Learn: National Prison Strike


Why no one knows about the largest prison strike in U.S. history


The National Prison Strike (According to Prisoners), Tom Ashbrook, On Point radio show


Why US inmates launched a nationwide strike



'This is slavery': U.S. inmates strike in what activists call one of the biggest prison protests in modern history



Inside America's biggest prison strike: 'The 13th amendment didn't end slavery'



A National Strike Against "Prison Slavery"




Action: Engage with Racial Justice in Your Church


Prayers for Racial Justice
Since the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, a collective of UCC faith leaders from across the country have gathered on conference calls convened by the Rev. Geoffrey Black. They share about the on-going efforts at local and conference settings to keep people mobilized and engaged in countering institutional racism and sanctioned violence. And they seek to identify all-Church initiatives with course of actions that can make a difference over time. They have recommended Sunday, August 9, 2015, the actual anniversary of Mike Brown’s death, as a time for the UCC to pray together for racial justice, and have prepared a variety of prayers for use by congregations. These prayers may be adapted and used not only on this day, but on other days and in other settings in which people gather to pray and witness to justice for all who suffer the violence of racial injustice.


Action: Practice Gratitude


Acts of gratitude

Research shows practicing gratitude brings numerous health benefits. If you’d like, take time to express your thanks to people making a difference and showing courage.


Thank two GOP senators who voted against DeVos (source).

Script: Thank you for standing up for quality education in our country by opposing the DeVos appointment. I’m grateful. Name, State

Contact: Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) (email and address)

Contact: Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) (email and address)


Thank Republicans for speaking out against Bannon’s appointment (source).

Script: Steven Bannon is bad for our country. Thank you for standing up for reason. Name, State

Contact: Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) (address)

Contact: Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) (email and address)


Thank leaders for standing up for equality (source).

Script: No matter what happens, history will always show your ruling on the side of justice. Thank you for your work on behalf of all Americans. Name, State

Contact: Attorney General Bob Ferguson (email and address)

Contact: The Honorable James Robart (email and address)


Thank a Republican leader for speaking out against President Trump (source).

Script: Thank you for marching with us, and for using your conscience and your voice on behalf of all Americans. I admire your courage. Name, State

Contact: Beth Fukumoto (R-HI) (email and address)


From Action Checklist for Americans of Conscience by Jennifer Hofman @inspiredjen



Learn: Mass Incarceration

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (Michelle Alexander) is a must-read book for understanding the issue of mass incarceration and its effects on African Americans.


The House I Live In is a powerful documentary about the Drug War and mass incarceration in the U.S. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsBDvxy5qQY


Policing the Police is a Frontline documentary about the Newark Police Department and the efforts to reign in abusive policing practices in the U.S. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/policing-the-police/


Gideon’s Army is a documentary about the under-funded and under-resourced public defenders whose job it is to provide the poor with fair legal representation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fOkjgKz9Zg


The Central Park Five is a documentary about the case of five Black and Latino teenagers in New York who were unjustly convicted of raping a white woman and who spent between 6 and 13 years in prison before their convictions were overturned. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUfwUgRwKq4


13th is a documentary by filmmaker Ava Duvernay (Selma and the upcoming A Wrinkle in Time, the first black woman to direct a million-dollar Hollywood studio film) released by Netflix and tracing the history of incarceration in America from the 13th Amendment and onwards, with a focus on 1980-present. Duvernay interviews amazing voices of our time: from Angela Davis to Van Jones to Michelle Alexander.



Next America: Criminal Justice is a project of The Atlantic, with articles and video focusing on crime and punishment in the age of mass incarceration, supported by a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.



Volunteer: Criminal Justice & Reentry

Equal Justice Initiative

GET INVOLVED http://eji.org/get-involved


LEARN MORE. Explore Children in Adult PrisonsExcessive Punishment, the need for Sentencing Reform, and the urgent need to confront our History of Racial Injustice.


SUPPORT ADVOCACY AND REFORM EFFORTS. Support the work of the Equal Justice Initiative, one of the nation's most effective legal and advocacy organizations. EJI has earned a Charity Navigator 4-star rating and a Skoll Award for its impact on social justice reform. Please contribute to support our efforts!


FOLLOW US AND SHARE OUR WORK ON SOCIAL MEDIA. Like EJI on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram to be part of our community and to receive regular updates about important issues surrounding mass incarceration, racial justice, and excessive punishment. We strongly believe that progress will be made when more people learn about these issues. Please join our efforts by sharing, retweeting, and regramming our posts!


START A SOCIAL JUSTICE BOOK CLUB. Kick off the discussion with Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption. Order the book here.


