October 14, 2012

Building Bridges - October 2012 edition

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

Their brief summary is given below. Please see Building Bridges for full details:

1.  Join the movement to Raise the Age of Criminal Responsibility. Russell Simmons and his brothers Danny and Joseph "Rev. Run" have created a foundation to provide inner city youth with exposure to the arts. On Oct 17, you are invited to be the guest of CCA at the Simmons brothers' Rush Art Gallery in Manhattan, where youth will express their daily experiences in the criminal and juvenile system and depict the need to raise the age of criminal responsibility in NYS.

2.  Certificates of Relief from Disabilities and for Good Conduct restore the right to vote and certain other rights regarding housing and employment to formerly incarcerated people still on parole. The Board of Parole has the discretion to grant the certificates. When George Alexander was Chair of the Board he encouraged commissioners to confer Certificates of Relief from Disabilities upon release from prison so the person could benefit from the support when it was most needed.

3.  Not everyone appreciates the Merle Cooper Program as much as Corey Parks does. Here is another point of view.

4.  The Drug War's impact on African-American men in Albany will be reported on by the Center for Law and Justice on Oct. 25 in Albany.

5.  Family Empowerment Day 5 in Buffalo was a big success. Rufus and Jenny Triplett, the keynote speakers and Ebony Magazine's "2012 Couple of the Year", shared the story of Jenny's incarceration and how they managed to keep the marriage and the family intact and raise three sons during it.

6.  David Rothenberg, founder of the Fortune Society, speaking about the connection of Art and Criminal Justice at the Oct. 17th Reentry Roundtable, will tell how the Fortune Society was spawned by a play he produced in 1967.

7.  Higher education in prison has been demonstrated to greatly reduce recidivism. The Center for Community Alternatives is premièring a movie on barriers to college acceptance on Thursday, Oct 25th, followed by a panel discussion with some of the people in the film. Education from the Inside Out Coalition (EIO) is seeking restoration of access to higher education by inviting readers to view a video and sign a petition at their website. Some higher education programs which already exist are listed.

8.  Parole news: August release rates, and some highlights from Tom Grant's New York Law Journal interview. A summary of the Duffy v. Evans case:
John Duffy v. Andrea Evans, Chairperson, New York State Division of Parole, 11 Civ 7605 (S.D.N.Y., September 14, 2012), a case recently decided in New York's Southern District.
             Much like Thwaites v. New York State Bd. of Parole, Duffy is significant. On compelling factual grounds, Plaintiff Mr. Duffy, a parole applicant, had concrete evidence that his parole board had pre-determined the outcome of his parole hearing. (Mr. Duffy had a copy of the Commissioner's Worksheet that was completed by the Board before the parole hearing.)
            Notably, the court held: (i) the Board of Parole predetermined Duffy's parole decision, thereby violating his right to due process; (ii) the Board of Parole denied Duffy a fair and impartial parole hearing in retaliation for his having filed an Article 78 proceeding in state court, thereby stating a First Amendment retaliation claim; (iii) Mr. Duffy sufficiently stated a "class of one" equal protection claim on the ground that he was denied parole when other similarly situated incarcerated persons (who did not file Article 78 petitions against the Board of Parole) were granted parole due to the Board's retaliatory animus.

9.  The Prisoner Justice Network quotes, at greater length than in last month's column, from several of the speakers at the September 14th event at Riverside Church (Pam Africa, Soffiyah Elijah, Mumia Abu Jamal).

10.  Prison Voices Project, a radio program aired on WGXC 90.7 FM in Hudson N.Y. would like listeners' help with planning the programming.

11.  Solitary Confinement, SHU, the Box, Extreme Isolation, no matter what you call it, is a form of torture. DOCCS Commissioner Fischer said in his article for the Times Union that its use in NYS was necessary for safety in prisons. A few days later, the NY Civil Liberties Union released a study which found it to be arbitrary, inhumane and unsafe.

12.  National Action Network, NYC Chapter of the Second Chance Program, will be discussing the empowerment of women on Friday October 26.  The "Women's In-Powerment" forum is free and light refreshments will be served.