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Capacity Crowd Considers Prison Situation

Following up from Saturday’s Forum

Great turnout on Saturday, March 4, for the Movement for a Culture of Peace forum: INSIDE: Right and Wrong in Delaware Prisons.

Thanks for your participation. And thanks to Rep. James “J.J.” Johnson, Kathleen MacRae, Coley Harris, and John Flynn for serving on our panel. As requested, their contact information is as follows:

 J.J. Johnson JJ.Johnson@state.de.us
Kathleen MacRae   kmacrae@aclu-de.org

Coley Harris coley_harris@yahoo.com
John Flynn    john@johnflynn.net

We began the forum with a visioning exercise.

It’s important to preserve what was said in answer to our question: What do we want our Department of Corrections and Criminal Justice System to be contributing to our community? Your answers were positive and clear:

“restorative justice” / “true rehabilitation” / “focus on healing” / “encourage returning citizens to be activists” / “focus on youth (preventative work)” / “teach life skills” / “fairness in sentencing” / “embrace, don’t ostracize” / ”eliminate [federal] incentives to lock people up” / “eliminate post-incarceration punishments” / “jobs and education options”

What’s remarkable about this exercise?  None of your answers had to do with inflicting pain and punishment on those who violate our laws or societal norms—just helping them overcome whatever sent them to prison and rejoin us as productive members of the community. Does that tell you something about what’s wrong with the “correction” system? That it fails to correct anything?

Your Questions—Dept. of Corrections Take Note!

More than 25 questions were submitted for the panel, provoking a powerful discussion. Most were asked and discussed, but we thought it was important to list all of your questions here on the website. (They are listed here in no particular order.)

  • In your opinion, what can be done to make our corrections system more trauma-informed in order to avoid re-traumatizing men and women who both live and work in the prisons?
  • Economics of incarceration: What is the cost (in $) of the DE prison system? Would it be cheaper to do things differently, e.g. are “best practices” more cost effective?
  • What’s being done on fairness in sentencing and bail? When you bail is $500,000 cash, it’s not bail it’s ransom. People of color believe justice is for those who can afford to pay.
  • What would it take to get court-ordered federal oversight of our correctional system? Is it possible?
  • Can each of you speak to what changes need to be made to address more comprehensively the emotional and mental health of current prisoners—and what steps can be taken to put these in place?
  • Can I get the panels’ info? 300 prisoners and the hostage negotiator wants me to represent and I would like to share their complaints. I have petition in car.
  • Were there a lot of [prisoner] complaints against Lt. Floyd?
  • Can any of [you] address current issues? I talk to brothers last night with broken bones since Feb. 1 and stillno medical care.
  • Prison work programs exploit inmates for cheap labor. Are prison industries a concern in Delaware? Are prison work issues a violation of civil liberties as described by the ACLU?
  • John: Who gets to be in New Beginnings inside the prison? Please describe what the gentleman [meant] when he said, “Here at New Beginnings is the only place in prison where I’m free.”
  • Are the numbers of women in prison going up?
  • Where and how can the public and inmates find out about all the legal changes—as pertains to re-entry and their rights, i.e. voting, licensing, Medicaid, etc?
  • How can folks outside support incarcerated individuals via advocacy, understanding that there will likely be retaliation for those inside?
  • How can we advocate for increased programming for prisoners?
  • Who is available to work with the traumatizing effects of incarceration in the way of mental health issues?
  • What are some useful ways that people can help support in-prison programs and keep them from disappearing?
  • Why were effective, beneficial programs stopped? How do we get them started again?
  • Can I or Bro. George address that he was down 27 years? [Bro. Debro]
  • Was that a white inmate? Because two blacks I am working with are going blind. His brother brought me here.
  • If zipcodes determine your entire life and the person you’re going to be, how can we keep the children in these zipcodes from going to jail?
  • [For J.J.] Given the [state’s] financial situation, how can we redirect funds for diversion and rehabilitation to reduce the prison population?
  • I’d like to hear more about prison life at Vaughn.
  • What specific legislation would help make effective change?
  • Are there concerns in Delaware about privatizing the prison system?
  • What specific things can organizations or individuals do to make a differentce in your programs oand in the community?
  • [For Coley] Which in-prison programs most impacted your life? Are these programs at risk?
  • Why don’t they let you vote [if you commit] certain crimes?
  • Speaking of thanking folks, how can we support businesses like ShopRite that hire returning citizens?

Next Up

Movement for a Culture of Peace will hold its next public forum on Saturday, April 1, 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church. The topic will be: OUTSIDE: Returning Citizens and the Community.

JCC Bomb Threats Prompt Calls for Solidarity

jcc-threat2

A spate of bomb threats and vandalism aimed at Jewish community and religious centers nationwide—including the Siegel Jewish Community Center on Garden of Eden Road in Wilmington—have prompted members of the Wilmington community to express solidarity against anti-Semitism and all other acts of bigotry and hatred.

