Tennessee Freedom Caucus Asks Court for Immediate Action in Light of COVID-19
This week the Tennessee Freedom Caucus and 40 signatory organizations submitted a petition to the Tennessee Supreme Court asking that the court issue directives to release currently incarcerated people due to the added susceptibility in jails, prisons and detention centers to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unless a clear threat can be shown by release, identified groups for release include:
-individuals held on misdemeanor charges;
-individuals whose age leaves them particularly at risk;
-individuals held pretrial;
-children detained on delinquency charges;
-individuals held for (noncriminal) technical violations of parole or probation.
You can read the full petition HERE.
We likewise support the requests of this petition. The coronavirus pandemic presents an extreme threat to incarcerated people who are unable to take the recommended precautions of social distancing. Jails are not a secure environment, and Tennessee's overcrowded jails could become outbreak centers if meaningful preventative measures aren't taken.
If you want to show your support for these measures, you can reach out to Governor Bill Lee’s office, as well as Tennessee Department of Corrections Commissioner Tony Parker.
You can Contact Governor Lee’s office HERE, or by calling 615-741-2001.
You can Contact Commissioner Tony Parker’s office at TDOC.firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling (615) 741-1000.
The Gamaliel Network calls on state and national leaders to decarcerate in light of growing pandemic
CHICAGO, Illinois—The Gamaliel Network will host a Facebook Live event on Thursday, March 19, 2020, at 12:00 p.m. CT / 1:00 pm ET calling for immediate decarceration of vulnerable populations in our jails, prisons, and detention centers.
“With the rapid spread of COVID-19,” said Rev. Dr. John Welch, Chair of the Gamaliel Board of Directors, “No individual, community, or institution is invulnerable to its effects, and that includes the jails, prisons, and immigrant detention centers in this country which are particularly vulnerable as a result of overcrowding, limited health care options and supplies, and the constant movement in and out of these facilities by corrections staff. It is essential that we take steps immediately to protect the most vulnerable among us—including those who are incarcerated—and limit this potentially historic pandemic.”
The Facebook Live event will include testimonies from impacted people, as well as a demand for action with immediate steps that key decision-makers can take to drastically reduce the incarcerated population and reduce the potential for wider spread of the coronavirus.
The event is open to the public. To join, go to the Gamaliel Network Facebook page: facebook.com/gamalielnetwork
Members of the media are asked to register at: https://forms.gle/tHjKwrbfsy1XGmUK8
“This is no time for business as usual,” said Welch. “We have a moral obligation to act immediately and aggressively to stop the spread of the virus and protect ALL of the members of our communities.”
Chattanoogans In Action for Love, Equality and Benevolence (CALEB() is an institutional coalition of faith-based, labor, and community groups working to build power to affect change in Chattanooga and Hamilton County, TN. CALEB is a Gamaliel affiliate.
Gamaliel is a faith-based, multi-ethnic, multi-racial, and non-partisan grassroots organizing network located in 15 states and 44 communities whose mission is: a) to train ordinary people, primarily in low-income communities and communities of color, to effectively participate in the political, environmental, social, and economic decisions affecting their lives; and b) to build a diverse corps of grassroots leaders committed to transforming the systems and structures that perpetuate racial and economic inequity.
General Meeting this Thursday, March 12th!
CALEB's general meeting in March is devoted to the Economic Mobility Task Force and the focus on a public platform.
Our city was recently highlighted as being one of the best towns to live in if you make over $100,000 a year; more than double the city's area median income. For those who fall below it, the reality is less celebratory. With local wages continuing to stagnate, housing costs exploding and critical infrastructure needs not being met, how can Chattanooga make better public decisions towards more equitable development? What part can we play in making that happen?
