Free Alabama Movement Blogtalk Radio Show

From: Free Alabama Movement Blogtalk Radio Show:

Please listen to the recording of August 8th FREE ALABAMA-MISSISSIPPI MOVEMENT’S blogtalkradio show as we continue our “HANDS OFF OF OUR WOMEN AT TUTWILER” series ahead of our “MARCH ON TUTWILER” AND rally at the State Capitol on August 23, 2014, beginning at 11 a.m.

Also, we will get an update on our FAMILY… in Georgia, and learn about new developments and oppressive tactics that are being carried out by the State against the Men and Women who want their FREEDOM over there also.

“MISSISSIPPI BROWN” will be back again and we look forward to another great show.

<!–[if IE]><![endif]–>

Listen To Social Networking Internet Radio Stations with 63945 on BlogTalkRadio

Please also view this Youtube in which many people inside are interviewed by Free Alabama Movement, and living conditions are shown inside; please also visit their website: Freealabamamovement.com
Advertisements

From a New NJ Blog: Decarcerate NJ: Panel Discussion on Mass Incarceration July 30 2014

Open letter to Newark Organizations and Individuals Engaged in or Concerned About the Struggles for Justice:
June 23, 2014

In the last 2 weeks, Newark residents and others have met to begin planning a panel discussion on the topic of mass incarceration to be held on the steps of City Hall in Newark at 5:30 pm on Wednesday July 30.

We are hoping to use this event to launch a statewide coordinated effort to bring about the passage of what we call The NJ Decarceration Act that will call for sweeping reductions in NJ’s state prison populations.  We are sure that you have heard the statistics, how this nation has 6% of the world’s population yet holds 25% of the world’s prisoners, more than every other country on the planet.

Already, close to 1000 NJ residents have signed a petition with specific proposals as to how this can be accomplished.

 https://www.change.org/petitions/nj-state-senate-and-assembly-we-call-for-the-passage-of-a-nj-decarceration-act-to-deliver-large-scale-reductions-in-nj-s-state-adult-and-youth-prison-populations

 While there are many political and social sectors now calling for one kind of “prison reform” or another, given the racist and classist way that this state and nation determines who gets arrested, who gets prosecuted, who gets sentenced and for how long, it is of utmost importance that our communities take the lead in structuring the kind of decarceration legislation that is initiated and fought for.  We need to take the first step.

Our panel discussion will consist of three mini panels:

1. The first will be a broad overview of the mass incarceration issue that will break down the social function of mass incarceration, what interests it serves, who profits and gains from it. We will also discuss the racist element, how it is used to control our communities, the conditions of prisons, the treatment of prisoners, the health toll on the incarcerated and the forms of torture deployed in prisons. Last but not least will we demonstrate how mass incarceration devastates families as well as communities socially, politically and economically in some form of fashion.

2. The second mini panel will represent voices of Newark in discussing the specifics on a local level. The Newark community will express the toll mass incarceration takes within the community. The importance around this issue is critical to the survival and well being of the Newark community.

3. The third mini panel will talk about organizing this effort going forward, how to press for the introduction of NJ Decarceration Act, how to have similar forums in the other communities around NJ, how to approach the NJ legislature on the issue, how to mobilize support from within the community and families that are directly affected by mass incarceration.

While we have held two meetings, so far we have discussed primarily the logistics.  We are hoping that Newark’s rich and diverse array of activist organizations and voices participate and become part of this effort.  Our next meeting to continue organizing the panel will occur on Wednesday, June 25  6:30 pm at 298 S. 6th Street on the corner of So. Orange Av. ( the old habitat for humanity building).

We invite your members, organizers and leaders as individuals as well as your organization to become part of this effort.  We believe there is tremendous potential for success to deliver real and significant decarceration in NJ though our organizations and individuals working in common purpose to demand the passage and implementation of a NJ Decarceration Act.  We have drafted a letter to NJ Senator Ron Rice urging him to take the initiative toward introduction of the NJ Decarceration Act.  We urge your members and your organization to also make similar contact with Sen. Rice and other NJ representatives.

Please be encouraged to contact us at (908-881-5275) with any questions or ideas you have and we hope that you and / or a representative of your organization can attend the next meeting and participate in the event.

