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Prison Activism What's going on? How to become involved.

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  #1  
Old 12-16-2004, 08:28 AM
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Default Who can make a difference? A REAL difference?

Who do we write to that can look at some of the prison reform programs that are going to save (and I quote) $10,000 per inmate with simple changes in their state corrections system? Like, for example Arizona. It is just beyond me that when we look at figures like can be found here:
http://vera.org/publication_pdf/226_431.pdf
OR here:
http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/1214prisonbeds14.html
Professor Berman has a great wealth of information and links to current debates and insights into truth in sentencing, the Blakely/Booker/Fanfan discussions and other prison related and criminal justice related information. His blog is at:
http:sentencing.typepad.com
I’d like to say that Mr and Mrs Average America iare under the mistaken impression that “those people in prison” don’t affect their lives. So wrong. Take the latest figures of 2.2 million in our prison system. Multiply that by at least 5 friends/family members(very low estimate!) - that’s 11 million people affected by the prison system personally! Now, take the figures which are overwhelming since enactment of the sentencing guidelines in the eighties - and we’re dealing with all kinds of over extension, state to state and in the fed. What’s the answer? Parole, both federal and state - correcting our inmates in the correctional system, so that they might have a chance at making it back in society? -concentrating on a real solution to an over burdened, over crowded prison system in ALL states. Who do we contact? Who can make a difference in my state of Florida? Or YOUR state?
My son was 22 when he was arrested for “conspiracy”, in violation of USC 18. Conspiracy brought him 188 months, after his juvenile possession of marijuana charged was accepted as proof of career offender status. No drugs in his possession, no sales to an agent - but conspiracy. THAT means that under the 85% law (courtesy of the sentencing guidelines) he will spend about 13 years in the prison system. Because of overcrowding and understaffing here (as in most prison systems) - he’ll have virtually no chance of education, a program to help him get ready to leave prison when he’s almost 40 years old, or skills to help him cope with a society that will have changed drastically.
Who do we write to? How can we make a difference? I've personally written to legislators, news desks, letters to the editor - plus calling in talk shows. Nobody seems to want to listen or approach the subject. It's a real subject. It has real affect in our society and it needs some reform! Did you all know that many European countries post an advisory about travel to the USA? It deals with our conspiracy laws here and is issued as a warning to travelers to the USA. That's horrible, isn't it?
So far I have not found an organization that is able to make a difference, or effect change in this system. There's so much talk and hype about the Blakely and Fanfan and Booker, but realistically -it's not going to affect the majority of our loved ones who are incarcerated. Would someone please tell me what we have to do? Some legal person on here, someone who has a family member or loved one or friend in government or justice or the news media?
thank you for your time!
mary (just a mom)
once again, though it's maybe not enough- i'm saying"
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Old 12-16-2004, 05:42 PM
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Bluemama, you hit it on the nail. I keep wondering why don't the situation get the exposure it needs. Hell, I saw on television a day before Scott Peterson got sentenced, a commentator said, "They should give him life in prsion so he can keep paying for those murders. They will rape and harass him over and over for the rest of his days." Imagine how mwany people saw and heard what I saw and heard? So therefore, people know exactly what goes on in prisons and they DO NOT CARE! MAJORITY DO NOT CARE! This country was built on rape, blood and slavery. What do you expect? I am baffled by it all. It is a conspiracy and control out of control. You see all the people who read this post and said nothing at all didn't you? I rest my case. I can't say more. Headache is a comin!
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Old 12-16-2004, 07:25 PM
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IF ever one would stay foused and carefully rasied a question or too maybe they'd do something BUT the problem is they know how to back us down " we rasie cane and they<DOC> step on our inmate till we back off!
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Old 12-16-2004, 07:48 PM
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bunny and idy, exactly! let's just keep on making noise, i suppose.
thanks for your input!
keep the faith,
stay focused!
mary
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Old 12-17-2004, 02:17 PM
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Bluemama,

I always make noise in VA. I live in DC. But my Hubbie is in VA. I make noise enough for them to have nightmares so to speak. I guess if the people who have the money, especially old money, then that would make a diference.
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Old 12-19-2004, 11:38 AM
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I think what we really need is for all those 2.2 million people who are incarcerated to have all their family and friends, and all of us here at PTO and other forums like this, to find a common goal and speak out as one voice. There are a lot of people out there in the world that have no idea about what is happening with the criminal justice system. I know I had no clue until I started working as a corrections officer.