GET THE 2017 RACIAL HISTORY CALENDAR. Learn about the history of racial inequality in the United States and the essential need for truth and reconciliation on issues of racial justice through EJI’s award-winning wall calendar.


SMILE FOR EJI ON AMAZON. Support EJI by making purchases through the Amazon Smile program. Choose the Equal Justice Initiative as your charitable organization and Amazon will donate a percentage of the cost of every eligible purchase to support EJI each time you shop.


READ OUR REPORTS. EJI has published detailed reports about Children Sentenced to Death in Prison in the U.S. and three reports on the nation’s legacy of racial injustice, which discuss slaveryracial terror from the end of Reconstruction until World War II, and racial bias in jury selection in contemporary criminal cases. EJI also produces an Annual Report each fall that documents organizational efforts and achievements.


HOST AN EVENT ON CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM. EJI has produced two 30-minute videos with discussion guides and accompanying materials available for your use in hosting a social justice event for your church, school, club, community or group. “Death in Dixie” examines excessive punishment. “Cruel and Unusual: Sentencing 13- and 14-year-Old Children to Die in Prison” reviews the plight of children prosecuted as adults. Preview trailers on our website.

VOLUNTEER WITH A RE-ENTRY OR REFORM ORGANIZATION. Contribute your individual skills and passion to directly support the work of an organization near you. Donate Now to support EJI’s Post-Release Education and Preparation program.


GET POLITICALLY ACTIVE. Write your legislators and encourage their support for Prison Sentencing Reform. Urge companies to divest from investments in private prison industries. Question political candidates about how they plan to reduce over-incarceration and eliminate excessive punishment.



“I don’t think we’re free in America”: An interview with Bryan Stevenson



The Legacy of Lynching, On Death Row



Anthony Ray Hinton Exonerated After 30 Years on Death Row


Defy Ventures



Volunteer: https://defyventures.org/take-action/volunteer/


Startup Gets Tech-Industry Experts to Mentor Convicts



Defy Ventures Is Providing an Avenue to Success for Prison Inmates



Nebraska Corrections Department welcomes new program to reduce recidivism, lift spirits in troubled prison system



Defy Ventures redefines ‘the hustle’ from prison yard to startup office


New York Public Library Correctional Services


Prisoners' Rights and NYPL Correctional Services



Volunteer Opportunities with Correctional Services



The Beauty of Snail Mail






Dear Librarian: Filling the Information Gap for Prisoners with No Internet Access





Calls to shut down NY’s notorious Rikers Island prison grow louder



Protesters March to Demand Closure of Rikers Island, Citing Corruption and Mistreatment of Inmates





What Jesus Says About Prisoners

by Doug Pagitt

You have heard that it was said, You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who harass you so that you will be acting as children of your Father who is in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both the evil and the good and sends rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love only those who love you, what reward do you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore, just as your heavenly Parent is complete in showing love to everyone, so also you must be complete.
— Matthew 5:43-48

Three weeks ago I was in jail. It was a difficult and unnerving and life-changing experience. 

I was part of an action to protest our country’s policy of killing people held in custody, which I believe is morally wrong and against rule of law.

In short, I was one of 18 people who held a banner on the steps of the United States Supreme Court that read STOP EXECUTIONS. That act precipitated the Supreme Court Police placing me and 17 others under arrest for “Parading, Assemblages and Displaying” on Supreme Court Property. 

I was in the custody of the Supreme Court Police, the Washington, D.C. Police, and the United States Marshals for 32 hours. Unlike many of the people who are jailed in this country, I had a pretty good idea that my arrest was coming, and I had planned for it, leaving me with more resilience and resources than many who are arrested. In spite of that, my time in jail was challenging in ways I couldn’t have expected.

To be clear, I was not in prison. I was in custody and central processing in Washington, D.C. I only experienced the start of the process of prison. I have visited prisons and talked with prisoners. My own father was a prisoner. What I experienced was a fraction of what the women and men who are incarcerated for long periods endure.

Though my time was short, the experience left me with a deeper sense of empathy for those arrested and a deeper anger and skepticism toward the system of arrest and confinement we use in the United States. It showed me how embedded the use of power, violence, intimidation, isolation, and dehumanization is to our Criminal Justice System. While there were a few individual officers who were quite humane to me, and I know that those people exist throughout the system, exceptional actions by these few cannot eliminate systemic brutality. 

This system creates a separate category, “criminal,” that allows us to treat citizens, ourselves, as sub-human. And we cannot ignore the fact that the arrest and detainment system is rank with racial and class discriminations, which allows prejudice power. 

What I realized after my arrest and confinement is that awareness of these issues is directly related to one’s contact with the system. Too often those without direct contact simply do not know or notice the conditions that affect their fellow citizens. 

