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When, in October 2016, I wrote, “Death row inmates in Alabama are human guinea pigs” because the state’s capital punishment regime – specifically its barbaric, often bungled lethal injection protocol – is already so dark, so depraved, so outrageously cloaked in lies and officious secrecy, I never could have predicted the situation could get worse. But it has. Plans are now underway for Alabama to develop a protocol to execute death row prisoners with nitrogen gas.
A copy of this historic document in its original form was sent to Bay View arts editor Wanda Sabir by Kumasi, a Los Angeles-based prison movement scholar and central leader of the Black August Organizing Committee who was a close comrade to George Jackson. Kumasi was reminded of this Manifesto when he learned of the National Prison Strike that began in Black August 2018 and believed Bay View readers would value the opportunity to witness prison movement evolution.
Read the perspectives of Spoon Jackson, serving a sentence of Life Without the Possibility of Parole (LWOP), “the other death penalty,” at Lancaster State Prison near Los Angeles, and Tim Young, on San Quentin’s Death Row near San Francisco. Spoon calls LWOP “as hideous as Death Row” and recommends “no” on Prop 62. Tim says vote “yes”: “With LWOP, we live to fight another day.”
As a people who should be championing the cause of the tired, the poor and the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, we need to first find humane solutions to our social ills. Isolation, incarceration and, yes, LWOP sentences are barbaric and sit in the realm of the lesser of two evils. And that’s why California still has the cruel instruments of death as its solutions.
If Proposition 34 passes, it will endorse everything that is wrong with the criminal justice system and allow the appeals of innocent people on death row to go unheard. It will take away the one guarantee, through habeas counsel, that death row prisoners have to be able to clear their names and prove their innocence. Vote No on Prop 34; do not destroy due process rights.