- Campaign Finance Reform
- Civil Liberties / Surveillance
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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.
Stop Trump Rally - WNY Organizations & IndividualsDear Friend, America is a nation that still struggles to live up to the promise of the words of Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence "that all men are created equal." We are a nation made up of people from all over the globe who have migrated to America with the hope of finding a better life. Despite the ugly past of the dispossessing of native peoples and the brutal enslavement of African people, America is still a land where people of many races live, work, and worship shoulder to shoulder with each other. We have not yet met the lofty ideals of the founding fathers, but we are a nation that has made amazing progress over the years The recent emergence of the leading candidates for the Republican nomination for the Presidency of the United States threatens to stymy the progress of this generation. The wisdom of Solomon teaches us a poignant lesson: "Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs" (NIV, Proverbs 10:12). From day one of his regressive campaign, Mr. Trump has spewed hate-filled rhetoric that has brought nothing but conflict to our nation. Mr. Trump repeatedly insults his opponents and those who differ from his narrow-minded view of the future of America. His race-based insults if the Latino community as it relates to immigration denies the promise held in the words of the Statue of Liberty. His hate-filled rhetoric against Islam denies one of the founding principles of America, which is religious freedom. His links to white supremacy terrorist organizations threatens to reverse the great progress America has made from slavery, Jim Crow to the Civil Rights movement. Having Mr. Trump as the standard bearer for the GOP prevents it from upholding its heritage as the party of Lincoln; reducing it to the party of hatred, division and racism. After a generation of despair due to the decline in the auto, steel and other manufacturing industries, Western New York is currently experiencing an economic renaissance. Along with this resurgence, new visionary leadership has taken on the segregated past of our region in an attempt to bring our community together. Initiatives like the Opportunity Pledge, Racial Roundtable and One Buffalo has ushered in a new era of inclusion, diversity and unity, creating an atmosphere of hope in the region. The last thing we need in this region is a visit from a man who by his own words stands against unity while exploiting old stereotypes and race based bias to fuel his campaign of hate. So we are calling on people of good conscious across this region to say Mr. Trump your campaign, your words and your presence is not welcome in our region. Mr. Trump’s words and his surrogates who spew his rhetoric clearly show where his heart is along with his blurred vision for the future of our nation. We must send a peaceful but powerful message to Mr. Trump and those who support his campaign, that we have fought too hard to tear down the walls of division and we refuse to go back to our painful past. We must send a powerful and peaceful message to those like Chairman Langworthy, Congressman Collins and Mr. Paladino that this campaign of intolerance has no place in our community. So lets us stand together hand in hand reaching across the lines of race, religion, gender, class and sexual orientation to say yes to love. And let us embrace the prophetic words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his vision of the beloved community: “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
Contaminated Water Causes Cancer in Texas Prisons; Officials Ignore Complaints and Avoid Clean-upMark Schwarzer spent five years at Wallace Pack Unit, where he was exposed to high levels of arsenic discovered in the prison water supply. While serving time at Wallace Pack Unit, Mark was diagnosed with skin cancer. He attributes the cancer to his consumption of the arsenic-tainted water in the prison. Soon after, Mr. Schwarzer requested that his blood be tested for arsenic but University of Texas Medical Branch personnel vehemently refused. As a result of their refusal, Mark filed a Step I (I-127) grievance. In September 2015, not long after these events, Mark was involuntarily transferred from Wallace Park Unit, in Navasota, TX to Boyd Unit in Teague, TX. Mr. Schwarzer discovered that his Step I (I-127) grievance had been denied, and he filed a Step II (I-128) grievance at the Boyd Unit. The Unit Grievance Investigator at Boyd, Mr. Mark Fryhoff, has refused to produce a copy of Mr. Schwarzer's Step II grievance, claiming it has mysteriously disappeared. Without this document, these is no evidence at the Boyd Unit that Mark Schwarzer has filed a grievance or requested blood tests. Mark Schwarzer is suffering from arsenic-caused skin cancer, and because of Officer Fryhoff’s either intentional or irresponsible misplacement of the Step II (I-128) grievance, Mark is unlikely to receive the immediate testing and treatment that he is asking for. Losing grievances or failing to produce copies damages the integrity of the entire process. There are numerous incidents of TDCJ prison officials attempting to cover up contaminated water problems at its facilities. Texas prisons promote a pattern of conduct where TDCJ employees, including wardens, corrections officers and classification personnel, use their positions to retaliate against prisoners who file grievances or shed light on injustices and abuse. We must begin to hold these individuals accountable for their abuse of power! Please sign this petition, demanding that Senator Ellis and Senator Whitmire contact the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and mandate an inquiry and investigation into the unethical conduct of Boyd Unit Grievance Officer Mark Fryhoff.
