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Moving in from the Margins by wulinqing


									              Liberty Or Justice page 15, K-Ville page 3, Survey Results page 4, Free Battered Women page 2, Critical Condition page 7,
                  Y.A.Y.I. page 14, Vicissitudes page 16, Paris Hilton page 16, Justice Now page 13, Policing e Movement page 5,
                        Testing e Borders page 9, News Briefs page 6, Coming Home page 17, Ask e Abolitionist page 8

  The Abolitionist
      ISSUE # 7                                A CRITICAL RESISTANCE PUBLICATION                                                          FALL 2007
                                                                       Español al Reves

Moving in from the Margins
Critical Resistance reports back from United States Social Forum
by Reggie Gossett and Mayaba Liebenthal                                                                            role does PIC abolition play?
  In few words: we were all over it. From                                                                                e glass might be three quarters empty,
taking a programmatic role in the planning                                                                         but the liquid in it is very pretty. Our
process, to mobilizing people from all                                                                             collective struggles are getting stronger.
parts of the country, hosting multiple                                                                                 e Forum was an important step in
workshops, and having prison industrial                                                                            building a common language, shi ing
complex abolition addressed on a plenary,                                                                          ideas, and bringing people to the table that
CR played a key role in the 1st ever United                                                                        have the experience of being negatively
States Social Forum (USSF) held June 27-                                                                           a ected by the PIC but not necessarily
July1 in Atlanta.                                                                                                  an analysis of why. Unfortunately, while
                                                                                                                   we build political power we are still being
             eory and Action                                                                                       steamrolled by a juggernaut of injustice.
   As abolitionists, our work exists on                                                                            It’s okay, blame Reagan. And while
many di erent levels of knowledge,                                                                                 understanding the past we look to our
theory and action. ese levels, when they                                                                           present and our future. And both are lled
connect, can transform society and build                                                                           with questions.
self-determined communities. Developing the             Individual CR members were on various panels          In a conversation following the State of the
transformative justice/community accountability         and workshops throughout the forum, including       Movement workshop CR members Nat, Kool
track with other organizations formulating              a workshop that addressed visions for dismantling   Black, Kai, and Melissa discussed where the
libratory approaches to violence, such as               Male Supremacy organized by the Catalyst            movement is and where it is going. is is a brief
Generation 5, INCITE!, Creative Interventions,          Project, and dramatic reading: “Say What?!:” Lies   account of the conversation: 10 years into the
Sista II Sista, and others, the idea of PIC abolition   of the federal government told about Hurricane      movement we still have a lot of question. But
came to the forum within a broader context and          Katrina. is visibility helped build support for     how do we actually envision going forward? Is a
was presented in a holistic way. Much of this (and      the CR10 anniversary celebration next year.         mass movement what we need? What would this
more) was coordinated with the great help of CR                                                             mass movement look like? Can we “win”, given
Oakland chapter organizer Nat Smith, who took
                                                               Centering e Movement,                        that abolition isn’t something we can “win,” in
an informal yet essential role in coordinating CR’s        Transforming e Vision Of Justice                 the traditional sense of other movements?
role in the Forum, handling a lot of the logistics         One important point to highlight was the            Given that abolition is not a set of policy reforms,
and managing outreach for CR’s upcoming 10th            degree that CR and other organizations doing        but rather, a vision of social transformation,
anniversary.                                            similar work were able build the momentum           a process, what are the benchmarks? We need
   Our interconnected programmatic role was             and address the concept of putting people most      to be careful not to be stuck in past models of
repeated throughout our involvement. CR                 impacted at the center of work. We successfully     social movements, and be open to envisioning
chapters from around the country joined with            expanded conversations of abolition, connecting     something new/di erent.
other organizations in delegations and caravans         our mission with a broader vision.                    Going forward, we need to identify key strategic
heading to Atlanta. CR New York City (CRNYC)               Far too o en abolition is perceived to exist in  goals, understanding we can’t do everything (i.e.
and CR New Orleans (CRNOLA) had similar                 an untouchable abstract future, not action we can   stop expansion, build alternative models, build
experiences of being participants in larger             take now in our everyday lives. is gap between      leadership among heavily impacted folks). We
contingents. CRNYC went down with other                 possibility and present echoed in the proceedings   should revisit the result from the exercise we did
organizational members from the “Another                of the Forum. e other world that is possible        at the CR National Retreat 2006 around vision,
Politics is Possible” delegation while CRNOLA           doesn’t e ectively engage with the world that is    but also engage in a much deeper conversation
was a part of the Gulf South delegation and             right now, in the US on mass. is contradiction      around vision, goals, and strategy through the
integral in developing the Gulf Coast Resolution        is present in our abolitionist movement and the     10th anniversary process, with ourselves, and
for the forum. e USSF provided CR chapters              broader movement.                                   with other organizations and movements.
the chance to convene with many organizations              On a certain level, we saw a lack of praxis, a     While recognizing our successes and failures,
and tracks, speaking to the importance of               lot of amazing, yet generally not strategic action, we keep these questions and goals in mind. CR
intersectionality and complexity of abolition           information consumption, and lateral growth.        continues to move forward towards realizing the
and the inevitability of CR’s commitment to             While it is necessary to build stronger networks,   mission: abolition.
movement building.                                      the possibility of the future eclipsed the necessities
     ough integrated into the larger forum, CR          of the present. For example, during
maintained and increased visibility throughout
the week. Taking a seat as one of the plenary
                                                        the USSF the Supreme Court
                                                        basically overturned Brown vs. the        THE ABOLITIONIST
speakers, Kai Lumumba Barrow, successfully              Board of Education, and what did            1904 Franklin St. Suite 504 Oakland, CA 94612
inserted abolition so thoroughly into the plenary       we do? Nothing. Not only should
that both the moderator and audience chanted it         we have seen that one coming, but
several times before it closed.                         we should have also been ready to
   CR hosted 3 workshops including, Abolition           move to action. As powerful as the
101, State of the Movement, and Post-Katrina            forum was, as a movement we are
New Orleans, Rebuilding of a Police State.              still waiting. In this vacuum, what
From The Abolitionist Collective
  In       an interview given just before he was
murdered, George Jackson—Black revolutionary
                                                     stand how our diverse struggles can be related.
                                                     With these useful and powerful understandings
                                                                                                           Youth Incarceration (YAYI) also lay out their
                                                                                                           platform and up the voices of youth against the
and theoretician—spoke of the strategies, objec-     and connections, the shackles that keep us isolat-    PIC. We also o er some news briefs and a gen-
tives, and greater connections to worldwide lib-     ed and in disarray may be destroyed and replaced      eral introduction to our new regular section on
eration struggles, of what was then (1971) called    with vibrant ties that keep us bound together.        the struggles of Political Prisoners. And nally,
the Prison Liberation Movement. Jackson com-           In this issue of e Abolitionist, we’ve tried to     you will nd an installment of a new feature: Ask
mented on this greater struggle and the solidar-     create a venue to build connection and commu-         the Abolitionist, where we think about the issues
ity between those imprisoned and those on the        nication between those on the inside and those        of accountability, safety, and justice.
outside: “ e point is, …in the face of what we       on the outside and also between people working           Along with these new, regular sections, we’ll
confront, to ght and win. at’s the real objec-                                                               nd ourselves informed and on point with such
tive: not just to make statements, no matter how                                                           ongoing columns as Coming Home, Testing the
noble, but to destroy the system that oppresses                                                            Borders, and Critical Condition. Also, Edgar
us. By any means available to us. And to do this,                                                          Pitts talks about the e ect of the Anti-Terrorism
we must be connected, in contact and communi-                                                              and E ective Death Penalty Act on prisoners’
cation with those in struggle on the outside. We                                                           human rights, while Jordon Flaherty give some
must be mutually supporting because we’re all in                                                           analysis on the appalling new post-Katrina po-
this together. It’s all one struggle at base.”                                                             lice drama, K-Ville. Riding along side are also
   Of course, over 30 years later, a major element                                                         timely reports on the work of PIC abolitionists at
of the struggle to abolish the prison industrial     in di erent parts of the abolitionist movement.       the US Social Forum, and the vicious police ram-
complex is still the struggle to stay connected,     Further, we have struggled to institutionalize this   page against immigrant rights marcher on May
in contact, and in communication—using these         communication by establishing some new ongo-          Day in Los Angeles.
connections, to build a base and collectivity from   ing sections. To this end, we are proud to fea-          As always, we want to stay engaged with you,
which to destroy the system (the systems!) that      ture a column by political prisoner Marilyn Buck      the communities that make up our readership.
oppresses us. As we wrote in the last issue of e     called Vicissitudes. Marilyn engages us with the         is publication is only as important and the
Abolitionist, the prison industrial complex is       relationship between women prisoners and the          connections it helps to foster. Please feel empow-
like a web—keeping us entangled and apart. By        recent jailing of millionaire Paris Hilton. Free      ered to send in your original pieces of writing or
keeping in contact, inside, outside, and through     Battered Women and Habeas Project o er us the         artwork. We can’t print everything, but we try to
the wire, by being in constant communication,         rst installment of their regular section where-      stay in communication and struggle hard to stay
we can build a clearer understanding of the com-     in they give us a historical contextualization of     connected
plexity of what we are up against, as well under-    their organizations. Similarly, Youth Against

                  Working for Freedom, Justice, and Healing for Incarcerated
                               Survivors of Domestic Violence

     is is the rst installment of a new              below).     e California Habeas Project works         they entered prison. Hundreds of abuse survivors
                                                     to implement this law, and is a collaboration         are serving life sentences for their responses to
section by the Habeas Project and Free                                                                     this abuse. Many survivors are arrested a er
                                                     between Free Battered Women, Legal Services
Battered Women. Below, they describe                                                                       defending themselves and/or their children from
                                                     for Prisoners with Children, the California
the organization and their approach to               Women’s Law Center, the Los Angeles County            abusive partners; being forced by their partners
working with imprisoned survivors of                 Public Defender’s O ce, and the University of         to commit or confess to crimes; and being held
domestic violence.                                   Southern California’s Post-Conviction Justice         responsible for their abusive partner’s violence
                                                     Project. Part of our work includes recruiting,        against their children. We also know that a lot
                                                     training and supporting a network of dedicated        of trauma survivors turn to drugs or alcohol
                  Who we are                                                                               to cope with the abuse, and then get caught up
                                                     volunteers committed to increasing justice and
  As part of the movement for racial justice                                                               in the legal system on drug-related charges,
                                                     freedom for imprisoned domestic violence
and the struggle to resist all forms of intimate                                                           prostitution charges, or for economic crimes.
partner violence against women and transgender                                                             Once convicted, these abuse survivors nd
people, Free Battered Women works to end                Why Do We Work With Imprisoned                     themselves going from a prison created by their
the re-victimization of incarcerated survivors              Domestic Violence Survivors?                   partners to one run by the state, where tactics
of domestic violence.          rough community                                                             of control used by prison sta mirror the abuse
                                                          e vast majority of the over 11,000 people
organizing, parole advocacy, public education,                                                             they experienced at home.
                                                     incarcerated in California’s women’s prisons
media campaigns, and policy work, we work as                                                                 Many of the survivors we work with never
                                                     survived physical, sexual, emotional, and
part of a statewide movement to free survivors
                                                     economic abuse by an intimate partner before
of intimate partner battering from prison who                                                                                  CONTINUED ON PAGE 10
have been imprisoned for crimes related to their
experiences of being abused.
  Free Battered Women came about as a result
of organizing e orts of imprisoned domestic
violence survivors in 1991. Survivors at the
California Institution for Women joined with
supporters outside prison to launch a clemency
campaign (e.g., reduced sentences or pardons) to
seek freedom for survivors who had killed their
abusive partners and were serving life sentences.
  Because clemency and parole were not
e ective in getting domestic violence survivors
serving life sentences out of prison, advocates
went to the California legislature to try to bring
survivors’ cases back to the courts.      is led to
the passage of Penal Code §1473.5, which allows
some domestic violence survivors to challenge
their conviction if expert testimony on domestic
violence was not introduced when their cases
originally were prosecuted (see eligibility criteria                                                                                        photo by Rose Braz

