PEACE ON EARTH, GOOD WILL TO ALL!
Although it’s a holiday season for many of us, I always hesitate to wish readers a Merry or Happy Holiday because I don’t know how merry or happy you can be, either in prison, or at home missing your incarcerated loved one. So instead I send wishes that you will experience something wonderful whenever and wherever you are. Sometimes joy comes in a very small package at a very unexpected moment, so I hope you will keep your heart open and ready. Joy to the world!
Please be well, keep the faith, share the news, and for everyone’s sake, get involved!
1. Attica - The Correctional Association (CA) of New York visited Attica C. F. on April 12 and 13, 2011 and reports that Attica has changed significantly since 1971, although some severe problems do persist. So severe that Director Soffiyah Elijah concludes that it is broken beyond repair, and Governor Cuomo should shutter its doors forever.
2. Dorothy Day Apartment building on Riverside Dr. in West Harlem once was home to drug dealers but is now not only beautiful, but it also pulses with pride and hope and happiness.
3. The Guardian Newspaper is interested in hearing from U.S. inmates, their families, prison guards or anyone whose life has been impacted by incarceration.
4. Hour Children, a Queens nonprofit group, is creating affordable housing in Long Island City for formerly incarcerated women trying to rebuild their lives.
5. Job Op: Trinity Alliance of the Capital Region is seeking a program director for their SNUG program.
6. Legislation: 65%, Merit Time Bill, SAFE Parole Act, Domestic Violence Survivor Justice Act
7. NYS Parole Reform Campaign will present a workshop at the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus Weekend in February. We continue to work on clarifying the changes to the current parole statute. Part 3 of Setting the Record Straight deals with Parole’s 3 R’s.
8. Column #2 of the New York State Prisoner Justice Network discusses their involvement with Occupy Wall Street and asks for your involvement in that work.
9. Parole News: TAP and COMPAS per Chairwoman Evans; October parole release decisions.
10. Prisoner of the Census: An Albany judge has upheld a state law that counts inmates, for legislative reapportionment purposes, in their home community rather than the district in which they are incarcerated.
11. Prison Legal Services is looking for lawyers to do pro-bono work and offers incentives.
12. Radio messages from home to those inside. CALLS FROM HOME is a gripping radio broadcast that brings the voices of prisoner families, former prisoners, poets, musicians, and everyday citizens to the airwaves. The broadcast consists of holiday greetings from family members to their loved ones behind bars and the over 2.4 million people incarcerated in the United States.
13. Taking Care of Business means communities building an inclusive environment for people returning home from prison, by Karima Amin, CEO of Prisoners Are People Too, Inc.
14. Opportunities for getting involved in the struggle for justice: Actions, Events and Meetings.
[For copies of articles referred to in this issue, please send an email to PAN with a request stating # and title of article and date.]
1. ATTICA: CORRECTIONAL ASSOCIATION CONDUCTED AN INSPECTION OF THE PRISON AND POSTED THEIR FINDINGS, RECOMMENDATIONS, AND CONCLUSION ON THEIR WEBSITE.
The Correctional Association (CA) of New York visited Attica Correctional Facility on April 12 and 13, 2011. They obtained surveys about general prison conditions from 269 inmates in general confinement, in addition to 63 program- or location-specific surveys from inmates in special programs and housing units.
Attica Correctional Facility: 2011 – The September 1971 Attica rebellion brought the plight of incarcerated individuals to the forefront of the nation’s consciousness. No longer would these invisible people experience invisible injustice behind brick walls and barbed wire fences. The prisoners’ demands included basic civil rights such as medical care, religious and political freedom, in addition to a living wage and opportunities for education and rehabilitation.
Prison conditions throughout New York State have come a long way in the past 40 years– inmates are afforded better medical care, opportunities for religious expression, and mandatory educational programming for those without a high school diploma or equivalent; however, we have a significant way to go – many prisons are still not safe, adequacy of medical care varies from facility to facility and most inmates are paid equal to or less per hour than in 1971. Attica has changed significantly since 1971, although some severe problems do persist.
The Correctional Association of NY is an independent, non-profit organization with unique legislative authority to inspect prisons and report its findings and recommendations to the legislature, the public and the press. Through monitoring, research, public education and policy recommendations, the CA strives to make the administration of justice in New York State more fair, efficient and humane.
