An Open Letter to Our Allies

To Our Friends, Comrades, Families, and Allies:

No matter how you refer to yourselves, you are the ones who kept us going when we needed support.  Although you may not have stood before the judge and had your name called out, you stood beside us.  Although you did not spend a night in lock-up, you spent your nights tossing and turning from the pain of being apart.  Although you have not had to admit to a conviction when filling out countless forms, you are experiencing the effects of your community being under-educated, under-employed, and in a dire search of affordable places to live.

We love and respect you in the same manner you love and respect us.  We are one entity, one Movement, gaining momentum as we gain unity.  We want you with us in Los Angeles on November 2nd for our first national gathering.  Every mother who has stood outside the courthouse and every civil rights attorney who may feel like nobody cares, like it is the same old fight: join us as we coalesce in a new national civil and human rights movement.  This is not the same old fight, and there are millions who care from far and wide.  We see you with your sign, your petition, and your shout-out on the radio station.  We see you in an office full of people trying to train us for work.  We see your blogs, your Facebook, and at the mailbox pulling out a letter with a stamp on it: “Department of Corrections.”

For some of us, we literally would not be here if not for you.  Your books, briefs, photographs, visits, and tireless advocacy won our freedom or kept us from the dark abyss of hopelessness.  We aim to build an inclusive Movement, one that never loses sight of, nor the voice of, those living at the bottom of this American underclass; yet one that takes no voices for granted.  The Formerly Incarcerated & Convicted People’s Movement developed from a core of people who have worn a number, but it cannot, and will not, stop there.  It continues to include every person who knows that our criminal justice system is greatly lacking “justice,” and millions of you know who you are.

We ask that you share this with your own circle of caring people, and bring them to Los Angeles.  We ask that you bring as many affected people as you can, as the legitimacy of our platform will be defined by those who ratify it.  Our funds to assist travel may long have run out, but we want you to make it there with the knowledge that this is a moment you will not have seen in decades.

To register for the conference, go to:

In Solidarity,

 Formerly Incarcerated & Convicted People’s Movement

Steering Committee,  September 1st, 2011

Susan Burton (Los Angeles) A New Way of Life Reentry Project
Pastor Kenny Glasgow (Alabama)  TOPS -The Ordinary People Society
Aaliyah Muhammad (Sacramento)  All of Us or None
Dorsey Nunn (San Francisco) Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
Bruce Reilly (New Orleans/Providence) Direct Action for Rights & Equality
Tina Reynolds (NYC) Women On the Rise Telling HerStory
Arthur League (San Francisco) All of Us or None
Malik Aziz (Philadelphia) National Exhoodus Council
Michelle Convie (Tucson, AZ) Women’s Reentry Network
Marlene Sanchez (San Francisco)  Center for Young Women’s Development
Norris Henderson (New Orleans) VOTE Voice of the Ex-Offender
Malissa Gamble (Philadelphia) A Time is Now to Make a Change
James Adams (North Carolina)  All Of Us Or None
Wayne Jacobs (Philadelphia) X Offenders for Community Empowerment
Steve Huerta (San Antonio) All Of Us Or None
Miss Major (San Francisco) Transgender Intervariant Intersex Justice Project
Benny Lee (Chicago) National Alliance for Empowerment of Formerly Incarcerated
Eric McCoy (Minneapolis)  Council on Crime and Justice
Jazz Hayden  (Harlem) Campaign to End the New Jim Crow
Khalid Raheem (Pittsburgh).

About Bruce Reilly

Bruce Reilly is the Deputy Director of Voice of the Ex-Offender in New Orleans, LA. He is a graduate of Tulane Law School and author of NewJack's Guide to the Big House. Much of his writing can be found on
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2 Responses to An Open Letter to Our Allies

  1. Pingback: Formerly Incarcerated Will Set Forth a Clear Agenda on Nov. 2nd | unprison

  2. Pingback: Unprison 2011-2013 Index | unprison

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