An Open Letter to Donald Trump-9/9/2020

  • This is the ninth in a series of open letters explaining our demands, and the third about ending mass incarceration. These are links to part one and part two.

September 9th, 2020

Dear President Trump,

For the last two days, we’ve talked about the drug war’s roots in racism, and the impact it has had on mass incarceration. Yet ending the war on drugs will not reverse mass incarceration on its own.

The roots of mass incarceration go far deeper than Nixon’s escalation in 1973; it was on this day in 1971, in Attica, New York that 1,300 inmates rioted against their overcrowded living conditions, seizing control of the correctional facility. They made radical demands such as “better medical treatment, fair visitation rights, and an end to physical brutality…. for basic necessities like toothbrushes and showers everyday, for professional training, and access to newspapers and books.” Many of these demands go unmet 49 years later.

We can do better in the 21st century. Members of the American Union observe a national day of fasting each month, an act that can be shared with those both inside and outside of the prison wall. Our self-sacrifice forges a common bond between Americans, a desire to see real reforms in our country. The next one is on Tuesday, September 15, you can add your pledge here.

The Blueprint for a Better America addresses mass incarceration in several ways. It includes the Second Look Act, which would allow the incarcerated to petition a court after 10 years to take a “second look” at their sentence. This will build on the work you’ve begun with passage of the First Step Act.

Your administration has also increased access to Pell grants for incarcerated Americans, our legislation goes further and lifts the barriers put in place by the 1994 Crime Bill. Gaining additional education is a demonstrated way to reduce recidivism.

Other avenues of second-class treatment must also be addressed, many of which also stem from the 1990s “get tough on crime” spree. The Prison Litigation Reform Act, which creates a higher bar for court access specifically for the incarcerated, will be repealed. The opportunity for parole, which was abolished for federal prisoners in the 1980s, will be restored, and financial incentives for states to implement harsher sentences will be ended. Building a better America includes opportunities for all Americans.

The Christian narrative is one full of redemption. The Bible shows God using his people over and over again to bring prosperity, justice, and peace to their land. For the most part, Christians genuinely seek to follow that example and lift up our country so all can thrive.

Your acceptance of our terms, Mr. President, embraces Matthew 6:14–15; “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

We have all sinned, we have all broken laws, and we are all capable of redemption. In the 21st century, we can shift our view of the incarcerated, and incarceration. There is humanity in each and every one of us, and putting “humanity first” will reinforce that, and construct a better America. Mr. President, will you build our blueprint?

Respectfully yours,

Phoenix Congress 2020

(You can read the next open letter here.)

Other articles on Medium:

A call to action around Martin Luther King, Jr.’s triple evils: The Marginalized Must Unionize in 2020

A look at our duties as Americans and the legislation they inspire: The Blueprint for a Better America




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Phoenix Congress

Phoenix Congress

Challenging the duopoly with crowdsourced legislative solutions since 2019.

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