Bridge of Voices
Newsletter of Forum for Understanding Prisons
a 501c3 non profit
Contents : Justice is an Oxymoron
: new newsletter format
: writing contest
: essay: To everyone genuinely concerned
: FFUP miscellaneous
: mentoring program ;
WI Myth of Rehabilitation
:legislative request form for prisoners to use
UNEQUAL JUSTICE IS AN OXYMORON
by Mansa Lutalo Ivapo -aka- Rufus West
If I had a penny for every time that I heard "Lincoln freed the Black slaves," or "the civil war abolished slavery," I would be a millionaire. The fact of the matter is that slavery was never abolished and thus still exists via the same amendment that supposedly abolished it: The 13th Amendment. If you read the 13th Amendment it clearly states that slavery is abolished "except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted." George Orwell would call that "Double-speak."
The 13th Amendment should be void of allowing slavery to exist under any circumstances because it's immoral and denies its citizens equality in their "pursuit of happiness." The very institution of slavery has always been the same in this country, both antebellum and post Civil War, except today it's more contemporary and hidden within the "criminal justice system." We must recognize that the "criminal justice system" begins with the environmental circumstances in a particular community, not when the police are called. Justice cannot exist within such a system unless the social structure is equal. Unfortunately, every social apparatus that is conducive to positive growth and development are prevalent only in the White community. Such exclusivity is a serious crime because it results in the mass imprisonment of Blacks via inferior education; inferior economical and political advantages; inferior living conditions; and hopelessness. The psyche of America has systematically developed into a belief that Black people are doomed to be imprisoned at some point in their lives as a matter of course. The answer to the source of this belief is also the root of the problem.
Having said all of that, I must assert that I do believe in individual responsibility, which I define as a person being held responsible for the decisions that he/she makes. I also believe that society has a responsibility to ensure that an equal social structure exists that provides equal opportunities for positive growth. Just like society cannot deny a man an education and then blame him for being ignorant, it likewise cannot avoid responsibility for the mass reenslavement of Black people (via the prison system) after allowing an unequal social structure to exist.
I am cognizant of the fact that Blacks aren't the only people who are locked up. However, the squeaky wheel gets the oil. We tend to act like we don't hear that wheel squeaking loudly. And that s all it is: an act. We do this because to acknowledge said noise is to compel one to choose to either do something to ameliorate it, or do nothing. Unfortunately, most of us are afraid to even speak on it for fear of making others feel uncomfortable. In contrast, however, we have no problem discussing atrocities that are occurring on other countries. Personally, I never cared about making people feel uncomfortable when it came to issues like this. This situation has always been a dire one. Thus the best way to get my point across is to just put the facts on the glass. I believe that sugar coating the situation will only attract a sugar-coated reaction. It is what it is and should be addressed as such.
It is with the foregoing that I was introduced to a prison program called Restorative Justice in 2008. I was presumptuous in believing that said program was an opportunity for me to further my endeavor to restoring and implementing justice to society's three categories: (1) pre-prison; (2) prison; and (3) post prison.
The Restorative Justice program lasts for several weeks and is run by various non-prison and non-security prison staff. Various guests come inside the prison and speak about the criminal justice process; the impact of crimes on victims and the prisoners' kids; and some spiritual engagement. Besides the meditation session, one thing that I was never exposed to until said program was the 3-day session with Tim (whose home had been burglarized while he was in it), Tanya (who was robbed and pistol whipped at a drive-through ATM), and Pat (whose son was murdered). They shared with us how they were victimized and how they are surviving their experiences.
Throughout the program, I unsuccessfully convinced everyone to consider
focusing on the root causes of crime in order to come up with solutions to them.
As stated above, my approach was from a factual standpoint in order to avoid
indoctrinating my opinions. For example:
Blacks and Hispanics are minorities in America, yet the imprisonment statistics
show the following:
1 in 15 Black adults are in prison;
1 in 9 Black men between the ages of 20 and 34 are in prison;
1 in 3 Black people will suffer imprisonment at some point in their lives
1 in 16 Hispanics are in prison;
Why??? Considering that both state and federal investigations have acknowledged racial disparities in the criminal justice system and made recommendations on solving said disparities, why hasn't any action been taken to implement said recommendations?
