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 IN THIS ISSUE    


1. The Newest Jim Crow

 QUICK CONNECTS  

 UPCOMING COMMUNITY EVENTS           

NOV 17: Cultivating Wisdom and Compassion with Insight Dialogue, Seattle
DEC 1: Volunteer Appreciation Night (Gifts and Gratitude), Freedom Project Office 
DEC  8: Anti-Oppression/ Mass Incarceration, Freedom Project Office
DEC 12: Volunteer Info Session, Freedom Project Office
DEC 27: Community Circle, Freedom Project Office


 
The Newest Jim Crow
In a new opinion piece in the New York Times Michelle Alexander explores the recent criminal justice reforms that contain the seeds of a frightening system of “e-carceration.” 
 

In the midterms, Michigan became the first state in the Midwest to legalize marijuana, Florida restored the vote to over 1.4 million people with felony convictions, and Louisiana passed a constitutional amendment requiring unanimous jury verdicts in felony trials. These are the latest examples of the astonishing progress that has been made in the last several years on a wide range of criminal justice issues. Since 2010, when I published “The New Jim Crow” — which argued that a system of legal discrimination and segregation had been born again in this country because of the war on drugs and mass incarceration — there have been significant changes to drug policy, sentencing and re-entry, including “ban the box” initiatives aimed at eliminating barriers to employment for formerly incarcerated people. 

This progress is unquestionably good news, but there are warning signs blinking brightly. Many of the current reform efforts contain the seeds of the next generation of racial and social control, a system of “e-carceration” that may prove more dangerous and more difficult to challenge than the one we hope to leave behind.

Bail reform is a case in point. Thanks in part to new laws and policies — as well as actions like the mass bailout of inmates in New York City jails that’s underway — the unconscionable practice of cash bail is finally coming to an end. In August, California became the first state to decide to get rid of its cash bail system; last year, New Jersey virtually eliminated the use of money bonds. 

But what’s taking the place of cash bail may prove even worse in the long run. In California, a presumption of detention will effectively replace eligibility for immediate release when the new law takes effect in October 2019. And increasingly, computer algorithms are helping to determine who should be caged and who should be set “free.” Freedom — even when it’s granted, it turns out — isn’t really free.

Read More
Her Life Outside a Cell

 
 
Tyra Patterson was in prison for the murder of Michelle Lai, even though she didn't pull the trigger, and is now sharing her story at schools across the country.
To be welcomed home is probably the best feeling in the world. Regardless if it’s your dog getting over-excited when you walk through the door after a long day of work, or your spouse and kids embracing you after a long trip. Just imagine what it would feel like if you were removed from society because of horrible decisions you made so many years ago, then released after 24 years. Imagine how you would need to put the pieces of your life together with nothing but $40 in your pocket and a stigma that makes life that much more difficult. The truth is, being welcomed home could be the difference between success in society and going back to prison. 

To increase the possibility of success and supporting a safe return back into society, Freedom Project is providing Welcome Home bags. Included in these bags are all the necessities a person will need on their first day back into society, complete with a personalized letter:
- hygiene items
- basic toiletries
-bus passes (if needed)
- gift cards for clothing and other necessities

Additionally, as the magic isn’t just in providing the things people really need on the day of release, Freedom Project is there for them, walking with them shoulder to shoulder through this most difficult transition. There is only one way to welcome someone home… with empathy, compassion and, at the very least, helping them get their most basic needs met.

Freedom Project supports healing connection and restorative communities both inside and outside prison through the strategies of Nonviolent Communication, mindfulness, racial equity and anti-oppression. A SAGE Antioch study has shown that 30 hours of our trainings and workshops reduces recidivism of those who participate by 42% and saves the State of Washington 5 million a year. In an effort to do more, we have made a commitment to walk with people as they transition out and offer much-needed community support every step of the way.
 
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