Adopt an Inmate

Calling all Angels

Neither Snow Nor Rain …

Everyone at AI headquarters and all our volunteers are pulling together to help get some of the backlog of mail cleared out by the end of the year. The office cats, Scout (top) and Boo (bottom) are always doing their part.

Check out the recent stamp donations – we’re so grateful!

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Happy Thanksgiving

Leah and I are using the holiday to put in a solid four days of work to clear out some of the back log of mail.

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About 11:00, we had a surprise visitor bearing a holiday meal for each of us (provided by the local Elks Lodge:

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AND, a personal donation of $500 to go towards our website fundraiser!

We are so grateful.

A blessed Thanksgiving to our entire AI family.

 

Oregon Voters: Congressman Peter DeFazio on Mandatory Minimum Sentencing

In response to a letter we sent to Congressman DeFazio in Oregon, we received the following:

Dear Ms. Brown:

Thank you for contacting me about mandatory minimum sentencing. We are in complete agreement on this issue. 

You will be pleased to know that I have consistently supported legislation to either reduce or eliminate mandatory minimum sentences. For example, I was a cosponsor of the Smarter Sentencing Act last Congress. This bill would have reduced mandatory minimum sentences for certain non-violent drug offenses. The bill also would have directed the U.S. Sentencing Commission to review and amend its guidelines for sentencing and requires the Attorney General to submit a report on how cost savings from these changes will be used to further reduce prison overcrowding and invest in prevention, intervention, and improved law enforcement.

With federal prisons currently operating at between 35 and 40 percent above their rated capacity, there is no question our federal sentencing system needs reform. I have long had serious concerns about the increased use of mandatory minimum sentences, particularly for non-violent first time drug offences. I have met with many judges who felt sentences they were required to hand down were excessive, but were unable to apply any discretion to the sentences because of mandatory minimum laws. The effects of such sentences from these failed policies are making hardened criminals out of non-violent offenders.

In place of mandatory minimums I support reinstating federal parole, among other policy options. I am also interested in alternatives to incarceration where appropriate. For example, I have always supported funding for drug treatment courts. Drug courts play an important role in breaking the cycle between drug abuse and crime.  They combine substance abuse treatment, mandatory drug testing, sanctions and incentives, and transitional services to help substance-abusing offenders get back on their feet and prepare for re-entry into the community. These services are not only critical for past abusers by helping individuals become self-sufficient and contributing members of society, but drug courts also help build safer communities. Additionally, as a County Commissioner I fought hard to establish a work camp that served as an alternative to incarceration. I believe that it would be worthwhile to look into similar alternatives on a federal level. 

Thanks again for contacting me. You can be sure I will continue to fight for long overdue reforms to our criminal justice system. Please keep in touch.

Sincerely,

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE PETER DeFAZIO
Fourth Congressional District, Oregon

Happy Halloween

 

 

From our friend Roy in Texas – he handmade this intricate 3D card.

 

We All Matter

This is an email I received from our remarkable friend “Joseph,” incarcerated in Washington’s Monroe Correctional Complex. Joseph is organizing an inmate fundraiser, to help us pay for our new website after we lost our funding.

Oddly, America, and I suppose humanity as a whole has a long history of allowing our diversity to cause divisiveness.

When the English first began settling here, they persecuted and slaughtered innumerable Native Americans. Then as more Europeans came, the divisiveness continued as the Irish, German, Italian and others were designated as less than because they were different.

The era of slavery, which many of us (myself included) imagine as ending after the civil war, took on many more sinister faces.

One startling example is the Black Codes, which were enacted by the southern states post war, and required freed “blacks” to have a written verification of employment every year, else they were arrested for vagrancy, and rented out to the highest labor contractor. Then, since they were not slaves which required food and health to be useful, they would work them to death, or beat them brutally and leave them to die.

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This provoked the Reconstruction Era, and brought about the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to our constitution.

However, the horrors persisted through the 1960’s when the civil rights movement gave a minor reprieve… Which brought about the creation of our modern prison industrial complex. Devastation to communities torn asunder by the incarceration of their (for the most part) men, fatherless children, families without providers…and then the return of men damaged beyond repair by their incarceration experience. Men who further burdened their communities by the cruelty they often had to embrace in order to survive inside.

Our diversity in here has caused divisiveness, historically. Whites v Blacks, Latino v Latino…and all of us against the guards, as well as society.

We are all human. We are all citizens of America. We all matter. We all have much more in common than we do differences.

Yes, my dear friend, you and I know this truth, but how do we get that message to the people that do not know?

When I get out, I intend to do public speaking and one of my key goals will be to raise awareness about the continued value of every man, woman, and child. Free or incarcerated.

Update: Website Fundraiser – 7 days left

Inmate Fundraiser Update:

We have seven days to make a payment of $750.00 to our dream web-design team. Prisoners, whose average earnings are $35 a month, have donated $350 in a single week. 

After we unexpectedly lost funding for our new website, inmates rallied to help.


“I discovered a nonprofit promoting the dream of every man and woman incarcerated: for people in society to see our continuing human value — despite the mistakes we have made.”


The words above are from a speech delivered by a Washington inmate, kicking off their fundraiser to benefit Adopt an Inmate.

In addition to the inside fundraisers, we continue to receive encouraging letters from inmates – thanking us for our work and donating what little they have, so that more inmates can be helped.

