or Electoral Politics: The New Revolution

by Lewis Conway

Lewis Conway has almost two decades of experience in the broadcast and music industry. He spent 2,095 days in Texas prisons and 4,012 days on parole for voluntary manslaughter. He was the first formerly incarcerated person in Texas to have their name on an electoral ballot when he ran for Austin City Council. On November 6, 2018, he garnered 11 percent of vote, ultimately losing his first bid for political office. Conway is currently a campaign strategist with the ACLU. …

An initiative to apply many of the best practices in the promotion of participatory democracy, solidarity economy, and sustainable development and combine them with progressive community organizing and electoral politics. The objectives of the District 1 plan are to deepen democracy in Austin and to build a vibrant, people centered solidarity economy in District 1 and throughout the city of Austin that empowers Working Families, Black, Directly Impacted and other oppressed peoples in the state.

Our District 1 Ten Point Plan

1. We believe our DistriCare plan, a pilot universal health care program for East Austin, will eliminate folks being…

Compassion is an antidote we haven’t given a fair shot, in my opinion, when it comes to mass incarceration. There’s a nebulous theory that we can solve America’s incarceration epidemic by not releasing people convicted of violent offenses, even though the bulk of folks in state prisons are there for violent convictions. Writ large, were we to release every non-violent drug offender — our prisons would still be full and justice would still be stymied. For context, I was a victim of a violent crime before I was ever convicted of one. …

My community and family may have been ready for me to come home from prison, but it sure didn’t feel like it. I mean, even the people at my Father’s church treated me differently; folks that had known me as a child. It felt like everywhere I went and everyone I talked to — could see it. Before I said it, it felt like they could see it. It felt like everyone could see the indention left by those prison bars.

It felt like everyone could see that I had just spent the last 8 years of my life in…

Voting is one of the most basic of human rights that all people should have.

I would like to set the stage, if you will, with a quote from Fannie Lou Hamer, the somewhat unsung heroine of the voting rights movement in America. After she attended a civil rights meeting, Fannie said, “They talked about how it was our rights as human beings to register and vote. I never knew we could vote before. Nobody ever told us.”

Fannie Lou Hamer — Civil Rights Icon

Firstly, I’m from Texas and in Texas, you are allowed to vote once you have completed your sentence. But few people with…

As we enter another Presidential election cycle broadening the voter base has become an emerging tactic of both parties. Expanding, not deepening the pool of voters has been historically thwarted by partisan gerrymandering and voter purges.

Evaluating the political landscape and deciding where your vote will have the most potential impact can be intimidating; even more so, when it’s your first time voting after being incarcerated.

In some states, incarceration isn’t the only barrier to voting for folks convicted of a felony. There are states that permanently bar anyone from voting post conviction. Fourteen states and the District of Columbia automatically allow formerly incarcerated people to register to vote after being released from jail or prison. …

Traditionally when we plan campaigns the goal is to win, as it should be. But we should also be thinking about: what power is being built for the communities we fight for and with.

Victories are effective ways to build confidence within a community that has historically been positioned at the fringes of power. However, if the outcomes are not transformational and don’t become the catalyst for systemic change, we are in danger of under-girding the same system we are attempting to overturn.

Once the protest, strike or direct action happens — what’s next? In the planning phase to end a policy is an alternative or replacement policy being proffered? And that which is being proffered; has it been determined by the community that is being most impacted, whether or not that policy will…

Versus Truth In Sentencing: A personal analysis

According to a recent study, “Evidence suggests that the public favors tough punishment for individuals who have been convicted of violent crimes.” The report went on to say, “While analysis of these data identified several variables that correspond with higher levels of V-punitiveness, neither fear of violent crime nor personal experiences were among them. Instead, V-punitiveness seems more closely tied to broader sets of social beliefs regarding individual responsibility, traditional values, and the like.”

When I hear the buzzword that drives the ‘lock ’em up’ mentality, ‘Truth in Sentencing’, I think about the…

Electoral Politics: Diversity In Leadership

I’m the formerly incarcerated candidate that ran in Austin, Texas for City Council. On July 23, 2018, I officially became the first formerly incarcerated person in Austin, some say Texas to complete their sentence, run for public office and have their name placed on a ballot.

One would think that outcome, would be the outcome we are seeking from someone that has been a product of the criminal justice system in Texas.

Yet as a result of my campaign, I was unknowingly challenging the state’s electoral process, and highlighted the inequities of the criminal justice…

Lewis Conway Jr.

Writer | Formerly Incarcerated

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