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Beyond James T. Vaughn: Fixing Delaware’s Broken Prison System

With an incarceration rate nearly twice as high as neighboring New Jersey, Delaware is an unfortunate leader in America’s trend of mass incarceration.

Join a free public discussion sponsored by the ACLU, with the director of their National Prison Project.

June 7, 2017 12:00 pm to 1:00 PM 
First and Central Presbyterian Church
1101 N. Market St, Wilmington, DE 19801
Google Map

Prison staff shortages compound the lack of crucial programming, making successful re-entry an unlikely outcome in the First State. Bring your lunch and join us as we take a hard look at the pitfalls of our troubled prison system–and how it can be fixed.

david_fathi_for_webFeatured speaker David C. Fathi is Director of the American Civil Liberties Union National Prison Project, which brings challenges to conditions of confinement in prisons, jails, and other detention facilities, and works to end the policies that have given the United States the highest incarceration rate in the world.

Questions? Call Mindy Bogue at (302) 654-5326, ext. 101 or mbogue@aclu-de.org.

More information at the ACLU-DE website.

Addressing the Trauma of Violence in Delaware

 

Seeking Community Input on a Holistic Plan for Peace

2017-04-30_Trauma_150On Sunday, the Movement for a Culture of Peace (MCP) moves forward with its plans to convene in the midst of the extreme violence and trauma that our Delaware community has seen this week. With collective community input, we will develop a more holistic Action Plan for Peace that includes our work against the Death Penalty. Sunday’s action forum invites a present, hurting community, complete with raw wounds and complex emotional experiences in a holistic and inclusive plan. We urge you to come prepared to think radically about how we address the extraordinary amount of trauma as a result of violence and the intersectionality of our holistic movement toward a true culture of peace in Delaware.

Sunday, April 30 – 3:00 to 5:00 – Grace Church – 900 Washington St. 19801
Corner of 9th and West St. – Ample free parking

MCP will reframe Sunday’s forum to provide an opportunity for members of the Delaware community to engage with this trauma and work toward a better future. The path to peace must include action against the systematic injustice of capital punishment. Yet the causes of violence intersect across the whole community and our action plan needs to consider everything that peaceful, healthy, thriving communities need. Come be a part of this vital forum about rejecting all forms of violence—including the violence of silence—and creating a culture of peace in Delaware.

 

What is a Culture of Peace?

A coordinated approach to building alternatives to the prevailing culture of violence based on education, economic opportunity, anti-racism, equal justice, respect for human rights, equality between women and men, respect for LGBTQ rights, democratic participation, the free flow of information, and disarmament of our nations and neighborhoods.

Lock the Door on Delaware’s Death Penalty — April 30

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Action Forum to Stop HB 125
Sunday, April 30 – 3:00 to 5:00 pm
Grace United Methodist Church

Movement for a Culture of Peace (MCP) is teaming up with Delaware Citizens Against the Death Penalty (DCODP) and other groups to take action to defeat HB 125, which seeks to restore capital punishment in the First State. Delaware’s former death penalty statute was declared unconstitutional last year by the state supreme court.

We need to act now to stop HB 125, which is currently scheduled for a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, May 3. After opening remarks from civil rights attorney Jeremy Collins and Kristin Froehlich, vice president of DCODP, we’ll get to work writing letters, sending postcards, making posters, and preparing to rally against capital punishment at Legislative Hall May 3. Persons interested in testifying against the bill may receive training and tips on how to be most effective.

Not in our names. Movement for a Culture of Peace opposes the death penalty. A culture of peace can never be achieved when the state puts persons to death in the name of its citizens.

For more information about the so-called Extreme Crimes Protection Act and why we need to lock the door on the death penalty in Delaware, visit the DCODP website.  And join us at our Action Forum on April 30.

Please help us publicize by printing and distributing our poster and mentioning this meeting on social media. You will find various versions of this graphic on our Resources Page.

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Peace Week Delaware Kickoff

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Peace Week Delaware 2017
Kick-Off Meeting
Wednesday, April 19, 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

Doors open at 5:30. Light refreshments. Program begins at 6:00

St. Stephens Lutheran Church
(in the Chapel, enter right side of church)
1301 N. Broom St., Wilmington 19806

Peace Week Delaware 2016 was an unprecedented success. We can do it again!

This kick-off meeting will be a facilitated, inclusive, idea-generating session. We welcome your ideas and participation—whether or not you or your organization was involved with or supported Peace Week Delaware 2016. Let’s widen the circle of peace!

NOTE: The first meeting of the Peace Week Steering Committee will be held on Thursday, April 20, at St. Stephens’s—also at 6:00 pm. We hope you will join the organizing team. Attend one or the other meeting—both if you are able!

Your friends at the Movement for a Culture of Peace.

Judy, Jeff, Medard, Moira, Nancy, Marie, George, and Dorothy

PS:
Bring a friend—forward this email or share our website.
Can’t attend the kick-off but still want to be involved? Come to the steering committee (April 20), or email us at volunteer@peaceweekdelaware.org.
Questions? Email info@peaceweekdelaware.org.

FORUM: Critical Issues for Returning Citizens—Sat., April 1

MOVEMENT FOR A CULTURE OF PEACE

 

Movement for a Culture of Peace presents the second of a two-part series on the correctional system in Delaware:

OUTSIDE: Critical Issues for Returning Citizens

Public Panel and Open Discussion

2017-04-01_OUTSIDE_poster.jpgSaturday, April 1 – 9:00 to 11:00 a.m.
Trinity Episcopal Church
1108 North Adams St., Wilmington 19801
(parking on 11th Street)

The forum will address the following critical questions:

What is the Corrections system doing to prepare prisoners for re-entry in society?
What are the critical needs of returning citizens? How can we reduce recidivism?
Is the Probation system effective?  How can it be improved?
What are churches and nonprofits doing to help returning citizens? Are they effective?
Are there particular classes of offenders (such as those convicted of sex crimes) who have more difficult issues about re-entry?

 Panelists will include:

Bishop G.E. Gordon – My Brethren Ministries’ Reconnect Program
John Kornegay – Small Business Owner, Returned Citizen
Corie Priest, In-Reach Coordinator, Achievement Center
Priscilla Turgon, Executive Director, Project New Start

Help us publicize this event:

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

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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.”

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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.

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