- Afropunk Army
- Community Control
- Confederate Symbols
- Cop Watch
- Corporate Accountability
- Criminal Justice Policy
- Drop/Bring Charges
- Economic Justice
- Employment Discrimination
- End The War on Black People
- Environmental Justice
- For-Profit Colleges/Universities
- Gulf Coast
- Housing Rights
- Media Accountability
- Music Industry
- No Guns in Schools
- Open Internet
- Police Accountability
- Political Power
- Pop Culture
- Private Prisons
- Reproductive Justice
- Right Wing Racism
- School-to-Prison Pipeline
- Voting Rights
- Wrongful Imprisonment
Bring Back Good Time in Michigan's Prisons (HB 5666)Twice in April Michigan’s Good Time Bill, HB 5666, was not to voted on by legislators as expected. The Good Time Bill that was originally introduced in the House at the end of February and was scheduled to vote April 10th and was rescheduled for April 17th, legislators still have not voted on the matter and we cannot wait another election cycle for Good Time to be reintroduced again. Michigan is suffering from a clear problem and its hitting us hard. Michigan state keeps inmates much longer in comparison to other states. These extra years of men and women staying in prison is socially and economically expensive, driving up prison costs by millions and millions of dollars a year with incarceration consuming over a quarter of the state’s general fund. Not only is this problem costly economically on a state level but costly on a community level as African American families are heavily effected with over 44% of the states entire prison population being made of of non-white men. That’s almost half! Its more than disappointing, its disgusting to see the lack of the representatives’ interest in the demands of the people on correcting this gross issue. This Initiative petition requires at least 252,523 valid signatures by May 30th in order for the proposed legislation, the Good Time Bill, to override the legislators voting process. After the successful collection of signatures the bill must be put for a vote by legislators to be either adopted or rejected within 40 days. If the proposed bill is not immediately adopted and is rejected by legislators then it is given another opportunity to become a law by moving forward to proposed to the people in the state of Michigan’s next general election which would be November 6, 2018. This is our opportunity to bring Good Time back in the State’s prisons so that rehabilitated prisoners can rejoin society to support their families and communities. Whether the bill is adopted by legislators or voted into law in a general election, it is important that we give this bill a chance to become a law by showing our overwhelming support for the Good Time Bill. There are more than 40,000 men and women incarcerated in the State of Michigan whose sentences deserve to be reassessed according to the magnitude of their good behavior during their incarceration. Michigan is one of the very few states currently that don’t incorporate Good Time policies to allow a rehabilitated inmate to be released after effectively serving a portion of their sentence, this is a policy that is even instituted at a Federal Level. There is absolutely no reason why a person should lose more of their life just because of their misfortune of being incarcerated in Michigan.
Sign Onto The People's Budget: Break The Cages, Fund The PeopleOn May 1st, at 5pm at City Hall, The Philadelphia Coalition for a Just District Attorney is gathering our movement under a call to end mass incarceration and reinvest in the communities most affected. For too long, “tough on crime” policies have deliberately targeted our black, brown, and working class communities -- ICE is tearing apart families, our youth are being criminalized in school and treated as adults by our overzealous criminal justice system, and the legal system's reliance on cash bail continues to overcrowd our prisons, keeping the House of Correction facility open despite its notoriety for its decrepit conditions. While District Attorney Larry Krasner has made significant progress in his mandate to challenge mass incarceration, our coalition recognizes there are other political actors who hold the power to divest from prisons and invest in people. In the upcoming months, the School District of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Police and Prison Departments, and the First Judicial District will be presenting their fiscal year budgets to City Council for approval. On May 1st, both the Police and Prison Department will be presenting their budgets. We need Philadelphia City Council to support a "People's Budget" and use these hearings to advocate for increased funding for our public school system and decreased spending on incarceration.
