Workers Win

Workers near Holyoke on September 19 announced they had a major victory. “One hundred dining workers and 70 facilities workers at Mount Holyoke College voted overwhelmingly to ratify three-year agreements with the college that include raises of between 11.5 and 24.5 percent over the life of their contracts,” a union spokesperson told the Valley Post. The 170 people work in South Hadley, Massachusetts, which borders Holyoke. The workers have a web site at www.seiu.org.

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Environmental activists succeeded in pressuring the Republican governor of Massachusetts to invest in protecting open space. On September 20, the governor said he would give $81,000 in taxpayer money to Kestrel Land Trust to save 91 acres of forestland near Mount Toby. Mount Toby is in the towns of Sunderland and Leverett, which are east of the Connecticut river. Sunderland borders the river and is near Greenfield.

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As of September 27, 2022 a court case was underway in Worcester, Massachusetts in the case of a man who the Massachusetts government kept in prison for 16 years for a crime he did not commit. He is suing the police who put him in prison. Worcester is 50 minutes by car from Springfield. Worcester is 25 minutes by car from the Pioneer Valley town of East Brookfield. The man is Natale Cosenza.

In 2016 in Brattleboro, a court case against police officers whose errors sent a man to prison for 18 years for a crime he did not commit ended. The state agreed to pay $1.5 million to the family of John Grega, who died after he was released from prison. “The Grega family is very happy,” Ian Carleton told the Valley Post in a telephone interview in 2016. He is the family's lawyer. “They fought for justice and they got it.”

In 2012, a judge ordered John Grega released from prison in Springfield, Vermont, near Brattleboro, after 18 years in prison for a murder that he did not commit. The murder happened in 1994 in Dover, Vermont, which is also near Brattleboro. Grega died in a car crash in January 2015. The judge said a prosecutor and three state police officers fabricated evidence in the case.

A group that has a web site at www.InnocenceProject.org has freed hundreds of people from prison in the USA by proving they were innocent of the crime they were imprisoned for. On average those people spent 14 years in prison.

No other nation on earth incarcerates such a high percentage of its people. Europe's rate is a third of the USA's rate. The USA's prison system is racist. That's according to a book called The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander.

About half the people in U.S. prisons are there for non-violent crimes, mostly related to drugs. A group that works nationally to reduce the prison population by reforming drug laws, among other ways, has a web site at www.EllaBakerCenter.org.

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