Sincerely,

Veronica Branch               Milton Conway                 Cassandra Dock              Brittani Johnson
Michael Allen Hobbs       Beautiful SeeAsia             Ruben E. Mendez            Bob Witanek
And others

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1443416885904424

Message by the Freedom Alabama Movement (FAM): Stop Slave Labor and other Human Rights Violations in Prisons!

This came via email, contact below:

Greetings of Solidarity! Feel free to copy and distro widely in an upcoming publication.
(This was written by a member of the IWW organizing committee.) 

We in the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) have been approached by a group of hundreds of prisoners in Alabama who are launching a second prison strike this year demanding an end to prisoners as slave labor, the massive overcrowding and horrifying health and human rights violations found in Alabama Prisons, and have put forward legislation for successful rehabilitation and a clear path for earning parole.


These brave men and women of the Free Alabama Movement (FAM) are building on the recent Hunger Strikes in Pelican Bay and the Georgia Prison Strike in 2010, with the aim of building a mass nonviolent movement inside and outside of prisons to earn their freedom, and to end the racist, capitalist system of mass incarceration called The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander and others.


The conditions in Alabama prisons are horrendous, packing twice as many people as are meant to be there, with everything from black mold, brown water, cancer causing foods, and general disrepair. They are also run by free, slave labor, with 10,000 people working to maintain the prisons daily, adding up to $600,000 dollars a day or $219,000,000 a year of slave labor if inmates were paid federal minimum wage, and tens of thousands more receiving mere dollars a day making products sold by the state or to private corporations.


While unique in some ways, the struggle of these brave human beings is the same as prisoners around the country, and the millions of black, brown, and working class women and men struggling to survive a system they are not meant to succeed within. These prisoners need your support, and for you to help spread the struggle.


To do so the Free Alabama Movement along with the IWW’s Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee is asking for the following:


1) For the creation of Prisoner Solidarity Committees in their local areas to raise money, attract media attention, and spread the word of this struggle to local prisons

2) Amplify the voices of prisoners by posting this and future updates to your website, facebook, sharing it to your email list, or with your contacts in prison

3) Join our email list so as to be kept up to date and amplify future updates

4) Donate money to the Free Alabama Movement and the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee at ??


The IWW is a grassroots revolutionary union open to all working people, including the incarcerated and the unemployed. Founded in 1905, we have gained reputation in recent years for struggles at Starbucks, Jimmy Johns, and the General Strike call during the Wisconsin Uprising. We are committed to amplifying the voices of prisoners, ending an economic system based on exploitation and racial caste systems like mass incarceration, and adding our contribution to the global movements for a just, free, and sustainable world. 

Website: Freealabamamovement.com
Facebook page
Twitter: @FREEALABAMAMOVE

April 19th—The Day to Break the Silence! 
Say No to Mass Incarceration!

It is time and way past time to stand up and say NO MORE! Our youth are being treated like criminals—guilty until proven innocent, if they can survive to prove their innocence. The vigilante murder of Trayvon Martin concentrates the racial profiling that leads into more than 2.4 million people being warehoused in prison and the millions more who are treated like second-class citizens even after they’ve served their sentences.

April 19th must be a day of standing up and saying NO MORE to all of this. It must be a day of teach-ins and rallies in high schools and colleges; a day of youth, tired of being demonized, taking to the streets—joined by many others from different backgrounds, races and nationalities who stand with them; a day of speaking bitterness to the way the whole criminal justice system abuses millions of people. All saying in a powerful voice: NO to mass incarceration and all its consequences.

NO MORE TRAYVON MARTINS!


NO MORE OSCAR GRANTS!


NO MORE 2.4 MILLION PEOPLE WAREHOUSED IN PRISON!


NO MORE 1 IN 8 BLACK MEN IN THEIR 20’S LOCKED DOWN IN JAIL!


MASS INCARCERATION + SILENCE = GENOCIDE!

April 19th Convergences

Atlanta: 4 pm—Protest, speak-out, street theater, & march, Five Points MARTA Station.

Chicago: 5 pm—Federal Plaza at Dearborn & Adams. Houston: 3:30 pm—Convergence, intersection of Cleburne and Tierwester, March to Houston Police substation.

