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The power of language

Note: The headline in the original story uses the very term that the Office of Justice Programs has stopped using. We have re-written the headline below.

Justice Dept. agency to alter its terminology for formerly incarcerated people.

Source: Washington Post

May 4, 2016

The Justice Department is taking a number of steps to reintegrate those released from prisons and jails into society, most notably during the recent National Reentry Week, such as asking states to provide identification to convicts who have served their sentences and creating a council to remove barriers to their assimilation into every day life. Here, Assistant Attorney General Karol Mason, who has headed the Office of Justice Programs since 2013, announces in a guest post that her agency will no longer use words such as “felon” or “convict” to refer to released prisoners.

By Karol Mason

During National Reentry Week last week, federal prisons and prosecutors’ offices and local organizations held job fairs, community town hall meetings, special mentoring sessions, and outreach events aimed at raising public awareness of the obstacles facing those who leave our prisons, jails, and juvenile justice facilities each year.  The American Bar Association has documented more than 46,000 collateral consequences of criminal convictions, penalties such as disenfranchisement and employment prohibitions that follow individuals long after their release.  These legal and regulatory barriers are formidable, but many of the formerly incarcerated men, women, and young people I talk with say that no punishment is harsher than being permanently branded a “felon” or “offender.”

This new policy statement replaces unnecessarily disparaging labels with terms like “person who committed a crime” and “individual who was incarcerated,” decoupling past actions from the person being described and anticipating the contributions we expect them to make when they return.  We will be using the new terminology in speeches, solicitations, website content, and social media posts, and I am hopeful that other agencies and organizations will consider doing the same.

Full article on Washington Post.

Re-Entry in Alabama

In this article from Alabama Public Radio, the author talks about how hard it is for people leaving Alabama prisons, and efforts to assist them with re-entry. It mentions several of the prisons we receive requests from. We need to recognize that most of the people currently in prison will be getting released. What are we as society and individuals doing to help them integrate back into society and life on the outside? Ban the box is certainly a good start. But so much more needs to be done!

A note about language in this piece: this article refers to people as ex-convicts. This is dehumanizing language that identifies someone by something they have done, rather than by who they are as a human. In fact, the U.S. Office of Justice Programs committed to ending their use of that term earlier this year. So read this article just for the mentions of some of the places we serve in Alabama.

Prison Reform: “Re-entering Society”

 

For many prisoners at the Limestone Correctional Facility, the heavy bang of a steel gate is the first thing they hear when they enter the Alabama prison system. It’s also the last thing when they come out.

 “They give you a bus ticket and a check for ten dollars and they say “Have a nice life.”

That’s Brenda Lee Kennedy. She was incarcerated in the Montgomery Work Release Center for nearly five and half years before being released in November of last year.

Why should Alabama care? [Joyce White Vance, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama] says because a lot of Alabamians have done jail time…

 “The numbers that come out of the Alabama Department of Corrections say that one in four adults in Alabama has had either a felony or misdemeanor conviction.”

That’s a lot of job application forms with the little check box that asks if you’ve been convicted. Many businesses shy away from hiring people who check that box with a  yes…

Joyce Vance’s office is unusual because it’s the first in the nation to hire an attorney specifically to get inmates back into the work force when they get out of prison. The private sector is trying to help too.

Read the full article on the Alabama Public Radio website, or listen to the audio.

A Message from Eric G. King to His Supporters & Information on His Recent Transfer


PLEASE CLICK HERE TO WATCH ERIC’S VIDEO STATEMENT

On Friday morning Eric boarded a plane, leaving C.C.A. Leavenworth behind for good. He was transferred to the Grady County Jail in Chickasha, Oklahoma, which is the facility the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) uses to house prisoners during transfer when the Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City is full.

He will stay at the jail while the BOP prepares to transfer him to his designated facility. Prisoners typically stay at these transitional facilities for 1-4 weeks or even longer before being transferred, but we don’t know how long he will actually be there or where his designated facility will be.

As of right now, Eric is not receiving vegan food. Hopefully this will change quickly. We will be monitoring the situation and will ask for help putting pressure on the jail if his dietary needs are not met.

Please take a moment to send Eric a card or a letter of encouragement and solidarity during this stressful moment. Please note that his number has temporarily changed while he’s in this county jail, but he will get his old number back when he’s transferred to a federal facility. For now, please write to him at:

Eric King #114522306
Grady County Jail
215 N. 3rd St.
Chickasha, OK 73018

Also, Eric now has email access. If you would like to communicate with Eric via email while he is in Grady County, go to Smart Jail Mail, make an account, select “Grady County, Oklahoma” and enter Eric’s name. The system will send a “request” to Eric to confirm that he wants to get emails from you. It costs $0.50 per email. You add credit to your account via credit card and you pay for both the emails you send to Eric as well as the ones he sends back to you.

