Building Bridges

The monthly newsletter of the Prison Action Network

Translate this page:

Monday, March 01, 2010

MARCH 2010

We publish late breaking announcements here. If you want to go directly to the March 2010 Building Bridges, please scroll down a bit.


POSTED MARCH 18 From the Occasional Series on Reentry Research

Friday, March 26: 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM

(Re)Starting and Stopping: Breaks between Criminal Activity
Vs. Permanent Cessation from Crime

Speaker: Shawn Bushway, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, SUNY Albany

Discussants will include Eric Waters, Program Director, Prison Reentry and Family Services, Osborne Association
and Joseph Shields, Executive Director, N J State Parole Board

Location: John Jay College of Criminal Justice,
899 Tenth Avenue (b/w 58th and 59th Streets), Room 630.

RSVP to Amelia Thompson (212.484.1399; amthompson@jjay.cuny.edu).




POSTED March 11 ( busy day today!!): from the Center for Constitutional Rights, Annette Dickerson, Director of Education of Outreach

Yesterday the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) celebrated a major victory when we won an injunction against Congress' unconstitutional de-funding of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) for the second time. A federal judge ordered the United States and several government agencies to rescind orders cutting off funding to ACORN and its affiliates and allies.

Learn more about ACORN Vs USA

By singling out ACORN, Congress acted as judge, jury and executioner without a trial or judicial hearing. No organization should be unconstitutionally targeted by Congress. Write to your representative and ask them to uphold due process and make no further attempts to single out or prevent ACORN from providing essential services to Americans.



POSTED March 11: from Glenn Martin, Vice President, David Rothenberg Center for Public Policy (DRCPP):

Please take 2 minutes to call Governor Paterson TODAY at 518.474.8390 and say, "Since the prison population is down, please follow through with the proposal to close the four (4) upstate prisons. NYS should be investing in Alternatives to Incarceration and reentry, not prisons." In addition, please call your local Assemblyman and Senator with the same message.



POSTED March 11: by the Campaign for Parole Board Reform

This Saturday (March 13) Larry White will be sharing the mic with Eddie Ellis to talk about the Campaign for Parole Board Reform and the bill proposed by the Coalition for Fair Criminal Justice Policies. ON THE COUNT, WBAI, 99.5FM. - Criminal Justice & Prison Report, a radio program produced by formerly incarcerated people. Airs Saturday 10:30 am - Noon. To listen live on your computer, visit www.wbai.org. It's a call in show, so if you have questions you may call (212) 209-2900.


Dear Reader,

We've come a long way since the 2005 Family Empowerment Day (FED) - the brainchild of a group of men at Otisville - which took place with less than 100 family members. FED 4 in 2008 had over 400, and resulted in a powerful mandate to change the parole policies in this state, particularly regarding parole board decisions. This year the Coalition for Fair Criminal Justice Policies, an outgrowth of FED4, will bring their proposed revision of Exec. Law §259-i to the NYS Prisoner Justice Conference on March 27. It has been suggested that it be included in the Unity Statement which will be discussed and voted on at the conference. To add your voice of support for the proposed revisions, you may write the organizers at NYS Prisoner Justice Conference, 33 Central Ave, Albany NY 12210, or call 518 434 4037. Over 25 groups involved in advocacy or service activities have already registered for this conference. We don't know the outcome, but it is certain to move us a long way toward our goal of fair and just criminal justice policies and practices. Be proud of the work you’ve contributed to these efforts. Only through your hope and commitment could we have come this far.

On another note, if you have written to Building Bridges in the past month and a half, it’s likely you won't hear back from us until at least April or May. Working as part of the planning committee for the March 27 conference, along with the many other organizations, has kept us even busier than usual. However, we hope to answer as many of your concerns as possible in the pages of these monthly newsletters.
Be well, keep the faith, and share the news!


INDEX
1. Activities for advocates, statewide
2. Coalition initiates campaign for parole reform
3. ICARE on DOH oversight of DOCS HIV/AIDS treatment
4. Job opportunities
5. Know Your Rights Project for immigrant detainees
6. Legislation watch
7. Medicaid and disability program rules
8. Lifers and Longtermers Clearinghouse
9. NYS Prisoner Justice Conference
10.Parole News
11.Prison media: radio, video, print, theater
12.Transportation to prisons

[For copies of any document, article or legislation referred to in any of the above, please send an email with a request clearly stating name of the document and in which issue of Building Bridges it was mentioned.]


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

BUFFALO:
Monday, MARCH 29, 6:30-8:30 pm Prisoners Are People Too
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.

