by M. Anthony Davis
When Alphonso Bell and Charles Champion founded Filthy Rags Outreach, a nonprofit dedicated to gang intervention and prevention, their initial goal was to engage fellow inmates in a religious journey towards spiritual growth. The two met at Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Aberdeen where they are both currently incarcerated.
“I really never seen men that came from a gang background making progress towards spirituality and finding themselves,” Bell says. Bell transferred to Stafford Creek Corrections Center, where he and Champion founded Filthy Rags Outreach, from Walla Walla State Penitentiary. He wanted to help inmates get into an atmosphere of spiritual growth and self-discovery.
Continue reading ‘Church on the Yard’ – Filthy Rags Shepherds Prisoners on the Journey From the Inside to the Outside
by Paul Kiefer
(This article was previously published at PubliCola and has been reprinted with permission.)
On the afternoon of Friday, June 18, 63-year-old Raymond Ben became the fifth person from King County to be resentenced under a new state law intended to correct decades of harsh mandatory sentences by retroactively removing second-degree robbery from the list of offenses targeted by the state’s “three-strikes” statute, which imposes a life sentence without parole for so-called “persistent offenders.”
The law requires prosecutors to request resentencing hearings by July 25 for anyone currently serving a life sentence for a “three-strikes” case involving a second-degree robbery — which, unlike other three-strikes offenses like rape and manslaughter, typically doesn’t involve a weapon or injury to another person. The law made at least 114 people across Washington eligible for resentencing, including 29 people from King County — many of whom, like Ben, have spent a decade or more in prison.
Continue reading Resentencing Continues Under Law Correcting Harsh ‘Three-Strikes’ Convictions