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July 29, 2015

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The U.S. System of Punishment: an expanding balloon of wealth, racism and greed

by Jenny Truax on October 28, 2010
From: Jesus Radicals

A few years ago at a Karen House community meeting, Tony brought a reading for discussion. He had just finished the book “Are Prisons Obsolete?” by Angela Davis, and read some quotes, asking us to consider the question: are prisons, in fact, obsolete?

To be honest, I was shocked by the question. I considered the prison, while probably unjust, to be as ingrained an institution as churches, schools, and apple pie. I understood the Catholic Worker Aims and Means, but had never applied them to the U.S. system of punishment. As anarchists and pacifists, we in the Catholic Worker try to reflect on the root causes of violence, where resources are allocated, and how systems (like the prison system) affect the poor. We believe that a decentralized society might better serve people’s needs better. At Karen House, we see that the majority of the women who stay with us have either been in jail before, or have a family member who has been in jail. Many of their offenses were drug-related, and many of their lives have been uprooted by long incarcerations. At Karen House, we read in the papers about white-collar criminals (who may have stolen millions) and even peers receiving very light penalties, and we live with women who have received years-long sentences for drug and poverty/property related offenses.

Most of us have a general sense that laws in the U.S. overly-penalize people who happen to be poor, and who happen to not be white. But we also have a deeply-held belief that the system, though flawed, is basically just, and that wrong-doers deserve the punishment they receive. We like the neat package of “3 strikes you’re out” and automatic sentencing. In the words of Angela Davis: “Prison frees us from considering the complex problems of racism and poverty (and increasingly, global capitalism,) by creating an abstract place in which to put evil-doers.”1

Beginnings..

Around the time of the American Revolution, new forms of punishment for criminals were adopted in the United States. Before this time, criminals awaited death or physical punishment while in a prison. Later, the penitentiary itself became the consequence. Inmates would become rehabilitated, or penitent, with manual labor and solitude to reflect upon wrong-doings. This change was seen as a progressive, more humane method of dealing with criminals.

The prison system in the U.S. remained generally unaltered until the Civil War ended. Following the Civil War, slavery was abolished as a private institution, but the cleverly worded 13th Amendment provided a very large exception, stating: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime…shall exist within the United States.” In the ensuing months and years, states revised the Slave Codes into new “Black Codes,” imprisoning former slaves for acts such as missing work, handling money carelessly, and performing “insulting gestures.” A massive influx of former slaves into the penitentiary resulted, a new form of slavery was born, and the racialization of the U.S. punishment system took root. The unpaid labor of the newly created, mostly black, convict lease system helped the South achieve industrialization.

Read more here on the Jesus Radicals site.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law

NPR
by Laura Sullivan for NPR
October 28, 2010

Picture: Glenn Nichols, city manager of Benson, Ariz., last year two men came to the city "talking about building a facility to hold women and children that were illegals."

Last year, two men showed up in Benson, Ariz., a small desert town 60 miles from the Mexico border, offering a deal.

Glenn Nichols, the Benson city manager, remembers the pitch.

"The gentleman that's the main thrust of this thing has a huge turquoise ring on his finger," Nichols said. "He's a great big huge guy and I equated him to a car salesman."

What he was selling was a prison for women and children who were illegal immigrants.

"They talk [about] how positive this was going to be for the community," Nichols said, "the amount of money that we would realize from each prisoner on a daily rate."

But Nichols wasn't buying. He asked them how would they possibly keep a prison full for years — decades even — with illegal immigrants?

"They talked like they didn't have any doubt they could fill it," Nichols said.

That's because prison companies like this one had a plan — a new business model to lock up illegal immigrants. And the plan became Arizona's immigration law.

Behind-The-Scenes Effort To Draft, Pass The Law


The law is being challenged in the courts. But if it's upheld, it requires police to lock up anyone they stop who cannot show proof they entered the country legally.

When it was passed in April, it ignited a fire storm. Protesters chanted about racial profiling. Businesses threatened to boycott the state.

Supporters were equally passionate, calling it a bold positive step to curb illegal immigration.

But while the debate raged, few people were aware of how the law came about.

NPR spent the past several months analyzing hundreds of pages of campaign finance reports, lobbying documents and corporate records. What they show is a quiet, behind-the-scenes effort to help draft and pass Arizona Senate Bill 1070 by an industry that stands to benefit from it: the private prison industry.

