"Take No Prisoners"

Archive for February, 2011|Monthly archive page

“New Afrikan Criminology Academy” (Pelican Bay State Prison)

In Reports From Inside on 25/02/2011 at 04:22

Mission Statement

One of the primary crisis facing the New Afrikan (aka: Afrikan-Amerikan) community is our inability to resolve the gang and crime problem which plagues our communities across the country. The government and law enforcement agencies have merely politically and economically exploited this epidemic. Tax dollars are being diverted towards flooding our communities with police and building new prisons for the incarceration of our young people. People’s tax dollars are being misused, and would be better used to build new schools or support proven effective social programs that we know/will/have worked to deter our youth from criminal activities. The government has provided us with little to nothing to solve this crisis, and yes, it has reached epidemic proportion; a crisis equivalent to a self-imposed genocide. Thousands of our young people are dying annually across the country as a direct result of this crisis. Thousands of them are also being incarcerated monthly as a direct result to this crisis. We can no longer afford to depend on the government or law enforcement agencies; it is time for us to take the lead in this campaign. If we fail to act, we will continue to create a generation of dysfunctional and unstable communities.

The New Afrikan Criminology Academy (N.A.C.A.) is a think tank that will consist of New Afrikan scholars, students, community activists, and politically conscious prisoners with a long and consistent history of serving the community. We strongly encourage volunteers irrespectively of race and/or nationality.

The goal of the N.A.C.A. is four-fold:

1. To develop comprehensive literature designed to help our people understand the gang and crime problems in our communities.

2. To develop solutions to the gang and crime problem that plagues our communities.

3. To serve as a consultant advisory council instructing our communities on how to develop the necessary community-based institutions specifically designed to eradicate gang violence, crime, and drugs from our communties.

4. To challenge the criminalization of our people and community.

The N.A.C.A. is presently a division of the http://www.sojournertruthfarmschool.org. This is a non-profit group dedicated to saving our children/youth. We are only at the development stages, but no one can deny the need for our N.A.C.A. We will go beyond rhetoric and propaganda to focus on solutions because we are solution oriented. The N.A.C.A. is not about destroying our young, we are totally subordinate to the needs of our community. We approach our young people with love and understanding. The government’s approach to our young troubled pupils is prison. This has not resolved any gang conflicts. Their approach only pitted our community against each other; the young against the old. Our philosophy is rooted in our love for our young people. The key to our success is earning the trust of the gang members because without that trust our young gang members won’t listen to us. We can only reach them if they trust. If they think we are working with the cops, they won’t support our programs. We intend to transform the Black street gangs into community-based organizations committed to serving our communities.

People, we as a community cannot move forward in prosperity until we effectively address the internal issues such as gang violence, crime and drugs. It is our responsibility to do something about it. We can no longer afford to just sit and do nothing and giving up on our young people is NEVER an option. We are losig thousands of our young people annually due to gang violence and thousands monthly due to incarceration. Our communities are like factories producing raw commodity for the prison industrial slave-complex to exploit, import, and export capital goods; property fo the state!!! If you fail or refuse to make an effort to save our young people and community, you forfeit your right to criticize them or complain about the conditions of our communities. Either stand up and get involved, or sit down and shut the hell up!!! We are more qualified to solve this crisis than anyone else, but your participation is imperative!!

New Afrikan Criminology Academy

PO BOX 311, Poolesville, MD 20837

Attn: Prof. Dorothy B. Fardan

http://www.sojournertruthfarmschool.org

 

“Insiders ‘tour’ of Pelican Bay” (Pelican Bay State Prison)

In Reports From Inside on 23/02/2011 at 06:41

Concerning your recent “sanitized” prison tour of Pelican Bay, I was not surprised nor should you be. Little humorous, if nothing else, as you explained your prison tour experience to KHSU viewers. Your description of SHU and the yards was a little vague and sketchy for the viewers out there, but, nonetheless, you meant well. Not an easy environment to describe off-the-cuff while being interviewed on the sir. Life in SHU is like being entombed inside a pyramid and the yards resembled an opened concrete grave, with a secured steel mesh roof, while traversing the yard. Not a pretty sight. A punch to the gut for newcomers: inmates & visitors.

