tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN December 27, 2013 2:00pm-4:01pm EST
if you want to buy a gun, whether it's from a licensed dealer or private seller, you should at least have to show you are not a felon or someone legally prohibited from buying one. an overwhelming majority agree with us on the need for universal background checks. congress should restore a ban on military style assault weapons and a 10 round limit for magazines. [applause] the type of assault rifle used in aurora, when paired with high-capacity magazines has one purpose -- to pump out as many bullets as possible as quickly
as possible, to do as much damage using bullets often designed to inflict maximum damage and that's what allowed the gunmen in aurora wrote to shoot 70 people. 70 people, killing 12, in a matter of minutes. weapons designed for the theater of war have no place in a movie theater. the majority of americans realize that. by the way, so did ronald reagan, one of the staunchest defenders of the second amendment who wrote to congress in 1994 urging them -- this is ronald reagan speaking -- urging them to listen to the public and to law enforcement community to support a ban on the further manufacture of military style assault weapons. [applause] finally, congress needs to help rather than hinder law- enforcement as it does its job.
we should get tougher on people who buy guns with the express purpose of turning around and selling them to criminals. we should severely punish anyone who helps them do this. since congress has not confirmed a director of the bureau of alcohol, tobacco, and firearms in six years, they should confirm todd jones who has been acting, and i will be nominating for the post. [applause] and at a time when budget cuts are forcing many communities to reduce their police force, we should put more cops on the job and back on our streets.
>> we are at the hill offices with rebecca shabad. you have covered a number of gun related hearings and events through the year. the president from earlier this year in january, how did the shootings of last december propel the administration and congress into action? >> the fact that a number of children were killed, that was really the breaking point for lawmakers on the hill and the white house to do something about the gun issues in this country. the aurora shooting happened and they wanted to introduce something that would actually try to move the the issue forward. president obama introduced a number of executive orders that day and they are still working on them today. vice president joe biden announced $100 million for mental health services this week. >> you talk about the actions but how receptive was congress to any sort of change? >> they did take newton and thought they had to do it.
a lot of republicans focus on the mental health aspects. the democrats did want to tighten regulations. >> you are talking about the coming together of joe manchin and pat toomey. what were they trying to do? >> they introduced an amendment that would have expanded background checks so that it would be applied to all gun sales including the private market. at the moment, the law says those background checks only applied to federal gun sales. that was really the breaking
point for a lot of lawmakers and it kind of impeded the issue for a lot of the year. >> so congress didn't do anything major in terms of gun legislation for the rest of the year, but what about in localities and states? >> a lot of states didn't ask a number of gun laws. it was an interesting chart in the new york times the other day. a majority of the 100 gun laws enacted across the country were actually loosening gun regulation. there were a number of gun laws that actually tighten them. loosen them iddid
gun laws. >> it was the death knell for a lot of legislators in colorado. we are speaking with rebecca shabad at the hill offices. we want to show you some of our coverage of congressional debate and hearings regarding gun violence. >> thank you for inviting me here today. this is an important conversation for our children, for our community, for democrats and republicans. speaking is difficult, but i need to say something important. violence is a big problem.
>> you testified before the judiciary committee. i assume you are still interested in keeping hands -- guns out of the hands of criminals. nobody is committed more than we are about keeping guns of criminals hands. it's in our best interest. i assume you are as committed in keeping guns out of the hands of criminals. do you agree with should prosecute and punish how they get guns at? >> we have said strawman sales should have been prosecuted for years. there are statutes on the books right now. >> you agree that we should prosecute. >> if someone is doing a strawman sale, they should be prosecuted absolutely. >> you supported mandatory criminal background checks for every sale and every gun show. you said no loopholes for anyone. statistics show that when they
do have a background check, nearly 2 million convicted criminals have tried to buy firearms and they were prevented. let me ask you this. do you feel as you did in 1999, still supporting mandatory background checks at gun shows? yes or no? >> we support the national check system on dealers. we were here when one of your colleagues held a hearing in terms of who would be a dealer and who would be required to have a license. if you did it for profit, yes. >> let's make it easier. we are talking about gun shows. should we have mandatory background checks at gun shows for sales of weapons? >> if you are a dealer, that's already the law. >> that's not my question. i'm not trying to play games. very quickly, if you could answer my question. >> i do not believe the way the
way the law is working now that it does any good to extend the law to private sales between hobbyists and collectors. >> you do not support mandatory background checks at all in the instances of gun shows. >> we do not because fact is the law right now is failing the way it's working. you could have 76,000 people who have been denied under the present law but only 44 were prosecuted. you are letting them go. they are walking the street. >> you said no loopholes anywhere for anyone but now you do not support background checks for all buyers of firearms. >> the check system the way it's working now is a failure. this administration is not prosecuting the people that they catch. they are not even putting the records of those adjudicated
mentally incompetent in the system. assume that if you do not prosecute and they try to buy a gun, even if you catch them and you let them walk away, to assume they will not get a gun -- they are criminals, homicidal maniacs, and they are mentally ill. >> with all due respect, that's not the question i asked. nor did you answer. >> i think it's the answer. i honestly do. >> it's your testimony. >> we presented a model training program for school resource officers that is an enhancement of what they currently undertake and are required. it's 40-60 hours of comprehensive training for the school resource officers.
we have prepared a model training program for personnel. this is one item that catches everyone's attention. why is this part of our recommendations that we have this model training program? first of all, there is the incident in pearl high school in 1997 where an active shooter went into the school and killed two students and wounded others. there was no school resource officer. the assistant principal retrieved his 45 caliber semiautomatic ir arm, return to school, and disarmed the
assailant. that is an example of where the response is critical land that is what saved lives. the key is reducing the response time. if he had been trained, if he had access on his person, he might have saved more lives even in that instance. in one of the findings of the team went through one school that did not have school resource officers and they were already planning to arm school staff for the protection of the kids. whenever the inquiry was made in terms of what kind of training they have, it was clearly insufficient and schools are undergoing that process all across america right now without adequate direction on what a good, model training program is
for armed school personnel. let me emphasize this is not talking about all teachers. teachers should teach. there is personnel with good experience, and interest, and is willing to go through this training, again, 40 to 60 hours that is totally comprehensive, then that is an appropriate resource that a school should be able to utilize. the second recommendation is that we have to adopt in the states need to consider changing the laws so that it allows a firearm to be carried by school personnel when they go through this model training program. we attach as an appendix a model state law to be considered for this purpose in various states. >> pat and i have an agreement. we have worked with senator kirk and schumer. we have an agreement to keep the
mentally ill and insane from getting firearms and harming people. it's extremely important for all of us. we agree we need a commission on mass violence and it will be made up of people with expertise. people who have expertise in guns, mental illness, school safety, and video violence. we have a culture of violence and a whole generation that recently has been desensitized. if you go around and talk to the young people today, it is what it is and we have to find out how we can change and reverse that. we need to protect the legal gun owners like myself and pat who basically cherish the second amendment rights that we have. we have done that also but today is the start of a healthy debate that must end with the senate and house hopefully passing these commonsense measures and the president signing it into law. back home where i come from, we
have common sense and we have gun sense. that's what we are talking about. truly, the events at newton changed us all. it changed our country, our communities, our towns, our hearts and minds. this will not ease the pain of these families who lost their children on that horrible day. nobody here -- not one of us in this great capital of hours with a good conscience could sit by and not try to prevent a day like that from happening again. that's what we are doing. americans on both sides of the debate can and must find common ground. that's what pat and i have been working on. we want to keep them out of the dangerous hands and keep our children safe. this is a bipartisan movement and amendment.
