Sept 14-15, 2019 Los Angeles
On the weekend of September 14-15, over 125 people gathered at the beautiful Community Coalition building in South L.A. to strategize about how to end Life Without Parole and all extreme sentencing in California. The convening was initiated by the California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP), Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), the Felony Murder Elimination Project (FMEP), and Familes United to End LWOP (FUEL) and over a dozen other organizations were part of the planning process.
A team of moderators including Amber-Rose Howard from CURB, Candace Chavez-Wilson and Sutina Green from FUEL, and Linda Evans from CCWP welcomed people from all over California, as well as representatives of organizations in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington DC. They began by asking people to stand if they previously had LWOP sentences, if they were formerly incarcerated, or were family members of those sentenced to LWOP and other extreme sentences. Few people remained seated,indicating that the majority of people at the convening had been directly impacted by the violent system of incarceration that we have been working to change.
The moderators then invited everyone to contribute pictures and mementos for an altar dedicated to the many people impacted by prisons who had transitioned. They pointed out the notebook was shared around including over a hundred pages of testimony and suggestions written specifically for the Convening from people with LWOP sentences .
Moving into an 8 hour day of movement building, moderators reviewed important group agreements meant to ensure a mutually respectful workspace in all regards. Participants were provided an overview of the two day agenda, which included three informational panels; presentations, slideshows and videos to bring the voices and ideas of people imprisoned into the Convening, and working group break out sessions to brainstorm and prioritize concrete next steps for the campaign to Drop LWOP. Lessons from the panels and outcomes from the workgroups are summarized in the full report here.
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