Incarceration’s Forgotten Victims Conference – Children of Prisoners

Sponsored by Child & Family Policy Center &

Empowering Children of Incarcerated Parents

Incarceration’s Forgotten Victims Conference –

Children of Prisoners

August 24, 2012;

9:15 am to noon

Central Library Campus, 1000 Grand Ave., Des Moines, Iowa 50309

Cost to participants: $30.00, plus tax and registration fee

To reserve your seat register at:

https://tickets.tikly.co/-/event/649

Keynote Speaker

Charity Lee – ELLA foundation

Charity’s father was murdered when she was 6. Her mother was arrested, charged, briefly incarcerated, tried, and acquitted of murder-for-hire. In February of 2007, her son, Paris, sexually assaulted, beat, choked, and stabbed his little sister, Ella. He pled guilty to capital murder. Paris was 13; Ella was 4. The ELLA Foundation™, the “child” born of her pain, works to bring healing and empowerment to victim, perpetrators, and their families, advocates against the death penalty, and advocates for compassion for children and families of the incarcerated. After years of trauma, Charity has learned, “Love is the only weapon we should use to make the world a better place.

Other Speakers

Dr. Charles Bruner -Child & Family Policy Center, Executive Director, will share stats and policy on the incarcerated as well as the children of incarcerated

Joy De Somber -Empowering Children of Incarcerated Parents

When her husband was arrested for a double homicide, Joy asked her children to write about their feelings. This action led to the book What Did I Do, Stories from the Hearts of Children Whose Parents are Incarcerated.

Ben Easter – Actor, Professional Photographer and Philanthropist will share his Photographic Exhibit of children with a parent in prison. Ben was touched by the children he photographed for dsm magazine and has since donated his time to create the exhibit that will travel around Iowa’s Art Museums.

ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences). Presentation on how to negate some of the devastating consequences of ACEs

Voices to be Heard: testimony on what the twice monthly meetings mean to families of the incarcerated and news about the expansion of Voices to be Heard Chapters

Sign up now. Limited seating.https://tickets.tikly.co/-/event/649

 

July 30th JRC Newsletter is Published

http://justicereformconsortium.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Vol-3.No12.pdf

Vol. 3 #12 July 30, 2012

Invasion of the Legislative and Judicial Branches

On Monday, July 16, Governor Terry Branstad issued a commutation to 38 of Iowa’s lifers. That group of lifers consists of those felons who are serving a sentence of life without the possibility of parole for crimes they committed as juveniles.

In a sweeping motion, the governor commuted the life sentences of all 38 individuals to a minimum term of sixty years, with no possibility of parole during that initial 60-year sentence. Immediately, the decision raised questions that keep coming.

Can he do that? That will be up to the courts to determine, and the governor’s decision will be challenged. The Iowa Constitution gives the governor the power to commute a life sentence to a number of years, and it is backed up by statutory law. However, that’s about where agreement on the governor’s limitations ends and the questions begin.

A Des Moines Register editorial said that the governor took the power “to be judge, jury and sentencing court all in a single act.[1]” He did more than that. He created a new punishment – minimum sixty-year sentence without the possibility of parole. He created a sentencing scheme that disallows a former juvenile to serve anything but a life sentence.

To begin with, nowhere in the Iowa Code is there a sentence of sixty years. In creating the 60-year term, Governor Branstad usurped the power of the Legislature by creating law. This determinate sentencing scheme is a power left solely to the Legislature. Where did the governor come up with 60 years? This is a discussion that must be left to the general assembly. In this respect, he usurped the authority of the Iowa Legislature.

Next, the governor has the power to commute life sentences to a term of years, but there is no provision that allows him to place a caveat on that sentence, such as a limitation on how much time must be served before the Parole Board may consider releasing the individual. In this regard, he again has usurped the power of the Legislature, as well as the courts, and tied the hands of his own Parole Board.