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS : Click here to read the Correctional Association’s findings and their followup recommendations.
In her article, “Beyond Repair”, Soffiyah Elijah, Executive Director of C. A., concludes with the following:
Unable to cast off its violent past, Attica Correctional Facility stands as a bold testament to inhumanity. It is broken beyond repair, and Governor Cuomo should shutter its doors forever. Symbolically, the closure of the facility would serve as an acknowledgment of the violence and brutality inflicted upon the prisoners of Attica at the hands of the state. Fiscally, prison closures continue to make sense for our cash-strapped state. Recognizing the inefficiency of New York’s over-reliance on incarceration, Governor Cuomo has already designated several facilities for closure. These downsizing efforts should continue, and Attica should be next on the Governor’s list.
[To read the article click here. ]
2. DOROTHY DAY APARTMENTS IN WEST HARLEM
In his September 23, 2011 NY Times Op-Ed, “It Takes a Village”, Charles Blow describes the Dorothy Day Apartments on Riverside Drive in West Harlem. [The following is a condensation. For the complete article click here]
The building is the sixth in the neighborhood run by Broadway Housing Communities, and the first to include a day care center serving both the building and the community. This former drug den is not only beautiful, but it also pulses with pride and hope and happiness. It’s just what I needed to see. Writing about children and the poor and the vulnerable these days, there aren’t very many bright spots — but this is one.
The children are bathed by natural light that floods into the basement through skylights. The floors are covered by beautiful green ceramic tile made to look like slate. The walls are painted a sunrise yellow, lined with thick wooden moldings and covered with well-framed pieces of art — some by the children, some donated. The courtyard, which had been filled with six feet of garbage, is covered with mats and used as an area where wee little legs that barely have kneecaps can be folded into funky shapes for daily yoga. Above the day care center are six floors of housing for 190 people, more than half of whom are children and all of whom were either homeless or in extreme poverty. Many of the adults are the hardest cases: those recovering from drug addiction, those with chronic diseases like H.I.V. and those with mental disabilities. In fact, most of the adults suffer from some form of disability. And on the top floor is an art gallery that opens onto a sweeping veranda, lined with flowering plants and with some of the most magnificent Hudson River views in the city.
There are no security guards. There is no commotion. There are no signs of institutional living like names above doors. There isn’t even so much as a crayon mark on any of the walls. This is an oasis of civility and tranquility and culture inhabited — and to some degree, self-policed — by people whom the world would rob of those dignities.
So why so much emphasis on beauty and art, I asked? One administrator responded resolutely: “You don’t just give a person four walls to live in. You give them something to be inspired by.” Another administrator said that the environment helped to “stabilize the parents to provide a platform for the children.” And those children, she said, can create “pathways out of poverty” for the whole family.
The Dorothy Day Apartments have been open since 2003, and they have had no arrests and no teenage pregnancies, unless you count the girl who was pregnant when she moved in. Most of the children went through the Head Start program in the basement, which now mostly serves the surrounding community. None of the children have dropped out of school. A handful have even earned scholarships to the city’s better private schools. Of the 10 children who have graduated from high school, eight have gone on to college and one has just graduated from college. (None of the adults in the building have ever been to college.)
The building runs mentoring programs and literacy programs and English as a second language programs. It maintains a computer lab and this week launched a partnership with what is essentially an international, Internet-based book club for boys in the building. (The girls’ group will begin next week.) It’s fantastic.
The cost of the building plus renovations was $17 million. So if it houses 190 people, that works out to about $89,500 a person, not including most of the children served by the day care center. According to the New York State Commission of Correction, 1,000 new jail beds will have been built between the end of 2007 and the end of 2011 in the counties of Albany, Essex, Rensselaer and Suffolk at a cost of $100,000 per bed. Furthermore, as Broadway Housing Communities points out on its Web site, “permanent supportive housing for an individual costs taxpayers $12,500 annually, compared to annual costs of $25,000 for an emergency shelter cot; $60,000 for a prison cell; and $125,000 for a psychiatric hospital bed.”