(photo: Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce)
Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce, pictured here at Tea Party rally on Oct. 22, was instrumental in drafting the state's immigration law. He also sits on a American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) task force, a group that helped shape the law.

The law could send hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants to prison in a way never done before. And it could mean hundreds of millions of dollars in profits to private prison companies responsible for housing them.

Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce says the bill was his idea. He says it's not about prisons. It's about what's best for the country.

"Enough is enough," Pearce said in his office, sitting under a banner reading "Let Freedom Reign." "People need to focus on the cost of not enforcing our laws and securing our border. It is the Trojan horse destroying our country and a republic cannot survive as a lawless nation."

But instead of taking his idea to the Arizona statehouse floor, Pearce first took it to a hotel conference room.

It was last December at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C. Inside, there was a meeting of a secretive group called the American Legislative Exchange Council. Insiders call it ALEC.

It's a membership organization of state legislators and powerful corporations and associations, such as the tobacco company Reynolds American Inc., ExxonMobil and the National Rifle Association. Another member is the billion-dollar Corrections Corporation of America — the largest private prison company in the country.

It was there that Pearce's idea took shape.

"I did a presentation," Pearce said. "I went through the facts. I went through the impacts and they said, 'Yeah.'"

Drafting The Bill

The 50 or so people in the room included officials of the Corrections Corporation of America, according to two sources who were there.

Pearce and the Corrections Corporation of America have been coming to these meetings for years. Both have seats on one of several of ALEC's boards.

Key Players That Helped Draft Arizona's Immigration Law

Source: NPR News Investigations

Credit: Stephanie D'Otreppe/NPR

And this bill was an important one for the company. According to Corrections Corporation of America reports reviewed by NPR, executives believe immigrant detention is their next big market. Last year, they wrote that they expect to bring in "a significant portion of our revenues" from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency that detains illegal immigrants.

In the conference room, the group decided they would turn the immigration idea into a model bill. They discussed and debated language. Then, they voted on it.

"There were no 'no' votes," Pearce said. "I never had one person speak up in objection to this model legislation."

Four months later, that model legislation became, almost word for word, Arizona's immigration law.

They even named it. They called it the "Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act."

"ALEC is the conservative, free-market orientated, limited-government group," said Michael Hough, who was staff director of the meeting.

Hough works for ALEC, but he's also running for state delegate in Maryland, and if elected says he plans to support a similar bill to Arizona's law.

Asked if the private companies usually get to write model bills for the legislators, Hough said, "Yeah, that's the way it's set up. It's a public-private partnership. We believe both sides, businesses and lawmakers should be at the same table, together."

Nothing about this is illegal. Pearce's immigration plan became a prospective bill and Pearce took it home to Arizona.

Campaign Donations

Pearce said he is not concerned that it could appear private prison companies have an opportunity to lobby for legislation at the ALEC meetings.

"I don't go there to meet with them," he said. "I go there to meet with other legislators."

Pearce may go there to meet with other legislators, but 200 private companies pay tens of thousands of dollars to meet with legislators like him.

As soon as Pearce's bill hit the Arizona statehouse floor in January, there were signs of ALEC's influence. Thirty-six co-sponsors jumped on, a number almost unheard of in the capitol. According to records obtained by NPR, two-thirds of them either went to that December meeting or are ALEC members.

That same week, the Corrections Corporation of America hired a powerful new lobbyist to work the capitol.

The prison company declined requests for an interview. In a statement, a spokesman said the Corrections Corporation of America, "unequivocally has not at any time lobbied — nor have we had any outside consultants lobby – on immigration law."

Read more here

Listen to the Story [7 min 47 sec]

Produced by NPR's Anne Hawke.

Copyright 2010 NPR

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Political Prisoner Eddie Conway Speaks to Ujaama about Prisons and Race: The Impact On Our Community

The Cornell Daily Sun
October 25, 2010
By Lawrence Lan

Political prisoner and former Black Panther Marshall “Eddie” Conway spoke via telephone to an attentive crowd of students, staff, and faculty to spark Sunday evening’s Ujamaa Unity Hour discussion on prisons and their impact on the African-American community.

Conway, who is currently serving the 40th year of his life sentence at Jessup Correctional Insitution in Maryland, touched on the prison-industrial complex as it manifests in Maryland, where the majority of prisons are located in rural areas characterized by predominantly white populations. He also discussed his work in creating a mentoring program that emphasizes the need for positive role models in the Maryland prison system’s youth population.

