Pell Grants to Be Restored for Prisoners

This is (the beginning of) very good news.

From Wall Street Journal:

Obama administration plans a 3- to 5-year test to see if college classes help reduce prison recidivism

By JOSH MITCHELL and JOE PALAZZOLO
July 27, 2015

The Obama administration plans to restore federal funding for prison inmates to take college courses, a potentially controversial move that comes amid a broader push to overhaul the criminal justice system.

Read the rest here.

Nevada Jurisprudence and Prison Report Vol 2, No. 5 (Summer 2012), published Dec. 2012

Nevada Jurisprudence and Prison Report

Vol. 2, No 5      “Veritas in Caritatis”            
Summer Issue 2012

THEME: “Audi alterum partem”
Listen to the other side!

“Voice of the Nevada Jurisprudence and Prison Report”
E-mail:  nvjprudence@gmail.com  
http://nvjprudence.wordpress.com

Statement of Purpose:

The NJPR Newsletter reports on current prison conditions, good and bad; more importantly it looks at and evaluates the legal processes and the substantive laws which are designed to keep men in prison: Pre-trial issues, probation and parole policy, sentencing structures, post-conviction law, and most important, the philosophy underlying policy in practice.

The purpose of the NJPR Website is to provide a repository of affidavits, declarations and grievances in Web-Dossiers organized by categories of intuitional behavior. Fundamentally, this is a whistleblowing organization trying to associate with other “transparency” projects at an intrastate, national and global level. We seek to identify patterns which can be utilized by the U.S. Department of Justice.

We invite any resident, and especially judicial officers of the Courts and government Administration to write letters to the NJPR.

Index to this Issue:

Section One: Conditions

1. Civil Actions Against NNCC Law Library Closures
2. Parole News: AB 85 Committee Report, Aug. 20 2012
3. Compassionate Release DOES Exist?
4. Cop Beaten by Inmate

Section TWO: Law, Equity and Policy

1.     Ex-Con Travel Passport Policy
2.     Quis custodiet ipsos custodies? Administrative Law Loopholes

Section Three: Art, Culture, Education and Religion

1.    “Christian” Hater Habits and Correspondence Policy
2.    Inmate Intellectual Activities at Rock Bottom
3.    Call for Fast Against Injustice
4.    Thoughts on Henry David Thoreau

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Section One: Conditions

1)   Civil Actions Against NNCC Law Library Closures

The prisoners at NNCC have voiced their grievance at both the Federal District Court and the local district state court. The Federal petition was kicked to the curb  apparently. The local action taken was a writ of mandamus/alternative. The court tried to chill the inmate litigants by illegally demanding a federal level of proof of indigency.

The closure of the law library is conjectured to be a long-range plan to lock-down the last remaining medium custody yard in the Nevada system. At this writing, the plan is to create a level system here, which is usually reserved for high security situations. The administrator has just informed the Prison Industry workers they will be moved from cell-designed unit four, to a barn designed unit 10. The battle against state sovereignty begin.

2)   Parole News: AB 85 Committee Report, Aug. 20 2012

The Nevada legislature created in 1999 an Advisory Committee to study the draconian sex laws and the registration requirements. NJPR wrote to the Legislative Counsel and received the minutes of its second report. The committee is monopolized by the “criminal justice community” members and under the dominium of the Executive branch Attorney General.

The meeting minutes express with great satisfaction that their laws now conform to the Federal SORNA, which threaten individual states with a 10% loss in Federal Justice Assistance Grants. The Parole and Probation Department come into the prison to break the “happy” news about the decrease of liberties for released inmates condemned for sex crimes, leaving behind public information pamphlets on the subject. The Legislative Counsel refused to send additional documents (exhibits) of the AB 85 Committee, instructing us to contact the boss of the Committee, the Attorney General. Separation of powers issue seem to be implied.

3)   Prisoner Let Go on Compassionate Release!!

Some months back, NJPR reported on the lack of statutory authority for releasing men to families to die. Our old friend Doug died stuck on the yard we reported; but recently another very ill man was actually let go! Which is great, but what is the procedure? Is it a new procedure? Is it covered by an Administrative regulation, or by legislative statute? Or does it come under the common law of executive clemency of the executive branch chief, the Governor of the State of Nevada?
              To be continued…

4)   Cop Taken on in Fisticuffs After Taunting Inmate Complaining of Broken Property

The custody managers of the prison decided to do a deep search of a barn-like housing units at NNCC, and the staff well instructed by their supervisor to be zealous. The result was the destruction of the property (some say it was a trivial Styrofoam dinner tray) of an inmate, who went up to the unit officer in a rage, yelling about his loss.

The officer did not respond with an apology about the breakage and the inconvenience. The officer responded with aggression and a throat of immediate arrest and placement in the “hole”. The inmate apparently took the Cop’s aggressive comments to be an invitation to have a boxing match, and commenced to pummel the officer to the ground. Why taunt? Is it smart? Is it respectful? Is it prudent? Is it in accordance to the Code of Professional Conduct?

Section Two: Law, Equity and Policy

1)   Felons and Ex-Felons, and Foreign Travel

We still receive lots of inquiries about the truth of U.S. Passport policy. This is taken verbatim from a letter from San Francisco Passport Agency:

“Indeed, the information you received is correct… Felons and ex-felons are allowed to apply for and receive passports; but please note there are exceptions to this rule. In certain circumstances, felons and ex-felons are given a “namecheck hold” status (depending on the specific circumstances) by law enforcement and when we receive a namecheck hold we are required to have these applications approved by our legal department  in Washington D.C. If legal approves these, we issue the passports. If legal does not approve these, we do not issue the passport and send the applicant a letter and advise them that their passport could not be issued at this time. Please note that in these circumstances, no refunds are given.”

