Prosecutorial misconduct under investigation - do you have a case to submit?
Award winning film available - A Sentence of Their Own
Army needed to fight AIDS - Prisoners and Loved ones - write Rev. Franklin Graham
Have you walked enough miles in those shoes? - West Indies prisoners need them
Customized websites for prisoners at
Free books for prisoners
Teresa Aviles named to NY Archdiocese Advisory Board
Book Review: Dear Lover, by Yvonne Rainey
PrisonTalk Online

Breaking the Chains: People of Color and the War on Drugs (LA Drug Reform Conference)

Prosecutorial misconduct under investigation

The Center for Public Integrity and veteran investigative journalist Steve Weinberg are researching cases of prosecutorial misconduct that lead to wrongful convictions. They would like to hear from prisoners, their families and friends, journalists, lawyers, expert and lay witnesses, jurors, medical examiners, police officers, and judges who can show evidence of prosecutorial misconduct.

Steve Weinberg of Columbia, Missouri is an author and former newspaper reporter and magazine staff writer. Working with Weinberg is Neil Gordon. Neil Gordon is a research associate at the Center for Public Integrity, and also a lawyer.

Funding for the project comes from several sources, most prominently the Open Society Institute in New York. The research will be disseminated by the Center for Public Integrity, possibly in the form of a book from a major publisher.Weinberg and Gordon plan to name names of prosecutors who cross the line, especially in jurisdictions where wrongful convictions have occurred repeatedly. Steve Weinberg can be contacted by:

Telephone: (573) 882-5468
Fax: (573) 882-5431
Regular mail: 807 West Blvd. South, Columbia, MO 65203

Read Weinberg's account of the Ellen Reasonover story, "Railroaded," which was published in The American Lawyer.

Neil Gordon can be contacted at the Center for Public Integrity by:

Telephone: (202) 466-1300 x-105
Fax: (202) 466-1101
Regular mail: 910 17th Street, NW, 7th Floor,
Washington, DC 20006

Award winning film available

In July of 1996, Becky Raymond's world was shattered. While her husband faced a felony conviction and a seven-year prison sentence, she and their two sons were left to contend with the aftermath. Edgar A. Baren's "A Sentence of Their Own" chronicles one family's annual pilgrimage to a New Hampshire State Prison and reveals the damaging impact that incarceration has on families.

The video makes visible what is rarely seen, the slow and gradual descent of a family "doing time" on the outside, and calls for a closer examination and deeper understanding of our growing rates of incarceration and its impact on families, communities, and our culture at large.

For further information on screening and/or purchasing, "A Sentence of Their Own," please visit: The website features details about how to use this film in your community, including review of their discussion guide and full transcripts. Contact:

Edgar A. Barens, Columbus Circle Station, P.O. Box 20843, York, NY 10023,

Army needed to fight AIDS

On February 19th, the Rev. Franklin Graham, calling HIV/AIDS a greater threat to the United States than terrorism, urged Christians to lay aside their prejudices about the disease and get more involved in preventing its spread around the world, according to a report by Caryle Murphy, Washington Post Staff Writer.

"Unfortunately and shamefully, the church has been somewhat asleep on this issue, and maybe it's because of the social stigma," Graham reportedly said. Noting that many Christians believe HIV/AIDS afflicts only homosexuals or drug users, Graham told Murphy, "It's heterosexual, and the danger is to all of us."

The Christian evangelical leader noted that while about 3,000 people died in September's terrorist attacks, North America had about 20,000 AIDS deaths last year. "Think of the impact. It's lawyers, it's professional people, it's the cream of the crop of our artistic world," he said in the Post article. "We're not spending near as much money on HIV as we are on terrorism. But which is the greater threat?"

Graham, 49, son of evangelical preacher Billy Graham, was speaking on the second day of an international conference in Washington of 830 people from 87 countries dealing with the repercussions of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, including growing populations of orphans whose parents died of AIDS-related complications. "We need a new army of men and women who are prepared to go around the world, to help in this battle," said Graham, who also heads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

"For me, as an evangelical Christian I have to point the finger at myself and say, 'I'm late," added the preacher. "I believe that if Jesus Christ were here today we would find him on the front line of this issue."

