JUSTICE FOR THE GADSDEN 6: Black Children Are A Commodity In the Criminal Justice System

The Gadsden 6. Clockwise from Top Left to Right: Roland Martin, Melvin Ray (Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun), Fred Brown, Steven Stewart, Curtis Richardson (not pictured) and Archie Hamlet.

On March 24, 1988, at appx. 1:00 am, these six Black men were arrested in Gadsden, Alabama, for the burglary of a Belk Hudson department store. At the time, we were all 16 years of age or younger, and considered children by Alabama law.

After our arrest, we were taken to the police precinct, where we would be questioned for several hours, without any attorneys being present and without any of our parents being notified of where we were or what was going on.

When the interrogation ended around 4:00 am, the police officers, appx. four to six, all white, were satifised that we could be charged with over 30 felony counts of burglary and theft offense, not only for the burglary of that night but for several other unsolved burglaries as well.

Later that same morning of March 24, after spending a few more hours being processed into the youth facility, we were hauled into court for what was supposed to have been an initial appearance hearing. The only adults present for this hearing were the judge, the prosecutor, several of the police officers, and a case worker.

What transpired next . . .

Once in the courtroom, we were supposed to have a what in Alabama is called an “initial appearance” hearing where we received an explanation of the charges against us and be informed of our rights, including the right to have attorneys and to have our parents present with us in court to contest the charges.

Instead, something else happened that would affect us for the rest of their life.

The judge, prosecutor and the police held a private conference outside of our presence and beyond our ability to hear what was going on. When they adjourned, the prosecutor and the judge did all of the talking. The prosecutor stated that there would be a “stipulation” or admission of probable cause by the state in behalf of all six of us — to all 30-plus charges. The police officer concurred. The judge then stated that he accepted the stipulation and entered the stipulation into the official record of the court. We never spoke. Never knew what the word “stipulation” meant of what was going on.

MARCH 24, 1988 CASE ACTION SUMMARY FROM GADSDEN, ALA JUVENILE COURT WHERE THE “STIPULATION” WAS ENTERED BY THE COURT

This stipulation is extremely unethical and highly unusual. First and foremost, no one, not a judge, prosecutor, or police officer can stipulate to a criminal charge for anyone on their first appearance in court. And even worse, this was done to children who did not have attorneys and whose parents were never notified and were not present.

The imagery of this scene and how these adults committed these acts against these children is undeniable: A white judge. White prosecutor. All white police officers. Both case workers white. The only Black face in the room were those of six children. We were not viewed as children but as feeder stock for the system of Mass Incarceration. With the stipulation, we could now be transferred to adult court where we could receive real felony convictions and all of the disabilities that come with that.

It hard to imagine that in a period of just a few short hours, six children could be arrested, interrogated for over three hours by a group of all- white police detectives, charged with over 30 felony offenses, and then taken into a courtroom without an attorney or even a parent present, only to have the prosecutor and police make an admission of guilt for them, which a judge then dutifully accepts before ordering the children detained.

 

After this stipulation was made, all six of us would ultimately be transferred to adult court were we would suffer convictions that would be with us for the rest of our lives. The problem is that we never should have been in adult court in the first place. The proceedings in juvenile court were illegal and unethical. Today, we are fighting for the justice that we were entitled to in 1988.

Join the fight for Justice for The Gadsden 6 as we demand that the judgement and orders issued by Juvenile Judge Robert E. Lewis and the actions of the prosecutor be declared unconstitutional and void. The record of these convictions still stand today, and they must be corrected.

GADSDEN 6

Seeing the Problem, Being the Solution, Making the Sacrifice (pt VII)

February 2, 2018
Part VII: Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018

by Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun, formerly known as Melvin Ray, Free Alabama Movement

Published in: SF Bayview, Feb 2nd, 2018

http://sfbayview.com/2018/02/seeing-the-problem-being-the-solution-making-the-sacrifice/

Last month, on Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, millions of people diverted their collective attention to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game in Atlanta, Ga. At the same time, on the other side of the country in Las Vegas, Nevada, almost 250,000 people congregated for the start of the week long CES presentation (formerly Consumer Electronics Show), the world’s largest tech trade show. On display will be the latest technological innovations that will influence and dictate the future of the world that we live in.

Unfortunately, most of us will be more in tune with the sporting spectacle – which will afford us an emotional discharge and escape from the reality of our problems – than those of us who will be focused on learning what technologies will be available for us to continue to advance our struggle towards a solution in our digital world.

The theme of the CES platform is directed towards consumers. Ultimately, though, these technologies will be refined for policing purposes and will be used to control our lives behind these walls. And just like the consumer show, corrections agencies have their own “tech” convention every year, hosted by the American Correctional Association, where they exchange ideas and shop for products.

Commissioners, wardens, officers’ union representatives etc. shop for locks, new restraint chairs, tasers, body armor, biometric devices, surveillance equipment, new prison architecture and designs, prison movement and population management software, body cameras, cell extraction gear, riot control ammunition, leg monitor systems, all the way down to the toilets, sinks and typewriters related to controlling their lucrative hundreds of billions of dollars’ prison slave industry.

The theme of the CES platform is directed towards consumers. Ultimately, though, these technologies will be refined for policing purposes and will be used to control our lives behind these walls.

Notoriously missing from this equation is us, the very people who are being controlled by these technologies. To a degree, we have been able to make effective use of social media to wage our fight to end mass incarceration and prison slavery.

In several of my articles throughout this series promoting our Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018 boycott, I proposed that we utilize this year-long bi-monthly February-April-June-Black August-October-December boycott to develop a national organization and put forth a national agenda and plan of action; create a digital storefront so that we can generate revenue from our talents, skill and abilities (think eBay, Amazon-type store); and most importantly, we need to get us an app created so that we can collect, organize and disseminate all of the information that is critical to us building awareness to our struggle and what people can do to join, support and share information about our movement.

Information on hunger strikes and work strikes pertaining to our movement all needs to be one click away on the app. Planned protests at prisons, state DOC headquarters or private companies that profit off of prisons, like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Nintendo, Starbucks, CoreCiv, Access Secure, J-Pay, AT&T, Canteen and Verizon, all need to be one click away on our app. Companies that contract with DOCs like the collect phone companies and their revenue and profits need to be one click away. And every product made or service provided at each individual prison needs to be one click away.

Information on hunger strikes and work strikes pertaining to our movement all needs to be one click away on the app.

Right now, all of this data is scattered out all across the internet, in various books and in reports that people have no idea where to start looking for.

According to a research study by the Institute for Advancing Justice Research and Innovation at Washington University in St. Louis, in 2016, the true cost of incarceration is estimated to be $1 trillion per year, and the researchers also found that more than half of those costs are being shouldered “directly by prisoners, their families, and their communities.” That’s a lot of information scattered around.

If we, indeed, are shouldering the burden for over half of these costs, which amounts to $500 billion, then isn’t it reasonable to expect that we should do a better job of collecting this information and tracking this money so that we can better organize our movement towards bankrupting prison slavery?

I would surmise that if we contribute over $500 billion in direct financial contributions, then the other half is probably coming directly from our labor. In Nas’ song, “N—–”, he said that in relationship to our problems, we are both the question and the answer. Well, if we are the financial pillars of this system, we are both the problem and the solution. In prison slavery, we are the slave and the master.

In the December 2017 issue of Bay View, our Brother Terrance Amen stated the following: “We all know what the problems are, but very little energy and effort are focused on the solutions. We are not the ones who put ourselves in this situation, but we are the ones who continue to stay in this situation because of the way we spend our money.”

Our Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018 focuses all of our energy and effort on the solution to the problems that we perpetuate from the way that we are spending our money while in prison. Invariably, solutions create issues because solutions call for sacrifice.

Talking about a problem is easy. In these prisons, even in the Bay View, we see much talk devoted to the problem. The solutions that are offered – if one can waddle through all of the talk and find one – usually deviate far and wide from any sacrifices being made. The norm usually reveals signs of the “savior complex,” where we are calling for the politicians to fix it.

But Brother Amen also said: “Politics will not solve our problems. Black economics will.” That’s why the most important aspect or feature of the Campaign 2RTP is the incorporation of our family members and others who make financial contributions to us in prison.

Our Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018 focuses all of our energy and effort on the solution to the problems that we perpetuate from the way that we are spending our money while in prison. Invariably, solutions create issues because solutions call for sacrifice.

A lot of people in prison simply don’t want to make any sacrifices whatsoever, and have no problem exploiting the people who love them for funds. They don’t dare educate their people about this movement, our boycotts or otherwise. This Campaign 2RTP is designed for us to be able to bypass those negative elements and engage these family members directly. Getting our app created will only make this process that much easier.

Those of us on the inside know that prisons have an economy too, as well as a culture set up to exploit those just entering the system. With prisons across the country being so overcrowded and understaffed, administrators have resorted to alternative methods to control such large populations.

One of the things that wardens and officers do is select collaborators from the population to help them control the masses in much the same way that slave owners used to do. These collaborators are allowed to control the drug, liquor, cigarette, gambling and other markets.

When the youth enter the prison, they are immediately preyed upon. Those youth who have money or financial support are steered towards drugs and other vices. Those who have nothing are recruited to gangs, the “armies” that the dealers use or, lacking these, they are turned out and forced into quasi-prostitution or they become labor slaves.

Those of us who recruit them for education and self-development are targeted by the system. When we try to build our movement and open the eyes of the youth and the people to what is really going on with mass incarceration and prison slavery, we become subject to “hits” like our ancestor Hugo Pinell and so many other warriors.

The collaborators work with the police to stop the movement but they never work with the movement to stop slavery. These are dynamics that people in society don’t know about, but the Campaign 2 RTP 2018 will serve many purposes before it is done.

Once again, I strongly recommend that as many of you as possible reach out to Queen Tahiyrah of Sign o’ the Times blogtalk radio and connect your/our families to her. Queen T hosts shows where incarcerated brothers and sisters call in from prison along with family.

Our Warrior God from Free Alabama Movement, Dhati Khalid, and the rest of the F.A.M.ily are also always tuned in. Call her at 513-913-2691 or reach out to F.A.M. and Bro Dhati at P.O. Box 186, New Market, AL 35761 and let’s all get connected.

Family support in prison requires devotion of a tremendous amount of time, money, sacrifice and other resources. Those of us on the inside have a duty and obligation to make sure that their sacrifices are worth it and appreciated.

If an incarcerated person does not have a GED, then there is no legitimate reason why they should not be in GED school after six to nine months in prison. Once they complete GED, if they don’t have an employable skill or trade, they should enroll in trade school.

These accomplishments will only help with parole eligibility and other release programs. And more importantly, they will help with self-development and with returning an asset to the community instead of a liability.

Families should encourage, support and ultimately demand as much in return for their sacrifices and support. We need to make sure that these important messages are reaching everyone, because we can’t continue to fund the institution of slavery.

Family support should also set a hard budget on how much money they can afford to send into a prison and stick to it. Too many people in prison are young when they enter and, thus, have no real concept of paying bills, child care, emergencies, elderly care, unexpected repairs etc. All they know is their needs. And, the vices in prison are strong, too, and expensive.

Family support in prison requires devotion of a tremendous amount of time, money, sacrifice and other resources.

If an incarcerated loved one can’t stick to their budget and is constantly calling home for money, pay pals and green dots, then this is a red flag and warning sign that something is wrong. Gambling, drug abuse and wasting money in prison trying to portray an image are real problems, and the opioid crisis that is claiming so many lives in America is alive and well in the prison, too.

All of this is being financed by someone or being facilitated by someone. If this someone is you, please stop it now and help us bring everyone home from prison as soon as possible, starting with the defunding effort being spearheaded by our Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018.

Families should encourage, support and ultimately demand as much in return for their sacrifices and support.

We have talked about the problem ad nauseum. We have cried enough tears to fill up many rivers. Our complaints have been noted and ruled on, and we have held on and endured for many seasons. As my Aunt Mary in Mississippi DOC would say, “Enough is enough.” Now is the time to Redistribute the Pain in 2018.

Our Campaign 2 RTP 2018 kicks off on Feb. 1, 2018, to begin Black History Month. It is time to not only celebrate Black history but to also show that we have learned from the lessons of history that is part of our heritage by using those lessons to help solve our problems.

Dare to struggle! Dare to win!

Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun, Free Alabama Movement

Book of the month: “We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement” by Akinyele Omowale Umoja

Literature of the month: “Liberation or Gangsterism” by Russell “Maroon” Shoatz/s

Newspaper of the month: Bay View

Word of the month: Sacrifice

Send our brother some love and light: Melvin Ray, 163343, Limestone CF D-70, 28779 Nick Davis Rd, Harvest AL 35749.

Boycott, Defund, Bankrupt – Say NO to Canteen, Incentive Packages, Collect phone calls and Visitation during February, April, June, Black August, October and December in 2018 (Pt VI)

December 30, 2017

Part VI: Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018
by Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun, fka Melvin Ray, Free Alabama Movement

Published in the SF Bayview, Dec 30, 2017

Fire burns off the dross of the hidden gem to reveal the precious metal. In struggle, it is the call to action that burns off the negative habit, distorted values and laziness of those who answer that call to reveal the precious jewels of humanity. With 2018 just a few days away, the call to action that is the Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018 is set to kick off Feb. 1, 2018. Let the fire burn bright.

Queen Tahiyrah of the National Freedom and Justice Movement, F.O.M., and Sign o’ the Times blogtalk radio has created a flier for the campaign, in addition to our https://redistributethepain.wordpress.com blog, and our redistributethepain@gmail.com email. Queen T can be reached on Facebook in the SignOTheTimes group, by email to signothetimes19@gmail.com, or call 513-913-2691. You can also write to her at 1623 Dalton St. #14393, Cincinnati, OH 45250.

As 2018 draws near, over 2.5 million people remain behind bars, walls, steel and cages. The burden of changing our circumstances remains squarely on our shoulders. We have to change our thoughts about how freedom is possible to attain, then change our actions.

Many of us know about completing our sentence as a way to freedom, or an appeal, post-conviction petition or parole. We have to amend this paradigm to include the collective actions that we can take as a unified body to bring about freedom as well.

As 2018 draws near, over 2.5 million people remain behind bars, walls, steel and cages. The burden of changing our circumstances remains squarely on our shoulders.

There is no escaping the fact that we, as a body, constitute a significant sector of the economic pie chart that funds and fuels mass incarceration and prison slavery. For purposes of this call for a nationwide boycott campaign, we have identified four sectors of the Prison Industrialized Complex that serve as some of the main economic drivers for prison budgets, which generate billions of dollars annually to fund prison operations:

  • Collect phone calls
  • Canteen / store / snack line
  • Incentive package purchases
  • Visitation vending and electronic visitation

The collect phone call industry is, by far, the most exploitive monopoly of the four enterprises. I don’t want to speculate on the amount of money we spend nationwide on phone calls, other than to say that this figure has to be in the billions of dollars.

The prison companies contract with the phone companies to carry out this extortion scheme through legal kickback schemes. We are locked up in these closed environments. If we want to maintain contact with our families, we have to pay a ransom to the phone company.

The prison system charges the phone company a cut (kickback) for being able to set up shop inside of the prison. The prison system’s cut or kickback percentage becomes part of the overall operations budget used to pay salaries, buy equipment, pay for water, electricity etc.

So, not only our slave labor, but also our financial contributions are helping to keep this empire running. Therefore, we have to boycott these ventures to help defund prison operations budgets.

Just as easily as a habeas corpus or appeal can free you, so, too, can you gain your freedom if a DOC has to close down prisons due to insufficient funds in their budgets to fund operations.

The fact that these industries generate billions of dollars each year merely attests to the enormous power that our families have over U.S. prison operations. Every time that they reject a collect call, they empower themselves by sending a message to the phone company that they will no longer assist in funding prison operations costs.

Not only our slave labor, but also our financial contributions are helping to keep this empire running. Therefore, we have to boycott these ventures to help defund prison operations budgets.

For those of us on the inside, when we stop picking up those phones, we send the message that we are ready to talk to our families at home in the living room and on the porch. These conversations are free and priceless.

