Felony disenfranchisement is a symptom left behind from Jim Crow. The rights of formerly enslaved Africans were tweaked, trimmed and stripped throughout the Jim Crow era.
I am a prison abolitionist in my heart. But I’m a prison reformist in the world by virtue of the sad fact that I can’t yet imagine a working society without prisons. I’ve spent every birthday since my 13th in an institution, so I’ve seen only prisons, heard only “prisons.” I want to abolish prisons; I just don’t have the imagination. Part of my failure is a lack of language to describe such a world convincingly. Likewise, a barrier we face trying to dismantle the prison industrial complex is we continue to use the language that helped build it.
Read the perspectives of Spoon Jackson, serving a sentence of Life Without the Possibility of Parole (LWOP), “the other death penalty,” at Lancaster State Prison near Los Angeles, and Tim Young, on San Quentin’s Death Row near San Francisco. Spoon calls LWOP “as hideous as Death Row” and recommends “no” on Prop 62. Tim says vote “yes”: “With LWOP, we live to fight another day.”
Our Five Core Demands of the hunger strikes have not been met. And we see that reform always equals revisionism, which means it’s no change. The food has literally gotten worse, although for a month they attempted to adequately feed us. The medical care continues to be inadequate. The educational programs and privileges are not afforded, and prisoners are still made to suffer in these inhumane conditions, now familiar to us for years on end.