(The source for this photo is borde.org. ) This past week the facebook page for Jamie, “Jamie, Life In Prison” gained 45 new likes, the most it has grown in any one week period! It takes time to build readership just like it takes time here at WordPress. My last ITFO Newsletter didn’t post here to this blog. I am having difficulties doing some things right now since I broke my shoulder and arm a week a ago. I can only use Swype on my Nook which is slow and tedious. At least I damaged my left side and not my right side, as I try to find something positive in all this mess. If you aren’t on the mailing list yet for the newsletter, go to the link for the facebook page. Scroll down about a dozen.You’ll see a post “What About The Children?” sent out to over 6000 people. Clicking on that post will bring up the issue. There are about 7 articles you can read by clicking on the titles. Only a tiny portion is visible. Each one is a different aspect of the children. On the top are buttons to see past issues and also to subscribe. Please do that and also share it on your timeline if you think it is important. The next issue will be about the women, a quickly growing segment of the prison population. Why? Without mothers the children have no chance at all.
The issues about prison reform are so important because it affects so many people in addition to those incarcerated. Wives and husbands. Sisters and brothers, grandparents and friends. If our justice system didn’t incarcerate so many innocent people to feed the corporations that don’t want to pay a living wage to the public who desperately needs to make a livable wage then just maybe things could change. If you break it completely down, it begins with the percentage of people who believe the corporations who bring you the news are also bringing you the truth. Sadly, the truth is hard to find. Versions of the truth, which are really only opinions are believed as truth. Only if you take the time to read outside the box and strive to understand why it is so important to “them” for you to believe what they say can you begin to understand what is true and what isn’t. Until you do that you are just a pawn in their game of control.
The incarceration of the black race was deliberate. We know it for sure with John Erlichman’s confession about Nixon’s War on Drugs. We also know for certain because it is mainly the black race being set free because of bogus charges – not the white race. Sadly it often takes 20 – 40 years to get the conviction turned around and prisons often fight like hell to keep them and say it is up to them to figure out how to get released with no help from them. Is it because they don’t want to admit wrong doing because of the way they are mistreated?. I don’t know, but I think, as human beings, they would want to do no more harm. It is not the case, though. Because of racism, being born black is often the only “sin” committed.
In cases where crime was committed, the mandatory minimum sentencing laws often take the rest of that person’s life away from them. A gram of coke, an ounce of pot and a life is lost. Which is worse? Driving drunk that caused a death, but with a good attorney could set you free, but if you only had a public defender they’d force you to take a plea of many years. The public needs to do the right thing and force change.
In the meantime, the destruction of families, the destruction of a child’s education, children deprived of parents, black children overwhelmingly shoved through juveniles detention with very few people hearing their cries for help. Look at what the system did to Kalief Browder. Remember him? It took him committing suicide to stop the system from putting kids in solitary confinement. I wonder how many times he was raped by guards and predators. We should be ashamed that it was allowed to happen. I know other personal stories of ruined people. All I could do was apologize. I don’t know how to fix it. It makes me sick. I don’t know how the law works, but there are people who do, and we can help them by educating people.
Until the people, us ordinary people, throw our support behind the people who are fighting for change, then it will continue. Get away from TV news, bought and paid for, and use the power of the internet. That doesn’t mean to go to news sites that support what you think. Go to sites that don’t sing to the choir where you can actually learn something.
Take care of the children, especially the children of inmates. They are our future, too. We can change their future and also change the future of the world. So many people like to say we are a Christian nation. I don’t see it by looking at people’s actions. What I see is hate and judgemental attitude… Is it you? I don’t know, but you do… I see many harsh words for people who are pro choice. But those who are against abortion, you have the right to your feelings, but are you all talk? Do you do anything at all to help care for the children you say have a right to be born because life is a gift? If you don’t help the children your talk has no meaning. Do something. Be proactive. You reap what you sow.
This has a lot of good information for those who are interested in finding out what is really going on with our prisons. Like anything else we read in the media, they only print what the people in power want us to know, and the truth is often buried. There is no trust and honesty in the media and this year should have shown everyone that. That also includes the prison industrial complex and why we have the prison system we have.
