Success Stories Archives - Dignity and Power Now

NOW HIRING: $40,000 and Full Benefits to be a Freedom Fighter!

As the movement to end mass incarceration progresses and grows, so does our staff! Dignity and Power Now is hiring for a full-time Organizer and a part-time Director of Finance.

We are an abolitionist organization working for the dignity and power of all incarcerated people, their families, and communities, and we strive to build the leadership of formerly incarcerated Black and Brown people. The ideal candidates will be strategic thinkers, storytellers, sociable, passionate about prison abolition, and will have a basic understanding of the Los Angeles County jail system. Formerly incarcerated people are encourage to apply!


The Organizer will be responsible for building the member base of Dignity and Power Now by doing outreach throughout the county of Los Angeles, planning and implementing campaigns, representing DPN at events, and will work closely with our Organizing Director Jayda Rasberry.

Do you like talking to people about how much jails suck?
Are you receptive to trauma and mental health issues?
Do you have 3-5 years experience in grassroots organizing?
Are you passionate about building Black leadership?
Are you ready to join a badass team of abolitionists?


applicant_1Director of Finance

The Director of Finance and Fundraising will develop financial protocol, develop budgets, and will be responsible for foundation fundraising towards our annual budget. (We are open to those with other financial contracts to apply as this is a part-time position.)

Do you get psyched about fundraising to abolish the prison industrial complex?
Do you like creating revolutionary budgets?
Are you ready to write some radical grants to fund the movement?
Are you looking forward to presenting your hard work to our fiscal sponsor and our Board?
Are you ready to join a badass team of abolitionists?


A Success Stories Story

August 17, 2015
Guest Blog By: Lirisi ‘Bless’ Arzu

My name is Lirisi Arzu. I am 26 years old and I was a participant in Success Stories. The group in itself was a delight. It’s probably the only self-help program tailor-made for millenials (in prison). It is a fusion of business and therapy, which is just the right blend for both social and economic success.

A lot of us have been traumatized by what we’ve seen and experienced in life. This group gave us the outlet to express our thoughts and emotions about those situations. How they molded/impacted our lives and what was needed to be done in order for us to turn our lives around. The therapeutic aspect of the course definitely delved deep into core problems. That’s something a lot of us, especially I, have never done before. Not to mention the group’s full-hearted belief in self-employment.

The second phase taught us all about business. It talks about raising capital, how to formulate a business plan, down to the marketing. But, it’s much more than that. It teaches you how to budget your money and how to invest in stocks. Like I said earlier, it’s the perfect blend for social and economic success. The only requirement is that you need to want to change and do something positive not just for those dependent on you but for yourself.

I personally believe that this group should be incorporated in every prison and inner-city high school in the nation because everybody deserves a chance to succeed in this game we call life.


Lirisi ‘Bless’ Arzu is a DJ and Success Stories graduate. He is being released and deported to Belize in March 2016. Contact him on Facebook or via email.

AB 512: Credit Incentives for Incarcerated People

Using the Legislative Process as a Tool to Fight for the Human Rights of Incarcerated People: AB 512 Credit Incentives for Incarcerated People

“[Prison] relieves us of the responsibility of seriously engaging with the problems of our society, especially those produced by racism and, increasingly, global capitalism.”
– Angela Davis

A national tragedy, the systematic targeting of black, brown, and poor bodies by the American criminal justice system has resulted in these populations being disproportionately represented in overcrowded, unhealthy, and unsafe jails and prisons. Far from being rehabilitative, these spaces strip individuals of their dignity and fundamentally violate their constitutional and human rights. Moreover, the constant policing, targeting, and incarcerating of vulnerable people has a massive traumatic impact, not only on the incarcerated individual, but on the families and communities surrounding them.

Dignity and Power Now is cosponsoring a bill that will permanently reduce Californian prison populations by bringing people home sooner. AB 512, which is currently making its way through the California legislature, is a bill that will encourage incarcerated individuals who are imprisoned in California state prisons to participate in educational, skill-building, and other programs that will reduce the amount of time that they will spend inside prisons.

We understand that the existence of structural racism, poverty, and other human rights violations, play a large role in the rates at which people enter and return to jails and prisons. We recognize that in our society the odds are stacked against those returning home from prison, especially if they are black, brown, and poor and that this bill will help to give them tools to re-adjust to their communities, making it less likely that they will return to prison.

