Before the General Assembly of Occupy Dallas,
Whereas the General Assembly of Occupy Dallas stands in support of Occupy Wall Street which started September 17, 2011 at Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District. The movement has now spread across the country and is influencing the world. Occupy Dallas is a horizontally organized resistance movement to counteract the unprecedented consolidation of wealth and power in the world today. The Occupy movement does not have a hierarchy or a formalized structure. The Occupy movement represents those that feel disenfranchised from the current socioeconomic system because of policy passed by our political institutions and the actions of those in control of the unprecedented consolidation of wealth;
Whereas by consensus we view that for the first time in American history, current generations will not be as prosperous as preceding generations. This denial of the American Dream is at the heart of Occupy Movement.
Whereas by consensus we view that the social system has become tilted against us by:
1. Unfair treatment and discrimination against individuals based on Gender, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Race, National Origin, Physical Ability or any other factor that minimizes any person’s individual worth
2. The commoditization of individual privacy
3. Profit driven news sources with individual agendas
4. Narrow definitions of what constitutes a family;
Whereas by consensus we view that the Political system has become tilted against us by:
1. Widespread deregulation that has eliminated common sense regulations that have insured long term prosperity and protection from predatory business practices
2. A Tax code that is cumbersome and rife with loopholes and language that favors an economic minority at the expense of the majority of wage earners
3. A Supreme Court decision that has put into place the unprecedented concept of extending first amendment protections to political donations
4. Jeopardizing the future of social security through investiture and privatization schemes
5. By reducing funding to our education system our future generations are provided a lesser education that previous generations received because of increased class size and reduced resources
6. Because of decreasing funding individuals are saddled with higher student loan debt
7. A political system where even the most perfunctory tasks of government are partisan battles;
Whereas by consensus we view that the Economic system has become tilted against us by:
1. A general degradation of the employer and employee relationship namely
a. the practice referred to as “dead peasants” insurance policies where by companies profit from the death of individuals.
b. the elimination of traditional pension and retirement arrangements in favor of 401 (k) investment vehicles.
c. outsourcing of jobs
d. failing or eliminating paid sick leave
e. failing or eliminating paid maternity leave
f. relying on part-time workers rather than investing in full time employees
g. scheduling work hours to insure that employees cannot obtain offered benefits
h. failing to provide a livable wage
i. reducing and eliminating employer based health care coverage
2. Incredible income disparity between management and employees.
3. Active discouragement and intimidation of unionization of the workforce
4. Instituting illogical accounting practices
5. Engaging in unethical business practices that jeopardize the long term financial stability of the country
6. Viewing financial profit as more important than the individual worth of a people.
Then let it them be resolved by the General Assembly of Occupy Dallas through consensus on Date (___________________) that we call upon all people to engage in a General Strike on November 30th, 2011. We implore all people to:
1. Refrain from Buying or Selling any goods or services including but not limited to, any petroleum products, consumer goods or bank transactions; starting at 12:01 am to 11:59pm on November 30th, 2011.
2. Refrain from working for a wage starting at 12:01 am to 11:59pm on November 30th, 2011 excluding those individuals that provide emergency and necessary functions including but not limited to Police, Fire and Medical personnel.
3. Join or form local groups to peacefully protest against the above stated elements.
Please join us in solidarity to make known our grievances and demand substantive change to insure our future.
Category Archives: Solidarity
Hundreds took to the streets of New Orleans yesterday to march in solidarity with the revolutionary peoples of the Middle East and North Africa. A rally was held in front of the steps of the federal building before protesters began winding down the streets of downtown New Orleans.
Protesters not only challenged dictatorships in other parts of the world and U.S. imperialism – many made the connection between the inspiring struggles going on elswhere and what is happening here in Louisiana, the South and the United States. The signs which read, “New Orleans, walk like an Egyptian,” and “Egypt -1; Tunisia – 1; New Orleans, ?” distilled this popular sentiment. Among others, chants of, “One solution: Revolution!” could be heard echoing through the streets of of the Crescent City.