What: CALEB General Meeting
When: 6:30 pm to 8:oo pm, Thursday, March 12th
Where: The Oak Street Center, First Centenary United Methodist Church, 433 Oak St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
Economic Mobility means Housing Stability
The Chattanooga Times Free Press covers CALEB's award for a CLT study
CALEB is excited to take steps to determine what a community land trust (CLT) could do in Chattanooga. In 2016 Enterprise Community Partners was hired by the City of Chattanooga to conduct a housing and workforce development study. Their report, "Bridging the Gap," lists CLT development as a key recommendation. CALEB intends to take the next step, working with community leaders to commission a feasibility study that gets into the details of setup, governance, local market conditions, and available resources.
Community land trusts create and preserve affordable housing and other community assets for the long-term benefit of the local community; leverage and protect the precious and limited public private resources that are required to make the community assets available, affordable, and accessible in the first place; prevent the displacement of lower-income households from the homes and neighborhoods in which they live; preserve the character and culture of historic neighborhoods in the face of shifting populations and market conditions; provide ongoing support and assistance to homeowners who live on land owned by the CLT to bolster the prospects of their success; and ensure that the homes and properties in its portfolio are well-maintained and retain their value (even as CLTs protect and preserve their affordability and availability) for the long-term benefit of the neighborhoods and communities in which they are located.
From the Times Free Press:
"The Chattanooga Health, Educational and Housing Facility Board (HEB) earmarked as much as $25,000 for CALEB to hire an entity to conduct a feasibility study of establishing a [community land] trust in the city. The money will come from the city's Chattanooga Affordable Housing Fund.
Economic mobility for working families also means economic stability, and housing is a key part. Thanks to the city of Chattanooga and the HEB Board for their support.
CALEB organizes our work around three key issues. Want to get involved? Come to a task force meeting and see what organizing together can do!
CALEB launches new Immigration Bond Fund to aid families separated by ICE detention
We're proud to announce a new initiative through CALEB that looks to intervene directly in support of local families separated by ICE detention. The Immigration Bond Fund is a mechanism to raise money that will be used to post bond for local individuals that have been granted a bond amount by an immigration judge. All the reasons for doing away with the wealth-based detention of cash bail--unequal access to justice, inability to work or act as caregiver, threats to employment, housing, transportation, or necessary medication--are only amplified and extended when dealing with individuals moved to a federal pre-trial detention facility.
Solid community action often comes out of serious social failures and injustices. In Hamilton County, family members are being separated every week; often they're arrested for minor traffic charges like driving on a revoked license even when no probably cause is given for the stop. When undocumented individuals are booked in the jail, ICE is notified and has the ability to place a 48-hour hold that precludes an option to bail out. According to ICE's own website, "If ICE does not assume custody after 48 hours (excluding weekends and holidays), the local law enforcement agency (LEA) is required to release the individual. The LEA may not lawfully hold an individual beyond the 48-hour period." Yet in a number of cases that CALEB's Community Bail Fund has been involved with, Hamilton County Jail staff have refused to release individuals well after the hold has expired and bond has been paid.
Along with Tennessee United, we are working to make sure these examples of unjust detentions are changed at the Hamilton County Sheriff's Dept. For those individuals who do find themselves or their loved ones fighting for their freedom to stay in Chattanooga, we are looking to help. We will be coordinating the establishment of a bond fund committee to oversee applications and approvals, but in the meantime we need to gather the funds that can make action a reality. CALEB's goal is to raise $20,000 for the fund by year's end. You can help us reach this goal by donating HERE, as well as sharing this project among your friends and family. CALEB is a nonprofit organization, so all donations will be tax-deductible.
See our video explaining the need for an Immigration Bond Fund below:
Read more at www.calebcha.org/immigration.
Meetings for Sept/ Oct
Education Task Force: Sept. 26th @ St. Andrews Center (1918 Union Ave.) immediately following press conference
Economic Mobility Task Force:i Oct. 1st, 5:30pm - 7:00 pm @ The Honest Pint
Criminal Justice Task Force: Oct. 3rd, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm @ The Honest Pint
CALEB is an institutional coalition of faith-based, labor, and community groups working to build power to affect change in Chattanooga, TN.