In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Blacks are a minority, representing 25% of its overall population. How is it then that Blacks represent the majority of its county jail population with a whopping 75 percent?
Why doesn't consideration as a mitigating circumstance for parole/ probation revocation include whether the violator lives in a neighborhood infested with prolific alcohol and illegal drug activity since the majority of said revocations involve alcohol and drug abuse?
Since unemployment is a contributing factor that leads to imprisonment, why hasn't anything been done to eliminate the 51% rate of unemployed Black males in Milwaukee? Furthermore, why is it that in Milwaukee Blacks are 3 times more likely to be unemployed than Whites?
I made sure that every time I spoke that I asked what I deem tough questions. Unfortunately, said questions didn't lead to broader discussions, but instead were curtly responded to without any dialog. I learned quickly that Restorative Justice was the wrong forum for raising these issues. I felt like I was trying to push an 18-wheeler up an icy hill. I was also unsuccessful in convincing the Restorative Justice staff to discuss how social justice can't exist unless there's equal justice in the pre-prison community, the prison community, and the post-prison community. My reasoning for this was because the ripple effect of injustice in any one of those communities will affect all of them.
At the Restorative Justice graduation ceremony, which was video-taped, there were approximately 40 guests from the pre-prison community. Among them was our guest speaker (the only Black person among them) named Jerome Dillard. All of the graduates were allowed to say "a few words" upon receiving our certificate. I was called first. I read from an uncensored statement that I had completed just minutes before I was called.
I said: “I'm going to tell you a story and then make my comments.
One day a holy man asked the Lord to show him what heaven and hell are like. The Lord led him to 2 rooms. In the middle of the first room was a large round table that had a large pot of stew in the middle of it. The people sitting at this table were all thin, starving, malnourished and just miserable. Strapped to their arms were spoons with very long handles that allowed them to reach and get a spoonful of the stew out of the pot. But because the spoon handles were longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths. The Lord told the holy man, "My son, you have seen hell."
They then went to the next room, which had the same setup as the first room, with the table, stew, long-handled spoons, etc. Except in this room, the people were plump, laughing and happy. The holy man said, "I don't understand." The Lord told him, "It's quite simple and requires but one skill. You see, they have learned to feed each other, while the greedy think only of themselves."
[Applause !!!] I'm from the inner city where prevalent crime is seen as normal; where you'll find more than one Pat, Tim and Tanya on every block. I believe that every crime that occurs in the inner city victimizes not just everyone in that community, but everyone in this country.
Since 'unequal justice' is an oxymoron, I challenge America to step up to the plate and solve this social injustice by any means necessary.
As part of the American community, I believe that prisoners must be allowed to participate in this problem-solving process. Despite my prisoner status, I will continue to fearlessly network with anyone who is motivated to restoring justice on 3 levels: community; prison; and those released from prison.
Imprisonment is definitely not the answer due to the manifest racial injustice where Blacks represent the majority of the prison population, yet a minority of this country's overall population.
Instead, I believe the answer lies in restoring justice to the abandoned concept of crime prevention based on fundamental principles including love, respect, and equality, as well as community and individual accountability.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." As such, I believe that once we believe that justice can only be served by us feeding each other with the spoons of justice, can we then be nourished with the nutrients of equality.
My name is Rufus West, and I approve this message.’ ”
I was surprised when they applauded what I had said. Even more surprising was after we received our certificates, the guests that I had met were interested in knowing what I felt they could do to handle everything that I was trying to shed light on throughout said Restorative Justice program. Their alacrity to get involved in this righteous endeavor was refreshing! I immediately noticed that I was always in the middle of a circle of guests fielding relevant questions. I also noticed that I was closely being watched from a respectable distance by the prison staff. Virtually every guest that I spoke with encouraged me to get my message out on the street. Said encouragement added fuel to my galvanized spirit and passion for social justice.
