Latebreaking Announcements follow; please scroll down if you want to bypass and go directly to the August issue of Building Bridges.
POSTED AUGUST 30 BY ATTICA IS ALL OF US
Friday, September 9, 2011 is the 40th Anniversary of the Attica Rebellion and Massacre
Join us for an evening of conversation, performances, and music to mark this occasion and address current prison struggles in this country.
Guest Speakers: Attica Brothers: represented by Joseph Harris, Calvin "Hutch" Hutchinson, William Anthony Maynard, Melvin Muhammad, Carlos Roche and Al Hajji Sharif· asha bandele: Writer, Poet, Activist; Drug Policy Alliance · Amiri Baraka: Poet, Playwright, Activist · Dhoruba Al-Mujahid Bin-Wahad: Consultant, Institute for Development of Pan African Policy (Ghana, W. Africa) · Soffiyah Elijah: Executive Director, Correctional Association · Elizabeth Fink: Attica Brothers Legal Defense · Amy Goodman: Journalist, Author; Host and Executive Director, Democracy Now! · Joseph "Jazz" Hayden: Campaign to End the New Jim Crow · Jamal Joseph: Former Black Panther; Chair, Columbia University's School of the Arts Film Division · Dr. Cornel West: Professor, Princeton; Public Intellectual and Activist
"ATTICA IS ALL OF US"
Friday, September 9, 2011, 7:00 - 10:00 pm
Doors open at 6:30 pm
Free and open to the public
Location: The Riverside Church, 490 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10027
Enter at 91 Claremont Avenue, between 120th and 122nd Street
Subway: Take the 1 train to 116th Street, Columbia University
Please RSVP at 347.788.0275.
"Attica Is All of Us" is presented in collaboration with The Campaign to End the New Jim Crow, Drug Policy Alliance, The Culture Project, The Nation, and The Brecht Forum.
POSTED 8/29 BY CORRECTIONAL ASSOCIATION
Some important and disturbing information about NYC's lack of an emergency evacuation plan for the roughly 12,000 people housed on Rikers Island.
Article on the situation: CLICK HERE
Page with actions you can easily take: CLICK HERE
POSTED 8/29 BY MILK NOT JAILS
We have raised 70% toward our total goal on Kickstarter. Please help us make our goal by this Wednesday, August 31st!
You'll be receive fresh rewards for your pledge; Check out the $100 pledge reward - you'll get a great basket of farm fresh products (vegetables, fruit, ice cream, sauces, tinctures and more!) with a market value greater than $100 and you'll have some choice in what we send your way! Check out more details at http://kck.st/nM0QPc.
This is a critical component to that campaign that, if financed, will allow us to dramatically increase the number of farmers we mobilize as strategic allies for criminal justice reform. These strategic allies are being cultivated by us to directly support campaigns challenging the prison system in NY. The purchase of a truck and marketing materials allows us to move the campaign from an "interesting idea" to a real working model of an alternative economic relationship between and among communities impacted by incarceration.
We also know you have a your own friends and family who will most likely be interested in what we're doing, and we would really really appreciate it if you could help us reach out to them. Please consider doing at least one of the following:
1. Forward this email to your friends and family
2. Post a link to the Kickstarter page on your Facebook page. The link is http://kck.st/nM0QPc
3. Select "I'm attending" for the Facebook fundraiser reminder event (at this address). Then invite all your Facebook friends. This event will stay on all your friend's calendars until the fundraiser deadline - August 31, 2011.
4. Call 10 friends and ask them to make a pledge.
MILK NOT JAILS hasn't asked anyone for money before. In fact, we've been throwing free, public events throughout the state over the past year and a half. Please help us make it to the next stage of our organizing work by making a contribution today.
Make a pledge
Lauren Melodia, 718.783.8443, MILK NOT JAILS
POSTED 8/17: by Prison Action Network
Popular radio program Fancy Broccoli hosted Judith Brink, Dir. of Prison Action Network on Sunday August 28.
