Pastor Johnny Welcomes Parolees Home, and Connects Them with Needed Services

Pastor Johnny LaPenias about to start a weekly meeting with parolees.

On a Tuesday morning, in a barren warehouse across the street from Superior Court, Pastor Johnny is leading a gathering of over 40 parolees in a meeting that is part resource fair, part spiritual revival.  The meeting, called Parole and Community Team, is mandated by parole, and is for every recently released parolee from the state prison system that is returning to Santa Clara County. Drawing little attention, it’s been happening for years with a new group of recently returned former inmates every week, both men and women, and may be the first time anyone has said two profoundly important words to them “welcome home.” Continue reading

ACJP Organizer Blanca Bosquez Explains Coerced Pleas on Gene Burn’s KGO Radio Show

Blanca Bosquez

ACJP organizer Blanca Bosquez was on widely listened to 810 KGO’s Gene Burn’s Show on Friday August 19th regarding the criminal justice system. Click here and listen to Blanca respond to Burn’s statement that he would, “Never take a plea if he didn’t commit the crime.” Blanca changes Burn’s position after explaining the coercive nature of the justice system, that there are innocent people that take pleas because of the time that have been incarcerated, and the threat of excessively long sentences. She also speaks to the injustices she witnessed with her own son’s case, who was falsely charged with a crime and coerced during police interrogation as a juvenile. Listen to Blanca break it down from the 33 minute mark to the 38 minute mark. By the end of the conversation, Burn’s says such travesties in the law are “frightening”and that we all “need to be vigilant, since people are so mistreated.” Great job Blanca!

CBS News: Feds crack down on police brutality nationwide

In what appears to be an exception to the rule for this administration, Obama’s Department of Justice is apparently aggressively pursuing what by any reasonable standards appears to be an almost unchecked explosion of police brutality in this country.

Apparently sensing the American public’s growing anger and impatience with repeated and well documented cases of police murder and brutality going unprosecuted by local officials, Obama’s Justice Department has been instructed to intervene. The following video and article from CBS News, focuses on the case of James Chasse, who was killed by Portland Police in 2006, as a way to highlight the administration’s new effort.

Now we can only hope that local and state District Attorneys/Attorney Generals– with continued public pressure– will follow the DOJ’s lead and begin to rebuild the public trust by aggressively prosecuting law violating police officers on the local level. — post submission by Aram James. Continue reading

California Prison Overhaul: Justice Best Administered Local

Our friend David Muhammad, now the Chief Probation Officer for Alameda County, shares his vision on why prison reduction is both possible, and can strengthen public safety in the following editorial written for New America Media.

OAKLAND, Calif.–California is on the brink of a massive overhaul of its criminal justice system. The changes could become a model for the United States–or could be a disaster.California is in a budget crisis, and spending on corrections not only drains billions of dollars every year from the state, but yields horrible outcomes. Now the U.S. Supreme Court has ordered the state to end the unconstitutional practice of overcrowding its prisons.

At the same time the state is facing extreme challenges, though, it is being given enormous opportunities.There are more than 140,000 inmates in a prison system designed to hold 80,000. And California has sent another 10,000 or more inmates to be held at facilities in other states.

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Inmates With Mental Health Needs Suffer Even More Severe Hardships in CA Prison System

by Ernest Chavez

A recent Supreme Court decision highlights the “cruel and unusual” conditions of the California prison system. Community organizer Ernest Chavez says inmates with mental health needs, such as Jerome Wilson, illustrate an even deeper systemic problem.

On May 23, 2010, in the landmark decision of Brown v. Plata, the Supreme Court of the United States ordered the release of 37,000 prison inmates in California, arguing that the severe overcrowding in the prison facilities has reached a new height of danger – calling the current conditions of the facilities, “cruel and unusual,” and unconstitutional. In a system where tens of thousands of prison inmates suffer from mental illness and mental health issues, it is especially urgent to consider how these individuals will be impacted by this court order.

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