3. THE GUARDIAN NEWS (www.guardiannews.com) IS STARTING A NEW SERIES ON AMERICAN PRISONS AND THE IMPACT OF INCARCERATION ON INDIVIDUALS AND COMMUNITIES. THEY INVITE YOUR STORY:
We are interested in hearing from inmates, their families, prison guards or anyone whose life has been impacted negatively or otherwise by the system of incarceration. If you would like to contribute to the series, please write to: Sadhbh Walshe, The Guardian, PO Box 1466, New York, NY 10150. Or send an email.
4. HOUSING FOR FORMERLY INCARCERATED WOMEN BEING BUILT IN QUEENS BY HOUR CHILDREN
According to the NY Daily News, Tuesday, November 08, 2011 in an article by Sam Levin, the nonprofit group, Hour Children, is creating affordable housing in Long Island City for formerly incarcerated women trying to rebuild their lives.
For women leaving prison, one of the greatest challenges is finding a stable place to live. The organization is breaking ground next week on an 18-unit apartment building, on the heels of opening 14 units in Corona in September.
“These women need a place they can call home that is safe and supportive,” said Sister Tesa Fitzgerald, executive director and founder. “You have to build all those building blocks before you can launch a new life.”
5. JOB OPPORTUNITY: TRINITY ALLIANCE OF THE CAPITAL REGION WILL BE RESTARTING SNUG IN THE NEW YEAR. IN ANTICIPATION, THEY ARE SEEKING A PROGRAM DIRECTOR
Qualified candidates are those who:
have street and criminal justice experiences similar to the individuals SNUG targets
possess strong administrative, communication, management and computer skills
are able to lead and supervise a diverse workforce, and work within a team and an established agency setting
are able to work flexible, non-traditional hours
are willing to regularly undergo random substance abuse screenings
are able to demonstrate credibility and investment in working with a wide range of parties including but not limited to neighbors, family members and friends of victims and shooters, hospital emergency room personnel, the faith community and school and community public safety officials.
Cover letters and resumes may be emailed to: email@example.com
Currently, Correction Law §803 grants 1/3 off indeterminate sentences and 1/7 off determinate sentences for good behavior. 2/3 is 66% so maybe this is what the readers who ask about “the 65% reduction” mean, only 66% is what’s served, not what’s taken off. Under §803, not every crime is eligible, especially not violent offenses. The Merit Time Bill S 338 didn’t change the amount of the time cut but it did include more categories of offenses (specifically violent crimes). It did not pass. It was vetoed in the Senate Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections committee.
A7939/S5374, The SAFE Parole Act, which I hope by now everyone understands remains sitting in committee, and has not become law. Until it passes, a person can still be denied parole based on the nature of their offense. See more about that in Articles 6 and 7, and at www.parolereform.org.
Another bill we support is the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act, Bill A.7874/S.5436, which would allow alternative sentencing for some crimes committed as a result of domestic violence, and the possibility of re-sentencing for those already in prison. The Women In Prison Project provides a website just for that bill: www.dvsurvivorsjusticeact.org.
7. NYS PAROLE REFORM CAMPAIGN
NYS PRC will be hosting a workshop at the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus Weekend. Senator Perkins was instrumental in getting us on the agenda. Although the time has not been set, the date will probably be Saturday Feb 18, 2012. Our workshop is titled: CRIMINAL JUSTICE SERIES, Parole Release Decisions in the Era of Reintegration. It will “provide perspectives and concrete strategies for creating a parole model that advances public safety and promotes successful and productive reentry and reintegration into society, particularly those communities of color who are severely impacted by mass incarceration.” We will have a panel of 5-6 participants and a moderator. The panel will answer questions posed by the moderator and from the audience. Stay tuned for more.
DECEMBER 19, JUDITH BRINK WILL BE PRESENTING THE SAFE PAROLE ACT TO PRISON FAMILIES OF NY IN ALBANY. See details in Article 14, under Albany Meetings.
ANOTHER ORGANIZATION SIGNS IN SUPPORT: The Staten Island Executive Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends brings to 63 the number of organizations who support the SAFE Parole Act. We feel very humbled by such an outpouring of support for something that was just a dream in the hearts of the families who attended Family Empowerment Day 4 in 2009. We’ve come a long way, and there’s much farther to go, but we will not give up until our men and women in prison are judged by who they have become and not for what they did in the past.