At the next meeting of Prisoners Are People Too Melis Birder's award-winning documentary film, "The Visitors" will be screened. 

"'The Visitors' is a documentary about passengers of a charter bus that leaves New York City every weekend for various prisons located in Upstate New York. Reflecting the struggles of a unique culture, living at the intersection of confinement and the free world, the story follows the coordinator of the bus, Denise,  whose husband is coming home soon after 17 years of imprisonment."

Present with us that evening will be guest speakers who make that trip in the opposite direction, from Western NY, to visit incarcerated loved ones who are confined Downstate. Visiting a loved one in prison is a difficult thing. There are financial, physical, and emotional challenges that no one can truly understand unless he or she has had to make that journey.

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


CAPITAL DISTRICT:
MONDAY, MARCH 8, 7-8:30 PM PRISON FAMILIES OF NEW YORK, INC.
MONTHLY SPEAKER SERIES
Presenter: Vanda Seward, State-wide Director of Reentry, NYS Div. of Parole
Bring your questions.For information and/or confidential assistance: 518-453-6659, alison.coleman@rcda.org

Location: The Womens Building, 373 Central Avenue, Albany



 
TUESDAY, MARCH 16, ALL DAY DROP THE ROCK LOBBY DAY
YOU Can Help Reform New York’s Prison System! On this day hundreds of New Yorkers will unite in Albany to call for criminal justice reforms including prison closures, full repeal of the Rockefeller Drug Laws, and reinvestment in our communities.

Organizations and individuals interested in participating in Advocacy Day should contact Caitlin Dunklee, Drop the Rock Coordinator at 212-254-5700 x 339 or cdunklee@correctionalassociation.org.

If you are on parole or probation, and need a letter in order to join us for Advocacy Day, please contact Caitlin.


SATURDAY MARCH 27, 8:30 AM- 5:30 PM NYS PRISON JUSTICE CONFERENCE
More than 26 organizations have already signed on to sponsor this statewide gathering of justice activist organizations and individuals. The purpose of the conference is to meet each other and learn about the unique role each plays, and the many commonalities we all share. "We are our own best resources!"
Space is limited (that's not just a way to try to get you to register - you really must register in advance.) There's a registration form and a sponsor form at www.nysprisonerjustice.org. So if your organization has not already signed up as a sponsor (which includes tabling space), please visit the website now and do so. If you're a member of an organization, whether OR NOT they're sponsoring the conference you need to register at the website as well. And if you're an activist working on your own, same thing. There's still room for you at the conference if you register now: www.nysprisonerjustice.org. Call 518 434 4037 if you don't have computer access, to register over the phone

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.


NYC:
TUESDAY, MARCH 16, ALL DAY DROP THE ROCK LOBBY DAY
Get on the bus! Buses to Albany are leaving from throughout NYC. YOU Can Help Reform New York’s Prison System! On this day hundreds of New Yorkers will unite in Albany to call for criminal justice reforms including prison closures, full repeal of the Rockefeller Drug Laws, and reinvestment in our communities.
Organizations and individuals interested in participating in Advocacy Day should contact Caitlin Dunklee, Drop the Rock Coordinator at 212-254-5700 x 339 or cdunklee@correctionalassociation.org.
If you are on parole or probation, and need a letter in order to join us for Advocacy Day, please contact Caitlin.


MANHATTAN:
FRIDAY, MARCH 5 AT 8:30 AM - 3:30 PM THE ADDICTION INSTITUTE OF NEW YORK
Addiction 2010: Criminal Justice and Addiction Treatment: Beyond the Rockefeller Era: Focus on the opportunities and challenges presented by the reforms of the Rockefeller Drug Laws and policies that treat substance abuse and dependence as a public health problem instead of a criminal justice issue. The event will feature Gabriel Sayegh, Director of the State Organizing and Policy Project at the Drug Policy Alliance, and will include various workshops discussing treatment, life skills, family and advocacy in post-Rockefeller Era. For more info: www.addictioninstituteNY.org
Location: St Lukes Hospital, Muhlenberg 4 Auditorium, 421 W. 113th St. NY NY 10025

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 3RD, FROM 3:30 - 6:30 PM THE WOMEN IN PRISON PROJECT
ReConnect Leadership and Training Program
Beginning class of 12-week course for women who are transitioning home from prison, jail or an alternative to incarceration and would like to become strong advocates to change the criminal justice system. Continues every week at the same time, for 12 weeks. For more information please contact Andrea Williams, ReConnect Program Director at: awilliams@correctionalassociation.org or 212-254-5700 x 311.

