June 2014 Update
This update is a little late I know. We have been getting ready for the Law and Justice Committee meeting this Friday. I want to thank all of you who have sent in survey’s and especially thank those of you who have worked so hard to help me get ready to testify. I really appreciate your hard work and time, I know you guys are working on your own cases and for you to take a few weeks off from that to help me is a blessing for sure. So we will be finalizing our testimony this week and will be ready to bring it all to the committee. When this is over I will keep my word to you to get busy with the issues board. In case some of you have not heard of the Prison Issues Board there is one and the purpose of it is to bring forth your issues be it policy, procedures or injustice and illegal treatment of prisoners in Montana. They do move the meeting around the state so if I can not make one in person for whatever reason I will submit our concerns on your behalf every time they meet. So please submit whatever issues you may have concerning the treatment of prisoners and conditions of the prisons in our state.
My friend Michaelynn Hawk contacted me about a group called Indian People’s Action that is advocating for the Native prison population. She is a great resource and advocate and I encourage the Native population to write to Lita about any concern you may have. They have a survey for the Native prison population to do that you can get from me or them that will really help them help you. We have pledged to help them in whatever way we can. Here is the info she sent me this morning. Please consider writing them if you are interested in finding out more and you Native American.
Indian People’s Action organizes against issues of social, racial, economic, and environmental injustices. Seeking to bring awareness, solidarity, and healing. Imprisoning a disproportionate number of Native Americans leaves a gaping hole in our tribal community and in our families. Instead, we should be focusing on strengthening our Native communities and creating healthy families.
Lita Pepion-Board member for Indian People’s Action
P.O. Box 30012
Billings, Montana 59107
The U.S. Sentencing Commission held an all-day hearing on drug guideline retroactivity. As you know, the Commission agreed to lower guidelines by two levels for most drug offenders coming into prison after November 1, 2014. The question they tackled today is whether to apply that lower guideline to people already serving drug sentences. The Commission has estimated that about 51,000 prisoners could be eligible for lower sentences if the Commission approves retroactivity and their average sentence reduction would be about 23 months. Federal judges support retroactivity of the drug guideline. Judge Irene Keeley spoke on behalf of the Federal Judicial Conference and said that although retroactivity could result in motions from 51,000 prisoners that was the courts’ “burden to bear.” She also called it a “moral issue” and said it would be fundamentally unfair to categorically deny retroactivity to prisoners.
I am finishing up the newsletter so if you have something you want to submit please get it to me this week. As usual we are always looking for Advisory Board members especially from the regionals but could use more in all facilities. Let me know if you would like to get more involved. Thank all of you again for your constant prayers, help and support.
Many blessings to all of you,
Connections Box 4142 Bozeman, MT. 59772