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Tell BOP to Stop (further) Isolating People in Experimental Prisons!

The BOP is proposing further isolating people in Communications Management Units (more details below). There's a period for public comment that ends June 7th.

Conveniently for the BOP, the comment form is undergoing some maintenance this weekend and won't be back up until Monday, 5/31, at 11:59 pm. But that still leaves a week to leave a comment on the proposed rules.

If you can't wait till Tuesday morning, you can also snail mail your outrage to the BOP:

Rules Unit, Office of General Counsel
Bureau of Prisons
320 First Street, NW.
Washington, DC 20534

Include the following docket number in your correspondence:

and please forward and post far and wide.

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Warrior-Poet Marilyn Buck : No Wall Too Tall

I first started corresponding with Marilyn Buck in late 1995/early 1996. I was a first-year college student trying to find a way to do prisoner solidarity work and feeling frustrated with the male-dominated prisoner rights/abolition movement I was encountering. This is not to say that everyone I came across this year was a sexist or patriarchal pig. I met many wonderful men involved in doing prison abolition/prisoner support work too.

Then, someone suggested that I shift my focus from the supposedly-gender neutral (but, in reality, very male) prisoner rights movement to concentrating on women. Not knowing any women behind bars, I flipped through a newsletter of the ABCF (Anarchist Black Cross Federation) and an article by Marilyn Buck on why sending pornography was not the same as political support. This is an oversimplification of her argument. I have long since lost/recycled/donated the original newsletter and wouldn't even know where to begin looking for that article now.

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Against the Lecture Circuit

I received the below e-mail in my inbox last night.

At first, I hit "delete." But the contents of that e-mail stayed with me and was something to reflect on as I went about the rest of my (late) night, so I dug it out of my trash.

I don't disagree with the premise of the e-mail. I know that politics is about more than panels, screenings and benefit parties and that these alone are not going to create a world free of oppression and violence. 

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NC women prisoners sue over sexual violence

On August 24, 1974, Joan Little, a twenty-one-year-old black woman and the only female prisoner in North Carolina’s Beaufort County Jail, killed Clarence Alligood, a sixty-two-year-old white male guard. Alligood had entered her cell, threatened her with an ice pick and forced her to perform oral sex. She fled after stabbing him, but turned herself in eight days later.   

Little was charged with first-degree murder which, in North Carolina, carried a mandatory death sentence.

During her trial, Little’s defense exposed the chronic sexual abuse and harassment endured by women in the jail and prison system.  Countering the prosecution’s argument that Little had enticed Alligood into her cell with promises of sex, the defense team called on women who had previously been held at the jail. They testified that Alligood had a history of sexually abusing women in his custody:  one woman stated that he had fondled her breasts while bringing her a late-night sandwich; another recalled that he had suggested that she had been in jail long enough to need a man.  

    Little testified that Alligood had come to her cell three times that night. After she refused his advances twice, he returned with an ice pick. “By then, I had changed into my nightgown. He was telling me I really looked nice in my gown, and he wanted to have sex with me,” she stated.  “He said he had been nice to me, and it was time I was nice to him. I told him I didn’t feel like I should be nice to him that way.” 

 Apparently, not much has changed in the NC jail and prison system since then:

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and I thought moving was a hassle...

After 13 years of living in the same place, an apartment that I, with the help of many friends and community members, have built bit by bit (and bathroom fixture by bathroom fixture), I'm moving. It's been a tedious and sometimes painful process to sort 13 years worth of belongings and prepare to say good-bye to 13 years worth of memories.

I recently received a letter from a woman imprisoned in Michigan who had shared many of her stories and experiences for Resistance Behind Bars. The state of Michigan closed the Robert Scott Correctional Facility this past May and transferred all 800+ women to the Huron Valley prison (which had been a men's prison with the capacity to hold 400 men).  Her (and many other women's) ordeal in both moving and continuing the adjust to the substandard and inhumane living conditions at Huron Valley definitely put my own moving experience into perspective.

Here's what she writes (and for those of you who are interested, her story, along with those of many other women incarcerated throughout the country, will appear in the fall issue of the zine Tenacious: Art and Writings from Women in Prison):

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well, duh--incarcerated women's health care in urgent need of improvement

Maybe I'm just in a cranky mood today, but took them this long to figure it out?



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study of prison nursery and community corrections programs

In Resistance Behind Bars, I cover incarcerated mothers' acts of individual resistance and collective organizing around access to their children. Recently, I learned that mothers imprisoned in Argentina, a country which allows women to choose to keep their babies and small children with them in the prison, have also acted to protest the conditions facing them and their children behind bars. In 2003, 300 prisoners and 98 of their family members took over portions of the women's prison in Buenos Aires for 9 hours. The authorities agreed to their demands for an on-site pediatrician 24 hours a day, a mother's right to accompany her child to outside hospitals for treatment, better nutrition, access to an outdoor patio and lack of retaliation or punishment for the protest.


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Give people in federal prison a chance to come home early! Support the Good Time Bill!

In my book, I talk about the dangers of advocating for reforms that would increase the strength and power of the prison system. At the same time, we have to remember that prison abolition is not going to happen overnight. It’s important not to forget that there are real flesh-and-blood people inside prisons right now suffering from all of the atrocities that prisons heap on them—separation from their loved ones, long sentences for first-time offenses (or no offenses at all—remember that the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 enabled police and prosecutors to arrest and charge spouses and lovers with “conspiracy” for actions as simple as taking a phone message or signing for a package. They didn’t have to be involved in any more capacity than that. One of the women who contributed to my book spent almost eleven years in prison for agreeing to pick up a package for an acquaintance! And her experience is not an anomaly), life-threatening medical neglect, sexual abuse by staff, the list could go on for pages.

 The Good Time Bill on the table is an opportunity to *decrease* the size (and hopefully strength) of the prison system while *not* putting in place another awful institution that we are going to have to fight to dismantle down the line. 

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SuperMax Subscriptions--providing those in supermax prisons with reading material!

Supermax Subscriptions seeks to connect the surplus of well-traveled citizens to a population that never goes anywhere: prisoners in American supermax prisons.
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Alabama Prison Voting

Alabama inmates are registering to vote from prison in a precedent-setting
effort organized by activist groups with the blessing of state corrections

Nearly 80 prisoners had filled out registration forms during drives at two
lockups, and organizers plan to help them and hundreds more obtain absentee
in time to vote in the presidential election on Nov. 4.
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