Building Bridges

The monthly newsletter of the Prison Action Network

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

MARCH 2013







During the month we post late breaking news and announcements on this site, so please check back now and then. Scroll down to immediately read the March edition.

To enlarge the text size, try clicking your cursor anywhere in the text, and then press the command key with the + key.

NOTE:  Only 3 more days until Building Bridges' April/May Edition will be posted!  


THE FOLLOWING ANNOUNCEMENTS ARE POSTED IN ORDER OF THE EVENT'S DATE:




TUESDAY APRIL 23  7PM 
Inside-Out: Poems and Music from Prison 

Judith would love to see you in Saratoga Springs, NY for this event.

This third annual fundraiser for the Mt. McGregor Organ and Arts Fund is Co-Hosted by poet Cara Benson and volunteer Gordon Boyd.

The evening will feature readings from Mt. McGregor prison's former students Derek Anderson and Seán Dalpiaz, video footage of current participants from inside the prison, and a panel discussion with the poets and Judith Brink of Prison Action Network. 

All proceeds to benefit the weekly poetry class and other arts programming. Expect to be inspired! 

Tuesday, April 23rd at 7 pm
Caffe Lena, 
43 Phila Street,  Saratoga Springs, NY
518-583-0022
Suggested donation: $25
Nobody will be turned away.



FRIDAY APRIL 26 5:30 to 7:30 PM
Betty Tyson to Appear at Cornell

Betty Tyson will be in Ithaca to visit Southside Community Center and GIAC before giving a talk at Cornell about her experience with prison and the police.  

Ms. Tyson is the subject of the film "25 Years 2 Freedom" about a woman who served 25 years for a murder she didn't commit. Tyson served more time in prison than any other woman in the history of NY and was the first woman to be released as a result of DNA evidence.

Speaking about her arrest and her confession, which was the only evidence that led to her  conviction, Tyson says, " I was forced to sign that police statement that I knew nothing about. I was handcuffed to two arms of a chair and beaten by the police. They kicked me, punched me and yanked my hair. Every time they would stop beating me, they would say, 'sign it you black bitch'. At first I refused to sign the statement, but the longer I refused, the worse the beatings got. Finally, after 12 hours of beatings, I signed a confession typed up by the officer in charge, William Mahoney".

Ms. Tyson will talk about her arrest, trial and conviction and about her life and activities since her release.  She will speak at Cornell’s Anabel Taylor Hall Chapel from 5:30 to 7:30 PM. on April 26.  The event is free and open to the public and is sponsored by Second Chance Ithaca and the Alternatives Library.




Friday, May 3 8:30am - 4pm

All are welcomed, if you haven't registered you can still attend.

HEALING COMMUNITIES SYMPOSIUM NY
On Faith Communities and Re-Entry
The third annual tribute to the Rev. Dr. Lonnie McLeod, Jr.

The Riverside Church of NY, 490 Riverside Drive (entrance on Claremont St.) NY NY
To register online, go to: http://hcreentrysymposium.eventbrite.com
For additional information, contact: hc.reentrysymposium@gmail.com




Building Bridges March 2012


Dear Reader,

We dedicate this edition of Building Bridges to the memory of Jerry Balone, who died on March 13. 

Starting in April, due to scheduling difficulties, Building Bridges will be mailed out sometime around the 25th of each month, at least until December.  

We hope you will read the Headlines in this issue; they summarize some especially important (to our mind) articles.  How many of you know there’s an Apology repository? see #1.  The Senate Crime Committee is at it again, introducing unbelievable mean-spirited bills. see #2.  Veterans, please spread the word about the Veteran’s Memorial Day Weekend retreat and symposium, article 11.  Looking for work?  See articles 7, 8 and 9.  Of course we think all of our articles are worth reading.  We hope you will too.

Be well, stay strong, and please, don’t give up hope, 

~The Editor 




Remembering Gerald T.Balone 

Jerry Balone died unexpectedly in his sleep Tuesday night, March 13. He was a good man and a good friend.  When he was released on his 7th Parole Board he had spent more than half his life in prison. He came home to Buffalo 6 years ago, and rented a house 2 blocks from where his crime took place.  Jerry had a dream of being someone who could accomplish more good than he had done bad. To that end he wrote and self published two books, A Former Insider's Guide to Parole, a manual for anyone trying to get out of prison, and Rising From The Ashes, in which he described his life as a cautionary tale for those at risk of following in his path.  He volunteered much of his time because few would hire him with his notorious past, and besides, he liked helping people.  Buffalo is really a small city that way.  

