News in Brief: April 28, 2014
Jobs Not Jails – Boston Common
Calling for investment in jobs and a reduction in state spending on prisons, around 2,500 members and supporters of the Jobs Not Jails coalition held a rally on Boston Common on Saturday.
The coalition, which includes over 100 organizations from across the Bay State, is demanding that $2 billion be put into creating what they say are meaningful, long-term, living wage jobs. It includes formerly incarcerated people, organized labor, LGBT organizations, communities of faith, and youth groups among others. According to the coalition, Gov. Deval Patrick’s Administration estimates that if current criminal justice policies are not changed dramatically, Massachusetts will spend $2 billion in the next seven years to build 10,000 new prison and jail units, and $150 million more each year to fill them. The coalition is calling for an end to mandatory minimum drug sentences; diverting low-level drug offenders into treatment; removing additional sanctions following drug convictions, such as the suspension of one’s driving license; reforming the systems of parole, bail, and probation; and restoring educational programs to jails and prisons, including college-level courses. A further rally will be held at the State House on Wednesday.
Bangladesh Workers Solidarity Network – West St.
In commemoration of the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh last year, members and supporters of the Bangladesh Workers Solidarity Network gathered for a vigil in Boston on Saturday. Over 1,400 workers were killed in the devastating incident in a factory producing goods for Western consumption, and sold through stores such as Gap. The event also commemorated the victims of a fire that broke out at the Tazreen garment factory in Bangladesh in 2012. According to the event organizers, no significant changes in labor rights, factory safety, or social attitudes have taken place since these incidents. They say that factory owners, government officials and retailers in the West have fast returned to a ‘business-as-usual’ mentality.