FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: SECOND CHANCE ALLIANCE

Who is the Second Chance Alliance?
How Can Ex-Offenders Prepare To Re-Enter Society?
Where in North Carolina Can Ex-Offenders Turn For Support?
How Can I Get Involved To Help Create Better Re-Entry Policy?
Where Can I Learn More About the Issues?
Have more questions? Contact Us!

Who is the Second Chance Alliance?

A statewide alliance of advocacy organizations, service providers, faith-based organizations, community leaders and interested citizens who have come together to achieve the safe and successful re-integration of adults and juveniles with criminal records. We seek to promote policies that remove barriers to productive citizenship.

As a former offender, how can I prepare for re-entry into society?

The Pre-Release Reentry Preparation Handbook covers topics such as identification, housing, education, employment, family relationships, money management, and life skills.  The handbook was produced in Minnesota and is in some ways Minnesota-specific; however, it was developed for use by incarcerated individuals in all states and is useful for individuals preparing for release in North Carolina, as well.

North Carolina Handbook for Family and Friends of Inmates: Guide to understanding the rules and regulations that govern the North Carolina prison facilities so as to encourage family members to maintain regular contact with relatives and friends who are in prison in order to provide emotional support and stay informed of his or her progress.

A Reentry Guidebook for Incarcerated Veterans in North Carolina: This guide is meant for use by incarcerated veterans preparing for release from North Carolina’s prisons.

As a former offender, where can I go in North Carolina for re-entry support? 

North Carolina Local Agency Support Directory: The directory contains contact information for local agencies providing reentry support services.

NC Prisoner Legal Services Resources to Assist Inmates After Release: A directory of resources to assist inmates after release.

NC Dept of Corrections County Resource Guide: The County Resource Guide is a searchable database of community resources in each of North Carolina’s 100 counties.  The database contains contact information for many core local, state, and federal agencies, as well as various faith-based and community-based service organizations that provide assistance to individuals with criminal records, including those under correctional supervision, to support a successful transition into their community.

North Carolina Criminal Justice Resource Directory:  A service of the Carolina Justice Policy Center, the directory is meant to serve practitioners, individuals with criminal convictions and their families as a compass to help navigate North Carolina’s network of community-based corrections programs, alternative programs to incarceration, re-entry programs, and legal assistance programs.

Resource Center Without Walls: The Community Success Initiative’s database of various reentry documents includes everything from a Reentry Survival Guide to Reentry Employment Strategies to faith-based training materials.

 

I want to help create better policy on re-entry. How can I get involved?

For more information and to get involved in the NC Second Chance Alliance, sign up for our updates here. You can also contact Bill Rowe or Ajamu Dillahunt at the NC Justice Center by phone at (919) 856-2177 or(919) 856-3194, or by email at bill@ncjustice.org or ajamu@ncjustice.org.

Where can I learn more about the issues?

National HIRE Network: The National Helping Individuals with criminal records Re-enter through Employment Network is both a national clearinghouse for information and an advocate for policy change. The National H.I.R.E. Network also provides training and technical assistance to agencies working to improve the employment prospects for people with criminal records.

Prisoner Reentry Institute: Among its many publications are, “In Our Backyard: Overcoming Resistance to Reentry Housing,” “The Greening of Corrections: Creating a Sustainable System,” and “Venturing Beyond the Glass: Facilitating Successful Reentry with Entrepreneurship.” Also, see PRI’s National Directory of Reentry Resources.

National Employment Law Project: NELP promotes model employment policies and basic protections that allow qualified workers with criminal records to attain and retain quality jobs.

National Reentry Resource Center: A clearinghouse of information about state and local reentry initiatives.  Publication topics include starting a reentry initiative, mentoring, performance measures, and law enforcement.

ReEntry.net: This site operates as a clearinghouse of materials for attorneys, social service providers, and policy reform advocates on re-entry and the consequences of criminal proceedings.  Publication topics include privacy & criminal records, employment protections for people with criminal records, forging a legal Strategy to remove barriers to employment of people with criminal records.  Also provides a database of advocacy toolkits.

Center for Effective Public Policy: The center provides assistance to criminal justice practitioners and policymakers on a variety of topics related to reentry.  The center also publishes training curricula, policy and practice briefs, handbooks, video seminars, and other resources regarding reentry.

Reentry Policy Council: The Reentry Policy Council is a national project coordinated by the Council of State Governments Justice Center, a national nonprofit organization that serves policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels from all branches of government. The Reentry Policy Council maintains a searchable database of state and local reentry programs and publishes on several reentry topics, including reentry partnerships, children of incarcerated parents, and federal benefits.