What do November Coalition members think about Graham's call? Perhaps his office should be flooded with letters about AIDS in prison, how it spreads and of urgent medical care needs. Remind Franklin Graham that our drug policies are fueling this insidious epidemic. Call for action, expose the dangers of prison rape, and appeal for the immediate release of sick and dying prisoners.

Write to: Franklin Graham
P.O. Box 779
Minneapolis, MN 55440

Have you walked enough miles in those shoes? West Indies prisoners need them

Charles Sullivan, of Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants (or CURE) posted a simple but poignant request to the Internet in late-January. Sullivan, active as a death penalty abolitionist, and prison reformer, received a letter at Christmas from Fr. Lloyd Bechamp of Dominica.

In the letter, Father Bechamp wrote, "One of our needs at this island prison is men's shoes. When a man comes to the prison he has what he has on his feet. When the shoes wear out he is bare footed. If you have any way to publish our need, particularly in men's shoes sizes 8, 9, 10, 11, 12; footwear could be sent to me at this address:

Fr. Lloyd Bechamp · P.O. Box 1759, Roseau · Dominica, West Indies

What was that wisdom gained from crying because I had no shoes until I met a man with no feet? Dear Razoristas, it's time to "beat feet" to clean out your closet full of shoes you don't use, and contact Fr. Bechamp for more information.

Customized websites for prisoners at Internet project will design customized websites for prisoners to write and post information about themselves, seek out pen pals, put up resumes and letters of support, and any articles they have written or that have been written about them.

Zach Axelrod wrote to say, "We can provide help to those who cannot receive help from family, or supplemental help to those with supportive families, in the form of letters of support, messages on a message board, e-mails, or letters, as well as trying to change public opinion through our website."

November Coalition is listed twice on their links page, under 'drugs' (alphabetically) and under 'activists and community organizations' (also alphabetically). On the web, you can visit or email Zach: for more information. If you do not have internet access, you can write · P.O. Box 1664 · Voorhees, NJ 08043; they will mail details about services and fees to any prisoner or family of a prisoner who requests more information.

Free books for prisoners

The following projects offer free books to prisoners across the nation. You can ordinarily expect a two-to-three month wait before receiving a response. A project's reply will likely come in the form of a postcard requiring more specific information. Check with mailroom officials at individual prisons to learn the procedures for these free books coming in.

Prison Book Program
c/o Lucy Parsons Book Store
1306 Hancock Street, Suite 100
Quincy, MA 02169
617-423-3298 (no collect calls)
(This book program supports the self-education of all prisoners by sending them books free of charge, including fiction and nonfiction paperbacks. Prisoners should request books by author, title, subject or area of interest.)

Prison Book Project
c/o Food for Thought Books
PO Box 396
Amherst, MA 01004-0396

(Note: Sends ONLY to prisoners in Texas, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.)

Prison Library Project
P.M.B. - 128 915 SW Foresthill Blvd.
Claremont, CA 91711-3356
(There will be a form letter and resource list in response to your first inquiry. Books will be shipped upon your second letter telling them your interests. Books focus on self-help, spiritual growth, wellness, and metaphysics.)

Prisoners Literature Project
c/o Bound Together Books
1369 Haight Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
(Provides free books to prisoners.)

Books Through Bars
c/o Bluestocking Bookstore
172 Allen Street
NY, NY 10009
(Provides political, historical and educational books free to prisoners.)

Books Through Bars
4722 Baltimore Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143
(Provides educational and political books.)

Prison Policy News
Box 2143
Colorado Springs, CO 80901

Oceana Publications
75 Main Street
Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522
(Provides some free legal literature.)

Set Free Prison Ministries
Box 120957
St. Paul, MN 55112
(Free religious correspondence courses.)

Teresa Aviles named to NY Archdiocese Advisory Board

Teresa Aviles of Bronx, NY has been asked to participate in the formation of a special advisory board. The Archdioceses of New York and Justice Works Community are currently collaborating on a criminal justice reform project in New York State, funded by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

Teresa founded the Isidro Aviles Memorial Chapter of November Coalition to remember and honor her son who died mysteriously in prison while serving a first-time, nonviolent drug prisoner. This project will "educate citizens in New York State about problems in the criminal justice system and encourage them to take action to demand reform in criminal justice policy," wrote Teresa. One of the objectives of this initiative is the formation of an Advisory Board composed of ex-prisoners and their family members to oversee and administer the project jointly with the Archdiocese and Justice Works.

