Families

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No Prom, Unless Parents Go To Drug, Alcohol Class

Location: 
Buffalo, NY
United States
Publication/Source: 
WBEN NewsRadio 930 (NY)
URL: 
http://www.wben.com/news/fullstory.php?newsid=07382

Triple shooting terrifies East Baltimore

Location: 
Baltimore, MD
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Examiner (MD)
URL: 
http://www.examiner.com/a-697973~Triple_shooting_terrifies_East_Baltimore.html

WOLA/TransAfrica Forum: Aerial fumigation contributing to the worst recent humanitarian crisis in Colombia

[Courtesy of WOLA] Washington, DC April 7-- In the last 15 days, fighting between the Colombian military and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the activities of new illegal armed groups vying for control of drug routes is reportedly generating the internal displacement of an estimated 7,000 people. The Colombian Department of Nariño is experiencing one of the worst protection and humanitarian assistance crisis since Colombian President Alvaro Uribe began his second term in office. The U.S. financed aerial herbicide spray program (fumigations) compounds and exacerbates the myriad of hardships that Afro-Colombian communities are already facing: racism, disadvantaged access to state programs, food insecurity due to the internal armed conflict, internal displacement and vulnerability to human rights violations by the armed groups. “The current crisis in Nariño illustrates that the fumigation effort just makes matters worse for Afro-Colombians who wish to remain outside of the conflict,” argues Gimena Sanchez, Colombia Senior Associate at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). WOLA and TransAfrica Forum (TAF) visited Nariño in March to meet with local Afro-Colombian leaders who provided countless testimonies of how the U.S. funded fumigation effort fails to deter the cultivation of coca. Yet it does inflict tremendous damage on rural farmers’ food crops and their efforts to grow legal crops to sustain themselves. In El Charco area, the Association of Afrodescendant Women for Life (AMAV), an organization with hundreds of members who are attempting to ensure food security for their families and children and remain in their collective territories, informed the mission that fumigation planes destroyed their crops on six occasions in the months of February and March. WOLA and TAF were informed in numerous meetings that the combination of the internal armed conflict, drug related violence, human rights abuses committed by paramilitary groups that have re-grouped or not fully dismantled their operational structures, fumigation efforts, and declining respect for the land rights of Afro-Colombians linked to economic projects such as the cultivation of “African” oil palm is devastating for Afro-Colombian communities. “U.S. counter-drug policies are a failure, the fumigation program is destroying the livelihoods of Afro-descendants in Colombia. It is an outrage that anti-drug tactics used by the governments of Colombia and the U.S. destroy the lives of African descendants in both countries,” states Nicole Lee, Executive Director of TransAfrica Forum. Ms. Sanchez from WOLA points out: “U.S. policy makers must shift the Colombia aid package in favor of programs that support the land rights and alternative development proposals of ethnic minorities, as well as rights based durable solutions to the internal displacement crisis.” Since 2000, the U.S. has invested billions of dollars in aid to Colombia heavily skewed (an estimated 80%) towards security assistance and the aerial herbicide spraying of coca. Although one of the objectives of the aid is to curb drug production, the aid has not met this goal. Despite the spraying of over 2 million acres of illegal and legal crops in Colombia, cocaine production remains robust and cocaine is as available as ever on U.S. streets. According to WOLA Senior Associate for Drug Policy John Walsh, “The fumigation would be bad enough if it were simply wasteful and ineffective. What do the Colombian and U.S. governments suppose will become of these people? Fumigation isn’t the solution, it is part of the problem because it deepens reliance on coca by pushing poor farmers into even more desperate straits.” For more information contact: Joia Jefferson Nuri, Communications, TransAfrica Forum (240) 603-7905 Gimena Sanchez, Colombia Program, WOLA (202) 489-1702 ### To read more on Human Rights Issues in Colombia, and Foreign Aid Details, please go to the following link: http://www.wola.org
Location: 
Colombia