CORRECTING SOME MISUNDERSTANDINGS ABOUT THE 2011 CHANGES TO PAROLE BOARD POLICIES:
In 2011, the governor revised parole board policies when he merged DOCS and the Division of Parole. He left the Board as an independent body. In doing so he revised the parole statute to direct the Parole Board to:
1. consider the person’s readiness for reentry and reintegration.
2. establish procedures for including risk and needs principles in their decision making process.
The other 8 factors that the parole board must consider are the same as always, except they are now all in one place. They still include “the seriousness of the offense”.
In 2011 the Safe And Fair Evaluations (SAFE) Parole Act was introduced to the legislature as Senate Bill 5374 and Assembly Bill 7939. It is not a law. To become a law it will have to pass in both houses of the legislature and be signed by the governor.
[That’s a lot of people to convince to support something. It should be easy though, since it makes a whole lot of moral and financial sense. So don’t give up! Every person who joins this effort increases our chance of success. Talk to your legislators. Tell them you want this bill passed, and why. Call us if you need more information: 518 253 7533.]
Until the SAFE Parole Act passes there is nothing preventing the Parole Board from denying parole based on the nature of the crime.
SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT, PART 3 IN THE SERIES: RELEASE, REENTRY, REINTEGRATION: HOW THE SAFE PAROLE ACT IS NECESSARY FOR ALL THREE.
The Importance of the Safe and Fair Evaluations (S.A.F.E.) Parole Act in Making Decisions about Release, Reentry, and Reintegration
Penal Law 1.05 states that in addition to punishment (retribution), deterrence, incapacitation and rehabilitation there is a fifth goal: “the promotion of their [incarcerated people’s] successful and productive reentry and reintegration into society.” [emphasis added]
The purpose of this article is to define reintegration, and to show how necessary the SAFE Parole Act is in achieving it.
Reentry and reintegration are commonly thought of as meaning the same thing, but they are, in actuality, very different:
Reentry is the process of returning to one’s community and finding a way to get basic needs met - such as housing, food, employment - without resorting to criminal activities. Preparation for reentry starts in prison, with programs that prepare the person for life on the outside. In recent years outside agencies have gotten funding to meet reentry needs and continue to help a person remain at liberty without reverting to a life of crime. Parole needs to to create linkages for their clients with community agencies that can meet their subsistence needs, such as food, clothing, employment, medical care, and public assistance. Most community organizations offer case management to get a person back on their feet. Most don’t go any further.
Reintegration is established when the formerly incarcerated person has developed social ties that help him or her continue to live at liberty without breaking the law. This person needs to be connected with a new environment which encourages and rewards legitimate behaviors and attitudes. The shorter the period of incarceration, the easier this task will be.
Part of this new involvement is with groups such as neighborhood associations, faith groups, men’s groups, women’s groups; groups where he or she is accepted as a contributing member to the positive goals of the group. Reintegration is the last stage in our criminal justice system, and therefore it must be the goal of all the stages that precede it, from arrest forward. It’s the capacity to live at liberty without disobeying the law. The community must get involved in nurturing legitimate lifestyles in the lives of the men and women returning from prison.
In NYS’s criminal justice system the judicial system sets the punishment, which may include a period of incarceration. Prisons are responsible for providing deterrence and the tools for rehabilitation. The Parole Board’s job is to assess a person’s readiness to leave the incarceration stage behind and begin the process of reintegration.
This is where the SAFE Parole Act becomes necessary. Even with the recent revisions to the law, which mandate the use of a Transitional Accountability Plan and a Risk and Needs Assessment, the criminal justice system has not moved significantly closer to the fifth goal of reintegration. As long as the Parole Board can continue to base release decisions on the crime, which a person can never change, people who are truly ready to begin the process of reintegration will continue to be denied. The Safe and Fair Evaluations (S.A.F.E.) Parole Act doesn’t leave it up to the Parole Board to voluntarily create procedures that would lead to fairer parole hearings, it includes them right in the bill.