2)   Quis custodiet ipsos custodies? Administrative Blind spots

There used to be, among the American people, a healthy distrust of the individual states. The people were wary of the state’s disrespect and disregard for constitutional rights of the United States, and would look to the federal government for the vindication of those rights. But the states have been able to utilize the coercive power of mass media to create a unanimous identity between the American individual person and the nation-state. This identity between the “people” and its government is the hallmark of the “totalness” of a totalitarian nation-state. But this merging of identity is an extremely new phenomena, and infects both camps of the struggle between “federalists” and “state’s rightists”. The first identifies with the federal government, the second is loyal only to the local despot over the federal agent. The tension of this social conflict is perceptible in the Supreme Court of the United States, especially in the Marshall-Brennan era.

For a good illustration of the attitude creep over time, let’s look at a passage from Coleman v. Thompson 501 U.S. 702, in the dissent of Blackmun, Marshall and Stevens. This is a case that “states rights” philosophy continues the trajectory towards totalitarianism through “its crusade to erect petty procedural barriers in the path of state prisoners” seeking justice in the federal courts, by creating a “Byzantine morass of arbitrary… impediments to the vindication of federal rights” but the right being eroded, the right to come to a higher law, springs from a duty, as all rights do—the duty of the federal courts to keep a vigil over the state’s treatment of its citizens. About the source of this duty, Blackmun notes: “Indeed the duty arose out of a distinct distrust of state courts, which  this court perceived as attempting to evade federal review.”

This distrust reflects the truth of power, and the high degree of corruptibility of governments at local levels, and the higher likelihood of the breakdown of the Republican form of government that prohibits the merging of the branches into a “total” state at the local level. It is a prudent habit of caution and the intellectual virtue of circumspection to “distrust” the political seats of power in the shadows of localities. Even the federal district courts are subject to passively give in to the pressures of the various pressures of the executive and legislative branches.

This healthy intellectual distrust of local governments is evident in the Supreme Court insofar as there are judges on that bench that have not swallowed the mythology of the “states rights” doctrine. The Supreme Court is more impossible than local courts due to three things: the dignity of the institution, the extremely high public visibility, and lack of local connections that could influence its Justices. These natural political prophylactics against corruption are not present in local state courts.

And they are not present in state prison mechanisms of local “justice communities”. Normally, both state and federal executive branch agencies are constrained by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments (respectively) to provide due process in the formulation of agency rules and the actions these agencies carry out upon the non-governmental social agencies of the Executive branch, although authorized and funded by the legislature.

But in Nevada (and probably many other states) the prison administration is EXEMPT from normal public participation, oversight and scrutiny as provided for by it Administrative Procedure Act. Nevada Revised Statute 233B.039 (1) (b) EXEMPTS the Nevada Department of Corrections from its rulemaking guidelines. Of course, the effect of this exemption is to make its operations invisible and secret. Even though Nevada has grand jury statutes that permits them to enter into prisons, this is a very rarely, if-ever-used vehicle to draw prison officials into the light of public scrutiny. The only reliable public participation in rulemaking by prison officials has been the end-user, prisoners themselves. But since local courts are now so much under the thumb of the executive and legislative branch, very little justice comes from courts. But that is all the more reason to keep up the good fight!

Section Three: Art, Culture, Education and Religion

1) Ely Chaplain Transfers to NNCC with Hater Habits

Chaplain Stogner came to NNCC after being brainwashed into Ely-style institutional hatred of human beings called inmates. His first Jesus-loving act was to tear down the Chapel schedule and cancel all “inmate-led” services and violated AR 810.3-7A “Inmate Facilitators”. Then he disinfected the chaplain office, installed a huge stereo-system apparently so he can thump his bibles to the beat of Christian-rock (a bizarre oxymoron).

A lawsuit is pending on several issues against his acts. One issue regards a threat he issued to an inmate for writing to the Roman Catholic Bishop Randelph Calvo. To make the story short, the inmate said “Reeaally?” and wrote a letter to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who wrote an e-mail back as follows:

“… Nevada State prison inmates corresponding to and receiving letters from ordained clergy who are also volunteers at the correctional center of the inmate, correspondence is permitted regarding religious matters of faith and morals. When this kind of communication occurs the ordained clergy is acting in the capacity of a professional for the Church and not a lay volunteer.”

As mentioned above, NRS 233B.039 (1) (b) exempts the Department of Corrections from the watchful eye of normal administrative rule-making and adjudication. This creates a dark shadow where citizens hired as staff are invited to be “role models” of the typical consumer culture I-do-what-I-want attitude!

2) Broken Record Tactics: Give Men Something to Do

The first thing Charles Dicken’s noticed about the Philadelphia experiment of mandatory solitary confinement was the amazing creative output of the inmates. The only alternative to stark raving madness was for the wardens of the … to give the inmates opportunities for intellectual stimulus and things to do with their hands.

The Nevada policy is to drive men stark raving mad so that the resulting raving madness can become propaganda that brainwashing (by mass media) the public mind into believing inmates are sub-human, the worst-of-the-worst. Many other “states” have the same policy. Any state that has such a policy has no right to the name or status of “state”. The state has turned into a “nation-state”, which is more of a civil religion than a state, according to contemporary thinkers like.

NNCC has lost its Toastmaster’s International group, the Blue Eagles Gavel Club, all of its inmate led religions programs, all college level course offerings, all of its Alcoholic Anonymous meetings led by inmates and has reduced all inmate activities to psycho-Therapeutics or “programming”. They leave open the gym, organized sports and pool (billiards). Of course also the typical prison “weight-pile” for the bodybuilder cult. But if a fellow would like to buy a Great Course college class, that seems to be excluded by the “safety and security” of the institution.

3) Fasting as Social Action and Prayer for Justice

The Nevada Prison News (NPN) ran an article in its last issue (Summer 2012, p. 5) by SAMAEL, who calls on the audience of that Zine for a fast against the terrible conditions of Ely State Prison. The editors of NJPR are in full support of this. Mahatma Gandhi kicked out British oppressors by his practice of Satyagraha. In the ancient prayer practices of the Roman Catholic, and other Eastern Christian Churches, fasting plays a major role. There are entire seasons of fasting-prayer (Advent before Christmas and Lent before Easter). Every week there is a required fast on Fridays, and the Saturday night before Sunday Mass. The word “breakfast”  refers to the nightly fast of the monastic tradition—break-fast.