a bipartisan solution is a lasting solution. no one could step by and tried -- not try to prevent this a day from ever happening again. >> let me explain why i'm here today with senator mansion. over the last few months-- let me explain why i'm here today. some things became apparent. it is not something that i sought, but it is inevitable. second, it became apparent that there are a number of gun control proposals that i think actually would infringe on second amendment right and i will tell you categorically that nothing prevents the ownership of guns by any lawful person and i would not support it if it did. there was a danger that we might
end up not accomplishing anything. that's when i started talking with senator mansion, senator kirk thomas and others to see if we might be able to find a place where there is common ground. it rests on the simple proposition that criminals and the dangerously mentally ill should not have guns. i don't know anyone who disagrees with that premise. if we start with the notion that dangerous criminals and dangerously mentally ill should not have weapons, we are in agreement. background checks are not a cure-all. from 1999-2009, 1.8 million guns sales were blocked because they were not qualified to own a gun.
i supported checks in the past and i support them now. they already exist for all handgun purchases. measure will not require recordkeeping by any private citizens. the national law that we have had and pennsylvania's experience has done nothing to restrain the lawful ownership by law-abiding citizens. we hear about background checks leading to an erosion of our second amendment rights and it simply has not happened. we have to make sure that it doesn't. this amendment is a compromise and it includes a number of measures to secure second
amendment rights that they have long sought. the bottom line for me is this. it's expanding background checks to include internet sales and gun shows, can reduce the likelihood of criminals and mentally ill people from getting guns and we can do it in a fashion that does not infringe of the second amendment rights of law-abiding citizens, we should do it. in this amendment, i think we do. >> mr. president, earlier this week, we spoke about legislation to reduce gun violence. i came on the floor of the
senate to urge abandonment to filibuster the proceeding of this. the senate should not have to overcome a filibuster to respond. i've seen the debate on so many issues. if there is ever an issue all 100 of us should vote yes or no, it is here. i was encouraged by a number of senate republicans of they were prepared to debate these matters and will not support this wrongheaded filibuster. even the wall street journal editorialized against this yesterday. "gop gun-control misfire." i don't agree with much of the editorial but i will quote this.
conservatives want to prove this is the way to do it is to debate and vote on the floor. a small minority of republicans are trying to prevent this from even happening. the bill has three parts. none of these threaten second amendment rights. none of them call for gun confiscation or government registry. two of these three have had bipartisan support. with regards to the third proponent, closing loopholes in the current background system. senators mansion and to any -- senator mansion and senator to toomey, they will have a
bipartisan amendment with this component as well. the senior senator from maine, senator collins, and i were able to announce another step towards consensus. we have engaged in discussions with law enforcement and more recently, we have been engaged in discussions and we have agreed to stop illegal trafficking to address substantive concerns while doing what we want to do by providing the tools they need to investigate and prosecute illegal trafficking. senator collins and i are both strong supporters and advocates of second amendment rights for law-abiding americans. it seems absurd that they insist in the filibuster of the bill.
the american people expect us to stand up and face our responsibilities. whether we like having to vote or not, we have an oath of office. >> i had the solemn privilege of meeting with some of the families who lost loved ones in the sandy hook shooting. as a father, i can hardly begin to comprehend the enormous grief that these individuals have suffered losing such a young child, spouse, or mother in an act of what would appear to be senseless violence. burying your child is something that no parent should have to do. the families and friends of the
victims of sandy hook are owed the dignity and respect of a transparent, good-faith effort to address gun violence. i do believe there is a common ground upon which republicans and democrats can come together. the issue of mental health of the gun owner is that common ground for me. along with enforcing current laws that are on the books. if there is one thread that connects the horrific series of gun violence episodes in our country, particularly in recent times, it is the mental illness of the shooter. in every case, the perpetrators
mental illness should have been detected, in some instances, it was but not reported. these individuals should never be allowed access to a gun. this is actually something we can and should do something about. we need to make sure that the mentally ill are getting the help they need -- not guns. as i said, this is something that i believe all of us can agree on. in response to the tragedy at virginia tech in 2007, the senate and congress unanimously passed legislation to bolster background checks. texas has received high marks for their compliance but many states have essentially been
noncompliant and the department of justice has failed to adequately backup implementation of the law. essentially the law we passed in the wake of the virginia tech shooting requiring the reporting of those people who are adjudicatory ill is not working as it should. rather than string along and in -- an ineffective program, i think this is a wonderful opportunity to fix it. we should fix it. >> i'm glad that we are proceeding in this very important legislation. they might be wondering why they are not reporting on any amendments to the pending legislation. the senate voted to proceed to the bill. this followed calls that the senate should debate the bill and that is why i just said i'm
glad we are getting there. there has been very little debate. the president has said that various proposals deserve a vote and on this side of the aisle we do not intend to stand in the way of those votes particularly in the amendments and i hope we are able to vote very soon. last week, senators manchin and toomey unveiled an amendment. they said it would be the one we would first vote on. we have not voted so hopefully we will get to the vote. we have not voted because despite claims from the other side, background checks are not and never have been the sweet spot of gun control debate.
we have not voted because they do not have the votes to pass it. that's the way it appears to me. i think they know it. they do not have the votes even though published reports indicate that vice president biden, the vice president of the senate, they have been calling senators and asking to support the manchin-toomey bill. i do not have the votes for background checks even though the vice president has stated that the opposition to the proposal comes only from "the black helicopter crowd." manchin-toomey would impose new obligations and it would do so even though expanding background
checks would have done nothing to stop newton or other mass shootings. it would do so even though expanding background checks would do nothing to prevent these killings in the future. i often quote the deputy director of the national institute of justice and that institute and that person recently wrote that background checks could work only if they were universal and accompanied by gun registration. most members of the senate oppose gun legislation. they know what has happened historically with gun legislation. members of the senate but more importantly, they do not want to go down that role.
-- road. it claims to strengthen the rights of gun owners. in fact, it does not. the fact is the opposite is true. >> mr. president, we are debating what are the most -- one of the most important bills we have had in front of us in some time. the reason we are debating this is because of what happened in newton, connecticut, december 14. gun violence takes its toll every day in america. we know because we hear about the victims. we are saddened by what happened in boston. we still don't know what the cause was, who was responsible and i just have to say we are stunned. members of the senate, those i
worked with on immigration we respect. it out of it is a moment of great concern in america, addressed by the president. we wait to build a case for those who were responsible. i, for one, and i'm sure they feel the same way, don't want to rush to judgment but the sadness we feel for victims and an open and free america where people stand on the sidelines cheering marathon runners is one that is profound in the senate today. the issue before us is gun safety and it comes because 20 beautiful little first-graders were massacred at their grade school at sandy hook and the
town of newton, connecticut. six teachers literally gave their lives in defense of these children. there is not a parent or grandparent alive who did not identify with that horrible loss. last week i met with a group of parents from sandy hook elementary school. they came in and begged us to do something, to spare future parents and children from this type of massacre. i met with them early in the morning. as they showed me the photographs of their beautiful children who were gone, i commend them for their courage and stepping forward. the question is whether the senate has the courage to step forward. this is not an easy vote
politically. i come from a pretty diverse state. i come from southern illinois, more rural, more gun owners than the great city of chicago. i ran in an area where the gun issues were very volatile and very important to people. i took positions that the gun lobby did not care for. i survived the attacks and eventually was elected to the senate here. this is the first meaningful gun safety legislation that we've taken up since i was elected to this body. we are here because of newton. one of our own, gabrielle giffords, and a town hall
meeting was gunned down, shot point blank in the face. no hearings. no changes. it was just another statistic. but newton touched our hearts. >> the amendment would have expanded background checks for buyers. on the senate floor, they needed 60 voting yes to end debate and bring it to a final vote. it fell six short, 54-46. 48 democrats, four republicans, and two independence. voting against, 48 republicans and five democrats. >> it represented moderation and common sense. that's why 90% of the people supported it. the gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill.
