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In less than a year, the Alliance for Prison Justice (APJ) has established a statewide network of concerned citizens, professionals, ex-prisoners, family members, and like-minded groups. In addition, it has enhanced communication about changes in Vermont Dept. of Corrections policy, promoted broader participation in hearings, sponsored public events, brought together people living or working near prison facilities, and staged a successful conference.

In hopes of promoting closer cooperation and effective action between groups already addressing specific prison-related issues, APJ was founded in 2001 out of planning meetings organized by Toward Freedom, an educational non-profit organization based in Vermont. Looking beyond official pronouncements, a Coordinating Committee (CC) began to discuss the concrete problems faced by prisoners and their families, and consider potential solutions. Among other things, we concluded that effective independent oversight should be one of the main priorities. read more

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Peltier’s Message: Enough Is Enough 6/02

The following message from Native American leader Leonard Peltier, who has been in prison for25 years for a crime he didn’t commit, was read at the Feb. 16 prison justice conference.

I want to commend you for attending this important conference, and for your good work to build a movement to expose and deconstruct the policies, practices, and abuses that are resulting in an overwhelming imprisonment of poor people, youth, and people of color. In the history of this country, episodes of racism and human rights abuses have played out in different ways, all of which are condemned in hindsight, with many wondering how such abuse could have been allowed. Whether it be genocide of First Nations peoples, slavery, segregation, COINTELPRO, or Japanese concentration camps, few Americans today would say that any of these were right and just. read more

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Focusing on Vermont Prisons 6/02

The need to share problems and solutions about Vermont’s criminal justice system became the inspiration for an all-day event, “It’s About ÔTime’: Bringing Justice to Vermont Prisons,” held on Feb. 16 at a public school in Burlington’s Old North End. The event exceeded expectations: At least 200 people took part, attending 12 workshops and afternoon plenary sessions that featured Vermont lawmakers and experts on citizen oversight. TF was a key sponsor. read more

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Grading Care Behind Bars 5/04

A Vermont report examines prison health issues

The Prisoner’s Health Coalition and the Alliance for Prison Justice (APJ), a project initiated and sponsored by Toward Freedom, have heard stories about the inadequate health care received by prisoners for years. Members of the two Vermont advocacy groups also have talked to people with disabilities about their problems behind bars. To take a more detailed and systematic look, in Fall 2002 the organizations decided to survey the state’s prison population. read more