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The youth of the world are moving into action in such activities as the Arab Spring and the Occupy Wall Street. We must catch the dreams of the youth of the nations.

Recall the magnificence of earth and how we have greedily taken its resources. Recall the magnificence of the human being and how we often mistreat each other.

Here we are, on a small bit of dust circling a fairly insignificant star in a secluded section of the Milky Way. We have evolved enough to damage the waters of our planet . We have harmed the air with overproduction of carbon dioxide. The weapons we have designed can kill all that lives.

The earth is a holy place, a sacred space. It is not given to us to tear apart with our petty hatreds and our self-love or false desires for fame and wealth. We are to build the earth.

So many young people along with their dreams have been treated roughly and even put in prison for supposed misdeeds or misguided thoughts. For example, in many nations there is the problem of pretrial detention. For minor crimes or even merely out of suspicion, a nation’s police are given the authority to arrest and imprison both foreigners and citizens. Once in prison, there may be no suitable justice system to examine the prisoner, and so he or she can remain in prison under indefinite detention. Some individuals suffer this indignity for years, undergoing disease, starvation, and even torture..

What could we do with unruly youth? Every nation should make a Social Protection Floor that contains an education package and a health package for all of their youth. Prisons, refugee camps, and slums for the youth of the world are not the answer. Things like education, job training, mediation circles and Alternatives to Violence Workshops do help.  Every nation should resolve to elect leaders who are willing to thus build the beloved community. There should be no more war! No more militarization! No more oppressive prisons! More compassion, kindness and respect; companionships of empowerment for those in need.

Communities can also be enhanced through the use of music, songs, orchestras, and even art exhibits. A community with no art is a community without soul!

Given the opportunity to experience understanding of their trauma and to discuss their pain, a nation, tribe, corporation, or individual can learn empathy for others and expand their activities to show concern and support empowerments. More jobs can be created in the energy field that would build solar power, wind power, communication devices, and Habitat homes to transform slum areas.

We are designed to build a community that will hold the earth together. Only humanity can do this, as we are the beings that are here on the earth to do it. We are a ship load of people riding through space. We can bail out the ship from within. We have many resources to do the job. Yes, we can! Let’s do it!

Cora E. Cypser

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6th CURE Conference

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Prisoners are disabled before, during, and after imprisonment; they are disabled by drugs, by lack of education, by reading problems such as dyslexia, by being born into below-level economic situations, or by being subjected to various other personality disturbances.

The UN estimates there are 500 million persons around the world affected with disabilities. There is a UN Bill of Rights for the Disabled that can also apply to the prisoner, the slum dweller, and the refugee. The majority of persons with disabilities live in less developed countries where the risk of impairment is greater for those without medical resources or safety nets.

In the United States alone there are over two million people incarcerated in prisons and jails, and more under the control of judicial authorities. Just visualize these people for a moment. It is hard to think about two million people all at once. Ninety-nine percent of them are impoverished. Rich people who can afford good lawyers usually escape undergoing imprisonment.

These impoverished people in the prisons of the world are human beings. They have human rights. The majority of these human beings are citizens and are protected by The Constitution of the United States. How do we justify denial of human rights and values to these poor, while allowing the rich to slip through United States’ Constitutional Rights and United Nations’ Human Rights? Where have we gone wrong in interpreting our ethical values?

What is true about the United States’ prisons is also true about the prisons of the other nations of the world. Many nations regularly detain some of their citizens as political prisoners. Other judicial systems confine people suspected of a crime or condemned by a third party. Many of those suspected of wrong doing never get a hearing, but stay in prison until they die. Most of our religious systems emphasize forgiveness of misdeeds and errors. As one rose does not make a summer, neither does one gigantic error make a person into a monster. All of us make mistakes.

We would like to believe that there is a possibility of forgiveness for our past irresponsible actions and room for degrees of healing. These condemned persons have a genetic makeup similar to ours. All offenders are members of our created human order, the world community, and assisted by their input, we should plan for their release from prison and a positive relationship with society. We should seriously consider their human rights to decent wages, voting, education, health care, and their right to life (as opposed to the permanent poverty or the death penalty).

What are the root causes for the poor being punished with imprisonment? If the poor were given good education, if they were somehow trained and established in reasonable employment, they would be less tempted to use drugs and defend themselves with weapons. Once a person has been discarded into the prison system, he or she finds it difficult to return to normal society.

