FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT: SOME OF OUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND IMPORTANT MOMENTS (2014-2020)

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Contact: freealabamamovement@gmail.com

1. 2013-current. FAM was founded in 2013, and officially launched in August 2013.

2. January 1, 2014. Organized first multi-prison non-violent and peaceful work strikes, boycotts and protests in Alabama.

3. 2014-2019. January 2014, several FAM leaders and organizers were targeted by ADOC and placed into solitary confinement, including its founder Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun and co-founder Kinetik Justice Amun, both of whom remained in solitary confinement for the next 5 consecutive years. Despite FAM’s non-violent and peaceful organizing, FAM leaders were retaliated against, beaten, tortured, food poisoned, and arbitrarily denied basic constitutional and human rights, including mail, visits, phone calls, humane housing, deprived of natural light, and more. Even in the face of strong opposition and repression by the state, FAM was able to continue to move ahead in the struggle for Freedom.

4. 2014-2016. Conducted at least one multi-prison work strike every year in ADOC, plus the National Prison Strikes. After the initial strikes on January 1, 2014, all other Strikes, Boycotts and Protests were led by FAM from solitary confinement.

5. 2014-2018. Family members and supporters conducted over 20 protests outside multiple Alabama prisons and other locations, including in Clio Alabama, Donaldson CF, Holman CF, St. Clair CF, Limestone CF, Tutwiler CF, Kelly Ingram Park, Edmund Pettus Bridge, ADOC Headquarters, State Capitol, and the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles Headquarters (#ParoleWatch).

6. 2014 (currently being revised). Published book FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT (known as the “manifesto”) on January 2, 2014.

7. 2014- current. Created first multi-medium social media platforms as part of prison-led organizing strategy, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, WordPress blog, Blogtalk radio, and website.

8. 2014-current. Created Free Alabama Movement YouTube channel. Have since released over 200 exclusive exposè
videos from inside ADOC. FAM’s bold and aggressive tactic of guerilla filming spawned a new era in the Prisoner/Enslaved-led Human Rights Movement. Incarcerated Activists all across the nation began using cellphones as a powerful weapon in the narrative around criminal justice reform, prison reform, and abolitionist freedom struggle.

9. 2014-2016. Created, produced, directed first-of-its-kind inside-led, underground Blogtalk radio show, “THE PEOPLE’S PLATFORM”.

10. 2014. Published “A Flicker Turns Into A Flame”

11. 2014. Drafted the “FREEDOM BILL”

12. 2014-current. FAM leaders and members have conducted over 100 media interviews from inside with outlets such as:

San Francisco Bay View
New York Times
LA Times
BBC
China NOW
Wall Street Journal
Al Jazerra America,
Democracy Now,
Roland Martin
Montgomery Advertiser
al.com
Huffington Post



13. 2014-current. FAM has been featured in several short-documentaries, including two w/ HBO/Vice, and two w/ Al Jazerra.

14. 2014-2019 Hunger Strikes. State retaliation and abuse against FAM leaders led to hunger strikes that spread to multiple prisons over a span of 5 years, exposing ADOC as a barbaric and inhumane institution.

15. 2015. Published “Let The Crops Rot In The Field” and laid out “The Solution:FAM’s 6-Step Plan of Action 2015.” These documents and the plan outlined therein established the framework for building the infrastructure that led to the first nationwide, Inside-led national initiatives and actions based on work strikes, boycotts and protests. FAM’s infrastructure elevated the profiles and voices of Inside-led organizations nationwide and has hosted and facilitated the organizing of EVERY Inside-led national event since 2015.

16. 2015. Nationwide S-TO-P CAMPAIGN against McDonald’s, highlighting the school-to-prison pipeline.

17. 2015-2016. FAM led multiple peace initiatives under the Universal Peace and Unity Summit. Over this period of heightened violence, FAM was the only entity able to lead multiple successful peace accords in the tumultuous ADOC. FAM never had an incident of violence associated with any of its multiple work strikes and boycotts, and ADOC recorded its lowest levels of violence during FAM activities.


18. 2016. Historic September 9, 2016, 45th Anniversary Attica Rebellion Nationwide Prison Strike. Largest prison strike US history. Over 24 states and 30,000 freedom fighters.


19. 2013-2018. During the height of FAM organizing, ADOC saw the total prison population drop from appx. 30,000 to appx. 23,000, before rising again.

20. 2013-2018. During the height of FAM activism, the Alabama Parole Board created an emergency board and granted over 4000 paroles. The number of parole grants began to lessen in 2018, eventually recording record lows in 2020.