That night I decided to do a dissertation that starts on paper and ends with said videotape. I would call it "Unequal Justice Is an Oxymoron," which is a quote from my graduation speech. I planned to proliferate it among every department, school, organization, politician, community center, internet, etc. Said guests taught me that if I limit my proliferation to the Black community, then I will likely be excluding people who may be of intrinsic value to the struggle for social justice.
Similarly, said limitation would also fall victim to the illusion that this is a Black problem and not an American problem.
As an American problem, the responsibility falls on every citizen. When America goes to war against another(page 3) country, it sends every race in order to win its wars; not just a certain race. When America taxes its citizens, it taxes every race. As such, there's no reason to employ isolationism when it comes to social justice.
This dissertation will not contain said graduation videotape because (according to prison staff) said graduation was mistakenly taped without any audio, which is why my graduation speech is written above. Nevertheless, I am pertinacious in my optimism. As a vanguard of justice, I expect such an ambitious endeavor to be a struggle. We are all designed to struggle from conception to resurrection. I choose to struggle against unequal justice. Will you?
Completed on the 15th day of March, 2009.
Mansa Lutalo lyapo aka Mr. Rufus West P. O. Box 900 (CCI), Portage, Wl 53901
New newsletter format
Attention Bridge of Voices Readers:
With this issue, we change the format of our newsletter so we can better serve you and our overall goals. We will be making improvements as time, space and need arises. These changes include more involvement from you, our readers. You and your peers will write the newsletter and edit it. Here is an outline and brief description of sections. Of course all is flexible and will evolve as ideas hit the ground.
· VOICES FROM INSIDE: In this section, we encourage you to let the world hear your story, your facts, and your calls for freedom , justice and release. This section is exclusively for your authorship. We encourage you to keep these articles on point because of time and resource limits. Articles will have a limit of 1600 to2000 words, with exceptions made by editorial staff when the article is so compelling as to defy shortening. FFUP reserves the editorial power to edit and/or shorten articles or space them out so to make the most of the educational and community enhancing opportunity this newsletter provides .
· INFORMING THE PUBLIC: Here, we encourage readers to write in common terms about things that will serve to enlighten the general public about what is going on in today’s prisons.
· SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER: The title of this section speaks for itself. We welcome, powerful, compelling articles about abuse of power, as well as proper use of power.
· IN WORDS OF THE DAY: We welcome quotes, sayings, maxim, that inspire, encourage, educate.
· SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: Please submit stories of all genres-funny, sad, non fiction , fiction, autobiographical. The stories can be written by you or others. Because we must respect the copyright rights of others, be clear who authored the article you submit. Poems are also welcome.
· ARTICLES ON THE LAW: This section shall expand and contract as needs arise.
· RESOURCES: We are looking for up to date and non- internet, prisoner -friendly resources. These need to be resources that have been successfully used by the submitter-
· INK SPIN: As part of our new format , we will hold an writing contest called “INK SPIN” every six months. Each contest will center around some theme, essay prompt, subject or form . The announcement of the first contest comes later in this issue and we hope to published a book using winning writings from this first effort.
Some guidelines for contests :
1) include a cover letter with submission. We will include tips on how to draft a cover letter in future issues. For this issue, introduce yourself and your purpose. We will also be offering other wiring tips in future issues.
2)Writings will have a 1600 word limit. Count words and list count on left side of cover letter.
3) We request that you self check your submission. Profanity will not be allowed unless it is essential to the telling of the story. As you know any language that incites disruption will not be allowed into the prisons so we expect your tone to be respectful of others except where story line permits. We are an education and information medium.
We hope you like our new format and enjoy our new feature issues and that you will be a participatory reader and keep us informed and challenged by your submissions. As the newsletter grows, we will be enlisting more people to serve as editors so we can better get your voice heard.
editorial staff, Ras Uhuru , peg swan
Also: We have received a lot of requests for the early release information from the new budget. The final rules and procedures will not be out until late September. We will publish summary in next issue.
