Building Bridges

The monthly newsletter of the Prison Action Network

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

OCTOBER 2011












WE POST LATE BREAKING NEWS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS HERE DURING THE MONTH. TO GO DIRECTLY TO THE OCTOBER ISSUE OF BUILDING BRIDGES, PLEASE SCROLL DOWN.




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Pardons: The Power Nobody Wants
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

The New School
John L. Tishman Auditorium
66 West 12 Street
New York City

The Hon. Dennis Jacobs, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and a distinguished panel of experts explore the history and real-world application of the power of pardon at the state and federal level. Following opening remarks by New School president David E. Van Zandt, Judge Jacobs explains the history of the power, its role in correcting injustice in the application of criminal law, and the way the decline in its use reflects a missed opportunity, lack of imagination, and failure of courage.

Our panel then examines the critical historical, legal, economic, and ethical issues surrounding the pardon power and the implications of its greater or lesser use. Panelists include:

Moderator: Senator Bob Kerrey, President Emeritus, The New School.

*Hon. Dennis Jacobs, Chief Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
*Hon. Robert L. Ehrlich, Senior Counsel, King & Spalding; former Governor of Maryland; former Congressman (R-MD), U.S. House of Representatives.
*JulieStewart, Attorney; President and Founder, Families Against Mandatory Minimums.
*Margaret Colgate Love, Attorney; former Pardon Attorney, Office of the Pardon Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice.
*Anthony Papa, Manager, Media Relations, Drug Policy Alliance; clemency recipient following imprisonment for first-time, nonviolent drug offense under New York’s draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws.

For details click here.




October 15 2011

Dear Reader,

My colleagues and I talk a lot about reintegration. But what is it, really? What does reintegration feel like? I think it’s when a person feels welcome and accepted by the community, and the community feels safe and enriched by the person. It doesn’t happen overnight. Trust takes time. Simply put, when it’s there it feels great! It’s comfortable. Trust makes you feel expansive and generous; good about yourself. Its opposites, fear and distrust, alienate a person, shrink one’s comfort zone. How to shift from the latter paradigm to the reintegrative way is the question. Let’s look at the current situation:


 No one ever describes prisons as trusting places. Prisoners don’t trust other prisoners. Prison staff don’t trust prisoners, and prisoners have little but anger and distrust for the guards. Of course there are exceptions, but the prison culture does not encourage them. The guards and the prisoners do not think of themselves as being on the same side and thus they each feel they need to show how tough they are in order to survive, which sets up a get-even mentality. When families and friends visit prison they experience similar treatment from the staff: they don’t trust us, and so we don’t trust them, even at their friendliest, because they treat us as if we are trying to get away with something. Bringing in a piece of paper with writing on it is wrong; a sweater with a hood can be wrong. Hugging and kissing are wrong. It’s always about what we are doing wrong - things that usually aren’t considered wrong anywhere else. If that’s how we’re treated, how can we think our loved ones aren’t treated worse?

Then there’s the Parole Board, which is suspicious of parole applicants and worried they will go out and commit another crime. Parole applicants are afraid the Board won’t ever release them, and there’s nothing they can do about it. How can a person change their behavior and their thinking if they’re not given proper guidance? The Board would rather decide how long they need to be punished, it would seem from the many parole denial decisions we’ve read.

None of this helps reintegration. After 10, 20, 30 years of living with fear, anger, and distrust, how does a person walk out the gate and feel welcome and accepted by their community? And if you don’t feel welcomed and accepted how do you feel caring and generous in return? When the community parole officer says you can’t take a job you were offered because you have to take a program you taught in prison, how can you feel like they have your best interest in mind? (see Article 8 by Lawrence Hayes for more examples.)

You may be wondering why I am stating the obvious. Of course there’s no trust between the good guys and the bad guys, you might say! But it depends on where you’re situated who you think is good and who you think is bad. And anyway, shouldn’t we all be on the same side? Of course we should! We all want to feel safe. Safe is having enough food, a roof over our head, access to a good education and adequate health care, people who want the best for us and faith that those things won’t be taken away from us. Isn’t that what everyone wants?

I dream of a world where reintegration not only is the goal, but where very few of us ever need to reenter because we never left. To build that world, we all need to understand we are on the same side. If we treated others as we want to be treated, so much would change. We would have a truly correctional system instead of a penal system, and it would be focused on helping people become the best they can be, not on punishing them. Punishment is proven to be an ineffective way of motivating a person to do better. In the reintegrative system of my dreams, prisoners would be able to look to guards for guidance. Parole Boards would evaluate whether the person’s behavior and thinking had changed and if not, provide specific means to achieve the necessary changes. Community Parole officers would be actually helping their clients find community support in the form of jobs, housing, education, food, health care instead of threatening them with prison if they fail to find those things for themselves. This is the world I am not only dreaming of but working toward. “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” (John Lennon). I know a lot of you have the same dream. Let’s make it happen! Starting (but not ending) with the SAFE Parole Act. Visit www.parolereform.org to tell your story, or write to your legislators!

