----- Original Message ----- 
From: Taoss - Sherry Swiney 
To: PATRICK Crusade 
Sent: Friday, July 11, 2003 8:42 PM
Subject: [patrickcrusade] Felons Hurt by Vote Veto - Alabama

Our own Roberta Franklin, and other recognizable names continue their work in the public limelight to make the public aware of the serious prison conditions in Alabama and across this nation.  May God be strong with them.  Let us all send Successful Energy thoughts their way.  Let us all extend a physical helping hand whenever possible.
If you can physically join the March On The Capital, Friday July 18th, please be there in person.  Bring your signs.  Wear your Activists T-shirts and hats (Alabama sun gets hot - but bring an umbrella for just in case).  If you cannot be there in person, you can be there in spirit that day.  Loving and "Strong Success" Energy coming from around the world will give a "nice" boost to the gathering on the 18th.  Pray for national attention on this march.
The speakers below, which include Roberta Franklin, Jesse Jackson and Michael Blaine, tell the public in the article below about several concerns - even touching on the importance of rehabilitation and transition houses for the newly released.  The right to vote is only part of the issue here.  I think the deal with the right to vote is God opening the doors for us, adding far more people and organizations to this effort than ever before.  Pretty soon, prison reform will be in Vogue and we shall see some changes being made.  If we can bring about humane changes in our prison system in the State of Alabama, I assure you there will be a domino-effect across the country.  Through Michael Blaine's efforts, the activism in the State of Texas is growing and becoming stronger.  He is helping in Alabama now.  He's been traveling across the country helping other states organize for prison reform. Now Jesse Jackson has shown interest in the movement.  He has begun to realize that this is by far not a race issue.  This is a human rights issue for all colors.  Color is not a boundry in this movement.  There are no "sides" for we are all brothers and sisters on this planet, and Jesse Jackson is showing signs of realizing the importance of addressing this oneness as an issue.
All humane beings in Alabama prisons regardless of color, are suffering inhumane treatment of one sort or another - some more severe than others...such as what they are doing to Patrick Swiney and several others.  Guards are beating the inmates and bragging about it to others, feeling proud that they broke their night stick over some guy's leg and broke his leg in the process. This kind of so-called restraint is completely uncalled for and reminiscent of Nazi Germany tactics of subduing or brainwashing other human beings.  It is plainly called cruelty which is not the PURPOSE of prisons.
Pray we have an opportunity to pull together a strong group of activists to begin the process of exposing and prosecuting jailers who are wanton violators of US Constitutional Rights, who continuously abuse and mistreat prisoners, that they may serve prison time of their own.
With the felony vote and prison administrators going to prison for breaking Human Rights Laws, how much you want to bet the prison system will change and prison reform will become a reality...  However, today, notice the snide remarks by the  governor's press secretary - - - -

     "If Jesse Jackson is willing to donate a few million dollars from the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition coffers to the state so we can build, staff and maintain a new prison in Alabama, we will happily accept his offer," he said. "Otherwise, with the state's meager resources and current fiscal crisis, we have no other choice than to continue housing inmates in out-of-state facilities." 

Building more prisons is all they know.  They need to start thinking out of the box.  We have a program that is thinking out of the box without turning "violent" or "unadjusted" prisoners loose on society - which is the stated fear of Alabama's leaders.  They don't want the public to begin thinking out of the box, but guess what -- the public is beginning to listen, and it's because of the governor vetoing the felony voters rights bill.  

BIG MISTAKE, Governor!  But you can rectify this and the People will love you for it, just as they love former Illinois Governor Ryan and consider him a hero for doing the right thing.  

The governor is bound to listen to *all* of his constituents - especially the ones who put him over the top at election time - and that was us, the Alabama Family Members of Inmates grassroots organization (a division of The PATRICK CRUSADE Organization). Governor Riley failed to hear what *all* the People of Alabama said.  Did he honestly believe that we would lie down and take yet another whip-lashing like good-ole-alabama-slaves should do?  Or Did he actually believe what the Christian Coalition wrote in their letter dated 06-18-03?  Or Did he even give the veto any thought at all?  Hard to say...