By: Eugene Puryear
Download the new poster in support of the strike!
Originally published on www.PSLweb.org.
Georgia inmates’ eight-day strike in December to improve prison conditions was a historic and powerful example that struggle is possible, even in the most unfavorable conditions.
|Click here to download and distribute the poster|
The strike drew in six separate prisons, making it the largest such action in U.S. history. It will undoubtedly have a large impact on the consciousness and organization of the thousands of inmates who participated.
Beyond the direct participants, the news of the strike could have a profound effect on prisoners elsewhere. If history is any guide, prison actions tend to come in waves, as inmate struggles in one facility lend confidence to those elsewhere. This is precisely why the state and corporate media attempted to keep the strike quiet.
While the strike has ended, the inmates clearly got their point across. The newly formed Concerned Coalition to Protect Prisoners Rights was able to enter at least one prison on Dec. 20 and is currently preparing a report on prison conditions and on retaliatory measures taken against striking prisoners.
The very fact that advocates for the striking prisoners were allowed to enter even one prison to investigate conditions is a reflection of the inmates’ determination. The Georgia Correctional authorities had attempted to create a media blockade, giving out vague information, or none at all.
They also attempted to engage in a disinformation campaign against the strike, declaring they had “locked-down” the striking prisons, when those who were striking, were already refusing to leave their cells. The statements about lock-downs were meant to imply control, and minimize the impression on the outside that the strike was having an impact.
In fact, the striking inmates put the prison on “lock-down” themselves, and the prison officials had lost a significant amount, if not all, of their control for extended periods, across a number of facilities.
The striking prisoners broke through two of the biggest obstacles to political action faced by those in prison systems: the repressive control of armed guards, and vicious race and gang-based factionalism.
Anyone familiar with the U.S. penal system knows that violent division between various nationalities is a fact of prison life, creating a multi-tiered system of segregation amongst prisoners. Despite the message they attempt to send in cable news channel documentaries, prison officials prefer this state of affairs. Over and above anything else, it keeps cliques focused on hating each other, as opposed to focusing their hatred on the prison authorities and their oppressive practices.
Concomitantly with division, prisoners have very little control over their own persons. Forced to work for a pittance—or, in the case of Georgia, for no pay whatsoever—told when to wake up, sleep, eat, exercise, with whom they can communicate and when; prisoners are even further deprived of basic freedoms that aid the type of association crucial to building political movements.
The significance of this action by prisoners is that it even happened. The last 30 years have been characterized mostly by setbacks and defeats for the poor and working peopple—to the point that very few have ever witnessed, let alone experienced, collective action.
The prison strike in Georgia is one sign, however, that this can change, and quickly. Even under the most difficult conditions it is possible for human beings to connect based on their common oppressions, to invent ways to communicate and organize. As with the undocumented workers’ struggle, which exploded in 2006, apparent passivity one day can tranform into mass resistance the next.
For the Georgia prisoners’ struggle to move forward, solidarity and support is crucial from those on the outside. Progressives and revolutionaries should popularize their demands, and spread the word of their action, including to inmates elsewhere.
The prison population is overwhelmingly working-class, drawn largely from areas left destitute by de-industrialization, systematic discrimination and the drug epidemic. The time-honored slogan of the labor movement is needed for these brothers and sisters behind bars: An Injury to One is an Injury to All!
Today is the anniversary of the declaration of Secession by South Carolina from the United States in 1860. This lead to the founding of the Confederacy and lead the nation on a path to a long bloody conflict that cost the lives of countless people on both sides. What does this anniversary mean for 2010 though? For the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Confederate Heritage Trust: it means it’s time to throw a party.
The Secession Ball
Tonight, the two groups mentioned above will be throwing what they are calling “The Secession Ball” what is according to the website is “Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of South Carolina’s Secession.” They claim to even have the President Pro-Tempore of the SC Senate planning on attending the ball. The Sons of Confederate Veterans officials condemns slavery and their spokesperson for the event claims that they are not celebrating the war, but instead just the courage of those who decided to sign the secession statement, while the NAACP has planed a march to protest the event tonight.