International CURE is pressing for a Social Protection Floor for the poor of all nations. CURE suggests that Education is better than Incarceration, that a Social Protection Floor is more effective than having worries about starvation and homelessness, and that forgiveness and sympathy work better than isolation and torture. With a Social Protection Floor and positive education those who are incarcerated and poor will be enabled to find their way to a more normal life.

Cora E. Cypser

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By Jean Basinger, Iowa CURE

Thank you for giving  me the opportunity to speak about the important issue of safety for women in prison during pregnancy, labor, and delivery.   My remarks will be based on the  2010 report of the National Women’s Law Center and The Rebecca Project for Human Rights entitled, Women in Prison.  This is a state by state report card and analysis of U.S. Federal Policies on conditions of confinement for pregnant and parenting women.  It includes an analysis of state and federal policies on prenatal care, shackling, and alternative sentencing and Prison nurseries. It also includes those women in immigration centers. The report is an effort to help those who work with pregnant women in prison to improve the laws and policies regarding the treatment  the women  receive.

 As a way of introduction  I would like to mention my experience working many years as a labor and delivery room nurse,  and 12 years as a registered nurse on a chemical dependency treatment unit where we often had pregnant women who were court committed for treatment and were transported to court and medical appointments by the sheriff’s department and were required to wear shackles, handcuffs and heavy belly shackles.

 I have also been working with groups in my state in an effort to get effective laws passed regarding the treatment of pregnant women and girls. in state prisons, county jails, and detention centers.

 The report of the Rebecca Project focuses on four areas: 1. prenatal care, including proper diet, Medical exams, HIV screening, etc,  2. shackling of pregnant women during transportation, labor, delivery, and postpartum recovery,  3. family based treatment s an alternative to Incarceration, 4. Prison nurseries.

 Each state was asked to submit answers to a set of questions related to each topic and these  answers were analyzed and the states were given grades in each area.   Today I will share with you the section on the shackling during labor and delivery.   My state received a low grade in this area and is  now actively engaged in working to pass a law regarding this important issue.

 The questions asked regarding this issue were as follows:

 l. Does the state have a statute that explicitly restricts the department of corrections’ routine use of restraints during labor and delivery?   (Only six states have such a law.)

 2. If the state does not have a statue does the Department of Corrections have a written policy that adequately limits  the use of restraints on pregnant women?

 3… Does the state require training for individuals handling and transporting incarcerated persons needing medical care or those dealing with pregnant women specifically?

 4. Does the state have a high-level official responsible for determining whether a pregnant woman poses a security risk and needs to be restrained?

 5. Does the medical staff have input on the decision to use restraints and what type of restraints are used?

 6. Does the state require each incident where restraints are used to be reported and reviewed by an independent body?

 7. Does the state’s policy include consequences for individuals and/or institutions found to be in violation of state policy regarding the use of restraints?

 My own state of Iowa has no statue regarding the use of restraints.   We are in the process of trying to get a law passed that would prohibit the use of restraints on a pregnant inmate in labor unless it was determined by the Warden or another designated staff that she was a flight risk.

 The Department of Corrections has argued that they did not use shackles for women in labor so it was not necessary to have a policy or law prohibiting the practice. We disagree. We feel that this leaves the door open for staff to make a decision to use restraints  and also for a changes by the administration.  We also feel that it is not enough simply to have a DOC policy against this practice. We must have a law which will also include County jails, juvenile and immigration detention centers.   These are the facilities where there is most likely to be abuse due to lack of training and onsite medical staff.

 The shackling of women during labor and delivery puts the mother and baby at risk because it makes it very difficult for the woman to follow instructions of the medical staff and it can cause her distress which will be transmitted to the baby.  It also interferes with the ability of the medical staff to give medical assistance, evaluate the progress of the labor, and give emergency care.

Passing such a bill is just a beginning.  Proper training and monitoring for staff must be put into place in order to bring institutions into compliance.

 If you are not aware of the practices in your country regarding the care of women in your prisons and other detention centers during pregnancy, labor, and delivery, I do hope you will make an effort to investigate these practices, and to become an advocate on this issue.

 Jean Basinger, Iowa CURE
1335 48th St.
Des Moines, IA 50311
e-mail: Jean Basinger@gmail.com

Source: *The Rebecca Project for Human Rights-National Women’s Law Center, Women Behind Bars

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