I recently pulled out the Voices From Outside portfolio, produced by Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative, when a friend asked me if I knew of any prison related graphics. They were producing a flyer for their organization, Milk Not Jails, and a campaign to reform the Parole system in NYC. While looking through the prints in became obvious that Nicolas Lampert’s Missing: 2.3 Million Americans would be appropriate for the campaign, and organization. Justseeds makes the graphics available as downloadable high-res files on the portfolios website, here, ready for activists to use them in exactly this way!
Above is the finished-folded flyer that they gave out at Columbus circle, NYC, where people wait for buses late at night to make the trek to visit family and friends in the various prisons upstate.
Read the following for more on their campaign and how you can help!
You are not alone. We need to change the system.
Every year thousands of people locked up in New York’s prisons participate in educational and vocational programs to prepare themselves for their parole hearings, so they can return home. Tragically, the Parole Board usually denies people parole due to the “nature of their crime,” something they cannot change. We need a parole system that gives people a second chance and a set of tools to be able to return to their communities.
What is the SAFE Parole Act?
The Safe And Fair Evaluation (SAFE) Parole Act will make major changes to the parole system. This legislation will empower parole applicants by requiring the Parole Board to detail actions to be taken, programs to be completed, or changes in performance in order to qualify for parole release. It will make the parole board accountable for those decisions by requiring the State to provide the applicant access—within 90 days—to the programs necessary to fulfill the Parole Board’s requirements. The SAFE Parole Act will mean that the Parole Board can no longer deny an application based on the “nature of the crime”, but instead will require parole to be granted based on the applicant’s good conduct while confined, and their preparedness for reintegration into their communities. We need to get this legislation passed to reunite families and to give hope to thousands of incarcerated men and women.
What Can We Do to Fix this Broken System?
Share Your Story of Parole Board Neglect
This January, during the first week of the 2014 legislative session, we will deliver 500 letters to Albany from people in prison and their families about New York’s broken parole system. We will create a public installation in the Capitol Building to make sure our elected officials hear us loud and clear about the devastation the parole system has on the lives of our families and to ensure that they no longer walk away from our demand for a solution – the SAFE Parole Act. Help us gather these letters by helping now:
Send a Letter Now: Write a letter about your personal experience with the New York parole system. Send one copy to Senator Gallivan and one copy to Milk Not Jails. We’ve included a sample letter with Gallivan’s address and some ideas to help stimulate your letter writing.
Ask Friends and Family to Write a Letter Now: Spread the word! Ask your friends, family and community to share their personal experiences or to send a form letter. Mail this flyer to your loved one in prison or someone else you know and ask them to write a letter as well. They can also get in touch with us at (917) 719-6455 or email@example.com
Deliver a Letter on January 21, 2014: Join us as we head to Albany to hand deliver the letter you sent to Milk Not Jails, along with 500 or more other letters the week of Martin Luther King Day (Tuesday, January 21, 2013). We want the entire legislature to be aware of all of the heart-breaking stories that flooded Senator Gallivan’s office over the winter and hold them accountable to change the system now!
Senator Patrick Gallivan
Albany, NY 12247
Dear Senator Patrick Gallivan,
I am writing to urge you to support and sponsor the Safe and Fair Evaluation (SAFE) Parole Act. Our state’s current parole process is not working. Thousands of people languish in prison even after clearly demonstrating their readiness to return to their families. Denying parole applications to people who have prepared to transition back to their communities by participating in educational and vocational programs makes the process feel hopeless. And, as you know, the parole board is not currently required to give any guidance to people in prison whose parole applications they reject.
• Write your personal story of parole denial here. Describe how hard you or someone you know has worked to prepare to return to your family and to make a positive contribution in your community.
• Mention how many times you’ve been denied parole.
• Describe how frustrating it is that the Parole Board doesn’t give any feedback or outline concrete steps you can take to get parole.
• Mention the family and lawyers who have worked tirelessly to help you.
• Remind him that you can’t do anything about the nature of your crime.
We are asking you to improve the parole process by increasing parole board accountability and empowering people in prison to prepare for parole We need this reform to strengthen our communities and to reunite our families. We need the SAFE Parole Act. As a former Parole Board member and Chair of the Senate Crime Committee, your leadership is imperative. Please help us achieve these changes by sponsoring this legislation today.
Please address two envelopes—one to Sen. Gallivan and one to us at Milk Not Jails—and mail them to the following addresses. And be sure to give this flyer to a friend who you think should be involved. Or you can email your letter to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll make sure the letter gets mailed to Albany and copied in time for the January delivery!
Senator Patrick Gallivan
Albany, NY 12247
Milk Not Jails
497 Quincy Street
Brooklyn, NY 11221
This action is being organized by Milk Not Jails, a statewide, grassroots alliance working to end mass incarceration in New York State. This action is part of a year of events we are organizing to pass the SAFE Parole Act in 2014.