So if they are not celebrating the war or slavery, why the event? Many organizations and individuals who attempt to defend things like the foundation of the Confederate States tend to appeal to notions of States’ Rights and of “Heritage” (“not hate”). But it doesn’t take much to demonstrate how secession and the creation of the Confederacy were explicitly about preserving slavery and that the specific rights sought out in trying to defend “States Rights” in this particular case were the rights of the state to keep Slavery a legal institution.
So the courage to stand up to the Union ought to be seen as the “courage to defend slavery.”
Causes of the Civil War
Slavery was the base of the economic power for the Southern elite in the pre-Civil War South. After decades of complicated power struggles and debates about expanding the institution to new American states, the Southern elite was threatened and to use a phrase Marx used, launched a “Slave owner rebellion.” As I noted above, they made their reasons for secession quite clear: to preserve slavery. While other factors, such as “taxes and tariffs,” are sometimes pointed to as causes for the war, these factors existed in so far as they interfered with the source of the wealth that was being harmed: the institution of slavery!
This is of course a long historical debate, but the arguments for Southern Secession tend to be red herrings when it comes to slavery. Even these groups putting on the “Secession Ball” make sure to note that they are opposed to slavery and the Civil War’s bloody toll. Yet they defend the event that is noted for its strong defense of slavery and for starting that very war.
When “States’ Rights” is appealed to as the reason for the South’s actions, what rights those States were looking to protect are often ignored. This is because it was the right to own slavery by the Southern elite. Yet the argument over States’ Rights was not resolved at the end of the War.
After the Civil War ended and what is often referred to as “radical reconstruction” was abandoned to an extent, the newer elites in the South instituted “Jim Crow Laws.” It was the “Jim Crow South” that was responsible for racial segregation that wasn’t to be fully broken until the civil rights movement exploded in the 1960s. The arguments for maintaining these laws often appealed to the same thing: States’ Rights.
We can also see a similar kind of rhetoric of States’ Rights in the opposition to the moderate attempt at health care reform over the past few years. It’s rare in the history of the South that these concept is appealed to actually expand the rights of the majority of the people, but instead States’ Rights are often appealed to for the strengthening of the elite.
We need to be clear about the nature of celebrating the Confederacy in any way: It was a reactionary attempt to preserve slavery in the South, and its’ defeat needs to be celebrated, not its’ founding.
Activists in Georgia stand up for the right to dissent, while challenging the stereotype that Southerners are politically passive and reactionary.
David Gilmore, the federally-imposed-administrator of the Housing Authority of New Orleans, and Mayor Mitch Landrieu, want to make life even more miserable for working class New Orleanians by demolishing the Iberville Public Housing development. To add insult to injury they have given the contract to greedy developer Pres Kabacoff, who drove hundreds of poor families from St. Thomas and still, a decade later, has not built the 100 off site apartment he promised. But, to carry out their crime, HANO, Landrieu, and Kabacoff need a multi-million dollar grant from the Department of Housing Urban Development. Join us Saturday, December 18 as we demand:
· No to a HUD Choice Neighborhood grant to demolish Iberville
· Yes to a massive public works program to rebuild Public Housing, Schools, Hospitals and Infrastructure
Press Conference, Rally and March
Saturday, December 18
Meet on neutral ground, corner of St Louis and Basin St.
Sponsor: Hands Off Iberville. For more information call 504-520-9521
[Originally posted to pslweb.org on Wednesday, December 15, 2010]
By: Eugene Puryear
Black, white, Latino: united for justice!
On Dec. 9, prisoners in Baldwin, Hancock, Hays, Macon, Smith and Telfair state prisons in Georgia went on strike. Prisoners are demanding to be paid for the work they do, to receive adequate healthcare and nutritious food and to have access to educational opportunities. They are calling for and end to “cruel and unusual” punishment.
In a move almost unprecedented inside prisons, convicts have reached across the often violent divide between nationalities. Based on contact with the striking prisoners a supporter and press spokesperson told Liberation: “Blacks, whites, Mexicans, Rastafarians, Muslims, Christians, you name it, they are united.”
