Katal Newsletter - October 5, 2017

In this issue:

Dedicating a Birthday to Saving Lives

Katal in the News!

October 11: Rally to Pass the Right to Know Act in NYC


Dedicating a Birthday to Saving Lives

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 (Pictured: Lorenzo preparing harm reduction / overdose prevention packages for distribution, Oct 2017)

October 7th is the 46th birthday of Katal Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director Lorenzo Jones -- and he is dedicating it to saving lives. Lorenzoshared this note for the newsletter: 

This Saturday 10/7 in Hartford, I'm hosting a gathering to fill up at least 91 overdose prevention/harm reduction kits in remembrance of my only sister, LaShaundra Jones, and her youngest daughter, Ni'Asia Jones. Shaun and I were 11 months apart. Each year, we would be the same age for about 30 days, a time of year that Shaun always looked forward to. As a little sister, she was intolerable some years, my original babygirl. My sister was a great, loving mother -- but in the 1990s women with children could not get help for mental health and drug issues without risking a state investigation, loss of state services, imprisonment, and losing their children. As a result, poor women like Shaun were left to struggle without the help they needed and deserved. Today, families in both urban and rural communities are still dealing with the "unintended consequences" of Connecticut's drug war. My family, like others, struggles daily with this reality. 

Out of my love for all of my family, congregants, and neighbors, my goal is to put together harm reduction / overdose prevention kits with things Shaun would have needed for herself, babies, friends, and partner. The goal is to put together enough bags to equal Shaun and my combined ages, which this year comes out to 91 bags (45+46). In honor of family members lost to overdose, with particular focus on the needs of women and trans folks, the kits will be distributed through our allies at the Greater Hartford Harm Reduction Coalition. People "in the streets" are not "junkies" and "whores" -- they are are family members, neighbors, and community members. If you're in Hartford on Saturday and want to hear Shaun's story and join this effort, please email me directly (Lorenzo@katalcenter.org). And, if you'd like to contribute to support the creation of these kits, please do so here.


Katal in the News!

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 (photo by Paul Buckowski, Albany Times Union)

On Monday, Keith Brown -- Katal's Director of Health & Harm Reduction -- presented on a panel discussion on pre-arrest diversion and alternatives to incarceration at the New York State Recovery Conference. Albany Times Union took notice and published an article highlighting Keith's talk about Albany's innovative Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program. In LEAD, instead of making an arrest for low-level offenses, trained police officers divert people to a case manager, who assists the person to receive non-punitive, harm reduction-based intensive service programs. Keith's talk highlighted that harm reduction can be the beginning of the road to recovery for some people who struggle with substance use problems.


October 11: Rally to Pass the Right to Know Act in NYC

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At Katal, we know that the fight to end mass criminalization and mass incarceration means a fight for change in every aspect of the criminal justice system. Because so frequently the point of entry to the justice system is in the hands of the police, it is essential that we transform policing practices to eliminate unwarranted racial disparities and secure equitable outcomes for all. 

That's why we're a member of Communities United for Police Reform, and will gather on the steps of New York City Hall on Wednesday, October 11 at 12:00pm to demand that the City Council pass the Right to Know Act. This legislative package would improve transparency and accountability of the New York Police Department in their interactions with New Yorkers. To find out more about the Right to Know Act, check out this page.

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