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August 10, 2005 - San Francisco Bay View (CA)

March on Washington Aug. 13: Over 2 Million Imprisoned - Too Many!

by Roberta Franklin

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Dear Fellow Citizens Of The World:

Roberta Franklin is calling everyone who believes in freedom to March on Washington on Saturday, Aug. 13.

The United States imprisons its citizens at rates three to 10 times higher than other democratic societies. Rigid sentencing laws and "get tough" policies have made prisons crowded and dangerous and don't make us safer. The impact of continued punishment after a person's release from prison adds to despair that keeps our communities weak.

The March on Aug. 13 and associated events will send a message to our leaders, and it's an opportunity for the world to support our demands. We must stop relying on incarceration, give people an education and rehabilitate our communities. People who pay their debt to society should be able to participate in society again.

Millions of citizens can no longer vote. Laws that partially or permanently discourage good citizenship from formerly incarcerated people cannot be supported by evidence and are bad policy.

Millions more are unemployed both before they go to prison and after they return. We will demand jobs on public works projects to rebuild urban neighborhoods.

Please support the call of Family Members and Friends of People Incarcerated, marking Aug. 13, 2005, a historical day. We will no longer be silent victims of criminal justice policies that target the most vulnerable citizens. We are meeting in Washington, D.C., to make a unified demand for justice.

The United States is the world's leading jailer, and our march on Aug. 13, 2005, is a long overdue event.

Abuse flourishes in U.S. prisons, and punishment has become an industry dependent on tax dollars.

Punitive drug laws enacted in the 1980s, and still in effect, have resulted in 25 percent of all incarcerated people in the United States serving time for a drug law violation. In the federal system, these people make up about 55 percent of the prison population.

In 1987, Congress abolished parole in the federal system. People were given long, mandatory, fixed sentences, leaving the incarcerated and their loved ones hopeless. State governments rushed to punish, fill prisons and build still more. We can no longer afford the injustice, in human costs or the financial burden.

Many of us work on a local level and do a fantastic job, but this march will bring family members, friends, activists, formerly incarcerated persons and organizations together on another level.

This is a day for us to meet each other and show our leaders that we demand justice.

Individuals and groups will begin meeting on Friday evening, Aug. 12. On Saturday morning, Aug. 13, people will assemble at Lafayette Park ­ on the north side of the White House. Programming will begin at 9 a.m. and conclude at 2 p.m.

Please make plans to be there and support a march for family members and friends of people incarcerated in all the ways that you can.

If you would like to be an organizer and bring a group to march in Washington on Aug. 13, register online at www.Journey ForJustice.org or follow the contact instructions below.

If you can't come to Washington on Aug. 13, light a candle. All over the country, we will light candles on Aug. 12 and 13 and leave them lit outside in our yards or on our porches or decks to show our support for the March on Washington. Unite and Light Up the Night for Freedom.

Roberta Franklin is a radio talk show host who inspires her listeners from around the world to insist on sentencing law and prison reform. She has hosted meetings, marches and rallies that have drawn as many as 2,000 participants, including notable political figures. Her relentless work for social justice brings Montgomery, Ala., another hard-won mark in the anals of social justice history. Contact Roberta by emailing firstladytms©aol.com, writing to Family and Friends of People Incarcerated, Roberta Franklin, Director, 2243 Ajax St., Montgomery, AL 36108 or calling (334) 220-4670 or (334) 834-9592.

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