SOURCE: A Just Cause

A Just Cause

November 05, 2015 08:36 ET

A Just Cause Supports Local Community Outreach Event "Let's Talk" November 10, 2015 Featuring Special Guest Speaker Bernard J. Kerik, 9/11 Hero, Retired Corrections Officer and New York Police Commissioner

Community "Let's Talk" Forum Facilitates Open Dialogue With 9/11 National Hero, Renowned Law Enforcement Officer, and Best Selling Author Bernard Kerik to Examine the Urgency of Criminal Justice and Prison Reform Says Advocacy Group, a Just Cause

DENVER, CO--(Marketwired - November 05, 2015) - Advocacy group, A Just Cause, announces on Tuesday, November 10, 2015, the Community "Let's Talk" event hosted by Pastor Rose Banks featuring Bernard "Bernie" J. Kerik as the special guest speaker at 7PM MST, located at 451 Windchime Place, Colorado Springs, Colorado.

"We applaud the ongoing efforts of various organizations and community leaders who work diligently everyday to make a difference and bring about positive change," says Lamont Banks, A Just Cause's Executive Director. "We've shared many stories of injustices, such as the wrongful convictions of the IRP6, and countless others. In light of the recent hearing before Congress and the outrageous remarks by Charles E. Samuels, Jr., Director of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) concerning solitary confinement, AJC Radio interviewed Mr. Bernard Kerik on the subject of abuse and corruption within BOP and shared the truth about prisons and solitary confinement in America with our listening audience," reports Cliff Stewart, A Just Cause. "We took notice of the intriguing and profound story of former New York Police Department (NYPD) Police Commissioner, Bernard Kerik, who accounted for his descent from one of the most prestigious positions in law enforcement to a prison inmate as described in his book, From Jailer to Jailed," adds Stewart.

Rose Banks pastors the local church hosting Let's Talk. She has personal knowledge of the lasting and detrimental effects of people who have spent time in prison since three of her own children were wrongly convicted in the state of Colorado. Pastor Banks proposed Mr. Kerik as a perfect fit to head the Federal BOP, noting that he has first hand experience of an extensive law enforcement background, contrasted by the devastating and lasting effects of being sent to prison. A Just Cause was honored to help facilitate a meeting.

"When I heard Bernard Kerik talk about the abuse and corruption in the prisons September 1, 2015 on AJC Radio, I immediately worked with A Just Cause to extend an open invitation for Mr. Kerik to speak at our monthly Community Let's Talk event. I envisioned this outreach to have open dialogue among all races of people, so we can get to know each other and strengthen relationships. Considering the racial divide and turmoil we see everyday in the news throughout this country, I thought that we should address the relationship between law enforcement and our local community," says Pastor Rose Banks. "I've seen so much injustice over the last few years, most recently with the BOP, and Mr. Kerik can speak to it because he knows first hand what inmates and their families suffer during incarceration. The current system can be very cruel towards offenders and non-offenders alike. I believe that sometimes people make bad choices, but they deserve a second chance. Bernard Kerik's experience stood out to me, and his personal story is unbelievable. After years of dedication and his many accomplishments, I find it appalling that Mr. Kerik has been deprived of serving his country in a position that could benefit so many people. He has been restricted from serving in a leadership capacity after a committed career of law enforcement. People need to hear his story and understand that one error shouldn't take away a person's purpose in life. Bernard Kerik has a proven record of accomplishments, and no one is more qualified and capable of running BOP," says Pastor Banks.

According to The Hill, Director Samuels claimed, "We do not practice solitary confinement. Our practice has always been to ensure that when individuals are placed in restrictive housing, we place them in a cell with another individual, to also include that our staff make periodic rounds to check on the individuals" (http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/250247-dems-grill-federal-prisons-chief). On September 1, 2015, Bernard Kerik gave an exclusive interview on AJC Radio, discussing the hypocrisy of the current prison system. Kerik confirmed the reality of solitary confinement, and the lasting ramifications of going to prison and being labeled as a felon for life. Concerning the comments made by BOP Director Samuels before Congress, having no conception of the size of a solitary confinement cell, Kerik stated, "Any jail or prison administrator would know that answer… I know how big the cell was, he [Director Charles E. Samuels, Jr.] should have known as well."

Kerik suggests there are no second chances with the current system in this country, and that prisoners "suffer draconian sentences that leave them without hope. If you are a convicted felon, you are punished for the rest of your natural life. You've been sentenced to a life of collateral, personal, and professional annihilation… creating a permanent underclass of American citizens. If the laws don't change, it's only going to get worse over time," explains Kerik. He further explained why many don't need prison to pay for their mistakes, such as those who violated some civil/regulatory/ethical issue that prosecutors turn criminal. "After reviewing this situation, A Just Cause made a conscientious decision to support Bernard Kerik," says Lamont Banks. "A Just Cause is an advocacy group that hears horror stories every day about men and women being wrongly imprisoned for 15, 25, or in excess of 30 years for crimes they didn't commit. Mr. Kerik understands that regardless of someone's guilt or innocence, cruelty is never justifiable," confirms Cliff Stewart, AJC Radio host. "We have to be fair to inmates and stop treating them as less than human beings," adds Stewart.

