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Summer Heat Serves Texas Prisoners an Early Death SentenceIn the recent summer months, an unreleased number of heat-related deaths have taken place throughout Texas state prisons. With internal temperatures reportedly reaching up to 140 degrees on some days and only 30 of the 109 Texas state prisons having facility-wide air-conditioning, a number of incarcerated men and women have died by means of heat stroke, asthma attacks, extreme dehydration, and various other heat-related illnesses. “Prisoners look upon the summer months in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) with dread and trepidation. For one is acutely aware that one may not survive another summer. Many do not.” -- Benny Hernandez, Price Daniel Unit, Dallas, Texas The Texas Department of Criminal Justice houses more than 146,000 inmates and is currently in the middle of a lawsuit over what many prisoners and prison activists have described as "deadly heat" in its facilities. Instead of making plans to install central-air systems inside of the prisons, TDCJ officials have taken steps to minimize costs and accountability by placing fans in common areas and increasing ice distribution throughout the day. “Prison guards are suffering also. They too are exposed to the deadly extreme heat, which causes tension and conflict between guards and inmates.” -- Keith “Malik” Washington, H. H. Coffield Unit, Tennessee Colony, Texas At the Wallace Pack Unit in Navasota, Texas, prisoners have to choose between drinking water contaminated with dangerous levels of arsenic or becoming dehydrated because of the extreme summer heat. Despite widespread knowledge of the cancer-causing pollutants, prison officials have continued to encourage inmates to drink at least two gallons a day. Those who are aware of the dangerous water situation try their best to drink bottled water only, when available at commissary. “It routinely feels as if one’s sitting in a convection oven being slowly cooked alive.” -- Benny Hernandez, Price Daniel Unit, Dallas, Texas This attitude of reckless indifference exhibited by prison authorities and Texas officials is a violation of basic human rights as well as the 8th constitutional amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. Sign this petition demanding that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice immediately enforce the guidelines of the Texas Prisoners’ Civil Rights Manual by implementing air-conditioning systems throughout all housing units in Texas state prisons and enforcing maximum temperature guidelines. Deadly Heat in U.S. Prisons is Killing Inmates and Spawning Lawsuits: https://theintercept.com/2016/08/24/deadly-heat-in-u-s-prisons-is-killing-inmates-and-spawning-lawsuits/
Prisoners in Namibia Need Water -- And You Can HelpContinuous efforts to cut back on water waste has turned into a political battle over water access in Namibia's Windhoek Central Prison, located near the center of the sub-Saharan desert. In late 2015, experts discovered multiple underground pipe-leaks throughout the prison's water system. About 70% of the water traveling through the prison each day is wasted due to these pipe-leaks. The Windhoek city government is traditionally responsible for paying for water services at the prison. Since the discovery of the underground pipe-leaks, the Windhoek city government has repeatedly asked the Namibian Correctional Service to fix the pipes at Windhoek Central Prison. Namibian prison officials, however, claim that there are no funds to do so. The city government has since limited the amount of water routed to Windhoek Central Prison, and on one occasion, completely shut off the prison's water supply until forced by the municipal court to turn it back on. Still, no resolution or plan of action has been made by city or prison officials. In reality, the only people physically affected by this petty political battle are the 3,500 Namibian prisoners who are in constant fear of waking up to no water. You can help them by signing this petition.
Prove Guccifer LivesThe US Government is attempting to hide and cover up the existence of Guccifer. He is a key player in the Clinton extravaganza and was murdered by them to keep him silent. The FBI is complicit in covering this up as well, to no ones surprise. The main stream media is involved in not reporting the truthful news and exposing that he has been murdered and his importance to the Clinton case, since he is the only reason we know any of it to begin with. We demand Guccifer.