Unlike the recently implemented changes, the SAFE Parole Act is based on an understanding that what a person does, what his or her attitudes and behaviors have become over the course of many years, are the most important indicators of readiness for reintegration, and thus for release from prison.
Most importantly, if the parole applicant’s attitude and/or behavior does not meet their standards, the Parole Board must spell out what he or she must do in order to be considered ready for release to parole supervision. Once those requirements have been met, the person must be released.
No one can ever know for sure that another person will commit a crime. But there are good indicators in the SAFE PAROLE ACT, and the Parole Board can do no better than to base their decision on them.
TAP and R&NA will continue to be used by Parole’s Community Supervision once the person is back in society, and will extend until the person has reached the final goal of reintegration.
by Larry White
8. THE NEW YORK PRISONER JUSTICE NETWORK COLUMN
Dear Building Bridges Reader,
The New York State Prisoner Justice Network is honored to continue with our regular column for Building Bridges. This is column #2. Last month, we gave an overview of The NYS Prisoner Justice Network. This month we will discuss our involvement with Occupy Wall Street and ask for your involvement in that work.
Occupy Wall Street is an international protest movement inspired by recent uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, Greece, and Spain. In September, several hundred people gathered in Zuccotti Park in downtown Manhattan. What started as a relatively small number of activists quickly expanded into a global movement with over 950 occupations in over 85 countries.
The Occupy Movement protests the huge gap in wealth between the 1% who control the world’s resources and the 99% who don’t. The Occupy Movement was started by mostly white middle-class students and quickly gained support from community organizations, labor unions, and Occupy The Hood, a project that links the Occupy Movement with existing organizing projects led mostly by poor people and people of color.
The Occupy Movement has also sparked important debates about issues of liberation and justice: militarism, migration, racism and colonialism, sexism and gender, and how these issues intersect with the economic system. Many long term community activists are pushing the Occupy Movement to understand how poor people and people of color have been effectively organizing around these issues for generations and are the natural leaders of any movement for social change.
The Occupy Movement has provided an important opportunity for the prison justice community in New York. Members of the New York State Prisoner Justice Network are holding weekly teach-ins on the prison industrial complex, the system that cages nearly 2.4 million people in the United States.
We are trying to help people understand how prisons and policing are connected to every other issue about social transformation, including jobs, schools, healthcare, housing and racial justice. We are also in the process of becoming a Formerly Incarcerated People’s Caucus at Occupy Wall Street, which would help bring the voices of those most impacted by prison into the regular debates of the Occupy Movement.
Though our group includes formerly incarcerated people, family members of those currently incarcerated, and activists who work on prison and policing issues on the outside, we believe that the experience and expertise of people who currently survive behind prison walls must be heard and understood in order to transform this system and our broader society.
We would be grateful for your involvement in our work at Occupy Wall Street. You can participate by answering the following questions:
What is the prison industrial complex? (In your own view - how you understand the system, how it impacts you and others).
What should justice look like instead of prisons?
We will include your responses in the content and analysis of future teach-ins. Please send responses to NYSPJN, 33 Central Avenue, Albany NY 12210 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
9. PAROLE NEWS
TRANSITIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY PLANS (TAP) and RISK AND NEEDS ASSESSMENTS (COMPAS)
From the testimony of Andrea Evans, Chairwoman of the Board of Parole, before the Assembly Committee on Correction, Nov 10, 2011, we gained some further insight into how TAP and Risk and Needs Assessments will be used in parole decisions. The following information is from her written testimony to the Committee.
The Board has been working closely with the DOCCS in developing the TAP instrument. It will be the instrument that measures the rehabilitation of persons appearing before the Board, as well as their likelihood of success in the community when released. Each member of the Board has received training in the use of both the TAP instrument and a risk and needs instrument known as the COMPAS instrument. Currently the use of these instruments is being piloted in 3 correctional facilities for the purpose of establishing appropriate conditions of supervision. When the pilot phase is concluded, the Board will use them to assess the appropriateness of an inmate’s release to community supervision. Because the TAP instrument reflects an inmate’s overall effort toward his or her rehabilitation while incarcerated and draws upon information closely associated with their risk of re-offending, and their needs in order to become successful, the Board’s written procedures will call for the use and careful consideration of these documents.