The tour guide sounded like a joke. Typical. The powers-that-be always try to paint a pretty picture of SHU to the public. As far as inmates being childlike and needing guidance from prison guards, or something to that effect mentioned to visitors by tour guide, was laughable. Hilarious! The level of incompetence and outright stupidity I have witnessed by guards over the years in SHU has been mind-boggling! No kidding. Guidance is the last thing we would even need from them. A perfect example, on a small level, is the use of pruno (prison-made wine) in SHU. Lot of guys used to get drunk and act like fools and reate problems for the staff in the SHU. This has been going on since Dec ’89. In the beginning prison officials stopped issuing oranges and grapefruits to end the problem, to no avail. After two or three years, prison officials removed “sugar cubes” from the SHU commissary. That didn’t work either and they still got plenty drunk in the SHU. Many years later, kool-aid and tang drink mix was eliminated from annual food package list (back then, you could get up to 25 lbs. of kool-aid or drink mix of you so desired). SHU inmates still got wasted and prison officials were baffled. Would you believe after 18 years they finally (!) figured out the solution to the problem: no more “state-issued” kool-aid in bag lunches. Last month they switched to “sugar-free” kool-aid instead. Problem solved. Sugar is the #1 ingredient needed to make wine. The annual package was not necessary when we were getting it everyday in the lunches. Pelican Bay is being run by a bunch of morons! Really.

I’ve been incarcerated since 1983 and here at Pelican Bay since ’89. After 13 years in the SHU, I was released to the general public (G.P.). It was the worst experience I had encountered in prison. I hated it! The only program they had going at the time was going to the showers and returning to the cells. We rarely made it outside to the yard and I never had an opportunity to go to the commissary (constant lock-downs). Very frustrating! I wanted to scream and pull my hair out! I was better off in the SHU; yard everyday and fresh air, and commissary every month like clockwork. There were other contributing factors about G.P. that made life miserable for everyone out there. Prison officials were directly responsible for the misery and perpetual chaos among the prison population. You mentioned on the radio seeing inmates working in the prison industry with high-tech equipment. A lot of them guys are low-custody inmates and the majority of the G.P. don’t have jobs and spend most of their time on lockdown cooped up in cells.

Nowadays the quality of food is kind of -iffy. Some days are better than others, evening meals, but the breakfasts and bag lunches are very limited in variety. Same thing everyday of the week all year long, year after year. Most of it-breakfast & lunch- bottom of the barrel type of food. Lot of sweet and bread items: french toast, over-baked pancakes at times, sweet rolls (mostly bread and less sweet). The “cream beef” used to be one of my favorite breakfast many years ago, but nowadays, it looks and tastes awful! And the lunch meat stinks to high heaven! I wouldn’t feed it to a dog. And the food trays always look yucky! When we receive them from the kitchen. I always wipe off the gook and mashed food along the surface of the tray with toilet paper before I start to eat. A very unappetizing sight to see. Real sloppy presentation.

Currently the cells are very cold at night and in the morning. Like a deep freezer for certain cell locations. The heating system for every SHU building is poor and practically nonexistent. Winter and fall it gets unreasonably cold and chilly inside the cells every year. Right now the best place to be housed is in a plexiglass-covered cell where the cells are much warmer. There are eight Lexan-shield (plexiglass) cells in every SHU building. Originally used as a form of punishment for inmates who pose a threat to others. Recently I was moved to another SHU building and was inadvertently housed in a regular cell (no Lexan-shield). I hadn’t been in a regular cell in almost two years. I swear. I felt like an eskimo trapped inside an igloo- it was freezing cold! The following day they realized the mistake and re-housed me to a Lexan-shield covered cell. I could not have been more happier. Like a blessing in disguise.

