• COVID-19: Los Angeles Must Immediately Release People from the County Jails!
    We are not alone in recognizing this crisis of criminalization and incarceration here in Los Angeles and how COVID19 will exacerbate that crisis. Last week, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved the recommendations outlined in the Alternatives to Incarceration Working Group’s historic and unprecedented report, “Care First, Jails Last: Health and Racial Justice Strategies for Safer Communities.” Shortly thereafter, Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas published a letter outlining his concerns about COVID19’s spreads to the LA jails and calling for a reduction in jail bookings, early release, plans for quarantine and treatment, concerted efforts to reduce virus transmission and a plan for expected staffing shortages. We are also not alone in calling for significant and timely steps towards decarceration. On Saturday, March 14, Judges from the Cleveland, Ohio’s Cuyahoga County Court announced their intention to seek the release of hundreds of people incarcerated in their county jails. Like us, these judges recognize that jails pose threats to our larger community and the incarcerated people themselves. On Tuesday, March 17, the New York City Board of Corrections, the independent oversight Board for the city’s jail system, issued a call for incarcerated people at high risk to be immediately released and for the overall jail population to be rapidly and drastically reduced. Also on Tuesday, March 17, thirty one elected prosecutors from around the country, but not from Los Angeles, published a letter advocating that counties “implement concrete steps in the near-term to dramatically reduce the number of incarcerated individuals” to prevent the potentially “catastrophic” spread of COVID19. We also join epidemiologists in warning that it is not a matter of if COVID19 enters your facility -- but when. For these reasons, we demand that you, as correctional health care leaders, do your part. We ask that you: 1) Prepare a list of your incarcerated patients who are most medically vulnerable and who require immediate release. We demand that you prepare that list within one week, notify the public that the list has been made available to correctional authorities, the courts and city/state leaders, and advocate for their early release with linkages to housing and healthcare services. 2) Use the legal authority granted to you to declare COVDI19 a liable danger to those currently held in the county jails and advocate for their immediate release to safe and meaningful housing. 3) Identify, coordinate and provide the services incarcerated people need upon their release (e.g. HIV care for those who are HIV+, substance use treatment centers for those with substance use disorders, homes and shelters for those who are houseless, etc) to ensure their ongoing protection from this epidemic. The County should use the recently approved recommendations from the Alternatives to Incarceration Working Group to build infrastructure that addresses and also outlives this emergency to achieve our shared goal of reducing the jail population.
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    Created by Mark-Anthony Clayton-Johnson
  • Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 by Decarcerating Mecklenburg
    Dear local leaders: As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, we – a coalition of concerned organizations, attorneys, and community members – urge you to undertake all possible measures to prevent the spread of infection in Mecklenburg County’s jails. An outbreak of COVID-19 in the jails would be swift and deadly, and it would overwhelm the county’s hospitals and health system. The next week is crucial to limiting COVID-19’s spread. Now is the time for decisive emergency measures to save lives. COVID-19 poses severe risks whenever people are in close physical proximity with others, regardless of whether an individual has shown symptoms of infection. People in jail are unable to distance themselves from others and take the preventative measures that are necessary to prevent infection and protect the population. Worse, jails are particularly vulnerable to outbreaks because the underlying health conditions that can cause infection or exacerbate harm are very prevalent among incarcerated people. This will make the spread of COVID-19 inside jails fast and lethal, threatening everyone incarcerated in a jail, along with their loved ones, jail staff, and the state’s public health infrastructure at large. The safest way to ensure that the jail does not become a vector for COVID-19’s spread is to cut the jail population and halt new admissions. This is particularly imperative for anyone who a judge has already approved for release pending payment of money bail; anyone detained under an ICE hold; and anyone detained for a Failure to Appear or parole/probation violations. Release is also crucial for those who are elderly or have medical conditions that make them particularly vulnerable. In contrast to reducing jail populations, restrictive measures such as segregation and lockdowns will not contain infection. In a county jail, people are incarcerated for a relatively short period of time before returning to the outside community, and every day new people are booked into the facility if law enforcement continue making arrests. Jail staff necessarily come and go everyday as well, returning to their families and communities. This constant turnover will compromise any effort to contain COVID-19, especially since people may be infected and contagious but not show symptoms. Restrictive measures inside could also discourage incarcerated people from reporting symptoms or seeking care, which will multiply infection. Reducing the jail population is consistent with the county sheriff’s obligation to safely manage county jail populations and the guidance of correctional experts. Dr. Marc Stern, who served as Health Services Director for Washington State’s Department of Corrections, recently urged: “With a smaller population, prisons, jails, and detention centers can help diseases spread less quickly by allowing people to better maintain social distance.” Dr. Stern also explained that reducing the jail population will ease staffing burdens: “If staff cannot come to work because they are infected, a smaller population poses less of a security risk for remaining staff.” Jurisdictions across the country have already started taking the important public health measure