Over 130 Organizations Challenge EPA to Consider Prisoners in Environmental Justice Action Plan

For immediate release: July 29, 2016

EPA Must Consider Prisoners in EJ Action Plan

From our comrades at the Prison Ecology Project. We are one of the signatories to the letter to the EPA.

The full letter to the EPA.

from PrisonEcology.org

The Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) submitted a public comment to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday that provides input on the agency’s final draft of the EJ 2020 Action Agenda, highlighting the lack of consideration for environmental justice among the millions of prisoners in the United States. The comment was co-signed by 138 social justice, environmental and prisoners’ rights organizations from across the country.

Last year, HRDC submitted a 10-page comment signed by 93 organizations during the comment period for outlining the initial “framework” for EJ 2020, and later joined with the Sierra Club to generate over 12,000 emails of support for their position. Despite this advocacy, the EPA failed to include any mention of prisoners in the EJ 2020 final draft.

As a result, HRDC has further built on its efforts to make this a priority for the EPA by adding new heavy-hitting national organizations such as Greenpeace and the Natural Resources Defense Council, as well as prominent individuals including Sylvia Hood Washington, editor-in-chief of the Environmental Justice Journal, and Dr. Robert Bullard, considered to be the “Father of Environmental Justice.”

HRDC’s updated comment elaborates on problems nationwide which illustrate a clear need to protect prisoners as a population that faces extreme environmental justice impacts. For example, prisons and jails built on or near landfills, toxic waste dumps, Superfund cleanup sites and coal mining sites, or that are vulnerable to natural disasters such as flooding and environmental hazards like contaminated water. Additions made in the updated comment include references to the recent Flint water crisis, a federal judge’s ruling condemning arsenic in Texas prison water, and impacts of Valley Fever on Hawaiian prisoners in Arizona, indicating that this is an ongoing issue.

The updated comment filed with the EPA can be found online here.

“It’s encouraging to see the EPA attempting to increase the effectiveness of protecting vulnerable communities that have been overburdened by industrial pollution, but a significant component is missing when impacts on millions of prisoners and their families are ignored,” said Panagioti Tsolkas, coordinator of HRDC’s Prison Ecology Project.

According to the comment submitted by HRDC, there is overwhelming evidence that the population of people in prison represents one of the most vulnerable and uniquely-overburdened demographics in our nation. The comment notes that prison populations are almost entirely low-income and that black, Hispanic/Latino and Native Americans areconsistently overrepresented in all 50 states.

Environmental permits that fail to meet the environmental justice standards set in place 20 years ago under Executive Order 12898 may violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VI of the Act explicitly prohibits discrimination by government agencies that receive federal funds; if an agency is found in violation of Title VI, it may lose its federal funding. The prison sector should not be an exception.

“Those unfamiliar with the conditions in America’s prisons may balk at our allegations but the EPA cannot claim to be among the uninformed,” Tsolkas stated.

On February 5, 2015, Tsolkas conducted an interview with an EPA representative from Region III who explicitly stated that environmental justice guidelines have not been applied to prisoners for the purpose of reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act, because the EPA uses data that fails to take prisoner populations into account.

EPA Region III, which encompasses the Mid-Atlantic, conducted an initiative in which numerous prison inspections by the agency resulted in enforcement actions between 1999 and 2011, ranging from issues involving the disposal of hazardous waste to violations of air and water standards, primarily due to prison overcrowding. The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General has also cited various violations of health, safety and environmental laws, regulations and Bureau of Prisons policies related to industrial operations within federal prisons.

Yet the EPA has never cited the health and safety of prisoners exposed to such environmental conditions as a factor in prison inspections or in the permitting of new facilities. It has also failed to note the blatant discrimination that is inherent in toxic prison conditions, despite the fact that Title VI provides a mandate for addressing such discrimination which other agencies have recognized.

As Dr. Robert Bullard, a signatory to HRDC’s comment, stated in a recent listening session directed at the EPA, “It is incredible that in 45 years, EPA never met a case of environmental discrimination—not even in the southern region of the country … in a region that was notorious for practicing discrimination under ’Jim Crow’ segregation[.]”