Please be well, keep the faith, share the news, and for everyone’s sake, get involved! The Editor

P.S. On Saturday September 24, The National Symposium Think Outside the Cell “A New Day, A New Way" was host to hundreds at Riverside Church.  Videos of much of it on are available on Youtube


SUMMARIES OF ARTICLES:
1. Prison Children Anonymous: Children who have or once had a parent, sibling or loved one involved in the criminal justice system, now have a place to receive emotional support and learn about our penal system.

2. Citizens Against Recidivism 5th Annual Citizens’ Awards Event, Saturday November 5th, is at a new location this year: TIAN, 679 Riverside Dr. Join the PAN table for a reduced ticket price.

3. Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People’s Movement (FICPM) announces a national conference to discuss and ratify a National Agenda to restore their civil and human rights.

4. The Coalition for Women Prisoners, a project of the Women in Prison Project, invites readers to help make the criminal justice system more responsive to the needs and rights of women and their families.

5. The Free Bus Program was recently eliminated by NYS DOCCS. Please help bring it back by taking the “Bring Back the Buses” Survey.

6. Legislation: Despite rumors, there is no law releasing inmates after 65% of their sentence is served, The SAFE Parole Act was not voted on by the Senate ‘s Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee, and only 4 of the 26 bills reported on in Building Bridges were voted on by any body. None of them became law.

7. NYS Parole Reform Campaign: Response to Philip Genty’s article on Exec. Law §259-i revisions by the governor (see Sept. Building Bridges). More than 210 letters to the Governor in support of the SAFE Parole Act have been gathered by hardworking readers. Good work, team!

8. Parole News: August releases, first use of revised Parole Board policies, comments from a stakeholder.

9. Youth Justice: New York State is one of only two states in the country (the other is North Carolina) where every 16 and 17 year old is automatically tried as an adult. Judge Lippman calls for raising the age.  



10. Things you can do to become educated and/or involved exist across the state, in Albany, Binghamton, Brooklyn, Buffalo, Long Island, Manhattan and White Plains.

[For copies of any document, article or legislation referred to, or condensed, in this issue, please send an email to PAN with a request clearly stating the number and title of the article and the date it appeared. -Ed.]


1. PRISON CHILDREN ANONYMOUS IS FORMING TO HELP CHILDREN WHO NOW HAVE OR ONCE HAD A PARENT, SIBLING OR LOVED ONE INVOLVED IN THE PENAL SYSTEM.

PCA is in pilot stage while it tries to find private and public funding. Its first meeting was held on Tuesday, October 11, at The Community Presbyterian Church, 1843 Deer Park Avenue in Deer Park, New York.
PCA meets once a month on the second Tuesday so children can share their experiences, feelings and hopes with each other. The parent group, Prison Families Anonymous, meets at the same time in another room and parents and guardians of children are encouraged to join that group while the children’s group is in session.
Along with providing emotional support, PCA educates children about the criminal justice system, about jails and prisons, about re-entry issues, about pending legislation and about resources they might not be aware of.
Details are listed below, in Article 10, last page, under L.I. Support Groups.
For more information please e-mail PCA or visit Facebook by searching “Prison Children Anonymous”. Visit the parent’s website for more information as well at www.PF-LI.com.



2. CITIZENS AGAINST RECIDIVISM 5TH ANNUAL CITIZENS' AWARDS EVENT

This gala event presents awards to people who did time for a crime and have shown that they were not only safe to release, but that their release has benefitted their communities (who nominated and voted for them).

Keynote address by NYS Senator Bill Perkins; Light dining provided.   

Prison Action Network never misses this event, and as usual we invite you to join our table for a reduced price. Send your check or money order for $45. to Prison Action Network, PO Box 6355, Albany NY 12206 by October 28, and you’ll be on the list at the door.

Advance Tickets through Citizens Against Recidivism: $55.  ($60 at the door).
For more information: click here.

Saturday November 5th, doors open at 6pm
Location:  TIAN, 679 Riverside Dr. (at W.145th St. in the Riverbank State Park) 



3. FORMERLY INCARCERATED AND CONVICTED PEOPLE’S MOVEMENT (FICPM) ANNOUNCES NATIONAL CONFERENCE

On Thursday, November 2, 8:30AM-6PM in Los Angeles, formerly-incarcerated and convicted people and their allies from all over the United States will convene to discuss and ratify a National Agenda to restore their civil and human rights. They plan to mount unified national campaigns to register voters, end all forms of discrimination based on arrest or conviction records, to support the human rights of people locked up in cages, and to serve their families and communities.