Goal -raise awareness of Overriding topic : overuse and abuse of segregation and the warehousing of the mentally ill in prison
FFUP has been dealing with the solitary confinement horror since its inception. General over crowding has increased as well as reduction of staff, programming and all amenities, making the situation is solitary more dire than ever. We have several European compatriots who help us with finding penpals for those most at risk in solitary confinement and we are trying to get an administrative rule change but none of this is enough and prisoners continue to harm themselves. We must do more to raise the alarm and bring funding and programs and real alternatives to the warehousing of the mentally ill in prisons and to societies use solitary confinement as the solution to all behavior problems. The prisoners voice must be heard for we have tried many ways to tell the tale and the public wants none of it from us.
Essays, poems, autobiographies of 1600 words or less to be submitted to FFUP and we will distribute essays to editors- some prisoners, some freeworlders, and winners will be put in a self published book . Drawings , posters, are needed also, which will draw the reader in. We will be learning the self publishing route and in order to make this work there has to be much publicity- and with that publicity we will be spreading the word about the mentally ill , and about prison conditions in general . So later we will need letters to newspapers and magazines and talk show hosts etc to help us spread the word about the project. Gradually we would like to hold up a mirror to the American public.
The subject of the book- to- be is not just about the mentally ill for this has no definition. It is a word of convenience, a definition for someone who is not able to adequately adjust; to jump the required hurdles; who is considered different, sometimes dangerous by mainstream folks. A more interesting name for some manifestations of “mental illness” might be “cultural schizophrenia.” - for how does one define sanity in our insane world? So we want to keep the topic broad :from exposing the conditions in our prisons, especially solitary, to discussing the problem of surviving solitary confinement, to understanding why our society refuses to look at its problems.
For all submissions, think about what you would like the public to know about you- and try to write in a way that will draw the reader in to your piece. Here are some angles: time before prison, what led you here, what could have helped and didn’t ,what did help, who helped you become the person you are. For those who are mentally ill, people need to know the conditions under which you live, what can help, what you need. Stories of people trying to help, stories of success and failure. Possibly short stories showing the ways conduct reports are handed out, the way the complaint and appeal system doesn’t work in prison. Another important angle is tackling the question of how does one deal with the constant humiliation and harassment of prison, especially in segregation. . What do you do when you are provoked deliberately? One prisoner said : “They try to crush and destroy us , but instead, we become Black Diamonds.” Amidst the pain and rage , is there a new consciousness arising?
send submissions to FFUP; PO Box 285, Richland Center, Wi 53581 by November 1st, 2009. . Write “contest” in upper left hand corner of submission They will be read by a small group of people comprised of both “free worlders” and your peers.
Caveat: we do not wish to offend anyone when we use the term “ mentally ill” throughout our newsletters. We use it clinically because it is the term the DOC and courts recognize and use in regards to how “prisoners with specific conditions” are being forced to “suffer.” For us to use a euphemism would be to undermine our endeavors. If you have something you wish to share yet feel you do not fall in that classification, just tell your story anyway. In the future we shall be more economical in our use of these terms as well as conscious of the appropriate reference and context. But in our clinically and politically charged endeavors the reference may at times be appropriate to convey our problems.
To everyone Genuinely Concerned
Re: Budget proposals for prison reform
The following is being offered with hopes of enlightening your understanding of what I know to be true after being incarcerated for decades and witnessing the morphing transitions of law and policy through time, as well as the true reasons therefor. In short, I have seen it all, litigated the important issues in various courts, and examined everything in very necessary and pragmatic ways. Because of this it is difficult to have an academic detachment; from this coign of vantage the problems are known, and the solutions are obvious.
The budget proposal and possibilities currently being suggested as appropriate for meaningful change regarding the issues of crime, prisons, overcrowding and racial disparity at first blush appear sensible, but in pragmatic terms are disingenuous and will quickly be recognized as ineffective vis-a-vis the bottom line.
