End Mass Incarceration
Each year, the United Parish Stretching into Justice Ministry Team chooses a theme to expand our shared learning and understanding of a specific important social issue and how it affects our lives as Christians; to focus and unify our congregation and call us into new service projects; and to engage our congregation with new people and service organizations. Currently the Team is developing a church-wide campaign to help end Mass Incarceration.
Upcoming End Mass Incarceration Events
Latest End Mass Incarceration News
Rethinking Incarceration Book Talk
Sunday, February 25 at 5:30pm at Bethel AME Church (40 Walk Hill Street, Jamaica Plain). Hear from the author of Rethinking Incarceration: Advocating for Justice that Restores, Dominique DuBois Gilliard. The talk will explore the history and foundation of mass incarceration, examining the churches' role in its evolution and expansion. We’ll learn how we can pursue justice that restores and reconciles, offering creative solutions and highlighting innovative interventions. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Film Screening and Discussion
Sunday, February 25 at 1:45pm at Temple Sinai (50 Sewall Avenue, Brookline). The documentary Milwaukee 53206 chronicles the lives of those living in the ZIP code that incarcerates the highest percentage of black men in America, up to 62%. Through the intimate stories of three residents, we witness the high toll mass incarceration takes on individuals and families that make up the community. The film not only examines Milwaukee’s ZIP code 53206 but also illuminates the story of people from across the United States who live with the daily effects of mass incarceration. For more information, contact email@example.com.
District Attorney Program
Monday, March 5 at 7pm at First Parish Unitarian Universalist of Arlington (630 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington). The program, “What Does a Good District Attorney Do?”, will explore the topic of district attorneys and their role in the criminal justice system. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about this topic at What a Difference a DA Makes.
Some stories associate St. Valentine with the freeing of prisoners. Maybe the ancient stories are apocryphal, but your opportunity to advance the cause of criminal justice reform is real. And it is easy too! Just go to this website: https://www.votervoice.net/TSNE/campaigns/56497/respond. Enter your name and address and press send. The computer program will automatically identify both your State Representative and your State Senator and send them an e-mail.
Why are we asking for this help after 38 organizations already signed a letter supporting comprehensive criminal justice reform (see the letter HERE)? Right now reform seems bogged down in the Conference Committee that must act before both branches of the legislature can take a final vote. We are being told that legislators want to hear from their constituents – THAT MEANS YOU! – not just from the social justice advocacy groups that signed the letter and also stage rallies and regularly meet with legislators at the State House.
The next couple months are our chance for reform, after extensive work supported by the United Parish in the 2015-2016 and 2017-2018 legislative sessions. We need to stand up for the resolution opposing mass incarceration adopted unanimously by the United Parish All-Parish Meeting in June 2015 (see the resolution HERE). Thanks for making sure your voice is heard.
For more information contact email@example.com.
WHERE DO WE STAND ON MASS INCARCERATION?
In his lengthy State of the Union address, President Trump devoted just one sentence to criminal justice reform. “We will embark on reforming our prisons,” he said, “to help former inmates who have served their time get a second chance.” Is this all there is to say about how the United States has become the world leader in incarceration? We should never cease being startled by the fact that, with only 5% of the world’s population, the U.S. now has 25% of the world’s prisoners – or by the racial disparity that underlies that statistic.
A second chance for persons released from prison – who need jobs and housing --is but one of the goals of criminal justice reformers in Massachusetts. We also recognize that we cannot incarcerate our way out of the opioid epidemic – that treatment is far more effective and much less expensive than incarceration and that our long experiment with drug mandatory minimum sentences has failed. Ditto treatment for mental illness that affects so many inmates. And we learned from the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, MO (birthplace of the Black Lives Matter movement) that government must lift the weight of probation fees and other costs from the backs of poor people who are caught up in the system.
Many of these issues are addressed in the reform bills that were passed by the Massachusetts House and Senate last fall. Now, however, reform seems to be bogging down in the Conference Committee that must resolve the differences in the two bills before a final vote by both branches.
MORE CONSTITUENT OUTCRY IS NEEDED.
Earlier this week members of the United Parish congregation received a legislative alert that asked them to join other social justice groups across the state by sending an automated e-mail message to their legislators. If you did not receive that message please let us know by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have already contacted your State Rep. and State Senator, thank you so much!