From a New NJ Blog: Decarcerate NJ: Panel Discussion on Mass Incarceration July 30 2014

Open letter to Newark Organizations and Individuals Engaged in or Concerned About the Struggles for Justice:
June 23, 2014

In the last 2 weeks, Newark residents and others have met to begin planning a panel discussion on the topic of mass incarceration to be held on the steps of City Hall in Newark at 5:30 pm on Wednesday July 30.

We are hoping to use this event to launch a statewide coordinated effort to bring about the passage of what we call The NJ Decarceration Act that will call for sweeping reductions in NJ’s state prison populations.  We are sure that you have heard the statistics, how this nation has 6% of the world’s population yet holds 25% of the world’s prisoners, more than every other country on the planet.

Already, close to 1000 NJ residents have signed a petition with specific proposals as to how this can be accomplished.

 https://www.change.org/petitions/nj-state-senate-and-assembly-we-call-for-the-passage-of-a-nj-decarceration-act-to-deliver-large-scale-reductions-in-nj-s-state-adult-and-youth-prison-populations

 While there are many political and social sectors now calling for one kind of “prison reform” or another, given the racist and classist way that this state and nation determines who gets arrested, who gets prosecuted, who gets sentenced and for how long, it is of utmost importance that our communities take the lead in structuring the kind of decarceration legislation that is initiated and fought for.  We need to take the first step.

Our panel discussion will consist of three mini panels:

1. The first will be a broad overview of the mass incarceration issue that will break down the social function of mass incarceration, what interests it serves, who profits and gains from it. We will also discuss the racist element, how it is used to control our communities, the conditions of prisons, the treatment of prisoners, the health toll on the incarcerated and the forms of torture deployed in prisons. Last but not least will we demonstrate how mass incarceration devastates families as well as communities socially, politically and economically in some form of fashion.

2. The second mini panel will represent voices of Newark in discussing the specifics on a local level. The Newark community will express the toll mass incarceration takes within the community. The importance around this issue is critical to the survival and well being of the Newark community.

3. The third mini panel will talk about organizing this effort going forward, how to press for the introduction of NJ Decarceration Act, how to have similar forums in the other communities around NJ, how to approach the NJ legislature on the issue, how to mobilize support from within the community and families that are directly affected by mass incarceration.

While we have held two meetings, so far we have discussed primarily the logistics.  We are hoping that Newark’s rich and diverse array of activist organizations and voices participate and become part of this effort.  Our next meeting to continue organizing the panel will occur on Wednesday, June 25  6:30 pm at 298 S. 6th Street on the corner of So. Orange Av. ( the old habitat for humanity building).

We invite your members, organizers and leaders as individuals as well as your organization to become part of this effort.  We believe there is tremendous potential for success to deliver real and significant decarceration in NJ though our organizations and individuals working in common purpose to demand the passage and implementation of a NJ Decarceration Act.  We have drafted a letter to NJ Senator Ron Rice urging him to take the initiative toward introduction of the NJ Decarceration Act.  We urge your members and your organization to also make similar contact with Sen. Rice and other NJ representatives.

Please be encouraged to contact us at (908-881-5275) with any questions or ideas you have and we hope that you and / or a representative of your organization can attend the next meeting and participate in the event.

Sincerely,

Veronica Branch               Milton Conway                 Cassandra Dock              Brittani Johnson
Michael Allen Hobbs       Beautiful SeeAsia             Ruben E. Mendez            Bob Witanek
And others

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1443416885904424

March for Freedom of Wrongful Convictions: Oct 2nd, 2010

Unbelievable, but still needed!

RAISING AWARENESS OF WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS AND THE NEED FOR JUSTICE REFORM

WHAT:

MARCH FOR FREEDOM OF WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS 2010
On Oct. 2 2010, demonstrators are gathering in locations across America to raise awareness of wrongful convictions, spotlight the need for criminal justice reform, and support for a death penalty moratorium.

National Event Information: http://freedommarchusa.org/

EVENTS:

Demonstrations / events will take place at these locations:

Pittsburgh, PA – Coordinator: MaryAnn Lubas — mlubas2@yahoo.com

1. Phoenix, AZ — Coordinator: Camille Tilley – justice4courtney@mac.com

2. Los Angeles, CA – Coordinator: Gloria Killian – acwip@yahoo.com

3. Boise, ID – Coordinator: Gary Adams. Boise, ID – garyadams@getmpi.com / gla1949@hotmail.com

4. Lansing, MI – Coordinator: Ursula Armijo at ubarmijo@comcast.net

5. Poughkeepsie, NY – Coordinator: Patricia Borden pmborden@gmail.com.

If there is no event in your area, you can support this cause by:

1. Spreading the word about wrongful convictions and the need for criminal justice reform to your circle of friends, co-workers and acquaintances.