The show will be archived on the Fancy Broccoli Show website, www.fancybroccoli.org, in the near future. I had a great time talking with the show's hosts, Ernest Henry and Anthony Lucky, about Prison Action Network, past Family Empowerment Days, and the SAFE Parole Act's position within the context of a broader Reintegrative Justice framework, starting with arrest and continuing until reintegration.
WVKR-FM 91.3 FM, Fancy Broccoli Show www.fancybroccoli.org.
POSTED 8/17: by Prison Action Network
Senator Bill Perkins is concerned about reports he's received about retaliation by correctional officers against prisoners who've written grievances, appeals or Art. 448's. If you know someone who is a victim of relatiliation please write: Senator Bill Perkins,163 W.125 ST. Suite 912, NY NY 10027, and include as much documentation as possible. Or call 212-222-7315 to speak to him or Mr.Berrien.
BUILDING BRIDGES, AUGUST 15, 2011
This Building Bridges on your computer screen is the quickest way we respond to the questions and suggestions we hear most frequently. Article 4 on the legislative process is in response to many questions we've gotten, and the letter at the end is in response to people who ask the NYS Parole Reform Campaign what to say to the governor.
We have to prioritize because we just don't have the time to be up to speed on every important issue. That's why we start each Building Bridges with a long list of events, meetings, and activities presented by other members of the network who focus directly on some of those other important issues. We encourage you to contact them for more information.
We try to represent our members and therefore we need to hear your stories and understand your needs. When we visit legislators and DOCCS officials we like to be able to say, "we've gotten lots of mail on this...". So even though you may not hear back from us directly, don't doubt your importance to us. It keeps us VERY busy.
Please be well, keep the faith, share the news, and get involved!
SUMMARIES OF ARTICLES:
1. Activism: most of this issue is devoted to letting you know about all the interesting things going on this month; lots of picnics, parades, and less business meetings than usual. A great way to get comfortable with other people who share your situation and your interests.
2. Citizens Against Recidivism is gearing up for its annual Award Dinner coming up this October 29th, and the deadline for nominating someone for an award is September 1.
3. The Legislative report this month attempts to explain the legislative process in terms most of us can understand. Feel free to send us your comments and questions.
4. Mayor Bloomberg is removing one of the obstacles facing formerly-incarcerated people looking for jobs, by ordering city agencies not to ask about criminal histories until after the interview process.
5. The NYS Parole Reform Campaign is moving forward in a spirit of hope and enthusiasm. We've been having meaningful visits with legislators and commissioners. Let us know if you would like to join us in the future.
6. Parole News covers June's releases of A1VOs, discusses the composition of the parole board, and reports on a parole applicant's 11th parole hearing.
7. The last article is a letter to Governor Cuomo supporting the SAFE Parole Act which you can sign if you don't want to write your own.
ACTIVISM: ACTIONS, CLASSES, EVENTS AND MEETINGS HAPPENING AROUND THE STATE THIS MONTH
We sometimes publish things that have happened by the time you read this. While it may be too late for you to attend them, you might still be pleased to know such opportunities exist, and you might want to ask the organization to put you on their mailing list.
BUFFALO VIGIL: EVERY WED 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.
TUES. AUGUST 23, 3:00-4:00 P.M. BUREAU OF JUSTICE ASSISTANCE (BJA)
Offender Reentry in Indian Country & Native Communities: Transition from Jail to the Community
Nearly 40 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives incarcerated on any given day are in jail, whether operated by tribes or other local jurisdictions. Therefore, attending to the unique challenges and opportunities of jail-based reentry is essential to any tribal reentry strategy. This webinar will present the work of the Transition from Jail to Community (TJC) Initiative. The presenters will discuss the implications of the TJC model both for (a) tribes that operate jail facilities and for (b) tribes seeking to improve reentry for members in jails operated outside of tribal jurisdiction. Presenters will discuss resources to assist tribal leaders in both types of work.
