This past weekend, StrongReturns.org spoke to a conference of Campus Civic Engagement Directors at the 2015 ADP/TDC/NASPA Civic Learning & Democratic Engagement Meeting. We discussed how to build campus-to-prison bridges to help raise a generation who sees the prison and reentry community as part of their community. Several campus leaders came up to us after the speech and were excited to start building a campus-to-prison bridge on their campus. We will be posting a version of the talk shortly as well as launching a new site about how you can build a campus-to-prison bridge . For now, take a look at our summary slide below to get some ideas about how your campus can get connected to local jails and prisons:
We at Strong Returns were so inspired by the powerful argument of Michelle Alexander’s New Jim Crow that we wanted to turn part of it into a video. So, today we present the first of our Prison Reform 101 series, “How the Drug War’s Racism Works”:
Stay tuned for more Prison Reform 101 videos throughout the summer.
Problems in the American prison system are not new— there’s much present-day reformers can learn from the history of American prison reform. In that spirit, here is a recent NBC News video on the 1971 Attica prison riot and subsequent prison reform activism:
Mysteries of Attica
Late last month, Strong Returns spent a week talking with the inspirational Patrick Young, a returning citizen from New Orleans who helps formerly incarcerated folks get jobs. Below is our mini-documentary on Patrick’s prison experience:
Check it out to hear Patrick share stories on topics ranging from how Hurricane Katrina was experienced inside the prison to the importance of education in rehabilitation to how books kept him hopeful while he was serving his sentence.
Also, click here to check out the organization for which Patrick works, Strive International, which is “committed to serving the hardest-to-employ, most at-risk individuals… the long-term unemployed, the formerly incarcerated, disconnected youth, recovering addicts, public assistance recipients, veterans, the homeless, and the working poor.”
Here at StrongReturns.org, we believe that the people who know the reality of the American prison system – the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated – are the only ones who can lead the way in solving it’s problems. If returning citizens are not able to vote, how can that happen? That’s why we hope you can check out this recent Huffington Post op-ed from Common Cause’s Director of Voting and Elections: Return the Right to Vote to ‘Missing Men’.
Something must and can be done to ensure that communities from which these men go “missing” do not suffer further. Maryland, for one, eased the process of reintegration for these men (and women) just a couple of weeks ago, passinglegislation that returns the franchise to eligible voters upon immediate release from incarceration. The move bucks a national system. In 35 states, the formerly incarcerated are prohibited from voting — and thus from fully participating in political and civic life — until they’ve completed probation and/or parole, with some states additionally requiring a governor’s pardon in order to have the right restored. These laws, disproportionately affecting men of color, oftentimes for having committed the same drug crimes as whites, have collectively resulted in the elimination of 5.85 million voices from the political process. Without those voices, underrepresented communities go further marginalized.
Read the full article here.