Youth Art Competition: “Building Our Communities”

Project MI is excited to announce the “Building Our Communities” Youth Art Competition submission period opens TODAY! All Shelby County high school age youth are invited to visually express their ideas on how to improve our communities. Selected entries will be premiered at our First Annual Youth Activism & Leadership Summit with the theme, “My City, My Voice” on July 28, 2018.  Click here to submit work!

Please forward this announcement widely, and contact pjmimemphis@gmail.com if you have any questions!

PJMI art competition

#FreeMIKids

 

Youth Advocates Digital Campaign Part 3

Please join Project MI for Part 3 of our 2018 Youth Advocates Digital Campaign!  In Part 3 of our campaign running from 2/20/18 to 2/22/18, we are asking Project MI members, partners, and supporters to contact legislators, in a coordinated effort, to support/oppose legislation impacting Tennessee youth and criminal justice.

For tips and training on how to contact your legislators, please see this video link which will connect you to our 2018 Youth Legislation Informational and Training (the separate Powerpoint for the session can be found here).   The training also includes highlights about various pending legislation.

Additionally, this worksheet and telephone call script are excellent tools to help you get started on what to say when you speak to legislators.  Remember to be brief, professional, and polite in your contact–also relate your support to a personal story if you have one.  Project MI recommends focusing on the bills you feel most passionately about in your contact.

Digital Activism

Part 3 of our campaign will address the following bills:

HB 0825 / SB 0919

Project MI is in support of HB 0825.  According to Free Hearts Tennessee, an organization that advocates on behalf of kids with incarcerated moms, “this legislation would most significantly impact Tennessee families, especially young children and their mothers who would benefit from community-based alternatives to incarceration.”

As introduced, this bill would require courts to sentence a person who was convicted of a nonviolent offense and is the primary caretaker of a dependent child to an individually assessed sentence based on community rehabilitation with a focus on parent-child unity and support.

The reasons you should support this bill:

  • First, 1 in 10 children in Tennessee currently have or have had an incarcerated parent.  Tennessee ranks above most states for the highest prevalence of children with incarcerated parents.
  • Second, parental incarceration is recognized as an “adverse childhood experience” (ACE).  The separation of incarceration causes families immeasurable pain and lasting trauma that negatively impacts the well-being and life outcomes of children of incarcerated parents.
  • The majority of women in jails and prisons are mothers with children under the age of 18.  Most of these are single mothers who are the primary caretakers  young children.
  • Black women are incarcerated at a rate three times that of white women and Black children are seven times more likely than their white peers to have an incarcerated parent.
  • Alternatives to incarceration are better for families and communities and more cost effective for Tennessee.

Contact your representatives  about HB 0825 in support of this bill.  HB 0825 is currently with the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee and Senate Judiciary Committee   Although contacting each committee in its entirety can’t hurt, please make sure to specifically contact members of these committees that are also your own representatives.   You can can find your representatives here by entering your address in the “Find MY Legislator” screen.

HB 2271 / SB 2261

While contacting your representatives, please also express your support of HB 2271.  The state of Tennessee is in desperate need of juvenile justice reform that will lead to less youth in detention and better results for our youth. HB 2271 as introduced enacts the “Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018.”  Tennessee has the opportunity to pass major youth justice legislation, and we should support!

Although the Juvenile Justice Reform Act is quite lengthy and substantial, here are some of the highlights and why you should support it:

  • The Act prohibits use of solitary confinement of youth as punishment while in detention.
    • See this article on how solitary confinement hurts youth by causing “profound neurological and psychological damage, causing depression, hallucinations, panic attacks, cognitive deficits, obsessive thinking, paranoia, anxiety, and anger.”
    • As an example of the severe damage of solitary confinement in youth, recall the case of Kalief Browder who committed suicide in 2015 following three years at Rikers Island jail after being accused of stealing a backpack.  Browder’s supporters say his death was the result of mental and physical abuse sustained in detention, including spending a total of nearly 800 estimated days in solitary confinement.
  • It limits offenses for which a youth can be detained more than 24 hours to those that caused or likely to cause death or seriously bodily injury; requires hearing within 30 days of detention.  Currently, there are no such limitations in the state of Tennessee so a youth can be held in detention for minor offenses such as truancy.
  • Removes failure to appear for hearing and probation violations from offenses for which youth can be held in detention.  Currently, there are no such limitations in the state of Tennessee so a youth can face detention time for simply missing a hearing date or violating a minor probation provision.
  • Eliminates automatic detention mandates based on offense and instead encourages “individualized examination of a child’s case…”  This provision recognizes that each child is different and so are the reasons that they offend–a one-size approach is not effective for many youth.
  • Seeks “evidence based” remedies for youth and promotes “validated risk assessment” tools as a basis of determining whether a youth should be confined.  Youth should not be required to complete measures, including detention, that will not help them avoid re-offense.
  • Shifts court financial responsibilities away from youth; prohibits bond/bail settings in juvenile court.  Youth should not spend time incarcerated due to inability to pay court and attorney fees and fines.

