Organizational Spotlight: Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants

In the realm of prisoners' rights and support, several organizations stand out from the rest. CURE (Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants) is one of these organizations.

In the hope that you'll consider becoming a member of CURE or making a donation to their most worthy cause, I am enclosing the text from their "Questions and Answers About International CURE" brochure. It reads as follows:

What is CURE?

CURE is an international organization dedicated to the reeducation of crime through the reform of the criminal justice system (especially prison reform). A person is sent to prison as punishment not for punishment.

When and Where Did CURE Start?

1972: CURE began in San Antonio, Texas, when the families of prisoners and concerned citizens went to the state legislature in Austin to work against the death penalty.

1975: CURE moved to Austin and organized with a constitution and an annual convention.

1985: CURE became a national organization and established an office in Washington, DC. Conventions are held every two years.

2001: CURE had its first international conference in New York City. Since then, it has been granted consultative status from the United Nations. Other countries besides the United States have established national chapters.

What Are the Goals of CURE?

Assuring that:

1-Prisons are used only for persons who absolutely must be incarcerated.

2-People in prison have all the resources they need to change their lives.

Where is CURE Active?

Most states in the United States have CURE chapters. Besides the U.S., national chapters have started in Africa. Also, some members throughout the world are interested in starting chapters.

What is an Issue Chapter?

There are six issue chapters in the U.S. which focus on reform for people in prison who are:

1-On Death Row

2-Sex Offenders

3-In Federal Prison

4-From Other Countries

5-Veterans

6-Lifers

Who Supports CURE?

There are over 20,000 members of CURE in the world. Many of them are people in prison.

How Do Members Participate?

CURE is an organization of volunteers who serve in leadership positions. "Offices" are in the homes of leaders, equipment is basic – often just a computer, printer, and phone. Because we have and need little money, we can independently speak truth to power.

What are CURE's Issues?

~Abolition of the death penalty

~Moratorium on prison construction

~Community corrections

~Restorative/healing justice through meetings between the person who offended and the person who is the victim

~Professional corrections

~Strengthening of prisoner/family ties

~Increase in education and job training

~Removal of restrictions on prison voting and employment opportunities

~Treatment of addictions

What Do CURE Members Receive?

Members can access the international newsletter on the International CURE website (http://www.internationalcure.org). Also, national newsletters are sent by mail. If there is a state chapter in a member's state, there may be newsletters concerning state issues. Similarly, members of issue chapters receive newsletters.

What Has CURE Done?

National CURE aided the U.S. in creating:

~The Offices of Correctional Education and Correctional Employment.

~Specter Grants for education of youths in prison.

~A job application for Federal Employment which initially does not require felony conviction information.

~Drug and Mental Health Courts to divert people with drug and mental health problems to treatment.

~Veterans Administration assistance with reentry help for incarcerated veterans.

~Coverage of pregnant prisoners under a special federal health program (WIC).

~Stopping television commercials depicting prison rape and the death penalty as humorous.

~Providing federal resources such as DNA testing and effective defense assistance for those charged with capital crimes.

~Passage recently of the Second Chance Act which gives reentry help to people released.

~Justice Department additions:

1) An increase in staff that enforces constitutional conditions of confinement.

2) 30 more states under the Prison Industry Enhancement Program (PIE).

3) Reporting deaths in custody by all of law enforcement.

Why Does CURE Continue?

To achieve prison reform is always difficult, and there will be many more defeats than victories.

Thus, much of CURE's work in the United States Congress has been in defending and, sad to say, losing on such crucial issues as the death penalty, limiting litigation on conditions by people in prison, and higher education grants for those in prison.

But, we continue for many reasons. Perhaps, they can be summed up by what 'writ-writers' in the Texas prisons wrote us when we started. These were persons who filed lawsuits on such practices as prisoners functioning as guards. Banning this practice in 1973 was CURE's first victory.

Back then 'writ-writers' knew that by just writing to us, they could be severely punished. And yet, they bravely wrote that 'The struggle is its own reward.' "

But not to worry, CURE still moves bravely forward in the cutthroat realm of criminal justice reform. Undermanned and outgunned they do continue to fight. And their three latest projects show their true value to the global prison population as a whole:

1. ETC (Equitable Telephone Charges): A national campaign to reduce the exorbitant costs of phone calls in prison.

2. For Whom the Bells Toll: An international movement encouraging religious communities to toll their church bells or hang a banner to protest when there is an execution.

3. International conferences on prison reform and human rights. The next one will be in Geneva, Switzerland.

CURE can be contacted at:

Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants

P.O. Box 2310

Washington, DC 20013

(202)789-2126

cure@curenational.org

http://www.curenational.org

http://www.internationalcure.org