An organization established 40 years ago to advocate for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people recently relocated to Oakland, reports Carla Williams on oaklandnorth.net.
“If we don’t protect Oakland, we won’t have an urban community to call our own,” said Dorsey Nunn, executive director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC). He was referring to the fact that Black people now make up only 4 percent of the population in San Francisco.
“We lost San Francisco, but we have the opportunity to do something great here in Oakland,” Nunn said.
LSPC was based in San Francisco until the organization bought a building across the bay as its permanent location.
The organization is staffed with the formerly incarcerated and family members of those who are currently incarcerated. Nunn is also a formerly incarcerated man who served more than 10 years in prison for a robbery/ homicide committed at age 19.
One of the employees, Oscar Flores, said he thinks the reason why the group lasted these 40 years is its power in leadership.
According to Flores, the LSPC answers every letter it receives from inmates. The organization assists inmates with litigation or finds an attorney to help with legal affairs. Flores added that they also help people get information about child custody, divorce and, if people have children, parents or guardians who leave the country, they can help with locating them.
Williams reported that in 2017, the group helped sponsor the bill AB 412 that became law to help protect low-income people who fail to appear in court from a penalty fee that could have charged them more than $300.
“So much history takes place over 40 years,” Director Nunn said. “I think that LSPC is evolving in a good way.”
To celebrate their 40-year anniversary, the organization hosted a sold-out event at the Scottish Rite Center in Oakland. Guest speakers at the event included Marc Lamont Hill of BET News, Vonya Quarles of Starting Over, Inc. and Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: MassIncarcerationintheAge of Colorblindness. All three advocate for alternatives to prison and say imprisonment is not the only form of punishment that can be used.
Journalist Hill emphasized, “We’ve got to get rid of this idea that justice means punishment…and for too many of us punishment means confinement.” He continued, “Our ultimate goal can’t be a world where cops get locked up for killing us. It has to be that cops are demilitarized and disarmed so they can’t kill us, so prison does not become our end goal.”