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July 29, 2015

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cruel and usual: US solitary confinement - Features - Al Jazeera English

Cruel and usual: US solitary confinement - Features - Al Jazeera English

As incarceration rates explode in the US, thousands are placed in solitary confinement, often without cause.

James Ridgeway and Jean Casella
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2011

The spectre of Bradley Manning lying naked and alone in a tiny cell at the Quantico Marine Base, less than 50 miles from Washington, DC, conjures up images of an American Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib, where isolation and deprivation have been raised to the level of torture.

In fact, the accused Wikileaker, now in his tenth month of solitary confinement, is far from alone in his plight. Every day in the US, tens of thousands of prisoners languish in "the hole".

A few of them are prison murderers or rapists who present a threat to others. Far more have committed minor disciplinary infractions within prison or otherwise run afoul of corrections staff. Many of them suffer from mental illness, and are isolated for want of needed treatment; others are children, segregated for their own "protection"; a growing number are elderly and have spent half their lives or more in utter solitude.

No one knows for sure what their true numbers are. Many states, as well as the federal government, flatly declare that solitary confinement does not exist in their prison systems. As for their euphemistically named "Secure Housing Units" or "Special Management Units", most states do not report occupancy data, nor do wardens report on the inmates sent to "administrative segregation".

Prosecutor, judge and jury

By common estimate, more than 20,000 inmates are held in supermax prisons, which by definition isolate their prisoners. Perhaps 50,000 to 80,000 more are in solitary confinement on any given day in other prisons and local jails, many of them within sight of communities where Americans go about their everyday lives.

Read more here.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Formerly Incarcerated & Convicted People’s Movement Arises!

From an email:
http://unprison.wordpress.com/

Formerly Incarcerated & Convicted People’s Movement Arises!
Posted on March 21, 2011 by Bruce Reilly

Alabama represents the answer to a clarion call. This is a call that
speaks to us in our own voice; clear, loud and urgent. A voice that
speaks to our identity and emanates from the soul, ringing true both
in the head and the heart. Our objective is a collective one,
continuing in that vein, as we gathered fifty people from across the
nation to engage in a conversation about the need to build a Formerly
Incarcerated and Convicted People’s Movement. We understand and
declare very clearly: the criminal justice system does NOT work. It
is no more than a destructive force in our communities now and for
future generations.

Fifty formerly incarcerated and convicted organizers came with a
dedication and commitment stating that this was our time. We were not
deterred by our inability to raise the entire budget to fly, feed and
house people in Alabama for three days, nor were the few dozen
supporters who found their own means to be present for this historic
moment. As activists, we have been to our share of conferences and
rallies, yet before many of us left our homes, we knew this invitation
was different. And we readily subsidized our own fight for
restoration of our own civil and human rights.

The first exercise was to introduce ourselves to each other not simply
by our names or the many great struggles that we were currently
engaged in, but by who we embraced as our heroes. We wrote our names
and the name of our hero on a piece of paper and we taped those to the
front of the table where we sat. We were quickly able to see the
right people were in the room. We participated in designing a
historical time line and this practice drew us closer to discovering
our common history, something uniquely ours as incarcerated, formerly
incarcerated and convicted people. Knowing where we came from made it
easier to find our vision. We agreed to accept as our vision “The
Fight for the Full Restoration of Our Civil and Human Rights.”

The concept and construction of a movement requires a vessel large
enough to hold us all, and steering a vessel of this scale requires a
crew of many navigators and leaders. Agreeing on a vision was an
essential and amazing accomplishment in light of the fact that time
was short, and with so many leaders in the room egos could easily have
gotten in the way. We agreed to maintain the structure that propelled
us to this point. However, we needed to enlarge the steering
committee to seriously consider setting a national agenda. Twenty
people volunteered to join the steering committee, providing us
greater diversity in both geography and gender. We decided we would
do regular conference calls to move forward with the agenda and
coordinating the Los Angeles convening.