21. 2013-2019. As a result of FAM’s exposure of living conditions and intensive media coverage, two Alabama prisons closed (Holman and Draper).

22. 2015 and 2019. FAM witnessed two Governor-appointed Prison Reform/Oversight Committees that were created to address issues highlighted by FAM advocacy and exposure.

23. 2014-2016. FAM saw two conservative sentencing reform measures passed.

24. 2014-2016. FAM’s exposure of ADOC central to class-action litigation filed by Bryan Stevenson and EJI, Southern Poverty Law Centers, and Southern Center for Human Rights.

25. 2016. In an unpredictable and surprising action, in 2016, ADOC correctional officers at Holman CF adopted FAM’s strategy and led their own work strike, where they were protesting, among other issues, the same ADOC leadership and inhumane living conditions as highlighted by FAM. While not all issues were the same between FAM and the officers, the impact of FAM’s influence for change was undeniable.

26. 2016. FAM’s exposure of ADOC, pro se litigation, and advocacy work led to “first-of-its-kind” statewide investigation of all Alabama men’s prisons by the US Department of Justice. These investigations produced two separate reports, both of which found the ADOC to be violating the civil, human and constitutional rights of those serving time in ADOC custody.

27. 2017. An anonymous ADOC employee released a trove of over 1000 graphic, gory photos depicting violence and barbaric savagery inside ADOC. While a select few of these images were made public, many in the mainstream media withheld 800 of these photos, protecting ADOC and collaborating in their mutual interest.

28. 2018. Campaign to Redistribute The Pain 2018, a nationwide bi-monthly boycott of canteen, collect phone calls, visitation vending machines, and incentive packages.

29. 2018 National Prison Strike. Following FAM’s visionary approach to organizing prison labor nationally and relying on the infrastructure put in place leading to FAM’s historic September 9, 2016, 45th Anniversary Attica Rebellion Nationwide Prison Strike/Boycott/Protest, the 2018 Nationwide Prison Strike took place after the Lee County, South Carolina riots. FAM’s leadership and national Campaign to Redistribute The Pain 2018, spanning the entire year of 2018, were integral to the 2018 National Prison Strike. Since that first nationwide effort in 2016, FAM inspired at least 5 other inside-led national events.


30. 2012-2019. Assisted in filing over 250 excessive force, police brutality, ethics complaints, and Section 1983 civil class action lawsuits against ADOC officials.

31. 2014-2020. FAM’s advocacy and activism produced intensive media coverage that resulted in investigations, forced resignations, demotions and firings of at least one ADOC Commissioner (K. Thomas), Associate Commissioners G. Culliver and J. DeLoach), Wardens (Estes, Davenport, E. Evans, and others.

32. 2015-current. FAM’s advocacy and activism led ADOC to adopt policies requiring warden training and rotations. Results are negligible though due to a lack of accountability enforcement, although a few wardens have shown negative pattern behavior resulting in resignations or other forms of termination.

33. 2019. FAM’s hunger strikes exposed and led to the end of ADOC’s secretive and highly inhumane “bucket detail” and extortion schemes by officials at Limestone CF. FAM leaders caused the end of the 25+ year careers of Warden DeWayne Estes and Captain Patrick Robinson, and civil litigation.

34. 2015/2019. FAM jailhouse attorneys, who have filed pro se litigation on his behalf for years, uplifted the story of Willie “Fire Plug” Simmons on their WordPress blog. FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT’s network of activists and contacts who played a vital role in uncovering this story and facilitating Mr. Simmons’ access to press went uncredited when Mr. Simmons’ story exploded and went worldwide.

35. 2019. Launched #ParoleWatch2020 in response to the Charlie Graddick-led Bureau. FAM is the only organization in the State to conduct protests at the Bureau of Pardons and Paroles Headquarters. Graddick resigned effective November 31.

36. 2014-current. FAM’s influence over the course of 7 years has inspired the creation of or brought close collaboration with over 40 organizations, including Unheard Voices, Free Mississippi Movement, APSP, UHURU Movement, Free South Carolina Movement, Mississippi Southern Belles, Free Ohio Movement, FAM Queen Team, T.O.P.S., IWOC, JLS, United Black Family Scholarship Foundation, End Prison Slavery in Texas, Amend the 13th, Decarcerate Louisiana, NABPP, Faith In Action, The Plus Party, Be Frank 4 Justice, Abolish Slavery National Network, EPIC, Ida B. Wells, and many, many more.

37. 2020. Statewide host of August 22, 2020, National Day of Freedom and Justice events.

