The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) announced on September 24th the launching of two new prison branches in Ohio, bringing the nationwide total to 22. The two branches are located in Marion and Mansfield, Ohio, approximately 55 miles north of Columbus. The new facilities, officially known as Mansfield and Marion Correctional Institutions, are populated with more than 1,500 inmates, more than half of who are African American and Hispanic.
NAACP President and CEO, Kweisi Mfume welcomed the new branches and said: "The establishment of these prison units continue to demonstrate the critical need to provide inmates with alliances and initiatives that positively impact recidivism and racial disparities within the criminal justice system. Our prison branches serve as a vehicle of empowerment to assist inmates with their proactive transition back into society."
The Association operates prison branches in state and federal facilities in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington State. Establishing each prison branch requires a nomination from an inmate or prison employee, a minimum of 100 prospective members and support from a local branch, committed to monthly meetings and visits, and approval by the NAACP Board of Directors.
The NAACP Prison Project's priorities are: to assist in national, state and local efforts to re-enfranchise former felons; to re-activate former prison branches and organize new prison branches; to assist in providing voter registration and voter education; and to address disparate treatment of inmates.
Andrea Brown, NAACP Prison Project Director, who sees the importance of the NAACP prison branches, says: "The prison branches provide services to inmates, such as job skill training, tutoring and pre-release counseling; and identifying and assessing appropriate offender re-entry programs. We are also working to find collaborative partnerships that will assist us in providing these and other services to inmates."
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