He accepted every speaking invitation he got, especially if the audience was children, in which case he would shock them into attention by opening with a description of his crime and what led up to it, and ending with an offer to assist them in finding help instead of trouble.  While he longed for speaking engagements that paid, he accepted his fate, and last year set up his own business as a Handy Man.  The last time I saw Jerry he was driving away in his big new black truck with plow and huge utility trailer. 

Jerry was always saying how grateful he was for every minute of every day; “I can’t complain; I’m a free man!”. In my last letter from him, he said, "It's hard to believe, but over 75,000 people have downloaded the interview I did the other day with Sam Crowley... The internet is an amazing place... I hope it will help others deal with problems they may be having. Can't be any worse than mine used to be...

I think he described his purpose in life well in the the quote he opened Rising from the Ashes with:  " Some of us will endure things so that others never have to.  Be grateful for your past, no matter how ugly it is.  Embrace it and share the truth of who you are with others.  You might just save someone ,who is not as strong as you, the pain of enduring something horrible.”  ~Krista Ziedler


HEADLINES:

1. An apology repository exists but who knows how to find it?  Do you?
2. Legislation reports for those with strong stomachs.
3. The call to end extreme isolation as a punishment is attracting more attention every day.
4. Parole news includes Dec. 2012 stats, 2012 summary pt.2, update on Thwaites, and changes in the leadership of DOCCS and the Parole Board.
5. Adolescent minds are not receiving the guidance needed, says Corey Parks of SNUG.
6. Appropriate prison programming may be a reality to Fischer, but not to some intended recipients, who explain.
7. Work for Success takes its show on the road, but where does the rubber meet the road?
8. RECONNECT offers job training to women recently released from prison.
9. Job Fair invites formerly incarcerated people to explore opportunities for a second chance.
10. Prison poetry project features former participants and a panel to demonstrate the value of art in rehabilitation
11. Veterans Memorial Day weekend retreat and symposium will combine rest and relaxation with efforts to provide better services for incarcerated veterans.
12. www.Reentry.net/ny/calendar/ for meetings and events we don't have room to publish.
13. Black history and culture film series every Thursday in Albany NY
14. Knitting supplies needed at Woodbourne C.F.

[for copies of any articles referred to, please send an email request stating month and number of the article]


1.  Apology Repository 

Apologies are powerful as well as important.   Some wait hours, days, months and even years for them to come...when they don't, feelings can poison or cripple. They are an integral part in healing, closure and possibly forgiveness.  While offenders are prohibited from corresponding with the victims of their crime, they can write an apology letter which is held until the victim asks for it. Victims are not made aware of letters that have been written.  
Offenders can refer to Directive 0500 and write Ms. Janet Koupash, Director, Office of Victim Services, DOCCS, 1220 Washington Avenue, Bldg.2, Albany, NY 12226. 
 
From C.U.R.E.-NY Winter 2013 Newsletter, submitted by Sharon Witbeck, Family & Friends of Homicide Victims & NY-CURE Board member 


2Legislation: 11 bills were considered by the Senate Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Correction on March 13th.
The Senate Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Correction, Senator Patrick Gallivan, Chair, met on Wed. March 13, to consider 11 bills. All of them were passed out of committee.  9 were sent to Finance to be approved before moving forward.  The other 2 passed and were sent to the Calendar for their “first, or first and second, report”.  When bills reach the Order of Third Reading, they become ready for a final vote.*

The Daily Calendar is the agenda for Senate sessions and contains those measures which have come through the committee process. Bills take their place in order as they are reported from committee, and at this point are referred by their Calendar Number. This process allows additional time for your reaction against or for a bill.  Each bill has to be on the Senators' desks for three days before it can be voted on.