I hear awful things some people say about inmates because they don’t understand, or realize, many of them aren’t guilty, or they have been pushed through the school to prison pipeline, or they have been targeted because they are black or other minorities. I’m not saying that there are not some pretty horrendous people in prison, because there are. But it the percentage – 6 to 1 – black to white that are locked up. It is how the American people have been told over and over that blacks are prone to crime and are less intelligent, that justifies what they did.Or they say blacks do more drugs. But the numbers say otherwise. The truth has been coming out now.
We have learned how the war on drugs was fabricated by the Nixon administration, pushed forward more by Regan, and then Clinton adds three strikes and you’re out – which he says he so regrets now. That is bullshit. This was all done to control who can vote in the years to come. Disenfranchise the black vote, who on average do not vote republican, and it is easier to control the elections. The more blacks they lock up the better it is for them. This fact is now well documented. It is also why the Nixon Admin made marijuana a class one narcotic as dangerous as heroin. The mass demonstrations against the illegal war in Viet Nam were getting in their way. Lock up all the pot smoking hippies.
It sounds silly when you look at the sentence by itself, but when you understand how many lives were ruined over these two things and neither of them has had anything done to alleviate it until THIS year, shows why we have 2 million more prisoners now than before Nixon. Pot is probably the least dangerous drug there is. There has not ever been one overdose and people don’t commit crimes when high. They’d have to stop laughing and eating to plan a crime. Yet still, for decades, the prisons have been jammed with people and the corporations have made a fortune over enslaving people to make their products. And most of you have no clue you buy products made by slaves who don’t get paid.
All of this has to stop, and people are now finally waking up. We have crushed a race of people who haven’t deserved what we have allowed to happen to them, and too many white people still think they deserve more privileges because they are white. This country is imploding from so much selfishness. Take the time and educated yourself. Stop getting your news from places like FOX or you only continue to be ignorant of the truth. Stop following along like sheep, believing what you read. Read all sides of an issue. Educate yourself.
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I have copied part of the press release by Prison Policy Initiative from March 4, 2016. What an eye-opener. It is a must read for anyone who has family or friends incarcerated,or for anyone who pays taxes and wants to know what is happening to their money in terms of effectiveness. We need reform. There are so many people incarcerated who should be treated differently, yet the judicial system continues to incarcerate them. Please go to http://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie2016.html to view the statistics and pie charts. (Because they are not static, I could not copy them here).
Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2016
By Peter Wagner and Bernadette Rabuy
March 14, 2016
Wait, does the United States have 1.4 million or more than 2 million people in prison? Are most people in state and federal prisons locked up for drug offenses? Frustrating questions like these abound because our systems of…
This article was written two years ago so the numbers are higher than what is written here. There are more people incarcerated. Last year it was 2.3 million. I don’t know what it is now. But the situations are the same or worse. It is easy to see what has happened to the citizens of our country because of how every little thing included jaywalking will put you on the fast lane to jail, and if you are black, you can count on it. What has happened to entice big business to use the slave labor in prisons in one reason why the government wants to keep it that way. The contracts that were signed promising to keep the prisons full is why the joke was pulled on the people when they said they were releasing 600 federal inmates. They couldn’t touch the ones in state prisons. Instead of 600 prisoners being released it was actually only 20% of American prisoners that left prison and most of them were on their way out anyway. The rest were on house arrest or were immigrants coming across the border. But the media made it sound sooo good – 6000 people. Except that it was a scam to make you think they were doing something about it. They can’t and they won’t. Too many corporations use the slave labor inside the prisons. Read on . . .
Big Business or a New Form of Slavery?
Human rights organizations, as well as political and social ones, are condemning what they are calling a new form of inhumane exploitation in the United States, where they say a prison population of up to 2 million – mostly Black and Hispanic – are working for various industries for a pittance. For the tycoons who have invested in the prison industry, it has been like finding a pot of gold. They don’t have to worry about strikes or paying unemployment insurance, vacations or comp time. All of their workers are full-time, and never arrive late or are absent because of family problems; moreover, if they don’t like the pay of 25 cents an hour and refuse to work, they are locked up in isolation cells.
There are approximately 2 million inmates in state, federal and private prisons throughout the country. According to California Prison Focus, “no other society in human history has imprisoned so many of its own citizens.”
The figures show that the United States has locked up more people than any other country: a half million more than China, which has a population five times greater than the U.S. Statistics reveal that the United States holds 25% of the world’s prison population, but only 5% of the world’s people. From less than 300,000 inmates in 1972, the jail population grew to 2 million by the year 2000. In 1990 it was one million. Ten years ago there were only five private prisons in the country, with a population of 2,000 inmates; now, there are 100, with 62,000 inmates. It is expected that by the coming decade, the number will hit 360,000, according to reports.
