9/21/2002 : Montgomery, AlabamaThe sun was hot and the people came from all over to hear the message that Roberta Franklin and Alabama State Representative Alvin Holmes had for them. It was all about the Humane treatment of Inmates in the Alabama Department of Corrections. Roberta invited speakers from around the country to the steps of probably the most famous capital step in the world. Jefferson Davis took the oath of office for the President of the Confederate States of America, thus declaring war on the United States.
Almost to the day one hundred years later a group of brave Americans Marched from Selma, Alabama to the steps of the Alabama Capital to demand the right to vote. They listened to a young preacher that went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize for the use of Non-violent Protest and Civil Disobedient Tactics to Accomplish this and other Landmark Civil Rights gains for Americans. His name was Dr. Martin Luther King.
Ms. Franklin has never set out to upstage or gain the notoriety of Davis or King but lot of people who came to the march agrees with Roberta Franklin that people deserve Humane Treatment while incarcerated.
We hope you stand with us on this, and the idea of alternate sentencing. This needs to be investigated. The majority of young men who go to jail for drug and petty crimes went in the military 25 years ago and were given the chance to develop into productive citizens. Brazil has done this already.
Here are the brave folks that came to be seen and heard on 9/21/02 . The photo was designed and photographed by
The Moofe for
Feel free to print this Historic Photo
Protesters call for reforms in prison system
People from across the state and beyond spoke at the rally, many citing similar concerns. A group of men carried a mock casket in protest because some of their family members were denied parole. Some protesters carried signs that read "Rehabilitate the judicial system" and "Educate don't incarcerate."
By Jannell McGrew
Roberta Franklin, left, protests poor prison conditions during a rally Saturday on the state Capitol steps.
-- Kevin Glackmeyer, Advertiser
The families and friends of inmates in the state's prison system gathered Saturday at the foot of the state Capitol, waving signs and shouting phrases of protest against the penal system. Organizers said the group came to rally against what they believe are injustices and inadequacies of Alabama's prison system.
Radio talk show host Roberta Franklin, an organizer of the event, said the prison system is overcrowded, does not provide adequate medical treatment for inmates and has failed to maintain decent living conditions for the incarcerated.
"They (prison officials) have been saying that it is almost a paradise in the Alabama prisons, but we know it's a lie," Franklin said Saturday to a crowd of more than 400 people. She said some inmates have experienced inhumane treatment. "If you do the crime, you ... do the time, but it doesn't mean that you suffer," she said.
Roberta Franklin, left, protests poor prison conditions during a rally Saturday on the
state Capitol steps.
The Rev. Roy Elsworth, a Texas minister and former convict, said he has seen first hand the inadequacies of prisons. "There are many instances in prisons every day when men and women are being abused," he said. He said prison riots often are the backlash of poorly maintained prison systems. "When you push people in a corner, there's no place to go but out," he said.
State Rep. Alvin Holmes, D-Montgomery, said Alabama needs prison reform. "Half of the people in prison at the present time shouldn't be in prison," he said. The gathering also garnered support from the Nation of Islam. Minister Maurice Muhammad, leader of the Muhammad Life Center in Montgomery, described prison reform efforts as a movement. "This is the first day of the rest of our lives for liberation," he said. "Whatever means of organization that needs to be done, we pledge to do that."
Holmes described the prison system as "rotten to the core" and said he will approach fellow legislators about reform. "It took having somebody I love ending up in prison for me to realize how bad it is," said Lynn Fryer, who has a son serving life in prison. Fryer said problems with the phone system also need to be addressed. She recalled several times when the phone "just cut off" in the middle of conversations with her son.
"The only way I can talk to my son on the phone is if he calls me collect," Fryer said. The charge to connect is $2.50 and 25 cents per minute after that, she said, noting that her average telephone bill is $300. "That punishes me," she said. State officials are working to improve prisons, said Mike Kanarick, a spokesman for Gov. Don Siegelman.
"The governor's office, the Department of Corrections, and members of the Legislature (recently) worked together to implement short-term and long-term solutions to solve the prison overcrowding issue," Kanarick said.