The distinctively unique feature about these prison monopolies, as I’ve stated before, is that as incarcerated and enslaved people, we are their only customers. This makes it clear, without any doubt, that as much as organizations and groups grapple and fight with the FCC and the phone companies over prices, the POWER to effect change, immediate change, lies exclusively in our hands alone.

And always keep in mind that while it may cost $5, $10 or $20 to make a call, it don’t cost a penny to boycott for a month.

Casting a wide net!
Many of the owners of these cottage industry companies are former corrections officials. They either own the companies outright or are major investors. Others are family members, business associates or political contributors.

So, boycotting incentive package company Union Supply, for example, has ripple effects on many balance sheets. In addition, the employees of these companies feel the heat from participating in this evil industry. There’s plenty of pain pent up and caged inside these prisons, and we need to #RedistributeThePain in 2018 so that others can feel its intensity.

Beginning Feb. 1, 2018
When the campaign kicks off, I recommend that we invest approximately 25 percent of whatever you/we save into a fund to purchase books, stamps, newspaper subscriptions and office supplies to help print material, all to support the campaign. IWOC has indicated that their main body has donated $4,000 for book purchases.

Free Alabama Movement is contributing $750 to T-shirts, plus $250 to help purchase ink. If you have a submission for a T-shirt design, please send it to: Free Alabama Movement, P.O. Box 186, New Market, AL 35761 or email redistributethepain@gmail.com. If we choose your design, you’ll win $50 for books or newspaper subscriptions, tuition payment or other educational need.

Book of the Month – February 2018: “Prison Profiteers: Who Makes Money from Mass Incarceration” by Tara Herevil and Paul Wright

Newspaper Subscription of the Month – February 2018: SF Bay View, one month $2, one year $24

Publication of the Month – February 2018: Prison Legal News, six months $18, one year $30

These are just a few of the recommended reading materials that you will find on our WordPress blog. I suggest that those who can make these purchases, and those who can’t reach out to FAM, IWOC, Queen T or Bay View, and collectively we will try to handle the request or send it to someone who can.

One other request that I would like to put out there personally is the need of assistance in developing an app that helps us to better analyze and break down each state’s prison system, each individual prison, and each prison’s industry and labor force, just to name a few. A person should be able to click on an app and at least get the following information at any time:

  • Population
  • Total jobs worked by incarcerated
  • Each job description
  • Paid jobs / amounts
  • Unpaid jobs
  • Total canteen sales
  • Total collect calls
  • Total incentive packages purchased
  • Total visitation vending
  • All products made by prison labor
  • All services provided by prison labor
  • (Other factors may be included)

Creating our own app in aid of our movement is not cost prohibitive. We already have the funds to pay for it, but we are spending it on potato chips, cookies, candy, collect phone calls and processed food instead. For the most part, all of this is public information that is available to us through Freedom of Information Act and Open Records Act requests. In addition, we can use survey questionnaires, civil litigation, and other methods to start culling information out of these prisons and start painting a picture of what the business of prisons is really all about.

Wherever there is unity, there is power. So, let’s utilize 2018 as the year to continue to strengthen our unity, so that we can make 2018 a very powerful year for our movement, while also making it a very painful year for prison profiteers, human traffickers and the institution of slavery.

Our circumstances absolutely will not change until our thoughts and actions change. We have been spending, funding and enriching the system long enough. Now it is time to Boycott, Defund and Bankrupt.

Stop financing our own oppression. It’s time to Redistribute the Pain in 2018.

Bennu Hannibal Ra Sun, Free Alabama Movement

Send our brother some love and light: Melvin Ray, 163343, Limestone CF D-70, 28779 Nick Davis Rd, Harvest AL 35749.

Make History in 2018, Not Excuses: Whose Side are You on? Campaign to Redistribute the Pain Part V

November 30, 2017
Part V: Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018
by Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun, formerly known as Melvin Ray, Free Alabama Movement

Published in SF Bayview, Nov. 30, 2017

“Times Are Changing” – Art: Arkee Chaney, A71362, P.O. Box 1327, Galesburg IL 61401

Greetings of love, dedication and resiliency to all Freedom Fighters and fearless frontline generals, soldiers and warriors who dare to struggle and sacrifice for liberty, freedom and equality from behind these walls, fences and cages of genocide and oppression. As we continue to raise awareness and lift up our voices so that we may be heard on the issues of systemic racism and economic exploitation in the criminal justice system, as well as prison slavery and police killings and brutality, we continue to see an evil and determined enemy dig in its heels in the name of White Supremacy.

In October 2017, it was reported that the Trump administration is seeking more immigration jails and detention facilities to house more immigrants that they plan to arrest. Prior to this, in September 2017, President Trump gave a speech in Huntsville, Alabama, to deliver his latest “rally the troops” speech to a captivated and applauding audience with a clear message to White America that Black people in this country must be kept in our “place” or suffer the consequences.

It was not by coincidence that Trump chose Alabama, the Heart of Dixie, to deliver his racist and misogynistic statement. A footnote on Alabama history is in order here.

On May 21, 1901, at the Constitutional Convention of 1901 of the State of Alabama, we find the following statements in the official minutes of the proceedings from convention president-elect John B. Knox:

“And what is it that we want to do? Why it is, within the limits imposed by the federal Constitution, to establish white supremacy in this state.”

Mr. Knox further states:

“But if we would have white supremacy, we must establish it by law – not by force or fraud.”

President Trump’s choice of Alabama to make his “son of a bitch” speech coincides with the comments made by our Sister Jemele Hill of ESPN, as we can all now see that birds of the same feather flock together. Trump’s statement expressed a clear ideology of white supremacy: When a Black mother gives birth to a Black child who she would raise up to be a man who speaks out against racism and oppression, then, in the eyes of white supremacist ideology, that mother is a bitch. And, according to this ideology, these sons of bitches should be fired or, worse, fired on.

Colin Kaepernick, a man of bi-racial origin, raised by a white family, and deeply rooted in Black and human consciousness, made a stand by taking a knee. President Trump took a fall by trying to stand in the same space as a man.

As vanguards of the current Prisoners’ Human Rights Movement, we, too, are charged with taking a stand. The Campaign to Redistribute the Pain in 2018 is a call to action for those serious about freedom, justice and economic equality. Just like Colin, we have chosen a non-violent action, in exercise of our First Amendment right to free speech, to expose neo-slavery and inhumane practices throughout the prisons and entire criminal justice system.

We already know what lies ahead; we see that Colin has been white-balled by the NFL. Many of us have experienced repression for our efforts thus far, also. We know what happened to Brother Hugo Pinell. We see the torment of men like Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, Jalil Muntaqim, Malik Washington, Mafundi Lake, Russell Maroon Shoatz/s, Mumia Abu Jamal and so many more.

As vanguards of the current Prisoners’ Human Rights Movement, we, too, are charged with taking a stand. The Campaign to Redistribute the Pain in 2018 is a call to action for those serious about freedom, justice and economic equality.

For those of us down here in the Deep South in the Free Alabama Movement, things have been no different. Over four years in, and not a single person from any other race, ethnicity or nationality, EXCEPT Black men, has spent a single day – not one – in a solitary confinement cell for exercising rights supposedly secured by the U.S. Constitution. White supremacy is established in the law, just like they said it would be.
But this only tells half of the story …

The ADOC has resorted to using the solitary confinement units at the four maximum security units to stifle the spread of the movement: St. Clair CF [Correctional Facility], W.E. Donaldson CF, Holman CF and Limestone CF. Of the 12 wardens at these four prisons – each facility has three – 11 are Black and only one is white. Also, Donaldson was selected as the “breaking” plantation, where, within the last approximately 24 months, over 80 men have been transferred to this prison and were subsequently beaten, sexually assaulted, and confined to solitary. Fewer than 12 officers carried out almost all of these attacks, and most of these officers were Black: Snelson, Edmonson, Gunn, Gadson, Binder, Phillips, Speak, Turnbull, and Cunningham.

Prior to being transferred to Limestone on Aug. 2, 2017, I had spent the preceding two years at Donaldson, most of it in solitary confinement. When I was let out briefly in 2016, I learned that one of the Black wardens (Angela Miree) and one of the Black captains (Baldwin) had solicited a “hit” on me in July 2016. After their hit was thwarted, the next month I was placed back into solitary confinement.

Immediately above the heads of these Black administrations are two Black regional coordinators, Cheryl Price and Gwendolyn Mosley, who, in turn, have a Black supervisor in Associate Commissioner Grantt Culliver. Incidentally, it is at this level where the decisions are made as to who gets sent to the new statewide SHU at Limestone or the “breaking” plantation at Donaldson CF.

Just to give you an idea of how these Black professionals are making decisions on who is subjected to the “nigger boxes” (as they were called on the slave plantations), here are some figures. In August 2017, the population at Donaldson CF was approximately 1,800, including 1,418 Black, 356 White and five Mexican prisoners; numbers are approximate.

Over 87 percent of all men in segregation at Donaldson are Black. The statewide lockup unit at Limestone is 90 percent Black. St. Clair and Holman seg units are over 83 percent Black. Extreme oppression has always been reserved for Black people in the South – and no less elsewhere.

Of the several beatings that took place at Donaldson prison, one stands about above the rest. When the transfer from Holman took place after the warden (Carter Davenport) was stabbed, five men were sent to Donaldson. One by one as they exited the van they were led into a room in handcuffs, belly chains and shackles, where they were all then beaten one by one. Three or four of them were sexually assaulted. Every one of them identified Officer Justin Gunn (Black) as the leader of the assault.

This incident was so savage that it drew Associate Commissioner Culliver and Regional Coordinator Price to the prison. Yet, nothing was done. Subsequent to this, Officer Gunn beat, sexually assaulted and hospitalized Quintavius Clark. He has since assaulted Brandon (“Bird”), and kicked a man in the mouth while handcuffed, in addition to getting knocked out in a fistfight. When I left the prison in August 2017, he was assigned to tower duty due to his latest assault.

These attacks are being carried out by Black correctional officers and then covered up by Black administrators. The very flag that symbolized oppression for Black people is the exact same flag that these officers salute and pledge allegiance to, which is the same flag that John B. Knox said gives them the power “to establish white supremacy in this state.”

One by one as they exited the van they were led into a room in handcuffs, belly chains and shackles, where they were all then beaten one by one. Three or four of them were sexually assaulted. Every one of them identified Officer Justin Gunn (Black) as the leader of the assault.

Imagine that, the same niggers that couldn’t get a job with the ADOC 50 years ago until Martin, Malcolm, Elijah, BPP and others stood up to Jim Crow are now leading the charge to suppress a non-violent movement against, as Michelle Alexander calls it, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration.”

We’ve seen it all before, though. Right?! Didn’t we see Black folks denounce MLK in Alabama? When Ferguson erupted, didn’t the state send for Al and Jesse? When that didn’t work, they called in “their” clergy and preachers.

In Alabama, they had ol’ Chaplain Browder bringing chicken and watermelon. Hell, Ferguson went so far as to install a coon police chief. With all the Black professionals in ADOC in Montgomery, can’t we anticipate what’s coming next in their efforts to stop our movement? Mississippi’s Black DOC commissioner just went to prison for human trafficking of Black bodies.

Our Elder Richard “Mafundi” Lake used to always express to us the importance of studying our history in our struggle. Baba Mafundi used to say, “Black people can find the answers to all of our problems by studying Black History.”

Then he would say, “See, you got to organize the people.” That precept, ORGANIZE, is one of the pillars of civilization that our Ancestors left to us. They organized! every facet of their life. Indeed, the process of life itself, and all things in the universe, is organized. And if we are to achieve our goal within this movement, then we, too, must organize – because the opposition, as I pointed out in Part IV of this series, is already organized.

We have 51 states before us. Each state has its own sovereign authority. But in order to create a United States, all 51 states agreed to give up some of their rights for the benefit of the whole body. This is how the federal government was created. The fed has limited authority over federal issues, and the states retained authority over all remaining issues specific to each state.

For example, each state has its own state tax rates, while every citizen has to pay the same federal tax rate based on income. But there are not 51 different currencies. Instead, there is only one U.S. dollar that all 51 states use. This is so because all 51 states agreed to allow the federal government to establish a single currency (see Article 1, Section 8, U.S. Constitution). This structure is pretty much how our National Prisoners’ Rights Movement will have to be organized.

Each of us in our individual states has certain issues that are specific to our individual state that we will need to pursue on a state-by-state basis. These issues will have to be decided by the people in those states. This is the sovereign characteristic of our structure.

At the same time, though, we will need to form and consolidate a national body to create national plans, coordinate nationwide events, and maximize our impact on a national scale concerning those issues that we all share in common.

To date, we have already conducted one nationwide direct action campaign – the Sept. 9, 2016, 45th Anniversary Attica Rebellion Non-Violent Demonstration. Our outside supporters also just conducted the August 2017 Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March. These efforts, though successful, illustrate why it is important for us to organize these energized bodies.

Anyone familiar with college basketball probably associates the term “one-and-done” with the Kentucky Wildcats. They have plenty of talent, all of the potential, but very little to show for it. We can’t forget a movement based on “one-and-done” either. This is where a national organizational structure comes in. As of right now, I am aware of two proposed constructs, although I have not seen any specific details as to how either would be constructed or operated. One appears to be the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights Coalition, and the other appears to be Prison Lives Matter.

“Dehumanization 1619 to 2017” – Art: Arkee Chaney, A71362, P.O. Box 1327, Galesburg IL 61401

From my perspective, the names that we choose are far less important than making sure that we implement the proper type of structure that creates BOTH inside organizations and outside organizations. As far as how that would look and need to be organized, picture a triangle: At the top is the national organizing body, and the other two points represent outside organizations, such as the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights Coalition –Michigan, and those inside, such as the Free Michigan Movement.

STEP 1. The first step in this process would be creating a steering committee to help draw up an outline for establishing a board of directors. These members would be tasked with soliciting candidates to fill a nine (or so) member board composed of six individuals who are incarcerated and three who are in society. Once the nominees are in, an election would be held to select a Board of Executives and Directors.

STEP 2. Establish charters for inside and outside organizations. For example, the incarcerated men and women in Michigan would establish their Free Michigan Movement charter, which would serve as an umbrella for all factions operating inside MDOC.

All of the outside organizations operating in Michigan who are committed to supporting the directives of the FMM would then organize under the outside support charter, Millions for Prisoners Human Rights Coalition – Michigan.

STEP 3. Next, of course, would be the drafting of the bylaws. Within these documents would be an outline of the specific functions, purposes and duties, etc., of everyone associated with the national organization. Only national policies will be coordinated on this level, such as:

  • Nationwide hunger strikes
  • Nationwide boycott campaigns and storefront protests of companies like McDonalds, Starbucks etc., that profit from prison labor. We would select only one company at a time and organize nationwide demonstrations.
  • Nationwide protests at prisons, DOC headquarters, state capitals etc.
  • Nationwide workstrike dates
  • Nationwide boycotts of collect phone calls, canteens, incentive packages, visitations etc. in the mold of the Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018.
  • Nationwide 13th Amendment awareness rallies, marches etc.
  • Nationwide social media events, including “Twitter-storms,” panel discussions etc.

Obviously, this is just a proposal. I am sure there are others out there with ideas on how we should proceed too. We need to bring these ideas together to form a plan of action.

Additionally, there are many organizations in society out there that are kicking up dust but don’t have a platform for connecting to our struggle behind these walls. In fact, many of them are fighting issues that they may not even realize are connected to the 13th Amendment and slavery. Those of us on the inside have to build those bridges through our outside support networks that will connect our people together.

To establish that point:

I recently read up on the events concerning the police killing of Anthony Lamar Smith in St. Louis, Missouri. What stood out the most was how the activists there have completely changed their strategy to now target the economic structure of the city as opposed to just marching and protests. They targeted the malls, entertainment centers, restaurants and even a concert venue. All of their target areas were forced to close. This impacted the pockets of city finances, supporters of murderous police etc., and helped to “Redistribute the Pain.”

As one activist said, “Last time in Ferguson, we were very emotional and just protestors, but we are now activists.” We have to be activists also behind these walls before our pain will be felt.