they claim it would create some kind of big brother registry even though the bill did the opposite. it outlawed any registry, plain and simple. but that did not matter. unfortunately, this pattern of spreading untruths served a purpose. that intimidated a lot of senators. i spoke to them over the past few weeks. these senators are all good people. i know all of them were shocked by tragedies like newtown. they come from states where there is a regional difference when it comes to guns. both sides have to listen to each other.
one common argument i heard, no single piece of legislation can stop every act of violence and evil. we learned that two days ago. but if action can save one person, one child, a few hundred, a few thousand, if it could have prevented those people from losing their lives to gun violence in the future, we have an obligation to try. this legislation met that test. too many senators failed theirs.
i've heard some say that blocking this step would be a victory. victory for whom? families don't have a right to weigh in on this issue? we think their emotions and their loss is not relevant to this debate? all in all, this was a pretty shameful time for washington. this effort is not over. i want to make it clear to the american people. we can still bring about changes to reduce gun violence so long as the american people don't give up on them. even without congress, my administration will keep doing everything it can to protect everyone. we are going to do everything we can to protect our children in schools.
we can do more if congress gets its act together. if this congress refuses to listen to the american people and pass common sense gun legislation then the real impact is going to have to come from the voters. to all who supported this legislation, democrats and republicans, responsible gun owners, urban moms, rural hunters, whoever you are you need to let your representatives in congress know that you are disappointed and if they don't act you will remember, election time.
to the wide number of nra households, you need to let your leadership in washington know that they did not represent your views on this. >> what this means is this issue is not going away. people behind me have been hurt physically and emotionally by violence and they will continue working with us. we have not given up. they deserve better. i pledge to everyone that i will try to do everything that i can to fight for meaningful background check legislation. the fight has just begun. it's not going away. i want to call a little out of order and call on joe manchin from west virginia who courageously crafted the legislation, great legislation, dealing with background checks. joe?
>> back with rebecca shabad. >> looking ahead to 2014, you mentioned some of the executive actions the administration has taken. what else are they doing? is there any other legislative effort plan for 2014? >> a lot of lawmakers on the hill think that the issue is dead. in september, we have the navy yard shooting and it reinvigorated the debate for a second. dick durbin, dianne feinstein, the democrats who wanted to bring the debate back to congress after the failed amendment in april. harry reid said he would not seek a vote. right now, the issue is appearing dead. that may allow the white house
to introduce more executive actions if republicans on the hill will not cooperate. >> in terms of the administration, what will we see? >> i'm not quite sure. they did introduce the 100 million dollars for additional mental health services this week but it is too far to tell what they will bring up in the next few months. >> rebecca shabad, thehill.com and on twitter. thanks for being with us on c- span's "year in review." [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] a reminder, connecticut state police are set to release the report on the newtown shooting this afternoon at 3:00 p.m. eastern. when that report is released by police, it is expected to be several thousand pages. we will have that link on our website at www.c-span.org.
a federal judge in new york ruling that the national security agency's program is systematically keeping phone records of all americans. it is lawful, creating a conflict among lower courts and increasing the likelihood the issue will be resolved by the court. judge polly of the u.s. district court for the southern district said, this tool only works because it collects everything. that is coming from the new york court earlier today. also, reaction today from house democratic leader nancy pelosi to tomorrow's deadline, when long-term unemployment benefits expire for over 1.3 million americans. the leader saying, quote -- congress returns from their
christmas recess the week of january 6. you can weigh in with your thoughts. facebook.com/cspan. tomorrow, more talk of the issue of unemployment on "washington journal." sasha abramsky, "the american way of poverty." >> if you are a middle or high school student, c-span student cam video competition wants to know what's the most important issue congress should address next year. make a five to seven minute video. he sure to include c-span programming for your chance to win the prize of $5,000. the deadline is january 20. get well -- more info at studentcam.org. >> we now have secular norms
instead of theological norms that govern our acceptance or rejection of the ways in which a ddess can speakgo to people and what impact that has. you have david qureshi saying he has a special insight into the bible. well, that by itself doesn't seem to be a problem, but when it leads to other elements, the trigger -- that triggers law enforcement's concern and the popular press's concerned, this idea of somebody listening to god and have wearing his followers -- having his followers do things against
national norms, that needs to be policed and controlled. the professor argues that religious persecution in america has been prevalent since the mid-1800's, even a committed by the government that is supposed to protect us from prosecution. sunday night at 9:00. >> next, a look at gender, race, and incarceration, specifically women, who have become the fastest-growing group incarcerated in the u.s. melissa harris parry moderated a panel of incarcerated women's rights advocates, some of whom will have been incarcerated numerous times themselves. this is an hour and a half. [applause] >> thank you. it is a pleasure to be here this evening. i look out and see that plenty are still worried about their grades and seeking extra credit.