Los Angeles: 4 pm—Pershing Square, 5th & Olive, Downtown L.A.; 5 pm—March to LAPD Headquarters.

New York City: 4 pm—One Police Plaza, downtown Manhattan; 5:30 pm—March to Union Square.

San Francisco Bay Area: 12 noon—Rally, California State Building, Van Ness & McAllister—March to Federal Building, 7th and Mission Streets. Seattle: 3 pm—speak-out and picket, King County Jail, 5th Ave. & James St., downtown Seattle.

Endorsed by (as of April 14):

All-African Peoples Revolutionary Party (GC); Gbenga Akinnagbe, Actor; Rafael Angulo, Professor of Social Work, USC; Edward Asner, Actor; Dave Atwood, Houston Peace and Justice Center; Lawrence Aubry, Convenor, Advocates for Black Strategic Alternatives; Hadar Aviram, Associate Professor, UC Hastings College of the Law*; Lucy Bailey, Independent, LA Ca; Nellie Bailey, Occupy Harlem; Carissa Baldwin-McGinnis, Director of Peace and Justice, All Saints Church. Pasadena, Ca.; Jared Ball, VOXUNION Media, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement; Social Justice Committee, Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists; Rev. Dr. Dorsey O. Blake, Presiding Minister, The Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples; Blase Bonpane, Ph.D., Director, OFFICE OF THE AMERICAS; Herb Boyd, Harlem-based author, educator, journalist and activist; Bob Brown, co-director, Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) Institute; Elaine Brower, World Can’t Wait, Military Families Speak Out; Richard Brown, Former Black Panther Party; John L. Burris, Civil Rights Attorney; Rev. Richard “Meri Ka Ra” Byrd, Senior Pastor, KRST Unity Center of Afrakan Spiritual Science; California Coalition for Women Prisoners; Kendra Castaneda, Prisoner Human Rights Activist with a family member in CA State Prison Segregation Unit; Denika Chapman, mother, and Marco Scott, uncle, of Kenneth Harding, Kenneth Harding Foundation; Eric Cheyfitz, Ernest I. White Professor of American Studies and Humane Letters, Cornell University; Solomon Comissiong, Executive Director, Your World News Media Collective (www.yourworldnews.org); Community Futures Collective, Vallejo CA; Drucilla Cornell, Professor, Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, Rutgers University; Colin Dayan, Robert Penn Warren Professor in the Humanities, Vanderbilt University; Oscar De La Torre, Founder/Executive Director, Pico Youth and Family Center, Santa Monica, CA; Emory Douglas, Black Panther Party/Alumni; Carl Dix, Revolutionary Communist, co-initiator of Campaign to Stop “Stop and Frisk”; Kevin Epps, Independent Filmmaker/Activist; Glen Ford, executive editor, Black Agenda Report; Dr. Henry Giroux, Department of English and Cultural Studies, McMaster University, Ontario, Canada; Rebeca Guerrero, Los Angeles, CA; Jeff Haas, Civil Rights Attorney, Activist and Author of The Assasination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther; Kelley Lytle Hernandez, Professor of History, UCLA; Nicholas Heyward Sr., October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Parents Against Police Brutality, and father of Nicholas Naquan Heyward, Jr., killed by NYPD; Jeremy Hiller, Education Not Incarceration; Mike Holman, Executive Director, Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund*; Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (ICUJP) members Mary C. Singaus, Douglas MacMillan, Margaret Hutchinson, Stephen L. Fiske, Susan Anderson, Ed Fisher, Anthony Manouses, and Andy Griggs, Los Angeles CA; The International Coalition to Free the Angola 3; Melvin