Building Bridges

The monthly newsletter of the Prison Action Network

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Friday, January 14, 2011

JANUARY 2011

Post-publication announcements (scroll down to go directly to the January issue):

POSTED 2/11 by In Your Face Movement
Sunday February 13, 3 pm - THE NYC AWARENESS RALLY SERIES

PART IV -"MODERNIZED SLAVERY - UNITY & LOVE"
Slavery, it was never abolished, it was merely adjusted
If you think slavery is not taking place in 2011 you are sadly mistaken. Formulate an educated opinion before formulating an opinion at all. IYF is bringing the truths of this Prison Industrial Complex no matter how bad it may hurt! For one to remove the pain, they must first feel it!! Wake UP!! You are either working on revealing this system or you are supporting it.

"UNITY & LOVE"...
A seemingly impossible task, yet the solution IS really this simple.
Unity is the combined effort to give heightened awareness to all things; be it out of line or different than popular belief. Unnity is protection from behind when battling ahead. Unity is commitment to the larger picture. Unity is all by itself the only entity that cannot be by itself. Our goal is collectively join forces!!! To reveal the miscarriages of justice and in-turn bring about JUSTICE!!!!!!

Register TODAY at www.inyourface.evenbrite.com



WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 1:00 – 3:00PM NY Reentry Roundtable
How Compstat-Based Zero Tolerance Policing Creates Reentry Barriers; NYPD’s Stop and Frisk

Annette Warren Dickerson,Director of Education and Outreach, Center for Constitutional Rights will discuss current legal and advocacy efforts to address the NYPD’s Stop and Frisk policies and share the results of a comprehensive analysis of this practice included in CCR’s report of October 2010.

Also, Loyda Colon from the Justice Committee has graciously agreed to join in as a guest speaker. She will discuss Cop Watch as a tactic for police accountability and community empowerment.
 
I look forward to seeing you on February 16th. Please RSVP.
 
Gabriel Torres Rivera, J.D.
Director, Reentry Initiatives
grivera@cssny.org
212-614-5306
www.cssny.org

Location: The Community Service Society of New York (CSS)
105 East 22nd Street at the corner of Park Avenue South
Conference Room 4A
Take the 6 or N/R trains to 23rd Street



PRISON ACTION NETWORK NEEDS FINANCIAL SUPPORT FROM OUR MEMBERS AND READERS. PLEASE DONATE.

We are running out of money to publish Building Bridges. All of our incarcerated members pay a membership fee and receive Building Bridges. Many cannot afford to make membership donations large enough to cover the cost of their newsletter. We are hoping you will bridge the gap. Please join Prison Action Network by sending us a yearly membership donation. It isn't fair that those in prison are carrying the full responsibility for supporting the newsletter that others benefit from as well. Whatever you can afford will be gratefully accepted. Donations (as small as $1, if that's all you can afford) may be sent to PAN at PO Box 6355, Albany NY 12206. Thank you for your support.



Building Bridges
January 15, 2011

Dear Reader,

I imagine you heard what our new Governor, Andrew Cuomo, said in his first State of the State speech on January 6: “An incarceration program is not an employment program.  If people need jobs, let’s get people jobs. Don’t put other people in prison to give some people jobs. That’s not what this state is all about, and that has to end.” No matter what his motives for saying it were, and I prefer to believe it was from a moral sense of right and wrong, he’s on record saying it and I, for one, plan to remind him of it in every letter, call, or email I send to him for as long as he’s in office! Those words were not only in the speech, they were the most impassioned part of it, and he received strong applause for them! I was amazed! [See NY Times editorial, article 2, for more.]

We have learned about a much needed event on January 29 at Columbia University's School of Social Work (see below, under events): REMOVING THE BARS CONFERENCE: A SKILLS-BASED CONFERENCE ON CRIMINAL JUSTICE, Moving beyond increasing awareness to building skills!! If they weren't having this workshop, PAN would have to! The only problem is they don't list NYS Parole Reform Campaign on their list of organizations presenting a workshop. We think denial of parole releases to community ready men and women is a bar to successful reentry. If you agree, why not suggest it to them? Regardless, we'll be there with our literature, our questions, and open minds to learn some new skills.

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


Index of Articles

1. Actions, meetings and events happening around the state this month
2. A good place to start cutting; NY Times article on Cuomo’s speech
3. Job opportunities with the Legal Action Center
4. The New Jim Crow, chapter 3 quotes
5. NYS Parole Reform Campaign report
6. NYS Prisoner Justice Network Report
7. Parole news
8. Prison suicides, by Mary Beth Pfeiffer
9. Think Outside the Cell adds 3 books to its series

[For copies of any document, article or legislation referred to, or condensed, in this issue, please send your request to PAN clearly stating the name of the document and the date of the Building Bridges in which it was seen -Ed.]



