John Carroll University junior, Krystal Milam, traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with Rep. Marcia Fudge, the U.S. Representative for Ohio’s 11th district on Friday, April 22. Milam’s goal was to persuade Rep. Fudge to sign legislation regarding climate change and mass incarceration.
Milam is a member of an advocacy program called Friend’s Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), a Quaker advocacy group. FCNL has 18 locations across the country. There are several bills that Milam and members of FCNL was lobbying for Fudge to sign. One is titled the PREPARE Act, which stands for Preparedness and Risk Management for Extreme Weather Patterns Assuring Resilience and Effectiveness.
The PREPARE Act explains that extreme weather poses risks to economic and environmental systems, ranging from agriculture to infrastructure.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that there is a breakdown of communication and organization within the federal government. GAO also reported that there are no programs to monitor effectiveness and no method to distribute information to state and local governments.
The PREPARE Act has three main goals. First, it would create oversight and governance structure for the government to implement preparedness and risk management initiatives. Second, the act would identify regional issues and adopt risk management practices. Third, it would form a regional coordination plan. So far, this act has bipartisan support.
A second bill that Milam and FCNL are lobbying for is the Recidivism Risk Reduction Act. This piece of legislation promotes education, job training and rehabilitation in prisons.
The bill would also require prison systems to assess the recidivism risk of prisoners and assign appropriate programs.
Additionally, this legislation would provide incentives for prisoners to be released sooner by participating in these programs.
Finally, the employees must be trained in this new system.
Milam feels strongly about the way in which America handles criminals. “We give up on people too fast. This bill creates more programs for people in prison,” Milam said.
There is another bill that Milam and FCNL were successful in lobbying Fudge to pass.
Known as the Sentencing Reform Act, this law reduces mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses and gives judges more discretion to determine appropriate sentences.
Seven people met with Fudge, her district director Kevin McDaniel and her office manager Linda Matthews in one of the Congresswoman’s district offices in Warrensville Heights.
Milam and other representatives from FCNL discussed their concerns about climate change and mass incarceration at the members office in Washington D.C.
Rep. Fudge appreciated their concern and welcomed their suggestions. She has not signed the legislation yet, but Milam feels that the advocates made great progress by meeting with Fudge in person.
“It’s not that Marcia Fudge doesn’t agree with what’s going on, it’s that she hasn’t gotten the message yet,” said Milam. “That’s why it’s so important to bring people into the offices.”
Milam and FCNL will follow up with Rep. Fudge and her staffers. According to Milam, it takes many phone calls, emails and office visits to get legislation passed, but she believes that this meeting was an important step.
“This time I feel like we made more headway because her district director was there” said Milam.
So far, Milam has been successful in her proceedings with FCNL. One month ago, Milam and several Cleveland State University students attended the Spring Lobby Weekend in Washington, D.C.
Nearly 400 college students from across the country also attended this convention. The Call and Post, Cleveland’s oldest African American newspaper, published a story about Milam’s attendance at the Spring Lobby Weekend.
Milam and her fellow workers at FCNL will continue to meet with politicians to encourage them to pass important legislation.