Filed under: Bloc Party, Editorials, Incarceration, Political Prisoners, US
Originally posted to It’s Going Down
The Alabama Prison Strike was brought to an end last week, when the ADOC used work-release prisoners to break the strike. Some prison rebels are still claiming a partial victory, as a new prison expansion bill has flopped as a result of riots and strikes in Alabama prisons in the last couple months. From Prison Legal News:
With the state’s prison system at around 192% of capacity, lawsuits pending over inadequate medical care and high levels of violence, and federal oversight due to pervasive staff-on-prisoner sexual abuse, Alabama has one of the nation’s most troubled Departments of Corrections. The state’s creation of the Task Force in early 2014 was a measure taken in an effort to avoid a federal court-appointed receiver or monitor over its prison system, as occurred in California.
PLN has been reporting for over two decades on deteriorating and abysmal conditions in Alabama’s correctional facilities. While prison systems in Southern states are typically at the forefront with respect to regressive policies and practices, the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) has been an outlier with its message of “incarceration means harsh and degrading punishment” – which may as well be its official motto.
Changes in criminal statutes resulted in the state’s prison population soaring 840% since 1977. In the 1990s Alabama began to adopt the “tough-on-crime” mindset of most politicians of that era, and in 1995 the state was the first to reintroduce chain gangs. Public criticism pushed the ADOC to drop the inhumane practice of chaining prisoners together on work squads shortly afterwards. [See: PLN, Sept. 2001, p.4].
The barbarity of Alabama’s prison system arguably reached its apex with the adoption of the “hitching post,” which was used to punish prisoners who refused to work or were disciplinary problems on work crews. In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court held the state’s use of the hitching post to chain prisoners outside in the sweltering summer heat without water or access to a bathroom constituted cruel and unusual punishment. [See: PLN, Nov. 2002, p.6; March 2002, p.10; June 2001, p.31].
There is more and more media buzz about prison rebellion. Democracy Now did a two part interview with Kinetik Justice, co-founder and organizer with the Free Alabama Movement. View Part 1 and Part 2 on their website.
The National Lawyer’s Guild has officially come out in support of the upcoming prison strike in September.
As part of our 2015 Resolution Supporting the Abolition of Prisons, the NLG is committed to working towards a world in which prisons are obsolete. This work includes supporting the rights and organizing of prisoners, including calls to support their strategies and demands.
While the legal support the NLG will provide will surely be an asset, we wonder what else this could mean moving forward for militant prisoner struggle. If more and more “legitimate” organizations start signing their names onto these struggles, how soon before they feel entitled to more control over them? For now, we are excited about the NLG, but its that “always skeptical but sometimes hopeful” anarchist sort of excitement.
For a good little breakdown of the “mainstreaming” of anti-prison and prison abolition discourse, we recommend Neal Shirley’s article, Abolition and Dystopia. Neal has been writing a monthly column over at Mask Magazine entitled Prisons Are For Burning, and we highly recommend you read it every month. Neal is far funnier than we are.
Also, speaking of Prison Legal News, check out their May issue here. A good resource for sending into prisons and jails.
As different states throughout the South are attempting to pass repressive anti-LGBTQ laws, and we are quickly approaching June 11th, Marius Mason has written a new poem:
I am in the middle of a shit storm without a scrap of toilet paper
Trans and token and barely tolerated in Texas,
Though way past school-age
The news these past few days like a Jerry Springer marathon on one topic
Unhinged angry-faced bullies, Rainbow hearts and brave allies
Accusations and absurdities fly around the room like spitballs
All about who can do what where in the bathrooms at school
We all gotta pee, it’s a commonality
In history, predictably, there’s always the backlash
Every tortured step forward in civil rights progression towards equality, humanity
Is met with tragedy
From battered Medgar Evers’ body
And Billie Holiday’s strange hangin’ fruit
To secret sailors flung overboard at sea and
Harvey Milk gunned down for being gay
How many years of little white signs on Bathrooms, drinking fountains, busses
Throughout the taciturn South
That said that to share this American life as equal citizens
Was to be contaminated
Those thugs worried about safety, too
They were protecting Southern womanhood by killing four little girls at church
What a load of crap, a tsunami of filth
A backed-up toilet of ignorance, no less dangerous
For its lack of common sense
But here’s the clincher
We all have skin in this game
No matter what color you are
We all gotta pee, it’s a commonality
and just like those wily old Nazis
Who knew to go for the edges, then cut to the middle
If they can make laws shaming and blaming and curtailing the rights
Of people like me, now
Then they can make a law stick to your sore spot, too
It’s all about power and precedent,
And really, we all gotta pee
That’s just human.
Another anarchist prisoner, Eric King, has also released another poem:
For some reason in my mind
thinking this would be just fine
Take a few years to relax & unwind
I’ve never eaten well enough to
fret on what’s not there
been ages since I’ve slept
sadness is a cliff top I sometimes think
and moods change as often as I blink
just like I miss the busses burning by
I long for every star burning holes in the sky
passion is fleeting like a tornado
existence is brief but impacts everywhere
that it goes
my memories a strobe light
bouncing back and forth to rhyme
thinking maybe I won’t fuck it up this time
my eyes have no reason to stay dry
they remember every good-bye
they burn with every good cry
thinking the door won’t close
This June 11th, please consider writing Marius, Eric, and other anarchist prisoners:
100 Highway Terrace
Leavenworth, KS 66048
Marie (Marius) Mason #04672-061
Federal Medical Center
P.O. Box 27137
Fort Worth, TX 76127
Speaking of Eric King, support t-shirts are back! His support team is also holding a fundraiser here. Regarding shirts:
To order a shirt, donate and then email us at erickingsupportcrew [at] riseup.net with your shirt size (XS, S, M, L, XL) and mailing address. You can also email us to get a mailing address for donations by check or money order. We will ship to the US, if you would like a shirt and are outside the US hit us up and we will see if we can make that happen.
Indigenous political prisoner Oso Blanco has a chance at an early release! His timeline for getting what he needs is short though, so definitely head over to his support page for more detailed info on how to help. For now he needs legal contacts and funds, so please consider donating!
…Oso Blanco must file his appeal by June 25, 2016! As you may have heard, the “residual clause” of the armed career criminal act (ACCA) was declared “unconstitutionally vague” by the u.s. supreme court in Johnson v. u.s. Just last month, in April 2016, this ruling was declared “retroactive”, meaning that in can apply to old cases like that of Oso Blanco. However the deadline for appeals based on the Johnson decision is approaching.
What this means for Oso Blanco and his outside family and community is that he has a chance to reduce his sentence and he has just under two months to do it. Meanwhile, he has very limited funds and USP Hazelton is basically holding him incognito pending transfer, with few letters getting in or out, despite all of our emailing in protest.
Animal liberation prisoner Joseph Buddenberg could use some love now. Write to him at:
We also want to encourage people to check out Mumia Abu-Jamal’s recent transmission, which have taken some righteous shots at Obama, Trump, memorialized Afeni Shakur, and the election in general. Be sure to check it out!
Lastly, we will end with encouraging all you bad kids out there to consider putting something together for the days of action against solitary confinement, May 20th-23rd. There is a rundown of scheduled events across the country, available at the Together to End Solitary website. Get moving this weekend friends, good luck, give ’em hell!
– your fellow career bad kids