of reducing their jail population. The Bail Project has worked to provide free bail assistance to people detained pretrial in the Mecklenburg County Jail. Since its tenure in Charlotte began in August 2019, the organization has posted bail for over 200 people, of which more than 90% then returned to court without any need for detention, even though their bail amount would otherwise have kept them incarcerated. We know from this experience that reducing the jail population to protect public health will be safe, lawful, and just. Every time the county introduces another person to the jail environment, there is a risk of worsening the spread of COVID-19 among the incarcerated population, jail staff, and the broader community. We urge you to undertake all possible avenues for limiting that peril and preventing deaths across the community. Signed, The ACLU of NC Global Missions of the A.M.E. Zion Church The Bail Project Beauty After the Bars Black Treatment Advocates Network (BTAN Charlotte) Project BOLT Charlotte Uprising Comunidad Colectiva Mecklenburg County Public Defender’s Office Poor No More Racial Justice Engagement Group of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte Southeast Asian Coalition Court Support Services Team TRU BLUE
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    Created by Decarcerate Mecklenburg
  • Support Parole and Compassionate Release for Dr. Mutulu Shakur
    Dr. Shakur is recognized as a leading member of the movement for human rights for African Americans. He has spent over three decades behind bars because of his political beliefs and the actions motivated by those beliefs. He is also recognized as a Doctor of Acupuncture who pioneered the use of acupuncture for drug addiction. Acupuncturists all over the United States and Canada are still utilizing his work to this day. Mutulu's convictions come out of a complex and turbulent moment in American history, when civil unrest fractured our country into pieces. They arise from his commitment to the social justice movement for Black liberation, originating in the 1960's. He was targeted and victimized by the FBI's now-infamous Counter- Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) as early as 1968. He was convicted of RICO conspiracy and connection to the 1981 Brinks Robbery, and the earlier prison escape of Assata Shakur. Dr. Shakur has taken full responsibility for his life and his actions. Dr. Shakur has received a diagnosis of life-threatening advanced bone marrow cancer. He had already been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and glaucoma. In 2013, he suffered from a stroke that required several months for recovery. In 2019 he experienced increasing pain; after months of medical neglect, advanced bone marrow cancer was diagnosed. Now Mutulu is suffering from extensive painful bone lesions, caused by the growth of the bone marrow cancer in parts of his spine, ribs and pelvis. The cancer has also destroyed a large area of bone around his right 7th rib, replacing bone with cancer cells, creating a propensity to break. Dr. Shakur is 69 years old, and aging in prison after 34 years of incarceration. He needs treatment and recovery in humane conditions immediately. We fear for his survival and his life.
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    Created by Lumumba Bandele
  • Baltimore City Council: Say no to spying on your constituents!
    Baltimore is the latest city with plans to invest thousands of taxpayer dollars into a rebate program that will allow it to spy on its own residents. Just last week, councilman Eric Costello, introduced legislation that would give Baltimore residents up to $150 to install a private doorbell camera system, like Ring or Nest, in their homes. The catch? To receive the money, residents first have to sign up for the police department’s CitiWatch Community Partnership program. This will allow the police to identify and target all the homes that have those camera systems installed. In order to qualify, residents must also agree to point the camera into a public space for at least two years. The dangers of a program like this are too many to list. In major cities across the nation, the police have already used this kind of footage to carry out sting operations, make targeted arrests, and push legislators to enact “broken windows” policies to imprison countless poor people throughout the country. That’s why any council member who claims to care about their constituents will refuse to allow this legislation to move any further. We know mass surveillance and broken window policies don’t keep our communities safe. With no oversight for the use of this footage, Black Baltimore residents run the risk of winding up in a unregulated police database, or even arrested and prosecuted, due to the disproportionate use of this technology against our people. Police violence against Black people is at an all-time high and we cannot allow lawmakers to ignore how surveillance partnership programs with law enforcement so often result in potentially violent interactions with the police. The city should not be paying residents to spy on each other, they should be investing that money in resources that actually keep people safe: things like good schools, quality mental health care institutions, trauma centers, and employment opportunities. It’s time for Baltimore City Council to protect their constituents, not put them in harm’s way. Sign to make your voice heard today. Tell Baltimore City Council to say no to mass surveillance!
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    Created by Concerned Baltimore Resident
  • End Money Bail and Pretrial Incarceration in Philadelphia Now!
    The hundreds of people bailed out by our community bail funds and community organizations who have returned to their homes and families show that when you bail people out and bring people home, even if they are charged with an act of violence, the vast majority of them aren't re-arrested and come back to court, get to keep working and raising their families, and contribute to their community and our economy. Far too many people are held in our jails out of fear accused people won't return to court or will cause harm - but our local numbers and national statistics show otherwise. We won't be able to close more jails, save millions more dollars, and invest our precious tax dollars in community resources rather than months or years of incarceration unless we stop setting bails on our neighbors in the poorest big city in America.