“The power of the governor under the Constitution of the State of Iowa to grant a . . . commutation of sentence . . . shall not be impaired.”[2] Yet, the Legislature has placed limitations on that power in the past. It has required that a person may “no more frequently than once every ten years, make an application to the governor requesting that the person’s sentence be commuted to a term of years.”[3] And, the Legislature has defined a process for commutation. The governor ignored the process in delivering his commutations. “The director of the Iowa department of corrections may make a request to the governor.”[4] “[T]he governor shall send a copy of the request to the Iowa board of parole for investigation and recommendations as to whether the person should be considered for commutation.”[5] And Parole Board must “conduct an interview of the class “A” felon and shall make a report of its findings and recommendations to the governor.”[6]

The entire process was deliberately ignored as the governor conducted a political sidestep in which his only basis for commuting the sentences was for the supposed safety of Iowans and to ease the pain of victims. Neither of these reasons is included in the statutory process under Iowa Code Chapters 81[7], 331[8], 902[9], 904A[10], and 914.

But more importantly, the governor didn’t look deep enough into the case that brought this about. In Miller v. Alabama, the United States Supreme Court held: “By requiring that all children convicted of homicide receive lifetime incarceration without possibility of parole, regard­less of their age and age-related characteristics and the nature of their crimes, the mandatory sentencing schemes before us violate this principle of proportionality, and so the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual pun­ishment.” Governor Branstad looked only at the first part of the holding – lifetime incarceration. He failed to take into account that the decision also requires a process. Iowa has that process.

Graham, Roper, and our individualized sentencing decisions make clear that a judge or jury must have the opportunity to consider mitigating circumstances before imposing the harshest possible penalty for juveniles.” The governor, playing the role of judge or jury (which he cannot do according to the Iowa Constitution Article III, Section 1[11]), has failed to consider individualized mitigating circumstances before he made his sweeping motion of commutation, before any of the offenders had a real opportunity for commutation as it is designed in the Iowa Code. He broke the spirit of the law, and the spirit of many lifetime offenders who had a ray of hope. Not all of these offenders are “dangerous”, as Branstad proclaimed. Some are; others have made a real effort at rehabilitation. There should be a distinction made on the merits of each case as presented to the Board of Parole.

Serving a minimum of sixty years means that one of these targeted offenders must have to be in their mid to late 70s to even begin the process of parole. In Iowa, the typical lifer who leaves the Iowa prison system (by death or other means including appeal) leaves after 16 years (median) of incarceration. The average lifer who dies in prison, dies at a median age of 56. So a sixty-year sentence is really nothing more than a life sentence.

Governor Branstad did nothing to comply with the United States Supreme Court. He did everything to promote his prospect for reelection.

 

Forgotten Victims Conference

 

Empowering Children of Incarcerated Parents

sponsored by Child & Family Policy Center

Learn about the unique needs and opportunities to help children of incarcerated parents during the Incarceration’s Forgotten Victims Conference, sponsored by Child and Family Policy Center.
Charity Lee will share her experiences with multiple family members in prison- one for the murder of her father, and one for the murder of her daughter.
Joy DeSomber will describe how she helped her children deal with the experience of a father in prison for a double homicide.
Also included are presentations by:

Incarceration’s Forgotten Victims

Des Moines Main Library

1000 Grand Avenue

Des Moines, IA 50309

9:15 am on Friday, August 24, 2012.

https://tickets.tikly.co/-/event/649

 

 

And More Quiet Victims

The link below is a story from NBC News about the parents of those people who have gone on rampages that resulted in some of the country’s biggest tragedies.

Tragedy compounded: Killers’ parents become instant pariahs

 

PEW Statistics

1 in 104 adults in America is in prison.

1 in 14 dollars spent by states goes to prisons, totaling $52 billion per year.

1 in 2.3 people (43%) released from prison go back there within 3 years of their release.

Those shocking numbers come from a new infographic at the Pew Center on the States.