 

“A people already invisible can be easily made to disappear!” (PBSP)

In Reports From Inside on 23/02/2011 at 05:52

I’m writing once again to share a few observations. The medical system has somewhat improved, but there are still significant problems. The food has been cut back a great deal. We are not getting the recommended 2,000 calorie diet. There are not any positive programs or art programs. People are locked in cells 23 hours a day. There are so many people who require psychological services it’s crazy. Their solution is to medicate with “chemical restraint” and place you in a cell to suffer even more. In fact, if one has systematically and diabolically tried to create mental illness, one could probably have constructed no better system than the California Department of “corruptions” and “rehabilitation.”

It’s my observation as a person of color that we Black men born in America and blessed enough to live past the age of twenty-one are psychologically conditioned to accept the inevitability of being sent to a “corrections” facility. For most of us, it simply looms as the next phase in a sequence of profound humiliations. I’m not a psychologist or criminologist, but it seems pretty clear to me that the real roots of crime in America are associated with a constellation of suffering so hideous that, as a society, it cannot bear to look it in the face. So it hands its casualties of war over to a system that will keep us from it’s sight!

It’s taken this experience to see that “crime,” in most instances, is the product of desperation- despair born of poverty, community decay, and the sense that the future is merely a continuation of the past, and certainly no ground for hope.

In fact, it is a bitter irony that the high cost of prisons (10 billion just in California) cute into the health, education, and social services needed by the very people who, lacking such supports, often end up in prison.

From my own observations, it is also quite clear that people who are denied human needs; such as adequate contact with loved ones, a decent private space to live in, some control over our own environment, some productive outlet, and a chance to learn and grow become increasingly resentful. Fear; hostility, and confusion well up inside of prisoners.

Please forgive me for venting all of this, but my pen (voice) is all I have right now.

In solidarity and towards justice.

P.S. A people already invisible can be easily made to disappear!

“The Ugly Truth About Prisons And Our Society”

In Reports From Inside on 07/02/2011 at 22:15

Imprisonment is usually justified by appeals to one of two philosophies: protecting the public or rehabilitating the prisoners. By either standard, however, the evidence is overwhelming that prisons do not work. In fact, if one had systematically and diabolically tried to create mental illness, one could probably have constructed no better system than the American prison system.

