by Jailhouse Lawyers Speak
Sept. 9 will mark the 48th anniversary of the Attica Uprising, the third anniversary of the 2016 National Prison Strike, and the end date – Aug. 21 to Sept. 9 – of the 2018 National Prison Strike.
The 2018 prison strike presented this set of 10 National Prison Strike Demands:
1. Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.
2. An immediate end to prison slavery. All persons imprisoned in any place of detention under United States jurisdiction must be paid the prevailing wage in their state or territory for their labor.
3. The Prison Litigation Reform Act must be rescinded, allowing imprisoned humans a proper channel to address grievances and violations of their rights.
4. The Truth in Sentencing Act and the Sentencing Reform Act must be rescinded so that imprisoned humans have a possibility of rehabilitation and parole. No human shall be sentenced to Death by Incarceration or serve any sentence without the possibility of parole.
5. An immediate end to the racial overcharging, over-sentencing, and parole denials of Black and Brown humans. Black humans shall no longer be denied parole because the victim of the crime was white, which is a particular problem in Southern states.
6. An immediate end to racist gang enhancement laws targeting Black and Brown humans.
7. No imprisoned human shall be denied access to rehabilitation programs at their place of detention because of their label as a violent offender.
8. State prisons must be funded specifically to offer more rehabilitation services.
9. Pell grants must be reinstated in all US states and territories.
10. The voting rights of all confined citizens serving prison sentences, pretrial detainees, and so-called “ex-felons” must be counted. Representation is demanded. All voices count.
Demand #4 calls for the repeal of the Crime Bill known as Truth in Sentencing. The 25th anniversary of the Crime Bill will be Sept. 13, 2019.
Presidential candidate Joe Biden is largely responsible for writing and shepherding it through Congress as head of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
President Bill Clinton celebrated and saw it as his highest accomplishment when he signed the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which greatly accelerated the US pace to become the number one nation on earth in detainment and imprisonment. At no point in human history has this level of imprisonment ever been known.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, in her 1996 speech, called us “super predators,” who were beyond rehabilitation and “must be brought to heel.”
The bill initially included $8.7 billion for prison construction for states that enacted “truth-in-sentencing” laws, which required people convicted of violent crimes to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences. This isn’t including the funding for tens of thousands of additional state law enforcement boots on the ground in poor communities across this nation.
This single bill created the incentive for dozens of states to build prisons and create laws for longer sentencing.
Twenty-five years forward, we can reflect upon this bill and see the damage it has done to Black, Brown and poor communities in general. Yes, this bill targeted particular communities of hue and poverty.
It was no secret who Joe Biden was referring to when he argued: “It doesn’t matter whether or not they were deprived as a youth. It doesn’t matter whether or not they are the victims of society. The end result is they are about to knock my mother on the head with a lead pipe, shoot my sister, beat up my wife, take on my sons.
“So I don’t want to ask ‘What made them do this’? They must be taken off the street. We all agree on that.”
He further stated: “Unless we do something about that cadre of young people, tens of thousands of them born out of wedlock without parents, without any conscience developing, they will or a portion of them will become the predators 15 years from now. And, madam president, we have PREDATORS on our streets. They are beyond the pale, many of THOSE people.”
As we listen to these words, we have to fight back tears of anger. Decent people who know this nation’s history gave up on us and allowed people like Biden to further destroy our families and communities without question. They allowed slavery to continue forward unchecked.
The victims of an unfair social system were made the predators, fit to be enslaved for decades. It was unspoken, but EVERYONE who voted for and supported the Crime Bill knew who and what communities this bill would impact directly.
As prisons began to be built and filled, complaints increased of inhumane conditions and brutal treatment of prisoners. In a move by government officials to muffle our voices, the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) was passed. An anti-prisoner statute which became law in 1996, that bill made it much harder for prisoners to file complaints or gain relief in federal courts.
Stand with us! Take action!
With all the above in mind, it should not be a surprise that truth in sentencing and the Crime Bill was in the National Prison Strike Demands as a fundamental issue to be addressed.
On Friday, Sept. 13, 2019, the 25th anniversary of the Crime Bill, we are asking citizens of this nation to take a stand with us and highlight the National Prison Strike Demands. How can you help? Hold a forum, do a noise demo, go to your local jail or prison to let these prisoncrats and politicians know the National Prison Strike Demands are still a part of your focus.
Thank you to all who hear our call to action. Let’s continue to make the politicians hear the voices in these concrete tombs.
Can’t stop, won’t stop! Forward forever, backward never!
From Alabama to DC: End Prison Slavery
On the 20th of September there is the mobilization “From Alabama to DC: End Prison Slavery,” a press conference and rally naming the ongoing injustices in Alabama prisons, so many of which were inspired by and continue to be legitimated by the originators and supporters of the Crime Bill. Support this call to action by getting to DC to stand with our Alabama comrades and the growing coalition helping make this possible.
Contact Jailhouse Lawyers Speak via firstname.lastname@example.org.