       2                                                          The Abolitionist

 by Jordan Flaherty                                   hard. It makes us empathize with them and not, the highest imprisonment rate in the world.          e
                                                      for example, with their victims, who are seen as racial disparity in both arrests and sentencing
   Since at least the 1950s, and shows like deserving of whatever punishment they receive. is striking. Although African-Americans
 Dragnet, Hollywood’s representation of cops                                                              make up 32 percent of Louisiana’s population,
 has been as heroes, as brave, as a thin blue line               Demonized and Policed                    they constitute 72 percent of the state’s prison
 protecting the good people from the bad.           e      e reality is that the police, glamorized on population.
 Seventies saw radical criticisms of police make it K-Ville, are a part of the disaster the people of New      e New Orleans city jail, generally known
 into the mainstream, and lms like Serpico and Orleans have faced, not part of the solution. In as Orleans Parish Prison (OPP), was, pre-
 Chinatown shone a light on police corruption the months a er Katrina, while New Orleanians Katrina, the eighth largest jail in the country,
 and brutality. However, the Seventies also saw wanted to return and rebuild their city, they made up of several buildings located in Midcity
 the rise of a new kind of hero – Dirty Harry played got “security” instead. Hundreds of National New Orleans.               e population of the jail was
 by Clint Eastwood – the cop who was brutal and Guard troops, as well as police forces from across predominantly people from the city’s many low-
 perhaps corrupt, but ultimately sympathetic.         the U.S. and private security forces including income communities and communities of color.
   Audiences could no longer believe the old clean- Blackwater, Wackenhut and an Israeli company            Mary Howell is a civil rights lawyer who has
 cut images of cops – there were too many front- called Instinctive Shooting International began been active in defense of prisoners from OPP for
 page stories of police violence and corruption – patrolling the nearly empty city.                       years. “In 2004, 80,000 people came into OPP as
 but it was still necessary to maintain the public                                                        arrestees,” she explains. “Very few were eligible
 perception that cops are necessary.          e new                                                       for rehabilitation programs.       is prison has
 generation of cops on lm and TV – re ned and                e reality is that the police,                mostly been warehousing people. We’ve su ered
 popularized by stars from Mel Gibson in Lethal
 Weapon to Dennis Frantz in NYPD Blue – was
                                                         glamorized on K-Ville, are a                     under a policy where the city builds a huge jail
                                                                                                          that is then required to be lled with human
 that of a troubled, violent, awed, but ultimately      part of the disaster the people beings, or else it’s a waste of money.” According
 sympathetic hero. Yes, they broke the rules, but
 ultimately the rules were the problem. ese cops
                                                          of New Orleans have faced,                      to a pre-Katrina report from the Metropolitan
                                                                                                          Crime Commission, 65% of those arrested in
 would torture people based on a hunch – but,               not part of the solution.                     New Orleans are eventually released without
 they were always right. e person they tortured                                                           ever having been charged with any crime.
 would always end up being guilty, and they would                                                           New Orleans’ public defense system is in such
 always get information from torturing them that        As has been widely reported, the town of poor shape that Orleans Parish Criminal District
 they would not have gotten otherwise.                Gretna, across the Mississippi from New Orleans Court Judge Arthur Hunter recently complained,
       is justi cation was developed in Hollywood, and part of Je erson Parish, stationed o cers on “indigent defense in New Orleans is unbelievable,
 and then perfected years later by the Bush the bridge leading out of New Orleans blocking unconstitutional, totally lacking the basic
 Administration, who made explicit the arguments the main escape route for the tens of thousands professional standards of legal representation,
 that lms like Die Hard had implied –we need su ering in the Superdome, Convention Center, and a mockery of what a criminal justice system
 cops (and soldiers and federal agents) to break the and throughout the city.                             should be in a Western civilized nation.”
 rules. In fact the rules are the problem. ere are      And as the LA Times reported on September
 “good people” and “criminals,” and we don’t need 16, 2005, “little over a week a er this mostly                         Local Resistance
 to worry about how the “bad guys” are treated. white suburb became a symbol of callousness for             On May 9, 2006, Robert Goodman’s brother
 Further, the job of keeping us safe is necessarily using armed o cers to seal one of the last escape was killed in an encounter with the New Orleans
 dirty, and the police will need to break some routes from New Orleans - trapping thousands police.
 rules to do their job right. “Tough on Crime” of mostly black evacuees in the ooded city -                 For Goodman, who was born and raised in the
 politicians like Rudolph Giuliani as Mayor of the Gretna City Council passed a resolution schools and prisons of Louisiana, the primary
 New York also contributed to this environment supporting the police chief ’s move. ‘ is wasn’t crisis of New Orleans is a discriminatory and
 by discarding decades of reforms and practices just one man’s decision,’ Mayor Ronnie C. Harris corrupt criminal justice system. “Every time a
 meant to give opportunity for rehabilitation, and said. ‘ e whole community backs it.’”                  Black child is born in Louisiana, there’s already
 pushing for more police, more prisons, and more        From the initial images broadcast around the a bed waiting for him at Angola State Prison,” he
 arrests.                                             world, demonizing the people of New Orleans as declares.
   Into this environment comes the Fox cop “looters” and “criminals,” the public perception of              In New Orleans, 95 percent of the detained
 drama K-Ville, set in New Orleans. e publicity New Orleans’ people has been shaped by bullying youth in 1999 were Black. In 2004, Louisiana
 material for the new show explains, “Two years and “tough on crime” rhetoric, exempli ed by spent $96,713 to incarcerate each child in
 a er Katrina, the city is still in chaos…many Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco bringing in detention and $4,724 to educate a child in the
 cops have quit, and the jails, police stations and National Guard troops shortly a er Katrina with public schools. “When I went to prison, I was
 crime labs still haven’t been properly rebuilt. But the words, “ ey have M-16s and they are locked illiterate,” Goodman said. “I didn’t even know
 the cops who remain have courage to burn and a and loaded... ese troops know how to shoot anything about slavery, about our history.”
 passion to reclaim and rebuild their city.”          and kill, and they are more than willing to do so     Goodman is now ghting to change that
   Like all Hollywood products, this show is about if necessary, and I expect they will.” is public system, as part of a grassroots organization called
 making money rst and foremost, capitalizing perception, validated by K-Ville, was no doubt Safe Streets Strong Communities. His family has
 on the wild popularity of new-generation cop a big cause of so-called “Katrina Fatigue” – the organized protests, and reached out to others
 shows like Law and Order and CSI. But it also idea that the nation has run out of sympathy for in their community to build a movement.                   e
 falls perfectly into an agenda of explaining and the people of New Orleans. Why feel sympathy New Orleans chapter of Critical Resistance has
 forgiving brutal police behavior. In fact, it takes for a city of thugs?                                 also been organizing at the grassroots, ghting
 one of the nation’s most notoriously racist, violent                                                     for amnesty for those who were caught up in
 and corrupt police forces, and explains away                  e Disaster Before the Disaster             the post-Katrina policing.      ese are the truly
 their harmful acts as the natural result of the        Louisiana has the highest rate of imprisonment compelling stories of criminal justice in New
 trauma of Katrina and its a ermath. When the in the country—816 sentenced prisoners per Orleans post-Katrina, yet you can be sure that
 cops on this show torture – and early publicity 100,000 state residents. By comparison, Texas these local voices will be among those that
 for the show indicates that they do – it is because comes in a distant second place with 694 per K-Ville will not air.
 they are good people who have been pushed too 100,000. If Louisiana were a county, it would have

                                                                   Summer 2007                                                                  3
                               Critical Resistance
                                                           Survey Results
Dear Friends and Allies,
    Thank you so so much for answering the Critical Resistance Survey!
    Critical Resistance (CR) is a national grassroots organization whose mission is to end the use of imprisonment, policing,
  and surveillance as “solutions” to social, political and economic problems. As you know, we always seek to be guided and
  led by those most impacted by this crisis: people who are or have been in prison, family members, and survivors of police
  violence. That’s why we asked for your input about the issues you see as most important, the issues you would like us to work
  on in the future, and the issues you would like to join us in working on.
    We would now like to share the results of the survey with you. Attached are those results, which we will use to guide our
  work as we move forward. Each of our chapters and our national organizing body will use the results to help guide our
  future work. And we will include the results in our starter packages for individuals interested in starting CR chapters.
    We recognize that all of these issues are important and we also recognize that we cannot work on every issue and the
  results do not include everything we could take on. Nonetheless, we truly appreciate your insight and input and will use this
  information as we move forward to fight to end the prison industrial complex.
                                                                       With much thanks and in solidarity,
                                                                           Rose Braz and Pilar Maschi
                                                                           for Critical Resistance

Who filled out the survey                                     Top 10 Issues Identified in Order
 187 or 72% are people currently in prison                     158 or 61% - Gain parole for those serving life sentences with the
 80 or 31% have or have had family members in prison            possibility of parole
 68 or 36% have been in prison, jail, juvenile detention       142 or 55% - Reduce the number of people in prison through changes to
  or the youth authority                                        sentencing laws or decriminalization
 59 or 23% are concerned community members                     111 or 43% - Stop the construction of new prisons
                                                               110 or 43% - End barriers to employment for people who have convictions
                                                               104 or 40% - Increase support services for people coming home form
Many people reported selecting                                 91 or 35% - Abolish “ ree Strikes” laws
                                                               90 or 35% - End the criminalization of mental illness
  the issues they did because                                  88 or 34% - Reduce prison spending by reducing the number of people
these issues personally affected                                in prison and closing prisons and re-invest funds in education or social
    them or their families.                                    77 or 30% - Close super max prisons
                                                               74 or 29% - End geographic restrictions on where people on parole can
There was a wide variety of proposed
strategies offered including:                                Remaining Issues in Order:
  - ‘Building community involvement is the most                71 or 28% - End the criminalization of drug use
    important thing’                                           70 or 27% - Shorten lengths of parole
  - ‘Coalition building and committees to work on these        70 or 27% - End policies that result in people in prison losing custody of
    issues via meeting and working with the coalitions          their children
    and legislature’                                           68 or 26% - End the policy that bars people with certain connections form
  - ‘We should work with state legislators and have a           public housing
    huge conference or protest until they listen’              60 or 23% - Remove police from public schools
  - ‘Meet with prisoners and their families to                 59 or 23% - Make imprisonment a human rights violation
    understand the real story’                                 57 or 22% - End the criminalization of homelessness
  - ‘Teach people how they can be active in political          53 or 21% - Fight the detention of immigrants
    change and how to empower themselves. People
                                                               52 or 21% - End the criminalization of self defense related to intimate
    need to feel like they can make a di erence’
                                                                partner violence gender and sex based violating
  - ‘Hands on tactics: protests, media committees
                                                               46 or 18% - Abolish civil commitment –imprisoning people a er relapse
    Talking to prisoners and families’
                                                                under civil statutes
  - ‘raise public awareness’
                                                               42 or 16% - Close prisons
  - ‘Prisoners need better Vocational programs when
                                                               42 or 16% - Ban the prosecution of youth as adults
    they get out of prison or jail
                                                               42 or 16% - Fight deportation of those convicted of criminal o enses
  - deprogramming the fear that was implanted into
    society where anyone with a conviction is looked at        38 or 15% - End the criminalization of sex work
    like a disease.’                                           33 or 13% - Stop racial, religions and transgender pro ling
  - ‘Education, drug rehab programs, and working with          32 or 12% - End policing practices that target and occupy low-income
    former prisoners and their families’                        communities of color
                                                               22 or 9% - Decrease local budgets for police equipment and hiring

  4                                                        The Abolitionist
Policing the Movement:
         Reflections on May Day in Los Angeles

  In recent years, May 1st, International Workers Day, has become synonymous with demonstrations highlighting the undeniable connections
between labor in the United States and ever-increasing repression for people seeking to enter this country permanently or temporarily from
outside its borders.    is May 1st, demonstrations for immigrant rights in Los Angeles were met with overwhelming police violence as cops
surrounded people marching, red rubber bullets into crowds and physically beat participants in the march as well as bystanders.
  In what follows, Austin Delgadillo, of Critical Resistance Los Angeles talks with Los Angeles-based Copwatch members about what happened
that day in MacArthur Park and the implications of the events for work against policing in L.A. and beyond.

  CR: Austin Delgadillo                                   CW: [    ey] were in riot gear and you couldn’t tell   with immigration. ey [already] help coordinate
                                                     who they were because they had no identi cation.            the [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] ICE
  CW: Copwatch Members                                  e rst thing they did was hit the people across           raids, they help intimidate the community as agents
                                                     the street in front of Botánica del Pueblo. ey just         of immigration, but there’s a part of LAPD that
  CR: Can you give some background on what                                                                       wants to work even further. Because Los Angeles
happened on May 1st and what the fall out has been rushed it. ere was a hotdog vendor; they threw
                                                     her shit all over the oor. ey pushed people                 is a sanctuary city, they’re not supposed to ask
for anti-policing work in Los Angeles?
                                                     and people started telling them, “What are you              where people are from, but they saw a march where
   CW: People started getting together around 2:00 doing? is is police brutality. You’re attacking the           people [were] standing up, [and] the cops didn’t
at di erent rally points around Vermont [Street]. community.”                                                    care. ey were like fuck it, we’re gonna punk ‘em.
Each group was going to march to MacArthur Park        Around 6:00 everything started getting intense. I            at’s what their terrorism training goes into. ey
and have an action.                                  saw crowds of people running and even falling….             view peaceful communities as terrorists.
   From the get-go it was lively, the people were And then you could hear rubber bullets being shot.                We know those fools had been training since 8:00
happy, and everybody was feeling what they were You know, we’re still walking in and the cops are                in the morning, so by the time they came through,
there for. But then you could see from the very telling us, “You’ve got to leave,” and they’re pushing           they were happy to be doing everything they had
beginning all these cops were posted up all over the us around another corner, but at the same time              been practicing. at was their live training. People
spot. ey had the bike patrol. ey kept riding back you’re hearing all these shots and all these people            were scared for their lives because all you heard
and forth and there weren’t even that many people screaming.                                                     was the popping, and it was non-stop. You looked
there to begin with. At 4:00 we marched through                                                                  down the street and all you saw was the little rubber
MacArthur Park and along the way we saw that           CR: I remember, they started beating on people            bullets….
scene. We saw they had set a big cop headquarters, way before they gave a disperse order. When they
but they were all over just waiting. Everywhere you did give it, it came from a helicopter; you couldn’t           CR: A lot of times they try to cite these situations
looked you saw nothing but cops with batons. e really hear it too well…it was high up, only over                 as examples of a broken system, or a few bad apples
motorcycle cops had their shotguns out.              one portion of the park. It was in English, so again,       or some errors in training, but if we saw them
                                                     people are trying to gure out where to go. I [saw]          there since 8:00 am training all day and planning
   CR: Are you saying they blocked o public a lot of people trying to help each other, but [we’d]                and being prepared, to me it’s no accident what
space and private property around di erent points turn around and run straight into police.                      happened. It seemed planned and it de nitely
around the park?                                                                                                 seemed like the dangerous thing to them that day
                                                       CW: When the cops [were] saying to evacuate               was oppressed people being together and loving
   CW: Yeah, there [were] parts on Alvarado [St.] the park there were still people who weren’t sure              each other and being united.
where they didn’t let people walk regularly on the what to do because they had their cars parked in
sidewalk. ey were trying to divert the march, the park so they [couldn’t] leave because they [had]                 CW:      What we saw on May Day was in big
which had permits to march just on one side of the their cars there but [the cops] were not letting them         part also brought in by gentri cation. MacArthur
sidewalk. And [the cops] were trying to rush people go in.                                                       Park is a gathering point for people. at’s where
into the park from the very beginning. ey were                                                                   people go chill and relax and it sits right between
trying to get everybody there quick.                   CR: I remember, too, there was a homeless                 downtown L.A. and the Willshire area.            ey’re
   We walked through Wilshire [Blvd.] and Alvarado man who was sleeping and as they were sweeping                currently trying to develop it and they’re setting up
[St.] and it was cool; people were walking from park through the park they woke him up by kicking him            commissions and programs and activities, and they
to park to check out what was going on. e next and beating him. What do you think the motives                    don’t have the community in mind. It’s a di erent
thing you know, the cops start fucking with people. are of the police behavior? Is it a unique thing to          crowd they’re trying to attract.
   ey came in with their motorcycles with the sirens Los Angeles or is it something that is inherent to the
on, with their batons out, and they were pushing system of policing in this whole country?                         CR:       e media seem shocked that they got
people with their motorcycles and they didn’t give                                                               treated as protesters on May Day. In terms of the
warning.       ere were women and children and         CW: It’s inherent. LA is a unique place                   role of the media, they want this special, separate
                                                     because it has a really long history of uprising and
there were elders. ey didn’t care. [ e cops] were                                                                treatment but they also want complete access to
just trying to pump the community to do what they implementing harsher laws because of crowds                    the scene where they just lm and be “objective.”
wanted [them] to do. So they started bringing out of people of color gathering together. Now you                 What should the role of mainstream media be
                                                     can’t even walk with more than 3 people or you’re           in situations like May Day? What should they be
lines and lines of cops and everywhere you looked
you could see these fools were surrounding us. ey considered a gang, so it’s like everything has to do           doing to help support social change, or is that not a
                                                     with the history of uprising, you know?                     role for mainstream media?
were everywhere.
                                                           ere’s part of the [Los Angeles Police
   CR: Was that the Metro Squad?                     Department] LAPD that wants to work even closer                                     CONTINUED ON PAGE 8

                                                                        Summer 2007                                                                        5
                       BIGGEST INCREASE SINCE 2000

A            er six years of slowing growth
          rates in prison and jail populations,
Bureau of Justice Statistics gures for 2006
                                                     States were in California, where numerous
                                                     proposals to reduce prison sentences and
                                                     change parole policies, were rejected by
                                                                                                       new commitments to state prison increased
                                                                                                       by 20.3%, and the number of parole violations
                                                                                                       resulting in a return to prison increased by
showed the largest increase in the number            California legislators who recently voted         14.1%.
of people in prison in 7 years. As of mid year       for a multi-billion dollar prison expansion         - e number of people in women’s prisons
2006, one in every 133 US residents was in           plan.                                             rose almost twice as fast (4.8%) as the growth
prison or jail.                                                                                        of the number of men imprisoned (2.7%).
                                                       Other important ndings of the BJS
      e report showed that 6 out of 10 people                                                            - e rate of local jail population growth
                                                     report include:
in prison and jail were Black or Latino, and                                                           slowed from mid-year 2005 to 2006, but still
                                                       - Ten states exceeded the national
that nearly 5 percent of all Black men were                                                            increased by 2.5%.
                                                     inprisonment rate, led by Louisiana (835
in prison or jail.                                                                                       - e number of people in jails expanded
                                                     per 100,000 residents).
     e report also showed that one out of every                                                        along with jail capacity at about an equal
                                                       - Between 2000 and 2005, the number of
 ve new people sent to prison in the United                                                            growth rate between 1995 and 2006.

