I just received the following from a friend in one of our Virginia state prisons. He would be blessed by your forwarding a copy to the White House, the Governor, members of Congress, state legislators and others, or to copy and paste any part of the following you want to use as you express your own concerns via letter or email.
Dear President Barack Obama:
I wish you and yours a happy holiday season, celebrating One who came to "bring good news to the poor," "proclaim release to the captives," and to "let the oppressed go free."
I am writing on behalf of the many prisoners throughout the US who have been imprisoned for decades, have successfully completed mandated treatment, education and vocational programs while incarcerated, but are continuously denied parole release since the Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 which brought about the Truth-in-Sentencing (TIS) Laws which has caused state jails and prisons to burst at their seams.
Currently states are targeting individuals who have committed sexually based or violent crimes and are locking them up and throwing away the key. Where is their second chance? What good are treatment, education, job and vocational programs if inmates are not being released to put what they've learned to good use?
President Obama, please consider calling a meeting with every governor within the United States and offer them assistance in establishing re-entry programs, halfway houses and job training centers for ex-inmates. Also, provide a substantial grant to states to place all prisoners under one sentencing structure. Currently Virginia has at least three. This is the only way to treat parole eligible prisoners justly and provide them another opportunity in society.
The Federal Government should also provide a grant to create a Microsoft Surface Tablet Computer that prisoners could use to educate themselves, with Microsoft Office pre-installed. Also, a grant to provide federal funding to provide a server internal internet system for educational services for inmates.
Please stress to state governors that they should have their Department of Corrections treat, educate, provide job and vocational training that would help facilitate release from incarceration at the earliest and safest time possible.
Also, please advise corrections officials that mentally ill prisoners should not be housed in jails and prisons but in certified mental health facilities for treatment.
Thank you, President Obama, for your time, dedication and service.
Signed on behalf of millions of men and women behind bars this holiday season