But to be clear, there are a whole lot of us directly impacted by it. According to FBI statistics: “Nationwide, law enforcement made an estimated 10,797,088 arrests in 2015.”  Think about that, nearly 11 million times in 365 days someone was arrested in this country. That is 29,581 arrests per day. More than 1,200 arrests per hour every hour of every day. That is a stunning number of people who have found themselves in contact with the “arrest and detainment system” in the United States.

There are also a huge number of people on the arresting side. There is in excess of 900,000 “sworn law enforcement officers” in the United States who have the ability to arrest and detain a person. 

When you consider the families of those arrested and those doing the arresting you begin to see the scope, the number of people impacted by what is referred to as “the industrial prison complex” in the United States.

Those of us who are not part of the 11 million arrests or the nearly 1 million people doing the arresting may think that the Criminal Justice System does not impact us aside from “keeping us safe,” but I would argue that it makes a indelible mark on the spirit and conscience of our society. As long as the dehumanization of any of our citizens is possible, we are all at risk and implicated. Moreover, our system is adept at creating repeat offenders, which does little to improve safety.

We allow for the dehumanization by categorical distinctions which excuse the mistreatment of people. Those distinctions are present in the way we refer to those who have been in the Criminal Justice System. Notice this week when you hear and use language that reinforces this difference and distinction—words like “criminal,” “convict,” “prisoner,” “felon.” Try instead to see all people as part of the “us” we are called to love and work this week to stop reinforcing the false narratives of us and them and live in the reality of All of Us.

My encouragement for us this week is to consider the teaching of Jesus that “God makes the sun rise on both the evil and the good and sends rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous.” And that we are called to love all the same - enemy and neighbor; those who love us and those who don’t; those who violate our laws and statues and those who don’t.

Let us believe and live as Jesus says: Complete in our love just as our heavenly Parent is complete in showing love to everyone.


Five Habits to Heal the Heart of Democracy

The world doesn’t need more pissed off activities, it needs lovers.
— Parker Palmer

An understanding that we are all in this together.

An appreciation of the value of "otherness." 

An ability to hold tension in life-giving ways. 

A sense of personal voice and agency. 

A capacity to create community. 


Read the full article from Parker Palmer https://www.globalonenessproject.org/library/articles/five-habits-heal-heart-democracy


Pray: Human Flourising


The Friday weekly intercessory prayer from the The Book of Common Prayer from the Church of Ireland points us to the populations most separated from human flourishing: 

Gracious God and Father,
you have given your Son for us all,
that his death might be our life
and his affliction our peace.

the hungry …
the refugees …
the prisoners …
the persecuted …
all who bring sin and suffering to others …
all who seek to bring care and relief …

Gracious God and Father, we give you thanks
for the cross of Christ at the heart of creation,
the presence of Christ in our weakness and strength,
the grace of Christ to transform our suffering …
for all ministries of healing,
all agencies of relief,
all that sets us free from pain, fear and distress …
for the assurance that your mercy knows no limit,
and for the privilege of sharing Christ’s ministry in prayer


The 3 Key Ideas from Aristotle That Will Help You Flourish


What is human flourishing? It encompasses all that nourishes the human spirit. 

Aristotle understood the following as intrinsic to us as people: 

  • We are physical beings. As physical beings, we require nourishment, exercise, rest, and all the other things that it takes to keep our bodies functioning properly.
  • We are emotional beings. We have wants, desires, urges, and reactions. We perceive something in the world that we want and we have the power of volition to get it; likewise, we have the power to avoid the things we don’t want. 
  • We are social beings. We must live and function in particular societies. “No man is an island,” and we are the type of being that does well only in social settings. Our social nature stacks on top of our emotional nature, such that we have wants and needs that we would not have were we not social creatures. For example, if we were the type of creature that flourished as hermits, the need for trust and friendly cooperation would not be nearly so pressing.
  • We are rational beings. What made our species human was our rationality. We are creative, expressive, knowledge-seeking species who is able to obey reason. 

To act on behalf of human flourishing is to care for these pieces of human nature. 


Get To Know Convergence

Convergence is the organization behind 100 Days Of Action.

The Convergence movement is bringing together forward-thinking Catholics, Evangelicals, and Mainline Protestants, along with Ethnic and Peace Churches and other willing colleagues, in a growing, movement-building collaborative.

This movement connects people and organizations to solve great problems and participate in new opportunities, especially to heal the human spirit, to foster abundant life in community, to seek the common good, and to promote responsible living with the earth.

Learn more about Convergence today. 

A Prayer for the Sick


Lord Jesus, when you were on earth, they brought the sick to you and you
healed them all. Today I ask you to bless all those in sickness, in weakness
and in pain.