MAYORS CALL FOR NEW                                                                                                           CA: PRISON
  U.S. DRUG POLICY                                                                                                          POPULATION CAP
     e United States Conference
of Mayors (USCM) made
history in June when it passed
                                               NEWS BRIEFS                                                                  LAWSUIT MOVES
                                                                                                                            In a June 27, 2007 court
a resolution calling for a public                                                                                        hearing, U.S. District Court
health approach to substance
                                                                                                                         Judges Lawrence Karlton and
use and abuse.       e resolution
                                                                                                                             elton Henderson both seemed
was sponsored by Mayor Rocky
                                                                                                                         likely to issue an order creating a
Anderson of Salt Lake City.
     e resolution proclaims the                                                                                          three-judge panel to determine
war on drugs a failure, and calls                                                                                        whether to impose a prison
for “a New Bottom Line in U.S.                                                                                           population cap in California.
drug policy, a public health                                                                                                 e judges did not issue an order
approach that concentrates more                                                                                          at the hearing, but are expected
fully on reducing the negative                                                                                          to rule soon.
consequences associated with drug abuse, while            SAN QUENTIN DEATH ROW                           At the hearing, the California Department
ensuring that our policies do not exacerbate             EXPANSION FACES ANOTHER                       of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR)
these problems or create new social problems of                 CHALLENGE                              argued that with the passage of AB900 – which
their own.”                                                                                            will build 53,000 more prison and jail cells—
     e resolution endorsed greater access to           A plan to build new death row cells at
                                                     San Quentin would be put on hold while            the state was addressing overcrowding and
drug treatment such as methadone and other                                                             urged the Court to deny the motion to create
maintenance therapies, elimination of the federal    alternatives are studied if new legislation co-
                                                     authored by Assemblyman Jared Huffman and         the three judge panel.         e Judges appeared to
ban on funding sterile syringe access
                                                     state Sen. Carole Migden becomes law. But a       reject that argument, with Judge Karlton stating
  programs, and prevention policies based on
                                                     spokesperson for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger       that the question is whether the California
needs assessed at the local level. Resolutions
                                                     said they intend to “go forward with this         Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
become the o cial policy of the USCM.
                                                     housing facility at San Quentin.”                 is making enough progress in its e orts to x
   GAYS AND LESBIANS ALLOWED                           Since the Legislature authorized $220 million   its constitutional problems; “ e answer is no,”
                                                                                                       Karlton said.
   CONJUGAL VISITS IN PRISONS                        for the death row expansion in 2003, the cost
                                                     estimate has increased by 53 percent, despite        If the motion is granted, the rst step would
  Facing the threat of a lawsuit, California’s
                                                     a reduction in the number of cells planned to     be for Karlton and Henderson to create the
prisons will now allow conjugal visits for some
                                                     768. Because Schwarzenegger did not include       three judge panel. at panel would then need
gay and lesbian prisoners. e move comes a er
                                                     the needed $117 million in his budget for         to decide that overcrowding was the primary
passage of a 2003 law that gave domestic partners
                                                     the coming fiscal year, the Legislature must      cause of inadequate care for sick and mentally
many of the same rights as married couples.
                                                     approve additional spending.                      ill prisoners, and that public safety would not be
  Facing a complaint from a prisoner in a
                                                       The new bill, AB 1743, would direct the         compromised by a population cap before they
Vacaville prison and pressure from the
                                                     Bureau of State Audits to complete, by April      could set a number for the prison population.
  American Civil Liberties Union, CDCR has
                                                     2008, an evaluation of alternative scenarios      It is also possible that if the three judge panel
begun to allow overnight visits for prisoners
                                                     for housing prisoners with a death sentence       does decide to set a cap, CDCR will appeal
with registered domestic partners and is slated to
                                                     while retaining the lethal injection chamber      that decision. In short, early releases could
adopt permanent regulations later this year. e
                                                     at San Quentin. In the meantime, the bill         be ordered, but this likely would not occur for
change will allow gay and lesbian prisoners the
                                                     would prohibit the California Department of       some time.
same rights as others, who are eligible to spend
                                                     Corrections and Rehabilitation from spending            e National Council on Crime and
up to three days with family members in living
                                                     additional money on expanding death row at        Delinquency recently issued a report reviewing
areas—usually trailers—on prison grounds.
                                                     San Quentin.                                      14 studies of state and county early-release
      e new regulations will add domestic
                                                                                                       programs and found no increase in crime rates
partners to a list of family members, including
                                                                                                       or the rate at which those who were released
spouses, siblings, and grandparents, who can
                                                                                                       early returned to prison.
visit overnight.    e corrections department is
                                                                                                          Critical Resistance, as part of Californians
 nalizing new regulations before submitting
                                                                                                       United for a Responsible Budget, joined a Friend
them to the state’s O ce of Administrative Law,
                                                                                                       of the Court brief, in this case, arguing in favor
which will provide the nal approval.
                                                                                                       of an early release order.

       6                                                          The Abolitionist
                           I Memo ia − Ha mon W a
   On July 24, 2007, Harmon Wray died from               Coalition of Tennessee, Coalition for the Defense         Vanderbilt Divinity School. Wray also acted
complications caused by a massive stroke. He             of Battered Women, Tennesseans for Handgun                as the Executive Director of United Methodist
was 60-years-old. Wray was a friend, mentor,             Control, Tennessee Hunger Coalition, Dismas               restorative justice ministries and as the coordinator
leader, and example to many of us ghting                 House of Nashville, and as an instructor at               for ministries with the poor and marginalized.
against the prison industrial                                                                                                             Recently       e Abolitionist
complex. Best known for                                                                                                                   had the pleasure of featuring
his tireless work among                                                                                                                   an important book he co-
faith communities, Wray’s                                                                                                                 wrote with Laura Magnani,
knowledge and compassion                                                                                                                  entitled: Beyond Prisons: A
were felt through his teaching                                                                                                            New Interfaith Paradigm for
and preaching across a                                                                                                                    Our Failed Justice System
multitude of movements,                                                                                                                   (Issue #6, Summer 2007).
from the abolition of the death                                                                                                              While Harmon will be
penalty to restorative and                                                                                                                missed as vital voice for
economic justice.                                                                                                                         prisoners and for alternatives
   Harmon       Wray      spent                                                                                                           to     imprisonment       and
decades actively engaged                                                                                                                  punishment, we will also
in      congregations       and                                                                                                           miss his wisdom, wit,
organizations      throughout                                                                                                             tenacity, patience, and
Tennessee including Nashville                                                                                                             limitless compassion. For

                                                                                                                                      photo by Judy Greene
Justice Network, Penuel Ridge                                                                                                             many of us, he will continue,
Retreat Center, Tennessee                                                                                                                 even in his death, to be an
Coalition to Abolish State                                                                                                                important model for how to
Killing, Restorative Justice                                                                                                              live our politics daily. We’ll
                                                                                                                                          miss you, Harmon.

   During winter months it is common to catch a          count the number of heartbeats in ten seconds and         care and sending people back to their units helped
cold, mostly due to increased crowding indoors,          multiply that count by six—either way will work.          spread the virus. Secondly, there were disagreements
which increases disease transmission. Prisons            Report the person’s heart rate when requesting            about how to treat the outbreak. Physicians wanted
are constantly crowded, regardless of the time of        medical attention. is may help improve chances            a swi and complete containment to treat people
year, and communicable diseases are easily spread.       of getting medical attention, and hopefully shorten       who were ill and keep others from getting sick.
    e outbreak of Norwalk virus at San Quentin           the time you/they have to wait.                           Prison o cials had other priorities, like keeping
last winter is a good example of how quickly                                                                       laborers in the kitchen, laundry, and sewer plant
an infectious disease can spread inside, and the                       Avoiding Infection                          and not overcrowding local jails, and only allowed
obstacles to containing outbreaks.                          It is a generous and caring act to take care of sick   limited containment.
      e symptoms and e ects of Norwalk virus,            friends, but be careful to avoid touching vomit or           A contributing factor to the spread of the virus
also called norovirus, are very easy to recognize.       feces—both are infectious and contain the virus. If       was the classi cation of bleach as contraband.
Individuals with the virus will be come suddenly         you do come in contact with vomit or feces, or are        Bleach is the only thing that will kill the norovirus
sick, at rst feeling nauseous, followed by stomach       caring for a person with norovirus, be sure to wash       on surfaces and by banning it, prison o cials
cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea. Some people get a        your hands o en and do not put your hands in your         failed to take an easy and simple infection control
slight fever and dark brown urine. Vomiting and          mouth. People become infected by either eating            measure.
diarrhea continue for more than three days can           food or liquids or touching objects contaminated             An obstacle to treating the virus was the over
cause dehydration, which means that a person             with norovirus and then placing their hand in their       and underreporting of illness. In some parts of the
does not have enough water in their body. Severe         mouth. Lack of hand washing is the most common            prison, prisoners pressured each other to not report
dehydration is dangerous and can cause death.            way the virus is spread. You can prevent getting          illness in order to prevent con nement through
   Usually people can recover from Norwalk virus         norovirus by washing your hands a er going to the         quarantine. In other blocks, prisoners over reported
within a couple of days on their own if they can         bathroom and before preparing and eating food.            illness. Medical sta noticed this, and increased
consume enough liquids, but if this is not possible,        Winter is the season for Norwalk virus. Outbreaks      quarantine time a er symptoms ended from 24
or if their immune system is weakened, special           are mostly found in nursing homes, schools, jails,        hours to 48 hours in order to ensure that people were
medical attention is needed. Ongoing vomiting            and prisons. Last winter’s outbreak at San Quentin,       absolutely not infected at the end of quarantine.
is especially dangerous for people on regular oral       however, was due to more than poor baseline prison        Not reporting illness will not prevent quarantine.
medication, because the constant vomiting does           conditions and crowding. Prisoners were sick for at       If anything, reporting illness and getting treatment
not allow people to get the meds into their system.      least a week with stomach and intestinal problems         will help people feel better quickly, prevent spread
If you or people around you are experiencing             before the spreading illness was diagnosed. By the        of the virus, and keep the time of con nement, or
ongoing vomiting and diarrhea, you should request        end of that week, about 150 people in North Block         quarantine, to a minimum.
medical attention.                                       had become ill. ree of the four dorm blocks in H             What illnesses are common in your prison? How
   You can check people’s heart rates to determine       unit also had full outbreaks. e virus even reached        have you been treated/not treated? Have a medical
if they are dehydrated. Anyone’s heart rate should       East Block, where prisoners are on constant lock          question? If you have any questions or want
not be more than 120 beats per minute. It is very        down, and have very little contact with anyone. For       information about diseases, from the Norwalk
easy to check your own or someone else’s heart rate.     three to four weeks the prison was on lockdown,           virus to HIV to Valley Fever, drop me a line.
Place your pointer and middle nger on the blood          but not a complete and strict quarantine. Intake
vessels on either the neck, just to the le or right of   and the reception center were also closed. In all,                                                  In Love and Solidarity,
the Adam’s apple, or on the blood vessels on the         over there were over 800 cases of illness, about y
                                                         of which were among sta . e outbreak ended                                                                              liz
inside of the wrist, just below the base of the thumb.
You only need to press your ngers to the neck            in mid January. ere were no hospitalizations
or wrist lightly to feel the heartbeat—don’t press       or severe cases, however uncomfortable the virus
hard! If you don’t feel a pulse, move your ngers         made people.                                                      Send your thoughts, questions, or feedback to:
                                                                ere were several di culties that arose in                                             Critical Condition
around the area slowly until you feel a regular beat.
                                                         containing the outbreak and treating prisoners.                                         c/o Critical Resistance
Count the number of heartbeats in one minute.
                                                         First, it should have been treated as an outbreak at                               1904 Franklin St. Suite 504
You can use the second hand of a clock, or have                                                                                                    Oakland, CA 94612
a friend count from 0 to 60 seconds. You can also        the very beginning. Treating the symptoms at urgent

                                                                          Summer 2007                                                                                      7
Ask the Abolitionist
                                                    Dear Readers,
                                                        As all Critical Resistance members know, asking and answering tough questions
                                                      about abolition is key to being part of the movement to end the prison industrial
                                                      complex. Since this is something we do with each other all the time, we thought it
                                                      might be fun (and potentially useful) to engage those discussions in a public forum
                                                      like this one. And what better format than the tried and true “Dear Abolitionist!”
                                                        Please help make this dialogue a lively and fruitful one by sending questions, responses
                                                      to questions, responses to the responses—you get the idea. No question is too big or small.
                                                      Just send to: Dear Abolitionist
                                                                     c/o e Abolitionist
                                                                     Critical Resistance
                                                                     1904 Franklin St., Suite 504
                                                                     Oakland, CA 94612

Dear Abolitionist,                                        abolitionists embrace the idea of accountability as       be linked to they kind of harm they caused (i.e. if
                                                          a core component of alternative or transformative         they were involved in gang related violence, their
  I am a resident of New Orleans who has been             models of justice.       e only catch is, as with all     service hours will not be used to plan a “peace
working in the public school system for more              other concepts, we feel the need to complicate            summit” for youth from di erent high schools).
than seven years. Since the storm, we have seen a         “accountability” just a little! A er all, the idea        And if they end up doing time in prison, they will
dramatic increase in drug dealing and gun violence        that if someone does something wrong, they                contribute absolutely nothing to the repair of the
in my neighborhood as young people have returned          should be held accountable is o en a driving force        community in which they caused harm. So, while
to the city without parental supervision and              behind popular support for the prison industrial          there is a consequence for their actions, they are
without access to education or job opportunities.         complex.                                                  not really held accountable to the neighborhood
   rough my friend, a juvenile Public Defender,              In your letter, you express concern that the state     in which they caused harm.
I have learned that due to limited capacity and           has been failing to prosecute young people and               Going further, we suggest that true
resources in the courts many who have been                thereby failing to deliver a sense of accountability      accountability has many parts, and should ow in
arrested post-Katrina are going through the court         either for the young people who walk away without         all directions. First, there is the accountability of
system without being charged and are coming back          consequence for their actions, or for the rest of         individual people to one another. ere is also the
to the streets feeling like they are able to “beat the    the community that is impacted by their actions.          accountability of groups of people to other groups
system.”                                                  I would agree, but consider the possibility that          and individuals, and vice versa. For example, in a
  While I agree that prison is not the best solution      even when it prosecutes the current system fails          broader model of accountability, society as a whole
for our young people, I do believe we need to have        miserably to deliver accountability.                      would be responsible to see that the basic needs of
high standards for them and that they need to be             We have been conditioned to accept punishment          individuals and groups of people are met. In the
held accountable for making people feel unsafe in         as a substitute for accountability. In the current        experience you share from your neighborhood,
our community. I o en feel at a loss of what to do        criminal justice system, young people who cause           there should be ways to hold young people truly
when I am up against such massive structural and          harm in their neighborhoods may be forced to              accountable to you, your neighbors, and to each
increasingly, neighborhood violence. Please help.         pay a ne, complete community service hours,               other, but there should also be ways for you,
                                                          or serve time in prison.        ey are accountable        your neighbors and the broader society to be
Dear Reader,                                              only to the state.      e ne they pay is not used         accountable to them.
     ank you for kicking o this column by                 to repair the abandoned building on their block,             What is the neighborhood doing to ensure
raising such an essential question—the question           nor to start up an a er school program that               their basic needs are met? And if the City of New
of ACCOUNTABILITY. One common reaction                    will help protect children in the neighborhood            Orleans, the State of Louisiana, or the United
to the concept of abolition is a fearful picture          from drugs. Similarly, the community service              States government is going to hold young people
of wild “anarchy” and vigilante-ism, a society            hours they put in will not likely be located in the
without law or accountability. On the contrary,           community where they caused harm, nor will it                                   CONTINUED ON PAGE 18