• Jim Barbee (moderator), Correctional Program Specialist, National Institute of Corrections Jails Division
• Jesse Jannetta, Transition from Jail to Community Initiative Project Director, Urban Institute
• Kevin Warwick, President, Alternative Solutions Associates
• Janeen Buck-Willison, Transition from Jail to Community Initiative Evaluation Director, Urban Institute
Click here to register and then click on “Register” next to the August 23 “Transition from Jail to the Community.” Once registered, you will receive a confirmation email with information to access the webinar. If you do not receive the confirmation, please notify Jim Barbee, 202-514-0100, firstname.lastname@example.org.
THURSDAY AUGUST 25, 10AM-2PM W.N.Y. PRISONER REENTRY COALITION, INC.
Reentry Conference 2011, Making It Happen - Getting It Done
10:30 - 11:30 am JEFF CONRAD, Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO )
11:30 - 12:30 pm KENYATTA COBB, Hananiah Lutheran Church
Lunch Spkr 12:30-1pm BEVERLY NEWKIRK, It Takes A Village
1-2pm TRACY FLEMMING, Buffalo Urban League
Free and Open to the Public; Includes Free Lunch
Registration required: click here or call 716 908 5401
Location: Crucial Community Center, 230 Moselle St. Buffalo NY 14211
TUESDAY AUGUST 30, 10AM - 4PM MILK NOT JAILS
Columbia County Fair outreach
Join us at the Columbia County Fair to reach out to the public about MILK NOT JAILS and our policy agenda. We will be doing outreach from 10am - 4pm. RSVP here or call 718-783-8443, and we will give you specific details on where to join us for any part of the day!
Location: Route 66, Chatham, NY
LONG ISLAND events
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 18 8AM - ? PRISONER FAMILIES ANONYMOUS [Rain date Sunday, Sept 25]
Annual picnic at Belmont Lake State Park
Last year’s picnic was a huge success and lots of fun. Take time out from worry and stress and enjoy each other’s company. Talk, network and just have a good time for yourself. We realize that some of you will be coming from great distances, so don’t worry about bringing perishables. We will all bring more than enough for ourselves and others to put on the BBQ, last year was a testament to that! So much food and not enough stomachs. If you can do the same, great. if not, don’t worry.
Our committee will be there as early as 8 am and as late as the park will let us stay, so come any time.
Bring your family – mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, kids, grandkids – anyone you would like to see enjoy the day at our picnic. Playgrounds are stationed all around the park.
Location: Belmont Lake State Park is located at exit 38 off the Southern State Parkway in North Babylon, LI, NY. Look for the “PFA” signs.
Unfortunately, parking is $8.00 so try to carpool if you can.
For more information email or call 631 943 0441
WED. AUGUST 17, 5:30 PM MARCUS GARVEY DAY IN HARLEM
HARLEM'S DAY OF HEALING
Stop Killing Each Other!! Come in memory of those who died from gun violence.
Wear a white T Shirt, bring a candle
Location: Adam Clayton Powell State Office Bldg.
Corner of 125th st. & 7th ave.
For more info: email@example.com
SAT. AUGUST 20, 12 PM – 5 PM NEW YORK STATE PRISONER JUSTICE NETWORK
Come out and join us in New York City to build community, trust, and move forward in our work together! Come and relax, play, and socialize in a tranquil setting. This is a family friendly event. Bring something for the grill, something to drink, something to play, or just your awesome self.
Location: Riverside Park Recreation Area W. 145th St, Hudson River
Take the Bx19 bus to Riverbank State Park, walk down the stairs to Riverside park
Take the 1 train to 145th street and walk west over the bridge that crosses the highway into Riverbank State Park, take the stairs down to Riverside park.
Take the ABCD train to 145th Street and walk or take the Bx19.
