I used to teach second grade at an inner city elementary school in Vallejo, California. I was teaching there when the riots occurred in Los Angeles in response to the initial verdict acquitting four police officers who had beaten Rodney King. That morning, I interrupted the usual routine to invite the students to discuss what was happening. Many of my students, who were mostly of African, Filipino, Mexican, and East Indian descent, told story after story of their own experiences of racism.
Michelle Alexander, a renowned author, civil rights attorney, and prison-reform advocate, delivered this keynote address on May 26 at “Edges of Justice,” an event held by the American Friends Service Committee in San Francisco. Only three days before, on May 23, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered California to greatly reduce its prison population after ruling that the state’s prison system was so overcrowded that it amounted to “cruel and unusual punishment.”
This summer, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed a landmark law reforming the state’s criminal background check system. Aimed at improving acc ess to jobs, housing and other vital services for residents with arrest records, overhauling the Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) has been a target for Massachusetts community activists for over a decade.
The American Friends Service Committee and Beau Hodai (author of the groundbreaking article from In These Times on private prisons & Arizona) met on the lawn of the state house in Phoenix on Monday to hold a press conference calling for an end to for-profit prison influence peddling in Arizona.
Privately operated prisons are increasingly becoming the norm in Arizona. The state currently has eleven prisons operating under contract with for-profit corporations, but a recent escape by three inmates from the Kingman Prison Complex and the resulting murder of an elderly couple in New Mexico have raised questions about the role they play in Arizona.
Approximately 100 people attended a public meeting with the Union County Prosecutor's Office and the Plainfield Police Division last weekend to strengthen relationships and create understanding among immigrants regarding their rights and responsibilities as city residents, officials announced Friday.
AFSC is a Quaker organization devoted to service, development, and peace programs throughout the world. Our work is based on the belief in the worth of every person, and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice. Learn more
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AFSC has offices around the world. To see a complete list see the Where We Work page.