Protect Baldwin Hills Elementary Pilot School from Charter GrowthWe are concerned community members of Baldwin Hills Elementary Pilot, a school doing amazing things with and for our Black and Brown babies, 80% Black. 1. Local, Black District officials (one of whom went to Baldwin) and local, Black LAUSD Board office heads are laying low, doing nothing to protect our school’s programs. 2. Charter school needs space, wants to move to another LAUSD campus with space, while LAUSD is actively NOT pursuing this alternate agreement to move the charter. 3. What space on Baldwin Hills campus does LAUSD want to give to the charter? a). Our music room b). Our arts room c). Our technology lab d). Our parent run after school childcare room, where one our mothers pays LAUSD rent, to house her program on our campus for our families 4. What makes Baldwin Hills a special place, one worth preserving? a). 2 out of 3 students score near/at/above standards in mathematics b). 3 out of 4 students score near/at/above standards in language arts c). We’re a Pilot school with autonomies to innovate. We focus on culturally responsive teaching, STEAM, and project based learning. d). We are a highly rated arts program school. e). Multiple Excelling Magnet Awards f). National Board Certified Teachers alongside LAUSD Rookie of the Year Teacher 5. We’re doing this with children that nationally are underserved and underperforming: Black and Brown students. So, while the District lays low, we stand up! Do what's right! Move the charter to another site! #westandupforbaldwinhills #whoarewebhep
Veto Bill to Fund Militarization of Florida SchoolsThe state of Florida needs change to prevent more tragedies, but it will not come with more children staring down the barrel of a gun. Three weeks ago, 17 students and school staff were murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and Florida was shaken to its core. The Florida legislature followed Governor Rick Scott's lead in drafting "solutions" that involve filling Florida schools with even more guns. Our state's elected officials have approved a bill that provides funding to arm school staff, including teachers, coaches, librarians and counselors, while dramatically increasing funding for police and high level surveillance security in schools. At Governor Scott's direction, this bill will make Florida schools a lot scarier for students, particularly students of color, across the state. After Columbine, 10,000 school police officers were hired to prevent another mass shooting. Two decades later and more police presence in school has not proven to be an effective solution and has not stopped a single mass shooting. Instead, police in Florida have locked up 1 million children, mostly black children, for routine behavior disruptions, like talking back to a teacher or getting into schoolyard scuffles. The proposed bill allots $400 million to make our schools feel more like prisons when they should feel sanctuaries. This bill will have catastrophic consequences for insurmountable numbers of black, brown and poor youth in Florida. Our representatives have a responsibility to act in a way that keeps all Florida children safe. Tell Governor Rick Scott to veto any bill to allocate resources for more police and guns in schools. Supporters Dream Defenders Power U Center for Social Change Advancement Project National Office Color of Change Florida’s Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 1199 New Florida Majority Miami Worker's Center Alliance for Education Justice National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
Boycott Companies that Advertise on Fox News: Who support racism in exchange for profitAs a person of color, my life is regularly made more difficult and unpleasant due to the nature of the content propagated by Fox News. Fox News brings out the worst in people by preying on their fears and prejudices, bolstering people's preexisting stereotypes, and espousing and encouraging racist, homophobic, islamophobic, misogynistic, and ignorant behavior. I will not support any company that supports an entity such as Fox News that seems to be in direct opposition to all of my values and thinks of me--and tries to convince others to think of me--as lesser, dangerous, lazy, and unintelligent due to the color of my skin. People may think it is not worth it and they are only making their own lives harder by boycotting because so many companies advertise on Fox News and nothing will change that, but my life is already made difficult by Fox News, including all the companies that support it, so I have no problem taking it upon myself to make decisions that align with my self-interest and may be difficult. If we do nothing, what is going on in society and politics will only continue, so we might as well speak up for ourselves and hit the companies where they'll notice it: the wallets!