Questions? Call Shoshana 718.207.4486 or firstname.lastname@example.org
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 9, 7-10PM (DOORS OPEN AT 6:30 PM) ATTICA IS ALL OF US
An evening of music, performances and conversation to mark the 40th anniversary of the Attica Rebellion and Massacre and address current prison struggles.
With: ATTICA BROTHERS; ASHA BANDELE, Drug Policy Alliance, Journalist, Poet; BABA AMIRI BARAKA, African-American Poet Laureate, Pan-African Elder Statesman, & Community Activist; DHORUBA AL-MUJAHID BIN-WAHAD, Consultant, Institute For Development of Pan-African Policy, Ghana, W. Africa; SOFFIYAH ELIJAH, Executive Director, Correctional Association; ELIZABETH FINK, Attica Brothers Legal Defense; AMY GOODMAN, Host, Democracy Now! ; JOSEPH “JAZZ” HAYDEN, Campaign to End the New Jim Crow; JAMAL JOSEPH, former Black Panther; Chair, Columbia University’s School of the Arts Film division; CORNEL WEST, Professor, Public Intellectual & Activist
Free and open to the public. Register here
Location: 490 Riverside Drive New York, NY 10027 (Enter at 91 Claremont Avenue)
Presented by Attica is All of Us and The Riverside Church Prison Ministry in collaboration with the The Culture Project, the Nation, Drug Policy Alliance, the Brecht Forum, and the Campaign to End the New Jim Crow
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 10, 2-5PM DAY TWO OF ATTICA IS ALL OF US
A Message from the Grassroots: Attica is Now
Special Guests: Herman & Iyaluua Ferguson, Authors of “An Unlikely Warrior
Herman Ferguson: Evolution of a Black Nationalist Revolutionary”
Speakers and Cultural Presentations include:
Africa Bambatta (Zulu Nation), Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report), Africa (International Concerned Family & Friends for Mumia Abu-Jamal), Hamm (People’s Organization for Progress), Attorney Gibbs, Edward Tait (Harlem Poet Laureate), Artist Eric III, Former Political Prisoner Laura Whitehorn, Poynter (Lynne Stewart Defense Committee), Messages from Lynne Stewart, Mumia Abu Jamal, and Assata Shakur.
Location: The Riverside Church Assembly Hall
Claremont Ave.(120th & 121st Streets)
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 1-3 PM NEW YORK REENTRY ROUNDTABLE
I wish you all a safe and happy summer. We do not convene in the month of August due to the fact that many people go on vacation. I look forward to seeing you at the September Roundtable.
Gabriel Torres Rivera, J.D. Director, Reentry Initiatives Legal Department
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 24, 7:30AM - 5:30PM "THINK OUTSIDE THE CELL: A NEW DAY, A NEW WAY,"
A national symposium on issues affecting the incarcerated, the formerly incarcerated and their families that will bring together an impressive array of well-known speakers:
Rev. AL SHARPTON; Newark, NJ Mayor CORY BOOKER, named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People; CNN journalist SOLEDAD O'BRIEN; RANDALL ROBINSON, best-selling author and social justice advocate; JEREMY TRAVIS, President of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice; "CHEF JEFF" HENDERSON, formerly incarcerated motivational speaker, author and star of the Food Network; ROSSANA ROSADO, CEO of El Diario La Prensa, one of the nation's top Spanish-language newspapers; KHALIL MUHAMMAD, noted historian and new director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; ALAN ROSENTHAL, co-director, Justice Strategies, Center for Community Alternatives; TERRIE WILLIAMS, youth advocate and author of the book, Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We're Not Hurting, CBS national correspondent BYRON PITTS; and MARC LAMONT HILL, a leading hip-hop generation intellectual and host of the nationally syndicated television program, Our World with Black Enterprise.
Free and open to the public; free breakfast and lunch
Location: The Riverside Church, W. 120th St & Riverside Dr. NYC
The "Think Outside the Cell: A New Day, A New Way," symposium is made possible by a grant from the Ford Foundation to the Think Outside the Cell Foundation, which was founded by Sheila Rule. It is being presented in partnership with the Fortune Society’s David Rothenberg Center for Public Policy, the College and Community Fellowship and the Riverside Church Prison Ministry.
