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Editor’s note: It’s been a challenging year for the Bay View. With ad revenue falling and the cost of printing and mailing rising, we need a benefactor with the means not only to pay the production costs but to hire a new editor because your old editor, at 79, needs to share the load. And the new editor will need a staff. Lighting and inspiring our search for that help are the wonderful letters that prisoners write. Here are three that touched our souls.
I am currently serving life without parole in the Missouri Department of Corrections. I have been incarcerated since the age of 15. I’m being held under an unconstitutional sentence along with 80-plus others who were sentenced to life without parole as juveniles (JLWOP). In June 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court found it unconstitutional to sentence a juvenile to life without parole, according to Miller v. State of Alabama (2012). We must be taken back in front of our respective courts and be resentenced.
All across this kkkountry we are hearing and seeing the masses exclaim, “Black lives matter!” We heard Obama counter that by telling the people, “All lives matter” and “Police lives matter.” But what about the more than 2 million lives being held captive across this kkkountry in amerikkka’s kkkoncentration kkkamps (jails and prisons)? So we must raise the questions needed to spark the discussion so many fail to acknowledge: Do prison lives matter?
Weusi Joka Kambon (David Frost), a precious young brotha comrade, is gone! On March 6, 2017, he was found dead inside his cell under suspicious circumstances here at Salinas Valley State Prison B-Yard. A voice we loved is stilled; memories of our loved one shall live forever. He was a brotha, a comrade, husband, daddy, cousin and friend. You will be deeply missed but never forgotten.
Some say, “Out of sight, out of mind,” but I know better and so do you. It takes more than fancy cars, a suit and tie slave gig or a house in a gated community to squelch the reality that too many thousands of Black fathers are missing from our communities. Yes, my brothers “inside,” you may not hear from us, the “straight johns” on the “outside” as often as you should, but I wanted to let you know that you are thought of and deeply valued.
We don’t have time for strife within the tribes. Differences have to be settled if we are going to accomplish our positive objectives of being released from these concrete tombs, as well as obtaining back everything we’ve lost in the past that our oppressors have taken. We’ve issued the statement to end all hostilities amongst all racial groups and hope that quarrels can be settled diplomatically instead of violently.
Does being convicted of a crime forfeit all your rights as a human being? Does being railroaded through a clearly unjust, unequal and racist judicial system forfeit your human rights? Guilty or not, I am still a person. I am a human being. We need people to understand that the struggle for human rights, the struggle to be free and not murdered by the state or its agents doesn’t stop at the prison gates.
Although I have not yet been able to make my way back to my father’s house, I do know that he will welcome me because during my self-destructive ordeals he has been my beacon and never once waivered in being my refuge. To my fellow confined men, I encourage you to think about your fatherly journey if you have children. You must strive to dignify your father by living in the light of his integrity, personified by the things he did to be colored a father.
I introduce this manifesto to all New Afrikans (i.e. Blacks) and any human beings who are SERIOUS about changing the inhumane living conditions that we see the people being subjected to in oppressed, impoverished communities throughout Amerika. It is crucial that we assess our conditions based on what is in our power to do, opposed to what someone can do for us.
We as prisoners did not forfeit our citizenship when we came to prison or the laws which are designed to protect our basic human rights and dignity. The implementation and enforcement of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act was a clear procedural deprivation of our rights under the Fifth and 14th Amendments. The Fairness and Restoration Act 2015 is about restoring fairness and justice to those who were denied it.
For decades, prisoners in California have protested the torturous conditions they are subjected to. Now a nurse has come forward who worked in a California prison and can speak to personally witnessing some of these horrors perpetrated by some of his colleagues at the California Men’s Colony State Prison in San Luis Obispo. Paul Spector was fired from his job for speaking out. Check him out in his own words ...
In the last two months – from Dec. 27 to Feb. 10, 2015 – four prisoners have died here at Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility, a private prison California uses to relieve its prison overcrowding; it is owned and operated by the Corrections Corporation of America, CCA. These lives were lost due to indifference, unprofessionalism and lack of adequate training.
The message for the protectors of the white corporate and financial elite is that it does not matter if you execute a kid in cold blood in front of a dozen witnesses or you are caught on video murdering Eric Garner or 12 year-old Tamir Rice; you don’t have to fear prosecution from the state. It is now open season when it comes to policing and controlling the dangerous class of poor and working class Black people.
I snapped to the fact that once we successfully exposed this torture program to the world, making the people aware, at least some of the responsibility shifts to the people to hold the lawmakers responsible. It’s unbelievable to me to see the numbers of people out there who are aware of the continued torture we are subjected to, and yet they’ve failed to take any action to hold those responsible accountable.
Prisons are closing in Virginia. Officials say they can’t afford to keep them open. We need to get the Virginia Department of Corrections to make some changes, because although we are incarcerated and have been convicted of crimes that have led us to where we are, I’d like to be treated like a human, not an animal. If we continue to voice our opinions, hopefully it’ll eventually make something happen. Until then, same fight, different cage.
There is a chance coming up in the January-June session of the Delaware House of Representatives to restructure habitual offender sentencing. Senate Bill 188 would place application of habitual offender enhanced sentencing in the hands of judges. Currently, power hungry and politically motivated district attorneys have misused the enhancement to further their careers.
The United States of America’s treatment of Black people – it’s so-called citizens – are nearly identical to how the Israelis treat the Palestinian people. What we have going on here in America is an ongoing counter-insurgency war by the dominant, majoritarian, Anglo-American U.S. government against the minority Black peoples. What we have here is the Palestinianization of Blacks in the United States.
Every day on the news we see reports of young people being killed by police and other members of society, senseless murders that snuff out the lives of our youth before they have had the chance to truly live. So much potential lost, so many hopes and dreams gone down the grave, so many lives shattered. We get angry and organize protests and marches in the cities and towns where these murders occur but what are we doing to prevent them?
CDCR deliberately lied about their implementation of the Security Threat Group Step Down Program sanctioned by Gov. Jerry Brown. Gov. Brown and CDCr administrators are currently violating our United States constitutional rights, the California Code of Regulations and other rules, laws, policies and standards with the intent of breaking down and destroying men and women prisoners, family bonds and moral ethics here in California.
Often when citizens of this nation think of “state repression,” images of Egypt, North Korea, Apartheid Palestine or Nazi Germany immediately spring to mind. U.S. state controlled media has become practiced at flooding our airwaves and attitudes with images of violent retaliation and systematic repression of dissent in other nations as a means to obfuscate the U.S. state’s engagement in identical activity in its own society.
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