Tell NYC Mayor to Stop Tolerating Racism in SchoolsIt's been more than a month since the Daily News broke a story about a white teacher in the Bronx who, in a lesson on slavery and the Middle Passage, made Black students in several classes lay face down on the floor and even stepped on a female student while asking "see how it feels to be a slave?" It's been more than a month, and the city has still not taken any steps to ensure that this type of degrading and traumatic incident will not occur again. When asked by press about what the city is doing to make sure this type of incident never occurs again, Mayor de Blasio has said that the city already offers training on cultural competency. The truth is that those trainings are currently offered to just 450 out of 77,000 teachers - less than 1% of NYC teachers. For over a year, parents have been demanding that Mayor de Blasio provide leadership in our schools and implement a comprehensive program of Culturally Responsive Education, including cultural competency trainings for teachers and school staff, in order to avoid just this kind of traumatic incident. Now, the responsibility for this incident rests firmly on the Mayor's shoulders. We know that racism and bias in schools is a national crisis. " White teachers have lower expectations for students of color, and are significantly less likely to expect Black students to finish high school and college " School staff frequently perceive Black boys as threatening and dangerous for the same behaviors that are seen as innocent for White students. " In 2015, only 15% of children's books were written by African-American or Latino authors, or focused on African-American or Latino characters " Over 80% of public school teachers nationally are White women, though a majority of public school students are people of color. In New York City, for example, 266 NYC schools have 0 or just 1 Latino teacher, 327 have 0 or just 1 Black teacher, and 690 have 0 or just 1 Asian teacher Given these statistics, in how many other classrooms across the city are Black children are learning about slavery in a degrading way? And in how many classrooms across the city are Black children learning that their ancestors were kings and queens, fighters against enslavement, strategists and spies, scientists and inventors, doctors, healers and entrepreneurs? Culturally Responsive Education is a research-based strategy that helps teachers build social and emotional connections with their students across racial and cultural differences, and root learning in students' culture and prior experiences. It has shown to have impressive impacts on student achievement in Tucson, San Francisco, and other districts across the country. But Mayor de Blasio, who claims to be a national progressive leader, has dragged his feet and been slow and timid to embrace this approach. Parents need him to step up and take action, to get justice for those students in the Bronx, and to make sure no child has to experience that again.
We Choose Education Equity Not the Illusion of “School Choice”School privatization is a hustle and our children are not for sale. The We Choose Campaign has given a voice to the real experts and people that are directly impacted by school privatization tactics. Our Why is because of stories like this: My name is Irene Robinson, grandmother of 18 children who are in Chicago Public Schools. In segregated Chicago, we are fighting for our right to live here; where under mayors Daley and Rahm Emanuel, over 200,000 Black people have been forced out of this city over the last decade. I live in the Bronzeville community on the south side and entered the fight for education justice when CPS closed my grandbaby's elementary school, Anthony Overton. Despite the fact we had over 400 children in our school and for two straight years had some of the greatest test score increases in the city; they closed our school. They dumped our babies in two schools with no consideration. My grandson was in a kindergarten class with over 52 other students and I know this is because he is Black. The children blamed themselves, as if they failed because their school closed. The truth is, they were failed by Chicago Public Schools. CPS is guilty of the sabotage of Black and Brown children's education and nothing showed this more than when they closed Walter Dyett High School; our last open enrollment neighborhood high school. We held town hall meetings, got over 4000 petition signatures in support of our plan and it did not matter; closing this school was a part of pushing us out. But we stood up. After 3 years of getting the run-around from the city, we waged a hunger strike to save Dyett. Today Dyett is open as a neighborhood school with $16 million dollars in new investments; but we had to starve ourselves for 34 days to win. I was hospitalized twice and many of us suffered health issues as a result; but I would do it again in a heartbeat. School privatization in not about helping our children, but destroying our communities; we need equity, not the scam called school choice. From July through October, the #WeChoose campaign has held “Critical Conversations” (CC) in over 30 cities across the United States. Here a snapshot of participating cities: Chicago, Detroit, Seattle, New York, New Jersey-Paterson, Camden, Newark, Maplewood, Trenton, Elizabeth, Kansas City, Dayton, Prince George's County, Oakland, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Pittsburg, Arizona, Denver, Jackson and Milwaukee,. These conversations have been effective in uniting around a comprehensive education platform rooted in local campaigns and building multi-racial grassroots coalitions that can speak “power to power” to decision makers. The framing of #WeChoose has resonated with the public, as coalition members recognize that real school choice does not exist in our communities. #WeChoose to put an end to the manufactured misery that is plaguing our black and brown communities.