The Steering Committee planned to kick off the beginning of this
Movement by walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, in Selma. Days
before any of us hopped in a plane, bus, train, or car, we were
informed that we would have stay on the sidewalk if we were going to
march across the bridge. Over 247 people called the mayor of Selma
and let him know we were coming to march over the bridge, and not on
the sidewalk. Some of us consciously considered going to jail again,
and some of us even emptied our bank accounts just in case we needed
bail. We didn’t anticipate Mayor George Evans of Selma would ask to
speak with us after our march, or agree to read our statement at the
46-year Jubilee marking Bloody Sunday. Nor did we anticipate that our
march across the bridge would be headlines on one of the largest
papers in Alabama, with over twenty photos online. Our own Tina
Reynolds was photographed carrying a sign proclaiming that “Democracy
Starts At Home.” We should be allowed to vote and exercise our civil
rights regardless of where we live in the United States.

Our visit to the state capital in Montgomery is a testament to the
power of unity. While standing on the stairs of the Capital building
we were introduced to, and had a short conversation with, Alabama
Chief Justice Sue Cobb-Bell. The Chief Justice explained the serious
effort underway to rewrite the criminal code and reduce the prison
population by 3,000. Once inside, we were led into a conference room
where we met Rep. John Rogers, the head of the Alabama Black Caucus.
After a spirited discussion about pressing issues, we were ultimately
promised a community forum of which we would take part in choosing the
community organizations to participate. We were also promised that
key elected officials, including the governor, would be present at the
forum.

We would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the work and support that
our host organization, The Ordinary People Society (TOPS), put into
our initial organizing. On a side note: TOPS was seriously respected
by prominent members of the Alabama legislature, who pledged their
support to this struggle, and prominent officials in both Selma and
Montgomery. Meanwhile, our Allies were honing their own efforts, such
as supporting those organizations on our side (and inspiring those who
should be), and creating more spaces for our voices to be heard. They
are committed to recognizing our priorities and helping us create the
tools for our organizing efforts.

Last but not least, we want to thank everyone who attended and wrapped
their heads around the bigger picture of Movement and a larger
agenda. As a collective we all committed to something bigger than
each of our own organizations or individual work. We took action and
decided to organize through Regions represented by our expanded
Steering Committee. Regional caucuses will facilitate closer
collaboration in our areas, and we will build a movement on one
accord, as a collective committed to “The Fight for Full Restoration
of our Civil and Human Rights”. Let us keep moving forward, and share
this document with people we believe should know and participate in
our common efforts to build a Movement. Let people know about the
goal to meet in Los Angeles- November 2nd, 2011.

We have recognized these dates/weeks for actions, meetings, and
solidarity. We call on our members to take part in order to raise our
capacity, profile, and build a Movement:
March 29th
April 23rd
May 21st (Riverside Church), May 28th (Solidarity w/ Georgia Prison
Strike)
June 17th (40th Anniversary of Drug War)
Aug. 21st (40th Anniversary of San Quentin Uprising)
Sept. 29th (40th Anniversary of Attica Rebellion).

On June 23rd-26th is the Allied Media Conference in Detroit. There is
an entire track of workshops focused on the Prison Industrial Complex,
and members of the FICPM will be participating. This is an excellent
opportunity for those who can attend.

Sincerely,
Formerly Incarcerated & Convicted People’s Movement Steering Committee

Monday, March 21, 2011

Guantánamo in America (Part One): NPR Explains How Muslims Are Deprived of Fundamental Rights in Secretive Prison Units

From: Andy Worthington´s Guantanamo Bay Webarchive:

20 March 2011

It has long been a regret of mine that I don’t have enough time to write about the domestic prison system in the US, because of the distressing scale of incarceration in the US (the highest per capita rate in the world, by far) and also because of the violence and brutality, and the use of prolonged isolation, that mirrors much of what has been taking place at Guantánamo and elsewhere in the “War on Terror” for the last nine years.


