Criminal Justice working group report 4/24/12
The Criminal Justice working group has developed so far as a series of projects. It has not met regularly.
The initial and ongoing project is to make connections across Occupy statewide on criminal justice issues. We got three different Occupies to endorse the rally and lobbying against the 3-Strikes bill, and now have their addresses for future activity.
The second project was to get involved with the organizing around the campaign to stop the 3-Strikes legislation, which was being spearheaded by Occupy the Hood in Boston. Three of us went down to the rally and lobbying and met people as well as took part in the work.
I am now working with Justice for Charles, which Jared went to meet two weeks back. I’ll report on their work below. They should be a good connection for us. I will ask Roger to put their website on ours as a link. http://www.justiceforcharles.org/
They meet most Friday evenings around 6-8 at 12 Longmeadow Court in South Amherst. They meet most fridays for dinner at 6-8 PM. It’s not clear yet if they are meeting this week, but you can contact me for time and place.
Charles Wilhite was convicted in December 2009 for murder and sentenced to Life without possibility of parole. His family and a group of activists, some of whom were involved in the Justice for Jason campaign have been working to get him a new trial on the grounds of his innocence. They are close to the chance at a new trial on the recanting of testimony of all those who have linked Charles to the case, as they are the only links of Charles to the case.
Many of those involved, besides Charles friends and family, are themselves involved in long term organizing around issue of justice and incarceration and the prison industrial complex.
I was down with them on Monday for the 6AM vigil at Court Square that was continued in front of the Court in Courthouse Square in Springfield from 8 to 9. After than we gathered at the courtroom where the original trial judge was holding his last hearing before issuing a decree on the possibility of a new trial at 10AM. There were nearly three dozen people there and the judge ended his hearing by commenting on the fact that we were there and the respect that he saw in that. Later the main lawyer on the appeal said that it was rare for anyone to show up for such hearings and unheard of for so many to show such interest. Which seems to me to indicate that not only is there strong support in the community for Charles but impressive organizing going on. The judge’s decree is promised for 4 or 7 May. There is full committment on the part of the supporters and the lawyers to continue their work regardless of the judges decision.
Most important right now: there will be a rally in Springfield on Saturday May 5th to celebrate the granting of the new trial or if necessary protest its refusal. And I believe we should get people down to that event. There was a representation of 8 to 10 people from this side of the Tofu Curtain today.
I will also ask Roger to add the Real Cost of Prisons project as a further link, as they a very fine local source for local and regional information on the Criminal Justice system. http://www.realcostofprisons.org/board.html