RIFuture, I still love you- but…

Y’all might have noticed me not posting so much, as if nothing is going on in the criminal justice realm like the California hearing on Solitary Confinement, or Bloomberg editorializing that companies should Ban the Box (and cited a DOJ report regarding 30% of Americans having a criminal record *Hint, hint, ProJo “Pants On Fire”).  And maybe you noticed I began the post with “Y’all.”

In New Orleans, “Y’all” is proper speech used by teachers, judges, and Fortune 500 companies (the latter I’m just guessing).  And this is my new home, where I’m going to one of America’s top law schools, where (hopefully) they too will learn to deal with my big mouth.  NOLA is the most incarcerated city in the most incarcerated state in the most incarcerated nation in the world, and people down here don’t have the luxury of ignoring this, nor can they ignore racism and corruption.

Last week, five cops were convicted of shooting six people (killing two) on Danziger Bridge.  Their cover-up (trying to frame the victims) and “Katrina Defense” (it was a war zone, shit happens) both dramatically failed… yet this partially filmed shooting still took six years to see a trial.  It was not the attorney general who led the way, but community activists and the families hammering away and telling the story in the face of death threats.  Ultimately five other cops pled guilty and testified against these five, and the FBI proved the challenge of any police department investigating themselves.

But I have books to re-read on rules of procedure and whatnot, so I’ll miss a few things.  I’m researching the disenfranchisement laws, looking at Prison-Based Gerrymandering, marijuana possession, and Ban the Box.  And perhaps some artsy activities might occur on occasion.  Sound familiar?

I’ll be paying attention to Rhode Island too, for obvious reasons, and am still available to a limited degree.  For example, just before Amigo de la Gente Miguel passed, he was bemoaning the City’s ruling that the owner of “So Fresh and So Clean” car wash was having their previously awarded bid denied: the owner’s past criminal record kept the company from washing police cars.  Miguel was going to send me paperwork on it, he wanted to know what we can do, and I wanted to know who was deciding it, and on what policy was this based.  My hope is that this discriminatory decision is in good hands.

I hope to see some of y’all at Direct Action for Rights & Equality’s 25th Anniversary Gala on October 14th.  I’ll be trying to keep up with national criminal justice issues on www.Unprison.com, and will continue to weigh in on the Wyatt For-Profit Prison saga in Central Falls (insiders keep me posted!)

I want to extend special thanks to Matt Jerzyk and Brian Hull for encouraging me to write on RIFuture, and for all the people who found it useful information.  300,000 hits later on this site and I can see people are hungry for diverse points of view.  Stay hungry, my friends.

P.S.  Good luck with your hurricane!

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Bruce Reilly is the Deputy Director of Voice of the Ex-Offender (VOTE) in New Orleans, where he graduated from Tulane Law School. He is a former organizer with Direct Action for Rights & Equality (DARE) in Providence, RI and works with people across the nation on policies related to criminal justice. He is also an artist, poet, director, and playwright, and winner of the 2008 RI State Council of the Arts screenwriting fellowship. Follow his blog at www.unprison.com. #Unprison.

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