Norwalk: 'Just say no' to school drug testing

Location: 
Norwalk, OH
United States
Publication/Source: 
Sandusky Register (OH)
URL: 
http://www.sanduskyregister.com/articles/2007/04/18/front/248105.txt

Documentary Screening: A Perversion of Justice

Atkinson Memorial Church, Unitarian Universalist, will host the Oregon premiere of Perversion of Justice, by filmmaker Melissa Mummert that documents one woman’s story of redemption behind bars. Through the story of Hamedah Hasan, Perversion of Justice examines the legal system that calls for excessive prison time for crimes of association. There will be a discussion following the screening featuring Mummert, Hasan’s daughters who live in the Portland area and Rev. Dr. Emily Brault, chaplain at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville. The film follows the story of Hamedah Hasan. Hasan fled an abusive relationship in Portland to live with her cousin in Nebraska who was selling drugs. When her cousin was arrested, prosecutors wanted information from Hamedah about his activities. When she refused to testify against the cousin who assisted her in her time of need, prosecutors charged Hasan as a co-conspirator in the case, based primarily on the fact that Hasan had aided her cousin by wiring money for him. Though she was never arrested with any drugs or drug money and had no criminal history, mandatory federal sentencing guidelines forced her judge to sentence her to two life sentences in prison. Since her incarceration, Hasan has received an education, and is working to gain release from prison through appeals and a presidential commutation request. Perversion of Justice explores the how the system works and where it fails; a dichotomy that will be explored in detail with the panel discussion. Perversion of Justice shows how one small component of the war on drugs has had a major impact on families. Shot over the course of five years ­much of it in Portland ­the film tracks the effects of Hasan’s incarceration upon her daughters who have struggled since their mother’s arrest to make their way in the world without her. This is the first documentary for Melissa Mummert, an affiliated community minister with the Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte and an advocate for incarcerated women. She decided to make a documentary about Federal Sentencing Guidelines and drug conspiracy laws while serving as a chaplain intern at a Federal prison in California, where parts of Perversion of Justice were filmed. Mummert currently coordinates a domestic violence education program for female inmates at the Mecklenburg County Jail, a partnership between United Family Services and the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office. She holds degrees in philosophy and theater from Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri and a Master of Divinity Degree from Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, California. For more information, contact 704-502-6912 (Melissa Mummert, filmmaker) or 503-750-9649 (Bill Carrithers, Atkinson Memorial Church).
Date: 
Fri, 04/27/2007 - 7:00pm
Location: 
710 Sixth Street
Oregon City, OR 97045
United States

