An Open Call to Support on May 13, 2013Formerly Incarcerated People, Their Families, Friends, Allies and ComradesWe are seeking your participation in a very unusual event – a day-long grassroots lobbying visit to the California State Capitol led by formerly incarcerated people. As formerly incarcerated people we have been told on more than one occasion: “you have the right to remain silent!” However, when the suffering becomes too unbearable and negatively impacts all aspects of our personal, professional, family and community life, we have an obligation to speak up. The need to speak up is especially acute when it appears that this suffering has been designed to outlast our jail or prison sentences.
On May 13, 2013, we invite our brothers and sisters, supporters, allies, friends and comrades to join us and support the formerly incarcerated members of our community who have been rendered silent.
On several occasions we have been asked, why this year? Why not go to Sacramento some other time? Here’s why THIS time is an opportune time. There are currently a number of bills being considered that directly relate to our capacity to thrive as human beings. The stakes are high: our right to vote, our right to work, our right not to languish in a gang-database for the rest of our lives, and our ability to seek expungement relief – all these issues are being considered. We are witnessing the greatest change in the criminal injustice system in over 50 years. If this is not the time, then when?
We are just now beginning to secure support for the buses that will be rolling out of both Northern and Southern California. We are lining up various legislators to support this effort. We are beginning to contact the various caucuses in the State House for support.
If you are formerly incarcerated – Please join us! And to all other people of good will, please come out and support formerly incarcerated people in our fight for inclusion. Come out and support us speaking in our own voice. Help us speak truth to power and regain our dignity.
Please share with allies and invite people via facebook and twitter by clicking here
Organizer, All of Us or None
Organizer, All of Us or None
SUPPORTING THE CALL:
All Of Us Or None (Statewide)
Project Rebound-Associated Students Inc (SFSU)
Center for Young Women’s Development /CYWD (San Francisco)
New Way Of Life (Los Angeles)
Fathers and Families of San Joaquin
Safe Return (Richmond)
Contra Costa County Interfaith Supporting Community Organization/CCISCO
California Coalition of Women Prisoners / CCWP
United Playaz (San Francisco)
Homies Unidos (Los Angeles)
Starting Over (Riverside)
Life Support Alliance (Sacramento)
San Francisco Bay View National
Occupy 4 Prisoners (Bay Area)
Youth Justice Coalition (Los Angeles)
Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People’s Movement /FICPM (Nat’l)
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (San Francisco)
Families to Amend Three Strikes (Sacramento)
Office of Restorative Justice of the Los Angeles Archdiocese
Justice Reform Coalition
Associated Prison Ministries
United for Change
NMT/The Ripple Effect
Insight Prison Project
Prison Watch Network
California Families Against Solitary
Prison Reform Movement
Lionheart provides social emotional literacy education to significantly alter the life course of incarcerated adults, highly at-risk youth and teen parents. Lionheart’s educational programs have been integrated into thousands of prisons, juvenile institutions, social service agencies, schools and community programs throughout the United States and abroad.
Lionheart is changing lives and building futures through its prisoner education, at risk youth counseling and the teen parent program.
Check them out- they just started blogging too!!
But They Are Profitable Chattel.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Daily, the politicians and think tanks promote improving our nation’s large city public education by turning them over to profiteering operators of charter schools. There’s a lot of money to be paid in modern plantation educational contracts.
And that’s what vast stretches of urban America have become: plantations for harvesting poor blacks and Latinos for educational corporations and for a vast prison-industrial complex whose tentacles reach out throughout the desolation of neighborhoods whose most common denominator is the lack of economic hope or opportunity. The impoverishment has been that way for decades.
Well there is one source of private funds in these vast areas of destitution: the drug industry. It is capitalism distilled to its essence, with the corner teenager who sells crack as a modern day Fuller Brush Man.
Of course, no public officials are talking even remotely about providing jobs to these financially blighted areas.
But the status quo government/corporate alliance has figured out how to exploit the residents of these areas to make a profit by creating non-union schools that often perform below the comparable public school level in similar locations.
And then – inextricably intertwined with the so-called failed public schools — there is the prison-industrial complex that makes a financial killing off of the war on drugs, a conflict so immersed in racial prejudice and legal profiteering of the law enforcement/judicial/attorney/prison system that you can call it the war for making a lot of people richer at the expense of multi-generational impoverishment of people of color trapped in place.