  Policing the Movement (continued from page 5)
    CW:       Well, it’s control, but I don’t know why     No one expected that to happen, especially the           and if they’re looking for power they’re willing
  they beat them up. ere has to be a reason why            reporters, because they come in and see themselves       to make deals with anybody. ey’re willing to
  they beat them up. ey’re trying to make it seem          as the outsiders that are just going to get the story.   come out there and side with the devil just to get
  like it’s not their team when it is.                     When they realize they’re up for being victims,          air time.
                                                           too, for being brutalized that turned a switch on
     I always see Fox 11 News rolling with the cops.                                                                  CR: Are there any examples or experiences
                                                           them saying, “Damn, I guess I’m not better than
                                                           anyone else. I have an education, I’m a reporter         that people have had that might speak to that?
    CR: On their news segments?
                                                           and I’m here talking about the problems with
    CW: Yeah. I was at a protest and all these             these people.” But when [they’re] getting attacked
                                                                                                                      CW: Scapegoating anarchists when the cops
                                                                                                                    came immediately in riot gear for a riot they
  riot squad police came and with them came                it’s like, “What the… you’re not acknowledging           planned. So how can you say—you who represent
  Fox 11, so I don’t know what that is, but…the            me as a real person.” I’m glad that they got beat,       the community, who work for the community—
  mainstream media unfortunately doesn’t share             too, because it wakes everyone up. It’s like, damn,      you want to work with the same people who are
  the voice of the people, of the general public. e        no one is free from it.                                  brutalizing and beating your people?        ose so-
  mainstream media [are] not there to get the news.
                                                                                                                    called leaders don’t lead anybody, but they claim
     ey’re there to prove a point, so they’re looking        CR: On the news on May 2nd some organizers             to and the media put it out to try to pacify the
  for certain things they want to show when it’s           used a media strategy of saying that youth or
                                                                                                                    people. But the people who were there know.
  convenient and they’re the same problem [as] the         anarchists incited the police violence and that they
  cops. ey send in white fools that don’t live in          wanted to work with the police. What are your              Right now we’re just trying to keep up people’s
  the community and don’t know anything about              responses to this kind of strategy? Most of these        minds on what May Day was and keep informing
  the community and they send other privileged             organizations have since apologized to people, at        the people, not letting them forget about it
  people that have nothing to do with the area             least indirectly, but what kind of repercussions         because the media and the police state just try to
  they’re reporting on and they come and ask               does that have that those things were put out to         wipe it out or say ‘we’re sorry’ or ‘we’ll make it
  ridiculous questions. ey ask people who are              the media?                                               up to you.’ We’re trying to get brothers and sisters
  getting beat why… they ask questions that are out                                                                 who were brutalized, to le a case so we can get
  of line and they don’t understand.
                                                             CW:       ose groups aren’t really representative      back at them at least in some way and let them
                                                           of the communities they claim they represent.            know we’re not just going to let that happen and
        ey got good footage, but it wasn’t intentional.       ey’re there to bene t from their positions,           forget about it.

        8                                                                The Abolitionist
T                                          Immigrant Rights and Power:
                   Transforming Social Justice, Dreaming A Different World
E         by Arnoldo García                              vigilantes, white separatists and hate groups—          born in the U.S. today will go to prison at some
                                                         opened throughout the U.S. is new mix of anti-          point in their lifetime…. Immigrants and women
S               e unprecedented and massive
          mobilizations of immigrant communities         immigrant forces does not leave citizens, especially
                                                         citizens of color, o the hook and directly impacts
                                                                                                                 are also increasingly ending up behind bars in the
                                                                                                                 U.S. According to statistics released by the Justice
          during 2006 expressed a di erent type
T         of community-based power that altered
          the political terrain of the U.S. While
                                                         their rights.
                                                            On December 12, 2006, the Bureau of
                                                                                                                 Department last year, between 1995 and 2003,
                                                                                                                 convictions for immigration o enses rose by 394
                                                         Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)               percent. Between 1980 and 2005, the number of
I         this political momentum seems limited
          to calling for legalization and ending the     carried out the “Swi ” raids, one of the largest
                                                         immigration sweeps to date, clamping down on
                                                                                                                 women in state and federal prisons jumped by 873
                                                                                                                 percent--from 12,300 to 107,500.”
          criminalization of immigrants, it re ects
N         a new phase in the struggle to transform
          the relationship between citizens and
                                                         immigrant workers in meatpacking plants across
                                                         six states. ICE charged
                                                                                                                      ese trends will continue to worsen. Started in

                                                         workers with identity
G         non-citizens, as workers, communities
          and nations on the basis of transnational      the and fraud for
                                                         using false social
          justice and equality.
                ese political movements re ect,          security numbers, a
          in part, the demographic revolution            felony.
                                                            As President Bush
T         underway since the mid-1990s,
          which has transformed the color and            announced during his
                                                         January 2007 State of
          composition of the U.S.             e new
H         immigrant communities, as well as the
          “old” communities of color and working
                                                         the Union address that
                                                         he would seek a guest
                                                         worker program and
E         class, are the result of profound neoliberal
          restructuring that has changed how             more border security,
                                                         immigration         raids
          national and international economies
          function and make pro ts.                 is   continued        around
          involuntary community of communities           the country. In just
                                                         a matter of weeks
B         is the basis and need for a democratic
          revolution of sorts to accommodate             ICE arrested over
                                                         13,000      immigrants.
          current global reality.            e 2006
O         immigrant community mobilizations,
          along with the struggles and demands
                                                         On one day in February, ICE agents went into a
                                                         neighborhood in Richmond, California, with
                                                                                                                 2005, new prisons for immigrants will be built at a
                                                                                                                 rate of 8,000 new jail beds per year through 2010.
                                                         six arrest warrants but ended up detaining 119          During this same ve-year period, the number of
R         of other communities of color, can help
          us imagine a new democratic revolution,        immigrants. Later, in Southern California they
                                                         picked up over 700 workers in one sweep alone.
                                                                                                                 interior immigration police will be tripled and the
                                                                                                                 number of Border Patrol agents doubled. ese
          where citizenship, voting rights, and the
D         sovereignty of the U.S. could be rede ned
          for a more peaceful and equitable world.
                                                         Acting with impunity, ICE or Migra agents come
                                                         into a community, create a disturbance, causing
                                                                                                                 provisions and budgets, as well more measures
                                                                                                                 further undermining the rights of the foreign-
                                                         panic and “probable cause” and pick up individuals      born, were at the heart of the “National Intelligence
E                 As a political force that has been
          growing for decades, the immigrant             who react to their threatening police presence.
                                                         Michael Cherto , Secretary of the DHS, testi ed
                                                                                                                 and Terrorism Prevention Act”–signed into law in
                                                                                                                 December 2004 by President Bush–and the REAL
          rights struggle was deepened by this new
R         community-based surge, broadening
          and challenging the possibilities and
                                                         before Congress that a guest worker program
                                                         and stepped-up enforcement resources were the
                                                                                                                 ID Act, passed as part of the Iraq war budget in
                                                                                                                 May 2005. Under the “Secure Fence Act”, which
                                                         solutions.                                              became law last September, almost 700 more miles
S         landscape of social justice everywhere.
          While almost every progressive                                                                         of border walls will be law. When Bush signed the
                                                                                                                 “fence” law he immediately provided funding to
          movement and political organization—               While almost every progressive
          even those rooted in the immigrant rights                                                              start building the rst 200 miles.
                                                               movement and political                               Even while Congress has not been able to agree
arena and communities of color—was surprised
by the size and energy of the 2006 marches, many             organization was surprised                          on so-called comprehensive immigration reform
found rea rmation of their basic values and                  by the size and energy of the                       that includes some kind of “legalization” program,
dreams at the sight of millions of predominantly              2006 marches, many found                           these piecemeal laws and policies illustrate that
Latino and working class immigrants of color                                                                     there is clear bipartisan agreement on jailing and
                                                             reaffirmation of their basic                        deporting immigrants, including continuing the
taking to the streets, calling for what amounts to
a new form of citizenship and deep justice across                 values and dreams                              militarization of immigration and border control
borders.                                                                                                         as the way to solve the “illegals” problem. Indeed,
                                                           So who bene ts from the anti-immigrant                the latest bipartisan comprehensive proposals,
              e PIC Meets          e CIC                 laws and climate? For one, “the companies that          including the STRIVE Act (Security              rough
   In December 2005, the notorious Sensenbrenner         have been building and running private prisons          Regularized Immigration and a Vibrant Economy,
bill was passed in the House. Among other very           around the country,” the New York Times                 H.R 1645) and the most recent “great compromise”
dangerous provisions, the bill would have made           reported earlier this year. “By the fall of 2007, the   in the Senate, propose to deepen the militarization,
it a felony to be undocumented and to assist,            [Bush] administration expects that about 27,500         jailing, and policing of immigrants where they live,
hire, minister to, or provide services to the            immigrants will be in detention each night, an          work, worship, study, or play, while only o ering
undocumented. is bill’s passage was a signi cant         increase of 6,700 over the current number in            guest worker programs and the possibility of years
trigger that fueled the community mobilizations          custody. At the average cost these days of $95 a        overcoming obstacles and waiting in lines to apply
of the following months. Immigrant communities           night, that adds up to an estimated total annual        for a modicum of permanent residency.
were tired and angry with the enforcement-               cost of nearly $1 billion.”
only direction of the previous and pending                    is is where the prison industrial complex             Immigrant Rights at the Crossroads
“immigration reform” legislation.                                                                                     e injustices and abuses heaped upon
                                                         meets the “citizenship industrial complex,” when
   Yet, in spite of the breadth of the mobilizations                                                             immigrants, especially the undocumented,
                                                         the Department of Homeland Security’s Bureau
and their political signi cance for the future of the                                                            however di erent from those su ered by citizen
                                                         of Immigration and Customs Enforcement
country, Congress, along with a growing number                                                                   communities of color, poor and working people,
                                                         (ICE), decides very deliberately when and how
of state, county and local governments and                                                                       intersect and are almost indistinguishable from
                                                         to publicize their immigration raids, weighing in
o cials continued proposing and implementing                                                                     each other. Why? Immigrants are also people of
                                                         on the immigration reform debate by terrorizing
repressive legislation and policies. Fueled by U.S.                                                              color, who live, work, worship, study, and play in the
                                                         immigrants and communities of color.
government practices, laws and policies, the anti-                                                               same spaces and places where other impoverished
                                                           Nicole Colson, writing for
immigrant movement also continued growing as                                                                     and working-class communities co-exist. While
                                                         states, “If current trends continue, one out of every
Minute Men chapters—an amalgamation of armed             three Black men and one of every six Latino men
                                                                                                                                        CONTINUED ON PAGE13
                                                                        Summer 2007                                                                        9
In Conversation
     In issue 6 of The Abolitionist we asked some guiding questions for letters, opinions, articles and artwork. We asked:
     What are the biggest barriers that people coming home from jail or prison face? What strategies could we use to
     break down those barriers? Below is a response from Lydia Erickson at CCWF and thoughts from a member of The
     Abolitionist editorial collective.

by Lydia Erickson                                     to determine rehab or social service needs; a           it. Startup costs for a program with coordinated
      e biggest single barrier is the absence of      psychologist or psychiatrist to give a parolee a safe   resources could be steep, but the long-tern
coordinated resources. A person getting out of        place to talk and to evaluate their psychological       bene ts will be well worth it, and, over time,
jail or prison needs to have one place to go to nd    needs; a nurse practitioner or physician’s              the societal costs would be greatly reduced.       e
all of the help they need—housing, employment,        assistant to triage medical needs; an employment          rst line of contact should be the parole o cer,
transportation, medical care, psychiatric care,       specialist to assist with job skill development         who has the responsibility of making sure their
drug and alcohol counseling, immediate nancial        and nding employment; and a supply agent to             parolee sees the specialist(s) who can help them.
assistance, clothing, food, and understanding.        provide immediate supplies of clothing and food,        Each specialist would require at least one assistant
Ideally, it should come from the parole o ce,         as well as supplies to get the parolee started, such    to keep the paperwork owing.           e specialists,
which would encourage parolees to report in a         as writing materials, hygiene items, bus tickets,       in turn, would provide support for the parole
timely fashion to get the help they need.        at   kitchen ware, and clothing. Even two or three           o cer, allowing them to concentrate on the job of
would drastically cut violations, absconding, and     days of supplies could give a parolee hope, and         supervision. is would ensure more compliance
recidivism.                                           help deter them from making a bad decision in           and more successful parolee discharges. Everyone
   Each parole o ce should have a specialist for      order to eat.                                           would win in such a system, but society overall
each area of need: a social worker to provide              e answer can be very simple, but we must           would win the most, resulting in a better world
public assistance and immediate aid; a counselor      have the fortitude and foresight to implement           for us all.

                     Response by David Stein for The Abolitionist editorial collective
                               Lydia Erickson raises important suggestions for li ing the barriers for people coming home from
                            imprisonment. One speci cally stands out: what could a system of post-imprisonment look like that was not
                            reliant on surveillance and control, but rather health and safety?
                               An additional question to raise is, what are some strategies we can utilize that don’t rely on the parole o ce
                            for support? What are some strategies for “making power” as Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s describes ( e Abolitionist,
                            Issue 6, page 13) that can be applied to the barriers of imposed by (post) imprisonment?