TUESDAY MARCH 16TH 6:30 - 8:30 PM JUSTICEWORKS
Celebrates their history of accomplishments with Interrupted Life: Incarcerated Mothers in the U.S.,
a traveling public art exhibition that aligns perfectly with the mission of JusticeWorks. Incarcerated mothers and their children, as well as professional artists, have created the artwork. Rickie Solinger, the curator of the exhibit, will make a brief presentation at the event. Justice Works has made the painful decision to close their doors after 18 years. This closing event will also honor a formerly incarcerated woman who has continued to advocate for women involved in the criminal justice system. For more information, call 718.499.6704, ext. 203

Location: NYU Kimmel Center for University Life, 60 Washington Square South, Manhattan 10012


WEDNESDAY MARCH 31, 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM PRISONER REENTRY INSTITUTE AT JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE
On The Front Lines: Building Skills for Reentry and Diversion
The New York City Departments of Correction, Health and Mental Hygiene, and Homeless Services and the Human Resources Administration invite you to On the Front Lines: Building Skills for Reentry and Diversion-a free one-day training institute designed for discharge planners and other professionals working with currently and formerly incarcerated people. The goal of the institute is to impart practical skills to training participants that they can immediately put to use in improving outcomes for those they are working with. The Institute will provide participants with the opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge related to reentry, diversion, and service delivery through highly interactive workshops. There will be a networking lunch and participants will be able to participate in one workshop in the morning and one in the afternoon. For more info visit www.eventbrite.com.

Location: John Jay College of Criminal Justice, 445 W. 59th St, 2nd Floor, Manh



2. COALITION FOR FAIR CRIMINAL JUSTICE POLICIES PRESSES FOR SPONSORSHIP OF THEIR PROPOSED REVISIONS TO EXEC. LAW §259-i.

We are actively pursuing legislative sponsorship of our proposed revisions to Exec. Law §259-i. §259-i is the number of the the parole statute which describes the ways the NYS Board of Parole must operate. This work is a beginning step toward our larger purpose, which is to move the NYS criminal justice system as a whole toward a Reintegrative Model. This model engages a person, from the time of their arrest until their reintegration, in the development of a reintegration document which would identify the contributing factors leading up to the arrest, and the strengths and assets they might use, if so motivated, to return quickly to life as a productive citizen. It could be used to inform the bail hearing, the indictment, the attorneys, and the judge who would be guided by it in designing a sentence that provided specific recommendations for this particular person to prepare him or her for reintegration. And if the sentence included incarceration the document would continue to be revised as the person moved through the system, and when they completed the conditions of the sentence they would be released. Our revisions to Exec Law §259-i would enable people who have met specific criteria to be released. In that way, it conforms to this overall reintegrative model as best it can without the rest of the model in place. (In the case of an indeterminate sentence, the release would be to parole supervision and the conditions of parole would again be based on the reintegration document.)



3. ICARE COMMUNITY EDUCATOR JAFAR ABBAS WRITES ABOUT ADVOCATING FOR FUNDING FOR THE NEWLY LEGISLATED OVERSIGHT OF DOCS HIV/AIDS SERVICES BY THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

At the end of 2006 the New York State Department of Correctional Services was estimated to be housing 4,000 HIV infected inmates and 8,400 inmates with the Hepatitis C virus. Of all prisoners living with HIV/AIDS in the United States 90% of them are Black and Latino and will return to the communities they left in need of treatment, support and prevention awareness education.

The New York AIDS Coalition and the HIV/AIDS organizations working with and under them were quite happy when Governor Patterson signed into law (despite the opposition) Subdivision 26, Section 206(1) of the Public Health Law. This law gives oversight powers to the Department of Health to review policies, practices and medical treatment of those inmates in the Department of Correctional Services with HIV/AIDS and HCV.

The signing of this Bill into law has set an historical precedent, in that, for the first time in DOCS history the medical care it provides inmates will be reviewed by an outside organization for the purpose of making sure, “current, generally accepted medical standards and procedures in the community” are being followed.

Over the past three years HIV/AIDS services have been cut five times, making the shoe string budget they operate on even thinner. This new law is faced with funding problems making it difficult to follow through with the meaningful steps needed. Therefore, to commemorate AIDS Awareness Day the New York AIDS Coalition organized HIV/AIDS service organizations from Buffalo to Long Island to meet in Albany so together we can report to legislators the problems we face in fighting this disease and the help we need from them.

