Indivisible Lambertville/New Hope sponsors talk on the need for prison and criminal justice reform
Lambertville, N.J. – For distribution March 18, 2019 – Imagine you’re on death row for a crime you never committed. That is the plight once faced by those who have been exonerated, and now speak out through Witness to Innocence (WTI). WTI is the nation’s only organization dedicated to helping end the death penalty by giving voice to death row survivors.
WTI presenter, Shujaa Graham, knows the experience all too well. Graham was exonerated from San Quentin’s death row in 1979 and finally released in 1981. He will share his harrowing experience at the Phillip L. Pittore Justice Center, 25 S. Union Street, Lambertville, NJ, on April 7th, from 2:00 to 4:00 pm.
Graham will be joined by Patrick Hall, co-chair of the Greater Trenton Chapter of the Campaign to End the New Jim Crow. Patrick is an advocate for an end to the mass incarceration that is decimating whole communities; the banishment of cruel punishments, particularly solitary confinement; and exposure of the ways that big business exploits prison labor.
“The U.S. has the largest number of prisoners per capita of any country in the world, accounting for 22 percent of the world’s prisoners with just 4.4 percent of the population. Make no mistake: Incarceration is big business in the U.S. Further, the application of justice largely depends on a person’s color and income,” said Shara Durkee, co-lead of the Indivisible Lambertville/New Hope Civil Rights group. “At this event, we hope to shed light on the experience of those who have been accused of crimes – whether falsely or not – and understand how we can help effect change though the organizations working to improve the system.”
In New Jersey and Pennsylvania, there are pressing issues that compel greater awareness about the experiences of people accused of crimes, before, during and after adjudication:
In Pennsylvania, if you’re poor, you’re on your own. Pennsylvania is the only state in the nation that fails to provide funding for poor defendants, who comprise over 80% of those accused of crimes in the Commonwealth. For prisoners on death row, lack of an adequate defense has led to reversals of one-third of the convictions. In February, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the ACLU of Pennsylvania filed a friend-of-the court brief, asking the state Supreme Court to hold the state’s capital punishment system in violation of the Pennsylvania constitution.
In NJ, cruel, long-term solitary confinement may be outlawed. The statehouse is considering legislation to end the torturous conditions that pens some 1,500 inmates in isolated, windowless cells for years and even decades. The current aim is to limit this extremely punitive treatment to 15 days and to bar its use on young and older inmates, as well as pregnant women.
The event is free and open to the public. Attendees can preregister at https://indivisiblelnh.com. The two-hour session will include time for Q&A with the speakers, call to action takeaways, and multiple ways to get involved. Community service opportunities are available for students.
Location: Phillip L. Pittore Justice Center, 25 S. Union Street, Lambertville, NJ
Date/Time: Sunday, April 7, 2019 2:00 to 4:00 pm.
Sponsored by the Civil Rights Group of Indivisible Lambertville/New Hope
For more information contact: Shara Durkee, firstname.lastname@example.org