Book Review

Dear Lover, by Yvonne Rainey

At 19, author Yvonne Rainey was an inmate in federal prison on a drug-related charge. Rather than spending her time in prison being bitter and mournful, she began educating herself with books. She then began writing her own novel about the life she knew entitled, "Dear Lover."

Drawing on Rainey's personal experiences, "Dear Lover," which was released September 29th, 2001, mixes fact with fiction as Rainey explores the mean streets of Las Vegas through the eyes of her main character, Danna Myers.

After being released from prison at 23 years old, Rainey became gainfully employed as the first black women to be certified as a Backflow Tester in the state of Nevada. She tested water for the City of North Las Vegas and the Health District for possible contamination. Although she enjoyed her job's financial security, it wasn't Rainey's passion.

She took a huge pay cut and became a youth program coordinator for the High On Life Youth Program. While studying to become a personal trainer though ACE at UCLA, she eventually became the aerobic instructor for the Community College of Southern Nevada. She loves being an inspiration for youth and ex-offenders but still felt she had so much more to offer.

She then took the challenging role of becoming the CEO of her very own publishing company called Beginning II End Publishing Inc. She has also launched Beginning II End Bookstore and Beginning II End Book Club. Even with Rainey's demanding schedule she still finds the time to participate in prison reform groups.

Yvonne Rainey now lives and works in Las Vegas, Nevada where she operates her own publishing business and is involved actively in her community. Interested readers may order "Dear Lover" from Beginning II End Publishing, PO Box 335682, Las Vegas, NV 89033. Website: Telephone: 702-647-8694

Dear Lover

By Yvonne Rainey

Reviewed by Jerry Alexander, November Coalition volunteer

Dear Lover is a fictional story based on the experiences of the author. The main character, Danna, discovers the harsh realities of drug trafficking as a teenager. Her lover, Derrick, introduces her to the fast lane of big money, fancy cars and gambling as they transport crack cocaine from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.

Danna tells the story from prison, of true love that survives the test of jealousy, adultery, incredible stress of incarceration. She relates her past to a fellow inmate. The reader is thus very aware that the eventual result of this tale is prison for the main character and probably most of the others. All of them seem to be living intense lives, buying and selling drugs and at the same time avoiding raids by law enforcement or other major drug dealers in Las Vegas. Their lives are a constant series of ups and downs.

The author writes, "And time was of the essence in the dope game. The longer you stay, the riskier things got, like getting popped by the police or even worse, getting jacked and killed by another jealous person that wanted to take your place." For the reader it is like riding a train knowing that a crash or derailment awaits all at the end of the line.

It is an interesting experience for this middle class suburban reader to be placed into the lives of street level drug dealing by the author. She pulls no punches, describing drug wealth and poverty after losing it all.

At the end of "Dear Lover," Danna has accepted the long years in prison her lover must serve. It is a harsh experience, but her love for Derrick has endured; they now trust in God and have positive plans for their future. She addresses the issue of over sentencing of non-violent drug offenders and promises that with God's help they will be victorious and continue to fight these laws.

PrisonTalk Online

David Frisk is responsible for this Internet site of interest to prisoners. The Global Communications Nexus for the Prisoner Support Community features live discussion forums, free organization forum hosting, information resources and much more! See or

Breaking the Chains: People of Color and the War on Drugs

On the evening of Thursday, September 26 through Saturday, September 28, 2002 in the Hyatt Regency Los Angeles at Macy's Plaza, 711 South Hope Street, Los Angeles, California, The Drug Policy Alliance (formerly the Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation) will proudly announce a groundbreaking event that will address the grievous impacts of the war on drugs on people of color.

Participants at the three-day conference will learn about the discriminatory history of punitive drug policies, alternatives to current policy, and how to advocate for positive change. The conference will begin with an opening reception on the evening of Thursday, September 26, 2002. A full day of events will follow on Friday, September 27, ending with a wrap-up on the afternoon of Saturday, September 28.
Conference details are still being finalized.

If you would like to receive further announcements about this conference, please send your contact information to
For additional information, see

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The Razor Wire is a publication of The November Coalition, a nonprofit organization that advocates drug law reform. Contact information:
282 West Astor - Colville, Washington 99114 - (509) 684-1550