I knew that if you committed a crime that you could be sent to prison, but I had no idea that the sentences were for so long, or how much money it cost to keep an individual in prison. Now that I know I am very upset that my tax money is being spent this way. I wouldn't be so upset about it if I could see that long sentences were helping or that there was actually some rehabilitation going on, but there isn't. And most people forget that the ones in prison are human beings with the same feelings, hopes, and dreams that we all have. They have made mistakes just as everyone else has, they are just paying a higher price than most do.

I am sorry if I offend anyone with this post, it is not intended to. This is just my opinion.
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Old 12-19-2004, 03:54 PM
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well said, gryphon. unity might be impossible when it comes to politics, though - dontcha think? and this billion dollar business of corrections IS politics, in my own humbe opinion.
thanks for your post, gryphon!
keep the faith!
stay focused!
mary
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Old 12-19-2004, 09:15 PM
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Ya know your right Bluemama, it is all about politics. But who elects the politicians? It probably won't happen in my life time, but if we could all come together and put up a united front, these politicians would have to listen to us sooner or later, wouldn't they?

I know where I work, we are always losing good officers because they can't deal with the way things are run and I hear it's the same at most prisons. I personally have thought about quitting myself because I don't see anything good from sending people to prison for so long. It is a whole different world, and then they expect the inmates to adjust to the real world with nothing more than what they remember of it before they went in. It is just not right and really not good politics. But that is just my opinion, again.
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Old 12-20-2004, 08:20 PM
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exactly, gryph! here's something just off sentencing.typepad.com ( i just love the way professor berman presents facts without spin or slant):
A few weeks ago, as noted here, the Washington Post ran this op-ed entitled "Mandatory Madness" in which law professor and NACDL president Barry Scheck calls for reform of harsh federal mandatory drug sentences. In the middle of his wide-ranging and powerful critique of federal sentencing laws, Professor Scheck stated: "According to the Bureau of Prisons, more than half of the 180,000-plus people in federal institutions are there for drug law violations. Most are low-level, small-time and nonviolent offenders."
Barry Scheck has some pull, some experience and a whole heck of a lot of status in the legal community. If he says it's an apple, not an orange - I think most people would accept that don't you? But look at the "response" from Dan Bryant of the Justice Department:
"We agree that there should be a healthy debate about sentencing, but we insist that this requires equipping Congress and the American people with the facts, not misleading rhetoric."
Now, here's the political part...did Professor Scheck just let it lie? Of course not!
Here's the "spin" on the justice department's spin:
Putting aside dickering over rhetorical use of facts, the data stressed in the Bryant letter actually prove Scheck's chief points. The statement that "66 percent of federal offenders have been convicted of multiple or violent crimes" in turn means that 34% (more than 1/3) of all federal offenders are one-time, nonviolent offenders (and I suspect the percentage of low-level, nonviolent drug offenders may be even higher). With a federal prison population of over 180,000, this suggests that in excess of 60,000 persons are serving time in a federal prison as a result of a one-time, nonviolent offense. It seems our federal prisons are in fact filled with nonviolent, first-time offenders. (Notably, the 60,000 persons now serving federal time as a result of a one-time, nonviolent offense is more than double the total federal prison population 25 years ago.)
So, we've got some "friends" out there - we just have to make sure we're finding them and supporting them. Go over to that web page if you get a chance, gryph. It's one of the best for up to date sentence blogging!
keep the faith!
stay focused!
mary
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Old 12-20-2004, 08:35 PM
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Thanks Bluemama, I spend a lot of time at that particular site. And yes, professor Berman does spice it up over there. I get a real kick out of his commentaries on the Blakely situation. To bad there is not a case about the eighth amendment, ya know the cruel and unusual punishment one. In my opinion, long prison terms are cruel and unusual punishment. I think any sane person who had to spend an extended amount of time in prison would go mad. I only work there for 40 hours a week and it drives me crazy.

