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Sean Swain and Retaliatory Transfer to Ohio’s Most Notorious Prison

February 24, 2015

seanswainFrom Sean Swain

“I’ve been wearing the same pair of underwear since Tuesday. That night at three in the morning the warden at the super duper max, Jay “Lowdown” Forshay informed me that I was being transferred to Lucasville. Lucasville, home of the 1993 prisoner uprising, is a psychological September Eleventh for the Ohio prison system. It’s also the prison where ODRC officials attempted to put former prisoner writer Timothy “Little Rock” Reed in order to engineer his death until he gained asylum from Ohio in New Mexico, proving conclusively that Ohio prison officials attempted to murder him.

In the lead up to this transfer prison officials tried several times unsuccessfully to silence me. Blocking phone communication for eight weeks to keep me off the radio, intercepting intercepting postings for SeanSwain.org and communications with counsel who filed a civil action against prison officials on my behalf, and then blocking my video visits to stop me from generating video on the site, which is illegal, not that the laws matter to fascists.

In response I undertook a hunger strike until I was threatened with being tossed in the hole, which is illegal, not that laws matter to fascists. So I began a med strike, and then OSP physician James Kline held me incommunicado with medical isolation, in a torture cell, until I agreed to take blood pressure medication I had refused, which is illegal, not that they care.

So, before I could even finish writing the epic tale of those wacky shenanigans, I was told to hop on a prison bus for Lucasville. When I protested that this was selective, Jay Lowdown said, “we thought you’d say that, that’s why thirty seven others are going with you. So, to disguise prison fascist’s targeting of me, they tossed thirty seven other dolphins into the tuna net as collateral damage.

Read more…

The disappeared: Chicago police detain Americans at abuse-laden ‘black site’

February 24, 2015
 ‘They were held incommunicado for much longer than I think should be permitted in this country – anywhere – but particularly given the strong constitutional rights afforded to people who are being charged with crimes,” said Sarah Gelsomino, the lawyer for Brian Jacob Church.

‘They were held incommunicado for much longer than I think should be permitted in this country – anywhere – but particularly given the strong constitutional rights afforded to people who are being charged with crimes,” said Sarah Gelsomino, the lawyer for Brian Jacob Church.

From The Guardian

The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site.

The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.

Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:

  • Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
  • Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
  • Shackling for prolonged periods.
  • Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
  • Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.

At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead. Read more…

Saturday, 3/14: Benefit Book Sale! Over a Thousand Books

February 24, 2015

Bookshelf_KittyUSED BOOK SALE: Saturday, March 14th, the Prison Books Collective is hosting a one day book sale starting at 9am. We have hundreds and hundreds of great books that we can’t send into prisons, but that we can send home with you. Many left political titles, text books, history, literature, military manuals ,contemporary fiction, and art. This sale is a benefit to raise funds for our enormous postage costs.

This giant book sale is a great way to get some wonderful books and support the work of the Prison Books Collective.

Book Sale!

Saturday, March 14th

9am- 1pm (Rain or Shine)

621 Hillsborough Rd. in Carrboro

Map link: https://maps.google.com/maps

All Books Sliding Scale! You pick out the books and decide how much you want to pay for what you find! $1 minimum per book.

We can take debit and credit cards.

More than 30 Carrboro residents protest their landlords Saturday

February 24, 2015

More than 30 community members and residents of General Services Corporation (GSC) properties gathered Saturday to confront what several called predatory water bill pricing. They hand-delivered letters of protest to five GSC properties, including Ridgewood, Royal Park, University Lake, Carolina Apartments and Estes Park.

“We are here to send a message to GSC management — we’re here to ask them to do the right thing,” said Rev. Nathan Hollister, who is responsible for spearheading the community’s response to GSC’s business practices. Read more…

Seven Ways to Revolutionize Childcare and Build All-Ages Movements

February 23, 2015
Childcare at the 2009 City from Below conference in Baltimore.

Childcare at the 2009 City from Below conference in Baltimore.

From Waging Nonviolence/ By Victoria Law

Last week I was part of Queering Abolition, a panel discussion on queer and trans prison advocacy and abolition. One of my co-panelists was Susan Rosenberg, a former political prisoner who spent 16 years in prison before her sentence was commuted by outgoing President Bill Clinton. The panel was in the auditorium of the City University of New York Graduate Center. Being on the panel was exciting — not just because I was part of a dialogue around prison advocacy and abolition that centered on trans people, but also because it reminded me of how far I’d come and how much community and movement support have enabled me.