thank you to the professor for that lovely introduction. this is part of the larger campus intellectual project to engage with michelle alexander's text, which has gotten an enormous amount of critical praise over the years, that has restarted conversations that activists and scholars have been having often in more siloed spaces. the success of the book has provided more spaces for public discourse around these questions. for me, one of the great challenges of the book as well as of so much activism, particularly within african- american communities around incarceration is the unnamed and almost always unnamed assumption that this is primarily a man's problem, a problem of male bodies being stopped and frisked by police officers instead of assumptions about male gendered
norms associated with black men and notions of violence and the idea that the problems of incarceration and the cost of incarceration are primarily borne by african-american men. part of what we want to do is challenge that by going to the intersection of gender and incarceration, by speaking specifically about how incarceration impacts women. we have assembled a really extraordinary panel and we will try to do as little talking as possible although all the students in my class know that i always say that and then talk for 2.5 hours straight. on our penultimate is susan burton, founder and executive director of a new way of life reentry project. she is a formerly incarcerated person herself who after many years in and out and with a clear understanding of the
challenges of incarceration, started a new way of life. she has been recognized for her successes and her continuing activism including being nominated as a cnn top 10 hero and a community crusader and receiving the citizens activist award from harvard university in 2010, also being a justice fellow and a women's policy institute fellow and a community fellow for the california wellness foundation. also with us is deion heywood , who is one of my favorite people. i am always looking for a reason to have her at the table. she is the executive director of women with a vision, a new orleans-based organization founded in 1991. she is one of my favorite people mostly because of her no- nonsense approach to these fundamental questions. women with a vision does not take on the easy questions when
it comes to incarceration. in 2009, she oversaw the launch of the no justice project. capital n-o. they filed a lawsuit on behalf of trans women who were labeled and arrested under the street based sex workers crimes against nature law here in louisiana. more than 200 years old. they were on the sex offender registry as a result of nothing more than having been sex workers. a settlement with the state of louisiana removed 700 such individuals from the sex offender registry. [applause] of course, for her work, women with a vision was also victimized by fire. that said, she takes on the questions that are not the easy
ones. tina reynolds is a cofounder of women on the rise, telling her story. an organization that seeks to provide a voice for currently and formerly incarcerated women. she is a formerly incarcerated woman herself holding a masters in social work from hunter college. one of the most important projects that she is currently working on is the birthing behind bars project. we recently focused on the problem of women who are undocumented immigrants being shackled in the context of labor and delivery. part of what werth does is recognize that this is standard practice in many localities not only for undocumented immigrants being held for nothing more than the status-based crime of being
so-called illegal because they have crossed a border, but also for domestically incarcerated women. finally, beth ritchie, who has been one of my favorite people for longer than it would be reasonable for us to talk about here. she is director of the institute for research on race and public policy at the university of illinois at chicago. she is an intellectual mentor, one of the people who introduced me to the possibility that in the academy we can both be serious scholars and committed activists. her research projects include a study of factors including rearrest rates for women and young people released from large urban jails and also an examination of public policy and social factors that impact incarceration rates. i teach her book regularly. she is the recipient of the union institute's audrey lord legacy award. the book that i teach is "arrested justice, black women, violence and america's prison nation." please welcome my panelists.
[applause] the way that we have decided to do this is to give each person on the panel who could undoubtedly speak for two and a half hours themselves, three to five minutes. i will hold you accountable for the three to five minutes. mostly because i have a series of questions on a variety of topics around arrest, conviction, incarceration and harder community impact that i -- larger community impact that i hope to get to. i want to simply give you a moment to talk about your work a your scholarship, your activism so that we have a sense of what this broad picture looks like. we will begin here. >> thank you so much. i must include what brought me to my work. 1982, my five-year-old son was
killed accidentally by an lapd police officer. it was during the height of the war on drugs. i drank my grief and pain and soon after, i began to take illegal drugs. for those illegal drugs i was in possession of, i was sent to prison. i was sent to prison not one time, but i was sentenced six individual times. i spent time in prison for possession of a drug. in 1998, i found a place that helped me. the place was in santa monica, a predominantly white neighborhood and when i got there, i got -- i was introduced to recovery and i began to practice recovery. what i noticed is that in that neighborhood people were not sentenced to prison for possession of drugs. i said, what is wrong? what is going on here?
i just saw these two different approaches, same county and the different neighborhoods, other side of the tracks. i left there really glad i was getting help. but really angry that i would be punished, caged, handcuffed, chained six times when recovery was so much more humane and acceptable. i left santa monica, went back to south l.a. and worked and bought a house and began to help other women just like me find a place that they could come back to in their community that had some resources with a safe environment and there began the beginning of a new way of life. today, a new way of life has five homes. we have helped over 700 women
come back into the community. we have reunited more than 150 women with their children. more than that, we began to organize. we looked at how to make policy changes. we recently worked on 82-18 in california. we began to organize nationally a formerly incarcerated and convicted people's movement. we 10 years ago organized all of us or none. five years ago we started a legal department where two lawyers take on all types of discrimination. employment discrimination, housing discrimination, looking at how background check companies rapidly report all types of stuff on people's -- for people who are seeking jobs, seeking employment.
this whole mass incarceration thing is just -- has totally destroyed communities across this country. what do i do? i just work to make a better world. i work to level the playing field. i worked to give opportunity to people, women and men, but primarily women that never get the opportunity to have a better life, to improve their life, to go to college and so forth. i worked to make a better world. thank you. >> hello, everyone. 22 years ago, it was really an idea that came from eight women, all of them who were born and raised in the city of new orleans. we make a joke about how all of
them represent every ward, third ward, ninth ward, seventh ward, six. [laughter] all of them decided with the onset of hiv in the late 80's and early 90's that even though there was a lot of talk about how it was transmitted, no one was talking to anybody in the african-american community. that is where women with the vision was born. for the first 15 years, we did a lot of advocacy on the local level in terms of speaking up around different issues that marginalized communities and at that time, that is when new orleans had 10 housing developments and we worked in and around those areas. but always around hiv and harm reduction and trying to connect to women.
we learn early on that access was the biggest issue. racism was the issue and definitely poverty was an issue. post-katrina, our work shifted because as many of you know, it became equal playing ground for some and what i call the killing field for others. i call it that because i was here and that is what it felt like. what we found post-katrina is all of the worst things seem to have gotten worse. not only have they gotten worse -- there seem to be all these new policies that had been in place before but somehow, someway, the state legislature decided to go in and make the penalties worse. so then our work shifted to, ok, we have been doing it on this level -- it seems like we have to look at laws and policies that not only cycle women in and out of prison but put them in
direct risk for going to prison. for example, our work on the justice campaign was targeting louisiana's crime against nature law, solicitation crime against nature, which was an automatic felony. 20 years. you have to follow all federal guidelines as a registered sex offender. one of the things we found was the majority of women being charged were african-american. as a matter of fact, just in our little parish, 79% of the people on the sex offender registry were african-american women. that didn't look right to us. even though people told us we weren't going to be able to fight it, they had tried this
many times, gay men have tried over and over again -- you are not going to be of the to do it because one, y'all are small. two, y'all are all black and you are from the south. that didn't work for me. the one thing we are all very clear on and that we try to instill in people is that we are born with a power. we have the ability to be free. we should have that. all we do is try to help women find their power. what won was their stories. them having the ability -- we wouldn't have been able to do that if the community wouldn't have stood with us. met with lawyers. we really led how that campaign was going to look and what we wanted the outcome to the. -- to be. i am extremely proud not only for all of us at women with a vision but the community itself. those trans women and women who said, enough is enough. we are not going to take it. we, the small, black women, changed louisiana. one of the most conservative states change that law. it no longer exists and women were taken off the registry and should no longer be placed on.
thank you. [applause] >> i am glad to be here. in 1993, i was arrested for the last time. i haven't gone back since. for a parole violation, but this particular arrest or rearrest was different. i was pregnant. prior to that, i had done my time on the installment plan. i had been arrested 61 times and served up to 4.5 years. i was pretty tired of being sick and tired. however, i wasn't tired and sick and tired for me but because i was pregnant. things became a little bit more overt. as far as the treatment i received within the prison. once i was sentenced, i was shackled and sent to bedford
hills where from riker's island was about an hour and a half away. i was shackled by my ankles with a chain between my ankles and i was also belly shackled and my arms. i had a five-point restraints. i was maybe 4.5 months pregnant and i had to lean over the bar and hold on while the bus took me up to bedford hills. what if -- it was a winter night. i said, what if the boss gets all nice and turns over? -- what if the bus skids on ice and turns over? what happens to me if that happens? would someone protect my baby? i said, if this is happening to me, i wonder how many other women it has happened to. i served my time. i did my time specifically to keep my son. it wasn't for me that i served this time. because i was pregnant i began to open my eyes and look and see how women were treated. there were a lot of other women in the prison during that time that were pregnant as well. we did not receive appropriate food.