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

ACTIONS
Making the acquaintance of the State Legislators who represent you. Have you called, written, or visited? Do you know how to reach them? The freedom of your loved one may depend on it. Call us if you need help. 518 253 7533


EVENTS:
ALBANY
MONDAY JANUARY 10, 7:00PM – 8:30PM PFNY SPEAKER SERIES
Sheilah A. Rourke, LMSW, Executive Director - Clinical Care, The Altamont Program, Inc
All Welcome – Free and Confidential, call 518-453-6659 for more information
Location: The Women’s Building, 373 Central Ave, Albany NY

LONG ISLAND
THURSDAY FEBRUARY 17, 5:30 PM (SNOW DATE MAR 3RD) PRISON FAMILIES ANONYMOUS
THE VISITORS- A FILM
Hosted by the Criminal Law Society of Touro Law Center.
This film depicts the emotional journey taken by a group of NY families as they travel to distant prisons in order to maintain ties to their incarcerated loved ones. Time will be allotted for a discussion after the movie, and members of Prison Families Anonymous will be available to answer questions

Location: Touro Law School, (auditorium), 225 Eastview Drive, Central Islip, NY 11722..

MANHATTAN:
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 19, 6-8PM THE N Y.C. BAR ASSOCIATION CORRECTIONS COMMITTEE
NEW APPROACHES TO HELPING INCREASE ACCESS TO HIGHER EDUCATION.

Alan Rosenthal, Center for Community Alternatives' Co-Director of Justice Strategies will participate in a panel discussion hosted by the New York City Bar Association on the increase in conviction history questions for college applications. Alan will be reviewing the findings from CCA's survey of colleges and universities that examined the ways that institutions of higher education collect and use criminal history information. Joining Alan on the panel will be Vivian Nixon, Executive Director and Lettisha Boyd, Junior Associate, both from the College and Community Fellowship.  Laurie Parise, Executive Director of YouthRepresent will be the moderator.

To register for this free event: please visit www.nycbar.org.

Location: NYC Bar Association, 42 West 44th Street, New York, New York


WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 26, 7-9PM  NYC MILK NOT JAILS ICE CREAM SOCIAL
Presentations by Sabrina Jones & Kevin Pyle, illustrators of the Real Cost of Prisons Comix.
Learn about what milk and jails have to do with one another. Enjoy ice cream and entertainment. Find out what you can do.
The Real Cost of Prisons Comix provides a crash course in what drives mass incarceration, the human and community costs, and how to stop the numbers from going even higher. Over 125,000 copies of the comic books have been printed and more than 100,000 have been sent to families of people who are incarcerated, people who are incarcerated, and to organizers and activists throughout the country. 

Location: Exit Art Gallery, 475 Tenth Avenue, New York, NY


SATURDAY, JANUARY 29TH, 8:30 AM - 6:30 PM COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF SOCIAL WORK CRIMINAL JUSTICE CAUCUS
REMOVING THE BARS CONFERENCE:
A SKILLS-BASED CONFERENCE ON CRIMINAL JUSTICE
Moving beyond increasing awareness to building skills!!
Free admission! Breakfast and lunch will be served!

Location: 1255 Amsterdam Ave. (between 121st and 122nd), Manhattan, NY
[A,B,C or D to 125th; 1 to 125th; M11 or M60 buses]
Workshop leaders and presentations from formerly incarcerated people as well as leading organizations including the Children’s Defense Fund, Osborne Association, St. Luke Roosevelt Hospital, Safe Horizon Mediation Center, Families for Freedom, GEMS, Bronx Defenders and many more!

Workshops (to date):
NYS Juvenile Justice System and Policy Advocacy
NYS Adult Re-entry Systems, Processes & Services
Problem-solving Courts: Steps to making the change
Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services for Adults & Juveniles
Restorative Justice & Victims’ Services
Immigration & the Criminal Justice System
Understanding the unique issues of girls & women: Sex trafficking & Abuse
Unique issues of LGBTQ people in the CJ/Prison systems
Policing communities of color: Stop & Frisk in NYC
Supporting People with Loved Ones in Prison
Education & Employment for Formerly Incarcerated People
Benefits & Voting Rights of Formerly Incarcerated People
School to Prison Pipeline
Positive Youth Development: Working with Youth in the Juvenile Justice System

REGISTER TODAY!
For more information or to register, please email or call 973.271.7579.

