Tag Archives: end mass incarceration

Justice & Equity Conference Saturday

When:          Sat., Oct 1, 9:30 Registration, 10 am to 2:00 PM – Lunch Included.
Where:         All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church
                        196 Elm St,, Braintree – Handicap accessible, Free.
Who:              YOU – open to the public, along with activists

This is a crucial time in the struggle for equity, issues of faith and the need for action.

Presenters will discuss justice and corrections reform in Massachusetts and the anticipated impact of the Council of State Government Study with recommended reform in Dec. 2016.
Hear from a formerly incarcerated person on what it’s like to be at the mercy of the Commonwealth’s justice system; as well as alternatives to courts and prison, such as restorative justice, and what you can do to support sane alternatives.
Another panel inform people on the progress of the Fair Share Amendment and what you can do help get this passed.

Join us for lively discussion and plan to the next steps on how individuals, groups and congregations can join the movement for justice.
Save the date – What do sheriffs do and why should I care?
When:         Monday, Oct. 24, 7-8 pm
Where:         From the comfort of your own home
Call in:         605 475 5900  access 618-9987#
 
Why:            Find out how the 14 county sheriffs in Mass. impact the county jails and who                             is up for election.
Who:           Activist Angel Cosme of Brockton Interfaith  will share information on why                               voters must care about this powerful role that impacts incarceration and                                    recidivism.
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Has anyone ever died of a pot overdose?

Hear some reasons why marijuana legalization and regulation in Massachusetts makes sense on this free statewide phone call on Ballot Question 4 on Monday, Sept. 19, 7-8 pm 
 
Call in: 515 739 1020,  157277#
There will be time for Q&A of our guest speaker Bill Downing, a member of MASS CANN/NORML, a public-education organization that has been educating in preparation for marijuana decriminalization, medical and full regulation since 1989.
Question 4 for is the legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana. If voters say YES , Massachusetts will join Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia in legalizing and regulating marijuana for recreational use.
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The speaker in the Sept. 23 event below is Rev. Dr. Harold Dean “Doc” Trulear is formerly incarcerated. His church community rallied around him to welcome him home after incarceration. He will inspire you to reach out to others returning home to avoid the high rate of re-offense, and the many barriers to successful re-entry after prison.

Please share this with your communities.
You are invited to a workshop on

Prison Ministry: Forming Networks for Connection, Growth and Healing

at the First Parish Church, Unitarian Universalist

50 School Street, Bridgewater, MA

Friday, September 23, 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM

Free and open to all. Lunch included.

Let’s learn together: 

  • To open our hearts to the incarcerated and to their families, friends and all who are working with them
  • To embrace and provide understanding to the incarcerated and members of communities working with them, whether they be congregational, academic, political or institutional
  • To collaborate and learn to build networks with others supporting prisoners
  • To form networks and support systems across all boundaries

 First Parish is honored to host this workshop, led by Rev. Dr. Harold Dean “Doc” Trulear, in collaboration with Messiah Baptist Church of Brockton. Dr. Trulear is Associate Professor of Applied Theology at Howard University and Director of the Healing Communities Prison Ministry and Prisoner Reentry Project of the Philadelphia Leadership Foundation.

To register:

Go to the workshop registration form: http://tinyurl.com/hbjyxrx

Or email: firstprincipleproject@gmail.com with your name and affiliated congregation or organization.

For more information, contact:

Dr. Susan A. Holton, 508-821-2034firstprincipleproject@gmail.com;

Betty Gilson, 774-226-0942gillyflower@verizon.net;

or Rev. Rachel Tedesco, 508-944-6436revrayted@comcast.net

PEW study might do some good in MA

Alaska Draws Up Plans to Reduce Expanding Prison Population
Date:  01-20-2016

Recommendations include re-examining the bail bond system and revising drug laws

The Alaska Dispatch News reported that the Alaska Criminal Justice Commission has released recommendations on how to curb the state’s overly populated prison system. The Commission was aided byPew Charitable Trusts in drawing up the plans.