we did not -- nutrition, we did not receive appropriate medical care. things started turning for me. the case of my child being taken away from me after i gave birth to him was another issue. where would he go? i gave birth to my son and i was shackled and handcuffed during birth and delivery. that was another scary thing. now i am looking at the safety for my child. where in the books did my son become a co-conspirator to my crime? i said, something has got to change. if this is happening to me than it is happening to other women. i served my time. i was eventually able to keep my son during incarceration. i fought to keep him. he and i walked out of prison. he was nine months old. eight years later, worth came around and we decided to work on our first policy legislation change what was to end shackling
of pregnant women. it was done with an organization in new york and collaboration with incarcerated women sharing their stories about their experience. we are not the experience. we have those experiences. to separate that experience from who we are, we began to share our stories of the practice of being shackled. and the harm that could come to unborn children. in 2009, we ended shackling, the practice of shackling in new york. new york became the seventh state. [applause] so worth's aim is to change mass criminalization. -- two change the public womention of incarcerated as they have been affected by mass criminalization. >> thank you. i am delighted to be here tonight in part, i will tell you my story by naming names. to start with, melissa.
[laughter] deon, tina, who we have known for a long time, susan, who runs an incredible program. i say that because my work, my path to this work has been deeply influenced i women's stories. in some ways, when i hear the three to five minutes, i think this is what our midterm election should have been about, these women leaders changing the world. they represent -- you got the short version of incredible stories of these organizations. make no mistake, these are black women up here. [laughter] right? telling this story. >> hear, hear.-
>> we represent, especially they represent and credible on the ground of black women, black queer communities, black young people who are trying to change the world. in some ways, this would be a very different event at the world were ready for the kind of change that they have been working on the ground for for the past 20, 30 years, i don't know how many mycobacteria i -- i do not know how many. i want to name their names and their organizations. there is insight in the room. there is the new jim crow, but there is also all these people who have done this work for a long time. they try to create change. i try to do work that says the reason that this isn't -- we don't live in a world that celebrates prison abolition, black women's leadership, freedom, opportunities for women to raise their children, places to grieve, opportunity for sexual expression that is fair and just, the reason we don't live in that world is because we live in the world that is a prison nation. the prison nation in the world that says despite all those
attempts to survive, despite those well-articulated strategies for empowerment of black communities and other communities and subsets of black communities, what we have instead is a world, a government that is committed to the politics, the principles, the philosophy of a carceral state. when i talk about a prison nation what i am talking about is the world that has -- a united states government that has more prisoners than any other place in the world. where people spend time further away from their families and communities than in any other place in the world. they spend that time in worse conditions of confinement than any other place in the world. they stay in there longer than
in any other place in the world. we have embraced an ideology that says a prison nation caging people because of their race, because of their age, their sexuality, their gender is an appropriate response to social problems. i didn't say lawbreaking. i said social problems. that is what is filling up. metal health problems, problems related to violence, problems related to poverty, etc. what i try to bring to this work is an understanding that we need to change that world, the world of a prison nation that this government has embraced so that women like these are our leaders, are creating the kinds of communities that i want to live in. that to me is a world that is a prison abolition world. i came to this work because i was working against violence against women. i understand these stories are really about violence against women.
>> absolutely. >> they are about incarceration, police brutality, but they are also about violence against women. particularly violence against black women which is the target of the prison nation. i am humbled to be here. i so appreciate the work that you have done. i look forward to your leadership because you are organizing a world that i want to live in. >> thank you. [applause] >> we will pick up there. i have 493 questions or something. we will get to do four or five of them probably. i want to leave some room for the audience. i want to start where beth ended. the notion of violence against black women. i can't think about much of anything without thinking of it through the lens of "12 years a slave." if you have not yet seen it, you must. there's a lot of discourse publicly about it at this moment, but for me, perhaps one
of the most useful aspects of the film is for the first time in a film that is a major american -- on major american theatrical screens, we see the intersection of violence and race and gender in a way that has not been previously depicted in the horror we see in the context of "12 years a slave." that said, i think it is also possible for those who want to to walk away from the film feeling as though we are now in a sanitized world where at least that doesn't happen anymore. you can see that it is both an entry point into talking about the horror of our national history, but also potentially a moment where we say, at least we have clean that up, at least that no longer happens. i want to invite any or all of you to engage a little bit with me on this question of arrest
and conviction and incarceration, those three aspects, as aspects of the notion of violence against women, particularly marginalized women, black and brown and poor women. >> to be pulled out of your community in chains and put in the back of a car, which is a cage for transportation, and then to be put into another cage to be held there until the court process sanctions you to become a slave again and woken up at 5:00, 4:00, 3:00 in the morning stripped of your clothing,
chained on a chain, brought out in the early morning, put on a bus, driven to some place that you know -- that you have no clue of where you are going and pulled off of that bus, cage, put into another bullpen, cage, stripped again, having to have every piece and part of your body looked at with flashlights and all the rest, and to be pushed out into a sort of compound where you are working for five cents, eight cents, 16 cents, and the executive job is $1 an hour, that is slavery in america. that is what prison is. i haven't seen "12 years a slave."
i didn't want to see it before i got here. [laughter] since you saw it, i had this other experience that is slavery. the 13th amendment says, as long as i'm under the auspices of being convicted of a crime, the crime being possession of a drug that medicated the grief after law enforcement killed my baby and never ever said, i'm sorry, never acknowledged it -- i had to go through a lot of healing to even operate to be here today, forgiving the accident, but then also never acknowledging the fact that this little black boy was killed by a white man with the badge patrolling my community. and never ever said, i'm sorry,
>> based on what susan said about patrolling our communities, because even though susan is in california and tina is in new york, tina and i have had multiple conversations about how our communities are policed in the same way. often when you hear about profiling, normally you hear it about black men, black and brown men, or in the last few years, you may have heard what that looks like for people in the lgbtq community. whenever i think about policing in the same way. often when you hear about profiling, normally you hear it and what that does to our clients and the way they think, that they are conscious of every move they make because everybody knows in new orleans there is a jump-out tuesday -- the police roll up, even even if nothing is going on -- even if nothing is
going on. women with a vision, a lot of times, we work in the community. when we had 10 housing developments, we could be handing out information, doing testing, and it literally, you would get 30-something police cars, semi-automatic, and if you looked like they wanted to stop you, they could. if they want to go through our bags, they could.
we always like to look at things through a public health lens. if we can get the so-called people who run this country to look at things, real public safety, not the one they try to sell people, but real public safety, public health and human rights would be living in a different time, in a different world. what they did was, i will give you a quick example -- we have a client, latina walking down tulane avenue. she was just waiting for the bus. a car pulls up. do you want a ride? no. where are you going? i'm going to the va hospital. when did you serve? she gets in the car. it is an undercover cop. she is charged with a crime against nature. this is what happens when we give people who have a check or are not put in the position to check their own bias and their own issues of racism and we have a quota to fill, so let me get you. when you think about how women
are targeted, it is normally crimes like this. it is so easy. i try not to use the word "prostitute," because i think it feeds the stigma, but if you are poor, if you are black, if you look like this -- the latest one i have heard, if your nails are done in your hair is done, you must be involved in sexual work . i'm like, you're going to get a lot of people i know. policing looks like a certain thing for certain people in certain communities, which is why when you talk about, how do we fight and how do we stand up, some days i don't know how any of us do what we do simply because it is tiring.