Prof. Margaret Washington, history, contributed scholarly analysis to Conway’s lived experience, citing large increases in the incarceration rates of African American males in the United States since 1980. She also stressed the fact that the notion of economic labor cannot be divorced from that of incarceration.

“With the current [economic] situation being what it is, African Americans are no longer needed as laborers. When a huge population that has always served as labor no longer serves that function, what do you do with the surplus labor?” Washington said. “From an economic perspective, prison is a form of slavery, or you can say it’s a form of concentration camp.”

The historical context provided the framework for Prof. Mary Katzenstein, government, to contest the notion that prisons offer local benefits to their surrounding communities in the form of employment opportunities. She cited the example of Five Points Correctional Facility, saying that high-paying prison jobs discourage the predominantly white local population from pursuing higher education.

Speaking to the perception that prison successfully rehabilitates inmates, Katzenstein pointed out that people who spend long periods of time in prison exhibit the lowest rates of recidivism, while those who spend brief periods of time in prison most commonly become repeat offenders.

Jim Schechter, executive director of the Cornell Prison Education Program, added to the discussion, noting the strides that the program has made at Auburn Correctional Facility and Cayuga Correction Facility since its inception, especiallly for the prisoners. The program provides a pathway to an Associate of Arts degree for men incarcerated at the Auburn and Cayuga Correctional Facilities.

“[The Cornell Prison Education Program] contributes to people’s self-esteem in what we all recognize is an otherwise dehumanizing environment,” he said, adding that the classroom functions as a “sanctuary” from the rest of the prison experience.Cornell faculty who participate in the program report a higher level of engagement from the inmates than from Cornell students, according to Schechter.

“There’s no sense of entitlement, no Blackberries, no laptops,” Schechter said. “The students at Auburn come to class having done the readings two, maybe three, times.”

Janet Nwaukoni ’12, president of Project Lansing, and Adam Baratz ’11, president of Art Beyond Cornell, explained the work their organizations do on campus to immediately address the needs of prisons near Ithaca.

Members of Project Lansing interact weekly with young females at Lansing Residential Center to build mentorships and friendships that foster intellectual and personal growth. Members of Art Beyond Cornell bring weekly art lessons to Lansing Residential Center and MacCormick Secure Center to offer a means of expression and growth for the institutionalized youth.

“We want these young women [at Lansing Residential Center] to know that there are African American females who come from similar backgrounds and that it’s possible to succeed,” Nwaukoni said.

“These facilities are extraordinarily understaffed, and Cornell has such a vast array of resources to help fill that void,” Baratz said. “The work we do is really important because the youth there really look forward to it each week.”

Ken Glover, residence hall director of Schuyler House and former residence hall director of Ujamaa, identified flaws with the prison system.

“If you wanted to change the rates of recidivism, you’d require [inmates] to get a GED,” Glover said, referring to a statistic mentioned by Schechter that approximately 250 out of 1,800 inmates at Auburn Correctional Facility have GEDs or high school diplomas. “How can you support your kids [when you get out of prison] if you can’t get a GED and you can’t get a job?”

He also brought the discussion back to Conway and the issue of political prisoners.

“The question of political prisoners goes beyond the context of the United States,” Glover said, citing notable political prisoners including Nelson Mandela, Mumia Abu-Jamal, and Patrice Lumumba. “Whenever there’s been a movement for social change, people who speak out [for change] are imprisoned.”

“The discussion revealed how prevalent the incarceration system is just in upstate New York,” Khamila Alebiosu ’13 said. “While we like to stay within the Cornell bubble, there’s so much we can do to reach out and change this system that has dehumanized and degraded people that have come largely from the African American community.”

Theoria Cason, the residence hall director of Ujamaa, found the discussion informative and saw hope in the various Cornell programs that try to address needs of institutionalized people in local facilities.

“This discussion helped me recognize the dissonance that exists between Ithaca and the facilities that lie just 20 minutes down the road,” she said. “I really appreciate the work that is being done in the immediate areas around Ithaca.”

The discussion, entitled “Prisons and Race: The Impact On Our Community,” was organized by Black Students United.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ely State Prison (NV) Book Drive

You can help change someone’s life! There is nothing more invigorating, nothing more liberating than knowledge! Books can definitely change people’s lives, and who needs help with changing their lives more than the people in prison? It has already been proven that education is the most powerful tool against recidivism, yet prisoners sit in their cells going mentally numb, getting more aggressive and deteriorating intellectually, spiritually and physically, just wasting away behind steel and stone, until the day they are released and returned back into our communities!

