Criminal Justice

Sat May 10, 2014

VIP and Arizona Interfaith Network leaders celebrated the passage and signing of groundbreaking legislation which will increase minimum penalties for sex-trafficking of minors.  Both organizations were early supporters of HB 2454, which will more than double the penalty for a child-prostitution conviction from 10 years to 24 years in prison, and make pimping a racketeering offense. The Valley Interfaith Project action team took on the issue of child trafficking earlier this year, holding research meetings to educate parishioners on the issue and lobbying legislators for support.  In photo, Rabbi John Linder, Rev. Jayne Baker, Rev. Martha Seaman, Carolyn Jean Jones, Canon Ray Dugan and VIP Vice-President Dave Ryan stand with Governor Jan Brewer and Cindy McCain at the bill signing.

Thu Jun 6, 2013

Governor Brian Sandoval signed ground breaking anti-sex trafficking legislation in the presence of ‘Nevadans for the Common Good.’  Leaders had fought hard to crack down on the pimps that recruit young people into prostitution, including organizing assemblies, press conferences and legislative visits to Carson City.  Said Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, “Nevadans for the Common Good have been a driving force behind this bill.”  Temple Beth Sinai leader Camille Naaktgeboren (center) stands with other NCG leaders and bill supporters. 

[Photo Credit: Cathleen Allison, Las Vegas Review Journal]

Governor Signs Sex Trafficking Bill Aimed at PimpsLas Vegas Review Journal

Press Archive Here

Thu Jan 24, 2013


“A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy (AMOS) has successfully gotten a Court Watcher program off the ground in Polk County….Like similar programs around the country, the goal is to witness the criminal justice system in action. The presence of an outsider in a courtroom signals to judges, prosecutors and others that the community cares about how its government is treating citizens when they find themselves in trouble with the law.”

30 AMOS leaders “attended the first court watcher training …in Des Moines earlier this month. Another 30 are scheduled to go through training soon. The Rev. Denny Coon, pastor of Walnut Hills United Methodist Church in Urbandale, said his first experience as an observer was enlightening but somewhat troubling….”

[Photo Credit: Andrea Melendez, Des Moines Register]

Court Watch Programs Puts Citizen Eyes on CourtDes Moines Register

In the News

State Senator Linda Doreen Forry, Solitary Confinement, Mandatory Min.

In Boston, GBIO Leaders Secure New Ally on Criminal Justice Reform

Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Metro IAF
On June 28th, GBIO leaders completed a city-wide In-District Meeting with State Senator Linda Doreen Forry, securing her commitment to support reform around solitary confinement, an issue she did not formerly support.
When Forry argued that local county sheriffs think the reform would threaten the safety of inmates, constituents won Forry’s support by countering that, in fact, the use of solitary confinement itself represented a threat to inmates’ safety and mental health, by keeping inmates locked up 23 hours a day for extended periods, in cells the size of a parking spot.
The meeting with Senator Forry was the 8th of 9 In-District meetings organized since May 2017 as part of GBIO’s Criminal Justice Reform Campaign. The campaign builds support for 4 legislative priorities: Repeal of Mandatory Minimums for Drug Offenses, Pretrial and Bail Reform, Reduction/Elimination of Excessive Fees and Fines for Returning Citizens, and Elimination of Excessive Use of Solitary Confinement without Oversight and Data Collection.
Since May, GBIO has trained 60 congregational leaders, who have planned and organized meetings with over 15 legislators. Following the success of these In-District meetings, 30 leaders have been trained to extend GBIO’s efforts outside of Boston districts.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Rev. Brawley, Bishop Miles, Michael Gecan

The True Toughness Jeff Sessions Must Show

Saturday, May 20, 2017
NY Daily News

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is sending a message to America: He’s going to be tough on crime.

To those of us who live, work and pastor in the killing fields of Baltimore, or Cleveland or Chicago, or the former killing fields of the South Bronx or East Brooklyn, that could be good news. We’ll see....

criminal justice reform, ACA, Affordable Housing, Bethel AME, Sen. Rosenberg

Senate President Supports (GBIO) Criminal Justice Reforms

Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Bay State Banner

It’s been a long haul.

Last December, activists briefly disrupted a meeting of legislative leaders in protest of a criminal justice reform push they said wouldn’t go far enough to ameliorate racial disparities in sentencing and reduce the number of non-violent offenders serving hard time.

But last week legislative action seemed imminent when state Senate President Stanley Rosenberg committed to work for legislative fixes supported by the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, including...