What has happened over the last 10 years? Why are there so many prisoners?
“The private contracting of prisoners for work fosters incentives to lock people up. Prisons depend on this income. Corporate stockholders who make money off prisoners’ work lobby for longer sentences, in order to expand their workforce. The system feeds itself,” says a study by the Progressive Labor Party, which accuses the prison industry of being “an imitation of Nazi Germany with respect to forced slave labor and concentration camps.”
The prison industry complex is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States and its investors are on Wall Street. “This multimillion-dollar industry has its own trade exhibitions, conventions, websites, and mail-order/Internet catalogs. It also has direct advertising campaigns, architecture companies, construction companies, investment houses on Wall Street, plumbing supply companies, food supply companies, armed security, and padded cells in a large variety of colors.”
CRIME GOES DOWN, JAIL POPULATION GOES UP
According to reports by human rights organizations, these are the factors that increase the profit potential for those who invest in the prison industry complex:
. Jailing persons convicted of non-violent crimes, and long prison sentences for possession of microscopic quantities of illegal drugs. Federal law stipulates five years’ imprisonment without possibility of parole for possession of 5 grams of crack or 3.5 ounces of heroin, and 10 years for possession of less than 2 ounces of rock-cocaine or crack. A sentence of 5 years for cocaine powder requires possession of 500 grams – 100 times more than the quantity of rock cocaine for the same sentence. Most of those who use cocaine powder are white, middle-class or rich people, while mostly Blacks and Latinos use rock cocaine. In Texas, a person may be sentenced for up to two years’ imprisonment for possessing 4 ounces of marijuana. Here in New York, the 1973 Nelson Rockefeller anti-drug law provides for a mandatory prison sentence of 15 years to life for possession of 4 ounces of any illegal drug.
. The passage in 13 states of the “three strikes” laws (life in prison after being convicted of three felonies), made it necessary to build 20 new federal prisons. One of the most disturbing cases resulting from this measure was that of a prisoner who for stealing a car and two bicycles received three 25-year sentences.
. Longer sentences.
. The passage of laws that require minimum sentencing, without regard for circumstances.
. A large expansion of work by prisoners creating profits that motivate the incarceration of more people for longer periods of time.
. More punishment of prisoners, so as to lengthen their sentences.
HISTORY OF PRISON LABOR IN THE UNITED STATES
Prison labor has its roots in slavery. After the 1861-1865 Civil War, a system of “hiring out prisoners” was introduced in order to continue the slavery tradition. Freed slaves were charged with not carrying out their sharecropping commitments (cultivating someone else’s land in exchange for part of the harvest) or petty thievery – which were almost never proven – and were then “hired out” for cotton picking, working in mines and building railroads. From 1870 until 1910 in the state of Georgia, 88% of hired-out convicts were Black. In Alabama, 93% of “hired-out” miners were Black. In Mississippi, a huge prison farm similar to the old slave plantations replaced the system of hiring out convicts. The notorious Parchman plantation existed until 1972.
During the post-Civil War period, Jim Crow racial segregation laws were imposed on every state, with legal segregation in schools, housing, marriages and many other aspects of daily life. “Today, a new set of markedly racist laws is imposing slave labor and sweatshops on the criminal justice system, now known as the prison industry complex,” comments the Left Business Observer.
Who is investing?
At least 37 states have legalized the contracting of prison labor by private corporations that mount their operations inside state prisons. The list of such companies contains the cream of U.S. corporate society: IBM, Boeing, Motorola, Microsoft, AT&T, Wireless, Texas Instrument, Dell, Compaq, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Nortel, Lucent Technologies, 3Com, Intel, Northern Telecom, TWA, Nordstrom’s, Revlon, Macy’s, Pierre Cardin, Target Stores, and many more. All of these businesses are excited about the economic boom generation by prison labor. Just between 1980 and 1994, profits went up from $392 million to $1.31 billion. Inmates in state penitentiaries generally receive the minimum wage for their work, but not all; in Colorado, they get about $2 per hour, well under the minimum.
