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Greater Boston

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April 13, 2022

Search for a ‘clean slate’ remains elusive

The Supreme Judicial Court returned to the issue earlier this month in a case involving a Dorchester District Court judge’s denial of an expungement request by a defendant for two sets of records involving possession of small quantities of marijuana dating back more than 15 years.

Katy Naples-Mitchell of Harvard Law School’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, Maintaining a false record furthers no legitimate judicial interest and is harmful to the Appellant’s ability to gain meaningful employment” — one of the “collateral consequences” the 2018 law was intended to address.

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March 3, 2022

Elugardo on Running for State Senate, Rent Control, Redistricting of Jamaica Plain and More

Elugardo: Two bills I am proud of that relate to incarcerated people take on structural inequity and racism at the root. One has passed into law and the other recently passed favorably out of the Housing Committee, on which I sit. 

 

The second bill finds every place in Massachusetts law that establishes a major housing program, subsidy, or benefit, and implements a priority and preference for formerly incarcerated individuals. I filed this bill from scratch with a JP constituent and nonprofit leader, Leslie Credle, founding Director of Justice 4 Housing. It's rare for a new bill to pass favorably in its first session, with no opposition. I am hoping we can take this one all the way.

They're shut out of the market': the struggle to rent with a criminal record

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February 10, 2022 

Three-quarters of a million New Yorkers have convictions in their history. ‘Fair chance’ laws could change their lives.

Despite eight states passing Fair Chance legislation, Massachusetts is still not ready", said Founder and Executive Director of Justice 4 Housing, Leslie Credle. We worked closely with legislators to lift up legislation to find sustainable solutions for housing formerly justice involved individuals in MA. Unfortunately, the people who work in the Statehouse are not as progressive as the people who reside in the Commonwealth.  

"If there is a time for systems to change, it is now!"

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January 18, 2022

Echoing Green Announces Newest Class of Fellows

This class of Fellows was selected from a pool of over 1,400 applicants working in over 100 countries. 

As an organization long committed to investing in innovative leaders who boldly combat and transform unjust systems, Echoing Green launched its Racial Equity Philanthropic Fund in 2020 to build deeper pathways of funding for next-generation leaders advancing racial equity globally.

These extraordinary innovators should inspire us all to harness our own talents and imagination to support transformational efforts for a more equitable world.

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November 14, 2021

mass violations of human rights

Leslie Credle, executive director of Justice4Housing, blasted the city’s police tactics 

 

We observed the city of Boston take a role as a bully. The Boston Police Department targeted people who were seeking treatment in line at methadone clinics and needle exchange programs They targeted people who were getting help.”

 

Credle pointed out that the state can always find money for the police and the Department of Corrections, but never for a social response, and stressed that we need long-term solutions where there will be a sustainable impact in our communities. 

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OCTOBER 10, 2021

Walking away from prisons and jails in Massachusetts

On October 5, advocates, allies, and directly impacted people gathered in an online meeting to testify in support of H1905 / S2030. “We can put the money where we can see it make an impact,” said founder of Justice 4 Housing Leslie Credle, referring to the taxpayer dollars spent on incarceration. 

“Our community needs resources, but the government chooses to overpolice and underfund, prosecute, oppress, and destabilize, destroy. I could go on and on, but I think you get it,” Credle said in closing. 

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SEPTEMBER 16, 2021

Activists discuss public housing issues in Boston following State hearing

Leslie Credle, the founder of Justice 4 Housing, an organization that focuses on finding public housing for previously incarcerated individuals, said a partnership with the BHA has allowed them to provide Section 8 vouchers to individuals released in the past two-and-a-half years. 

Credle said parents should not have to choose between leaving public housing or losing their housing voucher and removing their child off the lease if their child is arrested. “It’s going to perpetuate the cycle of incarceration,”

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JULY 21, 2021

‘Solitary by Another Name’: How Efforts to Reform Solitary Confinement Are Being Derailed by Corrections Departments

Leslie Credle and Romilda Pereira, advocates with the group who both spent months in solitary, say that it’s essential that impacted people weigh in. Doing so “allows people to be aware of what the DOC is actually doing, versus what they’re telling you they’re doing,” Credle tells The Progressive. 

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JUNE 1, 2021

Landlords Barred From Using Criminal Records to Deny Housing

A five-year study by the Boston Foundation makes the case that housing instability threatens the health of low-income Boston area residents.


The Boston Foundation's Health Starts at Home initiative began in 2016, with funding for four local organizations that work on the two issues in question: housing and health care. (Disclosure: The Boston Foundation financially supports WBUR.) Those groups hired housing counselors to connect struggling families with resources available in the community, and researchers said that allowed previously isolated families to learn about support options.

