Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Inmate families rally for criminal justice reform

The Texas Inmate Families Association, Texas CURE, and Texas Voices are holding a rally at the state capitol on Friday afternoon. A friend asked me to pass the word along to Grits readers, so here you go:
Who: TIFA, Texas Voices for Reason and Justice, TX CURE, friends, families, and YOU

What: Texas Families for Justice Rally

When: Friday, Nov. 7th at 1:00PM

Where: South steps of Texas Capitol

Why: This rally will bring those directly affected by the criminal justice system out of the shadows, and allow their voices to be heard. It will allow the opportunity to stand in solidarity with families and communities throughout Texas in saying that incarceration impacts everyone. With this recognition of the impact on our families and communities, criminal justice policies can be created that truly support families, reduce barriers to reentry, and ensure the well-being of all Texans–even those behind the walls.

Did you know that the rock-stone to build the Capitol was mined by incarcerated people, and the furniture inside the building was made by incarcerated people?  We have a lot of work to do to create more just policies for currently and formerly incarcerated people, and we hope that you will come out to the Texas Families for Justice Rally on Friday, November 7th to add your voice to the call for criminal justice reform.


Anonymous said...

It's about time that families stand up for reform to the criminal justice system. Wishing those people all the best for their rally!

Anonymous said...

In addition to emotional stress, the Texas system has evolved into an extortion racket upon families. They are expected to provide funds for inmate basics during incarceration. Then unemployment follows release, so families are left holding the bag on essential housing, food, and medical expenses. Additionally there are supervision & treatment fees that get passed on to the families under threat of revocation and re-incarceration. This legislatively sanctioned financial assault on innocent bystanders aka families is mean and UNJUST.

shelly said...

Best of luck and blessings to everyone organizing and participating in this event. In the words of Someone far, far greater than any of us, "Whatever you do for the least of these, you do it for Me."

Anonymous said...

I hire ex-prisoners when I can, what is sad, is that the ones who have been incarcerated for a long time almost to a T have learned very bad work habits. Things like never to show initiative (you will get a case if you do anything you aren't told to do), If you make a mistake cover it up (make a mistake, get a case), take your time doing a job (Do your job to fast, then they will find something harder for you to do). Also they kick ex-prisoners out with absolutely no marketable trades or skills. It's a sad state of affairs when the only option a lot of ex-prisoners seem to have is to lead a life of crime when they are released instead of being given a chance to start over.

Anonymous said...

Prisons work and should be used as an option for the common criminal and more for the minority of predatory recidivists that commit the most serious crimes. However, strategic planning and sentence reform must be re-visited in order to effectively address more individualized punishment, culpability of juveniles and young adults, and reintegration process. It is also necessary to establish plans and amend legislation and add the effective reintegration as a new sentencing goal.

He's Innocent said...

Anonymous @ 5:10am -

"Prisons work and should be used as an option for the common criminal"

You clearly have no experience with the system. The number of "common criminals" inside is astounding (150k+ in Tx prisons). Folks who through no fault of their own are behind bars due to an absurd and malicious accusation, someone around them committed a crime in their presence, or brought drugs into their vehicle or homes. EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US IS ABOUT TWO STEPS AWAY FROM COMMITTING A FELONY.

Sending the most "common criminals" to prison destroys the family's financial situation, destroys parental/child relationships, destroys social skills, destroys future housing and employment options. That "common criminal" becomes a drain upon the family and society via homelessness and unemployment. Pray tell, what "GOOD" is that doing? Does 25 years for stealing a purse make sense to you? (I do not exaggerate, I know this one personally in addition to our personal story).

After you or a loved one has experienced such life shattering consequences for a "common" crime, come back and tell us all about it. We at TIFA and the rest of these groups will help you despite your ignorance.

In the meantime, we TIFA members, Voices members, and CURE supporters will be at that rally hoping to educate our lawmakers - and simple folks like yourself - about the true consequences of incarceration and over-criminalization.

Anonymous said...

FYI You don't need to have someone incarcerated to join the rally. Help us force change for everyone. It's not OUR rally, it's for every human on this earth, every man, woman and child past, present and future

Anonymous said...

The incarceration rate in Texas is 50% higher than the national average. That means that there are 50,000 extra individuals incarcerated in Texas. As for wasted tax dollars, two inmates equals the cost of one new teacher. How does 25,000 new teachers sound as far as a higher value use of tax dollars? Also, Texas ranks 49th in per capita spending for public education. Does the legislature in Texas give incarceration a higher priority than public education???

sunray's wench said...

If prison "worked" the number of inmates would be falling much faster than it currently is.

Prison sometimes works in other countries because it is viewed, funded, and run under different policies.

Anonymous said...

Texas is no better than Hitlers DEATH CAMPS, MAKES for teaching crimes, it never helps anybody

Anonymous said...

IS there a way to support the cause if you can't attend?

Michael W. Jewell, President, Texas CURE said...

Individuals who cannot attend the rally, but would like to support the rally financially, can do so by going to tifa.org, click on the donate button, and in the "notes" section simply state: "This donation is for the Rally."I

I can't imagine that there is anyone who does not have some discontent with our current criminal justice system, even the most conservative. This rally is about "reforming" the CJS, i.e., making it fair and equitable for all, blacks, browns, poor whites, LGBT, et al. Everyone can help the mission of the rally, if not in presence or donations, then in spirit. Grits offers a great platform to speak out, right here in the comments section. Thanks for your support!

Anonymous said...

Incarcerated people need to build things and do work. We can't afford to keep housing them to lift weights and watch TV. They need to be on a chain gang working hard every day. I know it is sad for the families but their family member brought this on themselves. I don't want to hear about reform unless it is reform of the defendant. It is amazing how people in nursing homes are treated worse than people in prison and they still complain. Criminals should have no rights. You do the crime you do the time. Stop whining.

