July 2014 Update
The Law and Justice committee meeting was very interesting and encouraging again this month. Many people testified on many issues. I thought the most impressive was Ms. Swan-Smith who is a former counselor and employee of Shelby prison. She testified as to why she quit and could not work under the injustices being done at the prison concerning mentally ill and all prisoners. She told them medications are not given on time; there is abuse by staff and the board, poor food quality and mismanagement of IWF funds. YOU GO GIRL!!!!! After I presented she introduced herself to me and said she looked forward to working together and meeting in Billings soon. I to am looking forward to hearing much more from her. As for us I handed in all the changes we made to the bill drafts with our comments as to why we want the changes. At the end of the meeting I had another opportunity to speak and that is when I handed in all of your Board Experience Survey’s. Chairwoman McDonald said they would make digital copies of all of them and that they would indeed be reading them. The draft letter to the feds was postponed until next meeting on Sept. 3rd. Senator Jent brought up the fact that in order to call in the feds a crime has to be committed. We believe as all of you do that many crimes have been committed. They need proof of this before they will approve the letter. It was also said that they want to come talk to some of you again, the problem is they only get to talk to prisoners that will say what they are told to say. The committee wants to put an end once and for all to all the rumors about misuse of funds and all the other crimes committed within the system. So this morning I sent an email offering to supply the committee with a list of names of those of you who would tell the truth about what really goes on. So if you are interested in being on that list and can speak to crimes committed and show evidence please let me know ASAP so I can follow up with the committee. Please don’t waste committee member’s time with acquisitions bring up only what you can prove. I will collect names from ALL facilities. During the meeting many brought up the injustice recently done to Barry Beach. Sen. Hill said the committee should draft a bill that gives the power to the governor instead of the board to prevent this from ever happening again. We supported this and the reentry initiative as well as the letter to the feds. That about sums up my thoughts on the meeting hope this encourages you as it does me.
We will no longer be collecting board survey’s but I want to thank all of you for helping getting those back to me and for all the hard work and time you put into the bill drafts and comments. I really do appreciate all you do to help me understand what’s going on and how you want us to move forward. You made my life so much easier to present to the committee. Last month I sent you the info on the Prison Issues Board their next meeting is Sept 16th at the MWP. If you have things to bring up there please get those to me before that date. We are planning to be more involved with that committee as well and are willing to help with whatever we can, we will be encouraging other advocacy groups like ours to get involved as well because we all know there is strength in numbers. Also in our last update we spoke about our new relationship with the Indians People Action a group in Butte that advocates for Native American prisoners. They were also at the L&J meeting and spoke about issues at Shelby concerning Native American prisoners. We will be helping them collect surveys so if you are NA I hope you will help them by filling these out and returning them to either us.
I hope you guys can feel the love coming your way….YOU ARE NOT ALONE anymore there are many groups stepping up to advocate for change and to help correct problems within the system. It’s a new day in 2014. Enjoy what you can of the holiday and reflect on the greatness of this country. Only in America do we have the rights we do and the power to change things that are unjust and wrong. HAPPY 4th and many blessings to all of you.