Sunday, April 11, 2010

Our Right To Vote In Jeopardy

It's Appalling to me that in 2010 people's Right To Vote is in jeopardy. Only this time it's not just black people it's whites as well.
In Alabama right now we have a bill going to the House of Representatives floor to question citizens of Alabama's Right to Vote.
I have always stood up for the right of the people, no matter the subject, the issue remained the same, The Right To Vote.
Alot of people are trying to turn this and other issues into a Moral Issue, not realizing that Jesus advocated for people's rights.
So therefore how can we go against the rights of people and call ourselves patriots. So all of the wars and fighting that we've had IN THE PAST and continue to have now, For people's rights is for nought!
We have an obligation as citizens to protect our rights, and that's what Democracy is all about.
Then there's the Elected Officials who we put in office, who are suppose to be Representatives of their constituency that voted them in, that they so-call represent, but they listen to those outside of their districts, and vote according to the powers that be.
Are we going back in time? Is history repeating itself? If so then we have'nt accomplished anything . We are not productive, therefore we are digressing not progressing.
That leads me to my next question " what are we the people going to do?
Election time is coming and we have alot of people seeking office. I beleive and stand firmly on the fact that we do not vote for anyone who does not vote for the people to have the right to vote. We have two Representatives ( Benjamin Lewis & Steve Clouse ) that need to vote, for the people to have the right to Vote. As well as our local officials supporting us locally.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


It's time for us as the Experts By Experience to start addressing alot of these matters that seem to be going on in this thing we call the Justice System.Ex- Felons is not politically correct anymore. We are PEOPLE, formerly incarcerated people, F.I.P.'s, Prodigal Children, sons & daughters, mothers & fathers, brothers & sisters.We have paid our debt to society and yes we deserve our Right To Vote, Jobs, Housing, Food Assistance, Etc.Why are we being discriminated against as though we are not people.It has been nationally statistically proven that organizations ran and led by those who have been incarcerated have more success than any other organizations concerning re-entry, mentoring and formerly incarcerated people.We are calling out to all Formerly Incarcerated People to join us March 6, 10:00 a.m. at the Capital in Montgomery Alabama ( the first red state in the country to get felons to vote out of jail and prison, because of a lawsuit won by a formerly incarcerated person.People are People and all have made sinned and come short of the Glory of God.We are PEOPLE and we have lost no value.We are SERVING OUR COUNTRY AFTER SERVING OUR TIME!!!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Voting Rights Tour

Contact: Rev. Ken Glasgow 334-791-2433
Gabriel Sayegh 646-335-2264

September 12, 2008

Advocates Launch Historic Drive to Register Eligible Alabama Voters, Including Those Convicted of Felony Drug Possession

Families, Formerly Incarcerated People, Religious Leaders, Treatment and Sentencing Experts Declare: Don’t Criminalize People with Drug Problems, Provide Treatment and Restoration

Voter Drive to Include Town Hall Events In Five Cities Across Alabama:
“Voter Disfranchisement and The War On Drugs:
What’s Civil Right’s Got to Do With It?”

In Alabama, nearly 250,000 people have been stripped their voting rights due to a felony conviction. But in a 2006 court ruling in Alabama, a judge found that only those persons convicted of felonies of “moral turpitude” lose their right to vote. The judge found that certain felonies—such as drug possession—do not constitute crimes of moral turpitude, and therefore individuals convicted of those crimes do not lose their right to vote, even during incarceration.

Alabama-based The Ordinary People’s Society and their national partner the Drug Policy Alliance estimate that over 50,000 people convicted of non-moral turpitude felonies in Alabama have been wrongly denied their right to vote, or believe they do not have that right due to a conviction. An additional 6 – 7,000 more people currently incarcerated in Alabama state prisons may also be eligible to vote.

Join Dothan-based The Ordinary People’s Society and their national partner the Drug Policy Alliance on their statewide tour to discuss Alabama’s drug war and its impact on democracy.

What: “Voter Disfranchisement and the War On Drugs: What’s Civil Right’s Got to Do With It?”

When: 9/15 – 9/19. Each event begins at 6 p.m .
Where: 9/15 in Huntsville; 9/16 in Birmingham; 9/17 in Mobile; 9/18 in Dothan; 9/19 in Montgomery. Each event begins at 6 p.m. Call for event locations.

