What does it mean to be paroled from prison? Before release, all I had was time. It was all torture. Now, I don’t have time. The effort to sustain myself takes most of my time and energy. Freedom, for me, means having time to work out who I am, how I want to relate to others.
A prisoner from Bellefonte, Penn., asks: “In America are we really free or are we going through an act, or through the motions?”
Readers’ Views takes up: attacks on immigrants; Syria and the Left’s failure; Democratic Party’s selling out women; Women’s Liberation; Serena Williams; ending money bail the right way; Trump-Kim “peace”; genocide and war heroes; and a discussion on sex crimes and their fallout.
Prisoner expresses the difficultly with organizing his fellow inmates and the importance of working together “to stand up (or ‘sit down’) for your rights.”
Review of “The End of Policing” by Alex S. Vitale by a prisoner who sees it as “a wake-up call as to the world in which [we] live: the police state Amerika.”
Prisoner Fredd writes about his prison censoring many publications, including News & Letters, for trumped up reasons, and asks for help in fighting for his right to read.
Readers’ Views on Philosophy and Revolt vs. Trumpism; Trump and the Left; Injustice to Immigrants; Anti-Woman, Anti-Labor Uber; ACT UP; From Iran; To Mexico; Why Read News & Letters?
Families of two prisoners at the California Institution for Women whose deaths were declared suicides testify.
Prisoner Robert Taliaferro tells of how a Wisconsin prison destroyed all library books that had been damaged in any way, thus depriving prisoners of their rights and adding “fuel to the fires of revolution.”
Readers’ Views includes: Politics; revolution and the power of philosophy; remembering Olga Domanski; the sports section; national prison action; and voices from behind the bars.
Readers’ Views on Needed New Beginnings in Philosophy and Revolution; Making One Year Count; Subjugated Knowledge; Free Syria/May Day; and Voices From Behind the Bars.
Prisoner Brutha Baridi tells what it means to be released from the hell of solitary confinement and experience several new “first” experiences.
A roundup of the situation of people with disabilities and how they are fighting for their rights including in Mexico, a prison in Carlisle, Penn., outrage against the shackling of two young students with disabilities in Covington, KY, the banning of a child with cerebral palsy and autism in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, and disabled people in Iraq who face neglect and isolation.
One year after the murder of Michael Brown by Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson, the Black Lives Matter movement continues to challenge racist U.S. society. In doing so, it deepens itself in both content and thought.
Prisoner Rand W. Gould writes to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder about what is wrong with continued incarceration of elderly prisoners.
The long-simmering outrage of Black masses has broken out into a movement against this racist society, particularly its pattern of racist killings by the police. It has not only reverberated internationally, but also made itself felt in the battle of ideas and the sphere of theory.
Pelican Bay Prison, Calif.—Twelve years have passed since I entered the Security Housing Unit (SHU) on gang validation. This year I turned 53 years old. My cognitive skills over this past decade have taken an odd turn. The deterioration is discernible. When I first arrived I was attentive and, if you’ll excuse the expression, bright-eyed. I thought I could beat this thing, whatever this thing was. I confess—I was ignorant.
A woman prisoner talks about how women experience Security Housing Units (SHUs) at the California Institution for Women (CIW).
Crescent City, Calif.—The physical and emotional toll of being in the SHU (prisons’ “Secure Housing Unit”): • Manic guards off their meds. • That last good photograph stamped with a boot. • Classification hearings postponed for potlucks. • The daughter whose eyes fill when you ask innocently, who are you?…
Lapeer, Mich.—Recently over 100 Aramark Correctional Services (ACS) employees have been fired and banned from Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) prisons for smuggling in drugs, cell phones and other contraband, sex with prisoners, and, most recently, paying one prisoner to kill another at a prison in Kincheloe. ACS has proven incapable of maintaining sanitary kitchens and food lines and has failed to follow the MDOC menu, consistently running out of food as it’s being served, failing to follow required cooking procedures, and making numerous menu item substitutions—all in violation of its three-year, $145 million contract with the MDOC….