The important part of the fast is the intentionality, the “giving” aspect of the suffering that accompanies a fast. There are three kinds of ends to prayer in the Christian monastic view: purgative, the illuminative and the unitire. Fasting can be used to any of these ends. By fasting for the purging of an injustice in the world, we are using petitionary prayer.

Now, there is a doctrine of equity and natural law called the doctrine of clean hands: he who asks for justice must DO justice. If we are unjust ourselves, how dare we approach the almighty Creator? So, the intention for justice must be universal—we must wash our hands of our own injustices at the same time as the purging of social injustices in a specific sense.

So, that being said, this editor will offer up and participate in fasting toward any end (if good) suggest by other Nevada prisoners.

4) The Civil Religion of Henry David Thoreau
           
In the famous essay “Civil Disobedience”, Thoreau drops numerous memorable one-liners and gnomic phrases. For example here is one that should tickle the ears of inmates: “Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison”. How about this one: “Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it”.

And this: all men recognize the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse allegiance to, and resist, the government when its inefficiency or its tyranny are great and unendurable”. These are all reiterations, not to poorly spoken of principles of natural law Andthis is my “The mass of men serve the state thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies… In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgment or the moral sense”.

All of this secular wisdom is for naught, and completely nulled out by the following declaration: “There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize theindividual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly”. It can be, and has been demonstrated that there will never be a really free and enlightened state, period! Just like there will never be a man who is an angel, or impeccable (never making error).

The American writer looks at the state from an epistemological perspective, which really is the wrong category to use as a measure (although it continues to be the measure, which explains the wholesale acceptance of modern masses on the omniscient levels of “knowing” by the Homeland Security domestic surveillance program).

The correct category to use is merely Justice, and that is harder to reach perfection in than the techniques of government surveillance. So, as ear-tickling as Thoreau’s quips are, that is all they are. His mind is an early-middle stage onset of immanentism, and this means the loss of the imagination’s power to conceive of the true Power and Authority of the universe. If one cannot do justice to that One, how will justice be done in a plurality of men?

Dispatches from the Inside: Rehabilitation needs are not being met for California prisoners

 Richard Gilliam
From: KALW, Local Public Radio
August 27th 2012

Richard Gilliam is incarcerated at the California Men’s Colony (CMC).
August 27, 2012
I’m always interested in reports dealing with the state of corrections in California. So I sat on my bunk  with headphones over my ears in anticipation as the weekly morning radio program, The California Report, aired a three-part series they called “Prison Break”. The third installment of the series dealt with the CDCR’s aspirations for rehabilitating those prisoners not affected by Realignment. I’m talking about people such as myself, labeled serious or violent offenders, serving lengthier prison terms. 
The report feature CDCR Secretary Mathew Cate, who stated “We need to provide rehabilitation programs” for these inmates. Well, that’s a no-brainer. It also interviewed Joan Petersilia, a professor of Law at Stanford University, and an acknowledged expert on California penal policy. She agreed with Cate’s assessment, but stated, “I’m not confident” about the outcome of current efforts at rehabilitation. 
The report noted that at Solano prison alone budget cuts reduced the educational workforce from 135 teachers to 32. Prisoners there lamented that there were long waiting lists for programs and jobs, and that only 10-20% of prisoners were having their rehabilitational needs met. Professor Petersilia went on to label the delivery and efficacy of efforts to rehabilitate prisoners as “an experiment”. 
We all know that sometime “experiments” fail. Prisoners are not lab animals to be poked and prodded and experimented upon. We are human beings that suffer from diverse disabilities. These disabilities must be comprehensively addressed and energetically overcome if incarcerated men and women are to function normally when reintroduced into society. What happens if your “Experiment” doesn’t live up to expectations? Do you simply give up? That’s simply not an option. And given CDCR’s minimalist approach to rehabilitation, I’ve no doubt that any pilot programs implemented will fail for lack of enthusiasm. 
Just last year, Mathew Cate stated his intention that community volunteers would be tapped to help fill the void left in program staffing created in the wake of Realignment. But to date there are no more volunteers coming into CMC than when I first arrived. I can count the number of non-custody volunteers that oversee programs such as AA and NA on one hand. An evening literacy program operating when I first arrived, no longer exists because correctional staff are no longer available. This, while San Quentin relies on scores of educators and facilitators to run the dozens of programs in place there. With institutions of higher learning such as Cal-Poly and Questa College literally right outside the prison’s gates, it is not due to a lack of willing personnel that we are starved for programs here. It is due to the administration’s opposition to rehabilitation programming that discourages community involvement. 
Several weeks ago I read an article in the Los Angeles Times, concerning the evolving issues in the race for L.A.’s District Attorney. In the article, which spotlighted the ideological shift most of the candidates have made away from “Lock-em’ all up” crime prevention, to a more moderate stance. The article quoted one candidate as saying he would now advocate for substance abuse, anger management, job training and other programs for non-violent offenders. That’s a start. What I’d like to know is, how these candidates plan to help violent offenders once they’re released from prison? It’s issues such as drug abuse, lack of education and job-training and mental health concerns that caused them to offend in the first place. As has been the policy of lawmakers and the CDCR, do we ignore their needs only to be shocked when they commit another serious or violent crime and are imprisoned for even longer next time?
The men and women still in prison need intervention and rehabilitation as much or more than those that commit less serious offenses. The implementation or rehabilitative treatments in all prisons should not be viewed as an “experiment”, it should be the Number One goal and priority of corrections officials. Because in truth it’s not the pot-smoking, hackey-sack playing recalcitrant you need to worry about. It’s the former armed robber coming out of prison without the education, job-skills or psychological treatment he needs to succeed after prison. 

How California’s Prison Population Exploded

With a letter from Occupy4prisoners.org at the end

… And why the costs of housing inmates skyrocketed at the same time.