This is made clear in the moving and informative documentary by Eugene Jarecki, “The House I Live In.” Told through personal stories with statistics added through titling, “The House I Live In” provides insight into the devastation of institutionalizing drugs within communities in order for others to profit. (Whites who are poor and have mental health needs also get victimized by the non-violent offender penalization machine.)
Truthout writers Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese provide additional background on this topic in an April 3 article:
The poison fruit of the massive security state apparatus in the United States is mass incarceration. The United States, with 5 percent of the world’s population, has 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, meaning one out of four incarcerated people are in the “land of the free.” According to the World Prison Population list, the United States has the highest prison population rate in the world, 743 per 100,000 of the national population. The next closest is Rwanda at 595. More than half the countries and territories in the world (54 percent) have rates below 150.
Incarceration is only part of the criminal justice supervision system. When probation and parole are included, 7.3 million Americans are “in the system”; that is, 1 out of 34 Americans is either incarcerated, on probation or on parole. The rate of African-Americans under supervision (prison, probation or parole) is 1 in 11…..
Indeed, the mass incarceration system is very expensive. According to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2010, state corrections institutions spent $37.3 billion to imprison a total of 1,316,858 inmates. BJS estimates that the mean expenditures per person were $28,323. The federal government fiscal year 2013 budget for the Bureau of Prisons totals $6.9 billion. Imagine the result if those dollars were invested in communities instead.
When incarceration is looked at through a racial prism, the racially disproportionate impact is striking. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, “In 2011, blacks and Hispanics were imprisoned at higher rates than whites in all age groups for both male and female inmates. Among prisoners ages 18 to 19, black males were imprisoned at more than 9 times the rate of white males.”
Continue Reading @ BuzzFlash
- A Forest of Poisonous Trees: The US Criminal (In)Justice System (lockupreform.wordpress.com)
- Race, Women and Prison (prisonmovement.wordpress.com)
- Privatizing Hell: The Economic Motives for Incarcerating America (dissidentvoice.org)
- Visualizing the U.S. Punishment System …Graphics to Drive Home The Point (drhiphop85.com)
- Russell Simmons leading war on Prisons??? Interview & Article Below (iminahlaura.com)
Prison Nation: A Young Black Man With No Diploma Is More Likely to Be in Jail Than Find a Job
Carl Harris rejoined his wife, Charlene Hamilton, and their two daughters after 20 years in prison.
By JOHN TIERNEY
Why are so many American families trapped in poverty? Of all the explanations offered by Washington’s politicians and economists, one seems particularly obvious in the low-income neighborhoods near the Capitol: because there are so many parents like Carl Harris and Charlene Hamilton.
For most of their daughters’ childhood, Mr. Harris didn’t come close to making the minimum wage. His most lucrative job, as a crack dealer, ended at the age of 24, when he left Washington to serve two decades in prison, leaving his wife to raise their two young girls while trying to hold their long-distance marriage together.
His $1.15-per-hour prison wages didn’t even cover the bills for the phone calls and marathon bus trips to visit him. Struggling to pay rent and buy food, Ms. Hamilton ended up homeless a couple of times.
“Basically, I was locked up with him,” she said. “My mind was locked up. My life was locked up. Our daughters grew up without their father.”
The shift to tougher penal policies three decades ago was originally credited with helping people in poor neighborhoods by reducing crime. But now that America’s incarceration rate has risen to be the world’s highest, many social scientists find the social benefits to be far outweighed by the costs to those communities.
“Prison has become the new poverty trap,” said Bruce Western, a Harvard sociologist. “It has become a routine event for poor African-American men and their families, creating an enduring disadvantage at the very bottom of American society.”
Among African-Americans who have grown up during the era of mass incarceration, one in four has had a parent locked up at some point during childhood. For black men in their 20s and early 30s without a high school diploma, the incarceration rate is so high — nearly 40 percent nationwide — that they’re more likely to be behind bars than to have a job.
No one denies that some people belong in prison. Mr. Harris, now 47, and his wife, 45, agree that in his early 20s he deserved to be there. But they don’t see what good was accomplished by keeping him there for two decades, and neither do most of the researchers who have been analyzing the prison boom.
The number of Americans in state and federal prisons has quintupled since 1980, and a major reason is that prisoners serve longer terms than before. They remain inmates into middle age and old age, well beyond the peak age for crime, which is in the late teenage years — just when Mr. Harris first got into trouble.
