We at LSPC / All of Us or None mourn the loss of Forward Justice, FICPFM, & AOUON organizer Umar Muhammad, who was killed in a tragic traffic accident in Durham, NC.
Umar was 30 years old, and leaves behind his 2-month-old daughter and his partner.
LSPC Executive Director and AOUON co-founder Dorsey Nunn:
We’ve lost a young, gifted leader in Umar Muhammed, who took to organizing in a very deliberate and effective way. He will be sorely missed. His passion led him to fight for the full restoration of civil and human rights of formerly incarcerated people. It was a great honor to work with him. Sometimes you see a young organizer come along that truly fills you with pride, and it was inspiring to see Umar already picking up the torch to continue the struggle for social justice.
I remember him at the 2016 FICPFM National Conference in Oakland—now, we’ve distributed All of Us or None gear to many people across the country, but he walked in wearing an AOUON shirt that he had made himself. Even now, in the videos and photos accompanying the news of his passing, he’s wearing All of Us or None across his chest loud and proud. He organized and energized a vibrant AOUON chapter in North Carolina.
His death fills us with grief from one end of the nation to the other. There’s more than shock when a 30-year-old dies—in this case it was accompanied by tears and continuous grief. He leaves behind not only a host of friends, he leaves behind a 2-month-old baby who will have to find her way through this society without her father.
The last time I saw him, I gave him a blanket—a one-of-a-kind blanket, with the gold, clenched fist on it. I hope he wrapped his baby with that blanket. LSPC / All of Us or None committed to giving $1,000 to give to his child in Umar’s memory.
This accident forces us to look at our principles in a most intimate way, especially the principles of restorative justice. But it’s easier when Umar himself was so committed to those principles himself.
The funeral will take place in Durham, NC, in early August.
Dorsey at his most amazing self!
Bill Freeza interviews Dorsey for Real Clear Radio (broadcast 4/30/16), who turns the 20 minutes into Movement magic: clearly conveying LSPC / All of Us or None’s current work on Ban the Box & restoring our rights, sharing his personal prison experience, & reminding us that language & labels can encourage or condemn formerly incarcerated people on our route through reentry.
Every spring, Formerly Incarcerated People, their families, friends, allies & comrades are ALL invited to join our Annual Formerly Incarcerated People’s Quest For Democracy Advocacy Day at the California State Capital! The day also provides an opportunity for all other people of good will to come out and support formerly incarcerated people in our fight for inclusion, and our determination to speak in our own voice. We will make our voices heard on bills that directly relate to our capacity to thrive as human beings.
Quest for Democracy Advocacy Day helps formerly incarcerated people speak truth to power, regain our dignity, and make our communities a better place for all people. Afterwards we coordinate follow-up and relationship-building between training participants and legislators/staff.
What are my transport/parking options getting to the event?
If you are driving yourself or a group, there are several paid parking garages & lots nearby (Expect about $20 for the day).
If you need a ride, we are organizing ride-shares from across California as well as buses from certain locations:
Riverside bus: 3657 Lemon St. (Corner of Mission & Lemon) at 12 Noon on Sunday May 8th
Contact: Terrance Stewart (310) 579-1296 or email@example.com
Los Angeles bus: 9512 South Central Ave La (A New Way of Life office) at 12 Noon on Sunday May 8th
Contact: Amber Rose (323) 563-3575 or firstname.lastname@example.org
SF Bay Area bus: Fruitvale Bart station at 7am on Monday May 9th
Contact: Manuel La Fontaine (415) 255-7036 x328 or email@example.com
Stockton bus: 338 Market street (Fathers & Families of San Joaquin office) at 7:15am Monday May 9th.
Contact: Eduardo Crabbe (209) 941-0701 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Buses will leave Sacramento at 4pm & return to original point of departure.
What can/can’t I bring to the event?