From the East Bay Express:

Lindsey Bolar was living in Southern California, working as a short-order cook and raising two children. It was 1987, and the strains of being a new father, paired with a long-time heroin addiction, put him in a financial bind, so he rented out a room in his apartment. But his new roommate didn’t pay his rent one month, so Bolar forced him into his car and drove him to the bank. He told his roommate, “If you don’t get me my rent money, I’m going to beat your ass. I’m going to break your jaw.'” It was a strong-armed way of collecting what he was owed; the courts called it “kidnap for ransom.” Bolar was sentenced to seven years to life.

Inside Calipatria State Prison, Bolar grew angry and started dealing drugs. He used the money he made to pay for his defense lawyer. Anything left over went to support his two children and his heroin habit, which followed him behind bars. The drug dealing went on for a decade, eventually landing him a fourteen-month stay in solitary confinement and a transfer to Solano State Prison. He says the ten years of hustling behind bars left him tired: “When your family start dying, when your kids start growing up, when you start missing stuff, then reality hits you,” he said. “When you in that cell sometime by yourself, reality hits you, and you want to go home.”

To go home, Bolar knew he needed to demonstrate to the parole board that he had changed, so he enrolled in the Offender Mentor Certification Program, which trained him and fifty other inmates to be drug rehabilitation counselors. It was a yearlong program, and Bolar worked hard. “I gave up visits and studied these courses twelve hours a day, seven days a week, for a full year.” The commitment paid off. He passed his exit exam and received a drug counseling certification, which meant “If I came out and Kaiser hospital was hiring, I would be in a good position to get that job,” he said.

Bolar was released about a year ago — seventeen years after his minimum term expired. He was 62 years old, and had no job and no money, but thanks to that counseling certification, he’s now working for Options Recovery in Berkeley. “This training makes me feel like I can do anything I want,” Bolar boasted. “Even though I’ve got 42 years documented of criminal thinking and behavior, it’s possible that a man can change.”
Inmates like Bolar once was are called “lifers,” referring to the sentence of life with the chance of parole. They can stay in prison indefinitely, or, after a minimum number of years, a parole board can decide to let them out. It’s called an indeterminate sentence and though it’s now uncommon in California, it used to be the norm.

Before 1977, all California prisoners had an indeterminate sentence. They were given a range of time in which they would be imprisoned, with five years to life being a common sentence. To be freed, inmates had to prove to the parole board that they deserved it, which could mean enrolling in reform-oriented programs, learning a trade, or taking classes. The aim of indeterminate sentencing was to rehabilitate prisoners and, when they were ready to reenter society, free them.

Although the system had its flaws, it also had its successes. According to state statistics, just 15 percent of inmates released in 1977 returned to California prisons — an extraordinarily low recidivism rate in comparison to today. Nonetheless, in 1977, then-Governor Jerry Brown signed a law that completely overhauled the state’s sentencing system, switching the focus from rehabilitation to punishment.

Under the Determinate Sentencing Law that Brown signed, most inmates receive a fixed sentence, and are released from prison after a specified time period. As a result, most inmates no longer need to prove to a parole board — like Bolar did — that they are ready to reenter society, and so they don’t have to work for their freedom. Because of this, participation in reform-oriented prison programs has dropped substantially. “The general prison population doesn’t do shit no more,” Bolar noted. “No jobs, no classes, no therapeutics, no nothing … and when it’s time to go home they go home.”

In addition, funding for prison rehabilitation has been systemically cut from the California Department of Corrections’ budget. In the 1990s, the legislature went so far as to officially change the penal code to say that the purpose of prison was punishment — period. “They took rehabilitation out of it entirely,” noted UC Berkeley law professor Barry Krisberg. “So for the past three decades the system has been guided entirely by retribution. The main problem with the punitive approach is that the vast majority of prisoners are released.”
And today, released inmates are much less prepared for free society. They usually commit new crimes and end up back in prison. According to the most recent state statistics, an astounding 65 percent of released inmates now return to prison. In the past 25 years, that number has fluctuated between 60 and 80 percent.
At the same time, California voters and state political leaders have made it much more difficult for lifers to win their release. During the past three decades, California governors have routinely overturned parole-board decisions, forcing prisoners to spend even more time behind bars, thereby further diminishing the role of rehabilitation.

Read the rest here

Letter as reaction by Occupy4prisoners.org:

Indeterminate Sentencing Is Just the Beginning

While your recent article on mass incarceration provided helpful information on how parole boards and governor vetoes contribute to prison overcrowding by not releasing people in a timely fashion, it was not telling the full story.

Most notably, in an article on mass incarceration, there was no mention of the intensely racist nature of the system. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, “among adult men in 2010, African Americans were incarcerated at a rate of 5,525 per 100,000, compared to 1,146 for Latinos and 671 for whites.” The percentage of people of color enduring the torture of solitary confinement for years and sometimes decades is even higher – 90 percent.

Oddly, the article also makes no mention of the drug war, which has been raging in low-income communities of color for decades. Politicians use the lives of black and brown young men as a ticket to winning elections. Not one politician went to prison for the Iran-Contra drug scandal. They declared the drug war as drug use was actually declining, flooded our communities with drugs, and now don’t want to do rehabilitation. This is their mess. The vast majority of drug arrests are minor offenses, with no history of selling activity.

As to the huge increase in recidivism since the Seventies: The change to determinate sentencing is a far cry from being the primary factor. Since that time, federal benefits that used to help people get back on their feet have been taken away. Those convicted of drug offenses (the majority of our prison population) are banned by law from receiving public assistance, living in public housing, and even receiving food stamps. Getting a job as an ex-felon is nearly impossible. How are people supposed to survive? It’s like being given shoes with needles in them and asked to walk a hundred miles on ice — you’re probably not going to make it.
In addition, many of those in California prisons were born into communities already traumatized by poverty, oppression, and police violence — and then sent into prisons where they’re further traumatized by abuse and dehumanization. After leaving prison, these deeply traumatized people go back into the same wounded community. What do we expect will happen?