I along with several men and women met each Saturday at the Osborne Association in Brooklyn to organize issues facing incarcerated people living with HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C. Our focus was to organize the issues into talking points which we would then present to the legislators. We focused on facility health care, transitional housing for Hepatitis C prisoners being released, the need for more specialized doctors, waiving fees for copies of medical records upon release, ADAP, Medicaid, confidentiality, and funding of the new oversight law.

February 23rd was a rainy morning; nevertheless eight men, six of whom were formerly incarcerated, met in the Bronx, New York and piled into two Osborne Association vehicles to begin a three hours drive to Albany. When we reached Albany the blizzard was just starting and the huge Education Hall had only a few people in it. It was not long before the room was filled with advocates from all over New York. One by one lawmakers, organizers and common people stepped behind the podium and spoke. Two African-American women were called up together to share parts of their stories. They walked to the podium holding hands then spoke with such passion and confidence that the crowd clapped and cried. One of the women had contracted the virus when she was raped. She spoke of her fears, her hurt and her forgiveness, “I don’t hate the person that gave me this disease,” she said. Her message was one of hope. The other sisters sought to drive home the point that we should start educating our children about this disease and ways to protect themselves. Her answer to the question she posed was, “When they can walk, we should talk.” She said we need to replace the candy bowls in our homes with condom bowls. This got a big round of applause.

I had never been to Albany to lobby for anything before so I was learning as I went along, trying to take in everything that was happening around me. The leader of our group came in and said, “Let’s go.” It was time for our first meeting so we quickly went over our talking points and headed to the elevator to meet Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry.

My group was to speak with four Assembly Members but only two were in their offices, Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry and Assemblywoman Annette Robinson. Both were very receptive to what was being expressed and responded sincerely to each speaker on each issue. After I told Assemblywoman Annette Robinson my story and how meaningful it was for me to be sitting there representing incarcerated men and women, she took my hand, looked me in the eyes, and asked, “How are you doing?” I could hear in her question that she was honored that I shared my story with her and proud of the changes I had made in my life.

I had been sitting face-to-face with legislators, speaking up and out for incarcerated people, and they had listened. That’s where my thoughts were as we drove back in the thick of the blizzard.

Jafar Abbas




4. JOB OPPORTUNITIES IN BEDFORD-STUYVESANT AND THE BRONX AND A NATIONAL SOCIAL SERVICES JOBS WEBSITE WHICH MIGHT BE HELPFUL TO THOSE LOOKING FOR OPPORTUNITIES

**ENROLLMENT PROJECT COORDINATOR AT THE WOMEN’S HOUSING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION (WHEDCO) IN THE BRONX.
Serves families who struggle with the multiple challenges presented by poverty, and who, like all of us, aspire to a healthy, financially stable future. JOB SUMMARY: Under the supervision of the Director of Home-based Child Care Services the Enrollment Project Coordinator will coordinate and supervise the daily operations of the enrollment process of all legally-exempt child care providers in New York City. Candidate must have a Bachelor’s degree or higher in Early Childhood Development, Education, Social Services or related field. For more information: info@whedco.org. Please type in the subject “Enrollment Project Coordinator Position”

**NYC JUSTICE CORPS BROOKLYN SITE PROGRAM MANAGER
The reentry program provides paid workforce development and service-learning opportunities to formerly incarcerated youth living in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn and the South Bronx. Visit the Justice Corps at www.nycjusticecorps.org/ to find out more about this exciting initiative and read the attached job description. Please direct all questions to Judith Anglin, Human Resource Director, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, Email: info@whedco.org.

**PAID ORGANIZER TRAINING PROGRAM
Community Voices Heard (CVH) is seeking individuals interested in working for a successful New York grassroots economic justice organization.
Trainees learn the craft of organizing through taking on real responsibilities to help advance an actual campaign. This cycle of trainees will be integrated into CVH's successful Public Housing Preservation & Improvement Campaign and will focus their outreach efforts in public housing developments around the five boroughs of NYC. Trainees will be trained and mentored by a combination of CVH staff with overall supervision coming from the Public Housing Campaign Director. The program will include on-the-job training and field practice in the basics of community organizing (and more!)
The program is four months initially with a possibility of an extension. An average day starts at 11AM and ends at 9PM. Some weekend work is also required - occasional Saturdays and Sunday evenings.
To Apply: Please send or drop off resume and cover letter (including a statement of why you are interested in the program and why you believe you are a good candidate for it) to Mo George, Public Housing Campaign, cvh@cvhaction.org. If emailing, make sure to put "Organizer Training Program" in the subject line. If you have any questions please contact Mo George at (212) 860-6001 ext 27.


A NATIONAL SOCIAL SERVICES JOBS WEBSITE - To look at job opportunities, click on the Job Search tab at the top of the screen:www.socialservice.com.



