Topic

prison reform

100 petitions

Update posted 2 days ago

Petition to Rick Snyder, Michael Eagen

66-YEAR-OLD BATTERED WOMAN INCARCERATED FOR DEFENDING HER LIFE!

NANCY SEAMAN ACTED IN SELF-DEFENSE. SHE HAD NO OTHER CHOICE AT THE TIME. HER VERDICT WAS OVERTURNED BY THE STATE COURT IN 2005 AND BY THE FEDERAL COURT IN 2010.  SHE HAS THE SUPPORT OF THREE JUDGES!  WE URGE YOU TO SET HER FREE.   We are petitioning Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to grant clemency for NANCY SEAMAN.  She has been in prison since 2004 and is 66-years-old.   Nancy killed her abusive husband in self-defense when he attacked her because she was leaving him. Her trial judge, Honorable Jack McDonald, overturned her conviction in 2005 because the jury had insufficient evidence. Federal Honorable Judge Bernard Friedman also overturned the verdict in 2010. You can read their letters to Governor Snyder on the Justice Thru Storytelling, Inc. website at www.jtsadvocates.com.    These judges support her clemency. And we do, too!  This three minute video of the Michigan Department of Corrections Psychologist and domestic violence expert Nels Thompson (retired) with Executive Director of Justice Thru Storytelling Kelle Lynn explains why she should be released from prison! Read the attached letter written by Nancy Seaman describing her own journey and advocating for change to Michigan's archaic law...People v Christel.   The jury verdict was overturned by the judge in August 2005 based on the severe limitations of expert testimony in the courtroom because of this law.  Had the expert been able to testify about Nancy Seaman in full to the jury, Judge Jack McDonald said that it's highly probable they would have never charged her with first degree murder and sentenced her to LIFE in prison.                

Justice Thru Storytelling, Inc
1,272 supporters
Update posted 5 days ago

Petition to United States Eastern District Court, United States District Court, United States Supreme Court, United States Department of Health and Human Services, Honorable Judge Robert Cleland

Approve Felix Walls's compassionate release from prison

My father, Felix Walls, is a federal prison inmate serving life on drug conspiracy charges. I’m not proud of some of his life choices. I make no excuses for his actions and neither does he. But he has now served 24 years with good behavior and his health is failing. My family is seeking compassionate release on his behalf. His prosecutor, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. Probation Office have all approved his release plans but a judge must sign off for him to spend his last days at home. He is now 75 years old. He suffers from Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, and arthritis. His Parkinson’s condition has advanced to the point where his ability to function in a correctional facility is greatly diminished. My father has met all the criteria for compassionate release. Compassionate release is a program in which inmates may be eligible for early release due to “particularly extraordinary or compelling circumstances which could not reasonably have been foreseen by the court at the time of sentencing”. Our dad is not a danger to his community or himself. He was involved in drug trafficking in the 1970’s and 1980’s and convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine in and one count of conspiracy to launder money. We’re simply waiting for Judge Robert Cleland of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to approve our Dad’s compassionate release petition. The petition has languished in the court for almost half a year – with no explanation for the delay. Time is running out for our father. Please sign and share this petition calling on the Eastern District Court of Michigan to grant final approval for our father’s compassionate release –before it’s too late.

Phyllis Bell
87,156 supporters
Update posted 2 weeks ago

Petition to Harold Clarke, Director, Virginia Department of Corrections, George Hinkle, Jamilla Burney-Divens, A. David Robinson, Henry J. Ponton Jr., Marie Vargo, Corrections Operations