Reentry National Media Outreach Campaign: The Campaign is designed to support the work of community and faith-based organizations through offering media resources that will facilitate community discussion and decision making about solution-based reentry programs.  The Project Documentation toolbar is particularly useful.

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Just how funny is raping one’s own mother to get users to click “Like” on Facebook?

Humor might be in the eye of the beholder, but about 200,000 sets of eyes were so shocked at a series of ostensibly pro-sexual assault pages on the social networking site that they took action beginning this August.

When the world’s largest social networking site refused to remove “humorous” pro-sexual assault pages, a movement emerged. A campaign called #notfunnyfacebook used online organizing on Change.org and Twitter to pressure Facebook to remove the offending content and clarify its policy on such pages.

A torrent of tweets and tens of thousands of petition signatures later, pages such as “What’s 10 inches and gets girls to have sex with me? My knife” were down. Questions remained, however, about Facebook’s future policy on hateful content and whether the new media environment changes how people should respond to offensive speech.

OFFENSIVE CONTENT

It didn’t start with the infamous “1.5 million ‘likes’ and I will rape my mom!” page. 

John Raines, a user of the online petition site Change.org, had seen a lot of hateful and violent pages on Facebook. He started a petition in response to pages like “I know a silly little bitch that needs a good slap,” and “Riding your Girlfriend (sic) softly, Cause (sic) you dont (sic) want to wake her up.”

Keeping it classy: a screenshot of one of the offending pages, captured by a #notfunnyfacebook campaign supporter.

These are triggering pages for [survivors of sexual assault]. These pages make them feel unsafe in a community that should be a social one,” said Alex DiBranco, senior organizer on the Women’s Rights cause at Change.org. Without them, she said, “Facebook will be a safer community for women, and survivors of all types.”

The petition took off, reaching nearly 190,000 signatures as of Nov. 13.

A TWITTER CAMPAIGN IS BORN

But activists found Facebook’s response lacking. After six weeks, the world’s largest social network wouldn’t respond to them directly, and limited its public response to general press statements about the site’s Terms of Service. Facebook did not respond to repeated requests for comment for this story.

One such statement especially infuriated campaign organizers when it compared the rape “humor” to jokes that wouldn’t get one thrown out of a local pub. Facebook’s Terms of Service prohibit “threatening” or “hateful” content, activists reasoned: why wouldn’t pages advocating rape, even supposedly in jest, not meet the standard?

They have taken down threatening and hateful pages before, so in refusing to take down these pages, they’re making a statement about what kind of violence is OK: sexual violence,” said DiBranco.

Moving to a different form of social networking, organizers turned to Twitter. The #notfunnyfacebook day of action urged tweeters to add the hashtag to their posts urging Facebook to take a stand.

At its peak, DiBranco says, people from around the world were tweeting more than 100 times per hour, culminating in more than 1,000 messages.

Quietly, with no public pronouncements of any kind, Facebook began removing the offensive pages during the second week in November, seemingly in response to the #notfunnyfacebook campaign.

OPERATION IGNORE?

But is removal of the pages enough? And was a pressure campaign of this nature the best approach?

Dianne Lynch, president of Stephens College, is a former journalist who has studied media culture in online spaces as well as feminist theory. She compares people posting offensive online content to lunatics ranting on a street corner, and suggests a similar response to each might have been warranted.

Do you stop on the corner and say to that person, ‘What are you doing?’ No,” said Lynch. “You roll your eyes and you walk on by. You say, ‘That message doesn’t warrant my attention’.”

The emergence of Internet media is a factor in popular responses, Lynch said. While offensive messages are nothing new, their method of distribution is.

People have been screaming hateful, vile things since people started to scream,” she said. “We’re allowing the [social media] platform to drive our responses in a way we wouldn’t in physical space.”

But Sarah Granger, a communications, technology and new media expert, questions how well that analogy applies.

Unfortunately, the ‘lunatic on the street corner’ in this case has hundreds of thousands of people liking their page,” Granger said, “so they have a much larger audience than the real lunatic on the street corner, who probably only bothers two or three people.”

Especially in a world where someone with access to the Internet can seek – and find – 1.5 million followers, the definition of a public figure may need to shift.

This guy online [posting offensive material] isn’t running for office,” Granger said, “but he’s doing something that’s disrespectful to women, and something that can cause societal harm over time. If nobody calls these people on it, they’ll think it’s acceptable to continue this behavior.”