Additionally, the prisoners have overcome oppressive communication restrictions, using various means including texting via contraband cell phones in order to continue to keep facilities connected.
According to a press release issued by strike supporters, prisoners refused to work, stopped all other activities and remained in their cells. What originally began as a one day protest has continued. As of Dec. 14 prisoners continue to fight for their rights, and have turned their strike into an open ended action. The spokesperson related a message from one prisoner: “We’re not going to break.”
Despite attempts by the Georgia Department of Corrections to create a media blockade, reports have leaked out describing retaliatory treatment in some of the prisons. In Telfair state prison it was reported that guards and prison officials beat inmates, destroyed their personal effects and turned off the heat in 30-degree weather.
In Macon State Prison, authorities are said to have cut off hot water for inmates. Inmates have told their contacts on the outside of threats to use dogs as well.
Despite the violence and repression at other prisons, inmates at Rogers State Prison have now also joined the strike.
Georgia state inmates are subject to inhumane treatment, with cruel punishments and sub-standard medical care. They are not able to pursue any meaningful educational opportunities, and if released are equipped only to become part of the low wage work force if they can get any job at all. Prison families also face additional hardship when they try to support their loved ones which charge exorbitant rates for their “services.” Prisoners in the Georgia prison system do not receive any pay for the work they do.
High rates of incarceration are a fact of life in Black communities around the country. De-industrialization and skyrocketing unemployment hit the Black working class harder than any other sector. Combined with the over 30-year assault on working-class living standards in general, poverty and destitution also skyrocketed.
As a result, millions of members of the “reserve army of the unemployed” have been thrown in prison on non-violent drug charges, and those incarcerated are treated like unredeemable monsters, forced to work for free or for a pittance, and denied educational opportunities almost universally.
Dealing with the root cause of this “prison population explosion,” would reveal that it is of the capitalists’ own making. Their anti-working class policies created the social context for crime, and their racist drug laws have created a demonized “criminal” population of millions of working class, Black and Latino youth to whom they have already denied any option for a decent standard of living.
The Georgia prisoners have issued a set of demands to improve the onerous and oppressive living conditions in which they are forced to exist, demands that speak to all thoses trapped in the so-called criminal justice system. According to the press release issued by supporters, Georgia prisoners are demanding:
“A LIVING WAGE FOR WORK: In violation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude, the DOC demands prisoners work for free.
“EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: For the great majority of prisoners, the DOC denies all opportunities for education beyond the GED, despite the benefit to both prisoners and society.
“DECENT HEALTH CARE: In violation of the 8th Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments, the DOC denies adequate medical care to prisoners, charges excessive fees for the most minimal care and is responsible for extraordinary pain and suffering.
“AN END TO CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENTS: In further violation of the 8th Amendment, the DOC is responsible for cruel prisoner punishments for minor infractions of rules.
“DECENT LIVING CONDITIONS: Georgia prisoners are confined in over-crowded, substandard conditions, with little heat in winter and oppressive heat in summer.
“NUTRITIONAL MEALS: Vegetables and fruit are in short supply in DOC facilities while starches and fatty foods are plentiful.
“VOCATIONAL AND SELF-IMPROVEMENT OPPORTUNITIES: The DOC has stripped its facilities of all opportunities for skills training, self-improvement and proper exercise.
“ACCESS TO FAMILIES: The DOC has disconnected thousands of prisoners from their families by imposing excessive telephone charges and innumerable barriers to visitation.
“JUST PAROLE DECISIONS: The Parole Board capriciously and regularly denies parole to the majority of prisoners despite evidence of eligibility. Prisoner leaders issued the following call: ‘No more slavery. Injustice in one place is injustice to all. Inform your family to support our cause. Lock down for liberty!’”
All revolutionary and progressive people should support the Georgia prisoners’ demands for just treatment.
Victory to the Georgia prisoners’ strike!
Down with the racist, anti-worker prison system!