PLEASE REGISTER NOW to attend the November 2 conference in Los Angeles.

If you have any questions about the FICPM Strategy Session, please contact: Aaliyah: 916-501-9988  -OR- Fanya: 562-688-0472 -OR- click here.



4. THE COALITON FOR WOMEN PRISONERS

At the September 15th Coalition For Women Prisoners meeting, the Incarcerated Mothers’ Committee reported on their implementation activities around the NY Adoption and Safe Families Act Expanded Discretion Law (ASFA), which was passed on June 15, 2010.

If you would like to learn how to help ensure that incarcerated parents can benefit from this law, please contact Stacey at (212) 254-5700 Ext. 333 or sthompson@correctionalassociation.org. 


Upcoming Coalition events:
*

October 21st: The activities of the Violence Against Women Committee will be highlighted at this Coalition meeting.

*We are gearing up for our December Coalition Holiday Event [date to be announced], where we will be sending letters to women on the inside.




5. THE FREE BUS PROGRAM WAS RECENTLY ELIMINATED BY NYS DOCCS



This program provided monthly free buses to NY State prisons -- many of which are very far from NYC and inaccessible by public transportation.  Buses also left from upstate areas to help family members visit their loved ones incarcerated in downstate prisons. 

 The NY Initiative for Children of Incarcerated Parents, coordinated by the Osborne Association, is launching a BRING BACK THE BUSES campaign. As part of this campaign, the Initiative is collecting surveys from family members and people who have used the “Free Bus Program.”

The survey is available here. 



No computer? You can contact 718-637-6597 or -6587 for copies of the survey or to arrange to fill out the survey over the phone with someone. You can help ensure that families’ voices are heard and that the free DOCCS buses -- which help keep families connected, reduce the trauma of incarceration and support successful reentry -- are brought back! 

 Call Osborne's Family Resource Center toll-free at 1-800-344-3314 for support, info about related upcoming events and organizing efforts around bringing back the buses.



6. LEGISLATION RUMORS DISPELLED:

Recently we received a copy of a letter sent to interested parties that corrected rumors and misinformation about 2011 criminal justice bills, particularly to discredit the cruel rumor that there was a new law effective Nov 2011 releasing certain inmates after they had served 65% of their sentence.  (Another reader told us that rumor had surfaced many times during his 30 years in prison.) 



However the letter itself contained some erroneous information, which we want to set right.

Let me start by saying it’s very easy to be confused - the legislative process is difficult to comprehend.  The information is not widely distributed; thousands of bills are introduced every year and most of them never see the light of day.  To discover all the bills that might be of interest would require a lot of effort.  We rely heavily on word of mouth information from our allies in the advocacy world who are supporting or opposing specific bills on matters we know will be of interest to our members. If you already know about a bill, the legislative website is a useful tool for finding out more about it.

One bill we do know a lot about is the SAFE Parole Act.  We are part of the NYS Parole Reform Campaign which is working hard to get it passed.  The SAFE Parole Act was not voted on in the Senate’s Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee. The next session begins in January, and it will need to be reintroduced in the Senate, where bills expire after a year otherwise.  With 3 sponsors in the Senate, we feel very hopeful that at least one of them will want to reintroduce it in January.   The Assembly keeps bills for 2 years, after which they too need to be reintroduced. The SAFE Parole Act will go into the next session with all four of its Assembly sponsors still in place.  We will be sure to inform readers when it is voted on by either committee.

Not all of the criminal justice bills referred to in the July Building Bridges were voted on by the legislature (that word is usually used to refer to both houses).  Those 26 bills were introduced this year in the Assembly’s Correction Committee and/or the Senate’s Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections Committee. Only the following four were voted on: 

S338/A154 Merit Time and S107/A5355 Educational Opportunities were both introduced and defeated by a vote of the Senate Committee. 

S3645 /A7015-B “Brittany’s Law”: VFO Registry,  and S3747/A8478- "FRP Bill" were the only bills among the 26 that were voted on and passed by the Senate.  Neither have been voted on by the Assembly.

Before a bill becomes a law it must 1) be presented to both houses, 2) have been passed by both houses, and 3) be signed by the governor. Not one of the 26 have passed those 3 hurdles, so none have become laws. (See Building Bridges June and July 2011 for more details about the bills.)



