personal stories Archives - Dignity and Power Now

Compton Moms Fight Back Against a System that Targets Their Families

A week ago DPN and the Coalition to End Sheriff Violence turned out to the first town hall put on by the Civilian Oversight Commission. Despite the Lakewood venue being far away and difficult to find we showed up along with organization members of our coalition including the Youth Justice Coalition, Black Jewish Justice Alliance, and the ACLU. The evening though belonged to a team of five mothers, four of them DPN members, who’ve been fighting to expose sheriff’s deputies that have been targeting their families in Compton for months.

Alicia had been coming to every single commission meeting demanding justice for her sons. Every month she shows up. Every month she continues to tell the story of the sheriff’s department raiding her house and wrongfully arresting her sons for a shooting in the area. Every month she vows to keep coming until the commission, the Inspector General, anyone will hold the sheriff accountable for tearing her family apart and holding her sons in custody.

Helen Jones protests with DPN outside of Men’s Central Jail where her son was killed by deputies who called it a suicide in 2009.

One of the mothers, a Youth Justice Coalition leader, shared all the steps she’s been going through to protect her son who is currently in the jails and is not being treated for very serious health conditions. She vividly described not only his medical condition but the process she has been dragged through to advocate for her son who is receiving zero care. You can’t make this stuff up. You can’t stop fighting.

Watch our latest collaboration with Fusion on medical neglect inside prisons and jails:

The data presented by the Inspector General’s Office at the regular commission meeting last Thursday was more confirmation of what Dignity and Power Now has been saying from the beginning: the Los Angeles jails are killing our people. We’ve known this. The Department of Justice has known this. The Sheriff has known this. The anonymous source who contacted us to tip us off of another serious suicide attempt two days ago knew this. Helen, whose son was beaten to death by deputies who called it a suicide, knows this.

The LA Times highlighted our work this week around exposing jail suicides:

‘How many people are being shot?’ L.A. sheriff’s watchdog decries lack of transparency

A little more than two years ago, the primary watchdog over the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department laid out numerous ways the agency was failing to provide the public with basic information about how often deputies use force, the number of complaints alleging misconduct and how many deputies were being disciplined.

Over the last five years the rate of “self-directed violence” as reported by the Inspector General has quadrupled. It’s a crisis in the realest sense of the word and the common denominator is a jail system that destroys the lives of our loved ones.

Through and To the Criminal Judicial System

My personal experience brought me through and to the criminal judicial system. I was found guilty at trial for something that I did not do and was sentenced to one year in county jail. While incarcerated for 6 months in 2011 at the Century Regional Detention Facility (CRDF), I was sexually abused by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies and by medical staff.

When I filed complaints in my first month at CRDF they all fell on deaf ears.

This experience brought me to my role as a Dignity and Power Now campaign lead for support of a Civilian Oversight Commission over the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

As campaign lead I researched for one year civilian oversight commissions and review boards all across the US, Canada, and Europe. My research included budgets, size of police and sheriff’s departments, salaries, staffing, litigation costs, subpoena power, how many commission members, policy, and protocol. I consistently brought forth pertinent information to share with the working group members like what was working for oversight/review boards across the US and what is necessary for future effective civilian oversight commissions.

My research was to sharpen our knowledge of our 5 non-negotiable demands. Subpoena power, no former or current law enforcement, direct the work of the Office of Inspector General, a nine seat panel, and independent counsel. After one year here is what we won: 1. no current law enforcement, 2. nine seat member commission. Now we are in a fight for the Civilian Oversight Commission to obtain subpoena power by changing County Charter.

The purpose of subpoena power is to have access to police personnel files for more transparency and accountability within the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department during investigations regarding police misconduct and excessive use of force. Without subpoena power we simply have an incomplete investigation.

This type of thorough investigation would have helped my personal experience at Century Regional Detention Facility. A civilian oversight commission with subpoena power increases transparency and accountability within the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department during police misconduct investigations.

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My personal experience with advocacy is hands-on education and learning with the American Civil Liberties Union in April 2016. I went to the capital in Sacramento and learned how to lobby senators, assemblymen, and assemblywomen with an ACLU constitutional attorney in support of SB-1286. SB-1286 (or the Police Officer Misconduct Bill) is a bill that would grant subpoena power to all civilian oversight/review boards in the state of California. Although currently waiting to be brought up again in the next bill cycle, SB-1286 is another viable route to make sure Los Angeles County’s Civilian Oversight Commission has the power it needs to be effective.

Stay tuned to our blog or subscribe to our newsletter to stay up-to-date with my work as civilian oversight campaign lead and the fight to change County Charter and pass SB-1286!

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!

applicant_2Organizer

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?

APPLY NOW!

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?

APPLY NOW!

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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

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