And in privately-run prisons, they receive as little as 17 cents per hour for a maximum of six hours a day, the equivalent of $20 per month. The highest-paying private prison is CCA in Tennessee, where prisoners receive 50 cents per hour for what they call “highly skilled positions.” At those rates, it is no surprise that inmates find the pay in federal prisons to be very generous. There, they can earn $1.25 an hour and work eight hours a day, and sometimes overtime. They can send home $200-$300 per month.
Thanks to prison labor, the United States is once again an attractive location for investment in work that was designed for Third World labor markets. A company that operated a maquiladora (assembly plant in Mexico near the border) closed down its operations there and relocated to San Quentin State Prison in California. In Texas, a factory fired its 150 workers and contracted the services of prisoner-workers from the private Lockhart Texas prison, where circuit boards are assembled for companies like IBM and Compaq.
[Former] Oregon State Representative Kevin Mannix recently urged Nike to cut its production in Indonesia and bring it to his state, telling the shoe manufacturer that “there won’t be any transportation costs; we’re offering you competitive prison labor (here).”
The prison privatization boom began in the 1980s, under the governments of Ronald Reagan and Bush Sr., but reached its height in 1990 under William Clinton, when Wall Street stocks were selling like hotcakes. Clinton’s program for cutting the federal workforce resulted in the Justice Departments contracting of private prison corporations for the incarceration of undocumented workers and high-security inmates.
Private prisons are the biggest business in the prison industry complex. About 18 corporations guard 10,000 prisoners in 27 states. The two largest are Correctional Corporation of America (CCA) and Wackenhut, which together control 75%. Private prisons receive a guaranteed amount of money for each prisoner, independent of what it costs to maintain each one. According to Russell Boraas, a private prison administrator in Virginia, “the secret to low operating costs is having a minimal number of guards for the maximum number of prisoners.” The CCA has an ultra-modern prison in Lawrenceville, Virginia, where five guards on dayshift and two at night watch over 750 prisoners. In these prisons, inmates may get their sentences reduced for “good behavior,” but for any infraction, they get 30 days added – which means more profits for CCA. According to a study of New Mexico prisons, it was found that CCA inmates lost “good behavior time” at a rate eight times higher than those in state prisons.
IMPORTING AND EXPORTING INMATES
Profits are so good that now there is a new business: importing inmates with long sentences, meaning the worst criminals. When a federal judge ruled that overcrowding in Texas prisons was cruel and unusual punishment, the CCA signed contracts with sheriffs in poor counties to build and run new jails and share the profits. According to a December 1998 Atlantic Monthly magazine article, this program was backed by investors from Merrill-Lynch, Shearson-Lehman, American Express and Allstate, and the operation was scattered all over rural Texas. That state’s governor, Ann Richards, followed the example of Mario Cuomo in New York and built so many state prisons that the market became flooded, cutting into private prison profits.
After a law signed by Clinton in 1996 – ending court supervision and decisions – caused overcrowding and violent, unsafe conditions in federal prisons, private prison corporations in Texas began to contact other states whose prisons were overcrowded, offering “rent-a-cell” services in the CCA prisons located in small towns in Texas. The commission for a rent-a-cell salesman is $2.50 to $5.50 per day per bed. The county gets $1.50 for each prisoner.
( I believe since then, there were people who tried to put a stop to this but I don’t know the outcome.)
Ninety-seven percent of 125,000 federal inmates have been convicted of non-violent crimes. It is believed that more than half of the 623,000 inmates in municipal or county jails are innocent of the crimes they are accused of. Of these, the majority are awaiting trial. Two-thirds of the one million state prisoners have committed non-violent offenses. Sixteen percent of the country’s 2 million prisoners suffer from mental illness.
The original source of this article is El Diario-La Prensa, New York and Global Research
I read this article today. It is a prime example of how we torture people in our prisons or give them unjust sentences. Some of these people are guilty and some aren’t, but there is such determination to destroy their lives, not based on whether the sentence is just, but because they weren’tliked. Their ideologies weren’t liked. They were punished with these sentences and kept in solitary confinement when it wasn’t necessary. This is the wrong use of our “injustice” system. It is way beyond what should have been. Their sentence did not fit the crime, if they did indeed commit a crime in the first place.
The sentences for long term political prisoners are extreme. And cruel, revenge for the prisoner’s challenge to the system rather than appropriate punishment for alleged crimes of self defence or for the unplanned tragedies of political actions. Because many here were provably targeted by law enforcement programs to silence them and are likely to be innocent, the length of prison terms falls into a pattern of racist and political oppression.