Breakfast and lunch will be provided, as are legislative information & advocacy training. Please leave weapons, alcohol, & all negativity at home. Bring comfortable shoes, your voice, & your passion to organize & advocate for current- & formerly incarcerated people & our families!
Where can I contact the organizer with any questions?
Alex Berliner (415) 255-7042 or email@example.com
Manuel La Fontaine (415) 255-7036 x328 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Amir Varick Amma (415) 361-4692 or email@example.com
- Sacramento – 10th & L Streets, Sacramento, CA 95814 – View Map
Check out the full article, by Malaika Fraley, on Contra Costa.
5 August 2015 – OAKLAND – Los Angeles County probation Chief Jerry Powers said he hasn’t heard the question over allowing low-level felons to vote posed better than by his 12-year-old son: “Dad, what part of voting makes us less safe?”
“Only a 12-year-old can put it that way. There’s not a single part of allowing these individuals to vote that is going to make our society less safe,” Powers said Tuesday on the steps of an Oakland courthouse, where California Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced the right to vote will soon be restored to tens of thousands of low-level felons in California serving out their sentences under the community supervision provisions of the state’s recent criminal justice reforms.
“If we are serious about slowing the revolving door at our jails and our prisons and serious about reducing recidivism, we need to engage, not shun, former offenders,” Padilla said. “And voting is a key part of that engagement. It is part of a process of becoming vested, having a stake in the community.”
Alameda County Judge Evelio Grillo ruled last year that offenders being supervised under the state’s Public Safety Realignment Act are eligible to vote under the California Constitution, thereby negating a 2011 decision by Padilla’s predecessor Debra Bowen that they had no voting rights.
Previously, it was only felons in prison or on parole who weren’t allowed to vote. When the realignment act passed in 2011 to integrate low-level offenders back into society and alleviate prison overcrowding, Bowen added the new category of offenders to the can’t-vote list, concluding that the supervision created under realignment was “functionally equivalent to parole,” and there was no evidence lawmakers had intended to let more convicts vote.
Voting and civil liberties groups sued and won, but Bowen filed an appeal before she termed out last year.
Padilla announced Tuesday that he’s abandoning an appeal he never believed in. He said he agrees with the judge that the secretary of state does not have the power to deny the right to vote to offenders who are no longer in prison or on parole but are being supervised under realignment.
“I believe it’s the right thing to do,” Padilla said. “Civic engagement and participation in the electoral process can be an important factor helping former offenders reintegrate into civil society.”
An estimated 58,000 people are serving out sentences under the realignment act, which includes people ineligible to vote because they’re either underage or noncitizens.
Padilla’s announcement came two days before the 50th anniversary of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 that banned racial discrimination in voting.
It is not lost on me that persons of color are disproportionately represented in correctional institutions and that undeniable disparities exist,” Padilla said. “It is not lost on me that many states in our nation are advancing legislation to roll back our voting rights, not just for former offenders but for all voters.”
Dorsey Nunn, who was released from prison over 30 years ago and now serves as the executive director of the San Francisco-based Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, one of the plaintiffs that challenged Bowen, said when one doesn’t have the right to vote, they question whether they are a full citizen.
“This vote that we are talking about is not just simply a vote that belongs to incarcerated or formerly incarcerated people,” Nunn said. “It’s a vote that belongs to our families, to our children, that was fought for and bled for by people of color. So, to me, today is an excellent day, and it’s an excellent start.”
Read the full article, by Brendan Bartholomew, on the SF Examiner.
2 August 2015 – President Barack Obama has received national — and in some cases bipartisan — support for his recent calls to reform criminal justice in the U.S., and some impetus for his ideas might be traced to San Mateo County-based activist Dorsey Nunn.
Nunn was among demonstrators who rallied outside the White House on Thursday calling upon the president to follow through on his proposal to “ban the box” on federal employment applications asking job seekers if they’ve ever been convicted of a crime.
