PO Box 182
Hopewell Jct, NY 12533
Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants
Dearest CURE-NY Friends, As we end another beautiful summer, there are many things to look forward to in the upcoming season. Here at CURE NY, we also have a few changes on the horizon, both with leadership and content. Join us first in congratulating our hard-working Co-President, Cheryl Kates-Benman, Esq. for receiving the Thomas Empowerment Hour Radio Show’s (TEHRS) Humanitarian Award for 2016, along with CURE-NY Advisory Council Member and exoneree, Marty Tankleff. Also help us bid a bittersweet, farewell to Cheryl as she takes on other new ventures, in addition to growing her law firm. She may be stepping down from the rewarding, yet tiresome role helping lead the organization, but she will not be far, as she will remain firmly seated on our Board of Directors.
Be sure to see the return of the ‘His & Hers’ column, now written by CURE-NY’s Board Secretary, Angela Jackson, and her incarcerated husband, Jeff. You will also see photos from the recent picnic hosted by the online support group, Free Our Loved Ones, led by two loving wives of incarcerated men. Both have been integral in bringing this anticipated summer event for its third year.
We will continue to tap into the legal mind of Attorney Cheryl Kates-Benman, and also share what CURE-NY members are doing all over the state to advocate for reform.
In future issues, look for the introduction of CURE across the Nation, where we share stories from our sister chapters, and what work they are doing in this challenging fight for change.
Check out CURE NY’s twitter page which can be found at @curenewyork
Like us on Facebook: curenewyork
We are still working to improve the website, which can be found at http://www.curenewyork.info. Our blog can be found at http://www.curenewyork.wordpress.com where you can stay up to date on current criminal justice issues.
Justice for Samuel Harrell
On a chilly Saturday in April, Cure-NY joined family and friends of Samuel Harrell III, in a vigil to both celebrate his life and not only mourn his death, but fight for real justice for those responsible. Samuel, of Kingston, was killed one year earlier at
Fishkill Correctional Facility by officers who are accused of handcuffing him and shoving him down a flight of stairs. About 250 people joined to call for change, about 2 blocks from the prison. During the event, actors recreated the scene of his death overwhelming his sister with emotion. His father, Samuel Harrell Jr., told the crowd, “We have to keep pressing on; we will get justice”. In addition to CURE-NY, the event was attended by Black Lives Matter activists, as well as the group that organized the event, Beacon Prison Action. We will keep fighting for justice for Samuel, and the many others whose lives have been cut short, while only trying to make it home to their families after their period of incarceration is completed.
His & Hers
This column is co-written by Board Secretary, Angela Jackson and her incarcerated husband . They will explore issues as husband and wife, from the inside and out. This issue will begin the series with one of many challenges faced in everyday living for them both.
Take me with you! There are a lot of things I cannot see from behind these walls. I can’t see what my wife goes through being processed in or out of here. I don’t see her making shopping lists, getting the items, packing it in the car, to take it home and repack it, then carry it in, stand in line, and hope none of it gets rejected. I am glad I had the knowledge to prepare her, and to be considerate and thankful. Nevertheless, I cannot see any of it being done. I ask her for patience while she explains it all to me.
Then there are places and situations you may not think are important, but they are priceless to us. Photos or your typical day is only one example. When people send us photos from outside these walls, we are not just looking at the people; sometimes the most important thing is the background! The cars, the stores, the buildings. You all have a camera in your pocket. When you think of your family member, pull out your phone and start clicking!
Nothing brings me more joy than providing the things to make my husband more comfortable. Anything from a good meal to warm clothes for winter, I try to make sure he is good! Yes, it is a challenge to get a package to him, but I do not always want to tell him how hard it was, so he won’t feel bad.
Now about those pictures! Out here alone, it is hard to take pictures when I’m usually driving. In the moment, it is easy to forget how important those photos are, since where I may be is so insignificant. Once I realized how much he enjoys the streets, the buildings, the scenery…well it has become much more important to capture those shots, to ensure he can close his eyes and imagine the world outside his cell. The best invention, so says my husband, has been the selfie stick! Time to take advantage of mine, and send him some pictures…
Remembering John Mackenzie
All of us at CURE-NY would like to express our sadness and deepest condolences to John MacKenzie’s daughters and family on the loss of their loved one. Although most of us did not know John personally, his name has been forged in mine and CURE-NY’s purpose for many years.