Stop Locking Up Our Children: Shut Down Lincoln Hill and Copper Lake Now!Our children deserve more than what these prison facilities are serving them. Over the last two years, several lawsuits have been filed against Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake youth prison facilities documenting severe abuse. Some of the lawsuits filed include; a young person whose toes had to be amputated after a guard smashed his toes in a door; a guard who actually assisted a young woman as she attempted to hurt herself; and allegations of suffocation, strangulation, and sexual assault. Locking up youth in these facilities is the most expensive option with the worst results, guaranteeing that every young person sent there will be put in harm’s way. It's time to leave behind the old outdated ways of criminalizing and punishing young people without holistic support. Theses youth prisons continue to perpetuate extreme racial and ethnic disparities. This is another key reason why Milwaukee County needs to undertake comprehensive juvenile justice reform. They need to address and tackle the persistent racial and ethnic inequities in Wisconsin’s juvenile justice system. Wisconsin still ranks in the top five least equitable states, with disparities that far exceed the national average. The vast majority of youth committed to Wisconsin state facilities are Black children. In 2014, young Black people made up almost 70% of youth committed to juvenile prison facilities in the state, but only about 10% of Wisconsin’s total youth population. Most of these young people are coming from Milwaukee County, where the majority of Black folks live in Wisconsin. Milwaukee County spends over $100,000 a year to send one youth from Milwaukee to Lincoln Hills or Copper Lake. Milwaukee should abandon the youth prison model and replace it with less costly and more effective non-residential, community-based alternatives to incarceration. Locking up young people in cages does not ensure public safety in any way. Over 60% of the young people who go to Lincoln Hills or Copper Lake re-offend within three years of release, largely due to the intense trauma young people experience while incarcerated. To have a safer community, it is critical that Milwaukee County stops sending youth to Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake and instead invest in a range of effective community programs that offer targeted supervision and services. Programs that include restorative justice, intensive mentoring, mental health treatment, family therapy and other interventions that are proven to lower risk and sustain long-term behavior change among adjudicated youth. WI and Milwaukee County should invest in community-based solutions that work for young people, their familiies and the communities they come from.
Tell Florida to Close ALL of its Juvenile Prisons AKA "Fight Clubs"Right now, the challenges our communities face are many. Imprisonment is a big one. Corporations and their politician friends have made it their life’s work to enact policies that keep our families and communities in jails. Every time someone in our neighborhoods is locked up, someone at a corporation makes money. These corporations, like Florida-based GEO and CCA, operate in the dark, away from public view and work hard to keep it that way. Their lavish vacations and retirement funds depend on it. On top of that, most people aren’t aware of how the prison industry operates and thus feel powerless to change it. We want to change that. Dream Defenders is a small, young organization with limited resources in the face of a goliath, seasoned system of paper pushers with unlimited resources. The prison system is tearing up our families, communities, and future generations. According to Miami New Times writer Jerry Ianelli: "Investigative reporters Carol Marbin Miller and Audra D.S. Burch obtained stomach-churning video of Florida juvenile offenders fighting one another after being groomed as attack mobs by state guards. Scores of surveillance videos show groups of teenage boys sucker-punching, stomping, and beating up other kids, breaking noses, eye sockets, and a host of other bones in the process. The Herald uncovered tales of rape, molestation, children beaten to death, and a justice system that let almost every guard involved walk free without consequence. The list of nightmarish allegations in the series is too long to fully recount. The Herald noted cases where staffers set up fights and bet on them; instances where the DJJ hired guards who had formerly been caught having sex with inmates; other cases where guards showed a teen pornography and watched him ‘fondle himself’; raped a transgender inmate; had sex with a child detainee in a closet; and abused one female detainee by using her head as a ‘toilet plunger.’ One Broward County youth counselor was allegedly so brazen about having sex with teen inmates she became known as the ‘cradle robber.’ The 12 juvenile deaths the Herald noted seem due to state negligence." In 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice condemning the state of juvenile detention in the country. A report of the National Institute of Justice, research arm of the Justice Department, added: “This ill-conceived and outmoded approach is a failure, with high costs and recidivism rates and institutional conditions that are often appalling… Every youth prison in the country should be closed, and replaced with a network of community-based programs and small facilities near the youths’ communities.” We agree. The Dream Defenders goal is to end the prison system's hold on our states’ policies, profits, priorities and people. We work in classrooms, communities and prisons to educate and organize to end this incredible threat to our lives. We can’t continue to watch this happening to the people in our communities, we have to act. If we can do this; if we can begin to break this massive machine by freeing our children from it's hold, then we can begin to collapse it in our lifetime. If we do not, we risk losing many more generations.