As an interim measure, I have instructed the Board to use the TAP instrument where and when it has been prepared for a parole eligible inmate. I have emphasized that when the Board considers an inmate for parole, they must ascertain what steps he or he has taken toward their rehabilitation and the likelihood of their success once released to community supervision.
The one function that has been transferred from the Board to DOCCS is the granting of certificates of relief and certificates of good conduct. Last year the Board granted 1,695 such certificates. DOCCS has granted 1,581 since April 2011.
OCTOBER 2011 PAROLE BOARD RELEASES - A1 VIOLENT FELONIES - DIN’s through 1999
unofficial research from parole database
Total Interviews............... # Released....... # Denied.. Rate of release
18 Initials....................... 3...................... 15............ 17%
69 Reappearances........... 19.................... 50............ 28%
87 Total.......................... 22.................... 65............ 25%
OCTOBER INITIAL RELEASES
FACILITY.......... SENTENCE.....OFFENSE..... # of BOARD
Bare Hill........... 22-Life............ Murder 2......... 1st *
Fishkill............. 19-Life............ Murder 2......... 1st
Fishkill............. 20-Life............ Murder 2......... 1st
* for deportation
OCTOBER REAPPEARANCE RELEASES
FACILITY..........SENTENCE......OFFENSE..... # OF BOARD
Altona.............. 25-Life......Murder pre-74....... 8th
Attica...............4.5-Life......Murder 2............... 5th
Auburn............ 25-Life.......Murder 2................2nd
Auburn............ 25-Life.......Murder 2............... 2nd
Clinton............ 15-Life.......Murder 2............... 12th
Collins............. 15-Life.......Murder 2............... 11th
Franklin........... 16-Life.......Murder 2............... 3rd
Green Haven.... 28-Life.......Murder 2............... 2nd
Groveland ........20-Life.......Murder 2............... 5th
Mt. McGregor... 23-Life.......Murder 2............... 5th
Orleans............ 20-Life.......Murder 2................6th
Otisville........... 15-Life.......Murder 2............... 3rd
Otisville........... 15-Life.......Murder 2............... 4th
Otisville........... 25-Life.......Murder 2................2nd
Sullivan............ 15-Life.......Murder 2............... 3rd
Taconic............ 15-Life.......Murder 2............... 2nd
Upstate............15-Life......Murder 2............... 6th
Washington......15-Life......Murder 2............... 3rd
Woodbourne.... 20-Life......Murder 2 ................2nd
10. PRISONERS OF THE CENSUS
ALBANY JUDGE UPHOLDS LAW ON COUNTING PRISONERS
Early this month Supreme Court Justice Eugene P. Devine ruled to uphold the state law known as Part XX which requires that incarcerated people be counted in their home communities. not in the districts where they are imprisoned. An appeal may be made, but for 2012 redistricting purposes the law will be followed This will give all registered voters in NYS an equally weighted vote. The next step, hopefully, will be to give incarcerated citizens the right to vote.
Justice Devine said that even if the law "is the product of a power play by Democratic lawmakers to usurp the strength of the Republican Party," the law survives constitutional scrutiny. "Though inmates may be physically found in the locations of their respective correctional facilities at the time the census is conducted, there is nothing in the record to indicate that such inmates have any actual permanency in these locations or have intent to remain," he said. Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, whose office defended the law that he championed as a state senator, called the ruling a "victory for fundamental fairness and equal representation." Read all about it
11. PRISONERS' LEGAL SERVICES IS LOOKING FOR LAWYERS WILLING TO DONATE THEIR TIME TO REPRESENT PRISONERS ALLEGING A VIOLATION OF THEIR RIGHTS
Education about a new area of law, litigation experience and CLE credits.
Support from PLS, including use of office space and access to office supplies and equipment.
Through partnerships with several NY law schools, volunteer attorneys will have the option of utilizing law students for case-related research and writing tasks.
PLS provides professional liability insurance for all volunteer/pro bono attorneys.
Interested lawyers may contact Samantha Howell at email@example.com or PLS, 41 State St., Suite M112, Albany NY 12207
12. CALLS FROM HOME is a gripping radio broadcast that brings the voices of prisoner families, former prisoners, poets, musicians, and everyday citizens to the airwaves. The broadcast consists of holiday greetings from family members to their loved ones behind bars and the over 2.4 million people incarcerated in the United States.