Making changes for positive relationships for inmates and families

Since the year 2017, Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC)  has taken many steps to prevent incoming contraband being transferred to inmates. Although the precautions taken have helped, many rules have been changed during visitation specifically. We wish to address those issues. Recently, meetings have been held on specific days at many facilities for visitors to voice their concerns with staff. Although our voices are being heard, there hasn't been a large turnout. Some family members live far away from the facilities and weren't able to express their concerns. There are new attempts being made to make visits more family friendly. However,the things that are lacking or being taken away outweigh any good being done. Below are the issues we wish to address in hopes that we can continue to make improvements while allowing safety to be a priority. *Food in the visiting area has no nutritional value, especially for young children and those who have medical conditions such as nut allergies, diabetes, and sodium restrictions. Offenders miss lunch during visiting hours as well which is being replaced with junk food from vending machines. For instance, an addition of a cold food vending machine could provide snacks like yogurt, string cheese, and sandwiches which is also supplemental enough to substitute for a lunchtime meal. DOC could check with their vendors to see what sorts of food could be offered other than candy and soft drinks. *The time it takes to process incoming visitors is longer due to added security and short staffing. Some facilities have introduced the ideas of pagers/buzzers as well as canopies and benches for outside waiting. These options provide no protection from the elements and technology doesn't always work as it should. Extra staff on visiting days could be provided if available, as well as additional indoor seating. *Extra visiting time should be allowed when visiting area isn't crowded. Some facilities are strict about allowing the minimum one hour even when space allows for incoming visitors. *In facilities where body scanners are being used, visitors and inmates should be allowed to the provided restroom in the visiting areas. Visitors are currently sent back to the processing areas to use the restroom and be reprocessed, slowing down processing for incoming visitors. Body scanners are able to pick up on feminine hygiene products and leave little to the imagination when it comes to a visitors anatomy of their body. This is on top of metal detectors,a pat down, and, if necessary, a strip search; after a body scan, this is excessive. Offenders shouldn't have to return to their living areas to use the restroom because they're searched upon entering and exiting the visiting area, nor should their visits be terminated should they need to perform a basic human function such as using the restroom. * Female visitors shouldn't be asked to change their feminine products to one provided by VADOC when menstruating. On top of being embarrassing, it borders discrimination, sexual assault, and a religious rights violation in some cases. *Activities such as coloring, board games, cards, books to read, and tv could be provided to keep children occupied instead of expecting them to sit still, especially very young children. Allowing books for reading could encourage literacy for both offenders and children and allow bonding between the two. *Offenders are no longer allowed to hold babies and small children--a setback that could cause psychological and developmental issues for children and offenders alike as well as hinder their relationship. VADOC supposedly supports and encourages relationships with offenders and their loved ones, but denies them the right to hold their children. *Offenders should be allowed to wear the clothes they wear in their living areas to visitation. The state issued jumpsuits and shoes take away from their dignity as a human. * Facilities could have a special family day as an incentive for good behavior every so often on a day other than a regular visit day.   We understand that contraband is a very real issue plaguing the facilities, but we as visitors and supporters have been stripped of many things because of it. We do, however, strive to see our loved ones do better and be better and become productive members of society, as a majority of them will be returning home. We feel as though Virginia Department of Corrections is hindering offenders’ health and relationships and separating them from the support systems that they need for successful re-entry.  We request that Virginia Department of Corrections review their visitation policies and procedures, and take into consideration the requests and suggestions being made by loved ones and supporters of offenders.

Supporters of the incarcerated, Virginia
339 supporters
Started 2 weeks ago

Petition to Donald J. Trump

Does prison need change?