From the September-October 2014 issue of News & Letters
U.S. CRISES: RACISM, POLICE, LABOR STRUGGLES
New York News and Letters Committee prepared a flyer on Eric Garner (see: “NYC Police murder Eric Garner” this issue) headlined: “Wanted For Murder: Daniel Pantaleo.” It denounced the fact that the cops who killed Garner are [=>]
From the July-August 2014 issue of News & Letters
Oakland, Calif.—On June 14 Critical Resistance (CR), an organization working for the abolition of the prison system, held a community forum on California Department of Corrections and rehabilitation (CDCr). (Prisoners refuse to capitalize the “R” because there is no “rehabilitation.”)
The forum took up new [=>]
The only way to get out of Administrative Segregation is by attending the Gang Renouncement and Dissociation Process. After many months I was told that I could not attend this program because the units do not house inmates with wheelchairs and don’t have cells or showers for the handicapped.
From the January-February 2013 issue of News & Letters:
Pelican Bay families support prisoners
Editor’s note: California Families Against Solitary Confinement (CFASC) came together during the prisoners’ 2011 hunger strike initiated by prisoners in Security Housing Unit (SHU). To support the prisoners’ ongoing movement, specifically the Agreement to Cease Hostilities (see Nov.-Dec. 2012 N&L), CFASC [=>]
La Voz de los de Abajo (Voices from Below) sponsored a delegation to Honduras in September, three years after the 2009 coup which deposed the elected President Manuel Zelaya.
Under his successor President Lobo, violence escalated. Seventy Aguán campesinos (peasants) were murdered in three years.
Honduras’ homicide rate is the highest in the world. Lawyers, politicians, human [=>]
Agreement to End Hostilities
(NOTE: All names and the statement must be verbatim when used and posted on any website or media, or non-media, publications)
August 12, 2012
To whom it may concern and all California Prisoners:
Greetings from the all PBSP-SHU [Pelican Bay State Prison-Security Housing [=>]
A new pamphlet
From the Introduction:
Hunger strikes by California prisoners, fighting perpetual solitary confinement, arose in mid-summer 2011 and the fall just when the Occupy movement took off. The prisoners’ thoughts and actions put the criminal justice system on trial in the same spirit as the Occupy Everywhere movements put the [=>]
Wise County, Va.—On May 19 an inmate from Red Onion State Prison (ROSP) phoned a member of Supporting Prisoners and Acting for Radical Change (SPARC), informing her that on May 22 at least 11 inmates were going on hunger strike to protest the inhumane conditions of Red Onion.
The group of participating prisoners spanning two cell [=>]
Prisoners at Red Onion State Prison in Wise County, Virginia, went on hunger strike on May 22. More details can be found at the Solidarity with Virginia Prison Hunger Strikers blog, which lists the ten demands here. You can join a facebook group to support the strike.
News and Letters Committees issued this solidarity statement:
The courageous [=>]
World in View
The Comayagua national prison fire may have started accidentally, but the horrific result—at least 360 deaths—was anything but accidental. With the fire raging, prisoners remained locked up for half an hour. The Comayagua fire chief said that prison officials initially stopped firefighters from entering, citing security protocol.