as soon as you finish one, there will be another. >> can i jump in, a little bit about trying to expand the notion of policing that i think you are talking about? i think there is the police who police. then there are all the other people who police. >> right. >> that includes people who work in treatment facilities. it includes people who work in schools. it includes people who decide whether or not we are eligible or not eligible for public assistance. also, it includes partners. it is important, at least in the experience of talking about what happens for black women, black queer people, to talk about the relationship between the police, as in the people paid to the police, and the people who feel like they should police us even though they are not paid to do that. there is a connection between those two. that is part of what i think makes it harder, more particular, and more dangerous for black women and black queer
people. a whole bunch of people are policing us -- our families, the police force, and everybody in between them. so, the notion of policing i think has to be complicated in our discussion. one other quick thing i want to add -- melissa, there is very problematic data that says that the incarceration rates of black women are going down, and the rate of violence against women is going down. big national studies are trained to demonstrate that the problem is not so bad as we are experiencing it. i think the way we need to respond to that is to say, even though there may be fewer black women actually going through the doors of a jail or prison, be at the cook county jail or bedford hills or the l.a. county jail, even though people are not going through the doors, they are being police. they are being monitored and
sanctioned and punished now by places outside of the building, which in some instances is maybe even more dangerous. you never know who is watching you and what kind of rights they may take away from you, like you lose your kids or your public assistance, etc. >> i think that is so true when we think about how we have internalized how it is we need to behave in relationships with other people that we don't know and how we walked on the street, especially as women of color. in regard to our children, if we are a bad mom, we don't give our children breakfast in the morning. we are looked at as a bad mom. we are involved in a system that says, we should take your child away. when i think about the issues of massive restoration versus -- mass incarceration versus criminalization, we have to look at how it affects communities of color.
we have an internalized way of eating in these communities that have been targeted in the war on drugs. 40 years we survived specific scrutiny where we were bombarded with the policing of other people's systems, communities, people within our communities, and our ways of thinking about how relationships should work. we were consistently traumatized and re-traumatized to the point of where it was normalized. >> i want to pick up on that. let me get one more in here. that is the case of marissa alexander, which, in many ways, reflects this. i have often pushed back against the title of miss alexander's book, the idea of the new jim crow. something can be bad in its own way. it doesn't have to be the new old bad thing. book titles are almost never crated by the author. we've got to give her a pass on that one. that said, to bring back the slavery piece of it, i've also
always pushed back around any attempts to make anything that is now that thing then, and one of the key aspects of why this thing now is not that thing then is simply what distinguished slavery in the u.s. south in the 17th, 18th, 19th century is the intergenerational nature of it. although there have been slavery in other places, the thing that made the slavery different and unique in human history is the idea that you could expect nothing more for your children either than bondage. as we have been doing this work, and also as i have learned more about the work you do, i am increasingly convinced i have made an error of judgment, and that in fact the current system of impersonation doesn't have this deep, intergenerational component. and so many ways, the marissa alexander case opens this up.
from what we know about this case, this is a woman who had just given birth to a child who her abusive husband. it was very clear that he abused her as well as other partners. in her attempt to protect, shooting more than at the ceiling, she ends up with 20 g 20 years or more in jail in florida. she has been incarcerated already for three years. away from that infant who she was trying to protect. i invite all of you at this point to reflect on either the question of the intergenerational nature of incarceration around women and children, but also if you want to to reflect specifically on marissa alexander and what we have learned about the intersection of domestic violence, the intergenerational nature, the lack of interest in making sure that a black mother is at home to in fact parent her child. >> i want to continue my discussion about mass
criminalization and give you an idea of why i cleaned it that -- why i coin it that way. i'm looking at the adoption safe families act that passed in 1996 where, because of the languishing of children of color, specifically in our foster care system, president clinton made it so that folks' children could be released from being in foster care if their parents had no communication with them in a timeline of 15-22 months. where did that put people who were incarcerated? the median sentence at the time for women was 36 months. ok? get the numbers. 15-21 months, the median sentence at the time nationwide was 36 months. if you did not plan for your child's reunification with you
and you had a place for yourself and your child and a job, you could forget about it. most of the time, women were in prison. they would lose their rights to their children. the termination proceedings could continue. in some cases, many of the women didn't know that they lost their parental rights to children. when we make the comparison -- i'm briefly speaking on this -- when we make the comparison about intergenerational, we look at a system that has broken down the relationship between parent and child and the respect for parent and child. as i was saying, making my unborn child a co-conspirator to my crime, here we are making children in foster care co- conspirators to their parents ' incarceration. >> that question and statement makes me think about woodmore. she was a woman who was sentenced to seven years to life for protecting her son.
she shot an abusive boyfriend. he died. she was incarcerated. the son was about two years old at the time. she went to prison for seven years to life, spent 20 years in prison, was found suitable for parole seven times, and the governor rescinded it seven times, and finally, she was released. she was released, and she came to work at a new way of life. her son when she was released was serving a life sentence himself. she stayed working at a new way of life for six years. she should have been discharged from parole at five years.
one of her biggest wishes was to vote in the 2012 primary elections. one of her biggest wishes was to she died of a stroke. she never got to vote. she was working on getting her son out of prison. she never got to see her son because she was on parole. the parole kept her a year longer. we registered her. they were supposed to discharge her. she never, ever got to vote. she had a lot of things sort of on her bucket list, but voting was one of them that she had never, ever got to exercise. when we talk about she never, ever got to vote. she had a lot of things sort of on her bucket list, but voting was one of them that she had never, ever got to exercise. when we talk about intergenerational, we talk about country sentenced to life for protecting themselves from an abuser.
so many women still in this so, when you -- it just brought her back. >> one of the things i wanted to bring up about marissa's case is, a good friend of mine, she always says that there is no other woman from any ethnicity that is judged the way black women -- as harshly as black women are judged. when you think about -- i always give the example of the asian researcher in london who did this research same -- saying, black women were the most unattractive women in the world. just the sheer fact that he
wanted to do that, the sheer fact for those of you who can think back -- this is something that has been happening forever . we can think about sarah bartman on display. we can think about how people make jokes about our hair, whether you are dark. there is a holistic things i can -- a whole list of things i can go through. i also think about how that plays when the police are called to a domestic violence case, a situation. how you see me is how you will respond to me, whether you are the law there to protect me, but if you walk in -- i'm a thin
-- i am not a thin woman. white people get really intimidated by loud black women. i don't know what to say to them. i get it all the time. [laughter] i am alright with it. >> if you are not cowering in the corner -- >> exactly. we have seen it multiple times where even in the description -- we just had a meeting about this earlier, last week, about how the description of the woman -- big -- what does that have to do with it? she didn't look weak or whatever. i have heard women who -- people always wonder why black women don't access services for domestic violence, why the queer community doesn't access it. if you are over policed, why would you call those people? for same-sex couples or trans women, i can tell you we hear it all the time at women with a vision. i'm not calling the cops so they can arrest me.
