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Coco Das’ article, “Should we celebrate when a fascist regime endorses prison reform?” reached me at a particularly ripe time. None of the ironies observed about Trump’s endorsement of the First Step Act, a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill, were misconstrued, nor did I take them for granted.
The Washington Post last week wrote one of a series of articles about the federal shutdown that focused on the criminal justice system. The reporters included the obligatory interviews with prison guards talking about how overworked and understaffed they are, which is likely true. But the article was inflammatory – not because of the interviews with the guards, but because the Post reported that while the poor guards were suffering, the prisoners were eating meals fit for a king. The purpose of the articles was to outrage the public. How can these criminals eat like this while the hard-working guards are suffering? But it’s all nonsense.
Ten years ago, Oscar Grant was tragically and needlessly killed by an officer at the Fruitvale BART station. Oscar was a beloved member of our East Bay community. He was a loving father, a loyal friend and a kind neighbor. My heart is with his family, friends and loved ones who are missing him dearly today. Over the last decade, communities like mine have lost far too many Black men to police violence. Since Oscar’s passing, the list of young African American men killed by police officers has grown even longer.
I’m thrilled to share that I will be joining 19 other activists and changemakers for the 2019 Roddenberry Fellowship! Jailhouse Lawyers Speak’s Right2Vote (R2V) Campaign is being recognized for the direct impact on civil rights in the United States. The Roddenberry Fellowship supports 20 activists, organizers, leaders and changemakers who are working to make the U.S. a more inclusive and equitable place to live. Fellows’ projects focus on one of four issues: Civil Rights, Immigration and Refugee Rights, LGBTQIA and Women’s Rights, Environmental Protection.
On Oct. 4, 2015, at the McConnell Ad-Seg Unit located in Beeville, Texas, prisoner Jarvis Dugas, No. 1386881, was preparing for a visit with his mother. Dugas, who is known to his friends as “Homestead,” is a Black man who is mentally handicapped and physically disabled. He walks with a pronounced limp. Dugas’ mother, Regina Strange, is a former employee of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. She is all too familiar with the overt tactics of mistreatment, abuse and degradation associated with the corrupt prison agency and because she knows that, she regularly visits her son Jarvis.
“It takes the hood to save the hood” is the bold quote written on the shirts of the strong male and female organizers involved in United Playaz (UP), a San Francisco based 20-plus-year-old organization founded by Rudy Corpuz with a focus on youth development and violence prevention. UP’s engagement with the community is motivated by the needs of the people. United Playaz is a diamond in our community, shining light through every aspect of its mission at every level.
Assemblymember Tony Thurmond is the projected winner of the California State Superintendent of Public Instruction election. More than a week after Election Day, Thurmond has overcome an 86,000-vote deficit on Election Day to win the election. "I want to thank the voters of California for electing me to serve the 6 million students of California. I intend to be a champion of public schools and a superintendent for all California students,” said Superintendent-elect Thurmond.
On Tuesday, Aug. 21, the first day of the historic National Prison Strike, Democracy Now interviewed Amani Sawari. The segment began with an excellent interview with Cole Dorsey of IWOC and then suddenly the bright, brilliant, radiant face of 23-year-old Amani filled the screen and a voice of eloquence, inspiration and power filled the room. All it took was host Amy Goodman saying she’s a journalist, and, involuntarily, spontaneously, I pointed at the screen and shouted, “There’s the new Bay View editor!” Amani and I have been talking ever since, and she came to visit Oct. 8-12. What fun we had.
Given that Mumia’s next court hearing is on Oct. 29, two weeks away, many of us have felt that not enough attention has been paid to challenging Philadelphia’s widely hailed, new “liberal” District Attorney Larry Krasner. His deadly role in Mumia’s current legal proceedings in the Court of Common Pleas has not been understood by many Mumia supporters. We must pressure him to drop his opposition to Mumia’s current legal action aimed at giving Mumia new rights of appeal of his conviction.