March 19, 2011 SAVE THE DATE!
MICHELLE ALEXANDER SPEAKING ON THE NEW JIM CROW
Sponsored by Riverside Church Lecture Series and Campaign for Black Male Achievement; Open Society Foundations Details to be announced. To help with planning, please contact Jazz Hayden (917) 753-3771


MEETINGS:
ALBANY:
EVERY MONDAY 7-8:30 PM PRISON FAMILIES OF NY SUPPORT GROUP MEETINGS
We Help Each Other! Location: 373 Central Avenue Albany
For information contact Alison 518-453-6659

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.


BROOKLYN:
EVERY WEDNESDAY AT 5:30PM VOCAL PAROLEES ORGANIZING PROJECT
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, or jeremy@vocal-ny.org; www.VOCAL-NY.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. Stand for ending abuse.


MONDAY, JANUARY 31, 6:30–8:30PM PRISONERS ARE PEOPLE TOO MEETING
Launched in 1997, WE-TV (Women’s Entertainment Television) is a cable television channel marketed towards women. For the first few years of its existence, this channel featured mostly talk shows, made-for-TV movies, older feature films and reruns of TV shows. Since 2001, the focus has shifted to include several reality series and documentaries, some related to art and fashion and others related to more political issues. The channel’s slogan is “Life as WE know it.”  One of the channel’s most popular programs is “Women Behind Bars.” One of the women featured in this WE-TV series is former Buffalo resident Renay Lynch. Charged with murdering her elderly landlady, she maintains her innocence. She is currently incarcerated in Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester, County New York.

At our meeting we will view the brief WE-TV documentary that tells Renay’s story. Our guest speaker will be Renay’s son, Mr. Rinaldo Moss, a young husband, father, and local businessman who has graciously consented to amplify his mother’s story and to answer any questions you may have about her crime of conviction and  her current circumstances.

The Circle of Supporters for Reformed Offenders and Friends of BaBa Eng are the sponsors of PRP2 programs. For further information, contact Karima Amin: 716-834-8438 or karima@prisonersarepeopletoo.org.

Location: Pratt-Willert Community Center, 422 Pratt Street


LONG ISLAND:
TUESDAY JANUARY 25 AND FEBRUARY 11, AT 7:30PM PRISON FAMILIES ANONYMOUS (PFA) SUPPORT GROUP

The PFA Support Group provides a safe, nonjudgmental place where those in similar situations can connect with each another. It provides compassion, support and information to family members during their very difficult times. For more information, please contact: Barbara: 631- 943-0441 or Sue: 631-806-3903

Location: Community Presbyterian Church
1843 Deer Park Ave., Deer Park, NY


MANHATTAN:
COALITION FOR WOMEN PRISONERS’ JANUARY MEETING SCHEDULE

Thursday January 6, 10:30-12noon Incarcerated Mothers Committee
Thursday January 13, 5:30-7 Violence Against Women Committee
Friday January 28, 4:30-6pm Conditions and Reentry Committee (and every 4th Friday of the month)

Stacey Thompson, Women in Prison Project Coalition Associate. 212 254 5700 x 333 or sthompson@correctionalassociation.org
All meetings are held at the CA of NY
2090 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd, 124-125, Suite 200
2/3/A/C/B/D to 125th st.


TUESDAY, JANUARY 18, 6:30-8:30PM MILK NOT JAILS CAMPAIGN MEETING 

Join MILK NOT JAILS for our first campaign planning meeting. Find out more about the campaign's plans and goals. Help us define the MILK NOT JAILS' political platform. Help us build new economic and political alliances between farmers and consumers. Get involved! For more information, contact milknotjails@gmail.com

Location: 666 Broadway 6th Floor.
Directions: Take B/D/F/V/6 trains to Broadway-Lafayette subway stop.
Not in NYC? Join the meeting by phone!
(712) 775-7200; Access Code: 257 779#.


WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 19, 1-3PM NEW YORK REENTRY ROUNDTABLE
Guest Speaker: John Valverde, Director of The Osborne Association’s Green Career Center.  We’ll be discussing ways to connect the formerly incarcerated with jobs in the growing field of environmentally friendly “green” employment. 
 
Gabriel Torres Rivera, J.D. Director, Reentry Initiatives, Legal Department
212-614-5306 www.cssny.org


EVERY FRIDAY 6-9PM - RIVERSIDE CHURCH BOOK STUDY GROUP - THE NEW JIM CROW, MASS INCARCERATION IN THE AGE OF COLORBLINDNESS, BY MICHELLE WASHINGTON (SEE ARTICLE #4)
For information on the study group contact Rev. Alison Alpert; Jazz Hayden, 917-753-3771; Larry White, 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


NIAGARA FALLS:
TUESDAY, JANUARY 18, 6-7:30PM NIAGARA PRISON FAMILY SUPPORT GROUP
For further information and to leave a confidential message: Claudia 236-0257 or e-mail niagarafamilies@aol.com.
Location: Niagara Falls Public Library 1425 Main St. 2nd fl.



