody of the department as of January 1, 2010. According to the DOCS report, A-1 VFO’s total 11,237. It costs $359,584,000 to house them in a general population cell as opposed to $84,277,500 to allow them to participate in work release, a cost savings of nearly $300 million.