‘I Just Lost My Cool’
After dropping out of high school, Mr. Harris ended up working at a carwash and envying the imports driven by drug dealers. One day in 1983, at the age of 18, while walking with his girlfriend on a sidewalk in Washington where drugs were being sold, he watched a high-level dealer pull up in a Mercedes-Benz and demand money from an underling.
“This dealer was draped down in jewelry and a nice outfit,” Mr. Harris recalled in an interview in the Woodridge neighborhood of northeast Washington, where he and his wife now live. “The female with him was draped down, too, gold and everything, dressed real good.
“I’m watching the way he carries himself, and I’m standing there looking like Raggedy Ann. My girl’s looking like Raggedy Ann. I said to myself, ‘That’s what I want to do.’ ”
Within two years, he was convicted of illegal gun possession, an occupational hazard of his street business selling PCP and cocaine. He went to Lorton, the local prison, in 1985, shortly after he and Ms. Hamilton had their first daughter. He kept up his drug dealing while in prison — “It was just as easy to sell inside as outside” — and returned to the streets for the heyday of the crack market in the late 1980s.
The Washington police never managed to catch him with the cocaine he was importing by the kilo from New York, but they arrested him for assaulting people at a crack den. He says he went into the apartment, in the Shaw neighborhood, to retrieve $4,000 worth of crack stolen by one of his customers, and discovered it was already being smoked by a dozen people in the room.
“I just lost my cool,” he said. “I grabbed a lamp and chair lying around there and started smacking people. Nobody was hospitalized, but I broke someone’s arm and cut another one in the leg.”
An assault like that would have landed Mr. Harris behind bars in many countries, but not for nearly so long. Prisoners serve significantly more time in the United States than in most industrialized countries. Sentences for drug-related offenses and other crimes have gotten stiffer in recent decades, and prosecutors have become more aggressive in seeking longer terms — as Mr. Harris discovered when he saw the multiple charges against him.
Continue Reading @ NY Times (page 2)
- Incarceration rate for African-Americans now six times the national average (rt.com)
- Prisons of Poverty (misbehavedwoman.wordpress.com)
- How Prisons Amplify Poverty (reason.com)
By Katti Gray
Via @ The Crime Report
Paroled from prison in August 2010, Sandra France was bent on finding a job that steered young people away from the drug addiction and drug-related crimes that had her cycling in and out of prison for 35 years.
Then she heard about Project ReNu, launched in early 2012 by the Brooklyn, NY-based Center for NuLeadership On Urban Solutions to help the formerly incarcerated figure out precisely whether their recorded criminal histories were undercutting their employment prospects and, where possible, boosting the ex-offenders’ image among potential employers.
Project ReNu’s sole counselor—one of four full-time members of NuLeadership’s staff—steered France through a process aimed at equipping ex-offenders with the details of their “records of arrests and procedures” (or RAP sheet) and correcting errors that those documents sometimes contain before a potential employer sees them.
France completed Project ReNu with what she hopes is a ticket for entry into a legitimate world of work with which she is barely familiar: a state-sanctioned “certificate of good conduct” granted to successful Project ReNu clients who, like France, have multiple felony convictions.
(A “certificate of relief” is available to persons with just one felony conviction.)
In addition to that certificate, France received a document detailing her criminal history, including the date and time of her convictions. And she was schooled in how to articulate other aspects of her life, such as her ongoing drug rehabilitation and involvement in peer support groups, her active church membership, and her on-the-job training in the field where she hopes to be hired.
“These documents show how far I came [and] that, although I have been incarcerated and I’ve been on drugs, I’ve been doing a lot of positive things,” said France, who is now interning at an outpatient clinic for substance abusers—a step toward becoming a certified alcohol and substance abuse counselor.
Those accumulated documents are a package that can be given, perhaps preemptively, to employers.
With several studies linking gainful employment to lesser rates of criminal recidivism, jobs—and housing—top the list of the most critical material needs of the formerly incarcerated, Shelli Rossman of the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C. told The Crime Report.
And, notes Rossman, ex-offenders not only require the tools essential for what can be the monumental task of landing a job—especially during a lingering recession when employers have their pick of prospects who’ve never been to prison—but they also need help hanging on to the jobs a fraction of them do manage to get.
“My hunch is that part of the difficulty in job retention is the nature of the job to begin with,” said Rossman, a senior fellow at the Institute’s Justice Policy Center. “These are high turnover, like food service jobs, where … they’re constantly hiring and replacing staff, not just this population.
“These tend to be low-level jobs without benefits. They …not only undermine the individual financially, but also in terms of morale.”
