JRC Posts Newsletter for October

This newsletter is available as a PDF at:  http://justicereformconsortium.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Vol-3.No14.pdf

 

Vol. 3 #14 October 8, 2012

COLUMBUS DAY

Parole Board Changes Procedure

The Iowa Board of Parole is in the process of amending its procedure that allows inmates in the Iowa Prison System to be released on parole or work release.  Changes are currently going through the administrative rules procedure.

For years, the process used for releasing offenders was based upon a risk assessment score.  The higher the score, the more Parole Board members had to agree to release the offender.  The change that’s coming will require a panel of three Board members to approve the release.  If one member of the panel does not agree to release a prisoner, parole or work release is denied.

Justice Reform Consortium (JRC) supports the Iowa Board of Parole’s Intended Action and believes that a system based upon scores is a poor process of determining a person’s future.  Scores are for baseball and soccer; we’re happy to see this outdated system go by the wayside.  JRC does not condemn the use of risk assessment instruments; but they should be considered as a part of the process, not the brunt of the process.  The proposed rules offer a better procedure in deciding who should make the transition from incarceration to release, and the means of how that reintroduction to society should take place.

You Have Made a Difference

In the most recent JRC Newsletter, we had asked you to “contact one or more members (perhaps all of them) of the DOC Board of Directors and encourage them to support Board Director Hammond in her quest to have the backing of the entire Board to introduce” legislation that will regulate the use of restraints on pregnant prisoners in the DOC, but particularly in the numerous county jails throughout the state.

At the Board’s September 14 meeting, a unanimous vote was achieved to include this issue as a part of the Iowa DOC’s legislative agenda.  Thanks for making it happen!  We look forward to working with the Iowa DOC during this upcoming legislative session to successfully enact this necessary proposition that will ensure uniform compliance throughout the state.

JRC Welcomes Citizens for Undoing Racism-War on Drugs Task Force

Over the summer, representatives of Justice Reform Consortium traveled to Waterloo to meet with Citizens for Undoing Racism-War on Drugs Task Force.  Upon the conclusion of a couple of meetings, the two groups decided to come together in an effort to work collectively on issues that are so similar to both groups.

R. Allen Hays, Director, Public Policy Program at the University of Northern Iowa, and a co-founder of the group, said: “I believe that the criminal justice system is one of the most destructive forces in communities of color and that a lot of its destructive impact is linked to the War on Drugs, which has been fought largely as a war on minorities.”

Last March, the group brought Major Neill Franklin to the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area to speak.  Franklin is a retired police officer who is Executive Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).  He left attendees with a powerful message about the futility and destructiveness of the War on Drugs as it is currently being carried out.  Over 100 people had attended his lecture.

This group is seeking ways that a small community group can exert influence on policies that are largely made at the state and federal levels.  It is with this vision that the Citizens for Undoing Racism-War on Drugs Task Force joined forces with JRC.

We welcome Citizens for Undoing Racism-War on Drugs Task Force as another one of the many organizations that add to the strength of JRC.  If you live in the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area we encourage you to become involved with this enthusiastic group of citizens.  Please contact Al Hays at [allen.hays@uni.edu].

AMOS Announces Five Part Course on Criminal Justice

The Criminal Justice Team of AMOS and the AMOS Institute of Public Life are sponsoring a unique Five Part Course on the Criminal Justice System in Iowa taught by Fred Van Liew, Director of the Center for Restorative Justice Practices in Des Moines and former Bureau Chief with the Polk County Attorney’s Office for nearly 20 years.

There are alarming, disturbing trends occurring in our criminal justice system both nationally and locally that, as people of faith and citizens of a democracy, we can not ignore.   Fred will be teaching how the system works, both inside and out, and drawing from both his experience and recent scholarship in books like The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander.

The course will be offered, free of charge, at two different Des Moines locations.  The classes are the same each week so participants can attend classes at either location and you do not have to attend all the classes.

All classes run from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.

Classes at First Unitarian Church, 1800 Bell Avenue, Des Moines:

Mondays – October 1, 15 November 5 & 19

Classes at Bethel AME, 1528 E. University, Des Moines:

Thursdays – October 4, 11 November 1 & 8

Final Class will be joint class at First Unitarian on Monday, December 3rd at 6:30 p.m.

You can register for the class at First Unitarian at their website – http://ucdsm.org/fall-2012#restorative

Register for class at Bethel by calling 266-1871

See you soon!

AMOS Leadership Team

 

CURE International Calls for Sex Offender Registries to be Abolished

International CURE conducted its board of directors meeting at Hotel Harrington in Washington, DC, during the Labor Day weekend Sept. 1 – 4. The following was unanimously passed by the board and is now the official position of International CURE.

Charlie Sullivan, Executive Director, International CURE

A Position on the Sex Offender Registry –An Alternative Approach

CURE takes the position that sex offender registries be abolished.  Present laws have rarely assisted in prevention of an abusive situation. Approximately 90% of all sex offenses are committed by a family member or close acquaintance[1]. Recidivism rates of less than 5% by convicted sex offenders[2] certainly mitigates against the efficacy of the tremendous expenditure for the registries.

Registration results in severe collateral consequences such as unemployment, homelessness, and often physical and humiliating attacks on registrants, their property, and families.