North Carolina Body Cam Law Breaches Trust and Transparency in Local CommunitiesLast month, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed House Bill 972 into law, officially restricting public access to voice and video footage from police dash and body cameras. The new law states that access to police camera footage is to be restricted to local police departments and court officials. According to the law, if anyone outside of that realm wants access to footage of community interactions with law enforcement via dash or body cam (including the families of those affected), they would need to obtain either approval from the local Police Department Chief or a superior court order from a state judge. Among other quirks, the law also includes the implementation of a “Blue Alert” signal, modeled after the commonly used “Amber Alert,” used via smartphone to warn police officers about suspects who have harmed or killed cops. In 2015, the Obama administration provided $20 million to local police departments across the country -- to be used strictly for police dash and body cameras, technologies of accountability requested by the ACLU and Black Lives Matter activists in the wake of protests against police brutality and the killings of Mike Brown, Freddie Gray, Walter Scott and more. In recent months, round-the-clock police surveillance has raised awareness about normalized acts of racial profiling and police brutality in local communities, and has forced law enforcement officers to be responsible with their power and accountable for their actions. The implementation of police body cams is arguably the greatest on-the-ground achievement of anti-police brutality groups like CopWatch and Black Lives Matter activists. The purpose of police body cameras is to create trust and transparency between law enforcement officers and the communities in which they patrol. Citizens feel safer when they know that others are watching, or at least soon will be, if they were to be attacked, abused, or at worst, murdered. Law enforcement officers have relied on and credited the efficiency of body cameras as well, in cases where they were falsely accused of excessive force or police brutality and dash/body cameras proved their innocence. The transparency provided by body cameras has overall helped improve community relations with police officials. North Carolina is not the only state to restrict body cam footage from public access. Florida, Oregon, Illinois, Georgia, South Carolina and a few other states have restrictions on police footage as well. What makes North Carolina’s policy uniquely harsh, however, is its restriction of both video and sound from dash and body cameras, as opposed to other states that ban public access to police video footage but not sound recordings. The law is also novel in that it restricts footage access not just from the public, but also from the families of those affected. The implementation of NC House Bill 972 is a bold act of anti-transparency by North Carolina legislators. NC’s harsh law on dash and body cam access has serious implications and raises questions about why legislators are so adamant about “protecting” law enforcement officers from their own sound and video footage. It can take up to months to be granted a superior court order for the release of police sound and video footage -- leaving time and space for false accusations and possible illegal editing on behalf of officials. The passing of this legislation also raises a critical question in minority communities: If we can no longer rely on police footage as a defense or as evidence of innocence, should we be filming ourselves? We have seen local communities’ reaction to city officials withholding police camera footage, in cities like Charleston, SC and Chicago, IL. Most notably, we remember the killing of 16-year old Laquan McDonald, who was repeatedly shot 16 times while lying on the ground, as revealed by later-released camera footage. Chicago natives and residents protested for days in response to mayor Rahm Emanuel’s deliberate withholding of the video. NC Governor McCrory insists that recordings of police interactions with the community can “mislead and misinform the public...while work[ing] against police officers.” On the other hand, members of local minority communities fear that without the immediate release of these recordings (to their families or otherwise), police officials have the ability to manipulate both their version of the story and any voice/video evidence. At the very least, police footage should be available to the families affected by the incident, and audio recordings should be available for public access, as it is in other anti-transparency states like Florida. North Carolina’s new body cam law is a direct blow to the efforts of BLM activists as well as to the trust of both citizens and police officers who relied on the immediate release of body cam footage to clear their name of media criticism. We must reverse this miscarriage of justice, sooner rather than later, before a domino effect begins to take place in surrounding states. The law goes into effect on October 1st, 2016.