   (continued from page 2)

  had the chance to explain how the abuse              may or may not be established or reinforced              Despite the recognition of the ways in
  they survived from their intimate partner            by physical and/or sexual violence, and where          which prison mirrors the dynamics of
  was relevant in their case. If this information      one’s feeling of entitlement to having power           battering, domestic violence survivors inside
  had been known at the time their cases were          over others plays a key role.   e survivors we         prisons consistently engage in individual and
  prosecuted, it’s possible that they would not        work with talk about the many ways tactics of          collective acts of resistance to these forms of
  have been charged with the same crime,               control are used by prison sta against people          coercive control committed by the state, and
  convicted, or sentenced so harshly.       is may     in prison (and in jail, immigration detention          work toward individual and collective healing,
  be especially true for those convicted before        centers, youth detention centers, and other            despite living in conditions that are extremely
  courts allowed expert testimony on domestic          countries around the globe) parallel the               detrimental to their healing. Any healing that
  violence in criminal cases, but it also applies      tactics used by their abusive partners to gain         survivors manage to do while imprisoned
  to a lot of survivors who are being convicted        and maintain power over them. As Ellen R.,             happens despite the violent, abusive, and
  today. We believe in survivors’ rights to tell       a survivor incarcerated at Valley State Prison         controlling conditions in prison and truly are
  their stories, and to have this information          for Women, explains:                                   acts of resistance.
  be considered when deciding whether to
  lock people up and separate them from their
                                                             In prison you are told when to sleep,             How Our Work Impacts e System
                                                          when to get up, when to eat, what you will             (Or, Our Vision Of Abolition)
  families. We have witnessed the various ways            eat and how much you may eat, when to
  that the courts exploit dangerous myths and                                                                   We believe that the work of Free Battered
                                                          go to work and which way you will walk
  misconceptions about domestic violence in                                                                   Women and the California Habeas Project
                                                          to get there, what clothes you must wear
  charging survivors with crimes. In particular,                                                              impacts the prison system and works toward
                                                          and when to return home. If all these
  women of color, transgender people, queer                                                                   prison abolition in a variety of ways. We do,
                                                          activities are not done exactly as ordered,
  folks, immigrants, and poor people who are                                                                  however, recognize that there is an inherent
                                                          you will be punished…In an abusive
  domestic violence survivors are repeatedly                                                                  contradiction in utilizing the legal system as a
                                                          home all the rules above apply.       e one
  and systematically disbelieved and discounted,                                                              strategy to challenge the injustices perpetuated
                                                          di erence is that most of the punishment
  and thus are further violated by people within                                                              by that very system. To this extent, we work
                                                          is physical abuse, where in prisons most of
  the criminal legal system. Our work supports                                                                towards abolitionist reforms, using multiple
                                                          the punishment is verbal abuse. Of course
  processes that allow survivors to tell their                                                                strategies to confront the immediate injustices
                                                          I do not feel that there is much di erence
  stories, to be believed, and to have their truths                                                           of the system and to bring us closer to a world
                                                          between the two, one just heals faster than
  matter when it comes to the essential question                                                              where prisons are unnecessary. ese strategies
                                                          the other.
  of their freedom.                                                                                           help us to remedy fundamental injustices and
                                                             …If a woman lives in a home that is like
    Second, we understand that prisons mirror                                                                 to achieve our goals of promoting freedom
                                                          a prison and the prison she is sent to is
  the dynamics of intimate partner battering, and                                                             and healing for domestic violence survivors.
                                                          identical to the abusive home she just le ,
  thus we see prisons as a form of state violence
  that anyone working to end violence in our
                                                          where does the cycle end? Sadly, we can                            Decarceration
                                                          all gure out very quickly what the answer             One primary way that the Habeas Project
  communities must also resist. Intimate partner          is…we must stop taking domestic violence            and Free Battered Women’s work impacts
  battering (or domestic violence) is a pattern
                                                          victims from one prison and place them in           the prison system is by working towards
  of intimidating, coercive, and controlling              another. Remember, the problem is not               decarceration, or getting people out of
  behaviors used in order to gain or maintain             going away, just because you cannot see
  power over one’s intimate partner, which                                                                                      CONTINUED ON PAGE 11

        10                                                          The Abolitionist
   (continued from page 10)

prison. We believe securing survivors’ release        to highlight the ways in which communities– transgender, queer, poor, have physical or
and reuniting them with their families and other      especially institutions allegedly designed to psychological disabilities, live in rural areas, and/
loved ones is a vital piece of promoting healing      protect and sustain the community, like the legal or otherwise experience forms of oppression
from the e ects of incarceration and other sources    system, health care system, child welfare system, are systematically disbelieved, blamed for their
of trauma. Also, getting people out of prison is      and even non-pro t organizations–contribute to partner’s abuse, verbally abused, denied access to
an important part of limiting state control over      conditions that lead to individual acts of violence resources, and, all too o en, subjected to physical
people’s lives. Since 2000, 26 domestic violence      and other harms.                                     and sexual violence when they seek protection
survivors serving life sentences have been released      For example, many domestic violence from abuse.
from prison. Some of these victories came about       survivors with whom we                                                            By drawing attention
through survivors working in partnership with         work repeatedly talk about the            e Habeas Project and Free            to the community’s
volunteer legal teams to le successful habeas         multiple strategies they used           Battered Women push the                shared responsibility
petitions, while other survivors were released on     to try to protect themselves                                                   for crimes, we draw
parole with the support of concerned community        and their children from their
                                                                                               criminal legal and parole             attention      to    the
members from throughout the state calling for         abusive partner’s violence and          systems to consider the full           role of community
their release.                                        coercive control, yet because          context of domestic violence            institutions in failing
                                                      of     various     institutional      survivors’ lives leading up to           to provide necessary
    Bringing Attention To e Social                    barriers to help, these outlets                                                social conditions that
    Context In Which “Crimes” Are                     failed to keep them safe.       e
                                                                                            their arrests and convictions.           allow for communities’
              Committed                               media and other community                                                      self-determination
   One of the most pressing injustices of the         institutions promote safety strategies such as and to be free from processes of criminalization.
criminal legal system is its failure to recognize       eeing to emergency shelters or family’s homes, In this light, institutional practices and public
the way in which unjust social conditions push        calling the police, obtaining civil protection policies that systematically deny people of color,
marginalized people towards the prison system.        orders, seeking medical attention, and/or calling poor people, immigrants, formerly incarcerated
A more thorough understanding of this social          crisis hotlines as the solution to safety, without people, and others access to quality education,
context encourages people to view prisoners           recognizing the ways in which those strategies health care, mental health services, substance
with compassion rather than apathy. It also           may actually increase survivors’ risk of being abuse treatment, methods for healing from the
highlights the fundamental ways in which prisons      harmed by their abusive partner, and/or may be e ects of trauma, living wage jobs, and other
target already vulnerable communities and serve       harmful in and of themselves.                        necessary economic, social, political, and artistic
state interests in maintaining social control and        Two examples of how institutions fail to support networks are seen as connected to
racial and economic hierarchies. In this vein, the    protect survivors of battering are the way in processes of criminalization.
Habeas Project and Free Battered Women push           which undocumented immigrant survivors may
                                                                                                            Challenging Us Reliance On Prisons As
the criminal legal and parole systems to consider     not be able to access assistance from civil court in
the full context of domestic violence survivors’      obtaining a protection order because of language               A Solution To Violence
                                                      barriers. Or, especially in the context of increased   Another way that we seek to impact the
lives leading up to their arrests and convictions.
                                                      immigration raids, undocumented immigrant            system is by advancing the growing national
        Community Responsibility                      survivors may have a very realistic fear that any critique–led by women of color and immigrant
  By challenging people and the legal and parole      help from the system might lead to her or her women over decades–of the over-reliance in
systems to consider the full context of events        abusive partner’s deportation. Similarly, women the U.S. on using the criminal legal system to
leading up to acts that are criminalized, we also     of color, transgender, and/or queer survivors address domestic violence. Over the past ten to
promote deeper understanding of the ways that         may not see the police as a source of safety or         een years, increasing amounts of federal and
the larger community also shares responsibility       protection because of the way in which police state dollars have been spent on reforming law
for an individual’s acts of harm against their        surveille, arrest, and commit violence against enforcement and prosecution policies to arrest
partner or other community member (whether            their loved ones and other community members. and prosecute more people who batter. Some
that individual is an abusive partner or a survivor   Survivors who are women of color, immigrants, unintended consequences of these policies are
of battering). By this, we mean that it’s important                                                                              CONTINUED ON PAGE 17

     e light is the only sun I see.
  Its smile brings many faces, but
     e shine took over.
  A blind person could see this light.
  A man approaches, only to talk and walk.
  He had a walkman for me.
  He looked like I knew him from somewhere
     e music of jazz went past me.
  A woman went past me holding the sun.
  I only began to take notice of these things.

     ere was a song I used to sing.
  Misty Blue came to mind by D. Moore.
     e light of the sun looks at me.
     e look of sickness.
     ere was no harm for the sun.
  Read my newspaper with the sun
     e light seems jealous, but that’s not all right.
  I only want a friend I could call my own.
  By Joseph Williams                                                                                                           Illustration by Chris Krych

                                                                    Summer 2007                                                                   11
by Patricia Hemphill and Isaac Ontiveros                informed of the developments of these cases, we prisoner. Abu Jamal has been held on death row
   Part of the abolitionist struggle is the can have found themselves in the sights of folks now forDaniel Faulkner.withseveral citiesof police
                                                              nd entry points from which to support
                                                                                                        state o cer,
                                                                                                                          over 25 charged
                                                                                                                                                  the murder
recognition of the ways the prison industrial
                                                        persecution. We can also work to understand the nation and in countries around the world,
complex is used to wage war against liberation
                                                        the relationship between seemingly disparate thousands of people organized on May 17 to show
movements in the United States.            is struggle
                                                        struggles—combating the divide and conqueror their support for Mumia, to demand a new and fair
also highlights the overall oppressive nature of
                                                        techniques of state repression.                        trial, and look forward ultimately to his release.
prisons in the US as they tear families and
                                                                                                                            is new set of appeals in Mumia’s case are
entire communities apart—crippling the
                                                                                                                     to determine whether or not Abu Jamal will
ability of people to control and organize their
                                                                                                                     receive a new trial. Mumia’s legal team, led by
own lives.
                                                                                                                     Robert Bryan, is hoping that this hearing will
       ere are at least 100 prisoners in the US
                                                                                                                     o er them the opportunity to nally present
whose imprisonment and unusually lengthy
                                                                                                                     evidence demonstrating that open racism in
sentences are related to their politics and
                                                                                                                     the jury selection and judicial misconduct
the political nature of their activities. Many
                                                                                                                     and racism on the part of Judge Sabo, the
of these prisoners were active in liberation
                                                                                                                     presiding judge, permeated through Mumia’s
struggles of the 1960s and 1970s.            ese
                                                                                                                     original trial. In a revealing moment this April,
include people active in Black liberation,
                                                                                                                     the District Attorney led an unprecedented
Indigenous liberation, Puerto Rican
                                                                                                                     motion requesting that the entire               ird
independence, to name only a few. Included
                                                                                                                     Circuit Court be removed from this case.
also are many people working in solidarity
                                                                                                                         is, a preemptive attempt to block any
with these movements.
                                                                                                                     grounds for the defense’s future appeals, was
   Many political prisoners are the victims
                                                                                                                     shut down at these arguments. Mumia’s case
of the US government’s vicious Counter
                                                                                                                     in some ways has come to be symbolic of this
Intelligence Programs. Many have been
                                                                                                                     country’s treatment of political prisoners and
locked away for decades. Political prisoners
                                                                                                                     its virulent attack on leaders of Black liberation
are o en subjected to extreme conditions
                                                                                                                     movements. Many will be watching, waiting,
while locked in prison, including harsh
                                                                                                                     and organizing in the next few months as they
treatment by prison o cials as well as being
                                                                                                                     await the decision on whether or not Mumia
kept in isolation from other prisoners as well
                                                                                                                     will receive a new trial.
as the outside world.
    When the Italian revolutionary Antonio                                                                              “Terrorist Enhancement” in Earth
Gramsci was imprisoned for his political                                                                                         Liberation Sentencing
activity by the fascist Musillini regime, the
state prosecutor said, “For twenty years we                                                                                 is spring, several earth and animal
must stop this brain from functioning.” Part                                                                         liberation activists received prison sentences
                                                                                     drawing by Brother Shabazz
of the strategy of the state is to disappear                                                                         in connection with the destruction by arson
prisoners. We see this starkly in the case of                            e San Francisco 8                     of private property related to commercial animal
political prisoners. e purpose of caging political                                                             exploitation, genetic engineering facilities, and
                                                             e ght to free the San Francisco 8 continues large scale logging enterprises. Daniel McGowan,
prisoners is not only to “punish” those engaged in as bail hearings for Ray Boudreaux were held in
political struggle against the state (and/or its ruling San Francisco June 18 through the 21st. ough Nathan Block and Joyanna Zacher were all
interests) but also to isolate and cut o the ties the main purpose of these recent proceedings sentenced to roughly seven-and-a-half-year prison
between committed ghters and the communities was Boudreaux’s bail reduction, testimony in terms. Another defendant received a shorter
they come from and are working in solidarity with. court introduced larger issues that will no doubt sentence, while several weeks earlier, several more
    e imprisonment of committed political activists be present as this case moves to trial. e defense “cooperating witnesses” received sentences ranging
is an attempt by the state to stop their brains argued that documents and records produced by from several years to upwards of a decade.
from functioning and to destroy their history the prosecution against bail reduction largely rely                     e arrests, trial and sentencing of these
and the history of their movements. Indeed the on information extracted through torture. In this               activists stems from Operation Back re, a massive
US Government claims that there are no political move, the defense is setting an important tone, coordinated e ort of several federal agencies, grand
prisoners in the United States.                                                                                jury proceedings, and the arrests of over a dozen
                                                        making it clear that no aspect of this case can be activists.           e Federal Government has labeled
   Historically the struggle to support and free removed from the illegality of the torture methods
political prisoners has been a focal point for many used by the government.                                    those involved in animal and earth liberation
                                                                                           e prosecution’s
social movements.            e relationship between strategy in these hearings was to exploit the blatant activities as the number one “domestic terrorist”
imprisoned activists and the communities from criminalization of the men by characterizing them threat. Indeed, during sentencing, the state enacted
which they come helps to keep strong the politics as a threat to public were they to be released on a “terrorism enhancement” to the sentencing
and sense of history that helps forward liberation decreased bails. Witnesses and experts, including guidelines. e use of the “terrorist enhancement”
struggles. While in the US there is a general gap in UC Santa Cruz professor Craig Haney, debunked provision in the sentencing of McGowan, Zacher,
knowledge of the existence of political prisoners, these notions by making it clear that these and Block, as well as several of the cooperating
and thus support for them, these imprisoned community elders posed no speci c danger to witnesses, bulked up sentencing by labeling aspects
women and men, are by no means alone.               ere any community and the prosecution’s attempt of their charges as acts of terrorism.
are thousands of people in the US committed to depict these men as desperate and dangerous                        In a statement issued on June 5, 2007, the
to acting in solidarity with political prisoners— was not based in fact. As for now, the men have              National Lawyers Guild said, “ e use of a
working so that their histories and struggles will to sit and wait on any further move towards terrorism enhancement in this case e ectively
not be forgotten, organizing the struggle for their their freedom, the remainder of the bail hearings punishes an act of arson more harshly on the
freedom.                                                                                                       basis of the viewpoint that motivates it; as such,
                                                        have been postponed until August 6 when Judge we believe that it is intended to crack down on
   In this section of the Abolitionist, we hope to Moscone returns from vacation.
o er a space, however small, to highlight political                                                            environmental activism more generally, by raising
prisoners’ struggles and to draw connections            [Update: Since this piece was written, six San the fear that any misstep could lead to prosecution
between the imprisonment of political activists and Francisco 8 defendants, Francisco Torres, Hank as a terrorist.” We can see the implications for
the political nature of the entire prison industrial Jones, Harold Taylor, Ray Boudreaux, Richard this broad and sweeping provision being extended
complex. We also hope to draw attention to the O’Neal, and Richard Brown, have been released on beyond the easily isolated animal and earth
connections between the movements to free bail. Although eligable for parole, neither Herman liberation communities and being employed
political prisoners and the movement for the Bell nor Jalil Muntaqim have been released. -eds.]                against other activists and movements. Indeed,
abolition of the prison industrial complex.                                                                    the “terrorism” rhetoric has been liberally used by
   We o er below several news briefs that highlight              Developments in the case of                   the state in reference to the case of the SF8. We
the nature of political persecution in the United                     Mumia Abu Jamal                          also note the state’s defacto recognition of the
States and how the prison industrial complex                                                                   political nature of the prosecution and sentencing
                                                           On May 17, 2007, oral arguments began in new
both bolsters and is bolstered by the smashing developments in the case of Mumia Abu Jamal, of these activists by legally, and o cially, labeling
of dissent and liberation struggles. By keeping perhaps the nation’s most well known political and convicting them as terrorists.

