Tomorrow, September 2nd, join the Congress of Day Laborers in solidarity to stand up against the retaliatory incarceration of community members
Tomorrow, the Congress of Day Laborers will hold a 24-hour vigil in Lafayette Square, across from the U.S. Attorney’s office, starting with a press conference at 2:00 pm. VOTE members and other allies may join the vigil any time from Thursday, September 1st at 2:00 pm to Friday, September 2nd at 2:00 pm.
Three months ago, William Diaz-Castro, Jose Isaias Lara-Serrano, and Jonny Manzanares exposed flagrant civil rights abuses by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). These abuses are now under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security. As a result, all three face felony reentry charges and permanent separation from their families. They have been incarcerated in St. Tammany Parish Jail for three months.
Over the past two decades the number of offenders sentenced in federal courts has increased dramatically with the enforcement of the immigration felony offense for unlawful reentry into the United States. An increase in such convictions accounts for nearly half of that growth from 1992 to 2012.
The federal Bureau of Prisons recently released a decision to let contracts with private prisons expire. It has spawned a somewhat new conversation around incarceration, which many of us have been living, breathing, and discussing for decades. Here are VOTE’s thoughts.
Three questions to ask regarding any prison reform
First, it is important to consider whether new reform will reduce the number of people in cages, if it will only “move the furniture around” or, worse, will end up increasing the number of people in prison. For example, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that California’s prisons were so overcrowded that incarceration was “cruel and unusual punishment,” California relocated their prisoners instead of releasing some. The new facilities were a combination of taxpayer-owned, and rented from private corporations. This is “moving around the furniture.”
When we filed VOTE v. Louisiana, a lawsuit against the state to restore voting rights to 70,000 people on probation and parole, some maintained their pessimism that our state’s troublesome history on race and criminal justice would lead this effort to a dead end. But recent events have highlighted the importance of asserting, right now, that voting is a right and not a privilege.