Who: Rev. Kenneth Glasgow. Founder and Executive Director, The Ordinary People’s Society (TOPS). (Dothan, AL)
Daris Johnson. Director, TOPS Young People’s Project. (Enterprise, AL)
Gabriel Sayegh. Director, Organizing and Policy Project, Drug Policy Alliance (New York, NY)
Alabama is facing a crisis. The state has the 6th highest rate of incarceration in the U.S. A prison system designed for 12,500 people now holds nearly 30,000. As a result of the drug war, non-violent drug offenses make up approximately 30% of all felony convictions in Alabama, and people convicted of non-violent drug and property offenses comprise nearly half of the state’s prison population. Nearly 50% of prisoners are serving prison time for a drug related crime. And over 250,000 people are barred from voting due to felony disfranchisement laws. A recent court ruling, however, found that people convicted of drug possession, among other offenses, do not lose their right to vote. This change could have an impact on nearly 70,000 Alabamians, including nearly 10,000 currently incarcerated in state prisons.

While drug use is equal across all racial groups, Black people are incarcerated for drug crimes at higher rates than whites. Blacks make up only 26% of Alabama’s population, but are nearly 60% of the prison population. And nearly every For every white person in an Alabama jail, there are about 4 Black people.

Alabama is spending millions to incarcerated people when treatment is more effective and far cheaper. The average cost to keep a person in prison in Alabama is almost $13,000 per year. The average cost of a full treatment program per client is approximately $4,300. Over time, the savings from treatment are significant: Studies by the RAND Corporation have show that every additional dollar invested in substance abuse treatment saves taxpayers $7.46 in societal costs.

“We’ve got to start restoring people’s lives, by providing treatment, by restoring the right to vote,” said Reverend Kenneth Glasgow, Executive Director of The Ordinary People’s Society and state coordinator of the New Bottom Line Campaign. “When a person get’s a felony conviction, they can lose more than their voting rights, they can lose public assistance, public housing, financial aid for school. The drug war became a war on people and we spend more on incarceration than on treatment. Why do we spend more on producing criminals than producing citizens? We need a new bottom line.”

In 2005, according to the Office of Applied Studies, Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Services, the substance abuse statistics for the state of Alabama stated:

• 246,000 people had alcohol dependency
• Total admissions for alcohol rehabilitation and treatment was 2,427
• Less than 1% (actually.009%) of Alabamians received treatment for alcohol

Other Drug Abuse
• 113,000 people had drug dependency other than alcohol
• Total admissions for drug rehabilitation and treatment was 12,645
• 11% of those needing treatment were provided with treatment

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Prodigal Child Project Restoring Peoples Lives!!!

In Alabama, a Fight to Regain Voting Rights Some Felons Never Lost

Steven Frame for The New York Times
Anna Reynolds, a former convict, with her ballot in Dothan, Ala. “Voting, that’s part of getting back to normal life,” she said.