Not to despair:  bills need to pass in both houses, so a bill that has no Assembly sponsor (no same as) even if it passes in the Senate committee might never get an Assembly sponsor and therefore not become a law.  Where a bill has a sponsor in both chambers we identify the two main sponsors (the ones who introduced it) with a slash mark between the two:  Skelos/Simotas, and the same with the bill numbers: S.1391/A.2647.  The first bill # and the first name is from the Senate. As far as we know the Assembly’s Corrections Committee has not had a meeting yet this session.  So none of them have been through that process.  There is breathing time.  Prison Action Network focuses on bills we WANT to pass, so we will not be reacting to these, although a few are alarming with their lack of compassion and understanding of real life..  

S.987/no same as Martins Requires inmates incarcerated for a class A-I felony who request a delay of their parole hearing, to submit such request to the state board of parole. Action:  Passed, Reported to Finance

S.1391/A.2647 Skelos/Simotas Makes the failure of a sex offender to appear at his or her registration determination hearing a class D felony Action: Passed: 1st and 2nd report

S.1854/A.1456 LaValle/Thiele This legislation would require any parolee, prior to release,to secure an acceptable permanent residence and not a temporary shelter including, but not limited to, a homeless shelter, motel/hotel, or trailer. Action: Passed: Reported to Finance

S.1894/no same as Nozzolio An act to amend the correction law, in relation to requiring inmates to make co-payments of seven dollars upon receipt of medical treatment. Action: Passed, Reported to Finance

S.1903/no same as Nozzolio An act to amend the correction law, in relation to charging taxes on sales of commissaries and canteens Action: Passed, Reported to Finance

S.2017/A.2649 Skelos/Simotas Expands the amount of information on registered sex offenders available to police and the public by means of the internet Action: Passed, Reported to Finance

S.2486/A.2774 LaValle/Thiele Increases the time for which reconsideration for parole shall be determined from 24 to 60 months Action: Passed, Reported to Finance

S.2612/no same as Young   Limits temporary detention, of defendants who are confined in a local correctional facility for a parole violation, to 72 hours before transfer to state custody   Action: Passed, Reported to Finance

S.3457/no same as Maziarz Authorizes Niagara County to pass local laws relating to prohibiting sex offenders in schools and day care centers Action: Passed,  1st and 2nd report

S.3676/A.4827 Savino/DenDekker Enables victims and relatives of victims to view parole hearings via closed circuit television or a secure online website Action: Passed, Reported to Finance

S.3697/A.2314 Richie/Gunther Relates to certain parole violators and how long they stay and who pays until they are transferred to a State facility to finish their sentence. Action: Passed, Reported to Finance

* Please refer to the February issue of Building Bridges, Article 1, for a more detailed explanation of how a bill becomes a law.



3.  Extreme Isolation

Public outrage over the excessive use of Extreme Isolation in our nation's prisons is growing, and the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) has mobilized a campaign to end it in our state.  

In their recently issued report,  Boxed In, the True Cost of Extreme Isolation in NY'S Prisons,  even DOCCS Commissioner Brian Fischer is on record as saying "a fair criticism that can be made is whether or not we're placing the right inmate in disciplinary segregation and are we keeping them there longer than necessary."  The extremely distressing report, beautifully written by Scarlet Kim, Taylor Pendergrass and Helen Zelon, concludes that NYS is violating the constitutional rights of its prisoners to due process and freedom from cruel and unusual punishment.  True to its nature, the NYCLU is taking action.  

In February 2013, NYCLU and dozens of other civil and human rights groups, including Prison Action Network, wrote to Juan E. Mendez, the UN special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.  The letter cited several people in NYS's special housing units (SHU's),including our friend W., who has suffered 25 years of isolation.
Many groups who signed the letter have joined the Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement (CAIC) in response to New York’s practice of using isolated confinement far too broadly, routinely, and for far too long a period of time.

A month later the NYCLU began to seek class action status for thousands of NY state prisoners held in special housing units (SHU) for 23 hours a day, often for minor infractions.  This class would be attached to a lawsuit filed in 2011 by Leroy People, who has been in isolated confinement for years.  Newsday reported on the suit in a recent issue, which you can find here.