Education for young people in our communities is sadly lacking. What school systems cannot do, however, we can do for ourselves. Some of the most powerful writing has come from young men in prison who have educated themselves, against all the odds. We encourage those who want to understand what’s really going on with mass incarceration to check out Michelle Alexander’s YouTube presentation on her book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Or better yet, read it!

Jack Bryson, Oscar Grant Movement
Denise Mewbourne, Occupy 4 Prisoners

Thrown to the Wolves

From: Coyote-Calling

By: Coyote

“It is imperative to distinguish carefully between the rhythms of flourishing and the rhythms of decline in every single thing.”

– Myyamoto Musashi

Devastation sets deep in my aching heart as I continuously see all of these young faces coming through these decrepit doors of prison madness; 15- and 16-year-olds, and sometimes younger. With no true guidance and no true leadership, they are locked up and thrown to the wolves, learning quickly to fend for themselves, follow others, or fall off, and got lost in a dark, dreary world of misery, anguish and pain. They look for strength, knowledge and counsel in their older homeboys, but it doesn’t take long for them to realize that all of these years most of their older homeboys have been in these dungeons wasting away, deteriorating, on some straight nonsense, not really trying to do anything useful or productive with their time.
Many of these older cats have neglected to take true strides to better themselves, or to elevate their positions in life, let alone their thinking… And so, therefore they really don’t have nothing good to say, or to give these youngsters, and so a lot of these youngsters are coming through here, and they see this and many of these youngsters – the ones with any sense, that is – quickly begin to lose respect for these so-called O.G.’s and they start to look at them differently, and usually with a disdainful eye.

The ones that don’t have much sense, that’s a different story… They don’t know any better, and don’t have anyone to show them or to teach them, so they get caught up in all of the madness and degeneration, and usually they end up becoming degenerates themselves, and that’s all bad.

Yet, amazingly, I often come across many sharp youngsters in here, who have been eager to learn and to really take their thinking and their lives to a new level, and I’m always impressed at how sharp some of these youngsters are, and yet a bit saddened whenever they confide in me that they wish their older homeboys were more on point, sharper, brighter and more on top of their game when it comes to passing down strong, useful knowledge.

They talk about how they wish their older homeboys would take the time to give them literature or put a book in their hand, discussing real shit with them and trying to teach the, something new, or something with true significance and applicable value. I once asked one of these youngsters – whom I couldn’t help but notice was extremely sharp and really on top of his game for only being 21 years old – what does he look for when he needs someone with an “O.G.” Status? And this is what the little dude told me:

“When I meet someone with an “O.G.” status I look for someone who carries themselves in a manner that one can look up to, I feel he’s supposed to be able to teach you things and show you things you need to know of what’s to come in this lifestyle; he should give you the history of what you represent and why certain things are the way they are, he should encourage you to educate yourself and push you to want to be something better in life, and as a person, he should be a rider “still”, he should want to help you and not just use you, he should teach you about war and what’s worth and not worth going to war over; he should help build you up and make sure you stay the best you can be… I had an “O.G.” homie who once made me read a dictionary because he said I said “cuzz” too much and I needed to expand my vocabulary. An “O.G.” should always want to see you do something with yourself and not just always want to see you in some bullshit in the name of “da set”… “

These are words coming from a young warrior that I quickly became very fond of, and I assure you that his words are definitely a reflection of precisely how many of these youngsters feel, as they can’t help but notice the evident deterioration around here and the lack of true leadership from many of their so-called o.g.’s.

Me and this youngster had a couple of good sessions, I taught him the difference between Honor and Dignity, I passed him some good literature to read and we chopped it up about that, I helped him write an article about the psychological warfare tactics that these pigs use on us in here. His writing skills were already on point, and he wrote the whole article by himself, actually, I just gave him some advice on how to tighten it up a little and he took my advice and redrafted it and it came out hella good.

I told him what he said about what he looks for in someone with an “O.G.” status was definitely on point, but not to forget to look at things from both sides and also realize that there’s a lot of youngsters who come through here who think they know it all and who you just can’t tell ‘em shit. He said he knew what I was talking about and that he used to be like that too. The fact that he’s not like that anymore and that he’s eager to learn, tells me a lot about his character and his potential, and it’s youngsters like him that I’m eager to embrace, because I recognize that determination and that fire and strength and that passion that resides inside of them and burns so fiercely in their young warrior hearts. I only had a couple of weeks to kick it with this particular youngster before they moved me to another unit, but I hope the impact I had on him was as strong as the one he had on me.

I don’t look at people in regards of rank, status, or class, as long as they’re solid and they have something good to share, then I’m as much as their pupil as I am their teacher. We each grow and learn and get stronger from each other. This youngster taught me something and showed me lots of things that I’ll never forget, so as far as I’m concerned, he’s as much as a leader as those he refers to as “O.G.’s.”

Since then, I’ve come across many other youngsters like him who wanted to learn and who were looking for realness and truth in their lives, and who also had things to show me, and who have taught me things I’ll never forget… I came across one young, twenty-year-old cat who came up with an acronym to describe some of these older cats around here who just lie around like dead weight. He calls them “Dead P.O.S.S.O.M.S.,” which is an acronym for: Pile of Shit Sorry Old Man. When I look at things through these youngsters’ eyes, I’m surprised at how clearly I can see where they’re coming from, and how right they are about so many things.

I can’t help but to acknowledge the fact that there are a lot of piece of shit individuals in here; I’m talking about people who are foul in character and deed, and who loathe change and despise growth and all they know is to be foul. I avoid people like that, because there’s not much you can do for them, and really nothing they can do for you! It’s the youngsters with the potential, the eagerness to learn and the ones who refuse to stay at the same stage in their lives that I’m always trying to reach. I want them to really be able to see and recognize that the state has thrown them in prison and given them this time, not to help them but to destroy them, and that’s exactly why they have to be strong and wise, and use this as an opportunity for growth and prominent change. I want these youngsters to see and sincerely understand that there’s more to life than “the set;” than to be gangsters, a predator, thug, criminal, etc.

