By Patrisse Cullors and Mike de la Rocha There was a lot of conversation happening about Trump’s endorsement of The FIRST STEP Act (H.R. 5682) prior to the bill being signed into law. Many progressive supporters of the Act were surprised that Trump would endorse political policy that they thought would ultimately get thousands of people out of prison. A closer look reveals the truth: The FIRST STEP Act is a flawed and extremely harmful law that was framed as a step forward for criminal justice reform, but in reality it’s a misguided attack on the movement to end mass incarceration. Our concerns with The FIRST STEP Act are based upon three fundamental premises: The belief in the humanity of every person impacted by the justice system; The belief that the Act does not go far enough in addressing the systemic issues that are the driving factors of mass incarceration,…
By Alice Kim, Erica Meiners, Audrey Petty, Jill Petty, Beth Richie, and Sarah Ross This is an excerpt from The Long Term: Resisting Life Sentences, Working Toward Freedom, Haymarket Books, 2018. Reprinted with permission. In 2011, when the Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project (P+NAP)—a group of artists, scholars, organizers, and writers—started teaching arts and humanities classes at Stateville prison in Illinois, our work was organized by the prison administration under a program called “Long-Term Offenders.” The abbreviation LTO, casually written on institutional paperwork and used by prison guards, is the prison administration’s shorthand for people who are serving long-term sentences, meaning life without parole or virtual life sentences of fifty years or more. For the people we met in our classes at Stateville prison, the term “LTO” signals something profound: it represents the nation’s ideological and political commitments to the long-term removal of people from their communities into prisons, a…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pi1TjE13S3s In this moving TEDxPortland Talk, Ben discusses what it means to be an immigrant and the importance around policy and awareness of who we are letting in and why. Ben Huh is the founder and CEO of the Cheezburger Network. He’s been credited with pioneering Internet culture as entertainment, crowd sourcing and mainstreaming Internet memes. His media company includes more than 50 online humor sites, receives 400 million page views monthly, has spawned two New York Times Best Sellers and inspired a TV series. He’s a cofounder of Circa, an online journalism start-up reimagining the way we consume news. Huh holds a BSJ from Northwestern University and lives in Seattle with his wife, Emily.
By Shea Howell
Shortly after Mother’s Day, three Nestle semi-trucks will roll into Flint with free bottled water. Between Mother’s Day and Labor day Nestle will donate 100,000 bottles a week to three service centers where people can pick up the bottled water. The Mayor of Flint has graciously thanked the company for its “willingness to help the people of Flint.”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCl-3WwkJgg&t=223s As Flint residents are forced to drink, cook with and even bathe in bottled water, while still paying some of the highest water bills in the county for their poisoned water, we turn to a little-known story about the bottled water industry in Michigan. In 2001 and 2002, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality issued permits to Nestlé, the largest water bottling company in the world, to pump up to 400 gallons of water per minute from aquifers that feed Lake Michigan. This sparked a decade-long legal battle between Nestlé and the residents of Mecosta County, Michigan, where Nestlé’s wells are located. One of the most surprising things about this story is that, in Mecosta County, Nestlé is not required to pay anything to extract the water, besides a small permitting fee to the state and the cost of leases to a private landowner. In fact, the company…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNzEb77diyI Located in Montgomery, Alabama, the Memorial to Peace and Justice relates America’s history of racial terror and lynching. In this powerful, off-the-cuff conversation with TED curator Chris Anderson, Bryan Stevenson shares why he hopes the memorial will be a tool to help heal a nation riven by centuries of racial injustice. (Note, Bryan spoke at the end of the TED Talk by architect Michael Murphy, designer of the memorial.)
About 7:45 am on Tuesday, January 17, 2017, I muster the energy to get out of bed and walk the step to the sink from the bottom bunk and I hear it. Clunk, clunk, clunk, clunk, clunk. “Shit!” I say to myself as my cellmate and I look at each other wide-eyed. We know that sound anywhere. That’s three-foot-long, two-inch diameter solid wood batons hitting the steel bars as “Orange Crush” runs down the gallery clunking every bar along the way as they yell. Though it’s not our cell house, it’s E House right behind us. We’re able to hear them through the utility alley that the cell houses share behind the cells. They’re making their rounds due to an unauthorized pair of headphones found during a cell search in another cell house.
Course One: Sweet Hot Tea
In a recent conversation with one of his lawyers, Mohamedou said that he holds no grudges against any of the people he mentions in this book, that he appeals to them to read it and correct it if they think it contains any errors, and that he dreams to one day sit with all of them around a cup of tea, after having learned so much from one another.—Author’s Note from Guantanamo Diary by Mohamedou Ould Slahi
“Those who commit the murders write the reports.” — Ida B. Wells, Lynch Law In All Its Phases, 1893
In 2017, at least twenty-two people died at Chicago’s Cook County Jail (CCJ). This news is not readily available. Rather, multiple Freedom of Information (FOI) Requests filed by the Illinois Deaths in Custody Project (IDCP) with Cook County entities to confirm names and glean a few more institutionally produced “facts” produced the following: Clifford V. Nelson, 49, died while being transferred; Lopez House, 47, collapsed and died at the jail; Lindbert McIntosh, 57, died in his sleep; Jerome Monroe, 56, also died in his sleep at CCJ. By November of 2017, a few of these deaths, somewhat surprisingly, began to make local news.
Yet, the deaths are not actually that surprising. Death is business as usual in our nation’s prisons and jails.
By Shayna Plaut
In 2015, I organized a panel on “Teaching Human Rights Inside and Outside the Classroom” at the Social Practice for Human Rights Conference in Dayton, Ohio. William (Bill) Simmons, author of the forthcoming book, Joyful Human Rights, was on the panel as well as Praxis Center’s Lisa Brock and Alice Kim. That is where we met and we have continued collaborating ever since.
Given the current state of human rights in the world which requires a healthy dose of hope, creativity and ingenuity, as well as my own passion for focusing on possible human rights strategies, I was particularly interested in Bill’s journey to Joyful Human Rights. Bill is a professor of Women and Gender Studies at the University of Arizona and the founding director of the first online Masters of Arts in Human Rights Practice in North America where I serve as a member of the international advisory panel.