        12                                                             The Abolitionist
           Justice Now : An Open Letter To The Governor
Dear Governor and California Legislature,                    e criminal legal system is built on fear and          is is not a game. When your term limits
  I am currently imprisoned at the Central              prejudice. Economic bias results in poor kids like   have come and gone, we will still be here with our
California Women’s Facility. I’m writing you            myself lling a severely disabled juvenile system     families, ghting to survive the consequences of
because in all the “prison reform plans” in             where we are tossed from bed to bed with no love     your legislation.
Sacramento these days, everyone seems to have           or support to speak of. Out of this broken system        Please explain to my children why you’re
forgotten the most important people: those of us        comes broken and ostracized human beings.            scared of me even though you’ve never met me.
in prison who will have to su er the consequences          Today I’m a 30-year-old mother of four boys       You’re scared for your safety. But have you come
of your proposals.                                                                                           to talk with women who have served 15, 20, or
     is marks a sad year for                                                                                 more years because they got tired of being beat
our communities’ futures.                                                                                    up? Have you come to talk with someone who
Ignoring over 3,300 of                                                                                       got 30 years to life stealing food to feed a baby
us currently imprisoned                                                                                      on a third strike? You don’t know what it is that
in California’s women’s                                                                                      you’re scared of.
prisons who have written                                                                                       I’m not safe, nor are my children. Where’s their
policymakers       opposing                                                                                  mother to hold them and say that everything
prison expansion – and                                                                                       will be okay? Who tells them they’re safe? Who
bypassing        democratic                                                                                  creates and ensures the future of all the children
voter approval – the                                                                                         of all us in prison? Certainly not the juvenile
California Legislature has                                                                                   justice system, where this all started.
rolled through a 53,000-                                                                                       California cannot a ord this prison system,
bed prison deal, the single                                                                                  judging by the daily food issue we face. You don’t
largest prison construction                                                                                  know how resources are wasted around here.
deal in U.S. history.                                                                                        And what about wasted lives and families fallen
     ousands of people                                                                                       because of your fear?
in women’s prisons, like                                                                                          ere is no time more crucial than now to
myself, have taken a stand against expansion of         serving 10 years in a dehumanizing prison system stop being scared of and start caring about your
California’s prison system in any form, including       where no one acknowledges that we are human neighbor. Start reaching out, not running away.
the 53,000 bed prison deal and an additional 4,500      with the same emotional and intellectual needs as Stop putting up walls dividing communities
women’s prison beds leadership is continuing            any other. I have to ght for every positive bit of based on ignorance and prejudice. You have
to push in our name, in spite of our work with          growth I can get. No one o ers it. I have to forage just enabled, without public hearings or voter
advocates to successfully remove them from their        through tons of garbage to                                                        approval, the next
legislative vehicle in AB 76.                             nd it.                                 The absence of our input                 public hearing
  Much of the reasoning and justi cation used              I have to ght to keep my                                                          If the state has
                                                        sons from becoming victims
                                                                                             leads me to believe that your                identi ed 4,500 of
by academics and legislators to advocate for an
additional 4,500 beds in women’s prisons has            of this system so that they proposals are not truly aimed at us who should be
referenced our “needs.” No one has stopped to           may have a better life. I have       helping us—they are merely a                 released, we should
ask what we need or want, even if they do care.         to ght for my health so that        ploy to make prison expansion truly be released. We
     e absence of our input leads me to believe         I can live on to see them                                                         need to return home
                                                        succeed.         eir father is
                                                                                             agreeable when Californians                  with the resources
that your proposals are not truly aimed at helping
us—they are merely a ploy to make prison                dead. eir mother has been          have consistently voted it down. and services in
expansion agreeable when Californians have              deemed violent and un t for                                                       our communities,
consistently voted it down.                             “society.” What are their chances? Because of your independent of the prison system, to start
  History has proven time and again that if you         sentencing laws, I have no chance to return home creating another future for our children where
build them, you will ll them. is has worked so          to mother and nurture my children, even though we can all grow to our fullest potential.
well that you can no longer manage the existing         the prison considers me a “model inmate.”
                                                            In last fall’s gubernatorial race, in attempt to
prison system, but you still want to build. While
you and your predecessors created us to be what         outdo the Governor’s prison expansion proposals,
and where we are, you are so lost on where to put       Angelides claimed 171,000 people were released                               Misty Rojo
us, and don’t know where we came from or how            early to scare people. It’s a lie and a form of
to x the beginning of our problem.                      prejudice that keeps so many of us in prison.

  Testing the Borders (continued from page 9)
  the majority of immigrants can “pass” as people       just about legalization or stopping raids and        are interconnected and mutually dependent.
  of color they are not “passing citizens.” Over        deportation. It’s also about worker rights, racial      e need to dialogue and develop a shared
  80% of all immigrants are arriving from Latin         justice, community and economic development;         understanding and agenda about how the
  America, the Caribbean, Asia, and Africa.             it’s against police brutality, militarization of     relationships between citizens and non-citizens,
       e concept “immigrant” has entered the            immigration, and border control. It’s about the      between communities of color and the foreign-
  racial lexicon of the U.S. and rarely includes or     rights of women, children, youth, farm workers,      born, need to be called into question and
  is applied to white or European immigrants. So        Indigenous people, and international solidarity.     changed. e de ance of those who marched
  much that a new type of detection and detention,                                                           in 2006, who cannot vote, who usually do
  based on racial, religious, ethnic, and nationality                  e Fuego Next Time                     not understand or speak English, who are
  pro ling has become the way law enforcement             How interrelated are these struggles? In           marginalized and subjected to cruel living and
  now does business. It’s almost to the point that      California one out of every four residents is        working conditions, who are more vulnerable
  if you can’t pass for a white male Christian, you     foreign-born, including the current Governor.        to abuses and violations of their rights, should
  can be subjected to this new type of pro ling         And one out of every eight foreign-born are          inspire us, give us more courage to stand up
  and detention.                                        considered undocumented, in transition, or out       together, and not just dream a better world but
     “Immigrant” means poor and black, brown,           of status. In the City and County of Los Angeles,      ght to bring about its birth.
  yellow, African, Latino, Asian, Indigenous,           the Mayor’s O ce reports that one out of every
  Arab, Muslim, South Asian, Sikh. “Immigrant”,         three residents is Mexican.       is means that        A version of this piece originally appeared in
  for us, in turn, must become a new way of seeing      everyone is related to or knows someone who is       the Southern California Library’s 2007 special
  nation, race, class, religion, and gender and its     foreign-born—in their close-knit and extended        event reader: Without Fear…Claiming Safe
  grassroots power and signi cance to propel an         families, among co-workers, at churches, and         Communities without Sacri cing Ourselves.
  agenda that includes racial, social, economic,        schools.                                                is version re-printed with permission of the
  and environmental justice.                                  e lives and rights of immigrants and           author.
       e immigrant rights movement is not               non-immigrants, especially people of color,

                                                                       Summer 2007                                                                 13
    is issue of e Abolitionist marks the introduction of a new regular section contributed by Youth Against Youth Incarceration
 (YAYI). In this rst section, YAYI lays out a description of their history, vision, and work. If you have questions or comments for
 future sections by YAYI, please send them care of e Abolitionist.

       Our Mission And Philosophy                   YAYI is a youth-led organization and movement,         gain information about the Juvenile Justice system
   YAYI is a youth-led movement committed we work with a number of adults who are also                     from the perspectives of youth and organizations
to preventing imprisonment and recidivism committed to creating positive change in the                     that work with youth, YAYI members held a
by alerting youth to the issues that face their juvenile justice system and the lives of youth.            forum at Oakland City Hall last spring and have
communities, educating them about their rights                                                             gone to several high schools. We have advised
                                                            What We See as the Problem                     Mayor Ron Dellums, Supervisor Keith Carson,
and the juvenile justice system, and empowering
                                                      In our research, which has included personal
them to make changes in their communities.                                                                 and e Juvenile Justice/Delinquency Prevention
                                                    experience and observation, we found that a
Our goals are to unite communities through                                                                 Commission (two YAYI members currently serve
                                                    disproportionate number of youth of color were
collaboration with policy makers, law enforcement,                                                         on this Commission) on the needs of young
                                                    being stopped by law enforcement, o en treated
formerly and currently imprisoned youth, and                                                               people, and have gone to Sacramento several times
                                                    disrespectfully, and then entered into the juvenile
organizations that are concerned with juvenile                                                             to speak with legislators about spending money on
                                                    justice system. We determined that there are
justice, and to establish programs and resources
                                                    not adequate resources in our communities to
that provide alternatives to incarceration and
activate those programs and resources that already
                                                    provide young people with recreation, counseling,        Our youth are being tried for crimes as
                                                    job training and opportunities, mental health            adults, for impulses they don’t yet know
exist. We hope to involve youth and their families
                                                    assistance, and mentoring. We discovered that
in their communities and to educate members
                                                    many of the youth were being held for non-violent        how to control or manage on their own.
of the juvenile justice system about the needs of                                                                         - Omar, age 18
                                                    infractions; that the intake process is inconsistent
                                                    and a Risk Assessment Tool might or might not be
             How YAYI Got Started                   used; and that, although educational classes were
                                                                                                           education and resources, rather than the prison
   Inspired to help Bay Area youth stay out of jail supposed to be part of each young person’s daily       industrial complex. We have been on Channel 2,
and the juvenile justice system, een students in agenda, there was a high absentee rate among              Channel 5, Univision, KPFA and KPOO Radio,
an English class at Oasis High                      teachers in “correctional” institutions. Because
                                                                                                                            informing the public of our
School in Oakland, California,                                                                                              concerns and our work.
founded Youth Against Youth
Incarceration (YAYI) in                                                                                                              Current Plan
January of 2006. e intent of                                                                                                     In April 2007, YAYI members
this class was to research an                                                                                                 spent two hours at the Santa
issue that a ected the student                                                                                                Cruz County Probation O ce
population at Oasis and use                                                                                                   with Chief Probation O cer
the data gained to develop a                                                                                                  Judy Cox and her two Assistant
plan to do something about                                                                                                    Chief Probation O cers, Scott
the issue. A er several months                                                                                                Macdonald and Fernando
of research and education                                                                                                     Giraldo. Here we learned what
about Alameda County                                                                                                          the people in this o ce are doing
societal issues which included                                                                                                to prevent youth from entering
speakers, internet and library                                                                                                the justice system. One of us
data, focus groups, eld trips                                                                                                 commented, “I never knew there
to various organizations,                                                                                                     were law enforcement people
readings, and interviews, we                                                                                                  like you who actually want to
students decided to focus on                                                                                                  keep kids out of jail.” Later in
youth incarceration and to                                                                                                    the day we went to e Evening
call ourselves YAYI.                                                                                                          Reporting Center where we saw
                                                                                                                              young people on probation who
 Who      e Members Are                                                                                                       spent three hours a day there
   YAYI is a group of young people who are we students live where we do and associate with                 in counseling groups, doing homework, eating
committed to bringing about positive change in youth who have been incarcerated or have been               dinner together, and engaging with mentors.
the juvenile justice                                                      in the system ourselves, and        On that same day we spent several hours
system and the lives                                                      because of high recidivism       at Barrios Unidos, a grassroots organization
of youth in the Bay
                                I was raised in a real community
                                                                          rates among youth, YAYI          dedicated to promoting peace and justice.          e
Area,        particularly which gave me certain rules I abide by. members know that the                    sta and volunteers at Barrios have “harnessed
youth of color. We            Today I see youngsters who have no          juvenile justice system as       the power of culture and spirituality to rescue at-
are passionate about        direction, and I want to provide them it now operates does not                 risk young people, provide avenues to quell gang
wanting to see that with a positive role model. I am trying rehabilitate most youth                        warfare, and o er a promising model for building
all youth have equal         to do what I do because I see families in its charge. e system                healthy and vibrant multicultural communities.”
opportunities          to
education, jobs, and
                            torn apart and I don’t want to do that does not give them positive                With that impetus and from the knowledge gained
                               to my family. ere is no reason to          alternatives nor does it         in the past year and a half and the recognition that
services. We range                                                        give them hope. It needs to                             CONTINUED ON PAGE 15
in age from sixteen have young people’s funerals every day, change.
to twenty-two, are of youngsters who never got to see, never
various       ethnicities     got to touch, life. at’s just too sad.       What We Have Done                      e members of YAYI recognize the
and have lived in                                                            In order to educate
                                        – Roland, age 17                                                       value of the support and diligence
Oakland most, if not                                                      ourselves, we have met with
all, of our lives. We                                                     men, women and youth who               knowledgeable adults can bring
are young, strong, dedicated students who are have been imprisoned. We have met with members                    to us regarding the serious issues
intelligent, creative, reliable, and supportive of of: e Alameda County District Attorney, Public               that are silenced everyday in our
our communities. We want to change the system Defender, and Probation O ces, Books Not Bars,
because it is not working. We ask: ‘If the justice Cop Watch, Community Justice Network for Youth,
                                                                                                              communities. We are asking for the
system is truly about rehabilitation, why then are Education Not Incarceration, All of Us or None,             guidance and encouragement that
there so many who get sent back?’ We have, in our       e Disproportionate Con nement Initiative,            experienced adults can give us to end
own ways, ‘been there, done that.’ We have ‘seen     Youth In Focus, e Coalition for Public Safety,
                                                                                                              youth incarceration and recidivism.
the system, been in the system, know it, live it and United Playaz, Colored Ink, and Barrios Unidos
are it.’ We are determined to make a change. While and the Probation Department of Santa Cruz. To
                                                                                                                        – Amirah, age 18

       14                                                          The Abolitionist
YAYI, (continued from page 14)
youth voices and needs must be heard and met, we      organization working to eliminate the prison         have been feeling, saying, struggling, and dying
have decided to establish a place for young people    industrial complex, whose sta will train us in       for. Young people carry the dreams of the whole
and their families, similar to Barrios Unidos,        grant writing and the use of data to e ect policy    society. If we don’t establish and maintain a
probably in East Oakland. As we develop our           change.                                              space for those dreams, the community as a
plan, we are looking at certain programs we feel           e members of YAYI are currently developing      whole loses its dreams and their attainment.
are essential to this center: character and image     a concrete action plan to establish the Community He later states:
building, some form of cop watch, computer            Center described above. We are determined to
training, job interview training and placement,       focus on this project and committed to working             e social erosion stops at our door. To build
political education, family workshops, nancial        on it until it becomes a reality.                    from there, we’re going to need a di erent ethos
planning, visual and performing arts classes,            Luis Rodriguez, author and poet, writes in        in this country. Not ‘kill or be killed’, which
counseling, re-entry, and forms of recreation. We     Hearts and Hands, Creating Community in              some youth take literally, but one that values
realize we need to form partnerships with elders      Violent Times:                                       and nurtures every child. One that teaches
who will act as mentors and provide support, re                                                            us to work for the decent survival of all, for
                                                               ere is an old saying that a culture is made therein lies our best chance for survival. An
sources, expertise, and wisdom. We have brought          around what we do with our young people.          ethos that says we must place all our resources,
some elders on board and are in the process of              is book is meant to help us envision and       all our institutions, at the disposal of one child,
recruiting others. In addition, YAYI has become          remake a culture around what our youth            any child, crying out.
a work group of Critical Resistance, a national
                                                                                                                As members of YAYI and the young people we
                                                                                                              represent, we are crying out. We urge the people
   We need a place where we can go to take our minds o the violence                                           of our communities, of our society, to listen to us,
                                                                                                              hear us and respond in deed to our cries.
          and people dying all around us. - Deidre, age 17