if it is to man -- if it is two men, i am going to be charged with assault and battery. the charges go up when it is us. one more thing i want to add -- we hold a community voices group for formerly incarcerated women. all of them talk about, even when you are free, you are never free. >> never. >> i can tell you, louisiana is one of those states, they really don't want to let you go. even if you are out, the amount of fees that you pay into the system -- for the women who were charged with a crime against nature, once you are out, you have 21 days to pay $500 to put yourself on the sex offender registry and send out those postcards that all of you see in your mail. if you do not do that, you will return to jail. then you do more time and come out again. who has $500 for postcards coming out of prison?
who does that? i don't know too many. if you weren't a sex worker, how would you make that money to keep yourself free? it is as free as you can be. this is how the system really works. they never let you go. we have one client, one woman who says to this day she is paying $800 a month for two marijuana charges, one in texas and one here, in court fees because the job she has, she could afford to pay that. so that is what they charged her. she lost her job, and she is still paying that. if she doesn't pay that $800 every month to the new orleans criminal justice system, she will go back to prison. this is the way that i feel like the system itself makes -- criminalizes people. if i make all of you think that these people are not worthy and they keep using drugs and they keep going back to jail because they do not want their life to be any different, don't fall for it.
it is always a bigger story. this is the way they do that. >> can i just add -- >> i'm going to invite folks to line up. we are a little overtime. we started late. i do want to give folks an opportunity in the audience. i'm going to keep questions brief. be sure that you do have a question. >> line up while i'm making this point, which might be a little controversial, if you don't mind. >> there is a microphone there. >> i am very impressed with the national organizing around marissa's case. a lot of us have been doing it for some time. it is critically important. it is bringing forward the issue of black women's right to defend themselves and the children. we would not be talking about it at a national level if it weren't for trayvon martin. >> that is right. >> to me, there is a feminist question of why it took the zimmerman verdict and the tragic
death of trayvon martin to have us focus attention on this black woman. it is kind of a rhetorical question, but it is an important one. >> it is a critical one about who we think is the victim. >> who we think is the victim. who would be talking about her case if the verdict had gone differently? >> exactly. >> that got people to the microphone. at least they are on their way, anyway. >> yes. >> good evening. thank you so much for being here. i have two quick questions. i t.a. a class at tulane. it is murder and violence in the community. we look at the underpinnings for the violence and murder in our city, what is causing it, and of course, our conversation goes to the prison industrial complex. it is one thing that michelle alexander did a good job of, given the conceptual framework of how it is financially incentivized. as this conversation is
evolving, i'm interested in how people see working against the momentum of this economic incentive of incarceration. my other question is very simple . i represent the black alumni association of tulane. we want to do a service for children for people of incarceration -- people affected by incarceration -- what services are being needed? what are people needing? what is the hierarchy of that? thank you. >> since it is new orleans- specific, do you want to take that one? >> being that i am from new orleans and you asked the question, how do we deal with it, i feel like i have been screaming the same thing. we are not going to change what is happening in the city of new orleans if we don't change the system itself.
where we are paying into the criminal justice system, the fact that the prison gets more money than the program, the fact that the prison has become a way to deal with addiction, health, when we could easily be like san francisco, new york, chicago, connecticut, cities who have put that money into programs that will change that. until we change what poverty looks like for people -- people say, it is the hopelessness -- i cannot play with that word anymore. i meet people every day that have hope that something is going to be different. we don't experience anybody that comes through our doors that do
not feel like it could be different, but if we don't change the way the city of new orleans, what they consider our priority, gelling as a priority -- jailing as a priority to keep a safe, and now we are getting a larger one, and the fact that they get $22 a day per person -- we haven't stopped violent crime in the city. what we have done is petty crime, the little things that people do if you have to, community service or helping people in other ways -- we haven't bought into that. i feel like it is changing slowly, but we haven't totally bought into that yet. in terms of your -- >> i want to slide in. i am so sorry. i want to slide in and say -- i know you've got a ton of people. i want to invite this university to start looking at evidence-
based research to show that those programs are of value. >> one more thing about research. >> hold on. let me say something. there has to be a moral shift in this country. there has to be a moral shift in each and every one of us. there has to be a changing of hearts and minds and valuing everybody, valuing the neighbor's child, the child in the community over here just as much is your child. there has to be a changing in the hearts and minds of america and the value of every human being to be just as valuable as the next person. [applause] >> can i just say this last thing? i'm going to say this real quick. i know we have other people. before you invite tulane to do research, tulane needs to talk
to us. i am always saying that. i just have to put that out there. too often, organizations like ours, people come in, and what they do is they take. they don't leave us with anything. we are actually equipped to do our own community-based artist -- purchase up a tory -- community-based participatory research. >> we talk about evidence-based research as if it is great to fix folks. like they are broken. if you look at the system as broken as opposed to the people first of all, you don't want to see them, and many don't even want to sit next to them once you know -- in my introduction, i said i was formerly incarcerated. if we sat next each other, you
wouldn't know. when you find out, that shift that happens in your eyes and in your heart, it needs to stop. >> let me also just quickly say, the desire to vote. part of the inability to push back sufficiently against the economic incentives for incarceration is the act of disenfranchisement to currently and formerly incarcerated people. >> i want to serve on a jury. >> it is almost impossible to activate communities around justice questions for currently and formerly incarcerated people, but also when they are kept from being citizens forever all the cities that you named, part of what we have seen is a massive decline in african- american turnout. post-katrina, it turned to the
white power structure. it solves this problem primarily by living in communities that are policed not only by nopd but also by the saw police of -- soft police of private security, and in the context of disaster, they will even call in halliburton. that is jeremy scales brilliant research -- scahill's brilliant research, how halliburton was called during evacuation. the way violence is dealt with in this city is to keep it in the seventh ward and ninth ward. >> exactly. >> and not just the city. it is also true -- as long as you live in the south loop, the south side -- the question of changing these moral questions what i just heard in terms of the moral narrative, when that discourse comes out of the mouths of the right, what they are talking about is unborn children, which is not what they're talking about, but that is somehow what they're talking about when they say, we should care about every human. they are talking about fetuses, not black fetuses, certainly not black incarcerated fetuses.