Contact your representatives in support of this bill during Part 3 of our campaign (2/20 through 2/22) by your preferred method of contact (phone call, email, in-person visit).   HB 2271 is currently with the Senate Judiciary Committee and House Criminal Justice Sub-Committee,  Although contacting each committee in its entirety can’t hurt, please make sure to specifically contact members of these committees that are also your own representatives.   You can can find your representatives here by entering your address in the “Find MY Legislator” field.

Join us for our upcoming Digital Campaign dates!

  Tues., 2/27/18 to Thurs., 3/1/18

Thanks to all that participated in our First and Second Digital Advocacy Campaigns.

Your calls, emails, voice, and  support absolutely matter for our youth!

Youth Advocates Digital Campaign Part 2

Please join Project MI for Part 2 of our 2018 Youth Advocates Digital Campaign!  In Part 1 of our campaign running from 2/13/18 to 2/15/18, we are asking Project MI members, partners, and supporters to contact legislators, in a coordinated effort, to support/oppose legislation impacting Tennessee youth and criminal justice.

For tips and training on how to contact your legislators, please see this video link which will connect you to our 2018 Youth Legislation Informational and Training (the separate Powerpoint for the session can be found here).   The training also includes highlights about various pending legislation.

Additionally, this worksheet and telephone call script are excellent tools to help you get started on what to say when you speak to legislators.  Remember to be brief, professional, and polite in your contact–also relate your support to a personal story if you have one.  Project MI recommends focusing on the bills you feel most passionately about in your contact.

Digital Activism

Part 2 of our campaign will address the following bills:

HB 2651 / SB 2218

Project MI is in support of HB 2651 concerning establishing a Tennessee commission  on the school-to-prison pipeline and restorative justice practices.   Although teachers deal with way to much in the classroom, over the years, schools have adopted policies like “zero tolerance” that are bad for our youth and produce negative outcomes.   Too often, the separation of youth from schools results in youth entering the juvenile justice system, and eventually, adult prison.

As introduced, this bill would mandate a commission to research the school-to-prison pipeline in Tennessee, that would research the solutions necessary to keep youth out the justice system and in schools.

The reasons you should support this bill:

  • First, Memphis has the highest rates of out-of-school suspensions and expulsions in the state of Tennessee.  Youth that are suspended or expelled have a much higher rate of incarceration than youth that aren’t.
  • Second, according to the American Bar Association, as a result of some of our practices in schools. students of color are disproportionately:
    • lower achievers and unable to read at basic or above
    • damaged by lower expectations and lack of engagement
    • retained in grade or excluded because of high stakes testing
    • subject to more frequent and harsher punishment
    • placed in alternative disciplinary schools or settings
    • referred to law enforcement or subject to school-related arrest
    • dropping out of school and fail ing to graduate from high school
    • feel threatened at school and suffer consequences as victims
  • Additionally,  education programs at alternative schools and in detention, are less robust and and sometimes completely unavailable.
  • Six out of ten schools in Tennessee with with the highest percentages of students suspended overall are in Shelby County.
  • Shelby County also ranks in the top five districts in the state for:
    • Districts with the highest percentage of students suspended overall (ranked #2)
    • Districts with the highest percentages of black students suspended (ranked #1)
    • Districts with the highest percentages of students expelled overall (ranked #1)
    • Districts with the highest percentages black students expelled (ranked #4)

Contact your representatives  about HB 2651 in support of this bill.  HB 2651 is currently with the Education and Planning Subcommittee and the Senate Government Operations Committee on its calendar for consideration TODAY (2/6/18).     Although contacting each committee in its entirety can’t hurt, please make sure to specifically contact members of these committees that are also your own representatives.   You can can find your representatives here by entering your address in the “Find MY Legislator” screen.