Ishmael Johnson, Director of Dramastage-Qumran Workshop; Mesha Irizarry, Idris Stelly Foundation; Tom Kleven, Professor, Thurgood Marshall School of Law; Cephus ‘Uncle Bobby’ Johnson, Oscar Grant Foundation; Robin DG Kelley, Distinguished Professor of History, UCLA; Robert King, Freed Angola 3; Wayne Kramer, Jail Guitar Doors USA, Co-Founder; Patricia Krommer CSJ, Pax Christi So. California; Roshanak Kheshti, Assistant Professor, Ethnic Studies, University of California, San Diego; Sarah Kunstler, Esq., National Lawyers Guild NYC*; Laura Magnani, American Friends Service Committee; Joe Maizlish, Los Angeles, CA; BM Marcus, Community Director, Comm. Advocate Organization, Brooklyn NY; Dr. Antonio Martinez, Institute for Survivors of Human Rights Abuses, and co-founder of the Marjorie Kovler Center for the Treatment of Survivors of Torture; Carlos Meza, Occupy Whittier; Rev. Janet Gollery McKeithen (Unity Methodist Clergy), President, Methodist Federation for Social Action, Cal-Pac; Peter McLaren, School of Critical Studies, Faculty of Education, University of Auckland, New Zealand; Rev. Darrel Meyers, Presbyterian Church USA; Nancy Michaels, Associate Director of the Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation; Aaron Mirmalek, cousin of Leonard Peltier, LPDOC, Oakland, CA; Gregg Morris, Assistant Professor, Journalism, Department of Film and Media Studies, Hunter College; Khalil Gibran Muhammad, author of “The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime and the Making of Modern Urban America; Rev. Sala Nolan, National Minister for Criminal Justice and Human Rights, United Church of Christ; Oakland Education Association Representative Assembly; Occupy Education, Northern California; October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation (New York Committee); Kelly Phillips, Symple Equazion/ author of “The Art of Frowns to Smiles”; Laura Pulido, Visiting Professor, Department of Black Studies, UCSB; Professor, Department of American Studies and Ethnicity, USC; Willie and Mary Ratcliff, Editor, San Francisco Bay View Black National Newspaper; Anthony Rayson, curator of South Chicago Anarchist Black Cross Zine Distro; Rev. Dr. George F. Regas, Rector Emeritus, All Saints Church, Pasadena, CA; Joyce Robbins, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Touro College; Dylan Rodriguez, Professor and Chair, Dept. of Ethnic Studies, University of California, Riverside, and founding member of Critical Resistance: Beyond the Prison Industrial Complex; Stephen Rohde, Chair, Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace; Lila Salas, Occupy Whittier; Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou, Freedom Church; Dan Siegel, Civil Rights attorney; Jonathan Simon, Adrian A. Kragen Professor of Law, U.C. Berkeley; Ellen Snortland, author, activist, performer; Jahan Stanizui, Culver City Interfaith; Debra Sweet, Director, World Can’t Wait; Heather Thompson, Departments of African American Studies and History, Temple University; Paul Von Blum, African American Studies, UCLA; Jim Vrettos, Professor of Sociology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice; Anne Weills, National Lawyers Guild; Cornel West, author and educator, co-initiator of Campaign to Stop “Stop and Frisk”; Tim’m T. West, Community Activist, Youth Advocate, Hip Hop Artist/Poet; Hadar Aviram, Associate Professor, UC Hastings College of the Law*; Anita Wills, Occupy 4 Prisoners; Clyde Young, Revolutionary Communist, and former prisoner;
*For Identification Purposes Only