The prisoners are consistently from Black or left wing resistance groups after moderate leaders within the system were assassinated. The arrests and sentencing come from a time when police actions against Black Panthers were overtly criminal (Fred Hampton) and covertly part of a military and law enforcement war against the left, anti war resistance, the poor. Allegations against leaders of Black communities couldn’t be relied on as factual. While “life imprisonment” is better than death who will tell us that it’s bearable? Beyond sentencing, some cases show repetitive patterns of withholding medical care to the point of extrajudicial punishment, particularly where the prisoner was accused of crimes against police (ref. Oct. 13, 2013). The additional extra-judicial punishment of holding a prisoner for years in solitary confinement is finally being recognized as a crime. It’s torture. Political prisoners targeted for their convictions, their organizing, their truths, suffered more than most of us can sustain, and some have survived. Their lives weren’t allowed to be lived. Their suffering was caused and intended to scare everyone else. We remember political prisoners because they keep alive our hope that there will always be people who say no to what is unacceptable.
Thomas William Manning of the Ohio Seven: according to Medical Justice of the Jericho Movement Manning remains at FMC Butner where he was transferred in 2010: his knee replacement surgery was performed in 2012 but kept him in a wheelchair since his damaged shoulder didn’t allow him to progress with physiotherapy. Shoulder surgery, for an injury which by my understanding was caused by police (on arrest he was picked up and dropped until something broke), continues to be denied him as ‘not medically necessary.’ Appropriate private medical treatment was effectively denied with his parole, November 2014. He’s expected to be freed August 20, 2020. Tom Manning became an artist in prison and there’s an art book of his paintings out – For Love and Liberty: Artist Tom Manning, Freedom Fighter, Political Prisoner. 
Albert Woodfox, of the Angola 3 was finally released February 19, 2016. The State of Louisiana appealed three former judicial attempts to free him, and kept him in solitary confinement. At the final trial the prisoner pleaded nolo contendere in a plea bargain which gains his freedom without admission of guilt but lets him plead to lesser charges for which he has already served the time. This time he can’t be placed back in a cell. The extreme injustice remains that as an innocent, Albert Woodfox served 43 years in solitary confinement. His lawyer is bringing legal action against the State of Louisiana for its policies of solitary confinement. 
Russell Maroon Shoatz: in 2013 counsel for Russell Maroon Shoatz sued Pennsylvania’s State Corrections Secretary, John Wetzel, and the Greene Correctional Institution Superintendent, Louis Folino, for cruel and unusual punishment without recourse to remedy. This directly attacked the solitary confinement policies of the State’s Department of Corrections. The case protests the cruelty of solitary confinement as applied to Shoatz for over 22 years. It may help other Pennsylvania prisoners. On February 15, 2016 the federal court judge ruled that Shoatz’s case should be decided by a jury trial. At the hearing Shoatz’s lawyer was able to provide a report by Juan Mendez, the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on Torture who found the conditions of Shoatz’s imprisonment beyond the current norm of civilized nations. 
Mumia Abu Jamal: his case has allowed a challenge to a Pennsylvania Department of Corrections policy on treatment of patients with Hepatits C. There is a known treatment for the disease. It costs about eighty-four thousand dollars in the U.S.. If not treated Hep C may develop into cirrhosis of the liver which is lethal. Even when diagnosed with Hep C U.S. prisoners are not usually treated for the disease because of the expense. Abu-Jamal’s lawyers are challenging the DFOCV policy of triage which waits to give expensive treatment until there is a Hepatitis C caused medical emergency which is possibly fatal. The hope is to gain Abu-Jamal among other prisoners the life-saving treatment. The effects on Abu-Jamal through lack of appropriate medical treatment as revealed through trial testimony, are awful, similar to the effects of torture, and these were unrefuted. 
Leonard Peltier: the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee (ILPDC) has confirmed that a preliminary diagnosis of the prisoner’s condition by an MRI shows an abdominal aortic aneurism. Aware of Peltier’s illness before June 2015, initial results were available about January 10th, 2016. Consistently, prison authorities have moved very slowly to address Peltier’s medical difficulties to the point of endangering his life for the forty years of his imprisonment so far. Treatment of a potentially fatal aneurism requires an exception – it was to be operated on before mid-January. Peltier notes in an article of Feb. 23rd that no operation was forthcoming since he’s in a maximum security prison and inmates don’t get treatment until the problem is terminal. There was always serious doubt of the validity of Peltier’s conviction. There is strong doubt he’s being held legally now. He needs and deserves the clemency students across the country will be demanding February 27th. 
Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin: one of the most important alternative voices in America, Al-Amin remains without pardon in prison serving a life sentence. I believe he’s innocent of the charges against him. At Butner Federal Medical Center a bone marrow biopsy on Jan. 23, 2014 revealed the presence of myeloma cells. The condition was to be monitored every several months. Then he was returned to the remote ADX Florence Colorado, an over-controlled maximum security prison for the most dangerous prisoners. It’s considered one of America’s worst. On Sept. 3, 2015 a prisoner was able to contact the Prison Movement with the news that Al-Amin was in a medical emergency. 
Robert Seth Hayes: in July 2015, Medical Justicenoted that Seth Hayes was beginning to receive some treatment for his Hepatitis C and diabetes but none for “chronic bleeding and abdominal growths.” Despite previous emergency alerts and notices he continues without adequate health care at Sullivan Correctional Facility in New York. Medical Justice claims his diabetes is not under control and as of November 2015 he was having trouble breathing.Medical Justice has asked he be taken to a pulmonary and heart specialist immediately. Medical treatment so far is inadequate to the point of intentional harm. Hayes is a Vietnam war veteran and Black Panther sentenced back in 1973 to from 25 years to life. It’s 2016 now. He’s denied his freedom and his health. 
Sekou Odinga: imprisoned for his part in the 1979 freeing of Assata Shakur and his part in the Brinks robbery of 1981, with a mandatory release date of 2009, Sekou Abdullah Odinga (Nathaniel Burns) left prison on parole Nov. 25, 2014. He passed about half his 34 years time in solitary confinement. 
Dr. Mutulu Shakur: under laws no longer in effect Dr. Shakur won his release date of Feb. 10, 2016, after serving 30 years of a sixty year sentence. On Feb. 4th he received notice of a scheduled parole hearing on April 4th and so remains in Victorville U.S. Penitentiary (California). He is being held illegally. Authorities hold against him the planning of the Brinks robbery of 1981 where two policemen and two guards were killed, and attribute to him the successful escape of Assata Shakur (Joanne D. Chesimard) from a New Jersey prison to Cuba. A doctor, healer and teacher he should be allowed to continue his work of wholeness, caring for people in New York. 
Judith Clark has served 35 years of a minimum 75 year sentence; she’ll be eligible for parole at the age of 107. She drove a getaway car for the 1981 Brinks robbery which Dr. Shakur is said to have planned. She was not accused of any violent act and the intolerable length of her sentence reflected the court’s judgement of her political thinking and expression rather than her degree of guilt. She refused a lawyer as did David Gilbert still in prison, and Kuwasi Balagoon who has died in prison. Her statements to the court were honest but radical. Of the same group Kathy Boudin plead guilty which brought her a twenty year sentence and she left prison on parole in 2003. The New York Times reports that former presidents of the New York Bar association have joined in a plea of clemency for Judith Clark. Under current law an appeal to the governor is the only means of finding her a release from prison. The length of the sentence is so clearly unjust it reflects poorly on the sanity of the legal system. 
Under the norms of civilization, each of these prisoners would be freed. But each of these cases is abnormal, contravening any international expectation of justice. The length of the sentences is consistently skewed from the norm. The sentences are primitive, scented with revenge and racist hatred. These prisoners among all the public doesn’t know about had their lives taken away because of what they believed and who they cared for. From a time when law enforcement was corrupt, racist, and as programmed to right wing extremism as it is today, the charges against the prisoners do not match up with the prisoners’ histories, writings , concerns, deeds over the years, whom they’ve proved themselves to be. So the allegations are either hard to believe, or within a logic of self defence. The courts’ astounding long sentences were intended to wipe out the left wing. In a United States that promises freedom who would have the outrageous ignorance to deny any of these a pardon.
“Albert Woodfox of the Angola 3 released from prison in Louisiana,” Steve Almasy, Feb. 19, 2016, CNN; “Albert Woodfox released from jail after 43 years in solitary confinement,” Ed Pilkington, Feb. 19, 2016, theguardian.