4.  Parole News

JANUARY 2013 PAROLE BOARD RELEASES – A1 VIOLENT FELONS –
DIN #s through 2001
unofficial research from parole database

Total Interviews
# Released
# Denied
Rate of Release
19 Initials
6
17
32%
90 reappearances
23
67
26%
109 total
29
80
27%



January Initial Release      

Facility
Sentence
Offense
# of Board
Eastern
18-Life
Murder 2
Initial
Fishkill
17 ½-Life
Murder 2
Initial
Fishkill
25-Life
Murder 2
Initial
Woodbourne
25-Life
Murder 2
Initial
Woodbourne
20-Life
Murder 2
Initial
Woodbourne
22-Life
Murder 2
Initial


January Reappearances

Facility
Sentence
Offense
# of Board
Fishkill
25-Life
Murder pre-74
8th
Fishkill
15-Life
Murder 2
3rd
Fishkill
30 ½-Lfe
Murder 2
3rd
Fishkill
25-Life
Murder 2
3rd
Fishkill
15-Life
Murder 2
10th
Mt. McGregor
15-Life
Murder 2
5th
Orleans
25-Life
Murder 2
4th
Otisville
15-Life
Murder 2
3rd
Otisville
15-Life
Murder 2
2nd
Otisville
2 1/3-Lfe
Murder 2
2nd
Otisville
25-Life
Murder 2
3rd
Otisville
18-Life
Murder 2
2nd
Otisville
20-Life
Murder 2
6th
Otisville
18-Life
Murder 2
3rd
Otisville
18-Life
Murder 2
5th
Otisville
20-Life
Murder 2
3rd
Sing Sing
15-Life
Murder 2
8th
Sullivan
25-Life
Murder 2
2nd
Woodbourne
22-Life
Murder 2
2nd
Woodbourne
15-Life
Murder 2
2nd
Woodbourne
25-Life
Murder 2
6th
Woodbourne
20-Life
Murder 2
2nd
Wyoming
0-Life
Murder 2
7th
At first glance the January stats look encouraging, but upon closer examination we see that all but 4 releases (out of the 29) came out of the Sullivan hub (Woodbourne/Eastern/Otisville) or Fishkill.  If you look at the statistics for past months you will see this is not a new trend.  It doesn't seem random to us.  It appears that a person doesn't have much chance of getting out unless DOCCS puts you in Fishkill or one of the favorite facilities in the Sullivan hub.  

If you look at the parole website the only Parole Commissioners who released anyone were at Woodbourne and Eastern on January 15th;  Otisville on January 22nd and Fishkill on January 29th.   It gives the appearance that either the Parole Board knows something we don’t about the rest of the NYS prisons, or assigns the more punitive minded Parole Commissioners to them.  Since the monthly assignments are made by picking names out of a hat (per the CEO of Parole GeorgeAlexander at a Senate hearing in Jan. 2008: “We go back to the stone age for that technique. Names are drawn from a hat. First 3 to that prison, second 3 to that, and so on.”),  there would seem to be some undisclosed reputation attached to certain prisons, but we were told all prisons in the same security level were identical with each other in terms of who gets sent where.  We would like to hear what you make of this.  Why are the majority of people released from a small number of facilities, and so few from all the rest?

Building Bridges readers have written us in the past wondering why we never report on the releases from their prison.  The answer is always that there weren’t any releases from that facility.  We can’t see a logical reason for that. [If any reader knows of a release that we didn’t report, please let us know the details immediately.  Keep in mind we are only keeping track of the releases of people convicted of an A1Violent Offense, because they have the lowest recidivism rates and the lowest release rates, which makes no sense and therefore deserves special attention.]

2012 Summary Analysis, continued from February 2013 issue:

1190 people sentenced for A1 Violent Felonies were interviewed by the Parole Board in 2012.  Of those, 29 were female and 1161 were male.  313 in all were released.

Interviews and releases by Age:
We tried to bring you these numbers, but it was too late to start all over when we realized the numbers weren’t adding up.  Hopefully next month we’ll have them sorted out for you.  Our apologies.

Interviews by Race:
Of the 1190, 272 were white, 321 were Hispanic, 574 were black, 6 Asian, 7 American Indian/Alaskan and 10 were “other”.  