The Caging of America

Why do we lock up so many people?
by Adam Gopnik January 30, 2012
In: The New Yorker

Six million people are under correctional supervision in the U.S.—more than were in Stalin’s gulags. Photograph by Steve Liss.

A prison is a trap for catching time. Good reporting appears often about the inner life of the American prison, but the catch is that American prison life is mostly undramatic—the reported stories fail to grab us, because, for the most part, nothing happens. One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich is all you need to know about Ivan Denisovich, because the idea that anyone could live for a minute in such circumstances seems impossible; one day in the life of an American prison means much less, because the force of it is that one day typically stretches out for decades. It isn’t the horror of the time at hand but the unimaginable sameness of the time ahead that makes prisons unendurable for their inmates. The inmates on death row in Texas are called men in “timeless time,” because they alone aren’t serving time: they aren’t waiting out five years or a decade or a lifetime. The basic reality of American prisons is not that of the lock and key but that of the lock and clock.

That’s why no one who has been inside a prison, if only for a day, can ever forget the feeling. Time stops. A note of attenuated panic, of watchful paranoia—anxiety and boredom and fear mixed into a kind of enveloping fog, covering the guards as much as the guarded. “Sometimes I think this whole world is one big prison yard, / Some of us are prisoners, some of us are guards,” Dylan sings, and while it isn’t strictly true—just ask the prisoners—it contains a truth: the guards are doing time, too. As a smart man once wrote after being locked up, the thing about jail is that there are bars on the windows and they won’t let you out. This simple truth governs all the others. What prisoners try to convey to the free is how the presence of time as something being done to you, instead of something you do things with, alters the mind at every moment. For American prisoners, huge numbers of whom are serving sentences much longer than those given for similar crimes anywhere else in the civilized world—Texas alone has sentenced more than four hundred teen-agers to life imprisonment—time becomes in every sense this thing you serve.

For most privileged, professional people, the experience of confinement is a mere brush, encountered after a kid’s arrest, say. For a great many poor people in America, particularly poor black men, prison is a destination that braids through an ordinary life, much as high school and college do for rich white ones. More than half of all black men without a high-school diploma go to prison at some time in their lives. Mass incarceration on a scale almost unexampled in human history is a fundamental fact of our country today—perhaps the fundamental fact, as slavery was the fundamental fact of 1850. In truth, there are more black men in the grip of the criminal-justice system—in prison, on probation, or on parole—than were in slavery then. Over all, there are now more people under “correctional supervision” in America—more than six million—than were in the Gulag Archipelago under Stalin at its height. That city of the confined and the controlled, Lockuptown, is now the second largest in the United States.

The accelerating rate of incarceration over the past few decades is just as startling as the number of people jailed: in 1980, there were about two hundred and twenty people incarcerated for every hundred thousand Americans; by 2010, the number had more than tripled, to seven hundred and thirty-one. No other country even approaches that. In the past two decades, the money that states spend on prisons has risen at six times the rate of spending on higher education. Ours is, bottom to top, a “carceral state,” in the flat verdict of Conrad Black, the former conservative press lord and newly minted reformer, who right now finds himself imprisoned in Florida, thereby adding a new twist to an old joke: A conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged; a liberal is a conservative who’s been indicted; and a passionate prison reformer is a conservative who’s in one.

The scale and the brutality of our prisons are the moral scandal of American life. Every day, at least fifty thousand men—a full house at Yankee Stadium—wake in solitary confinement, often in “supermax” prisons or prison wings, in which men are locked in small cells, where they see no one, cannot freely read and write, and are allowed out just once a day for an hour’s solo “exercise.” (Lock yourself in your bathroom and then imagine you have to stay there for the next ten years, and you will have some sense of the experience.) Prison rape is so endemic—more than seventy thousand prisoners are raped each year—that it is routinely held out as a threat, part of the punishment to be expected. The subject is standard fodder for comedy, and an uncoöperative suspect being threatened with rape in prison is now represented, every night on television, as an ordinary and rather lovable bit of policing. The normalization of prison rape—like eighteenth-century japery about watching men struggle as they die on the gallows—will surely strike our descendants as chillingly sadistic, incomprehensible on the part of people who thought themselves civilized. Though we avoid looking directly at prisons, they seep obliquely into our fashions and manners. Wealthy white teen-agers in baggy jeans and laceless shoes and multiple tattoos show, unconsciously, the reality of incarceration that acts as a hidden foundation for the country.

How did we get here? How is it that our civilization, which rejects hanging and flogging and disembowelling, came to believe that caging vast numbers of people for decades is an acceptably humane sanction? There’s a fairly large recent scholarly literature on the history and sociology of crime and punishment, and it tends to trace the American zeal for punishment back to the nineteenth century, apportioning blame in two directions. There’s an essentially Northern explanation, focussing on the inheritance of the notorious Eastern State Penitentiary, in Philadelphia, and its “reformist” tradition; and a Southern explanation, which sees the prison system as essentially a slave plantation continued by other means. Robert Perkinson, the author of the Southern revisionist tract “Texas Tough: The Rise of America’s Prison Empire,” traces two ancestral lines, “from the North, the birthplace of rehabilitative penology, to the South, the fountainhead of subjugationist discipline.” In other words, there’s the scientific taste for reducing men to numbers and the slave owners’ urge to reduce blacks to brutes.