Fortunately, two weeks ago NPR ran a major feature on a disturbing aspect of the isolation regime in domestic US prisons, focusing on the little-known Communications Management Units (CMUs), located in Terre Haute, Indiana, and Marion, Illinois, where the inmates are mostly Muslims, who are subjected to surveillance 24 hours a day, have their mail monitored, and are prevented from having any physical contact whatsoever with their families during prison visits –behavior that is more reminiscent of Guantánamo than of the rest of the domestic prison system.

Although Muslims make up the majority of the prisoners in the CMUs, there appears to be little internal logic regarding who is held and why, as those held range from foreign nationals involved in major acts of international terrorism to American citizens involved in fundraising for organzations acting as alleged fronts for terrorism and others caught in US government sting operations, which rather tends to enforce the notion that a large part of the CMUs’ rationale involves racial and religious profiling.

The prisoners also include — or have included — individuals involved in various forms of political activism, including environmental activism, and others for whom the rationale for keeping them under 24-hour surveillance appears to be that they “have spoken out at other prison units and advocated for their rights” and/or “have taken leadership positions in religious communities in those other prisons,” and/or because “officials worry that they could recruit other inmates for terrorism or direct people in the outside world to commit crimes.”

If you didn’t come across the NPR feature, I’ve cross-posted below the main article, “Guantánamo North”: Inside Secretive U.S. Prisons, but I also recommend a shorter follow-up article, Leaving “Guantanamo North”, and two other parts of the NPR feature that are not reproduced here: TIMELINE: The History Of ‘Guantanamo North’ and, in particular, DATA & GRAPHICS: Population Inside The CMUs, which contains the names and details of the 86 prisoners (and ex-prisoners) identified in the NPR report.

“Guantánamo North”: Inside Secretive U.S. Prisons
By Carrie Johnson and Margot Williams, NPR, March 3, 2011

Reports about what life is like inside the military prison for terrorism suspects at Guantánamo Bay are not uncommon. But very little is reported about two secretive units for convicted terrorists and other inmates who get 24-hour surveillance, right here in the U.S.

Read the rest here....

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Deaths in Iranian prison must be investigated

From: Amnesty International

17 March 2011

Amnesty International has called for an investigation into reports that up to 14 people were killed in a disturbance in a jail near Tehran this week.

The incident at the overcrowded Qezel Hesar prison in Karaj occurred on Tuesday night when clashes broke out involving prisoners and prison guards. The Prisons Chief said that a judicial investigation has been launched.

"Such a high death toll is extremely worrying. Prison officials have a responsibility to maintain order and to protect the lives of prisoners, but must exercise restraint," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

"A prompt inquiry into these deaths is essential but it must be independent and transparent, as international human rights standards require, such as those set out in the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners and the Body of Principles for the protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment.

"Unfortunately the Iranian Judiciary has routinely failed to carry out such investigations, so we are once again calling on the international community to use the current session of the UN Human Rights Council to create a Special Rapporteur to monitor and report on human rights in the Iran.”

Prison authorities said the riot was sparked by death row prisoners and drug-trafficking and possession offenders committing arson and other destructive acts in an attempt to escape, as well as attacking prison guards.

However, human rights activist groups told Amnesty International the prisoners were protesting at poor conditions and attempts to transfer some of the inmates for execution.

One activist based abroad said he had been in contact with a prisoner from inside Section 2 of prison until the early hours of Wednesday, when the phone lines were cut.

“The prisoners took over Sections 2 and 3 of the prison,” the activist told Amnesty International.

"I was told that armed guards had stationed themselves on the roof of the prison and outside the doors to the section and the prisoners set fire to bedding to try to stop the guards from entering. The prisoner told me that the guards were shooting at everyone.”

There are reports that at least six people died from gunshot wounds and over 100 may have been injured, with some dying in - or on the way to - medical centres.