Please call the prison authorities and demand no reprisals or punishments for striking prisoners!
Macon State Prison is 978-472-3900.
Telfair State Prison is 229-868-7721
Valdosta State Prison is 229-333-7900
Hays State Prison is at (706) 857-0400
Baldwin State Prison is at (478) 445- 5218
Smith State Prison is at (912) 654-5000
By hastenawait, December 14, 2010
The Muslim Legal Fund of America is a non-profit organization which has existed since 2001. It supports legal cases across the country which impact civil rights, freedoms, liberties and principles of justice in America, particularly where Muslims are concerned. The organization focuses on important cases which affect the Muslim community and public policy. Their decisions about which cases to take up, therefore, are strategic.
Last night the MLFA hosted a benefit dinner in Kenner, Louisiana . Kenner is a smaller city that borders New Orleans. The benefit was intended to raise funds for the organization’s work and to raise awareness about ongoing injustices facing Muslims in the United States. Around 100 people attended, with the majority being Louisiana Muslim community members. A handful of non-Muslims were there as well.
Speakers included Adulrahman Zeitoun, a Syrian-born New Orleans businessman who has achieved a degree of fame because he rode out hurricane Katrina and then went around rescuing people in his canoe. For his good work he was arrested, labeled a terrorist and imprisoned for 23 days.
The daughter of Shukri Abu Baker also spoke. Baker was the president of the Holy Land Foundation, which was the largest Muslim charity in the United States. In the aftermath of September 11, the Bush regime charged the organization with supporting Hamas in Palestine. The organization was subsequently shut down and Baker is now serving a 65-year prison sentence, essentially for providing charitable aid to victims of the ongoing genocide in Palestine. All of the speakers gave powerful and moving presentations.
The keynote speaker was former U.K.-parliamentarian and long-time activist, George Galloway. Galloway is known for his activist work in support of Palestine. He is a founding member of a charitable organization called Viva Palestina, whose mission is to break the blockade of the Gaza strip by bringing badly-needed aid. For these activities, he was denied entry into Canada from March of 2009 until October 2010. He has not, however, been officially blocked from entering the United States.
You can imagine the surprise of the audience last night when it was announced that Galloway would not be speaking with them in person, as he had been denied entry into the United States over the weekend. He was supposed to be traveling the country for a multi-city speaking tour, but was told by airline officials that he would not be able to enter the U.S. because there were problems with his visa.
Undeterred, Galloway instead addressed the crowd in Kenner via the computer program Skype. A laptop was hooked up to a projector, and a live video could be seen on two large screens in a convention room of the Crown Plaza hotel, where the event was held. During his talk Galloway stated that it is not clear whether his being denied entry was the result of a technical or bureaucratic glitch, or whether it was a political measure carried out in secrecy. He explained that efforts were made to resolve the situation throughout the weekend, but that nothing came of it.
The main body of his talk concerned human rights violations carried out by the U.S. government against Muslims worldwide, and particularly the grave humanitarian situation in Palestine, which has resulted from Israeli-U.S. imperialist settler policies.
Because his being denied entry to the U.S. may be an instance of political repression (and we know that this is not unlikely) he reiterated his resolve to not be silenced. He said boldly : “Nothing will stop me. Not the government of what they call Israel; not the government of Canada or the U.S.” He continued: “I cannot be silenced…I hope the U.S. government understands that. We live in the age of Skype, YouTube and Facebook. There will always be a way for me to speak.”
He went on to describe his speaking visit to New Orleans last year. He said that New Orleans is a city which he loves deeply, and that he has every intention of visiting it again, and speaking to New Orleanians again. He vowed that he would fight to get back into the United States and that this event would be rescheduled.
When speaking about the Muslims, solidarity activists and charitable workers who have been the target of political repression in the United States since 9/11, he argued: “Anyone of you as I look around this hall could be the next one to hear the knock on the door, to be unjustly accused…even because you’re doing charitable work for a country that has been wiped off the map.” He was referring to Palestine.