In this context, the image of the ‘bleeding-heart liberal’ -that universal object of scorn- is one that deserves particular scrutiny. Implicit in this characterization is an assumption that public safety and social justice are somehow at odds- that policies which protect the civil rights of prisoners or challenge racism in the prison systems cannot really be effective in stopping crime.
A far more compelling case can be made that social justice is a requirement for public safety. Racism and economic bias are structural features of the U.S. prison system. Understanding this relationship can yield important insights into why that system functions so poorly to protect the public.
At present, the United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the industrialized world. Nonetheless, crime continues to plague our society to a degree unknown in other countries- which do not come close to America’s rate of imprisonment.
Studies have shown that more than 90% of the adult population has committed offenses that are punishable by imprisonment. Few, however, actually go to prison.
Contrary to public belief, the seriousness of a crime is not the most crucial element in predicting who goes to prison and who does not. Society’s losses from ‘white-collar crime’ far exceed the economic impact of all burglaries, robberies, larcenies and auto thefts combined. Nonetheless the former class of criminals are far less likely to go to jail or prison than the latter.
What does determine who goes to prison? A large part of the answer certainly is race. Black men born in America and fortunate to live past the age of twenty are psychosocially conditioned to accept the inevitability of being sent to a so-called ‘correctional facility.’ For most of us, it simply looms as the next phase of profound humiliations. Nationwide, the rate of imprisonment for African-Americans is nine times that of Euro-Americans. In ten states, all in the north, the incarceration rate for African-Americans is more than fifteen times that for whites. Another striking indicator or institutional racism is the lengths of prison terms. When time served is compared for similar offenses- including first-time offenders- African-Americans serve far longer sentences than whites.
The discussion above is not intended to minimize the seriousness of crime, whether violent or not. The point is rather that swelling the prison population has failed to reduce crime. The racial and economic bias built into the prison system also works against crime victims. Poor people and people of color are also he most frequent victims of crime, and they stand to suffer the most from repressive policies that fail to stop, and in many cases fuel, criminal activities.
Prisons illustrate how racial and economic discrimination reinforce one another. As noted above, prison inmates are drawn from the ranks of the economically marginalized of all races. As an institution however, prisons have a far greater impact on communities of color, because of their disproportionate representation in prison populations.
The social policies of the 1980’s and 1990’s up until now have caused an unprecedented increase in the numbers of people living in poverty in the United States, as well as a widening gap between the incomes and living standards of the rich and poor. Throughout this entire period, prison populations grew rapidly. With budgets slashed for every ┬átype of social service, prisons now stand out as the country’s principal government program for the poor.
If you go back in history and plot the population of all prisons and compare it to all the other variables you can think of, you will find a positive correlation only with unemployment. The higher the rate of joblessness, the higher the rate of prison commitments. It doesn’t take a P.h.D. in economics or criminology to see the patterns.
Ironically, in many cases prisons have been touted as a solution to economic decline, especially in rural areas like Crescent City, California. Prisons, filled with unemployed people of color, along with poor whites, from the inner cities, are being sold to economically depressed rural communities as a source of jobs for their growing numbers of unemployed- who are usually poor whites. Again, with local and national economies ailing in many parts of America, local and national ‘leaders’ often see a potential state or federal prison as a recession-proof economic base. In fact, prisons are more than ‘recession-proof: they are the one industry next to war that greatly benefits from recession. Actually, in many cases the two industries overlap.
From architects to academics, who study prisoners and the prison system, from food service vendors to health care firms, from corrections bureaucrats to psychologists and social workers, there is a lot of money to be made from the proliferation of prisons. The cost is estimated at $13.2 billion for California alone.
It is bitter irony that the high cost of prisons cuts into health, education and social services needed by the very people who, lacking such supports, often end in prison! The real roots of crime in America are associated with a constellation of suffering so hideous, like at Pelican Bay State Prison, that, as a society, it cannot bear to look it in the face. So it hands its casualties over to a system that will keep us from its sight.
If one views the U.S. prison system as a reasonable response to lawbreaking, then crime, violence and drugs seem like problems that can never be solved. To gain a deeper understanding of the purpose of prisons, it is far more helpful to analyze them as a response to major recent transformations of the U.S. economy: capital flight, the shift to a service-secotr economy, the depopulation of the inner cities, an increasingly segmented labor force, the economic marginalization of communities of color, the rise in youth unemployment, and the defunding of social services of every description.
Crime could be fought by increasing the participation of poor communities in educational, social and economic institutions. The money poured into maintaining the prison systems of America, which exceeds $200 billion a year, is money which could be used to create jobs, improve education and training, and stimulate economic activities. President Obama didn’t include this is his ‘stimulus package.’
Instead, the social policies of the last decade have reflected a consistent choice to abandon poor communities, especially communities of color, to increasing dislocation and the inevitable growth of ‘criminal’ activity, which is quite criminal in itself. As a result, our society is polarized further and further- not only into the haves and have-nots, but also into the incarcerators and the incarcerated.
Meanwhile, African so-called ‘Americans’ and other people of color are stigmatized as criminals and drug addicts, through media images that subtly (and not so subtly) mask the equal participation of whites in the culture of addiction, crime, and violence. The deepening polarization of society thus becomes a self-perpetuating cycle- in which the image of the criminal ‘under-class’ is used to garner support for the very policies that greatly contribute to the destruction of poor urban communities.
It has been said that ‘the truth shall set you free.’ But the truth does more. It indicts, it convicts, it rends and shreds excuses, denials and the simple ability to live at peace with the past. The truth is hard, which is why people often choose instead the soft comfort of lies.