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  • Josh Shapiro: Stop Condemning Rehabilitated People to Die in Prison at The Board of Pardons
    Attorney General Josh Shapiro is one of five members of the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons and is the main road block to freedom for rehabilitated people who are trying to come home after decades of incarceration. AG Josh Shapiro has cast himself as a forward-thinking Attorney General who supports innovative approaches to criminal justice and is part of the #resistance to the Trump administration. The Board of Pardons plays a crucial role in Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system--allowing people serving life and other long term sentences to be released after they’ve been rehabilitated. Sadly, AG Shapiro has repeatedly blocked the Board from fulfilling this function by being the most frequent ‘no’ vote against rehabilitated people who present no risk to society. Josh Shapiro has voted against people whose prison wardens came to testify for them. He has voted against people who had the support of the victims family. He has voted against people with serious health conditions and little time left to live. Many of the people who Josh Shapiro has voted against are elderly prisoners who languish in prisons at a tremendous cost to society. Many are people who have turned their lives around after many years of incarceration and take part in productive and positive efforts from behind prison walls. Some are members of faith communities. All of them are someone’s child, friend, parent, or beloved family member. AG Josh Shapiro cannot claim the mantle of a forward thinking attorney general and be the main road block to freedom at the Board of Pardons. We call on Mr Shapiro to keep the Board of Pardons functioning as it was designed to by voting in favor of the reformed citizens that the Chair and other members of the Board recognize as worthy of mercy and release. If the Chair of the Board of Pardons, Lieutenant Governor Fetterman, is voting in favor of someone we see no reason why AG Shapiro should be the one to deny them. We call on Josh Shapiro to stop upholding the practice of mass incarceration and support the release of those who have paid their debt to society.
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  • #FreeBlackMamas - Justice for DV Survivor Tondalao Hall
    Tondalao Hall is a domestic violence survivor sentenced to 30 years behind bars under a "failure to protect" law. Tondalao was punished for not leaving her abuser quickly enough, before he could inflict physical abuse on their children. The abuser, Robert Braxton, was released back to the streets the day he was sentenced for child abuse, with only 8 years of probation to serve. He admitted to breaking the ribs, toe, and femurs of the two youngest children. Tondalao, the adult victim of his abuse and mother of his children, is now serving her 15th year behind bars. While we haven’t had much to celebrate in the quest for Tondalao’s freedom, this time is slightly different than others. Here’s how: 1. The Pardon and Parole board voted UNANIMOUSLY in a 5-0 vote to move her case to the next round. 2. Four out of five board members were appointed within the past year. 3. After years of organizing, District Attorney David Prater finally wrote a letter of “support" calling for Tondalao’s release. Oklahoma has the highest rate per capita of incarcerated women than any other place in the word. Hall is 1 of 28 women sentenced across 11 states under “Failure to Protect” laws who are serving more time than the abuser himself. Hall’s appeal for justice could have broader implications for the lives of women across experiences. ​Courts must not use Failure to Protect laws to further victimize survivors of domestic violence by scapegoating them for their batterers’ crimes. Failure to Protect laws must not hold domestic violence victims with children to an impossible standard of choosing between risking their lives (and their children's’ lives) and risking their freedom. After 13 years behind bars, Tondalao has served enough time for a crime she didn't commit. We must do better to protect and #FreeBlackMamas.
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  • Police Accountability Monitoring Program & Enforcement Reform (PAMPER)
    COPWATCH AMERICA INCORPORATED HAS A PRIMARY GOAL TO MINIMIZE & ELIMINATE UNJUSTIFIED DEATHS DUE TO ILLEGAL ACTIONS OF LAW ENFORCEMENT IN AMERICA AGAINST CIVILIANS. COPWATCH AMERICA INCORPORATED USES UNITED STATES/STATE LAWS, FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT, CIVILIAN COMPLIANT REVIEW COMMITTEES, POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY MONITORING PROGRAMS, AND OTHER FORMS OF RESOURCES & ACTIONS TO ESTABLISH TRANSPARENCY & ACCOUNTABILITY IN EACH AND EVERY LAW ENFORCEMENT DEPARTMENT/AGENCY IN AMERICA.
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    Created by CopWatch America Inc. Picture
  • Tell Congress to Legalize Medical Marijuana
    Sign the petition: urge Congress to legalize medical marijuana Voters across America have agreed: making medical marijuana available is a compassionate choice for people suffering terrible illnesses and painful disabilities. While Americans in 34 states have access to this treatment option, millions or other Americans do not. Would-be patients are suffering and cannot make medical decisions for themselves. It puts the federal government between patients and their doctors. Sign the petition: urge Congress to follow the bipartisan majority of America and legalize medical marijuana.