HB 2271 / SB 2261

While contacting your representatives, please also express your support of HB 2271.  The state of Tennessee is in desperate need of juvenile justice reform that will lead to less youth in detention and better results for our youth. HB 2271 as introduced enacts the “Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018.”

Although the Juvenile Justice Reform Act bill is quite lengthy and substantial, here are some of the highlights and why you should support it:

  • The Act prohibits use of solitary confinement of youth as punishment while in detention.
    • See this article on how solitary confinement hurts youth by causing “profound neurological and psychological damage, causing depression, hallucinations, panic attacks, cognitive deficits, obsessive thinking, paranoia, anxiety, and anger.”
    • As an example of the severe damage of solitary confinement in youth, recall the case of Kalief Browder who committed suicide in 2015 following three years at Rikers Island jail after being accused of stealing a backpack.  Browder’s supporters say his death was the result of mental and physical abuse sustained in detention, including spending a total of nearly 800 estimated days in solitary confinement.
  • It limits offenses for which a youth can be detained more than 24 hours to those that caused or likely to cause death or seriously bodily injury; requires hearing within 30 days of detention.  Currently, there are no such limitations in the state of Tennessee so a youth can be held in detention for minor offenses such as truancy.
  • Removes failure to appear for hearing and probation violations from offenses for which youth can be held in detention.  Currently, there are no such limitations in the state of Tennessee so a youth can face detention time for simply missing a hearing date or violating a minor probation provision.
  • Eliminates automatic detention mandates based on offense and instead encourages “individualized examination of a child’s case…”  This provision recognizes that each child is different and so are the reasons that they offend–a one-size approach is not effective for many youth.
  • Seeks “evidence based” remedies for youth and promotes “validated risk assessment” tools as a basis of determining whether a youth should be confined.  Youth should not be required to complete measures, including detention, that will not help them avoid re-offense.
  • Shifts court financial responsibilities away from youth; prohibits bond/bail settings in juvenile court.  Youth should not spend time incarcerated due to inability to pay court and attorney fees and fines.

Contact your representatives in support of this bill during Part 1 of our campaign (2/6 through 2/8) by your preferred method of contact (phone call, email, in-person visit).   You can can find your representatives here by entering your address in the “Find My Legislator” fields. HB 2271 is currently with the Senate Judiciary Committee.  So please also take time to contact members of the Criminal Justice Sub-Committee, whom can be found here, especially those members that are also your own representatives.

 

Join us for our additional upcoming Digital Campaign dates!

Tues., 2/20/18 to Thurs., 2/22/18

  Tues., 2/27/18 to Thurs., 3/1/18

Thanks to all that participated in our First Digital Advocacy Campaign last week!

Your calls, emails, your voice, and your support absolutely matters for our youth!

Youth Advocates Digital Campaign Part 1

Please join Project MI for Part 1 of our 2018 Youth Advocates Digital Campaign!  In Part 1 of our campaign running from 2/6/18 to 2/8/18, we are asking Project MI members, partners, and supporters to contact legislators, in a coordinated effort, to support/oppose legislation impacting Tennessee youth and criminal justice.

For tips and training on how to contact your legislators, please see this video link which will connect you to our 2018 Youth Legislation Informational and Training (the separate Powerpoint for the session can be found here).   The training also includes highlights about various pending legislation.

Additionally, this worksheet and telephone call script are excellent tools to help you get started on what to say when you speak to legislators.  Remember to be brief, professional, and polite in your contact–also relate your support to a personal story if you have one.  Project MI recommends focusing on the bills you feel most passionately about in your contact.

Digital Activism

Part 1 of our campaign will address the following bills:

HB 0135 / SB 0795

[CONTACT TODAY 2/6/18 IF POSSIBLE]

Project MI is in support of HB 0135 concerning Tennessee’s 51-to-life law. In the 1980s and 1990s Tennessee lawmakers responded to crime with harsh sentencing laws that had little impact on public safety and actually may have made things worse. Now that we know longer sentences do not equal safer communities, we need to change our approach.

As introduced, this bill would permit a person sentenced to life imprisonment to become eligible for parole release after serving 36 years in prison (and in no event less than 25 years, including sentence reduction credits).   The bill is retroactive, so would allow an incarcerated person convicted under prior law to request parole eligibility consistent with this new law if it passes.

