Tag Archive: prisoner voices

Understanding the Human Cost of Imprisonment

The problem is not just that “prison conditions” are abusive, but that the cumulative effects of imprisonment itself constitute cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.

From Truth Out/ By Lacino Hamilton

No one who spends time in prison leaves unscathed. I have been incarcerated for more than 20 years in Michigan state prisons, where I remain today. I know from experience that prison is so much more than confinement to a cell.

Prison disposes of and makes invisible a growing underclass, prison’s majority clientele. It also incapacitates those who have shown – through their imagination, audacity and defiance – that they possess what it takes to push and pull something bigger than themselves, such as a social justice movement. Prison functions to expel self-determination, exacerbate weaknesses, exhaust strength and suppress expressions of intelligence, in an aim to produce a robot-like mass that will follow the rules of prison.

It is a tragedy of the first magnitude that millions of people have been subordinated to the will of others; reduced to dependence on these authorities for the most basic services; isolated from the rest of the world’s population; confined to a fixed habitat; coerced to work for little or no compensation; and subjected to a prison culture that breeds a profound sense of psychological depression, personal worthlessness and social despair – all in the name of justice, law and order, or whatever justification is fashionable at the time. (more…)

The Final Straw: Hunger striking against the TIER Program at Georgia State Prison

From The Final Straw

This week you’ll be hearing an interview with Earthworm (Dell) of Atlanta Black Cross and Sandy, who’s the mother of an inmate at Georgia State Prison, about the TIER program being implemented there. The TIER program is the means by which the certain prisons in Georgia are reducing the time outside of cell for prisoners down to mere hours a week from multiple a day based on minor accusations and infractions and sometimes with no clear process towards getting out or limit of stay. While inside, these prisoners are kept on a minimal diet with no commissary, often no access to the library for legal research along with other issues.

In response to the conditions under TIER at GSP, numerous prisoners initiated a hunger strike back in April, with one continuing to this day.

More on what’s going on with TIER at GSP, check out http://atlblackcross.org, to read the words of the prisoners themselves via their letters posted and transcribed there. You can also find addresses for the prisoners at that site. A good intro article can be found here

Also mentioned was the Free Alabama Movement, which is a multi-state network of incarcerated folks (Alabama & Mississippi, plus affiliates in CA & VA) organizing non-violent protests to the exploitation of their labor for profit, the racialized system of incarceration in the U.S. and the horrible conditions of their incarceration. More on the project, including links to their prisoner-sourced podcasts can be found at http://freealabamamovement.com/
For our interview with members of the FAMM, check out this link

Finally, referenced was the case of Kalief Browder, incarcerated at the New York prison of Rikers Island from the age of 16-19, without trial on the accusation of stealing a backpack. Browder committed suicide 2 years after his release, in June of 2015. (more…)

Sean Swain Communication Cut Off After Prisoner Protest

From SeanSwain.org

Last week we received word that Sean’s email and phone access have been suspended, along with his video visitation. This suspension came shortly after Sean asked us to post this story of an incident of arbitrary and unjustified brutality that occurred on his range (added below). Sean is not in the hole and he has not been physically attacked at this time. Sean’s lawyer is investigating to find the pretext the prison officials used to justify denying Sean his basic constitutional rights again, but, in the meantime, Sean has smuggled the following message out through a friend…

“I have NO direct communication with the outside world. Phone, JPay, mail suspended. I’m perfectly silenced forever.
Phone calls, letters to CIIC, court filings, website updates– all of that is Portuguese. It’s the wrong language.
MLK said those who make nonviolent change impossible… make violent change inevitable.* It’s proven useless to keep trying to do the impossible.
Feel free to post.
Freedom,
Sean.”

*We remember this quote being attributed to JFK, not MLK. Not that it makes any difference.

We don’t know what it will take to get Sean’s communication re-instated at this time. It is not hard to conclude that Trevor Clark and friends have taken Judge Benita Pearson decision in the fascist’s favor regarding video visits as a blank check to do whatever they’d like to Sean, especially since the punitive transfer to Lucasville only led to him emboldening self-defense and resistance among his neighbors at SOCF. Sean clearly doesn’t think that our past tactics of phone calls and emails has much leverage against these fascist fuckweasels, though anyone with the breath and the patience who can’t think of anything else to do, can find all the relevant numbers here.

Meantime, we’re sure Sean can’t wait to hear some reports about creative acts of solidarity, leverage and revenge.

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Sean Swain and Retaliatory Transfer to Ohio’s Most Notorious Prison

seanswainFrom Sean Swain

“I’ve been wearing the same pair of underwear since Tuesday. That night at three in the morning the warden at the super duper max, Jay “Lowdown” Forshay informed me that I was being transferred to Lucasville. Lucasville, home of the 1993 prisoner uprising, is a psychological September Eleventh for the Ohio prison system. It’s also the prison where ODRC officials attempted to put former prisoner writer Timothy “Little Rock” Reed in order to engineer his death until he gained asylum from Ohio in New Mexico, proving conclusively that Ohio prison officials attempted to murder him.

In the lead up to this transfer prison officials tried several times unsuccessfully to silence me. Blocking phone communication for eight weeks to keep me off the radio, intercepting intercepting postings for SeanSwain.org and communications with counsel who filed a civil action against prison officials on my behalf, and then blocking my video visits to stop me from generating video on the site, which is illegal, not that the laws matter to fascists.

In response I undertook a hunger strike until I was threatened with being tossed in the hole, which is illegal, not that laws matter to fascists. So I began a med strike, and then OSP physician James Kline held me incommunicado with medical isolation, in a torture cell, until I agreed to take blood pressure medication I had refused, which is illegal, not that they care.

So, before I could even finish writing the epic tale of those wacky shenanigans, I was told to hop on a prison bus for Lucasville. When I protested that this was selective, Jay Lowdown said, “we thought you’d say that, that’s why thirty seven others are going with you. So, to disguise prison fascist’s targeting of me, they tossed thirty seven other dolphins into the tuna net as collateral damage.

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