7. NYS PAROLE REFORM CAMPAIGN

SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT, a series of articles presented by the Coalition For Fair Criminal Justice Policies to explain and support the SAFE Parole Act.

Part 1: Why We Need To Continue Working For Passage Of The Safe Parole Act

In his September 1, 2011 New York Law Journal article, Professor Philip Genty shares with readers his optimism for parole reform, as he attempts to interpret the legislative change enacted by the Governor’s March 31, 2011 budget bill.  If that optimism depends upon the good will of the parole board to write procedures heralding a new day for parole reform, should we share that hope?
 
If Professor Genty is correct in his prognostication, we say “hurrah!”  But there is substantial room for skepticism, and it is that skepticism that is the basis for the need for supporters of real parole reform to continue to demand sweeping change.  It is important to understand what the legislative change did and did not do—and why now is the time to push for the real reform proposed by the SAFE Parole Act (A.7939 and S.5374).
 
The statutory change that has generated this optimism is a re-write of Executive Law§ 259-c(4). It says that the parole board shall:
 
establish written [guidelines] PROCEDURES for its use in making parole decisions as required by law[, including the fixing of minimum periods of imprisonment or ranges thereof for different categories of offenders]. Such written [guidelines may consider the use of a] PROCEDURES SHALL INCORPORATE risk and needs [assessment instruments] PRINCIPLES to MEASURE THE REHABILITATION OF PERSONS APPEARING BEFORE THE BOARD, THE LIKELIHOOD OF SUCCESS OF SUCH PERSON UPON RELEASE, AND assist members of the state board of parole in determining which inmates may be released to parole supervision.
 ( [ ] = deleted from original; CAPS = added to original)

It should be noted that there was also a rewrite of Executive Law § 259-I, which contains the factors that the parole board must consider. These factors remain exactly the same as they were, except for their repositioning within the statute. They continue to include the very static factor “the seriousness of the offense...” This factor and all of the other factors are still required to be considered under the new procedures that are still to be written.
 
So, here we are six months after the enactment of this hope-generating statute, and neither the procedures nor the risk and needs assessment instrument have been implemented. Yet it is these, as yet unwritten, procedures that Professor Genty would have us pin our hopes on. It doesn’t seem like a good time to sit back with our fingers crossed in hopes that the parole board will inject real reform into the still to be written procedures.
 
The SAFE Parole Act doesn’t leave the practical implementation of reform to the vagaries of the parole board and the hope that it will write reform-minded procedures. The SAFE Parole Act contains the procedures for implementation right in the statutory proposal itself.
 
Unlike the budget bill, the SAFE Parole Act would do the following:

A) Remove from parole consideration “the seriousness of the offense,” leaving that consideration exclusively to the sentencing court.
 
B) Add the requirement that the parole board must consider the parole applicant’s preparedness for reentry and reintegration, as evidenced by the applicant’s institutional record pertaining to program goals and accomplishments as stated in the facility performance reports, academic achievements, vocational education, training or work assignments, therapy and interactions with staff and other sentenced persons, and other indications of pro-social activity, change and transformation.
 
C) Add the requirement that the parole board consider the progress made towards achieving the programming and treatment needs developed in the transitional accountability plan.
 
D) Add the requirement that if parole is not granted the parole board will state in detail and not in conclusory terms the factors and reasons for the denial and the specific requirements for actions to be taken, programs or accomplishments to be completed, or changes in performance or conduct to be made, or corrective action or actions to be taken, in order to qualify for parole release.
 
E) Add the requirement that if parole is not granted the Department shall, within ninety days of the hearing decision, provide the parole applicant access to the program or programs, activities and/or facilities needed in order to provide the opportunity to fulfill the requirements set forth by the board.
 
F) Add the requirement that if the requirements previously set forth by the parole board at the time of denial have been successfully completed and the parole applicant’s institutional record has been satisfactory during the time between the previous and current parole hearing, release shall be granted.
 
G) The parole applicant shall be entitled to a copy of the scored risk and needs assessment.
 
These are but a few of the provisions that the SAFE Parole Act would require if enacted.
 
We have two choices. 

We can sit back and hope that the parole board writes procedures for itself that adopt the requirements of the SAFE Parole Act, and thus prove true Professor Genty’s prognosis that these procedures may “be the most significant parole reform in more than 30 years. 

Or we can continue to do the hard work of organizing for legislative change and passage of the SAFE Parole Act.


SPEAKING OF DOING HARD WORK: A big thumbs up to all the readers who have done great work gathering signatures on a letter to Governor Cuomo requesting his support of the SAFE Parole Act! So far more than 210 letters have been returned to us! As soon as we can finish sorting them by zip code, so we can also inform senators and assembly members of the numbers from their districts who have signed, we will hand deliver them to the governor’s office. We hope to do that before November, so please try to get as many additional letters as possible to the Campaign by Oct. 21. (The address appears in the footer of the letter.)



