In my book, I talk about the dangers of advocating for reforms that would increase the strength and power of the prison system. At the same time, we have to remember that prison abolition is not going to happen overnight. It’s important not to forget that there are real flesh-and-blood people inside prisons right now suffering from all of the atrocities that prisons heap on them—separation from their loved ones, long sentences for first-time offenses (or no offenses at all—remember that the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 enabled police and prosecutors to arrest and charge spouses and lovers with “conspiracy” for actions as simple as taking a phone message or signing for a package. They didn’t have to be involved in any more capacity than that. One of the women who contributed to my book spent almost eleven years in prison for agreeing to pick up a package for an acquaintance! And her experience is not an anomaly), life-threatening medical neglect, sexual abuse by staff, the list could go on for pages.
The Good Time Bill on the table is an opportunity to *decrease* the size (and hopefully strength) of the prison system while *not* putting in place another another institution that we will have to fight to dismantle down the line.
Support the Good Time Bill!!
Give people in federal prison a chance to come home earlier!!!
Americans inside US federal prisons have had no prospect of early release for decades thanks to the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, which abolished federal parole. Since the early 1980’s federal prisons have become increasingly crowded. No provision has been made to decrease the burden to the federal prison system and the expense to the American taxpayer. Under current rules, no amount of rehabilitation or good behavior will have any substantial effect toward bringing any of the people in the overcrowded and expensive federal system home to be reunited with loved ones and community.
The estimated yearly cost to house one person in the federal system is over $40,000 and lengthy incarcerations are increasingly a drain on the health of the US economy. The Federal Bureau of Prisons is more than forty percent over capacity, and prison overcrowding presents real dangers to prisoners as well as staff. Some facilities are one hundred percent above capacity, and there is no plan to relieve the strain on the system. The vast majority of people held in federal prisons are non-violent low-level drug offenders with very long sentences. Do we want to continue to dump money into an overburdened federal system, or do we want to give people a second chance to be part of our communities?
A bill about to be re-introduced to Congress would reduce the sentences of people in federal prisons by increasing the "good time" credit all federal prisoners receive. This would apply to all federal prisoners except the ones serving life sentences. Re-establishing good time credit would save US tax-payers more than 2 billion dollars per year. Representative Danny Davis of Illinois introduced H.R. 7089 – the Federal Prison Work Incentive Act of 2008 – in the last session of Congress, and it is expected to be introduced again when Congress reconvenes. You can read the full text of the bill or download it as a PDF at http://www.fedcure.org/information/HR7089.shtml.
There is a good chance this bill will pass if it becomes a priority on the congressional agenda. Making this bill a priority for Congress will require a concerted push from all corners of the prison reform, political prisoner support, and progressive social justice communities nationwide.
Thank you for your time and support. Best wishes to you and yours.
WHAT CAN I DO?
Email, Write or Call Your Own Congressional Representative!
Contact your Congress member and tell them to support the Good Time Bill. You can find out who your Congressional Representative is at http://www.house.gov or http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/index.html by typing in your address and zip code. Contact the local (not DC) office. Calling is easy and effective. You will speak to an aide briefly and they will take down your name and your position.
Join the Yahoo group to learn more, share information, help with the campaign. Send an email to:
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