Juvenile Justice, Restorative Justice Circles, School Police, Liz Hall

AMOS Juvenile Justice Strategy Reduces Arrests and Expulsions

Monday, July 18, 2016
Des Moines Register

Thanks to persistent intervention by AMOS leaders, Polk County school officials and law enforcement appear to be keeping more children and older minors out of court.  Between 2011 and 2015, suspensions and expulsions dropped by nearly 64% and suspensions for school attendance issues dropped by 91%.  Arrests of minors by city police dropped by 32%, with a 21% reduction in the arrests of African American youth.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutors, McGinty, O' Malley, Assembly

1,000 of Greater Cleveland Congregations Put Justice "On Trial"

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Faith leaders put the justice system "on trial" Tuesday as they outlined their demands for reform to Cuyahoga County prosecutor candidates Timothy J. McGinty and Michael O'Malley.

As part of the process, the event organized by Greater Cleveland Congregations (GCC) offered arguments and witnesses pointing to disparities in the current system.

More than 1,000 people gathered at Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Beachwood for the 90-minute event.

Dupage United, Mental Health, safety, Rehabilitation

Dupage United: System Works Against the Mentally Ill in IL Prisons

Tuesday, October 6, 2015
State Journal Register

By The Rev. Michael Solberg and Amy Lawless Ayala

One of the many sayings of the late Mayor Richard J. Daley went something like this: "It is easy to criticize, to find fault. But where are your programs? Where are your ideas?"

We who work with the citizens' organizations affiliated with Metro Industrial Areas Foundation in Cook, Lake, DuPage and Kane counties have taken this challenge to heart when it comes to the related issues of mental health and incarceration in Illinois. This is an issue that affects every town, county and region in Illinois....

Racial Profiling, #Blacklivesmatter, Iowa IAF, community organizing in Des Moines

Black Iowans Feel Profiled by the Police

Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Des Moines Register

In the Des Moines area, members of the nonprofit community organization AMOS (A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy) have spent the past year recording the stories of black Iowans who believe they have been unfairly singled out because of their race by store clerks, security guards, police and others.

Retired Des Moines attorney Harvey Harrison, 71, said what he has heard through that process "proves racial profiling is still a problem, and it has to be dealt with to help this country."

Racial Profiling, Organizing in Durham, Police Searches Without Warrants

Durham CAN Wields Search Data to Challenge Police & Change Policy

Thursday, November 20, 2014
New York Times

Rather than relying on demonstrations to force change, a coalition of ministers, lawyers and community and political activists turned instead to numbers. They used an analysis of state data from 2002 to 2013 that showed that the Durham police searched black male motorists at more than twice the rate of white males during stops. Drugs and other illicit materials were found no more often on blacks....

Incarceration, Rehabilitation, Organizing in Oklahoma, Kris Steele, Justin Jones

VOICE-OKC Awards Former Republican Speaker of House 'Lifetime' Award

Monday, November 17, 2014
Capitol Beat OK

Steele, a conservative Republian, was honored for his leadership of the 'Justice Reinvestment Initiative,' intended as a "step back from the Sooner State's unenviable position as first in femal incarceration and third in male incarceration among the 50 states....."

Developing Brain, Developing Accountability, Iowa IAF, Organizing in the Midwest, Paul Turner

AMOS Conference Targets Causes of Neurological Damage to Children

Monday, September 29, 2014
Des Moines Register

Building on a public conversation about juvenile criminal justice, initiated last year by AMOS, almost 800 people gathered at Iowa Events Center to hear the latest findings on the developing brains of children and youth.  Dr. Dipesh Navsaria explained that...

Texas IAF, community organizing in Austin, Community Organizing in Texas, Public Defender, Indigent Defense

Austin Interfaith Leverages County Vote for Public Defenders Office

Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Austin American Statesman

Ofelia Zapata of San Jose Catholic Church and Austin Interfaith reported to the Austin American Statesman that she teamed up with judges to build a hybrid model that would improve indigent defense once she learned of their similar interest.  Leaders lobbied County Commissioners to support the establishment of a defender’s office that would assign lawyers to the cases of poor defendants.  The first year, Travis County would receive about $700 thousand from the state to establish the new office....

Sex Trafficking, Human Trafficking, community organizing in Arizona, Community Organizing in Phoenix, Governor Jan Brewer, Cindy McCain, Joe Rubio

VIP Celebrates Signing of Anti-Trafficking Bill in Arizona

Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Valley Interfaith Project

This year, leaders from Valley Interfaith Project formed an action team to explore ways to protect youth from sex trafficking in Arizona.  After organizing research actions with the Governor's staff and others, they...

Mayor Bill Blasio, Affordable Housing, Stop and Frisk, Gun Violence, NYCHA, Universal Pre-K

Mayor Bill de Blasio Meets with Metro IAF

Monday, March 31, 2014
News 12 Brooklyn

Mayor Bill de Blasio met with hundreds of faith and political leaders from across the tri-state area over the weekend to talk about a number of issues facing New Yorkers. 