Ultimately, though, as powerful as their demonstration was, they left plenty of money on the table. Under the organizational structure that I am proposing, those of us on the inside could have been added to that force on the outside. Here’s how:

In Alabama, we just received the winter food package list from Access SecurePak. Where is the company headquartered? 10880 Linpage Place, St. Louis, MO 63132. Most likely, this same company has contracts throughout Missouri’s DOC and probably even city or county jails. A boycott of this business that supports and finances mass incarceration and prison slavery most definitely should have been included. Additionally, and at the same time, work strikes should have been organized at the jails and prisons.

Missouri is no different from Alabama, California, Texas, South Carolina, Georgia, or any other state. Prison labor is active and a revenue generator on all layers of the economy in Missouri. In fact, the very streets, roads, and sidewalks that the activists were moving on are probably cleaned in some part by prison slave labor. Some of the stores may even have products made in a prison. Most definitely, the police cruisers that are dispatched to the scenes where our activists are congregated are maintained and repaired by people in jail or prison.

Millions of dollars in labor costs, lost production and lost sales can be effectively mounted onto the backs of cities in an instant, if only we can connect our movement together.

Under the organizational structure that I am proposing here, this unification would merge seamlessly, and the fit would be perfect because we are already aligned strategically on the use of direct action economic activity. For example, the outside organization, Millions for Prisoners Human Rights Coalition – Missouri would be the eyes and ears on the ground that would be informed when a trial like Mr. Smith’s was taking place.

They would join forces with other outside activists and groups, letting them know of our presence on the inside, say, Free Missouri Movement. Throughout the process of trial, planning and coordination would take place, starting at the local city and county jails then moving to the prisons. Then, when the unlawful verdict is reached, the plan of action would go into effect – boycotts and work strikes on the inside, with boycotts on the outside.

Millions of dollars in labor costs, lost production and lost sales can be effectively mounted onto the backs of cities in an instant, if only we can connect our movement together.

This, of course, would be an example of an individual state charter exercising autonomy in a local issue. These plans would also be relayed up to the national board, who would then send advisories out to all other branches nationwide in the event that other branches wanted to join in the same capacity.

It could be a hunger strike, a boycott in the mold of the Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018, a work strike or whatever. (Them brothers up in Michigan at Marquette, Kinross, Cotton and Chippewa appear to be ready at the drop of a dime.) The main thing is, we have to get organized, then get connected to the broader struggle in society.

Plain and simple, we have to get connected because police killings and social justice are each a part of prison slavery and mass incarceration. How? What if Mike Brown had lived? Where would he be today? In prison! When Sandra Bland asserted her rights as a human being, where did she end up dying? In jail!

If Anthony Lamar Smith had lived, what would have happened? I’ll tell you what: He would have been arrested, charged with drug possession and distribution, and taken to jail. Walter Scott was running from the slave catcher because he didn’t want to be returned where? Jail!

Mike Brown, of course, would have probably been charged with assault, attempted murder, jaywalking and who knows what else. Since the bail bond system was so thoroughly exposed after his death, we know that his bail would have been near $500,000. And, we already know that the grand jury would have believed Officer Wilson, so Mike Brown would have been indicted. According to Michelle Alexander’s book, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” Mike Brown would have pled guilty, just like 95 percent of all defendants do.

Thus, Mike Brown would be in the county jail, waiting to go to MDOC, where he would become Brown, M, D819642, B/M. Life.

Plain and simple, we have to get connected because police killings and social justice are each a part of prison slavery and mass incarceration.

If Sandra Bland had lived, her situation would be even worse. In recent years, rapes, sodomy and sexual violence have been reported in women’s prisons from Alabama, Florida, California and Mississippi, just to name a few. In January 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice concluded an investigation by finding that the women at Julia Tutwiler Prison have been raped, sexually abused and more for a period of almost 20 consecutive years – up to 2014 when the investigative report was issued. And it continues …

A more glaring fact missing from these reports is that many of these women gave birth to children, while other women had abortions. Some of these women were forced to have abortions, while other women who refused abortions, by sometimes married officers, had their fetuses beaten from their bodies. I was once given an eyewitness account by a woman formerly incarcerated at Tutwiler, who recounted seeing a mentally ill young woman beaten until she miscarried by an officer who had been raping her.

There are many Sandra Blands who lived. Yet, where are their protests? Do their Black Lives Matter while they are still alive, or must they die first? What about the children who were born to these prison slave plantation rapes? First and foremost, the Department of Justice report did not even tell us how many children were born – but the ADOC knows how many deliveries were made.

Where are these children whose mothers have life sentences with no family members capable of receiving such child, and the father is a correctional officer, married with a family, and no incentive to tell his wife and family that he has a child at work on a slave plantation? Haven’t we experienced this narrative already? Don’t these Black Lives Matter, too?

When we, FAM’s blogtalk radio show The People’s Platform and Sign of the Times with Queen T, hosted the Scott Sisters from Mississippi upon their release from Mississippi’s slave yards, they told us of women who had given birth to as many as four to five children while incarcerated for over 20 years. In society, we see report after report of women being raped by police officers. Aren’t these issues combined? Then we aren’t the movements combined? If you are wondering why not, #MeToo.

There are over 219,000 Sandra Blands incarcerated today, with the number growing each day. Many of them will be raped, sexually assaulted, impregnated and give birth to a Mike Brown Jr. or Sandra Bland Jr. real soon.

We cannot only accept Black Lives Matter as a slogan. The burden lies with us behind these walls to organize our movement in a way that forces society to recognize our humanity and bear witness to our sacrifices. Our Black Lives Matter only when our Black Lives Matter to us, first.

“Imprisoning Mothers” – Art: Arkee Chaney, A71362, P.O. Box 1327, Galesburg IL 61401

The year 2018 is important for many reasons. In retrospect, the Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018 is a call to sacrifice. One can look at a canteen list and quickly see that the offering of snacks, candy, potato chips etc. are the menu for a child. We have to sacrifice cookies, “wraps” and “spreads” if we want to sit at a table and eat as men and women.

We can’t allow our mothers, wives, fathers, brothers, lovers and friends to continue to feed the pig and fall further into their own mode of institutionalization. Some of our loved ones feel guilt or partly responsible for our incarceration, and too many of us play on those feelings for a green dot, money on the books etc.

We are now at a time when we must advance beyond the one-and-done concept of struggle. Since we are enslaved and incarcerated every day, we must also struggle every day. Malcolm X said that if we aren’t willing to die for our freedom then we may as well remove the word from our vocabulary. At a bare minimum, the base of our sacrifice should be a bi-monthly boycott of chips and soups, phone calls and visits.

On Dec. 6, 1865, the USA decreed in the 13th Amendment that we are slaves and property of the government. On Dec. 6, 2017, we have to implement the next phase in our plan to dismantle the institution of slavery by starting the process of defunding it. Slavery is already morally bankrupt. Now we must financially bankrupt it.

In closing, I want to parlay off the words of our Warrior Queen Sister Dr. Ava Muhammad of the Nation of Islam, who has lectured on the financial industry of mass incarceration and prison slavery. In boycotting, we have to redirect our finances towards a plan that will give us financial independence. Through social media platforms, we now have the power to create our own revenue streams. Behind these walls, we have craftsmen, writers, poets, artists and many other talents.

With a national organization, we can create our own online storefront where we can sell our own products, which will allow us to finance our own movement. Then, during the bi-monthly boycotts of the Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018, we can send a portion of the funds that we withhold from the prison industry as donations to our national organization.

On Dec. 6, 1865, the USA decreed in the 13th Amendment that we are slaves and property of the government. On Dec. 6, 2017, we have to implement the next phase in our plan to dismantle the institution of slavery by starting the process of defunding it. Slavery is already morally bankrupt. Now we must financially bankrupt it.

Looking back on history as Elder Mafundi has told us to, Ancestor Marcus Garvey has already shown us what we can do when we pool our resources. We have to build our own independent power base because ain’t no one coming to save us. We must self save.

In February 2018, April 2018, June 2018, August 2018, October 2018 and December 2018, we must work towards building our national entity, while also refining local coalitions and networks. We can never defeat an opponent that we fund with all of our financial resources and labor, especially when we don’t have anything close to our own entity that we fund to help us wage our fight.

Without that organized body, we are just fussing and calling it fighting. Until we organize, we are nothing more than just disgruntled employees – the thousands of men that our great Ancestor Harriet Tubman said she could have freed if only we knew that we were slaves …

Bennu Hannibal Ra Sun

Free Alabama Movement

Note: I do not know Colin Kaepernick personally. The info that I wrote about his personal history was gleaned from info that I have read. Any inaccuracies should be attributed to me, not Bay View. My apologies in advance for any mistakes, for it is never my intent to ever mislead the people.

Send our brother some love and light: Melvin Ray, 163343, Limestone CF D-70, 28779 Nick Davis Rd., Harvest AL 35749.

The Power of Economics: One Message, One Mind, One Movement

The power of economics: One message, one mind, one movement
June 30, 2017
by Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun (formerly known as Melvin Ray)
Published in the SF Bayview, June 30, 2017

Photo of Melvin Ray and his daughter Raven Antonia on a visit, 2017

Melvin Ray gets a visit from his daughter, Raven Antonia, and his “grandbaby in the oven.”

Greetings to all of the freedom fighters, warriors and honorable supporters in this struggle to End Mass Incarceration and Prison Slavery. Two thousand and seventeen has been a year of incubation for the Free Alabama Movement. Many of us have been subjected to intensified repression, cast deeper into the recesses of solitary confinement, causing us to merge into a new, stronger and more powerful incarnation of the original.

Sometime last year, the ADOC (Alabama Department of Corrections) erected what amounts to a SHU (Special Handling Unit) at Limestone Correctional Facility. Brother Dhati Khalid (“Freedom or Death”) was the first freedom fighter to be transferred there from here at Donaldson Correctional Facility in approximately May 2016. Brother Kinetik Justice, who has now served approximately 40 consecutive months, was sent there late last year. These remain the only two men who have been sent to SHU-Limestone for political reasons.

As for me, I am personally on my 10th month after returning to seg (segregation, or solitary confinement), which makes 36 of the last 41 months. At present, I am being held on “isolation” status – no contact, “Walk Alone,” no phone, visitation, books, magazines etc. supposedly under INVESTIGATION for unspecified reasons. Nevertheless, life moves on.

Many of us are excited about Aug. 19, 2017. There will be an event in Montgomery, Alabama, in addition to the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March in Washington, D.C. We MUST seize this moment in our movement.

Stokely Charmichael pointed out in his book “Ready for Revolution” the important distinction between mobilizing people versus organizing people. As organizers, it is extremely important that we seize upon the opportunity that #A19 will bring, to organize our supporters.

How do we do this?
First and foremost, we must stay on message. And what is that message? We are uniting to End Mass Incarceration and Prison Slavery. In doing so, we have to keep at the forefront of our heart, mind and spirit that slavery – which predominates over mass incarceration – is an economic enterprise system that is mathematically put together and thus capable of being scientifically taken apart.

The basic premise of this deconstructive science is simple: “There can be no slavery without the slave.” As I state in my forthcoming book, even if 1 million people do attend our events on #A19, it won’t do much good if 1 million prison workers – slaves – get right back up and continue to answer that “work call” year in and year out.

People in society are not the ones working these prison slave labor jobs, so we can’t afford to allow them to EVER entertain the impression that they can free us simply by marching. We have to put a plan in place for them to support.

First and foremost, we must stay on message. And what is that message? We are uniting to End Mass Incarceration and Prison Slavery.

The ultimate job of deconstructing slavery remains on us, the slaves. Simply stated, we have got to stop the slave labor, and our movement has to organize our supporters around our plan to launch our next round of massive strikes, whenever that date is set.

Social, political and ECONOMIC education must be ramped up

One thing I have noticed about our writings behind these walls is that, while we have written enough to fill up several universities with social and political content, we have very little material on economics. It is going to be next to impossible to build awareness around the true nature of our movement if we don’t start the process of educating on the economic factor of slavery.

Solitary confinement has its origin on the plantation as the “nigger box.” Our water has always been contaminated. As slaves, we never had health, dental or prenatal care on the plantation. Sabre Red and Cell Buster spray have merely replaced the whip.

These are but the residuals of slave plantation life. As long as there is the economic enterprise of slavery, these residuals will always exist. Furthermore, if we stopped any of them or all of them, so long as we continue to provide slave labor, slavery will remain intact.

It is going to be next to impossible to build awareness around the true nature of our movement if we don’t start the process of educating on the economic factor of slavery.

We have to make a much more concerted effort to put the focus on the economic factors at play. When people understand how $$$ is the driver, we have to then help these same people understand how “their” money or “their” labor is what is keeping this system of slavery alive. In economic terms.

Information needs to be organized so that our loved ones can see just how their money is fueling the system; then we have to help them organize boycotts and the withholding of funds at strategic moments. For example, when our families send us commissary money, they need to know 1) how much money they are sending collectively each month, and 2) how the prison system is using this money to keep the prison system intact.

In Alabama, commissary profits are used to purchase batons, mace, handcuffs etc. When our loved ones and supporters gain awareness of this, they can better see where their power lies and how they can use it effectively.

So long as we continue to provide slave labor, slavery will remain intact.

If a prison profits $20,000 each month, that’s $240,000 each year. If they were to organize, say, rolling boycotts of every other month, that’s six months – January, March, May, June, September, November – and $120,000 that they have removed from a prison’s operating budget. These types of deficits are very disruptive to a prison budget.

When we combine these types of maneuvers with phone boycotts and incentive package boycotts, these types of tactics add up fast. These are the types of methods that we need our family members and supporters organizing year-round, non-stop.

Of course, the Great White Whale remains the workstrikes. Why? Because this is easily a $100,000,000,000 industry that WE control. That is the one thing that has to penetrate through to our consciousness: We actually control a $100 billion industry through our labor. If you don’t think that slave labor has power, just think about all of the wealth that it has created.

These are just some of the companies that we produce products for and provide services for, or who make money off of us: Abbott Laboratories, ALRT, AutoZone, Bayer, Caterpillar, Costco, John Deer, Eddie Bauer, Exxon Mobil, Fruit of the Loom, Gelco, GlaxoSmithKline, Glaxo Wellcome, International Paper, Jan Sport, J-Pay, K-Mart, Koch Industries, Mary Kay, McDonalds, Nintendo, Pfizer, Proctor & Gamble, Quaker Oats, Sarah Lee, Sprint, Starbucks, Victoria’s Secret, WalMart, Wendy’s.

Of course, the Great White Whale remains the workstrikes. Why? Because this is easily a $100,000,000,000 industry that WE control.

There are many thousands more, and even more institutional investors. But these are just the products and services. We also have to look at the labor costs. Not including work releases, in Alabama there are approximately 10,000 laborers. This is the math on just one eight-hour workday at minimum wage:

10,000 x $8 per hour = $80,000 per hour
$80,000 per hour x 8 hours = $640,000 per day
$640,000 per day x 20 days each month = $12,800,000

So, just by going to work each day, five days a week, even at a minimum wage rate of $8 per hour, we are giving the state $12,800,00 each month in free slave labor. This is barbers, runners, kitchen, yard, road squads, infirmary workers etc.

Multiply that by 12 months, and the state is getting approximately $163,600,000 in free labor. And remember, this is just the cost of labor. These figures don’t include what that labor is producing. In Alabama, we are producing agricultural goods, tags, furniture, chemicals, beef, fish, recyclings, sand mines, print shop and more.

And these figures are before we ever get money sent by J-Pay, which transacts about $1 billion a year, and before we draw canteen, make medical co-pays, make phone calls etc. These are billion dollar entities, and we are the capital.

We have … got … to … get … these … numbers … before … the … people so that everyone can see our power. No state’s prison budget can withstand the loss of our collective economic might, but we have to put this shit in its proper context. Slavery is ECONOMICS! So the solution must be also.

I will close with this. In 2015, I drafted a document called FAM’s Six-Step Plan of Action 2015. What I consider to be the most important step in that plan is the establishing of one central detention facility jail prison in each state to serve as a “headquarters” for organizing – by our outside, free world support. Just go, set up shop, and start organizing. Collect contact info, pass out newsletters and pamphlets, set up conference calls etc.

These are billion dollar entities, and we are the capital. We have … got … to … get … these … numbers … before … the … people so that everyone can see our power. Slavery is ECONOMICS! So the solution must be also.