5. KNOW YOUR RIGHTS PROJECT: AN INNOVATIVE PRO BONO RESPONSE TO THE LACK OF COUNSEL FOR INDIGENT IMMIGRANT DETAINEES

This report by City Bar Justice Center's NYC Know Your Rights Project is based on data on 158 detainees counseled at Varick by pro bono volunteers between December 2008 and July 2009. The study finds that over one-third of immigrant detainees at the Varick Federal Detention Facility in New York City had reasonable claims for relief from removal. It also notes that of those who were granted bond, over 90% are unable to pay due to the high cost, and end up staying in detention. Citing the high financial and moral costs of maintaining the current detention system for immigrants, this report recommends that legal counsel be provided for all detained immigrants who cannot afford private counsel. [To request the full report, please send us an email request clearly stating name of the document and in which issue of Building Bridges it was mentioned.]



6. LEGISLATION WATCH: THE JOURNEY OF PROPOSED BILL TO AMEND §259-i; TRACKING OF BILLS

On the Path to Becoming a Law
Last month we published changes to Exec Law 259-i that are proposed by the Coalition for Fair Criminal Justice Policies. Some of our mail indicates that people misunderstood this to mean it already was a bill, and even that it had been passed into law. One reader said he demanded to have his hearing videotaped, based upon it. We apologize for not being clearer. The following is an attempt to avoid future confusion:

Part One: Where Our Proposal Is Now
The proposal for changes to Exec. Law 259-i - the statute which sets how the NYS Board of Parole functions - started with a group of citizens seeing the need for change and putting the changes into writing. We published that proposal last month. Those changes were put into bill form as is required before it can be considered by the Legislature. No law may be enacted in New York State unless it has been adopted by the Legislature in bill form.

To be adopted, the bill must first be introduced. Bills can be introduced only by legislators or by standing committees of the Senate and Assembly. [The one exception is the Executive Budget, which is submitted directly by the Governor.]

So the next step for the proposal being put forth by the Coalition for Fair Criminal Justice Policies is to find a legislator or a legislative committee to introduce (sponsor) it. Members of the Coalition's Policy Committee are currently engaged in finding a sponsor.

Part Two: What Happens Next
After it's introduced, the bill goes to the Introduction and Revision Office, where it's examined and corrected, given a number, sent to the appropriate standing committee, entered into the Legislature’s computer, deemed to have had its first and second readings and printed.
The Legislature engages specialists to study proposed legislation. These specialists are members of Standing Committees who evaluate bills and decide whether to "report" them (send them) to the floor for a final decision by the full membership. Committees often hold public hearings on bills to gather the widest possible range of opinion before they vote.

Note: At this stage it's still just a proposed law or amendment to an existing law. We'll discuss Part Three of the process when we get closer to it.


TRACKING BILLS:
A.5462-A/S.2233-A aims to enhance permanency for children in foster care by granting foster care agencies the discretion to delay, if necessary, filing papers to terminate parental rights when a parent is incarcerated or when the parent’s past incarceration is a significant factor in why the child remains in foster care.
History: passed Assembly, delivered to Senate, referred to Finance.

S4365-A: Right to a copy of pre-sentence reports
Sponsor: HASSELL-THOMPSON   Same as A 3492-A  Aubry (MS) 
History: Committed to Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Correction , committed to the Committee on Finance, bill was amended, recommitted to Crime Victims..., delivered to Codes, delivered to Finance.

S1633: Amends the election law, in relation to the residential classification of certain incarcerated persons
Sponsor: SCHNEIDERMAN Same as A5946 Aubrey (MS)       
History: Hasn’t moved from Committee on Elections


ARTICLE 78 DECISION:
Finds DoE Denial of School Aid Application Based on Single Felony Conviction Arbitrary and Capricious: Petitioner's application to be a school aide in a New York City Public School was rejected by the DoE based on an 18 year old felony conviction, even with a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities. The Supreme Court of the State of New York ruled that the DoE denied the petitioner in an arbitrary and capricious fashion, and remanded the case to the DoE for a new decision that articulates its consideration of the eight factors that can legally be used to deny someone with a criminal record employment.



7. FEDERAL MEDICAID AND DISABILITY PROGRAM RULES

This overview of Medicaid and SSI/SSDI programs includes discussion of why individuals with mental illness may lose their benefits when they are incarcerated and what steps can be taken to ensure that those benefits are reinstated upon release. [To request a copy, please send an email with a request clearly stating name of the document and in which issue of Building Bridges it was mentioned.]