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2012/01/30/120130crat_atlarge_gopnik#ixzz1lAM9NZUI

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2012/01/30/120130crat_atlarge_gopnik#ixzz1lAJ1f2CD

Groups March and Rally Across the State to End Mass Incarceration and 40 Year War on Drugs

See also the report of the March on the site of the SF BayView.
6-14-11
Via The Real Cost of Prisons

California – Beginning on Friday June 17th, the 40th anniversary of the “war on drugs,” hundreds will come together to hold “Communities Rising” actions and rallies in communities across California. Over 40 organizations working with the Californians United for a Responsible Budget, or “CURB,” alliance will send a strong message from different parts of the state to Governor Brown and the state legislature, calling for the State to take active steps to end its participation in the 40-year-old “war on drugs”, and to prioritize vital social services over prison spending.

“Spending on prisons has grown from five percent to ten percent of our General Fund spending, doubling in the past decade,” said Lisa Marie Alatorre of Critical Resistance, a CURB member organization. “Locking up too many people for too long does not contribute to public safety and is draining essential resources from education and health care – programs that make a real difference to Californians.” California remains billions of dollars in debt.

In response to the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a lower court rulings in Brown v. Plata, California has been ordered to reduce its lethally crowded prison system in the next two years. The Governor’s plan is to shift tens of thousands of prisoners to county jails, building tens of thousands more jail cells and thousands more high-security prison cells. “It looks like Governor Brown wants to do nothing but repeat the mistakes of the last 30 years,” said Debbie Reyes of California Prison Moratorium Project, another CURB member organization. “We built 23 massive prisons and that didn’t solve overcrowding. Now he wants to extend that failed effort by expanding county jail systems. Like the Supreme Court said, you can’t build your way out of this problem.”

Organizations and residents across the state are frustrated by the impacts of the State’s economic and social priorities. “For years we’ve been cutting back on state programs that save lives and build decent futures for the next generation,” said Amanda Vela of Madera Citizens for Better Community and Schools, “Now Gov. Brown is asking voters to raise state revenues to pay for more jail cells? We have to stop the cuts and re-channel funds away from prisons and jails and back into programs that make a difference for us and our kids.”

The various rallies, marches, speak-outs, and other actions across the state fall on the forty year anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s declaration of a “war on drugs”, a policy that many experts have shown to wreak havoc in low income communities and communities of color. “The Plata decision is a real opportunity for our state to reverse decades of racist ‘tough-on-crime’ policies,” says Rodrigo “Froggy” Vasquez of Students for Sensible Drug Policy. “We are tired of being politically ignored. We need leadership in Sacramento with the guts to get smart, end the war on drugs, and decriminalize drug possession.”

Texas, New York, and Michigan, among other states have successfully reduced their prison budgets and populations while increasing public safety. CURB argues California could do the same by implementing parole and sentencing reforms such as amending or repealing three strikes laws.

Communities Rising Actions include:

* San Francisco: June 17th, 12:00pm press conference at San Francisco’s City Hall, followed by a march featuring music from the Brass Liberation Orchestra, large puppets and other art, as well as a community speak out
* Fresno: June 17th, 11:00am rally at the State Building
* Bakersfield: June 17th, 4:00pm rally at the Courthouse at Chester and Parkston
* Madera, June 17th, 5:00pm rally at 200 Ford St. across from Courthouse
* Visalia, June 18th, 2:00pm rally at Mooney and Caldwell
* Los Angeles: June 18th, 1pm at the Chuco’s Justice Center, featuring two panels of community leaders, a press conference at 4pm, live music and a candlelight vigil.

Sponsoring organizations across the State include: A New Path – LA, A New Way of Life, All of Us or None, American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, American Friends Service Committee, Berkeley Needle Exchange Emergency Distribution, Blacksmith Records Inc., California Coalition for Women Prisoners, California Partnership, California Prison Moratorium Project, Californians United for a Responsible Budget, Center for Non-Violence, Community Justice Network for Youth, Cop Watch – LA, Critical Resistance, Dolores Huerta Foundation, Drug Policy Alliance, Enlace, Families to Amend California’s Three Strikes, Fresno Brown Berets, Harm Reduction Coalition, Hip Hop Not Bombs, Homies Unidos, Justice by Uniting Creative Energy, Justice Now, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Leadership through Empowerment Action and Dialogue, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, Madera Citizens for Better Community and Schools, October 22nd Coalition – LA, Oasis Clinic, Pico Youth and Family Center, SF Drug Users Union, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, TGI-Justice Project, These Cuts Won’t Heal, United for Drug Policy Reform and Youth Justice Coalition.