This is a chance to make a difference; to have an impact on someone’s life. This is a chance for people out there to really get involved in something significant. We need you to help us bring meaning and productivity to these prisoners lives! Please, help us do something positive; something that will definitely make a difference. Help us give these prisoners something important to think about, help us raise their level of consciousness and break them from the shackles of the gangster, pimp and criminal mentalities that confine them to self-destruction and perpetual misery.

Help us get books together for these men who sit in their cells staring at the walls all day. People throw books away every day. We need those books. We want you to help us donate those books to the Ely State Prison library; we want you to help us help these people who will be returning back to society. We want you to help us help these people who deserve a second chance. Help them realize they deserve a second chance! We can do that by bringing hope, meaning, and knowledge into their lives through books. we need you to help us with this possible life-changing project!

Any book you can donate will be appreciated, and put to good use, no matter what kind of book it is. Our mission here, however, is to turn the E.S.P. library into a real library. The E.S.P. library already has lots and lots of horror novels, sci-fi novels, fantasy and romance, but lacks anything of real educational value. So, we want you to help us provide any type of book that will allow prisoners to think and comprehend things on a higher, or deeper level.

We want educational books; anything that has some type of educational value, or that will provide real intellectual stimulation. All books will be accepted and appreciated, and books that we are particularly looking for are basically any type of books on:

• History
• Any type of self-help book
• Dictionaries, thesaurus, encyclopedias, almanacs, vocabulary builders, etc.
• Philosophy
• Psychology and/or sociology
• Anthropology
• Text books of all kinds
• Non-fictional books, true stories, current events, etc.
• Books on business, economics, law, etc.
• Poetry, classics, literature, etc.
• Autobiographies, memoirs and biographies
• Books on science (any branch of science, from astronomy to palaeontology, whatever)
• Good fiction novels that could possibly have a life-changing impact on a prisoner’s mind
• Books about prison, or written by prisoners, who have changed their lives while in prison (these stories are always inspirational and helpful for those incarcerated)
• Any books on politics, revolutionary science, prominent figures and leaders
• Cultural studies: Latino, African American, Native American, Asian, The Celts, The Romans, The Greeks, The Egyptians, Aztecs, Mayans, etc.
• Political books (on anarchism, communism, socialism, etc.)
• Theology, Theosophy, etc.
• Books on different languages
• Geography
• Best sellers, Pulitzer prize winners, etc.
• Esoteric studies, masonic literature, symbolism, etc.
• Health, medical encyclopedia, physical fitness, etc.

Any book that you have, that you don’t want, or need any more, any book that you think would be uplifting, educational, or inspirational to prisoners, please send them to:

White Pine County School District
Mountain High School
1135 Avenue C
Ely, Nevada 89301
Attention: Ms. Thiel / E.S.P. Library Donations

Please make sure to go through all of your books, removing money, papers or anything that you may have left inside of your books, because the officers will thoroughly inspect each book before they are inducted into the E.S.P. Library.

Please talk to your friends, family, co-workers and classmates, ask them if they have any old books that they don’t want or need any more. We really want you to help us turn the E.S.P. library into a real library. Help us bring meaning and positive change to these prisoner’s lives.

There is no rehabilitation, no programs, no real educational/vocational opportunities for these guys incarcerated at Ely State Prison. We want you to help us give them that opportunity, we want you to help us help them. We want you to help us liberated these prisoners’ minds and transform their lives through knowledge, education and higher learning. Please get involved in this life-changing project. There’s nothing more empowering than knowledge! Thank you for your time and concern.

Solidarity and Respects
From Someone Who Cares

ps if you plan to send in any books, please if possible let us know via email (Nevadaprisonwatch at gmail.com) which books you donated, because the person who organized this would like to know if all the books are indeed going to the library.

Mothers Behind Bars

From: The Real Cost of Prisons

Mothers Behind Bars: A state-by-state report card and analysis of federal policies on conditions of confinement for pregnant and parenting women and the effect on their children

Mothers Behind Bars: A state-by-state report card and analysis of federal policies on conditions of confinement for pregnant and parenting women and the effect on their children

National Women's Law Center and the Rebecca Project for Human Rights released the Mothers Behind Bars report, which explores the egregious practice of shackling women during childbirth and other important issues affecting pregnant and parenting women—the vast majority of whom are non-violent, first-time offenders.