38. 2020. Co-Presenters for the Harvard Prison Divestment

39. 2020. Co-lead organizers for the October 26-30, 2020 Plus Party #FreeThe13th 5-Day Virtual Rally.

40. 2020. Host of the December 6, 2020, Abolish Slavery Alabama event, marking the 155 year anniversary of the ratification of the 13th Amendment and the exception clause that allows slavery and involuntary Servitude to continue as punishment for crime.

41. 2021. On January 1, 2021, FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT is calling for a #30DayBlackout Boycott and Strike.

42. Our greatest accomplishment is the awareness, education and Spirit of Freedom that we were able to share with over 10,000 men in the ADOC; the tens of thousands of men and women behind cages, walls and fences in America who participated in the 2016 and 2018 nationwide strikes/boycotts/protests; and innumerable others we have impacted around the world. FAM’s banners have hung in four continents around the world, Europe, Africa, South America, and North America.

Special Thanks to the Ratcliff Family and the San Francisco Bay View Black Newspaper. As always, there are some people and organizations that rise above the rest and stand in such a way as to merit special consideration. For FAM, this honor goes to the Bay View and Mr. and Mrs. Ratcliff. We can’t even recount the many deeds or the many ways. All we can do is stand in awe, admiration, appreciate, respect and Love. ❤️


We are not done yet. . .

Contact: freealabamamovement@gmail.com


SUPPORT:

The price of Freedom comes at a great cost to Freedom Fighters behind the walls.



ALA. SENTENCING COMMISSION GUIDELINES WERE NOT APPROVED: WE STILL HAVE WORK TO DO

CLEARING UP CONFUSION AND MISUNDERSTANDING ABOUT THE SENTENCING COMMISSION AND WHAT IS NOT ABOUT TO HAPPEN ON OCTOBER 1, 2020.

Dear Black Man,

Please know that if you haven’t done anything exceptional or monumental like a shutdowns, i. e., a work strike, boycott and significant protest, then you are not getting freedom.

The posts about the sentencing commission makes two points very clear that we can’t just overlook or ignore:

1) Thr standards only go into effect if approved during the 2020 Legislative Session.

They were NOT approved !!!

This is why Free Alabama Movement starting protesting at the Parole Bureau on June 23, 24 and 25. Parole remained the only path to freedom for many, but Charlie Graddick had virtually stopped all paroles.

2) Just this week, Free Alabama Movement posted again that the sentencing standards must be made retroactive in order to help those who have already been in the system. The information circulating around social media clearly states that the law will apply only to offender “on or after” the effective date.

In other words, if you are already in prison, this law doesn’t apply to you.

Why do y’all think FAM is calling for another Protest on September 29?

Answer: Paroles continue to be denied at historic rates.

Until we do something to make them a) approve the standards and b) make them retroactive, this stuff won’t help ANYONE already incarcerated.

In the song the words go “don’t save her, she don’t wanna be saved.” Family, we are not going to be saved. As the Nation of Gods and Earths say, we gotta Self Save.

WE GOTTA SHUT DOWN !!! Okay ! Keep thinking that the system that is oppressing you is going to save you. Why do y’all think the DOJ is publicly expressing that they are not satisfied with Alabama’s response? Ain’t nobody going anywhere. Just keep thinking you don’t have to support these protests and calls for a shutdown. You will see. . .

FAM Releases List of #12Demands ahead of Protest: Join the Call to Action Now!!!

PROTEST JUNE 23, 24 and 25 @ 8:30 am, at the Headquarters of the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles

 

OUR LIST OF DEMANDS

DEMAND NO. 1. Mandatory Parole Criteria:

We DEMAND that the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles, in conjunction with the ADOC, immediately develop an Educational, Rehabilitation and Re-Entry Curriculum for every person in ADOC who is parole-eligible. Upon completion of this curriculum and after serving the parole minimum date, this person should be automatically granted paroled.

DEMAND NO. 2 Parole End Date (PED)

The Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles shall develop a Parole End Date (PED). Under current law, when an individual is granted parole, they must serve the remainder of their sentence on parole.

If that person has a life sentence or 99 years, for example, that person would remain on parole for the rest of their Life or for the balance of their un-served sentence.

No person should have to spend the rest of their life on parole. The reason why parole is granted is that the individual has demonstrated a fitness to re-enter society as a productive law-abiding citizen.

Once that person has demonstrated the ability to remain in society by being productive and law-abiding citizen over an extended period of time, there needs to be an ending period whereby this person can move on with their life free from the shackles of parole.

Under Alabama Law, 5 years is the maximum period of probation allowed. Parolees also need a Parole End Date of 5 years. 

