Tags Mass incarceration
Tag: mass incarceration
On the evening of April 5, hundreds gathered in downtown Oakland for the National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter’s (NLGSF) annual fundraising dinner. This year, the NLGSF honored California prison hunger strikers and the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity (PHSS) coalition of family members, activists and friends who supported the strikers. The assembled crowd was able to hear directly from those inside California prisons.
Roughly 80,000 people are held in solitary in the United States on any given day, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in many cases for minor violations of prison rules (or no violation at all – ed.). Much of the momentum in the movement to reform the use of solitary confinement in the United States comes from the work of prisoners themselves.
“My talk with Maroon today was very moving. There are no words to adequately convey the significance of his release to the general population for him and his family. This is a significant victory for a growing people’s movement against solitary confinement and the human rights violations inherent in mass incarceration. If we continue to work hard and support one another in this movement, these victories could very well become a habit.”
In the year 2014, as we recognize this as the centennial year of the Jamaican, Caribbean born Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey’s (born Aug. 17, 1887, died June 10, 1940) founding of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League in 1914, Pan Africanists need to hold conferences to discuss the conditions of over 1,200,000,000 Africans and people of African descent.
Typically we don’t show up to the fight until several of us have been shot. We don’t show up early on not because we don’t care, but because in general we don’t know how. That’s why Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC) is establishing a policy academy to increase civic participation by formerly incarcerated people, both locally and statewide. Our first training drew 50 people to the Watts Labor Center in Los Angeles.
Since implicit in making it a requirement that people participate in those programs available in each step and that any failure to do so will result in a person being moved back to Step 1 until that person agrees to subordinate him/herself to the dictates of Section 700.2 (self-directed journals), the cognitive restructuring/brainwashing program is, clearly, mandatory.
In classic Fox form, the interview with me would not be about the case or about the appointment of Adegbile. In the end, the point of the segment was for Fox to call Mumia “a thrice-convicted cop killer” as many times as possible, and to associate that with Debo Adegbile so as to strategically energize a right-wing agenda against the gains of the civil rights movement – following the same pattern as in their successful campaign to decommission Van Jones.
I don’t know whether any of your names will be recorded in history books as the early leaders of a bold, courageous movement that not only ended solitary confinement as a form of torture, but also ended the entire system of mass incarceration in this country. But I know that the entire movement for freedom and justice in the United States is indebted to you.
There’s a growing national consensus that, as Attorney General Eric Holder stated in August, “too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long, and for no truly good law enforcement reason.” Despite the heavy toll that mass incarceration exacts every day and in countless ways on many American communities the topic attracts remarkably little consistent coverage in the mainstream media.
Comrades, today is the 8th of November 2013, and I must tell you that no sooner had the ink dried on the October San Francisco Bay View newspaper and the October-December issue of Turning the Tide than the Texas Department of Criminal Injustice waged an all-out attack on Comrade Kevin “Rashid” Johnson and myself.
Only by reducing the amount of time inmates spend behind federal prison bars – by eliminating harsh mandatory minimum sentences and resurrecting federal parole – will much of the unnecessary suffering caused by prison overcrowding and budgetary financial strain be alleviated. There is currently a federal parole proposal pending before Congress and President Obama. Your signature as well as your support is needed.
On Sept. 8, 1985, Oscar Grant Jr. found himself in jail for a murder he did not commit and has since been held in prison for 28 years. An innocent Grant suffered for decades the dehumanizing conditions of prison and was deprived of raising his son, Oscar Grant III. His reality took a more horrifying turn on New Year’s Day 2009, when from inside prison Grant Jr. learned the news that a police officer had deliberately killed his son on a train platform in Oakland.
For the past several years, I have spent virtually all my working hours writing about or speaking about the immorality, cruelty, racism and insanity of our nation’s latest caste system: mass incarceration. On this Facebook page I have written and posted about little else. But as I pause today to reflect on the meaning and significance of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, I realize that my focus has been too narrow.
“It is now time to return the control of our prison system to California,” says Gov. Brown. We say it’s time to return California’s criminal justice system to a sense of human dignity and social justice. We call upon the governor and Legislature to immediately sit down at the bargaining table with representatives of the current prison hunger strike and enter into meaningful negotiations before prisoners die or suffer irreparable damage to their health. Stop the political posturing and name-calling, and start negotiating before there is blood on your hands.
Secretary Beard’s public statements since coming to the job reflect a complete failure to acknowledge the gravity of the human rights abuses his agency is guilty of and an apparent commitment to defend the status quo at any cost. Now his public statements demonizing the hunger strikers and defending California’s indefensible SHUs make clear that all hope for change in this administration should be abandoned.
Word from within is that California’s prison hunger strikers have been studying the Irish hunger strike of 1981 led by Bobby Sands, in which 10 Irish republicans died because of the stubborn refusal of Margaret Thatcher to recognize them as human. California Gov. Jerry Brown and California prison officials could learn from the Irish hunger strike as well.
California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano issued a statement Thursday urging CDCR to meet with prisoner hunger strike mediators and work toward meeting the prisoners’ demands. Prisoners throughout California have been on hunger strike for 25 days. Demonstrators demanded that the CDCR and governor negotiate with strikers immediately and end any and all retaliations against their protest.
We ask you, Gov. Brown, to set an example. In their time, the U.S. Army consigned the inhumane prison conditions at Dachau to the trash heap of history. The same thing should happen now to the unbearable prison conditions in the prisons of the United States – and especially the prisons in the State of California, which you govern.
As more people put their lives on the line today to fight for the hunger strikers’ five core demands – still unmet by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation – the need for this kind of artwork feels critical. Noah succeeds in creating visually impactful and beautiful work that also activates audiences to learn about human rights abuses and to get involved.
Mass incarceration is deeply racialized, as one third of young Black men are in the criminal justice system. Prisoner resistance and political action has been sharply repressed. Solitary confinement is a mechanism of torture, from Palestine to Pelican Bay to Guantanamo, and we stand in solidarity with the courageous prisoners who challenge isolation and oppression.