2. Sending an email, letter or calling your elected representatives to say that you are concerned about wrongful convictions and our justice system.

WHO:

Demonstrations organized by grassroots volunteers representing these organizations:

– Freedom March USA, Marching for Awareness of Wrongful Convictions – http://freedommarchusa.org/

– National Coalition for Criminal Justice Reform – http://www.reformingjustice.com/

CONTACT:

For information on a specific event, contact the coordinator listed above.

In Texas, the following organizations and individuals support this cause and serve as an information resource on wrongful convictions and the need for criminal justice reform:

Information on Oct 2 Events & Criminal Justice Reform:

National Coalition for Criminal Justice Reform – http://www.reformingjustice.com/

Texas chapter:

Lucy Frost justicereform@gmail.com

Americas Wrongfully Convicted – http://www.americaswrongfullyconvicted.com/

Roger McClendon
America’s Wrongfully Convicted
roger@americaswrongfullyconvicted.com

Information Resource on Criminal Justice Reform:

Dr. LeRoy Gillam, president Southeastern Christian Association (SECA)
832-228-3207

In The Interest of Justice (ITIJ)
http://www.itij.org/

Pastor Rod Carver
Supporters of Hannah Overton: www.freehannah.com

Terri Been, Kids Against The Death Penalty: http://www.freewebs.com/kadp

Kristin Houle Exec. Director
Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (TCADP): www.tcadp.org/

Jeff Blackburn or Cory Session
Innocence Project Of Texas: http://ipoftexas.org/

Lily Hughes, Campaign To End The Death Penalty: http://www.nodeathpenalty.org/content/index.php

BACKGROUND

MARCH FOR FREEDOM OF WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS 2010 aims to raise united voices for justice.

Modern science and technology have shaken the strong faith many once placed in the accuracy of judgments made by our criminal justice system.

Thanks to DNA analysis of biological evidence, hundreds have been exonerated—many after spending years on death row.

Research by Seton Hall law professor D. Michael Risinger indicates that 3.3%-5% of those convicted of crimes are factually innocent. Those who value justice demand that the criminal justice system apply the lessons to be learned from the many cases of wrongful conviction, and support policy initiatives that:

1. Raise the accuracy rate in judgments of guilt and innocence.

2. Resolve credible post-conviction claims of innocence.

3. Remedy the tragic impact of wrongful convictions.

For those who are guilty of crimes, we support enlightened approaches to incarceration that nurture genuine rehabilitation and reintegration of productive citizens whenever possible.

FACTS ABOUT AMERICA’S CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM:

– The United States incarcerates more people than any country in the world, including the far more populous nation of China[1].

– One in 100 Adult Americans is incarcerated in a prison or jail.

– One in 31 Adult Americans is incarcerated, on probation or parole.

– Incarceration rates heavily concentrated among men, racial and ethnic minorities, and 20-and 30-year olds.

1 in 9 Black men 20-34 years old, 1 in 15 Black men 18+, 1 in 36 Hispanic men 18+.

– Texas is one of the leading states in verified wrongful convictions. To date, more than 38 people have been exonerated in Texas using DNA.

– Nationally, more than 133 people have been exonerated from death row since 1973[2].

– Expert estimates of wrongful convictions range from 3% to 12%, based on data from DNA & other exonerations[3].

– Executed But Possibly Innocent: Of the cases frequently cited as those executed despite strong evidence of innocence, 6 are Texas cases[4].

– How many innocent people are in prison? No one knows, but experts agree that “any plausible guess at the total number of miscarriages of justice in America in the last fifteen years must be in the thousands, perhaps tens of thousands.”[5]

Senator Jim Webb’s page about the problem and legislation he has introduced: http://webb.senate.gov/email/criminaljusticereform.html

“America’s criminal justice system has deteriorated to the point that it is a national disgrace. Its irregularities and inequities cut against the notion that we are a society founded on fundamental fairness. Our failure to address this problem has caused the nation’s prisons to burst their seams with massive overcrowding, even as our neighborhoods have become more dangerous. We are wasting billions of dollars and diminishing millions of lives.” – Senator Jim Webb

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[1] Pew Research Center – http://www.pewcenteronthestates.org/uploadedFiles/8015PCTS_Prison08_FINAL_2-1-1_FORWEB.pdf

[2] http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/innocence-and-death-penalty

[3] Research by Seton Hall law professor D. Michael Risinger and other expert estimates

[4] http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/executed-possibly-innocent

[5] http://truthinjustice.org/exonerations-in-us.pdf