The prison was grossly overcrowded. Indeed, the [=>]
September 28, 2011
The SHU prisoners hunger strike started again as of Sept. 26….Apparently the level of prisoner participation surprised California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR)….Despite the attempt to undermine and stigmatize the latest effort, the general consensus of the prisoners is that there is no stopping until some real quality changes are made [=>]
Pelican Bay, Calif.–On Sept. 26 Security Housing Unit (SHU) prisoners resumed their hunger strike, suspended on July 20, to give California prison authorities a chance to make good on their promises to address the prisoners demands (see “Pelican Bay SHU struggle continues!” Sept.-Oct. N&L). Especially important to the prisoners was getting out of perpetual solitary confinement, [=>]
Los Angeles–On Aug. 13, 30 youths, mostly young women, gathered at the County Twin Towers Prison to support the Pelican Bay prisoners’ hunger strike. With the drumbeat and the performance of Aztec dancers, the protesters held individually made signs that read: “Prisoners are human beings, give them their rights”; “We stand in solidarity for prisoners’ [=>]
Pelican Bay, Calif.–Here in Pelican Bay State Prison’s Security Housing Unit (SHU), a number of us prisoners decided to launch a peaceful collective protest in the form of a hunger strike starting July 1. This action is necessary due to the anti-human, draconian institutional policies implemented by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).
Pelican Bay, Calif.–The hunger strike among California prisoners, consigned to perpetual solitary confinement in Security Housing Units (SHU), was suspended on July 20. The conditions that drove many prisoners to severely endanger their health by not eating for three weeks persist. According to prison officials themselves, at one point 6,600 inmates in at least 13 [=>]
Oakland, Calif.–On June 12 over 150 demonstrators marched to downtown Oakland from Fruitvale BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station, dubbed “Oscar Grant Station” by community activists. We were protesting the mild charge and minimal sentence handed down to Grant’s killer, former BART cop Johannes Mehserle. Mehserle was released from a Los Angeles County jail the [=>]
A special report from News and Letters Committees:
Stop torture in California prisons!
The hunger strike among California prisoners, consigned to perpetual solitary confinement in Security Housing Units (SHU), officially ended on July 20th but what persists are the conditions that drove many prisoners to severely endanger their health by not eating for three weeks. Prisoners we [=>]
Editor’s note: Prisoners at Pelican Bay Security Housing Unit (SHUs) are going on a hunger strike July 1 to demand the prison recognize they are human beings. This follows the Georgia prison uprising and the Ohio prisoners’ actions earlier this year. Prisoners at Corcoran State Prison announced they are joining the strike. Several cities, including [=>]
Amarillo, Texas–The people in charge of this prison unit’s law library (which is in charge of providing indigent inmates with supplies and postage) flex their supposed power on the poor prisoners. They are known to openly and willfully interfere with inmates’ legal work and appeals, while being free to abuse the poor who are incarcerated [=>]
From the new issue of NEWS & LETTERS, May-June 2011:
$31 ‘crime’ = 10 years
Lawton, Okla.–Patricia Marilyn Spottedcrow, a 25-year-old nursing home worker and mother of four children, from Kingfisher, Okla., was arrested for selling $31 worth of marijuana to a police informant in December of 2009 and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Editor’s note: Mark Clements spent 28 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. He was one of many tortured under former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge’s reign of terror. Clements is now Chairman of the Wrongful Convictions Committee of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. The following is excerpted from [=>]
THE OPPOSITE OF WAR IS NOT PEACE BUT REVOLUTION
Your Statement, War threat over Korea,” issued on your website on Dec. 9 had it just right! “The continuing threat of war on the Korean Peninsula underscores the urgency of the Marxist-Humanist perspective that the opposite of war is not peace but revolution.”
And you had it right [=>]
On Dec. 9, prisoners throughout Georgia began the largest prisoner strike in U.S. history. They refused to leave their cells for work or other activities, dubbed their strike a “Lockdown for Liberty,” and released a humanist statement of demands. These included: a living wage for work done; educational opportunities; humane health care; an end to [=>]
From the Nov.-Dec. 2010 issue of News & Letters:
Forum: Stop the culture of torture
Chicago–At the end of September the Illinois Coalition Against Torture gave venue to torture victims and their primary lawyer at “Jon Burge GUILTY–beyond the trial.” The event featured Mary L. Johnson, mother of a still-imprisoned torture victim; Flint Taylor, battling lawyer for [=>]