Women in prison: Visiting author imagines options, honors work of local volunteers

“Imagining a world beyond incarceration” is the theme of Maya Schenwar’s new book, a critique on the nation’s prisons entitled Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn’t Work and How We Can Do Better. Schenwar will read from her book and help readers imagine a world beyond incarceration on Saturday, November 22. The reading and discussion, set for 3:00 p.m. at Boneshaker Books, 2002 23rd Avenue South in Minneapolis, is free and open. Schenwar’s reading is sponsored by the Women’s Prison Book Project (WPBP) which is housed at Boneshaker. Continue Reading

OPINION | A thought caused it all: Exploring common ground for change, from both sides of prison walls

As I sit here at my desk in Lino Lakes Correctional Facility, I watch the mid-afternoon traffic of Highway 35 pass my window. I’m subdued by the sound of early October rain as it hits my window sill. I can hear the sound of jangling keys as they pass my door, the ever-present presence of the correctional officer. Usually it makes me nervous, but today it does not.

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OPINION | Voting rights for the incarcerated: It’s election year again and nobody cares

There are voter’s rights advocacy groups in Minnesota and around the country working hard to further restore felons’ rights to vote, but less of a push to reinstate those presently incarcerated for felony convictions, and even misdemeanor convictions in eight states. There are some that believe rights should only be restored after release. This supposes it is harder to advocate for us while we are still in a cell, than when the cell is opened.

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Video: Breaking school-to-prison pipelines

Students, parents and teachers are demanding Minnesota eliminate school-related discipline practices that heighten certain acts to criminal offenses. It would go a long way in breaking the school-to-prison pipeline, which disproportionately targets youth of color. Getting school resources officers (which are police stationed in schools) out of the buildings will also limit the number of students who wind up in the criminal justice system, researchers and activists say.More school staff diversity and implementing restorative justice measures will also help ensure safer schools. Continue Reading

‘School-to-prison pipeline, stop, stop, stop!’

Twin Cities youth and their adult allies received supportive honking and shouting from drivers as they gathered with banners at the intersection of University Avenue and Lexington Parkway in St. Paul on March 13. Their aim: to raise awareness about discipline concerns in schools and to demonstrate against the school-to-prison pipeline.The group of about 30 advocates marched down University Avenue to Gordon Parks High School where they were joined by additional students and supporters. Standing in front of Gordon Parks High School, some students took turns sharing personal experiences with disciplinary action in schools.This was the second rally organized in recent weeks by the NAACP St. Paul Youth and Collegiate Branch. Continue Reading