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We have seven days to make a payment of $750.00 to our dream web-design team. Prisoners, whose average earnings are $35 a month, have donated $350 in a single week. 

Can you match the generosity of a prisoner?

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Seven days left, every single dollar helps.

AI is a registered domestic non-profit, all donations are tax-deductible. Please share with anyone interested in criminal justice reform.

Adopt an Inmate Needs Your Help

There’s good news and bad news …

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Many of you are aware of our website re-design which is underway. We were lucky enough to find a talented design team that is both excited about the project, and supportive of our cause – so much so that they have adopted an inmate.

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On the verge of the relaunch, our funding fell through. Our designers have honored their end of the contract, and we need your help to get them paid.

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Upon learning of our predicament, some of the inmates have rallied and are sending personal donations and organizing fundraisers on the inside to help us get our vendor paid for their outstanding work, so we can move ahead with the project, and avoid late fees.

The Inside Campaign

Our friend, we’ll call him Joseph, is a Tier Representative in Washington’s Monroe Correctional Center who believes in the mission and spirit of our organization. He and his fellow inmates have chosen Adopt an Inmate as the recipient of their in-house fundraisers for the next three months. Their campaign will kick off today, with a speech and a challenge delivered by Joseph to donate a portion of their own monthly pay (an average of $35 per month) over the next three months. Joseph is starting off their campaign with a personal donation of $200.00!

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We have a short time to raise $3,000. Please help by matching the goodwill and efforts of the Washington inmates. Completion of the website project will ensure that more volunteers are reached, and ultimately more forgotten people will have support from the outside.

Can you donate more than a guy who makes $35 a month at his prison job?

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AI is a registered domestic non-profit, all donations are tax-deductible. Please share with anyone interested in criminal justice reform.

Fall 2016 Quarterly E-Newsletter

Click on the image to open the PDF. Sign up here to receive each new issue in your email.

This publication was created for you – family members, friends, and advocates of prisoners. In each issue you will find useful resources for and from inmates; artwork, stories, and recommendations from both adopters and adoptees; and news from the staff. Don’t forget to print and send a copy to your inmate loved one. We welcome your feedback and comments (use link above).

First page shown below, Full PDF here.


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Michael Henderson’s Review of Night by Elie Wiesel

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It’s not very often I can say that I’m sorry I missed the contemporaneous contributions to humanity by any particular human being. The recent passing of Elie Wiesel has left me feeling that loss.

The vivid portrayal of Mr. Wiesel’s Second World War atrocities were nothing less than shocking and left me with an urgent need to know more about the boy who survived some of the most inhumane conditions ever perpetrated by man, and the man who endured and grew from those conditions.

Much of the treatment meted from the German SS was, I am sure with good reason, not described in Night. Nonetheless, Elie Wiesel is an author I plan on learning more from — even posthumously.

This edition was translated by the person who knew him best — his loving wife — who lost nothing in translation. I was moved for the entire Jewish populous for their ordeal, but I felt uniquely helpless for the author who found the strength to re-live his pain in order to heal the world.

With intense, gripping narrative, I was unable to put the book down until I was overcome by the need to sleep. But sleep doesn’t come easy with the realization of what humans are capable of doing to each other, and how hard Elie Wiesel worked, through his writings, to change the world — his and ours.

Five stars and I’m looking for more.

Michael Henderson, FL

Rick Fisk’s Review of Church History in Plain Language (Third Edition) by Bruce L. Shelley

Book Image: Church History in Plain Language

Have you ever wondered why there are so many Christian denominations? Wondered what the difference between a Greek Orthodox and and a Roman Catholic is? Did you know that the word iconoclast, used today as a label for those who clash against tradition, once represented those who split orthodoxy from Rome?

Bruce Shelley, professor of church history at the Denver Seminary, has written a fascinating history of the Christian Church which spans the life of Jesus and creation of His church until the present day. While the book is not exhaustive, it is thorough enough to reveal the answers to many questions both believers and non-believers have regarding  historical Christianity.

For instance, I have been told many times from many sources that what constituted biblical ‘canon’ – those books accepted as being inspired works – were decided at the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. I assumed that this was the truth. You know what they say about that. In truth, it was the body of Christians themselves who decided what constituted the bible. By 190 A.D., more than a hundred years before the Council of Nicea, most of the New Testament had been assembled and was in use based on the individual self-evident nature of the works. Only a few books were questioned by the time of Constantine’s reign as emperor and head of the church. The Nicean council already had its Bible. Its job was to issue a decree about the divinity of Jesus, not to determine Biblical canon. This didn’t mean that every church member had his own Bible, but nearly every church had either the Hebrew or Greek Old Testament and the ‘apostles memoirs’ and letters which were read during services.

These facts struck me as extremely important. There are many people who scoff at the Bible, claiming that it was assembled by a bunch of crusty old patriarchs bent on dominating their subjects with tales of hellfire and brimstone. Shelley’s book puts the lie to that idea and exposes at the same time atrocities performed in the name of ‘righteousness,’ such as the Crusades and the Inquisition.

The best thing that can be said of this book is that it informs us while keeping us interested. Shelley’s work belongs alongside the works of McCullough or McPhee in terms of its prose and quality.

Five stars. 

Rick Fisk – TDCJ

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