Filed under: Incarceration, Publication, US, White Supremacy
The newsletter you are reading is a project of the Prison Solidarity Working Group here at the Flyover Infoshop Collective. We are people working to abolish this societies’ system of Mass Incarceration. We encourage letters from inmates and try to answer all of the. We try to offer encouragement, support and whatever practical help we can give. My main contribution is trying to answer some of these letters. Some of my letters are answered and the response is almost always positive. It really seems to make a difference, a bigger difference than I would have though possible. One inmate said: “getting a letter in here is like winning the lottery.” This sort of gives me an idea of how bad it must be in there. Somehow we need to work together to give that same idea to the public at large. So much unjust and unnecessary suffering, so much misery serving no purpose other than that of maintain a corrupt system––both inside and outside. I often ask myself if there is an inside and an outside anymore, but of one thing I am certain: our society cannot endure in the shadow of mass incarceration. The question I continually ask myself: “what sort of society is it that cages and brutalizes millions of its “citizens?”
It is important, I believe, for inmates to begin looking for ways to become more visible, more vocal–– to become a “fact” that people have to recognize. If nothing else, it’s way to begin. You have to make a start somewhere. PSWG is trying to facilitate this by starting a newsletter for women prisoners. This would be a way to communicate with the outside and to establish links between inmates––a way to be heard and a way to begin organizing. We hope to get contributions of all kinds from women prisoners so they can become an active part of this process.
I really can’t imagine what your life is like on the inside. I know it must be horrible–– in the strictest sense of the term––much of the time. I also know that many prisoners fight against the injustice done to them (and others), always in the name of justice, and still manage to maintain their dignity and do not lose their desire to help others. They do this in spite of the forces that would dehumanize and immiserate them.
These are the same forces we all face in this society to varying degrees. We live in a culture of incarceration and the prison is everywhere. I realize it’s probably very difficult to develop any sort of organized resistance from behind prison walls. I really don’t know how you’d go about it. I’ve only been in the count jail for one day in my entire life. Besides that, all I know about prison is from TV, the movies, etc.––so I really don’t know anything. Many people share my ignorance and it might be helpful for prisoners to get their experiences of prison “life” out into the open. There is starting to be “conversation” about mass incarceration and I strongly believe that inmates themselves need to become a very real part of that conversation. Becoming visible, finding way to organize, ways to join together for mutual aid and whatever united resistance you can manage, and learning to carry on the fight alone when this becomes necessary––in short, creating solidarity and developing strategies. These are merely a few suggestions, possible ways to begin the struggle. Are they helpful, viable, realistic? Only inmates themselves are in a position to answer these questions