The show is now available for you to listen and to share with your friends.
Spread the joy this holiday season and bring powerful, moving voices to the airwaves
Get involved with a national campaign to address the cost of prison phone calls and find out about special tools you cn use with Calls from Home.
Working together we created an amazing radio program. Thanks for your support.
13. TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS IS TAKING CARE OF EACH ANOTHER
It is a fact that each of us is multi-dimensional. I am a mother, teacher, woman, friend, taxpayer, golden ager, and storyteller and the list goes on. Why do we have so much trouble realizing that this is true of everyone, including our incarcerated population and our formerly incarcerated neighbors? These groups are also multi-dimensional and yet we have a tendency to paint them all with the same brush and to label them in ways that fail to acknowledge their growth and development as fully human. We see them as “criminals” and “ex-cons” and nothing more. We don’t view them as parents, senior citizens, veterans, or simply as sisters and brothers and children who got caught in their wrongdoing. Some of them are living with long-standing and long-ignored mental health issues or issues of substance abuse. It seems easier to look the other way and to ignore the poverty and racism and other crime generative factors that may have led to incarceration. One important part of “taking care of business” is taking care of each other. Sadly, too many of us have failed to honor this charge.
When formerly incarcerated people come home, they are frequently faced with people in the community who shun them, broken promises of reentry help that never materialize, and false steps to reintegration that may thwart their desire to become community assets. In this community, there are a few people whose criminal histories are public knowledge. They are mentors, ministers, paralegals, authors, activists, business owners and more. They are hard workers who are laying some of the bricks that we need to create strong, vibrant, and progressive neighborhoods. They are our sisters and brothers. Working with them in the business of building community is everyone’s responsibility.
By Karima Amin, Dir. Prisoners Are People Too, Inc.
14. OPPORTUNITIES FOR GETTING INVOLVED IN THE STRUGGLE FOR JUSTICE; ACTIONS, EVENTS, MEETINGS.
ACTIONS: Many communities in our state have OCCUPY movements; they need people there talking about criminal justice issues. Everyone has a voice at their General Assemblies and in fact women and minorities are often given preference in speaking order. There are 12 Occupy cities in NYS identified on Wikipedia: Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Fredonia, Ithaca, Kingston, New Paltz, Poughkeepsie, Rochester, Saranac Lake, Syracuse, and Utica.
December 21, 6-9PM Occupy Harlem General Assembly (speaking of Occupies...)
Guest Speaker Glen Ford, Executive Editor, Black Agenda Report
More info: firstname.lastname@example.org
Location: St. Philip’s Church, 204 W. 134th St, off Adam Clayton Powell Blvd.
#2 or 3 train, 135th St stop.
MONDAY DECEMBER 19, 7:00 - 8:30PM PRISON FAMILIES OF NEW YORK
Guest Speaker: Judith Brink, Prison Action Network, speaking on Parole Reform
Free and open to the public. Holiday refreshments
All other Mondays of the month meetings are in the form of support groups. If you have an incarcerated loved one you are welcome. Same place, same time.
Location: 373 Central Av, Albany near McDonalds
MONDAY JANUARY 30, 2012 PRISONERS ARE PEOPLE TOO!
We’ve never held a monthly meeting in December and this December is no different. Our volunteers need a break to rejuvenate, meditate, and celebrate. Monthly meetings will resume next year. Until then, we wish you "BEST BLESSINGS FOR THIS HOLIDAY SEASON AND BEYOND!"
"God has not called us to see through each other, but to see each other through." (Anonymous)
OCCASIONAL SATURDAYS 1-4 PM FAMILIES BEHIND THE WALL MEETINGS
Sponsored by Senator Bill Perkins, held in his office. Open to all who have a family member or friend in prison and would like to see some changes. Please contact special assistant Tahj Berrien for date of next meeting or for more information at 212-222-7315; email@example.com
Location: Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Bldg., 163 W. 125th St., Suite 912, NYC 10027
Building Bridges is published by Prison Action Network as a way of communicating with our members.
If you would like to join, please call us at 518 253 7533 or send an email.