Establish shifts around visitation days. It could start out as just one person, but don’t stop until that entire place has the message. Then, set a test date for a phone boycott. Set another for a canteen boycott, and another for a short workstrike. The plan is to organize that one institution, both inside and out. When that one is done, then reach out to the next one.

We can’t be grassroots with no boots on the ground. This is how outside support can help those on the inside organize under any circumstance. But these posts have to become permanent. More details of this plan will be forthcoming, but for now we have to get on to the discussion about economics. There truly is power in numbers, especially when it comes to economics.

Free Alabama Movement (FAM) Economic Challenge

What products are produced at your place of incarceration?

What service industry (e.g., call center) is located at your place of incarceration?

How many people provide labor at your place of incarceration?

How much money do loved ones send to prison accounts each month at your place of incarceration?

Approximately how much money is spent on canteen at your place of incarceration each month?

Approximately how much is spent on collect calls at your place of incarceration each month?

Would you be willing to participate in and/or help organize a bi-monthly phone and canteen boycott for the year 2018?

Send our brother some love and light: Melvin Ray, 163343, Donaldson CF 1-3, 100 Warrior Lane, Bessemer AL 35023. If you are responding to the FAM Economic Challenge at the end, send your response to Unheard Voices OTCJ, P.O. Box 10056, Longview, TX 75604.

Let’s Talk About it!!! Corrections Corp and the GEO Group: Modern Slave Profiteers

Mort T. Care: “Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group owns about 75 percent of the nation private prisons”

LETS TALK ABOUT IT!!

They rely on human beings being incarcerated for their money, and both of them are multi-billion dollars enterprises that exploit free and cheap labor in a new form of slavery, exploitation, and torture to force labor.

They also lobby for touch-on-crime policies and against reforms or change to harsh sentencing practices that currently incarcerated over 1.5 black men, women, and children.

Free Alabama Movement and Free Mississippi Movement are currently protesting against the civil and human rights abuses of the companies from inside of prisons throughout America.

We need support, donations, and skilled organizers to help us organize the men and women on the inside to engage in work strikes/shutdowns so that we can destroy the economic ecosystem of corporations like these, whose existences are based on the continued enslavement of Black and other POC.

PRESS STATEMENT: Sept 9 NATIONWIDE PROTEST, WORKSTRIKE, BOYCOTT, AND DEMONSTRATIONS 

FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT

National Freedom Movement Against Mass Incarceration and Prison Slavery
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact Information:

For Media Requests:

Mothers and F.A.M.ilies, Inc
P.O. BOX 186,
New Market, AL 35761

Exec. Board Members Ms. Antonia Brooks, Ms. Dara Folden, Ms. LaTosha Scott

Phone: 256.203.4371

Freealabamamovement@gmail.com

For Movement updates and all other inquiries:

National Representative

Pas. Kenneth S. Glasgow

The Ordinary People’s Society
334.791.2433

September 9, 1971 ATTICA Rebellion 45th Anniversary

FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT kicks off Sept. 9, 2016 National Non-Violent and Peaceful Prison Shutdown for Civil and Human Rights at Holman prison in Atmore, AL.

After launching its Movement in 2014 with the first coordinated work stoppages and shutdowns in Alabama prison history, FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT, building on its success with subsequent strikes, issued a call in 2015 with its document titled F.A.M.’s 6-Step Plan of Action 2015 (see our WordPress blog) for the first coordinated Nationwide Prison Work Strike in US History. This plan, along with its publication, “Let The Crops Rot In The Field” were then circulated throughout F.A.M.’s nascent network of supporters for its National Freedom Movement Against Mass Incarceration and Prison Slavery.

With assistance from other organizations and people, including Bro. Lorenzo “Kim’Boa” and Sis. JoNina Irvin of the Ida B. Wells Coalition against Police Brutality, Brianna Peril and David Boehnke of IWW/IWOC, Annabelle Parker, Mary Ratcliff of San Francisco Bay View, FREE MISSISSIPPI MOVEMENT and FREE MISSISSIPPI MOVEMENT UNITED, Queen T of SignofTheTimes/ FREE OHIO MOVEMENT, Anthony Robinson/The New Underground Railroad, Mississippi Southern Belles, Anarchist Black Cross and many others, F.A.M. began organizing, leading and directing this National call.

Today, September 9, 2016, at appx 12:01 am, FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT has kicked off the Sept. 9, Nationwide Prison Workstrikes, Boycotts and International Protests from Holman prison in Atmore, Alabama, in solidarity with confirmed strikes underway in Florida, South Carolina, and Texas.

F.A.M. has reiterated its call, first made January 1, 2014 with its first coordinated Workstrikes, for Non-Violence and Peaceful demonstrations both inside and outside of prisons as the solution to the exploitation and other forms of abuse that take place in Americas prisons, including forced prison slavery.

F.A.M. has often stated that the solution to mass incarceration and prison slavery must be lead by the men, women and children who are incarcerated and who are contributing to prison slavery and our own oppression by continuing to produce goods and provide services and purchase products that generate billions of dollars in revenue each year to support prison slavery. The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution continues to permit slavery to exist in this country “as Punishment of crime, whereof the person has been duly convicted,” and the institution and enterprise of slavery was legally transferred to the State government’s prison systems.

These Non-Violent and Peaceful protests  are designed to expose the nefarious economic motives of individuals, State and Federal government, and corporations like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Starbucks, John Deer, the ALEC corporation, Victoria Secret, US military, Whole Foods, Wal Mart, Keefe, AT&T and Verizon call centers, and many others behind laws like mandatory minimums, three strikes laws, juvenile prosecution as adults, etc. that are used to incarcerate people under oppressive, inhumane conditions for extended periods of time, solely for the use of free prison labor for profit — yet in the name of crime and punishment.

F.A.M. has issued a “FREEDOM BILL“, which contains the demands that they are imposing upon the Alabama legislature to correct the problem of mass incarceration and prison slavery in Alabama.

FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT
To assist FAM and their National Freedom Movement and to support the people on the inside who are making these sacrifices, please donate to famfamalabama@Gmail.com today.

FREE DA F.A.M. 3

Photo of Free Alabama Movement 3 and text Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world would do this, it would change the earth.

Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world would do this, it would change the earth.

PART 3

FREE THE F.A.M. 3: Non Violent and Peaceful Demonstrations threatened ADOC’s “Violent Culture of Control” Policies

FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT
P.O. BOX 186
NEW MARKET, AL 35761

Phone: 256-985-1126

freealabamamovement@gmail.com
http://www.freealabamamovement.com

“FREEDOM OR DEATH. AINT NUTHIN ELSE. . . STOP PLAYING WITH THE CONCEPT.”  Dhati

Ever since solitary confinement came into existence, it has been used as a tool of repression.

While it is justified by corrections officials as necessary to protect prisoners and guards from violent super predators, all too often it is imposed on individuals, particularly prisoners of color, who threaten prison administrations in an altogether different way. Consistently, jailhouse lawyers and jailhouse doctors, who administer to the needs of their fellow prisoners behind bars, are placed in solitary confinement. They are joined by political prisoners from various civil rights and independence movements.”

And that’s exactly what Alabama is doing with their Solitary Confinement- using it to repress and torture anyone that speaks the words FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT. For exposing Alabama’s on going Human Rights violation  James Pleasant, Robert Earl Council and Melvin  Ray were targeted, singled out and labeled “threats to the security of the ADOC,” then placed in Solitary Confinement with indeterminate sentences.

At the time that these men made their decisions to address the ongoing Civil and Human Rights violations that were apparent in the ADOC, the prisons were historically overcrowded, there was a wave of violence brewing statewide throughout the prisons, living conditions were deplorable, food and healthcare we severely substandard and causing many illnesses and death, and the prison administrators, commissioners, and wardens were all refusing to respond and address the complaints.

Then, on January 1, 2014, under the banner of FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT, a Non-Violent and Peaceful Protest for Civil and Human Rights was launched at Holman  Prison, as over 1000 men went on shutdown [work stoppage].

Three days later, on January 4, 2014, 1300 more at St. Clair Prison joined in.  These demonstrations remained peaceful the entire time. ADOC officials  acknowledged to the AP that these demonstrations were peaceful:

“On Saturday, Alabama Department of Corrections spokesman Brian Corbett acknowledged to the Associated Press that since New Year’s Day, at least some prisoners have refused to work in kitchen and laundry areas and perform other jobs.”

“Corbett told the AP that the protests at the St. Clair and Holman Correctional facilities have been peaceful . . .”

[http://alreporter.com/in-case-you-missed-it-2/5571-alabama-prisoners-strike-continues.html]

Unfortunately for approximately 8 families with loved ones in ADOC, these peaceful ended too soon, because over the course of the next 14 months after the demonstrations ended, with no intervention or improvements from ADOC, approximately 8 men were killed. and hundreds more have been stabbed.

* Our beloved Lil Mook, Marquette Cummins, who came to prison at 17 lost his physical life on January 6, 2015, on the second day of the shutdown. His Spirit lives on and serves as a reminder to us all that we must bring these prisons to an end because they ccontinue to take life, yet give nothing of value in return.

ST CLAIR DEATHSAlso, at the same time that these peaceful demonstrations were concluding, the US DOJ issued a report detail the two-decades long horror story that emanated from Julia Tutwiler Women’s Prison in Wetumpka, AL.

According to the report, which was completed after a long investigation, the women confined at Tutwiler had been raped, impregnated, sexually assaulted, abused and exploited for sex for over two decades. Children were born. Children were aborted. Women were beaten and raped, and it was estimated that at least 1/3 of the ENTIRE corrections staff had been involved in the abuses. In that time, less than 10 officers has been prosecuted, and the most time handed out was 6 months, with one officer getting 5 days.

Now, approximately 14 months later, and exclusively for organizing a “non-violent and peaceful protest”, these three men, Robert Earl Council, James Pleasant, and Melvin Ray, have all been labelled a “security threat”. In addition, F.A.M. and the family members and supporters, including those who had lost a loved one to the violence and who were supporting F.A.M.’s call for an end to the violence, were also labelled as a security threat.

Under ADOC rules, violence such as riots, assaults, destroying property, etc., all fall under security threats. In fact, under ADOC rules, a person who commits a murder while in ADOC custody must serve 30 [months] in solitary confinement. Yet, the people who are trying to stop this avoidable and senseless loss of life are subjected to indefinitely periods of solitary confinement. In other words, if any member of the F.A.M. 3 were guilty of committing a murder, they could look to be released from segregation in a definite period of time of 30 months, but for engaging in peaceful protests against the conditions that lead to violence and murder, these men became “security threats.”

Not a single ADOC rules prohibits “Non-Violent and Peaceful” demonstrations. In fact, the right to peacefully assemble is guaranteed and protected by the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

In response to the protests, in light of the conditions that were exposed by F.A.M. on social media like YouTube and Facebook, Gov. Bentley and Sen. Cam Ward created a Prison Reform Task Force and have since verified EVERY issue that F.A.M. complained of.

Additionally, EJI followed the demonstrations by filing a lawsuit about the violence at St. Clair, were hundreds of people have been assaulted, including one person by the warden, Carter Davenport, who has since been reassigned to another prison (he was a Captain at Tutwiler during the rapes, etc.). The SPLC has filed a lawsuit on the healthcare against ADOC after the demonstrations.

When Gov. Bentley, Sen. Cam Ward, Chief Justice Roy Moore, Attn General Luther Strange and other state officials acknowledged the problems within ADOC that were exposed by F.A.M., THEY were not labelled security threats. When al.com confirmed that Warden Davenport was the root of the violence at St. Clair they were not labelled a security threat. When the US DOJ reported on the abuses at Tutwiler, they were not labelled a security threat.

But when the people who live in the violence, the very people who are forced to live in the inhumane and uncivil conditions complain about the violence with -non-violent and peaceful protests”, they are labelled a threat to security, even where the violence levels, understaffing, and decrepit conditions show that there is NO SECURITY TO THREATEN, and certainly none to threaten with “Non-Violent and Peaceful Protests!!!

Join F.A.M. as we demand answers from ADOC and other Alabama officials about why these men are being punished for complaining about these ongoing civil and human rights violations.

#INCARCERATEDBLACKLIVESMATTERTOO

#freedafam3

May 30th: National/International Protest Day to “S-To-P” the “school-to-prison” pipeline

11225786_10152915830247198_1260784382_nMay 30th NATIONAL McDonald’s PROTESTS
McDonald’s / St. Vincent Hospital

Where: 2733 8th Avenue, South
Birmingham, Alabama 35203

Time: 12 noon

National Freedom Movement’s “S-To-P” Campaign Against McDonald’s to “S-To-P” the “school-to-prison” pipeline.

11126929_1561498580768511_8768531314490261835_n

FREE ALABAMA-MISSISSIPPI MOVEMENT UNITED . . . we got our Youth covered.

F.A.M.’s Step 3 McDonald’s INITIATIVE: “S-To-P” the “school-to-prison” pipeline.

1) S-To-P doing business with companies that invest in, and profit from laws and school policies that target children for the “school-to-prison”.

FOTA7C32) S-To-P doing business with companies that build factories in prisons but not in our communities.

3) S-To-P doing business with companies that pay slave wages to people in prison, but won’t employee people in high-unemployment communities.

11287432_10206815466568514_893364780_o4) S-To-P doing business with companies that profit off of mass incarceration FOR prison slavery.

https://freealabamamovement.wordpress.com/2015/03/24/f-a-m-s-step-3-mcdonalds-initiative-s-to-p-the-school-to-prison-pipeline/

Senate Bill 67: Reform or Racket to Exploit Crime and More Poor Families

FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT
By Melvin Ray
freealabamamovement@gmail.com
http://www.freealabamamovement.com

After over a year of research, meetings, studies and other expenditures of tax-payer funds, the Council of State Government (CSG) and the Alabama Prison Reform Task Force (PRTF) have given the Alabama people Senate Bill 67 as the solution to the issues in Alabama prisons and the state’s criminal justice system.

The PRTF and CSG got off to a controversial start when it was revealed that of the 25-member task force, not a single African American male would be part of the decision making process, deliberations, or considerations of the group. Being a black man, the hypocrisy of this struck me from the beginning: Black men, who make up approximately 13% of the total state population, are approximately 60% of the total prison population.

Note** The U.S. GOVERNMENT Bureau of Statistics, shows that 70%% of all crimes ccommitted in the U.S. are ccommitted by white people.

So, this means that the families and communities most affected by the prison and judicial system are black. Yet, in a way that only a state like Alabama can explain, not a single black man was invited to discuss what solutions would be best to fix a problem that has been created by people who look just like the CSG committee and the PRTF — predominately white men.

Alabama prisons currently hold over 30,000 people in space designed to hold less than 14,000 people. Of this 30,000, approximately 80% of ALL people who enter into ADOC are functionally illiterate — or worse. Most of these people are young, poor, unskilled, and addicted to some type of drug. The problems made manifest in such a setting are predictable and expected.

Overcrowding serves to breed problems:

MALNUTRITION

First, the budget is fixed to serve just over 13,000 , while the prisons hold 30,000-plus. With low budgets, the cheap, undercooked food being served lacks nutrition, inadequate portions, and consists mainly of processed foods. In a word, the people in Alabama prisons are malnourished.

UNSANITARY WATER SUPPLY

The water system in Alabama’s prisons was designed to filter and serve less than 14,000  people. So imagine what happens when this system is overburdened with 30,000-plus people. First, the water is not properly filtered before it enters back into the prisons. This contaminated drinking water is the major contributor to most ailments in Alabama prisons.

Food isn’t properly cleaned. Bodies aren’t cleaned. Clothes aren’t properly cleaned. Thus, diseases, infections, cancers, and deaths ensue.

Then, you have people literally stacked on top of each other. This breeds other problems: frustration, depression, and mental illnesses.

Untreated mental, emotional, psychological and addiction issues lead invariably to violent settings. St. Clair prison is Exhibit A in this crisis.

Death and disease are so widespread due to inadequate resources for meaningful healthcare.

Quarantines for outbreaks of TB, scabies, and Staph (and now food-food-poisoning) are now common protocols.

Sometimes, staff, family members who visit, lawyers, and people in the prisons aren’t even informed of outbreaks due to delays in detection.