Published: March 2, 2008
DOTHAN, Ala. — The Rev. Kenneth Glasgow, onetime criminal and founder of a ministry called The Ordinary People Society, spent years helping people with criminal records regain the right to vote in Alabama, where an estimated 250,000 people are prohibited from voting because of past criminal activity.
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Steven Frame for The New York Times
The Rev. Kenneth Glasgow has spent years helping people with criminal records to regain the right to vote in Alabama.
Then he discovered that many of them had never actually lost the right.
Because of a quirk in its Constitution, Alabama disqualifies from voting only those who have committed a “felony involving moral turpitude.” Those who have committed other felonies — like marijuana possession or drunken driving — can cast ballots even if they are still in prison, according to the state attorney general.
But it has been slow work cajoling public officials to enforce and publicize the law. Until Friday, the secretary of state’s Web site advised, incorrectly, that those with any kind of felony conviction could not register unless they had served their time and their right to vote had been restored by the Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Because neither the Legislature nor the attorney general has offered a definitive list of crimes involving moral turpitude, there is no way of knowing how many inmates are eligible to vote. But state agencies generally agree that those convicted of drug possession — at least 3,000 of Alabama’s 29,000 prison inmates and thousands more on probation — are eligible. Most felons and former felons, however, assume that they have lost the right to vote.
“This is an issue that’s never come up before,” said Richard F. Allen, the commissioner of corrections. “I would think that if there were any latent feeling out there that they wanted to vote, they would have expressed it by now.”
Mr. Glasgow, who is the half-brother of a far less obscure crusader based in New York, the Rev. Al Sharpton, believes that not only do inmates and former convicts want to vote, but also that their ballots could alter the political landscape in this Republican-leaning state, adding that his group has registered more than 500 people by visiting a handful of county jails.
“There would be a lot of difference in our legislators, our elected officials and our presidents that we’ve had,” he said. “It would definitely change the political spectrum of Alabama.”
Republicans agree. They railed against a statute passed in 2003 that made it easier for some former felons to regain their voting rights by side-stepping a lengthy and backlogged pardon process.
“There’s no more anti-Republican bill than this,” said Marty Connors, the chairman of the state Republican Party, according to news reports at the time. “As frank as I can be, we’re opposed to it because felons don’t tend to vote Republican.”
In the two years after the 2003 statute took effect, more than 5,500 former felons had their rights restored, and interest in the November presidential election is running high, said Sarah Still, manager of the pardons department. In January, Ms. Still received more than 280 applications for voting rights, up from an average of 140 a month last fall.
Nationally, 5.3 million people are barred from voting because of their criminal history, according to a 2004 estimate cited by the Sentencing Project, a criminal justice policy group. In the last decade, as criminals who were swept into prison during the drug war have been released and the difficulty of re-integrating them into society has become clear, at least 16 states have made it easier for former felons to vote.
But in the South, where restrictions on former convicts are among the most severe and in many cases date to Jim Crow laws, there have been fewer changes. Last Monday the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit in protest of a 2006 Tennessee law that requires former convicts to pay back child support before regaining the right to vote. In Alabama, the Republican attorney general, Troy King, has proposed a constitutional amendment that would delete the moral turpitude clause, prohibiting all felons from voting.
Though he is an active Democrat, Mr. Glasgow, 42, says his main goal is not to aid his party but to help former inmates become productive members of society.
But for most of his own life he was hardly an exemplar of civic engagement. Mr. Sharpton, in his memoir, “Go and Tell Pharaoh,” says his parents’ marriage was wrecked when his father, Al Sharpton Sr., had an affair with his mother’s teenage daughter from a previous marriage, resulting in the birth of Kenneth.
By the time Kenneth was a teenager, his mother had taken him to her hometown, Dothan, Ala., where he began to get in trouble for selling drugs, became addicted to crack cocaine and did time in Alabama and Florida for armed robbery and other crimes.
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In Alabama, a Fight to Regain Voting Rights Some Felons Never Lost
Published: March 2, 2008
(Page 2 of 2)
It was during his longest stint in prison, nine years, that the genes of activism and oratory that run in Mr. Glasgow’s family emerged and he began to preach. When he was released in 2001, the bondsman who had repeatedly bailed him out of jail became treasurer of The Ordinary People Society and paid for Mr. Glasgow to attend seminary.
Mr. Glasgow opened a soup kitchen, held church services under a white tent and began to help former convicts like Anna Reynolds, a recovering addict, regain the right to vote — a process often made onerous by the moral-turpitude clause.
As a legal concept, moral turpitude refers to conduct that would be immoral even if it were not illegal, unlike, say, speeding. The delegates to the 1901 constitutional convention who used the term also took away voting rights for other infractions that they believed blacks were more likely to commit, like wife beating, adultery and vagrancy. In 1985 the United States Supreme Court struck down most of the law on the grounds that it was racially discriminatory, but the moral-turpitude clause remained.
Most officials in Alabama were unaware of the clause until 2005, when it came to light after a man on probation tried to vote in St. Clair County. The parole board requested clarification, and the attorney general responded with an incomplete categorization of felonies based largely on previous court decisions.
The opinion leaves a large gray area, said Ms. Still of the pardons department. It says, for example, that rape is a crime of moral turpitude and that assault is not, but offers no clarification on variations like statutory rape or assault with intent to kill.
The parole board settled on a policy of treating drug possession and drunk driving as crimes devoid of moral turpitude, but that has not put an end to the confusion, Mr. Glasgow said.
Initially Ms. Reynolds, 52, was told by the local registrar that she could not vote because of a conviction for drug possession. She applied to the parole board, which told her that it could not restore her right to vote because she had never lost it. Finally, The Ordinary People Society helped cut through the red tape.
On Feb. 5, Ms. Reynolds stood outside the public library handing out sample ballots before casting her own. “Voting, that’s part of getting back to normal life,” she said. “I’ve been out of the loop for a long time, and it was good to have help getting back into the loop.”