Prison Phone Changes & Outreach

[Courtesy of Center for Constitutional Rights] Hello, Sorry for the delay in further updating you about April 1 changes to the prison telephone contract and our efforts to reach out to families statewide. We FINALLY got word from DOCS about what families should expect on April 1, 2007 (please see below). Because it took so long to get answers from the Governor and DOCS, our postcards have not yet arrived at the office! We will be getting the postcards tomorrow to use for outreach in NYC. If you contacted me earlier this wee wanting some sent to you, we will still send to you in hopes that you will distribute in your community as early as possible. In the meantime, if you are planning to reach out in your community THIS WEEKEND and are able to print the attached flyer (English & Spanish text included), please do so! It has all of the information that is mentioned in the postcard. For those in NYC who would like to help with bus outreach, we will be doing outreach Friday, March 30 and Saturday, March 31. Please see below for how to meet up with us and help out! The more folks we have, the more we can get the word out! In this email: ************************************************ NEWS ON APRIL 1 CHANGES OUTREACH MATERIALS & PLANS FOR NYC FEEDBACK NEEDED FROM FAMILIES ************************************************ Also, much thanks and praise should go out to Rafael Mutis who quickly translated information we received from Gov. Spitzer on Tuesday into Spanish so we could sent the postcards to print right away. Thank you, Rafael!_____________________ _____________________ lauren melodia | center for constitutional rights | 666 broadway 7th floor | ny ny 10012 | 212.614.6481 NEWS ON APRIL 1 CHANGES The following text is a response from DOCS in regards to the questions we have been asking since Gov. Spitzer announced his elimination of the state’s 57.5% commission from the NYSDOCS prison telephone contract. As you’ll notice, they failed to give us real answers about many of our concerns. All the more reason why we need YOU to help us build pressure and continuing pushing for change! From DOCS: 1. Why is there only going to be a 50% reduction in rates, when the commission is 57.5%? In consideration of the rates dropping, there is an anticipated increase in call volume. National data suggests that if call rates drop 10%, call volume will increase 5%. Based on our current infrastructure, DOCS projects that we have enough phones to handle a 20-25 percent increase in calls on April 1, 2007 without disrupting service to inmates/families. DOCS monitors call volume. If volume increases 18% or more within the six months of April-Sept 2007, DOCS contract allows for a further rate reduction of 7.5%. This will provide sufficient time and data for us to increase phones if we need to and further reduce rates. 2. The phone bills will go down 50%, effective April 1, 2007. Does this mean the surcharge (currently $3) will now be $1.50 and the per rate minute (currently 16 cents) will go down to 8 cents? What is the new rate going to be? Correct - phone rates will be $1.50 to connect and $.08/minute effective April 1, 2007. 3. Currently the rates are the same whether or not people are calling local, in-state or out-of-state. Will that stay the same? Yes - phone rates will be the same for local/in-state and out of state calling. 4. What will happen to those families with blocks on their phones? The phones were blocked because they were unable to pay the high rates. Phones are blocked for the following reasons: the customer asked for it to be blocked; the phone is incapable of receiving a collect call (i.e. gov't phones);the customer has not paid their phone bill; the customer's local phone company does not have a reciprocal billing arrangement with MCI/Verizon. That process will not change - the Department must be able to ensure that calls are blocked when individuals do not wish to receive calls from inmates (Crime Victims frequently request this for example). The phone company must have a method to control bad Dept. When customers pay their back bills, phone service can be restored. DOCS and MCI customer service are committed to assisting families with the nuances of navigating the local service issues. 