I give the people who are sentenced to prison and have spent so many years there a big thumbs up because I know that I probably would not make it.
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Old 05-26-2005, 04:25 PM
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My sister was convicted on April 22, 2005 for Conspirarcy Drug charges. She was sentenced to 30months and the RDAP program, ( which we now find out is very over crowed and she may not even get there). She was never in trouble before this, never even a driving ticket. The judges don't care. They ask you, your friends and families to write letters to the court to have leinincy on them, Do they even read them? I think not. We are just in disblief over the whole sentencing amount. I know longer have faith in our goverment or the crapy system it has in place. So I guess my question if anyone knows is this, does anyone know which federal prisons in florida have the RDAP for women? I worry and stress on a day to day basis. The goverment doesn't care who this hurts and affects. Sorry to ramble and vent, but my wounds are still fresh and sting when I talk about this situation.

Teri in Fort Lauderdale
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Old 04-12-2006, 06:01 PM
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The thing is it's all about politics. The politicians are going to vote the way that will get them more votes by the public, and they're going to tell us what we want to hear.
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Old 04-17-2006, 01:15 PM
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Finally! Someone who feels the same way as I do! My husband went to prison for marijuana charges when our daughter was just 7 weeks old. She is now 7 months old, and not to whine, but I am so busy and stressed as it is, but my husband is being treated completely unfairly! He is currently in solitary confinement for something he didn't do, but no one cares--it's a guard's word against his. They are pratically starving him and I'm to the point where I feel like I could honestly have a breakdown! The system is so corrupt! And what CAN we do? Please, if anyone knows, do share!
And for that matter, it's not just the prison system, it's the WHOLE system! Look around us--they have the average working person so busy just trying to survive that we barely have time to think about making a difference--much less actually doing it!! SOMETHING will give--maybe not now, but just wait until all the children of these inmates grow up hating the system. Something will change--it's going to have to.

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Old 04-18-2006, 05:25 AM
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it's tea party time again. this country is ripe for another revolution. the difficulty will be in getting people to act.
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Old 04-18-2006, 08:40 AM
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Crone2004:
you are so right! The country is in great need and due for another revolution. But HOW are enough people going to be motivated for it? It seems like people are just so willing to put blinders on, stare at the tv, and eat snacks, when in fact, 99% of this country should be angry as hell!
What is it going to take??
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Old 04-18-2006, 07:44 PM
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MommyEmma, I think a lot of people just are afraid to get involved for a variety of reasons. Some have no idea what to do, where to go, who to talk to, etc. Others feel that only politicians or "rocket scientists" are capable of making changes.

I became an activist years ago with domestic violence issues against women, then NARAL, the adoption reform, etc. The legislators kept telling us over the years that they wanted to hear from their constituents. They wanted to hear from the citizens of their states. It can be done with a phone call, it can be in writing or one can appear personally at hearings to talk to more than one legislator/senator at a time.

The policy makers want to hear from *you* (the average *Joe*)! Give them what they want!!
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Old 04-19-2006, 05:27 AM
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Default It takes a politician that has been there ...

We need more politicians like Connecticut State Rep. William Dyson ... someone who has had a family member experience life after prison ....

The Dawn of a New Movement
On any given day, America locks down some 2.3 million people. Some 656,000 emerge every year; about two-thirds of them end up behind bars again.
By Ellis Cose
Newsweek