HRDC executive director Paul Wright observed, “Ironically, prisoners are frequently counted for the purpose of gerrymandering voting districts. So why are we missing the mark in terms of environmental protections for those forced to live inside toxic prisons, such as facilities built on coal mining sites or waste dumps?”

A map showing various examples of prison-related environmental issues, created through collaboration between the Prison Ecology Project and Humboldt State University, can be found online here.

 


About HRDC:  The Human Rights Defense Center, founded in 1990, is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting human rights in U.S. detention facilities. HRDC publishes Prison Legal News (PLN), a monthly magazine that includes reports, reviews and analysis of court rulings and news related to prisoners’ rights and criminal justice issues, and operates the website www.prisonlegalnews.org

Update from Alabama: 3-Part Plan of Action

Full article

Re-posted on

Free Alabama Movement is planning activities around our Three-Point Plan of Action for the remainder of 2016. We will be promoting this plan in conjunction with preparations for the September 9 Attica Anniversary Protest events around the country.

The three points derive from some of the main issues that are contributing factors to mass incarceration and the Industrialized Prison Complex that promotes neo-slavery in America. In Alabama, we are seeking action on these three issues:

1) Excessive overcrowding and the need for an immediate mass release. Alabama’s prison population must be reduced down to design capacity ;

2) Revisions and fundamental changes to Alabama’s habitual felony offender act;

3) Establishing “automatic” or mandatory parole criteria that will remove discretion from the parole board in parole decisions for  qualified individuals.

20160612213929-FreeAlabama-Sept9

It is essential to the effective  implementation of these objectives that we step up our organizing and activism, esp. around the State of Alabama. This will include participation in the FREEDOM TOUR 2016 protests that are being scheduled and lead by Mothers And F.A.M.ilies, Inc., as well as the event being scheduled in Dothan, Alabama on August 27, 2016, by The Ordinary People Society.

The FREEDOM TOUR 2016 will be conducting protests statewide and conducting at least one demonstration at EVERY prison in the state of Alabama, to organize and then mobilize families and to bring awareness to the problems plaguing the Alabama prison system and the solution to these problems.

Join us today in this struggle for freedom and justice mobilize Alabama and join the National Freedom Movement to End Mass Incarceration and Prison Slavery.

Settlement Reached in Shoatz vs. Wetzel

http://www.russellmaroonshoatz.com/

July 11, 2016: Pittsburgh PA —A settlement has been reached in the case of Shoatz v. Wetzel, which challenged the 22-year solitary confinement of Abolitionist Law Center client and political prisoner Russell Maroon Shoatz. This brings an end to litigation begun in 2013. In February 2014, following an international campaign on behalf of Shoatz, he was released from solitary confinement.

In exchange for Shoatz ending the lawsuit the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) has agreed that it will not place Shoatz back in solitary confinement based on his prior disciplinary record or activities; Shoatz will have a single-cell status for life, meaning he will not have to experience the extreme hardship of being forced to share a cell following decades of enforced isolation; a full mental health evaluation will be provided; and the DOC has paid a monetary settlement.

Russell Maroon Shoatz had the following to say about the settlement: “I have nothing but praise for all of those who supported me and my family for all of the years I was in Solitary Confinement, as well as helped to effect my release. Since joining the struggle for Human Rights in the mid 1960s, I have always chosen to fight! Frederick Douglass was right when he said ‘Power concedes nothing without a demand.’ So have no doubt that I see this Settlement as anything but the latest blow struck, and you rest assured that I will continue in the struggle for Human Rights. Straight Ahead!”

The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan E. Mendez, said: “This settlement is a major contribution to the quest to outlaw prolonged solitary confinement in the US and around the world. I congratulate Mr. Shoatz and his family for not giving up and his team of lawyers for a committed and highly professional approach to justice.”
Shoatz had been held in solitary confinement in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PADOC) since 1983. For 19 months between 1989 and 1991 he was held in the general population of the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth. Upon return to the PADOC in 1991 he was immediately placed back in solitary confinement and held there until February 20, 2014, when he was released to the general population at State Correctional Institution Graterford, 10 months after he filed suit in Shoatz v. Wetzel.

The case challenged the more than 22 consecutive years that Shoatz spent in conditions of solitary confinement as cruel and unusual punishment due to the severe deprivations of basic human needs imposed on Shoatz, including mental health, environmental stimulation, social interaction, sleep, physical health, and exercise. Shoatz also challenged violations of his procedural and substantive due process rights.