In the report, each state is graded on whether it has adequate policies—or any policies at all—on prenatal care, shackling, and family-based drug treatment as an alternative to incarceration. Twenty states and the District of Columbia receive overall failing grades. The report also identifies steps that the federal government could take to improve conditions of confinement for women in federal facilities, including prisons and immigration detention.

http://www.nwlc.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/mothersbehindbars2010.pdf

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

From AZ: Justicia Ahora: Resist State Violence this Friday.

From our friends at AZ Prison Watch:









National Day of Action Against Police Brutality

Friday, October 22, 2010 11am- 1pm

MEDICAL NEGLECT
IS VIOLENCE:

STOP KILLING THE PRISONERS!!!

Arizona Department of Corrections
1601 W. Jefferson St. (at 16th Ave)
Phoenix, AZ 85007
(park in the SE lot at Wes Bolin off Jefferson - the ADC is across the street.)


17 suicides/15mos
5 homicides/9 months
6,000 HCV+ prisoners and counting…

HARD TIME HEP C ALLIANCE - AZ
http://hardtimehepc.blogspot.com

For more information, contact:
Peggy at 480-580-6807 or
prisonabolitionist@gmail.com

ALL FAMILIES WELCOME:
CHALK, BUBBLES,
and GREAT PEOPLE WILL BE THERE.

PLEASE WEAR BLACK.
BYOB. A sack lunch would be smart, too.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

"Lockdown" by Walter Dean Myers 2010 National Book Award Finalist, Young People's Literature

From the Real Cost of Prisons weblog:

"Lockdown" by Walter Dean Myers 2010 National Book Award Finalist, Young People's Literature

"Lockdown" by Walter Dean Myers
2010 National Book Award Finalist, Young People's Literature
ABOUT THE BOOK

"When I first got to Progress, it freaked me out to be locked in a room and unable to get out. But after a while, when you got to thinking about it, you knew nobody could get in, either.

It seems as if the only progress that's going on at Progress juvenile facility is moving from juvy jail to real jail. Reese wants out early, but is he supposed to just sit back and let his friend Toon get jumped? Then Reese gets a second chance when he's picked for the work program at a senior citizens' home. He doesn't mean to keep messing up, but it's not so easy, at Progress or in life. One of the residents, Mr. Hooft, gives him a particularly hard time. If he can convince Mr. Hooft that he's a decent person, not a criminal, maybe he'll be able to convince himself."

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Prisoners Protest by Self-Mutilation

KAZAKHSTAN: Prisoners Protest by Self-Mutilation
By Pavol Stracansky
Source: IPS

ASTANA, Oct 10, 2010 (IPS) - Horrific protests that have seen hundreds of inmates slice their stomachs open over conditions in jails in Kazakhstan are set to continue as the UN accuses the Central Asian country of trying to mask the real state of its prison system.

Convicts have said that torture, beatings and rapes are common in prisons and that the only option left to them to highlight their plight to the outside world is brutal self-mutilation.

Tanja Niemeier, political advisor who was part of a delegation led by European MP Joe Higgins to Kazakhstan last month which met with former prisoners, told IPS: "Protests are still going on and it looks like they will, unfortunately, continue and more people will self-mutilate. It is the only way they have of protesting at the desperate conditions they face.

"Officials have tried to say that the situation is improving. But it is not. Things are very grim."

Kazakhstan, a resource-rich former Soviet state in Central Asia ruled since 1991 by autocratic President Nursultan Nazarbayev, has faced international criticism for its human rights record for years. Abuses of fundamental freedoms have been documented at all levels of society.

But some of the most severe criticism has been levelled at the penal system, and particularly over torture in jails.

Former convicts have spoken of horrific brutality in prisons. They have recounted instances of inmates being hung from the ceiling and beaten, guards urinating on cell floors and then dragging prisoners around using them as human mops to wipe the floor, while others have been forced to lick spit off floors.

Complaints over brutality in jails only lead to more beatings and a transfer, often to a more violent prison, they claim.

Living conditions in the jails -- which were built as Soviet gulags -- is also a problem. Convicts are often kept in converted barracks that house up to 100 people and sometimes cells meant for ten hold up to 20 inmates at any one time. Prisoners say they are only allowed to use a shower once every two weeks and that they are underfed.