April 24, 2006 issue - Every movement has its seminal moment-when an insight patently obvious in retrospect begins to come clearly into focus. Prisoner re-entry guru Jeremy Travis places his moment in 1999. He was then director of the National Institute of Justice, and his boss, Attorney General Janet Reno, asked a simple question: "What are we doing about all the people coming out of prison?"
No one had a clue. The search for answers subsequently spawned a host of initiatives that may fundamentally alter how society deals with people who have served time. The issue is hardly trivial. On any given day, America locks down some 2.3 million people. And almost all eventually get out. Some 656,000 or so emerge every year; about two thirds of them end up behind bars again.
Edward Davis, the top cop in Lowell, Mass., found that scenario profoundly disturbing and resolved to try to change it-at least for Lowell, which "hit the skids," he says, in the mid-'90s. Crime had risen dramatically, and Davis saw no prospect of "locking-up our way out of the problem." So the police department adopted a new approach-which entailed visiting each prisoner upon his or her release. The cops delivered a two-part message. One was a warning ("We are watching you") and the other an offer to connect ex-prisoners with services to help them get on their feet. Lowell has since seen a 60 percent drop in serious crimes.
Connecticut state Rep. William Dyson had a similar epiphany. As Appropriations Committee chair in the state House, he saw how expensive and wasteful it was to warehouse people. Also, his son had served hard time, which gave Dyson a real understanding of the barriers to re-entry.
Prisoners generally lose all forms of identification while inside, which cripples their ability to function outside. When released, they are prohibited from associating with other felons, so those with relatives with records often cannot go home. They are essentially barred from certain professions, and from receiving food stamps, housing subsidies and certain school loans. They, in short, enter "a kind of neverland that encourages them to go back to doing what they were doing," Dyson says.
Dyson and staffer Andrew Clark incorporated "justice reinvestment" ideas into a bill aimed at reducing prison overcrowding. After the legislation passed in 2004, Connecticut transferred $13.4 million from the budget for housing prisoners out of state into a range of programs and activities aimed at reducing recidivism.
There is "a buzz about [re-entry]," says Travis, who is now president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Boston, Chicago and San Francisco recently implemented measures to reduce discrimination against former inmates. The re-entry bug has even bitten President George W. Bush, who proposed an initiative in his 2004 State of the Union address. A so-called Second Chance Act introduced in the Senate by Judiciary chair Arlen Specter is working its way through Congress. Along with Democrats, such Republicans as Sam Brownback, Jon Kyl and Rick Santorum have signed on as cosponsors.
As Nancy Levigne of the Urban Institute notes, many of the ideas called "re-entry" used to be called "rehabilitation." But rehabilitation became "a dirty word to most Republicans," which led to cutbacks in educational opportunities and virtually every other humanizing influence in prison. " 'Re-entry' doesn't sound soft on crime," says Levigne.
One limitation of the new approach is that it typically ignores prisoners when they are actually behind bars. "Saying we don't have to address these issues on the inside but [can] address them when they come out is ridiculous," says Glenn Martin of the National HIRE Network. Another limitation is that it doesn't address policy decisions that have led this nation to send so many young people to prison in the first place. "I'm fairly pessimistic the mass imprisonment we see now in poor urban communities really has much prospect of being reversed," observes Bruce Western, author of the forthcoming "Punishment and Inequality in America."
Western is happy re-entry is coming into its own, but thinks something grander is needed. He is no doubt correct. But the notion nonetheless represents real progress-and a noteworthy advance in the thinking of political leaders who deluded themselves for so long into believing that it was cheaper to lock people up than to help them stay out of trouble.

http://c.msn.com/c.gif?NC=1255&NA=11...%2f12334540%2f© 2006 MSNBC.com
URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12334540/site/newsweek/
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Old 04-24-2006, 08:15 AM
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Yeah OK, all in favour of more politicians doing what they are saying what they are going to do (hope that made sense) but it also takes people like you and me jumping up and down and being vocal. Getting together, joining groups, supporting them, being active with them or forming groups should none exist. Don't wait for the politican - he's happy to wait for his next fat pay rememeber - get up and get active!
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Old 04-24-2006, 04:21 PM
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I couldn't agree with you more Malaika! I was looking at the Prison Activism list here on PTO and was shocked at how little activity there is there! I would have thought with over 60,000 members that that section of the forum would have been hopping a bit more. I just don't understand why it is so difficult to get people involved. I mean, people come here every day for support, to post in the game rooms, etc. but no one wants to write a letter to try to make changes for their loved ones. I just don't get it.
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Old 05-03-2006, 07:01 PM
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If you want to help I suggest getting in contact with http://prisonactivist.org/. They always need volunteers and have ways to help viva internet. They do a lot of good work within both the political and correctional system and are making a impact.

Granted it isn't as impressive as large demonstrations, but it is working and that is what is important.
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