To be sure, something must be done, and I am quick to laud any efforts which release prisoners from this situation. But there is also a need to draw attention to the fact that the suggested measures will only allow the system to further ignore the thousands of old-law prisoners who could and should have been released long ago. Fix the parole apparatus and the problems will quickly fade away.
Old-law prisoners are continually being overlooked for proper and meaningful parole consideration despite having served the longest terms, having the rehabilitative process completed long ago, and being the most well-behaved, as well as those with the most to lose. The parole apparatus continues to fail miserably by merely dangling the parole carrot in front of our faces, and then yanking it away time after time. Indeed, I was closer to parole twenty (20) years ago than I am today, purely due to policy shifts. The reality many are coming to realize is than the carrot no longer exists. The commissioners correctly state it is their job to look for ways to parole people, but in reality they are not even trying to try. It should be shameful on their part to keep running the system in such irresponsible and costly fashion.
The sad reality is that the system has not yet been brought to a point where the commission has to act more sensibly and responsibly. Christ, everyone is still willing to keep closing schools and continue expanding prisons when every rational consideration of data suggests otherwise. It was recently in the media how three of four schools in the Fox Lake/Waupun area were closed. And yet the construction crews work incessantly at all the prisons in the same area. Shocking how complacent people are about how the state would prefer to lock up their kids than educate them.
The suggested possibility of re—naming the parole commission to expand their duties for TIS prisoners is ludicrous inasmuch as they cannot perform the tasks currently in their charge. They should first at least try to try a more sensible approach with those cases currently in their charge. To do otherwise is non-responsive to any social concerns, and fiscally irresponsible in such economic times.
The $6.5 million for improving prisoner re-entry in the ways suggested will prove to merely throw good money after bad. Being fair, there is a chance it might do some good for a few prisoners being released, but it sure has the appearance of merely creating more DOC jobs. Such funding would more effectively be utilized fostering the creation of employment measures — opportunities for starting small businesses and such — conducive to instill confidence in parolees and give them a sense of their potential and self-worth. Such an entrepreneurial enterprise could be accomplished with far less burden on the tax fisc. What is more, there are a number of prisoners with BS degrees in Business Administration who would gladly assist such a prospect if released. Such employment opportunities would prove self-sustaining in short order and would genuinely stimulate the economy in the process.
It was appalling to read the fear-mongering Republican response touting the public dangers of possibly releasing 3000 prisoners. Of those eligible, only 500-1000 would actually be released over a two year period. This gesture will not even be noticed for population reduction. Every one of those non-violent TIS prisoners probably should not have been locked away in the first place and, moreover, comprise a segment who would have been released in a month or two anyway. Ergo, it will have absolutely zero effect on the problem. Worse still, it will only allow the system to continue ignoring the release of those old-law prisoners who have served many decades and successfully completed their rehabilitation and, therefore, should have been released many years ago.
It was further suggested that a new evaluation system would ease the prison population problem. If it was an honest evaluation it would certainly help matters; that is, providing it would properly evaluate the meaningful criteria that are needed to release prisoners who most deserving. The evaluation system currently in use should be repaired so a sensible and fair evaluation can be afforded the notion that a mere few seconds of violence in a person's entire life is not dispositive of overall demeanor. People can and do change — especially after serving many decades in the system.
The use of county facilities to house prisoners will never solve anything in positive terms. It is ludicrous to imagine such conditions of confinement benefiting anyone. Being fair, it would more fully incorporate those facilities into the network; which is not to say it is righteous or that it will truly help matters. DOC has been housing prisoners in county facilities for quite a few years now and absolutely no good has come of it. Well, except for the fiscal and: census advantage attached to it.
In the final analysis, every consideration these days seems purely political and absent any real or sensible concern for justice, fairness, ethics or morality or, even, the economically distressed system. With the fairly recent JFA Institute report, it really does not make good sense to foster yet more discussion on the issues of crime, prison overcrowding, racial disparity, sensible parole policies, et al. It has all been discussed ad nauseum. The only constructive dialogue necessary is found in the JFA report and recommendations, and really does not require being re-studied by yet another committee or commission. Common sense needs to be more common.