Drop Charges Against Ramsey Orta, Videographer of Eric Garner's Killing by the NYPD.“What I saw that day was [the] NYPD murder my friend. [That's] what inspired me to take the video, because I have past videos of NYPD abusing their power with people I associate with.” --Ramsey Orta On July 17th, 2014, 22-year-old New York native Ramsey Orta recorded a video that shook the nation -- the killing of husband, father and street vendor Eric Garner by plainclothes Staten Island police officer, Daniel Pantaleo. The gruesome phone-recorded video, in which Eric Garner repeatedly pleads “Stop, I can’t breathe” before losing consciousness, went viral in a matter of hours and helped spark the first wave of Black Lives Matter protests in major cities like NYC, Ferguson MO and Baltimore MD. Currently, videographer Ramsey Orta awaits a four year-minimum sentence in Rikers Island for unrelated charges, which he describes as “retribution” and a “set -up” by the New York City Police Department for his involvement with the Eric Garner case. He must turn himself in by October 2016. “Sometimes I regret just not minding my business, because it just put me in a messed-up predicament.” --Ramsey Orta Since the video recording of Eric Garner’s death, Ramsey Orta has been arrested on three separate occasions. The first, for criminal possession of a handgun that he allegedly tried to give a 17-year-old, came a day after Garner’s death was ruled a homicide by the city’s medical examiner. Then, in February of 2015, Orta was arrested in a house raid, along with his girlfriend, brother, elderly mother. Orta was charged with multiple counts of heroin possession and distribution. Most recently, he was accused of selling MDMA to an undercover cop. A lab test later showed that the alleged MDMA was fake and the charges were reduced. Throughout the entire process, Orta has maintained his innocence. Ramsey Orta’s case has gained nation-wide attention as a result of his widely publicized hunger-strike while in Rikers Prison. Ramsey claimed that his prison food contained rat poison, and for a month, refused to eat anything that did not come directly out of his commissary. Prison activists and Black Lives Matter supporters regularly sent food to his commissary and made financial donations that eventually led to his release by bond. “I was in Rikers two separate times, one for 60 days and one for 30 days, I believe. And the 60-day stay was the time that I went on the hunger strike.” --Ramsey Orta Since his release, Ramsey Orta has helped to organize a grassroots nationwide initiative to hold law enforcement accountable for their actions: CopWatch. The CopWatch team has members all over the country from Staten Island to Compton, and their goal is to remain vigilant of law enforcement mistreatment and hold incompetent officers accountable for their abuse of power and authority in vulnerable communities. “I think CopWatch is something good and something people can learn from. It can strengthen communities.” --Ramsey Orta While Eric Garner’s family mourns his tragic death and Ramsey Orta’s family prepares for his lengthy absence, NYPD police officer Daniel Pantaleo, Garner’s killer, gets to keep both his badge and his freedom. Ramsey Orta should not be punished for being a responsible citizen. He is a witness to police lethal force and should be protected under the law, not sentenced. Sign this petition to drop all charges against New York hero Ramsey Orta, who filmed the killing of Eric Garner by NYPD.
"I'll vote for Jill if you will” pledge campaign to elect Jill Stein president.Vast numbers of voters are frustrated and angry! It’s come down to Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump? These are the two most unpopular candidates in the history of presidential elections. Of course, there is an excellent alternative. But understandably voters are afraid of “throwing their vote away”. Here’s the solution: We join together in a person-to-person pledge campaign, the “I’ll vote for Jill if you will” initiative, supporting the presidential bid of Dr. Jill Stein. Together we’ll elect the first female President of the United States, one who will do a great job of putting America back on track. Here’s how . . . Step 1: When you take the “I’ll vote for Jill if you will” personal pledge alone or with a friend, neighbor, relative, you let us know by officially signing the pledge at this site. Step 2: You find two other people who you respect and trust, let them know about Jill Stein if they don’t already, get them to take the “I’ll vote for Jill if you will” pledge, and make sure they let us know by coming here to sign the pledge. Step 3: They likewise will each find two others to take the pledge and come here to add to the growing list of pledge takers. Step 4: When and only when we reach our target of 50 million pledges, we will vote for Jill Stein. Why 50 million? Because 50 million voters will guarantee a victory by plurality for Jill Stein, thus we will all know with absolute certainty we’re not throwing our votes away, that indeed our votes will go toward electing a great president! 50 million may seem like an impossible goal. But it’s all in the math. If one person tells two about this tomorrow, then the following day those two each tell two more, and so on and so on, how many days does it take to get to 50 million? The answer might surprise you. 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 … believe it or not, in ONLY 27 DAYS we will have 67,108,864 pledges! (Go to http://50-million-signatures.us/50-million/do-the-math/) It’s the power of numbers! It’s the power of people! It’s the power of joining together and saying NO MORE LESSER EVIL VOTING! Remember, there’s nothing at risk here. We honor the “I’ll vote for Jill if you will” pledge when we get to our goal. On the other hand, there’s a lot at stake . . . a better America for ourselves and our children! It’s up to you. Take the pledge. Let us know. Then have two others take the pledge. Make sure they let us know too. Sorry, Hillary and Donald. The people will have spoken. We intend to celebrate Dr. Jill Stein as the 45th President of the United States!
