I’m asking the Bay View newspaper to please print this open letter so that California Prison Focus, MIM Distributors, Rising Son Press, Anti-Racist Action and the Black Riders Liberation Party will know why they have not heard from me – also Shaka of the Black August Organizing Committee and Brotha Secretary Yawo at the Oakland Uhuru House. I have no addresses, so at this point I cannot contact them unless they contact me.
Locked inside the belly of the beast, a system built by men to hold men, this system was meant to rehabilitate, but it has failed miserably! The justice system has failed, the prison system has failed, the government has failed.
Transitioning from a prisoner number to an adult person expected to take on adult responsibilities can be overwhelming for many ex-inmates, particularly those who were incarcerated for long periods of time. Each day many of us will share space with someone who has spent a significant portion of his life in a cage. Every one of us should be concerned because these men and women are of us and will be returning to us, our communities, many to our own families.
The United States puts more people behind bars than any other country in the world. Attend a panel discussion on the Center for Constitutional Rights' lawsuit against two CMUs - prisons with extreme isolation - on Tuesday, April 5, 6:30 p.m., at the Women’s Building, Audre Lorde Room, 3543 18th St. #8, San Francisco.
Few people in America, especially the underfunded, don’t have a friend, relative, classmate or colleague in prison. We also know that most prisoners are there for non-violent, often drug related issues. Yet we keep silent. “Your silence becomes approval,” wrote our brilliant journalist and revolutionary, Mumia Abu-Jamal.
“This system treats us like throw-away people,” says Carolyn Brown, a Seattle volunteer with prison reform group Justice Works! An African American with a record, her effort to find a job is deeply frustrating due to systemic racism.
Ishmael Reed is one of the most read writers of his generation, along with Toni Morrison and Amiri Baraka, living in America. In 1962, Reed co-founded “East Village Other,” a well known underground publication at the time, and was a member of the Umbra Writers Workshop, which helped to give rise to the Black Arts Movement. He has published nine novels, four collections of poetry, six plays, four collections of essays and a libretto. He currently lives in Oakland, and I approached him one day while he was visiting KPFA’s studios to ask him what he thought about the state of affairs between the police and Oakland’s Black community, with the backdrop of the police murder of Oscar Grant and, in a separate incident, the police murder of Lovelle Mixon, after Mixon allegedly killed four Oakland police officers.
Sadly, over the years, we have lost many of our friends and family members as a direct result of practices and policies that demean and devalue lives within prison walls. This mentality allows atrocities to occur far from the public’s watchful eye. We are sure that if the citizens of this country knew what occurs – not in some distant foreign country – but within our own borders, there would surely be a call for immediate reform.
Haitian priest Father Gerard Jean-Juste was a Jesus-like revolutionary. In jail and out, he preached liberation of the poor, release of prisoners, human rights for all and a fair distribution of wealth. Though he died May 27, he remains present in the hearts of millions. Watch a video he recorded just for SF Bay View.
Will the Obama-Nation become an abomination if it fails to stop the bombing of nations? From Gaza to Afghanistan, the American people must take a stand and tell Obama to forge a better plan to free the land.
California’s adoption of mandatory minimums, drive for three-strikes laws and participation in the nationwide “War on Drugs” campaign of the 1980s has created a burgeoning prison system fractured along racial, humanitarian and economic lines.