Upcoming Seminar: “30 Years Later: The Crack Epidemic in the Black Community, The Aftermath, and Launching the Response”

On August 7th from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm, Because Black is Still Beautiful is hosting a seminar entitled “30 Years Later: The Crack Epidemic in the Black Community, The Aftermath, and Launching the Response.” It will focus specifically on the experiences of Black women, which is incredibly timely, given the recent ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ and ‪#‎SayHerName‬ movements.

The seminar—led by the fabulous Marilyn Barnes—will give a detailed account of the crack epidemic from the perspective of Black women, assist service providers with developing tools and strategies for their organizations to address the repercussions of the epidemic, and create a transformational learning environment that will allow participants to self-reflect upon any actions or behaviors they make partake in that may affect our success in a negative or positive manner. We hope you are able to attend!

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Recap of Last Week’s Exciting Criminal Justice Reform News!

US President Barack Obama, alongside Ronald Warlick (L), a correctional officer, tours a cell block at the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Oklahoma, July 16, 2015. Obama is the first sitting US President to visit a federal prison, in a push to reform one of the most expensive and crowded prison systems in the world. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Barack Obama, alongside Ronald Warlick (L), a correctional officer, tours a cell block at the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Oklahoma, July 16, 2015. Obama is the first sitting US President to visit a federal prison, in a push to reform one of the most expensive and crowded prison systems in the world. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Last week, President Obama paid unprecedented attention to the United States’ prison system. Moving from the “tough on crime” model of the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s, the Obama Administration has instituted a “smart on crime” model. In line with this shift, the White House focused on sentencing reform this past week. Here’s a brief run-down of some important milestones from Obama’s effort to address America’s prison problem.


Monday, July 13th: Obama Issues Commutations for 46 Non-Violent Drug Offenders

Obama commuted the sentences for 46 men and women serving federal sentences for mainly non-violent drug crimes. Most of the 46 were sentenced to at least 20 years behind bars, and 14 faced life sentences for their offenses. Now, they will be released on November 10th, thanks to Obama’s executive action. In a letter, Obama told the 46 men and women: “I am granting your application because you have demonstrated the potential to turn your life around. Now it is up to you to make the most of this opportunity. It will not be easy, and you will confront many who doubt people with criminal records can change. Perhaps even you are unsure of how you will adjust to your new circumstances. But remember that you have the capacity to make good choices.”

With these 46 commutations, Obama has now granted clemency to almost 90 individuals, almost all of whom were serving disproportionately long sentences for low-level, non-violent drug crimes. As victims of the harsh sentencing policies that proliferated during the War on Drugs, many of the recipients of these clemency grants would have already served their sentences had they been convicted of the same crimes today.

Although this is a major milestone for undoing the damage caused by decades of severe sentences—disproportionately applied to African-Americans and Latinos—and over-policing of low-income communities of color, it is still important to note that these 46 commutations pale in comparison to the massive scale of America’s prison population. Currently, drug offenders make up almost 50% of the country’s federal prison population, which has exceeded 200,000 people. Compared to the 95,165 people currently incarcerated at the federal level for drug-related crimes, the releases of 46 people certainly seems like a less significant step to counteracting the effects of mass incarceration.


Tuesday, July 14: Obama Gives a Speech at the annual NAACP Conference

During his speech in Philadelphia, President Obama called for the full enfranchisement of formerly incarcerated people convicted of felonies. According to The Sentencing Project, about 5.85 million formerly incarcerated people nationwide are ineligible to vote, even though they have served their sentences. Obama also announced that Attorney General Loretta Lynch would begin an investigation of the use of solitary confinement in federal prisons. The unregulated use of solitary confinement—in which inmates are left alone in small cells for up to 24 hours a day—has recently garnered national media attention due to the suicide of Kalief Browder, the New York man who spent three years as a teenager confined at Riker’s Island (including almost two years in solitary confinement) without being convicted of a crime.

Here are some of the most poignant and promising quotes from Obama’s speech:

  • “While the people in our prisons have made some mistakes, and sometimes big mistakes, they are also Americans.”
  • “Mass incarceration makes our country worse off, and we need to do something about it.”
  • “Any system that allows us to turn a blind eye to hopelessness and despair—that’s not a justice system. It’s an injustice system. But that’s an extension and a reflection of some broader decisions that we’re making as a society. And that has to change.”
  • “If folks have served their time, and they’ve re-entered society, they should be able to vote.”
  • “Do we really think it makes sense to lock so many people alone in tiny cells for 23 hours a day for months, sometimes for years, at a time? That is not going to make us safer. That’s not going to make us stronger. And if those individuals are ultimately released, how are they ever going to adapt? It’s not smart. Our prisons should be a place where we can train people for skills that can help them find a job, not train them to become more hardened criminals.”