SUNDAY AUGUST 28, 10AM - 6PM MILK NOT JAILS
Dutchess County Fair Outreach
Join us at the Dutchess County Fair to reach out to the public about MILK NOT JAILS and our policy agenda. We will be doing outreach from 10am - 2pm and then we will try to participate in the 3pm parade that day as well. RSVP to MilkNotJails@gmail.com or 718-783-8443, and we will give you specific details on where to join us for any part of the day!
Location: 6550 Spring Brook Avenue, Rhinebeck, NY
SATURDAY AUGUST 27 THE CENTER FOR COMMUNITY ALTERNATIVES (CCA)
Second Annual Second Chances Walk/Run for Justice!
A 5K (3.1 miles) event at Onondaga Lake Park/Bay View Area. In addition to the participation of serious runners, this event is a great opportunity for those who are new to runs and those who are interested in a healthy walk, for a great cause along the beautiful shore of Onondaga Lake.
Center for Community Alternatives, 115 East Jefferson Street, Suite 300, Syracuse, NY 13202
For questions, call Ann Usborne at 315-422-5638 ext. 233.
Registration materials available at www.communityalternatives.org
or write email@example.com
MONDAY, AUGUST 29TH 10AM - 6PM MILK NOT JAILS
NY State Fair Outreach & Parade
Join us at the NY State Fair to reach out to the public about MILK NOT JAILS and our policy agenda. We will be doing outreach from 10am - 4pm and then we are officially entering the Dairy Parade at 6pm.
RSVP to MilkNotJails@gmail.com or 718-783-8443, and we will give you specific details on where to join us for any part of the day!
Location: Empire Expo Center, Route 690, Syracuse, NY
MONDAY, AUGUST 29, 6:30-8:30PM PRISONERS ARE PEOPLE TOO, INC.
We will examine COINTELPRO, what it was and what it is now, as the PATRIOT ACT and HOMELAND SECURITY. Following the screening of the film “COINTELPRO 101,” from Freedom Archives, the history will be shared by a panel of five speakers, including Sheila Hayes, wife of Robert “Seth” Hayes, a Black Panther Party member who has been incarcerated for more than three decades; Brooke Reynolds, an advocate for justice who supports Jalil Muntaqim, another member of the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army; and Mike Kuzma, a Buffalo attorney who has been a longtime advocate for Leonard Peltier, a political prisoner like Hayes and Muntaqim, and member of the American Indian Movement, incarcerated since 1977. Other speakers will speak briefly about COINTELPRO’s impact on Puerto Rican independence, the Earth Liberation Front, and the anti-war effort.
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 mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Location: Pratt-Willert Community Center, 422 Pratt Street, Buffalo
SUPPORT GROUP MEETINGS:
ALBANY: EVERY MONDAY 7-8:30 PM PRISON FAMILIES OF NY Support Group Meetings Alison 518-453-6659
EVERY TUESDAY AT 6 PM P-MOTIONS (Progressive Men Operating Towards Initiating Opportunities Now) Malik at 518-445-5487.
EVERY WEDNESDAY 5:30PM VOCAL PAROLEES ORGANIZING PROJECT For more info call 917 676-8041
WEDNESDAYS AUG 10 & 24 7:30PM PRISON FAMILIES ANONYMOUS meetings
The Community Presbyterian Church 1843 Deer Park Avenue
TUESDAY SEPT 6 (& 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
2. CITIZENS AGAINST RECIDIVISM, INC. SEEKS CANDIDATES FOR THE 2011 CITIZENS AWARDS
These awards, presented at the world renowned Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz Education Center, are awarded to deserving formerly incarcerated individuals who have been out of prison for at least three years (exceptional cases will be considered) and whose work contributes to the advancement of social justice issues or issues related to persons impacted by the criminal justice system. Words and phrases that would describe a successful nominee include leader, catalyst for positive change, pioneer, founder, collaborator, innovator, strategist, or initiator. (Only five awards will be presented.)