Lynch suggests a different approach, one that doesn’t necessarily involve petitions and volume after volume of 140-character messages.

Ignoring bad behavior is a strategy for preventing bad behavior, especially if the bad behavior is driven by a desire for attention,” she said. “When we give that attention, we feed the beast.”

WHAT NOW FOR FACEBOOK AND OTHER SOCIAL NETWORKS?

The Change.org petition, and the grassroots campaign more broadly, asked for more than just a few specific pages to be removed. The petition asks for specific language in Facebook’s Terms of Service explicitly declaring that pages promoting sexual violence will be banned.

This hasn’t happened, and Facebook has given no signal that it will. Given these facts, can #notfunnyfacebook organizers claim victory?

New media expert Granger called the pages’ removal “mostly” a win for the campaign. Facebook is very influential, and what they do may send a signal to other social media platforms.

Facebook can influence Google Plus, for example, through their standards,” she said.

To that end, removal of the offending pages is a step forward, but a more vocal condemnation of pro-sexual violence pages would have sent a stronger signal. Already, new offensive pages are springing up, something many say a firm policy would combat.

It would have been nice for Facebook to be explicit about their policies. But Facebook’s strong suit is not in that area,” said Granger, noting criticism about lack of transparency in Facebook’s privacy policy.

They still have some promise and room to grow. They are a young company, and this is how they learn.”

LIST OF QUESTIONS

Why is this campaign is important? Why, of all the potential issues out there affecting women, did you choose this one? How did it rise above the hundreds of other campaigns that started with a petition on Change.org?

What does it say about Facebook that they’d leave these pages up, while taking down breastfeeding pages?

Facebook quietly took down the controversial pages in response to the campaign. Is this a pure win? Or is the fact that they didn’t explicitly disavow this type of “joking” about sexual violence still problematic?

New media makes it possible to communicate faster than ever, and makes suppression of speech tougher than ever. There are good things about this, but it’s obviously tougher to combat noxious speech. Are campaigns like this the future? Do you have any worries that campaigns like #notfunnyfacebook will be tarred with cries of “censorship” and meet with a backlash?

What potential problems could this campaign and others like it cause? Do you worry about a backlash? Drawing attention to offensive content that might otherwise quietly disappear?

Could this campaign affect future campaigns against offensive speech online? Does Facebook’s handling of this situation send a signal to other social networking sites?

SOURCES I ATTEMPTED TO CONTACT, WITHOUT SUCCESS

Facebook spokesperson
John Raines, Change.org petition creator
Jane Osmond with Womens Views On News, UK campaign leader of #notfunnyfacebook
Shelby Knox, feminist grassroots organizer
Jaclyn Friedman, author
I also put out an open call on the #notfunnyfacebook Twitter hashtag, asking for participating tweeters to comment for the story. I only got one response, and that source would not speak for attribution.

PUBLICATION
I plan to publish the story on the Progressive Pulse, North Carolina’s most popular liberal blog.

LIST OF FACTS CHECKED AND VERIFIED
Number of petition signatures (189,190 as of noon, Nov. 13, 2011).

The number of tweets on #notfunnyfacebook I checked with three different Twitter measurement sites, Archivist.VisitMix.Com, Topsy.Com, and Tweetreach.com. Each has flaws, since data is only archived for a limited period of time (about two weeks for the longest of them, it seems). But given that each site concurs that at least 500 tweets have been published, and since Archivist tracks 500 tweets since Nov. 7, and since the main day of action was Nov. 2, I thought it was safe to go with the “more than 1,000 tweets” number DiBranco cited.

I also personally checked that the controversial Facebook pages had been taken down.

1. A Google Map of Wireless Access Points in Chapel Hill, NC

2. I amended the Greg Proops Wikipedia entry with a link to a podcast where he appeared.

3. A Wordle balloon for my week two writing assignment.

Wordle: Jeff Shaw on Bellingham

4. Finally, a Dipity timeline: the hotness arc of the female members of ABBA.

The last line of the previous post really shows the crux of it. Jiu-jitsu is like life: there is always something more to learn.

Saulo Ribeiro is a six-time world champion. He tells a story in his book “Jiu-Jitsu University” about training with Helio Gracie when the Grandmaster was 90 years old. Helio said to Ribeiro: “Son, you’re strong, you’re tough, you’re a world champion, but I don’t think you can beat me.”

