May Newsletter

In this issue of the IAHR newsletter, read about the signing of the reporting bill in Annapolis with photos, a new initiative in the District of Columbia to support returning citizens, a feature highlighting the work of Bonnie Tamres-Moore, an IAHR board member, and photos of two more religious communities displaying banners. 

Governor Hogan Signs SB 946/HB 1180, Mandating Reporting on Solitary

On Thursday, May 19, at the State House in Annapolis Governor Hogan signed the bipartisan reporting bill which Interfaith Action helped write and advocate for over the last year. The bill mandates the Department of Corrections to report annually on the number of prisoners in solitary and their average length of stay including pregnant women and those with mental illness. IAHR and its partners congratulates Governor Hogan and his administration for supporting this legislation.

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IAHR also expresses it deepest gratitude to Toni Holness, Public Policy Counsel for the ACLU-Maryland and Diamonte Brown, who served as a part time program director for IAHR from October 2015 through February 2016.  Both women worked tirelessly behind the scenes to get our legislation passed.  

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        Toni Holness             Diamonte Brown

IAHR also salutes Senators Lisa Gladden and Michael Hough and Delegate Jill Carter for sponsoring the reporting bill.  The bill garnered wide bi-partisan support which was a key to its successful passage.  Here is a photo of Delegate Carter with IAHR’s Executive Director, Rabbi Chuck Feinberg, and President Suzanne O’Hatnick along with IAHR supporters.

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Back Row, Martha Baer, Kimberly Jenkins-Snodgrass, Rabbi Feinberg; Front Row, Kit Hanley, Delegate Carter, Suzanne O'Hatnick, and Barbara Thomas. In the background on the top of the stairs, Lea Green, Executive Director of Maryland-CURE. 

Help Returning Citizens by Supporting DC Bill 21-463

Interfaith Action for Human Rights is asking your support of legislation in the District of Columbia: Bill 21-463"District of Columbia IncarceratiotoIncorporation Entrepreneurship Program (IIEPAct of 2015.

Bill 21-463 offers an opportunity for individuals with criminal records to acquire comprehensive business training to qualify to start their own business. This bill is a successful model of social entrepreneurship that creates opportunities for self-sufficiency, improves lives, and strengthens families.

A review of such programs generally shows a return on investments (ROI) that yield significant social and economic outcomes, including financial benefits for society, savings for taxpayers, and positive impacts on the families of returning citizens.

Bill 21-463 requires the Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) and the Department of Employment Services (DOES) to collaboratively formulate a business development program for returning citizens, and then administer the program. The IIEP would also establish a revolving fund to manage the program. Revenue for the fund would come from several sources, i.e., appropriated funds, public donations, private sector donations, and program sponsors.

IAHR believes that the government has a moral responsibility to help prepare those who have paid their debt to society by providing substantive opportunities after incarceration. More importantly, we believe entrepreneurship offers a chance for our returning citizens to build their own prosperity while uplifting their communities.

We are asking that you join us in getting Bill 21-463 passed. Please sign a petition, by clicking here.  For more information about the bill and the entrepreneurship program, click here.  To take action by writing to DC Council members, click here.  

The returning citizen community and its advocates appreciate your support in this most important piece of legislation in the District of Columbia.

Bonnie Tamres-Moore, a Leader in the Field of Social Justice

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Bonnie Tamres-Moore is the creator, developer and Director of IAHR’s newest program - The Banner Project to counter anti-Muslim bigotry.  She is also a member of the IAHR board of directors and a long time social justice activist who lives part of the year on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and part of the year in Austin, Texas.  An experienced project organizer, Bonnie conceived of and developed the ‘torture is wrong” banner project to in Austin, Texas in 2005. That project quickly evolved into a national project and in 2008 she partnered with the National Religious Campaign Against Torture and Rabbis for Human Rights on “Banners Across America”, hanging anti torture banners in faith communities across the country.  There have been over 500 banners displayed throughout the United States.  

Initiated in Austin, Texas, in collaboration with T’ruah and Shoulder to Shoulder as a nation-wide campaign, The Banner Project to counter anti – Muslim bigotry was launched on April 28 with seventeen different faith groups displaying banners that read “We stand with our Muslim neighbors.”

As reported in the Austin American-Statesman, “Spearhead Bonnie Tamres-Moore said it couldn’t come at a better time, since anti-Muslim attitudes are on the rise. A February Pew Research poll found that more than 75 percent of Americans think discrimination against Muslims is increasing, something she attributes to a presidential campaign peppered with anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetoric.”

The American Statesman quotes Bonnie “It is very clear to me that being a bystander to hatred and intolerance makes it possible for hatred and intolerance to grow.”

IAHR is asking religious communities to display the banner publicly to counter the current climate of fear and intimidation of Muslims in America.  The point is two-fold: to make a public statement of witness and to encourage faith groups to form closer relationships with Muslims in the community.  Some are setting up forums; others are planning dinners or other family outings.

The east coast launch is following. Banners come in two sizes: 2’ x 6’ for $140 and 3 ’x 9’ for $200. There are three choices of message: We stand with our Muslim neighbors; (Name of Organization) stands with our Muslim neighbors, and Honor God - say no to anti-Muslim bigotry. To order a banner for your organization,click here.  

IAHR salutes and congratulates Bonnie for her passion, her creativity and her leadership!

More Photos of Banners in front of religious communities in Austin, Texas                 

   

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                                Prince of Peace Lutheran Church                                               

 

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 University of Texas Hillel


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