Overview of Alternative Chance/Chans Altenativ Past and Future Activities for Criminal Deportees in Haiti & those Challenging Criminal Deportation to Haiti, October 15, 2007
Eleven Years of Services & Advocacy for Criminal Deportees in Haiti
When people feel respected, it helps them to respect themselves
Alternative Chance/Chans Altenativ
Alternative Chance/Chans Altenativ, a self-help, peer counseling program in Haiti for Criminal Deportees, remains independent and continues to work on priority issues for Criminal Deportees in Haiti.
Illegal imprisonment of Criminal Deportees arriving in Haiti, and in inhumane conditions, continues to be the focus of our current work. We remain greatly concerned about the care and treatment of Criminal Deportees with serious psychiatric conditions as well as those with medical conditions. We look forward to our upcoming Family Camp (see below). We would like to see sex offender treatment offered in Haiti for those who began treatment in US prisons and wish to continue treatment once in Haiti. We are alarmed by the increase in deportation cases arising from misdemeanor and moral turpitude convictions. Further, as always, we will continue to mobilize for post-deportation remedies. Please see our website for more info on our work.
Illegal and inhumane detention of arriving Criminal Deportees in Haiti
Haitis courts recently ruled that it is illegal to imprison Criminal Deportees when they arrive in Haiti. Nevertheless, the Haitian government continues to detain arriving Criminal Deportees in police station holding cells without food, water, medical or mental health care or due process. These holding cell have no sinks, toilets, beds, are grossly overcrowded and unsanitary. Alternative Chance continues to visit the police station holding cells to interview Criminal Deportees in search of those who have serious medical or mental health problems, or have no access to food or family. See our sheet on Surviving Detention in Police Station Holding Cells
Resource and Support
We continue to be a resource and support for Criminal Deportees in Haiti, & those facing criminal deportation, their families, legal services, law clinics, immigration attorneys, human rights & immigration rights organizations, policy groups, universities, media, Haitian & international agencies & not for profits and community groups.
Alternative Chance Family Camp
We will be holding our first Family Camp in Haiti this February 2008 which will reunite US citizen children of deported parents with their parent in Haiti during a five day retreat. The great majority of Criminal Deportees (men and women) do not have the opportunity to see their children once they are deported. This is a tragedy not only for the deported person, but for their children as well. The depression, despair, and hopelessness that Criminal Deportees feel when banished for life and apart from their loved ones can cause them to feel detached and lead them to involve themselves in activities that they otherwise may not engage in if they had hope of work and the continued responsibility of parenting.
Family Camp will revolve around journaling, photography, art, computer training, cultural activities, and developing a sustainable relationship between parent and child. We hope that this program will create a model that we can share with NGOs and governments where Criminal Deportees live. We appreciate your donations and/or frequent flier miles to defray expenses.
Family Camp Staff - We have excellent volunteer staff for Februarys Family Camp in Haiti including Youme, author and illustrator of the award winning childrens book, Sélave, A Haitian Story of Hope, Jen Cheek Pantaleon, photographer and founder of Zanmi Lakay, a program helping former and current street children in Haiti improve their lives, Kelleen Corrigan, Esq., detention rights attorney at Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, an Equal Justice Works Fellow and former peace corps volunteer, Karen Moldovan, former elementary school teacher and current peace corps volunteer in Tonga, and our own staff.
2nd Annual Awards & Fundraising Dinner
2nd Annual Awards & Fundraising Dinner will be held at Tap Tap Haitian Restaurant in South Beach/Miami Beach on Thursday, November 8, 2007, from 6-9 pm (with music & dancing to follow), hosted by Michelle Karshan with Special Guests of Honor: Cheryl Little, Esq., Executive Director of Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center & Valerie Burch, Esq., attorney for Lavira in 3rd Circuit. Human Rights Awards, Haitian Dinner, Photo Exhibit, Crafts Sales & Silent Auction. Join attorneys, activists, families, friends, and others for an evening of solidarity and Haitian culture at this beautiful restaurant which received the honor of Excellence in the 2007 Zagat Guidebook. $60 per person, RSVP to email@example.com or call 212-613-6033 or send check made out to Parish Twinning Program of the Americas and mailed to Alternative Chance, 70A Greenwich Avenue, Suite 373, New York, NY 10011. Many thanks to attorney Kelleen Corrigan of Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center for her help in organizing this event.
Human Rights Awards 2007
(In alphabetical order) Neely Alceus-Hensley, Valerie Burch, Esq., Brian Concannon, Esq., Renal Durosier, Paul Farmer, MD, Deepa Fernandes, Cathy Goretsky, Stevenson Jean-Paul, Evans Joseph, Cheryl Little, Esq., Daniel Salcedo, Evens Sanon, Rebecca Sharpless, Esq., Jessica Zaiger, Esq., are some of the people who will receive Human Rights Awards this year in recognition of their continuous and courageous engagement on behalf of Haitian Criminal Deportees or those facing deportation to Haiti. We will also have a special welcome and thanks for Kelleen Corrigan, Esq. of FIAC, who is our contact/resource attorney at FIAC.
