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Breaking: New Evidence of Neglect and Abuse in the Death of NC Prisoner Michael Kerr

April 16, 2014


michael_kerr_webThe following letter was part of a correspondence between a regular anarchist prison news bulletin and a prisoner who was eye (and ear) witness to the events leading up to the death of Michael Kerr. The prisoner’s name has been redacted to protect them from backlash from the administration. Kerr died in (perhaps, up to now) mysterious circumstances en route between Alexander CI and Central Prison. The NC DPS, after initially saying there would be no investigation, has now said there will be. A scanned image of the letter can be seen below.

This is XXXX XXXXXXX, and I am being housed at Alexander CI [in

Taylorsville, NC]. I’m writing about the oppression, racism, and injustices that are going on here at Alexander. You’ve got officers and sergeants that will go out of their way to harass you or misuse their authority, that will instigate or provoke inmates to get them on the segregated unit where they will jump you. If you write the superintendent he will do nothing about the injustices that are going on here.

I have also written prison legal services (NCPLS) about a murder I witnessed. I hope you can let somebody know what happened to this mental health inmate, Michael Kerr. Read more…

New “Prisons Are For Burning” T-Shirts!

April 15, 2014

prisonsareforburning!The Mysterious Rabbit Puppet Army reprinted shirts from their hit show What Are Prisons For?  and donated them to us to help raise funds. The shirts come in red with black writing. They’re printed on Tultex brand shirts that are 100% sweatshop free. They are $20 , but sign up to become a Prison Books Sustainer and get one for free.

Every single dollar received goes to mailing packages of books to prisoners. We rely solely on donations for our operating expenses, which primarily include the cost of postage for mailing packages.

We are currently spending over $200 a week on postage alone, and are in desperate need of support.

To order the shirts donate twenty dollars or more OR sign up to be a sustainer, then email us at  prisonbooks (at) gmail dot com with your size and the address where you would like the shirt sent to.

Until Every Cage Is Empty,

The Internationalist Prison Books Collective

Inmates to strike in Alabama, declare prison is “running a slave empire”

April 18, 2014
Melvin Ray

Melvin Ray

Breaking: Reached in his cell, Free Alabama Movement leader tells Salon inmates will refuse work to end free labor

From Salon

Inmates at an Alabama prison plan to stage a work stoppage this weekend and hope to spur an escalating strike wave, a leader of the effort told Salon in a Thursday phone call from his jail cell.

“We decided that the only weapon or strategy … that we have is our labor, because that’s the only reason that we’re here,” said Melvin Ray, an inmate at the St. Clair correctional facility and founder of the prison-based group Free Alabama Movement. “They’re incarcerating people for the free labor.” Spokespeople for Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and his Department of Corrections did not respond to midday inquiries Thursday. Jobs done by inmates include kitchen and laundry work, chemical and license plate production, and furniture-making. In 2011, Alabama’s Department of Agriculture reportedly discussed using inmates to replace immigrants for agricultural work; in 2012, the state Senate passed a bill to let private businesses employ prison labor.

Inmates at St. Clair and two other prisons, Holman and Elmore, previously refused to work for several days in January. A Department of Corrections spokesperson told the Associated Press at the time that those protests were peaceful, and told AL.com that some of the inmates’ demands were outside the authority of the department to address. The state told the AP that a handful of inmates refused work, and others were prevented from working by safety or weather issues. In contrast, Ray told Salon the January effort drew the participation of all of St. Clair’s roughly 1,300 inmates and nearly all of Holman’s roughly 1,100. He predicted this weekend’s work stoppage would spread further and grow larger than that one, but also accused prison officials of hampering F.A.M.’s organizing by wielding threats and sending him and other leaders to solitary confinement. “It’s a hellhole,” he told Salon. “That’s what they created these things for: to destroy men.”

To grow the movement, said Ray, “We have to get them to understand: You’re not giving up anything. You don’t have anything. And you’re going to gain your freedom right here.” Read more…

Ben Turk on the silencing of Sean Swain, anarchist prisoner in Ohio

April 15, 2014

seanswainFrom The Final Straw

Streaming at AshevilleFM on Monday, 04/14/2014 for a week, then podcasting later at radio4all.net and airing on KOWA-LPFMin Olympia, WA, KWTF in Bodega Bay, CA, and KXCF in Marshall, CA.

On April 6th of 2014, anarchist prisoner Sean Swain, who’s been kind enough to allow us to present his audio commentaries (available at http://www.seanswain.org) had his access to phone calls and email shut down by JPay corporation (which facilitates financial transactions between prisoners and their families and other corporations while skimming profit and also saving and mining the private user data) alongside of Global Tel* Link. This comes just after Sean was able to engage a new lawyer, Richard Kerger, who’s done work on the Lucasville Uprising death row prisoners.