They can still be strong, and they can still be warriors, but I want to encourage them to be strong, sharp warriors so that they can fight the right fights, not the wrong ones.

I tell them that when I came to prison I was 19 years old, I came in with a hardcore gangbang mentality, maxed out on all of my sentences, caught more time in here, and now I’m 33 years old, close to the gate. What the fuck do I look like, 33 years old, getting out of here and going back to the same shit I was doing when I was 18 years old?? That would make absolutely no sense at all… and when I tell them this, they feel me, and they begin to look at their own lives and they start to think about it a little more, and once they begin to understand this, and the true, beastly nature of the State, and once they become aware of the truth behind poverty, oppression and racism and see that the true design of these prisons is to crush us as a classless people, then that’s when they begin to take serious strides to build themselves up as a man and a human being in life, so that they can do good things, make a positive impact and help the youngsters that come after them. And with all of this, I’ve noticed that once these youngsters truly begin to understand that being on some bullshit is only going to lead to more bullshit, they begin to reevaluate their priorities and the course of action that they’re going to take in life, and once they see that the bullshit does not really lead them anywhere good in life, then “change” starts to look like the best thing going!

I’ve noticed that a lot of older cats, especially some of the ones who have been doing time for a long time, think that because they’re older and that they’ve done time longer, that that automatically gives them the right to assume some type of position of seniority over you where they think they can just freely meddle in your affairs, telling you what you should and should not do, talking about “how back in the old days…” and always talking about racial separation and shit like that… and yet, some of the advice these cats try to give, instinctively I know that if I were to follow their advice, I’d have been dead a long time ago! If not in the physical sense, well then, I’d be one of these walking-dead zombies that you see so much of around here, because all of the things that are true to me now, and that I know are right and real, the things that make me who I am, all of these things would fade away, and I’d be nothing, man, I’d be dead inside…

I was living next to some older dude who has been doing time – in and out of prison – since 1983. This is a cat who got out and supposedly robbed all kinds of taxi cabs so that he could use the money to score dope and get high. He got caught and they sentenced him to 50 years! He was willing to trade 50 years of his life just to go out and get high for a couple of months, and now he’s living next to me, and his whole life now consists solely of how he’s going to score his next shot of mud, he does not read, he hasn’t even tried to strive for any real change in the whole 14 years that he’s been down, all he does is gamble, drink coffee, work-out, talk shit and watch the “idiot-box” – all day… and so when he tries to give me all of his advice about “prison life” and all that shit, I kindly tell him, “look man, I’m close to the house, my mind ain’t on none of this bullshit that goes on around here.” So then he switches up his tact and tries to give me advice about the streets, so I had to break it to him as gently as I could, and I told him, “Look, with all due respect, I appreciate what you’re trying to say and all that, but look at you man, you’re somebody who exchanged 50 years of your freedom for a few months of getting high, and now I’m supposed to be listening to you? Don’t you see the irony in that?” Now, maybe if I hadn’t immediately peeped out that he only had ulterior motives for associating with me in the first place, then I might’ve taken more time to pay attention to what he had to say… But I doubt it. Thinking about cats like these reminds me of what my young comrade said about “dead possums”… But the thing to consider is all of the many younger and naïve cats who have come through these doors and have fallen prey to the designs and manipulations of these wolves in sheep’s clothing.

In my opinion, there are indeed a few things from the past that are definitely still worth preserving and handing down to the next generation of “convicts”, but I think there’s also a lot of things from the past that need to be put to rest once and for all. The enforcement of these silly racist policies and ideas of racial separatism, the senseless ongoing gang warfare; the disunity that comes with all of these things, in my opinion, are amongst some of the things that need to go…

Also, another thing I want to point out, just because someone is older, or they’ve been doing time longer, doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re worthy of being leaders or teachers. It wouldn’t hurt to actually sit back and listen to some of these youngsters and listen to their ideas, and what they have to say, and to invite change into their lives, let evolution take its course, because those who hold on to the past are only holding on to old, ineffective, outmoded ways, that can’t and shouldn’t be applied in these times, under these circumstances… Not only that, but when it comes to being a leader and being someone who passes down knowledge it is sad to say, but the truth is, I’ve only come across a select few in this foul ass system, who actually have the pedigree to lead and teach, on an effective level. That’s just something to think about…

If you call yourself an “O.G.”, a leader, etc., and yet you don’t have anything good, or real, or meaningful to give to these youngsters, something that they can go through life with – even if it’s just one thing – then maybe you might want to reevaluate your position and “status” in life. Anybody can preach and talk and make their words sound real colorful and pretty and glorified, but talk has always been cheap, and it’s getting even cheaper by the day. I think you really have to ask yourself, as a leader, why would someone want to follow you? What would really make someone want to listen to you? Look at yourself, listen to how you sound when you talk, your character, your conduct, your actions, the way you present yourself, if all of that doesn’t match what you say, then ain’t nobody gonna think twice about anything you’re talking about, and in effect, all you’re doing is making noise. The change you want to see elsewhere has to start within you first.

Once consciousness has been raised, then things start to move in a different direction. The thing that I’m trying to convey here is that there’s flourishing and decline in everything in life, things can’t always stay the same forever, and they shouldn’t! Especially when you look at the way things are right now; ain’t none of this shit real, ain’t none of this shit right. It’s time to reevaluate, it’s time to raise the stakes. These youngsters are beginning to see what we’ve failed to see long ago. They know that if a little bit of freedom is a good thing, then a lot of freedom is a great thing. If a little bit of pleasure is nice, then a lot of pleasure is glorious. They are not content to settle for whatever left-over scraps of self-determination and joy come their way under the system that subscribes their lives today, and I do not blame them!

I feel that if you don’t have nothing good to give, or to share, then you need to move over, get out of the way, ‘cuz all you’re doing is muddying this shit up. I’ve seen a lot of these so-called shot-callers who have let that shit go to their head, they demand all kinds of respect that they don’t even deserve, they rule through fear and not through love; they’re all about themselves, not about their people, they’ll go to war over some bullshit and are putting their people at risk over some bullshit, but won’t stand up to the real enemy over some real shit. These type of people don’t impress me, and I have no respect for that shit.