Nunn, who is executive director of Legal Services for Prisoners With Children and co-founder of the civil rights group All of Us or None, has been advocating this change for years. In 2013, his organizations helped pass California Assembly Bill 218, which prohibited public employers from asking most job applicants about their conviction histories.
California is one of at least 10 states that have removed questions about conviction histories from job applications, and 50 cities or counties have taken similar actions.
“Ban the box” legislation does not require public agencies to ignore criminal records where they might be relevant, such as when hiring law enforcement officers. And Nunn said the executive order he’s asking the president to sign would still allow federal employers to ask about conviction histories, but those questions would come later when an agency is ready to make an offer of employment.
In addition to preventing such questions from being used to screen out applicants, Nunn and his allies are asking for transparency and an appeals process. Applicants denied employment because of past convictions would have a chance to ask employers to consider mitigating factors, Nunn said, such as how long ago they were convicted and whether they’ve shown signs of being rehabilitated.
Rehabilitation is a deeply personal topic for Nunn, who, at the age of 19, was sentenced to life in prison for his role in an incident that left one person dead. Asked whether the life sentence made him think about giving up, Nunn said, “Hope is a hard thing to kill, homey.”
A father of two at the time of his conviction, Nunn said being able to maintain a relationship with his children was crucial to his rehabilitation.
“When I went to prison, I saw people abused and tortured,” Nunn said, “My contact with my daughter and other people helped me maintain my humanity in an ugly situation.”
Nunn was 31 years old when he was released from prison, but he struggled with crack addiction for several years, and says conditions in the East Palo Alto-Menlo Park community he was released into conspired to keep him addicted.
“The way we practice re-entry in California is reprehensible,” Nunn said, noting that preparing to leave prison can be nerve-wracking for inmates who know they will have no resources or support system on the outside.
Nunn eventually cleaned himself up, and with 25 drug-free years under his belt, the activist is something of an evangelist for sobriety, having founded Free At Last Community Recovery, a drug rehab center in East Palo Alto.
Despite running an organization with a $1.3 million annual budget, meeting Obama and his staff, and maintaining a quarter-century of sobriety, Nunn says he tries to remain humble and keep a good sense of humor about himself.
“I always joke with my kids: if you see me fall off the wagon, hide the check book!” Nunn said.
Sunday – September 20, 2015
9 – 5 PM
Monday – September 21, 2015
9 – 4:30 PM
1721 Broadway St.
Oakland, CA 94612
From Civil Rights to Prisoners Rights, The fight for our Human Rights continues!
Formerly incarcerated and convicted people, our families, community leaders, elected officials and government employees will come together to strengthen our relationships and work towards making change. How do we change discriminatory laws and the negative perceptions many people have about formerly incarcerated and or convicted people? It is our intention for people to listen to each other, hear what others have to say, tell our elected officials what we need from them regarding changing and making new laws and policies and hear what they have to saya bout what they are, have been and can do. We will make specific policy recommendations that we can collectively advocate for on both local and national levels. We will also be organizing various panels on Housing, Education, Employment, Families and more!
Come and be heard, learn about your rights and what we can do to make changes in the laws and our lives. Registration is free and family members are welcome! Check out the event flyer here and don’t forget to register as soon as possible on Eventbrite!
If you are in need of somewhere to stay during the conference, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children has reserved a limited number of rooms under a group rate at the Marriott Oakland City Center. To make a reservation click here or use the toll free number 877-901-6632 or the local number 800-454-1719. The group name is “Prisoners With Children”.
Directions from the Marriot to Oakstop can be found here.
All of Us or None
(415) 255- 7036 ext. 337
Read the full article, by Mark Otiz, on Community Change.
28 July 2015 – On Thursday, advocates will rally in front of the White House and the Department of Justice to demand that President Obama issue an executive order to Ban the Box and give people who have been incarcerated a fair chance to find a job and work toward economic success when they get out.