I think the governor's mistake is a blessing in disguise :-). "All truth goes through three stages.  First it is ridiculed.  Then it is violently opposed.  Finally, it is accepted as self-evident."-- (Schoepenhouer)   
Sherry Swiney

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER - July 11, 2003 - Felons hurt by vote veto, Jackson says
By Jannell McGrew 
Montgomery Advertiser 

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, leader of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, has joined other civil rights activists in opposing Gov. Bob Riley's veto of a bill that would restore voting
rights to convicted felons once they've paid their debt to society.

Jackson, Southern Christian Leadership Conference state president Sen. Charles Steele, D-Tuscaloosa, and other prison reform advocates criticized the governor's decision during a news conference Thursday on the grounds of Staten Prison in Elmore County. Jackson also called for a congressional investigation of prisons in Alabama and every state in the country. 

"Once people have paid their time, their citizenship rights should be restored," Jackson said. 

Riley's decision to sign a voter identification bill that would require picture identification when voting and not to sign the voter restoration bill drew harsh criticism from black legislators who assumed the two bills would pass together. Members of the Legislative Black Caucus have planned a march at the Capitol to protest on July 18. 

In addition, the state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is calling for a national economic boycott of the state. 

"We're not going to take anything less than (Riley) supporting the ex-felon bill," said Steele. "It was an agreement that the governor did not live up to." 

Jackson plans to join the march next week. 

Other pressing issues the state must address, Jackson said, include the disproportionate number of minorities in jails, privatization, prison sentencing and how work contracts in prisons are determined as well as prison overcrowding. 

David Azbell, Riley's press secretary, said the state is working to address the overcrowding situation. 

"Just this week, we sent male inmates to a prison in Mississippi and have already sent female inmates to a similar facility in Louisiana in order to reduce overcrowding," he said. 

As for Jackson's comments about the prison system's shortcomings, Azbell said the civil rights leader is welcomed to help. 

"If Jesse Jackson is willing to donate a few million dollars from the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition coffers to the state so we can build, staff and maintain a new prison in Alabama, we will happily accept his offer," he said. "Otherwise, with the state's meager resources and current fiscal crisis, we have no other choice than to continue housing inmates in out-of-state facilities." 

Jackson planned to tour the prison Thursday, but neither he nor the media were allowed access because the tour had not been cleared by prison officials, said prison warden Willie Thomas. 

On top of that, he said, prison inmates were on lock down, several correctional officers were undergoing on-site testing and not enough staff was available to provide adequate security for such a tour. 

"I don't have the bodies to do it," Thomas said. "It was very short notice. The commissioner has to approve it, not me." 

Thomas said prison overcrowding is an issue the prison plans to address as soon as possible. The current facility was originally designed to hold 508 inmates, he said, and there are about 1,300 inmates at the site. Two other buildings -- one an addition, the other a renovated canning plant -- are currently being used to accommodate the overflow. 

Local radio talk show personality Roberta Franklin, who has openly criticized the state's prison system, also attended the conference. 

She said along with overcrowding problems, she's concerned with the lack of state aid that former inmates receive in making the transition back into society once they are out of prison. Convicted felons are given $10 when they leave prison, she said. 

"Where are you going to go with $10?" she asked. "I'm not saying that voting is not important, but the No. 1 thing on their mind is not going to be, 'I'm going to go out and vote today,' but, 'Where am I going to stay?'" 

Michael Blain, director of the Prisoner's Justice Network for the Washington-based Justice Policy Institute, said other states are opting to release nonviolent offenders and Alabama should consider it. 

Michigan has repealed its mandatory minimum sentencing law and released between 6,000 and 7,000 non-violent offenders, Blain said. 

"The governor of Illinois released almost 5,000 non-violent offenders," he said. "In the state of Alabama, 84 percent of the people incarcerated are locked up for nonviolent offenses." 

Jackson said the state also must concentrate on rehabilitation and should allow nonviolent offenders to be released on certain conditions. 

"Those nonviolent offenders should be in drug rehabilitation (programs) for the most part or in job training," he said. "It'll be cheaper to have them out of jail, monitored." 

Failing to re-evaluate the criminal justice system will perpetuate problems in addressing the plight of Alabama's inmates, he said. 

"They leave here sicker, slicker and come back quicker," he said.