That’s why I’m about what I’m about and do what I do, and I’m starting to look at all this shit differently. I see that a lot of people are motivated by their own jealousies and hate, and their own personal feelings, but I’ve come to find that wisdom lies in being able to see things objectively, not subjectively. I have nothing but respect for warriors of all types, and I respect the old warriors of this system (Nevada) who have been putting it down way before I even came to this disgusting place; (15 years ago) when I came to prison, those old warriors were my mentors. I’ve learned many good things from them, and I’ve learned a lot of good things from my own experiences too. I don’t waste my time trying to explain myself – my ideas, my standards, views, etc. – to people who I know aren’t going to understand. Nor do I have time to entertain other people’s old, tired-out, detestable ways and ideas. Indeed, it is good to learn from others, but if all they’re trying to teach me is how to become obedient and complacent, then they can’t really teach me nothing. Obedience is what got us in this situation we’re in now, and complacency is what’s keeping us here. When there’s nothing to respect, there’s nothing to obey, and if you take a good, square look around you, and if you’re honest with yourself, then you can see that there ain’t nothing respectable around here! Not a damn thing. So there’s no lesson for me in obedience, no lesson for me in complacency, so please miss me with all that; thank you very much, but no thanks!

While I’m still here, I’m going to keep trying to help others, no matter their age or race, and I’m going to keep reaching out to these youngsters, teaching them how to become leaders, so that they can do the shit that needs to be done and keep the good shit going, when there ain’t no one else around to teach them or to show them. I’m here to pass the torch and to keep this fire of resistance burning strong until it ignites everybody, and then we will come together and use that fire to burn this shit down!!! These pigs and this administration can keep trying to come down on me, they can try to suppress me all they want, I don’t give a fuck! Because I know what I’m doing is right and I know it’s what needs to be done. They can put me in the infirmary, behind double doors, isolate me, or whatever they want to do – they’re always trying to present some weak shit to strong individuals – but it doesn’t matter, ‘cuz I’m still going to find a way to do what I do!

These youngsters get snatched up and thrown into these cesspools of inhumanity before they can even learn how to think for themselves, and the ones who do the thinking for them, rarely have their best interests at heart. That’s why I use the expression of them being “thrown to the wolves.” The nature and the design of these prisons and these cells is to annihilate our youth, to break and destroy them, just like you see all if these older cats who have been broken and destroyed, with no fight in them, no life, no passion, no determination, and nothing good to hand down to the next generation of the young, free-spirited men that unwillingly get shoved through these unrefined doors of misery and hopelessness. So many times have I seen these youngsters come into this scandalous world of deprivation and perversion, and when they have become subjected to all of this foulness that has been laid out in front of them, they quickly absorb this shit and assume these foul, degenerate ways themselves, and that really ain’t cool.

It’s on us to start taking the time to elevate ourselves and re-educate our youngsters around real concepts of struggle and unity and growth, and we have to organize around the issues we are faced with in life, every day – the things that are right in our faces – rather than what race we are, or what region we come from. That shit hardly matters when we’re all going through the same shit. Oppression, poverty, capitalism, racism, gangsterism, this shit has an ill-effect on us all. We should take it upon ourselves to start igniting the flames of revolution in these youngsters’ hearts and in their minds, giving them something better to strive for and something real. We should find ways to give them real-life lessons that they will learn and gain from, taking these young minds filled with fantasies of gangsterism and helping them transform their thinking into guerilla warfare strategies to hopefully one day be used on any and all establishments of oppression. Because, from what I’ve seen, all of these bullshit racial policies that prisoners are forced to live by – by other prisoners, nonetheless – and all of the madness we see now, doesn’t do anything other than keep us all divided – and therefore conquered.

Those of us in this situation are all an oppressed people and we are all under the same gun. We have to stop emulating the ways of the pig – the oppressor – and start finding ways to uplift ourselves until we have the power we need to control our own lives.

We want change, we want truth, we want freedom, we want everything. We want complete control over every aspect of our lives; we want to taste the sweetest happiness and the most exhilarating liberty this existence has to offer. We don’t want to be slaves no more, we don’t want to be robots; we want to lead lives that are as adventurous, as magnificent as any we could read about in books. We want high stakes: we don’t want to just let our lives pass us by, mediocre and tiresome, stale and stagnant, as so many others have before us.

We see these cats who don’t have no life in them, no spark in their eyes, grouchy and miserable, no fire, no soul, and we don’t want to be like that. We want to live lives that mean something. For this, we are willing to risk anything; for this, we are willing to fight.

Things are changing and moving in a new direction now, more people are waking up, and soon enough we will start to see radical and revolutionary prison groups, chapters, movements and collectives sprouting up in Nevada, and in prisons everywhere. These collectives will be designed to give prisoners strength, solidarity, and will show them how to rise above oppression, not to mimic the ways of the oppressor, not to stay stagnant and stuck in a perpetual state of misery and despair and domination, but to challenge it, fight it, and to defeat it all together! Things are changing, we can look at what’s been going on in prisons in other states these last few years, not only for examples, but also for evidence that the prison struggle continues. A prison was burnt down in Kentucky a few years ago, then we’ve seen the biggest American prison strike in Georgia, followed by a successful hunger strike in Ohio – which was, in fact, kicked off by 3 of the Lucasville 5 – and now we have just seen the largest hunger strike ever, in California.

When we see these things we see the power of Unity in full effect. More prisoners are resisting, more people are coming together to challenge the injustices and to seek solutions. These are definite signs that change is about to come. It’s time for us to start making new history.

Until then, the devastation in my heart remains as I continue to bear witness to these young men being shuffled inside of this perpetual death-trap. But while I’m here, I will do all I can to try to bring forth greatness in every youngster that I come across, and one day, rather than desperately trying to seek knowledge and strength in their older comrades, they will begin to look for these things within themselves.

