I am going to state one simple fact, and then you can be on your way. When I first heard this fact, I was sure I’d misheard it, because it doesn’t compute with anything I understand about our country. Here it is:
If you are convicted of a drug felony in the United States, you are banned FOR LIFE from receiving any food stamps, public housing, or monetary assistance.
Bear with me here. That means that even after you serve your ten years for selling marijuana, you are driven to a bus station, dropped off, and you can’t receive assistance for food and shelter for the rest of your fucking life.
That bit of punitive, cruel, sadistic bullshit was shoehorned into the 1996 Welform Reform Act under Clinton by Republicans who wouldn’t let it pass without it. If any of you think conservative savagery is a recent invention, you weren’t paying attention. I know I wasn’t.
This bit of barbarism is hard on everybody without bootstraps to pull up, but it’s especially brutal for African American women getting out of prison, who have NOTHING and NO HOPE WHATSOEVER. I mean, I thought “serving your time” meant that once you served your time, you served your time. Doesn’t this law just march people back to prison?
Enter Susan Burton. She started A New Way of Life Reentry Project, which is basically a group of houses where women can go after they’ve served their sentences, to regroup, look for work, and survive. And for those of you asking what Tessa has been doing lately, here you go.
She and Emma Hewitt have been trekking down to South Central LA to shoot a documentary about Susan for WIGS, the #1 channel for scripted drama on YouTube, all featuring female leads. Last night was a red carpet gala for the whole enterprise, and it was pretty smashing.
above, Emma and Tessa at the benefit; below, with Susan being interviewed by MTVu
I don’t think I’ve ever asked for charitable giving on this blog, because it’s not the place for it, and I don’t like telling anybody what to do. All I can say is that we sure as hell are giving to them, because Tessa has first-hand experience about where every dollar goes.
And if you’ve got a few minutes to spare, please watch Emma and Tessa’s documentary – and leave comments both here and on YouTube. Because this is the difference between me and my wife: I hear some injustice like this, and I get furious; she hears it, and makes a movie.