According to the Dispatch News, besides collecting data to measure the effectiveness of new laws and policies, and installing an oversight council, the recommendations include:

  • Expanding the use of citations in place of arrests for low-level, nonviolent offenses.
  • Deciding whether to release someone before trial based on the likelihood they’ll return for subsequent hearings or commit other crimes, instead of on their ability to pay a monetary bond. A review of court files showed the majority of cases required some type of monetary bond and “52 percent of sampled defendants were detained for the entirety of their pretrial period,” the report says.
  • Focusing resources on high-risk defendants — those who are “most likely to fail” or reoffend, the report says. More restrictive release conditions would be reserved for these offenders.
  • Limiting the use of prison space for low-level misdemeanor offenders by reclassifying some misdemeanors and violations, including changing disorderly conduct laws to allow for arrests but limit jail time to 24 hours, among other changes, the report says.
  • Revising drug penalties to focus the most severe punishments on serious drug crimes. Among the specific actions recommended, lawmakers are encouraged to reclassify the simple possession of heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine as a misdemeanor.
  • Implementing a specialty parole option for long-term, geriatric inmates.
  • Incentivizing treatment for sex offenders with sentence reductions for completing treatment

Mental health and Michelle Alexander

Join EMIT on Thursday, Dec. 3 at the Maynard Town Hall, 195 Main Street, to discuss how mental health is treated in prisons, and the relationship to drug addiction. Joining in the conversation are police chiefs from Arlington, Hudson, and Maynard as well as Sarah Abbott, director of the jail diversion program for Advocates, Inc. Three legislators will weigh in on the discussion: State Senator Jamie Eldridge, and State Representatives Sean Garballey and Kate Hogan.

The event is 7-830 pm with light refreshments, and is free and open to the public. The cosponsors are the Maynard and Hudson Democratic Town Committees.

Join EMIT on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 6-7:30 pm at the Hazlett Room of the Winthrop Public Library,  2 Metcalf Square for a showing of the 23-minute TEDx talk by Michelle Alexander, author of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.” A discussion will follow, with free refreshments offered.

Sponsored by EMIT and hosted by the Winthrop Public Library. For information on either event, contact emit.susan@gmail.com, 978-772-3930.

Save the date: June 9 Judiciary Committee hearing at Gardner Auditorium, Statehouse 1pm

To support criminal justice reform, you can contact members of the Judiciary Committee of Massachusetts before the June 9 hearing and if possible, attend hearing at Gardner auditorium at 1 pm. EPOCA will be sponsoring buses and possibly a rally before the hearing.

Justice will be restored and our prison population reduced ONLY through a series of bills passed over a number of years. In January, state legislators introduced many bills for justice reform for the 2015-16 session on Beacon Hill. The next step is for the Judiciary Committee [and other committees] to hold hearings and a favorable reference for each bill so it can be debated and voted on the floors of the Senate and House on Beacon Hill.

You can have impact by attending the hearing, and/or through  calls, letters and especially face-to-face visits with your legislator. See this link for a list of Judiciary Committee members. Even if your legislator is not on the Judiciary Committee, you can still call and write to the members and advocate they support reform.

Here are some of the bills supported by EMIT and maybe heard on June 9, 2015. For a complete list of bills, go here.  fact sheets on each bill, go here.

    1. Repeal Mandatory Minimums – (S 786 Creem) (H 1620 Swan) to allow judges to determine sentences to fit the crime for drug offenders. These laws contribute to the cost of prison and jails, and to their overcrowding.
    2. Pre-trial and Bail reform – (S 802 Donnelly) (H 1584 Sannicandro), to transition from a bail system based on ability to pay, to a system to determine if someone is not a danger to others, and will show up for court.
    3. Implement restorative justice programs – (S 71 Eldridge) (H 1313 Garbally), to provide an opportunity for offenders to repair the harm caused by the event, as opposed to punishment and incarceration.
    4. Extraordinary Medical Placement – (S 843 Jehlen) (H 1628 Toomey), to release terminally ill inmates to the community. The state spends an inordinate amount of resources to care for seriously ill incarcerated people who are no longer are a threat to public safety. We are one of the few states without this law.
    5. End collateral sanctions at the Registry of Motor Vehicles – (S 1812 Chandler) (H 3039 Malia), to remove the penalty that a drug offender loses driving privileges for up to five years and pays $500 or more to reinstate.
    6. An act to Increase Neighborhood Safety and Opportunity – (S 64 Chang-Diaz) (H 1429 Keefe). This Omnibus Bill will improve the Commonwealth’s criminal justice system, and re-invest in education and job training.
    7. Caregivers bill—(H 1382 Holmes) to establish community-based sentencing alternatives for primary caretakers of dependent children, charged with non-violent crimes, to alleviate harm to families and communities.
    8. Solitary confinement – (S 1255 Eldridge) (H 1475 Malia) to ensure appropriate use of segregation in prisons and jails that will also reduce recidivism and curb unnecessary spending.

