By Eric Ortiz for TruthDig. Starting Sept. 9, prisoners in the United States will begin a coordinated effort to shut down prisons across the country. They plan to stop working in correctional institutions. Without prisoners doing their jobs, these facilities cannot be run. According to Support Prisoner Resistance, the nationwide prisoner work stoppage will serve as a protest against prison slavery, the school-to-prison pipeline, police terror and post-release controls. Prisoners organizing the strike are not making demands or requests in the usual sense. They are calling themselves to action in a planned protest and want every prisoner in every state and federal institution across America to “stop being a slave.” Some people may bristle at the notion that prisoners are slaves, but they are forced to work for little or no pay.
By Jose Manuel Lopez of TodosUnidosDescolonizarPR. Bayamon,Puerto Rico – Our partner, reporter and political activist Edwin Chungo Molina is promoting an interesting campaign to force the United States (US) government to release Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera. Oscar has served 34 years in a US prison for exercising his inalienable right to use all means necessary to decolonize Puerto Rico. The US government is the criminal for ignoring 34 United Nations (UN) resolutions asking it to immediately decolonize Puerto Rico. In 1960, the UN determined democratically that colonialism is a crime against humanity because it threatens world peace.
By Leonard Peltier for CounterPunch. Coleman, FL – What can I say that I have not said before? I guess I can start by saying see you later to all of those who have passed in the last year. We Natives don’t like to mention their names. We believe that if we speak their names it disrupts their journey. They may lose their way and their spirits wander forever. If too many call out to them, they will try to come back. But their spirits know we are thinking about them, so all I will say is safe journey and I hope to see you soon. On February 6th, I will have been imprisoned for 40 years! I’m 71 years old and still in a maximum security penitentiary. At my age, I’m not sure I have much time left.
By Staff of Free Marrissa Now – Together, members of Stand With Nan-Hui, Love & Protect, California Coalition of Women Prisoners, and the Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign recognized that the criminalization and punishment of survivors of gender violence is a widespread problem embedded in systems of domestic & sexual violence, prosecution, incarceration, and policing. We organized several twitter discussions to keep the spotlight on these issues and helped advocate for the immediate release of many other survivors such as Tondalo Hall, Cierra Finkley, Naomi Freeman, Rosa Martinez, Eisha Love, Rajeshree Roy, and Kelly Ann Savage.
By Chris Hedges for Truthdig – If you are poor, you will almost never go to trial—instead you will be forced to accept a plea deal offered by government prosecutors. If you are poor, the word of the police, who are not averse to fabricating or tampering with evidence, manipulating witnesses and planting guns or drugs, will be accepted in a courtroom as if it was the word of God. If you are poor, and especially if you are of color, almost anyone who can verify your innocence will have a police record of some kind and thereby will be invalidated as a witness.
By Judith Bello for Upstate Drone Coalition. On January 12, the National Day of Action to Stop Killer Drones, grandmother and drone resister Mary Anne Grady Flores learned that she is to go back to jail for six months starting Tuesday, January 19. Mary Anne had been out on appeal of a lower court convicting her of violating an order of protection. It had been given on behalf of Col. Evans of the Hancock Air National Guard Base 174th Attack Wing (in Syracuse, NY), to “protect” him from nonviolent anti-drone activists. She had been charged with violating the order while taking pictures of eight Catholics protesting the US drone assassination program at Hancock on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013. Onondaga County Court Judge Miller upheld the lower court conviction. Of note is that all eight Catholic drone resisters were acquitted because they went to uphold law, not break it.
By Tony Newman for Drug Policy Alliance – More than 1,500 folks from 71 countries met in the DC Metro area last month at the International Drug Policy Reform Conference to come up with an exit strategy from the unwinnable war on drugs. The gathering left people inspired and energized. One of the people who attended the conference was Jeff Mizanskey. Jeff was just released from prison a couple of months ago after serving 22 years behind bars. Jeff was serving a life sentence for marijuana. The draconian sentence was because of Missouri’s three strikes laws.
By Julia Craven for Huffington Post – Hillary Clinton was drowned out by student activists while introducing her criminal justice reform platform in Atlanta on Friday. Two of the student activists who interrupted Hillary Clinton’s rally Friday at Clark Atlanta University said the title of the event — “African Americans for Hillary” — explains why they decided to drown out the presidential candidate’s remarks. “That raises a question, because I’m wondering, why it isn’t Hillary for African Americans?” Avery Jackson, one of the students, told The Huffington Post. “Because that’s the issue. She continues to exploit the spaces that black people value.” “She doesn’t really express the centering and prioritizing of black issues, which are at the root American issues,” he continued. “I think we see that with the campaign — that she sees the issues of black people outside of the American agenda.” Clinton was at the university to unveil her criminal justice reform plan. She has been heavily criticized during the campaign for her past support for tough-on-crime initiatives that facilitated mass incarceration.
