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For the 5 million formerly incarcerated people living in the U.S., landing a job means more than just personal success: It means finding a place in their communities and being able to care for their loved ones again. It’s well known that the obstacles to finding a job are severe for people who have been to prison. The scale of this problem, however, has been difficult to measure – until now.
Community members, formerly incarcerated people and anti-prison activists marched today through downtown Lansing to raise awareness about the 2018 national prisoner strike that began two days ago on Aug. 21, and will continue through Sept. 9. The national action is organized and led by prisoners around the country who have already begun engaging in hunger strikes, work stoppages and other actions to protest their inhumane living conditions. Their demands include “an immediate end to prison slavery” as well as various other demands related to sentencing reform and racism.
“The End of Policing,” a new book by Alex Vitale, examines the histories and failures of policing policies and provides examples of alternatives that successfully divest from dependence on police while strengthening the community. Vitale’s chapters on criminalizing homelessness and gang suppression in particular can be a useful tool in revealing ineffective policies in effect today in San Francisco. Join the San Francisco No Injunctions Coalition on July 12, City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s last planned court hearing to remove names from the city’s gang injunctions.
Two-term Richmond City Councilperson Jovanka is a leading contender for the open California State Assembly District 15 seat being contested by a dozen candidates. Jovanka wants “power to change the laws, to change oppressive, corrupt and racist policies … Politics impacts everything … We have to put ourselves at the table. If you’re not at the table, you’re probably on the menu.” She wants your vote and your support June 5 (and again in November) so she can take your causes to Sacramento.
While a graduate student in ethnic studies, Alicia Garza co-founded Black Lives Matter, an international organization that began in 2013 to fight violence and racism toward Black people. The organization began after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida. It has since grown to an international network of more than 40 chapters across North America and the United Kingdom.
Dimensions Dance Theatre presents its annual youth showcase, “The Village Matters,” on Sunday, May 7. Participants include Rites of Passage, Dimensions Extensions, LIKHA School of Philippine Dance, On Demand, BAY-Peace, Oakland Technical High School, Oakland High School, Bret Harte Middle School and Kipp Bridge Academy. The program also features guest artists Destiny Muhammad, “Harpist from the Hood,” and Batalá San Francisco.
On April 19-20, Bay Area community members and groups representing a wide range of stakeholders, including students with criminal records and their families, higher education program administrators, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and other elected officials, local employers Checkr and Uber, workforce development professionals, and social service agencies will gather to discuss barriers to education and employment for students with records and learn about opportunities for record clearing, advocacy, empowerment and coalition building.
A bipartisan group of U.S. senators and representatives yesterday introduced bicameral legislation, modeled on reforms that have taken hold in the states, to ensure that job seekers who have a conviction record in their past are not unfairly shut out from employment because of the stigma of a record, but rather are considered on their qualifications just like any other applicant.
On Oct. 11, the Justice Reinvestment Coalition of Alameda County held a march and rally calling on Alameda County to fulfill its promise to provide jobs for formerly incarcerated people. In June 2016, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors had voted unanimously (5-0) in favor of a new Re-Entry Hiring Program that aims to provide 1,400 county jobs for people impacted by the criminal justice system and youth in the school-to-prison pipeline in Alameda County.
On the surface, the recent “retirement” of the wardens from two of California’s women’s facilities appears to be a needed move in an effort to reform California’s violent correctional system. While many Californians are just beginning to agree that our Department of Corrections does more harm than good, many legal advocates and anti-prison activists have been fighting to make that very point from both inside and out of prison for years.
Of the millions of people imprisoned in the U.S., most will return home someday – but to what? Barriers to finding a place to live or earning a living – or merely surviving – surround formerly incarcerated people like prison walls. We’re organizing The Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People and Families Movement 1st National Conference in Oakland to come together and find ways to break down those walls.
Guards have been jarringly waking prisoners every 30 minutes on death row at the Central California Women’s Facility since May 2014, and in the Pelican Bay SHU since Aug. 2, 2015, for so-called “security/welfare checks.” This is serious, ongoing sleep deprivation which is torture. These checks may also be harming people in other prisons; PB SHU and CCWF death row is where we have heard the most complaints.
All of Us or None’s upcoming Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People’s Western Regional Conference is Sept. 20-21 at Oakstop, 1721 Broadway in downtown Oakland. It will be a time for people to discuss employment, housing, crimmigration, which is the connection between the punishment system in the U.S. and immigration policies, and more. Check out one of the main organizers, Manuel La Fontaine, about the conference and his life experiences.
Some of the important rewards about being a former member of the Black Panther Party include opportunities to pass on our history and legacy to the next generations and to learn what young activists in other communities are accomplishing. This give and take of information is vital to continuing the struggle for human rights and against this oppressive “injustice” system which exists here and worldwide.
Our Formerly Incarcerated Quest for Democracy (Q4D) Day continues to grow and evolve. This year we had over 250 committed people. We had around 30 teams advocating on legislation relevant to formerly incarcerated people and our communities. Grassroots co-sponsors got a chance to educate community members about their bills. And Sen. Holly Mitchell as well as Assemblymembers Reginald Jones-Sawyer and Autumn Burke addressed participants.
We commend Apple for taking prompt action to change a facially discriminatory policy. The Cupertino campus project, expected to yield thousands of construction jobs, can still provide a unique opportunity for Apple to support the local economy and provide work for an underserved population. It is not too late for Apple to right a wrong, prove its commitment to inclusion, and become a leader on fair hiring practices.
To formerly incarcerated people, their families, friends, allies and comrades, join us for a day of grassroots legislative visits at the California State Capitol on Monday, April 27. We need to speak out when our suffering outlasts our jail or prison sentences. Bills are being considered that directly relate to our capacity to thrive as human beings. Buses will roll out of both Northern and Southern California. Join us.
Bay Area All of Us or None (AOUON) members drove across the country this past weekend to Selma, Alabama, to attend the 50th anniversary commemoration of Bloody Sunday, which included a speech by President Obama and a reenactment of the historical march. They went to speak out about voting rights for formerly incarcerated people as well as the need for an executive order to Ban the Box for federal contractors.
The same mindset that allows a police officer to summarily execute an innocent, unarmed Black person in the street is the same mindset that allows an officer to plant evidence and lie on the witness stand. It allows a judge to appoint a knowingly incompetent defense attorney, and it allows a prosecutor to withhold evidence, use false evidence, to overcharge and to discriminate with impunity.
You may be aware of California’s ballot initiative Prop 47, which would reduce six crimes that could be charged as felonies to misdemeanors and prevent thousands of people from being incarcerated. Prop 47 represents an important opportunity to push back on overcharging people for crimes that leads to mass incarceration. All of Us or None will continue to loudly demand an end to overcharging and for the freedom of our people.
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