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MAY 4, 2021

De-carceration as a Public Health Strategy: Stopping the Spread of COVID-19

The second event in our series will consider prison depopulation or decarceration in response to the threat of COVID-19 in places of incarceration. In response to the growing number of COVID-19 outbreaks in these facilities, public health experts, civil rights attorneys, and advocacy groups have made urgent appeals for decarceration. 

To examine these issues, this webinar will bring together a diverse panel of researchers, practitioners, and activists to discuss the role of decarceration as a part of the public health response to COVID-19 and examine current decarceration efforts around the world.  

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March 29, 2021

By & For: Powerful Women in Activism

Injustices of the world make community organizing and activism so important. Activism and community organizing are based on the belief that we can live in the world we dream of. A world where everyone, regardless of meritorious notions of “deservedness” like employment, is taken care of.
Everyone can and should have their needs met; activism seeks to make that possible.
Everyone has an active role to play in addressing society’s injustices. For activists that make this work a primary focus of their lives, that responsibility can sometimes be greater, challenging even, but evermore rewarding. The following women explain what their activism work means to them, the process of that work, and how they take time to recover. 

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March 10, 2021

'I Don’t Want To Die Here': One Woman's Experience With COVID While Incarcerated

At the beginning of 2021, Lizette Nevarez was nearing the end of her 10-year criminal sentence. She had just four months left before going home.
Then, she got COVID-19.
As has happened since the start of the pandemic in prisons across the country, a COVID-19 outbreak hit SMCC at the end of January. In total, Nevarez and 11 other women at the facility — almost half of the population in the minimum security unit at SMCC — eventually tested positive for the disease.

After the outbreak at SMCC, the Department of Correction announced that the facility, which had only been operating at about 10% capacity, would close temporarily and the women incarcerated there would be moved to county jails across the state that can better support their rehabilitation.

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FEBRUARY 3, 2021

Women’s Commission Listens To Testimony About Racial Prejudice & Systematic Oppression in MetroWest

Borden and Credle said that language is not just contradictory in suggesting a prison can be “trauma-informed,” but it ignores the other issues surrounding incarceration that would be better addressed with the $20 million—or $40 million, or even $50 million—spent on a new jail.

 

Borden’s rehabilitation program will focus on art as therapy to help formerly incarcerated women overcome the trauma of prison and abuse, and Credle runs Justice 4 Housing, which works to provide co-op housing for people recently released from prison.

“When you talk about building new prisons, you are putting out the message that those of us that live in these communities that you are intending future generations to be in those beds”

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OCTOBER 14, 2020

CHARLES HAMILTON HOUSTON CO-AUTHORS HISTORIC AMICUS BREIFS IN LAND MARK IN MA SUPREME JUDICAL COURT CASE

How have Massachusetts courts historically treated the question of racial profiling during traffic stops?

Katy Naples-Mitchell: In 2008, the Supreme Judicial Court decided Lora, which established the right for a defendant under the state equal protection doctrine to prove they were stopped on the basis of racial profiling.

Challenging the idea of a pretext stop, that a police officer can stop you on the basis of a minor civil motor vehicle infraction when their real motive is to see if they can find something more.

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July 21, 2020 

How zoning laws exclude Black families from areas of economic opportunity

Our global pandemic forced us to grapple with truths we always knew but too often ignored. One of those truths is the direct relationship between one’s housing and one’s health.

 
Historically, racially discriminatory policies have denied Black people the opportunity to live in neighborhoods that give them access to not only quality jobs, schools, and other services, but also health care and wellness support networks. 
Just as racism is embedded in the history of housing in America, racism is also reflected in the unequal health impacts the COVID-19 epidemic has had on communities of color.

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OCTOBER 7, 2021

Solitary by Another Name

In 2018, Massachusetts passed a law that aimed to reform solitary confinement, which was defined as twenty-two hours or more in a cell. The following year, however, the Massachusetts Department of Correction created new units that held people in cells for twenty-one hours per day. The department contended that these units were not “restrictive housing” under the law.

 

While she hopes the new legislation improves conditions, Credle is afraid that Massachusetts “will find a new loophole and we’ll be back at the drawing board again.”

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SEPTEMBER 15, 2021

A Company That Designs Jails is Spying On Activists Who Oppose Them

Activists and elected officials marched the three miles from the Suffolk County House of Corrections to the Massachusetts State House Monday morning in support of a moratorium on construction of a new women’s prison in Norfolk.

 

Many of those present Monday made the point that the record low number of female detainees in Massachusetts doesn’t warrant the building of an entirely new prison, which if it was to be the same capacity as Framingham, would be able to house more than 500 people. According to James, only 135 women are currently serving time in state prison.

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JULY 20, 2021

Moratorium bill could block women’s prison in Norfolk

Leslie Credle told the committee about the fatal shooting of her daughter, Brianna Hardy, in 2017 and the “mental torture” she has endured since then. But Credle — herself a formerly incarcerated person — said she does not wish prison on her daughter’s murderer.