8. LIFERS AND LONGTERMERS CLEARINGHOUSE. THE ROLE OF COMMUNITY-BASED ORGANIZATIONS IN ACTIVELY PURSUING LEGISLATION BENEFICIAL FOR THOSE THEY PARTNER WITH IN PRISON

What is the role of the incarcerated in the campaign to revise parole statute, Exec law §259-i?  Historically, the origins of the campaign began when an inmate organization at a state correctional facility partnered with a community-based criminal justice advocacy organization (Prison Action Network) to organize the families, loved-ones and supporters of incarcerated individuals around the issue of parole.

That joint organizing effort gave birth to the Family Empowerment Day Events, a series of annual gatherings of families, loved-ones and organized supporters to address the dominant issues affecting those people incarcerated in state correctional facilities.

At the last Family Empowerment Day event held at Columbia University in 2008, the theme was Discretionary Release on Parole, and the keynote speaker was the Chairman of the NYS Division of Parole and Chair of the State Parole Board. Over 400 hundred people attended the event and great contention arose over dissatisfaction with what some felt was a failure of the Chairman of the State Division of Parole to adequately address prevalent unjust parole board discretionary release decisions.

A rift developed and a large segment of the families, loved-ones and supporters left the event deeply disenchanted with the administration of the State Division of Parole. The remaining body of families, loved-ones and supporters went on to form the Coalition for Fair Criminal Justice, an organization dedicated to the development of legislation designed to address unjust and unfair sentencing, correctional and parole law, policies, and procedures.  

The Coalition for Fair Criminal Justice Policies (The Coalition) created a Parole Policy Committee charged with the responsibility of developing legislation that would address not only discretionary parole release, but the overall function of parole as a component in the state sentencing scheme.

The resulting proposed legislation written by the Parole Policy Committee is designed to bring Executive Law §259-i Discretionary Parole Release into compliance with Penal Law §1.05 State Sentencing Goals (see Justification Statement, Building Bridges, Jan 2010, Article 5) .

Now that we finally have parole legislation that we can rally behind, we must embark on a campaign to generate support for its enactment into law.  Building legislative support requires assigned roles and strategic planning.  It also requires expanded membership in the sponsoring organization: The Coalition for Fair Criminal Justice Policies.

Because The Coalition started with less then half of the original families, loved-ones and supporters who attended the last Family Empowerment Day in 2008, we must now bring back the defectors to support the parole legislation that addresses their specific grievances.  That is the role incarcerated individuals and organizations must play in our current campaign to develop support for parole legislation.

Each incarcerated individual should involve him/her self with the efforts of the lifer organization at their facility to contact families, loved-ones and supporters and urge them to join the Coalition for Fair Criminal Justice Policies.

Incarcerated individuals and prison organizations have direct contact with criminal justice service provider organizations like Network, the Osborne Association, AVP, the Fortune Society, as well as faith communities such as Quakers, Riverside Church Prison Ministry, etc.  These and other outside organized providers of prison programs should be active advocates of our parole legislation because it requires the parole board to recognize and give weight to the rehabilitative efforts of parole candidates who complete or participate in their programs. These service organizations must be made aware of their responsibility to champion the parole efforts of those who participate in their programs.

The families, loved-ones and supporters should be encouraged to contact Building Bridges at 518 253 7533, or send them an email, for information on joining the efforts of the Coalition for Fair Criminal Justice Policies to enact parole legislation.

Larry Luqman White



9. THE NEW YORK STATE PRISONER JUSTICE CONFERENCE: CONNECTING REGIONS, ISSUES, AND STRATEGIES. PRISON ACTION NETWORK WILL BE REPRESENTED AT THE CONFERENCE AS WE CONTINUE THE WORK BEGUN AT FAMILY EMPOWERMENT DAY 4

PAN is participating in the March 27 conference to form alliances with other groups around the state, so that we can support more than just our own narrow piece of the immense reform necessary in the criminal justice arena; things such as alternatives to incarceration, education, housing, jobs, crisis in the juvenile justice system, impact of the criminal justice system on youth, school to prison pipeline prevention, medical care, medical parole, merit time, prison abuse, prison conditions, prison organizations, programs, public defense, racial disparities, reentry preparation, rehabilitation, restorative justice, Rockefeller drug law reforms/repeal, sentencing, sexual abuse, shu/box/solitary, systemic barriers to reintegration, voting/census/gerrymandering, work release.

And of course we will be asking for support for the bill proposed by the Coalition For Fair Criminal Justice Policies, in response to the mandate of participants at FED4 in 2008. So for you who've been asking "when's the next Family Empowerment Day?", well we think this is the most effective way of moving your agenda forward. We'll think about FED5 after it's over, and you will all be part of the planning.