To watch the full speech, click here.


Thursday, July 16th: Obama Visits El Reno Prison

Obama made history by becoming the first sitting president to visit a federal prison. He visited the Federal Correctional Institute in El Reno, Oklahoma, a medium-security prison that houses 1,300 men. Although the prison was on lockdown for the visit, with most inmates out of sight, President Obama spent 45 minutes speaking with 6 inmates convicted of non-violent drug offenses. Their stories seemed to resonate with Obama, who said, “When they describe their youth and their childhood, these are young people who made mistakes that aren’t that different than the mistakes I made and the mistakes that a lot of you guys made. The difference is they did not have the kinds of support structures, the second chances, the resources that would allow them to survive those mistakes.”

This visit has brought the insides of prisons to the attention of the American public. For many Americans who have never been up close and personal with the inner workings of the criminal justice system, it is a sobering glimpse into abyss of the American carceral state. Obama spoke personally about his own privileges—including a stable education and many opportunities for growth—that allowed him to succeed, and he highlighted that these opportunities were denied to many of the people who find themselves incarcerated for low-level offenses—particularly drug-related crimes.

Advocates praised Obama’s visit by saying that he helped to personalize this issue in a way that has seldom been achieved by a president. Cornell William Brooks, the president of the NAACP, explained: “[Prisoners are] out of sight and out of mind. To have a president say by his actions, by his speech, by his example, ‘You’re in sight and in mind of the American public and of this democracy,’ it’s critically important.”


This exciting week in criminal justice should not be underestimated. The issue of prisons has rarely been acknowledged in the public arena, so this attention by President Obama is long overdue. However, it is also important to note that mass incarceration is part of a larger systematic issue. One week of intensive attention will not undo the scope of damage done by racist and unfair policing, the War on Drugs, and Tough on Crime policies. It will take a much larger societal shift to a holistic, restorative criminal justice system in order to right the wrongs of mass incarceration.

Solitary Confinement: “It’s As If We Want Them to Fail”

Written by Sean Larner Evan Ebel was worried about leaving prison — and reasonably so. His last couple years were spent by himself in a cinderblock cell the size of two queen mattresses. Before his release Ebel wondered, in a … Continue reading

Sign Up for our ReImagine Workshop!

Root & Rebound is co-hosting a FREE empowerment workshop called the “ReImagine Workshop” for people who have been previously incarcerated. Co-hosted and led by Tiffany Younger & Associates’ Social Change Agents Institute, the “ReImagine Workshop” will take place in our downtown Oakland Office, located at 1730 Franklin Street, Suite 300, Oakland, CA 94612, from July 23rd – July 26th (Thursday & Friday evenings, 6-9PM, and Saturday & Sunday all day, 10AM -7PM). Childcare will be provided.

If you are interested in signing up, please fill out the RSVP form online by clicking here (max. 25 people). See the attached flyer for more information.

WHAT?
The “ReImagine Workshop” seeks to empower and inspire participants to rejuvenate their dreams and find inspiration within themselves to succeed in their careers, relationships, and other personal goals. The workshop includes interactive exercises with a focus on analyzing how experiences of poverty and incarceration have molded the participants’ lives, and gaining new tools and resources to address these issues in the community, to become socially responsible leaders, and to create a life that each person dreams about.

WHEN?
Thursday July 23rd – Sunday, July 26thThe schedule is as follows:
  • Thursday 7/23, 6-9PM (evening) – Light refreshments will be provided
  • Friday 7/24, 6 – 9PM (evening) – Light refreshments will be provided
  • Saturday 7/25, 10AM – 7PM (all-day) – Lunch & light refreshments will be provided
  • Sunday 7/26, 10AM – 7PM (all-day) – Lunch & light refreshments will be provided

WHERE?
Root & Rebound, located at 1730 Franklin Street, Suite 300, Oakland, CA 94612

RSVP:
Click here to RSVP. Please Note: Max. 25 people. If filled, R&R will maintain a wait-list. Childcare will be provided on all days. Please fill out the RSVP form to give us details about your needs.