“I’m here as a mother who wants nothing more than to have that person pay for their sins, to burn in hell, but not rot in a prison cell because prison is not going to bring my daughter back,” Credle, who leads the Justice 4 Housing organization, said. “I’ve lived in a prison cell as well, and I know what the DOC does to people who live in their prisons, and it’s definitely not rehabilitation.”

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May 28, 2021

Bristol sheriff’s treatment of detainees is curbed

ICE has a long way to go before conditions improve
Though the two detention contracts ICE just ended (the other is in Georgia) were notorious, in my experience, the facilities don’t differ all that much, which is why I urge the Biden administration to close all detention facilities, including in Plymouth County , and end 287(g) programs, including with Barnstable and Plymouth counties and the Massachusetts Department of Correction.

 

The 287(g) program allows state and local officers to act as immigration agents, costing state taxpayers for no legitimate reason and putting officers in roles prone to racial profiling.

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April 20, 2021

Downing opposes new prison for women

Ben Downing said the Baker administration should abandon any plans to build a new prison for women inmates in Norfolk, saying “investing in incarceration is the exact opposite of what Massachusetts needs.”
Downing took the side of advocates who have said the state should take the estimated $50 million needed to build such a facility and spend it on programs and services to keep women out of prison.


“If there is a genuine desire by state leaders to focus on more ‘trauma-informed’ care for those interacting with our justice system, then our dollars should be directed towards decarceration, community-based alternatives, housing, mental health care, education, job training, and the endless other ways we can support — rather than punish — those carrying trauma,” [Downing] said.

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MARCH 18, 2021

Miquelle West Calls on Biden to Release 100 Incarcerated Women in 100 Days

LOS ANGELES — The National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls is calling on President Joe Biden to grant clemency to 100 women in his first 100 days in office.
Sixteen of the 100 women are in prison in California.
“Our current criminal legal system was created to disproportionately oppress Black women and serves as a modern-day form of slavery,” James said. “Eighty percent of incarcerated women are also mothers, many of whom are in facilities states away from their children. These children are uniquely harmed, and incarceration of parents contributes significantly to the rates of children entering the welfare system.” 

Now, some powerful congressional Representatives, like Ayana Pressley, D-MA, and Cori Bush, D-MO, are listening. 

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MARCH 1, 2021

lockdown-  my friends inside

PBS Podcast interview of Leslie Credle and Lizette Nevarez. Leslie Credle, speaks of enduring telephone calls from friends inside prisons during the Covid Pandemic and hearing the deterioration of their mental health    Lizette speaks about being locked down during the covid-19 pandemic, inside Massachusetts prison MCI Framingham. 

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NOVEMBER 20, 2021

Mass. Department of Correction, mental health among prisoners spotlighted after DOJ report

2018-2019 investigation found that the Massachusetts Department of Correction violated the Constitution by providing poor access to mental health care and subjecting inmates to periods of isolation months beyond the MDOC’s own 14-day policy.

 

“We’ve seen it time and time again. The DOC’s only approach to responding to people’s health is through subjecting them to inhumane conditions. Like extended lockdowns and extreme isolation,“ says Ayana Auborg, a founder of Families for Justice as Healing and works closely with prison populations.

“I experienced seeing my friends in mental health watch and they disappear,” says Leslie Credle, a former inmate who works with the National Council for Incarcerated & Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls.

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SEPEMBER 24, 2020

SOLITARY CONFINEMENT IS DEVASTATING FOR INCARCERATED MOTHERS AND THEIR CHILDREN

It was May 2020, and Esther Arias was finally going to be released from prison. “My older son had so much anger because he didn’t understand why everything was happening to me,” she said. “My kids have so much hurt.”

Leslie Credle couldn’t stomach the thought of her children seeing her that way: handcuffed, divided from them by an imposing Plexiglass shield, unable to reach out and touch their hands.

Women in solitary confinement face a higher risk of being sexually violated by correctional officers.

These various traumas can accumulate for mothers in solitary confinement, adding to the struggle to maintain relationships with their children.

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JUNE 23,, 2020

despite harsh lockdowns, half of women inside ma prisons caught covid-19

“It’s one big solitary cell,” Cassandra Bensahih, coordinator at Massachusetts Against Solitary Confinement, told Solitary Watch. Bensahih said everyone in Massachusetts prisons are locked down at least 23.5 hours a day, and that incarcerated people have to choose between taking a shower or making a phone call during their 30 minutes out. 

Leslie Credle, who was formerly incarcerated in Framingham, “living in the prison’s cells feels like living in a bathroom with another person—making lockdowns mentally difficult, and making it nearly impossible to socially distance.

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OCTOBER 2, 2021

The push to make phone calls free for people incarcerated in Massachusetts hits a crucial moment Tuesday