Does Prison Need Change? It took my coming to Prision to find out that I needed to change. I soon found that Prision is not the ideal place to make positive change, but it did provide an opportunity for those willing to do the hard work and without the distractions of real-world life.My name is Ricardo and this is my history.It started in earnest at age 11 when my dad, brother and I moved to America to find a better life for our family.We were all very excited about the immense opportunities that laid ahead although I didn't quit know what the move would mean at the time. We left my mom in Guayaquil, Ecuador until we could set up a home to start our new life. For that we stayed with my grandmother in New Jersey. The only English i had learn in anticipation of coming to America was my number and some greetings. I knew there were going to be changes, but what I was not prepared for was the cultural differences.In Ecuador dad was the worker and provider, and my mother took care of us kids and the house. We were to mind our parents, go to school, and play sports. Arriving at our Grandmother's house she wasted no time in giving us household duties. Cleaning the house, doing dishes, and then the cooking lessons started so I could make my own breakfast. I started crying for my mama. Grandmother stayed on the teaching schedule and soon I adapted. In no time I was taking care of myself and ready for more. I hardly remember learning English. In just a few short months I was confident in almost any conversation.After 18 months my dad had found a better paying job in Charlotte, North Carolina, and we just picked up and moved.We all had our responsibilities. We shared the work and saved everywhere we could in an effort to bring my mother from Ecuador.It was hard, but we knew we were lucky to have made the move to America and that there were responsibilities to go with it. I had made friends easily, excelled in my school studies, and I loved playing all sports. My track coach had encouraged me to take track all year around. I gave up soccer and concentrated on track, making all-conference all four years of cross country.I also completed three years of JROTC. I joined and was impressed with the Monroe Police Department's Explorer Program. I was also considering joining the military.I distinctly remember how proud I was when my brother Joao and I officially became American Citizens. Soon I landed a job at a bank after I graduated high school. This was the ultimate for me at age 21. I thought life could not get any better. But when my life seemed perfect in every way something went terribly wrong. I took and unexpected turn that I still can not explain. I stole bank money. I didn't have a plan or even try to get by with it. I was made to pay it back and was fired from my job. Instead of learning my lesson I went out and robbed two more banks, before being arrested and incarcerated where I remain to this day.Being incarcerated, the real life consequences started to seep into my psyche. The seriousness of what I did to others and myself began to mount. The extent of the harm I had caused i was being laid out for me. I had traumatized the victims of my crime. I dissapointed my family and friends and with the reality of what I did my future became an unsolved riddle.There was no way to rewind the tape. I pled guilty and was sentenced to 34 years in prison. No way to undo the harm.No way to fix what I had broke. As I become more aware of my Prision surroundings i realized I would have to work very hard to get it right, and that would mean finding some discipline or I would be pulled down by the system. I knew there was no legal way of reconciling my situation. If I could do nothing to help anyone else, all that was left was to work on myself. I didn't have to search far to find a void my life. I realized I had been running a lot of laps, but was not going anyplace real. I had to start with my own well being. The answer I needed was right there in the jail-house Bible Study Group. I found that it was God that was the missing element in my life. The guidance and structure of the Gospel give me the balance I needed to make my life whole and meaningful with a new understanding that I can be forgiven no matter how bad my crime. I could then find direction on where I needed to go from there. I found my Christian studies inexhaustible in developing and maintaining my moral compass.It's been a decade since my criminal acts and my existence in Prision has not gotten easier. I worked heard to keep my physical, mental, and spiritual balance maintained. I have also taken all the Prision programs, but have found them lacking.I worked up to all the best Prision jobs, and still love playing all the sports. I am a soccer commissioner, and still run the track. I volunteer with different ministries with any time I might have left on my schedule.But I still have this insatiable appetite for something more because we need so much more and I recognized prision could be so much more, "If Only." If only prisoners were given real incentives and offered real programs. If we had more nurturing programs in a more positive environment where we could progress, and calibrate our accomplishments, where we could see ourselves make the change. And especially programs that would give us hope for a second chance. A chance to earn our rightful place back into our communities.The debate for these very changes have been going on for several years. The studies have shown them effective in helping thousands more just like me. The good news is that legislators are now proposing the creation of a Prision environment that would do exactly this. Then when those of us that lose our way make mistakes and go to Prision, we can have a real correctional system to make positive change and in a much more reasonable time frame. Real and positive change will continue in to evolve in the communities and would be a tremendous savings to tax payers. This is my hope and my prayers.Ricardo Arellano, 23305-058, 2018

Ricardo Arellano
236 supporters