On Feb. 1-2, 2017, a riot occurred at Delaware’s James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Building C that resulted in a correctional officer being assaulted and another being killed. After a nine-month investigation led by the Delaware State Police, an 18-man indictment was handed down on Oct. 17, 2017. Everybody pled not guilty and chose trial by a jury except for one co-defendant. Not only did this cowardly snitch fabricate his story and just blatantly outright lie on others indicted, but he’s an ancient RAT, meaning that he snitched on some boys back in the day.
Jailhouse Lawyers Speak (JLS) is currently continuing to focus energy on supporting strikers who’re suffering retaliation, raising awareness of those who continue to strike and educating policymakers of strikers’ demands. These will be our primary focuses in this season. Action points: Print and distribute Issue No. 6 of Solid Black Fist. Support prisoners still striking, raise awareness that the National Prison Strike continues in Ohio and California. Circulate the online petition to Congress demanding prisoners’ basic human rights needs be met.
The National Prison Strike flooded the media and transformed the national narrative surrounding prisoners’ human rights. While the symbolic end date of the national prison strike passed on Sunday’s 45th anniversary of the Attica Uprising, prisoners take the lead in determining whether to continue striking depending on their individual circumstances at their institutions: some extending the call, others placing a new date on their call and even striking indefinitely.
Prisoners are rising up in institutions across the country – and now internationally – in protest of the living and working conditions in the prisons. The first week of the strike has just come to an end and we have seen a substantial wave of success. The mainstream media attention on the strike has been monumentally greater than we have ever seen in the past. Along with this, the public narrative towards prisoners has changed dramatically. The public eye is focused on securing and protecting prisoners’ rights. We are also committed to highlighting the injustices that are inherent to our criminal justice system.
There is a branding within our communities that is honored, praised and promoted – a branding that has been adopted out of ignorance and is more dehumanizing than the word nigger. Yet, this branding has been promoted and ingrained into the psyche of many within our communities to the point that it has been accepted and even worn as a badge of honor, not unlike the derogatory “nigger” terminology. The branding I’m referring to is the mark of a beast, a killer, a robber, a drug dealer or, simply, a criminal.
It was September of 2016. I was currently under CPS supervision from an unfortunate case that had been opened due to domestic violence (I was the victim) and substance abuse. Initially, CPS was going to award me full custody but chose to place my son in foster care after I allowed my domestically-abusive husband to see our son on my birthday. After Maryela Padilla was assigned to our case, things changed for the worst.
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.
Kenesha Jackson was murdered Nov. 23, 2016, in her apartment while her children were present. Everett Highbaugh, the father of her children, is scheduled to stand trial for her murder. On Aug. 9, 2016, Kenesha asked Judge Garry Ichikawa for a domestic violence restraining order against Mr. Highbaugh. According to Kenesha’s handwritten complaint, Mr. Highbaugh was terrorizing Kenesha. On Sept. 23, 2016, Judge Ichikawa denied her request, in full. Who is responsible for the murder of Kenesha Jackson?
I cannot imagine that if DMHN, of Parkland, Florida, were Black, that he would not have been captured and controlled by some aspect of law enforcement. The unfortunate and overplayed fear of Black students misbehaving has been very much on display in the media with various police student classroom encounters available for all to see. I cannot imagine any Black or Muslim of any age, under the kind of FBI scrutiny we now know happened with DMHN, who would not have been contained, blamed or framed by security and intelligence forces in this country.
A veteran accused of going overboard when fighting back against his attacker was acquitted of all charges – and jurors are choosing to speak out about the injustice of his case, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi announced today. A jury on Dec. 14 acquitted Darryl J’Eronn. If convicted, J’Eronn faced up to seven years in state prison. Jurors, who were outraged J’Eronn was charged, took less than 10 minutes to decide to acquit him.
In mid-October, 125 prisoners at the Glenn Dyer Detention Facility in downtown Oakland – over 30 percent of the prisoners housed there – participated in a five-day hunger strike to protest what they say are abusive conditions of isolation and poor healthcare in Alameda County jails. On Oct. 17, over 30 supporters rallied outside of the Alameda County administrative building, where the county supervisors’ offices are located, to draw attention to the striking prisoners.