Iranian State Television reportedly said on Wednesday that 14 people had died, including at least nine prisoners, and 33 had been injured. Prison guards may have also been among the fatalities.

"We know that the Iranian authorities are on a killing spree at the moment, having executed well over 100 people – mainly alleged drugs offenders - since the start of the year. This is yet one more reason why they should immediately order a moratorium on all executions," added Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Women-Prisoners to Embark on Hunger Strike in the Country of Georgia

Turkish Weekly and Georgia Times, March 10, 2011

Human rights defender Eka Beselia informed the media that the Georgian women-prisoners are going to embark on hunger strike because of unbearable conditions in prisons, - GHN reports.

Eka Beselia underlined that women-prisoners demand attention to their problems. "They often sleep right on the cold floor. They cannot practice proper hygiene; they are kept under inhuman conditions", - Beselia says.

Beselia remarked that the penitentiary system is practically unavailable for monitoring.

The human rights defender says that it is not only women-prisoners who are kept in tough conditions. There have been recorded many facts of torture. For instance, an invalid with a second degree of disablement has been recently beaten for trying to protect his rights.

Human right defenders complain that the state does not respond to the violation of the prisoners' rights.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Group of formerly incarcerated people visit area, discuss prison reform

By Scott Johnson • March 3, 2011
Montgomery Advertiser:

They have turned around their own lives, and now they want to turn around the direction of the U.S. prison system.

That is part of the message being presented by a group of formerly incarcerated people from across the country that employs the slogan "serving our country after serving our time."

Dubbed the Formerly Incarcerated & Convicted People Movement, the group met Monday through Wednesday in Montgomery and Selma.

It is the first time the group has gathered in one location, and the choice of Montgomery and Selma was no accident.

"It is like our path was cut in the civil rights movement, and we are just bringing it back where it started," said Dorsey Nunn, a rights advocate and former inmate from San Francisco who helped organize the meeting.

The group met Monday in Montgomery to discuss strategy.

Members marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on Tuesday and met with state leaders at the State House on Wednesday.

The Rev. Kenneth Glasgow of Dothan helped organize the gathering. Glasgow is the founder of The Ordinary People Society, an out reach group for inmates and former inmates.

Glasgow said group members Wednesday spoke with legislators, Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb and Gov. Robert Bentley.

Glasgow said the formerly incarcerated bring a valuable voice to discussions about prison reform.

"When they use us (as a re source), they are talking to experts by experience -- those who have been there, done that," Glasgow said.

Group members emphasize their focus on public service, and they visited an alternative school in Selma on Tuesday as part of a gang- prevention effort.

Glasgow said the group also plans to work with victim rights groups to help make amends for crimes.

They also, however, hope to change some public policy and reform the way the nation's prison systems operate.

To stress the importance of their cause, members point to issues such as the cost of prison overcrowding and how barriers to re-entering society might make felons more likely to return to crime.

Susan Burton created A New Way of Life, a Los Angeles re-entry program, in 1998. She said her drug and alcohol addictions led to six trips to prison, with her last release in 1996.

Burton said the time has come for like-minded people to unite on the issue of prison reform.

"We have no other way to go but to get together and figure it out," said Burton, who was named a CNN "Top 10 Hero" for 2010.

Glasgow said he and Nunn have worked for a long time to organize such a gathering.

"It has been a vision for years," said Glasgow, founder of The Ordinary People Society.

Malik Aziz, founder of the National Exhoodus Council, said the group wants to be an active partner with law enforcement without alienating those who still are incarcerated.

"We want to be a community partner -- a legitimate, recognized partner (with law enforcement). We won't be an informer. That is not what our relation with the police is," said Aziz, a former gang leader from Philadelphia.

Many of the group members talked about the large numbers of prisoners being released back into society.

More than 700,000 prisoners have been released from state and federal custody each year from 2005 to 2009, the most recent year for which the U.S. Department of Justice has gathered statistics.

Many of those people will return to poor economic conditions on top of the barriers to their re-integration into society, said Eddie Ellis of New York.