Then, you have the actual living conditions. Filth is everywhere. The water supply is contaminated. Showers are almost always cold due to overuse because the water system wasn’t designed for so many people. Cleanliness is a constant issue. Mold, mildew, rats, roaches, spiders, snakes, and bugs are in every crack and crevice. Repairs to all areas of the infrastructure are needed, with some prisons being over 40 years old.

Health, food, and fire inspectors are rarely seen. When they are present, they are not doing their jobs of accurately reporting on the wholesale violations that are so prevalent.

However, when one examines SB 67, one doesn’t see a single one of these issues being addressed.
The human costs and abuse associated with reform needs are being totally ignored because no one cares about the inhumane, uncivilized treatment of men and women in prison. And certainly not those in Alabama’s prisons, who are majority black and all poor.

In fact, the PRTF is calling for 2,000 more beds to be added to existing facilities. Senator Cam Ward has stated that the goal is to reduce overcrowding to 140%, which courts have said is acceptable. But the question to ask is: why can a state Senator openly say that his goal is to violate a health/fire code for maximum occupancy, and feel no consequences whatsoever? Where is the Fire Marshall to remind Senator Ward that fire codes are to be strictly complied with, including occupancy rates? A Fire Marshall will close down a night club, a basketball arena, or a restaurant for being over-capacity, but here we see that the law doesn’t apply to the prisons.

Instead, it is the *goal* of Alabama officials to have a illegal, overcrowded prison system and the Fire Marshall says nothing.

SB 67 doesn’t address any of these issues. Sen. Cam Ward and his cabal have sat down as if they were doctors, to solve a problem without asking their patients a single question about what is wrong or what could be done to fix the problems. To my knowledge, the PRTF did not enter into a single prison and ask the occupants about our issues, where the problems areas are, or what solutions we see as being needed. Nor did they enter into a single black community, which is where mass incarceration has had it worst effects, to see how these issues should be addressed. White men in Alabama are not accustomed to consulting Black men on problems, even those problems created by white men that disproportionately affect black men, like mass incarceration.

Some Alabama prisons house in excess of 1,000 people – most of whom are illiterate – and don’t even provide a GED program, let alone sustainable job skills programs. There are currently no gang-intervention programs, no community volunteer programs at the community custody facilities, no Life Skills programs – and SB 67 is not calling for any of them. These are programs that most Black community leaders, religious leaders, mothers, and fathers will tell you that our communities need from the ADOC while they are holding these men for decades at a time. Yet, Senator Ward doesn’t see a need for Black voices on the PRTF or the all-white CSG.

In Alabama, where uneducated people fill the system, education is neither encouraged nor mandated. A person with a 10-year Sentence with no GED, skill or trade, and who has a known drug or alcohol addiction, does not have to attend school, learn a skill or trade, participate in any program — and can still earn Incentive Good Time. How can a person earn “good time” if they are not actively addressing their shortcomings and issues that lead them to prison in the first place?

As for the Alabama Parole Board, one has to wonder just how much longer the charade can go on. In 2015, they still don’t allow a person to attend their own hearing. We can watch Satellite television, use Tango and Skype, but the Parole Board still can’t find a way to hear from the person (not a file) going up for parole.

The hearing itself is a show of power and disrespect. The parolee gets all of two speakers, who each get  5 minutes to speak. A person who has made 20 years of change has to have someone else try to communicate that change in 2 five-minute exchanges. Then, the victim of the crime gets to speak.

They get unlimited speakers, for an unlimited time. If a victim can’t attend, no problem. Hired speakers (called Victim’s Advocates), on tax-payer dime, can speak. Again, they are not restricted by any time constraints, whatsoever.

The facts of the crime are already known. A parole hearing is supposed to be about what changes the person has made to show that they have learned from their mistake, improved themselves, and are now prepared for another chance at society.

The parole board sits on the file for decades, and never even sets out a curriculum for what they expect to see from a person vying for parole. It is all a tax-payer funded dog-and-pony show scam.

SB 67 is nothing more than an expansion of the scheme.

SB 67 is joining the nationwide, elaborate money grab operation (that once again is being funded by tax dollars) fueled by discriminatory practices in arrest, conviction, sentencing, and parole, and in the end, financial exploitation. Multiple “private prison” companies, “non-profit” organizations and community corrections companies will rely on more convictions, parole and probation violations, alternative sentencing, and the like to tax, fine, fee, and charge poor people til death.

So-called “regional” jails will be built for private jail operators to receive even more tax payer funds.
Work release-style facilities will be created – where SB 67 authorizes up to 65% of gross earning to be deducted from the paychecks of already poor people – to go into the pockets of the “community corrections” companies that will charge to serve as collection agencies.

The kickbacks from these contracts will be in the form of campaign contribution to people like Senator Cam Ward.

The greatest benefit from SB 67 will continue to be the massive amounts of free labor that is being exploited from the men and women in Alabama prisons. These prison industries, funded by tax dollars, are generating billions of dollars in revenue. However, no one knows how large these industries are, or where all of the products or money from these industries are going.

For example, Alabama Correctional Industries runs a $25 million-dollar chemical plant at St. Clair prison. Where is that money going to? ADOC has a cattle ranch and a fish pond. Where is all beef and fish going? It certainly isn’t making its way to the kitchens in the prisons. Elmore runs the largest recycling plant in the State. Where are the proceeds?

And in spite of all of this free labor, no credit is deducted from the sentence. No deductions from the fines or court costs that a person may have. No deductions for child support that continues to accrue, even though the father or mother is working 8, 10, 12 hours days for free or pennies in wages.

In addition to this, a person who is forced to work for free every day also must pay a medical co-pay when they get sick. Where is this money supposed to come from? That is where the exploitation of our families comes in, because when they do send us money, the State deducts their “charges” first and we get what’s left.

SB 67 is nothing more than a continuation of these practices, only now the exploitation is moving away from the prisons and closer to the communities.

ALABAMA FREEDOM BILL

Free Alabama Movement Bill Cover: Education - rehabilitation - Re-entry Preparedness

*ALABAMA FREEDOM BILL

~ A BILL PRESENTED BY FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT TITLED,
ALABAMA’S EDUCATION, REHABILITATION, AND RE-ENTRY PREPAREDNESS BILL.*
[3-10-15]
PART 1 Section 1

Be it ENACTED A LAW that by January 1, 2018, Alabama’s Department of
Corrections (ADOC) will reduce its prison population down to its designed
capacity of app. 13,500; Alabama’s Department of Corrections currently has
over 29,000 people incarcerated in a system designed to hold less than the
14,000, making this State’s prison population occupancy rate of approx.
200% the *highest* in the nation. As recent as 2012, California’s prisons
were declared unconstitutional by U.S. federal court for exceeding 160% of
its occupancy rate.

Due to the ill effects of mass incarceration and prison slavery in Alabama,
including having the third highest incarcerate rate in the world of 650 per
100,000 residents. Alabama’s ADOC is now running a multi-billion dollar
free/cheap labor corporation by targeting black andb other poor citizens
for incarceration, while committing other civil and human rights abuses in
the living conditions, sentences imposed, release, and excessive fines,
costs, and other exploitive practices that are all beyond recourses of law.

For these obvious reasons, the Commissioner of ADOC is ordered by this law
to release no less than 400 persons per month (4800) per year, beginning
January 31, 2015, until the prison population is reduced to its current
design capacity

Section 2

Be it also Enacted that the Commissioner of the Alabama Department of
Corrections shall not allow the prison population of the ADOC to exceed
10,000 by the year 2020, where several Alabama prisons are over 40 years
old and constituted waste and serve no purpose towards education or
rehabilitation, and that if the Commissioner shall violate this decree,
anyone incarcerated in ADOC subject to such overcrowding shall have to
right to sue the Commissioner in any State court and receive as
compensation $1,000 from the ADOC budget for each day that this law is
violated:

Section 3

Be it also enacted that a moratorium shall issue upon the passage of this
Bill stating that no person convicted of a crime in the state of Alabama
shall be transferred to any out of state facility. In order to address the
ill effects of mass incarceration for private financial motives, no other
public or private prisons either within or without of the State of Alabama
shall be built to house any person convicted of any crime within the State
of Alabama. However, if an old prison currently existing within the State
of Alabama is closed, condemned or shutdown, a new prison may be built but
shall not exceed 110% of the original design capacity of the prison that
such new prison shall replace;

PART 2 Section 1

Be it also ENACTED that upon the passage of this Bill, the Commissioner of
the ADOC shall implement a program within the ADOC titled the Education,
Rehabilitation, and Re-Entry Preparedness program, and the Commissioner
shall designate all bed-space with the ADOC for this program. Such program
shall be made available to all people incarcerated within the ADOC,
irrespective of sentence, including sentences of Life Without Parole and
Death, which sentences shall be abolished in the state of Alabama.

Once enrolled into the E.R.Re-E.P. program, a new social/psychological
evaluation will be performed, along with a case review of the person’s
convicted offense. Thereafter, an Education/Rehabilitation curriculum will
be made based on the individual needs of the person being evaluated, and a
base parole date will be set within 30 days.

CAPITAL MURDER CASES:

Capital Murder cases will be classified into two (2) Levels:

LEVEL 1 CAPITAL MURDER CASES

Level 1: Level one capital murder cases will consist of those people
currently convicted of a capital offense and sentenced to Death or LWOP
with two or more victims, murder of a police officer, or a child. These
people, though eligible for parole, will require Special Review before
parole is granted. Review will be by the Governor, a classification
specialist and psychologist within the ADOC, and members of a Citizens
Committee selected by Free Alabama Movement Executive Committee.

This person, after serving 15 to 20 years, and upon completion of the
Education/Rehabilitation program, will then be eligible for review to be
placed in the Re-Entry Preparedness phase of the program. Upon successful
completion of the Re-Entry preparedness phase, this person would then be
eligible for parole upon Special Review.

LEVEL 2 CAPITAL MURDER CASES

Level 2 offenders consist of those people convicted of a capital offense
with one victim and who are currently sentenced to LWOP. These people will
not require special review and will become parole eligible upon successful
completion of the curriculum and after serving the full base minimum.

Those Level 2 offenders convicted under sections §13A-5-40 (16,17,18), Code
1975, after serving 10 to 12 years, and all the other Level 2 Capital
Murder offenders, after serving 10 to 15 years, and upon completion of the
EDUCATION/REHABILITATION/RE-ENTRY Curriculum, shall then be paroled back to
society.

*Any jury finding of future dangerousness automatically requires the
offender to seek SPECIAL REVIEW PAROLE.

MURDER CONVICTIONS:

All other persons convicted of murder under 13A-6-2 and sentenced to 15 to
99 to life, will received a base parole range of 7-10 years upon completion
of their initial review, and will be paroled upon completion of the
EDUCATION/REHABILITATION/RE-ENTRY PREPAREDNESS Program.

Any person convicted for murder and sentenced to LWOP pursuant to the
Habitual Felony Offender Act, will start with a base parole minimum of 10
years, with enhancements available for each valid prior felony conviction
(a prior felony used to enhance but later ruled invalid will be
retroactively deducted from the parole date).

PRIOR FELONY CONVICTIONS:

CAPITAL OFFENSES AND MURDER:

Any non-violent felony conviction (non-violent being defined as no serious
physical injury suffered by the victim), can increase a parole base by 1
year per prior conviction, with a maximum of 3 years.

Any violent prior felony conviction (where the victim suffered serious
physical injury) can increase a parole base by two years each, with a
maximum increase of 6 years. But in no event may a Level 2 offender also
convicted as a habitual offender be required to serve more than 21 years
upon successful completion of the program.

And no person convicted of murder and also as a habitual offender shall be
required to serve more than 16 years upon successful completion of the
curriculum.

Note*

Any one or more prior violent felony offenses found by a jury to contain
special circumstances (for example, a hate crime, a human rights
violations, shooting a victim 3 or more times, crime against a child), can
increase a parole base by a maximum of 5 years total. But in no event may a
Level 2 offender be required to serve more than 21 years upon successful
completion of the program, and in no event may a non-capital, non- habitual
offender, murder defendant serve more than 15 years before parole, and no
more than 20 years for a person convicted as a habitual offender upon
successful completion of the curriculum.

Note*

Completion of core curriculum for a prior felony or for completion of an
associate degree in college or equivalent can earn points deduction for
each prior felony used to enhance a sentence.

EXAMPLE OF OFFENSE CLASSES:

CLASS A Non-Capital FELONY:

7-10 Year base parole

CLASS B FELONY:

3-7 Year base parole

CLASS C FELONY:

1-3 Year base parole

For example, a person convicted of a ROBBERY would receive a parole base as
follows:

Robbery 1st degree 7-10

Robbery 2nd degree 3-7

Robbery 3rd degree 1-4

Assault 1st degree 6-10

Assault 2nd degree 3-16

Assault 3rd degree 1-3

Theft 1st degree 3-5

Theft 2nd degree 2-4

Theft 3rd degree 2 yrs max.

Manslaughter 1st 6-9

Manslaughter 2nd 3-6

Manslaughter 3rd 1-4

PART 2 SECTION 2

ALABAMA’S PRISON SETUP

LEVEL 6 PRISONS:

OPT-OUT CAMP.

Any person desiring to opt out of the E.R. & Re-E.P. will be assigned to an
opt-out facility and be processed pursuant to current ADOC regulations,
Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and rules.

LEVEL 5 PRISONS:

STUDENT ORIENTATION:

LEVEL 5 PRISONS: These institutions will serve as 90 day to 180 day
orientation facilities, and will be where initial social/psychology
evaluations will be conducted and where parole bases will be set. These
facilities will also house the people who were formerly Capital and Death
sentenced, for 180 days to 1 year, respectively, for evaluation. Program
readjustment, program failures, and GED prep classes will be help at these
institutions.

LEVEL 4 PRISONS: These facilities will house students participating in GED,
SKILL AND TRADE DEVELOPMENT, AND SOCIAL- PSYCHOLOGICAL NEEDS (such as Anger
Management for violent offenders, AA-NA treatment for addicts, etc.)

LEVEL 3 FACILITIES: These facilities will offer INTRODUCTION TO LIFE
SKILLS, PEER LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT, MENTORING, AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
SKILLS. Also, these facilities will emphasize community volunteer programs
and have an emphasis on free world volunteers, religious and secular prison
ministries, and core curriculum and distance learning courses (the latter
may be used to qualify for point deductions from base parole set-ups).

LEVEL 2 FACILITIES: Residents assigned to these facilities will begin
Re-Entry Preparedness learning, including receiving practical computer
skills, learning the job market for their skill or trade, Home and Parole
Plan development, and continued learning and aftercare therapies.

LEVEL 1 FACILITIES: Residents at these facilities will receive practical
learning in Life Skills, including finding a job, creating a budget/savings
plan, opening a bank/checking/savings account, finding as apartment,
roommate, etc. for those without family assistance, and then Re-Enter
society.

PART 2 SECTION 3

EXEMPT PERSONS:

Exemptions:

Any person who has already served 21 Years or more, and who would not be
classified in LEVEL 1 status or need Special Review Parole, shall be
eligible for immediate placement in LEVEL 3 status.

Any person age 62 or above, who has already served 20 years or more and who
would not be classified as LEVEL 1 status or need Special Review Parole,
shall be eligible for immediate placement in LEVEL 2 status.

All persons in LEVEL 1 status or who require Special Review Parole shall be
eligible for Special Review Parole with one (1) year of passage of this
Bill into law.

PART 2 SECTION 4

DISQUALIFIED PERSONS

No person having committed and been convicted of two or more sex offenses
arising out of separate incidents, or an adult age 22 or above who commits
an offense against a child under 14, an elderly or disabled person shall be
eligible to advance beyond LEVEL 3 STATUS, and must seek Special Review
Parole.

PART 2 SECTION 5

SPECIAL REVIEW PAROLE:

ALL persons required to seek SPECIAL REVIEW PAROLE will be afforded an
opportunity to attend such hearing in-person, or by audio-video means, at
their discretion. In-person reviews shall be conducted semi-annually, and
audio-video hearings will be held quarterly. No person shall receive more
than one review per year, and upon completion of the program curriculum and
remaining in good standing, shall not be denied review for more than 3
years.

