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July 29, 2015

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Former prisoners meet to form a movement: Feb. 28-March 2 in Alabama

Former prisoners meet to form a movement: Feb. 28-March 2 in Alabama
SF Bay View, Feb 18th, 2011

On Feb. 28-March 2, 2011, a group of activists who have first-hand experience regarding inhumanities of the American prison industrial complex will convene in Alabama to lay the groundwork for a national civil rights movement. This conference of affected peoples grows out of broader momentum over the past decade, with many formerly incarcerated activists unifying to establish their own conference, for their own agenda, … as part of their own movement.

“What you are seeing now in Georgia,” says Pastor Kenny Glasgow of The Ordinary People’s Society (TOPS), “is a response to inhumane prison conditions and thousands of people’s sense of hopelessness.” He is referring to the Dec. 9 prison labor stoppage across the Georgia system, the largest prisoner protest in American history. “It has become so systematic,” he says, “the prison industry has managed to unite us.” Over 3,000 people have signed a solidarity petition in support of the prisoners.

America, with 5 percent of the planet’s population, holds 25 percent of the prisoners. The 2.3 million exist in a gulag of state, federal and for-profit prisons, while nearly 10 million people currently live under some manner of government supervision. This would be the eighth largest state in the nation. It is unknown exactly how many millions have a criminal record, or are family of those who have once been inside the prison industrial complex, but some estimates exceed 10 million released prisoners in America and 50 million with criminal records.

TOPS Youth is only one of the many activities of The Ordinary People's Society in Dothan, Alabama. Others are the Prodigal Child Project, Restoring the Family, Momma Tina's Soup Kitchen and maintaining the TOPS complex and church. TOPS has earned 501c (3) and 501c (4) nonprofit status.

Linda Evans, co-founder of All of Us or None, puts this gathering in a historical perspective: “Holding the first of two national gatherings at the epicenter of the civil rights struggle is a symbolic action of great power, invoking similar moments such as Stonewall, the Great Grape Boycott, and the Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments. The rights of prisoners, including those who were there and those who are targeted to go there, need all of us to share our wisdom and unite our struggle.” Events will occur in Montgomery, Dothan and Selma, including a backwards march over Edmund Pettis Bridge.

The conference is being organized by a Steering Committee consisting of Malik Aziz (Philadelphia), Susan Burton (Los Angeles), Pastor Kenny Glasgow (Dothan, Alabama), Arthur League, Aaliyah Muhammed and Dorsey Nunn (San Francisco/Oakland), Bruce Reilly (Providence) and Tina Reynolds (New York). Participants will be putting aside their local struggles in order to develop a common platform regarding restoration of civil rights, stopping prison expansion, elimination of excessive punishments and protecting the dignity of family members. The Steering Committee will organize dozens of others to convene in Alabama.

Rev. Kenneth Glasgow, shown here in his church, was a leading member of the team that went into Georgia prisons and met with prison officials following the sit-down strike by thousands of prisoners across the state that started Dec. 9. They followed up on prisoners’ demands, investigated reports of brutal reprisals and sought information on 37 prisoners missing since the strike and labeled as organizers.

We need donations, frequent flyer miles, motel rooms or any help you can give those who may not be able to come on their own

The Alabama Convention will be the beginning for activating a movement. Next stop: Los Angeles, on Nov. 1, 2011. Allies and supporters should send donations, via paypal, at www.theordinarypeoplesociety.com or by mail to: TOPS, 403 W. Powell Street, Dothan, AL 36303, to assist with the expenses of the event. People can also get involved, as participants or supporters, by supporting civil rights of the formerly incarcerated. A political agenda will be established by a collaborative process and provide opportunity for strategic support.

This national conference is supported by All of Us or None, World Conference of Mayors, Drug Policy Alliance, The Ordinary People Society, Equal Justice Initiative, Rev. Al Sampson, Dr. C.T. Vivian, Prodigal Child Project, National Justice Coalition, Rev. Al Sharpton, New Bottom Line, National Second Chance Council, National Exhoodus Council, A New Way of Life, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, Women on the Rise Telling HerStory (WORTH), Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE), MN Second Chance Coalition and others.