There is currently zero accountability for the parole commission to act responsibly. Measures need to be enacted to touch the commission's emotional register to change their minds toward policies and meaningful action more conducive to the greater good of societal concerns. They are currently doing quite a disservice to society by not paroling those truly worthy of being productive tax-paying citizens.
In closing, the paradox at the core of penology is that not only the worst, but the best are sent to prison. Indeed, over the past 34 years I have met some of the most enterprising, daring, proud and brave individuals on the planet. A major recalculation is needed to address the disgraceful irregularities and inequities which cut against the notion that we are a society founded on fundamental fairness. The current parole policies cause massive overcrowding, wasting billions of dollars and diminishing many lives in the process. The human side of this equation should be given the utmost consideration when implementing any proposed improvements to the system. To not do so would be the height of folly and the acme of irresponsibility when attempting to correct corrections.
Thank you kindly for considering the above. Sincerely, Ronald Schilling #32219; OCI
FFUP webs and penpal project, parole and etc.
1) We have two webs. The main one is under construction as our host is shutting down its free sites and we have had to move. But it is looking good and will better fit our present projects . New domain name is www.forumforunderstandingprisons.net . notice the “net” at end.
2) We are accepting parole stories to be feature on the web. We have some stories we have written over the years but need updates, permission to use them and also instructions of whether to use your name or not. While we all continue to write legislators to bring about parole for old law prisoners, we need to inform the public about who we are asking them to release. So we need typed parole stories along with photos . Also consider introducing yourself to your viewer-- who you are ,what you like to do etc. Please type your submissions if you can and write at top of page “Parole”.
3) PENPAL PROJECT ON HOLD> DO NOT SEND PENPAL REQUESTS
In general , the penpal project needs to take a new turn. We have over 400 prisoners on the penpal blog and not many people writing to prisoners. On the bright side, there are more freeworld people than ever inquiring and writing prisoners and we also have an active middle man service that makes it possible for people in other countries to write prisoners. But too many prisoners have heard from no one in years and it makes no sense to add more at this time as it takes much time that could be used more effectively elsewhere. . We will continue to post those that are already submitted, keep the blog updated and attractive, and will work to bring more people to the site. We will let all know when we are accepting more posts.
We also have a few special projects with certain institutions and will keep posting their prisoner penpals and are open to creative ideas on how to make this work better. Also, we hope our mentoring projects etc will help put a dent in the pervasive prisoner bashing. Finally, we apologize for those who have been waiting for posts and pictures back , we will post and get back all we have but in the meantime , need to make this program more effective as it takes much time with few returns.
Web Address for penpals has not changed : http://www.friendsof/prisoners.org.
4) IF YOU ARE IN SEG AND OR IN SPECIAL NEED: We have a special needs project aligned with our efforts to change conditions for the mentally ill and long term seg prisoners. We work hard to advocate for these prisoners and to introduce them to nurturing correspondents. If you know someone or are yourself particularly isolated , we make no promises but would like to hear from you. Also, we are attempting to educate using the web – tell us whether we can use your information.
“Each One Teach One”
FIRST COME FIRST SERVE MENTORING PROJECT
Forum For Understanding Prisons has started a mentoring project designed for prisoners who are interested in the following:
1) Preparing for community college or apprenticeship programs that have reading and math requirements for entry;
2) Perfecting math or writing skills;
3) Studying a particular subject with someone. There are handout sheets and courses (no credit)we can help you hook up with. Tell us your general subject and we will try to pair you with someone of like mind;
4) for those in Seg: study a subject with your neighbor or broaden your vocabulary by quizzing each other.
5) Gaining writing experience by partnering with a more experienced writer. Creative writing of all forms will be encouraged, read and shared.
6) Writing authors, foundations, and organizations that may mentor more advanced writers and help them get published. This part of the program is wide open- we want to help prisoners get published and need help making contacts. .