They tell a sobering story: We lock up more people than anyone else in the world, and despite enjoying some of the lowest crime rates in history right now, a huge number of people are still going back to prison.

So, let’s do the math: Enormous prison population, jaw-dropping costs (we spend more on prisons than we do on hospitals), yet little net gain of public safety. Does this make any sense?

Read the full Pew report on the increase in sentence length and prison costs here.

Please help us with your generous contribution today.

 

I want to help Justice Reform Consortium with its goal of working toward restorative justice.

 

Here is my contribution of $________________________________

 

Submit your subscription payment to:

 

Jean Basinger

Justice Reform Consortium

c/o Trinity United Methodist Church

P.O. Box 41005

Des Moines, IA 50311

 

 

Name: ___________________________________________________________

 

 

Address: ________________________________________________________

 

 

City: ____________________________State__________Zip_______________

 

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

 

==============================================================================

The next Friends of Iowa Women Prisoners meeting is at noon on Tues., Aug. 21st at Wesley United Methodist Church, 800 East 12th.

Bring your lunch. The place and time are consistent throughout the year. The meetings are always held on the third Tuesday of the month, and always held from noon to 1:00 pm at Wesley United Methodist Church located at 800 East 12th Street in Des Moines. The location is a block west of East High School. Please contact Vi for more information.

The August meeting will focus on services provided by Broadlawns Hospital to those released from prison. Presenters are: Betty Spratt, Supervisor of Financial Counseling and Janet Metcalf, 18 year member of the Iowa House of Representatives and long time member and former chair of Broadlawns Board of Trustees.

Betty has worked in the financial side of health care since 1982, and at Broadlawns since 1989. She has worked with thousands of patients/clients helping them enroll in many different public State funded assistance programs for health care.

Janet received a Bachelor of Science degree from Iowa State. She has been a business owner, State Representative where she chaired five committees. She has served on several community boards including past president of Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa.

 

Voices to be Heard is a support group for families and children of an incarcerated loved one. The group gathers to support and comfort those who know too well the grief that comes to those left behind when someone they love is incarcerated. The group meets on the first and third Tuesdays of the month at Union Park Methodist Church (East 12th & Guthrie in Des Moines) from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. The group brings in speakers, performs outreach, provide support groups and leadership classes. The next meeting will be held in September. Please watch the next JRC Newsletter for any updates. Contact Sue for more information.
Justice Reform Consortium member organizations: Iowa CURE & Iowa Coalition 4 Juvenile Justice; Friends of Iowa Women Prisoners; Trinity United Methodist Church; Methodist Federation for Social Action; Voices to be Heard; ACLU of Iowa; Social Action Committee, Des Moines Presbytery; Des Moines Chapter of WILPF; American Friends Service Committee; Plymouth Congregational Church, Board of Christian Social Action; Iowa Annual Conference, UMC; Iowa NOW and Des Moines NOW; National Association of Social Workers; Beacon of Life

This newsletter published by:
Fawkes-Lee & Ryan, Public Policy Advocates http://iowappa.com/

Copyright © 2012. You may copy, download and print the information in this newsletter provided you do so in an unaltered manner, with full copyright acknowledgement and website link. This newsletter may also be found online in PDF format at: http://justicereformconsortium.org/?page_id=19 and at: http://iowappa.com/?page_id=407

Distributing this newsletter, or any part thereof, for commercial use is prohibited.

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[2] 914.1 Power of governor.

The power of the governor under the Constitution of the State of Iowa to grant a reprieve, pardon, commutation of sentence, remission of fines and forfeitures, or restoration of the rights of citizenship shall not be impaired.

[3] §902.2 Commutation procedure for class “A” felons.

A person who has been sentenced to life imprisonment under section 902.1 may, no more frequently than once every ten years, make an application to the governor requesting that the person’s sentence be commuted to a term of years.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] §81.10 DNA profiling after conviction, subsection 9 (investigation by the Board of Parole).