Galloway’s provocative statement that he “cannot be silenced” because “we live in the age of Skype, YouTube and Facebook” is particularly pertinent at this time. People have been talking about the political implications of the digital revolution since it began, just as people in other eras discussed the political implications of other media and technological shifts. But in the wake of the WikiLeaks revelations and other events this year (such as FBI raids on anti-war activists) the contradictions implicit in this social revolution are perhaps clearer than ever – and they are certainly heightened. These contradictions are increasingly characterizing the contemporary world, and, broadly speaking, they boil down to this: the new digital media open up the way for new democratic transformations and unprecedented levels of openness in public institutions on the one hand; on the other, they open up possibilities for frightening forms of surveillance, opacity and authoritarianism. A resume of U.S. government activities since the Bush administration should leave no doubt about the latter tendency.
At one level these contradictions are overdetermined by another prevailing social contradiction which is inherent to capitalism, and that is the contradiction between massively-socialized production and economic life generally, on the one hand, and private ownership on the other. (The struggles over intellectual property, file sharing etc. all take place within the trajectory of this contradiction.) At its base, this contradiction is about who has power in society and who does not.
It is increasingly clear that the new digital technologies make governments, corporations and other powerful entities newly powerful but at the same time newly vulnerable (just look at the attacks on the websites of Visa and MasterCard by “hacktivists” following the latest round of leaks by WikiLeaks). The same is true of the people who are resisting the powerful. For example, these technologies make it easier for governments to spy on activists, but they also provide the means of organization for those activists. It should be noted, in regard to the 2010 FBI raids on anti-war activists, that because of social networking sites like Facebook, an organized response was beginning the very day that the raids were taking place. Within hours there were videos on YouTube. Press conferences, demonstrations and the like were all in the works.
Galloway’s appearance via Skype last night highlights the liberatory dimension opened up by these technologies. Whether the U.S. government is in fact preventing him from entering the country, or whether there was a technical glitch does not change this. The fact is that his lack of physical presence did not prevent him from addressing Louisiana community members. He was not prevented from speaking.
Time: Wednesday, December 15 · 5:00pm – 6:30pm
Location: CNN Center, corner of Centennial Olympic Park Dr. and Marietta St. , ATL, GA
These are attacks on dissent in general, and free speech in particular and it is our duty to respond!
We will be meeting at the corner of Centennial and Marietta St. in front of the CNN center.
At 5:30, there will be a public reading of selected WikiLeaks cables.
Let’s show em who’s boss (we are). Be there!
EL PUEBLO UNIDO JAMAS SERA VENCIDO.
THE PEOPLE UNITED WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED.
GA Prisoner Strike Continues a Second Day, Corporate Media Mostly Ignores Them, Corrections Officials Decline Comment
[Originally posted to blackagendareport.com, Saturday, September 11, 2010]
by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
The peaceful strike begun by inmates of several Georgia state prisons continued for a second day on Friday, according to family members of some of the participants. Copyrighted news stories by AP, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and local TV stations in Macon and Atlanta quote state corrections who say several institutions were placed on lockdown beginning Thursday in anticipation of the inmate protest, on the initiative of wardens of those prisons.
GA Prisoner Strike Continues a Second Day, Corporate Media Mostly Ignores Them, Corrections Officials Decline Comment
by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
Offices of the wardens at Hay’s, Macon State, Telfair, and Augusta state all referred our inquiries to the Department of Corrections public affairs officer, who so far has declined to return our repeated calls.
The prisoner strike in Georgia is unique, sources among inmates and their families say, because it includes not just black prisoners, but Latinos and whites too, a departure from the usual sharp racial divisions that exist behind prison walls. Inmate families and other sources claim that when thousands of prisoners remained in their cells Thursday, authorities responded with violence and intimidation. Tactical officers rampaged through Telfair State Prison destroying inmate personal effects and severely beating at least six prisoners. Inmates in Macon State Prison say authorities cut the prisoners’ hot water, and at Telfair the administration shut off heat Thursday when daytime temperatures were in the 30s. Prisoners responded by screening their cells with blankets, keeping prison authorities from performing an accurate count, a crucial aspect of prison operations.
