by Karima Amin
Every year in November, at our last meeting of the year, we try to end on a high note. The work has been good but the New Year seems uncertain to many of us, especially so soon after the presidential election. “Stop and frisk” may become legal policy nationwide. No doubt this would increase the number of Black and Latino men and women in prison, as “stop and frisk” is code for “racial profiling.” Under a Trump administration, this could lead to more arrests, convictions, and higher rates of incarceration. In November 2015, Obama “banned the box” on federal job applications—the box being a standard question about prior convictions—because former prisoners often find their criminal history is a barrier to employment. A simple executive order from Trump could erase Obama’s banned box. This would lead to higher recidivism rates, as this barrier to employment may force a former prisoner to leave a law-abiding path. The United States is the only country in the world that sentences juveniles to life without parole. At this time, more than 150,000 men, women, and children are serving life without parole. Under a Trump administration, that seems unlikely to change. President-elect Trump, ran his campaign as the “law and order” candidate but it should be obvious that he has no interest in criminal INjustice reform.
Last year in November, our guest speaker was Mr. Sha-teek Howse from Buffalo, NY who spent 20 years incarcerated in New York State. He shared his thoughts about mass incarceration as well as some insights regarding solitary confinement. Mr. Howse, who was released 4 years ago, recently published a book, WHAT DID I SAY?: IT’S SOMETHING LIKE POETRY, which chronicles his struggles as well as his successes. This year we have another author, willing to share his thoughts with us. The Arthur A. Duncan II, Esq. is the author of FELON-ATTORNEY.
Mr. Duncan is also from Buffalo, NY but he was raised, for a time, in South Central Los Angeles. Upon returning to Buffalo, his grandparents had a hand in his upbringing. In spite of that, he fell in with the wrong crowd and he started dealing drugs. After 3 years in prison, he left his drug-dealing days behind. After some ups and downs and close calls, he attended Erie County Community College, earned an undergraduate degree at the University of Buffalo, completed law school, and passed the bar. I’ll let him tell you about his life, his family and his plans for the future.
We know that people can change for the better. PRISONERS ARE PEOPLE TOO, INC. has shared many examples over the years. I began by saying that we want to end this year on a high note. Mr. Duncan’s story should make you feel good about life and give you hope for the future. Next year, Erie County Community College will honor Mr. Duncan with its Distinguished Alumni Award. A few copies of FELON-ATTORNEY ($20) will be available at our next meeting which will be Monday, November 28 at the Pratt-Willert Community Center, 422 Pratt Street in Buffalo, from 7:00 – 9:00 pm.
This is the last meeting for the year. We are ending on a high note. Need more info: Karima Amin, firstname.lastname@example.org, 716-834-8438.
“God has not called us to see through each other, but to see each other through.” (Anonymous)