Considering that this is a new venture for us, we will be doing this on a trial basis. Its longevity will be determined, upon its success rate. One major hurdle has been to develop tools, the handout sheets and books -to aid students and mentors. Experimenters are needed for this stage first.
Here is the proposal: If you are interested, please submit a 1 page biography about yourself and whether you would like to be mentor or student.. Include a paragraph on what you would like to get out of the program and whether you wish to help us develop it , or come in at a later date when the structure is fixed.
We will a pick a group of mentors and they will pick their students. If there are a lot of submissions , most will begin the actual program after we have developed a working structure. The first group will experiment with us: We will supply each mentor with some basic books and handout sheets and these volunteers help form a program that is flexible yet has enough structure so that people can learn. Mentors working with students who want to hone writing and math skills will find themselves working up writing and math assignments using the books supplied and their own knowledge . Students need to be open about what works and what they need. We have some “freeworlders” who are ready to volunteer but some structure needs to be there first.
We hope the ground work can be done in a couple months. There are other aspects of the program that will require prisoners help, like grant writing for the second chance act and other funders . . One of our goals will be to get finding for hiring part time ex-prisoner help to run the program.
The idea of this project came from a prisoner in Pelican Bay. We hope this project will further our FFUP’s overall goal: To give voice to prisoners. We have morphed his original idea somewhat to better fit our needs and are targeting all prisoners, not just African Americans, but the idea remains: Here is his introduction to his proposal:
Since the 1970’s, 7 to 10 thousand young African-American males/females have died annually due to gang violence, and the government/law enforcement have only politically/economically exploited this crisis. They would rather build new prisons than schools, incarcerate our young people instead of educating them. As new African politically conscious prisoners we understand this epidemic better than most. This is why it has become imperative for us to rally to the immediate needs of our communities. Enclosed you will find one of many proposals I have developed to mobilized this imprisoned braintrust.
Send submissions to :FFUP; c/o29631 Wild Rose Drive; Blue River, Wi 53518
All submissions must be postmarked by October 1st, 2009
Wisconsin’s Myth of Rehabilitation
By: Juan Quentin Ward #275760RCI; PO Box 900; Ozaukee-East; Sturtevant, Wi 531777
In recent years there has been more than ever calls for longer sentences to combat the growing fear and rise of crime or criminal elements within our neighborhoods and communities. Inspiring, but veteran politicians have used the tougher sentencing scheme as a platform to ignite their political careers and to perpetuate this fear and outcry from everyday citizens which cuts across all ethnic lines, whose lives have been touched directly or indirectly by crime. This has resulted in the overcrowding of jails and prisons all around the state of Wisconsin, with a significance primarily focused on the predominantly larger Black or Hispanic or minority areas.
And while more and more young Black and Brown males are being incarcerated for demonstrating antisocial behaviors such as drug addictions, robberies, homicides, sexual crimes, etc., many of these poor underprivileged and under-represented class of people suffer from some form of mental affliction ranging from severe to mild mental diseases and defects. It is these outcasted members of society who can't afford to hire competent attorneys for representation to defend them or help them get into drug rehabilitation clinics or mental health institutions to combat the poisonous chemicals they have become dependent upon in an attempt to escape the realities of their living condition of impoverished and depressing neighborhoods. The rich rarely serve time in any prison for any kind of crime, as they can buy their way out with hiring a good high profile attorney and receive real justice.
America and Wisconsin have a longstanding history of incarcerating the uneducated, untrained and oftentimes mentally handicapped minority who are ignorant of the laws and intricacies of the criminal justice system, so they are provided quarter defenses if that, by state-paid overworked, burnt out, underpaid State Public Defenders whose main objective is not to fight and mount any kind of real defense but to get the measly few thousand dollars the state is paying him/her and dispose of the case quickly, which oftentimes more than not are settled through plea agreements.
Such a quagmire are realities for minorities who have the unfortunate luck to get caught-up within the American System of Justice. It's also unfortunate that so many has come to believe in the political rhetoric and media propaganda that locking up citizens and warehousing them in these industrialized institutions now called "Correctional Institutions," rather than what they are ("Prisons"), will solve the problem of crime.