The sex offender registry has resulted in registrants and their families facing significant obstacles in building a life for themselves after incarceration. One of the best methods of prevention should be a positive life for a former sex offender – being on the registry can bring on some of the same characteristics that led the person into an abusive life in the past. Registration laws actually decrease public safety by making it more difficult for former offenders to reintegrate into society, ultimately increasing their likelihood of reoffending.

Our nation needs to change the presumptions that have led to such hysteria in thinking there is so much sexual abuse by those previously convicted. That theory has been fueled by “law and order” and “get tough on crime” approaches which have failed. It has taken on a mentality like the Salem witch trials of the past, or the infamous Japanese internment camps during World War II that were created out of fear. They are as ineffective and damaging as the infamous “war on
drugs” where other failed policies were applied to another group.  And many benefitted from an industrial complex that developed, just as the present development with the sex offender registry industry.

Instead of producing a sense of safety, it has fostered and perpetuated a sense of fear amongst an uneasy public and inhibited positive, proactive discussion around the causes that can lead to an
abusive circumstance – causes that have nothing to do with how far away someone lives from a school or bus stop, or whether they are permanently rendered pariahs by a modern scarlet letter. These registries promote hatred and retaliation against former offenders, their families, and even their victims at times. It is counterproductive to enact such registries.

It is imperative that legislative bodies effectively address the problem and rescind, or seriously refine, the laws that are harmful and are not assisting in sex abuse prevention. It is time to take a smart approach, not a hysterical one.

By eliminating the registry, those resources saved could be re-directed to a concerted effort to educate the public – including media, social networks, and lawmakers – regarding the nature of
sexual offenses and how to protect children and the vulnerable from such activity. Sexual abuse is foremost a public health problem and cannot be effectively solved through the criminal justice system, as we have seen. The elimination of the registry will allow former sexual offenders to more effectively reintegrate into society.

CURE adamantly believes in the abolition of the sex offender registry as a wasteful, punitive, hateful, and an incapable example of political pandering.

JRC’s financial resources come from membership organizations and readers like you.  JRC exists to give a voice to organizations that cannot afford their own lobbyist at the Iowa Capitol.  We want to keep going strong for 2013.  Will you consider a generous contribution, even if your generosity can only stretch to $5, to help our voice grow louder during the next session?

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

 

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CELEBRATION OF ART IN PASTELS

FEATURING WORKS OF THE WOMEN’S ART PROJECT AT THE IOWA WOMEN’S CORRECTIONAL FACILITY

THE FRAME WORKS

5800 Merle Hay Road

Johnston, Iowa

September 15 -October 19

 

Come and see these lovely pictures.  They are also available for purchase with proceeds going to buy supplies, and to contribute to programs in the community.

 

If you have questions please call Penny Sullivan:jpenny.sullivan@yahoo.com. 

 

Please share this information with others.

 

 The next Friends of Iowa Women Prisoners meeting is at noon on Tues., Oct. 16th 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.

 

 

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 on Tuesday, October 16th.  Contact Sue for more information.

 

 

It’s not too late to go to this conference in Chicago – for virtually free

 

October 10th and 11th, 2012

 

Chicago, IL

 

Please Join Us!

 

Join advocates from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin this October in Chicago for an exciting opportunity to learn and build collaborations around raising public visibility for the issue of the federal courts and judicial nominations.

 

This training will feature nationally renowned trainers and provide you with the most up to date information on the state of our federal courts, the judicial emergency crisis, and strategies for raising awareness and action in support of a federal judiciary that is committed to constitutional values.

 

While public attention is focused on Congress, not much is given to the branch of government responsible for interpreting and enforcing our laws, especially our Constitutional rights. Regardless of your issue – civil liberties, the environment, religious freedom, reproductive rights – the federal courts have and will continue to issue decisions that have a significant impact on every aspect of our lives. And the individuals nominated by the President and confirmed by the US Senate as federal judges serve in lifetime seats making decisions that will affect generations to come.

 

Join us for an intensive training to share our knowledge  and expertise about the courts and judges; learn more  about the federal bench; and strategize how we can  elevate this issue in our communities.

 

Registration Information:

 

Registration for this event is FREE. NCJW will provide the training, meals, (and accommodations for out of town guests) at no cost to you. We also have a limited amount of transportation reimbursements available so please let us know if you require assistance with travel costs.

 

Please email Elesha at elesha@ncjwdc.org or call her at 202-296-2588 ext. 8 to request an application. Applications are due no later than Tuesday, September 25th.

 

Space is limited so please reserve your spot today!

 

In This Training You Will Learn…

 

  • The impact of judicial emergencies and delays in filling court vacancies

 

  • Effective ways to advocate on this issue when speaking with the Administration and US Senate

 

  • Best ways to engage the media

 

  • Best practices for building public interest and engagement.

 

 

To Register or for Questions Contact:

 

Elesha Gayman Shahinllari

202-296-2588 ext. 8

elesha@ncjwdc.org

 

 

 

Presented by:

 

National Council of Jewish Women

 

In Partnership With:

 

Alliance for Justice

American Constitution Society

Center for American Progress

The Leadership Council on Civil and Human Rights

People for the American Way Foundation

 

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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; Citizens for Undoing Racism-War on Drugs Task Force.

 

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[1] U.S.Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, /Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement: Victim,
Incident, and Offender Characteristics, /July 2000, NCJ 182990, table 4 and table 6.

[2] Bureau of Justice Statistics. (2003). /Recidivism of sex offenders released from prison in 1994 /(No. NCJ 198281). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice.