Prison Nation Exhibit – Merced

This exhibit has ended. It is available FREE for exhibition in your town from the Center for the Study of Political Graphics – Contact them for more information http://www.politicalgraphics.org/home.html
Jan. 19 – March 9, 2013
Prison Nation: Posters on the Prison Industrial Complex
An Exhibition from the Center for the Study of Political Graphics
at the UC Merced Kolligian Library – 5200 N. Lake Road, Merced, CA 95343

Program: Prison Nation Jan 24 Program

No More Shackles: AB 2530 is SIGNED!

Friday, September 28, 2012

By Karen Shain, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children

Finally! After three years and countless petitions, letters, phone calls, votes, revotes, and two vetoes, Governor Brown has signed AB 2530, a bill that bans the most egregious forms of shackling of pregnant women in California’s state prisons, juvenile detention facilities and county jails.

At last! We have an answer for the pregnant women who write to Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC) about having to wear chains around their bellies while going to court, about being shackled around their ankles while waiting to see a doctor, about standing in countless lines waiting to get on countless buses while handcuffed behind their backs: you are right. This is illegal. You should not be restrained in these ways if you are incarcerated in California.

I can’t wait to visit pregnant women at California Institution for Women (CIW) or one of our 58 county jails. We can rejoice together that this long, long battle has been won!

The coalition conference calls are going to change. No longer will we be talking about designing the next petition or support letter or legislative alert. No more legislative visits, searching for an author, co-author, supporter. No more tracking down potential opposition to make sure they are still neutral or (hopefully) in support of our bill.

This is clearly a time for celebration! And because the work took so long, there are so many of us who get to celebrate. The thousands of letter writers, hundreds of organizational supporters, dozens of organizational sponsors—we did it! Assembly Members Nancy Skinner, Toni Atkins, Holly Mitchell—you stepped up at the right time and we will always remember you.

And then, after all the celebrating, after all the thank you notes, after the tears of joy and slaps on our collective backs…then we have to get to work.

Because I have learned one really important lesson over the past decade that I have been doing legislative policy work—a good bill is only as good as its implementation. It took over five years for California’s counties to begin writing policies to conform to state law banning shackling of women during labor, delivery and recovery (see LSPC’s report, Stop Shackling). We must not allow county sheriffs, juvenile probation officers or state prison officials to wait five more years before shackling becomes only a memory in our state.

As of January 1, 2013, this is what the new law will be: NO PREGNANT WOMAN in California’s prisons, youth authority, county jails or juvenile detention facilities can be shackled around the belly, around the ankles or handcuffed behind the back DURING THEIR ENTIRE PREGNANCY.  And once a woman is in labor, delivery or recovery…OR IF A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL ORDERS IT…they cannot be restrained at all, provided that there is not a pressing security issue.

At our office, we are starting right now to find out what pregnant women who are jailed in California are facing. Come January, when the new law goes into effect, we will begin the work of implementation. And we need the help of every incarcerated pregnant woman in our state as well as every family member…you are the ones who know what is happening.  We ask everyone who is released from a woman’s prison or jail to let us know if you witness violations of the new law.

It took a lot of people to get this legislation passed. It will take at least as many to get it implemented. Let us not lose a minute.   It’s now in all our hands to STOP SHACKLING PREGNANT WOMEN!

Please email me at karen@prisonerswithchildren.org if you hear of or see any violations to the new law.

LSPC Director Joins Delegation to Pennsylvania to Support Voting Rights

In response to voter suppression in Pennsylvania, Dorsey Nunn, Executive Director of Legal Services for Prisoners, has co-organized a national delegation to that state made up  of members of the Formerly Incarcerated People’s Movement (FICPM). Although  Pennsylvania is one of the states that allows people with felony convictions to vote, many remain unregistered and the voter ID laws represent a new challenge. The delegation, which includes activists with deep experience fighting disenfranchisement policies, will share strategies with PA voting rights activists and conduct voter registration in neighborhoods hardest hit by the new voter ID laws. See the press release that follows for more details.

You can read the press release here.

Call to Defend Voting Rights of the Disenfranchised

Statement by leaders of the Returning Citizen Voter Movement in Philadelphia

As civil rights organizations participating in the Returning Citizen Voter Movement in Philadelphia, we call on our brothers and sisters across the United States to join us in the struggle for voting rights in Pennsylvania.  Today, Pennsylvania is on the frontline of Republican efforts to steal the vote from poor people, people of color, the elderly, and new citizens.  The requirement to present photo ID in order to vote denies this fundamental right to thousands of people without acceptable forms of identification, many of us people of color who have past convictions.  We are asking formerly-incarcerated and formerly-convicted people everywhere to JOIN US in assisting people in Pennsylvania to access their right to vote.

Voting rights for people with conviction histories vary widely state to state.  In Pennsylvania, we have the right to register to vote when we’re released from prison or jail, but past convictions or incarceration will result in lifelong disenfranchisement in many other states.  We are passionate about the right to vote because we are fighting for full restoration of our rights everywhere. We can never guarantee our civil or human rights without the right to vote, including the right to vote in prison or jail.  If we don’t participate, our voice will be silenced.

People of color were enslaved and excluded from voting until the Fifteenth Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution in 1870, prohibiting denial of the vote based on race, color, or previous condition of servitude.  Women of all races were denied the vote until 1920. Poll taxes, literacy tests, physical violence were the precursors of today’s photo ID laws – all used to stop poor people and people of color from voting. We have never been welcomed into the electoral process – we have always fought and died for the right to vote and to hold office.

Now the voting rights of students, elderly people, new immigrants, and poor people generally are also under attack.  In Pennsylvania, formerly-incarcerated and formerly-convicted people are joining other civil rights organizations in a unified effort to guarantee voting rights for all.  The Returning Citizen Voter Movement will host four days of voter mobilization activities to welcome people with conviction or incarceration histories to the struggle for voting rights in Pennsylvania.

Join Us!!