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.

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Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018 – Part IV Boycott, Defund, Bankrupt

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

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 January 2018 issue of SF Bayview

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 (https://www.facebook.com/QueenTahiyrah), 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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bennu Hannibal Ra Sun, Free Alabama Movement

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

Make history in 2018, not excuses: Whose side are you on? Campaign to Redistribute the Pain Part V

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

Published in SF Bayview, Nov. 30, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Knox further states:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To establish that point:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bennu Hannibal Ra Sun

Free Alabama Movement

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

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

The power of economics: One message, one mind, one movement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Social, political and ECONOMIC education must be ramped up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Free Alabama Movement (FAM) Economic Challenge

What products are produced at your place of incarceration?

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

How many people provide labor at your place of incarceration?

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

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

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

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

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

Juvenile Justice: How 6 black children were set up for failure in Gadsden, Ala

On March 24, 1988, six black (6) teens (Roland Martin, Fred Brown, Steve Stewart, Melvin Ray, Archie Hamlet, and Curtis Richardson) were arrested in the early morning hours after an attempted burglary of a department store in Gadsden, Alabama.

After being arrested, the youth were all taken to a police station where they were interrogated by several officers (all white) for several hours. By the time the interrogations ended, well after 3:00 am, the youth were charged collectively  with over 30 counts (appx. 5 to 6 counts each ) for many other unsolved burglaries in Gadsden. These children did not have any attorney present during these interrogations and no attempt was made to contact any of their parents until after the interrogations had ended.image

Some parents were reached, some weren’t.

    Later that same morning, these 6 children were taken before a judge for a “probable cause hearing.”  None of the parents attended this impromptu hearing. And, none of the youth were represented by counsel. Somehow, with no opportunity to be heard, without any counsel, and with little to no evidence beyond the word of the police officers, the judge allowed for probable cause to be stipulated to for all 6 youth. image
It is not known who the court allowed to stipulate to anything in behalf of the Gadsden 6 youth, but the record clearly shows that this is what occurred. We know that children could not stipulate to probable cause or anything else for themselves, and we know that no lawyers were appointed in the case until weeks later, in April; so the stipulation was not made by an attorney.

As a result of this stipulation, all 6 children were ordered to be detained in detention facilities pending further proceedings.

The next event to take place in these proceedings took place on April 6, 1988, when attorney J.B. Lofton was appointed. 

This appointment of counsel came after these children had already been before a judge and after the court had already authorized custody to be taken from the parents.
Finally, with counsel now appointed, the judge set a hearing for April 28, 1988, and for the first time, issued notice and summons’ to the parents. image
However, on April 27, 1988, just one day before the hearing was scheduled, the prosecutor filed a motion to transfer all of the cases of the children to the circuit court for prosecution as adults (for all non-violent property offenses). The juvenile judge granted pprosecutor’s motion that same day that it was filed !!!

The children were all transferred to adult without a hearing, without a lawyer being present, and without any of the children or their parents being present. In fact, apparently  no one but the judge and the prosecutor ( the same two parties from the March 24 probable cause “stipulation” hearing) were even aware that such motion had even been filed. Proof that the attorney did not perform any services throughout these proceedings can be gleamed from the fact that his declaration for fees was voided right after it was filed.image
In the end, these children suffered convictions in adult court for offenses that they never had legal representation on at critical stages of the proceedings , namely, during the interrogations and initial arrest, at the probable cause hearing when someone was allowed to stipulate to probable cause in behalf of the children, and when judge granted the prosecutor’s motion to transfer the cases to adult court. Of course, all of this was/is illegal.image

All or most of these children suffered collateral consequences as a result of the actions taken in the juvenile court, including having these illegal prior convictions used against them both in and out of court, including two of whom who have had these illegal non- violent prior convictions  used to enhance future sentences to Life Without Parole under Alabama’s Habitual Felony Offender Act.

We are asking that you support the Gadsden 6 as they fight for Juvenile Justice in Alabama.
WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS ALABAMA

FREE DA F.A.M. 3

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

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

PART 3

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

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

Phone: 256-985-1126

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#INCARCERATEDBLACKLIVESMATTERTOO

#freedafam3

SENATE BILL 67: REFORM OR RACKET TO EXPLOIT CRIME AND MORE POOR FAMILIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overcrowding serves to breed problems:

MALNUTRITION

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

UNSANITARY WATER SUPPLY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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