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    Created by Concerned Baltimore Resident
  • Protect Our Privacy! No More Surveillance for People in Michigan!
    The right to privacy and due process under the law belongs to everyone. Residents, technologists, organizers, activists, artists, educators and legislators are learning the implications of police use of facial recognition technologies. Inaccuracies in the technology for darker skin tones, women, and children place many Americans at risk of having their civil and human rights violated. This is a particularly troubling situation for Detroit, where the population is over 80% Black. This would be the largest experiment on Black people in the United States, in modern times. We don't deserve a justice system regulated by faulty algorithms. We don't deserve a justice system that relies on profiling, and we can’t trust a technology that has proven time and time again that it cannot be trusted. Facial surveillance technology does not keep us safe, in fact it does the opposite. Please support Senator (R) Peter Lucido's Senate Bill 342 (SB342), co-sponsored by Senator (D) Stephanie Gray Chang. The legislation would prohibit law enforcement officials from obtaining, accessing or using any facial recognition technology, along with any information gathered from such technology. Any information obtained in violation of the law would be inadmissible in court “as if the evidence, arrest warrant, or search warrant was obtained in violation of Amendment IV of the Constitution of the United States and section 11 of Article I of the state constitution of 1963.” In effect, the passage of SB342 would impose a total ban on the use of facial recognition technology by Michigan law enforcement. State Rep (D) Isaac Robinson's House Bill 4810, which would create a five-year moratorium on the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement. HB 4810 will also prevent the use of facial recognition software to obtain warrants or otherwise enforce the law. The prohibition includes footage obtained from surveillance cameras, unmanned aircraft, body cameras, and street and traffic light cameras. The bill was co-sponsored by state Reps. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D-Detroit) and Jewell Jones(D-Inkster). Recently, the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners tabled a vote on the use of facial recognition technology to monitor city neighborhoods but approved the use of traffic cameras with the capacity to use the technology. Detroit Police Chief Craig recently admitted to using the technology under a standard operating procedure, through their Project Green Light Program for over a year. Until recently, there had been no public discourse around DPD's use of facial recognition technology. The Detroit Police Board of Commissioners is expected to approve the use of the technology despite public opposition. Serious concerns exist regarding the use of facial recognition technology as it has been shown to misidentify African-American faces, darker skin tones, women and children. It’s time for Michigan to show the world that we respect, and will protect our right to privacy and due process under the law. Urge your legislators to support SB342 and House Bill 4810 BYP100 - Detroit Chapter Black Out Green Light Coalition Detroit Community Technology Project Detroit Digital Justice Coalition Detroit Coalition for Peace
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    Created by Tawana Petty
  • Layleen Polanco: Enough is Enough Close Rikers NOW, No New Jails
    Dear Mayor Bill de Blasio, Layleen Polanco Xtravaganza, an Afro-Latina trans woman, died in solitary confinement. This PRIDE month I am saying enough. Layleen should not have been arrested by the NYPD. Even before her arrest as part of a predatory NYPD sting operation, she was struggling with homelessness. From there she was routed through every possible "progressive" criminal court and jail reform project: from a sex work "diversion" court to the Transgender Housing Unit in the Rose M. Singer Center on Rikers when a warrant was issued for her arrest after she missed a "supportive" service appointment. None of these "progressive" reforms that were designed to save her life worked. Layleen died in a cage on solitary after being criminalized for being trans, for being poor, and for engaging in sex work. Jails kill people. But now you are planning on keeping Rikers open until 2026, when the next mayor can keep the jails open indefinitely, after having spent $11 billion to build four new jails! We could close Rikers now without building a single new cage in NYC if we ended the unjust and dangerous practice of pretrial detention. Then, we could devote $11 billion to communities, not incarceration. The time is now. We must Close Rikers with No New Jails. Mayor De Blasio, we call on you to stop your jail plan and commit to closing Rikers with no new jails. I want $11 billion for Black trans women and all oppressed and criminalized communities, not for jails. Art Credit: Vienna Rye (@vrye)
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    Created by No New Jails
  • Book Companies donate YOUR PROFITS made by Disgraced Central Park Five Prosecutor Linda Fairstein
    Unscrupulous Prosecutor Linda Fairstein should have been FIRED. Instead, she was able to parlay her career as head of sex crimes unit of Manhattan District Attorney from 1976 until 2002 to successful crime author. If she were FIRED because of her disgraceful actions that circumvent justice these prominent book companies would not have done business and donating the profits they made publishing this unscrupulous prosecutor Linda Fairstein must be donated to the Korey Wise Innocence Project.
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    Created by hiphopadvocate(dot)org Tara J., advocate with a hip hop twist Picture