Releases by Race:
Of the 1190 total interviews, 
2 American Indian/Alaskans were released, both reappearances, both in mediums.  
1 Asian was released, an initial from a medium. 
4 “Others” were released.
  
159 (38%) Blacks were released. 15 out of 95 initial interviews (16%) were released.  144 out of 319 reappearances (45%) were released.  34 of the Black releases were from max’s, of which one of them was an initial.

99 (31%) Hispanics were released.  10 out of 58 initial interviews (17%) were released. 89 out of 263 reappearances (34%) were released.  31 of the Hispanic releases were from max’s, of which 3 were initials.  

48 (18%) Whites were released.  2 out of 40 initial interviews (5% ) were released.  46 out of 232 reappearances (20%) were released.  18 of the releasees were from max’s, both initials were from mediums.
  
Initial Interviews and the number of releases by Facility:
Attica: 4 seen, none released
Auburn: 4, none released
Bare Hill: 3, none released
Bayview: 1, not released; 
Bedford Hills: 1, not released 
Cayuga: 8, 1 released
Clinton: 10, 2 released
Collins: 10, none released
Coxsackie: 1, not released 
Eastern: 4, 1 released
Elmira: 4, none released
Fishkill: 38, 15 released
Five Points: 1, not released
Franklin: 12, none released
Gouverneur: 2, none released
Gowanda: 3, none released
Great Meadow: 10, 1 released
Green Haven: 10, none release
Greene: 4, none released
Groveland: 1, not released
Livingston: 5, none released 
Midstate: 5, 1 released
Mohawk: 3, 1 released
Mt. McGregor: 3, none released 
Orleans: 1, not released 
Otisville: 14, 3 released
Riverview: 1, not released 
Shawangunk: 3, none released 
Sing Sing: 4, none released 
Southport: 4, none released 
Sullivan: 3, none released 
Taconic: 1, not released
Upstate: 3, none released
Walsh: 1, not released 
Wende: 8, none released  
Woodbourne: 18, 4 released
Wyoming: 4, none released

Apparently Fishkill with a 39% initial interview release rate is the place to be.  Of the 29 initial releases, 15 or half came from Fishkill.  Of the 29 initial releases, 2 were Asian, 2 were white, 10 were Hispanic, 15 were black.  


Thwaites Decision avoided: issue moot. 

In  2011, Orange County Supreme Court Justice Lawrence Ecker ruled in the case of Douglas Thwaites that the revision of Exec. Law 259 (c) not only required the parole board to put more weight on the rehabilitation of the inmate rather than the instant offense, but he also applied the revision retroactively.  The Attorney Generals Office urged the Appellate Division, Second Department, to overturn the ruling.  Mr. Thwaites was released before the issue was decided and not for the first time a challenge to parole’s functioning was declared moot and thereby avoided.
~From C.U.R.E.-NY’S Winter 2013 Newsletter

Changes in Leadership of DOCCS and the Parole Board:

DOCCS Commissioner Brian Fischer is retiring at the end of April.  He has been in charge not only of the Dept of Correctional Services (DOCS), which was job he was hired for, but of the merger of DOCS and the Division of Parole, a move unpopular with staff of both agencies, many of whom continue to use their previous titles.  Many readers of Building Bridges have reported being confused about who is in charge of what.

Although the Board of Parole is not part of the merger, and therefore ostensibly independent, whenever testifying in public - at least when we were watching - both Mr. Fischer and Chair of the Parole Board Andrea Evans appeared together.

Ms. Evans announced the day as her last as Chair of the Parole Board at a Public Safety Hearing on February 6, but did not clarify whether she would be staying on as a Board Member.  Insiders have told us that she will continue to serve in her role as Chair until replaced by the Governor.



5.  The Adolescent Mind: How Can We Nurture It?  

Prison warehouses young men and woman age 16-24 in great numbers. You are more likely to see someone in this age group in an Attica prison cell than graduate from high school. I was once a sixteen year old who experienced this fate. It doesn't happen suddenly. This is a yesterday issue that has become today's reality. Long before leading to a funeral, prison cell, or violent lifestyle, attitudes are created in our young people that make them so widespread. This can damage the potential not only of an individual but also of the growth needed in our society. 