Ribeiro was baffled. He was in his athletic prime!

But then he realized what the older man was telling him. He was putting the onus on Ribeiro. Helio never claimed he’d beat the world champion: just that his training would help him survive their match without submitting.

And he did. This, Ribeiro writes, was one of his life’s greatest lessons. Sometimes being able to stave off defeat is the way to wield true power.

To this lesson I’d add another: we all have something to learn. Whether it’s a night like tonight on the mat or a slow lesson that comes on over years, being open to that is important. Finding something that helps you keep that perspective is even more so.

Hey, it worked for Helio.

7:15 P.M.

It’s about that time.

People put in mouthguards. Grappling is a contact sport, after all, and just because there aren’t strikes doesn’t mean you can’t get popped in the mouth.

Even if it’s more likely you’ll get armbarred …

This is one reason it isn’t so bad to be on your back sometimes.

… or choked. There are myriad ways to choke someone, and BJJ teaches both air chokes (which attack the windpipe) and blood chokes (which cut off the carotid arteries).

 

I wrap my arms around the neck sometimes. Mata Leo.

Having someone else on your back, though, it always bad. 

This is the early stages of a classic choke, though, that BJJ players call a rear naked choke. The name comes from the Japanese name for the position, hadaka jime (裸絞), which loosely means “naked strangulation.” Brazilians call it “Mata Leao,” the “Lion Killer” choke.

Training isn’t about dominating the other person, though. Jiu-jitsu teammates call each other “training partners” for a reason. Rolling is a give and take where the more experienced or skilled grappler works on a few things, but lets a less-experienced partner work on stuff, too.

In this video, instructor Seth Shamp rolls with one of Triangle’s most technical blue belts. I added some notes to the video to show just a few of the transitions. As the blue belt says at the end of the video: “wow, there’s too much going on there.”

Not every roll is as fast-paced as this. But you learn something from each one.

Triangle Jiu-Jitsu is a relatively small gym. In terms of competition success, though, the Durham school does very well. Two Triangle people won gold in their divisions at the Pan-Am jiu-jitsu games last month, instructor Seth Shamp and Kim Rice.

The medals from local and national tournaments (and a championship belt that Shamp won at a North American Grappling Association event) go on the wall near Helio Gracie’s picture.

 

6:47 P.M.

With the warmup out of the way, we’re on to the techniques of the night. This time it’s a sequence: if you’re trapped in your opponent’s half guard, you want to “pass,” or move past his legs. The process of doing so opens up a bunch of attacks.

Seth Shamp shows the class an attack sequence. 

The specific attack we’re focusing on is the Kimura armlock. It’s named after Masahiko Kimura, the legendary judo master who broke Helio Gracie’s arm with it.

Helio didn’t tap out. His corner, some say against his wishes, threw in the towel.

After the technical instruction, we’ll be rolling. I will be tapping out at some point for sure. But that’s fine: the more you tap, the more you learn, especially at my level.

 

6:25 P.M.

The beginner class is over. Some people get a drink of water. The blue belts and above are starting to trickle in now.

A typical advanced class at Triangle consists of a warm-up (including the same basic movements taught to beginners), a demonstration of a series of techniques, and then an hour or so of free sparring, called “rolling.” People understandably call it that because it can look like you’re just rolling around on the mat.

But it isn’t just rolling. When the really advanced players do it, every tiny movement has a purpose.

Let me freely admit that as a white belt who has done this just under a year, I’m at a level where I don’t get all of the reasons. But like Elie Wiesel said about a book that had 400 pages and is now 200 pages, the pages are still there. You just can’t see them.

 

 

6:15 P.M.

“Let’s not go that way.”

I’m drilling the half guard move with the nurse. She’s graciously putting up with the computer and camera, so I’m willing to grant her basically anything. I’m not even going to ask why.

She tells me anyway. “There’s a dead fly on the mat over that way.”

Mats can be pretty vengeful creatures. Forget the mat burns you get sometimes from quick movements. Staph and other infections are not uncommon, no matter how assiduous people are about cleaning the mats.

Here’s a microbiologist’s take on why there are dangers, and why people should wash the belts on their traditional “gi” uniforms despite some traditional schools saying it’s bad luck to do so.

(Tonight’s the “no gi” class at Triangle Jiu-Jitsu, as the pics make clear. The gi and no gi classes occur on alternating days. At least today we don’t have to worry about someone’s unwashed belt.)

The dead fly turns out to be lint. Now we don’t have to worry about that either.