Hungerstrikes in NWDC and Boycott of Keefe Prison Commissary

April 28, 2017

Over Fifty Detainees Continue On Hunger Strike as Public Pressure Grows Against NWDC | Up to 100 Detainees Boycott Keefe Commissary Services

Tacoma, WA – Immigrants incarcerated at the Northwest Detention Center continued their protest of poor conditions inside the Tacoma immigration prison through a third week. NWDC Resistance confirmed that at least 50 detainees are refusing to eat, and as many as 100 are extending their protest to boycotting the commissary.

As community concerns grew, GEO Group Vice President wrote an April 15th op-ed claiming that “banning a private immigration detention facility… could hurt the very residents in the care of immigration authorities.” Those on hunger strike directly contradicted GEO’s claims that the private-prison company offers “humane” services, stating, “If this is called humane treatment, well I am sorry because I call this inhumane treatment and protecting their own economic interests.” On Tuesday, April 25th, Tacoma City Council held a public hearing to discuss halting plans for the facility’s expansion. In the packed hearing, NWDC Resistance presented a petition with over 600 signatures calling on Tacoma City Council to act against deplorable health conditions at the NWDC.

Hunger strikers demand minimal living standards:
1) lower prices in commissary
2) have contact visits [rather than talking on a phone through a clear plastic wall]
3) pay more than $1 to workers [per day]
4) better food

Commissary prices rose dramatically just before the hunger strikes began, decreasing detainees’ access to food, clothes, and toiletries. As a result, almost 100 people are currently boycotting Keefe Commissary Network, the only story they can purchase from while in detention. Keefe Commissary Network is a private corporation that has sparked other lawsuits, notably one that revealed how much more people had to pay for basic goods in privately run facilities (as opposed to state-run facilities).

To learn more about the case, check out “How one inmate discovered his private prison was ripping him off — and took his warden to court” at http://fusion.net/how-one-inmate-discovered-his-private-prison-was-rippin-1793861999

For live updates on activism at the NWDC, visit: 
https://www.facebook.com/NWDCResistance/

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NWDC Resistance is a volunteer community group that emerged to fight deportations in 2014 at the now-infamous Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, WA as part of the #Not1More campaign, and supported people detained who organized hunger strikes asking for a halt to all deportations and better treatment and conditions.

Free California Movement: Abolish the ‘legal’ slavery provision of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

A statement from the NCTT-Cor-SHU:

The NCTT-COR-SHU is geared up to launch a grassroots campaign, in conjunction with other human rights activists on the inside and outside to abolish the ‘legal’ slavery provision of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which allows for the enslavement, involuntary servitude, and ‘civil death’ of prisoners, parolees and EVERYONE convicted of a crime in the U.S.

This provision is the civil basis for prisoners and ex-prisoner disenfranchisement, compulsory prison labor, ‘legal’ labor and housing discrimination for those segments of the population who most need fair access, disfavorable access to legal redress, a diminished standard of 1st Amendment and other essential constitutional protections, diminished access to educational, vocational, and higher learning opportunities, and most damaging to society as a whole – legitimizing the dehumanization of these citizens under the ‘law.’

The primary vehicle we will seek to employ this campaign nationally is the formation of the “Free California Movement,” in conjunction with prisoners across the state, while encouraging the formation and solidarity of other “Free… Movements” in every state in the Union. We recognize that each state’s prison system has its own unique contradictions (for example, in many southern states, prison labor is wholly uncompensated, while in California many prison jobs come with a pennies on the dollar slave wage, and other institutions have P.I.A. compensation for prison labor), but what is UNIVERSAL across the nation is all of the dehumanizing, discriminatory and inhumane statutes prisoners and former prisoners are subject to – be they prison regulations or penal codes- ALL flow from the ‘legal’ slavery provision of the 13th Amendment.

We will be reaching out to prisoners, activists, progressives, family members, friends and citizens from all walks of life in the coming months to support this vital effort which is key to positively resolving the malignant contradiction of rampant inequality and social alienation in American society. We hope we can count on your support looking forward.