2. A GOOD PLACE TO START CUTTING, JANUARY 7, 2011 THE NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL: GOV. ANDREW CUOMO STRUCK JUST THE RIGHT TONE ON BOTH ADULT PRISON REFORM AND JUVENILE JUSTICE REFORM IN HIS FIRST STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS ON WEDNESDAY. HE SAID THAT NEW YORK COULD NO LONGER AFFORD TO KEEP HUGELY EXPENSIVE BUT UNNEEDED FACILITIES OPEN TO SERVE AS “AN EMPLOYMENT PROGRAM” FOR UPSTATE RESIDENTS.

To get the Legislature to agree to shut these facilities, Mr. Cuomo will have to push back hard against the corrections workers’ unions that have thwarted sound closure proposals from all three of his predecessors.
The case for closures is laid out in a new analysis by the Correctional Association of New York, a nonprofit group. New York’s prison population has dropped from about 71,500 at its peak in 1999 to around 56,000 today. This has left more than 8,000 empty beds, meaning that the state could close or significantly downsize eight to 10 of the 67 units in the system and still have ample room to handle any unexpected spike in the population. The savings would be $220 million in the first year.
The state could also save money by reversing misguided criminal-justice policies. In 1995, Gov. George Pataki prohibited people convicted of violent crimes from participating in work-release programs. That order cut the number of participants from nearly 28,000 in 1994 to about 2,500 in 2007, the most recent year for which the association has data.
The point of Mr. Pataki’s order was to protect the public from violent offenders, but it may well have had the opposite effect. Once they had done their time, inmates were dumped onto the streets without any chance to reacclimate and find their place in the community. Work-release programs cost about $7,500 per participant annually, as opposed to about $55,000 to keep one person behind bars. Increasing the number of participants to just 5,000 would save more than $80 million a year.
The state also needs to reform a parole system that returns as many as 8,000 inmates a year to prison for technical violations like breaking curfew. Other states have shown that they can keep the prison count down, at no risk to the public, by increasing supervision of violators instead of reflexively bouncing them back to jail.
These will be tough political fights. But for the sake of both fiscal sanity and sound public policy, they are ones that Governor Cuomo needs to fight and win.



3. JOB OPPORTUNITIES WITH THE LEGAL ACTION CENTER

Paralegal / Legal Assistant
Working with staff at LAC’s New York City office, the paralegal assists people with HIV/AIDS, alcohol or drug histories or criminal records. Time permitting, there may be opportunities to participate in public policy advocacy.

Qualifications:
College degree and related work experience or, in the absence of a college degree, very significant work experience in a similar position for at least 2 years
Excellent communication, advocacy, analytic and writing skills required
Bilingual ability in English and Spanish strongly preferred.

Program/Database Administrator (Part-Time)
To manage the administration of the Center’s government contracts and foundation grants. From the initial grant/contract applications through the final reports, the P/DBA will work with the internal team (Program Directors, Fiscal, and Support Staff ) to ensure that work is delivered on time and on budget and is reported accurately and cogently to the funder. The position requires approximately 15 hours per week.

Qualifications:
• Three to five years of program and/or database management experience or the equivalent education and experience
• Demonstrated expertise with Excel and database operation, especially Access


Legal Internships (New York) The Legal Action Center accepts resumes from second and third year law students to work part-time during the fall and spring semesters, and full-time throughout the summer.  The work involves legal research and writing, litigation assistance, client intake, policy analysis and other activities.  Much of the work is done in the areas of constitutional and civil rights law, employment discrimination, and the administration of the criminal justice system.  Excellent research and writing skills are required.

To apply, please send a cover letter, resume and writing sample to the Legal Action Center, Attn: Legal Intern Coordinator, 225 Varick St., 4th Fl, New York, NY 10014; fax: (212) 675-0286.

Other Internships - Beginning January 2011
The Legal Action Center seeks an unpaid intern to help New Yorkers with criminal records overcome discriminatory barriers to jobs or housing.