More information about actions, prisons, the budget crisis and realignment can be found at: www.curbprisonspending.org

How Bad is the Crisis in America’s Prisons?

By Corrections.com
By John Dewar Gleissner, Esq  
Published: 12/20/2010  


Pretty bad. From 1987 to 2007, the U.S. prison population nearly tripled.[1] The American prison population in 2004 was eight times larger than it was in 1954.[2] In 2008, it was 40 times greater than it was in 1904.[3] On a per capita basis, there were 15 times more sentenced prisoners in 2008 than in 1904. At the beginning of 2008, 2,319,258 Americans were in prison or jail, more than in any other country in the world, and a greater percentage of our population is in prison or jail than in any other country in the world.[4] At the start of 2009, the total incarcerated population in the United States was 2,424,279.[5] That is just the number behind bars, four times more people than are in the U.S. Army, more than Utah in the last census. “The United States incarcerates more people than the Russian Federation, South Africa, Mexico, Iran, India, Australia, Brazil, and Canada combined.”[6] With 5% of the world’s population, the United States has 25% of the world’s prisoners. As U.S. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia put it: “With so many of our citizens in prison compared with the rest of the world, there are only two possibilities: Either we are home to the most evil people on earth or we are doing something different – and vastly counterproductive.” In 2010, more Americans are serving life sentences than ever before. Prisoners now have their own inspirational lifestyle publication, Prison Living Magazine.

In 2007, the entire U.S. correctional population, which includes jail and penitentiary prisoners plus those on probation and parole totaled 7,328,200.[7] By the end of 2008, the number of probationers and parolees rose again.[8] Add in ex-convicts who have completed sentences, parole, or probation, and all who are slaves to their addictions, and the number of living Americans who are now or have ever been enslaved exceeds 10,000,000. “Over the course of a year, 13.5 million people spend time in jail or prison, and 95% of them eventually return to our communities.”[9] Reducing the number behind bars does not directly decrease the correctional population. Over two-thirds of the correctional population is outside prison, on probation, on parole or awaiting trial. When the prison population peaks and then declines, it will probably just mean more offenders are on the outside.

The hyper-incarceration statistics for African-American males are much worse. We incarcerate one in nine African-Americans between the ages of 20 and 34.[10] In 2003, it was calculated that “At current levels of incarceration newborn black males in this country have a greater than a 1 in 4 chance of going to prison during their lifetimes, while Hispanic males have a 1 in 6 chance, and white males have a 1 in 23 chance of serving time.”[11] By 2007, just four years later, the U.S. Department of Justice estimated that African-American males have a 32% chance of going to prison or jail – becoming slaves – in their lifetimes.[12] Young black male high school dropouts are almost 50 times more likely to wind up behind bars than the average American, and 60% of that demographic cohort eventually goes to prison.[13]

“Prison costs are blowing holes in state budgets but barely making a dent in recidivism rates.”[14] The total cost exceeded $49,000,000,000.00 in 2007, and fairly recent figures show a national per prisoner operating cost of $23,876.00 per year.[15] One study pegged the total costs at over 60 billion dollars.[16] Costs are still rising, taking ever-larger shares of state general funds and crowding out other priorities.[17] “The national inmate count marches onward and upward, almost exactly as it was projected to do last year. And with one in 100 adults looking out at this country from behind an expensive wall of bars, the potential for new approaches cannot be ignored.”[18] Forward thinking criminologists, recognizing the lack of good answers in penology, actively seek new evidence-based techniques from other disciplines.[19] The State of California pays $49,000 per prisoner per year according to its governor at mid-year 2009, who also said the national average is now $32,000 per prisoner per year.[20] With more inmates serving life-without-parole and longer sentences, incarceration costs continually increase due to rising health-care expenses for older convicts.

 Read the rest and the notes here.