Join us at the Statehouse June 9, 1 pm hearing to support criminal justice reform in Massachusetts

Campaign to Greatly Lessen Mass Incarceration

Increasing Treatment for Drug Offenders and Decreasing Incarceration, Keep Families Together, Lessen Crime in Our Neighborhoods, Redemption and Second Chances and Jobs for Ex-Prisoners, Save Taxpayers money

COME to THE HEARING on legislation to lessen mass incarceration, lessen crime, and increase jobs    Tuesday June 9 at 1:00 in Room B-1 State House in Boston

CALL YOUR State Senator TODAY and ask him or her to have the hearing moved to the Gardner Auditorium to insure there is sufficient room for all attendees.

Too many people go to prison who instead need drug treatment, mental health services, and/or jobs.   The consequences are huge when we otherwise send people to prison; scarring individuals, harming families, increasing crime in communities, increasing costs to all taxpayers. Incarceration also disproportionately affects African-Americans and Latinos.  We need to be “smart” on crime to increase safety and opportunity.

The legislation we are working for is the Justice Reinvestment Act: An Act to Increase Neigbhorhood Safety and Opportunity, House 1429 and Senate 64.

  1. End Mandatory Minimum Sentences for drug offenders and restore that decision to judges who can examine the facts and circumstances of the case….this will lead to more people being sent to drug treatment instead of prison.
  2. End the $500 fine to regain your driver’s license if convicted of a drug offense; it’s an unfair burden to put on people trying to go forward after prison.
  3. Change some felonies into misdemeanors like raising the threshold for felony larceny from $250 to $1250. Lessening sentences for drug possession, but not for possession with intent to distribute (drug dealing).
  4. Compassionate release of long term prisoners with terminal illnesses
  5. Bail Reform so people’s bail is based on their showing up for trial not based on whether they can afford to raise the bail funds.
  6. Jobs—The funds saved from lessening numbers in prison and lessening the length of sentences would go into a fund for jobs and job training.

The Jobs Not Jails Coalition is organizing for passage of this law.  This includes community groups, labor unions, religious based groups, ex-prisoners groups.  We are building allies to from law enforcement and elected officials.

For more info, contact: Steve O’Neill of EPOCA (508) 410-7676 steve@exprisoners.org,      Lew Finfer of MCAN: (617) 470-2912 LewFinfer@gmail.com,         Rev. Paul Ford of BWA  RevFord@BostonWorkersAlliance.org (617) 955-0559,  Elena Letona of Neighbor to Neighbor (617) 997-7503  Elena@N2NMA.org, Rev. Laura Ahart, Black Ministerial Alliance  (857) 492-1634

 Justice Reinvestment   Senate Bill 64                   House Bill 1429

 An Act to Increase Neighborhood Safety and Opportunity

Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz (D-Boston) and Rep. Mary Keefe (D-Worcester) and 55 co-sponsoring legislators have filed an omnibus bill backed by a large coalition of community, religious, and union organizations to improve Massachusetts’ systems of criminal justice, end mass incarceration, and re-invest in our communities through job and educational opportunity.   Included in the bill are:

Criminal Justice Reforms

  • Repeal Mandatory Minimum Drug Sentences – This would restore judicial discretion in sentencing for drug charges, reducing the risk of longer than warranted prison terms;
  • Reduce Certain Low-Level Felonies to Misdemeanors – Under this scenario certain offenses (such as shoplifting or other petty theft, or low-level drug charges) would be made misdemeanors, with different sanctions that rely less on long and expensive terms of incarceration;
  • End Collateral Sanctions at the RMV – This would eliminate the current law allowing the Registry of Motor Vehicles to confiscate the license of a person convicted of any drug offense (even where charges are unrelated to the operation of a vehicle) for up to 5 years and charge at least $500 to reinstate it; and
  • Extraordinary Medical Placement – This would allow a judge to decide whether a person who is permanently incapacitated or terminally ill should be transferred out of prison for treatment, remaining under state custody.
  • Bail Reform—though not in this bill, we are also supporting a separate Bail Reform Bill so people are no longer in prison just because they could not raise bail for less serious crimes\
  • Jobs and Schools The final sections of the bill establish a Trust fund with the cost savings from these improvements in the criminal justice system. Trust funds will be used to right our unbalanced economy by investing in evidence-based practices including job development efforts for youth, veterans, victims of violence, and other people with significant barriers to employment, and supporting programs that help at-risk youth to stay in school.
  • Programs supported by the Trust will include:
  • Job training programs to address the skills gaps identified by Massachusetts industry leaders;
  • Transitional job and pre-apprenticeship programs to prepare people for today’s workforce and place them in good, living-wage jobs;
  • Youth jobs that provide both sustenance and experience;
  • Initiatives to create new jobs through social enterprises, coops, and other businesses; and
  • Evidence-based programs that specialize in drop-out prevention and recovery, giving youth a second chance at academic achievement and setting them on a path to success.
  • NOTE: Legislators are also filing many of the above sections as separate, individual bills: Mandatory minimums: Sen. Creem and Rep. Swan;  Extraordinary Medical Placement: Sen. Jehlen and Rep. Toomey;  RMV Collateral Sanctions: Sen. Chandler and Rep. Malia.