"There's been no real discussion of what to do with those people," said Ellis, co-founder of the Center for Nu Leadership on Urban Solutions at the City University of New York's Medgar Evers College.

Gabriel Sayegh, New York director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said prison reform is a non-partisan issue.

Sayegh pointed out that critics on both sides of the political aisle have called for prison reform, including Newt Gingrich and the conservative group Right on Crime.

"There is widespread recognition that what we've got has failed," said Sayegh, who was part of a group of sup porters who joined the gathering but are not formerly incarcerated.

The Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit organization with a stated goal of ending the War on Drugs, helped fund the gathering.

Nunn said the three-day gathering was a success be cause it was the first time it has happened.

He said the next one will be in Los Angeles and will be even bigger as group members recruit other activists.

"It will be double or triple the size of the people we had here," Nunn said.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

International Sex Workers' Rights Day: March 3, 2011.




In memory of Marcia Powell,
and all our other brothers and sisters dying out there....



--------------


SEX WORKERS and HUMAN RIGHTS
: Best Practices


Report on The United States of America 9th Round of the Universal Periodic Review – November 2010

1. This report is submitted by the Best Practices Policy Project, Desiree Alliance, and the Sexual Rights Initiative. It focuses on civil and human rights violations of those engaged, or perceived to be engaged, in sexual trade and sex work in the U.S.

Background and Context

2. People involved in sexual trade or sex work in the U.S. are found in a wide array of settings and circumstances; perform a variety of services; and communicate with clients through clubs, on the street, through newspapers, phonebooks, and the internet. They include people of all gender identities who work in clubs, in brothels, in their or other’s homes, in hotels, outdoors, and in other spaces. While sex work is generally stigmatized and aspects of it criminalized, street-based or outdoor workers, transgender or gender non-conforming people, people of color, migrants, and youth consistently bear a particularly heavy burden of police abuse and harassment, institutional discrimination, and violence.

3. Stigmatization of sex workers and those profiled as such in tandem with “zero-tolerance” policing in urban areas where poorer communities are being displaced, operate to ensure that these populations are disproportionately impacted by the prison system. Sex workers in these areas face additional burdens of police violence and abuse. Arrests for sex work can lead to a cycle of continued exclusion from housing and other job opportunities, and to re-imprisonment. Furthermore, because many forms of sex work in the U.S. are treated as a crime, law enforcement officials frequently fail to recognize that sex workers can be victims of crime, and thus deny justice or support to sex workers who seek their help.

Legal and Institutional Framework

4. Criminal prohibition of sex for money and surrounding activities exists in most states (with the exception of some counties in the state of Nevada). Some forms of sex work, such as exotic dancing, may not be prohibited by state legislation but they are always regulated by state and municipal policies. Sex work that occurs in public spaces is also often policed under legislation prohibiting loitering, public nuisance, trespassing or “failure to obey” a police officer’s directive to move along. More states in the U.S. are now mandating minimum sentences so that judges are required to give people convicted for prostitution-related offenses jail time and some states have sentencing guidelines and judicial practices which make a third charge for prostitution-related offenses a felony.

5. While the United States has only ratified a few of the major U.N. human rights treaties, (the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention against Torture (CAT), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), these treaties have direct bearing on sex workers’ human rights. These include: the right to be free from discrimination; freedom from torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment; the right to healthcare; and the right to equal protection under the law.

The Right to Equal Protection under the Law


6. Sex workers of color in the United States are disproportionately targeted by the police for arrest because of their minority status, violating the U.S. Constitution, international standards against discrimination and treaties such as CERD and ICCPR. Furthermore, people of color from the lowest income communities who do sex work in public spaces to meet their most urgent and immediate needs, are relentlessly and disproportionately targeted by the police. Arrest and subsequent conviction for prostitution and prostitution-related offenses intensifies the homelessness or housing precariousness experienced by people from low-income communities because people with criminal records are barred from accessing, or may lose, their public housing.