Those seeking more information should contact Dorsey Nunn at dorsey@prisonerswithchildren.org or (415) 516-9599 or Pastor Kenny Glasgow, alabamaalliance@yahoo.com or (334) 791-2433. Visit TOPS on the web at www.wearetops.org, www.theordinarypeoplesociety.com, wearetops.blogspot.com or www.ordinarypeoplenews.com.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ohio Prison Emergency Summit: 26 Feb

Lucasville Uprising Freedom Network, 216-925-9108 lucasvillefreedom@gmail.com

“PRISON EMERGENCY SUMMIT”: ALL-DAY CONFERENCE AT CLEVELAND STATE UNIVERSITY ON SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 26, CALLED BY COMMUNITY GROUPS IN CONJUNCTION WITH CSU’S BLACK STUDIES DEPARTMENT

Using the success of the recent hunger strike of three Lucasville uprising prisoners at Ohio State Penitentiary as a jumping off point, the Lucasville Uprising Freedom Network has reached out to community groups, student organizations, academics with special interest in prison issues and prisoner advocacy networks to form an exciting conference at Cleveland State University. The Prison Emergency Summit will start with registration, refreshments and networking at 9:00 am on Saturday, Feb. 26. The presentations by keynote speakers will begint at 10:00 am. Six workshops on topics of pressing concern will take place in the afternoon.

“It is always good to introduce a wide variety of knowledge,” stated Dr. Michael Williams, Director of the CSU’s Black Studies Department. The conference will be taking place in Lecture Hall #201 and smaller break out rooms, one floor above the department, which is Room #MC137 in the Main Classroom Building at 1899 E. 22nd Street at Chester Avenue.

One of the highlights of the conference will be the screening of “Dark Little Secret,” a new documentary by Youngstown filmmaker D Jones, examining the U.S. prison system. D Jones is an Instructor in the Department of Theatre and Film at Bowling Green State University.

Conference topics will include: the campaign to overturn the false convictions of the Lucasville uprising prisoners; the strike of 20,000 prisoners in Georgia; Mumia Abu-Jamal, Imam Al-Amin and other political prisoners; the privatization of Ohio’s prisons; and whether today’s prisons represent the re-imposition of slavery. There will also be cultural presentations, including drumming and poetry.

A partial list of co-sponsors of the Prison Emergency Summit includes: Lucasville Uprising Freedom Network, New Black Panther Party-Cleveland Link, Black on Black Crime Inc., Survivors/Victims of Tragedy Inc., Peoples Fightback Center, Workers World Party, Cleveland FIST, Oppressed Peoples Nation, LOOP (Loved Ones Of Prisoners), Cleveland Anarchist Black Cross, and the Joaquin Hicks Real People Movement. For more info, call 216-925-9108 or email lucasvillefreedom@gmail.com .

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hawai'i prisoner held in private prison in AZ speaks out on money being earned on prisoners

I've been encouraging the prisoners I correspond with lately to write about their experiences, perspectives, etc. so I can publish them. This is one of the first responses I've received to that invitation. The author's address is below if anyone wants to discuss his thoughts with him; he took some risk doing this so others could get a look inside the place. We're going to keep in touch just to make sure he makes parole as scheduled without any problems from CCA.


So, heads up there, CCA. I'm inside your prisons, now, too.


- Peg, Arizona Prison Watch


----------------------------------------


January 27, 2011

To those who want to know the truth:

My name is Thad Thompson. I'm from Hawai'i. I'm currently incarcerated in Hawaii's Department of Public Safety. I am presently at a private CCA (Corrections Corporation of America) facility named Saguaro Correctional Center over here in Arizona.

Where do I start, y'all? This place is a disgrace to all decent humanity. First of all, I'd like you to think about what it means to be a "private" facility. Yes it means that these places are owned and operated just like Walmart. THESE PLACES ARE FOR PROFIT!!! Everything they do, they are actually trying to keep people locked up so that they can make money. As a cowboy or cattle ranchers main product is cattle, his or her main focus is to exploit, or make money off of, cattle. And so as a private facility's main products are prisoners we prisoners are exploited to make money off of. Things are bad and only getting worse.

To give you a specific example of how bad it is, listen to this. There's this program here called the SHIP (Special Housing Incentive Program) which is a program completely devised and ran by CCA. They claim it's a rehabilitation program. And by presenting this program to the State of Hawaii they got MORE money per head then the average for each bed occupied in this program. So if you think about this,  you'd see that these guys are locking us up in a program which has similar to Supermax housing for 18 months for no other reason but to get this extra money. They totally fabricated write-ups and situations to put anyone they want into this program. And in this program we're going without proper hygiene (i.e. lotion, deodorant, etc.) warm clothing, or even cleaning chemicals. I could go on and on.

