2014 Call to Action

P1000162Last year, Governor Cuomo played the progressive community—promising to end stop-and-frisk policing and to increase women’s empowerment—and betraying all of us in the end. This year, we’re not going to let the Governor get away with just paying lip service to our demands. Join us now, and throughout 2014, for a series of actions to demand criminal justice and sustainable agriculture. We are stepping up our pressure, and we need your help to organize actions across New York State.

Our Priorities
Three Actions for Change

Our Priorities

1. We need SAFE Parole

Every year thousands of people locked up in New York’s prisons participate in educational and vocational programs to prepare themselves for their parole hearings, so they can return home. Tragically, the Parole Board more often than not denies people parole due to the “nature of their crime,” something they cannot change. We need a parole system that gives peoples a second chance and a set of tools to be able to return to their communities. The Safe And Fair Evaluation (SAFE) Parole Act will make the parole board accountable for its decisions, empower applicants to take concrete action to improve their readiness for parole, and reunite families across the state.

  • Download a factsheet on the SAFE Parole Act
  • Read the full text and legislative history

2. We need to Buy From Our Back Yard

The New York public school system purchases enough food and milk to feed over one million children every day. Today they purchase whatever food is cheapest, which is typically made by multi-national corporations and trucked all over the globe. Imagine the environmental and economic impacts if our public institutions purchased from local farms. The Buy From the Backyard Act will require 20% of food bought by state institutions, including schools, to be grown in New York State, and allows a 10% price margin above the bottom of the market. That means healthier food, a healthier environment, healthier local economy, and healthier kids!

  • Read the full text and legislative history

Three Actions For Change

We plan to build pressure through a series of coordinated actions across New York State. Please join us by organizing and participating in a local action in your community. Below are three actions we are planning. Check out additional resources here and contact us at action@milknotjails.org or (917) 719-MILK.

1. Tell Your Story of Parole Board Neglect

Deadline: January 20, 2014     / /    Action Resources

During the 2014 legislative session, we want to delivery 500 letters to Albany from people in prison and their families about New York’s broken parole system. We have already collected over 200 letters, which we brought to Albany in January 2014 as a public installation in the Capitol Building.  The installation allowed us to publicize directly to politicians the devastation the parole system has on the lives of families. Now we are working on building it into an online gallery and touring the installation to different districts in New York State in an effort to gain more sponsors for the SAFE Parole Act.  Here’s how you can help:

Send a Letter Now: Write a letter about your personal experience with the New York parole system. Send one copy to Senator Gallivan and one copy to Milk Not Jails. Download a sample letter.

Ask for a Letter Now: Spread the word! Ask your friends, family and community to share their personal experiences or to send a form letter. Senator Gallivan is from the Buffalo area, so it is especially important that any friends you have from that area pitch in. Download a flyer to circulate in your community.

Bring our Letter Installation to your Community: We want people , politicians and the media in your community to learn first-hand about our state’s broken parole system.  Hanging all or a portion of our letter installation in your community center, school, church or local legislative office is a great way to raise awareness and gain more sponsors for the SAFE Parole Act, because it demonstrates that there is a systemic problem that needs legislative change now. Contact us at action@milknotjails.org or (917) 719-6455 if you’d like to work with us to bring the installation to a location near you.

2. Outcry Over (non-local) Milk

Deadline March 31, 2014     / /

Organize a Class Project: Teachers and students—get together to organize a class project to explore the question, “Where does the food in the school cafeteria come from?” This project can take any number of forms depending on age and grade level: a video, a poster, a performance! We want to collaborate with you to develop a lesson plan. We can also come to your classroom to lead a brief discussion of the food supply chain in New York State.

Turn It In by March 31, 2014: Together, we’ll present these projects to key legislators in your local district and in Albany to demand passage of the Buy From Our Back Yard Act. Your students can win over the hearts and votes of their elected officials and make a difference!

ringbells fb image3. Ring the Bells for Justice – Statewide Day of Action to Demand the SAFE Parole Act Now!

Deadline April 16, 2014    / /   Action Resources

On April 16th, people across New York State will be joining together to raise awareness about New York’s broken parole system and to rally local support for the SAFE Parole Act.

Join Milk Not Jails and hundreds of prison families, criminal justice organizations, and faith communities to demonstrate broad support and magnify the voices of our loved ones who are behind bars.

From now until April 16th, please help us raise awareness by asking your local elected officials to sponsor this bill.  If we get 60 more members of the Assembly to sponsor the bill as well as key upstate Republican Senators and Senators in the Bronx and Staten Island, we can change the law now!  In many districts, all your elected officials might need is one meeting with someone directly impacted by New York’s broken parole system to become a supporter of this bill.

Here’s what we need you to do today:
1.    Send a letter to your State Assembly person and State Senator urging them to sponsor the SAFE Parole Act today. Send a copy of your letter to us at action@milknotjails.org so we can include it in our online and public gallery of support. Find contact information for your Assembly person and Senator here. Download a sample letter.

Here’s what you can do on April 16th:
1.    Meet with or call your elected officials at their district office and urge them to sponsor the SAFE Parole Act (S.1128/A.4108). If you are interested in going with a group of people, contact us at action@milknotjails.org and we can help you organize with your neighbors. If you cannot meet with your elected official in person, please call both their district and Albany offices on April 16th in solidarity with us. Get your local elected officials’ phone numbers here.

2.    Ask your local church to “ring the bells for justice.” The New York State Council of Churches has called on churches across New York to ring their bells at noon and dedicate the day’s sermon on April 16th to demonstrate support for parole reform.  Get your church involved! Download a sample sermon, bulletin insert and more details here. Join this event on Facebook and help us publicize it. Tell your congregation to contact us at action@milknotjails.org to be added to the list of participating churches!

3.    Join us in the streets! Groups in Buffalo, Rochester, Ithaca, Bronx, Staten Island and Utica will be planning events and rallies on April 16th to demand SAFE Parole.  Get details on all of these local events here.  Contact us at action@milknotjails.org if you’d like to organize one in your own community!

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