Resistance, Solidarity and Strength

Comrade Coyote
Anarchist Black Cross – Nevada Prison Chapter
Black August 2011
Ely State Prison, Nevada

Note: At the time of this writing, these pigs have snatched me up and moved me to the infirmary to try to isolate me and keep me separated from comrades and peers; they said that I was trying to organize. And [ass. warden] Brooks (no longer here! Hooray!) had to come in to 4-A, along with Lt. peck to feed us our dinner; ‘cuz the pigs were too scared to come onto the tier to feed us! Later that night, they came and got me and took me to the infirmary. I stayed there for a month, then they moved me to 3-B, where I’m at now.

This is an ad.-seg. [administrative segregation] unit, but I’m on D.S. [disciplinary segregation]. I got kicked out of the hole! (the first person in ESP history to ever get kicked out of the hole!). I’m doing my D.S. time on this unit now, because there’s no youngsters on this tier, no comrades. They’ve got me here not only to isolate me, but also to pacify me. The atmosphere on this unit is way different and more mellow, the mentality of the prisoners here is nothing like what I’m used to seeing in the hole, everything’s quiet and still and the pigs don’t go out of their way to fuck with none of us over here.

The conditions on the unit are a little better than the deplorable conditions you see in the hole… I guess they don’t like it when someone goes from tier to tier bringing all of the youngsters and all of the convicts together to stand up and resist the disdainful conditions of the hole. They see that unity and they fear it, so they try to do everything they can to keep us stymied and separated, everything that is, but what they’re supposed to do!

For a more immense and more intense version of this article, send a stamp to:

S. Chicago ABC Zine Distro
P.O. Box 721,
Homewood, IL 60430
And ask them to send you a copy of “Thrown to the wolves”- by Coyote

Prisons ‘about to blow’?

Violence data part of argument for Senate bill

Wednesday, February 16, 2011  02:55 AM

The Columbus Dispatch

Violent or destructive incidents involving six or more inmates in Ohio prisons have almost quadrupled in just three years.

Such confrontations occurred an average of once every 28 days in 2007, but by last year they were breaking out once every 7.6 days.

That’s keeping Gary C. Mohr, the new director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, up at night.

“Seven days a week, I’m watching these things show up on my Blackberry,” said Mohr, a longtime veteran of Ohio prisons picked by Gov. John Kasich to return to the department. “This is not the same system I left eight years ago.”
State Sen. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, also is concerned. “We are sitting on a tinderbox, and it’s about to blow.”

Seitz and Mohr cited the statistics yesterday in testifying in support of Senate Bill 10, a major overhaul of Ohio sentencing, parole and probation law. Backers say the legislation would save the state $78 million over three years, reduce the prison population to 2007 levels and avoid the need to spend $500 million building prisons.

State prisons now house nearly 51,000 offenders, 33 percent more than they were designed to hold.

At the same time, budget cuts in recent years have forced staff reductions, including removing some corrections officers from cellblocks and dormitories, Mohr said.

Incidents of violence or property destruction, or both, went up correspondingly, he said.

Seitz said he visited a prison recently where he saw two officers, one on each of two floors, in charge of a prison dormitory housing nearly 250 offenders.
The legislation is a combination of reform proposals Seitz tried unsuccessfully to get passed in the last session of the General Assembly, plus a new “Justice Reinvestment” proposal developed by the Council of State Governments. The measure has bipartisan support from officials in all three branches of state government.

Among its many elements, the proposal would provide inmates with the possibility of receiving an “earned credit” reduction of up to 8 percent of their sentence by successfully completing drug-treatment, job-training and education programs. It also would increase the threshold for felony theft charges to $1,000 from $500, provide nonprison sentencing options for nonviolent offenders and revamp the probation system statewide.

The legislation has critics, including county prosecutors who say it violates the principles of the state’s 1996 “truth-in-sentencing” law. State Sen. Timothy J. Grendell, chairman of the Senate Judiciary-Criminal Justice Committee that is hearing the bill, also has a lot of questions.

Yesterday, the Chesterland Republican challenged the idea of diverting low-level felony offenders from prison, or reducing the sentences of those incarcerated.

“Today’s low-level offender is tomorrow’s violent offender,” he said.
The committee also heard testimony from the sponsor of Senate Bill 17, which would allow those with concealed-carry gun permits to bring their weapons into restaurants and bars – as long as they aren’t drinking.

Read the rest here.

Trouble speaks

This my first time writing to the NPN. I felt it was vital for me to talk to all the young rads throughout the Nevada system. I want them to know that it´s time to open our eyes and wake up. We must grow up and put all childish behaviors to the side and move as one unit, because right now all we´re doing is giving the pigs what they want which is separation and division. With this we can not make a change or better our situation. To all my young rads through the system I encourage you to turn off the TV´s , put up the radios and begin to Educate Yourself. Read and Study for 2 hours a day. You can progress in this as time goes by but you have to start somewhere.

Why do you think programs and things to better ourselves are limited? The reason is they are trying to control our minds by keeping our minds stagnate and keeping us dumb. These pigs have our bodies, let´s not give them our minds too. We have to take action and transform our ways of thinking. We must educate ourselves. We can´t wait for knowledge to come knocking on our doors, we must seek it. The most important thing before going into battle is preparation. Know what your rights are. Know what these pigs can & cannot do to you. A lot of young rads are getting taken advantage of. One reason is because a lot of the older rads have laid down and they´re not living by an important rule which is Each One Teach One.
Second reason is we can not wait to be schooled by older cats. We see through previous years that has gotten us nowhere and Thirdly we refuse to do something as simple as pick up the AR and learn our rights from one young rad to another we must take action now. Because each day that goes by that we don´t stand up together is another day one of our rads will be getting beat, stripped of his property or even killed. If no one cares about us we have to care about ourselves.
Bulletproof respect,
Trouble AKA Mashaka i Afua.
Transformation
Redemption
Overcoming Obstacles
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Building Character
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