Sun City Democratic Club April 2015 Newsletter
Gina's Team Gives Me a Reason to Live....
Gina's Team Education Not Incarcaration
On Thursday, April 2, 2015 the topic will be Prisons for Profit. Gina's Team a group dedicated to education and self-sufficiency for incinerated women and men will bring the facts and truth about the shameful business model of prisons for profit.
The current business model is about creating customers and not reducing recidivism. Returning prisoners and keeping people in prison is the model of for-profit organizations.
The organization was co-founded by Gina's parents, Chris and Diane Panetta, and her prison roommate, Sue Ellen Allen.
Come learn about Gina and what actions we can take to return sanity to the prison system.
Join us at the Sun City Democratic Club in Sun City Arizona at the Fairway Recreation Center on the corner of Del Webb (107th Ave) and Peoria beginning at 6:00 pm for this most interesting talk and discussion.
From Nancee (SCDC member) Sad Truth EXPOSED!
Naïve, that’s what I was. Just plain naïve. I thought prisoners released from Arizona prisons could go on with their lives; that is, if I did think about it at all. But, that is not the case. My education began as a pen pal to two people imprisoned in Maricopa County. I kept in contact with them after their releases. I discovered my assumptions were incorrect. When I saw what they were dealing with, I started talking to other former inmates. This is what I discovered.
When imprisoned, $50 of the money the inmate earns goes into an account and is returned to them upon release. They are given a set of clothing that was donated to the prison and are typically very worn. The inmate has about two minutes to select the garments and is not given the opportunity to try them on. If the inmate has family or friends on the outside, they can bring appropriate clothing to them. If not, they are stuck with what they are given. If no one picks them up, a prison van takes them to a nearby shopping center and drops them off. From there, the person must get to their residence, if they have a place to live. That entails figuring out bus schedules and buying a bus ticket with the prison-issued debit card.
Many people go to state approved half-way houses where they immediately owe the first week’s rent. They are expected to pay from $100 to $150 per week for their room. One released inmate I spoke with arrived at the halfway house on Friday and the next Wednesday was informed that she needed to pay $250 within two days for the first and second week’s rent. Unable to pay, she was kicked out. Frightened and confused, she stayed at a homeless shelter for nearly a week until her parole officer approved her move in with a family member. Fortunately, another ex-prisoner at the shelter helped her orient.
This is not unusual. Others ex-inmates who could not afford housing and did not have family support were at the shelter. I strongly suspect that a number of the homeless population in the Phoenix area are ex-inmates who cannot afford housing. Halfway houses need to be paid for providing housing for former prisoners. However, the system puts a difficult burden on the recently released person. There must be a better way!
This brings me to Fair Housing laws. It is illegal to discriminate due to color, gender, etc., but NOT illegal to discriminate due to a felony. Potential renters with criminal records can legally be denied housing. Many apartment managers are not allowed to rent to felons. So, where can they go? On the streets?
Within 48 hours of release, parolees must check in with their parole officer. Having someone drive them is a great help. If on their own, they must locate the parole officer’s office, learn bus routes and buy a bus ticket out of their rapidly diminishing $50. If they fail to meet with their parole officer within the prescribed time, they are in violation of their parole and could be sent back to prison. Also, parolees are required to pay a $65 parole fee monthly unless living in a halfway house.
Freedom brings great responsibility and stress. Parolees must instantly adjust to an environment entirely different from the one they have lived in for years – sometimes 10 to 20 years for a non-violent crime due to longer sentences being imposed under Truth-in-Sentencing laws. Their prison environment allowed few decisions. Freedom requires a multitude of decisions daily. As one woman described it, “It’s like being shot out of a cannon blindfolded.”
The ex-inmate must get state identification, sign up for ACCESS and food stamps if they are eligible, find AA or NA programs to attend if required and, if appropriate, sign up for Social Security benefits. Thankfully, Arizona provides released inmates a free cell phone with 200 minutes if they are eligible for food stamps. This is critical for job hunting and contact with their parole officer.
Eligibility for food stamps and a free phone: another area of discrimination. One ex-inmate had a 13 year-old drug possession conviction. Because of that conviction, no matter how long ago it occurred, she was ineligible for food stamps and a free phone. Without a phone how can she be notified of the required random drug test, hear from potential employers or contact her parole officer? How does denial of food stamps and a phone help people get their lives in order so they do not reoffend?
“Do the crime. Do the time.” A catchy slogan. Makes sense. So, once the time for the crime is over – oops, I found that the time is never, ever over! In Arizona, once a felon, always a felon. Discrimination against felons is legal in hiring. Job applications can have a box to check asking if the applicant has ever been convicted of a felony. The employer can legally choose not to hire anyone who checks “yes.” An ex-inmate with a master’s degree in project management and a 30 year work history has been unable to get an interview or job since her release. “A felony”, she said, “is a gift that keeps on giving.”