 

[8] §331.756(52). Duties of the county attorney (“Furnish, upon request of the governor, a copy of the minutes of evidence and other pertinent facts relating to an application for a pardon, reprieve, commutation”).

 

[9] §902.2 Commutation procedure for class “A” felons.

 

[10] Duties of the Parole Board (“The board of parole shall review and make recommendations to the governor regarding all applications for reprieves, pardons, commutation of sentences, remission of fines or forfeitures, or restoration of citizenship rights as required by chapter 914.”) § 904A.4(7).

[11] Departments of government. SECTION 1. The powers of the government of Iowa shall be divided into three separate departments – the legislative, the executive, and the judicial: and no person charged with the exercise of powers properly belonging to one of these departments shall exercise any function appertaining to either of the others, except in cases hereinafter expressly directed or permitted.

Two events nearing

REMINDER: The Fourth Annual Winner’s Circle Picnic is this Saturday, July 14 at Ashby Park, 3200 38th Street SE, Des Moines, from 11am to 3pm. The pot luck picnic (meat provided) is for women who have been thru the STAR and WISH programs at ICIW and their guests, including FIWP. Women from the minimum live-out unit will be attending as well as Winner’s Circles from around the state.

MEETING TIME AND LOCATION

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

12:00-1:00 p.m.

Wesley United Methodist Church

800 E. 12th Street

Des Moines, IA 50316-4304

MEETING AGENDA

SIGN IN

MISSION STATEMENT

INTRODUCTIONS and ANNOUNCEMENTS

REPORTS:

Treasurer’s Report – Rosemary Jungmann

ICIW Report – Warden Patti Wachtendorf

PROGRAM/FOCUS:

We welcome Kim Gunnes as the presenter of our July program. Kim regularly attends Friends meetings. We’ve heard bits and pieces of her work with the women at ICIW as a teacher from Planned Parenthood, now we’ll hear more details.

Kim has worked in the social services for 18 years, with a focus on the issues of homelessness, youth advocacy and empowerment, gender specific services and sexual health. She received her BA from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire and moved to Iowa as a VISTA Volunteer. She has worked for Broadlawns Homeless Outreach, Beacon of Life and the Young Women’s Resource Center. She is currently an educator with Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.

Kim subscribes to a holistic approach to sexuality education and implements interactive and creative strategies to her work. She always strives to weave a thread of fun throughout her groups and presentations, believing that is how we learn best.

We look forward to her presentation.

JRC Newsletter published 7-1-12

http://justicereformconsortium.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Vol-3.No11.pdf

Vol. 3 #11 July 1, 2012

A Solitary Truth

Submitted by Jean Basinger

There is currently an increasing concern regarding the overuse of administrative segregation or “solitary confinement” in U.S. Prisons. I would like to share with you information sent to me by an Iowa prisoner regarding how he survived the experience of being in an isolation cell on the Critical Care Unit for 360 days. The CCU was originally built for mentally ill inmates, but now several of the isolation pods are being used for those serving disciplinary detention. I share this with his permission; however, have chosen not to include his name.

Here is his story.

“I wrote this the last time I was 180 days into a stay on the C.C.U. (Critical Care Unit) in an isolation cell on Pod A. I hate to admit it, but I was having to struggle to maintain clarity. They were on the verge of “winning.” What follows became my personal anthem for the following 180 days. I would read it, say it aloud, and eventually when things were really tough, I would scream it.

“I never let them win. I never took medication. I never asked for a time cut, I never became complacent and I never stopped caring and fighting for those around me who were having a more difficult time.

“One of the most recited lines by “staff” was, “_______, why are you getting involved? This doesn’t have anything to do with you.”

“Each time they said that I felt a little better. I realize that there are people who have done much more solitary time than I ever have and every time I was there I would think of them, and I would think about how strong I believed my mind to be how I never caved in under the pressures of prison, even as a teen, when there were things I had to fight against everyday that were like a nightmare.