PART 2 SECTION 6

DUE PROCESS RIGHT

The provisions of this Bill create a substantive due process right pursuant
to the U.S. and Alabama Constitution, and any person subject to removal,
re-class, or other disciplinary action shall enjoy the right to challenge
such decision by Habeas Corpus in the proper jurisdiction as established by
Title 15, Code of Alabama 1975, and all provisions of the Alabama
Administrative Procedure Act applies to the ADOC in its entirety, Section §
41-22-3(9)g.1), to the contrary are hereby amended. All proceedings of a
disciplinary nature must be recorded by audio/video means.

PART 3 SECTION 1

Be it ENACTED that any person sentenced pursuant to the Habitual Felony
Offender Laws of this State, said applicable law must be charged in the
Indictment and proven in a bifurcated trial before the convicting jury,
(see U.S. SUPREME COURT decisions Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S.–(June
17,2013) Apprendi v. New Jersey, 536 U.S. 545 (2002); Rangel-Reyes v.
United States, 547 U.S. 1200 Slip Opinion (2006); and; §13A-5-10.1(b),Code
of Alabama 1975), with said requirements being retroactive to the passage
of this law to any person sentenced as a habitual offender.

Due to the fact that laws like the HFOA were enacted for the sole purpose
of creating a massive pool of free/cheap labor, these laws are forever
repealed. A prior felony is just that, a “prior” felony where the debt has
already been paid to society. Therefore, this form of double punishment
will be limited to the 1 or 2 point enhancement provisions as laid out in
Part 2, Section 1 of this Bill.

PART 3 SECTION 2

YOUTHFUL OFFENDERS

Be it also ENACTED that any person who commits any crime between the ages
of 18 and before reaching 22, shall be prosecuted as a Youthful Offender.
As a Youthful Offender, such individual shall be ineligible to be charged,
tried or convicted as an adult and cannot be sentenced to more than 15
years in prison.

Such offender shall be ineligible of being charged with a capital offense
or sentenced to life, life without parole or death.

With the recent decisions issued by the United States Supreme Court,
including its decision in Miller v. Alabama, concerning juvenile
prosecutions for crime committed when they were as young as 14, it SHOULD
now be obvious to the criminal justice system that modern science debunks
all theories that these children can be effectively prosecuted as adults.
Modern science shows that these children simply lack mental development to
sufficiently appreciate the magnitude of their conduct, and that they are
simply too young to make such decisions without taking into account
external influences.

Therefore, upon passage of this law, no child under the age of 18 may be
prosecuted as an adult in the State of Alabama for violation of any law of
this State where they would be sentenced to a prison designed to house
adults.

Children under the age of 18 shall be prosecuted under the laws designated
for juveniles and may be held in a juvenile facility until their 22
birthday, at which time they will be released.

Children age 18 and above, but under the age of 22, may be prosecuted in
adult court, but only under the laws designated for Youthful Offenders.
This law will become retroactive upon passage of this Bill.

All provisions of his law will become retroactive upon passage of this Bill.

PART 3 SECTION 3

JOINT HOUSE RESOLUTION

Be it ENACTED that the provisions set out in House Joint Resolution 575,
sponsored by Robinson(J) and Black(M), SHALL be declared the law of this
State, amending Sections 13A-5-9 (16, 17, and 18), and that any person
indicted-pursuant to these provisions, said Indictment must charge that
such offense was gang- related and that a vehicle was used as an instrument
to commit the offense.

The amendment and all provisions herein shall be retroactive upon passage
of this Bill.

PART 3 SECTION 4

PROTECTION OF THE MENTALLY ILL:

It shall be the policy of the State of Alabama that no person suffering
from a mental illness shall be incarcerated in a prison designed for
persons convicted of a crime.

Mentally ill people, who now compose appx. 50% of all people in prison,
need professional treatment in a mental health facility, not punishment.
Within 24 months of the passage of this Bill, the ADOC and the Governor of
the State of Alabama, in conjunction with the Executive Committee of Free
Alabama Movement, shall draft standard procedures which must be unanimously
approved or submitted to an approved arbitrator pursuant to Federal
arbitrator laws, for identifying and releasing all mentally ill persons
from ADOC custody by January 1, 2018.

PART 4 SECTION 1

ABOLITING ALL LAWS THAT PERMIT SLAVERY AND INVOLUNTARY SURVITUDE IN THE
STATE OF ALABAMA:

Be it ENACTED that no citizen or laborer in the State of Alabama shall be
required to work any job in this State without compensation of less that
the prevailing minimum wage in Alabama, including those citizens
incarcerated in the ADOC, and that no restrictions on forming a labor union
shall apply to any person performing labor within or for the Alabama
Department of Corrections.

After over 400 years, it is time to remove Any exception, practices, or
provision of law that permits slavery or involuntary servitude from the
1901 Constitution of Alabama,including ART. 1, SEC. 32, which reads:

SECTION 2

Slavery prohibited; involuntary servitude.

That no form of slavery shall exist in this state; and there shall not be
any involuntary servitude, otherwise than for the punishment of crime, of
which the party shall have been duly convicted.

PART 4 SECTION 2

WELFARE COMMITTEE

Be it also ENACTED that the Commissioner of the ADOC shall create a Welfare
Committee at each prison, composed of the men and women incarcerated, and
elected by their peers, and that such Committee shall have authority and
ownership over all prison stores, canteens, and incentive package programs,
with the ability to negotiate with their own suppliers.

The Welfare Committee shall be permitted use the profits from these
businesses that they and their families are the exclusive customers of, for
Education, Rehabilitation and Re-Entry Preparedness Programs, recreational
supplies, and infrastructure needs like computers, irons, ice coolers,
coffee pots, televisions, and incentive packages for elderly, disabled, and
destitute prisoners.

FAMILY AND COMMUNITY ORIENTED REHABILITATION

PART 5 SECTION 1

CONJUGAL VISITS

Be it also Enacted that upon the passage of this Bill, there shall be
allowed within the Department of Corrections conjugal visits, which shall
be allowed no less than every 14 days for any person who has served 2 or
more consecutive years within the ADOC, and that every person, upon
marriage, shall be able to consummate such Marriage with a conjugal visits.

PART 5 SECTION 2

VISITATION

Be it also Enacted that the visitation policy in Alabama shall be that
every person confined in the ADOC shall enjoy a four hour visit every
weekend, and that there shall be no restrictions placed on who may visit,
and a minimum of 20 people shall be permitted on each person’s approved
visitation.

PART 6 SECTION 1

VOTING RIGHTS

Be it ENACTED INTO LAW that every citizen of the State of Alabama shall
have the right to vote, and this Right shall not be denied to any person on
account of a criminal conviction.

The right to vote is a fundamental civil and human right, and a criminal
conviction has no bearing on this right to vote. Civil offenses have their
own punishment, and conviction of a criminal offense shall not affect civil
rights.

There simply is no logical or reasonable reason why any citizen should lose
their civil right to vote because they have been convicted of a criminal
offense.

PART 7 SECTION 1

OPEN MEDIA ACCESS TO ALABAMA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

BE IT ENACTED as the Law of this State and the policy of the Alabama
Department of Corrections to allow unlimited access of the news media into
any and all State prisons at least 3 times per month upon a regularly
posted schedule, which shall be posted in each institution and made
available to the media.

Such access shall be permitted for at least 4 hours on the designated
media-day at any prison where permission from a member of the media is
requested. When media is on site no restrictions are to be placed on areas
where they may go.

Any media request to interview any person of interest to the media who is
incarcerated in an Alabama prison shall be conducted on this designated
media-day also. Such interview request shall be made at least one week in
advance and shall take place on the visitation yard.

No person incarcerated in ADOC shall be denied access to the media, and the
normal rules of visitation shall apply, except that the media shall not be
required to be on an incarcerated person’s visitation list. The media shall
not be restricted in any way from using audio, video or other recording
equipment on media-day.

In cases of emergency, such as rape, death, quarantine due to outbreak of
disease, or other matter of importance to the public, the media shall be
allowed access within 48 hours of the declared emergency situation.
Lockdowns, assault by officers and other issues shall not be grounds to
deny emergency or general media access.

For more questions, comments, or suggestions concerning this “FREEDOM
BILL”, please email us at:

freealabamamovement@gmail.com

or

FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT
P.O. BOX 186
New Market, AL 35761

or

Freealabamamovement.com

Revised 3-10-15

ADOC officials issue death threat to FAM members as unrest continues in Alabama prisons statewide

On Jan. 22, 2015 – at Holman Prison Seg. Unit – unbearable living conditions caused myself and several of my comrades to take a stand for our well-being.

Due to my Membership Affiliation with the FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT i was singled out and targeted (AGAIN) by Holman’s administrative officials because I wanted justice. I was extracted out of the cell and taken to the Admin. Shift office where i was questioned for hours. After refusing time and time again to work with the Administration to quiet the unrest by the youth, Captain Darryl Fails issued a death threat to myself, Mr. Robert E. Council, and Spokesperson Melvin Ray stating that he wish there was not so much media hype around what goes on in prison b/c they would love to do to us what they used to get away with yrs ago and they would silence us for good.

Warden Walter Myers agreed and said, “yeah, they lucky!” In turn i replied, “yall gonna have to kills us b/c it’s FREEDOM OR DEATH aint NOTHING else.” Seeing that fear was not a factor, i was dismissed.

Why the ALA. Dept. of Corrections Chooses Violence over Non-Violence

The unjustified and ongoing solitary confinement of the F.A.M. 3, James Pleasant, Robert. E. Council, and Melvin Ray for the assumed (but unstated) purpose of organizing Non-Violent and Peaceful Protests for the continuing civil and human rights violations in Alabama prisons continues.

In the face of their detention, it has become even more evident that the ADOC tolerates and accepts (and even promotes) violence over non-violence. Since the inception of F.A.M., there have been over 6 murders to occur at Holman and St. Clair prison, one riot, over 60 stabbings and many assaults on officers, by officers, and amongst the men incarcerated, and not one measure has been taken to stop this violence — except FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT.

During the historic peaceful demonstration by F.A.M. to start the year, not a single act of violence occurred, and the overriding message from F.A.M. leaders was that the violence must end, and education, rehabilitation and re-entry preparation must begin.

Free Alabama Movement Blasts Racial Make-Up…

…of Governor Bentley’s and Sen. Cam Ward’s Prison Reform Task Force and The Council of State Governments: Cites National Report that Debunks CSG and their Justice Reinvestment Initiative program

On June 10, 2014, Governor Robert Bentley, surrounded by Sen. Cam Ward, Commissioner Kim Thomas, Chief Justice Roy Moore and others, announced the formation of Alabama’s 25-member Prison Reform Task Force and a AM17375-2partnership with the Council of State Governments (CSG), to address longstanding and nationally publicized issues that affect Alabama’s prison system.

According to Gov. Bentley, the solution to Alabama’s prison woes, which include a nation-leading 200% occupancy rate that has led to extreme overcrowding, excessive violence including 4 murders in 2014 already at St. Clair prison, least-in-the-nation investments in education, rehabilitation and corrections, high recidivism, widespread diseases like Staph, TB, STD’S, Hepatitis, scabies, and others, over-targeting of Black men (Black men make up only 14% of Alabama’s total population, but 62% of the prison population) and understaffing, among other issues, can be found in the CSG’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI).

FAMpluslogoAccording to FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT Founder and Spokesperson Melvin Ray, the recipe being offered by Gov. Bentley and lead by Sen. Cam Ward in the JRI is nothing more than bloated political speak and, so far as solutions are concerned, is D.O.A. Mr. Ray says that anyone thinking that the JRI program can solve Alabama’s historic mess need only read the report issued by a national group of researchers, analysts and advocates titled, “Ending Mass Incarceration: Charting a New Justice Reinvestment.”

This National Report highlights some of the very issues that are already plaguing Governor Bentley and Sen. Ward from the start: misdirected focus on “costs” as opposed to corrections, lack of racial and demographic diversity from the communities and leaders most affected by mass incarceration, and failing to acknowledge the racial equation that is so evident in Alabama’s (and the Nation’s) criminal justice system.

Ray says that “throughout Governor Bentley’s speech, not once do we hear the words Education, Rehabilitation or Re-Entry Preparedness. It is these structural deficiencies that are driving mass-incarceration in the first place, along with poverty and unemployment. But, we can’t expect to have that discussion when the PRFT and the CSG board more so resemble a Ku Klux Klan rally than it does the racial balance of the State, or the communities that fuel mass incarceration. The people most affected by mass incarceration — the African American community — needs a seat at the table also.robert bentley

When race has so obviously been at the forefront of the drive behind mass incarceration and prison slavery, the African American community cannot expect a group made up almost exclusively of white men to address issues that they created in the first place. There is a real “human cost” at stake here with so many black men being in prison, but Governor Bentley’s committee doesn’t even pay lip service to that issue. Their plan under the JRI of building satellite prisons in our communities and calling it community corrections just won’t do. African American communities are already devalued. Building satellite prisons in them will only exacerbate that equation even lower.”

FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT CO-FOUNDER Robert Earl Council said that the legislation that will address these concerns has already been written in their “FREEDOM BILL.” Mr. Council says that without a focus on education and rehabilitation that includes re-entry programs, the African American community can stay prepared for more of the same.

The ACLU/SENTENCING PROJECT Report (which can be found on their websites) echoes these complaints. According to the Report, “The Justice Reinvestment Initiative, as it has come to operate, runs the danger of institutionalizing mass incarceration at current levels.”

The Report goes on to say that, while the JRI was originally intended to reduce prison populations and pass those savings on to affected communities “to make them safer, stronger, more prosperous and equitable,” the savings have not been realized, and “as it turns out, without significantly reducing corrections populations.”

Despite the fact that the JRI has been implemented in over 28 states, Sen. Ward can only point to Texas as a State that he says the JRI has improved.

Yet, the Report belies Sen. Wart’s comments, and show that Texas’ “prison population went from 171,790 in 2007 up to 173,648 in 2010, then down slightly to 172,224 in 2011.” (p. 6) In the last several years, Texas’s prison population has risen from 171,790 at the end of 2007 to 172,224 at the end of 2011, and is projected to increase further. The JRI trumpets Texas’s “success,” and the Texas reforms were a success in one sense: Texas is one of our toughest-on-crime states, so any progress on criminal justice reform is an accomplishment. However, if the metric is reduced to corrections populations and costs, the Texas JRI program must be viewed as a failure.

Another area of concern for FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT expressed by Mr. Council is “the total lack of representation by a single African American male on either the Governor’s PRFT or the Board of the CSG.”

The 25-member PRTF has 20 white men, 3 white women, 2 African American women, and 0 African American men.

African American men only make up 13% of Alabama’s total population, there are 16,861 African American men in Alabama prisons, who constitute 63% of the total prison population. Based on these statistics alone, Mr. Ray says that the total exclusion of African American men from the PRTF is totally unacceptable, indefensible, and indicative of the systemic racial barriers and white supremacist ideology that continues to exist in Alabama. When Sen. Ward was confronted with this lack of racial inclusion, despite the enacting law (SJR 20  calling for racial inclusion, Sen. Ward said that he is more concerned with diversity of thought than diverse representation.

But as F.A.M. supporter Ms. Barbara Wine states, diverse thought can hardly come from such a homogeneous group:

“A group of white men will always come up with a white man’s idea. Ideas and solutions drawn from a diverse team representative of the population affected, can draw from a range of life experiences, cultural awareness and social knowledge, which will yield better results. White men (especially in the South) did not want to let slavery end, so they kept it alive in the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and enforced it in the prisons. It is a disgrace upon this country that in the Land of the Free we still has a provision in our U. S. Constitution in 2014 that authorizes slavery.”

The National Report supports the need for racial and community inclusion “especially from minority leaders and elected representatives of high incarceration communities (and grass roots organizations, grass-top leaders, among others), WHO ARE OFTEN MARKEDLY MISSING.” (emphasis added)

Rep Barbara Boyd, D Anniston, AL

Rep. Barbara Boyd D-Anniston, who is one of the two female African American’s on the PRTF along with Sen. Vivian Figures, D, Mobile, stated in a discussion with F.A.M. on July 15, 2014, (FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT has over 200 supporters from Rep. Boyd’s district), Alabama already had a prison reform task force that was spearheaded by Rep. John Rogers D- Jefferson (an African American and long-time proponent of prison reform in Alabama) and didn’t need another one. Instead, according to Rep. Boyd, what Rep. Rogers needed, but couldn’t get, was support, funding and a commitment from the power establishment and Alabama Legislature to implement suggested reforms.