10. PAROLE NEWS: TWO CORRECTIONS; PAROLE HANDBOOK ON RELEASE DECISION GUIDELINES; PAROLE STATISTICS

CORRECTIONS:
Michael A. Hagler was mistakenly left off the list of Parole Commissioners listed in last month's issue. He was appointed by Gov Spitzer in Oct of 2007 to a term that expires in Aug 2013. Thank you to the reader who pointed that out.

December’s report from Woodbourne listed the wrong commissioners for their December Boards. The correct names are Clarke, Lemons, and Crangle.

FROM THE PAROLE HANDBOOK, WHICH HAS NOT BEEN REVISED SINCE 2007, SO ALWAYS CHECK WITH A FACILITY PAROLE OFFICER IF YOU NOTICE ANY INCONSISTENCIES. CONTACT INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE ON THE INTERNET: https://parole.state.ny.us.

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE PAROLE RELEASE DECISION-MAKING GUIDELINES?
The Board of Parole has adopted a set of guidelines to structure its discretion with regard to release decisions. Parole Guidelines consist of ranges of time served by individuals with similar conviction offenses and similar past criminal histories. The determination of an inmate’s guideline range of time to be served is made on the basis of an offense severity score and a prior criminal history score.

WHERE CAN I FIND A COMPLETE EXPLANATION OF THE PAROLE GUIDELINES?
If you would like more detailed information concerning Parole Guidelines, you can contact the facility Parole Officer. Additionally, each law library at State correctional facilities is provided with a copy of the Division of Parole’s Release Decision-Making Guidelines Application Manual, which you can use as a reference. Prior to your Parole Board interview, you will be interviewed by a facility Parole Officer. At that time, you should ask any questions you have about the Guidelines and how they are being applied in your case.

DO VICTIMS HAVE ANY INPUT INTO THE PAROLE BOARD’S DECISION?
Yes. It has always been the policy of the Parole Board to consider any statement made by a victim or representative as part of the parole release decision-making process. In fact, legislation adopted in 1985 mandated that victim impact statements be considered by the Board.
Victims and/or survivors of certain violent crimes may make requests in accordance with the Board of Parole procedures for the purpose of personally submitting their victim impact statements to a member of the Parole Board. The personal meeting provides a setting that permits confidentiality in a suitable atmosphere. A transcript of this meeting is then provided to the panel making the Parole decision.
In lieu of meeting with a Parole Board member, victims are also allowed to submit their sentiments regarding the release of an inmate by written statement, audiotape or videotape. Any and all information submitted or provided by a victim is always afforded the utmost confidentiality.

WHEN AND HOW DOES THE PAROLE BOARD INFORM ME OF ITS INTERVIEW DECISION?
As a general rule, you are informed by written notice of the Board decision within a few days of the completion of Board interviews. The Parole Board Release Decision form is used to transmit reasons for a denial as well as a release decision. If you are denied release, the form will note detailed reasons. On a release decision, the Board may note special conditions of release.

IF THE BOARD OF PAROLE APPROVES MY RELEASE, WHAT HAPPENS?
If granted release, you will receive an “open date,” and be placed in community preparation status. If you appeared before the Parole Board for your reappearance interview after having been denied at a prior interview, you may be given a “straight” parole date which is a specific release date. An approved residence and employment program are required prior to the Parole Board interview in order to receive a “straight” parole date.


JANUARY 2010 PAROLE BOARD RELEASES – A1 VIOLENT FELONS - DINS THROUGH 1999 - UNOFFICIAL RESEARCH FROM PAROLE DATABASE

Total Interviews......... # Released...... # Denied....... Rate of Release
21 initials.................... ....1................ .....20......................... 5%
103 reappearances....... ....15............... .....88......................... 16%
124 total...................... ...16............... ....108........................ 13%

Initial Release
Facility...................... Sentence......... Offense
Arthur Kill................. 20-Life........... Murder 2

