Rabiah Burks, 202-822-6700
#VisitAPrison: FAMM Challenges Policymakers Nationwide
The criminal justice organization launches nationwide campaign to encourage policymakers to visit a prison or jail in the next 12 months.
WASHINGTON – Today, FAMM launched the “#VisitAPrison” challenge, designed to encourage local, state, and national policymakers to visit a prison or jail in their states or districts in the next 12 months. FAMM has mobilized families, advocates, allies, and public figures to share their stories via video using the #VisitAPrison hashtag and to challenge policymakers to educate themselves about the conditions of confinement in federal and state prisons and jails.
“Policymakers often propose legislation or policies affecting our nation’s criminal justice system, yet most have not visited a prison themselves,” said FAMM President Kevin Ring. “Families always tell us that they think lawmakers would be more likely to support reform if they saw what life is like for them and their incarcerated loved ones. We agree. Too many policymakers have no idea what these families face. Our message is simple: You don’t know if you don’t go.”
Ring said the campaign is timely, given the near daily news about unsafe prison conditions around the country, including excessive heat in prisons and jails that do not have air conditioning. In May, FAMM called for an investigation into the conditions at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman after obtaining videos and pictures of deplorable living conditions. Last month, FAMM asked the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the tragic death of Rick Turner in the U.S. Penitentiary in Florence, Colo.
FAMM is asking that policymakers not just settle for the sanitized guided tour but to:
- Ask to see the visiting room during visiting hours and speak to some of the family members there about their experiences visiting the prison or jail
- Ask to see health care facilities and speak to staff and patients about their experiences with medical care in prison or jail
- Ask to sit in on a rehabilitative program or class and judge whether people are receiving quality treatment or education to help them rehabilitate themselves
- Ask to meet with prisoners and ask them about their experiences in the criminal justice system, their backgrounds, and the impact of incarceration on their families
- Ask to meet with staff and talk with them about their working conditions and concerns
- Ask to eat a meal in the prison cafeteria and experience the daily diet of a person in prison.
The campaign can be followed by searching for “#VisitAPrison” on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Policymakers, including U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, U.S. Reps. Hakeem Jeffries and Doug Collins, and Pennsylvania State Sen. Carmera Bartolotta, are urging their fellow lawmakers through video to #VisitAPrison. The campaign will also feature the voices of celebrities and influencers, including actors David Arquette and Geoffrey Owens, NFL star Torrey Smith, and record executive and activist Jason Flom.
For nearly three decades, FAMM has united the voices of affected families, the formerly incarcerated, and a range of stakeholders and advocates to fight for a more fair and effective justice system. FAMM’s focus on ending a one-size-fits-all punishment structure has led to reforms to sentencing and prison policies in 6 states and is paving the way to programs that support rehabilitation for the 94% of all prisoners who will return to our neighborhoods one day.
FAMM is a national nonpartisan advocacy organization that promotes fair and effective criminal justice policies that safeguard taxpayer dollars and keep our communities safe. Founded in 1991, FAMM is helping transform America’s criminal justice system by uniting the voices of impacted families and individuals and elevating the issues all across the country.
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