Please Pardon Don Siegelman!This petition is more than just one man's freedom. It is about American freedom. If this can happen to one man, it can happen to anyone. 113 former state Attorneys General (Democrats, Republicans, and Independents), the nation's most preeminent law professors, and concerned citizens say this case is erroneous and Don Siegelman never committed a crime. The New York Times, The Washington Post, MSNBC, CBS, Harper's, Time Magazine, The American Trial Lawyers, Huffington Post, and The Guardian have published serious concerns about this conviction. Even Fox Business News sympathized with Don Siegelman. Pace Law Professor Bennett Gershman called Don Siegelman's case "one of the most egregiously bad faith prosecutions by the Justice Department ever.” CBS’ 60 Minutes reported that the prosecution team coached key witness Nick Bailey more than 70 times and offered him a deal to testify against Don Siegelman. Several whistleblowers have come forward disclosing Karl Rove's involvement in railroading Don Siegelman and the unethical use of Republican party affiliates to collaborate and convict Don Siegelman of a crime he never committed. Please join me in asking President Barack Obama to pardon Don Siegelman by signing the petition on RootsAction and sharing this message publicly however you can. By doing so we may one day clarify the law and keep our democracy and freedom intact. Learn More: http://nytimes.com/2007/09/10/opinion/10mon4.html http://washingtonpost.com/opinions/is-it-bribery-or-just-politics/2012/02/09/gIQA4hy34Q_story.html http://nbcnews.com/id/24009777/ns/msnbc-morning_joe/t/verdict-dan-abrams-monday-april http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1668220,00.html http://cbsnews.com/news/did-ex-alabama-governor-get-a-raw-deal http://huffingtonpost.com/bennett-l-gershman/cruel-justice-the-case-of_b_5434216.html http://theguardian.com/world/2012/sep/05/democratic-convention-siegelman-pardon
Demanding Annual Chemical Toxicity Testing in all U.S. Public SchoolsThirty K-12 schools in New Jersey's largest metropolitan city, Newark, have officially been identified as contaminated sites by state and city officials. According to environmental experts, the sites contain high levels of lead, well past federal EPA's chemical release quota for emergency cleanup. In light of recent discoveries of lead-water contamination in Flint, Michigan, Newark officials have established a policy of routine water testing throughout the city. On their first go-around, they discovered that the water in 30 public schools, including 5 charter schools, was contaminated with lead. Since the discovery, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and the school superintendent Christopher Serf have declared 30 public schools in a state of emergency. Each school morning, trucks filled with bottled water conduct drop offs to over 20,000 students, teachers, cafeteria staff and custodial so that they all have access to clean, usable water throughout the day. Lead is a heavy metal that has been federally regulated since the 1970s, once its properties were revealed to cause developmental defects and neurological degeneration. In Newark, New Jersey, 20,000 students in 30 different schools drink it each day. While we commend Newark officials for acting immediately upon discovery, we condemn them for their tardiness and years of neglect towards the health and safety of the children they are responsible for educating and protecting. Water quality experts estimate that Newark water banks have been severely contaminated for up to six years. According to some sources, the water contamination began in 2012, in the aftermath of New Jersey's most disastrous storm, Hurricane Sandy. Others claim that that presence of heavy metals like lead and mercury in Newark's water banks is a part of a larger problem, tracing back to over spills and cross-contamination during a storm in 2010. Newark students and parents are enraged. Having been left in the dark about years of water poisoning, and still, trapped in their current schools through the binds of former superintendent Cami Anderson's One Newark Program, Newark students are in an extremely dangerous and potentially deadly situation that they have no way out of. Most of the affected schools are considered "failing," and are set to close down while the buildings are to be sold to private contractors and incoming charter schools. Four of the affected schools are formerly public turned charter institutions. Three schools have been recently transformed into alternative schools for the misbehaved and special education institutions for the mentally challenged. And still --there is no official plan for cleanup. While bottled-water distribution companies maximize profits, and NJ city and state