Reappearances
Facility....................... Sentence........ Offense .......# of Board
Arthurkill................... 15-Life...........Murder 2...... 8th
Arthurkill................... 25-Life.......... Murder 2...... 2nd
Arthurkill................... 15-Life.......... Murder 2...... 4th
Arthurkill................... 18-Life.......... Murder 2...... 2nd
Arthurkill................... 15-Life.......... Murder 2...... 8th
Clinton....................... 15-Life.......... Murder 2...... 6th
Fishkill....................... 15-Life.......... Murder 2...... 3rd
Fishkill....................... 25-Life.......... Murder 2...... 3rd
Gouverneur................ 20-Life.......... Murder 2...... 11th
Greenhaven................ 25-Life.......... Murder 2...... 3rd ***
Marcy......................... 25-Life.......... Murder 2...... 2nd
Washington................ 18-Life.......... Murder 2.......2nd
Wende........................ 15-Life.......... Murder 2.......9th
Woodbourne ............. 15-Life.......... Murder 2.......3rd
Woodbourne ............ 15-Life.......... Murder 2.......8th
***special consideration hearing


JANUARY/FEBRUARY RELEASE REPORTS FROM PRISON: (Please note that the following statistics are not limited to people convicted of A1 Violent felonies - but they all are people with indeterminate sentences)

MID-ORANGE
Feb - Grant and Ross
Appearances: 23
Releases: 14 (at least 5 A1VO)

WOODBOURNE
Jan - Grant and Ross
Appearances:......... 22 (4 A1VO)
Releases:............... 9 (2 A1VO, 3rd board)



11. PRISON MEDIA - ALL THINGS HARLEM, FANCY BROCCOLI, ON THE COUNT, SOUL SPECTRUM, AS WELL AS PRINT AND THEATER

ALL THINGS HARLEM - www.allthingsharlem.com  All Things Harlem brings you a weekly MNN channel 34 program live at 5pm Eastern time, ANY WHERE IN THE COUNTRY, by going to our website and clicking on "Watch our TV show Live" in the right hand column of the website under Editorials.
Among the topics available at: www.allthingsharlemproductions.blogspot.com are the following:
Enrollment of black students in prestigious city schools, Manhattan DA investigating Bloomberg, Father-Son basketball coaches in Harlem teach kids, First African-American diving champion makes history, Op Ed: Blacks In Retreat, NYPD detective faces probe "Cop didn't care thug bashed me", New York's poor get the short end on the gavel.

Paid Media internships for high school seniors: Contact: 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. - Criminal Justice & Prison Report, a radio program produced by formerly incarcerated people. Airs 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.

PRINT:
The DEUCE CLUB is published by Coalition For Parole Restoration, PO Box 1379, New York, NY 10013
CURE-NY - Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants has a NEWSLETTER. Box 102, Katonah, New York, 10536.
Prisoner Legal Services puts out PRO SE. To subscribe, send a subscription request to Pro Se, 114 Prospect St., Ithaca NY 14850

THEATER:
A Rising Director’s Medium-Security Side Project; Excerpts from an article By KATE TAYLOR published in the NY Times on February 9, 2010 [To request a copy, please send an email with a request clearly stating name of the document and in which issue of Building Bridges it was mentioned.]

The article describes a theater production directed by well known artistic director, Arin Arbus, the associate artistic director of Theater for a New Audience. When Ms. Arbus is not in rehearsal for a Theater for a New Audience show, most Saturdays and some evenings find her driving 100 miles north of New York to the Woodbourne Correctional Facility, a medium-security men’s prison where she directs inmates as part of a program called Rehabilitation Through the Arts. She has overseen an adaptation of Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” and, more recently, an original play that the men wrote about the difficulty of maintaining relationships with their families from prison. Rehabilitation Through the Arts hopes to turn that play about family relationships, called “Starting Over,” into an educational movie for prisoners.

One scene shows an incarcerated person getting ready to go “on a trailer,” a semiannual visit that allows the person to spend roughly 72 hours with his/her family privately in a trailer on prison property. After a first run-through Ms. Arbus started working on the emotions of the scene. “How does a person feel when they’re about to go on a trailer?” she asked. “Nervous!” one man shouted. “Excited!” said another. “In love!” After more discussion Ms. Arbus told them to do the scene again and offered one final note. “Do it better. How’s that?” she said cheerfully. (And they did.)



11. TRANSPORTATION TO PRISONS: CAPITAL DISTRICT CONGREGATION OFFERS FREE DOOR TO DOOR CAR SERVICE.

Free door to door rides from the Capital District: The Justice Committee at the Unitarian Society now has 6 volunteer drivers. If you have a loved one in prison and you have no other way of getting there, call us at 518 253 7533. Our drivers are ready to take you to prisons within 150-200 miles of Albany to visit your loved one, but you need to call well in advance to assure their availability.




Building Bridges is the monthly newsletter of the Prison Action Network.
For information on joining, please call 518 253 7533, or send an email to PrisonActionNetwork@gmail.com.


We try not to make mistakes, but if you think we have, please let us know. It’s never intentional.
We want to be accurate reporters.

Read now!