Legal Action Center is an equal opportunity employer.
Salary commensurate with experience. Excellent benefits. Please send resume and cover letter (no calls) by email to lacinfo@lac.org. Please put your name in the subject line. If you are unable to email your application, you may mail it to: Human Resources, Legal Action Center, 225 Varick Street, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10014



4. THE NEW JIM CROW, MICHELLE WASHINGTON’S BOOK, THE NEW JIM CROW, INCARCERATION IN THE AGE OF COLORBLINDNESS, QUOTES FROM CHAPTER 3, THE COLOR OF JUSTICE

Quoting Jerome Miller, former executive director of the National Center for Institutions and Alternatives: "There are certain code words that allow you never to have to say "race," but everybody knows that's what you mean, and "crime" is one of these.... so when we talk about locking up more and more people, what we're really talking about is locking up more and more black men.." and Melissa Hickman Barlow, who wrote, "it is unnecessary to speak directly of race [today] because speaking about crime is talking about race." p.103



5. NYS PAROLE REFORM CAMPAIGN - PRESENTATION AT IN YOUR FACE RALLY III; 38 ORGANIZATIONS HAVE SIGNED IN SUPPORT; REPORT FROM THE STRATEGY TEAM; PUBLICATION OF PAROLE REFORM ARTICLE BY POLICY GROUP MEMBER.

By the time you read this, Judith Brink will have made a presentation of the NYS Parole Reform Campaign's Safe and Fair Evaluations (S.A.F.E.) Parole Act at the January 15 In Your Face Awareness Rally, Part III.  We went to press on Jan 14, so as I write it's still in the future. As you probably know, the Coalition for Fair Criminal Justice Policies, which was created by the people who attended FED 4 in 2009, has been working for the past 2 years on a legislative proposal which will remove the nature of the crime as a reason for denying parole, plus make the hearings fairer in many other ways.  It's completed, and if you've been reading Building Bridges you probably have read about it.  

When the In Your Face organizers heard about it, they asked us to come and talk at their Awareness Rally, Part II, and it got such a good response we've been invited back for a repeat performance with more time.  We will go through the proposal, now called The Safe and Fair Evaluation (S.A.F.E.) Parole Act, point by point, so that participants will be able to explain it to others, including their legislative representatives.  We'll also discuss how a bill becomes a law. Materials will be provided.

LETTER OF SUPPORT FROM ORGANIZATIONS: As we go to print, we have 38 signatures on the letter supporting The S.A.F.E. Parole Act:, and we invite more organizations to sign on. If you are a member of, or receive services from, any organization not already listed, please encourage them to represent your interests by publicly promoting changes which will bring you hope.

REPORT FROM THE STRATEGY TEAM: We are excited about the possibilities opening up for dialogue with victims or survivors of crime.  We’ve had several meetings with members of Families and Friends of Murder Victims and were impressed with how many values we shared, particularly the feeling of alienation from the criminal justice system.  We also were impressed with a presentation by Gabrielle Sered of Common Justice, who talked about people she meets, 95% of those commonly thought of as victims because they’ve been harmed, who don’t think of themselves as victims.  We’re hoping to meet with some of them to explore mutual support of parole reforms.

Because of our focus on parole denials based on the nature of the crime, we are trying to find out what the percentage is for A1 Violent Offenders.  If you know where we can find that statistic, please let us know.

Thousand Kites Narrative Campaigns for Justice has offered to teach 3-5 of our supporters to use FLIP video techniques to capture stories to use to build our campaign for The SAFE Parole Act.  The videos would be uploaded to a website designed for that purpose.  If you would be interested in becoming a camera person, or know someone else who might, please call us at 518 253 7533.  To qualify the person needs to be someone supportive of our campaign.  Thousand Kites will supply the cameras.  The strategy team will work together with the camera people to define the message. http://www.kitescampaigns.org/campaign/

The Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) has invited advocates with a complicated issue that they’d like to see visualized - that they’d like to educate their constituency about - to apply for an issue of Making Policy Public, their series of foldout posters that use graphic and information design to explore and explain complex public policy issues. Advocates chosen through the juried submission process will receive 1000 copies of the color publication to distribute directly to their constituents and an honorarium.  We are applying. For more info visit their websites: www.anothercupdevelopment.org, www.makingpolicypublic.net, www.envisioningdevelopment.net

The Campaign will be taking part in the NYSPJN Legislative Advocacy day planned for early May.  Parole reform will be one of the issues, and we are hoping to get a large turnout from PAN members, particularly those who were part of Family Empowerment Day 4. Representatives of The Coalition for Fair Criminal Justice Policies will give a briefing on the SAFE Parole Act.

Alan Rosenthal, a member of our Policy Committee, will have an article about parole reform published in the February issue of ATTICUS, the newsletter of the NYS Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, one of our supporting organizations.



6. NYS PRISONER JUSTICE NETWORK REPORT

       On November 29, the New York State Prisoner Justice Network held a regional meeting in Buffalo hosted by Karima Amin and Prisoners Are People Too. After hearing presentations about the Prisoner Justice Network and the Parole Reform Campaign, participants expressed support and discussed ways to bring about needed changes in the system.

