If you live in and pay taxes in America, this is your inescapable TRUTH. Whether you have felt comfortable admitting it or not:
If you have a child or a brother or a sister,
or a nephew or niece,
or a cousin or aunt or uncle,
or a spouse or a significant other,
or a friend you really love like family,
or a close business partner,
or an especially important employee…
who has ever been jailed or sentenced to prison, or if you have ever been arrested or incarcerated anywhere for any length of time,
or if you know you have done something in your past, but did not get caught – an action for which others have been arrested and/or convicted,
this is your inescapable TRUTH:
You too are included in the cost and impact of incarceration,
whether you have chosen to admit it or not.
We can’t change what we do about mass incarceration until we change how we think about mass incarceration.
That’s the I AM INC Movement
Are you ready to include yourself?
In every community in America there are I AM INC stories. Policy makers and human services agencies talk the general language of budget limitations and what might or might not be politically safe to start digging up and talking about. Meanwhile, life goes on for the faces and the families living each day in silence and anxious despair.
Here is just ONE EXAMPLE of what active engagement can do:
Other policy makers have made big strides with the initiative called “Ban the Box.” Most people needing its limited benefit, don’t know what it is or have no clue that it exists.
Ban the Box is a policy initiative adopted by several federal, state and local government agencies as well as a few hundred companies across America. Obviously, still far too few to make real measurable changes in the lives of the tens of millions of Americans impacted. However, the voluntary policy action eliminates the box on an employment application that asks if the applicant has ever been arrested or convicted of a crime. Theoretically, this allows for a better chance at the application making its way up the process and having the opportunity to make one’s case to be otherwise qualified for the job, and why the prospective employer need not have any concerns about one’s past personal history.
It’s a good start. But what good is a Ban the Box policy for a city hall job hiring for example, when department heads allow the spreading of gossip that disenfranchises a new hire who was given a second chance to work in a government job? Even if the new hire is a standout mind and an asset for city government, rumors and innuendo will drag on her potential and cast a cloud that darkens her “conditions of work.”
The NIA feels the community of advocates and stakeholders must figure out how to have these fair civil, occupational and human rights efforts quickly grow throughout the private sector. More importantly, the NIA feels that beyond a good start, there needs to be a shift in on-the-job interpersonal dynamics across all workforce sectors.
So what’s your story? Your voice – your story amplified in concert with thousands of other voices vibrates truth to power. Come out of your silence and tell your story here. The NIA has a mission to use your story as coordinated leverage to change public policy and the tone and sensitivity in how we view, discuss and debate incarceration.
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