8. PAROLE NEWS: AUGUST STATS; PAROLE BOARD REQUIRED CREDENTIALS; REVISED 259-I TO GO INTO EFFECT IN NOV.; PAROLE SUPERVISION AS SEEN FROM A STAKEHOLDER’S PERSPECTIVE.

AUGUST 2011 PAROLE BOARD RELEASES – A1 VIOLENT FELONS – DIN #s through 1999
Unofficial research from parole database

TOTAL INTERVIEWS.. # RELEASED. # DENIED... RATE OF RELEASE
17 Initials. .......................3....................... 14............ 18%
94 reappearances..... ......16...................... 78............ 17%
111 interviews.......................19...................... 92............ 17%

AUGUST INITIAL RELEASES
FACILITY.......... SENTENCE.........OFFENSE........ # OF BOARD
Arthurkill......... 20-Life............ Murder 2.............Initial
Clinton............ 15-Life............ Murder 2.............Initial
Greenhaven..... 17-Life............ Att Murder 1.......Initial

AUGUST REAPPEARANCES
FACILITY......... SENTENCE.....OFFENSE.........# OF BOARD
Arthurkill .........15-Life........Murder2.................2nd
Arthurkill .........15-Life........Murder 2................5th
Elmira...............25-Life........Murder pre-74.......9th
Fishkill..............22-Life........Murder 2................3rd
Fishkill..............15-Life........Murder 2................3rd
Fishkill..............25-Life........Murder pre-74.......8th
Fishkill..............15-Life........Murder 2................2nd
Franklin.............20-Life........Murder 2...............7th ?
Franklin.............15-Life........Murder 2...............3rd
Greenhaven.......25-Life........Murder 2...............3rd
Marcy................15-Life........Murder 2...............6th
Southport .........20-Life........Murder 2...............8th
Wende...............25-Life........Murder 2...............7th ?
Woodbourne.....15-Life........Murder 2................5th
Woodbourne.....18-Life........Murder 2................7th
Wyoming...........15-Life........Murder 2...............6th


PAROLE BOARD MAKEUP AS STATED IN EXECUTIVE LAW § 259.:
§ 259-b. State board of parole; organization.

1. There shall be in the state division of parole a state board of parole which shall possess the powers and duties hereinafter specified. Such board shall consist of not more than nineteen members appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of senate. The term of office of each member of such shall be for six years; provided, however, that any member chosen to a vacancy occurring otherwise than by expiration of term shall be appointed for the remainder of the unexpired term of the member whom he is to succeed. In the event of the inability to act of any member, the governor may appoint some competent informed person to act in his stead during the continuance of such disability.
2. Each member of the board shall have been awarded a degree from an accredited four-year college or graduate degree from college or university or accredited graduate school and shall have had at least five years of experience in one or more of the fields of criminology, administration of criminal justice, law enforcement, sociology, law, social work, corrections, psychology, psychiatry or medicine.
3. The governor shall designate one of the members of the board as chairman to serve in such capacity at the pleasure of the governor or until the member's term of office expires and a successor is designated in accordance with law, whichever first occurs.
4. The members of the state board of parole shall not hold any other public office; nor shall they, at any time of their appointment nor during their incumbency, serve as a representative of any political party on an executive committee or other governing body thereof, nor as an executive officer or employee of any political committee, organization or association.
5. Each member of the state board of parole shall receive for his services an annual salary to be fixed by the governor within the amount appropriated therefor. Each member of such board shall also receive his necessary expenses actually incurred in the discharge of his duties.
6. Any member of the state board of parole may be removed by the governor for cause after an opportunity to be heard.
7. Except as otherwise provided by law, a majority of the state board of parole shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of all business of the board.


MR. WINSTON MOSELEY WILL BE AMONG THE FIRST INMATES EVALUATED UNDER THE REVISED SYSTEM WHEM HE MEETS THE PAROLE BOARD THE WEEK OF OCT. 31. 


Excerpts from a Sept. 30, 2011 article in the NY Law Journal by John Caher.
[all emphases added]


For the first time since he became eligible for parole in 1984, Mr. Moseley will appear before a parole board that now is being directed to look beyond his crime and criminal record, and consider if the 76-year-old who committed hideous crimes 47 years ago is the same person [now] seeking freedom. 


...Executive Law §259(c) requires the parole board to establish and apply "risk and needs principles to measure the rehabilitation of persons appearing before the board" and the likelihood of success should the offender be released. In the past, the board "could" consider those factors; as of today it "must" consider them. 


