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Prison Stories

MOVE member Debbie Africa released

June 18, 2018

In the early morning of June 16, after nearly 40 years of unjust imprisonment by the state of Pennsylvania, political prisoner and MOVE 9 member Debbie Sims Africa was granted parole and released from the State Correctional Institution-Cambridge Springs. Messaging on Instagram, the MOVE Organization wrote: “Our sister Debbie Africa is FREE! What a beautiful day to find freedom! Let’s keep fighting for our bros and sisters still behind bars — Mike [Sr.], Eddie, Chuck, Janet, Janine and Delbert! The struggle is underway!” This important victory comes exactly two years after Debbie, Janet and Janine Africa were last denied parole in 2016.

Alabama’s mistreatment of prisoners with mental illness has led to a dramatic increase in suicides

June 16, 2018

Since the beginning of 2018, four people in ADOC custody – three in solitary confinement and one on death row – have died by suicide. The suicide rate in Alabama prisons is one of the highest in the country. In June 2017, U.S. District Judge Myron H. Thompson declared the mental health system in Alabama prisons “horrendously inadequate,” an unconstitutional failure that led to what Thompson called a “skyrocketing suicide rate” among prisoners.

The rich go free and the poor get LWOP

June 3, 2018

I am speaking to how I personally feel about the disparity in justice for the rich and the poor, the people who have friends and family that are willing to fight and those who don’t and who are left with no voice. I have been all alone in my fight for freedom some 30 or so years. I have no family who speaks out, I was too young to have friends and the few that I do have now are ones that I have met since my incarceration.

SHU-shifting redux: Plaintiffs in Ashker v. Brown seek relief from ongoing isolation

June 1, 2018

As the San Francisco BayView goes to press, a critical ruling is soon expected in Ashker v. Brown (aka Ashker v. Governor, Docket No. 4:09-cv-09-5796 CW (N.D. Cal.)), the federal class-action lawsuit challenging indefinite solitary confinement in California. The anticipated ruling concerns plaintiffs’ motion challenging the ongoing conditions of extreme isolation endured by many class members.

Open letter to Gov. Rauner from the Stateville Debate Team

May 31, 2018

Dear Gov. Rauner: We, the Stateville Debate Team, write this letter to implore you to reverse Assistant Director Gladyse Taylor’s (and thus the IDOC’s) unjustified decision to terminate the Stateville Debate Team and class and reverse the unjustified ban of our teacher, Katrina Burlet, from Stateville Correctional Center and other IDOC (Illinois Department of Corrections) facilities.

Judge skeptical of CDCr’s excuses for sleep deprivation in solitary confinement

May 30, 2018

A number of hardy souls ventured to Sacramento on May 18 to a federal court hearing on CDCr’s motion to dismiss Jorge Rico’s suit opposing the every-half-hour Guard One “security/welfare checks” that take place in isolation units throughout the state. With Guard One, guards press a metal baton into a metal receiver positioned either in or beside cell doors, making a loud disruptive noise in most cases, waking prisoners up every 30 minutes and causing sleep deprivation.

Hog farms, toxic water and more toxic prisons in Texas and beyond

May 29, 2018

What I have discovered is that the state of Texas has conspired with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to downplay and cover up toxic and contaminated water supplies in state-run prisons as well as the rural communities which have found themselves in close proximity to these toxic sites. It is not just the prisoners in Texas who are suffering the ill effects. I have also discovered that what is happening in Texas is not unique.

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Prison Lives Matter: In the Spirit of Nelson Mandela

May 28, 2018

For the past year, we have been working to organize and grow the Prison Lives Matter Campaign in an attempt to rebuild and strengthen the prison movement in this kkkountry. We must continue this momentum following last years’ PLM demonstration in Indianapolis and the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March in Washington, D.C., by mobilizing all of our leading prison abolition, revolutionary and anti-imperialist activist formations from across the kkkountry to stand in solidarity this summer.

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Our finances have to be redirected from cookies and chips toward freedom initiatives

May 27, 2018

On Jan. 21, 2018, our loved elder, revolutionary leader and teacher Hon. Richard “Mafundi” Lake joined the Ancestors. For the many of us who had the privilege of being in the classroom of life with Ancestor Mafundi, let his transition serve as yet another lesson to us of the immediacy of our situation behind these walls and serve as a reminder of why we can’t wait to commit our all to the struggle to end slavery in America. We are, without any doubt, still slaves and chattel here in America for no reason other than the color of our skin.

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Support the grassroots Bay View newspaper

May 26, 2018

As we know who read the Bay View newspaper, Bay View is one of the baddest grassroots newspapers on the planet. Now just think for one fleeting moment that the Bay View news did not exist or was taken away. I feel yo’ soul; it’s not a pretty picture. Of course, we must do our share to support this great grassroots Bay View news, but we must start demanding of those we support that they must support us by any means necessary.

