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Taking Care of Business

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by Karima Amin

Happy New Year! 2016 is here and we are good to go! 2015 was jam packed with actions and movements, some frustrations and disappointments but we accomplished much. Restorative Justice is becoming much more than just a catch phrase as a total of twelve “peace hubs” have been established throughout the city and more are on the horizon. Twice monthly “peace circles” are being conducted with small groups of Youth at the Erie County Correctional Facility and I have been appointed to the Erie County Conditional Release Commission, which will give twenty-five parole-ready and parole-eligible men and women the opportunity to come home early with wrap-around services all set up to ensure a successful reintegration. Our Circle of Supporters for Reformed Offenders is still functioning and happy to report success in our mission of bringing two more reentry candidates home after more than two decades behind the wall.

Regarding State Prison issues, we’ll continue to work with Prison Action Network, the New York State Prisoner Justice Network, the Drug Policy Alliance, and more. In May, we will return to Albany to address our State lawmakers on issues of mass incarceration that affect all of us: parole reform, mental health care in the prisons and solitary confinement. Three months ago, I openly asked for your help in an article entitled “The Work Needs YOU.” Things haven’t changed and the need is great.

The title of this article, “Taking Care of Business,” refers to the business of caring for each other. Unfortunately, when one thinks of “prisoners,” all too often that person is not thought of as being fully human. I am a woman, a teacher, a mother, an activist, an artist, a friend… and the list goes on. A prisoner is more often viewed simply as one convicted of a wrongdoing. This person could be a son or a daughter, a parent or a chef, a musician or a writer… someone worthy of a second chance and willing to be a community asset. The work that we do honors the prisoner and his/her family, believing that they are deserving of humane and professional treatment. Prisoners are people who are behind bars because of a perceived wrong. The work that we do recognizes the prisoner’s humanity, encouraging understanding, respect and empathy. I would like for our first meeting of the new year to be really inspirational.

I am looking for individuals who are willing to discuss the hardships of their imprisonment, the challenges of reintegration, and the obstacles they faced in seeking to establish a legitimate business while dealing with the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction. Get in touch with me if you are willing to be a guest speaker at our next meeting, Monday, January 25, 2016 at the Pratt-Willert Community Center, 422 Pratt Street in Buffalo, from 7:00-9:00pm.

For more information, e-mail or call Karima Amin, karima@prisonersarepeopletoo.org or 716-834-8438.

(Note: Our Program Director, Bro. George BaBa Eng, was in a car accident on January 13. His car was totaled but he will be OK, no broken bones, no fractures. He is badly bruised and in significant pain but he is recuperating at home. Your prayers and healing thoughts are welcomed. Thank you-ka)

“God has not called us to see through each other, but to see each other through.” (Anonymous)

Karima Amin is a longtime Buffalo Activist, Educator, and Storyteller as well as founder and director of Prisoners Are People Too (PRP2).

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