“Solitary is torture and I take pride in the fact that Iowa knew that upon my re-entry to the yard from solitary I had absolutely zero fear of returning for the long haul.

“All prisons have the same mantra for staff, “we, teamwork, etc.” And the most important mission they must complete is the destruction of the words “we, teamwork” from the prisoner population.

“We never got outside and when we would crawl like little monkeys onto the very painful ledge of that high window (in the exercise cell) they would cancel our rec time.

I exercise against a resistance that will never tire.
adding fuel to this fire that is indignation,
self righteous inflammation of pride,
with just cause
this constant affront to our meager portion of decency necessary for psychological self preservation is a welcome
confrontation for those willing to combat indifference and conformity to this sloth-like existence,
using knowledge to break free,
if only figuratively,
forcing these intervals into insanity to be only temporary,
holding fast to clarity,
I am free!'”

Here is a link to a New York Times article: The Abuse of Solitary Confinement

And, From the Sentencing Project:

Exonerated Prisoners Testify on Solitary Confinement

Death row exoneree Anthony Graves testified last week at the first-ever congressional hearing on solitary confinement. Graves spent 12 years in solitary confinement during the 18 years he was incarcerated in Texas prisons for a murder he didn’t commit. He testified to the horrors of his experience of extreme isolation: “Solitary confinement makes our criminal justice system criminal… It dehumanizes us all.”

The Innocence Project also submitted testimony from six of the many exonerated people who spent time in solitary confinement. Julie Rea, of Illinois, described being tormented by guards playing an audio cassette of a woman being tortured; Nick Yarris, of Pennsylvania’s death row, tells of his own suicide attempt during his 23 years in solitary confinement; and Clarence Elkins described feeling numb while being released because he had endured three months of solitary confinement just before his exoneration.

“When you’re confined with no ability to read, to exercise, to receive basic medical attention or to develop your mind, it’s just inhumane. I saw some people snap. They just lost their sanity,” said Herman Atkins in the written testimony. “As a nation, we must do better. When a government has the authority to treat people so poorly, it’s impossible to hold citizens to a higher standard.” Atkins was wrongfully imprisoned for over 11 years in California before being exonerated by DNA evidence.

Read the complete testimony.

Iowa’s Horrible Turnaround on Ex-felon Voting Rights

We became complacent. During the years prior to Terry Branstad’s move back into the Iowa Governor’s Office, we should have been making permanent changes to Iowa’s law on the restoration of ex-felon voting rights. We didn’t.

When Governor Tom Vilsack issued Executive Order No. 42 on July 4, 2005, ex-offenders in Iowa were given the right to vote and hold office, providing they had completed their court-imposed sentences. Governor Chet Culver continued the process. Then, overnight, Governor Terry Edward Branstad turned the process over completely.

A recent Associated Press article [Foley, Ryan J., Few Iowa felons pursue voting rights. Des Moines Register; June 24, 2012] reports that Governor “Branstad has made Iowa one of the most difficult states in the nation for felons to vote, with an executive order he issued last year already having disenfranchised thousands of people.” www.desmoinesregister.com/viewart/20120624/NEWS/306240062/Few-Iowa-felons-pursue-voting-rights

A University of Pennsylvania white paper matches “discharge records to the Iowa voter file,” and found that “ex-felon turnout substantially increased following Executive Order 42.” One figure estimates this increase to be as much as “four to eight percentage points.” http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~marcmere/workingpapers/IowaFelons.pdf

So if ex-offenders are turning out to vote in substantial numbers, why is Governor Branstad making it more difficult for them to vote? Didn’t he and a tsunami of Republicans take office with the help of those votes from ex-offenders? There is no scientific connection, but it makes you wonder, doesn’t it.

The 7th anniversary of Governor Vilsack’s executive order is this upcoming Independence Day, July 4 (Wednesday). We’re asking you to write a letter-to-the editor of your local newspaper and describe the problems you see with disenfranchisement of ex-felons.