officials minimize responsibility, it is the students of Newark who bear the burden of years of lead-water poisoning. New Jersey Representative Donald M. Payne Jr. has developed plans to propose a nation-wide bill to Congress -- to create a federal budget for yearly toxicity testing and evaluation in public schools throughout the U.S. The legislation would require schools to test drinking water, including water from faucets used for food preparation, sinks in bathrooms, and water fountains. Testing would be required at least biannually at schools built prior to 1996 and at least annually at schools built in 1996 or after, when regulations were extended to restrict the amount of lead in school faucets. The TEST for Lead Act would also require local education agencies with jurisdiction over the schools to notify parents, the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the state within 48 hours if a level of lead that exceeds a lead-action level, as identified by the EPA, is discovered." - NJ Rep. Donald M. Payne Jr. Although water testing is a long ways from clean-up, and even longer from treatment -- it's a start towards recovery that lies within the means of the existing federal budget. It is imperative that we stand by NJ legislators in their primary initiatives towards health accuracy and ecological justice in Newark and vulnerable cities across the U.S. Sign this petition. Hundreds of thousands of students in Newark, New Jersey, Flint, Michigan, and a host of other cities are counting on you. "I align myself with New Jersey Representative Donald M. Payne Jr. in his proposal of the TEST for Lead Act, which ensures that annual toxicity testing is conducted in public schools, nation wide."
Raise the Qualifications for Prison Guards NationwideBehind prison walls, there are thousands of everyday incidents that convey explicit power-conflicts between prisoners and correction officers, both in state and private prisons. Though these conflicts are, at-large, a result of a conditioned hostile environment, they are also the result of a general lack of education, training, experience, and respect toward the people serving their time in prison. Incidents of violent assault are common. In a Mississippi state prison, a female warden was punched in the face by a male prisoner twice her age and size after she "disrespected, disciplined and made an example of him" in front of other inmates. Rape too, is a prison epidemic that we are too familiar with. At Rikers Prison in New York, a female prisoner was gang raped by two male guards who were responsible for escorting her to the bathroom. Though both correctional officers were fired, neither was charged. What we do not hear about are the hundreds of lives taken each year, both guards and prisoners, as a result of power-conflicts. More often than not, prison guards undergo inadequate C.O. training, have minimal educational attainment, and in many states, are able to jump into the field as early as 18 years old. In addition, not all, but very many prison guards are both physically and psychologically unprepared for the job. In Georgia, educational programs,` in partnership with colleges and universities are being implemented in prisons state-wide. Prisons have allowed these programs, on the condition that courses and scholarship funds are available for the correctional officers as well. Georgia prison officials feared that their officers, mostly high-school educated, would react hostilely to inmates being able to take college courses. In state prisons all over the country, C.O.s make everyday decisions that affect the long-term lives of those imprisoned. Correctional officers need specialized training, with an emphasis on conflict resolution, instead of combat and coercion. They need to be educated to understand the psychological condition of the prisoners they care after. They need to be educated to a point where neither anger nor resentment arises from witnessing an inmate take a beginning level college course. Power-abuse is never acceptable. No human being deserves to be stripped of their identity, humanity, or life due to power-conflicts rooted in lack of education, mental instability and inadequate training and experience. If we are going to use correctional institutions as the primary punishment for those who break the law, we need to invest more into our correctional officers, by raising the C.O. qualifications nation-wide. Sign this petition demanding that state legislators and Department of Corrections Commissioners raise the qualifications for Correctional Officers nationwide. 1. Prison guards should have at least some level of college education. 2. Prison guards should be at least 25 years of age. 3. Prison guards should have yearly background checks and psychological evaluations.