Convicts' desperation at the situation has led to the current wave of self- mutilation. More than 100 prisoners have self-mutilated in the past two months, with pictures taken on mobile phones of inmates with stomachs sliced open given to media as evidence. Some inmates have managed to talk to local media from their cells to speak of their ordeal.

The Kazakh government has claimed that the prisoners are not actually protesting against conditions and have been forced into cutting their stomachs open by gangs inside the prison.

Niemeier said: "That is the story the government has put forward. We have information from the prisoners themselves and we have no reason to doubt their claims."

Read more here at IPS.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Let them read! or Thou Shalt Read?

October 08, 2010
"Throw the books at inmates": HICKS: Throw the books at inmates
By Brian Hicks
Friday, October 8, 2010
Post and Courier

OK, there are probably a few things you don't want inmates in your jail reading.

For instance, the J. Campbell Bruce classic "Escape From Alcatraz" or other how-to tomes like "How To Bake a Cake With a File In It ... And Not Get Caught." And don't ever let them get their hands on "Rioting for Dummies."

Come to think of it, it's probably not a good idea to let 'em have Harlequin romance novels either.

But Berkeley County may have gone too far.


According to a lawsuit filed this week by the American Civil Liberties Union, Berkeley jail officials will allow prisoners to read only soft-bound copies of the Bible. The suit was filed on behalf of Prison Legal News, which according to the lawsuit is an inmate-subscriber magazine.

As a result of this ban, a Moncks Corner man named Thomas Dalton was denied access to such articles as "Appalling Prison and Jail Food Leaves Prisoners Hungry for Justice" and "Judges Benched for Personal Misconduct." That's just criminal.

Of course, the real losers here are Berkeley County taxpayers. They've got to pay to defend this Draconian rule.

Reading is good

Everybody is all about the Constitution, until it comes to prisoner rights. But fact is, South Carolina prisons have entire libraries -- yeah, just like in "The Shawshank Redemption," but without the guy with the bird.

The Department of Corrections' policy is to "provide library materials and services that provide inmates with the opportunity to increase their academic skills, allow for personal development, and engage in recreational reading."

See, that's the idea behind supplying reading material to prisoners, and most places share that philosophy. The Charleston County Detention Center has books to loan, and allows inmates to buy newspapers and magazines if they want them. Reasonable enough.

But Dalton, on his extended vacation from society, could not keep up with news he could use or study to learn a skill that might be a more honest way to earn a living than, say, credit card fraud (which he did time for in 1998).

And since the Bible says nothing specifically about Thou Shalt Not Defraud the IRS, Berkeley County left Dalton woefully unprepared to learn from his current 10-year mistake.

Instead, all he got was an idea to smote Berkeley County.

TV, not so much

It seems that one of the biggest problems in this country is that folks don't read enough. They let talk show hosts do their thinking for them and get their morality off TV and movies.

Read the rest here.

http://www.postandcourier.com/news/2010/oct/08/throw-the-books-at-inmates/

Borrowed via: Real Cost of Prisons

Friday, October 1, 2010

March for Freedom of Wrongful Convictions: Oct 2nd, 2010

RAISING AWARENESS OF WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS AND THE NEED FOR JUSTICE REFORM

MARCH FOR FREEDOM OF WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS 2010
On Oct. 2 2010, demonstrators are gathering in locations across America to raise awareness of wrongful convictions, spotlight the need for criminal justice reform, and support for a death penalty moratorium.

National Event Information: http://freedommarchusa.org/

EVENTS:

Demonstrations / events will take place at these locations:

1. Phoenix, AZ -- Coordinator: Camille Tilley - justice4courtney@mac.com

2. Los Angeles, CA - Coordinator: Gloria Killian - acwip@yahoo.com

3. Boise, ID - Coordinator: Gary Adams. Boise, ID - garyadams@getmpi.com / gla1949@hotmail.com

4. Lansing, MI - Coordinator: Ursula Armijo at ubarmijo@comcast.net

5. Poughkeepsie, NY - Coordinator: Patricia Borden pmborden@gmail.com.

6. Pittsburgh, PA – Coordinator: MaryAnn Lubas -- mlubas2@yahoo.com

If there is no event in your area, you can support this cause by:

1. Spreading the word about wrongful convictions and the need for criminal justice reform to your circle of friends, co-workers and acquaintances.

2. Sending an email, letter or calling your elected representatives to say that you are concerned about wrongful convictions and our justice system.