Amerika uses military grade chemical weapons on prisoners that it bombs Syria for using in civil war

May 23, 2018

If chemical weapons abuses in Syria that lead to people suffocating, foaming at the mouth and dying are evil and justify international military responses, who will intervene to stop U.S. prison officials doing the same to U.S. prisoners? Just an example of the utter hypocrisy of U.S. rulers who go around the world masquerading as opponents of injustice and pretending to have the moral – or might I say imperialist and racist – authority to police everyone else, when in reality they are the greatest purveyors of injustice in the world.

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Former Black Panther Romaine ‘Chip’ Fitzgerald will remain behind bars

May 9, 2018

On May 4, former Black Panther Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald agreed to a five-year denial of parole instead of insisting on a parole hearing, even though he has served more time than any former Black Panther still behind bars: 49 years. Chip is now 67 years old and living with the consequences of a stroke; his friends and family fear he will die in prison. He has been moved from one state prison to another over the years and is currently in the California State Prison-Los Angeles. I spoke to his lawyer, Charles Carbone, whose office is in San Francisco.

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Protect Political Prisoner Delbert Africa, icon and leader of MOVE

May 4, 2018

ONA MOVE! This is an urgent message about our brother, Delbert Africa. Delbert is experiencing disturbing symptoms that are eerily similar to what our brother, Phil Africa, experienced before passing away in prison. Delbert tells us that he’s having vision problems, he’s seeing spots and he’s also urinating nearly every hour. This system is hell bent on killing off MOVE people and we know it. May 13, 1985, proves that.

‘WE are the Bay View’: Kevin Jones-Bey and Sundiata Acoli salute the Bay View

May 3, 2018

I am not a world-renowned freedom fighter. In fact, I contributed to the destruction of lives and communities. In spite of this ugly truth, Willie and Mary Ratcliff and the Bay View family have given me opportunities when no one else would. I am not unique. The Bay View is THE voice of countless Sisters and Brothers. Indeed, WE are the Bay View, and if we are not for ourselves, who will be for us? Twenty-four dollars is a paltry sum. The San Francisco Bay View is priceless.

Too many parole denials at New Folsom

May 2, 2018

Those of us here at New Folsom State Prison are at odds with the overwhelming number of parole denials here, as well as overly negative board psych reports. The fact that less than 4 percent of prisoners here are paroled should speak volumes to the public as well as state legislatures who enacted SB 261 and like bills. Prisoners who have served over 25 years and have completed many rehab programs and self-help programs should be eligible for parole.

Former Black Panther Romaine ‘Chip’ Fitzgerald seeks parole after 49 years behind bars

May 1, 2018

On April 26, former Black Panther Herman Bell was released from prison in New York State after 45 years. That leaves at least 10 surviving members of the Black Panther Party behind bars, including Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald, who is currently held at the California State Prison-Los Angeles. His next parole hearing is scheduled for May 4. I spoke to his friend Arthur League, a former Panther who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Call for a Juneteenth 2018 Mobilization Against Prison Slavery

May 1, 2018

This year we, the undersigned, are calling on all opponents of mass incarceration and modern-day slavery internationally to honor the Juneteenth holiday – Tuesday, June 19, 2018 – with community organizing and direct action. This call to action is inspired by prisoners in Texas and Florida, two of the largest and most repressive prison systems in the U.S., who remain active in freedom struggle against all odds.

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Prison Panthers and awakening the Black radical

April 30, 2018

I have always said that if you want to understand the nature of a thing, you must research its origin. I would venture to say that the iconic freedom fighter and servant of the people Malcolm X was the first “Prison Panther,” although he was not known officially as such. However, when Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale founded the Black Panther Party for Self Defense in 1966 at Merritt College in Oakland, California, the legacy of their hero, OUR HERO, Malcolm X was on their mind.

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Prosecutorial objection to bringing a parole system to Illinois

April 29, 2018

On March 21, the Stateville Correctional Center Debate Team, hosted a public debate about bringing a parole system back to Illinois – one of two states which currently does not have parole. As Illinois boasts the No. 1 most overcrowded prison system in the US – operating at 151 percent capacity – and the system is spending $2 billion and counting each year, the time to reinstate parole was undoubtedly yesterday.

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The wheels of injustice: He spent 24 years in prison for something he didn’t do – here is the evidence to prove it

April 28, 2018

Absolute power corrupts absolutely, or however the saying goes, which is how the District Attorney’s Office in Dallas County, Dallas, Texas has been operating from the early 1990s up to today. It’s highly possible that these same corrupt tactics have been used way before what I’m about to describe, but I choose to focus on the documented events I was able to witness and research. This includes an outright wrongful conviction campaign by D.A. Jason January.

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