Here are a few resources:

Guidelines for the Des Moines Register on letter writing: www.desmoinesregister.com/viewint/article/99999999/HELP/40507010/Submit-Letter-Editor

The June 24th AP article in the Des Moines Register: www.desmoinesregister.com/viewart/20120624/NEWS/306240062/Few-Iowa-felons-pursue-voting-rights And the same article on FOX: www.foxnews.com/us/2012/06/24/apnewsbreak-few-iowa-felons-pursue-voting-rights

University of Pennsylvania white paper by Marc Meredith and Michael Morse: http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~marcmere/workingpapers/IowaFelons.pdf

The Brennan Center’s documentation of everything from Vilsack’s Executive Order No. 42 and Branstad’s Executive Order No. 70, signed the same day he took his oath of office.

www.brennancenter.org/content/pages/voting_rights_restoration_efforts_in_iowa

ACLU-Iowa’s a new flier explaining Iowa’s new procedure under Branstad for an ex-felon to have citizenship restored (it includes a credit check): www.aclu-ia.org/voting-rights-when-you-have-a-criminal-background

Please help us with your generous contribution today.

I want to help Justice Reform Consortium with its goal of working toward restorative justice.

Here is my contribution of $________________________________

 

Submit your subscription payment to:

Jean Basinger

Justice Reform Consortium

c/o Trinity United Methodist Church

P.O. Box 41005

Des Moines, IA 50311

Name: ___________________________________________________________

Address: ________________________________________________________

City: ____________________________State__________Zip_______________

 

** Important article regarding our work on outlawing shackling

http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/1002664/former_inmate_speaks_out%2C_sues_for_being_shackled_while_in_labor?page=entire#.T_BRt1YoGUc.email

UPCOMING EVENTS

 

==============================================================================

The next Friends of Iowa Women Prisoners meeting is at noon on Tues., July 17 at Wesley United Methodist Church, 800 East 12th.

Bring your lunch. The place and time are consistent throughout the year. The meetings are always held on the third Tuesday of the month, and always held from noon to 1:00 pm at Wesley United Methodist Church located at 800 East 12th Street in Des Moines. The location is a block west of East High School. Please contact Vi for more information.

In July, Kim Gunnes will share the programs offered at ICIW by Planned Parenthood.

Voices to be Heard is a support group for families and children of an incarcerated loved one. The group gathers to support and comfort those who know too well the grief that comes to those left behind when someone they love is incarcerated. The group meets on the first and third Tuesdays of the month at Union Park Methodist Church (East 12th & Guthrie in Des Moines) from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. The group brings in speakers, performs outreach, provide support groups and leadership classes. The next meeting is scheduled for July 3rd. Contact Sue for more information.

Justice Reform Consortium member organizations: Iowa CURE & Iowa Coalition 4 Juvenile Justice; Friends of Iowa Women Prisoners; Trinity United Methodist Church; Methodist Federation for Social Action; Voices to be Heard; ACLU of Iowa; Social Action Committee, Des Moines Presbytery; Des Moines Chapter of WILPF; American Friends Service Committee; Plymouth Congregational Church, Board of Christian Social Action; Iowa Annual Conference, UMC; Iowa NOW and Des Moines NOW; National Association of Social Workers; Beacon of Life

This newsletter published by:
Fawkes-Lee & Ryan, Public Policy Advocates http://iowappa.com/

Copyright © 2012. You may copy, download and print the information in this newsletter provided you do so in an unaltered manner, with full copyright acknowledgement and website link. This newsletter may also be found online in PDF format at: http://justicereformconsortium.org/?page_id=19 and at: http://iowappa.com/?page_id=407

Distributing this newsletter, or any part thereof, for commercial use is prohibited.

SUBSCRIBE INSTRUCTIONS: Email us at Insight@iowappa.com and write “subscribe to JRC” in the subject box.