Dec. 28, 2014

NCTT-Cor-SHU

CSP-Corcoran-SHU, CA 93212

Former VT Prison Inmate’s Slavery Lawsuit Allowed To Move Forward

From: Boston CBS Local
August 4th 2012

BURLINGTON, VT (CBS) – A unique lawsuit filed against the state of Vermont is being allowed continue in the courts. A man is suing Vermont’s prison system, claiming they violated his 13th Amendment rights under the Constitution. The 13th Amendment bans slavery.

Finbar McGarry was a PhD student at the University of Vermont when he was arrested in December 2008 for a domestic disturbance.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030′s Mark Katic talks about the case with David Frank of Lawyer’s Weekly

Charges were eventually dropped, but for six weeks, he says he was forced to work 14-hour days in the prison laundry for $0.25 an hour.

McGarry says that is slavery. He is suing for 1$1 million.
Dismissed by a lower court, on Friday the 2nd US Circuit Court ruled the lawsuit can proceed.

Read more: http://boston.cbslocal.com/2012/08/04/former-vt-prison-inmates-slavery-lawsuit-allowed-to-move-forward/

Here is an article about the lawsuit on Reuters:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/03/us-vermont-slavery-idUSBRE8721EJ20120803

The U.S. System of Punishment: an expanding balloon of wealth, racism and greed

by Jenny Truax on October 28, 2010
From: Jesus Radicals

A few years ago at a Karen House community meeting, Tony brought a reading for discussion. He had just finished the book “Are Prisons Obsolete?” by Angela Davis, and read some quotes, asking us to consider the question: are prisons, in fact, obsolete?

To be honest, I was shocked by the question. I considered the prison, while probably unjust, to be as ingrained an institution as churches, schools, and apple pie. I understood the Catholic Worker Aims and Means, but had never applied them to the U.S. system of punishment. As anarchists and pacifists, we in the Catholic Worker try to reflect on the root causes of violence, where resources are allocated, and how systems (like the prison system) affect the poor. We believe that a decentralized society might better serve people’s needs better. At Karen House, we see that the majority of the women who stay with us have either been in jail before, or have a family member who has been in jail. Many of their offenses were drug-related, and many of their lives have been uprooted by long incarcerations. At Karen House, we read in the papers about white-collar criminals (who may have stolen millions) and even peers receiving very light penalties, and we live with women who have received years-long sentences for drug and poverty/property related offenses.

Most of us have a general sense that laws in the U.S. overly-penalize people who happen to be poor, and who happen to not be white. But we also have a deeply-held belief that the system, though flawed, is basically just, and that wrong-doers deserve the punishment they receive. We like the neat package of “3 strikes you’re out” and automatic sentencing. In the words of Angela Davis: “Prison frees us from considering the complex problems of racism and poverty (and increasingly, global capitalism,) by creating an abstract place in which to put evil-doers.”1

Beginnings..

Around the time of the American Revolution, new forms of punishment for criminals were adopted in the United States. Before this time, criminals awaited death or physical punishment while in a prison. Later, the penitentiary itself became the consequence. Inmates would become rehabilitated, or penitent, with manual labor and solitude to reflect upon wrong-doings. This change was seen as a progressive, more humane method of dealing with criminals.

The prison system in the U.S. remained generally unaltered until the Civil War ended. Following the Civil War, slavery was abolished as a private institution, but the cleverly worded 13th Amendment provided a very large exception, stating: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime…shall exist within the United States.” In the ensuing months and years, states revised the Slave Codes into new “Black Codes,” imprisoning former slaves for acts such as missing work, handling money carelessly, and performing “insulting gestures.” A massive influx of former slaves into the penitentiary resulted, a new form of slavery was born, and the racialization of the U.S. punishment system took root. The unpaid labor of the newly created, mostly black, convict lease system helped the South achieve industrialization.

Read more here on the Jesus Radicals site.