End Legal Slavery in U.S. PrisonsThe 13th Amendment (1865) ordered the abolition of slavery in the United States, except as punishment for a criminal conviction. In other words, federal law permits the use of prisoners and incarcerated persons for free labor by state officials as well as the private sector. From the late 1800s until now, unpaid prison labor has been the pattern, practice, and collective mindset of various states across America. Southern states have taken particular advantage of the wording of the 13th Amendment, and in turn, current resistance movements have risen out of prison-dense states like Texas and Alabama, where units are often compared to plantations. Over the past few weeks, prison activists in Texas and Alabama have organized a series of prison-labor strikes -- where they refuse to work their assigned jobs in protest of unpaid labor compounded with toxic and unsanitary working conditions. The prison-labor strikes have led to prison lockdowns, starvation tactics and brutality by guards. Thus far, three prison units in Alabama and fourteen units in Texas (including a women's unit) have been placed on lockdown in reprisal for a collective work-stoppage. RootsAction stands in solidarity with these prison activists fighting for their human rights, and we urge you to do the same. Prisoners, like all other human beings, should be compensated for their labor, whether with wages or with reduced sentences. Paying prisoners for their labor enables them, not only to better provide for themselves while in prison, but also to pay outstanding bills and unpaid court fees that have accumulated over time (and that may have landed many of them in prison in the first place). Compensating prisoners for their labor through a legitimate "Work Time" system that reduces their sentence grants hardworking prisoners the opportunity to be reviewed early by parole boards and released back into society. This system also relieves state taxpayers, through the simple fact that an earned early release is one less prisoner to pay for. END PRISON SLAVERY NOW Sign this petition to demand that Congress revisit the 13th Amendment and propose a new amendment to the Constitution that abolishes free prison labor and applies the federal minimum wage to all labor in the U.S. and its imperial territories.
Toxic Work Conditions in Texas PrisonsPrisoners within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice are working, unpaid, in the TCI chemical plant without being issued the proper air-ventilated safety masks. In an open letter, TDCJ inmate David Martinez described the entire work area at the Coffield Unit’s Metal Fabrication Plant as having a faulty ventilation system. "It is not fully operational and does not protect prison workers or TCI employees from hazardous and toxic fumes that are put into the atmosphere by numerous projects like welding and painting," writes Martinez. The Metal Fabrication Plant Manager and his staff have devised a “warning system” that TDCJ inmates are very familiar with, Martinez says — a warning system that gives the Metal Fabrication Plant Manager a “heads up” when any kind of inspector or auditor is at the front gate — allowing the prisoners and Texas Correctional Industry employees to shut down all activities deemed illegal and unsafe by the Fire Marshal or any other oversight Agency. The Metal Fabrication Plant is currently devising a plan for expansion, filling an order for 5,000 new storage lockers, Martinez adds, while there are no current plans to fix the plant’s ventilation system, nor to restock masks and safety equipment for the inmates who work there. Many of the chemicals and substances used in the Coffield Unit’s Metal Fabrication Plant, and in many other units and plants throughout Texas, have clear warning labels that they have the potential to cause cancer. Martinez explains that Texas prisoners are being forced to work in a very dangerous environment and to engage in hazardous and illegal practices with no regard for their health or safety. "Many prisoners are afraid to speak out for fear of retaliation," Martinez reports. "Prisoners are threatened with disciplinary action if they [complain, refuse to work or] do not sign Material Safety Data Sheets (which give the 'appearance' that Texas prisoners are being given the proper training and safety equipment) in this very volatile and hazardous atmosphere." David Martinez and thousands of other Texas prisoners need your immediate help and support! Sign this petition to demand that Texas state officials provide immediate relief to the affected prisoners and to facilitate investigation by a body that's not part of the prison administration
Thousands of Georgia Prisoners Are Never Given A Release DateIn the state of Georgia, people who are sentenced to life in prison (25 years or more) are never given a release date. In other words, if a Georgia resident is convicted at the age of twenty, and receives a single life sentence (25 years or more), they are never notified of an official release date and are unaware that they could potentially be free, soonest, at the age of forty-five. Georgia inmates suffer dramatically because of this. The detrimental effects of inmates not knowing when they will be released are numerous, including carelessness, mental illness, excessive pill use, adjustment disorders, depressive nostalgia and violent behavior. In addition, inmates with life sentences have the lowest prison visitation rates due to a loss of family support attributed to indefinite time sentencing. Georgia prisoners and their families are asking for state law to require a set release date during sentencing. Sign this petition to urge Georgia state legislators to create legislation allowing Georgia prison inmates to be given a definite release date, regardless of life sentences.