As noted by Judge Eddy in her February 2016 decision ordering a trial in the case, plaintiff’s expert, psychiatrist Dr. James Gilligan, stated in his report in the case that Shoatz has spent “virtually his entire adult life in complete and coerced social isolation (and sensory deprivation) – which is among the most abnormal and pathogenic environments in which it is possible to place a human being.”

The decision also quoted United Nations Special Rapporteur Juan Mendez, who was another expert for the plaintiff:
“The conditions of detention of Mr. Russell Shoatz, in particular his indefinite solitary confinement eventually lasting 29 years, constituted cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment under customary international law standards. . . . [E]ven if isolation of inmates is not per se contrary to those practices, indefinite or excessively prolonged regimes of solitary confinement like the one suffered by Mr. Shoatz certainly do. In addition to the excessive duration and indefinite nature, his isolation contradicts the trend of all civilized Nations in that it was imposed on the basis of status determinations unrelated to any conduct in his part, and through a meaningless procedure that did not afford him a serious chance to challenge the outcome.”

Shoatz was released from solitary confinement after an international campaign led by his family and supporters. The campaign to release Shoatz included the support of five Nobel Peace Prize Laureates: Jose Ramos-Horta of East Timor, Mairead Corrigan Maguire of Northern Ireland, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, Jody Williams from the United States, and Adolfo Perez Esquivel of Argentina. Several U.S. civil and human rights organizations also endorsed his release from isolation.

In March 2013, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment and Punishment, Juan Mendez, called on the government “to cease the prolonged isolation of Mr. Shoat[z].” (see Democracy Now! interview with Juan Mendez and Matt Meyer discussing Maroon at this link).
Shoatz was represented in this case by Bret Grote and Dustin McDaniel of the Abolitionist Law Center; Harold J. Engel; and Reed Smith attorneys Rick Etter and Stefanie L. Burt.

Contact:
Russell Shoatz III rshoatz@gmail.com 347-697-5390
Theresa Shoatz tiye1120@gmail.com 267-456-7882
Bret Grote bretgrote@abolitionistlawcenter.org 412-654-9070

Ala. D.O.C. Devises Violent Plan to Secure Funding For New Prisons: Hunger Strike Under Way at Donaldson, CF

Posted on June 18, 2016 by FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT

Commissioner Jeff Dunn and the ADOC have resorted to state-sanctioned violence in efforts to contain the Movement for Human and Civil Rights that is being led by the men incarcerated in Alabama prisons.

In response to the violence that was provoked at Holman prison on March 11, 2016, by former warden Carter Davenport that lead to his forced resignation after he was also stabbed, the ADOC transferred five (5) men ( Antonio Spencer, Amir Davis, Kevin Eldridge, and two others ) from Holman prison in Atmore, Alabama to Donaldson CF in Bessemer, Al. Donaldson CF serves as the headquarters for the CERT Team for ADOC.

Upon entry to the back-gate receiving area at Donaldson CF, one by one, all five of these men were taken into a secluded area and then brutally beaten while handcuffed. These assaults was lead by Officer Gunn, while several supervisors and other officers either stood by and watched or participated in the assault. At least two of the assault victims, Amir Davis and Kevin Eldridge, reported that during the beatings they were stomped in their testicles and told that this was being done so they wouldn’t ever have children. All of these assaults have been verified through medical files, statements, and eyewitness accounts. Several officers were suspended and/or remain under investigation, yet not a single officer has been fired or charged with any crime.

“DONALDSON RESORTS “HOT BAY” SO-CALLED BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION DORMS TO IMPOSE PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL OPPRESSION “

Beginning on Friday, June 10, 2016, Donaldson CF started psychological oppression and provocation tactics by implementing a “hot bay” behavior modification dorm. Commissioner Dunn started their lateest “hot bay” by transferring men from St. Clair CF at the beginning of Summer. All of these men were taken from general population at St. Clair prison and then placed into this program without any form of due process. No paperwork was served explaining why they were being placed in the dorm or how long they would be there. All of their personal property was taken away, including legal work, canteen supplies, and personal mail, etc.

Additionally, they are behind denied access to visitation, religious services, recreation, and social services. In fact, some of these men have disciplinary free files for several years, yet they are being forcibly placed in this restrictive dorm. Several of the men who arrived from St. Clair report being assaulted handcuffed. Many of these men had received incentive packages while at St. Clair, only to arrive at Donaldson prison where it was then all taken away from them without explanation.