7. Transgender women, especially those of color, in the United States are profiled, targeted, harassed, cited and/or falsely arrested by the police as sex workers for simply walking outside. Male sex workers may be harassed by the police in part because of homophobia and women sex workers who are perceived to step outside of traditional female roles (e.g. by failing to be subservient) may be disproportionately targeted for arrest. Gender based discrimination against women and gender non-conforming people violating their right to equal protection under the law is reinforced by anti-prostitution legislation. For example, legislation enacting “Prostitution Free Zones,” areas in which police may move along and arrest people who they believe to be prostitutes, erode legal protections barring officers from detaining individuals on the basis of how they are perceived or the way they are dressed.

8. Another particularly discriminatory practice by state agents is sex offender registration of people convicted for sex work related offenses. In some parts of the U.S., these sex workers are registered as sex offenders for ten years and must carry an identification card with “sex offender” stamped on it, among other penalties. The majority of people sentenced this way are African-American and almost all are women and transgender women. They then face discrimination from employers, housing agents and are unable to qualify for education loans, making it impossible to secure even menial, low-wage work. Because they become completely shut out from other forms of work, many people who are registered as “sex offenders” have no other option but to continue in sex work, potentially returning to prison after subsequent arrests.

9. Many people engaged in sexual exchange, particularly street-based workers, face violence, including assault and rape, and numerous sex workers are murdered each year. The notion that sex workers are “disposable” may be the root cause of this violence. The legal establishment does not conceive that sexual workers can be sexually assaulted and may obstruct sex workers’ attempts to seek justice for crimes committed against them. Such violations of sex workers’ rights lead to a lack of faith in the State providing them with adequate promotion and protection of their lawful human rights, including protection from violence. Furthermore, sex workers fear further harm, humiliation, and/or arrest when turning to the authorities for assistance. Youth thought to be engaged in the sex trade face discrimination and neglect from a wide range of institutions, including hospitals, shelters, treatment centers, Child and Family Services agencies, and law enforcement agencies.

10. Migrant sex workers face the double burden of stigmatization for working in criminalized labor sectors and for their immigrant status. A portion of migrant sex workers are undocumented but even if migrants have correct immigration paperwork, engaging in sex work can both invalidate visas causing deportation and prevent entry into the United States. Anti-prostitution laws can therefore become a tool for immigration officials seeking to deport migrants: recently police have begun arresting large numbers of Latinas, charging them with prostitution related offenses leading to their deportation. When arrested or in court immigrants are often not provided with an interpreter, so they may be completely unaware of the charges brought against them and/or the need for attendance at follow up court dates significantly impacting on their access to criminal justice.

11. Misguided U.S. law and policy addressing trafficking in persons makes the lives of migrant sex workers more difficult. Migrant workers may be arrested, detained and subsequently deported in “raid and rescue” missions carried out by local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities. The current prosecution-oriented approach to anti-trafficking work in the US also traumatizes trafficked persons. People trafficked into the sex sector in the United States are forced to comply with law enforcement and endure possible “re-victimization” in order to get benefits and status. Migrant sex workers have become increasingly wary of service providers because of the operation of some anti-trafficking organizations that have provided information about work places to law enforcement authorities leading to raids, arrest and deportation. U.S. anti-trafficking policies undermine the health and rights of sex workers both domestically and internationally by requiring that organizations seeking funding adopt a policy against sex work (“anti-prostitution pledge”).

Freedom from torture, and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment

12. U.S. sex workers’ greatest fear is abuse by the police and other state agents. Organizations working with sex workers have documented a pattern of practice by police towards sex workers, which includes assault, sexual harassment and rape that constitutes torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Street sex workers and other people who are often profiled as prostitutes (such as transgender women) are very frequently subjected to this kind of treatment. When sex workers seek recourse for crimes committed against them, officers do not take their reports seriously or may further violate these sex workers by arresting them, physically assaulting them or pressuring them for sex.