One key point is that homes are filled with indifference. Some blame single parenthood, domestic violence, poverty, or even substance abuse as the major threats to our thinking maturity. These issues stew in the minds of many young people and may never be addressed properly. Although there are some therapeutic services available in our community, it seems that the first priority is filling prisons.
Young minds are captivated by this process especially when they began to take pride in crime and incarceration. I recently spoke to a young man who stated…"I don't care about going to prison. I'm still young and can do twenty five years if I ever decided to shoot someone."… This type of mind frame is typical of many young people and requires a lot of help.  Statistical data of murder and incarceration alerts us of this fact. We are losing our communities to prison, gangs, and violence. 

We truly need a solution. A means that will help us prevail. Thankfully many communities are working hard to find one.

~  Corey Parks 
      The author can be contacted at SNUG, NYC MISSION SOCIETY,  
653 Lenox Avenue. New York, NY 10037       



6.  Appropriate prison programs, in response to Commissioner Fischer’s claims

DOCCS Commissioner Brian Fischer’s claim to the Assembly’s Corrections Committee hearing, [saying that DOCCS is in full compliance with the law mandating him to assure the complete study of the background and condition of each inmate, and assign the appropriate programs to assist him [sic] in refraining from future violation of the law], bears no relationship to what I experience as a prisoner under his supervision.  

Never in my 29 years of incarceration have I been interviewed or provided with programs designed to assist me in refraining from future violation of the law.  I did it on my own and despite the obstacles I encountered. The existing programs are useless.  We need General Business programs that relate to the needs of the society, such as computer skills in Microsoft Word, Excel, Access and Powerpoint. DOCCS’s Business Program is Small Engine Repairs.  How many small engines are left?  Especially in the urban areas where most of us come from?  The majority of men in the facilities where I’ve been at work as Dorm Porters, supposedly to train us for jobs, but widely perceived as the cheapest way to keep the prison clean and tidy.  Any way, how much training do you need to push a broom and mop?

With regard to Fischer’s comments on the NYS Recidivism Reduction Project and the “Work for Success” program, I assume DOCCS received the $1Million grant, but no such programs are known to us.  I work in Transitional Services assisting men who are being released to community supervision, with needs such as housing, job search, college programs, substance abuse programs, Medicaid, etc.  I checked with individuals here, who then contacted Albany, about the “Work for Success” program.  The feedback I received is that no such program exists.  [See the next article for how the money’s being spent.]

Saying  61% of new commitments lack verifiable high school education is an exaggeration.  Many have a high school diploma, but DOCCS refuses to help them verify such. Instead, DOCCS forces them into school where they are instructed by unsupervised teachers who appear unqualified for jobs in the public school system.  Much of the real teaching is done by Inmate Teacher Assistants who do a better job.  The few college programs that exist have an age limit, which is discriminatory.  The one we had here was terminated due in part to opposition from staff who live in this area.  The focus here is not on education, but on writing tickets and punishing us even further.  On a daily basis, between 75-100 inmates are in keep-lock, and the SHU is full to capacity.
What the Assembly Corrections Committee needs to do is come into the prisons and speak directly with the inmates about programs that could truly work.
~Name withheld


Considering we receive about 1/3 the classroom time a student on the outside gets, how can the commissioner claim to have our best interests in mind?  I informed the DOCCS that I had my G.E.D. since 1984, but they put me in a 4th grade class for 9 months.  I had a 12.9 reading level and a 8.7 math level.  I requested an advanced math class from my counselor, the Principal, the Program Committee and finally the Deputy of Programs.  No one ever responded. I was given an electrical class instead.  I wanted to learn algebra but the opportunity was taken away without even a discussion with me  I don’t understand the logic since my goal is to get into the Bard College program here, but now I’m anxious that I won’t be prepared.  I tried everything in my power to not slip through the cracks; I’ve never been given even so much as a tier 1 ticket, but I’m nervous that if I pursue other avenues such as the grievance program that I’ll end up with box time instead.  
~ Signed: Willing to Learn

7.  Work for Success outreach tour

Albany, NY (March 12, 2013) -
State Labor Commissioner Peter M. Rivera and Empire State Development (ESD) President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams today announced a new state-wide employer outreach tour called “Work For Success” that provides training and employment for the formerly incarcerated. The tour will begin with outreach events in New York City, Albany, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo.