The awards ceremony will be held on October 29, 2011. Nominate your candidate before the 1st of September, 2011. Full information on the award selection guidelines and nomination applications are available at www.citizensinc.org.
3. LEGISLATIVE REPORT: EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS BUT THOUGHT YOU'D NEVER MAKE SENSE OF IT. THE MAIN THING TO KNOW: THIS TAKES TIME AND EXPERIENCE TO UNDERSTAND, BUT IF YOU FOLLOW A BILL YOU'LL CATCH ON.
New York State has a Legislature with two 'houses', the Senate and the Assembly. Each of us is represented by a State Senator and a State Assembly Member. Prison Action Network is primarily concerned with our state legislators because they are the ones responsible for making the laws that pertain to our state's prison, probation, and parole policies and control the process from arrest through reentry. The easiest way to find out who represents you, if you have a computer, is to go to www.congress.org/congressorg/officials/congress/. If you don't have a computer find a friend (or you can call PAN at 518 253 7533) who does and give them your street address and ask them to go to that website for you. After you enter your address you will see a list of your representatives. Note that the ones on the left are your United States representatives and the ones on the right are your New York State representatives. [You also have representatives at several local levels, depending on where you live, so don't confuse them with these.]
The bills you may be interested in, like the SAFE Parole Act and the FRP bill, began as proposals, which can be written by anyone, including you and me or our representatives. Once a senator or an assembly person agrees to sponsor it, it becomes a bill and gets a number. If the number begins with S it was sponsored by a Senator; if it starts with A, it was sponsored by an Assembly Member. PAN proposed the SAFE Parole Act and Sen. Duane and A.M. Aubrey sponsored it: S5374 and A7939. Senator Nozzolio sponsored (and probably wrote) the FRP Bill and A.M. Giglio then sponsored it: S3747 and A8478.
A bill has to have a sponsor in both houses in order to be passed into law. This is the first step. Once it has a sponsor and a number, it is sent to the committee in charge of its type of law. Most of our legislation starts out in the Senate's Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections Committee and the Assembly’s Correction Committee. Once in a Committee it is no longer under the control of the person or group who wrote it. It sits in the Committee until the Chair of the committee decides to submit it to the rest of the committee for a vote. It appears that if the chair likes it s/he will wait until s/he knows a majority of the committee will vote for it and if s/he doesn't like it, s/he will either never introduce it or s/he will introduce it knowing it will be voted down. If the majority of the committee approves it, it is sent to the whole house for their vote. If the majority of a committee oppose it (as happened in the Senate Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee when the S338 Merit Time Bill was brought up) the bill is dead in that house (the Senate in this case) until, or if, it is resubmitted during the next session. And without two houses it cannot pass.
To sum that up: A bill needs to have a sponsor in both the Senate and the Assembly, be approved by both committees, be approved by a majority of the whole Senate and the whole Assembly, and then be signed by the governor before it is a law. This can take weeks, months, or years.
Next month we will go into a little more detail. But by now it should be obvious how important it is for you to let your representative know how you feel about a bill. It can be difficult to get a majority, so every vote counts. Legislators pay most attention to their constituents, so talking to members of the committees unless they are also your representatives does not make as much of an impact. When the Senate and the Assembly vote on the bill, you want to be sure your senator and assembly member know the way you want them to vote. [If they don't vote in your interest, then you might not want to vote for them in the next election.] Unless a majority of the legislators agree with you, a bill you like won't get passed, or a bill you oppose will get passed. Most people do not get this involved, so when you do your representatives will pay attention.