       On December 4, the Prisoner Justice Network held a regional meeting in New York City, hosted by Shoshana Brown of the Bronx Defenders. After presentations about the Prisoner Justice Network, Parole Reform, the Public Defender System, and the successful campaign against prison-based gerrymandering, participants engaged in a lively discussion.

       Based on the suggestions from the regional meetings, the Network decided to plan a Legislative Awareness Day for Spring 2011. The goals will be to bring diverse Prisoner Justice groups and individuals together, to urge legislators to make specific changes, and to raise the voices of those opposed to the current system of injustice.

The New York State Prisoner Justice Network can be reached by mail at 33 Central Avenue, Albany NY 12210 or by email at nysprisonerjustice@gmail.com



7. PAROLE NEWS: NAMES OF COMMISSIONERS, NOVEMBER STATISTICS, LOW RECIDIVISM RATE FOR PEOPLE ON PAROLE WHO WERE CONVICTED OF MURDER

NAMES OF CURRENT PAROLE BOARD COMMISSIONERS:
Andrea W. Evans, Walter Wm. Smith, Jr., James Ferguson, Christina Hernandez, G. Kevin Ludlow, Gerald J. Greenan III, Lisa Beth Elovich, Henry Lemons, Sally Thompson, Michael A Hagler, Mary Ross, Joseph Crangle, Jared Brown

NOVEMBER 2010 PAROLE BOARD RELEASES – A1 VIOLENT FELONS – DIN #s through 1999
unofficial research from parole database

TOTAL INTERVIEWS......# Released.......# Denied......Rate of Release
13 initials * ........................0...................13...................0%
91 reappearances..............19...................72.................21%
104 Total...........................19...................85.................18%

NOVEMBER REAPPEARANCES
FACILITY................... SENTENCE..... OFFENSE....... # OF BOARD
Bare Hill..................... 1 ?-Life.......... Murder 2........ 5th
Bedford Hills.............. 15-Life........... Murder 2........ 6th
Bedford Hills.............. 25-Life........... Murder 2........ 5th
Elmira........................ 15-Life........... Murder 2........ 9th
Green Haven............. 15-Life........... Consprcy 1.... 2nd
Green Haven............. 22 ?-L............ Murder 2........ 3rd
Greene...................... 18-Life........... Murder 2........ 6th **
Mid Orange................ 15-Life........... Murder 2........ 5th
Mid Orange................ 25-Life........... Murder 2........ 2nd
Mid Orange................ 20-Life........... Murder 2........ 3rd
Orleans...................... 15-Life........... Murder 2........ 5th
Otisville......................25-Life........... Murder 2........ 5th
Otisville......................20-Life........... Murder 2........ 6th
Shawangunk............. 15-Life........... Att M1............ 8th
Sing Sing................... 15-Life........... Murder 2........ 3rd
Washington............... 10?-L............. Murder 2........ 4th
Woodbourne.............. 15-Life........... Arson 1......... 2nd
Woodbourne.............. 20-Life........... Murder 2........ 4th
Woodbourne.............. 25-Life........... Murder 2........ 2nd

*One initial hearing was a medical parole hearing for a female. She was denied.
**Special Consideration Hearing

BUILDING BRIDGES IS IN NEED OF A VOLUNTEER to assist in gathering the parole release statistics each month. It requires about 2 days of work a month. Please call for more information: 518 253 7533.

LOW RECIDIVISM RATE REPORTED FOR PAROLED NY A1 VIOLENT OFFENDERS
Of 368 convicted murderers granted parole in New York between 1999 and 2003, six, or 1.6 percent,were returned to prison within three years for a new felony conviction - none of them a violent offense, says a state Parole Board study reported by the Journal News in White Plains, N.Y. The board reported that of 1,190 convicted murderers released from 1985 to 2003 in New York state, 35, or just under 3 percent, returned to prison for a new felony conviction within three years.

"Individuals who are released on parole after serving sentences for murder consistently have the lowest recidivism rate of any offenders," said John Caher, a spokesman for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. A 2002 study by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics tracking 272,000 inmates released in New York and 14 other states found that 1.2 percent of those freed after serving a murder sentence were rearrested on homicide charges within three years - the lowest rate among all reported crimes by released prisoners. "This is a very difficult issue, and unless we lock everyone up for life they're all coming back sooner or later," said Martin Horn, a former New York City corrections and probation commissioner who now teaches at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Journal News (White Plains, N.Y.)

ALSO: Data released by the NY State Division of Parole at a legislative hearing briefing in February 2010 for releases during 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 states that during those four years 784 people were released from NY State Prison who were serving life sentences on A-1 violent felonies.  Of the number only 2 were returned to DOCS on new criminal charges.  That is a remarkably low recidivism rate of 1/4 of 1 percent.



