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August 8, 2005 - NAMC NewsWire (US)

Media Alert: Families March on DC for Justice Reform

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WASHINGTON, (NAMC) - The United States imprisons its citizens at rates three to ten times higher than other democratic societies and holds 25% of the world's prison population. Racially discriminatory mandatory sentencing drug laws and 'get tough' policies have made prisons crowded, dangerous and places where international human rights laws are broken every day. US prisons are guilty of torture of men, women and children housed there and do not contribute to a safer society. The impact of continued bias in employment of former prisoners, lack of voting rights and affordable housing adds stress to poorer US communities and families.

"The March on August 13th is intended to send a message to US leaders that violation of international law, the continued use of the poor and bodies of color as a business commodity and the current arrest, sentencing and prison procedures are no longer acceptable. Leaders of the March note that the US must stop relying on incarceration as a first resort, provide young people with an equitable education and provide our communities with the means to equal opportunity. Abuse flourishes in US prisons, and the punishment industry is dependent on bodies of color and the poor, similar to the dynamics of slavery." -- Roberta Franklin, Director, Family Members and Friends of People Incarcerated (FMI)

"When you truly consider the most recent data that indicates close to 85% of those in prison are incarcerated for nonviolent offenses and over 60% are first-time, nonviolent offenders, it compels you to look for methods of responsible justice that are no longer just 'tough on crime' but also 'smart on crime' at the same time." -- Judy Freyermuth, Executive Director, Federal Prison Policy Project

In 2004, the President thundered a call for positive change by concluding, "In the past, we've worked together to bring mentors to children of prisoners, and provide treatment for the addicted, and help for the homeless. Tonight I ask you to consider another group of Americans in need of help. This year, some 600,000 inmates will be released from prison back into society. We know from long experience that if they can't find work, or a home, or help, they are much more likely to commit crime and return to prison. So tonight, I propose a four-year, $300 million prisoner re-entry initiative to expand job training and placement services, to provide transitional housing, and to help newly released prisoners get mentoring, including from faith-based groups. America is the land of second chance, and when the gates of the prison open, the path ahead should lead to a better life." - State of the Union, 20 January 2004

"We can hate the crime without hating the individual and seeking merely vengeful justice. Instead, we should pursue constructive rehabilitative justice that will benefit everyone in the long term, especially those families impacted." -- Paticia A. Dilts, Treasurer, AdvoCare, Inc.

"We must protect the moral fiber of this country. However, simply handing out harsher prison sentences is proving to be more damaging to families and our communities than we ever imagined. Therefore, it is essential that a 'Smart on Crime' policy be the center of discussion across the country." -- Keith Wm. DeBlasio, Director, AdvoCare, Inc.

"Our prison system has become like a cancer patient being treated by removing one part after another until the whole is no longer able to survive." -- Sylvia Clute, Author of Destiny

Individuals and groups will begin meeting on Friday evening, August 12th. On Saturday morning, August 13th, people will assemble at Lafayette Park (north side of the White House). Programming will begin at 9:00 AM and run through 2:00 PM.

Website: www.journeyforjustice.org
Family Members and Friends of People Incarcerated (FMI)
Roberta Franklin, Director
2243 Ajax Street, Montgomery, Alabama 36108
Phone: 334-220-4670; 334-834-9592 or 334-868-0312

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