QUESTIONS?
If you have any questions, please email our Summer Intern, Jennie, at jchenkin@rootandrebound.org, or call the Root & Rebound office at (510) 279-4662 and ask for Jennie.

New Enlace Fellows Program for Directly Impacted Women and Trans Women // Nuevo Programa de Enlace para Mujeres y Trans Mujeres

We are happy to share this important message from Jamie Trinkle, the campaign coordinator for Enlace! // ¡Estamos feliz para compartir este mensaje importante de Jamie Trinkle, el coordinador de campañas para Enlace!

[una versión en español abajo]

Our new Fellows Program is a two-year dynamic and innovative leadership and movement building program. The program trains directly-impacted self identified women and trans women organizers, to increase their capabilities to strategically launch corporate campaigns and to prepare them for more advanced leadership positions within their organization.

Participation is open to self identified women and trans women who are immigrants, Indigenous, formerly-incarcerated, or low-wage workers. Apply today!

Please circulate information on this amazing program among your membership and allies. Enlace is proud to be focusing on developing women and trans women leadership among directly impacted people to keep building the movement and strengthen organizations like you all.


El Programa Compas de Enlace es un programa de dos años dinámico e innovador de liderazgo y para crecer el movimiento. El programa entrena organizadoras directamente impactadas, para incrementar sus habilidades para lanzar campañas estratégicas contra corporaciones y prepararlas para posiciones más avanzadas dentro de su organización.

Participación está abierto para individuos que identifican como mujeres y trans mujeres que son inmigrantes, indígenas, anteriormente encarcelados, trabajadoras de bajo sueldo o impactadas por el calentamiento global o racismo ambiental. Applica hoy!

Por favor de difundir esta información a sus miembros y aliados. Enlace esta muy orgulloso de poder enfocarse en desarrollar liderazgo de mujeres y trans mujeres directamente impactadas para seguir creciendo el movimiento y fortalecer organizaciones como las suyas.

In solidarity // en solidaridad,

Jamie Trinkle

Enlace

Applications for Project ReMADE are Out Now!

Applications are now being accepted for the Project ReMADE Class of 2016.

The deadline is October 1, 2015 but we are accepting applications on a rolling basis. More information, including the application, here!

To apply, fill out this form!

Project ReMADE is an entrepreneurship training program for formerly incarcerated people. The 12-week program teaches basic business skills to aspiring entrepreneurs and helps them build the social capital necessary to launch and sustain their businesses.

ReMADE entrepreneurs attend bi-weekly classes on topics ranging from accounting and marketing to negotiations and public speaking. Classes are taught by students from Stanford Law School and Stanford Graduate School of Business. In between every class, ReMADE entrepreneurs meet with their mentor teams, who help them develop their individualized written business plans. Mentor teams comprise one Stanford Law School student, one Stanford Graduate School of Business student, and one Silicon Valley professional.

The goal of Project ReMADE is to help women and men returning home from prison or jail successfully reenter by offering entrepreneurship training, leadership development, and mentoring support. Project ReMADE trains entrepreneurs in the basics of starting and operating a successful business. The practical skills gained in the classes can also help graduates find and keep a job, earn promotions, and increase total income.

For more information about Project ReMADE, visit their website at http://projectremade.org!

Root & Rebound’s Online Auction is LIVE!

2Start Bidding NOW!

Get excited for Root & Rebound’s FIRST EVER online silent auction! Running this entire week from Saturday, July 11th, to Saturday, July 18th, the auction is the perfect opportunity for you to support Root & Rebound’s ongoing work by bidding on incredible items and unique experiences—everything from hotel stays and wine country hot air balloon rides to photographs and paintings, and even consultations with wedding planners and home designers. We have items from across the country (and world!) so you can bid on and enjoy prizes from anywhere!

INSTRUCTIONS:
1) To preview the items, you will need to register as a bidder for the auction. To do so, click here and follow the instructions sent to you by ReadySetAuction.
2) Once you are a registered bidder, bookmark this page, go to the View Auction Catalog option, and then click Categories to have full access to the eCatalog (click on All Items or whichever category you prefer) and view all the amazing packages available to bid on! Preview them today and start bidding tomorrow when the auction goes live!

We would like to say a huge THANK YOU to our individual and corporate donors across the country who donated incredible items and experiences to advance our mission of making second chances a reality for people in reentry. We are hugely appreciative of your support. Now we are asking you, our network of supporters and friends across the country and world, to bid on items and share the auction with your friends, to help Root & Rebound increase access to justice and opportunity for people in reentry from prison and jail, and to educate and empower those who support them.

