First United Hosts Training on Racial Justice
First Unitarian hosted a session on Racial Justice with speakers Sam Waters of SURJ, Jerome Wright of CAIC/HALT and Ted Forsyth of Enough is Enough. We are proud of the work done by all of these groups in combating racial injustice here and Rochester and across the state.
Sam Waters presented on Bail Reform, the need for an end to cash bail as thousands of people are held in jail throughout New York state without being charged with a crime. These holdings can range anywhere from a day to years.
The high profile case of Kaleif Browder, a teenager who was held without charges for two years and later took his own life from the trauma of his time at Rikers, drew national attention to the injustice of cash bail and the lack of access to speedy trials for defendants - a constitutional right.
Jerome Wright spoke on the horrors of solitary confinement and our indiscriminate use of this torture in New York State prisons. Often, Mr.Wright said, solitary as a means of separating individuals from the general population is more often used as a deterrent for far less serious offenses and can even be used vindictively by Correctional Officers. There are currently 4 votes needed in the State Senate to pass legislation to end this inhumane practice. For more information on which representatives need to be called please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ted Forsyth has been a principal member of Enough is Enough, a local activist group started after the attack on Benny Warr, a man who was dumped from his wheelchair and brutally assaulted by police officers in 2013. Members of Enough is Enough and of Roc ACTS have been advocating for a Police Accountability Board that would allow a group of trained community members to investigate local complaints about police violence and misconduct to improve transparency, better community relations with officers and to administer discipline on offending officers based on an agreed upon disciplinary matrix.