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The 13th Amendment reads in Section One: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, nor any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Understanding this contradictory character of the 13th Amendment sheds light on the utilization of the criminal justice system in the perpetuation of bondage for the purpose of institutional racism and class exploitation.
I’ve been actively working on the blueprint and inner working of a nonprofit, The Peoples Prison Defense Committee, which will be a wing of or in partnership with George Jackson University. PPDC is a grassroots non-profit organization whose primary mission is rooted in prison and parole oversight. Through information, direction, providing of resources and community awareness and engagement, the committee seeks to bridge the gap between the community and the prison.
In light of what occurred in Orlando, Florida, and other mass shootings, it comes as no surprise to any of us that the political establishment wants and encourages us to think of madness like this within the narrow context of gun control – taking guns out of the hands of criminals. But, the question must now be asked of the larger community: Why are we so unwilling to view and struggle around what these acts really are – hate!
In the December 2015 issue of the San Francisco Bay View, I wrote an article entitled “Do Black Lives Matter Behind the Walls” and introduced to the Bay View audience the newly formed New African Liberation Collective (NALC). While this particular issue was allowed into prisons throughout the state, it was seized at the Pendleton Correctional Facility, where I was being housed, based upon the orders of the Internal Affairs Department as a security risk.
The majority of employees at La Palma Correctional Center who work on Compound 3 fit the description of a Security Threat Group due to their unlawful conduct, but who investigates them or makes them answerable? Certainly not themselves. Yet I am being targeted for my work; a work that was created to build a constructive Humanity; while these prison officials are rewarded for work that assaults the very fabric that makes us human and seeks to destroy lives.
Prisons inspire little in terms of natural wonder. But prisoners, one could assume, must have little concern for the flowers or for otherwise pressing environmental issues. With all the social quandaries present in their lives – walls of solitude, the loss of basic human rights – pollution, climate change and healthy ecosystems must seem so distantly important: an issue for the free. In actuality, prisoners are on the frontlines of the environmental movement.
The current campaign to elect a sheriff for the City and County of San Francisco can and must become San Francisco’s “eyes wide open” opportunity to review what this city and county can and ought to do to identify and promulgate a new path for how it will identify and adopt aspects of the national Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act. The City and County of San Francisco can initiate and begin the effort to deincarcerate San Francisco’s jails and juvenile justice center.
Mumia Abu-Jamal’s eighth book written from prison cells in the state of Pennsylvania, USA, is a selection of 107 essays that date from January 1982 to October 2014. They cover practically the entire period of his incarceration as an internationally recognized political prisoner. Most of the pieces were written while he was on death row after being framed for the murder of police officer Daniel Faulkner on Dec. 9, 1981, in the city of Philadelphia.
The current campaign to elect a sheriff for the City and County of San Francisco can and must become San Francisco’s “eyes wide open” opportunity to review what it can do to identify and promulgate a new path for the City on how it will create quantifiable change in the San Francisco County Jail and Youth Detention Center’s disproportionate incarceration of African American and Hispanic men, women and youth. Vote for John Robinson for Sheriff on Nov. 3, 2015!
Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., introduced legislation on Thursday, Sept. 17, that promises to ban government contracts for privately run prisons and jails within three years. Implementing such a plan would be an ambitious effort, as it would give authorities more than 100,000 additional inmates to manage – the number held in private facilities as of 2013. The bill’s immigration provisions are similarly bold.
Just prior to the visit of Pope Francis to Cuba on Sept. 19, the Cuban government has announced the release of 3,522 people being held in the country’s jails. This humanitarian gesture will include prisoners who are over 60 years of age, younger than 20, those with chronic illnesses, women and those who are close to their release dates. Why couldn’t Obama follow the Cuban example before Pope Francis continues on his tour to the U.S. on Sept. 22?
We as prisoners did not forfeit our citizenship when we came to prison or the laws which are designed to protect our basic human rights and dignity. The implementation and enforcement of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act was a clear procedural deprivation of our rights under the Fifth and 14th Amendments. The Fairness and Restoration Act 2015 is about restoring fairness and justice to those who were denied it.
In order to successfully advance in each step of CDCR’s newly enacted Step Down Program (SDP), prisoners are expected to fill out and complete a series of thought policing or brainwashing workbooks. One such workbook is entitled “The Con Game” and purports to elucidate for the prisoner via “self-directed journaling” the ways in which he either consciously or unconsciously is a con artist and criminal.
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.
We are the prisoner class representatives of what’s become known as the PBSP SHU Short Corridor Collective Human Rights Movement. Last month we marked the first anniversary of the end of our historic 60-day Hunger Strike. Oct. 10 we mark the two-year anniversary of the Agreement to End Hostilities. This is an update on where things stand with our struggle to achieve major reforms beneficial to prisoners, outside loved ones and society in general.
In 1973, the National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals issued a report which stated in part: “The prison, the reformatory and the jail have achieved only a shocking record of failure. There is overwhelming evidence that these institutions create crime rather than prevent it.” This same report stated directly: “No new institutions for adults should be built and existing institutions for juveniles should be closed.”
We have entered many battles as comrades, won some, lost a few, but have survived them all. But from this most recent battle that we have undertaken, one of us will not return. The Ancestors have made the call to come home to our beloved senior comrade. What can we do but heed their call? Even if you are late, the Black Panther Party will meet you at that gate, and when you get home, roam, old Panther, roam.
When the concept of Black August manifested in 1979, many thought it was simply a focus group protest growing out of the avoidable death of Khatari Gaulden on Aug. 1, 1978, in the San Quentin prison infirmary. Survival for Africans in California’s prison population of 20,000 inmates had to that point been recognized by some as a bit more than problematic.
The Constitution guarantees every American the right to a fair trial and to face his or her accusers. This right has been denied to African Americans, who make up a larger and larger part of the prison population under America’s “New Jim Crow.” In the case of Kerry Baxter Sr., the California Superior Court system here in Alameda County blatantly ignored his rights.
On Tuesday, a panel of three federal judges granted California six additional months to comply with federal orders to reduce prison overcrowding. About six years ago, U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson appointed federal receiver J. Clark Kelso to oversee the state’s prison health care system after determining that an average of one inmate per week died as a result of malpractice or neglect. In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered California to reduce its inmate population to help improve prison health care.
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