September 5, 2017
Aug. 19 at 11:00 a.m., courageous and loving folks in San Jose, Calif., joined with sister marches and rallies throughout the country in support of prisoners’ human rights and amending the 13th. Their courage is found in the rejection of an institution so prevalent and insidious that any criticism can bring a mountain of ridicule and judgment. It is an institution shielded by a centuries old narrative that tells people, “They are not like us,” and consequently, “they” are undeserving of our humanity.
October 1, 2016
Could Mumia Abu-Jamal, one of the 20th century’s most high profile political prisoners, a powerful and renowned author and a former Black Panther, have hope of being released after 34 years in prison, 30 of those years on death row? Could Mumia, unlike the anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti or the Communists Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were executed by the state, finally see the light of day after decades in prison like former Black Panthers Geronimo Pratt, the Angola 3 and Eddie Conway?
September 18, 2015
The hunger strike victory – settlement of the class action suit against solitary confinement – is fantastic, but now, more hard work confronts them all. They will continue to be in a relentless fight to prevent COs from destroying the unity and continued political determination of the vision for prison reform in California. There will come a time in which the prisoners will need to essentially rebrand, identify and complete what they started – the five demands.
July 18, 2015
On Tuesday, July 14, one day after commuting the sentences of 46 people currently serving sentences for nonviolent drug offenses in federal prisons, President Obama addressed the NAACP National Convention in Philadelphia. In his address, the president declared that our criminal justice system is “built on the legacy of slavery, segregation and other structural inequalities that [have] compounded over generations.” Our current system, the president said, is “not an accident.”
November 6, 2014
On Nov. 4, California voters passed criminal justice reform measure Proposition 47. Proposition 47 changes the lowest level drug possession and petty theft crimes from felonies to simple misdemeanors for some people. Although re-sentencing is not guaranteed, up to 10,000 people in California’s prisons and jails will be eligible for resentencing, and newly sentenced individuals who meet the requirements will be under county jurisdiction.
October 4, 2014
On Sept. 28, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the California Fair Sentencing Act (SB 1010) authored by Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles. The legislation eliminates the groundless disparity in sentencing, probation and asset forfeiture guidelines for possession of crack cocaine for sale versus the same crime involving powder cocaine that has resulted in a pattern of racial discrimination in sentencing and incarceration in California. The law takes effect in January.
September 3, 2013
For the past several years, I have spent virtually all my working hours writing about or speaking about the immorality, cruelty, racism and insanity of our nation’s latest caste system: mass incarceration. On this Facebook page I have written and posted about little else. But as I pause today to reflect on the meaning and significance of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, I realize that my focus has been too narrow.