During the AJC Radio interview, Mr. Kerik provided concise strategies that he used when overseeing Rikers Island, one of the most infamous prisons in America. According to Kerik, when he came into position at Rikers Island, he recalled an average of 150 stabbings per month. Over a span of six years, Kerik reduced the prison violence at Rikers Island by 93% and created an international model for prisons. After that, Kerik was appointed by President George W. Bush to take over the Ministry of the Interior of Iraq in the aftermath and fall of Saddam Hussein. In 2004, Kerik was nominated for U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security to replace Tom Ridge.

"Bernard Kerik's career began in the military, and he became a cop, detective, correctional officer, federal drug enforcement agent, warden, corrections commissioner, and finally the police commissioner for the NYPD, which is the largest police department in the country. If there is anyone who can question the system, and champion reform, it's Bernard Kerik," maintains Stewart. Kerik passionately described five essential things to reform the current system that must be addressed: over criminalization, mandatory minimums, prosecutorial misconduct, accountability in the prison system, and rights restoration. "All of the issues Kerik addressed on the AJC Radio show are in perfect sync with, and practically mirror the initiatives of A Just Cause," concludes Stewart.

Pastor Banks is seeking to emphasize the importance of reforming the current prison system so that inmates are treated humanely while incarcerated, and given post-conviction fairness upon release from prison. There is no equal to Bernard Kerik's insight into jail and prison management, and career experience and success. His qualification to head the federal BOP are without question. "When a person has served their time and paid their debt to society, they have a right to start over with a clean slate. Instead, our society continues to further punish men and women, and that is wrong," says Pastor Banks. "I invite anyone who will be in the area on November 10th to come and hear Bernard Kerik speak at the Community 'Let's Talk.' Mr. Kerik has a resume of service to this country no one else can match, and I want everyone who hears his story, and agrees that he deserves a second chance, to please sign the petition asking for a Presidential Pardon for Mr. Kerik," concludes Pastor Banks.

The following excerpt taken from the insert of his best-selling book, From Jailer to Jailed, offers the most conclusive summary of Bernard Kerik's experience. "In an ironic turn of events, Kerik's highest honor of being personally chosen by President George W. Bush to lead the Department of Homeland Security sparked his downfall. The retired New York Police Commissioner was himself handcuffed, shackled, and -- for a time -- held in solitary confinement. Bernard Kerik offers a riveting, one-of-a-kind perspective on the American penal system as he details life on the inside with the experience of an acclaimed correction commissioner from the outside. He compares what is supposed to be happening to what really happens behind prison walls. He takes readers deep into what he calls the 'wasteland,' where inmates are warehoused and treated like animals, abused by those with power and authority, and deprived not only of their freedom but of respect and basic human dignity… Kerik exposed the willful, devastating collateral damage the prison system inflicts and the consequences for American society. He makes a compelling case for reform and calls for wholesale change that will make America 'smart on crime' and forestall what he calls 'the erosion of the very fabric of our society' (Kerik, Bernard B. (2015). From Jailer to Jailed: My Journey From Correction And Police Commissioner To Inmate #84888-054. New York, NY: Threshold Editions)."

"Can society just forget about the good of Former NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik who was right below the towers as the 2nd aircraft hit on 9/11? He and other first responders, including firefighters, literally saved thousands of lives and we must never forget their sacrifice on that day," says Cliff Stewart, A Just Cause. "We must always be conscious and show appreciation for the daily sacrifices made by our first responders who saved the lives of people they didn't know," adds Stewart. "Bernard Kerik and other first responders who put their lives at risk for others are heroes and should be respected as such," concludes Stewart. (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/ajcradio2/2015/09/02/a-just-cause--abuse-corruption-within-the-bureau-of-prisons).

For more info on AJC Radio programming -- including program archives -- visit www.AJCRadio.com. Follow the channel on Twitter @AJCRadio. AJC Radio, "Bringing the Message of Justice Around the World," airs Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8-10 PM ET.

ABOUT AJC Radio

AJC Radio is an Internet radio presentation produced by the advocacy group, A Just Cause (www.a-justcause.com). The program is designed to captivate the American people by dissecting the United States' judicial system, and exposing the hard truths. AJC Radio "…takes the message of justice around the world…" as the panelists review wrongful convictions, judicial misconduct, and mass incarceration across the U.S. The show provides emotional, as well as entertaining dialogue on issues that may be considered controversial by some, but raw truth by others. AJC Radio promises to deliver open discussions about prosecutorial and judicial abuse in the U.S., with the objective of making the show unique, cutting edge, and intriguing to all listeners.

Related press releases: http://www.a-justcause.com/#!2015-press-releases/cl69

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