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.

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.

“INCARCERATED LIVES MATTER” PRISON SLAVERY MUST END

image

PEACE AND POWER!

In 7 days- Saturday night @ 12:01 May 1st- We will begin the process using our Economic Power to Peacefully bring about a true and transparent reform to the Alabama Judicial and Penal System. MAY DAY MAY DAY is not just about the Conditions of Confinement. This is more so about the cause of those Conditions – THE13th AMENDMENT, THE ALABAMA CONSTITUTION OF 1901 and the STATUTORY LAWS that have been created from both – Laws that drive and maintains this Mass Warehousing of men and women for extended periods of time in the name of profits.

All that is required of each of us is to STAND AND SPEAK AS ONE- With the Economic Voice of “WE WILL NO LONGER VOLUNTARILY PARTICIPATE IN THIS SLAVE SYSTEM WHERE ECONOMICS ARE PLACED OVER OUR HUMANITY. All is required is for INDUSTRY WORKERS, KITCHEN WORKERS, & HALL RUNNERS TO SIT DOWN. SIT DOWN and instead of saving and making the ADOC money, force them to pay to operate their Prisons. This will greatly diminish their incentives to Warehouse thousands of us for decades with no true efforts at Rehabilitation. There is no need for us to say a word, as everything is in writing- and there are people in place to communicate on our behalf to the people who have the power to make the changes.

For Ourselves, For Our Brothers/Sisters and For Our Families – WE MUST COME TOGETHER AS A COLLECTIVE AND SHUT DOWN THIS ECONOMIC SYSTEM. MAY 1ST @ 12:01 CHANGE BEGINS.

INCARCERATED LIVES MATTER

WE GOT POWER!!! AN ECONOMIC SOLUTION TO MASS INCARCERATION.

FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT
“WE GOT POWER”

We got Power y’all, and its the FREE labor and other money that we are providing to the ADOC.

Right now, the ADOC is getting appx. 2 to 3 billion dollars per year (IF NOT MORE !!) off of us from: work release, court costs and filing fees, production of license plates, cattle ranch, print shops, furniture plant, fleet services, chemical plant, fish pond, sand, recycling, farming, telephone calls, medical co-pays, canteen and much more.

We also work in the Montgomery warehouse, honor camps, kitchens, laundries, runners, libraries, dorm cleaners, and so much more, all for free.

WE PROVIDE THIS LABOR, AND THIS IS OUR POWER !!!

WE GOT POWER, and WE have to use, take it away from the ADOC, and make them change our living conditions, change parole, changes arbitrary sentencing, and allow us to earn our FREEDOM.

“WE GOT POWER”

A Flicker Turns Into A Flame: Alabama Prisoners Want Change – A Report From F.A.M’S Southern Region

A Flicker Turns Into A flame: Alabama Prisoners Want Change
A Report From F.A.M’S Southern Region

By Kinetik Justice Amun (g.n. Robert E. Council)

10599613_1518395251745511_5416659300835430917_nToday in America, there’s the resurgence of a People’s Movement sweeping across the Nation — As the flame of inhumane treatment and economical exploitation has billowed into a wildfire demanding change.

Reminiscent of the Civil Rights Movement of the 60’s, from California to Ohio, Texas to Florida, there is a deafening call for an end to America’s systemized targeting, mass incarcerating, warehousing, then economically exploiting those considered, “LOW CLASS,” i.e., New African, Hispanic and poor whites.

Suffering from gross incompetence, sub-par management of resources and the Nation’s highest OVERCROWDING RATIO – 200% over its designed capacity-that flame of change touched the Alabama Prison system.

On Jan. 1, 2014, FREE ALABAMA MOVEMNET launched a cross-racial collective action – a PEACEFUL & NON VIOLENT PROTEST for Human & Civil Rights, in the form of a work stoppage, which spread to St. Clair Corr. Fac. on Jan. 3, 2014 and Elmore Corr. Fac. on Jan. 5, 2014.

“THE FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT”

Free Alabama Movement is an “INSIDE-OUTSIDE” solidarity network, which has brought Alabama Prison Class and Human Rights Advocacy Groups together across Racial, Ideological and Geographic differences – thereby created a cross-denominational solidarity, unlike anything ever seen in the Alabama Prison System.

Free Alabama Movement is a peaceful & nonviolent protest for the human and civil rights of over 27,000 incarcerated citizens and several more thousands of family & friends of those incarcerated citizens.