8. PRISON SUICIDES RISE; OFFICIALS DENY TREND. THE FIGURES SHOW THAT TWICE AS MANY SUICIDES OCCURRED THIS YEAR AS IN 2008 OR 2009. MOREOVER, WHILE PRISON SUICIDE IS SOMETIMES PRONE TO SPIKING IN INDIVIDUAL YEARS, A LONGER-TERM TREND IS CLEAR — THE SUICIDE RATE ROSE 23 PERCENT FROM THE 1990S TO THE 2000S, ACCORDING TO A POUGHKEEPSIE JOURNAL ANALYSIS.

Mary Beth Pfeiffer • Poughkeepsie Journal • December 26, 2010
Condensed from published article:
...Among the suicides this year,..two were in Downstate Correctional Facility in Fishkill and one in Shawangunk prison in Wallkill. They are among eight state prisons in Dutchess and Ulster counties that employ nearly 4,400 people and house 7,700 inmates, 165 of them sentenced by local counties. Prison officials acknowledged the suicide rate was at a two-decade high but noted that suicides fluctuate, reaching 18 in both 2005 and 2007. "We do not regard this year's total as the beginning of a trend, since the numbers have gone up and down," said Erik Kriss, director of public information.

...But inmate advocates expressed concern and said the 2010 deaths reflected a system that is failing to treat troubled inmates. "A prison sentence shouldn't be the equivalent of a death sentence," said Robert Gangi, executive director of the Correctional Association of New York, a prison watchdog group, who noted that 11 suicides occurred among inmates not receiving psychiatric care. "Obviously they needed mental health services or they wouldn't have killed themselves."

..."The figures are shocking and tragic," said Harvey Rosenthal, executive director of the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services, a coalition of mental health providers and consumers. He faulted the overuse of disciplinary confinement — where six suicides occurred — which he and Gangi called "toxic" to mentally ill inmates.

...The prison suicide rate in the 2000s was 19.7 deaths per 100,000 inmates, the Journal analysis found, compared to a rate of 16 deaths in the 1990s. The latest one-year rate was 39.2 suicides per 100,000 inmates in 2010, according to prison system figures; the last time it surpassed that was in 1982, when it was 47.9. By contrast, New York state as a whole had a suicide rate of 6.9 per 100,000 residents in 2006, the latest figure available, 49th lowest nationally.

...The news comes as the prison population declines — 19 percent since 1999. It also follows major improvements in prison mental health care, including the addition of about 400 special-unit beds for schizophrenic, severely depressed and bipolar inmates, and better monitoring of difficult-to-manage mentally ill inmates who are placed in solitary confinement.
...The changes were made in response to a lawsuit, settled in 2007, that had linked suicides to poor mental health care and prolonged 23-hour-a-day confinement in special housing units, or what inmates call the "Box" — cells with solid doors, few personal possessions and minimal human contact.

...Daniels, the mental health spokeswoman, said, "Prisoners with mental health needs receive the treatment they need for as long as is needed," and provided figures showing that the caseload is rising again. She said she saw no connection between the drop in caseload since 2008 and the suicide numbers.

...Risk Of The 'Box': Beck and other advocates said mentally ill inmates - especially those receiving no care — are at special risk when placed in the Box and another form of disciplinary housing called "keeplock" where their behavior may deteriorate under stressful conditions. "It is inevitable that some of these people are going to harm themselves," Beck said. "The level of self-harm is high."

...The share of inmates who killed themselves in the Box, almost always by hanging, is lower than in previous years — 10 percent in 2010 compared to 29 percent from 1998 to 2009. But two additional suicides occurred among inmates with solitary confinement sentences, including one who Beck said was living in a unit with conditions similar to the Box and with inmates who had likely spent years there. In addition, four inmates killed themselves in keeplock, figures show.

..."We have long maintained that these solitary and keeplock confinements are not appropriate for the most vulnerable of inmates," Rosenthal said.

...Limits On Punishment:: Kriss, the prison spokesman, countered that the lawsuit settlement limited Box time for seriously ill inmates to 30 days and further limits will take effect next July. "Any suicide is a serious matter," said Kriss in an e-mail. "We continue to try to improve our policies and procedures for detecting and preventing suicides and providing potentially suicidal offenders the help, treatment and programming they need." New correction officers get three days of mental health training, he said, while officers in solitary confinement units receive four hours annually of instruction.

...Although Kriss saw no upward trend, the prison agency's own report on suicides from 2000 to 2009 shows an increase in the rate — up 22 percent from 16.9 per 100,000 in the first five years to 20.6 in the second.