Ms. Antonia Brooks (mother of F.A.M. Founder Melvin Ray) says that “the families, friends and loved ones of those incarcerated must be afforded a seat at the table of this debate” and that “Sen. Vivian Figures and Rep. Barbara Boyd owe more to the Black community than to accept a token appointment to a committee that is so obviously promoting a white supremacist agenda and deliberately excluding the group of people most impacted by mass-incarceration – Black people.”

Ms. Brooks stated that F.A.M. has a March planned on the State Capitol next month (August 2014) and that she looks forward to an opportunity to one day sit down with Sen. Figures and Rep. Boyd to hear from them on their appointments and to present them with the “FREEDOM BILL” that is being pushed by FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT.

With over 1.4 million black men in America’s prisons and, as stated by noted author Michelle Alexander, with more Black men under the control of the CJS in 2014 than were enslaved BEFORE the Civil War, Prison Reform in Alabama must address specific issues – – including racism – – that have contributed to mass incarceration, crime, and punishment.

Mandatory GED completion and graduation from a technical school are things that F.A.M. says must be made mandatory in sentencing for anyone serving a split sentence, earning good time, or who hopes to earn an early parole or be placed in an honor camp or work release program (Requirements that are currently lacking in Alabama). Mentoring programs, community volunteer work in sports, arts, and music, and developing Tutoring programs, Gang Intervention and Leadership Programs, and volunteer assistance to elderly, like mowing lawns, etc., which would start at community “Honor camps,” are programs being pushed by the Freedom Bills that F.A.M. says must be included in any Prison Reform if the ills of mass-incarceration are to be seriously addressed.

Under the current model of governance in Alabama, where the community is not made a part of the discussion and white men dominate the debate, we can’t expect enlightenment and diverse, outside-the-box ideas to enter the room

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The FAM 3: A violent response to Non Violent and Peaceful Protest in Alabama

The FAM 3, Part 1: A violent response to  Non Violent and Peaceful Protest in
Alabama

By Kinetik Justice Amun

The Alabama prison system is one of the worst in the nation in regards to overcrowding, inhumane treatment, unsanitary living conditions, inadequate health care and lack of Educational opportunities.

Earlier this year, in response to those horrid conditions, over 4,500 Men at 5 different Institutions in Alabama engaged in Non Violent & Peaceful Protest in the form of a work stoppage. For 3 weeks these men refused to work for free while being dehumanized and economically exploited.

After a press conference at the State Capital and several meetings with the Commissioners of the Department of Corrections, it was agreed that the Alabama prison system needed some drastic changes. This is what they told the public, while internally they began targeting the men they felt like were responsible for organizing and orchestrating such a mass shutdown of their economic stronghold.

Melvin Ray, Robert Earl Council and James Pleasant were targeted, singled out and labeled “threats to the security of the ADOC”, then placed in Solitary Confinement with indeterminate sentences. For the past 9 months, these 3 men have been harassed, intimidated and threatened with physical abuse (and one has been assaulted and deliberately denied medical treatment).

In the course of their continued struggle to get justice in the Alabama prison system, these 3 men have become known as the Free Alabama Movement 3 or (FAM 3).

Part 2:

Warden Myers seems to be holding his end of the bargain as records show that in the last 6 months:
1. An inmate stabbed another inmate several times. He served 4 months in Solitary Confinement.
2. The Wardens runner was found in possession of 3 grams of crystal meth. He served 16 days in Solitary Confinement.
3. 2 inmates assaulted one another with weapons. One served 45 days in Solitary Confinement. The other served 63 days in Solitary Confinement.

So, as Warden Myers stated, drugs and violence are acceptable parts of prison.

However, what is not and will not be tolerated- FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT. For promoting FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT- teaching other inmates the law and expressing their views about the on-going Human violations occurring at Holman Prison, Robert Earl Council and James Pleasant have been placed in Solitary Confinement with indeterminate sentences.

To date, Robert Earl Council has served 9 months in Solitary Confinement with no consideration for release. James Pleasant has served 8 months in Solitary Confinement with no consideration for release. So, once again, it appears that Warden Myers is truly a man of his word.

“Let’s just shut down” – An Interview with Spokesperson Ray of Free Alabama Movement

By Annabelle Parker and Melvin Ray, October 2014
First published on Alabama Prison Watch

Q: How did you come about starting the Free Alabama Movement, what was the thing or issue that triggered it? And were you all in general population? You are still in solitary (the hole) now, right? Please elaborate on how it works from there, and what is possible, from there.

Spokesperson RayF.A.M. came about in stages and events that were somewhat unrelated to F.A.M. at the time, but which ultimately served as seeds for the future. Small steps like coming into prison and joining a law class that was being taught by a mentor. Then, latching onto the coattail of a revolutionary PP and Black Panther named Richard “Mafundi” Lake and hearing phrases like “organize” over and over again.
And growing from a student in the law classes to a teacher. Then, taking on individual cases that started to open my eyes to the systematic approach in which the judicial system was incarcerating black youth in droves. At this time, I had  not evenheard the phrase “mass incarceration.”

The next step along the process was when I got transferred to St. Clair prison, where a whole new world was opened up to me because cell phones were prevalent and so abundant. I was introduced to technology . . .  and started to learn about social media and new ways to reach out and interact with society.

By this time, I had learned that the law was not practiced as it was written, and that the criminal justice system did not really care about Justice at all.

Nevertheless, just having access to technology, I began a campaign to bring awareness to my case, and started a website called Innocentmanmelvinray.com. Being still just a tad bit naive’, I thought that I could reach out more effectively with the technology that the phone provided and get the kind of help I needed. Needless to say, this notion, too, was soon disabused.
But the one thing that this failure did do to help bring F.A.M. into existence was that it allowed me to see that there were many other people out there doing what I was doing, dealing with the same issues, but who were, likewise, not having the success that we deserved. That insight ultimately lead me back to what Mr. Mafundi always stressed: “organize.”

Realizing that there were literally thousands of “Innocentmanmelvinray’s” out there (the most poignant one that I ran across that stays in my mind is Davontae Sandford’s case), I started asking myself how can I bring these collectives together? That question sprung the concept of “FREE ALABAMA” into my mind. At that time, I was in solitary confinement and it was during that time that I had learned about the December 9, 2010, shutdown by the men in Georgia. I told myself that I could take that concept and build around it.
From my early days at Holman prison, I used to talk with two of my Brothers about how we needed to get a small camcorder into the prison. They used to laugh at the thought, because technology hadn’t shrunk camcorders then but I knew that the day was coming when they would be small enough.

From that point on, I began laying the groundwork for how I would start “organizing” my prison, and then my State, and how I would use a cellphone to record, interview, and document everything.

StokeleyFrom reading Stokely Carmichael’s book, Ready For Revolution, I also knew that when the time came, we would be bold with our Movement. I wouldn’t allow anyone who did an interview to use a street name or nickname, because I wanted to dispel any pretense of fear in our Movement, plus, I wanted people who watched the videos to be able to go to court records in order to authenticate what people were saying about their cases and the injustices they had received — whether wrongful convictions, excessive sentences, whatever.

So when I got out of segregation I went to work. I started talking to leaders, explaining the philosophy, taking pictures, filming living conditions, and interviewing. I also started writing a manifesto. But in the process of all of this, the final thing that happened was that I read Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow. She has a passage in there that said that it would take a “Movement” to take down mass incarceration. That was the first time I had saw anyone boldly make that statement, and it crystallized for me what I was doing, and so with that, we went from FREE ALABAMA, to FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT.

Then, I contacted the one person who I knew would support me 100%, because over the years we had worked on so many other projects together and I knew that this would be the culmination of all of our previous work: Kinetik Justice (g.n. Robert Earl Council).

After I ran down everything to him he said what he always says, “Sun, what you done came up with now?? . . . I can CEE it though. Let’s run it.” And off we went and FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT was officially founded. We haven’t looked back since.

Q: We remember that the FAM first came into view with the work-strike actions inside St Clair. Can you tell us a little more on that please, and how it worked; did you get people to start thinking for themselves and such?

Well, the work strikes, which we call “shutdowns” are the heart of our Movement to end mass incarceration and prison slavery, because the modern Prison Industrialized Complex is an estimated 500 billion dollar enterprise that is financed off of the backs of people who are incarcerated. As most people know, what is taking place within America’s prison system is modern slavery. It’s a hard reality to fathom, yet it is so true.
Starting out, what I did was to evaluate our options, which included litigation, hunger strikes, letter writing campaigns, etc., among others, while at the same time tried to get a better understanding of the system as a whole, and look at the option that gave us the most power to make a change. When I looked at what the men had done in GA, I realized that using labor strikes as a tool of Economic Empowerment gave us our best option and most leverage.

With Alabama’s economy being stagnant and down with the larger economy due to the Recession, I knew that we could have a real impact if we organize around our labor contribution. And with that, I started researching just how much of a contribution we were making to the system. I started with the kitchen here at St. Clair because I used to work for several years at Red Lobster. Using my knowledge from the industry, I realized that in just the kitchen alone, we filled over 60 jobs, with a total labor contribution of approximately 1 million dollars per year. We have people stealing sandwiches just to survive or get a shot of coffee in prison, who were giving the ADOC over 1 million in labor per year.

All totaled, the ADOC is getting about 2 to 3 billion dollars from us in Alabama. Work release deductions, the value of everything we produce, filing fees, store, incentive packages, co-pays, fees.

When I started showing guys these numbers and putting them in terms and a format that they could understand, it made the organizing that much easier.

Once I started looking at the industries here, and started receiving more input and assistance, the numbers really started adding up. In the chemical plant alone, I was able to show the guys that they were producing 25 million dollars-worth of chemicals each year.

When I would show them invoices and then point at their shoes, or ask what they had in their box, it was an undeniable proposition to ask of them if they were being fairly compensated.

The kicker was the fact that most of us weren’t being released and had no opportunity for release, no matter the sentence. Then, the ADOC helped my cause even further when a popular old-timer, Eddie Neal, was denied parole again after already serving almost 40 years. Mr. Neal had two disciplinary tickets in 40 years, and the last one was in 1996. Guys started accepting what was going on with the parole board — they didn’t care about a clear record, good behavior, education, or anything. They were part of the exploitation-for-labor system. All I had to do was help explain to them what they were seeing. They did the rest.

We have to start being honest with ourselves about our conditions and the fact that we aren’t doing anything about it. Giving money to a lawyer is a pipe dream. Being a mental slave to ignorance, which causes one to be dependent upon a lawyer or a judge to administer justice for a constitutional violation is hype. We have to start looking for ways to create our own opportunities. Developing our own politics. That’s what FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT (and now FREE MISSISSIPPI MOVEMENT) are all about.

Q: On the website of the Free Alabama Movement [freealabamamovement.com], we can view films and photos you made and posted on YouTube about the things you were struggling to improve or get rid of, and this is a powerful means to make clear what you are grieving and what you are up against, right? Is it more effective than grievances (which you no doubt must file in order to be able to go to court, but that is a very difficult way, especially from prison with no income).

sink inside facilityReally, as I said, the videos were something that I had envisioned long before I envisioned F.A.M. I knew that society had no real idea of what conditions were like in prison, because I see the commentary about us having “air conditioning and eating steaks.” So, initially, the videos were  designed to show people how inhumane conditions in prison were.

As I spent more time in prison, certain things started to stick out to me: mainly how the ADOC lies and controls the narrative about prisons through a media that is denied access to the prisons, and that the media is force-fed a narrative that they weren’t questioning.

When officers assault the men (and women), we were faulted. When conditions were complained about or lawsuits filed, the ADOC “lied or denied.” So, I was determined to change that narrative. But then, in 2012, I finally stumbled across the Dec  9, 2010, actions in GA, and the two things that stuck out the most to me were: (1) they were ostracized in the media, and (2), they were beaten after their peaceful shutdown. The GDOC accused them of all types of false motives, and then went in after the fact and brutalized them. I knew that I had to document all of our grievances and produce proof for the public of why we were protesting. I was not going to allow ADOC to control the narrative in the media about our legitimate complaints.

After getting some guys to overcome their fears of repercussions for going on camera, something unexpected happened: FAM website frontthe Men began to open up about our conditions in ways that they never had before. It sparked conversation, opened up debates, and it revealed to guys the fact that most of us had NEVER been heard before about our circumstances, our cases, or our desires to be free, to be fathers, to receive education, etc. No one, prior to F.A.M., had given us that chance to speak in our own words. So guys opened up and gave us something that can never be taken away. For the first time, WE TOLD OUR STORIES, IN OUR OWN WORDS,WITH OUR OWN DIALECTS AND PHRASES. And we posted it all over YouTube, Facebook, and anywhere else we could find a space.

Q: You made connections with people inside MS prisons and now they too are organizing peacefully in a similar way? Please elaborate.

Yes, it is correct that we made connections with people in Mississippi who are organizing FREE MISSISSIPPI MOVEMENT and Non-Violent and Peaceful Protests for Civil and Human Rights. But we have also made contact with people on the inside in Georgia, Virginia, and California, and we have also connected with families and organizations in Florida, Arizona, Texas, Washington, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
In fact, the people in Mississippi, and in particular, a woman named LaShonda Morris, found us because of our media. She was looking for someone to help who was about this work of confronting mass incarceration and prison slavery for real and not just talking. Thankfully, she found FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT, and we have ALL been blessed by her efforts, because she is serious about what she is doing, and she has connected us in ways and with people that we never would have been able to do on our own.

On November 22, 2014, FREE MISSISSIPPI MOVEMENT will host a Rally and Information Session in Jackson, MS, and we are confident that the future is bright for FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT & FREE MISSISSIPPI MOVEMENT UNITED/UMOJA.

Q: On the website for the F.A.M., freealabamamovement.com, you mention that you work in a nonviolent way. Can you tell us why you put emphasis on this, and what you mean with nonviolence?

Well, first and foremost, FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT, and now, FREE MISSISSIPPI MOVEMENT are about Freedom. We are about getting people out of prisons where we are being warehoused, exploited and abused, so that we can return home  to our communities.

But at the same time, we also acknowledge that some of us have made mistakes or have shortcomings that we needed to address, and we want opportunities to correct them so that when we are released, we can be better sons and daughters, better husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, and be assets to our communities.
In addition to our mistakes, we have also been demonized by the media, by police, by prosecutors, and by prison officials, So, we have taken it upon ourselves to demonstrate who were and the changes that we have made.

No one wants violence brought into their communities. People want and need answers to violence, so it is important for us to demonstrate that we are Non-Violent, we are Peaceful. Some people have committed violent crimes, while others have committed crimes that are labeled as violent, but where no one was harmed, while other people have been wrongfully convicted of violent offense. But, whether you are innocent, guilty, mentally ill, or whatever, no one is getting out, and the prison system wants to justify our incarceration by telling society that we are “violent predators,” “killers,” “dangerous gang leaders and drugs dealers,” etc. These labels are applied 20, 25 years after the facts, after change, after maturity, after education, repentance, and after some children have grown from 18 to 43, yet no one can get out because the D.A.’s will still get on T.V. and revert back to a 40-year-old crime and argue that the person 40 years onwards still exists, even though this D.A. has no up-to-date knowledge of who this person is decades later.

So we are taking this platform and we are going to do our interviews to make our presentations to the public. We are going to make our complaints against this system to the public, and then we are going to back that up by demonstrating to the public that we can now address our issues Non-Violently and Peacefully.

Violence is nothing more than a thought process. It is part of a chain of options that human beings arrive at when confronted with a problem. What we have done is that we have educated guys about this chain, and provided them with alternative remedies to solving problems without resorting to violence.

Our Brother Earl “Tyrese” Taylor started a program at St. Clair called Convicts Against Violence, with an emphasis on Education and Mentoring. With this program, we were able to reduce the violence level down to what one might see at a work release, from right here at a maximum security prison.