This misrepresentation and manipulative power of circumstances and environment are in my belief the root behind thousands of minorities arrested daily within Wisconsin's ghetto's for serious and petty crimes, in an attempt to feed their addictions from drugs to materialism, placing them in processes of legal and judicial entanglement.
I, like so many Blacks in the ghettos of America was also duped into criminal activities for whatever reason, and have served as a conduit for the accumulation of political power and grandstanding by those politicians and aspiring political figures who complain about repeat criminal offenders (primarily blacks),while these hypocrites secretly make millions from the criminal elements of the streets.
What realistic opportunity does an unskilled, undereducated ex-con have for success when you have a governmental body that has passed laws which says companies and corporations doesn't have to hire ex-offenders, Housing and Urban Development can deny you housing, school grants can be denied you simply because you're an felon, and there is no governmental assistance programs to act as a safety net for ex-offenders. The answer, of course is self-evident— he has no options, he must do more crime in order to survive or revocate himself.
Wisconsin like the Country has taken on the title "Correctional Institutions," from the root word [Correct] meaning to remove the errors or fault. This very play of words are design to manipulate and hoodwink the masses of society by the power structure and government into believing prisoners are not just being imprisoned as punishment, but are being rehabilitated.
The reality is that many prisoners rehabilitate themselves and yet, even though many are eligible for parole, in Wisconsin's penal system we remain imprisoned as society is methodically manipulated by politicians and Prison Unions who utilizes pernicious, insidious schemes to exploit and sensationalize with the help of the media those circumstances where an ex-offender gets out and re-offend.
This type of cunning and intellectual racism is superb. America and States like Wisconsin have a proud history of thwarting minority progress; It is not enough that most incarcerated prisoners are disadvantaged, but must be kept in a
system of disenfranchisement and slavery for as long as humanly possible.
This is how rural "White America," and its dying farm industry has been revitalized, and how "white," underprivileged Americans become middle or the working class, as Wisconsin's Prison system is predominately 65% or better of Black and or African-American, while 95% of those hired to guard and administrate these places are White. It doesn't take Einstein to see the system is designed to make profit off black bodies as it has done since America and Western Europe invaded Africa in 1618. And no accident that the Parole Board and Parole Chairman has been denying eligible prisoners parole, instead opting to give lengthy deferrals such as 48 months, 60 months and longer as Parole Board Chairman Alonzo Graham, an ex policeman, approved these questionable and undoubtedly racially motivated deferrals. No program of rehabilitation and consequent social, economic regeneration can be effectively achieved, unless these depraved and racist tactics to keep incarcerated eligible prisoners incarcerated are addressed by the people of this state and its Governor. This kind of dissipation must be destroyed and removed from the penal system. So long as this practice and program continues to operate as presently allowed, there can be no real chance for regeneration of minorities members back into society as productive citizens. Wisconsin Parole system needs to undergo serious changes in its policies and practices. In most states the Parole Board consists of two or more members to fairly and accurately reflect a panel that's impartial in body and thought, however, in Wisconsin there's only one person sitting as decision maker, determining whether or not parole should be granted. This policy and practice is merely perfunctory, a sham process whose primary goal is to do nothing, but make society believe its affording prisoners a fair and accurate hearing for chances at parole. Through the genius of trickonolledgy politicians and the Wisconsin's DOC Parole Board has reinstated a situation that's identical to institutionalized slavery because there are no grassroot support or outcries against the practices being promulgated in Wisconsin.
There is no public outcry at the rampant inmate abuses and fraudulent misbehavior reports orchestrated and designed to keep prisoners incarcerated as former governor Tommy Thompson advocated, and although other states that employ loss of good time, the prisoner is allowed or afforded the chance to re-earn their loss time through good behavior, not so in Wisconsin penal system. This time is taken and never returned. This is much like the slave who could not effectively stand up and challenge his/her slave master. This was true because the slave had no ally to help alter the balance of power in his /her favor.
(Note: This newsletter is printed on 100%recycled paper)