The reasons you should support this bill:

  • First, long term incarceration reduces life expectancy by about 25 years–hence, a 51 year sentence with the possibility of parole after serving 51 years is really a life sentence.
  • Second, long term incarceration tends to make people more violent, not less, in spite of any rehabilitation efforts.  People who serve longer sentences tend to reoffend at higher rates.   Longer term incarceration is also associated with the development of mental health problems as well as physical infirmities.
  • According to the No Exceptions Prison Collective, the cost of incarcerating people sentenced to life with the possibility of parole since the enactment of the 51-to-life law will be $2.097 billion.  This bill could save the state of Tennessee as much as $1.27 billion–money that could be used to rehabilitate people convicted of crimes through community based solutions, educational programs, and other measures more effective than long-term sentencing.
  • Finally, this bill only gives people convicted under prior law to request parole after 36 years–it does not guarantee their release.  Release would be determined by the Tennessee Board of Parole who will consider the convicted person’s initial crime, remorse for the crime, rehabilitation efforts, and behavior while incarcerated.

Contact your representatives TODAY BY PHONE about HB 0135 in support of this bill.  HB 0135 is currently with the Senate Judiciary Committee and on its calendar for consideration TODAY (2/6/18).    You can can find your legislators here by entering your address in the “Find MY Legislator” screen.  Also, please contact members of the Judiciary Committee, which can be found here, especially those members that are also your own representatives.

HB 2271 / SB 2261

While contacting your representatives, please also express your support of HB 2271.  The state of Tennessee is in desperate need of juvenile justice reform that will lead to less youth in detention and better results for our youth. HB 2271 as introduced enacts the “Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018.”

Although the Juvenile Justice Reform Act bill is quite lengthy and substantial, here are some of the highlights and why you should support it:

  • The Act prohibits use of solitary confinement of youth as punishment while in detention.
    • See this article on how solitary confinement hurts youth by causing “profound neurological and psychological damage, causing depression, hallucinations, panic attacks, cognitive deficits, obsessive thinking, paranoia, anxiety, and anger.”
    • As an example of the severe damage of solitary confinement in youth, recall the case of Kalief Browder who committed suicide in 2015 following three years at Rikers Island jail after being accused of stealing a backpack.  Browder’s supporters say his death was the result of mental and physical abuse sustained in detention, including spending a total of nearly 800 estimated days in solitary confinement.
  • It limits offenses for which a youth can be detained more than 24 hours to those that caused or likely to cause death or seriously bodily injury; requires hearing within 30 days of detention.  Currently, there are no such limitations in the state of Tennessee so a youth can be held in detention for minor offenses such as truancy.
  • Removes failure to appear for hearing and probation violations from offenses for which youth can be held in detention.  Currently, there are no such limitations in the state of Tennessee so a youth can face detention time for simply missing a hearing date or violating a minor probation provision.
  • Eliminates automatic detention mandates based on offense and instead encourages “individualized examination of a child’s case…”  This provision recognizes that each child is different and so are the reasons that they offend–a one-size approach is not effective for many youth.
  • Seeks “evidence based” remedies for youth and promotes “validated risk assessment” tools as a basis of determining whether a youth should be confined.  Youth should not be required to complete measures, including detention, that will not help them avoid re-offense.
  • Shifts court financial responsibilities away from youth; prohibits bond/bail settings in juvenile court.  Youth should not spend time incarcerated due to inability to pay court and attorney fees and fines.

Contact your representatives in support of this bill during Part 1 of our campaign (2/6 through 2/8) by your preferred method of contact (phone call, email, in-person visit).   You can can find your representatives here by entering your address in the “Find My Legislator” fields. HB 2271 is currently with the Senate Judiciary Committee.  So please also take time to contact members of the Criminal Justice Sub-Committee, whom can be found here, especially those members that are also your own representatives.

Join us for our additional upcoming Digital Campaign dates!

Mon., 2/12/18 to Wed., 2/14/18

Mon., 2/19/18 to Wed., 2/21/18

  Mon., 2/26/18 to Wed., 2/28/18

Finally, thanks to all that attended our 2018 Legislation Informational and Training last night.  A special thanks to attorney and youth justice fellow LaChina McKinney and law student research fellow Noor Obaji who helped make the session a success!

Youth Art Competition: “Building Our Communities”

Project MI is excited to announce the “Building Our Communities” Youth Art Competition! All Shelby County high school age youth are invited to visually express their ideas on how to improve our communities. Selected entries will be premiered at our First Annual Youth Activism & Leadership Summit with the theme, “My City, My Voice” on July 28, 2018.

