System-impacted women and girls are now leading the criminal law reform ... showing the American public and policymakers that previous beliefs on punitive punishments and “rehabilitation” are wrong.
I am an innocent man in prison – 11 years now – and I still can’t tell you how it feels.
South Carolina’s prison system has reached a breaking point, and right now it is breaking the minds, bodies and spirits of human beings.
“The struggle to restore the soil and the struggle to create a just social order have up to now been carried on mostly as parallel political movements, without much mutual awareness."
Black San Franciscans are over seven times more likely to be arrested than their White counterparts, and they are 11 times more likely to be booked into county jail.
As a 16-year-old kid, given a 30-year sentence for attempted robbery, I used to think that maybe I just fell through the cracks, that I could have been saved as a kid and rehabilitated. Then I was educated, then my consciousness was raised and I realized that it wasn’t meant for me to be saved or rehabilitated.
“They made me shower in shackles right after I gave birth.”
From housing instability to economic hardship and the intergenerational trauma of mass incarceration, the impact of criminalization is dire.
Here’s my take on Bay View, the HBCUs and any other Black establishments needing financial help: We, Black America, have way too many Black athletes, entertainers, entrepreneurs etc. for Black establishments to be underfunded.
Families are being broken down even further, thus setting the perfect circumstances for history to repeat itself. The cycle of incarceration continues, and that’s a major problem.
The Free South Carolina Movement is a collective of political prisoners, politicized and political prisoners of war, organized with friends, family, loved ones and supporters with a common cause, aims and objectives, i.e. self-determining education, adequate healthcare suitable for poor and oppressed peoples, bringing families closer together, true freedom, transforming the present genocidal sentencing structure, bringing awareness to the public and the youth, putting an end to the pipeline from preschool to prison and the systematic extermination of Black and Brown peoples.
Our support of X-Raided shows support for the power of redemption in validating his decision to convey a meaningful message over those catchy repetitive rhymes that promote death and idiotic behavior. Today many artists aren’t communicating ideas purposefully. The ideas that they’re spreading, some not even written by themselves, aren’t intentional and have no goal beyond the beats and rhymes. X-Raided’s first concert, The Execution of X-Raided, will be Jan. 18, 2019, at the Fillmore Heritage Center.
During the National Prison Strike, Jailhouse Lawyers Speak (JLS) inspired incarcerated and outside activists across the country. Activists on the outside were inspired by prisoners’ leadership on the inside, their ability to work effectively through limited communication and under the threat of retaliation. After the strike, incarcerated people were even more inspired by the activism that happened across the country on the inside. Prisoners from each corner of the country are realizing the power that they have to influence positive changes in their environments.
The new Kevin Hart movie, “Night School,” was about so many things, but like a good artist, as my poverty skola-teacher Mama Dee used to say, Kevin Hart didn’t pound on the table. Through subtle and sketch comedy, pranks, relationship issues, innuendo and character development, he showed an often unseen part of Mans Skoo (as I call it), which is an ableist, racist, classist institution known as Special Education, which so many of us who live with so-called “learning disabilities” know way too much about.
Few prisoners, if any, at San Quentin State Prison participated in what was reported to be the largest prisoner-led strike in United States history. There are many reasons for these prisoners’ lack of involvement. Most of the men imprisoned at San Quentin were unaware of the strike and the groups involved with it like Jailhouse Lawyers Speak and the Bay Area National Prison Strike Solidarity Committee.
While I was immersed in the National Prison Strike back home, I had no idea how solidarity looked to others who felt trapped outside of the resistance. Some felt unable to connect with the people they desperately wanted to join in fighting for. Some Americans may say, How can I support a prisoner? in the same way that I struggled to connect with Tico Educators – in both cases knowing that their plight is worth fighting for.
Above the din of disturbing news – that discordant banging you’re hearing, steadily getting louder and louder, that you can no longer ignore – that’s the drumbeat of the unfree. Dehumanized by the labels “prisoner,” “inmate” and “convict,” even reduced to serial numbers like Victor Hugo’s Jean Valjean in “Les Misérables,” these men and women are, just like you and me, or any mortal – irrespective of flaws, frailties, even felonious acts and misdemeanors – endowed with the right to be treated with dignity, decency and respect.
“Nobody should be put out alone into this cold night,” said Benita Turner, mother of Jessica St Louis, who died after being released from Santa Rita County Jail at 1:30 a.m. on July 28. “We want to make sure that we are gathered here to remember that a woman lost her life because this institution thought it was OK to release a young woman at 1:30 in the morning,” said community organizer Sister Krea Cristina Gomez to the large crowd that gathered for the vigil.
The contributions that Kelvin Brooks the activist, father, brother, uncle and, as the community refers to him, “OG Legend,” made towards the betterment of BVHP and the City and County of San Francisco are countless. The loss of Kelvin Brooks on Aug. 18 from an asthma attack is ironic as he spent hours in neighborhood meetings addressing the toxins in the air specifically in BVHP. The passing of this great leader will cause a deep void of sadness in the community.
A new documentary film directed by Robert “Fleetwood” Bowden entitled “Zephaniah” will be out soon; it is based on embracing the responsibilities of fatherhood and the joy that comes with the journey. In the project, Fleetwood will take an in-depth look into the relationship between a father and his toddler daughter. He will also explore why so many fathers abandon their children and how the system plays a part in separating households.