5. There was discussion about a further drop in rates once the April 1 contract went into effect? Is there any more information on this? How would this work? If volume increases 18% or more within the six months of April-Sept 2007, DOCS contract allows for a further rate reduction of 7.5%. This will provide sufficient time and data for us to increase phones if we need to and further reduce rates. 6. Are there any details on the RFP process starting in August 07 for the 2008 contract? The State Finance laws and procurement guidelines limit what DOCS can disclose about the RFP, but the focus will be to provide inmate call services at best value, while maintaining the system requirements to provide security and protection for customers and crime victims. 7. There are also rumors circulating among prisoners, as well. Some have heard they are getting debit cards on April 1, 2007. Others have said that MCI customer service reps have said, "We don't know anything about this decision by the Gov. and our rates are not changing April 1, 2007." Clearly, we need to dispel these myths." Debit cards are not being introduced. The system will remain a collect-call only system for the duration of the existing contract. MCI has begun to notify their customer service representatives that it is appropriate to acknowledge that call rates will decrease on April 1, 2007. They did not do that prior so that customers would not be mislead into thinking that current calls could be made under the new rates. The Department will notify the facilities of the changes. OUTREACH MATERIALS & PLANS FOR NYC As mentioned before, we are printing postcards with information about the contract changes and our unmet additional demands in regards to the prison telephone contract. If you have contacted me previously to have some sent to you, we will send them out TOMORROW and they should arrive early next week. While we were hoping to hit the streets statewide to distribute the information this weekend, the information WILL STILL BE RELEVANT next week, and I encourage you to consider finding a way to reach out to families in your area in whatever way you can. If you were planning on hitting the streets this weekend, please see the attached flyer which you can print for those purposes. NYC Plans: We will be reaching out to families at bus stops around the city Friday, March 30th and Saturday, March 31st. The more people we have, the more boroughs and stops we can reach! If you live in or near NYC, please join us! Our plan now is to reach out to the bus stops on 34th Street and Columbus Circle in Manhattan. However, if you live in Brooklyn, Queens or the Bronx, please stop by Friday anytime in the afternoon or evening to pick up postcards and reach out in your borough. Please call 212.614.6481 and/or email lmelodia@ccr-ny.org to sign up for bus outreach! FRIDAY, March 30th OUTREACH 7:00PM Meet at CCR (666 Broadway, 6th Floor) We will send out teams to 34th Street, Columbus Circle and possibly outer boroughs based on our numbers. 8:00pm – Leave CCR to go to stops 8:30 – 10:30pm Outreach at stops SATURDAY, March 31st OUTREACH 7:00PM Meet at CCR (666 Broadway, 6th Floor) We will send out teams to 34th Street, Columbus Circle and possibly outer boroughs based on our numbers. 8:00pm – Leave CCR to go to stops 8:30 – 10:30pm Outreach at stops If you are unable to meet up at 7:30pm but would still like to help, please contact me at 212.614.6481 or lmelodia@ccr-ny.org and we will figure out a way for you to meet up with one of the teams. FOR EVERYONE: We all need to do our part to inform our families, friends and loved ones on the inside of these changes, as there are a lot of rumors circulating and confusion. Please write you loved ones on the inside and let them know what changes are occurring with the contract on April 1, 2007. Please forward this email to your friends and family who are also affected by this contract and call or write those you know that do not have email access. FEEDBACK NEEDED FROM FAMILIES This week, some interesting phone calls have been coming into our office; we need to hear from you to find out if these are rumors, affect only certain individuals or if these issues affect EVERYONE. Please let me know: Have you or anyone you know received any letters from MCI or Verizon announcing the contract being transferred to Global Tel Link? Have you or anyone you know been contacted by MCI/Verizon about opportunities to receive refunds? If your answer is YES to any of these questions, please send me copies of any letters you have received by mail or fax. Please call and give me a heads up, as well!
Location: 
NY
United States