Our Legislature is not in session now. (Session is when they all gather to vote on bills.) They won't go into session again until January 2012 unless the governor calls them back. They are meeting with their constituents now however, so it's a good time to write them, call them, and visit them. They are also raising money for their reelection campaigns, so they are even more than usually sensitive to voters' opinions.
4. MAYOR BLOOMBERG BANS THE BOX IN NYC - THE ONE ON JOB APPLICATIONS THAT ASKS IF YOU'VE EVER BEEN CONVICTED OF A FELONY .
A $127 million initiative, toward which Mayor Bloomberg contributed $30 million of his own money, will boost the prospects of underemployed black and Latino men, including those who were formerly-incarcerated. The mayor ordered city agencies not to ask about a person's criminal history until after the interview process is completed. In a New York Post article , dated 8/6/11, he was quoted as saying, "I believe that as long as you have served your time and stayed clean, and the crime you committed isn't related to the job your seeking or a threat to public safety, you deserve a second chance just like everyone else." The article also reports that the city is going to clean up rap sheets since so many of them contain errors that can be a hurdle to employment.
5. THE NYS PAROLE REFORM CAMPAIGN
We've been spending the summer months visiting with people we hope will become supporters of the SAFE Parole Act. A group of constituents and supporters met with Sen. Edward Maziarz in his district office in Lockport NY. Joining us was former head of Parole, George Alexander, representing the Saving Grace Ministry Parole (half-way house) program where he serves as an assistant director. (He sends his greeting to to all of you.) Sen. Maziarz appeared impressed by the personal stories he heard at our meeting. If you're in his district and would like to share yours, it could make a difference
We also had a productive visit with Andrea Evan, chair of the Parole Board. We went into the meeting assuring her we would keep our discussion confidential but we do want you to know we were representing your interests, which of course are in everyone's best interest, so there's no conflict there.
If you want to join the campaign’s efforts, please contact us. By phone or email if possible; by letter if not (NYS Parole Reform Campaign, 518 253 7533, parolereform@gmailcom, PO Box 6355, Albany NY 12206). We especially encourage families to get together in support of the SAFE Parole Act. One of you can represent the group in corresponding with us. We need to present a united front, so let's make sure our outreach carries the same message, and goes to the most strategic places.
6. PAROLE NEWS: JUNE A1 RELEASES, BOARD COMPOSITION, AND THE WINCHELL SAGA
JUNE 2011 PAROLE BOARD RELEASES – A1 VIOLENT FELONS – DIN #s through 1999
unofficial research from parole database
TOTAL INTERVIEWS.....# RELEASED...# DENIED...RATE OF RELEASE
JUNE INITIAL RELEASES
FACILITY.........SENTENCE........OFFENSE........# OF BOARD
Fishkill................25-Life.......Murder 2.................3rd *for deportation only
Sing Sing.............27 1/3-L....Murder 2.................2nd
PAROLE BOARD MEMBERS IN JUNE BY FACILITY: CAYUGA: Ludlow, Hagler; GROVELAND: Lemons, Thompson; MID-ORANGE: Ferguson, Thompson. Thank you to our reporters, who will receive a free subscription. We'd like to hear about more facilities.
THE COMPOSITION OF THE PAROLE BOARD NEEDS CHANGING. THERE ARE FAR TOO MANY COMMISSIONERS WHOSE EXPERIENCE HAS BEEN PROSECUTING.
The Board consists of up to 19 members. Currently (due to the economy we're told), there are 13 members, including Chair Andrea Evans. Six of those commissioners don’t have prosecutorial backgrounds, at least technically, and as far as we’ve been able to discover. They are Jared Brown, of whom we know little; Joseph Crangle, former probation officer; Gerald J. Greenan III, deputy commissioner of Liquor Authority; Christina Hernandez, former commissioner of Crime Victim’s Board; Mary Ross former staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society in Queens, and Andrea Evans who worked for the Division of Parole for many years..
