Incarcerated people have the same needs and fears as the un-incarcerated. But incarceration institutions, by their very nature, deny the humanity of the people they house. This continual denial of humanity leads to psychological scarring that lasts long after a person is released.
The House passed the Heroes Act (H.R. 6800), a comprehensive bill to further address the COVID-19 pandemic and economic fallout. FCNL has been lobbying Congress to include many policy provisions in the next COVID-19 bill.
Too often when Congress passes legislation, they exclude people with violent offenses. This does not work. These reforms leave out too many people, the cost of incarceration is too high, and it’s cruel given all the people we leave out of relief.
The COVID-19 pandemic has drilled into us a standard set of precautionary measures: Wash your hands, maintain distance from other people, and avoid groups. But there is a population within our society that is unable to take the precautions that we take for granted: incarcerated people.
In its 2019 session, the California State Legislature banned the state from entering into contracts with for-profit prisons, including for immigrant detention. As a Quaker organization, FCNL applauds this initiative. Private business interests have no place in the justice system. For-profit corporations exacerbate the horrific effects of detention felt by millions of people and families.
Between the escalation with Iran and the impeachment hearings, Congress has been abuzz with activity so far this year—and advocates have been hard at work, too. The president’s State of the Union address, set for Feb. 4, will serve as an important point of reflection for FCNL and all those working to create change in Congress.
The 1994 crime bill, formally known as the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, reframed the U.S. attitude towards criminal justice. Instead of compassion and rehabilitation, the focus shifted towards being “tough on crime.” Through numerous cuts and changes, the 1994 crime bill extended this “toughness” to the treatment of our incarcerated population. One target of the bill was education: After 1994, incarcerated individuals could no longer access Pell Grants.
Recently, I joined Illinois Rep Danny Davis to talk about lifting the Pell Grant ban and giving people more access to education. Congress has introduced a bill - the bipartisan REAL Act (H.R.2168 /S.1074) - which would restore access to Pell Grants. But it is not moving as fast as planned and needs some helpful pressure for final passage.
This fall Congress has a chance do do something life-changing: restore access to Pell Grans for incarcerated students. On September 10, 2019, FCNL hosted a special briefing with Rep. Danny Davis (IL-07) and José Woss, FCNL’s legislative manager for criminal justice.
FCNL's multi-issue advocacy connects Quaker testimonies with legislation in the U.S. Congress and the administration.
FCNL has moved to telework!
The FCNL offices are temporarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. We are lobbying online and by phone for the world we seek. Your engagement with Congress at this time is essential! Join us and become a monthly donor.