Businesses who hire through the program are eligible for up to $2,400 in tax credits for each formerly incarcerated individual they hire. In addition, businesses are sent only trained, pre-qualified individuals to consider for hire.

In addition to providing tax credits and any bonding an employer may require, Work For Success saves businesses the cost of human resources services and job skills training by referring only the most qualified and appropriately trained applicants for any open jobs at no cost to business owners.

In 2012, more than 25,000 employable men and women were released from prison in New York State and almost 8,000 are already working and contributing to the economy.

“Our non-profit partners train men and women who have paid their debt to society. They are highly motivated to move on with their lives and become productive members of society,” said Department of Labor Commissioner Peter M. Rivera. “We have thousands of individuals ready to roll up their sleeves who only ask for a second chance. I encourage all employers in New York to learn more about this program and the savings it has to offer.”

Franklin Cruz of DEC Green Inc. in Bronx, NY, said: “The formerly incarcerated individuals that we’ve hired over the years are greatly responsible for our success. I gave my employee Collin a chance and I am glad I did. He is the most dedicated employee I have. All they really want is an opportunity.”

Lonnie Coplen, a Project Manager with the McKissack Construction Group, New York, NY, said: “These men and women are very special, because they are willing to move heaven and earth to change their situations.”

Jason Hargrove, IHOP District Manager for NYS in Henrietta, NY, said: “Some of my best and most loyal workers are formerly incarcerated. I will continue to hire the formerly incarcerated and urge others to do the same. Most employees stay for a good portion of time and the ones that do leave us go on to better positions with someone else.”

Anthony Fisher, who is formerly incarcerated, started his own business and is now president and CEO of Anthony’s Janitorial in Queens, NY. He is now hiring those who had also served time. “A person who was incarcerated is extraordinarily committed,” said Fisher. “If I’m running a program that can help someone else and it changes that person, I know I’ve done my job because that person is going to change another person’s life and that person is going to change another person’s life and my legacy will live on.”

Ironworker Charles Dalton of Local #46 who is also formerly incarcerated said: “It was more than someone saying you now have a second chance, it was someone saying this is your chance, take it and make of it as you will. This has meant the world to me. It's given me the chance to have a life after some terrible mistakes. It's given me a true second chance.”

The Work For Success program is being promoted through Public Service Announcements with Time Warner Cable and Cablevision and advertisements in the New York City Subway System.

For more information about Work For Success, call 1-888-469-7365 or visit their website.
From the DOCCS website


8.  Change happens when women work together! 

Apply NOW to RECONNECT!
A Leadership Training Program For Women Returning Home from Prison or Jail - Fall and Spring Cycles scheduled to start on Wednesday, April 3rd
To participate in ReConnect, you must:
• Be a woman recently returning home
• Want to be a leader and work with others
• Be able to attend classes once a week for 12 to 14 weeks
                 Stipend, metro cards and food provided
For more information, contact RECONNECT at 212-254-5700  212-473-2807 fax, or at Correctional Association of New York, 2090 Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard, Suite 200A New York, NY 10027


9.  Second Chance Job Fair
Mistakes in the Past?…Criminal Background?         Everyone Deserves a Second Chance!!! 

The York College Male Initiative Program in Conjunction with another “Unity In The Community” effort and the offices of Congressman Gregory Meeks, Senator Malcolm Smith, Assemblyman William Scarborough, NYC Councilman Leroy Comrie and Ruben Wills, NYC Comptroller John Liu, and the Queens Chapter National Action Network 
“Working Together to Build a Better Community”
Presents a
“Second Chance Job Fair”AND Empowerment Circle.   Entrepreneurship Workshops, Re-Entry Programs, Employment opportunities, Financial and Healthcare Resources and much more….
March 28, 2013@ 10:00 A.M
York College, 94-20 Guy R.Brewer Blvd, Jamaica, NY
Call Jonathan Quash(York College Male Initiative) - 718.262.3772



10.  Inside Out: Poems and Music from Prison
SAVE THE DATE:  Tuesday, Apr 23, @ 7:00 PM

Prison Poetry Project
Inside-Out: Poems and Music from Prison is the third annual fundraiser for the Mt. McGregor Organ and Arts Fund. Co-Hosted by poet Cara Benson and volunteer Gordon Boyd, the evening will feature readings from former students Derek Anderson and Seán Dalpiaz, video footage of current participants from inside the prison, and a panel discussion on arts in rehabilitation. All proceeds to benefit the weekly poetry class and other arts programming. 

