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Tens of Thousands of California Prisoners Launch Mass Hunger Strike

The strikers are calling for an end to long-term solitary confinement and better prison conditions.

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Strike Zone: Hungering for Justice in the Crime-and-Punishment System

"This is what democracy looks like!" These days, when you hear those words at a protest, whether officially permitted or not, you know that the police are seconds away from pulling out their plastic handcuffs and pepperspray and getting ready to pack their paddywagons.

On October 5th, near the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway, I heard that chant as the police closed in on a group of protesters attempting to breach the barricades blocking Wall Street. Knowing that arrests and violence were soon to follow, my daughter and I turned and left. We circled around to Zuccotti Park where we stayed for an hour and a half until police arrived on horseback and motor scooters and began closing the protesters in with metal barricades.

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when the book starts to come together, it's a beautiful thing

As some of you may know, I'm co-editing Don't Leave Your Friends Behind, a handbook on how social justice movements and communities can support the families in their midst (to be a Fall 2012 release right here on PM Press!). Don't Leave Your Friends Behind is the culmination of a seven-year collaboration with China Martens, fellow mama, writer and author of the groundbreaking The Future Generation. That collaboration has included discussions, workshops, impromptu conversations with childless organizers and activists who have never considered children's or families' needs, panel discussions, and zines.
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RIP Marilyn Buck: Activist, Poet, Writer, Translator, Teacher, Former Political Prisoner & Inspiration to Many

In May, I wrote a short blog post about the influence Marilyn Buck had on my early days as a prison abolitionist, esp as a young girl struggling to find my way in what seemed to be a male-dominated movement. I had been looking forward to getting to know Marilyn after her release from prison.
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Freedom for Sara Kruzan! Send your letter of support today!

Sara Kruzan is a 31-year-old woman incarcerated at the California Institution for Women. Since the age of 9, Sara suffered from severe depression for which she was hospitalized several times. At the age of 11, she met a 31-year-old man named G.G. who molested her and began grooming her to become a prostitute. At age 13, she began working as a child prostitute for G.G. and was repeatedly molested by him. At age 16, Sara was convicted of killing him. She was sentenced to prison for the rest of her life despite her background and a finding by the California Youth Authority that she was amendable to treatment offered in the juvenile system.She is one of approximately 225 juveniles sentenced to life imprisonment in Califronia.

Sara was recently granted a Resentencing Hearing!!!!!!!


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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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