We DEMAND that a 5-year maximum period of supervision be placed on parole and that any person who has already served at least 5 years on parole be released from parole supervision immediately.

DEMAND NO. 3. Removal of Charlie Graddick

Self-explanatory. The Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles has become a dysfunctional institution under the Directorship of Charles Graddick and is exhibiting signs of institutional racism.

Emerging data compiled in a recent report by Southern Poverty Law Center shows that paroles are being granted/denied based on race and that Black people up for parole consideration are being disproportionately impacted. 

In May 2020, 160 people were considered for parole. Appx. 51 % were Black and 47% were white. Of these, only 15 made parole. 11 of the 15 were white, while 4 were Black.

“11 were white and four were Black.” Institutional Racism.


This is Institutional Racism being openly practiced by government officials.

We DEMAND that Gov. Ivey remove Charles Graddick immediately!!!

DEMAND NO. 4. 20-Year Show Cause Hearing for Parole Denial 

The ADOC receives over $600,000,000.00 tax dollars every year to run the Department of Corrections. According to ADOC, $22,000.00 is invested annually into each person in their custody.
This is more than the total cost of a four-year college degree from many colleges.

This level of funding is more than sufficient to produce results in areas of education, rehabilitation, re-entry preparedness and corrections or else ADOC is a corrupt Enterprise guilty of perpetuating fraud on taxpayers.

Therefore, We DEMAND that the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles implement Due Process hearings and Show Cause by Clear and Convincing evidence why any person who has already served 20 years or more in ADOC should not be granted parole immediately. 

DEMAND NO. 5. In-person/Video parole hearing

The current parole review process does not allow the person being considered for parole to be present at the hearing either in person or by audio/video means.

The potential parolee is given a pre-screening interview with a parolee investigator, who then forwards this information on to the parole board.

The potential parolee is not told what the parole board will consider when making the decision concerning his parole. Nor is the potential parolee afforded access to the files that the parole board will review when considering parole.

Furthermore, once the hearing starts, the potential parolee is limited to only three people being able to speak in his behalf, for 5 minutes each, while the State is afforded an unlimited number of speakers against parole, unlimited time to speak, and the Victims Advocacy Group is allowed to speak as “paid protestors.”

The hearing is unfair and heavily weighed against people who are doing all that we can to return home to our families. 

All prospective parolees must be allowed to speak before the board on this important decision concerning our lives and freedom (Please see A GUIDEBOOK TO PAROLE IN ALABAMA by the Southern Poverty Law Center for a comprehensive outline of the parole process in Alabama, in addition to other contact information and resources).  

We DEMAND that any future parole hearing be conducted in person or Livestream video.

DEMAND NO. 6. Due Process and Transparency: 

Currently, the parole board is not required to provide the reason why parole is denied. Also, the parole board is not required to provide any guidance for the potential parolee as to what needs to  done in the future to guarantee parole.

Under current parole guidelines, the parole board can deny parole and set off the next parole hearing date for up to 5 years, all without stating why the parole was denied in the first place, or what the person needs to do over the next 5 years in order to be parole eligible when the next hearing date arrives.

The current system does not offer any due process or fundamental fairness to the person that the hearing is all about in the first place.


We DEMAND that new parole guidelines be implemented immediately, requiring that a parole denial be accompanied by a specific reason for the denial and a specific criteria guaranteeing parole at the next parole review date.  

DEMAND NO. 7. Expanded representation on the Parole Board to include a Defense Attorney, Community Organization, and Civic/Religious Leader

The current Parole Bureau is made up almost exclusively of members with a background in law enforcement. This is not a fair representation of the communities who benefits from the Parole Bureau.

There are many stakeholders in the Parole Bureau who are not afforded representation on the Board. The Bureau needs to reflect the community as a whole.

Therefore, we DEMAND that the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles create a Community-based local Bureau of Pardons and Paroles immediately, to include defense attorneys, community organizations, and Civic/Religious Leaders. These individuals will review early termination of parole requests, pardon requests, parole revocation proceedings, and all other post-parole related matters.

DEMAND NO. 8. Waiver of all parole fees

People getting out of Alabama prisons are provided a $10.00 check and one set of clothes upon release. This is hardly adequate for a person to successfully re-enter society.

Parole fees are an added burden that forces the parolee to pay for their freedom at a time when they are just being released from prison, sometimes after decades of confinement, with no resources. 

Additionally, taxpayers already fund the parole system, so collecting parole fees is only a windfall to parole agencies. This practice of collecting parole fees from the poorest people in our society must end.

We DEMAND that the collection of parole fees be banned immediately.

