rise of the dandelions Archives - Dignity and Power Now

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!

Civilian Oversight Nominees

For over three years our Coalition to End Sheriff Violence has fought for civilian oversight of the sheriff’s department. While we won civilian oversight, the fight for it to be effective and have power is not over. Across Los Angeles Black and Brown communities have voiced strong opposition to the supervisors’ decision to allow former law enforcement to sit on the commission. The Coalition to End Sheriff Violence stands with incarcerated people and their loved ones as we launch our slate of highly qualified nominees who have been active participants in the movement to end civil and human rights violations inside the county jail system. Check them out below!

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AKILI

45 years experience as a community and labor organizer, Akili has dedicated his work to building a just and equitable society for marginalized people, including the successful campaign to change the Los Angeles Police Department’s use of force practices in the wake the 2005 shooting of Devon Brown.

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Patrisse Cullors

Founder of Dignity and Power Now and Co-founder of the #BlackLivesMatter National Network, Patrisse has long history of building mass movements and leading successful campaigns that prioritize the leadership of communities directly impacted by law enforcement violence and mass incarceration.

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Rabbi Heather Miller

Part of the world’s first LGBT founded Jewish congregation, Beth Chayim Chadashim, Heather is committed to justice at the intersections of race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, and economic status.

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Priscilla Ocen

Associate Professor of Law at Loyola Law School where she teaches criminal law, family law, and a seminar on race, gender and the law, her work examines the relationship between race, gender identities and punishment.

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Samuel Paz

Vice President of the National Police Accountability Project (NPAP) providing broad support for grassroots and victims’ organizations combating police misconduct.

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Steve Rogers

Civilian Oversight Campaign Lead with Dignity and Power Now, Steve Rogers uses his experience as a formerly incarcerated person to end law enforcement violence by advocating on the local and state level.

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Lloyd Wilkey

25 years of community work to prevent violence and improve community and police relations, Lloyd directs a youth leadership program, trains law enforcement at the Museum of Tolerance, and engages in activism to push for accountability, transparency, and constitutional policing.

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Dayvon Williams

A young organizer with the Youth Justice Coalition, Dayvon directs his experience as a formerly incarcerated person into campaigns that counter the criminalization and incarceration of young people.

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Michele Ynfante

Co-Lead of the Dignity and Power Now Civilian Oversight Campaign, she has used her experience being incarcerated in the women’s jail to advocate for an end to medical negligence and abuse.

Although all nine civilian oversight commissioners will ultimately be chosen by the Los Angeles County Supervisors, there is an open application process for four of the positions. If you want dignity and power for all incarcerated people, their families, and communities we encourage you to support our nominees!

TAKE ACTION! Call on your county supervisor and demand that these nominees be appointed.


TAKE ACTION HERE!

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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!

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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!

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.

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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.

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