But there are these 7 who are experienced law enforcers: Lisa Beth Elovich, lawyer in the Attorney General’s Office and in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office; James Ferguson, former Bx ADA; Michael A. Hagler: more than 30 years in law enforcement; Henry Lemons, Deputy Chief Investigator for the New York State Attorney General; Walter Smith, senior investigator for the state's Crime Victims Board, Sally A. Thompson, 20 years with the NYC Police Department. All we know about G. Kevin Ludlow is that he’s a lawyer.
With the exception of Mary Ross, who also was executive director of Providence House, a nonprofit corporation that provides transitional and permanent housing for female ex-offenders, homeless women and their children; and the campus minister at Queens College, most of the Board members were not trained or experienced in evaluating a person’s character, transformation, or mental status. Beyond looking for broader ethnic and class diversity in his choice of candidates, we strongly encourage Governor Cuomo to add to the qualifications for the job, experience in the field of sociology, psychology, counseling, or ministry. This Board is weighed down with people who are experienced in creating a case for conviction, not at all the same thing as evaluating a person’s rehabilitation or transformation.
MOST OF YOU PROBABLY HAVE HEARD THAT CRAIG WINCHELL HAS BEEN RELEASED TO PAROLE SUPERVISION AFTER 10 DENIALS.
It’s been quite a sensational journey for Mr. Winchell, who has been incarcerated for 29 years even though the judge set his sentence to a minimum of 18 years. Since his crime, Craig turned his life around, married, has two children, now 18 1nd 17, and has worked outside (special outside clearance) for the past 3 years. In the last 6 years he had one split decision resulting in a rehearing the next time the Board met, got hit for 2 years at that hearing, appealed and got a de novo (a new) hearing. On the panel of the de novo hearing was the commissioner who voted to release him in the first split decision. This time the commissioner voted not to release him and he got hit with 2 more years. Mr. Winchell appealed again, and that’s when Judge Frank J. La Buda not only ordered another de novo and stipulated that an entirely new Board had to review the case but also added that if the case came before him again, he’d consider other options. This time Craig Winchell was released. "I think it just all came together. It was the right thing for the board to do," said attorney David Lenefsky, who has represented Mr. Winchell pro bono for the last seven years.
7. WE'VE BEEN ASKED FOR A LETTER TO SIGN ASKING THE GOVERNOR TO SUPPORT THE SAFE PAROLE ACT. THE FOLLOWING LETTER IS IN RESPONSE. FOR A BETTER FORMATTED LETTER, PLEASE SEND YOUR REQUEST TO ParoleReform@gmail.com.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
Albany NY 12224
Re: The SAFE Parole Act - S5374 /A7939
Dear Governor Cuomo:
I appreciate your attempts to make the parole process fairer with the provisions you included in the 2011 budget bill. But I don’t think you went far enough. Each parole applicant should be evaluated for current dangerousness, and those who present evidence that they are ready to rejoin society should be released and those who are determined to be not ready need to be given the reasons and told what to do in order to be released. Almost every incarcerated person will be released someday. The nature of the crime will be the same then as it is now and was at the completion of the minimum sentence. Why waste money, approximately $40,000 a year, and cause suffering for the family, by keeping a person in prison when they're rehabilitated? The SAFE Parole Act makes safe and fair evaluations more likely.
The current practice of parole commissioners is to deny release to A1 violent offenders who have the lowest recidivism rates and to release those with less serious crimes who may still be a threat to society. The SAFE Parole Act changes that by giving the Parole Board tested criteria for making their decisions and requiring them to provide a list of steps the parole applicant can take to gain release in the future. Every body wins! Society can feel safer, families can have happy reunions, and New York State can save money
Please consider the SAFE Parole Act for a program bill or for inclusion in next year's budget.
I look forward to hearing your intentions in this regard.
City and ZIP___________________________________________________
Please return to NYS Parole Reform Campaign, PO Box 6355, Albany NY 12206
Building Bridges is the newsletter of the Prison Action Network. Please send a note if you'd like to become a member.