                                                                                                                 We need a Center because people
    As a youth I can see the destruction that’s going on, and it’s just not right.                                 our age go through so much.
     ere are no opportunities and resources for us; and those who could help                                       You just don’t know what we
  us, such as government or justice system o cials, don’t seem to care. e                                         go through at home and on the
  people with power are blowing smoke screens and seem to want to keep the                                      streets. We need a safe place to be
  system the way it is. Our teen center will provide alternative ways for young                                 where everyone is doing something
  people to spend their time. It will change their perspective when they see that                                          constructive.
  there is someone out there who does care.           - Izak, age 18                                                       - Caroline, age 18

                Liberty vs Property
by Edgar Pitts                                        for obvious reasons.      us the intent of both acts    were used in the Jim Crow South to prevent
   Property or liberty? Which is most impor-          is the same: To forbid habeas corpus review for         Blacks from voting.
tant?      e very need to pose this question says     all prisoners.                                            Without liberty rights, prisoners have been
a lot about the society we live in. Some things          Even though it deals with human liberty,             reduced to mere property. At least that’s the way
are supposed to go without saying, but in times       the AEDPA law doesn’t even require that the             we’re being viewed and treated by the prison
of trickery, semantics, and exploitation, we nd       prisoner be noti ed of the one-year time limit          guard unions that advocate for longer sentences,
ourselves explaining the most basic things over       to le for habeas review. In forfeiture cases, the       and by the private prison businesses that lobby
and over again, and still ghting for that which       law requires that the person whose property is in       for more harsh laws. Accordingly, the MCA and
the Declaration of Independence already con-          jeopardy be noti ed by mail or by publishing a          the AEDPA compliment the goals and objectives
ceded to be an “unalienable right:” Liberty.          notice in a newspaper over a period of time. In         of the prison industrial complex. Justice is not
   Long before the Military Commission Act            one case, notice was required when one Toshiba          an issue.       e issues are the $100,000 that can
(MCA) of 2006—which forbids some habeas               Color Television was up for forfeiture. In my           be made in building a single cell for a new jail,
corpus review—the Clinton administration had          case, I’m serving a 49-year sentence for drugs          and the $2 million that can be made to keep a
already begun its assault on habeas corpus by         that never materialized at my trial. A er my            juvenile in prison for life.     e poor, speci cally
signing the 1996 Anti-Terrorism and E ective          direct appeal was nal, I was never noti ed by the       Blacks, are still seen as property by those who
Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) into law. e AEDPA           court, or by my lawyer, of the nality of my appeal      own the most property and who believe they are
so severely limits the access to habeas corpus        and the meeting of the one-year time limit. I’m         at liberty to circumvent the human rights of the
review, and the court, that the only conclusion       therefore being denied the right to challenge the       less fortunate.
that could be drawn from it is that it is a booby     constitutionality of my wrongful conviction, thus             ese legislations are the building blocks for a
trap. Before the AEDPA, a prisoner could have         falling victim to the booby trap of the AEDPA,          society where poor prisoners will be entrapped
  led for habeas review at anytime. But once the      which places property above human liberty.              by illegal and unconstitutional convictions with
AEDPA passed, prisoners were given a one-year            If liberty is a fundamental human issue,             no venue to challenge such convictions, turning
time limit to le for review, which is impractical     then the AEDPA and the MCA are inhumane                 prisons into the repositories of cheap labor to be
in cases where the prisoner is illiterate, too poor   legislations. And both are in direct con ict            exploited by corporations.         e MCA and the
to a ord a lawyer, mentally ill, or handicapped by    with the Declaration of Independence that held          AEDPA, coupled with the 13th Amendment of
the precarious nature of prison life—the majority     “liberty” to be an “unalienable” right.         us to   the U.S. Constitution—which justi es slavery as
of prisoners being subjected to these pitfalls.       deny habeas review under the MCA for so-called          “punishment for crime” –leave prisoners as the
      e AEDPA is the domestic equivalent of the       “aliens,” and to all prisoners, aliens or not, under    property of the prison industrial complex: e
MCA, which forbids courts from considering            the AEDPA, is unjust. A poor illiterate prisoner,       Twenty- rst Century Slaves.
habeas corpus petitions from aliens that are          in order to meet the time requirements of the
classi ed as enemy combatants.               e only   AEDPA must learn to read, write, and become               Edgar Pitts #04616-084
di erence is that the MCA clearly states that it      acquainted with the law in less than a year—              U.S. Penitentiary MAX ADX
forbids Habeas review for some.          e AEDPA      something that is nearly impossible for the most          P.O. Box 8500
gives a prisoner one year to le for habeas review     studious of law students.      e time requirements        Florence, CO 81226
knowing that most will fail to meet the deadline      of the AEDPA are similar to the unfair tests that

                                                                     Summer 2007                                                                     15
 Perspectives on Paris
     One of the major stories this summer for celebrity watchers and anti-prison industrial complex advocates
   alike, was the on again, off again imprisonment of Paris Hilton in the Los Angeles County Lynwood women’s
   jail. From Hilton’s release days after beginning her sentence, to her return to
   jail, to claims that she hopes to open a center to support women being released
   from jail, the white hot spotlight normally reserved for Paris Hilton’s red carpet
   appearances was trained on the US criminal legal system and its role in race,
   gender, and class politics.
     During Paris Hilton’s three weeks at Lynwood, two imprisoned writers, Marilyn
   Buck and Dortell Williams, examined Hilton’s time in jail in relationship to the
   broader US prison population. With a mix of analysis, sarcasm, and optimism,
   both writers re-focus our attention on those left to live in cages long after Hilton’s
   release. Marilyn Buck’s piece is the first of what we hope will be an ongoing column
   for The Abolitionist addressing issues facing women prisoners. We’ve printed the
   two pieces together here to offer two perspectives on this high profile case.

by Marilyn Buck                                    detentions, the war against Iraq, or support stumbled into the prison charnel houses of
   “She got a harsher sentence because she was workers’ demands. None of them are Paris. America. She is not unlike her namesake, Paris
a celebrity.” So stated Loyola law professor Not Susan Sarandon, not Martin Sheen. Not of Troy who took Helen home. He didn’t have
Laurie Levenson concerning Paris Hilton’s 45- even Angelina Jolie. Such celebrities are not a clue of what he had done. She doesn’t either.
day sentence for recidivist violations of her the mesmerizing glittery-gold, indolent white Her going to jail does absolutely nothing to
probation. I’m certain many other non-rich, American princess who flaunts her disregard alleviate or even slow lengthening sentences
non-white, non-celebrity women and men for social and human value—in living color.                   and ever-expanding imprisonment for the
have received harsher                                                           —the woman on “non-privileged.” Hundreds of thousands
sentences for much less             Paris is super thin but larger            the pedestal. As such have already paid enormous costs and suffered
flagrant probation and                                                        she has no social grievously and should be released.
parole violations. Not
                                than the diminished lives the vast consciousness. That Society as a whole has paid an enormous
to mention the hundreds                majority of women live.                would diminish her price to warehouse and permit slave labor,
of thousands of women,                                                        myth! She lives at the despite the profits to the few. And like Paris,
men, and children who have spent 45 times expense of every working person worldwide many prisoners suffer serious medical or
10 or 45 times 100 days in jail or prison. In who feeds her TV ratings. Her life force sucks psychological problems arising from the
fact, 45 days is devastating and may even be away that of the rest of us.                            dehumanization, abuse, worries about their
fatal for prisoners who are lynched, murdered,                                                       children, families, and poverty. Anxiety drives
                                                                 Interests Of Justice
beat, tortured or raped in less than even 5 days                                                     many to despair. Stress and fear break down the
in “custody.” Of course Paris hasn’t had any of      Nevertheless, all the hoopla about Hilton human organism. No, her jailing does nothing
those “problems.”                                  does shine a light on “justice” in the U.S. to equalize justice. Serious community work
   In reality, Hilton has had much less to fear. Not a new one, just a higher-wattage, glitzier among the targets and victims of the prison
The jailers have treated her quite well, if not one. No new illuminations, just the same old nation would do more.
preferentially, at each twist and turn of this shadowy business as usual. Still a fundamental          However, since she is in jail, perhaps she
melodramatic episode. Other prisoners will         social question is highlighted: What are the will learn something. It won’t be much. Not
also have done so. Most would, because we are interests of justice? Perhaps, this question enough time or repression. And, she doesn’t
decent human beings despite all sensationalist can be brought to bear. By its very nature, have to. She may come to think of this episode
yellow journalism to the contrary. Prisoners justice cannot be chained and bound to either as another of her escapades—food for the
are the U.S.A.’s #2 “fear factor” after foreign punishment or to innocence and guilt, despite interviewers and gossip-mongers. Likewise,
“terrorists.”                                      America’s prestidigitator’s efforts to conjure                             it seems improbable
   A few prisoners adore Paris because she’s a     the contrary!                                                              that she will change
celebrity; if possible they have already asked       Many,           including     Her going to jail does absolutely her future behavior
for her autograph, have bent over backwards prisoners, may give the               nothing to alleviate or even slow and stop endangering
to make her stay pleasant, and hope perhaps nod to the judge for                  lengthening sentences and ever- other people’s lives.
                                                   “equalizing justice,” even
for a lipstick or at least a story of “I met Paris                                expanding imprisonment for the Jail or prison doesn’t
Hilton, a famous person,” that they will tell      just a little bit. It might                                                make anyone better.
                                                   be that more than a few                  “non-privileged.”
their family and friends if they ever get the                                                                                 It’s purpose or intent
opportunity. Many women prisoners hang on          of her social peers did so                                                 isn’t to lead anyone to
to dreams and fairy tales. Many don’t think        too, being embarrassed by such flaunting of “the path of righteousness.”
about the lack of democracy or the way Paris’ wealth and privilege with such impunity. It is           Meanwhile, far too many women prisoners
rights and desires trample their own.              intriguing that the judge did so. Why? Did will continue to sit in prisons, before TV screens
   Paris is super thin but larger than the he consider the thousands of not-rich, not- captivated and starving for the glamorous
diminished lives the vast majority of women famous people who are summarily dispatched life. They feel bad for her; don’t wish her to
live. And while her time in jail was certainly to prisons? Was he offended or incensed suffer this indignity. She is the American
“sensational,” who really wants to identify because she thumbed her nose at him and princess and should not be tarnished. Most
with a poor Black woman left go to die in at any pretense that she might be subject to of the watchers know that there is no way
the hospital who called “911” because the “THE LAW;” or, had he not done so, would in hell they’ll get to be a princess. But they
hospital staffed refused to treat her; or with a there have been accusations of favoritism?          dream. Besides, what would be left but the
Palestinian or Iraqi woman holding a bleeding        Should Paris have gone to jail? My sense of daily grind of punishment that will never ever
child in the midst of devastation?                 outrage at American injustice prods me to say free women from the reality of class, race and
   Or even with those other celebrities who go “yes.” But my sense of justice and the need to national origin?
to jail; those who protest racism, immigration struggle for that declares “no.” Paris drunkenly

       16                                                      The Abolitionist
Paris Hilton: A Face for the Less Fortunate?
By Dortell Williams                                        hear the taunts, “Woman up! Do the crime, face the          or if they’re really just breeding grounds for disease,
                                                           time,” etc. But for those who actually value human          mental illness, and centers of racism by fellow
  To many people across the globe, Paris Hilton            life, and recognize it for the precious gi that it is,      prisoners?
represents many things: from down-to-earth                 even a short interruption of one’s freedom is a serious           ough I wouldn’t wish the horrid experience
party girl, to high-maintenance fashionista—and            matter. It takes but a moment to conceive a child, a        of incarceration on anyone, who would ever have
everything in between. But who could ever have             one second scratch to win the lottery, or a simple turn     thought a smooth faced, fair-skinned socialite would
imagined that this white, super rich, high society,        to be at the right place at the right time to meet the      come to represent the muted su ering of millions
icon would become the tearful face for scores of           love of your life. All of this is almost impossible while   of primarily poor and pigmented people? Yet, in an
marginalized, incarcerated, people of color? Yet           incarcerated.                                               ironic twist of fate, this is exactly what Paris Hilton
that’s exactly what happened when Hilton was                  Once inside, Hilton’s highly publicized nightmare        has come to represent.
                                                           awakened the world to the experience of millions                     Once released, I’m sure we’ll hear much
tossed in the clink for violating conditions of
                                                           across the nation, a er she was thrown into the             mre of Hilton, my hope is that she’ll start using her
                                                           muzzled darkness of the inside. A potentially deadly        celebrity to speak more for the impoverished and less
      e health of the 26-year-old, social magnate          darkness where staph (staphylococcal) infections and        fortunate she so closely is forced to relate to during
immediately went south the minute the cell                 dangerous variations of hepatitis eagerly lie and wait      her temporary jailhouse journey.
door slammed. In an extraordinary show of                  for a host.                                                    Sources:
intervention, Sheri Leroy Baca “re-assigned” her              Hilton’s traumatic ordeal stems from a DUI arrest           KABC news, Ch.7, June 7, 2007, Hilton released
to home detention. Steve Whitmore, a Los Angeles           earlier this year—a misdemeanor. As a consequence,          from jail.
County Sheri ’s Department spokesperson says,              her license was suspended. She continued to drive,             KTTV’s Fox 11 News, June 8, 2007, Hilton
“She was released for an unspeci ed medical                defying the law. She was sentenced to 45 days of            remanded back to court and jail.
condition,” less than 72 hours a er checking in.           which it was estimated she would do about half. A              KCAL 9, June 8, 2007, Hilton remanded back to
Let’s call it compassionate release—an occurrence          far cry from the 25-to-life sentence thousands of           court and jail; Sheri Leroy Baca justi es release of
                                                           other misdemeanor o enders are forced to serve              Hilton.
rarely, if ever, played out for the average indigent
                                                           under California’s utterly wicked ree Strikes law.             KTTV’s Fox 11 news, Hilton’s incarceration
                                                           Imagine being sentenced to severe conditions of             condition.
  Following loud cries of foul from the public,            overcrowding, and esh-eating or other inadequately
a er less than 24 hours of freedom, the Simple                                                                                               Update:
                                                           treated diseases—for a misdemeanor. Still, Hilton’s            During a press conference, renowned high pro le
Life star was plucked out of her cozy, 2,700 square        temporary predicament speaks volumes for countless          attorney Gloria Alred announced that she would
foot spread and remanded back to a cold, 8-by-12           others forever entombed for little more than driving        be representing an older, Black female who has a
Los Angeles County Jail cell. Apparently, the no           without a license.                                          prosthetic leg, in a discrimination suit against the Los
nonsense judge who sentenced her was put o by                 In a press conference set to rebu accusations of         Angeles County Jail system.       e charge stems from
the sheri ’s unauthorized move.         e judge had        special treatment for Hilton, Sheri Baca stated that        Pamela Richardson’s three-week stay at the massive
speci cally ordered that she not receive home              he feared he could not adequately treat the celebrity.      jail where she received inadequate mental health
detention or anklet monitoring.                                ough undisclosed, he felt that her ailment was          care and her prosthetic leg was taken from her until
                                                           of such apparent gravity that his only remedy was           her release.      e charges leading to her arrest were
      e Hilton Hotel heir reportedly wailed in
                                                           to let her go. However,’s Harvey Levin              dropped.- KABC, Ch. 7, June 11, 2007.
anguish as she was lead back to the dungeon, the
                                                           lent more insight by describing what appears to be
same wail that is o en mu ed for so many others            a very common response to incarceration. “She’s
by the ever-con ning walls of poverty and misfortune.      despondent [and] she isn’t eating or sleeping. …She’s                                    Dortell Williams
“Being in jail is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever had
to do,” says Hilton in a statement—just 96 hours into
                                                           teetering on the brink.”                                                                 H-45771/A2-103
                                                              Whatever the case, the fact that the sheri of the                                       P.O. Box 4430
her stint. She speaks for so many who’ve never been        largest county jail system in the world would admit
given a whisper of a voice.                                that his medical facilities are inadequate is both                                  Lancaster, CA 93539
  For the cynical, Hilton’s sentence is too short for      telling and frightening. It makes one wonder if jails              
her to complain. With a little imagination one could       and prisons are the cure-all society bills them to be,