I first saw Susan Rosenberg in that same auditorium about 12 years ago. She had been released from prison the year before and was part of a day-long conference on incarceration. My daughter was not quite two years old and, like many political events — both then and now — there was no child care. The organizers told me that I was welcome to bring my child and so I did.

She had a fantastic time. My daughter, after nursing for a bit and sitting in my lap for an even shorter bit, wriggled out of my arms and explored the back rows of the auditorium. The seats were like those in the movie theater, springing up when no weight was applied. She was entranced with these seats, pulling them down and letting them flip back up with a clatter. She did this again and again, much to the amusement of the handful of 20-somethings around us. I kept one eye on her and one eye on the stage where, far below, Susan Rosenberg, Laura Whitehorn and two other important people in the prison movement talked about women and incarceration.

When the audience erupted into applause, my daughter stopped and applauded along. “Yaaaay!” she cheered, as she clapped her tiny hands together over and over.

Read more…

Alternatives to Incarceration: Be Careful What You Wish For

February 20, 2015

susanseredFrom Susan Sered

As awareness is growing of the financial and human costs associated with mass incarceration, we’re hearing talk from politicians on both sides of the aisle (and, believe it or not, even from the Koch Brothers) about the need for “alternatives to incarceration” (ATIs).

The term “alternatives to incarceration” takes for granted that we are talking about ways to handle criminals who otherwise would need to be incarcerated — that incarceration is a reasonable baseline against which to measure “alternatives.” In light of the over-representation of Americans of color and low-income Americans in jails and prisons, however, it’s necessary to be careful about any sort of presumption of correlation between criminality and incarceration. In fact, about a third of people locked up in the US are awaiting trial; that is, they have not been convicted of a crime. Another third are locked up because they violated the terms of probation or parole; that is; the “criminal” act was not sufficiently egregious to require imprisonment but a subsequent action – often simply not showing up for a meeting with a parole or probation officer, or failing to keep up restitution payments or money owed in court fees – was the reason for incarceration. And 97% of federal and state criminal prosecutions are resolved by plea bargain – often accepted by defendants out of fear that if they don’t accept the deal they will be locked up even longer — rather than by trial.

Given these numbers, it’s easier to make a case for abolition than for “alternatives to incarceration.” But that is not the direction in which public discourse seems to be moving. To the contrary, the increasingly popular sentiment goes something like this: A whole lot of people sitting in jails and prisons are mentally ill; they are drug users who need treatment more than they need punishment. Echoing this sentiment, Los Angeles County – the US county with the largest number of incarcerated people – recently approved a $1.9 billion proposal to tear down Men’s Central Jail and construct a 4,885-bed “Consolidated Correctional Treatment Facility”. And while “treatment” certainly sounds beneficial, the content of that treatment has yet to be spelled out.

Read more…

Jail Video Visits Are No Substitute for the Real Thing

February 19, 2015
A video visit does not replace an in-person visit, in any universe.

A video visit does not replace an in-person visit, in any universe.

From Truth Out/By Maya Schenwar

As the word “reform” swirls around current conversations about the criminal legal system, many proposed ideas involve new technologies. The techier, the assumption goes, the better! Data-driven “predictive policing” is branded as a route to figuring out where crime is going to happen. (In reality, such tactics involve using previous arrest data to increasingly target neighborhoods of color.) “Risk assessment tools” are sold as key to determining who can safely be paroled – but depending on how they’re used, they may deepen the racist disparities they supposedly counter. Electronic monitoring is advertised as a path toward reducing incarceration, but monitors are actually enlarging the bounds of who is caught inside the carceral system.

All the while, these technological “solutions” are padding the pockets of private companies – at the expense of people of color and the poor.

Video visitation is one such shiny-yet-insidious technology, which has rapidly spread over the past couple of years: More than 500 jails and prisons around the country are now experimenting with it. On the one hand, for people incarcerated far away from their loved ones, video visits could be a welcome channel of communication, allowing them to “meet” face-to-face without requiring long, expensive journeys. The “visits” also offer young children, the elderly and people with disabilities – who might be less able to travel – the opportunity for some face time.

Still, a video visit is no real substitute for an in-person visit, in any universe. However, as a recent report by Prison Policy Initiative documents, the introduction of video visitation often forcibly replaces in-person visits, in order to maximize profits for the private companies that provide the technology. Family and friends, most of whom don’t have much money, are then compelled to pay for the (heftily priced) video calls if they want to see their loved ones’ faces. Add to this the fact that many poor families don’t have access to the equipment necessary to receive a video call – and so, for some, video visitation simply spells the end of visits. Read more…