Currently, more than 100 cities and counties in 18 states have ban the box legislation, which means that employers won’t ask a job applicant about his or her incarceration history until the person receives a conditional offer of employment. That’s makes the initial hiring process fair and doesn’t automatically shut people out of jobs.
President Obama is making huge strides to acknowledge the difficulties and lack of resources that people face when they are released from prison. During his visit to the El Reno federal prison on July 16, which made him the first sitting president to visit a prison, he met with six incarcerated people and noted, “Visiting with these six individuals. I’ve said this before — 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.”
Advocates such as Dorsey Nunn, executive director of All of Us or None, says the president is on the right track, but needs to do more. He says the president has to focus on helping not just people convicted of nonviolent drug offenses, but all people who’ve served their time and are released. He says this especially holds true for those people convicted of violent offenses who need the additional support so they don’t land back in the clutches of the criminal justice system.
That’s why Nunn is making the trip from San Francisco to D.C. on Thursday.
“We’re demanding that he lead,” and give the 70 million Americans with criminal records a fair chance to success, he says.
Working to give formerly incarcerated people their rights back has been an issue he has felt deeply and personally since he left prison 34 years ago. He has been fighting for prisoners’ rights ever since.
“I went in at 19 and got out at 31,” he says. He says the world that existed when he went in as a young man had change drastically when he was released in 1981. That’s when he saw a flaw in the society he lived in.
“I had no clue of our societal addiction to punishment,” he says.
His first weeks out of prison were frustrating. Prison life left a lasting mark on him.
“I couldn’t forget my experience,” he says.
Unlike many of his compatriots, Dorsey was able to find work two week after he was released, working for the Prison Law Office, where he would began fighting for better conditions for the imprisoned of our country. “It gave me a deeper purpose,” he says.
Dorsey and fellow advocates came up with the concept and the term of “ban the box” as a way to give the formerly incarcerated a fair chance for work. At the heart of the proposal is that an applicant’s qualifications are the first consideration, not their previous convictions. This would allow applicants to be judged on their merits as opposed to the blacklisting that comes with a felony conviction.
The current difficulties that the formerly incarcerated have with finding work has contributed to the vicious cycle that has become America’s prison industry, where people get out, can’t find work that sustains them and their families and commit an act that find them back in the prison system.
“My success would be don’t go back to prison,” Dorsey says. He says prison does little to rehabilitate and that the “box” people have to check off when applying for work about their conviction history was another tool in the vicious cycle of felony discrimination.
“That box was the bane of my existence,” he says. “That box banned me from health care for my family and made our children less healthy.”
He says he is frustrated with the nation’s idea that punishment is the only way to address crime and our inability as a society to forgive those who have paid their debt to society. He says part of that also means recognizing that our current criminal justice system, which incarcerates black men at higher rates than other groups, is a symptom of the structural discrimination that exists in our society.
Dorsey and other advocates from across the country will descend on Washington this Thursday to insist that forgiveness through rehabilitation and resources be part of the solution.
For Dorsey, the fight doesn’t just end with the President’s support but a nationwide awakening for employers to recognize that formerly convicted felons deserve a second chance.
“If we can drive American corporations to stop discriminating, we can stop this,” he says.
Read the full article by Suzanne Potter on Public News Service
23 June 2015 -Advocates for prisoners incarcerated in California are asking President Barack Obama to take action to ban the question about criminal convictions on applications for federal jobs, and positions with federal contractors.
Their calls come after the president’s recent comment that the country should “ban the box” on all job applications. Doing so would delay a criminal background check until the applicant has had a chance to prove his or her qualifications.
Dorsey Nunn, executive director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC), says the national publicity has breathed new life into the group’s campaign All of Us or None. “For him to say it was really important,” he says. “Some of us have been out here doing this work for 10 years trying to get a fair shake and a clean application.”