Reach Mary Beth Pfeiffer at mbpfeiff@poughkeepsiejournal.com or 845-437-4869.



9. THE THINK OUTSIDE THE CELL SERIES - INTERVIEW WITH THE EDITOR, SHEILA RULE

The series began with Joe Robinson’s Thinking Outside the Cell, Entrepreneurship for the Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated and has just added 3 more books: Love Lives Here, Too: Real-Life Stories about Prison Marriages and Relationships; Counting the Years: Real-Life Stories about Waiting for Loved Ones to Return Home from Prison; and The Hard Journey Home: Real-Life Stories about Reentering Society after Incarceration. Sheila Rule is a member of Prison Action Network and a valued member of our advisory board. I asked her to let me interview her about these books, which I found remarkable in their ability to present the human beings behind the stereotypes. You might think I'm biased because of our friendship, but I suggest you read the books and then decide whether I am or not.

WHEN DID YOU FIRST HAVE THE IDEA FOR THESE BOOKS?  WHO IS/WAS YOUR INTENDED AUDIENCE? The seeds for the books were planted when I became a volunteer with the Riverside Church Prison Ministry nearly a decade ago. I was asked to correspond with incarcerated men and women who wrote to the ministry. Although generally viewed as faceless statistics or frightening stereotypes, the people I came to know through letters were multidimensional, complex human beings, like the rest of us. They were much greater  than the bad choices they’d made. And they so inspired me that I eventually decided to start and devote myself to a book publishing company that, as its mission, would seek to present to society a fairer, more balanced view of the incarcerated, the formerly incarcerated and their loved ones through books that would allow them a voice, feature their stories and help them tackle some of the hard challenges they face.
It was Joseph (Donkor) Robinson--one of the incarcerated men who wrote to the Prison Ministry, and who is now my husband—who suggested that I develop a series of books that portray the realities, gifts, and diversity of experiences of people with prison in their backgrounds. As for the audience we’re trying to reach, the books are intended for anyone who has a thinking mind and a beating heart. 

HOW DID YOU FIND THE WRITERS? We sponsored two nationwide writing contests that we advertised and promoted online, primarily through Building Bridges and Pro Se and other organizations that serve the incarcerated, the formerly incarcerated and their families. Our mailbox overflowed with hundreds of submissions—there were more than 400 entries in the second contest alone—and we were honored to read them. Interestingly, a good number of the winners in the first contest were from California, which is understandable, given the size of its prison population. In the second contest, New York State really represented.

EVERYONE’S STORY REVEALED A LOT OF PRETTY DEEP PERSONAL STUFF. BUT SINCE WE ARE FRIENDS, I WAS ESPECIALLY CONSCIOUS OF HOW MUCH YOU REVEALED OF YOURSELF THAT I DIDN’T ALREADY KNOW ABOUT YOU. HOW DOES IT FEEL TO EXPOSE YOURSELF THAT WAY IN PRINT? I tend to write from the heart, which can be quite revealing—even to myself.And what I’ve found is that when I reveal my heart to others, they often reveal theirs to me.

WHAT DO YOU HAVE PLANNED FOR THE FUTURE? WILL THERE BE MORE BOOKS IN THE SERIES? WILL THERE BE OTHER SERIES? We have several books planned, including additions to the series. And the anthologies in the series will provide the framework for a unique national symposium in September of this year, on issues affecting the incarcerated, the formerly incarcerated and their loved ones. The symposium—to be held at the historic Riverside Church in New York City—will bring together hundreds of people who live in the long shadow of prison and allow them to raise their voices and speak their truths in the same hallowed space where the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. raised his voice against the Vietnam War, where Nelson Mandela raised his voice as a symbol of resistance, courage and hope, where Angela Davis raised her voice against the prison industrial complex and “slave labor of the 21st Century.” The symposium, a program of the Think Outside the Cell Foundation that I recently founded, is being presented with generous funding from the Ford Foundation and in full partnership with the College and Community Fellowship and the Fortune Society’s David Rothenberg Center for Public Policy. I’ll tell you more about the symposium in the weeks and months ahead.

HOW CAN PEOPLE PURCHASE COPIES? The books can be purchased on our website, or by sending a check or money order to us at this address:
Resilience Multimedia, 511 Avenue of the Americas, Suite 525, New York, NY 10011
The books cost $14.95 each. Purchasers of all three books in the series receive free shipping. Otherwise, shipping costs $3.50 for media mail. NYS residents must add 8.875 percent sales tax.  For more information, people should feel free to contact us at resiliencemultimedia@verizon.net, or 877-267-2303, or at the above address.


Building Bridges is published by Prison Action Network as our way of communicating with our members.
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