While our ultimate goal is the abolition of the prison industrial complex using more creative, sustainable, beneficial, and human rights-compliant alternatives, we also want to do everything that we can now to bring our loved ones home.

Women, men, and gender nonconforming people currently serving sentences in California’s prisons have come out in strong support of AB 512. “Everyone needs some encouragement,” one impacted person said, “I believe this is one way. I believe it will help me go home [to] my loved ones” because “it helps to reunite parents with their loved ones faster by allowing the inmates to earn more credits toward their release.”

As one woman said, “my first grandchild was born Feb 17, 2015 and has had open heart surgery so him and his mother (my daughter) both need me [home]” and another proclaimed that “[AB 512] is the light at the end of the tunnel.”


Here are 6 things that you need to know about AB 512:

1.   California’s prisons continue to be overcrowded, which compromises the safety of incarcerated people and reduces the effectiveness of rehabilitation efforts.

2.   The bill was introduced by Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay) and is co-sponsored by Dignity and Power Now, Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Friends Committee on Legislation in California, and the American Friends Service Committee.

3.   The bill envisions that people who are serving time can earn credits when they participate in certain programs including education, trade, and substance abuse programs.

4.   Earning these credits can take time off of their overall sentence, allowing them to come home to their families sooner.

5.   Right now, incarcerated individuals can earn only up to 6 weeks worth of credit to be applied to their sentence per year, but our bill would increase that to 18-weeks per year.

6.   These Credit Earning programs have a proven track record of helping people released from prison avoid being sent back.


How to support AB 512:

1.   Currently, the bill is in the Assembly Appropriations Suspense File and has a hearing date of Thursday, May 28. Suspense File is where many bills die, so we need support now to get it through.

2.   RIGHT NOW: Tweet the author Assemblymember Mark Stone and the appropriations chair Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez and say, “I support AB 512!” Click to tweet! Make sure to hashtag #YEStoAB512!

3.   AFTER MAY 28TH, if we’re successful, AB 512 will go to the Assembly floor where it will be voted on by all Assemblymembers (before June 5). This will be the time to contact YOUR Assemblymember to ask them to vote for the AB 512.

Photo: Balthazar Beckett

Welcome New DPN Staff!

Carrie Leilam Love
Cultural Arts Coordinator

carrie_staff_photoCarrie Leilam Love is an artist and freedom fighter from Oakland, CA. She writes short stories and poems about love and struggle. Sometimes she does narrative based performance art. She’s been a teaching artist and arts administrator in the Bay Area for 10 years. She is the daughter and sister of formerly incarcerated black men and goes hard to smash the prison industrial complex in their names and in solidarity with incarcerated people world wide.





Chantal Coudoux
Associate Development Director

chantal_profileChantal graduated from Scripps College with a BA in politics with a focus on race theory and social justice. She has volunteered with Dignity and Power Now for the last two years. She focuses on development and programmatic work with Success Stories. Prior to her time at Dignity and Power Now, Chantal worked with a Los Angeles based civil rights organization doing policy advocacy and community organizing. She is a big fan of cats, fútbol, bachata, and The Backstreet Boys.





Salimah Hankins, Esq.
Director of Legislative Advocacy

salimah_profileSalimah Hankins is a human rights activist, community organizer, attorney, creative-writer, dancer, cyclist, street-art-enthusiast, and a traveler. Before starting as the Director of Legislative Advocacy at Dignity and Power Now, she served as the CERD Consultant for the United Nations’ “Race Treaty” (CERD) review for the US Human Rights Network. Salimah has advocated for the rights of low-income clients of color as a civil rights attorney at the ACLU of Maryland and the Fair Housing Justice Center. She has also served as a legislative aide to a Massachusetts state senator, director of human rights for a Brooklyn-based human rights organization, prisoners rights law clerk at a Boston-based civil rights law firm, and a pro bono attorney for a variety of civil rights groups. She has also given lectures, presented her research at conferences, and published in a variety of journals. Salimah is originally from New Orleans and has called Boston, Baltimore, and Brooklyn home. She currently resides in the Bay Area with her husband who teaches literature (with a focus on race and gender) at the college level. Salimah enjoys reading about and fighting for the liberation of oppressed peoples, and snuggling with her cat, Malcolm.