Our message is clear – we proclaim that Alabama’s practice of:

1. WAREHOUSING INMATES IN OVERCROWDED DORMITORIES….
2. PROVIDING NO EDUCATIONAL OR REHABILITATIONAL PROGRAMS….
3. PROHIBITING AN INMATE FROM BEING COMPENSATED FOR HIS LABOR,

WHILE FORCING HIM TO PAY FINES AND FEES…. IS INHUMAN & EXPLOITATIVE IN VIOLATION OF THE STANDARDS OF HUMAN DECENCY…

Our Goals are defined:

1) Overcrowding MUST be addressed: 8-10 Thousand People released.

2) Taxation without compensation (free labor) abolished.

3.) Parole Board overhauled to establish parole criteria.

4.) Abolish Life Without Parole, Life/Barred from Parole & the Death Penalty.

5.) Amend Arbitrary & Discriminatory Applied Laws, i.e. 13A-5-40 (16)(17)(18).

WHY FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT?

In every stage of these inhumane conditions, we have petitioned the courts for redress, in the most humble method-filing lawsuit after lawsuit. Our repeated petitions have been answered with time-stalling rhetoric, as we continue to suffer from neglect while the D.O.C. daily reaps the financial benefits of our economical exploitations.

And as of June 2013, Alabama law makers established that prisoners could no longer file “class action” law suits against the D.O.C. in regards to inhumane living conditions. (See AL Prison Litigation Reform Act).

History has taught us that convincing the court to issue new rules to improve day to day life in prison and changing exploitive policies requires, not only petitions, but also the creation and maintenance of a legitimate prisoners’ rights movement-both inside and outside the prison walls. Clearly stated, to make real sustaining fundamental change in the
inhumane treatment and overcrowded prison conditions, we can’t rely on lawsuits alone – they have to be connected to the larger struggle.

FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT IS THE LARGER STRUGGLE – GET INFORMED!!

Why a Work Stoppage?
It is our understanding based on various in-depth studies that *MASS INCARCERATION, UNCONSTITUTIONAL OVERCROWDED PRISONS AND THE INHUMANE TREATMENT ARE MORE ABOUT ECONOMICS THAN THE HUMANITY OF
PEOPLE.

The numbers support our contention that “MONEY” is the motive and most important factor in explaining the policies and conditions within the D.O.C. Therefore, an economical response is our most effective strategy.

A Peaceful & Nonviolent Economical Response…

Each institution is a “STATE FREE LABOR FORCE”, which generates BILLIONS of dollars each year, in tax dollars, industry market, imposed fines & fees, co-payments, court costs and the millions saved by inmate “FREE LABOR.”

We have researched and studied the lessons of previous prison movements throughout the country; and the evidence of the Jan. 1, 2014 – Jan. 21, 2014 work stoppage has confirmed that prisons don’t function without inmate labor. And every day that the prison doesn’t function the prison profit margin plumets.

Based upon these premises and understanding the motive behind Alabama’s Prison Policies, Free Alabama Movement takes the position that – if we, collectively, engage in a proactive peaceful & nonviolent work stoppage, the financial burden will compel the Dept. of Corrections and the law makers of this state to be more receptive to our demands for fundamental
Human Rights. This method also affords us the opportunity to show society that many of us are intelligent & rational men striving to resolve our issues with the most peaceful means possible; and to combat the misconception that we all are, irrational, violent predators lacking any morality and humanity.

All of Free Alabama Movement’s action have been and will continue to be peaceful and nonviolent as we work to bring about a positive change within the Dept. of Corr. If they refuse to recognize the legitimacy of our Human and Civil Rights Struggle against the practices of the D.O.C. then it is the responsibility of the Federal Government to use their powers to stop
Alabama’s inhumane treatment and economical exploitations.

Maybe that’s what it might take – as Alabama has a long history of having to be forced into glory, by the intervention of the Federal Government.

For those familiar with the Alabama history, let’s not forget that it took the Federal intervention to abolish slavery, Federal Intervention to enforce reconstruction, Federal Intervention to outlaw convict leasing, Federal Intervention to enforce Civil Rights Laws in the 1960’s and Federal Intervention in the 1970’s when Alabama became the 1st prison system taken
over by the Federal Courts due to inhumane treatment of its prisoners.

40 YEARS LATER, the Alabama prison system is once again on the brink of a possible federal take over.

In the 1970’s, the inmates resorted to VIOLENCE in order to push change.

TODAY, THE FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT VOWS AND IS COMMITTED TO EFFECTING CHANGE BY PEACEFUL & NONVIOLENT MEANS…

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“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

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

Published originally on: Alabama Prison Watch, October 28, 2014

By Annabelle Parker, October 2014

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?

F.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