   (continued from page 11)

 that increasing numbers of domestic violence              and working towards alternative responses to                  For more information about the California
 survivors are being arrested throughout the               violence, Free Battered Women and the Habeas                Habeas Project, write to California Habeas
 country for using force to resist their partner’s         Project aim to also bring forth radical changes             Project, c/o Legal Services for Prisoners with
 violence, as well as for other crimes.                    in the meaning of state protection. We call for             Children, 1540 Market Street, Suite 490, San
   Meanwhile, we also have come to understand              reinvesting in community needs that we know                 Francisco, CA 94102 (please note that the Habeas
 that imprisonment is not an e ective response             keep people out of jails and prison. Instead of             Project’s capacity to respond to letters from
 even for those who have used violence in an               prison, we want supports that truly create safe             people in prison who do not meet the criteria
 e ort to gain or maintain coercive control over           and healthy communities (like access to quality             outlined in PC § 1473.5 is very limited).
 others. When we lock up those who are abusive             education for all, health care, drug and alcohol              Similarly, Free Battered Women is primarily
 as a way of “holding them accountable” for                treatment, safe and a ordable housing, social               a volunteer-based organization with a limited
 their abusive behavior, and we put them into              services, violence prevention and intervention              capacity to respond to letters from people in
 an environment where violence, the threat of              services, and a ordable transportation). We                 prison. If you write to FBW, please know that
 violence, and other abuses of power and forms             believe that investing in these institutions are            your letter will be read and is important to FBW
 of coercion are used to control their behavior,           what truly advances public safety and begins to             members, but it may be quite a while before
 then we replicate and reinforce the behaviors             address underlying social inequalities bred by              you receive a response (this is because domestic
 that we are allegedly trying to stop. We recognize        institutional racism, classism, sexism, and other           violence survivors in California prisons have
 that many people who are incarcerated for                 forms of oppression– not locking people away                said that they want FBW to focus on parole
 acting in abusive, coercively controlling ways            from their communities.                                     advocacy, public education, media campaigns,
 are themselves survivors of severe trauma.                                                                            policy work, and movement building over
 Free Battered Women and the Habeas Project                                      Capacity                              responding to prisoner letters).
                                                     Despite the large number of individuals and
 believe in the need to nd alternative ways
                                                  organizations involved with the Habeas Project,      For more information about Free Battered
 of challenging those abusive behaviors and
                                                  it is a largely volunteer e ort with a very limited Women, contact:
 supporting people to develop alternative ways
                                                  capacity. Unfortunately, the Habeas Project is
 of creating healthy relationships.                                                                           Free Battered Women
                                                  not able to o er legal assistance to prisoners
  Alternative Visions And Investment In seeking to le habeas corpus petitions who do                          1540 Market Street, Suite 490
           Healthy Communities.                   not meet the criteria outlined in Penal Code                San Francisco, CA 94102
                                                                                                              Tel: 415.255.7036 ext. 320
   By calling for decarceration, highlighting the § 1473.5. Nor is the Habeas Project able to
 importance of political context and community refer prisoners to other attorneys for possible                Fax: 415.552.3150.
 accountability for the commission of crimes, representation.                                       

                                                                            Summer 2007                                                                          17
    Coming Home : A Systematic Society                                                                              By Shadow

    In the following piece, Shadow lays out some of the many obstacles to existing in a society so heavily controlled by state
  intervention and the good work some organizations (including “street organizations” such as Asociación Ñeta which often are
  not given credit for their social justice activities) are doing to make change even in the face of state repression.

  In a systematic society parents must balance         eventually becoming residents of the city jails        from its misguided past.      ey have come out of
disciplining their children with threats by ACS.       and state prisons. Verily I said to you, justice now   the very ignorance that this systematic society
In a systematic society the media captivate            has a name.                                            thrives on and become the social, political
the minds of the adults as well as youth in the          Luckily, through all this hardship there are         organization of today. A division in its past set
supposed pursuit of materialistic happiness. A         people who strive to bring some type of justice        the Ñetas to a course of education, orientation
systematic society encourages the detachment of        to our community.          ey form organizations       and creating consciousness within its ranks in
teachers and their students, marginalizing them        that pro t from helping the community by               order to do the same for its community.
to just gures and stats. that creates a frigid and     empowering the community unlike this
unwanted education for the youth.                      systematic society that seeks bene ts from the              Luckily, through all this hardship
  It’s a society that is clearly governed by the       demise of our communities.                                there are people who strive to bring
most economically fortunate who created a poor                        Bringing Justice                         some type of justice to our community.
economic situation through systematic barriers            Examples are religious denominations that
for the lower class. Making the rich richer and the    endorse non-denominational programs and
poor more enticed to spend their little income. A                                                               Now its goal is to educate, orient, and
                                                       workshops to empower our youth and the adults
systematic society nds it more relevant to spend                                                              empower consciousness on the issues Martin
                                                       of our community or street organizations that
almost $400 million to open a city jail instead of                                                            Horn and the Department of Correction are
                                                       volunteer their time and use their misguided
a school or to fund more grassroots youth and                                                                 undergoing in communities in Brooklyn and
                                                       experiences to bring light to the injustice this
community empowering organizations. I can                                                                     the Bronx.       rough unity and love the Ñetas
                                                       systematic society has produced for our people.
clearly say that the o cials at higher o ces in the                                                           empower their communities to Fight, Share, and
                                                          Non-pro t organizations like Critical
administration of New York City have a di erent                                                               Progress while living in Peace and Harmony. Its
                                                       Resistance engage issues for the community
agenda than what they portray to the people of                                                                principles help the organization makes its own
                                                       sel essly. Bringing information on the injustice
this city.                                                                                                    people accountable through positive processes
                                                       the department of correction is currently under
  While school conditions in New York become                                                                  instead of using the law enforcement. With
                                                       going against the communities of Brooklyn and
more and more degrading. While systematic laws                                                                constructive criticism and con ict resolution the
                                                       the Bronx. Critical Resistance keeps its doors
are created to increase the entrance of minorities                                                            Ñetas have helped stop lots of situations from
                                                       open ve days a week so that the community can
into its jail system.                                                                                         escalating within themselves and other street
                                                       bene t from many resources for free. Resources
      e system maintains minorities in a state                                                                organizations. Bringing a true essence of peace
                                                       like their wide collection of books which empower
of slavery, corrupting its nation’s own 13th                                                                  between its members and the members of other
                                                       the minority community with information about
Amendment by creating cheap labor through                                                                     street organizations.
                                                       cultural past and current struggles.
government agencies meant to help the people                                                                    Although the Ñetas do not consider themselves
                                                          Misión San Juan Bautista (MSJB) is known
in poverty. Also using job opportunity programs                                                               as a gang (as media portrays them), we believe
                                                       for its success in empowering the youth of the
to have welfare clients work 30 hours a week to                                                               that by empowering these so-called gangs with
                                                       Kelly Street area of the South Bronx by breaking
work for an income that is clearly way below                                                                  information of their origin and history, other
                                                       a gang-related barrier within the Bloods, Crips,
minimum wage. Sending clients to work for a                                                                   street organizations can go back to being what they
                                                       and Latin Kings. ey put together a place called
salary they never had and promising permanent                                                                 were created for: social, political organizations
                                                       Peace Zone. Using basketball, cultural dinners
jobs at the end of the year but instead are sent no                                                           that help, empower and unite their communities
                                                       and con ict resolution, Peace Zone has created
paying ones. Job readiness programs but le with                                                               to ght for a greater change in today systematic
                                                       one family from the diverse street families of its
unpaid bills and an overrated lifestyle. Creating                                                             society.
more and more situations so that minorities                                                                        e uni cation of these forces have certainly
                                                             e sta at Peace Zone has reached places with
continue to search for a better way through crime,                                                            helped the communities they strive for in New
                                                       its process that other youth programs can only
thus lling up the prisons and the city jails while                                                            York City. I have con dence that injustice has a
                                                       imagine. MSJB believes that attacking issues like
the cries of the people go to deaf ears. Justice has                                                          new enemy for years to come.
                                                       the Bronx and Brooklyn Jail expansion could help
a name.                                                prevent the youth from becoming residents of
  Minority youth continue to su er from                                                                                               Fight, Share, Progress
                                                       those jails in the future. MSJB understands that
instability due to lack of parents involvement.                                                                                 Live in Peace and Harmony
                                                       only through empowering youth and the adults
   is situation is created because their parents                                                                                           Asociacion Ñeta
                                                       in the lives of these youth, can the South Bronx
either work too many hours to maintain the                                                                                                          Shadow
                                                       community prevail against issues created by
family or are incarcerated a er su ering the           Martin Horn and the New York City Department
consequences of having to choose between their         of Corrections.
freedom and the wellbeing of their families or               e Association Pro Inmates Rights otherwise
themselves.        is inconsistency becomes the        known as Asociación Ñeta has come along way
key to our youth taking to the streets faster and

  Ask the Abolitionist                                                         (continued from page 8)
  accountable in court, how are they making             that cares for its people, let me leave you with      a dialogue about their needs and yours, and just
  themselves accountable to those young people?         a few practical ideas for today. I’m sure you         build those relationships.
  Where is the quality education? Where are             may already be talking to your neighbors about           As you know, people are more inclined to
  the a er school programs? Where are the               this issue, as well as some of the young people.      treat each other with respect and kindness if
  mentorship and other support systems for kids         What about organizing an informal gathering           they know something about one another. And
  who have returned to New Orleans without              with those who are interested, maybe starting         if you’re not a neighborhood organizer type,
  parents? Where are the job opportunities? I           with the adults.                                      maybe you could reach out to the local chapter
  believe that accountability at all of these levels      Maybe you could talk to them about this             of Critical Resistance, or another community
  and in all directions might actually leave you        notion of accountability in both directions, and      organization, that could help you in this process.
  and your neighbors feeling safer, and the young       brainstorm some ways to reach out to some of          Once your neighborhood is organized, please,
  people in your neighborhood feeling more cared        the young people you’re worried about. Maybe          let’s all go together to every level of government
  for and therefore responsible to the community        one of the adults knows of a job. Maybe another       and demand full accountability to all survivors
  they live in.                                         is connected to a community organization.             of Katrina.
    Before you dismiss me, dear reader, as a            Maybe you or another neighbor could then                                                In Solidarity,
  wizard of beautiful theories that cannot be           host a second meeting, where some of the                                                e Abolitionist
  implemented until we build a utopian society          younger folk would be invited, and try to begin

        18                                                           The Abolitionist
For more about the Anti-Terrorism and             For more information on California’s Prison       Justice Now
E ective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA):               Expansion plan:                                     1322 Webster Street, Ste.210
                                                                                                      Oakland, CA 94612            Californians United for a Responsible
                                                                                                      Phone: (510) 839-7654
  majorlaw/s735.htm                                 Budget
                                                    1904 Franklin Street, Ste. 504
California Habeas Project                           Oakland, CA 94612
  1540 Market Street, Suite 490                     510-444-0484                                    To see the trailer or get more information
                                                                                                    about K-Ville:
  San Francisco, CA 94102                 
  415-255-7036 ext. 320                                 
                                                  Free Battered Women                               To see video coverage of the police attacks in
For additional support with health care issues:     1540 Market St., Suite 490                      Los Angeles on May 1, 2007 check out:
                                                    San Francisco, California 94102 USA         
  California Prison Focus
                                                    phone: (415) 255-7036 x320                            violence-at-los-angeles-macarthur-park/
  2940 16th Street, #B-5
  San Francisco, CA 94103
  415-252-9211                                                                                      For more on Mumia Abu-Jamal:
                                                  Immigration News Briefs                                 International Concerned Family and
                                                    Published by Nicaragua Solidarity Network             Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal
                                                    339 Lafayette Street                        
                                                    New York, NY 10012
                                                    212-674-9499                                          Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC)
                                           for email distribution    

                                                                                                                 For more on imprisoned

                                                                                                                 environmental activists Daniel
                                                                                                                 McGowan, Nathan Block, and
                                                                                                                 Joyanna Zacher and their cases:
                                                                                                                 Civil Liberties Defense Center
                                                                                                                 259 E 5th Ave, Ste 300 A
                                                                                                                 Eugene, OR 97401
                                                                                                                 541.687.9180 ph
                                                                                                                 541.686.2137 fax

                                                                                                                 Portland Indymedia

                                                                                                                 National Network for Immigrant &
                                                                                                                 Refugee Rights

         strategy and struggle to abolish
                                                                                                                 310 8th Street, Ste. 303
                                                                                                                 Oakland, CA 94607

           the prison industrial complex:                                                              

                  ten years and counting                                                                         For more information about
                                                                                                                 Asociacion Ñeta (in Spanish):

                                                                                                                 For more on the San Francisco 8
                                                                                                                 Committee for the Defense of
                                                                                                                 Human Rights
                                                                                                                 P.O. Box 90221
                                                                                                                 Pasadena, CA 91109

             Critical Resistance 10th Anniversary                                                      

       September 26th - 28th, 2008•Oakland, CA
                                                                                                                 For more information about the
                                                                                                                 United States Social Forum:
                                                           for more information contact 510.444.0484
                                                    1904 Franklin Street, Suite 504, Oakland, CA 94612           Bureau of Justice Statistics
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   C R I T E R IA F OR SU B M I S SION S :                                                                         A Note On e Use Of e “@” In
                                                                                                                      e Spanish Language Edition
                                                                                                                               By Rafael Mutis
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                                                                                                                         Spanish, we are using the “@” to
         POLITICAL STRENGTH                                                                                          reflect words which normally refer to
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