Build Peace, Repeat the Peace
The Power of Letters: Writing To and For the Incarcerated
The ACE & Pinson Valley team chose to address the issue of correctional reform in Alabama. Students found that the current prison sentencing system causes adult prison overcrowding, while the cause of overcrowding in juvenile facilities is due to a lack of support in their lives.
With the help of both Chairman Christopher England and resources from Alabama Appleseed, students built a campaign around HB107, which repeals Alabama's Three Strikes Law. Alabama has the harshest three strikes law in the country; it allows prior convictions committed when individuals were less then age 18, as well as low-level drug and property crimes, to be used for enhancement purposes. As a result, nearly 5,600 individuals in Alabama are serving long prison sentences enhanced by the HFOA, including more then 1,600 lifers. Of these, 239 will die in prison unless the law is changed.
Students created Young Voters for a Better Alabama (YVBA). On the website, they have blog posts about HB107 and a take action page that allows users to sign a prewritten letter, which will be sent directly to their state Senator and Representative.
As a result, www.betteralabama.org has gotten over 300 hits and the letter has been sent over 110 times. Sign the letter today to support HB107 and these students' campaign.
Students also wanted to address a key cause of juvenile incarceration: a lack of support.
Thus they created the "Pen Pal Pillar Program" with the help of Monique Greer, Director of the Jefferson County Youth Detention Center. This pilot pen pal program is designed to give residents at the facility a support system through peer engagement. High school students write to the residents in handwritten letters and communicate back and forth about various topics. All residents' names and personal information is kept confidential and any personal information shared by students is removed from letters beforehand.
If you would like to set this up in your high school, please contact Andrea Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.