News Conference and Unified Prayer Meeting

Elder Ty Johnson, leader of Churches Take a Corner in Wilmington, has organized a news conference and Unified Prayer Service at Bethel AME Church at Sixth and Walnut on Wednesday, March 1, at 11:45 a.m. Pastor Silvester Beaman will preside at the prayer service, which is open to people of all races and faiths.

On Monday morning, Johnson was reaching out to groups including Movement for a Culture of Peace, Pacem in Terris, churches, and mosques to urge attendance at the  unity gathering. “Whenever we see these acts of hatred and threats of violence, we need to stand together and say ‘no, not in our community,” says Johnson.”Domestic terrorism cannot be tolerated.”

Hate Groups in Delaware

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which tracks extremist hate groups nationally, there are four active hate groups in Delaware. It is not known whether members of those groups—which include statewide the III% United Patriots, American Patriots III%, and Oath Keepers—were respnsible for the threats to the Siegel Center.

philly-headstonesIn Philadelphia Saturday night, nearly 100 headstones and monuments were toppled by vandals at the Mount Carmel Cemetery. The SPLC reports that Pennsylvania is in the top five states in the number of active hate groups. These groups include Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazi, White Nationalist, Racist Skinhead, Christian Identity, Neo-Confederate, Black Separatist, Anti-LGBT, Anti-Muslim, and General Hate.

With the election of Donald Trump, writes Mark Potok of SCLC, “After half a century of being pushed to the very margins of American society, the radical right has entered the political mainstream in a way not even imagined since the 1968 run for the presidency by segregationsit George Wallace.”

jcc-threat3

New Response Network

Last week, nearly 100 local residents met at First Unitarian Church to hear about a new community-driven network being organized by YWCA Delaware. The meeting was a first step toward organizing an Action Response Network that would respond to acts of hate and bias in Delaware.

Matt Pillischer, YWCA director of Racial Justice and Social Advocacy, told the News-Journal: ““We know that racism, xenophobia, misogyny and homophobia exist when we see subtle and overt actions of intimidation in Delaware and across the country, We want to fight back by building solidarity between people who share our values of inclusion, compassion and principles of human dignity and to build a network ready to act quickly against hate.”

Time to Act is Now

Movement for a Culture of Peace urges its supporters to come out to show solidarity with the Jewish Community Center and all other victims of bigotry, hatred, and bias.

Turn out in force on Wednesday, March 1
Bethel AME, 604 N. Walnut St., Wilmington 19810
11:45 News Conference, followed by Unified Prayer Service

Sign up for the Action Responce Network being organized by the YWCA:
Click Here or contact Matt Pillischer, Director of Racial Justice and Social Advocacy
at mpillischer@ywcade.org or 302.655.0039 ext. 230.

Saturday: Public Forum on Delaware Prisons

INSIDE: Right and Wrong in Delaware Prisons

2017-03-04_inside_logo

This timely discussion will focus on whether Delaware’s corrections system is serving the needs of the community. Is it providing rehabilitation, training, and treatment—or retributive punishment, ongoing state violence, and a revolving door of recidivism? Our panelists will include:

Coley Harris, Restorative Justice Activist and Returned Citizen
John Flynn, New Beginnings/Next Steps
Rep. J.J. Johnson, Chair of the Delaware House Corrections Committee
Kathleen Macrae, Executive Director of ACLU Delaware

The free event begins at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 4, at the Episcopal Church of Sts. Andrew and Matthew, 701 N. Shipley St., Wilmington. 

Help us publicize this event:
Download our printable poster (pdf)
2017-03-04_insode_poster

Like us on Facebook.

Additional images and graphic resources are avaialble on our Resources Page.

This Saturday: Public Forum — Alternatives to Violence

2017-02-04_avp_poster_square_300

Conflict is part of daily life … but violence doesn’t have to be.

We live in a violent society and violence comes in many forms—physical and intangible. Although the violence we encounter in our everyday life is often verbal and emotional, many are shocked by the increasing conflict on the streets, in our schools, and in the home.

People in the United States have twice the chance of being murdered than in many other Western countries. Violence knows no class, no racial, economic, or geographical boundaries. Our schools have resorted to metal detectors. Violence in the home—physical and mental—directed against both spouse and child.

We lead the world in prison population, and our prisons, viewed as a way of protecting society from violence, spawn more violence. Over ninety percent of prisoners eventually return to society from a prison experience that encourages violence.

Movement for a Culture of Peace

invites you to learn more about

Delaware’s Alternatives to Violence Program

AVP is an evidence-based experiential program that helps people change their lives. Proven in prisons, AVP now offers this new approach to community groups, businesses, social service agencies, educators, and youth organizations.

 Saturday, Feb. 4

9:00 to 11:00 a.m.

Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew and Matthew

719 North Shipley St. Wilmington 19801 

Panelists

Sr. Mary Killoran OSF, Coordinator of AVP prison workshops in Howard Young Correctional Center (Wilmington DE)

Rachel VerNooy, Coordinator of AVP community workshops in New Castle County DE

Kathleen Higgins, Facilitator of AVP prison workshops in Howard Young Correctional (Wilmington DE)

 

Please help us publicize this timely event. Printable posters and graphics for social media are available for download on our Resources Page.

 

50 Years of Peace Work

pacem-in-terris-logo

Congratulations to Pacem in Terris for 50 years of working for peace and justice. Movement for a Culture of Peace is only the latest of this distinguished organization’s initiatives. MCP is proud to be associatesd with Pacem in Terris.

Learn more in this op-ed by Judith Butler, board chair, and Medard Gabel, executive director.

 

Wilmington Peacekeepers Video

Wilmington Peacekeepers were founding partners of the Movement for a Culture of Peace.

Enjoy this video about their work by Brother Caleeb Watson.

 


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/200753510″>It's all about LOVE! &quot;Wilmington Peacekeepers Assoc.&quot;</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/caleebawatson”>CALEEB A WATSON</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>
<p>The Wilmington Peacekeepers Association is a multi-denominational, God-centered, ethnically diverse group of mostly men, and women, who have come together in an earnest effort to reclaim individuals and society from the brink of Catastrophe. First and foremost, The Peacekeepers are out to set things right with God, society and relationships. We are especially concerned with gun violence and the educational development of our young people.</p>

This Saturday: Public Forum — Alternatives to Violence

2017-02-04_avp_poster_square_300

Conflict is part of daily life … but violence doesn’t have to be.

We live in a violent society and violence comes in many forms—physical and intangible. Although the violence we encounter in our everyday life is often verbal and emotional, many are shocked by the increasing conflict on the streets, in our schools, and in the home.

People in the United States have twice the chance of being murdered than in many other Western countries. Violence knows no class, no racial, economic, or geographical boundaries. Our schools have resorted to metal detectors. Violence in the home—physical and mental—directed against both spouse and child.

We lead the world in prison population, and our prisons, viewed as a way of protecting society from violence, spawn more violence. Over ninety percent of prisoners eventually return to society from a prison experience that encourages violence.

Movement for a Culture of Peace
invites you to learn more about

Delaware’s Alternatives to Violence Program

AVP is an evidence-based experiential program that helps people change their lives. Proven in prisons, AVP now offers this new approach to community groups, businesses, social service agencies, educators, and youth organizations.

 Saturday, Feb. 4
9:00 to 11:00 a.m.

Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew and Matthew
719 North Shipley St. Wilmington 19801 

Panelists

Sr. Mary Killoran OSF, Coordinator of AVP prison workshops in Howard Young Correctional Center (Wilmington DE)

Rachel VerNooy, Coordinator of AVP community workshops in New Castle County DE

Kathleen Higgins, Facilitator of AVP prison workshops in Howard Young Correctional (Wilmington DE)

 

Please help us publicize this timely event. Printable posters and graphics for social media are available for download on our Resources Page.

 

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Organizers and Supporters

Become a Supporter of the 2015 March for a Culture of Peace.
Register your organization today at the Register Your Organization page.
Organizations and sponsors will be listed here as they register.

PRINCIPAL ORGANIZERS

• Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence
• First Unitarian Church Social Justice Forum
• Heeding God's Call to End Gun Violence
• One Village Alliance
• Pacem in Terris
• Wilmington Peacekeepers

2015 SPONSORS

• Ainsley's Pharmacy
• Sating Francis Healthcare

2015 PARTNERS
• Delaware Citizens Opposed to the Death Penalty
•The Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew and Matthew
•Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League Young Professionals
• Edgemoor Revitalization Cooperative, Inc.
• St. Helena's Parish Social Ministry
• Brandon Lee Brinkley Foundation
• Delaware Alliance for Community Advancement
• Newark Friends Meeting
• Silverside Church
• Delaware Center for Justice
• ACLU of Delaware
• North Brandywine Civic Association
• Because U Matter Community Outreach
• Congregation Beth Emeth
• Unitarian Universalists of Southern Delaware
• Warriors4Christ
• Safe United Neighborhoods S.U.N.
• Quaker Hill Neighborhood Association
• West Side Grows Together
• Hopes Academy
• St. David's Episcopal Church
• Trinity Parish
• City Church of Wilmington
• Missio Grace
• Stop the Violence Prayer Chain Foundation
• St. Francis Healthcare
• Hanover Presbyterian Church
• Trinity Episcopal Church
• Latin Community Center / El Centro Latino
• The Awakened Kitchen
• M.O.T.H.E.R.S Inc.
• Center for Joyful Living
• Urban Promise
• YWCA Delaware
• Churches Take a Corner (CTAC)
• Salesianum School Center for Faith and Justice
• Murder Victims for Reconciliation
• Girls Inc of Delaware
• National Assoc. of Black Veterans, Chap. 94