“HOT BAY” OCCUPANTS ORGANIZE HUNGER STRIKES TO PROTEST DUE PROCESS DEPRAVATIONS AND INHUMAN TREATMENT

On Thursday, June 16, 2016, all of the residents assigned to X dorm launch hunger strike to protest conditions. The hunger strike is in response to the Civil and Human rights violations, DEPRAVATIONS, inhumane conditions that include 24 hour lockdown in scorching hot two-man cells, a denial of basic hygiene and cleaning supplies, and the continued police assaults that kept taking place upon new arrivals from St. Clair.

One officer,(Godson) has assaulted atleast three people who were transferred to Donaldson from St. Clair or Holman prison, Zach Wilson, XaBrian, Jeremy Taylor, and during these incidents several witnesses heard the officer making statements like, ” You are with that Free Alabama Movement. Fuck Free Alabama Movement.”

FOR THE FULL ARTICLE, check out this post on the Free Alabama Movement’s website.

We have a new home!

We planned to have a big fancy blog post announcing our move and new home, but realized we should probably at least let everyone know that we are not homeless! We are now renting a room from the non-profit Recyclique in Durham. Our new space is *much* smaller than our old space, so we had to move some of our books into storage, and don’t have much room for more book donations. But we can always use money to pay for postage, and volunteers to help us put together packages of books so we can mail them to prisoners.

Please help!!
DONATE: We now have to pay for monthly rent ($300), in addition to postage costs of $250-$300 per month. To donate, go to our PayPal. Or you can mail a check to our PO Box (made out to “Prison Books Collective”):
PO Box 625
Carrboro, NC 27510

VOLUNTEER: To volunteer, come by our workdays on Sundays, 1-4 pm at our new space: 2811 Hillsborough Road, Durham, NC. Parking is out back, or next door in the Food Lion parking lot. We’re also open to having an extra workday during the week, if you can’t make it on Sunday, or if you’re part of a group that would like to volunteer. Email us to ask about ad hoc workdays. prisonbooks@gmail.com

Stay tuned for a more detailed blog post, and maybe even some photos!

Forget hunger strikes. What prisons fear more? Labor strikes.

Via PRI and Yes! Magazine.

June 08, 2016 · 8:00 AM EDT
By Raven Rakia

On May 1, prison labor came to a halt in multiple prisons in Alabama. Starting at midnight that day, prisoners stayed in their dormitories — refusing to show up for work at their assigned posts: the kitchen, the license plate manufacturing plant, the recycling plant, the food processing center and a prison farm.

The prisoners’ demands were pretty simple: basic human rights, educational opportunities and a reform of Alabama’s harsh sentencing guidelines and parole board.

The strike in Alabama was just the latest in a series of strikes at US prisons. On April 4, at least seven prisons in Texas staged a work strike after a prisoner sent out a call with the help of outside organizers. About a month earlier, prisoners in states such as Texas, Alabama, Virginia and Ohio called for a national general strike among prisoners on Sept. 9. That’s the 45th anniversary of the Attica Rebellion, where guards and inmates died during a prison revolt in upstate New York.

The labor strikes are a turn from the most familiar type of political protest behind bars: the hunger strike.

While hunger strikes pull at the moral heartstrings of the public, work stoppages threaten the economic infrastructure of the prison system itself.

The strike in Alabama was organized by the Free Alabama Movement, a nonviolent grassroots organizing group created by prisoners that focuses on the human rights of Alabama’s imprisoned. Not only does Alabama have one of the highest incarceration rates in the United States, but it also has one of the most overcrowded prison systems. The system’s current population sits at about 80 percent over capacity. With nearly double the inmates that the prisons were designed to hold, the packed prisons produce violence, unsanitary conditions and medical neglect.

“We view prison labor as real slavery … [in] 1865 when the 13th Amendment was ratified … they started the first wave of mass incarcerating black people,” said Melvin Ray, co-founder of the Free Alabama Movement. In the years after slavery, a formal prison system formed in the South. Some plantations were bought by the state and turned into prisons. “They use [these prisons] as a tool of control. They target African-American communities. They target politically conscious people, politically conscious organizations. And they use these prisons as a form of social control in addition to a plantation [that’s] generating revenue.”

In 2014, when Ray, along with Robert Council, founded the Free Alabama Movement, they organized a work stoppage at the Holman and St. Clair prisons. The strike at Holman prison, where Council was incarcerated, lasted from Jan. 1 to 22. Immediately afterward, both men were thrown into solitary confinement. Ray stayed there for more than a year and was just recently released to general population. Council remains in solitary confinement to this day.