The Right to Adequate Health Care


13. Criminalization, marginalization and stigma prevent sex workers from enjoying their right to health by undermining their access to adequate health care and the conditions in which they live and work. The U.S. Government has failed to ensure adequate access to health services and support for sex workers. They are not provided with HIV prevention and education services that would help them protect their own health and the health of their customers. Furthermore, policing directly undermines sex workers’ ability to prevent the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections because of the widespread law enforcement practice of using condoms as evidence and/or destroying condoms and safe sex materials.

14. Sex workers in the United States are very unlikely to discuss their work with medical providers because of fears about how they will be treated in addition to their fears of the law. These fears are based on real lived experiences. Sex workers who approach police with severe injuries from violence perpetrated against them are routinely belittled and blamed for the attacks against them and are not escorted, or even referred, to emergency rooms. Further, individuals in medical facilities seeking care for injuries sustained from attacks against them who are profiled as sex workers have been accusatorily questioned by police prior to receiving medical care. Sex worker friendly services providers capable of addressing the full range of their health needs (reproductive health care, sexual health, counseling, assistance with domestic violence, etc) are few and far between in the United States and significantly under-funded. Many mainstream service providers are not prepared to understand sex workers’ needs; services for men in sex work are extremely limited.

Recommendations

The United States of America should:

15. Implement rigorous training of law enforcement officials on legal and human rights standards with regards to sex work. e.g. police training on issues relating to gender, race, ethnicity, age and addressing crimes that may be committed against sex workers including the importance of referring victims of crime to rape crisis and trauma support agencies.

16. Institute mechanisms that allow sex workers to find redress for human rights violations and hold law enforcement accountable for their actions, e.g. officers who subject sex workers to degrading treatment and abuse, must be subject to appropriate disciplinary procedures. Sex workers must be able to report police misconduct and violence while being protected from retaliation.

17. Repeal laws, including laws against prostitution and prostitution-related offenses, and eliminate policies, such as “zero tolerance” of prostitution, “prostitution free zones,” and “quality of life” measures, that undermine protection and respect for human rights of sex workers, people in the sex trade and other marginalized groups. Sex workers should also be able to expunge any criminal records relating to these laws.

18. Repeal the application of felony-level charges and mandatory minimum sentencing against people arrested for sex work and expunge the records of those arrested and charged under these laws.

19. Remove any and all sex offender registration requirements of those arrested for engaging in prostitution or “unnatural copulation,” and expunge the records of those arrested for sex work and charged under laws that mandate sex offender registration.

20. Change policies that prevent sex workers from applying for and/or receiving student loans and public housing.

21. Invest resources in education, job training, healthcare, and housing programs for marginalized people engaged in sex work and the sex trade. Specifically, funding for low-income communities and communities of color should be allocated to provide job training, education programs, apprenticeships, healthcare, and housing opportunities;

22. Provide funding for harm reduction and rights based health care services for male, female, and transgender sex workers. Lift all restrictions on federal funding for harm reduction programs.

23. Prohibit agencies that receive public funding from discriminating against people engaged in sex work or in the sex trade.

24. Immediately end the law enforcement practice of using possession of condoms and other safe sex supplies as evidence of a crime.

25. Provide comprehensive services and legal support for migrant sex workers, including language interpretation in the criminal justice system.

26. Reorient anti-trafficking campaigns to be in line with the standards set by the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights.

27. Repeal and remove “anti-prostitution pledge” requirements for U.S. Global AIDS Funds and anti-trafficking funds.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New Prison Action Newsletter out now

Prison Action Newsletter (PAN) vol 4, issue 1 (Jan. 2011) is available here (PDF). Published via the Boston ABC.

Be sure to download a copy and send it to incarcerated friends and loved ones, or link to it!

Direct link: http://boston.indymedia.org/usermedia/application/11/212339_Pan_4.1_Internet_Version.pdf

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