Washington State Prison Program Teaches Inmates Green-Collar Job Skill


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The program empowers inmates by enlisting their help to rescue endangered species and conduct ecological research.
September 30, 2012
Washington State Prison Program Teaches Inmates Green-Collar Job Skills

The Sustainability in Prisons Project (SPP) isn’t your average prison outreach program. Instead of teaching inmates simple job skills, the SPP allows them to participate in a host of science-based projects and educational initiatives like saving an endangered species or conducting ecological research, all in the name of  personal empowerment, the New York Times reports.   

According to the SPP website, the program is a partnership between the Washington State Department of Corrections and Evergreen State College.

Since its inception, the SPP has launched a variety of ecology based programs with inmates. They include the study and breeding of the endangered Oregon spotted frog, the cultivation of sustainable replacements for forest moss, and preserving the checker-spot butterfly species as part of what turned out to be a large published study that listed all the participating inmates as contributors.

The program’s goal is to create an intellectually stimulating environment that allows prisoners to think collaboratively with each other, as well as the program’s participating scientists, college students and even prison administrators.

But SPP isn’t about charity, so much as it is about challenge. In order to gain entrance into the program, inmates have to compete with others in the application process, and once admitted, they must keep a spotless disciplinary record or risk being dismissed.

The Huffington Post reports that the program’s effectiveness can be measured in graduating inmates’ low recidivism rates. In Mission Creek Prison, seventy-eight prisoners were involved with SPP and 18 have been released, of which none have returned to prison, and one-third are employed.

Professor Carri LeRoy, of Evergreen State College in Olympia and co-director of SPP, explained to the Times that part of what makes the program so effective is the shift in perspective it can give inmates.  She explains that watching animals or plants grow, gives them the sense that change does happen. “This image of transformation, I think, allows them maybe to understand their own transformation.”

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Matthew was wrongfully arrested and convicted of a murder and attempted that everyone knows who the real killer is . Including the DAs office and the LAPD.Northeast.






ped by Circle of Hope Rescoop FREE MATTHEW TURNER From http://www.freematthewturner.com – September 29, 8:03 PM Matthew was wrongfully arrested and convicted of a murder and attempted that everyone knows who the real killer is . Including the DAs office and the LAPD.Northeast.






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Angola 3 Newsletter:

Special Edition International Coalition to Free the Angola 3

Photo of Mumia Abu-Jamal during a recent contact visit.

World Premiere of Long Distance Revolutionary: A Journey with Mumia Abu-Jamal —

An interview with filmmakers Noelle Hanrahan and Steve Vittoria By Angola 3 News (WATCH THE TRAILER HERE.)


On October 6, the new documentary film entitled Long Distance Revolutionary: A Journey with Mumia Abu-Jamal, will be making its world premiere at the Mill Valley Film Festival, just north of San Francisco. …

–Angola 3 News is an official project of the International Coalition to Free the Angola 3.

Our website is


where we provide the latest news about the Angola 3. Additionally we are also creating our own media projects, which spotlight the issues central to the story of the Angola 3, like racism, repression, prisons, human rights, solitary confinement as torture, and more. Our articles and videos have been published by Alternet, Truthout, Black Commentator, SF Bay View Newspaper, Counterpunch, Monthly Review, Z Magazine, Indymedia, and many others.

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10 Ways to Reduce our Out-of-Control Prison Population



10 Ways to Reduce our Out-of-Control Prison Population

By Christopher Petrella

As someone who writes and organizes around issues of imprisonment and detention my work is often met with a certain type of resignation. Though many politically-conscious individuals are quick to lament our nation’s chart-topping incarceration rates, they’re justifiably overwhelmed by the complexity and magnitude of our so-called justice system.

Many simply don’t know where or how to begin tackling the most salient, silent problem in the United States today. The following list represents a clear set of strategies for reducing our 2,300,000+ prison population without compromising public safety. 1 . Replace mandatory sentencing laws with more flexible and individualized sentencing guidelines. By 1983 forty-nine state legislatures had enacted mandatory sentencing statutes and in 1986 Congress passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act which, though, well intentioned, established 5- and 10-year mandatory sentences for drug importation and distribution. Two years later President Reagan signed the Omnibus Anti-Drug Abuse Act granting the federal government authority to penalize all conspirators in drug-related crimes regardless of their role. Mandatory sentencing laws like these limit judicial jurisdiction by preventing sentencing judges from considering a full range of mitigating factors in a defendant’s profile, including the defendant’s role in the offense or likelihood of committing a future infraction. 2 . Strategically reduce “three-strikes” laws for non-violent offenders. Although twenty-six states have passed “three-strikes” laws for violent offenders since 1993, California’s 1994 “three strikes” ruling punishes minor, non-violent crimes with the penalty of twenty-five years to life.

