Why you should support Citizen Action’s Economic Justice Agenda

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We, at Citizen Action, have embarked on developing an Economic Justice Agenda that supports Invest in Our New York (IONY) campaign, specially targeting two demographics that are most in need of economic support.

Mothers and Infants for Lasting Change (MILC), is a legislative bill that will provide expectant mothers and mothers of new-borns a stipend for the first 18 months of the infants life providing a degree of financial security to mothers and children. This is especially important for Black and Brown families since the infant mortality rate for this demographic far exceeds what is considered the national average.  This includes the deaths of mothers at childbirth

The MILC bill sponsored by Senator Jessica Ramos and co-sponsored by Senator Samra Brouk and Assemblymember Sarah Clark, in many ways addresses this concern, and it behooves Rochester’s activist Union reps., Clergy, Students, Activists/Organizers and concerned citizens to support Citizen Action campaign initiative to have this bill enacted into law to mitigate against infant mortality and ensuring for the first 18 months of a child’s life there will be some financial safeguards.

Secondly, Citizen Action Economic Justice Agenda will address how recently released incarcerated workers acclimate back into society. Michelle Alexander’s, “The New Jim Crow” informed the country of the mass incarceration of the poor and disenfranchised supports a system of penal slavery. Her book speaks to an industry that does not care about the end product, unlike other corporations, the penal slave system receives “raw material” and at the end of the production cycle (sentence) after reaping exorbitant profit from years and decades of free labor (pennies on a dollar), that raw material is released back into the community more often than not, worse than when they entered the system. The incarcerated workers return to the community trying to catch up with lost time, many unskilled and unprepared to enter the labor market. As a result, there is a high level of recidivism, returning to a life of illegitimate capitalism (crime) for survival. As is commonly known poverty is the progenitor for criminal behavior, such is the case with less to no crime in affluent communities, where resources are allocated disproportionate to the need. Given this understanding of how the penal slave system operates, providing incarcerated workers upon release with only $40 Gate Money after years or decades of imprisonment, Assemblymember Edward Gibbs has introduced a bill that would mitigate against recidivism and the return to criminal behavior by providing a stipend for 6 months. The bill is co-sponsored by Demond Meeks, and it is imperative other Monroe County State representatives co-sponsor this important legislation. (Also see: “A New Way to Help New Yorkers Adjust to Life After Prison” The enactment of this bill is truly a community safety initiative that provides the released incarcerated worker a fair opportunity to acclimate back into society, after having produced millions of dollars from their free labor for the State. Unlike some community leaders who project the need for bail reform, the building of additional jails/prisons, and increase in prison sentences, this legislation serves to ensure the released incarcerated worker will be able to provide for their children and families and offer a greater sense of security as they acclimate back into the community absent the immediate dread of trying to survive in a system that criminalizes the poor. This is a TRUE SAFETY NET for the released incarcerated worker and a safety valve for the community.

These are action items that directly impacts conditions of impoverishment, of which all conscientious anti-poverty citizen’s of Rochester should unite to achieve. We have to begin somewhere, and there is no better action item than saving children from infant mortality and ensuring released incarcerated workers will not cause harm to the community. We urge all Citizen Action members, friends and supporters to support our Economic Justice Agenda and support our efforts to save the babies and create a safer community.

Join our campaign and become an anti-poverty advocate!!!

Jalil Muntaqim
Special Projects Coordinator
Citizen Action of New York, Rochester Chapter

The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected]

2 thoughts on “Why you should support Citizen Action’s Economic Justice Agenda

  1. The incarceration item is worthy of some comment. Lets real time back a bit and realise why said person was incarcerated in the first place. Enter our education system that fails the population (especially the urban population as in Rochester, NY) at a very early age. That K-12 journey is critical….let me repeat that for those who continue to ignore the education system in urban Rochester….the K-12 educational journey is critical. If our youth doesn’t get an education that prepares them for a career or profession or additional education, all the efforts after that failure are “rescue programs”. Rescue efforts have a enormous cost and poor success rate. While I agree that the incarcerated population deserves a second chance, (if seriously embraced) why don’t we do it right the first time. Doing it right and doing the right thing ought to be the mission. Currently, I don’t need to remind you that our RCSD is thee worst in NYS. Lets get that house in order and we can save ourselves a lot of expense and aggravation.

  2. Conceptually, these two initiatives seem humane and worthwhile. I suspect that supporting new mothers would garner more community support than the second one; supporting previously incarcerated people would be a steeper push. In either case, I’d like to know the fiscal implications for each program and, with a ballooning State budget, where the money would come from. Intuitively, to reduce Black and Brown infant mortality, wouldn’t it also make sense to fund prenatal medical care and stability funding for expectant mothers in low-income situations?

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