Last year's annual benefit
Last years annual benefit held in Brooklyn, New York, was our first and fell on our tenth year anniversary. Special Guests of Honor were Ira J. Kurzban, Esq. (leading Haitian refugee rights attorney, author of Kurzban's Immigration Law Sourcebook, former counsel to Government of Haiti) and John P. May, MD (Medical Director of Health through Walls providing sustainable health care in prisons in developing countries). Guests traveled from as far as Florida, Boston, Philadelphia, & Virginia. Renal, who lived in Haiti as a Criminal Deportee for three years before returning to the US when his U.S. citizenship was established (through the hard work of Steve Forester, Esq.) attended. While in Haiti, with the help of Alternative Chance, Renal got a start as a rapper, and now, in addition to his day job, continues to rap in Florida.
2006: Last years benefit honored the following people (because it was our first awards presentation after ten years of our program we had a lot of folks to recognize for their amazing work!): Steven David Forester, Esq., Donna Decesare, Sister Anne, Yves Colon, Privat Precil, Esq., Edwidge Danticat, Virginia Floyd, Riva Precil, Thomas M. Griffin, Esq., Jen Cheek Pantaleon, Fritz Longchamp, Sister Ellen, Guy & Sue Renaud, Ira J. Kurzban, John P. May, M.D., Andrew Reding, Rebecca Feldman, Esq., Father James Aherne, David Belle, Katherine Kean, Samantha Black, Isabelle Dufort, Olivia Cassin, Esq., Janet Lugo, Jan Voordouw, Jack Wallace, Esq.
Alternative Chance and Public Education. Alternative Chance continues to educate about the complexities and injustices of Criminal Deportation to Haiti. Recent coverage includes:
Targeted, Homeland Security and the Business of Immigration by Deepa Fernandes (Book)
Cited in Amicus brief of Families for Freedom before Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
American-style grills mark them as targets for violence, hate by Ruth Morris, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
New life is no life for U.S. ex-cons in Haiti by Gary Marx, Chicago Tribune
Influx of deportees stirs anger in Haiti by Amy Bracken, Boston Globe
We Must Also Stand for the Rights of Women Criminal Deportees Sent to Haiti from the United States by Michelle Karshan, published on HaitiAnalysis.com and Institute for Justice and Democracy website
Radio interviews with Deepa Fernandes of Wake-Up Call, WBAI/Pacifica Radio
Cited in Haiti: Security and the Reintegration of the State, International Crisis Group, Briefing No 12, 30 October 2006
Alternative Chance May 21, 2007 Advisory on the Continued Detention of Criminal Deportees Arriving in Haiti
Legal Challenges to Criminal Deportation to Haiti
We continue to provide expert witness affidavits and in-court testimony on the conditions of Criminal Deportees in Haiti. Our testimony has been cited in several successful cases including the recent precedential United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit case, Lavira v. Attorney General, February 2007 and in a subsequent decision United States Court of Appeals Eleventh Circuit, Jean-Pierre v. U.S. Attorney General, September 2007. Starting in April 2007, the US government wrote a series of letters to individual attorneys that were widely circulated to immigration courts and attorneys. Because the letters contained misleading information regarding the treatment of Criminal Deportees in Haiti, Alternative Chance issued its May 21, 2007 Advisory on the Continued Detention of Criminal Deportees Arriving in Haiti based on our one-month investigation in April/May 2007 in Haiti. Our website has a resource page to assist attorneys and others regarding Convention Against Torture (CAT) claims and other relevant issues in challenging Criminal Deportation to Haiti.
Partners & Collaborations
We are grateful to Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center for continuing to make an attorney available as a resource for us and attorneys in challenging Criminal Deportation to Haiti. Paul Farmer, MD/Partners in Health continue to assist us and others with expertise on impact of Criminal Deportation to Haiti for those with medical conditions. Brian Concannon, Esq., Director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti has been increasing their coverage of Alternative Chance and deportation issues on their website. We continue to work closely with Dr. John P. May/Health through Walls during medical missions to Haitis National Penitentiary. Recently, we were included on a Florida Volunteer International Corps (FAVACA) delegation to Haiti to attend a fair showcasing womens crafts. We are also grateful for our increased collaborations with Timothy R. Block, Esq, Supervising Attorney of Legal Services New Jerseys Immigration Representation Project, and our continued work with Olivia Cassin, Esq. and other attorneys at New York Legal Aid Immigration Law Unit, as well as with Ben Yerger, Esq. of Pennsylvania Immigrants Resource Center (PIRC) and our relatively new relationship with Sital Kalantry, Esq., Director of the International Human Rights Clinic and Co-Director of the Asylum and Convention Against Torture Appellate Clinic at Cornell Law School.