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Weighing justice: Two local leaders give their opinion on mandatory sentencing for crack

Wednesday, Jun 06, 2007 - 12:16 AM Updated: 10:45 AM

By Jim Cook
On the scales of justice, five grams of crack cocaine weigh the same as 500 grams of powder cocaine.In 1986 Congress passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, which gave drug dealers in possession of 5 grams of crack, and who were tried and convicted in federal court, the same five-year mandatory minimum sentence as dealers caught with 500 grams of powder cocaine. The stated intent of the law was to stop an epidemic of crack use, which lawmakers believed was creating havoc in the black community. Some black leaders say the law has caused the very problem it was intended to fix – destroying the black community by locking up a generation in need of counseling instead of captivity. People on the other side of the debate say the law has halted the crack epidemic and because of the link between crack and violent crime, removed a potentially dangerous segment of society from the general population.
Do you think that it's fair that distributing five grams of crack cocaine carries the same mandatory minimum federal sentence as distributing five grams of powder cocaine? Yes No

Recently, the Dothan Eagle spoke to two men with differing opinions on the subject, the Rev. Kenneth Glasgow and Houston-Henry County District Attorney Doug Valeska.
Valeska Q&A1. Is it fair that distributing 5 grams of crack carries the same sentence as distributing 500 grams of powder cocaine?“I don’t practice in federal court, but punishments are determined by whatever jurisdiction you’re in... They did that because, in my opinion, the street dealers are a nickel a dozen. There are so many of them, they’re everywhere. The feds passed the statute that crack carries more punishment. It’s on the street in a lot of socioeconomically deprived areas ruining the lives of those young kids. It’s like a giant cancer, it’s destroying everything.”2. Do you think it’s putting an unfairly high number of African Americans in prison?“I’m sick of hearing that as a prosecutor. I don’t prosecute in the federal court system, but I have no doubt that the U.S. attorneys don’t make cases on colors, they don’t go out and target and arrest people because of their color. They make drug cases because the agents who work those cases go out and arrest people. The grand jury that indicts doesn’t ask what color are people.“The U.S. attorney could come into town and run a swoop and catch 100 in a week’s time, but if you go to certain areas of town they won’t sell to you. There’s more of those individuals selling on the street than selling in Brentwood or the Woodlands.” 3. Could it not be argued that by putting away crack dealers for longer periods of time, the sentencing laws are actually making the black community safer because of the link between drugs and violent crime?“There’s no doubt it’s making them safer. The bottom line is that most of our victims in the country are African Americans. Second, the bottom line is that for every drug dealer we get off the street, it makes it harder for people to get it. “I’m tired of hearing that punishment’s not the answer, it’s lifting them up. The question is a lot of people can get help or want help if they ask for it. When’s the time they ask for help – when they’re facing 15 years to life because they’ve got two or three or four prior felony convictions?”4. How should the sentencing laws be changed?“I’m tired of hearing this as a district attorney. First-time possessors and second-time offenders are not going to prison. It’s those individuals that have been convicted and they’re out on probation and they’re flunking their drug tests and they continue to sell, they’re committing crimes and they don’t report, they don’t hold a job. What are you supposed to do with those individuals? Pat them on the back and let them head back into the community to sell death and destruction?”
Glasgow Q&A1. Is it unfair that distributing 5 grams of crack carries the same sentence as distributing 500 grams of powder cocaine?“First of all it’s unfair for the simple fact that powder cocaine and crack cocaine, it’s been medically proven that there’s no difference. When the ACLU did their investigation they found out there was no difference, they found out there was a lot of myths that happened. Twenty-eight judges in the U.S. courts of appeals and district courts who were formerly U.S. attorneys wrote the sentencing commission condemning the current disparity in 2002 and we’re still allowing it to exist in 2007.”2. How has the sentencing disparity impacted the black community?“The current penalties exaggerate the relative harmlessness of crack cocaine. They found out first of all, that the prenatal effects of crack cocaine exposure is identical to the negative effects of powder cocaine exposure. You’ve got a lot of the children around here calling themselves crack babies that feel like somethings wrong with them and they’re ADD, but the medical people found out that there’s no difference in the prenatal effects of powder as it is with crack.“The current penalties sweep too broadly and apply most often to lower-level offenders. When they made up the law that you get five minimum mandatory years for 5 grams crack compared to 500 grams of powder they made it up to direct it toward drug dealers who were traffickers. They found out that what they’re getting are local addicts.“The effect that’s having on the black community is that you’re taking fathers out of the household and you’re diminishing the household and you’re diminishing the progress of the community. Why don’t we take the non-violent offenders and the drug offenders and put them in treatment, alternative sentencing, community corrections, transitional housing. Why don’t we take them and give them some job skills and build up the black community instead of tearing them down?”3. Do you think that when these laws were passed the intent of their framers was to lock up as many African Americans as possible?“I’m going to be honest. I believe when they created these laws there was some leaning toward African Americans. It’s always been stated that powder was a white man’s drug and crack was a black man’s drug so the drug war itself has become a war on people and not a war on drugs. Here at The Ordinary People’s Society, I try to eliminate racism, but it’s hard to get people to think past that when they see the system as being stacked against them.”4. Could it not be argued that by putting away crack dealers for longer periods of time, the sentencing laws are actually making the black community safer because of the link between drugs and violent crime?“I could agree with that, that locking people up for selling crack is diminishing crime. But what about the people who are not selling it. I’m talking about the addicts who need treatment. Most of the people who are getting locked up are not dealers, they’re addicts. Most of the addicts in Dothan alone, it’s nothing for them to get 5 grams of crack.”5. How should the sentencing laws be changed?“The sentencing laws should be equal across the board. One gram of powder to one gram of crack.”Responses were edited for brevity.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Fight for voting rights continues