NYCTJ: Action Plans for April Prison Phone Changes

[Courtesy of Lauren Melodia, Center for Constitutional Rights] Hello, April 1, 2007 is fast approaching, and we need to keep the public pressure strong and also better educate families and their loved ones inside about what changes to expect and how to get involved in the NYCTJ. I’m writing today to let you know what plans we made on the monthly NYCTJ Family Member Conference call last night. Please let me know if you are interested in participating in our planned outreach and actions in NYC the weekend of April 1, 2007 or if you’d like to plan your own event/outreach in your area. We will send you materials, if you make a commitment to SPREAD THE WORD. On the call last night, many mentioned that they and their loved ones on the inside are incredibly confused by what Spitzer’s decision ACTUALLY MEANS and that there are a lot of rumors spreading. We made some plans to do create better educational tools and do some coordinated outreach the weekend of April 1 and to do some public actions that may encourage media attention. Here’s the idea: We will be creating a postcard in English and Spanish that explains the facts of what will change on April 1 (what the new rates will be, etc.), what demands we still have for the contract to work better for families, and how people can join the NYCTJ and take action. In NYC, we will do bus outreach at as many of the streets where families take buses to upstate facilities as possible on the evenings of FRIDAY, March 30th and SATURDAY, March 31st. We need your help with this! The more folks we have, the more stops we can cover! Right now the plan is Columbus Circle, but we’d like to expand to include 34th Street area, downtown Brooklyn and Bronx and Queens as possible. During these outreach efforts, we will distribute the postcards and answer questions. We will also have a large poster board which will list our remaining demands and ask people to sign this, write in additional demands or tell their story. We will deliver this poster to Spitzer’s office in NYC on Monday, April 2nd in an effort to nicely remind him that we need him to keep working on this issue. Individuals on the call last night expressed interest in doing outreach in Ithaca and Albany that weekend (or that Monday). If you live in either of those regions and would like to participate, please let me know and I will put you in touch with those folks. Similarly, we are looking to MASS PRODUCE this postcard to distribute state-wide. If you are part of a group or would like to make plans to do outreach in your community during that weekend or at your next group meeting, etc., please let me know and I will send you a package of postcards. Please let me know how many you’d like me to send. If you would like to do a similar action with a GIANT list of demands to send/deliver to Spitzer, let me know and we’ll coordinate, as well. It would be great to send/deliver several large lists of demands to Gov. Spitzer! Also, think about incorporating the letter writing campaign I sent out yesterday into your outreach efforts. April 2, 2007 will be a national call-in day (target yet to be decided) that you can participate in from anywhere. We will be submitting articles to several newsletters that folks on the inside have access to, to clarify what the changes mean for them and their families. Here’s what we need from YOU: Some of you have already sent me questions about the April changes (i.e. what will the new rate be? Will the surcharge price go down? Why 50% reduction and not 57.5%), which we are working to get answers for. If you have additional questions or are confused in any other ways, let me know. I’m not sure we can get all the answers right now, but we’ll see what we can get. If you have heard certain rumors, please alert me to those, as well, so we can dispel them in the postcard. Let me know if you’re interested in doing outreach with the postcards in your area/community. We will send you postcards and a GIANT list of demands if you will use them. We hope to have postcards printed and ready to send out on Monday morning. Consider incorporating the letter writing campaign to Nozzolio into your street outreach, tabling or presentation. If you live in the NYC area and would like to distribute postcards to your group/community, come to the next NYCTJ meeting NEXT TUESDAY at 6pm (666 Broadway, 6th Floor). We will have postcards and the letter writing campaign in bulk at the meeting and you can pick them up at the meeting! RSVP with me, so we are sure to have enough food for everyone! We will send out final plans for April 1, 2007 in the coming weeks, so keep watch for them! In Struggle, Lauren Melodia
Location: 
NY
United States

Opinion: The war on drugs' war on minorities

Location: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
Los Angeles Times
URL: 
http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/opinion/la-oe-huffington24mar24,1,3333535.story?coll=la-news-comment