Demand a full investigation on the unjust trial and conviction of Michigan Rev. Edward PinkneyEdward Pinkney is a well-respected minister and community activist who has been imprisoned and sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for allegedly altering five dates on recall petitions in Benton Harbor, Michigan. In response to what Pinkney assessed as a corrupt giveaway of much of Benton Harbor’s public land to the multi-million dollar Whirlpool Corporation, he organized a petition drive to recall the mayor of Benton Harbor. The state of Michigan responded with bogus charges, his arrest and imprisonment. Pinkney is an admired civil rights leader in his home state, having organized the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization in response to the June 16, 2003, murder of 28-year-old African-American Terrance Shurn, who was being pursued by Benton Police. He also co-founded a branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Benton Harbor, Michigan in 2009. Reverend Pinkney and his supporters believe that his conviction is linked to a strategic governmental plan to halt his community activism and impede his efforts against former Benton Harbor mayor James Hightower and Whirlpool Corp. Black activists and radical leaders who stand up for justice are too often treated as criminals rather than heroes, and are ultimately forced into the U.S. criminal justice system. Political prisoner Pinkney has been recently moved to the Marquette Prison in Michigan, far away from his friends, supporters, and Benton Harbor home. He has been placed in conditions dangerous to his health and his telephone privileges have been revoked. As long as Rev. Edward Pinkney remains in prison, his family is left fatherless, and the organizations that he has dedicated his life to stand vulnerable to government dismantlement. Sign this petition to demand justice for Rev. Edward Pinkney! * Call Legislative Corrections Ombudsman Keith Barber to demand an investigation into Rev. Pinkney’s treatment: 517-373-8573. * Call Governor Rick Snyder at 517-373-3400. Tell him you are concerned about Rev. Pinkney’s safety in an environment of harassment, threats, intimidation, and hostility.
Sen. Sanders We Demand YOU Demand an Iowa RecountThe media reports the Iowa Democratic caucuses had the winner declared by coin flips in 6 precincts with Ms. Clinton winning each. The votes should be proportioned between candidates. In Iowa, as in America, we have the right to have our vote counted properly. Demand a recount! Media also reports other possible irregularities. Iowa results were close. Americans are entitled to factual election results in Iowa. Demand a recount! We all remember the hanging chads in the Florida 2000 election fiasco, the resulting Supreme Court decision, a possible stolen election and resulting illegal wars, torture and spying by Pres. Bush. We must start the 2016 presidential primary elections by not repeating the same old mistakes. Demand an impartial recount in Iowa! Using primaries elections to win Democratic and Republican delegates to this summer's conventions must be based upon accurately counted votes and fair elections. As Sanders, Clinton or undecided voters, we demand that the presidential primaries be conducted in a fair, accurate and open process that results in the Democratic nominee winning fairly at this summer's convention. The Iowa caucus results are a stain on democracy. We demand you Sen. Sanders, demand a recount and take the issue to the courts if Iowa officials do not conduct a fair, impartial recount.
