The DC Re-Entry Task Force will be meeting on October 11, 2012, at the Public Defender’s Service, located at 633 Indiana Avenue, NW.
Coalition members are set to discuss a bevy of issues:
- Corrections Information Council (CIC) activities
- the Office of Returning Citizens Affairs (ORCA) Commission
- discuss hearings on the Human Rights Bill
- discuss direction on the Re-Entry Facilitation Act
- discuss the recent meetings the Task Force Leadership had with DC Department of Corrections (DOC) Director Thomas Faust
- discuss recent meetings with Legislative Counsel at DC Council Judiciary Committee Christine Setlow
- discuss developments with Hope Village, the halfway house located in southeast DC
In the last meeting, they discussed the DC Jail Video Visiting Town Hall Meeting that was to be held at Deanwood Recreational Center in September. The meeting was organized by DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson‘s office. Director Faust was slated to be in attendance.
Previously Sawyer and White had met with Faust, along with Dr. Lane, the new Director of Programs. According to the Task Force Faust dismissed idea of person visits again at DC Jail, primarily because it would require far too much manpower; but stated that person visits would be granted under special circumstances. The DC Jail has made deep cuts in recent months with its staff. Sawyer mentioned the inmates do not care for it at all, but that’s no secret because statistics shows that inmates who have person-to-person visits react better than those who have video visits.
DC resident Nick Waller was once incarcerated at the DC Jail, and he said, “Installing videos to have visits only goes to show that DC government and jail officials don’t care that much about the inmates. They only care about keeping more money in their pockets.”
There was also talk about Faust not allowing Bibles and Korans, and Sawyer stated that DC Jail staff member Betty Green said the jail will no longer accept donations from churches. Bibles and Korans in bulk cannot be brought in, and in order for an inmate at DC Jail to get a Bible or Koran, he/she must write the book publisher and pay for them on their own, or a family member must reach out to the publisher, pay for them, and the publisher will deliver the Bible or Koran directly to DC Jail.
One of the biggest complaints the Task Force has with DC Government is the Human Rights Legislation, spearheaded by Ward 8 Council member Marion Barry. In their opinion, Councilman Barry, who is a returning citizen, has not been very supportive about introducing the original wording of the bill.
Outside of the meeting, some advocates of returning citizens have said they were very surprised that a bill introduced by the councilman, has virtually gone no where since it’s been introduced. A gentleman who has not been incarcerated in 21 years said that he was told that the bill would not be introduced for a vote unless there were at least four members on the council that supported it, and at the particular time he was told this Councilman Barry didn’t have the votes. Others say they’ve heard that Barry would introduce the bill after the elections in November. Whatever the case is, if the bill isn’t voted on by the end of the year, it will be dissolved.