By Carl Dix for Stop Police Terror – We are just over a week away from #RiseUpOctober — three powerful days of action to STOP POLICE TERROR! This is so urgent and so important. Two new reports were just released trying to justify the police murder of 12 year old Tamir Rice! Also, this past weekend, tens of thousands of people went to DC as part of “Justice Or Else.” While the diversity and breadth of people joining together in Rise Up October certainly have different views on what went down in DC with “Justice or Else.” Momentum is building in many ways — last week we had a packed (more than 550 people, mainly students) event at Columbia University calling for #RiseUpOctober featuring Eve Ensler, Cornel West, Kimberle Crenshaw, Nicholas Heyward, Jamal Joseph and me.
By Alice and Staughton Lynd for Popular Resistance. Menard, IL – On September 23, 2015, at least 19 (and possibly as many as 22) men in Administrative Detention at the Menard Correctional Center began a hunger strike that ended on September 28. It was nearly a week after the hunger strike ended before we received any mail from them. The following is a composite account based on what they sent us, written on the first and last days of the hunger strike. Alice Lynd. Day 1, September 23, 2015 “On 9-23-15, after filing multiple grievances dealing with my diet tray, indeterminate seg hearings, yard conditions as well as living conditions, . . . and no response or action taken, I declared a peaceful hunger strike. . . . I declared my hunger strike only after trying multiple ways to bring relief to my issues which were and still are being completely ignored.”
By Marcus Harrison Green for Yes! Magazine – After a three-year crusade of protest, agitation, and organizing, a Seattle City Council meeting on September 21 brought a major victory to a diverse coalition of youth-prison abolitionists and anti-racist organizers. In a 9-0 unanimous decision, Seattle’s City Council passed a resolution that fully endorses the goal of zero-percent detention of youth, and called for the city to develop policies eliminating the necessity of their imprisonment. While Council Member Mike O’Brien introduced the resolution in a committee meeting last week, it originated with three organizations that advocate for the abolition of juvenile incarceration: Ending the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC), Youth Undoing Institutional Racism (YUIR), and the Seattle branch of the anti-racist organization European Dissent. “We wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the youth activists,” said Council Member Nick Licata prior to the resolution’s passage. “They’re the ones who created the huge pressure on the county and also the city.”
By Abby Martin for teleSur. United States – The Empire holds by far the most prisoners than any other country on earth, in both absolute numbers and per capita. Abby Martin explores the dark reality of America’s prisons: their conditions, who is warehoused in them, and the roots of mass incarceration. Featuring interviews with Eddie Conway, former political prisoner unjustly incarcerated for 44 years, and Eugene Puryear, author of “Shackled and Chained, Mass Incarceration in Capitalist America.”
By Jackie Miller of BANCO. Benton Harbor, MI – One answer comes to mind from my very first meeting with Pinkney in 2003. I drove from Lansing to Benton Harbor in southwest Michigan to witness a Berrien County Commissioners meeting soon after the Benton Harbor uprising. At that eye-opening introduction, white commissioners literally laughed at Black community members’ desperate appeals for justice for their young Black men, incarcerated or killed with impunity at a sickening rate. From this vignette straight out of the Jim Crow South, I left 90% white St. Joseph and crossed the bridge to Benton Harbor where well over 90% of the residents are Black and nearly half live in poverty according to census data.
By Jonathan Bix of Hudson Valley Black Lives Matter Coalition. Poughkeepsie, NY – On Thursday, the Hudson Valley Black Lives Matter Coalition and Samuel Harrell’s family and friends gathered in Hulme Park to call for justice for Mr. Harrell, a Black prisoner diagnosed with bipolar disorder who was killed by corrections officers at the Fishkill Correctional Facility. Fifty people gathered around enlarged photos of Mr. Harrell with his family, as his widow and sister spoke of their love for Samuel, their grief at his murder, and their commitment to fight until justice is won. The group marched down Market St., with several people wearing paper “bloody” hands and wearing signs with the names of the District Attorney (DA) and corrections officers known to have killed Samuel Harrell.
By Mike Ludwig in TruthOut. The prison industry in the United States has grown so large that there are no less than seven professional associations for people who work at prisons and jails. The industry conferences held by these associations provide a perfect venue for private corrections companies to influence government officials with little public oversight, according to a recent report by the watchdog group In The Public Interest (ITPI). The biggest names in the prison business spend millions of dollars sponsoring these conferences and wooing prison officials with free massages, awards ceremonies, luxury dinner cruises and plenty of corporate schwag. Over the past week, one of the most prominent associations, the American Correctional Association (ACA), held its summer conference in Indianapolis