PJMI art competition

#FreeMIKids

 

Youth Advocacy Program Recruitment & Informational (January Meet-Up)

On Monday, January 8, 2018 at 6pm Project MI will hold its first Meet-Up of 2018!

In this meet-up we will be recruiting for our Youth Advocacy Program and providing an informational about our  group mentoring work at G.W. Carver High School.

YAP Recruitment

After our informational, the following committees will meet:

Youth Summit Planning Committee (for those interested in planning programs for youth)

Legislative & Policy Research Committee (for those in the legal and related fields)

Narrative Committee (for artists, other creatives, and anyone interested in telling the real human stories of mass incarceration and our youth)

If you are new to MI, this is the perfect opportunity to learn more about our Youth Advocacy Program and join a committee to get straight to work!

The Meet-Up will be held at the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law (1 N. Front St.). Parking on the North side of the Law School, on Court Street, is free beginning at 6pm.

 

November Meet-Up

On Tuesday, November 7, 2017 at 6pm at Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law (1 N. Front St.)  Project MI will hold its November Meet-Up!

This is the perfect opportunity to get to know more about Project MI and get straight to work!   After our general business meeting, the following committees will meet:

Youth Summit Planning Committee (we suggest this committee for those interested in planning programs involving youth development)

Legislative & Policy Research Committee (we suggest this committee for those in the legal and related fields)

Narrative Committee (we suggest this committee for artists, other creatives, and anyone interested in telling the real human stories of mass incarceration and our youth)

Change Committee (we suggest this committee for those interested in galvanizing the community around some of our projects, and coordinating service opportunities within these initiatives–leadership needed for this committee!)   

Additionally, our Youth Advocacy Program Committee will not meet at our November Meet-Up, but if you are interested in information on how to become involved click here.  We suggest the Youth Advocacy Program for those interested in serving as group mentors and understanding issues impacting Memphis youth.

The meeting will be held in the Reading Room, located on the Fourth floor on the South side of the building.    Parking on the North side of the Law School, on Court Street, is free beginning at 6pm.

October Meet-Up

On Tuesday, October 10, 2017 at 6pm at Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law (1 N. Front St.) Project MI will hold its October Meet-Up!

After our general business meeting, the following committees will meet:

Youth Summit Planning Committee (if you are new to MI, we suggest this committee for those interested in planning programs for youth development)

Legislative & Policy Research Committee (if you are new to MI, we suggest this committee for those in the legal and related fields)

Narrative Committee (if you are new to MI, we suggest this committee for artists, other creatives, and anyone interested in telling the real human stories of mass incarceration and our youth)

We will also call for the assembly of a “Community Action Committee,” which will be responsible for galvanizing the community around some of our projects, and coordinating service opportunities within these initiatives.   

Our Youth Advocacy Program Committee will not meet at our October Meet-Up, but if you are interested in information on how to become involved with our Youth Advocacy Program, and group mentoring opportunity youth through self-advocacy, click here.

If you are new to MI, this is the perfect opportunity to join a committee and get straight to work!

Parking on the North side of the Law School, on Court Street, is free beginning at 6pm.

U of M Law to Host “Removing the Monuments: A Legal Perspective”

The University of Memphis School of Law and the Black Law Student Association (BLSA) invite you to the panel, “Removing the Monuments: A Legal Perspective,” this Tuesday, October 3, 11:30-1pm in Wade Auditorium.

This event is intended to help inform the public about the real legal issues surrounding the confederate monument debate, with a focus on the local issues pertaining to the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue in the Memphis Medical District and the statue of former Confederacy President, Jefferson Davis, located in the public park next to the University of Memphis School of Law. The law school hopes to begin a dialogue with the public to help create informed perspectives about this oftentimes controversial and heated issue.

Panelists include:

Lee Harris – Memphis Law Professor and Tennessee State Senator

Bruce McMullen – City of Memphis Attorney, Chief Legal Officer for the City of Memphis

Tami Sawyer – Director, Diversity & Cultural Competence with Teach For America Memphis and a writer, speaker, social justice activist and education advocate

Alan Wade – City of Memphis City Council Attorney

Moderator – Daniel Kiel, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Memphis

The panel will be a “brown-bag” lunch event, with some light refreshments offered for attendees.

Hope to see you there!  Be vigilant!

 

 

Monument removal panel flyer[1]