“22 Years in Solitary May Be Cruel & Unusual, Federal Judge Says,”Rose Bouboushian, Feb. 18, 2016, Courthouse News Service; “How a Former Black Panther Could Change the Rules of Solitary Confinement,” Victoria Law, Feb. 22, 2016, The Nation.
“New Health Emergency for Leonard Peltier,” Jan. 6, 2016, International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee; “Leonard Peltier’s MRI Confirms Abdominal Aortic Aneurism Diagnosis,” Levi Rickert, Jan. 10, 2016, Native News Online.net; “Call for National Student Day of Action: Demand Obama Grant Clemency to Leonard Peltier!” current,peltierstudentnationalaction.wordpress.com; “What Can I Say?” Leonard Peltier, Feb.23, 2016, NetNewsLedger.
“Stop the execution of Imam Jamil, the former H. Rap Brown, by medical neglect in federal prison”, the Imam Jamil Action Network, Sept. 6, 2015,BayView; Biopsy results released for Imam Jamil Al-Amin (H. Rap Brown)”, Karima Al-Amin, Aug. 8, 2014, BayView; “Jamil Al-Amin (H. Rap Brown),” current, Medical Justice
“July update on Seth Hayes: Call for support,” July 5, 2015, Medical Justice; “Robert Seth Hayes Urgent Medical Update,” Nov. 16, 2015, Medical Justice.
“UC-Irvine welcomes ‘political prisoner’ involved in cop killings,” Dave Huber, Feb. 10, 2016, The College Fix; “Free ‘Em All: 50 Years Later, Black Panthers Are Still Fighting for Freedom,” Asha Bandele, Feb. 18, 2016Huffington Post, Alternet.
“Mutulu Shakur,” current, Family & Friends of Dr. Mutulu Shakur; “Mutulu Shakur has not been released from Prison ,” Pologod, Feb. 12, 2016, The source; “Dr. Mutulu Shakur: More than Tupac’s stepfather!” Feb.18, 2016,BayView.
“As Ringleader in ’81 Brink’s Robbery Goes Free, a Plea for Its Getaway Driver,” Jim Dwyer, Feb. 9, 2016, The New York Times; “Judith Clark’s Radical Transformation,” Tom Robbins, Jan. 12, 2012, The New York Times Magazine.
Convicted of: Two counts of Second Degree Murder
Sentence: 30 to Life
Year of Conviction: 2000
On March 10, 1997, Rodney Patrick McNeal, a San Bernardino County probation officer, arrived home just before 12:30 p.m. to take his wife, Debra, to a doctor’s appointment. There, he discovered Debra, who was six-months pregnant, brutally murdered and submerged in water in the bathtub of the master bedroom. Patrick tried to lift Debra out of the tub, but could not. After unsuccessfully trying to find the house cordless phone, he ran over to a neighbor’s home and asked them to call 9-1-1. When police arrived, they discovered that the house had been trashed; furniture had been slashed, a wall unit knocked over, and a trail of blood led from the living room to the master bathroom. Police determined Debra had been beaten and stabbed, ultimately dying of manual strangulation.
Based on reports that Patrick and Debra had a volatile marriage and the fact that police had visited their home before for domestic disputes, the police arrested Patrick for Debra’s murder. The police theorized that Patrick and Debra had argued when he arrived home to take her to her doctor’s appointment and, in a fit of rage, killed her.
The timeline of events spoke otherwise. Based on phone records and eyewitness testimony, Patrick was at his office until 12:15 p.m., arriving home just before 12:30 p.m., shortly before the 9-1-1 call was placed. The first police officers arrived at the scene at about 12:32 p.m. It would have been impossible for Patrick to kill Debra and ransack the house in that timeframe. Further, the blood spatter patterns in the living room indicated that whoever beat and killed Debra would have Debra’s blood on their clothing. Patrick had no such blood on him or his clothing. Finally, there were unidentified hairs and fibers found on Debra.
Unfortunately, despite the compelling evidence of innocence, the jury convicted Patrick and a court sentenced him to 30 years-to-life in prison.
The California Innocence Project commenced an investigation into Patrick’s claim of innocence. In July 2006, the California Innocence Project filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus on Patrick’s behalf. In the petition, the Project presented evidence of third-party culpability. Namely, that Patrick’s half-brother, Jeffery “Jeff” West, killed Debra. Eerily, Debra’s murder had similarities to other murders Jeff had committed. Upon killing his victims, he would place them in the bathtub.
