Amend 33, News

Victory to Amend the TN Constitution

On April 22, 2019, after years of work, SJR159 passed, which is the first step in making the abolition of slavery universal in Tennessee, with no exceptions. A friend in prison convinced me years ago that mass incarceration will never end until we can no longer apply slavery and involuntary servitude to those who are convicted of a crime. Four and a half years ago when I pledged that No Exceptions would lead the struggle for universal abolition, I was told by numerous individuals that it would never happen in Tennessee. It’s happening. Thank you to all of you who believed. Stay tuned though, we aren’t close to finished, this is the first step in a multi-year process in Tennessee, and once it is on the ballot we will need folks fighting for this constitutional amendment across the state. Additionally, we are taking this fight to the federal level. The 13th Amendment doesn’t actually abolish slavery as most of you know by now. In collaboration with other groups at the national level, we’re going to change that reality. A huge thank you to our partner in this struggle Rep. Joe Towns, who never quits; and also a big thank you to Sen. Akbari for working this through the Senate.

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Hepatitis C https://noexceptionsdotnet.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/no-exceptions-prison-collective-hep-c-complaint-filed-tennessee-jeannie-alexander-harriet-tubman-house..
Documents, News

Hep C Complaint filed on behalf of Tennessee Prisoners

Read the Hep C Complaint filed on behalf of Tennessee Prisoners

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No Exceptions Prison Collective is disrupting mass incarceration and restoring families in Tennessee. Support our work by donating here and subscribing to our email list.

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News, Stories

New Book from No Exceptions Co-Founder

Cascade Books has just released No Exceptions co-founder Michael T. McRay’s new book Where the River Bends: Considering Forgiveness in the Lives of Prisoners, with a foreword by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

CASCADE_TemplateMyriad works discuss forgiveness, but few address it in the prison context. For most people, prisoners exist “out of sight and out of mind.” Their stories are often reduced to a few short lines in news articles at the time of arrest or conviction.

But what happened before in the lives of the convicted? What has happened after? How have people in prison dealt with the harm they have caused and the harm they have suffered? What does forgiveness mean to them? What can we outsiders learn about the nature of forgiveness and prison from individuals who have both dealt and endured some of life’s most painful experiences?

Expanding on his MPhil dissertation Echoes from Exile (with Distinction) from Trinity College Dublin, Michael McRay’s new book brings the perspectives and stories of fourteen Tennessee prisoners into public awareness. Weaving these narratives into a survey of forgiveness literature, McRay offers a map of the forgiveness topography. At once storytelling, academic, activism, and cartography, McRay’s book is as necessary as it is accessible.

There is a whole demographic we have essentially ignored when it comes to conversations on forgiveness. What would we learn if we listened?

Here’s what some folks had to say about it:

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, from the foreword

[T]his book is important … We cannot encounter these pages and remain unaffected. But what will happen to us if we listen to those we tend to ignore? This book is one way to find out. I encourage us all to listen.”

Michelle Alexander, author of the best-selling The New Jim Crow

“At a time when our nation leads the world in incarceration rates, and activists as well as politicians across the political spectrum are questioning for the first time whether the ‘get tough’ movement and the politics of punitiveness have taken our nation down the wrong path, we would be wise to pause and consider whether forgiveness might hold transformative power and potential. We can theorize about what forgiveness really means, or we can talk and listen to those we have viewed as unforgivable.
Where the River Bends does both, and thus offers depth of insight and perspective that is rare yet essential if we are going to move to higher ground.

Shane Claiborne, activist, abolitionist, and author of Executing Graceand the best-selling Irresistible Revolution

“In this book, Michael McRay shares the stories that should make the headlines, but usually don’t. These are the stories of grace, mercy, and forgiveness—both the rewards and challenges. They are the stories of offenders who made victims and were also victims themselves. These stories are about folks who desire forgiveness but not forgetfulness, whose memories demonstrate the power and pain of mercy. On these pages, Michael McRay proves that our wounds have the power to hold us hostage to the past or to compel us to build a future where grace gets the last word. Here is a book pregnant with the hope that comes through the power of forgiveness.
Don’t just read this book–let it move you to become an agent of mercy in a merciless world.”

Everett L. Worthington, Jr., author of Moving Forward: Six Steps to Forgiving Yourself and Breaking Free from the Past

 “Michael McRay has written an extraordinary book. It tells the grand narrative of how justice, forgiveness from God, seeking and receiving forgiveness from others, and struggling with forgiving the self come together like a turbulent river. The origin of this particular river is in McRay’s understanding of forgiveness, and McRay draws most heavily upon the superb theology and psychology of theologian Miroslav Volf, and peacemakers John Paul Lederach and Desmond Tutu. Then, fourteen prisoners’ personal stories form ‘tributaries’ that arise from the turbulent river. Those stories recount crimes, address justice, and describe self-recrimination. It is forgiveness that often bends the flow of narrative into the grand narrative that forgiveness of self and others changes lives.
This book could actually change your life.

Donald B. Kraybill, co-author Amish Grace

 “This book stands tall among the tomes on forgiveness. McRay takes us deep into the souls of prisoners, who explain the hard grubby work of releasing rage. Their stories make it clear: the recipe for forgiveness is not simple or easy. Yet the gritty work of letting go, opens the door to freedom even behind bars.
Caution: reading these heart-wrenching stories may change your life.

The book can be purchased on Amazon for paperback or Kindle, as well as at Wipfandstock.com. Type in “Noel”  at purchase to get 40% off. 

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News

We Need Your Help

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Michael and Jeannie at The Hermitage, creating NEPC – Oct 2014

No Exceptions Prison Collective began in October 2014 when co-founders—Jeannie Alexander and Michael McRay—transitioned from their work on the inside of Riverbend Maximum Security Institution, to the world outside in order to engage in full-time advocacy to end the American nightmare of mass incarceration they had both witnessed. The framework for NEPC was formed and committed to in collaboration with prisoners, and thus the work of NEPC is more than a mission: it is a promise to prisoners and their families that we intend to keep.

Over the past seven months, we have dedicated ourselves to the work and established No Exceptions as a well-respected and well-known abolitionist organization. We have formed an outstanding radical Collective Council (i.e., board) made of both insiders and outsiders; built local, regional, and national partnerships; taught college courses; spoken in churches and universities; presented at regional and national conferences; served as planners and sponsors of a major national conference; continued our advocacy for insiders; and traveled the state to meet with prisoners’ families; and organized lawyers, legislators, faith leaders, policymakers, educators, and students to end mass incarceration in Tennessee through specific targeted means.

In this productive busyness, we have had no time for fundraising, fronting all personal and business costs out of our savings. This, however, is no longer sustainable. Having put No Exceptions “on the map” and seeing the work snowballing, we now need to focus more on making the work sustainable: i.e., acquiring funding.

That’s where you come in. The battle to transform social segregation and end carceral slavery in Tennessee is a communal one. We cannot do this alone; we need your continued support, both in physical and financial numbers. We are in the process of becoming a registered non-profit, thus all donations are tax-deductible. We gratefully welcome any contribution, regardless the size. By offering your donations here, you can make a deeper investment in the work of No Exceptions. We would be so grateful for any spreading of this notification.

You can give my clicking on the “Donate” button or by visiting this link: noexceptions.com/donate/

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We know you believe in this work. We do too. We want it to continue for years and years to come. You can help us do that.

We need you and thank you.

Peace,

signature        Jeannie signature

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