Mr. Moseley will be among the first inmates evaluated under the revised system when he meets the parole board the week of Oct. 31. 


The risk assessment tool is under development and is expected to be in use by November, according to Peter K. Cutler, a spokesman for the new Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, which was created this year through the merger of the prison and parole system. 


Advocates welcome the new paradigm and are eagerly awaiting the first batch of parole board determinations based on the revised standards.


Robert N. Isseks, an attorney in Middletown who has for years pursued a federal class action alleging that the parole board ignores current criteria and effectively acts as a re-sentencing body, said he has doubts. ..."I'd like to be optimistic," Mr. Isseks said. "I hope [the new law] will force them to do what they are supposed to do, but I can't predict. In the hundreds of decisions I have seen, there is plenty of reason to be skeptical." 
The 2006 federal case filed by Mr. Isseks in the Southern District, Graziano v. Pataki, 7:06-cv-00480, was dismissed last December by Judge Cathy Seibel. Mr. Isseks is appealing and also attempting to reinstate a state court action pending before the Appellate Division, Third Department. Mr. Isseks said the new requirements may put a heavier burden on the parole board to establish that it has performed more than a cursory review. "These new guidelines might help the judges make more informed decisions, and give them something more to look at and consider," Mr. Isseks said.


Ms. JoAnne Page [CEO, Fortune Society] agreed. "This provides grounds for challenging a parole board hit on the basis of not having looked at evidence of rehabilitation or not having administered a recent risk assessment," she said. "It opens doors, provides a basis from which to challenge [a denial of parole]. It is a step in the right direction, and something that has been needed for many, many years." Ms. Page said the new criteria may force the parole board to consider that A-1 felons released on parole are at an extremely low risk of re-offending. In fact, state figures show that offenders who serve a sentence for murder are the least likely to commit a felony once they are paroled. "People change," Ms. Page said. "If there is anything I know from my 22 years heading Fortune, it is that people who have been menaces to the community have the capacity to become good neighbors and make a positive difference in the world. And the people who committed the most horrific crimes and served decades [in prison] are beyond the age when people tend to recidivate."

John Caher can be contacted at jcaher@alm.com.




THE NEW YORK STATE PAROLE SYSTEM MUST BE ABOLISHED by Lawrence Hayes

I have a 9pm curfew and can't leave the five boroughs of New York City without consent. I report to a parole office every month and their approach with me is to consistently obstruct to my reintegration, EVEN WHEN THEY SEEM COMPASSIONATE AND UNDERSTANDING. I can’t maintain lasting friendships because I can’t be out past 9pm and I can’t be spontaneous and join them to attend an event or visit anyone outside of New York City.  Intimate relationships end quickly mostly because it’s a frightening experience for any woman who loves you, because (especially with political me) your lady friend and family is always fearful of you going back to prison.


My 17-year old daughter often expresses her dislike and distain for the parole system because she sees what it does to me.  She can be out past 9am, but her daddy can’t.


Parole does more to interfere with working than it does to help. Too many times, I’ve been ordered to “report” first thing in the morning when the parole officer should know it affects my paycheck.  Every penny less than my full week’s salary can mean less food for my daughter and me, or prevent me from doing my laundry; it can prevent me from paying someone back who lent money for the week’s unlimited transit card, etc.  


It would seem to me that after 20 years of no police contact it’s pretty clear I’m not a criminal or a risk to society, especially since I’ve always maintained work and a place to stay. The irony of it all is that, in New York City, there are a disproportionate number of African-American parole officers; talk about participating in conspiracies against ourselves?


In summary, as currently constituted, the parole system serves no useful purpose. Somewhere in the area of 45 percent of the New York prison population consists of parolees.  Is that their idea of success?  If, as stated on their website, their mission is to promote public safety by preparing inmates for release and supervising parolees to the successful completion of their sentence, they have a dismal record.  My success has been limited by them, not expanded.  I am surviving.  I could be thriving, if they really had my - and my community's - best interests at heart.




9. YOUTH JUSTICE: JUDGE LIPPMAN, CHIEF JUDGE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK AND CHIEF JUDGE OF THE COURT OF APPEALS, RECENTLY GAVE A SPEECH CALLING FOR NEW YORK STATE TO RAISE THE AGE OF CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY.