Even so, findings of the Urban Institute’s five-year “Returning Home: Understanding the Challenges of Prisoner Reentry” study of ex-offenders in Maryland, Illinois, Ohio and Texas included this one: “Former prisoners who held an in-prison job, participated in job training while incarcerated, earned a GED during prison, and/or participated in an employment program early after release, work a greater percentage of time the first year out than those who did not.”
The key assumption of Project ReNu is that paid wages will reduce the likelihood that a previously convicted person will return to crime and to prison, , says Divine Pryor, executive director of NuLeadership, which is housed in the same Brooklyn building as the agency where parolee France is interning.
Another foundational principle is that if potential employers can see that formerly incarcerated job applicants are confronting their past, and can articulate their achievements during a job interview, then that forthrightness just might work in the applicant’s favor, says Prior, whose organization offers a broad menu of prisoner re-entry services and criminal justice policy programs for both juveniles and adults.
“The best way to empower yourself is to know everything that other people know about you,” he adds. “If you’ve ever been arrested for anything, it’s on your RAP sheet—every single encounter you’ve had with law enforcement that causes you to be fingerprinted.”
According to Prior, the “labyrinth of challenges” facing ex-offenders as they re-enter society can include correcting errors that may have been made by the system or have cropped up through other means, such as identity theft.
Continue Reading HERE
We know that treatment not only saves money, but does in fact save LIVES. The Prison for Profit mentality MUST change. The question is no longer how, but when. Just so you all know, I do NOT support Partnership at Drugfree because of their stance on Cannabis. However, the following is a good article.
Sending substance-abusing state prisoners to community-based treatment programs instead of prisons could reduce crime and save billions of dollars, a new study concludes. The savings would result from immediate reductions in the cost of incarceration, and by subsequent reductions in the number of crimes committed by successfully treated offenders, which leads to fewer re-arrests and re-incarcerations, according to the researchers.
Almost half of all state prisoners abuse drugs or are drug-dependent, but only 10 percent received medically based drug treatment while they are incarcerated, according to Newswise. Inmates who are untreated or not adequately treated are more likely to start using drugs when they are released from prison, and commit crimes at a higher rate than those who do not abuse drugs, the article notes.
The researchers built a simulation model of 1.14 million state prisoners, representing the 2004 U.S. state prison population. The model estimated the benefits of substance abuse treatment over individuals’ lifetimes, and calculated the crime and criminal justice costs related to policing, trial and sentencing, and incarceration.
The model tracked individuals’ substance abuse, criminal activity, employment and health care use until death or until they reached age 60, whichever came first. They estimated the costs of sending 10 percent or 40 percent of drug-abusing inmates to community-based substance abuse treatment instead of prison.
In the journal Crime & Delinquency, the researchers found that if just 10 percent of eligible offenders were treated in community-based programs instead of going to prison, the criminal justice system would save $4.8 billion, compared with current practices. If 40 percent of eligible offenders received treatment, the savings would total $12.9 billion.
Via @ Join Together
- Treatment is the best way to fight crime (jsonline.com)
- U.S. Could Save Billions, Lift Black Community by Treating Instead of Jailing Drug Users (atlantablackstar.com)
- Doing Smarter Criminal Justice and Public Safety (americanclarion.com)
- Education Recommended Rather Than Systematic Incarceration Of African American Males (medicalnewstoday.com)
article from 2009 -very relevant even now.
n 2004, Judge Steven Alm was assigned to the felony trial court for the island of Oahu, Hawaii. Alm quickly realized that he had a problem. Probation officers for his court were overwhelmed with clients who kept using methamphetamine, Hawaii’s number-one problem drug. It wasn’t exactly difficult to pass the drug tests, which were scheduled weeks in advance. But on any given day 10 percent of the probationers scheduled to come in didn’t arrive for testing, and 20 percent of those who did show up tested “dirty.” By the time probationers were sent to Alm’s court for a revocation hearing, they had already racked up multiple breaches of the rules.
Hawaii’s felony probationers have lengthy sentences hanging over their heads. An offender whose probation is revoked can be sent to prison for the rest of his term—anywhere from five to twenty years. To Alm and his fellow judges, this seemed an unnecessarily draconian response to a missed or “dirty” drug test. It was also impractical in light of Hawaii’s prison-overcrowding problem. (Not only are Hawaii’s own prisons full; the state also pays heavily to send thousands of its prisoners to for-profit prisons on the mainland.)