John MacKenzie, at 70 years old served more than 40 years in the New York State prison system and was eligible for parole for the past 16 years. Mr. MacKenzie was a model prisoner with a perfect record. He earned degrees in business administration and the arts. He counseled other incarcerated individuals nearing their own release dates, and, with a $10.000 grant, he created a program to give victims an opportunity to speak directly to other incarcerated individuals about the impact of their crimes.
In the last decision, it was not mentioned that Mr. MacKenzie posed any risk to society, and made only a small reference to the letters supporting his release.
As we move forward in our efforts for criminal justice reform, we will remember the life and legacy of John MacKenzie and his contribution to all of us in the struggle.
Rest in Peace John, you are finally free, and you will not be forgotten.
CURE in the Community: Free Our Loves Ones—Annual Picnic
For the third straight year, wives of men who are incarcerated in NY joined forces and held a huge summer picnic in New York City. This year’s event, at St. Mary’s park in the Bronx, was held the Saturday before Labor Day. Led by Mrs. ‘Kiss’ Brown and Mrs. ‘Dia’ Butts, the team of ladies laid out food, fun, and gifts for the kids. Sixty backpacks filled with school supplies were
given away, and raffles for bus rides to upstate visits and Flikshop credits were held. A fun day was had by all, including brothers, mothers, and even out of state prison wives, in support of the annual event. The candy table was a big hit with the kids, as was the piñata for the adults. The picnic is a chance for the families who have supported each other through our social media group to get together.
We get to see the children growing up, and even chat with a few of the husbands who have returned to their wives. This gives those who still wait the hope to continue, knowing one day their loved one will come home to them. Meanwhile, we are anxious to begin planning FOLO 2017!
HAPPILY NEVER AFTER WORLD PREMIERE
Please join us November 4, 2016 at 7:00 PM for the grand opening of Galleria La Muse; 1115 East Main Street, Suite 230, The Hungerford Building Rochester, NY. The world premiere of co-president Cheryl L. Kates’ movie “Happily Never After” will take place this evening Learn about how the NYS criminal justice system treats victims of domestic violence. Featured in the movie is CURE advisory committee member Michele Lennon. Michelle is in Taconic Correctional Facility serving a sentence of (20-Life) for killing her abuser. Michelle fits a unique exception in the law where because of being a victim of domestic violence she can apply for work release. NYS DOCCS is blocking her release on parole and work release because of the serious nature of the crime. The movie discusses issues such as the failure of the NYS Board of Parole to protect victims in the community, same sex couple issues, and a law enforcement perspective. You don’t want to miss this night. Live performances by Royelle and Rain Christi. There will also be a fashion show featuring Mary Terese Friel Models.
ACTIVISM IN THE COMMUNITY
By CHERYL KATES
Candles for Clemency staged a protest on the lawn of the governor’s home in Mt. Kisko, NY. The group hopes their activism will influence Governor Cuomo in the upcoming year to exercise his discretionary power to grant clemency. A few months ago, corrections released a memo encouraging people to apply for clemency. There was indication the normal bars to clemency weren’t going to be applied (less than 2 years to parole board). This relief is expected around the Christmas holiday. There was an indication inmates were being called that down for review. Stay tuned for more updates!
Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement (CAIC) stages weekly rallies to continue to advocate for solitary confinement reform in the NYC area.
In Other News
Glenn Martin and Victor Pate have been leading efforts in marches to close Riker’s Island. Attorney Audrey Thomas is writing a book about her experiences with Riker’s. An event is being planned April 15, 2017 at York College in Rosedale, NY ( 4 pm).
Excerpt from MICHAEL WINERIP and MICHAEL SCHWIRTZ SEPT. 21, 2016:
On the night three years ago when Kevin Moore’s dreadlocks were ripped out and his ribs and facial bones were broken, a group of New York State corrections officers involved in a confrontation with him said that they were the victims, that Mr. Moore, a 56-year-old inmate, had attacked them.. Mr. Moore spent 17 days in the hospital, according to the indictment. The officers were suspended and eventually resigned, though one officer stayed on the job until last month. All have now been charged in the attack.
SUNY Bans the Box
NEW YORK – The Board of Trustees at the largest comprehensive public university system in the nation voted TODAY to give potential students with criminal histories a chance by moving its criminal history check box off of its current application process. The move comes after the Board of Trustees heard public testimony from formerly incarcerated students and advocates in May, organized by the Education from the Inside Out Coalition (EIO), to explain what barriers “the box” presents for applicants with a criminal justice histories.
