Please consider becoming a pen pal to a person imprisoned in California’s solitary confinement cells and fighting for their human rights. If interested, please contact Denise email@example.com by March 8 to receive an application.
A Project of Occupy 4 Prisoners (O4P)
WHAT IS THE HUMAN RIGHTS PEN PAL PROGRAM?
“How can any of us stand idly by while our public officials stride the world stage touting the inalienable rights of man, and criticizing other nations for their alleged human rights abuses, when the US is operating the largest domestic torture program on earth in SHU’s like Corcoran?”
-New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalist Collective Think Tank, Corcoran SHU
“A wall is just a wall;
It can be broken down.”-Assata Shakur
The Human Rights Pen Pal program is an anti-racist, grassroots organizer training program in solidarity with incarcerated activists fighting for the human rights of people imprisoned in California’s solitary confinement cells. It is based on the model created and piloted this year by the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity (PHSS) coalition, and promotes principled relationships between people in solitary confinement and supporters outside the walls. The program combines solidarity practice, political education, community organizing skills, and evaluation.
The Human Rights Pen Pal program is specifically intended to support the ongoing work of Occupy 4 Prisoners (O4P), as well as the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity (PHSS) coalition. O4P arose as a powerful coalition combining the powerful new energy of the Occupy movement with established Bay Area activist groups working in solidarity with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people. The PHSS works to end solitary confinement, otherwise known as SHUs (Security Housing Units) and Ad Segs (Administrative Segregation), as well as to address the human rights of people imprisoned in these torture chambers.
Solidarity: The program is designed to foster pen pal relationships between people inside and outside the walls, in the interest of a mutual exchange of support, shared information and inspiration. We will energize each other in this struggle! It also assumes that developing relationships will lead to a growing commitment of those ‘outside the walls’ to work in solidarity with activists on the inside and their human rights campaigns.
The ‘outside the walls’ O4P group will be limited to 10-12, with each pen pal writing to one or more people in solitary confinement, from prisons with SHUs throughout California. The pen pals group will meet monthly, and the meeting will have two major components: political education and social/logistical support for the act of corresponding itself.
Political Education: The political education component will include readings and discussions about California prisons, solitary confinement, the history of resistance by incarcerated people, and strategies of solidarity used by local and national anti-prison organizations.
Supporting each other: This includes: sharing in the group what we’re learning from our pen pals (without necessarily using their names); exchanging ideas for responding to their letters; discussion of tactics and support for spreading awareness about solitary confinement to our friends and family; evaluating our work together. In order for this work to be as sustainable as possible, the group will include emotional support as needed.
(1) Regular correspondence with your ‘inside the walls’ pen pal(s) twice monthly.
(2) Attending a three hour monthly meeting. These meetings will continue from March through August (6 months). The Oakland location is TBD, and rides will be organized if needed.
(3) Actively participating in the interactive political education component, which consists of reading suggested short essays, preparing questions for discussion at the group meetings, and keeping abreast of O4P, PHSS and other anti-prison events and activities.
(4) Sharing your experiences as a pen pal participant with your own friends and networks.
(5) Consider continuing your correspondence with your prisoner pen pal for at least a year, with discussion of whether or not the structured pen pal program should continue and, if so, in what form.
HOW TO APPLY TO PARTICIPATE IN THE HUMAN RIGHTS PEN PAL PROGRAM
(Deadline March 10)
For more info and to receive an application, contact Denise at firstname.lastname@example.org Leave your email address and phone number. Deadline for returning applications is March 10. The first Pen Pal meeting will take place the fourth week of March 2013.