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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
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.
Ask United Nations members to fund 4th EstateOVERVIEW Please consider putting your name to this petition. It calls for United Nations members to recognise the Global Journalism Crisis and support rapid expansion of emergency funding. An initial target is 0.7% of global aid spending, amounting to US$1.4 billion. This is equivalent to 14,000 global news positions. BACKGROUND Global aid targets aim for 0.7% of Gross Domestic Product, worldwide. The Journalism Agenda 2025 narrows that target by calling for 0.7% of global aid to go towards globalising the 4th Estate. Why? News media have suffered increasingly severe cutbacks ever since the Pentagon Papers, and Watergate. GLOBALISATION Journalism has fallen far behind globalisation. Evidence for this comes in the form of a war on terror started on misleading information, and a global financial crisis missed completely by news media too busy cheerleading “free” markets. Averting global collapse of social cohesion requires strong, independent journalism not tied to corporate and/or political interests. INDUSTRY TARGET Longer term, the agenda targets the communications industry to share 0.7% of their own communication spending, to go towards independent, investigative journalism. Ethics-based, solutions-focused and forward thinking, JA2025 applies multiple layers of crowd-sourced media accountability systems. Ranging from Facebook likes, Twitter retweets, and LinkedIn thumbs up, JA2025 adds survey or wizard-based responses to each story for complaints, praise, corrections or fresh details. FINE-GRAIN GROUND-TRUTH As an additional layer of accountability, these surveys can then also be compared with existing reputation rankings via social networks, e.g. pwik, opendns, klout, and/or the web of trust. Such an approach enables a finer-grain response to each issue, enabling journalists to build ground-truths into the institutional memory of the 4th Estate. This is an example of JA2025 proposals using open newsroom standards. JA2025 is platform neutral – no proprietary software means we can network with anyone, anywhere, using their tools not ‘ours.’ POLICY EQUITY Creating policy equity with legislators, executives and the judiciary, @jagenda2025 drafts out a 10 year plan to rescue journalism, and rebuild the 4th Estate into a worldwide institution. Journalism aid could include investing a recommended ratio towards a permanent trust fund. To put that in context, the US alone has fired 20,000 journalists since the Global Financial Crisis. There are now just 39,000 journalists left in the United States. The US figures suggest an estimate of 50,000 or more also being sacked, worldwide. WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT Journalism was a public good. No longer functioning as the 4th Estate, journalism cannot hold power to account and protect human rights, anywhere. Newsroom pay rolls began shrinking in 1990, beginning a 25 year decline in journalism jobs. WHY JOURNALISM IS A PUBLIC GOOD A strong, independent press is the globe’s best chance of responding to looming challenges from climate change. Informing the public is the most sacred duty of our local, national, regional and international representatives. There can be no public unless there is public media. Publicly or privately owned, news media are a public service. WHAT IT IS We, the undersigned, petition world authorities to fund independent, investigative journalism. JA2025, the global journalism agenda, calls for at least 0.7% of aid to be quarantined for news media. That slice equals aid funding of US$1.4 billion, representing equivalent spending on 14,000 new journalist positions, about 10% of newsroom jobs lost worldwide since 1975. CHALLENGE A challenge will be issued to NGOs, governments and companies to match this funding. This challenge calls for another 0.7% sliver, of all communications, public relations and other corporate messaging, a further US$3.6 billion in funding for independent, investigative journalism. SOURCES Pew Institute, state of the media US Census figures European Journalism Centre Media Rights Agenda (Africa) Asia-Pacific Association of Press Clubs Media, Arts and Entertainment Alliance (Aus, NZ) Pacific Freedom Forum
Require the DoD to recall & retrieve its military equipment from US police departmentsObama issued an executive order regulating and limiting use of military equipment by US police departments, given local law enforcement from the 1033 program. However, over 400 municipal police departments in the US are still actively using and requesting deep combat equipment such as MRAPs, armor piercing rifles, other deadly military weapons and identity operations equipment. This is out of over 8,000 law enforcement offices registered for surplus equipment. This equipment is recognizable by the American public as military equipment and has been demilitarized in name only. When used by local law enforcement it conveys to the community that police are “ready for war” with them. The police cannot be at war with the community they have a responsibility to protect from problem actors. That is a conflict of interest. It also stands outside the role of local law enforcement, who are a civilian force, not military, in peacetime. During times of national emergency there is deference to the US National Guard. Police do not, and should not, fill in the space of the US military based on their domestic role in using surplus military equipment. Not all surplus equipment given to law enforcement has the same weight or meaning to communities, as specialized heavy combat equipment. Some 1033 equipment is basic military surplus gear, like: boots for extreme cold, office furnishings and protective clothing. Law enforcement should be compelled by the DLA to inform communities & cities, flagging 1033 military equipment application requests for items used in heavy combat missions as a condition of surplus release. Existing 1033 LESO equipment should be reviewed transparently by each community. If the equipment is deemed inappropriate for community policing standards by the public, it should be made available for immediate recall by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) or made unavailable to local police. If the DLA cannot further local communities' ability to regulate the flow of weapons and war grade armory to their police forces, perhaps it is time to end the 1033 program.
Create Truth and Reconciliation Commission for U.S. and NATO WarsTunisia is the latest example of a nation using truth and reconciliation to address past horrors, specifically torture. The United States has not put an end to torture, to lawless imprisonment, to warrantless spying, or to any of the other criminal elements of its aggressive warmaking, which continues ever more free from even the pretense of adherence to law.
Tell United States and All Non-Members to Join the ICCGlobal justice requires global participation. Partial and biased justice damages the cause of establishing the rule of law and the nonviolent settlement of disputes. To succeed, the ICC must include all nations and treat all crimes equally regardless of where committed or by whom. Here is the list of which countries are members: http://bit.ly/1IDMGbe