Momentum has been building across New York State toward Banning the Box in higher education for years. Most recently, hundreds of students spent the spring rallying to make change at NYU, and SUNY campuses. The ground work was laid for these efforts as far back as 2010 by one of EIO’s leadership members, the Center for Community Alternatives. It was this research, along with an updated EIO and CCA 2015 report called “Boxed Out,” that laid the ground work for the federal guidance encouraging colleges and universities to go Beyond the Box. These new guidelines were announced in May by US Education Secretary John King, and both EIO Co-Founder Vivian Nixon and EIO leadership member Marsha Weissman were invited to the press conference at UCLA’s campus for the reveal. After its release, SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher released a statement commending the move. “I myself, was boxed out of SUNY Old Westbury when I reapplied to college after getting out of prison, and I am so happy
to hear SUNY finally realized that we shouldn’t stop or deter anyone from bettering their life with education,” said Vivian Nixon, EIO’s Co-Founder, and Executive Director for College & Community Fellowship, a non-profit that helps formerly incarcerated women achieve a higher education. “I was able to finish my degree at SUNY Empire where I had completed a few courses prior to incarceration, and thus could return without reapplying. Others aren’t as lucky. I was so proud to represent EIO next to US Secretary of Education John King when he urged U.S. Universities and Colleges to look Beyond the Box back in May, and even prouder that SUNY has listened to our voices, our experiences, and will now give every potential student a chance to transform their lives with education.” The 2015 study conducted by EIO and CCA showed that nearly two-thirds (62.5%) of SUNY applicants who disclose a prior felony conviction never complete their applications, compared to 21% of applicants with no criminal history across all of its 64 campuses. The study attributed the number to a “chilling effect” caused by a fear of stigma, and a set of complicated, and sometimes impossible, set of supplemental requirements once the box was checked. “The research doesn’t lie. There is no empirical evidence that having a criminal history question on an application makes a campus any safer,” said Alan Rosenthal, Advisor on Special Projects for the Center for Community Alternatives, an organization dedicated to ending mass incarceration and mass criminalization. “The bottom-line is that this ‘box’ does nothing but deter qualified applicants in desperate need of a second chance. People who attend college are less likely to have further involvement in the criminal justice system, thus making our communities safer. EIO is proud that SUNY has decided to pave the way for other universities across the country who are still asking this harmful question of its applicants, under the false assumption that it keeps a campus safe.” The Education from the Inside Out Coalition helped write proposed legislation currently in committees of both houses of the New York State Legislature. The Fair Access to Education Bill (S969/A3363) would make it illegal for colleges and universities to ask an applicant whether they have been previously convicted of a criminal offense. EIO is hopeful SUNY’s decision to “move the box” will spur action on the issue and lawmakers will finally pass legislation to ensure every college and university in New York State bans the box in higher education. “Those closest to the problem are closest to the solution, and EIO applauds SUNY for listening to our EIO members’ firsthand experiences with the box,” said Glenn E. Martin, Co-Founder of EIO and President of Just Leadership USA, which aims to cut the prison population in half by 2030. “We can only hope the news encourages lawmakers to pass current proposed legislation in New York State, which will permanently ban the box once and for all. Education is the key to building stronger communities, families, and future leaders in this country; nowhere should a person’s past solely define their self worth or future.
By FLO MARTINEZ
John Stossel, host of Fox Business Network, and columnist for Creators Syndicate, wrote an article for Poughkeepsie Journal on July 5, 2016, entitled, “Ex-offenders deserve a second chance in society”. He writes, “America makes it extra hard for ex-offenders to find work. Some states make it illegal. Illinois bans ex-offenders from more than 118
professions. The Illinois Policy Institute, a free-market group that tries to get these laws tossed out, reports that ex-offenders must give up trying to become a nurse, architect, interior designer, teacher, dietician, buyer of slaughtered livestock, etc. Who cares if a livestock buyer once served time? No one says that crimes these convicts committed don’t matter but punishing them forever doesn’t help. You went to jail, you paid your debt to society. Coming out, how are we going to treat you? Are we going to deny you work that keeps you…out of trouble? Some competing businesses WANT to hire ex-offenders, and when that works out, it is good. It is important to let employers and customers make these calls.” Let’s hope that our New York State politicians start seeing that these laws have to change.