For some jobs security is important. But, does the employer need to know if that employee is washing dishes, flipping burgers or doing landscaping? One parolee told me she was encouraged to plead guilty to a lesser charge rather than appear in court and plead her case. Like many others in Arizona prisons, her crime as related to her previously diagnosed psychiatric problem. She followed the public defender’s advice, unaware of how that plea would affect the rest of her life.
In Arizona those with a felony lose their right to vote. To regain it they must pay all their fines, petition a judge with letters of reference and get court agreement. This is a difficult and expense task. Perhaps when they have “paid their debt to society” by imprisonment that basic right could be reinstated.
Yes, I am now less naïve. I look at the homeless and the prison population differently. I even think of the man who burglarized my home differently. Previously I’d say, “Why doesn’t he get a job?” Now I think, “Maybe he’s a felon who, having done his time, can’t get a job or food stamps or money to pay rent. Maybe this is the only option he sees.” I wish he had not burglarized my home but I don’t know what I would do in such a tough, no-win situation.
Now, aware of all this, what can I do to help rectify a situation detrimental to us all? I start by writing this paper in hopes that others read it, increase their awareness and are stimulated to reach out in ways appropriate for them to help ex-inmates. Readers may choose hands-on or financial approaches, may use their computers to lobby elected officials or work in organizations. Some Phoenix area non-profits work directly with released inmates, such as Gina’s Team and Project Connect. Their volunteers meet inmates upon release and help them with clothing, ID’s, transportation and other necessities in the first week. Some work with the homeless in general. MANA helps homeless veterans. Justa Center focuses on homeless seniors. Don’t forget United Way and The Salvation Army. Readers may research this subject more and inform acquaintances, thereby shining a light on discriminatory laws and practices.
In some ways I am still naïve. I believe people want their fellow humans to be treated fairly. I am hopeful that, together, we can make it happen.
Action Letter from Gina's Team
Dear Gina’s Team,
The message below spells it out this insanity PERFECTLY of prison grown vs. education growth. I urge you to take action and forward this with your friends who share our concerns and those that don't.
If the governor’s office and ADC gave more support to our Gina’s Team programs with funding and the ability to expand to other prisons, we too could make a larger difference in a much less expensive way.
What to do?
1. Easiest and fastest to call the office. You won’t speak to the official, only the AA who answers the phone. They keep a chart on who is PRO prison beds and Con prison beds. Please tell them you are AGAINST more beds and FOR more money for education and for EFFECTIVE prison programs (that are cheaper than beds and more effective). If they ask you for suggestions, give them Gina’s Team and our number.
2. Forward to your friends. Remind them this is a ONE BILLION DOLLAR business with a 60% failure rate. That should not be acceptable in our business world. Gina’s Team’s recidivism rate it 7%. Even if it doubled we’d be ahead of 60%.
3. Talk about it. If you want more info from Gina’s Team, email us and we can send you more stats and easy to read charts. This impacts our children and families, communities and budgets for years to come.
Sue Ellen Allen
Co-Founder & Executive Director
Author, Speaker, Activist
The Slumber Party From Hell, a true story of turning pain into power
"Education, not incarceration, is the cheapest form of crime prevention." - Sue Ellen
See you there Thursday, April 2, 2015
SO BE SURE TO MARK YOUR CALENDARS AND NOT MISS ANY OF THESE!
- April 2nd 6pm PRISONS FOR PROFIT by Gina's Team (FairwayRec.Center) 6pm
- May 7th Spring Fling Dinner More information to follow but 'a little bird' told us the SAME great cook is catering this year as did last year. Well yumm! at Fairway Rec.Center
Spring Fling Invitation!
See you at the Spring Fling Party at the The Sun City Democratic Club’s annual Spring Fling dinner on Thursday, May 7th at 6:00 P.M. at the Fairway Recreation Center on Peoria and 107th Avenues. Dinner will be served at 6:30.
Dinner will be a delicious buffet,of assorted home cooked specialties including pulled pork and chicken wings. Also, served will be side dishes and salads. The buffet also will include offerings for vegetarians. Tickets are $5.00 per person this year. Guests are invited to BYOB.
The SCDC is helping to defray the costs of this buffet as a gift to our membership. We appreciate you! Join us for food and fun.
RSVP to Shirley McAllister at email@example.com or telephone 623-556-6777.
President Obama Fact Checks.....Good Stuff!!
Cronkite News on KAET
Starving for some JUST NEWS? Cronkite Evening News on KAET (Channel 8) is just that. They don't have pundits, just news with lots of reporters all over the state of Arizona. They don't just cover the 'if it bleeds it leads' stories.
You can also get a summary of news in your Email every morning. Their Facebook page is informative as well. Here is the website where you can sign-up for information. http://cronkitenewsonline.com/
Try Cronkite News out of the ASU School of Communications. This bevy of stuents are covering nearly ever REAL news event in the state.
Watch the video below for more information on Cronkite News.
Cronkite News Video
Just Came IN!