California banned the box for public-sector jobs in July 2014. San Francisco has banned it for all jobs in the city, public and private. To the north, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed that state’s “ban the box” legislation last week.
Nunn notes there are 70 million Americans with a criminal record who have a hard time even getting a job interview, which creates a permanent underclass disproportionately affecting people of color.
He says the focus in California is now on removing the question from housing, student aid and all private-sector job applications.
“The process would be a lot fairer,” he says. “I don’t think you can get to public safety through force and fear. I think it takes rehabilitation and forgiveness.”
The American Civil Liberties Union is currently circulating a petition on the issue, which requires 25,000 signatures to force a government response. It has received 21,700 signatures so far.
You can read the full article, written by our very own executive director Dorsey Nunn, in the SF BayView here!
18 July 2015 – On Tuesday, July 14, one day after commuting the sentences of 46 people currently serving sentences for nonviolent drug offenses in federal prisons, President Obama addressed the NAACP National Convention in Philadelphia. In his address, the president declared that our criminal justice system is “built on the legacy of slavery, segregation and other structural inequalities that [have] compounded over generations.” Our current system, the president said, is “not an accident.”
As part of his solution to begin to address fixes to our system, the president asked the country to invest in linking prisoners with prospective employers, to “Ban the Box” on job applications so that people have a decent shot at a job interview.
We applaud the president for supporting Ban the Box, a campaign initiated by All of Us or None, and are hopeful that this public message is a sign that the president will support his views with action. Since All of Us Or None launched the campaign to Ban the Box over a decade ago, over one third of the nation – 14 states and over 100 cities and counties – have passed fair chance hiring policies, intended to protect people with arrest and conviction records from discrimination on initial job applications.
We have steadily gained traction nationwide, and in May of this year, Congresswoman Barbara Lee sent a letter urging the president to adopt a federal fair chance hiring policy that would prohibit federal contractors from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal record history on initial applications. All of Us or None has called on the president to sign an executive order that would require all private contractors to similarly “ban the box.”
President Obama commuted sentences for 90 people – a fraction of the 2.3 million people behind bars in our country, and yet more than any other president since Lyndon Johnson. By issuing an executive order to Ban the Box, he would provide hundreds of thousands of people the “decent shot” he says they deserve. This would be an opportunity for the president to lead the country towards a more just criminal system.
We are heartened by the president’s message of justice for all, including for those who endure and are injured by solitary confinement – spending 23 hours in an 8-foot-by-10-foot cell every day across our country. Legal Services for Prisoners with Children has been litigating a suit against the state of California alleging the prolonged use of solitary confinement in Pelican Bay State Prison is a violation of the Eighth Amendment.
The next, crucial step President Obama must take to decrease the prison population is to commit his values to action by following the lead of human rights organizations across the globe and identifying solitary confinement as a form of torture, then prohibiting its use in prisons and jails in our country.
The president urged Congress to act, to get “smart on crime” by moving away from blanket reliance on mandatory minimums for nonviolent offenses to investing in crime prevention tactics that target juveniles and adults. On this end, the president offered concrete solutions such as job readiness programs, as well as a more abstract plea for empathy – that all children should be seen as important by their parents, neighbors, law enforcement and country.
The first, crucial step the president must take to end mass incarceration is to himself embody this empathy and to rethink his statement that “there are a lot of folks who belong in prison” and that our neighborhoods are safer thanks to police officers who put “violent criminals” in jail. This is a radical suggestion for a country so torn apart by racism, when the vast majority of those folks “who belong in prison” – those children and adults the president initially urged us to love and to see as important – are African-American and Latino.
But we will not escape the shadow of mass incarceration until we remember, as a country, that the legacies of slavery, segregation and other structural inequalities are endured by all people – those who commit crimes, both serious and non-serious, and those who punish those crimes. Fixing a criminal justice system built on these legacies requires us to dismantle all of that system – not just the parts that seem most politically feasible at the moment.