Center for Constitutional Rights Press Release: FAMILIES WIN VICTORY IN COURT OF APPEALS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE For more information: Jen Nessel, 212-614-6449 / 917-442-0112 cell Dan Klotz, 917-438-4613 / 347-307-2866 cell FAMILIES WIN VICTORY IN COURT OF APPEALS ON PRISON TELEPHONE CHALLENGE High Court Allows Challenge to “Unlegislated Tax” on Poor Families to Move Forward Albany, NY, February 20, 2007 — Today the Court of Appeals ruled that a constitutional challenge brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of New York family members who pay a grossly inflated rate to receive phone calls from their loved ones in state prisons must be allowed to move forward. The lawsuit, Walton v. NYSDOCS and MCI, seeks an order prohibiting the State and MCI from charging exorbitant rates to the family members of prisoners to finance a 57.5% kickback to the State and money damages for the recipients of those calls. MCI charges these family members a 630% markup over regular consumer rates to receive a collect call from their loved ones, the only way possible to speak with them. The case was dismissed in 2004 by Judge George Ceresia of the Supreme Court of New York, Albany County, citing issues of timeliness and the Appellate Division affirmed that dismissal in 2006. The Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court, agreed to hear the case in July of 2006, and reversed the lower courts’ decisions. In its opinion, the Court of Appeals held that the lower courts erred in dismissing plaintiffs’ constitutional claims as untimely. The Court held today that plaintiffs acted reasonably in bringing their complaints to the Public Service Commission, the administrative body that regulates telephone rates, before bringing the case in State Court. “We are thrilled with the Court’s ruling” said Rachel Meeropol, the attorney handling the case for the Center for Constitutional Rights. “The family members and friends of prisoners in New York State have sought a ruling on the constitutionality of New York’s prison telephone system for years. That day is now in sight.” Plaintiff Ivey Walton also embraced the decision. “I can’t talk to my son in prison because I flat-out can’t afford to pay MCI’s crazy rates. No one should be cut off from their family, just so the State can make a profit. I’m so happy the courts didn’t turn their backs on this injustice.” The Court of Appeals heard arguments in the case on January 9, 2007, the day after Governor Spitzer announced that the State would soon cease collecting the challenged “kickback.” “We were impressed by Governor Spitzer’s principled decision” explained Meeropol, “but we still need the Court to declare that plaintiffs’ rights have been violated to ensure that no future administration reinstates the illegal tax, and to compensate those individuals who have been injured by the State’s past illegal actions.” Craig Acorn, co-counsel on the case at Community Service Society also welcomed the news: "The Court's decision represents a long-awaited recognition that impoverished and stigmatized New Yorker's seeking justice can have their grievances heard and the wrongs they've suffered made right." Judge Pigott wrote the opinion for the Court. Judge Smith wrote a concurring opinion in which he agreed that plaintiffs’ claims should move forward, but acknowledged that this decision was “influenced” by the fact that plaintiffs raised “substantial” constitutional claims. Judge Read dissented. The Court remanded the case back to the Supreme Court, to rule on whether plaintiffs’ Constitutional claims state a cause of action. Previous members of the Center for Constitutional Rights legal team on Walton include Barbara Olshansky and Robert Bloom. The New York Campaign for Telephone Justice works to end the kickback contract between MCI and the New York State Department of Correctional Services, and deliver choice, affordability, and equitable service to the families and friends of those incarcerated in New York State. The campaign is a project of the Center for Constitutional Rights, in partnership with Prison Families of New York, Inc. and Prison Families Community Forum. The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) is a nonprofit legal and educational organization dedicated to protecting and advancing the rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Location: 
Albany, NY
United States

Drug War Irrationality Watch: Banning Things That Are Already Illegal

One of the fun things about being a drug warrior is that you can always propose crazy new drug laws, even when they overlap with existing legislation. The temptation to single out and stigmatize perpetrators of every remote subcategory of drug activity has been known to keep drug-obsessed legislators off the golf course.

This week, Nevada State Sen. Joe Heck (R-Las Vegas) is championing unnecessary marijuana laws in a state where 44% of voters want to legalize the stuff. From the Reno Gazette-Journal:

Nevada parents who grow a single marijuana plant in their home where children live could be subject to a prison term of up to 15 years, according to a bill that was debated Monday at the Nevada Legislature.

Senate Bill 5, sponsored by state Sen. Joe Heck, R-Las Vegas, would subject parents who grow or sell marijuana in the presence of children to the same penalties as adults who operate methamphetamine labs in front of children.

Of course meth labs frequently explode and spew toxic chemicals, eventually producing methamphetamine. Marijuana plants just sit around smelling nice and getting larger, and eventually you get marijuana. Different drugs, different process, different people, same draconian punishment?

"The very behavior of small children puts them at risk around these materials, including marijuana," Heck said. "As any parent knows, the first place a toddler places anything they find is in their mouth. What if this object is a marijuana plant?"

I'm skeptical. A lot of kids won’t eat vegetables unless you withhold dessert. And unheated marijuana is basically non-psychoactive. I'm not saying people should grow marijuana with kids around, but the bill's proponents have cited no evidence of small children being injured by live marijuana plants. I doubt they'll find any.

At best, a 15-year mandatory minimum for small-time marijuana cultivation is an imprecise reaction to the general concern that children put random things in their mouths. At worst, one might call it shameless drug war posturing, hastily drafted without evidence of any particular urgency, to the detriment of a thousand better ways to spend money on Nevada's children.

Actually, that's exactly what it is.

Location: 
United States

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