This episode, we speak to Ben Turk, a supporter of Sean’s about new updates in Sean’s case, his silencing and how folks can help pressure the state to give Sean back his access to phones and email.

Prior to that interview, however, a special guest reads a script from Sean for this week’s “You Are The Resistance”. Take a listen, or find it later at archive.org as youaretheresistance04132014 alongside the past segments for download or streaming. Read more…

This Wednesday, April 16th: Political Prisoner Letter Writing Night!

April 14, 2014

prisonersolidarityheartsThe Internationalist Prison Books Collective brings you this month’s Political Prisoner Letter Writing Night!

Wednesday, April 16th, 7:00pm

Write letters and birthday cards to political prisoners whose birthdays fall during the month of April.

Bring snacks and money to help with postage!

Letter writing is an easy way to let these people know they aren’t forgotten. If you can’t make it to the letter writing night then please send a birthday card from home.

Recently freed political prisoner Eddie Conway, when asked by Amy Goodman what gave him hope for the 44 years he was in prison, said:

“Well, I appreciate you asking me that, because I want to take this opportunity to thank the tens of thousands of people that have supported me over the years and that have sent letters, postcards, marched, rallied, organized across America, around the world. Those letters, postcards, rallies, marches, organizing, etc., gave me hope, gave me encourage, gave me energy, and kept my spirit high. And it made me know that I was loved. And that same love needs to go out to the other political prisoners that remain locked up today for almost 40 years, most of them. And one of them is a little over 44 years. They need to have that same kind of support, that same kind of encouragement and that same kind of work to help get them free, because I think when you know that people work and love you, then you can do work yourself. And I think those are what political prisoners are doing, work in their particular areas, and they need to be encouraged to do that by people coming out and giving them that kind of support that I got.”

Transgender Teen Sent to Connecticut Adult Prison

April 11, 2014
Manson Youth Institution is a high security prison for young male offenders.

Manson Youth Institution is a high security prison for young male offenders.

From WNPR News

For the first time in state prison history, a transgender juvenile is being detained at an adult prison.

The juvenile was sent to York Correctional Institution in Niantic on Tuesday after a judge transferred custody of the teen from the state Department of Children and Families.

DCF wouldn’t talk about the decision. Instead it issued a statement saying a state law allows the transfer of juvenile delinquents in DCF custody to Corrections when they can’t be safely held by the state child welfare agency.

Advocates for the 16-year-old said she’s not dangerous, and that a prison setting is not in her best interests, especially when DCF just opened a locked unit for girls in Middletown.

Sarah Eagan, the state Child Advocate, said, “This is a youth that has not been convicted of an adult crime in an adult court that is now being placed in an adult correctional facility. This is a tremendously unusual and concerning action by the state against a 16-year-old.” Read more…

Shocking police overreach haunts Durham: Racial profiling, quotas and secret “conviction bonuses”

April 11, 2014

handcuffed-620x412How a federal grant incentivized a police department to go nuts on drug arrests — and terrorize its community

From Salon

In the late afternoon of Jan. 3, Robin Dean, a 50-year-old county employee, pulled into a Durham, N.C., Burger King parking lot to give a friend a package of frozen chitlins that she had cooked over the holidays. After the transfer was complete, the pair said goodbye and parted ways. Both were subsequently pulled over by Durham Police.

Dean says an officer told her that there was evidence that she had just engaged in an illegal drug transaction, searched her car without her consent, and called for backup. When Dean worried aloud that she had been racially profiled, she says the white officer called her an “idiot,” although the nearly hour-long stop revealed nothing illegal apart from a window-tinting violation that was later dismissed.

In recent years, stories like this have come to epitomize heightened concerns that, as Durham becomes a regional center for sophisticated culture and cuisine, the drug enforcement strategies of its police increasingly assign second-class status to the city’s minority communities. Over the past several months, protesters alleging police misconduct have pummeled the city’s police headquarters with rocks and met tear gas along the usually amiable streets of this city of 240,000.

In seeking to understand the roots of the city’s divisive policing, lawyers at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice were astonished by what a recent round of public records requests produced. Not only was a federal grant subsidizing what they regarded as the most perniciously targeted drug enforcement operations of the department, but the grant — with a key “performance measure” emphasizing police report their sheer volume of arrests — also appeared to be incentivizing the department to raise its overall number of drug arrests, which overwhelmingly affect the city’s black community. SCSJ attorneys add that recently revealed evidence also indicates that the federally funded program included an illegal system of secret payments law enforcement made to witnesses who delivered successful drug prosecutions — another sign, they say, that the city’s policing has flown off the rails. Read more…

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