Prison officials list a number of reasons for Council’s segregation, including that he allegedly administered the Free Alabama Movement Facebook group, and he was a leading and significant factor in the work strike.

In the past, hunger strikes have targeted solitary confinement. The well-known hunger strike in 2013, where tens of thousands of prisoners across California refused to eat for 60 days, protested the state’s use of indefinite solitary confinement. It was coupled with other political organizing, including lawsuits and another smaller hunger strike in 2011. Two years after what was called the largest hunger strike in US history, California agreed to limit its use of solitary confinement.

From Robben Island to Guantanamo to San Quentin, the hunger strike and the penitentiary seem attached to each other. Yet the organizers of the Free Alabama Movement have intentionally moved away from the practice.

In an essay titled “Let The Crops Rot in the Fields,” Ray and Council laid out a plan for tackling mass incarceration. The essay argues that the old ways of protesting in prisons—including hunger strikes and letter-writing campaigns — are not sufficient. Instead, organizers should attack the economic incentive of prisons. The answer, then, is to stop working—and remove the corporate profit from the prison industrial complex. The title was a reference to work strikes conducted by people who were enslaved in the South.

Members of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, the prison-organizing group of the Industrial Workers of the World labor union, started sending copies of “Let The Crops Rot in the Fields” to prisoners in other states. The labor union, apparently the only current union that welcomes prisoners, has about 800 members behind bars across the country. The essay has inspired prisoners in Virginia, Ohio, and Mississippi to organize to participate in the National Day of Strike in September 2016 and, for Texas, to have organized a work strike of their own in April.

Ray and Council haven’t always held these views. “Over the years we’ve tried a few other different things. We’ve tried letter-writing campaigns. We’ve tried marching, protesting, filing complaints in the court. We’ve tried basically all of the avenues that can be used that are made available to people who are incarcerated,” Council said.

In 2007, the entire population at Holman prison, including Council, participated in a hunger strike. The prison was in a deplorable state — backed-up sewage issues, mold on the walls, collapsed and rusted pipes. The prisoners demanded that internal affairs and reporters be allowed inside the prison to document the conditions.

Ray and Council met in prison when they were both jailhouse lawyers, assisting other prisoners with filing lawsuits and complaints about the issues in the prison while also writing their own. As their incarceration continued and their lawsuits and grievances against the prisons went nowhere, Council, Ray, and other prisoners began to have a change of heart on how to bring about change.

“We were begging [officials] to please follow the rules. Please have mercy on me. We’re asking some people to have mercy that just don’t have any mercy,” Council explained. “That revelation brought us to the fact that you can’t appeal to the moral [part] of a system that doesn’t have morals.”

The sentiment echoes the thoughts of the late Stokely Carmichael, a civil rights leader and organizer with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which led the civil rights movement among youth in the South.

“In order for nonviolence to work, your opponents must have a conscience,” he said in 1967, two years after the assassination of Malcolm X and a year before Martin Luther King Jr. was killed. “The United States has none.”

Alex Friedmann, the managing editor of Prison Legal News, a publication of the Human Rights Defense Center, said in an email that prisons would “grind to a halt” without the use of prison labor. “The work strikes in the Alabama and Texas prison systems are a natural and predictable result of treating prisoners as slaves and often benefiting — and often profiting — from their labor. If prison officials treat prisoners as slaves, then they should not be surprised when there are occasional slave revolts,” Friedmann said.

For the rest of the article, please check out Yes! Magazine!

Industrial Workers of the World Endorses the Nationally Coordinated Prisoner Work Stoppage on September 9th, 2016

from the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee
General Strike Kitties

WHEREAS the Free Alabama Movement, Free Virginia Movement, and other revolutionary prison groups around the United States have jointly called for a Nationally Coordinated Prisoner Work Stoppage on September 9th, 2016, and

WHEREAS IWW members in prison and their allies are at the forefront of fighting the prison system from the inside,

MOVED that the GEB endorse the September 9th prisoner work stoppage with the following language:

The General Executive Board of the Industrial Workers of the World endorses the Nationally Coordinated Prisoner Work Stoppage on September 9th, 2016 organized by the Free Alabama Movement, Free Virginia Movement, and other revolutionary prisoner worker organizations and individuals. It is the duty of working class organizations like the IWW to support the struggle of prisoner workers. We call on other unions and revolutionary working class organizations to offer their support and solidarity to this important cause.

The GEB also encourages branches and IWWs to consider planning an action for September 9, to start a local organizing group, and to donate to the efforts at iwoc.noblogs.org/donate.