New York State is one of only two states in the country (the other is North Carolina) where every single 16 and 17 year old is automatically tried as an adult.  “The judge is proposing that the state transfer jurisdiction for 16- and 17-year-olds accused of less serious crimes to family courts, which have more social services, while continuing to prosecute the most violent juveniles as adults. The plan reflects an emerging consensus in many states that troubled teenagers have been mishandled by the adult court system.” Read article in 9/21 NY Times




10. PLACES TO GO: ACTIONS, EVENTS AND MEETINGS

EVENTS
ALBANY
SUNDAY OCTOBER 16TH, 6:00 PM SOCIAL JUSTICE CENTER FILM SPECIAL!!

COINTELPRO 101, WITH FILMMAKER CLAUDE MARKS. Mr. Marks will be present and will talk with the audience about the legacy of Cointelpro today

Sponsored by the Social Justice Center of Albany, the Albany Political Prisoner Support Committee, and the Capital District Solidarity Committee. $4 donation at the door to cover expenses requested but not required.

Location: Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave, Albany (wheelchair accessible.)
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

BINGHAMTON event
SAVE THE DATE: FRIDAY NOVEMBER 18, 12 Noon-4PM Southern Tier Social Justice Project and the Broome County Reentry ABLE Program

Making Connections, Restoring Hope, Changing Lives
REENTRY RESOURCE DAY FOR FORMERLY-INCARCERATED INDIVIDUALS, THEIR FAMILIES & ALLIES

Food & Drinks will be available. Questions? Contact Cheryl DeRosa (607) 727-0438 or Jeff Pryor (607) 778-1364

Location: Broome County Library, Exhibit Room, 2nd Floor 59 Court Street
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BROOKLYN event
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 19, 4:30-7:00 PM The Osborne Association

SHARING OUR STRENGTHS’ SUPPORT GROUP
Presents Dr. Michael Willett, author of Man by Choice, Male by Birth 
Book signing & in-depth, involved TALK, Refreshments Served
For more info or call 718-637-6560

Location: 175 Remsen Street (8th Flr Conference Rm) Brooklyn
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MANHATTAN events

TUESDAY OCTOBER 18, 6:00-7:30 PM The Dangerous Over-Use of Solitary Confinement: 
Pervasive Human Rights Violations in Prisons, Jails & Other Places of Detention


Keynote Address by JUAN E. MENDEZ, Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment with Panel discussion.


Location: Church Center for the United Nations, 777 United Nations Plaza, NYC
, 44th Street Entrance – Second Floor Conference Room


THURSDAY OCTOBER 20, 6-8PM New York Task Force on Racial Disparity 
Community Awareness and Connection Event:
A community meeting to learn about campaigns and coalitions working to stop the rail to jail in NYC.  Find out what other groups in NYC are working on and how it relates to you.

Location:  Center for Community Alternatives, 39 W. 19th Street, (Betw 5th and 6th Ave) 10th Floor



WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 2, 5:30-8 PM Center for Community Alternatives (CCA) & NYU Wagner Students for Criminal Justice Reform present

REINTEGRATIVE JUSTICE FORUM


Discussants: SOFIYAH ELIJAH, Ex. Dir. Correctional Assoc. of NY Gara LaMarche, NYU Wagner School of Public Service, Vivian Nixon, Exec. Dir. College and Community Fellowship, Heather Ann Thompson, Ass. Prof. of History, Temple Univ.

Event is free. Donations gratefully accepted.
RSVP by Oct 28; 212 691 1911 x 219, kjones@communityalternatives.org
Location: Puck Building 295 Lafayette Street, NYC



SATURDAY NOVEMBER 5, DOORS OPEN AT 6PM Citizens Against Recidivism 5th Annual Citizens’ Awards Event 


We never miss this event, and as usual we invite you to join our table for a reduced price. Send your check or money order for $45. to Prison Action Network, PO Box 6355, Albany NY 12206 by October 28, and you’ll be on the list at the door. 



The Citizens’ Award Event draws the public’s attention to people who did time for a crime and have shown that they were not only safe to release, but that their release has benefitted their communities, members of which voted for them to receive this award.

Keynote address by NYS Senator Bill Perkins. Light dining provided..
Advance Tickets  $55.  ($60 at the door).
For more information: http://www.citizensinc.org/FutureEvents2011.htm

Location:  TIAN, 679 Riverside Dr. (at W.145th St. in the Riverbank State Park)


WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 9, 6-8PM NYC Second Chance Committee
A Forum on Reentry: Where Are We? Where Should We Be?