if i say something on television like, children belong to all of us, and i am even serrated for iscerated for months because it is some sort of weird communist plot to take children when i do not even want my own. exactly. let me go to the next person. >> greetings. thank you all for the work you are doing. i will say my questions briefly. my first question, i'm an assistant professor. right now, i get a lot of black women wanting to do research on this subject. i am only one person. what are you all doing, what you have in regards to providing strategies for engaging the next generation of leaders? what do you have in place, how would i engage them, how would i send them to you? that is the first thing. i have them in my office all the time. second, what becomes the role -- i'm a psychologist -- what becomes the role of mental health services in the work that
you're doing? i'm just wondering how you incorporate that. thanks. >> i was just going to shut out three things -- shout out three things. make sure that your students know about the insight conference, scheduled for next spring, right, sometime in the bay area. march 2015. it is a wonderful organizing opportunity for women, especially women of color, with activists with an inclination to get turned on to a radical politic for ending incarceration. the institute on domestic in the african american community has active web presences, blogging, looking for research assistance, and then a shout out to a national organization of young people who are taking their communities back and trying to, again, insight and activist
orientation. i say that because i think connecting people to faculty mentors is one thing. they can come my way. i'm always looking for students and who want to work on some dimension of this project so they can be in a different city, but what i think we want to turn people onto is to be workers, activists, organizers, ready to be involved in the kind of work that the other sisters on this panel are talking about. get them connected to reading and writing and research, but also get them connected to activists. >> byp is the black youth project. you can totally just find them online. they are extraordinary, what they are doing. black youth project will be represented at our gender and sexuality conference we are having on december 6 rightness -- right here in this room. send the women over to this conference. we will be talking about the work they are doing. sexuality conference we are having on december 6 rightness>e
was a nine-month leadership development, specifically for formerly incarcerated women, that they went through and learned about policy, learn how to speak to policymakers, learn how to organize, and learned how to stand up and speak and lead their community. that is one of the things we are doing in california, women organizing for justice. >> one of the things we do in new york, we developed a curriculum based on the popular education model, and the curriculum is developed on their success as returning women. the challenges they have met and how they have overcome them. they have developed this curriculum with a focus group of women who have come home and talked about their challenges. this curriculum, they offer it to the prisons, to work with women who are coming home. they went back into the prison and have taught this program to women who are returning. we are talking about sisters who have served 25 years and below, going back into the prison, and
teaching women about the successes and challenges they have had and talking about real issues like relationships and health and wellness and resources that are needed and how it is you have a conversation with your field parole officer. you are a ward of the state until you are released from parole. the thing about another organization is the center for third world organization ash third world organizing -- third world organizing. it works specifically with youth of color. they offer internships to pay you to interim with us. -- intern with us. we look for interns who are interested and can get supported through their schools to come and stay with us for the summer and develop programs or assist us with the programs we have. we cannot afford to pay people. [laughter] >> yes. >> again, thank you for being here. i am bonnie schmidt. i am the chairman of the north
shore unitarian universalist church new jim crow task force. my particular question has to do with an issue that was raised in michelle alexander's book, the question being, where are the black men? we know where the black men are. my question for you is, how does that affect black women and their communities? i understand there is something like a 26% gap between available women for marriage and available men. i wonder if you can expand on that and other factors. >> i've got so many emotions. [laughter] >> can i touch it from a public health standpoint? >> i would love that. >> that question -- i don't want
to go too deeply, but i will tell you how probably the cdc -- not that i agree with them most of the time -- but how the center for disease control uses that and how they label that as the number one cause for the rise in hiv rates of black women in this country, because they have multiple sex partners because all their men are gone. they end up finding more and more. then their man comes out, and they get another one. not really looking at the other social determinants of health, like direct poverty putting people at risk for health issues. that is probably the biggest one for me, how we see and how it labels the african-american community. if a child's father was incarcerated or couldn't find a job -- we all know there are
many reasons why people struggle in poverty or with education or with finding employment or a way to make a living wage -- if he is taken out, of course, this is why his children become criminals, as well. all of these -- when you think about removing them, them being out of the community -- i feel so many emotions around this, i don't know if i'm answering your question -- this is the way they also criminalize and label women and families and communities. >> yeah, they are missing. we are missing them. their children are missing them. their sisters are missing them. our community cries and feels a huge void with all of the men that have been missing over the decade, and all of the women. while men are the largest body
in the prison industrial complex, women are the largest growth number. over the past 30 years, it has risen 800% for women being incarcerated. i don't know that it is going to catch up with the man and the numbers -- the men and the numbers, but it is a huge problem. i can tell you, the children and the women and the homes that we serve, they are missing. there is a lot of pain and the loss of them. we want to begin to see, how do we restore all of our community members? >> let me just say, there is a question of misdirection that sometimes occurs. i know it is not in the spirit
to have done this. the conversation -- two things around this -- what is wrong with black women is the lack of marriageable black men. several things it does -- it many women do not want husbands. they want wives or other marriage partners or other things. it reproduces something that we have known to be true. remember the moynihan report. the research comes out. i just want to recall this. the research was done before the 1964 civil rights act was passed or before the 1965 voting rights act was passed. this democrat, this bighearted liberal democrat decides that the primary problem of the black community, before we are even full citizens, is single parenting by black women.
this sort of matriarchy shifting of the roles. that has been the narrative. over again, we want to say that the pathology in black has nothing to do with public policy, but it has to do with black women and their pathological relationships to their men and children. in fact, the current single parenting and divorce rates among white women right now are precisely what they were when the moynihan report was released. there is no great upward -- that is what the compulsory pregnancy, abortion for what women thing is -- the final -- there is no idea there is a deterioration of the white family and all those things. the final thing i want to say on this is, this narrative about daddy pain is also problematic for me. on the one hand, yes, people have daddy pain. on the other hand, president obama is the first african- american president who didn't have a daddy. i'm going to say that again. he is the first black man to become president of the united
states -- he didn't have a black father in the household, but also has pain and angst. in fact, part of that pain and angst may have been what motivated president obama. >> motivation. >> i'm not saying if one doesn't have a father it will motivate you that motivate you to be present. i'm saying, we want to be careful about the personal narratives. part of what president obama's story tells us -- the little boy story, not the actual man who is president -- is that if you're r black daddy is missing, a white mom and white grand parents who can give you access to education and resources and opportunities ain't a bad trade- off in terms of maybe not your emotions but certainly your life outcome. rather than us trying to create salvation in black communities by marrying off black women to black men, we ought to create the opportunities and resources to sustain --
[applause] >> thank you, thank you, thank you. >> michelle alexander herself would say, because i've heard her say it -- there is a part of her understanding of the new jim crow that doesn't interrogate gender in the way that it gives us a possibility of prison abolition. what i mean by that is, we do miss men in our communities, and at the same time, what can we do as people who are trying to envision a different society? i came to this thinking about gender violence. what is bringing them home differently? having had a different set of experiences, what would it mean if we brought men home from prison because we were engaged in prison abolition community building and said, since you
have been gone so long, how are we going to engage in a respectful, mutual raising of children, building of communities, respecting of queer gender nonconformity, instead of saying bring men home to marry women and establish nuclear, patriarchal families? >> that is right. >> what about, bring men home so we can create a different kind of community, and therefore be on the forefront on liberation politics instead of reinscribe -- reinscribing a patriarchy? >> that sounds good. [applause] >> what does someone like , not a who is fortunate woman of color -- but knows that everything you are saying is true -- how do we assist in this movement that definitely needs
to happen, and secondly, does tulane service coordinating help with this? >> let me just say this. i was in my first semester here as a faculty member and all revved up about service learning. i sent a bunch of babies over to them and learned a lot. i had been doing service learning in new jersey and chicago. i learned a lot about new orleans through the mistakes i made by pulling my babies and sending them over. and luckily, i was sufficiently humbled to hear -- we have to be careful about our service learning model versus and engage fellowship model. -- and engaged scholarship model. >> i will say this one thing. for example, i have a wonderful relationship with tulane's school of social work. i actually spoke at their graduation last year.
it is funny because i love my relationship with them. we are able to be very honest. i am able to say what kind of students i want to come through. for their safety and mine. i say that because we get a lot of students that come in, and they want to save everybody. i'm constantly saying, not one person wants you to save them. they simply want the tools they they simply want the tools they need so they can do it for themselves. also, i love the fact that they can save -- say, we don't have any students of color this year. that is honest. i have had that with other programs, as well. because our clients are majority african-american -- i actually make the joke, and maybe some of you may not take it light-