Expect to be inspired!

Suggested donation for the event is $25 but no one will be turned away. 

Caffe Lena, 47 Phila Street, Saratoga Springs, NY,  518-583-0022


11.  Restoring Justice for Veterans; a Memorial Day weekend retreat, symposium and barbecue
SAVE THE DATE: MAY 23 - MAY 26.

"When Johnny Comes Marching Home...and Gets Arrested - From Honor to Dishonor and Back"
Where: Christ the King Spiritual Life Center,  575 Burton Road,  Greenwich, New York 12834
What: Retreat and Symposium focusing on Veterans in the American Justice System
When: Thursday May 23 retreat for Veterans
Friday May 24th thru Sunday May 26th Symposium and Barbecue
Veterans, incarcerated veterans (on video), formerly incarcerated veterans, criminal justice professionals, advocates, faith and general communities in the tri-state areas will share stories and suggestions for workable proposals for reform of veterans' programs in our justice system.  We especially welcome families of incarcerated veterans.  The theme for the weekend is freedom and healing through education.  Enjoy an idyllic 600 acre facility with lodging, dining and conference accommodations on site. 
There is no fee to attend the conference; scholarships have been generously provided by program sponsors for all those who wish to attend.  If you are a veteran or have a family member who was or is a veteran, or an advocate for someone who is or was a veteran, then you qualify for a scholarship for the registration (conference, meals and/or accommodations).  
Veterans and their families are invited to a healing retreat on Thursday May 23rd. To secure your registration for any part of the weekend, just download the registration form and mail it to the address indicated.  Please be aware that space is limited and will be filled quickly, no registrations will be accepted after April 30, 2013.  Click here to download the conference registration form.  

Some background:
The presence of veterans in city and county jails and state prisons became widespread in the 1970s and 80s.  Returning veterans, often homeless, infirm and disconnected received no special consideration for their years of military service as they were processed in the criminal justice and penal systems nor were they provided with lawyers who could adequately defend them with defenses based upon their combat related stress condition. 

Often, our indigent veterans were pressed into plea bargains by inexperienced court appointed attorneys, vindictive prosecutors, and indifferent judges, and were made to serve long sentences in state prisons where, once again, they received no programming, treatment or care for their service related disorder. 

These grave issues are among the topics that will be addressed and discussed at the In Our Name/Soldier’s Heart Memorial Day 2013 retreat and conference.


12.  Reentry.net/NY calendar: For information about events in your community this month, visit http://www.reentry.net/ny/calendar/week.2013-3-01  You may list your events there as well.



13.  Film series celebrating Black history and culture

Every Thursday Feb 21 - April 25 at 5:30 , 200 South Pearl Street, Albany NY
Free and open to the public who are 14 and over.  Free refreshments.

 Presented by the Center for Law and Justice, Inc., the African American Cultural Center Center, and the Albany Housing Authority    For More Info: 518 427 836



14.  Needle Wizards at Woodbourne  

Men at Woodbourne Correctional Facility are knitting blankets, hats, booties, socks, etc to people in need, like those affected by Hurricane Sandy, and people living in assisted living homes.  If you have yarn and knitting needles you can spare, please send them to: NEEDLE WIZARDS   C/O Tim Terbush,   Woodbourne C.F.,  P.O Box 1000, Woodbourne, N.Y 12788-1000



Building Bridges is Prison Action Network’s way to communicate with our members.  
Please send us a note if you'd like to join.






Click here for a compelling flyer advertising "When Prison Gets Old", a discussion of the special needs of people who are suffering from the infirmities of old age while incarcerated.  Soffiyah Elijah, Karen Murtagh-Monk and other celebrated advocates will be members of the panel.
2 pm on March 28 in Albany NY.