Politicians, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, religious leaders and civil rights activists, including Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton, gathered to honor the struggle for voting rights in Alabama at events marking the anniversary of Bloody Sunday.
I am comforted by the important gains made by African Americans over the past 40 years, but reminded that the dream of equality Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. imagined is yet to be realized.
On March 7, 1965, marchers seeking voting rights for disenfranchised blacks in the South were beaten by police officers who wanted to stop the Selma to Montgomery protest. The tragic event mobilized broad support for the elimination of racist policies that created obstacles to African-American voting, and helped trigger the passage of the Voting Rights Act. The law was a vital step towards achieving the fundamental democratic principal of universal suffrage.
Despite the historic change, millions of Americans are still excluded from the polls because of restrictive felony voting laws that reflect the dramatic growth of the prison system in recent decades. At the time the Voting Rights Act was implemented, 1.5 million Americans could not vote because of a felony record. Today, more than 5.3 million people are disenfranchised nationally. This rise in the number of disenfranchised adults is an unfortunate reminder that the fight for voting rights goes on.
Alabama has the third highest disenfranchisement rate in the nation because its constitution imposes a lifetime ban on voting for people with certain felony convictions, and as a result nearly a quarter-million of our citizens cannot vote. Alabama is one of only 12 states to permanently bar some citizens from voting even after the completion of their full sentence. Of those disenfranchised in Alabama , nearly 90 percent have been released from prison, and live and work in the community.
Among African-Americans in Alabama , the rate of disenfranchisement is particularly stark. One of every seven African-American adults in Alabama is disenfranchised, a rate nearly twice the national average. Because Alabama imprisons African-Americans at a rate nearly four times that of whites, the racial influences that impact Alabama's criminal justice system contribute to African-Americans' high rates of disenfranchisement.
The result is that black communities have a diminished political voice. Even people without convictions lose political clout because the concerns of the community are not equally represented at the polls.
Since 1997, 16 states have taken steps to reform disenfranchisement laws, resulting in more than 600,000 people regaining the right to vote. Four years ago, the Alabama Legislature sought to improve its voter restoration process as well, by restoring voting rights to eligible people within 50 days of submitting an application.
It was a move in the right direction, but the bureaucratic confusion and inefficiency that arose has illegally denied voting rights to thousands of Alabama citizens. A voter restoration system that applies automatically after release from prison would ease the administrative burdens that delay restoration.
This is in sharp contrast to Attorney General Troy King's recent proposal to make Alabama 's voter system even more backward by requiring all citizens with felony convictions to apply through the bureaucratic restoration process.
The men and women who have redeemed themselves by serving their time in prison should be embraced and welcomed home. Restoring their right to vote is a crucial part of giving them a second chance. As a person who has been previously incarcerated, I know that voting connects you to your community by building responsibility for your neighbors and advancing common goals of democracy. Research has also shown that former offenders who vote are less likely to be rearrested than non-voters.
As we commemorate our advancements, I hope our country's leaders do not forget that the struggle for democracy continues for more than 5 million Americans who cannot vote because of past mistakes. The effort to expand voting rights to people with felony convictions is the new frontier of the civil rights movement. I hope those who marked this anniversary will join it.