But the ADOC didn’t want this, so they removed the warden who allowed us to implement this program, and replaced him with a Black warden,  Warden Davenport, and the first and only program he disbanded was C.A.V. Now, 4 1/2 years later, St. Clair has reverted back to one of the most violent prisons in the entire country. This is why F.A.M. stepped in, to again stop this State-engineered violence, and what happened?  Over 5000 Men across the State jumped immediately on board and supported it. The State responded by labelling myself, the co-founder, and F.A.M. as a security threat group. Lol. We have NEVER had a single incident of violence, yet we are a threat. Not to the security, but to the system of mass incarceration, prison slavery, and the exploitation of people.

Go figure, since they attacked F.A.M. and our Non-Violent and Peaceful Movement, 4 men have been murdered in 2014 alone, and the Equal Justice Initiative, led by Bryan Stephenson, has filed a class-action lawsuit and been calling for the removal of Davenport. This lawsuit was not filed against the entire ADOC as is usually the case, but exclusively against “Bloody St. Clair.” So that should tell you how bad things have gotten.

Stopping violence is easy, and we didn’t receive any funding from the ADOC to run our program. But violence pays. 80% of all people who enter ADOC are functionally illiterate. Education teaches better decision making. We can teach that if they didn’t obstruct our efforts. They will claim that they offer schools, but if what they were teaching was working, then we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

More and more prisons are removing educational programs and replacing them with factories. Some, like Bibb Co., don’t even offer GED classes. We have to organize against this profit motive, because no one is going home so long as we submit to being exploited for labor and living under inhumane conditions that we should be outraged about. We have to return the narrative to Education, Rehabilitation, and Re-Entry Preparedness, because the State narrative has caused too much pain, destroyed too many communities, destroyed too many families, and destroyed too many people who have something of value to offer society — even in the lessons learned from our mistakes.

Q: We also read that you have written a Bill titled ALABAMA’S EDUCATION, REHABILITATION, AND RE-ENTRY PREPAREDNESS BILL.

Can you tell us a little about the background and aims of this Bill? And can outside support help promote it?

Did any politician approach you yet and (how) would you want to work with someone from politics who takes your issues seriously?

Let me answer the second part of your question first. No, we have not approached any politicians, and we have no intentions or desire to. If what we are doing is going to work, we have to make it work ourselves. The men and women have to understand that the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) has created an economy that is bases on Free/Cheap Labor to compete in the global market against cheap manufacturers like China and Indonesia. The problem is that they have incarcerated over 2.5 million people and they have created a system that is TOTALLY dependent upon US. If we stopped working, then their current model of prisons, including private prisons stopped working.

They are now making over 500 Billion dollars off of our labor. They don’t have a way to replace that. People in society don’t work for free. This system was created by politicians, they are the ones getting the kickbacks, they approve the contracts, and they are the ones who invest their pensions into the stocks of these corporations. So, it makes no sense to solicit them. Would you give up a multi-billion dollar enterprise in exchange if you didn’t have to?

The money that they are making off of our labor is the money that they are using to fund their prison budgets. Nationwide, prison budgets total 86 billion dollars, so where is the remaining 414 billion dollars going? Ask the politicians??

If we take our labor off our the table, then the States are left with normal budget intakes to pay for prisons. Believe me, when we take our labor back, only then will prisons get back to Corrections and Rehabilitation. Every system in America will start back giving good-time, and even the Federal Prisons (who started the profit-based model with Unicor) will have to go back to granting parole.    Additionally, we will finally be able to bring political prisoners like Mumia, Iman El Amin, Larry Hoover, Mutulu, and so many more home.

Funny how we “CONTROL” a 1/2 trillion dollar market, but we go to bed hungry at night. Our bill, which we call the “FREEDOM BILL,” will be the model of what prison will look like after we take control of our situation. If they (the State) ever want to see their assembly lines roll again, then our Legislation will be the functional equivalent of a “labor contract.” No freedom, no labor !!!

Our Bill, as it is titled, will place Education, Rehabilitation, and Re-Entry Preparedness at the forefront of our stay in prison – not free labor. Voting rights will be restored. LWOP and Death Sentences will be repealed, and conjugal visits will be a part of rehabilitation. Also, media will have unfettered access to prisons. With alternative media like VICE, TruthOut and others, everything will be out in the open.
But our Bill won’t just give out a free pass, people will have to “earn” their freedom through completion of a curriculum that will address the needs of the individual. No GED/Diploma: You have to get one. No skill or trade: Gotta get one. No life skills: Time to grow up and learn what it takes to be a man and provide for you family and community.

There will be exceptions, because there are exceptional cases. But the way things work right now, no one knows when they will be released, if they will make parole, or what they can do to guarantee that when they have served sufficient time, addressed their issues, that they will return home to their family. Our  Bill will provide that certainty for most, and it will give that comfort to spouses, children, etc., of when the loved one will return home. They will know, they will be a part of it, and they will be able to engage in activities like family visits, conjugal visits, parenting classes, etc., that will keep families together when a member of the family has made a mistake. If we are producing 500 billion dollars to live with rats, spiders, mold, abusive officers, and serve decades on end, with no end in sight, then surely we can unite and make a stand.
No doubt they can afford to pay us for any labor that we perform. Otherwise, something has to give. If we can clean them up, we can tear them down. However, we come in Peace.

Q: Can you tell us a little on your support for the women incarcerated in one of the worst prisons in this country, Tutwiler Prison for Women?

Our hearts go out to the women at Tutwiler. I mean, you add all of the issues that go on in prisons that they suffer equal to men, then add on the fact that they are raped by men, assaulted by men, impregnated by men, and forced to have abortions, or forced to give birth. And after 20 years of abuse, only 6 officers prosecuted, with the most time being 6 months. One got 5 days.

March at Tutwiler aug 2014F.A.M. organized a Protest Rally at Tutwiler. We created a Facebook-page to support them. I have personally interviewed approximately 25 women who have served time at Tutwiler either online or on my radio show.

Due to the DOJ being inside of Tutwiler, we have not been able to contact them directly. But we support them and they are a part of F.A.M. My plan was to draft a section on Women’s Rights for the FREEDOM BILL, but we never got cooperation from some of the women who had served time at Tutwiler who we connected with. They were too busy to help the women they left behind. I am bitter about that, and I let them know it.March to end rape, 8-23-2014, Alabama
Nevertheless, F.A.M. stands firm in our convictions. We aren’t going anywhere without our Women. If they can’t get speak right now, fine. We will reserve their places until they can.

Q: Do you have any advice or words of encouragement for those inside California’s (and other states’) prisons? Inside its Secure Housing Units (SHU’s)?

To our Brothers and Sisters in California, we say Stand with us and form FREE CALIFORNIA MOVEMENT. The economics of your system is the same as ours. We are all making the same license plates, cleaning the same feces off of the walls, cooking the same scrambled eggs, doing the same electrical work for free. The same people who are investing their pensions in private prisons and mutual funds in Alabama, are the same ones who are investing in California.

Serving 30 years in Alabama is the same 30 years in California. Your influence carries great weight here in the South, It’s time for us to unify across State boundaries because that’s what mass incarceration has done.
These systems can’t function without our labor. They used the drugs to fund the Iran/Contra war. They then used the “war on drugs” to justify mass-incarceration. Then, they turned the prison population into modern slaves. Now, it’s our turn to act. We have to leave the crops in the field. We have to make them turn their assembly lines off. Since they are the ones getting paid, it’s time for them to cook the food, clean the floors, take out the trash, do the maintenance and everything else.

If we are to do any more labor, then we have to state our terms and conditions, and foremost amongst them is that we must be afforded an opportunity to earn our freedom. If we must work, then we must get compensated for our labor. If we must remain here without tearing these walls down, then we must be treated humanely.
My message is not just to the men and women in these solitary holes. I, myself, am in one right now. My message is to the whole 2.5 million victims of mass incarceration and prison slavery. Everyone !!! All of us around the country, let’s just shut down. Wherever you are, just stop working. If you are in solitary confinement, spread the word to those rotating in and out. When they try to lock up those who organize and lead the shutdowns in population, don’t even give up.

Some men can’t survive solitary confinement, and the administration will threaten them if they participate in the shutdowns. So let’s just clog up the cells.

Let’s all just shut down and see how their 500 billion dollar system works without us, and then see if they change their tune about our FREEDOM. EVERYBODY !!! Just shut down.

Thank you Spokesperson Ray for your encouraging and strong, bold and outspoken activism and advocacy!

You can contact the Free Alabama Movement via:
www.Freealabamamovement.com,
Email: freealabamamovement@gmail.com or freemississippimovement@gmail.com
Facebook group: FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT
Twitter @FREEALAMOVEMENT
FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT, P.O. Box 186, New Market, AL 35761

On InternetRadio.

On YouTube.

Free AlabamaMovement – Book in PDF by Melvin Ray

An Interview with Melvin Ray of Free Alabama Movement, by Dan Brent

Spokesperson Ray Oct 2014 (2)An Interview with Melvin Ray of Free Alabama Movement, by Dan Brent

From: People’s World

Dec. 1st, 2014

In August of 2013, a young man named Melvin Ray, incarcerated in Alabama’s St. Clair Correctional Facility, began developing and sharing a philosophy and plan for resistance to mass incarceration from within the confines of the prison itself. He penned what some might characterize as a manifesto for what would become the Free Alabama Movement.

Incarcerated individuals who joined this movement since January of 2014 have used several tactics of resistance, including filming the conditions of these facilities with cell phones and posting the videos to YouTube.

The use of this new technology as a subversive tool spurred a media campaign by the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) emphasizing the “danger” of cell phones in the hands of prisoners. It was claimed that it might lead to “overseeing drug deals or calling for a hit.” It is incredibly suspicious how the ADOC’s media campaign did not begin with some notable criminal act organized from within prison walls, yet it conveniently coincided with the release of videos and photos damaging to the reputation of the state agency, just as an investigation for abuses in another facility within the state by the U.S. Department of Justice was drawing to a conclusion.

But the tactic that Free Alabama Movement has emphasized most in their struggle is the stoppage of labor – strikes within the prisons. Melvin and the others have consistently decried free, uncompensated labor as the main reason for the persistence of mass incarceration in the U.S., placing prisoner exploitation in the general context of the struggle against capitalism.

I asked Melvin a few questions that I felt were relevant to the general anti-capitalist and black liberation movements, that he might assist those of us in the “free world” in understanding the underlying thought behind Free Alabama Movement’s actions and development, and its relationship to those on the outside. Although I had originally intended to write a paragraph-style article interspersed with quotes from the interview, both the dynamism and cogency of his responses persuaded me instead to offer readers more of his unclad words:

Is there a connection between poverty wages within oppressed communities and free labor in the so-called “justice” system?

Poverty wages are part of the social/economic/political control mechanism of capitalism, and it is very much related to forced prison slavery/free labor. With limited resources due to low wages, you are restricted in many ways, including where your family can afford to live, what they can afford to buy (quality of life), and the most important control is their access to education. When your income only allows you to live in a poor community, then you typically only have access to under-performing schools, due to a lack of investment from state and local government. When confined by wages, the people of these poor communities are then closer in proximity to crime and criminal influences, which are directly related to incarceration, where forced slave labor is introduced. Consequentially, most people who are incarcerated also come from the poor communities where wages are depressed. The cycle then repeats itself because slave labor is forced on the socially and politically impoverished, because we lack traditional economics (no income) and political power due to disenfranchisement.

How would you describe the connection between white supremacy on the streets with police violence and white supremacy in the context of mass incarceration?

The fabric of white supremacy stretches across all threads of America because it is of a cultural and psychological nature, as described by Marimba Ani in her groundbreaking book Yurugu. In order to erect the concept of white supremacy, there has to be a foundation for it to stand on, and that foundation has always been black people. So with a psychology and culture built upon an identity that must destroy the black image and all things black, it’s easy to see the connection between police brutality, mass incarceration, and a host of other elements (poverty, low wages, lack of investment opportunities, discrimination in housing and college admittance, and on and on).

The same mindset that allows a police officer to summarily execute an innocent, unarmed black person in the street is the same mindset that allows an officer to plant evidence, to lie on the witness stand, and for a white juror to find guilt. It allows a judge to appoint a knowingly incompetent defense attorney, and it allows a prosecutor to withhold evidence, use false evidence, to overcharge, and to discriminate against black jurors, all with impunity. The Dred Scott case (1857) captured it best when the U.S. Supreme Court said that “no black man has any rights that a white man is bound to respect.” That applies whether it is an innocent black man or woman like Sean Bellor, Renisha McBride, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Mafundi Lake, Move 9, on up to the Scott sisters, Mike Brown and Ezell Ford.

Under the dictates of white supremacy, if you are black in this society, then you can be murdered or raped with little consequence, or you can be subject to murder or rape in prison with the other weapons of mass murder and destruction like the death penalty, life without parole, malnutrition, substandard healthcare, on down to police brutality, forced free labor, long-term solitary isolation and sensory deprivation, and exposure to widespread disease, all subsumed in mass incarceration.

Under white supremacy, this is the lot for black people so that white people can validate their supremacy. In a “democracy” where the resources are controlled by a few and political will is enforced by the vote of white-majority politics, white supremacy will reign for a while longer.

What role does capitalism plays in the mass incarceration of people of color within U.S. society?

Capitalists seek the highest return on their investment, and the best way to increase returns is to find ways to reduce the cost of production. The cheaper the cost to produce, the greater the return. One production cost that any corporation would like to reduce is labor costs. Why? Because labor costs (paying employees’ salaries and raises, sick leave and maternity leave, vacation time, payroll and income tax, Social Security, 401Ks, and compliance with labor laws) are the greatest expense to a business. Corporations have found that the best way to reduce these labor costs is to use free prison labor because when the capitalist uses a prisoner/slave, he doesn’t have any such expenses. He can replace all of these expenses with a campaign contribution to the politicians who can guarantee that he has access to prison labor.

It’s all a matter of bottom line profits. The capitalist doesn’t care where it comes from, and when you have power brokers who deem a certain segment of society ideally suited for that purpose (black, poor, uneducated, no political power), then they pass legislation like the “war on drugs” to create a system of mass incarceration/prison workforce slavery. Global competition within capitalism from producers like China made the decision to mass incarcerate large swaths of young black men for the purpose of exploiting them for prison/slave labor quite easy.

After the laws are passed, the next step is to get the media involved to play their role of demonizing and assassinating the character of black men so thoroughly in movies, TV, radio, and on the evening news (“crack babies,” “drug predators,” “violent gangs,” “monsters,” etc.) to the point that not only does no one care about the mass incarceration/government control that is taking place for over 7 million people, but most people think that when these people are imprisoned, they should be made to work for free as part of their punishment.

At the same time, these corporations fund colleges that begin teaching students in criminal justice curricula that prison labor is a necessary form of punishment for crime.

Before long, everyone is drinking the same Kool-Aid.

With so many restrictions on your own personal freedoms, how do you cope? How do you keep resisting the system of mass incarceration?

I don’t “cope,” that’s why I resist! My freedom was taken away from me in a violent manner by the state. In essence, I was kidnapped. That’s how I define my incarceration at this time, as a kidnapping.

I had a family that I was raising, a business that I was starting, and a future that I was preparing for. The state decided that they would use their legal system to take all of that (and so much more) away from me for a crime that I didn’t commit, and on top of that, I was sentenced to life without parole. So there is no way to cope with that.

I resist because I have no choice. The rules of prison are made to institutionalize you and make you a slave. The state needs for us to accept this way of life that they have chosen for us, so that we aren’t a management problem for them. Well, I have a problem with it. Harriet Tubman spoke about how although she freed hundreds of slaves, she could have freed thousands more if only they knew they were slaves. Well, I know what’s going on here, and I reject it wholeheartedly.

When the innocent, mentally ill, and the guilty are enslaved under the same oppression simply because the system deems you expendable, then I recommend that you better resist too, or else you will suffer the most ignoble fate known to humanity: dying as a slave of old age. It’s far better to die fighting for your liberation, freedom and honor than it is to live a life of service and docility, constantly enduring abuse by your master. You have to at least be a problem for him; make your name taste like shit in his mouth; constantly be in his head; worry that bastard to death! Whatever you do, don’t let him rest at peace at night as long as he holds you captive.

Man fights for justice inside Alabama prisonUSP