 Nearly 4,000 prisoners in the state of California are now serving life sentences for a third strike offense that was neither violent nor serious.

This figure represents more than 40 percent of California’s 8,500 third-strike offenders.

This November, California voters will have a chance to revise the “three strikes” law through a ballot-measure—Proposition 36— which, if passed, will eliminate life sentences for offenders whose third strike is neither serious nor violent. 3 . Relax Truth-in-Sentencing thresholds Today, over thirty-five states require offenders to serve 85 percent of their prison sentence regardless of their potential fitness for early release. This is excessive and arbitrary. Federal Truth in Sentencing guidelines emerged in the mid-nineties as a way to incentivize tougher crime policies on a state-by-state basis. States that resisted the 85 percent standard became ineligible from receiving federal block grants authorized by the Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. 4 . Organize against prison gerrymandering to ensure that low-income communities—and particularly communities of color—receive a fair portion of federal aid. The method by which the Census Bureau counts individuals in prison is problematic. It leads to a significant distortion of representation at local and state levels and results in an imprecise picture of community populations for funding and electoral purposes. The Bureau currently tabulates prisoners as residents of the towns where they are incarcerated. According to the Sentencing Project, however, states can correct the Census data “by creating a special state-level census that collects the home addresses of people in prison and then adjusts the U.S. Census counts prior to redistricting.” California, Delaware, Maryland, and New York have already adopted this important practice. 5 . Make full employment a domestic policy goal. In his 2009 book entitled Punishing the Poor, U.C. Berkeley sociologist Loic Wacquant demonstrates that 60 percent of those incarcerated over the last ten years were living at or below 50 percent of the poverty line at the time of their arrest. Wacquant further argues that roughly 70 percent of those sentenced over the last ten years were unemployed at the time of their arrest. The message is clear: unemployment in the formal labor market substantially increases one’s risk of imprisonment. In 1978 Congress passed the Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act (Humphrey-Hawkins Act) which explicitly affirmed the goals of full employment, growth in production, and a balanced budget. Unfortunately, the plan was abandoned shortly after it was signed into law. Today, however, a similar legislative opportunity exists to work toward full employment. Senator John Conyers, Jr. (D- MI) has recently drafted a piece of legislation– H.R. 870: Humphrey-Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act—aimed at establishing the National Full Employment Trust Fund to create full employment opportunities for the unemployed and the marginally attached. 6 . Eliminate the use of for-profit, private prison companies. By definition, for-profit, private-prison firms rely on steadily increasing incarceration rates for their long-term survival. For instance, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation’s largest for-profit, private prison owner and operator, admitted in its 2010 Annual Report that its “growth is generally dependent upon our ability to obtain new contracts to develop and manage new correctional and detention facilities. This possible growth depends on a number of factors we cannot control, including crime rates and sentencing patterns in various jurisdictions and accept

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My Blog InCaseofInnocence

September 28, 2012 300

EXONERATED on death row.

Today, Damon Thibodeaux, who has been on death row in Louisiana since October 1997, was exonerated of the murder and rape of his 14-year old step-cousin, Crystal Champagne, making him the 300th person to be exonerated by DNA evidence in the United States, and the 18th to have served time on death row.

In recognition of this historic milestone, please invite your friends and family to join us in working for wrongful conviction reform! While we are grateful for the cooperation we received from District Attorney Paul Connick, Jr. in working with Damon’s legal team to prove his innocence, there is no question that Damon, like the other 299 DNA exonerees,

suffered terribly because of the faults in the criminal justice system.

The 300 DNA exonerees served a combined total 4,013 years in prison. In nearly half of the cases, the true…

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Free Benjamine Spencer! (A Judge ruled he is innocent 3 years ago but he is still in prison.) | Free Benjamine Spencer! (A Judge ruled he is innocent 3 years ago but he is still in prison.) | Scoop.it

After reviewing his case by reading the court documents, visiting the crime scene, interviewing his alibi and conferring with Mr. Spencer’s…

Mr. Spencer has spent just over half his life locked up for a crime he swears he did not commit. Spencer was arrested in March 1987 for the robbery and killing of Dallas business owner Jeffrey Young. Unlike the many wrongful-conviction cases that have resulted in exonerations, there is no DNA evidence to settle Spencer’s guilt or innocence. In fact, there was no physical evidence against him at all. The only material evidence against Spencer is the testimony of three West Dallas residents who said they saw Spencer dump the victim’s car in their neighborhood the night of the…

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