Panelists: Glenn Martin, Fortune Society; Amir Amman, Student/Activist; Mary Arnold, Village Care of NY; Soffiyah Elijah, Correctional Association; Detrel Howell, DOCS Reentry Services; Dr. Divine Pryor, NU Leadership on Urban Solutions; Gabriel Torres-Rivera, Community Services Society

For more information, please call 877 626 4651 or 212 690 3070

Location: National Action Network Headquarters, 1006 W. 145th St. NYC
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WHITE PLAINS event
Monday October 17, 6-8:30PM

“Bridging the Gap: Lessons Learned from a Reentry Collaboration with Victims and Victim Advocates” with Elizabeth Gaynes, Kathy Boudin, Marie Verzulli, Susan Herman (moderator) Free and open to the public.

Location: Pace Law School, Preston Hall, Tudor Room, 78 No. Broadway, White Plains, NY
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MEETINGS

BUFFALO
MONDAY OCTOBER 31, 6:30-8:30PM Prisoners Are People Too, Inc.

We will hear about the Secure Youth Detention Center in Buffalo, NY; its history, its mission, its current services. With so many youth detention centers being closed around the state and with the December 2010 closing of Hopevale in nearby Hamburg, NY, people are interested in learning more about Buffalo’s youth detention center. Hopevale functioned for 155 years, first as a facility for troubled teen girls, then later as a coed residential home and school for troubled youth. Mr. David Rust, the Deputy Commissioner of Youth Services in Erie County and Ms. Nadia Moore, the Director of Buffalo’s Secure Youth Detention Center have been invited to share information about a facility that touches the lives of many juvenile offenders, ages 13-15, who have been charged with serious crimes.

Location: Pratt-Willert Community Center, 422 Pratt Street

The Circle of Supporters for Reformed Offenders and Friends of BaBa Eng are the sponsors of PRP2, Inc. programs.
For further information, contact Karima Amin: 716-834-8438 or karima@prisonersarepeopletoo.org.
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MANHATTAN meetings
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 19, 1-3PM NY Reentry Roundtable
Guest Speakers: Representatives of the Human Resources Administration (HRA) will be making presentations on areas of interest to us, including new initiatives for the formerly incarcerated, child support enforcement, AIDS services, Food stamps and Medicaid. This will be an opportunity to ask questions and receive information from HRA representatives. Also, it will be opportunity for the agency to rectify misconceptions that surround some of HRA’s policies. Please RSVP to Gabriel Torres Rivera, J.D.

Location: Community Service Society of NY (CSS)
105 East 22nd St., corner Park Ave So. Conference Rm 4A
Take 6 or W/R to 23rd St.


THURSDAY OCTOBER 27, 5:30PM Education from the Inside Out Coalition (EIO) Meeting.
Our mission is to remove barriers to higher education funding facing students in prisons, both in NYS and nationwide. You can help us increase college access for incarcerated students TODAY! If you are interested in joining the Coalition or if you have any questions, please contact Lettisha Boyd at (646) 380 -7780.

Location: 475 Riverside Drive, Robing Room

Can't make it?   Call in! 800-662-6992, Access code: 107-9949

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SUPPORT GROUP MEETINGS:
ALBANY: EVERY MONDAY 7-8:30PM Prison Families of NY Support Group Meetings Alison 518-453-6659
EVERY TUESDAY at 6PM P-MOTIONS (Progressive Men Operating Towards Initiating Opportunities Now) Malik at 518-445-5487.
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BROOKLYN
EVERY WEDNESDAY 5:30PM VOCAL Parolees Organizing Project For more info call 917 676-8041
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LONG ISLAND
WEDNESDAYS NOVEMBER 9 AND 23, 7:30PM Prison Families Anonymous meetings
Location: The Community Presbyterian Church 1843 Deer Park Avenue, Deer Park, NY.

WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 23 (see above) Prison Children Anonymous meets on the second Tuesday so children can share their experiences while the parent group, Prison Families Anonymous, meets at the same place and time but in another room and parents and guardians of children are encouraged to join that group while the children’s group is in session.

TUESDAY NOVEMBER 1 (& all first Tuesdays), 7:30PM at St Brigids Catholic Church, 75 Post Ave, Westbury, NY.

For information, please contact: Barbara: 631-943-0441 or Sue: 631-806-3903
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MANHATTAN
TUESDAY OCTOBER 18, 6-8PM Incarcerated Family Support Group
Sponsors: Coalition for Parole Restoration & Senator Bill Perkins
Do you have questions about visitation, tickets, appeals? Is your loved one going to the parole board and needs assistance preparing or do you just need someone to talk to about having a loved one in prison?

Invited Providers: Fortune Society, Osborne, Exodus, Strive
Please Rsvp 212 465-3241

Location: 163 West 125 Street Harlem State Building, 9th Floor (Senator Bill Perkins Conference room)

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Building Bridges is published by Prison Action Network as a way of communicating with our members.
If you would like to join, please email us or call 518 253 7533
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