As of Friday, inmates at several prisons say they are committed to continuing the strike. “We are going to ride it,” the inmate press release quotes one, “till the wheels fall off. We want our human rights.”
The peaceful inmate strike is being led from within the prison. Some of those thought to be its leaders have been placed under close confinement.
The nine specific demands made by Georgia’s striking prisoners in two press releases pointedly reflect many of the systemic failures of the U.S. regime of mass incarceration, and the utter disconnection of U.S. prisons from any notions of protecting or serving the public interest. Prisoners are demanding, in their own words, decent living conditions, adequate medical care and nutrition, educational and self-improvement opportunities, just parole decisions, just parole decisions, an end to cruel and unusual punishments, and better access to their families.
It’s a fact that Georgia prisons skimp on medical care and nutrition behind the walls, and that in Georgia’s prisons recreational facilities are non-existent, and there are no educational programs available beyond GED, with the exception of a single program that trains inmates to be Baptist ministers. Inmates know that upon their release they will have no more education than they did when they went in, and will be legally excluded from Pell Grants and most kinds of educational assistance, they and their families potentially locked into a disadvantaged economic status for life.
Despite the single biggest predictor of successful reintegration into society being sustained contact with family and community, Georgia’s prison
authorities make visits and family contact needlessly difficult and expensive. Georgia no longer allows families to send funds via US postal money orders to inmates. It requires families to send money through J-Pay, a private company that rakes off nearly ten percent of all transfers. Telephone conversations between Georgia prisoners and their families are also a profit centers for another prison contractor, Global Tel-Link which extracts about $55 a month for a weekly 15 minute phone call from cash-strapped families. It’s hard to imagine why the state cannot operate reliable payment and phone systems for inmates and their families with public employees at lower cost, except that this would put contractors, who probably make hefty contributions to local politicians out of business.
Besides being big business, prisons are public policy. The U.S. has less than five percent of the world’s population, but accounts for almost a quarter of its prisoners. African Americans are one eighth this nation’s population, but make up almost half the locked down. The nation’s prison population increased more than 450% in a generation beginning about 1981. It wasn’t about crime rates, because those went up, and then back down. It wasn’t about rates of drug use, since African Americans have the same rates of drug use as whites and Latinos. Since the 1980s, the nation has undertaken a well-documented policy of mass incarceration, focused primarily though not exclusively on African Americans. The good news is that public policies are ultimately the responsibility of the public to alter, to change or do do away with. America’s policy of mass incarceration is overdue for real and sustained public scrutiny. A movement has to be built on both sides of the walls that will demand an end to the prison industry and to the American policy of mass incarceration. That movement will have to be outside the Republican and Democratic parties. Both are responsible for building this system, and both rely on it to sustain their careers. The best Democrats could do on the 100 to 1 crack to powder cocaine disparity this year, with a black president in the White House and thumping majorities in the House and Senate was to reduce it to 18 to 1, and then only by lengthening the sentences for powder cocaine. On this issue, Democrats and Republicans are part of the problem, not the solution.
As this article goes to print Saturday morning, it’s not known whether the strike will continue a third day. With prison officials not talking, and corporate media ignoring prisoners not just this week but every day, outlets like Black Agenda Report and the web site upon which you’re reading this are among the chief means inmates and their families have of communicating with the public. The prisoners are asking the public to continue to call the Georgia Department of Corrections, and the individual prisons listed below to express concern for the welfare of the prisoners.
Prison is about corruption, power and isolation. You can help break the isolation by calling the wardens’ offices at the following prisons. Prisons, naturally , are open Saturdays and Sundays too.
|Macon State Prison is 478-472-3900.||Hays State Prison is at (706) 857-0400|
|Telfair State prison is 229-868-7721||Baldwin State Prison is at (478) 445- 5218|
|Valdosta State Prison is 229-333-7900||Smith State Prison is at (912) 654-5000|
|The Georgia Department of Corrections is at http://www.dcor.state.ga.us and their phone number is 478-992-5246|