Demand adequate treatment and protection for inmate, Keith "Malik" WashingtonKeith "Malik" Washington is an activist and current prisoner of the menacing U.S. criminal justice system. Throughout his sentence, Malik has witnessed and experienced severe environmental neglect and its detrimental effects in Texas state prisons. He has written dozens of letters to legislators and activists revealing the horrendous conditions in TDCJ (Texas Department of Criminal Justice) facilities, including malnutrition, contaminated water and extreme overheating. Retaliation is real! Malik’s efforts, instead of being met with serious investigation and support, have been treated as a threat to Texas legislators and officials. In retaliation to Malik’s efforts to expose the environmental injustices in Texas prisons, he has been transferred to the Coffield Unit, the largest and most gang-present prison in the state of Texas. Malik has deliberately been placed in harm’s way by the TDCJ! According to Malik, there have been multiple threats made against his life from both guards and prisoners and it is very clear that he was transferred to Coffield because the TDCJ is retaliating against him for exposing environmental injustices in the TDCJ system. Malik needs to be protected from threats made from guards and gangs in the Coffield Unit, which the unit’s administration have encouraged. We demand that Malik immediately be placed either in a different unit or in some sort of protective custody. Malik has devoted his life to exposing injustices in prisons across the country through education and activism - even while confined to a prison cell. He has written numerous articles for online prison activist sites. One of his more recent articles is provided below: http://sfbayview.com/2015/07/tdcj-placed-me-in-harms-way-because-i-spoke-out-in-reference-to-the-extreme-heat/keith-malik-washington/ Sign this petition demand Malik’s immediate removal from the Coffield unit or immediate placement into protective custody within the prison!
Don't Let the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Get Away with MurderKeith Cole is a 61-year old black male prisoner whose life is in serious danger. In 2014 Keith Cole, along with 3 other prisoners, filed a federal civil complaint against extreme overheating in TDCJ facilities. The deadly heat lawsuit placed pressure on the Warden of the Wallace Pack Unit - where Keith was housed at the time - and thus made Keith a primary target for retaliation. The trial for the deadly heat lawsuit is set for February 2016. In this light, Keith was recently transferred to the McConnell Unit - one of the most neglected, dilapidated and understaffed prisons in Texas. Keith has a chronic heart condition that requires him to take multiple high-dosage medications daily and as a result, could suffer a heart attack at any time. The McConnell Unit is one of the few Texas prisons without emergency call buttons inside the cells. Keith Cole’s transfer to the neglected McConnell Unit is a deliberate attempt to place him in harm’s way before the upcoming trial in February. We worry that his medication is being withheld as retaliation for his extreme overheating lawsuit against the TDCJ. This lawsuit could change environmental standards affecting all TDCJ prisons, and Keith Cole's presence and testimony is needed to make that happen. Please sign this petition to demand that Keith Cole be immediately transferred to a unit with adequate, humane supervision and be placed in a cell with an emergency-call button!
JUSTICE FOR LAQUAN MCDONALD.On Tuesday November 25, 2015 the video tape recording of the murder of 17 year old Laquan McDonald was released to the public. It is clear from viewing the police video that the police lied about Laquan McDonald's murder. Yet Prosecuting Attorney Anita Alvarez, the Independent Police Review Authority and Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department set on this video for 13 months knowing that a murder had been committed. They violated the law. The Department of Justice the DOJ needs to step up and hold all those who covered up the murder of Laquan McDonald accountable. :Laquan McDonald's murder was a clear violation of his federally protected constitutional rights as a citizen. We demand that the DOJ take action.
No new fossil fuel infrastructure in HonoluluThe rapid development of fossil fuel resources in the western U.S. and Canada has resulted in numerous proposed fossil fuel infrastructure projects through the West Coast. These fossil fuel infrastructure projects pose significant risks to the health and safety of people and their environment, and threaten the livability of their communities. Given that Hawaii has already committed to be 100% renewable by 2045, it makes no sense to build any new fossil fuel infrastructure in your city or state. Given the urgency of the threat posed to your city and to our global environment by fossil fuel dependency, we urge you to act on this issue now by pledging to build no new fossil fuel infrastructure.