This just came in my Email and it is of great interest to those of us in Arizona!
Have a read:
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
So much as been happening at the legislature it is hard to know where to begin. There are approximately twenty “bad” bills still alive in the legislative process. We will list the most egregious ones in this issue. Republican legislative leaders had been pushing hard to adjourn at the end of this week. However, with the slowed progress in floor action the last two days, it now appears the goal for final adjournment is April 9th.
Yesterday Gov. Ducey signed SB1318 the abortion bill that mandates doctors counseling women tell them unproven scientific information that progesterone can reverse the effects of medical abortions. The Center forArizona Policy’s Cathi Herrod must be quite pleased with herself.
The governor vetoed SB1445 that would have kept secret for 60 days the name of police officers involved in shooting. He also vetoed HB2150 a measure that would have lessened animal cruelty standards for livestock and poultry.
Barbara Lubin, Communications Director
This messaging is from the Democratic Caucus.
Not only does the Republican’s new budget jeopardize our state’s economic future by cutting critical funding from K-12 public schools, they continue to push bills that will siphon additional money from public education such as Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESA) and School Tuition Organizations (STO).
Every one of the following bills was introduced by a legislator who voted for the budget:
ESA & STO bills.......Estimated Cost
• HB 2152................. $1.6 million
• HB 2174..................$230,000
• SB 1088.................. $5,200 per student
• SB 1332.................. $50,000
• SB 1434.................. $160,000
These bills together would cost Arizona more than $3 million each year beginning in fiscal year 2017
For messaging throughout the week please check the following sources in addition to the ADP and Barbara Lubin's Facebook pages and Twitter accounts:
Individual Democratic legislators Facebook pages and Twitter accounts but you can access the Democratic caucus messaging at the locations listed below:
Bad Bills Still Alive
Yesterday the Senate defeated two of the worst bills, HB2320 that would have allowed guns in public places and HB2190 the replacement of Common Core. It is believed that Gov. Ducey sent word to the Senate that he did not want either of those bills to reach his desk. No doubt the conservative Republicans will find a way to get even with the governor.
Bad bills still alive include:
Election and Voting Laws
SB1339 makes collection of early ballot by anyone other than the voter’s family a felony. It was retained on today’s House Committee of the Whole calendar and it is anticipated that it will reappear before sine die.
HB2407 tightens the rules for petition signature gathering, making the successful introduction of a ballot initiative more unlikely. It will be debated in the Senate any day now. It passed Senate Committee of the Whole today and the next step is a recorded vote (Third Read).
HB2608 increases the petition requirements for independent or third party (Libertarian) candidates to qualify for the ballot. The Republicans are doing this as they believe Libertarian candidates siphon votes away from Republicans. It is awaiting being Third Read in the Senate.
SB1172 this is an unbelievable bill that would make it a crime for school employees to advocate for passage of school district bond or overrides. Employees can be fined $5,000 for distributing written or electronic materials to influence the outcome of an election or to advocate support for or opposition to pending or proposed legislation. In other words, this bill would criminalize teachers and staff who advocate for school funding or who work to defeat education budget cuts. It is now waiting for Third Read in the House
HB2527 prohibits regulations of “transfer” of firearms between states. It is on the Governor’s desk. Call the governor’s office at (602) 542-4331 only during office hours Monday-Friday 8 a.m. -5 p.m. No messages can be left after hours. Or email him by using this link and tell him to veto HB2527.
SB1291 is one that illustrates the hypocrisy of the conservative Republicans who do not want to follow any federal laws. It would prohibit cities, towns and counties from enacting any ordinance, regulation, tax or rule that is in violation of state firearm preemption laws. It is awaiting debate in Senate Committee of the Whole.
While there are a limited number of moderate Republicans likely to vote against these bills, please contact your legislators even if they hard-liners so they cannot say no one voiced opposition to the bill. They need to feel some push back.
To call your legislators the state switchboard is (602) 926-3559 and the toll free number is 1-800-352-8404.
Senator Tester meets with Copper State Leadership Council
On Friday morning Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) met with the Copper State Leadership Council at the ADP headquarters. Sen. Tester is the chair of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee. He was in the state to fundraise for the DSCC and to assess the 2016 Senate election.
During the question period, Roberto Reveles pointed out that historically the federal government has been instrumental in the economic development of western states and in recent years Republicans have been trying to pass measures to regain control of federal land and reject federal oversight to ensure safe water and air. Sen. Tester said that he sees these same issues in Montana and jokingly noted that before such folks had water and electricity that they were all Democrats.
To learn more about joining the Copper State Leadership Council contact Herschel Fink at (602) 234-6808 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Director of Finance Herschel Fink
Communications Director Barbara Lubin
You can see the members of our leadership at www.azdem.org/about/meet_the_party_leaders/
Staff can be found at www.azdem.org/about/contact/
To view AZ Democratic Party job openings, please visit www.azdem.org/about/jobs/