“For many years I never imagined I would be home again. After 23 years, I am finally blessed with the freedom from incarceration. Learning what it takes to be an adult, since being locked up at the age of 17, has been challenging. I would like to extend a tremendous thank you to APSC for the many opportunities of employment and ability to continue the hard work of community building. I am also very grateful for my family, friends, Collette Carroll, and countless others for helping me with my reentry back into society. Now that I’m out here, I can still support my Asian and Pacific Islander (API) brothers and sisters who are serving their sentences and once they return home, I am here for you the best I can. Know you have support out here for you.” –Nghiep “Ke” Lam
Greetings from APSC! As the year comes to a close, we reflect on 2016, both good and bad. Here’s some of what APSC has been up to this past year:
- APSC’s Restoring Our Original True Selves (ROOTS) program at San Quentin state prison completed its third cycle, graduating a total of 34 participants and co-facilitators—a group of mostly Asian and Pacific Islander (API) “lifers,” many of whom have been locked up since they were teenagers. APSC also expanded the ROOTS program to Solano state prison, where over 40 members are participating in a pilot program on level 3. A couple of highlights to mention about this year’s ROOTS:
- A strong emphasis on race, culture, gender and sexuality, with meaningful partnership with and participation from API Equality – Northern California. Workshops on gender, sexuality and intersectionality led to discussions and performances on how incarcerated participants can work as allies in LGBTQ movements that include folks of color.
- The “Forbidden Trauma Project”—where ROOTS participants wrote about school related traumas from elementary school to be shared with teachers in professional development workshops and union meetings.
- We were especially happy to welcome home two ROOTS graduates—Nghiep “Ke” Lam and Syyen Hong—both former “lifers” who spent many years behind bars. With support from individual donors and local foundations, we were able to hire both of them to provide peer-based reentry activities.
- APSC’s Roots 2 Reentry program expanded this year to include a paid employment training program for formerly incarcerated people of color, a collaboration with Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS) and No More Tears (NMT).
- After a 3-day strategic planning retreat (many years in the making), APSC made the decision to hire four full-time staff: Eddy Zheng (Co-Director), Ben Wang (Co-Director), Harrison Seuga (Reentry Director), and Nghiep “Ke” Lam (Reentry Coordinator), beginning in 2017. This is the first time that APSC has hired employees with benefits. As an organization with a 10+ year history of relying almost solely on volunteer efforts, this is a major shift. As we grow, we will stay committed to values of grassroots leadership, community accountability, and advocacy—while providing living wage salaries for our staff. Many thanks to our funders who have made this possible, including: individual donors, Akonadi Foundation, The California Endowment, the East Bay Community Foundation, The San Francisco Foundation, Asian Health Services, and the Alameda County Innovations in Reentry program.
- APSC continued its role as planning committee member of the national coalition, AAPIs Beyond Bars. In August, we participated in the 2nd national convening, this time hosted by Formerly Incarcerated Group Healing Together (FIGHT) in Seattle, WA. We met with a group of incarcerated APIs in Monroe Correctional Complex and supported an action outside Northwest Detention Center-a facility that detains and processes many Southeast Asian Americans for deportation.
- APSC became a member of the Justice Reinvestment Coalition of Alameda County (JRC-AC), which promotes community-based and restorative practices over traditional punitive law enforcement approaches. The JRC-AC successfully campaigned for at least 50% of AB109 reentry funding to go towards community-based organizations (as opposed to law enforcement entities such as Probation or the Sheriff’s Department) as well as a commitment to secure 1400 jobs for formerly incarcerated people in Alameda County.
- The documentary film, Breathin’: the Eddy Zheng Story, premiered at San Quentin in February 2016 and CAAMFest in March 2016. The film has had over 30 screenings across the country, has won 4 film festival awards, and is slated to be broadcast on PBS in 2017. The screenings have enabled APSC to reach a wider audience and build new partnerships.
and select Asian Prisoner Support Committee from the drop-down Program Area.If you’d like to volunteer or get involved with APSC, please send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Asian Prisoner Support Committee
PO Box 1031
Oakland, CA 94604