DEMAND NO. 9.  Automatic restoration of voting rights

The history of disenfranchisement in Alabama is well documented. One need only read comments from John B. Knox at the Alabama Constitutional Convention of 1901 to see the racial intent behind disenfranchisement: 

“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.” 

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

Source: Alabama’s 1901 Constitution: Instrument of Power – Litera Scripta | The University of Alabama “Speech of Hon. John B. Knox, President of the Late Constitutional Convention in Alabama, at Centreville, November 9, 1901.” | Alabama Bicentennial 



https://alabama200.org/educators/primary-sources/constitutions-and-citizenship/1901-constitution/detail/speech-of-hon.-john-b.-knox-president-of-the-late-constitutional-convention

The Bureau of Pardons should no longer be allowed to be used as an instrument of white supremacy and institutional racism. No person should lose their civil voting right for life due to a criminal conviction.

We DEMAND that the civil right to vote be restored to every resident of the State of Alabama and that the Alabama Board of Registars be ordered to cease and desist for ever denying the right to vote to any person of account of a criminal conviction that does not involve misuse of the right to vote or the voting process.
  
DEMAND NO. 10.  Release All Technical Violators

All persons currently being held in custody for a technical violation should be released immediately. “Technical violations” (T.V.’s) may be for something as minor as a failure to report.

Oftentimes, this comes about due to lack of transportation. They may also be a failed urine tests, failure to pay fees or court costs, etc.

Whatever the cause, a T.V. does not involve committing a new crime. The technical aspect of the violation should be dealt with on the local level, never resulting in a return to an overcrowded, understaffed, underfunded, dangerous and deadly Alabama prison.

In addition, hundreds, if not thousands of people have had their parole revoked and then returned to prison for being charged with a new criminal offenses. Many of these individuals remain even though the new criminal charge was ultimately dismissed or they were found not guilty of the new charge. These people had their parole revoked simply for being charged with a new crime.

While it is sensible to place a parole hold on a parolee pending disposition of the new offense, if the new charge is dismissed then parole must be automatically reinstated. 

We DEMAND that the ABPP immediately reinstate all parolees whose parole was revoked due to a new charge that has since been dismissed, or for a technical violation.

DEMAND NO. 11. Grant parole to every person serving time for a drug offense and all individuals with a victimless offense — not involving no more than de minimus physical injury — who have already served 10 years or more

The “war on drugs” has been a war on Black people. The damage has been done. It is now time to heal. Drug task forces and other drug-related law enforcement agencies must be de-funded and disbanded. These funds must be redirected towards retribution and investment into communities and families that have been decimated by the “war on Black, Brown” and other communities.

We DEMAND that any person who has already served 10 years or more for any drug offense or for a crime that did not cause physical injury be immediately granted parole.

DEMAND NO. 12. Defund and Abolish the Alabama Bureau of Parole Board

The current parole system in Alabama is not working and should be unacceptable to anyone following it closely. Bureau members in Montgomery never meet and actually talk to prospective parolees. Instead, Bureau members are making decisions impacting the lives of 1000’s of people, while sitting amongst themselves in Montgomery.

Bureau members are not using any known objective criteria or proven methods to guide their decisions or to understand them. This lack of process is ripe for abuse.

No prospective parolee is in attendance. No process guides the Bureau members’ decisions. The decisions of the Bureau are virtually unchallengeable.

At most, these decision-makers are reviewing files that were prepared at the Institutional level, where state employees have day-to-day interactions and evaluations with the prospective parolee.

These inside evaluators include social service employees, classification specialist, psychologist, and correctional officers. Oftentimes, these workers have the same or more education than the parole board members, plus, they have the added expertise that comes from hands-on experience from day-to-day interaction with incarcerated citizens. These are the people who are the most qualified to make parole suitability decisions.

Parole decisions need to move closer to the places where the individuals reside, and farther away from Montgomery where the process of evaluating and assessing re-entry readiness is none existent…
The current setup needs to be abolished. 

We DEMAND that the Office of the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles and the Parole Board in Montgomery be defunded and abolished immediately.

CONCLUSION

These are the LIST OF DEMANDS for our Protest demonstrations on June 23, 24, and 25, @ 8:30 am, at the Headquarters of the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles.

Please call Governor Kay Ivey, Legislatures on the Prison Oversight Committee and your State and Local elected officials, and DEMAND that these changes be made Now. 



FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT
Grassroots Leadership From The Inside


#CallTheABPP today and DEMAND change NOW!!!



  For more information about this Protest or to list your organization as a Sponsor or Supporter, please contact us:


Email:  freealabamamovement@gmail.com fam@famqueenteam.com,

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