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|From Montgomery to Los Angeles and Beyond:
Formerly Incarcerated People Building a Movement
By Kenneth Glasgow and Dorsey Nunn, AlterNet
Would you feel like a full citizen if most of your civil and human rights
were denied you? If the privileges afforded to community members
were withheld from you, would you feel like a welcome member of
the community? Probably not.
As formerly incarcerated people, every day is another reminder that
we do not have full access to our civil and human rights. Having
served our sentences and returned home, we face circumstances
that often seem designed to prevent our full participation in our
communities and country: stigma for having a criminal conviction.
Barriers to gaining meaningful employment and decent housing.
Barriers to constructive educational opportunities. Lack of access
to healthcare. Denial of our voting rights.
This is a widespread problem. Consider this: there are nearly 2.4
million people incarcerated in prisons and jails in the U.S. today.
Most people currently incarcerated are coming home -- according
to the Department of Justice, over 700,000 people were released
from incarceration in 2006 alone. Across the country, over five
million people are under state supervision like parole or probation.
There are millions of people who are currently and formerly
incarcerated, and millions more who were never incarcerated but
have a criminal conviction--all of whom live, every day, without our
full civil and human rights.
What happens when people's civil and human rights are denied for
too long? Movements for change spark and catch fire.
As we near the 46th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday March over
the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma , Alabama , we're reminded of
the Civil Rights Movement. For nearly 100 years after the end of
chattel slavery, Black people were denied their human and civil
rights, including the right to vote. People got tired and organized all
over the country to win their rights. In Alabama , the movement was