For more info, contact: Steve O’Neill of EPOCA (508) 410-7676 steve@exprisoners.org,      Lew Finfer of MCAN: (617) 470-2912 LewFinfer@gmail.com,         Rev. Paul Ford of BWA  RevFord@BostonWorkersAlliance.org (617) 955-0559,  Elena Letona of Neighbor to Neighbor (617) 997-7503  Elena@N2NMA.org, Rev. Laura Ahart, Black Ministerial Alliance  (857) 492-1634

Next steps toward reforming the Mass. justice system

THANKS TO YOU, regular voters who care, EMIT and UU Mass Action Network, delivered 700-plus

Massachusetts statehouse and state legislators have passed dozens of bills to fill our prisons and  jails. These bills often discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, income, social class, education, mental health and drug and substance addiction and abuse

The Statehouse is where we need to encourage lawmakers to pass a series of bills over a number of years to untangle the injustice of mass incarceration in Massachusetts.

letters to state lawmakers in January 2015 asking them to cosponsor criminal justice reform, especially to end mandatory minimum sentencing for low-level drug offenses and to reform pre-trial practices — what happens when someone gets arrested, and on what basis do we decide to incarcerate them, without being found guilty.

Reaching out to state lawmakers, especially representatives in face-to-face meetings, is one of the most effective ways to make our voice heard in future laws. This is the goal of EMIT.

We especially need voters to visit with state representatives in Springfield, New Bedford and Fall River, Plymouth-Cape Cod-The Islands, and Cape Ann/The North Shore. Can you join us? Please email emit.susan at g mail dot com. Our strategy is simple and issues can easily be understood and communicated to state legislators.

Thanks to the leadership of the State Senate President Stan Rosenberg, D-Amherst, the 40 members of the State Senate may be on board with criminal justice reform this legislative session. In 2015, we must focus on the 160 state representatives, and meet with them personally, in their home districts, with constituents like you and a few friends. You can meet at the public library or town hall for 30 minutes and share your urgency to end mass incarceration now.

EMIT is also co-sponsoring events to inform to reform so people feel more knowledgeable when meeting with state representatives.

Save March 28 in Amherst, 10 am to 2 pm at the UCC Church, 165 Main St. Featured speakers are Sen. Stan Rosenberg, who will give more details on justice reinvestment and State Sen. Jamie Eldridge who will describe some pending criminal justice reform bills. Formerly incarcerated people will share their stories, and participants will have time to network. Sponsored by EMIT and Social Justice Committee of Amherst UCC.

Save March 12 in New Bedford and April 16 in Springfield for additional events. More info to come.

In Arlington, on Saturday, March 14, 1-4:30 pm, attend a Road Map towards Justice: How to End Mass Incarceration in Massachusetts, at First Parish Unitarian Universalist 630 Massachusetts Avenue in Arlington.

Come learn about the bills related to mass incarceration and prison reform that might become law in the next two years, and how you can help make our criminal justice system more fair and effective.  You will hear from experts, receive fact sheets, and have time to connect with others and digest what you are learning.  Speakers include Rep. Dave Rogers, Rep. Sean Garballey, Barbara Dougan, Andrea James, Jon Tetherly, and EPOCA members.  Refreshments served too!

RSVPs to end-mass-incarceration@firstparish.info are appreciated but not required.

This interactive workshop is organized by the Mass Incarceration Working Group of First Parish Arlington and co-sponsored by the Criminal Justice Policy Coalition, End Mass Incarceration Together, EPOCA (Ex-Prisoners and Prisoners Organizing for Community Advancement), Families Against Mandatory Minimums, and the Mystic Valley Branch of the NAACP,