Speaking at the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation assembly meeting, de Blasio touched upon ways to address stop-and-frisk, NYCHA repairs, universal pre-kindergarten and reducing gun violence.

More Press:

Sex Trafficking, Human Trafficking, Nevadans for the Common Good, Robert Hoo, Barbara Bell, Nancy Thompson, United Methodist Church

Vegas Leaders Push Trafficking Awareness to Transport Hubs

Monday, December 9, 2013
Las Vegas Review Journal

After a bill that would have mandated the posting of the hotline number in Nevada was killed at the eleventh hour (11:30 PM on the last day of the session) due to unrelated political squabbles, leaders of Nevadans for the Common Good pursued a local route.  Barbara Bell of Green Valley UMC and Nancy Thompson of Grass Valley UMC....

Restorative Justice, Juvenile Justice, Organizing in the Midwest, AMOS, Paul Turner

AMOS' Restorative Justice Efforts Yield Initial Results

Monday, November 4, 2013
Des Moines Register

The night before finals week of his junior year of high school, Alec Neumann wasn’t home studying, and he wasn’t at the church group meeting where he told his parents he would be. Instead, he was sitting on a curb in Waukee, trying to process the fact that he’d just been apprehended for shoplifting...

Juvenile Justice, Racial Justice, Organizing in the Mid-West, Paul Turner, Restorative Justice

AMOS Backs Polk Courthouse Renovations

Saturday, October 19, 2013
Des Moines Register

A community organization of faith and advocacy groups has endorsed Polk County’s proposed $81 million courthouse renovation.  A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy, or AMOS, announced its support Saturday. The three-phase plan to expand the courthouse space ...presented at AMOS’s restorative justice conference by former Polk County Supervisor Martha Willits, includes a number of recommendations AMOS made for the design.

Community Organizing in the Intermountain West, Sex Trafficking, Neighborhood Safety, Saul Alinksy, Interfaith, Robert Hoo

Interfaith Groups, Non-Profits Back Bill to Stop Sex Trafficking

Monday, July 29, 2013
Las Vegas Review Journal

A Catholic from Mexico City and a rabbi from England are riding to Carson City...

Organizing in the Midwest, Juvenile Justice, Prisons, Hyper-Incarceration, Racial Justice

AMOS Heats Up Debate Over Race & Juvenile Justice in Iowa

Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Des Moines Register

Citing concerns about an exponential rise in juvenile filings and detention holds, clergy leaders of A Mid Iowa Strategy (AMOS) are calling on their County Supervisors to voteagainst increased funding for juvenile attorneys, calling it a “direct result of the more punitive approach” recently taken towards children. An editorial written by several clergy triggered a heated response by the County Attorney (both pieces included below).

AMOS advocates a return “to the best practice model the County Attorney’s office pioneered from 2006-2009” which made good use of “informal adjustments and alternatives to detentions for non-violent, non-repeat juvenile offenders.”

Troubling Changes in Polk County JusticeDes Moines Register

Critics Misleading People Over Juvenile JusticeDes Moines Register

Restore Justice For Our YouthAMOS

Restorative Justice, Juvenile Justice, Youth Intervention

AMOS Helps Keep Youth Out of the Court System

Sunday, March 24, 2013
Des Moines Register

“Cy was a choir director, community leader and maker of fine clocks. When I knew him, he was 80 years old and lay leader of the church I served.  One snowy morning, he came to my office and simply said, ‘We have to go to Albert Lea.’  I said, ‘That is in Minnesota, and they have lots of snow.’

Then he told me a boy in the parish, one that we had recently confirmed, was in trouble with the law in Albert Lea. So Cy, the boy’s father and I drove through the snowy Midwest to bring the boy home…”

Sex Trafficking, Criminal Justice, Neighborhood Safety

NCG Leaders Pack First Hearing on Sex-Trafficking in Nevada

Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Las Vegas Sun

‘Nevadans for the Common Good’ leaders Andrea Swanson and Camille Naaktgeboren testified before the Assembly and Senate judiciary committees for Assembly Bill 67.  “You take a domestic violence abuser, you take a rapist and you take a child abuser and you put them all in one and you have a pimp,” said Andrea Swanson..  [Photo Credit: Cathleen Allison, AP]

Sex Trafficking, Neighborhood, Criminal Justice, Community Organizing in Nevada, Community Organizing in Vegas, AB67

Las Vegas Outsiders Learn to Play Inside Game

Friday, February 15, 2013
Las Vegas Sun

David and his wife, Barbara Paulsen, are part of a group of about 40 volunteers flying and driving to the state capital, where they will lobby the Legislature to toughen the state’s sex-trafficking laws. They want to make it easier to prosecute violent pimps and impose stiffer penalties while helping victims of the Las Vegas sex trade get treatment...