Share the auction with your networks!

Don’t forget to forward this email your friends, family and colleagues who might be interested in bidding on these incredible items! Share the auction on social media! Help us take this auction viral!

Suggested tweet: Bid on some amazing auction items TODAY to support @ROOTandREBOUND’s work with people in reentry across California! bit.ly/rr2015auction

Suggested Facebook post: I am excited to support Root & Rebound’s silent auction running this week (July 11th-July 18th). Bid on incredible items to help raise money for Root & Rebound’s work with people in reentry across California. Items include everything from hotel stays and wine country hot air balloon rides to photographs and paintings, and even consultations with wedding planners and home designers. Click here to bid: bit.ly/rr2015auction

And don’t forget—at the conclusion of the online auction on Saturday, July 18, Root & Rebound will be hosting its first-ever Summer Fundraiser at our downtown Oakland office! We invite you to join us for an incredible party featuring great food, drinks, live music, and an inspirational talk from renowned justice-reform advocate Michael Santos. Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door. Buy your tickets here!

Pick 6 (07/12/2015)

Views from 6

Hello Friends. We’re back with our weekly feature–Pick 6. Our Pick 6 consists of 6 informative, insightful reentry & criminal justice-related news articles and commentaries that we’ve been following throughout the week. We welcome your thoughts and feedback, so don’t be shy!

PS. Don’t forget this week only (July 11th-July 18th), Root & Rebound is running its first-ever online auction to raise money for our work across California, drawing thousands of people from across the country and world to bid on incredible prizes—everything from hotel stays to wine country hot air balloon rides, from photographs and paintings to consultations with wedding and home designers.

Visit the site and bid today!

http://events.lite.readysetauction.com/rootrebound/summerfundraiser2015 

I. READ IT: Obama to become first sitting president to visit a prison (LA Times)

President Obama will become the first sitting president to visit a federal prison, part of a push he plans next week for reforming the criminal justice system.

On Thursday, the president will visit with inmates and officials at the Federal Correctional Institution El Reno near Oklahoma City, the White House announced Friday, and will be interviewed for the HBO newsmagazine series “Vice” on the issue.

II. HEAR IT: LA Police Unit Intervenes To Get Mentally Ill Treatment, Not Jail Time (NPR)

“The goal is to make sure that people who are mentally ill, who are not a danger to the community, are moved towards getting treatment and services as opposed to getting booked and taken into the jail.”

III. READ IT: Prison Born (The Atlantic)

“The officer who handcuffed Mayer in the motel didn’t seem to care when she told him she was pregnant. Neither did the parole judge, who charged her with fraternizing with another parolee and skipping curfew and ordered her back to prison. As she stripped down at the intake facility and stepped forward to be searched, she faced the question that thousands of American women do each year: What happens to a baby born in detention?”

IV. HEAR IT: Georgia Leads A Push To Help Ex-Prisoners Get Jobs (NPR)

“In Georgia, Jay Neal thinks it won’t be hard to persuade more businesses to take some risk, because here, one in 13 adults is under some kind of state supervision. ‘Just about everybody knows somebody who’s been in the prison system and knows enough about them to know that they’re not a real threat — that they need help more than they need to be locked away,’ he says. And that they’re no longer ex-offenders, but returning citizens.”

V. WATCH IT: Inside the Shadowy Business of Prison Phone Calls (International Business Times)

Over the last decade, the prison phone business has become a scandalous industry, characterized by lawsuits, exorbitant fees, high phone rates and monopolistic relationships between public jails and private companies that openly offer kickbacks to local sheriffs. In May 2015, Foster Campbell, the Louisana Public Service commissioner, described the prison phone business in his state as “worse than any payday loan scheme.”

“Regardless of what they’re using the money for, this is about shifting the cost of the police state onto the backs of the poor people being policed,” says Paul Wright, executive director of Human Rights Defense Center and a longtime advocate for more affordable prison phone rates.

VI. READ IT: Reading Aloud to My Daughter, From Prison (New York Times)

“After my daughter received her books, I learned that the books I sent to her went beyond her in many ways. My entire family was touched and helped through these books. When my son missed me he too would listen to my voice on the tape. When my mom and dad had a rough day taking care of my many responsibilities, they found forgiveness and hope in the sound of my voice.”