Courtroom News By NINO CAMPOS:
I fought tooth and nail by way of oral argument in the Third Department Appellate Division regarding the statute of limitations for a prisoner to file a Claim or Notice of Intention re: “Wrongful Confinement”. During oral arguments, Chief Judge Karen Peters and all of the sitting Justices agreed with my argument that People vs. Davis (2011) is unconstitutional because it falls contrary to Supreme Court precedent
“Balisok vs. Edwards”, which demands that a prisoner who wishes to file a “Wrongful Confinement” lawsuit must first seek and obtain a reversal of their Tier 3, before filing a 1983 claim. They literally scolded and humiliated the Assistant Attorney General for arguing against my claim, since the “Davis” case states the opposite. The “Davis” Case – which happens to be Third Department precedent -requires a prisoner to file a Wrongful Confinement claim in the Court of Claims BEFORE a Tier 3 Reversal! Ninety days after you’re released from SHU, way before your Article 78 is even decided! My argument won like a Slam Dunk during oral argument, but 3 months later, they denied my appeal (on paper). I guess my case would open up a brand new can of worms and hundreds of cases might have had to be reviewed, or they just refused to reverse their own precedent? Either way, simply put, they have been doing wrongfully confined prisoners dirty since the “Davis” case. In my case, when they realized that Davis was utterly flawed they agreed with my claim…. But, when it came time to pay, they -with cold blood – changed their decision. Before this case, I always thought the Third Department was reasonably fair, because I had never lost a case there … until now: See, Campos Vs. State of New York (Feb. 9, 2016) (Oral Argument-Albany).
Martin Tankleff, a CURE NY Advisory Board Member has had a busy few months.
Over the summer, he sat for the Uniform Bar Exam and is awaiting the results. Hopefully, all goes well and he can become admitted to practice law in New York.
On August 18, Marty was interviewed for Jason Flom’s new podcast that interviews exonerees which will be premiering on October 4.
Then, on August 20, Marty received a Humanitarian Award from Audrey Thomas and the THERS legal group.
On September 14, Marty appeared on the Stephanie O show to speak about the criminal justice system and wrongful convictions. On September 23, Marty was party of a press conference on New York City Hall steps to demand systematic reform to the criminal justice system by passing laws that mandate all interviews and interrogations be electronically recorded. After the press conference, Marty testified before the New York City Council on these issues.
Most recently, he was part of a panel discussion on wrongful convictions at the Brooklyn Bar Association at an American Inn of the Court event. Days after that event, he was part of a two day meeting of the New York Innocence
University, Boston University School of Law, Nassau Community College, Touro Law School, Williams College, and several others. He has appeared on several major television stations and radio shows, such as CBS 48 Hours, American Justice with Bill Kurtis, ABC, WPIX, Channel 55, News 12, NBC, WBAI, WNYC, NY1, and others.
He regularly speaks at colleges, universities, and high schools. He has lectured at the NYPD training academy, he was the keynote speaker at the Nassau County Bar Association, the New York State Defenders Association, and he has spoken at Cardozo Law School, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Georgetown University, Boston University School of Law, Nassau Community College, Touro Law School, Williams College, and several others. He has appeared on several major television stations and radio shows, such as CBS 48 Hours, American Justice with Bill Kurtis, ABC, WPIX, Channel 55, News 12, NBC, WBAI, WNYC, NY1, and others.
The New York Chapter of National CURE
Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants
PO Box 182
Hopewell Junction, NY 12533
We are currently doing our annual membership drive and asking all current members to send in their 2017 dues now. A basic membership is $10. If you are incarcerated, you have the option to send a reduced membership fee of $2-$10, based on your ability to pay. Please send what you are able. Family memberships costs only $20. This ensures that both you and your loved one will get a copy of our newsletter.
We ask that you pledge to send this letter to 20 of your friends to help spread the word about CURE’s commitment to participate in criminal justice issues!
CURE-NY MEMBERSHIP: Individual : $10; Family: $20; (Visa/MC via PayPal, Facility check, money order)
Email:_________________________ _Twitter________ __________________
FaceBook_________________________Family Member Name/#: _______________________________
Incarcerated Member sliding scale $ 2.00-10.00 based on ability to pay (please enclose payment)
CURE NY is a 501(c)(3). Please consider making a tax-deductible donation, ask us how!
Beginning with the first issue of 2017, non members will be removed from our mailing list due to budgetary constraints
Make checks payable to: CURE NY; Box 182, Hopewell Jct, NY 12533