NCPCF                                            Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Seventh Annual Conference Report
Walking the Talk to Justice
Dear Friends,

The theme of the 2017 NCPCF Families conference was  “Strengthening Our Communities: Walking the Talk to Justice”.  One of our key goals was to empower family members and equip them with advocacy skills. The afternoon workshops focused on action, including lobbying, using the media, and also a youth workshop on utilizing art in the search for justice – facilitated by Nida Abu Baker.
The first workshop of the afternoon, Lobbying for Our Loved Ones, provided some of the basics of gaining power through the political process.  Presenters were Steve Downs (Project Salam and former Executive Director of NCPCF), Lynne Jackson (Project Salam) and Ahmed Bedier (United Voices). In this workshop, the emphasis was first on the importance of registering to vote – and voting!  Politicians are not concerned about people who do not vote. It is also important to get to know your representatives, and so participants were given a hands-on lesson of locating them. This was all followed by tips on how to act during meetings, in preparation for actual lobbying on Capital Hill on Monday.
On Monday morning, thirteen people, including family members and NCPCF staff visited the offices of six senators and one representative. In each case the family member who was the constituent told their story.The issues that we discussed were the use of solitary confinement, Communication Management Units (CMUs) and Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) – all of which are very harsh conditions of confinement to which Muslims are frequently subjected. Also discussed were mandatory minimum sentences and the terror enhancement of sentencing, both of which lead to excessively long sentences.  FBI informants and entrapment were also brought up.
The surprise of the day was that many of the people we spoke to had never heard of some of these serious issues, thus stressing how vitally important it is to talk to those who represent us  in Washington, DC.
In solidarity,

Mel Underbakke, Ph.D.
Executive Director, NCPCF
Leena Al-Arian
Deputy Director, NCPCF

For more information, see:

The Darkest Corner: Special Administrative Measures and Extreme
Isolation in the Federal Bureau of Prisons

Solitary Confinement: Torture in U.S. Prisons
CMUs: The Federal Prison System’s Experiment in Social Isolation
Trevor Aaronson: How this FBI strategy is actually creating US-based terrorists



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