18 petitions

Started 4 months ago

Petition to Robert Menendez, Cory Booker, Chris Christie, Leonard Lance

Stop Zero-Tolerance Policies in American Schools

A good education is an aspect of our lives that most of us take for granted. Many of us live in communities of privilege, communities where we have the comfort of not having to question the quality of our education. However, schools in inner cities are trapped in a vicious cycle where students not only are deprived of opportunity, they are funneled into lives of incarceration. Are these really the ideals education should be espousing? In a world where we praise equality and believe that everyone should have the chance to improve their lives, challenges to education in poverty-stricken areas remains a prevalent problem that threatens future generations. Rather than providing students the opportunities to improve their lives through education, the school-to-prison pipeline claims thousands of young lives. At the heart of this problem is a draconian justice system perpetrated by zero-tolerance policies. Inner city schools exist in communities where violence is common, a culture perpetuated by schools through the use of traditional systems of power such as the police in order to exert control. While students in wealthier communities are encouraged to pursue the American Dream with a limitless future, students in inner cities are trained to live in toxic environments of oppression and punishment. In an effort to make schools safer, they have instead normalized punitive public policies, diverting the few resources inner city schools have towards strict security measures. These are known as zero-tolerance policies, which fuel the school-to-prison pipeline.   With these policies, students in inner cities face harsh discipline, involving suspensions and expulsions, along with contact with the criminal justice system. Especially at risk are minority students, who face these punishments at a disproportionate rate compared to their white counterparts. This causes a vicious cycle because this causes educators to hold negative assumptions about student populations as a whole, and zero tolerance policies exploit these stereotypes of students as disruptive and unwilling to learn. As students live in this environment where they are increasingly penalized for everything they do, and where strict control is exerted over their lives in school, they become normalized to the system of state surveillance and control, and they are redirected into the criminal justice system instead of being put down the path towards graduation. The incarceration of these students today increases their likelihood of incarceration further down the line, which promotes an ugly cycle of incarceration, poverty, and poor education systems. While students in rich neighborhoods are able to flourish and prosper, students in lower-income areas are left to rot in prisons, with their potentials abandoned and their futures branded as hopeless. This cannot continue. In order for students to be able to effectively learn in inner city schools, they need to be in an environment conducive to learning, not one in which zero tolerance policies control their lives. Thus, zero-tolerance policies must be repealed. Rather than making schools safer, they are doing more harm than good. Evidence is increasingly showing that these policies for extreme discipline are resulting in higher rates of repeat offenses and dropouts. Even the Department of Education is doubting zero-tolerance policies, as one report noted that they cause a greater possibility of misbehavior, and doubted that zero tolerance would have any deterrent effect on students. However, we need to do more. Sign this petition to call on our congressmen and governor to start repealing these disastrous policies that have crippled low-income American areas and ruined thousands of lives.

Ranen Miao
106 supporters
Update posted 5 months ago

Petition to Eric Holcomb, U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, Indiana State House, Indiana State Senate, President of the United States, Indiana Governor

Justice for Christopher Trotter, a Veteran

As a young man, Chris served 4 years in the United States Armed Services only to return home and catch a case for petty theft. Chris was placed in the Indiana Reformatory to do his time. Chris was three months away from being released and was planning for his future. On February 1, 1985 during a shakedown, Chris and others witnessed another inmate being sprayed with mace, beaten with a bat while he is shackled. Inmates were yelling “they are going to kill him” chaos erupting in the prison cell that led to a riot. Although no lives were taken, no plans for a riot prepared, it was not premeditated. These young men were there and witnessed the inmate’s brutal beating first hand and felt for the inmate’s life as well as their own lives and fought back. His involvement in a 1985 prison riot turned his 4-year prison sentence into a 142-year sentence. A LETTER FROM CHRISTOPHER TROTTER: I have a petition for post-conviction relief that has been dormant since 1992. The state public defender withdrew from my case in 1998. Then in 2002, all my legal documents (14-year-old transcripts, dispositions, witness statements, etc.) mysteriously came up missing. There has been no activity on my post-conviction petition since 1998. The state of Indiana will not provide me with another copy of my trial transcripts without charge, and I do not have the financial means to hire an attorney so, in a nutshell, unless I hit the lottery or some compassionate soul takes up my cause for justice and freedom, then I'll die inside this belly of the beast which will give the prison officials a reason to celebrate.   My direct appeal was denied in 1990 (Christopher Trotter vs.the State of Indiana, 559 N.E.2d 585: 1990). The trial was a political lynching, and the sentence of 142 years is outrageous, especially when no one was killed in the riot. I came to prison in 1983 to serve a four 4 year term for petty theft, and I received an additional sentence of 142 years all because I did what I felt in my heart of hearts was morally the right thing to do and that was to come to the defense of a fellow human being who could not defend himself against the savage beating by prison guards while handcuffed and shackled. It’s been 27 years since the riot of Feb 1, 1985, and I've more than taken responsibility for my participation in the incident. How can they justify keeping me locked away all this time when every day they are setting free child molesters, rapists, murderers, drug dealers, etc.? I'm strong but human Peace, Christopher Trotter Chris has not been in any other trouble and has now been incarcerated for 35 years. No one lost their life in this riot, he was only defending life in the spur of a moment and the situation turned bad. Please bring Chris home, it is time for him to see his daughter and grandchildren and be a part of their lives. Chris is now seeking an Executive Clemency

Lucinda Boyd
1,363 supporters
Started 6 months ago

Petition to Andrew Cuomo

Don't Restrict Visits in NYS Prisons!

Governor Cuomo has just proposed to limit visiting at New York State maximum security prisons to 3 days a week instead of the current 7. If passed, this measure will cause suffering and separation for thousands of imprisoned people and their loved ones. PLEASE sign this petition and call Governor Cuomo TODAY at (518) 474-8390 to insist that the Governor retract this proposal. Restricting visits is regressive, counterproductive, and cruel. Family visits are often the only ways people in prison can maintain connections with children, spouses, elderly parents or grandparents, and other family and friends. These ties are crucial for loved ones on the outside, as well as for people to survive their incarceration with their health and well-being intact and to successfully navigate their eventual return home after prison. Evidence has long shown that enhancing family and community connections is not only extremely valuable for people incarcerated and their loved ones, but also increases safety in prisons and improves people’s success after their release. It is already incredibly difficult for family and friends to visit their loved ones in prison in New York. Governor Cuomo’s proposal to limit visiting at maximum security prisons to just the weekends instead of the current policy of visits on any day of the week will both restrict the ability for people to visit and impose unnecessary burdens on weekend visit days. Under the current seven day system, already visitors often wait two to three hours to see their loved ones - typically after traveling for hours. With reduced days, the wait will be longer, the visitor rooms more crowded, and the visiting days and hours even more limited. This will be terrible for everyone and impossible for many visitors. While in other contexts the Governor claims to want to support compassionate policies and reduce mass incarceration, his visit reduction proposal will seriously escalate suffering and family disruption, as well as have a negative impact on prison safety and people’s success upon release. Governor Cuomo must withdraw this proposal, and instead take steps to further expand access for people to visit their loved ones in prison. You can also write to Governor Cuomo opposing the cutback in visiting hours at NYS max prisons. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo New York State Capitol Albany, NY 12224

Support New Yorkers
5,988 supporters