Anonymous said...

"Criminals should have no rights."

@ 12:33 - while you are sitting in church this Sunday morning, maybe you should open up your Bible and do some reading...then think about what a hypocrite you are.

Anonymous said...

"You do the crime you do the time."

@ 12:33 - If only that were true. In this country, we selectively prosecute crime. So, a more accurate statement would be, if you are poor or from certain backgrounds, you do the crime (and even if you didn't sometimes) you do the time. But, if you are from the right group (the well-off) you do the crime and you get rewarded, or, at the most, a slap on the wrist. For several years up until 2008 mortgage fraud was rampant in this country with loan officers, mortgage brokers, banking executives, appraisers, realtors and others committing massive amounts of fraud. How many of them went to prison? Very, very few. So, you do the crime and, if it is the right kind of crime, you may get rich but certainly won't do the time.

And, a frequent topic on here is prosecutorial misconduct. Much of that is criminal activity. Yet, how many of those folks are going to prison?

Let me ask you 12:33, what crimes have you gotten away with?

"The law does not pretend to punish everything that is dishonest. That would seriously interfere with business."

Clarence Darrow

Anonymous said...

Those of you who think the justice system, the laws, and prisons are about doing what is fight, punishing the guilty, etc. are sadly delusional:

“First and last, it's a question of money. Those men who own the earth make the laws to protect what they have. They fix up a sort of fence or pen around what they have, and they fix the law so the fellow on the outside cannot get in. The laws are really organized for the protection of the men who rule the world. They were never organized or enforced to do justice. We have no system for doing justice, not the slightest in the world.” Clarence Darrow

Anonymous said...

I don't know what reading the Bible has to do with but I know that I see so many people who don't go to prison and they do terrible things to people. Like cut a little 5 or 6 year old girls throat. In our town this just happened. When I am speaking of criminals I am talking about just that. Not those who have been sent to Jail unfairly. We are working on that side of things to so we can make sure it doesnt' happen. I am talking about the sex offender who raped and molested children, they guy who cut the little girls throat. There is no doubt in my mind there are many innocent people in prison and that is a sad sad thing. Again, I am only talking about the real deal criminal who has been in and out of prison and keeps going back. No one statement can cover it all so be careful who you Judge as you might be the hypocrit yourself. I deal every day with the victims and the criminals face to face. I think I am entitled to say that someone who has terribly victimized someone deserves no rights. Having said that I also believe in redemption for those who are truely sorry.

Anonymous said...

" I think I am entitled to say that someone who has terribly victimized someone deserves no rights."

All I will say is, again, read your Bible. We're all sinners. Neither you, nor I, are any better than the worst of those "real criminals" you despise so. Either you believe that, or you don't. You can't pick and choose which sinners are worse than others. We are commanded to love our neighbors. Do you think we can pick and choose who that includes? As Christians, we are called to love even the unlovable. How can we do that? We can only do that through God's grace. Because he has extended his grace to us, we have an obligation to extend that grace to others. And, his grace is limitless - it extends even to the murderer, or the child molester. Again, either you believe it or you don't. You can't pick and choose who his grace applies to. You say you deal with victims. If that's true, you must realize the importance of forgiveness. A person can never really heal until they can come to truly forgive those who wronged them.

Again, read your Bible. Jesus talked specifically about prisoners. So, yes, as Christians we have an obligation to show compassion even to the worst of the worst. You either believe in those things or you don't. You can't pick and choose.

I'll say it again, neither you nor I are any better than the worst of the worst. We're all sinners saved only by grace. As such, we have been shown the Kingdom of God. And, our obligation, our purpose for being on this earth is to bring that knowledge to others, even the worst of the worst. Remember how Jesus responded to the criminal on the cross beside him?

The idea of loving a heinous criminal is a hard pill for many to swallow. In Jesus' time, adultery was considered a very bad crime - read the story of how he handled the situation when he was confronted by those who wanted to stone the adulterous woman.

Again, read your Bible and think about what our attitude should be towards those we label as "real criminals."

Anonymous said...

I wonder, 12:33, where do you draw the line. You seem to have come back and qualified your comments to say they only applied to "real criminals" and then talked about someone who had murdered child. I assume you realize that it is probably only a small percentage of inmates that are convicted of murder or similar crimes. Most are incarcerated for things like burglary, drug possession, dwi, etc. Which crimes make someone a "real criminal" in your opinion? Did your comment that they don't have any rights only apply to those inmates? If so, then do the other inmates have rights? And, if so, what rights do they have?

Apparently you believe at least some criminals have no rights. Do you mean absolutely no rights at all? So, does that mean the guards can simply kill those prisoners at will? After all, if they have no rights, to kill them would not be a violation of any right, would it? Or, could they simply just throw them in a hole and not feed them and let them die? Again, if they have no rights, what is there to prevent this? Do they not have a right to medical treatment at all? or, just for certain things? Can you clarify these questions for us? Do you really mean they have absolutely no rights at all? Or do they have some rights but not others?

Or, do the rights they have depend on the crime they committed or, perhaps something like their social status at the time they committed a crime. For example, does the businessman who committed fraud simply out of greed have more rights than the poor person who robbed a convenience store because he needed money to buy food?

I am really interested in your position on these things.

Anonymous said...

As a Christian, which is more likely to persuade an person who is incarcerated that Christianity, or the Kingdom of God, or whatever description you want to use, is something worth knowing about:

1. Telling them that you don't care if they have any contact with their family and that you approve of a private company profiting over their families' desire to contact them; or

2. Telling them that you know their family is important and making it reasonably convenient an inexpensive for them to have contact with their family.

Would you really want to hear anything about God from the person who tells you the first one?