FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT:
JODY L. MILLER
PARALYZED FORMER VICTIM OF HARSH ROCKEFELLER DRUG LAWS, IS AWARDED A UNION
SQUARE GRANT TO SUPPORT COMMUNITY BASED ORGANIZATION
NEW YORK, N.Y. November, 2003 – NEW YORKERS TO SHARE $1 MILLION FOR GRASSROOTS
In a ceremony on November 21st, the Union Square Awards will honor 39 New York
City activists and their organizations.
In a ceremony on Friday, November 21st, the Union Square Awards program, a
project of The Fund for the City of New York, will honor the work of 39 New
Yorkers and award $1 million to the community organizations they have founded.
Union Square Award recipients are leaders who have created projects and built
organizations that improve the lives of people in communities throughout New
York City. The Awards recognize innovative grassroots work that is making vital
contributions to the educational, economic and cultural life of the City. Each
award carries a $50,000 grant, and the $1 million awarded this year brings the
total amount granted by the Union Square Awards program to $5.4 million
Terrence Stevens, who served nine years in a New York State prison on a non-violent
drug charge via the unjust Rockefeller Drug Laws, is awarded a Union Square
Award for the “In Arms Reach, Inc. Parents behind Bars: Children in Crisis,”
a Harlem-based art, counseling, mentoring and visitation program exclusively
for children of incarcerated parents. The newly formed organization has the
support of Russell Simmons, the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network and will be aired
Through CCNY Leonard Davis Community Fellowship Program, the Biomedical School
provides student tutors and space on the CCNY campus for the children served.
Parental incarceration has been linked to poor academic achievement, truancy,
drug and alcohol use, early pregnancy, gang activity and involvement with the
juvenile and adult criminal justice system.
According to Collateral Casualties: Children of Incarcerated Drug Offenders
in New York, a 2002 Human Rights Watch report, an estimated 23,537 children
currently have parents in New York prisons convicted of drug charges. Some 50%
of drug offenders in New York do not receive visits from their children..
“In Arms Reach will strengthen family ties for an economically disadvantaged
population of children, often traumatized and stigmatized by parental incarceration,”
said Stevens. Rather than spending public resources to warehouse low level non
violent drug offenders, we need to redistribute these resources back into our
communities, for programs that expand educational opportunities for children
whose parents are incarcerated.”
Stevens, a victim of the Rockefeller Drug Laws, is virtually paralyzed from
the neck down as a result of muscular dystrophy. On Dec. 25, 2000, Stevens was
granted executive clemency by Governor George Pataki. While in prison, he required
around-the-clock care with feeding, bathing, and all activities of daily living.
In addition, he had to be turned every two hours during the night to ease respiratory
complications. He served nine years of a fifteen-to-life sentence in a maximum-security
prison for a non-violent drug
“Children of incarcerated drug offenders are one of the collateral casualties
of the state’s war on drugs,” said Jamie Fellner, director of Human
Rights Watch’s U.S. Program. “Disproportionately, harsh drug sentences
have not only led to the unnecessary incarceration of tens of thousands of low-level
drug offenders, they have also deprived thousands of children of their parents.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT: TERRENCE STEVENS
WEB SITE: WWW.INARMSREACH.ORG
E-MAIL: [email protected]
SITE VISIT: CITY COLLEGE – HARRIS HALL BLD. 138ST & CONVENT AVE.