WHO:

Demonstrations organized by grassroots volunteers representing these organizations:

- Freedom March USA, Marching for Awareness of Wrongful Convictions - http://freedommarchusa.org/

- National Coalition for Criminal Justice Reform - http://www.reformingjustice.com/

CONTACT:

For information on a specific event, contact the coordinator listed above.

In Texas, the following organizations and individuals support this cause and serve as an information resource on wrongful convictions and the need for criminal justice reform:

Information on Oct 2 Events & Criminal Justice Reform:

National Coalition for Criminal Justice Reform - http://www.reformingjustice.com/

Texas chapter:

Lucy Frost justicereform@gmail.com

Americas Wrongfully Convicted - http://www.americaswrongfullyconvicted.com/

Roger McClendon
America’s Wrongfully Convicted
roger@americaswrongfullyconvicted.com

Information Resource on Criminal Justice Reform:

Dr. LeRoy Gillam, president Southeastern Christian Association (SECA)
832-228-3207

In The Interest of Justice (ITIJ)
http://www.itij.org/

Pastor Rod Carver
Supporters of Hannah Overton: www.freehannah.com

Terri Been, Kids Against The Death Penalty: http://www.freewebs.com/kadp

Kristin Houle Exec. Director
Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (TCADP): www.tcadp.org/

Jeff Blackburn or Cory Session
Innocence Project Of Texas: http://ipoftexas.org/

Lily Hughes, Campaign To End The Death Penalty: http://www.nodeathpenalty.org/content/index.php

BACKGROUND

MARCH FOR FREEDOM OF WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS 2010 aims to raise united voices for justice.

Modern science and technology have shaken the strong faith many once placed in the accuracy of judgments made by our criminal justice system.

Thanks to DNA analysis of biological evidence, hundreds have been exonerated—many after spending years on death row.

Research by Seton Hall law professor D. Michael Risinger indicates that 3.3%-5% of those convicted of crimes are factually innocent. Those who value justice demand that the criminal justice system apply the lessons to be learned from the many cases of wrongful conviction, and support policy initiatives that:

1. Raise the accuracy rate in judgments of guilt and innocence.

2. Resolve credible post-conviction claims of innocence.

3. Remedy the tragic impact of wrongful convictions.

For those who are guilty of crimes, we support enlightened approaches to incarceration that nurture genuine rehabilitation and reintegration of productive citizens whenever possible.

FACTS ABOUT AMERICA’S CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM:

- The United States incarcerates more people than any country in the world, including the far more populous nation of China[1].

- One in 100 Adult Americans is incarcerated in a prison or jail.

- One in 31 Adult Americans is incarcerated, on probation or parole.

- Incarceration rates heavily concentrated among men, racial and ethnic minorities, and 20-and 30-year olds.

1 in 9 Black men 20-34 years old, 1 in 15 Black men 18+, 1 in 36 Hispanic men 18+.

- Texas is one of the leading states in verified wrongful convictions. To date, more than 38 people have been exonerated in Texas using DNA.

- Nationally, more than 133 people have been exonerated from death row since 1973[2].

- Expert estimates of wrongful convictions range from 3% to 12%, based on data from DNA & other exonerations[3].

- Executed But Possibly Innocent: Of the cases frequently cited as those executed despite strong evidence of innocence, 6 are Texas cases[4].

- How many innocent people are in prison? No one knows, but experts agree that “any plausible guess at the total number of miscarriages of justice in America in the last fifteen years must be in the thousands, perhaps tens of thousands.”[5]

Senator Jim Webb’s page about the problem and legislation he has introduced: http://webb.senate.gov/email/criminaljusticereform.html

“America's criminal justice system has deteriorated to the point that it is a national disgrace. Its irregularities and inequities cut against the notion that we are a society founded on fundamental fairness. Our failure to address this problem has caused the nation's prisons to burst their seams with massive overcrowding, even as our neighborhoods have become more dangerous. We are wasting billions of dollars and diminishing millions of lives.” – Senator Jim Webb

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[1] Pew Research Center - http://www.pewcenteronthestates.org/uploadedFiles/8015PCTS_Prison08_FINAL_2-1-1_FORWEB.pdf

[2] http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/innocence-and-death-penalty

[3] Research by Seton Hall law professor D. Michael Risinger and other expert estimates

[4] http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/executed-possibly-innocent

[5] http://truthinjustice.org/exonerations-in-us.pdf

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