December 15, 2011

Building Bridges - December 2011 edition

The December edition of Building Bridges has been issued by the Prison Action Network.

Articles in this issue include the following:

1. Attica - The Correctional Association (CA) of New York visited Attica C. F. on April 12 and 13, 2011 and reports that Attica has changed significantly since 1971, although some severe problems do persist. So severe that Director Soffiyah Elijah concludes that it is broken beyond repair, and Governor Cuomo should shutter its doors forever.

2. Dorothy Day Apartment building on Riverside Dr. in West Harlem once was home to drug dealers but is now not only beautiful, but it also pulses with pride and hope and happiness.

3. The Guardian Newspaper is interested in hearing from U.S. inmates, their families, prison guards or anyone whose life has been impacted by incarceration.
 If you would like to contribute to the series, please write to: Sadhbh Walshe, The Guardian, PO Box 1466, New York, NY 10150.

4. Hour Children, a Queens nonprofit group, is creating affordable housing in Long Island City for formerly incarcerated women trying to rebuild their lives.

5. Job Op: Trinity Alliance of the Capital Region is seeking a program director for their SNUG program.

6. Legislation updates: 65%, Merit Time Bill, SAFE Parole Act, Domestic Violence Survivor Justice Act.

7. NYS Parole Reform Campaign will present a workshop at the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus Weekend in February. We continue to work on clarifying the changes to the current parole statute. Part 3 of Setting the Record Straight deals with Parole's 3 Rs.

8. Column #2 of the New York State Prisoner Justice Network discusses their involvement with Occupy Wall Street and asks for your involvement in that work.

9. Parole News: TAP and COMPAS per Chairwoman Evans; October parole release decisions.

10. Prisoner of the Census: An Albany judge has upheld a state law that counts inmates, for legislative reapportionment purposes, in their home community rather than the district in which they are incarcerated.

11. Prison Legal Services is looking for lawyers to do pro-bono work and offers incentives.

12. Radio messages from home to those inside. CALLS FROM HOME is a gripping radio broadcast that brings the voices of prisoner families, former prisoners, poets, musicians, and everyday citizens to the airwaves. The broadcast consists of holiday greetings from family members to their loved ones behind bars and the over 2.4 million people incarcerated in the United States.

13. Taking Care of Business means communities building an inclusive environment for people returning home from prison, by Karima Amin, CEO of Prisoners Are People Too, Inc.

The Prison Action Network gives a summary of the 2011 changes to Parole Board policies:

In 2011, the governor revised parole board policies when he merged DOCS and the Division of Parole. He left the Board as an independent body. In doing so he revised the parole statute to direct the Parole Board to:

1. consider the person's readiness for reentry and reintegration.
2. establish procedures for including risk and needs principles in their decision making process.

The other eight factors that the parole board must consider are the same as always, except they are now all in one place. They still include "the seriousness of the offense".

In 2011 the Safe And Fair Evaluations (SAFE) Parole Act was introduced to the legislature as Senate Bill 5374 and Assembly Bill 7939. It is not yet a law. To become a law it will have to pass in both houses of the legislature and be signed by the governor.