Grassroots Leadership Blog

Working for Justice: Celebrating Father Les Schmidt's 80th Birthday

Eighty years is a very long time, but for someone who has lived those eighty years dedicated to a fight for social justice, it is not nearly long enough.

This month, we are celebrating the 80th year in the life of Father Leslie Schmidt, a Glenmary priest of humble beginnings, one of twelve children born in a farm in the middle of the country.  A man who very early on decided that he wanted a life worth living; focused on a God of mercy and justice and love.

Father Les, as we all know him, pretty much lives out of his car. In any given month he will travel from Indiana to Virginia, through North and South Carolina, on his way to Georgia, or Mississippi, or maybe Tennessee, wherever he might be needed; living the life of a “regional priest”.  He follows the mission of the Glenmary Catholic society of brothers and priests dedicated to serving the spiritual and material needs of those living in impoverished counties in the South and Appalachia. He eats food on the go, sleeps in cheap motels, on someone’s couch, the local church or will stay up through the night if he is needed somewhere, and yet, he has the lanky built and the energy of someone a fraction of his age.

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Grassroots Leadership Stands With Ferguson!

Grassroots Leadership is devastated by the murder of Michael Brown that took place on August 9, 2014. That same month, Ezell Ford, Kajieme Powell, and John Crawford III were also fatally shot under questionable circumstances by police in other parts of the country. These incidents followed the NYPD choke-hold killing of Eric Garner and add to the growing list of both African-American men and women who have died needlessly at the hands of the police. As we speak, tension continues to erupt in Missouri as yet another African-American teen was fatally shot by an off-duty police officer last night, October 8th, in St. Louis.  We encourage all supporters to continue to follow the on-going organizing efforts as well as participate in the upcoming weekend of resistance held in Ferguson October 10-13, 2014.

As a multi-racial, Southern-based organization working for both social justice and for reform of the justice system, we at Grassroots Leadership feel compelled to add our voices to the many in Ferguson, around the country, and around the world, who are appalled by the assault on communities of color in Ferguson, and across the nation.  We are also inspired by the organized response and offer solidarity to those who are leading the response from the ground up. Grassroots Leadership supports the self-determined organizing efforts coming directly from those on the ground in Ferguson.

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GEO Group subsidiary, Correct Care Solutions, bids to re-purpose the Bill Clayton Detention Center as a new civil commitment facility

The Bill Clayton Detention Center has been the subject of a long saga that has been draining the tiny West Texas town of Littlefield of revenue for years. The problems in Littlefield have been persistent since building the jail for $10 million in 2000. Littlefield has tried to auction off the facility and fill it with prisoners from New Mexico, California, and even immigrant children. None of these plans have panned out as the town now looks toward a civil commitment contract with Correct Care Solutions. Correct Care Solutions, formerly known as GEO Care, is a spin-off corporation of GEO Group, the same corporation that operated the facility until 2009.

If approved, this facility would house approximately 200 individuals convicted of multiple violent sexual offenses-but who have already completed their prison sentences-beginning as early as November 2014.  In this case, the term civil commitment refers to the process of continued monitoring, surveillance, and treatment of individuals labeled as the “worst of the worst” in the world of those convicted of violent sexual offenses. In Texas, individuals can be mandated for civil commitment when they have been convicted of more than one sexually violent offense and have been deemed as suffering from a behavioral abnormality. Again, those who become civilly committed have completed their prison sentences but are mandated to receive continued treatment and active monitoring upon release.

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#TBT To when we cheered the end of family detention in Texas

Today’s #tbt is a throwback to the time we cheered the end of family detention at the T. Don Hutto detention center. When the Obama administration ordered an end to family detention there in 2009 and that no new family detention centers would be built, we thought that this particular fight was over. Unfortunately, we were wrong.  

A letter to the Prime Minister of Canada from a child at Hutto.

 

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Hump Day Hall of Shame: Correctional Healthcare Management named in lawsuit over baby who was born and then died in solitary confinement.

A woman says a private healthcare provider and the jail it operated in, its staff, and a sheriff denied her reasonable access to care resulting in her giving birth in solitary confinement and losing her baby. Read more about Hump Day Hall of Shame: Correctional Healthcare Management named in lawsuit over baby who was born and then died in solitary confinement.

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