What's Happening

The Truth Behind OITNB Season 3
In the recently released third season of Orange is the New Black, Litchfield Prison faces a possible closure because of lack of funding, and is taken over by a private prison corporation. While Orange is the New Black (OITNB) does not always capture the true brutalities of the prison system, this prison privatization is not confined to the world of fiction, nor to the federal prison system.
In 1829, Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia began using solitary confinement to better rehabilitate prisoners. In this prison, they believed those isolated in cells alone with the Bible, a small window, and honest work would begin to repent. Almost a century after its opening, this strategy was repurposed for punishment. Critics had won the debate with compelling arguments about solitary’s ineffectiveness and inhumanness. So began the torture of American citizens.
I have spent more than half my life as a community organizer advocating for change in the prison system in Los Angeles. My first brush with the system was as a child experiencing my father cycling in and out of the system until he passed away in 2009. Despite witnessing my father’s struggles, I didn’t really become aware of the depth of injustice in the system until I was 16.
Tuesday, April 7th was my fifth day as the new State Field Director here at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. Along with many of our allies in the movement against imprisonment here in California, myself and other folks at the Ella Baker Center were up in Sacramento to advocate for a series of important criminal justice bills that were being heard by the Public Safety Committees.
"Jobs, Not Jails" was the chant of the crowd of approximately 40 community members and faith leaders who gathered at the Alameda County Administration building in Oakland on Tuesday, January 20th. During the rally, people filled the Board of Supervisors' office to demand more county funding for jobs, education, healthcare, and housing. The participants also expressed their support of the #BlackFriday14 BART protestors, and urged the Alameda County District Attorney to drop the criminal charges against them.
Last night, 60 community members and faith leaders gathered in front of the Alameda County Administration building in Oakland to demand more funding for jobs, not jails, from the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. 
Excerpted from Black Prophetic Fire by Cornel West in Dialogue with and Edited by Christa Buschendorf. Copyright 2014. Excerpted with permission by Beacon Press. In Black Prophetic Fire, Cornel West, in conversation with scholar Christa Buschendorf, aims to shed light on what is missing from the fight for justice today by examining past Black leaders. In the following excerpt, they discuss the work of Ella Baker.  
Excerpted from Black Prophetic Fire by Cornel West in Dialogue with and Edited by Christa Buschendorf. Copyright 2014. Excerpted with permission by Beacon Press. In Black Prophetic Fire, Cornel West, in conversation with scholar Christa Buschendorf, aims to shed light on what is missing from the fight for justice today by examining past Black leaders. In the following excerpt, they discuss the work of Ella Baker.  
Harlem,1964. Philadelphia, 1964. Watts 1965. Newark, 1967. Detroit, 1967. Omaha, 1969. Miami, 1980. Washington D.C., 1991. Los Angeles, 1992. Cincinnati, 2001. Oakland, 2009. Ferguson, 2014.
Proposition 47, Explained
This November 4th, when Californians go to the polls, they will have the opportunity to vote on Proposition 47, the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act. This initiative is a criminal reform to reclassify some nonviolent crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, permitting re-sentencing for prisoners serving time for crimes classified as felonies prior to its passage.