As a former career prosecutor and U.S. attorney, Alm had more than a little political clout and was accustomed to getting results. Why, he asked the probation officers, was he only hearing about drug problems when they spiraled out of control? If this was the tenth violation, what happened the first nine times?
The probation officers explained that each one of them had responsibility for at least eighty-five felons. (That was for those with “high-risk” caseloads; the other probation officers had caseloads twice that size.) Most of those offenders sporadically fell afoul of the rules. The officers couldn’t possibly spend two hours writing a report every time a probationer failed a test or skipped drug treatment or anger-management class—there would be no time for anything else. As the officers saw it, their job was to harangue those clients who would listen to get back into line, and refer those who wouldn’t listen back to court after they had accumulated enough offenses to justify sending them away.
Alm could see the logic of the system, but he didn’t think it was the right kind of logic. “You wouldn’t raise a child that way,” he told the officers. “You wouldn’t train a puppy that way. You’d establish clear rules and have immediate consequences for breaking them.”
So Alm devised a new plan. He asked the probation officers to select a group of seemingly incorrigible scofflaws, probationers just one slipup shy of a revocation hearing. Every time one of them missed or flunked a drug test (or broke any other probation rule) he would land in court—and in jail—right away. Alm enlisted the help of prosecutors and public defenders to ensure that a hearing could be held within forty-eight hours of a violation. He corralled the federal fugitive task force to chase down anyone who refused to come into court. To cut down on paperwork, he eliminated the long report, documenting a long history of misconduct, that had previously been required from a probation officer before a revocation hearing. In its place, he substituted a two-page fill-in-the-blanks form, which dealt with only a single missed or dirty test or other violation.
Then, instead of “revoking” probation and condemning the offender to years in prison, Alm would “modify” probation, sending the offender to jail for a few days and then releasing him back to probation supervision. Alm reasoned that a brief stint behind bars would make the probationer more cooperative when he returned to his officer’s caseload.
The probation officers feared that Alm’s proposal would be impossibly burdensome, but they agreed to give it a try. Alm held a contest among the officers to name the program, and the winning entry was “Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement,” or HOPE.
HOPE started with thirty-four chronic violators. On the advice of the public defender, Alm brought them into court for what he called a “warning hearing,” with the defense counsel and the prosecutor present. He explained that, for them, the era of warnings was over. “If you fail a drug test, if you fail to meet with your probation officer when you are supposed to, or you fail with other terms of your probation … you will go to jail,” runs Alm’s script for such proceedings. “All of your actions in life have consequences, good or bad.” Later, Alm added a new twist to the program: random drug testing, with each probationer required to call in to a hotline every weekday morning to learn whether that was his day to be tested.
Everyone braced for a flood of missed and failed tests and the consequent sanctions hearings. But then something strange happened: in the first two weeks, only five of the thirty-four broke the rules. The overall rate of missed and failed drug tests dropped by more than 80 percent. Before the program started, the HOPE group had more than twice the noncompliance rate of the comparison group; that’s how they were chosen. HOPE reversed that picture, with program participants testing positive at less than one-quarter the rate of the comparison group. The high level of compliance made the workload perfectly manageable for everyone involved, and Alm was able to expand HOPE to 135 probationers without hiring more people.
Continue Reading @ Washington Monthly
Two ex-inmates are trying to bring higher education to the incarcerated, one maximum security facility at a time
“When college was removed, instead of having a line of people walking to school, we had people sitting up in the day rooms playing cards, playing dominoes, getting in fights,” said Boudin, now the director of the Columbia University School of Social Work’s Criminal Justice Initiative.
Boudin — a former member of the counterrevolutionary group Weather Underground who served 22 years for her role in an armored truck heist that left three dead — and other inmates were determined to complement the prison’s GED program with a college education.
After the program’s launch in 1997, similar initiatives were started by New York’s Sing Sing prison and Bard College. Their successful struggle ultimately brought college back to a dozen prisons throughout New York, and helped form the backbone of a decade’s worth of inmate education advocacy. Today, there are programs that bring college to prison in half a dozen states.
Continue Reading @ Salon
Narrated by Morgan Freeman, this is a MUST watch.
The War on Drugs has failed. After 50 years of prohibition, illicit drugs are now the third most valuable industry in the world after food and oil, all in the control of criminals. Drugs are cheaper and more available than ever before. Millions of people are in prison for drugs offenses. Corruption and violence, especially in producer and transit countries, endangers democracy. Tens of thousands of people die each year in drug wars.