Sign petition that affirms the rights of former offenders to participate in life

Poetry Magazine is a prestigious publication, well known in the literary world, and it recently published a special edition, one containing exclusively the works of those who have been incarcerated. Among the offerings was a poem by Kirk Nesset, a former English literature professor who was released from prison last year after a sexual offense conviction in 2014.

When readers protested the inclusion of Nesset’s work and a petition was started asking the magazine to remove the poem, the editors affirmed their decision to keep it, issuing this statement: “People in prison have been sentenced and are serving/have served those sentences; it is not our role to further judge or punish them as a result of their criminal convictions. As editors, our role is to read poems and facilitate conversations around contemporary poetry.”

In response to the situation and specifically to the petition, Dr. Ira Ellman, a retired Professor of Law and Psychology and a Distinguished Affiliated Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, started another petition in support of Poetry Magazine and its decision not to exclude Nesset’s poem. In his petition, Dr. Ellman wrote:

A just, humane, and effectively functioning society must have punishment, but it must also afford basic human dignity to those it punishes. That obligation includes allowing people to participate in civic society, and to pursue a positive and productive life, including people with sex-related convictions.

In contrast, the demand to impose one exclusion after another on people who have already been punished implicitly assumes our right to disappear them from society, based on our individual judgments. Such carceral thinking has led to unjust and damaging policies that have incarcerated millions, and now exclude people from housing, employment, and public spaces, for life.

NARSOL is extremely selective in using and supporting petitions. We wholeheartedly support this one and encourage everyone reading this who believes that a prior conviction for a crime must not prevent those convicted from forever participating in society and life to sign it.

Please sign this petition.

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Sandy Rozek

Sandy is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.

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    • #80492 Reply
      Patricia Rector

      Thanks for your patition !
      Count me 100% involved !
      Sincerely, Miss Rector

    • #80501 Reply

      This is yet another Symptom Presentation of what I call ‘Pharisee Law Syndrome’, does to people who have completed their Prison Sentences, have been or are currently under Supervision, or under SVP Mandates such as myself. So now they’re saying we can’t even write and publish books just to generate SOME kind of income when regular Jobs and Businesses keep Us out and won’t let Us work because of Our Past? This is yet another way of such people-and Lawmakers, Judges, District Attorneys, and Law Enforcement Advocates-to outright tell Us what Goldfinger told James Bond in the 007 Movie: ‘Goldfinger’:
      “No Mr. Bond. I WANT YOU TO DIE!” They’ll never come right out and say it, because if they do, then their Political Aspirations are shot down. That’s why they’re COWARDS!
      Nuff Said!

    • #80879 Reply
      mr. b&

      More political theatre.

    • #80985 Reply
      William Terry Sides

      Reply To: Sign petition that affirms the rights of former offenders to participate in life

      Please add my name to this petition, I support this cause 100%.
      I used to submit artwork to Black & Pink, and I know how it feels.

      Thank you

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