For those who are blind and who cannot see the light of the sun;
the beauty of the world, or the faces of their friends:
Bless your people, O Lord.

For those who are deaf and cannot hear the voices which speak to them:
Bless your people, O Lord.

For those who are helpless and who must lie in bed while others go out and in:
Bless your people, O Lord.

For those whose minds have lost their reason and those who are so nervous that
they cannot cope with life:
Bless your people, O Lord.

For those who must face life under some handicap; those whose weakness
means that they must always be careful:
Bless your people, O Lord.

For those suffering from debilitating or terminal illness and for their caregivers:
Bless your people, O Lord.

For those who are near the hour of death and in their final struggle:
Bless your people, O Lord.

Almighty God, as we ask your help for our brothers and sisters who are ill, we
ask you to help us to be healing people in our time and place. May your love
touch others through us, and may I help all people to live in peace. 


Jesus and The Affordable Care Act


What would Jesus’ stance be on healthcare were he living today?

Below are three examples from The Gospels where we find some interesting things about Jesus’ desire for the health and wellbeing of people.

As you are reading, pay close attention to the types of people that Jesus chooses to heal. (For a complete list of the healings of Jesus click here).

The Gospel of John 4:46-53

There was a government official in nearby Capernaum whose son was very sick. When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged Jesus to come to Capernaum to heal his son, who was about to die.

Jesus asked, “Will you never believe in me unless you see miraculous signs and wonders?”

The official pleaded, “Lord, please come now before my little boy dies.”

Then Jesus told him, “Go back home. Your son will live!” And the man believed what Jesus said and started home.

While the man was on his way, some of his servants met him with the news that his son was alive and well. He asked them when the boy had begun to get better, and they replied, “Yesterday afternoon at one o’clock his fever suddenly disappeared!” Then the father realized that that was the very time Jesus had told him, “Your son will live.”


The Gospel of Luke 18:35-43

As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind beggar was sitting beside the road. When he heard the noise of a crowd going past, he asked what was happening. They told him that Jesus the Nazarene was going by. So he began shouting, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

“Be quiet!” the people in front yelled at him.

But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

When Jesus heard him, he stopped and ordered that the man be brought to him. As the man came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”

“Lord,” he said, “I want to see!”

And Jesus said, “All right, receive your sight! Your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see.


The Gospel of Matthew 14:13-14

As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns. Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

One thing is clear from these passages.

Jesus wanted people to be well- the rich, the poor, and those of the general populous.

So what would Jesus’ stance be on healthcare were he alive today?

Based on the accounts above, do we see Jesus healing people based on their social status, income, or geographic location?

According to The Gospels, the answer is “no.”

Can we assume that he would do the same today?

If so, maybe those of us who call ourselves “Christian” should imitate that with the policies that we support, for

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

If The Bible (especially The Gospels) are something you don’t believe in, that is fine. But if you do believe in them, my strong question to you today is, “Do your politics align with your beliefs about Jesus?”

Why or why not?

A Christian is, by definition “one who believes in the teachings of Jesus Christ,” and the life of Jesus teaches us that he wanted all people to have ready access to healing.


Ryan Phipps is the Lead Pastor of Forefront Church in Manhattan, New York City. Forefront is a progressive faith community dedicated to cultivating a just and generous expression of the Christian Faith in New York and around the world.

Ryan also serves as the Director of Communications for Convergence, the umbrella organization comprising The Center for Progressive Renewal, The Open Network, and The Form Network.

Learn more about Forefront Church at forefrontnyc.com.

Learn more about Convergence at convergenceus.org.

Learn more about Ryan on his website at ryanphipps.com

Read Ryan's column on The Huffington Post at huffingtonpost.com/ryan-phipps

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ryan-phipps/the-politics-of-jesus-par_b_10683032.html


Find a Health Center


HRSA Health Centers care for you, even if you have no health insurance – you pay what you can afford based on your income.


Get to Know Tom Price


Rep. Tom Price, Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, is a wealthy orthopedic surgeon who became politically energized more than two decades ago by the fight against an earlier Democratic health reform proposal called “Hillarycare.”

Read more here.


Action: 5 Calls, Make Your Voice Heard


Turn your passive participation into active resistance. Facebook likes and Twitter retweets can’t create the change you want to see. Calling your Government on the phone can.

Spend 5 minutes, make 5 calls.

Calling is the most effective way to influence your representative. Read more about why calling works.

5 Calls:

  • provides phone numbers and scripts so calling is quick and easy
  • uses your location to find your local representatives so your calls have more impact

It's easy! Choose an issue you are passionate about, and 5 calls will give you a number for one of your representatives to call and a script.