WXXI AM News

prison

Every day, thousands of New York residents stay in jail because they don't have the money for bail. Critics have railed against the system on numerous levels. First, they claim it's classist and racist. Second, they point to abuses that happen in jail. Third, they call for better rehabilitation as opposed to a purely punitive system.

The League of Women Voters is hosting a public forum on the issue, and we preview it with some of their panelists:

npr.org

New York State is planning to expand opportunities for college courses in some state prisons. Governor Andrew Cuomo and Manhattan D-A Cyrus Vance say $7.3 million will provide college-level education and training for  more than 2,500 prisoners across the state.

The money comes from large bank settlements secured by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. 

Among the programs in this region will be classes at the Albion Correctional facility, provided by Medaille College and Five Points Correctional Facility, with services provided by Cornell University.

"When I was in Prison…Restoring Dignity and Justice." That's the theme of the upcoming Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School lecture series. It includes the highly acclaimed film "13th," exploring the history of racial inequality, both in the country at large and in the U.S. prison system. Our guests will include the speakers who will address how to build social movements in a time of polarization, and on the state of LGBT laws (anti-gay laws, as they're often known) in other countries. Our guests:

  • Dr. Marvin McMickle, president of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School
  • Maurice Tomlinson, attorney and LGBTI human rights advocate and a senior policy analyst with the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
  • Daniel Hunter, organizer with Training for Change and author of Building a Movement to End the New Jim Crow

The University at Buffalo has launched an Innocence and Justice Project, devoted to helping inmates who were wrongfully convicted have their convictions reversed. The project brings eight students into contact with the 440 motions from inmates; those inmates might be innocent, or they might have suffered a miscarriage of justice in some way.

We talk about the effort to bring more resources to inmates who don't have the means to fight their convictions. Our guests:

  • Kim Diana Connolly, director of the University at Buffalo School of Law's Advocacy Institute
  • Jon Getz '92, co-director of the University at Buffalo’s Innocence and Justice Project
  • Farina Mendelson '17, third year law student and participant in the University at Buffalo’s Innocence and Justice Project

The Obama Administration announced last week that for the first time in more than 20 years, prison inmates will be able to receive financial aid for college. The "Second Chance Pell" pilot program will enable prisoners to take college courses using Pell Grants paid for by taxpayers. About 12,000 inmates are expected to participate.

The news re-ignites debate over funding for prison to college programs: supporters say the programs reduce recidivism, but opponents say they are a waste of taxpayer money and are unfair to college students who have not committed crimes.

We explore the impact of prison to college programs, including those in the Rochester area. Our guests:

In the United States, more than two million Americans are in prison, and 50 percent of those inmates have children under the age of 18. That means more than 1 in 28 children have a parent in prison, up from 1 in 125 children 25 years ago.

In Ontario County, volunteers have teamed up to help re-connect families through literacy: the Storybook Program offers imprisoned parents the opportunity to record audiocassettes or CDs of themselves reading to their children. The program is the subject of a new documentary called Turn the Page, which has been submitted for the Unite Rochester Challenge. It will be screened at The Little Theatre on February 11.

We discuss the Storybook Program, the documentary, and the prison system in America. Our guests:

  • Linda Moroney, filmmaker and director of Turn the Page
  • Claire Kremer, founder of the Storybook Project

A new book is aiming to expose the American prison system, and it's written by a person who became an unlikely inmate. Jeff Smith was a 20-something rising star in Missouri politics, nearly getting elected to Congress out of nowhere, and then becoming a State Senator. What looked like a minor elections infraction earned him a year in prison, and he decided to write a book about his experience there. It's called Mr. Smith Goes to Prison, and Smith hopes it will lead to changes in how -- and whom -- we incarcerate in America. He's our guest. 

Photographer Trent Bell has created a stunning project called Reflect. It began when a friend of his was convicted of a violent crime and went to prison. Trent decided to shoot portrait photographs of longtime inmates who had committed violent crimes. He asked them to write letters to their younger selves, then he superimposed the portrait picture on top of the letters. Trent joins us to share their stories, their letters, and their lessons. We’ll also talk to Dale Davis, the Executive Director of the NY State Literary Center, who has created projects locally with young people who are incarcerated.

"Dismantling Rochester's Cradle-to-Prison Pipeline"

Jun 13, 2013
www.time.com

Children advocates are coming together Thursday to discuss ways to protect Rochester's youth from a life of crime. 

The Children's Defense Fund of New York and the Children's Agenda are hosting the discussion being held at the Thomas P. Ryan Center on Webster Avenue from 3pm-5pm.