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In a time when the trumpets of fascism are blowing loud, those of us who have been on the frontlines need to stand strong – at the back. We can’t lead this fight. We need the energy, the insight, the fresh face and perspectives of the Amani Sawaris to step up. I know she carries an optimism and a vision that us OGs can’t touch. I hope everyone who has known and loved the SF Bay View over its 42-year history will lend their support to Amani and the revitalization of the paper.
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.
A new day has dawned, pregnant with opportunity. For the first time, the Federal Bureau of Prisons has granted the status of “pilot program” to a prisoner-created, prisoner-run rehabilitation and reentry program, effectively offering prisoners an opportunity to control their own destiny. For many of us who have spent decades in federal prison, the Young Men Incorporated (YMI) program is a reality few could have imagined.
On Feb. 17, 2016, Ohio state prisoner Cornelius Harris, held in the high security U.S. Penitentiary at Florence, Colo., after being transferred against his will from the state to federal prison system, began refusing meals, vowing not to eat until he is transferred back to Ohio. Recently, he has refused not only food but fluids. Cornelius is sacrificing his health and possibly his life because hunger striking is the only peaceful way he can try to be heard.
On July 13, President Barack Obama followed up his March 2015 pardons of 22 federal prisoners by commuting the sentences of 46 federal prisoners who had served time for what has been described by the Washington Post as overly harsh sentencing. On Thursday, July 16, Obama will meet with law enforcement officials and prisoners at El Reno, the first time a sitting president has visited a federal prison.
The CDCR justification for Pelican Bay is rooted in two primary criteria: 1) to isolate the so-called worst of the worst, who have proved too violent to be held at other prisons, and 2) to presumably minimize prison violence. What the CDCR intentionally neglected to tell the public is that it was their policy, both in practice and intent, that was responsible for the rapid increase in prison violence! Pelican Bay State Prison is rooted in deception, exploitation, extortion, violence and murder.
“Solitary confinement does one thing: It breaks a man’s will to live and he ends up deteriorating,” testified Texas death row exoneree Anthony Graves before a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Tuesday, June19. The hearing, convened by Subcommittee Chair Sen. Richard Durbin, was the first of its kind at the federal level on the issue of solitary confinement.