From our friends at On August 27th families and friends of those serving life without parole since they were children gathered for the annual Citizens for Second Chances (CFSC) strategic planning retreat at St. James Episcopal Church in Alexandria, LA. At this year's retreat, CFSC members from around the state were introduced to JJPL's new Staff Attorney, Ethan Ashley. Ethan joined JJPL to help coordinate the campaign to end life without parole sentencing for youth and to represent those affected by the Graham v. Florida ruling which made life without parole sentencing unconstitutional for youth in non homicide cases, allowing several juvenile lifers in Louisiana to go back to court to be resentenced. During the retreat, CFSC members also focused on building a base of support in their communities, gaining the support of faith leaders and those that work in corrections, as well as to strategize for the 2012 legislative session and the task force convened by the legislature to study the Graham v. Florida decision and offer recommendations for reform.
CFSC was joined by retired Warden Buddy Knight from Avoyelles Parish who shared stories from his time as an assistant warden at the Louisiana State Penitentiary and head warden of Cottonport Correctional Center. Retired Warden Knight also educated CFSC about why giving people second chances makes for safer and more productive prison environments.
The retreat ended with a story telling session where families had the opportunity to share stories of their loved ones serving juvenile life without parole. This gave family members an opportunity to practice telling their stories and advocating to members of the legislature for a more fair and equitable sentencing for their loved ones. CFSC continues to hold conference calls on the first and third Tuesday's of the month to discuss strategy and learn advocacy skills. For all those interested in joining please contact Kelly Orians or Ethan Ashley at 504-522-5437.
Photo above: CFSC members gather with Retired Warden Buddy Knight after a full day of strategic planning at St. James Episcopal Church in Alexandria, LA.