At an evidentiary hearing in front of a San Bernardino Superior Court judge, witness Cary McGill, a friend of Jeff, testified that Jeff had described Debra’s murder to him in detail. According to Cary, Jeff said that he beat Debra until she was unconscious, then he dragged her into the bathroom. Testimony corroborated by the evidence discovered at the scene. Patrick’s half-sister, Ebony Grant, also half-sister to Jeff, testified at the evidentiary hearing that Jeff had confessed to killing Debra. Ebony felt horrible that she had been carrying this secret around for so long, but she was afraid Jeff would kill her if she told anyone. When called to the stand by the California Innocence Project, Jeff took the 5th.
Despite strong evidence that Patrick is innocent, the San Bernardino Superior Court judge declined to reverse Patrick’s conviction. Patrick continues to fight his case by seeking DNA testing of evidence at the crime scene. Testing that will, in all probability, show that Jeff murdered Debra and her unborn child. In the meantime, Patrick remains in prison for a crime he did not commit, indeed, a crime where the true culprit is known and roams free. Follow @sonni_quick
22 states in America allow kids as young as 7 to be tried as adults. Kids don’t just wake up one morning and start committing crimes one day. Many are in rough neighborhoods or in abusive and neglectful families. Their immaturity coupled with the feeling of having no way out doesn’t leave them with many choices. No one hears them until it is too late. From the stories I’ve read, not one said they weren’t guilty. Most had no way of understanding the ramifications of what they were doing. They didn’t have anywhere to go to change what was happening around them. One boy came from a family where 7 men in their immediate family were behind bars and one witnessed his father shot and killed in front of him when he was 14. Who mentored this child or taught him right from wrong? What did he learn growing up? Many of these children never had a chance. Growing up, and maturing in prison, never having the chance to learn how life could be some want to be able to use their lives to reach out to other young people. To be given 25 years to life? Is that the best use of their life? How many hundreds of thousands of dollars will it cost the taxpayers to provide him this very substandard existence. They can never have hope. Can their lives be redeemable? Children have no control over their emotions. Many use violence to get away from people who are abusing them. Why can’t we handle this differently? Why do we have to throw them away?
You will have to make up your own mind about this. It doesn’t matter what you think, it only matters how the system changes. The more voices there are, the louder the call for change and the faster it happens. This begins the school to prison pipeline. Don’t turn a blind eye. Once a child gets caught in it they often can not get away. They also learn more about doing crimes than they knew before they went in. There are good and bad people on both sides of the fence. None of this is new, but they are things we should never forget. We need to have a justice system that is fair to all people and doesn’t single out others because it is clear this is what is happening.
The public has been inundated this past year with more and more accounts of this savage behavior by people staffed by our justice system. It’s out in the open and more and more people are demanding change. This last incident of Kalief Browder and how his experience of spending years at Rikers Island, not even being convicted of a crime, destroyed him to the point where he felt the only way he could really escape was to kill himself. Since this was a young man getting an education, who might he have grown up to be? He’ll never get that chance. It is a tragedy. Every person, Black, White, Hispanic, gay, or poor, has been caused such a disservice by the keepers in this country. A judge was given a 30 year prison sentence for selling schoolkids and adults for profit to a prison. The only people who don’t get an automatic sentence the ones with money or an important name, because they buy their way out. A white man can have money and still get away with raping his own children and be returned to society with the potential to hurt someone else. The judge ruled that being a pedophile would make it hard on him so he was given probation and mandatory counseling instead. For molesting his children and was caught in the act! It was not enough to put him away!
I went to grade school in the sixties. (note: there are no fat children here) When I was disruptive I got the paddle once by my teacher. Children were respectful and rarely chaotic and undisciplined. The cops weren’t called! Now if a child is disruptive in class, they just call the cops and will be put in handcuffs in front of other children and taken away. That child that might only be six or eight years old and be taken away from their parents and likely be put in juvenile detention. A broken rule that might have previously only needed the parents to come for a meeting with the teachers, now means the parents will instead have to go to court and at last have fine to pray. There seems to be this push, especially in the poorer neighborhoods to lock up as many kids as possible.
Jamie is a school to prison pipeline victim. His story is here to read starting on this blogs opening page. I invite you to spend some time here reading posts of his letters from prison or listening to the music written for the book I’m writing located at the last page through the menu button at the top of the site.