Stop the state takeover of the Jackson Public School District by the state of MississippiThe state of Mississippi is moving to take over the Jackson Public School District (JPS). JPS is the state's second largest district, the only urban one and is about 97% Black. Mississippi has continually under-funded Black and poor districts for many years. Last year, JPS was under-funded by about $11.5mil during the last school year, while the conservative state leaders have continually changed laws and regulations to make it easier to privatize public dollars (i.e. charter, vouchers, tax credits), starting with 3 charter schools in Jackson. This is a national trend that disproportionately affects Black and Brown communities and has shown negligible gains for our children. We are asking for your support in pushing our state leadership to prevent this takeover. The state of Mississippi has never cared about the Black children of Jackson, and they aren't about to start, so we need your support in letting the leadership know this and allow us to keep local control (achieved through a democratic process). JPS went through an unfair, and unprecedented audit in order to create the sense of chaos in the district. On Aug 31, we got the results of the year long audit and it was completely off base. We had the opportunity to respond in hearings on September 13 and 14, but the state board still recommended takeover to the governor, without ever reading our responses, documentation, and exhibits. These are the most pressing reasons why this is an unjust and unfair takeover that is very clearly about the re-colonization of our city and pulling away our resources: Specifically, we are requesting the governor make a decision to not sign the take over of the Jackson Public Schools for the following reasons: 1. The Jackson Public School District has addressed and corrected a substantial number of the audit findings in the Audit Report released Thursday, August 31. 2. The students, parents and community members stand ready to work in partnership with the district to address those remaining issues within their purview. 3. Many of the audit findings that form the basis of this proposed takeover are administrative and procedural, not educational in nature; yet, a state takeover will directly and negatively impact the instructional capacity and effectiveness of the district. 4. Fact, state takeovers of school districts do not yield improvements in student achievement; rather, more often than not, student achievement is stagnated during the short term and delayed over the long term. 5. State takeovers diminish community engagement and involvement, necessary ingredients to increase and enhance district and student success. 6. Extracurricular activities are important components to student, school and community life. Students in Jackson deserve the right to participate in activities that will enhance their academic, social and emotional wellbeing while preparing for life after graduation. These activities often keep students in school. A take over will affect opportunities to engage in extracurricular activities. 7. The students, parents, community leaders, faith leaders and business leaders should determine the future Jackson Public Schools.
Implement the People’s Demands for California’s Proposition 57!Last November, Californians overwhelmingly passed Prop 57 with 64% of the vote. Among other things, Prop 57 expands credit earning opportunities for most people in California prisons and allows people convicted of nonviolent offenses to be eligible for early parole consideration. On July 14, 2017, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) released its draft “Regular Regulations,” which outline how they plan to implement this proposition. While there are many good things in the proposed regulations, such as increased credit opportunities for good behavior and completion of educational and rehabilitative programs, we are concerned that many aspects of the proposed regulations are far too narrow and exclude too many groups of people from opportunities for rehabilitation or early parole consideration. So, Initiate Justice conducted a survey of more than 2,000 incarcerated people to get their input on how they think Prop 57 should be implemented, since these rules will have direct impacts on their lives. Based on those survey results, and in collaboration with Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), developed the following recommendations: 1. Include Third Strikers in the non-violent early parole: The proposed regulations state that any person who is “Condemned, incarcerated for a term of life without the possibility of parole, or incarcerated for a term of life with the possibility of parole” is not eligible for nonviolent early parole consideration under Prop 57. We strongly believe that this population should not be excluded from this opportunity. The language of Prop 57 states: “Any person convicted of a non-violent felony offense and sentenced to state prison shall be eligible for parole consideration after completing the full term for his or her primary offense” and that “the full term for the primary offense means the longest term of imprisonment imposed by the court for any offense, excluding the imposition of an enhancement, consecutive sentence, or alternative sentence.” Since a Third Strike is considered an alternative sentence under California state law, it is clear that the voters enacted legislation that included Third Strikers in the nonviolent early parole process. 