International Human Trafficking Conference Toledo

SWOP Behind Bars will be attending, presenting and tabling at the International Human Trafficking Conference in Toledo ‪on September 20‬ and 21st!  We will be hosting a Sex Worker Meet and Greet ‪on Thursday Evening‬ (the 20th) so if you are in Toledo Ohio and want to come hang out with us – Drinks and Snacks are free from 7-9. Email us at ‪swopbehindbars@gmail.com‬ for location.  Sex Workers and Allies Only.

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Pennsylvania to end prison book donations, forcing inmates onto pricey eBook platform

“Effective immediately, the DOC will begin to transition to ebooks coupled with bolstered DOC library system featuring centralized purchasing and ordering process,” the DOC announced at its website. “No books or publications will be shipped directly to an inmate. … [we] will no longer accept books donated directly to individual inmates.”

Pennsylvania to end prison book donations, forcing inmates onto pricey eBook platform / Boing Boing

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PA DOC ACTION ALERT

Please call in TODAY, Friday Sept 14th, to Pennsylvania Governor Wolf, state senator and representatives, Lt. Governor Candidate (and Gov. Wolf’s Running Mate) John Fetterman and PA Department of Corrections (DOC) Secretary Wetzel to protest outrageous new punitive DOC policies that will impinge on prisoner’s rights and those of their families. This comes as state prisoners across PA have been held in a 10-day lockdown, unable to communicate with loved ones and supporters. See action alert and suggested talking points below from Amistad Law Project.

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PA Prisons In Lock Down

NPR KATIE MEYER, BYLINE: Last week, Pennsylvania’s corrections department locked down all 25 of its state prisons. Prisoners were more or less confined to their cells 24 hours a day. And though individual prisons have started relaxing procedures somewhat, the lockdown is still in place. Now Governor Tom Wolf says they’re taking another extreme action.

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Pennsylvania prisons on lockdown as mystery illnesses probed

PITTSBURGH — A type of synthetic marijuana could be causing the widespread staff sicknesses that have prompted a lockdown at all state correctional institutions, the head of Pennsylvania’s prison system said Thursday. Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel made the comment in Pittsburgh while speaking at a news conference about an unrelated pilot program to help inmates with re-entry to their communities. Wetzel announced the following steps, effective immediately and indefinitely:
• All DOC state prisons are locked down.
• All DOC mailrooms are closed to non-legal mail until further notice.

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HIV Criminal Law Reform: A Call to Action

HIV Criminal Law Reform: A Call to Action Racial Justice, Criminal Justice and HIV Organizations Call for an HIV Criminal Law Reform Movement Grounded in Principles of Racial Justice: New York, NY (August 22, 2018)—Marking the one-year anniversary of the launch of the Consensus Statement on HIV “Treatment as Prevention” in Criminal Law Reform, advocates affirmed their commitment to an HIV criminal law reform movement that is grounded in racial justice and leaves no one behind

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Hepatitis Criminalization in the United States

 
“Punishment is Not a Public Health Strategy: The Criminalization of Viral Hepatitis in the United States” explains how state laws criminalizing viral hepatitis harm public health

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SWOP Behind Bars Insider Interview

SWOP Behind Bars Interview With Board Member Alex Andrews On The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) suit filed in opposition to FOSTA/SESTA

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In Appreciation of Volunteers from Behind Bars

Stan was one of the first members who signed up for SWOP Behind Bars and he was the recipients of one of our Paralegal Scholarships last year. He is a street based survival sex worker who self identifies as a gay male and has several years left on his...

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WHAT CAN THE SPACE SHUTTLE TEACH US ABOUT MAKING A BREAK FROM OUR PAST?

An excerpt from the book Illegal to Legal: Business Success for the (Formerly) Incarcerated © 2014 by RL Pelshaw, used with permission.

Your strengths are found in your past, both good and bad. I’m not here to beat you up over what you did, or might even be doing now. I’m here to give you a practical path that you can follow to help you use your past to propel you to a new future, your destiny, a future where you have left your past behind you.

Take a moment and think about the Space Shuttle. Obviously, the Shuttle was not designed to stay on earth. It fulfills its destiny in space, not on the launch pad. Blasting off is not a passive event. It’s violent, explosive, and a life-or-death battle to reach the stars. What is the biggest obstacle the Shuttle must overcome to get into space? It’s not gravity but the weight of the fuel. The fuel weighs more than nineteen times what the Shuttle weighs. It’s ironic because the Shuttle needs the fuel to get into orbit, but the fuel is so heavy it becomes the biggest obstacle the Shuttle must overcome to blast into space. Breaking through the atmosphere into its destiny is the most difficult thing the Shuttle will ever do. I promised to show you how to use your past to propel you to your destiny. Pretend you are the Space Shuttle. You’re designed and destined to be high above where you are now, but you’re stuck on earth. You’re on the launch pad, ready for something to get you moving. You are yearning for something better, knowing you don’t belong where you are now. You are unhappy that you can’t get to where you want to be but you don’t know how to reach the stars. As the Shuttle you have to use your fuel to blast off, but what is that fuel? Your past, your life experience, is like the fuel in the Space Shuttle. If the fuel is properly used it can propel you into orbit, your destiny. If the fuel is improperly used it becomes dangerous, explosive, and can destroy the Shuttle. If the fuel is unused it weighs you down and keeps you stuck on the launch pad. Life on the launch pad is an unfilled life. On the launch pad you’re never going anywhere, never changing, never doing anything differently, never improving, and never learning. All you are doing is wasting away and decaying while you ignore your destiny above you. I was being crippled by the mental load of shame over the consequences of my mistakes, what I lost, and broken relationships. There was no easy way from that, and I think every incarcerated and formerly incarcerated citizen faces that. I asked for, and received God’s help, which I continually need to get past the shame and things that would weigh me down if I let them. Ultimately, I had to choose to get over myself.

You must decide if you want to let your past weigh you down, destroy you, or propel you to your destiny among the stars. What will you decide? Are you willing to do what it takes to make it legitimately, so you can reach your destiny, the life you were meant to live? Once the Shuttle blasts off it cannot return to Earth until its mission is complete. A return mid-launch would be catastrophic for the Shuttle.

History gives us another example of the commitment required for success. Spanish explorer Hernan Cortez burned his ships when he reached the New World in the 1500s. You must have that level of commitment if you wish to reach your goal. Returning to the past should not be an option at all, no matter how hard it is to launch or break through to your destiny. Just as the Space Shuttle cannot return to earth mid-launch, and there were no ships for Cortez’ men to return to Spain, there should be no chance of you ever returning to a life of crime. Close that door forever! This book will show you ways to start your own business so you don’t have to return to or continue crime to make a living.