And then to top off all that these guys are literally making stuff up to issue out write-ups while in this program which in the end end holds people back longer in this program. What they're doing is making sure this program is filled with as many inmates as possible!! More inmates means more money.

For another example of how bad things are and are getting worse, check this out. Hawai'i has had inmates in CCA facilities since 1995. In 2007 Hawai'i bought and built its own facility (this one) to be filled only with Hawai'i inmates as we were previously spread out among a few different CCA's across the country. In 2010, only 2 1/2 years after arriving our population experienced its first and second murders (inmate on inmate) ever, since being involved with CCA facilities. And also we've had a severe beating of a staff member here which all shows that the amount of abuse being committed against us is starting to take it's toll and the negative effects are showing. You can only beat a dog so much before it will start to act up and bite back.

I hear this abuse here is being explained all over the internet. Take a look. Maybe you can help. I'm still here!!!

E a me aloha,

Thad Thompson #A5013250
Saguaro Correctional Center
1252 East Arica Rd
Eloy, AZ 85131

Cuba: Jailed journalists on hunger strike

From: Reporters without Borders
Friday 4 February 2011

Pedro Argüelles Morán, one of four journalists in jailed Cuba, began a hunger strike 1 February to protest against the authorities’ efforts to force him into exile as the price for freeing him.


Reporters Without Borders has appealed to him and another jailed journalist Albert Santiago du Bouchet, who has also started a hunger strike, to call off their action.

“At the same time we call on the Cuban authorities to listen to reason and recognize that those journalists still in jail have the inalienable right to live in their own country and to exercise their right to inform there,” the press freedom body said.

“This deafness is the more incomprehensible in that one of the 41 dissidents freed, out of the 52 envisaged, has had the right to stay in Cuba given to him.

“The government in Havana, bound by its international commitments in the field of human rights, cannot make its own citizens stateless.”

Pedro Argüelles Morán is one of the three journalists behind bars since the “Black Spring” of March 2003, the others being Iván Hernández Carrillo and Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez. Their refusal to leave the country has kept them in jail.

During this time four other prisoners whose names did not originally appear on the list of those who could be freed to go to Spain from July 2010 have agreed to leave shortly for Madrid.

Reporters Without Borders understands that Pedro Argüelles Morán was summoned on 20 January by the director of the prison at Canaleta in the province of Ciego de Ávila, where he is serving a jail sentence of 20 years for his opinions under the false pretext of “espionage.”

During the interview the director, aided by two state officials, tried to persuade him to leave the country as a way of getting out of prison. Pedro Argüelles Morán, almost blind and very weak after seven years in detention, refused, repeating that he was innocent, and demanded the right to stay in his country as a Cuban citizen.

He is reported to have refused to take a call from the archbishop of Havana, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, who had negotiated the recent liberation of political prisoners with the Spanish government and Cuban authorities.

His hunger strike comes as the first anniversary approaches of the death of the dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who died in prison from a lack of medical care after 80 days of hunger strike.

In a gesture of respect Albert Santiago du Bouchet has decided in his turn to stop taking food from 1 February for 23 days. He was given three years for “disrespect for authority” in 2009.

Reporters Without Borders called on the two men to stop their hunger strikes.

“The death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, which profoundly affected international opinion, was not without influence on the process of the freeing of the dissidents,” the press freedom body said.

“A year later, do the authorities want to create other insoluble situations by giving political prisoners the choice between prison and losing their roots?”

Separately, Reporters Without Borders hopes very shortly to know the reasons for the arrest and detention since 11 July last year in Cuba of Sebastián Martínez Ferrate. He is a Spanish former producer and freelance journalist who in 2008 produced a report on child prostitution in Cuba. He ceased his activities in 2009 well before his last visit to Cuba.

"Reporters Without Borders hopes, in the absence of clear explanations on the part of the Cuban authorities, that this detention is not connected to the journalistic work previously carried out by Sebastián Martínez Ferrate,” the organization said.

“The Cuban government has, according to our sources, apparently put forward reasons relating to national security. We have not forgotten that this type of argument has regularly been used to send to prison journalists who were only carrying out their duties.”

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