2. Allow all people in prison to earn 50% good time credits: The proposed Prop 57 regulations increase good time credits on a graduated scale, depending on the offense the person was convicted of. People serving time for a violent offense will see an increase from 15% to 20% good time credit; people serving time for a serious offense under the Three Strikes Law will see an increase from 20% to 33.3%; and people currently serving time for a non-serious or nonviolent offense will see an increase from 33.3% to 50%. We believe that the incentive for good conduct should be uniform across the board, by equally rewarding all people who remain disciplinary-free, regardless of their conviction. The length of one’s sentence already reflects the severity of the offense, so we do not believe it is necessary to further punish people by limiting their access to good time credits as well. 3. Make all good time credit earning retroactive: The proposed Prop 57 regulations state that good time credits will be prospective beginning May 1, 2017. We believe this is unjust and fails to recognize the many incarcerated people who have remained disciplinary-free for years without increased incentives. This recommendation is consistent with criminologist James Austin’s 2013 declaration in response to the Three Judge Panel order to reduce CDCR’s population. Here, Austin recommended that all credit earning be retroactive and found that this recommendation could be “implemented without having an impact on public safety or the operation of the state or local criminal justice systems. In fact, they would provide large cost savings that could be used to offset any local criminal justice costs and increase the level of effective programs at the state and local levels.” 4. Award retroactive Education Merit Credits for each achievement: Award 6-month credit for every vocation, college degree, and G.E.D. obtained by people in prison. Imprisoned people should be able to get at least 6 months off per year per academic and vocational achievement retrospectively since many have completed multiple associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees and certification programs. Educational advancement has been shown to be one of the top factors in reducing the recidivism rate and should be treated with as much importance while further incentivizing people to enroll in academic and vocational programs. 5. Allow people with a Youth Offender / Elderly Parole Date to earn time off their earliest parole date: The expanded Good Time and Milestone credits made possible should apply to these Youth Offender Parole or Elder Parole Hearing dates, not their original sentence. SB 260 and SB 261 were passed by the Legislature recognizing that many young people were victims of extreme sentencing; therefore, credit earning opportunities made possible by Prop 57 should be applied to their amended hearing dates in order to ensure that participation in rehabilitative programming and remaining disciplinary-free are adequately incentivized. Additionally, Elder Parole is a program that seeks to meet the court deadline to reduce the prison population. Every incarcerated person who wrote to us expressed deep willingness to embrace their rehabilitation—if given the opportunity to do so. The opportunities presented to people inside will help set them up for success once they are released, and this will ultimately create safer communities for all. Therefore, we request CDCR incorporate these recommendations in drafting the Prop 57 regulations.
Tell Gov. Cuomo: Return Racist Donor's Money"The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman,” Malcolm X once stated. Fifty-five years later, women leaders of color are still under attack, from Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Senator Kamala Harris, to the racism and Islamophobia launched at the women of color that co-chaired the Women’s March. As a Black Muslim woman, mother of 7 daughters and 2 granddaughters, I will not sit idly by and allow attacks on Black and Brown women to continue. And now a hedge fund billionaire has accused the highest ranking African American elected official — the highest-ranking African-American woman to hold elected office in the history of New York State — of being worse than the Ku Klux Klan. As reported in the New York Times on August 10, Dan Loeb, one of the wealthiest men in America, launched a viciously racist attack against New York State Democratic Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, saying she has done “more damage to people of color than anyone who has ever donned a hood.” Loeb is a hedge fund billionaire who has contributed over $170,000 to Governor Cuomo’s campaign accounts, according to The New York Times, and this does not even include pass-through donations from political action committees. This attack on Senator Stewart-Cousins is nothing new for him. From public education to the economy, Loeb has repeatedly used his wealth to promote an agenda that has devastated communities of color and working families. Governor Andrew Cuomo positioning himself to run for President in 2020. If Cuomo wants us to believe he has what it takes to challenge Donald Trump and his racist worldview, he needs to have the political courage to break ranks with Loeb now! If he wants have Democratic Party support, he needs to stand with the most important and dedicated bloc of Dem voters: Black women! There is no place for Cuomo’s alliance with Dan Loeb in American politics. From the State House to the White House, from Main Street to Wall Street, NO MORE! Join me in demanding that Governor Cuomo immediately break all ties with Loeb, and refund every dollar he has ever received from Loeb and from political action committees that Loeb finances.