By Kevin Zeese for Popular Resistance. One of the ugliest policies in the move to privatize public services has been the private prison industry. We have reported on the abuses of private prisons, riots at them and how they put profit ahead of prisoners as these shocking photos show. The private prison industry is a corrupting influence in US politics. We have reported on how “Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is striking deals with private prison companies to lock up a “guaranteed minimum” of mothers with their children in euphemistically-termed family detention centers” and how they are getting wealthy abusing immigrants. Corporations are turning the US justice system into a profit making venture at every step in the process. This decision to continue to use private prisons by the Trump administration ensures that the profit of private prisons will come before treating prisoners humanely. The trend toward corporate profiteering from what is becoming a prison-industrial complex will continue. Injustice will thrive while justice is diminished.
By Bethany Woolman, ACLU of Northern California. Fifty-five years ago this January, the ACLU of Northern California was busy filling orders from across the country for copies of its recently produced film, “Operation Correction.” The film was a response to a piece of Red Scare propaganda, “Operation Abolition,” which was produced by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and depicted civil liberties activists in San Francisco as violent “communist agents” bent on destroying the fabric of America. In those days, the federal government was deeply concerned with the political affiliations of ordinary Americans — if those affiliations were left-leaning. My own grandfather, who was a World War II veteran and affiliated with the Communist Party in San Francisco, was under FBI surveillance.
By Paul Kirk Haeder for Dissident Voice. Constitutional checks and balances were put in place to prevent citizens from succumbing to undue and unfair prosecution, and the courts have upheld many times the right of individuals who have served their time in prison to move on, move ahead. However, times have changed, and there has been a huge push to privatize prisons, and to place filing fees, court costs and even the daily maintenance, upkeep and staffing of these halls of justice on the financial backs of the accused. It’s sometimes called a punishment society, and on top of that, when we start looking at African-Americans and Latinos in this snapshot of Mass Incarceration, we have the respective stats – black men are six times more likely to be incarcerated than white men, and Latinos 2.5 times more. The cost of their crimes also increases with the color of their skin.
By Jamiles Lartey for The Guardian – Study of 1.5 million prisoners finds that drug treatment, community service, probation or fines would have served as more effective sentences for many. A quarter of the US prison population, about 364,000 inmates, could have been spared imprisonment without meaningfully threatening public safety or increasing crime, according to a new study. Analyzing offender data on roughly 1.5 million US prisoners, researchers from the Brennan Center for Justice concluded that for one in four, drug treatment, community service, probation or a fine would have been a more effective sentence than incarceration.
By the Alliance for Global Justice. The United States is building walls and militarizing both the US-Mexico border and Mexico’s southern border. The US is also building prison walls throughout Mexico and militarizing police as living walls to repress and reign in popular movements. When Mexican police fire on striking teachers and normal school students, they’re using weapons made in the USA. When indigenous and labor activists are locked away as political prisoners, they’re locked away in US funded jail cells. The Alliance for Global Justice Tear Down the Walls Mexico delegation will visit with indigenous and labor leaders, family and supporters of political prisoners, ex-political prisoners, anti-torture activists and experts on police, border and prison militarization. We will investigate US prison imperialism in Mexico and relate that to similar programs in other parts of the world.
By Leonard Peltier for American Indians and Friends. June 26th marks 41 years since the long summer day when three young men were killed at the home of the Jumping Bull family, near Oglala, during a firefight in which I and dozens of others participated. While I did not shoot (and therefore did not kill) FBI agents Ronald Williams and Jack Coler, I nevertheless have great remorse for the loss of their young lives, the loss of my friend Joe Stuntz, and for the grieving of their loved ones. I would guess that, like me, many of my brothers and sisters who were there that day wish that somehow they could have done something to change what happened and avoid the tragic outcome of the shootout. This is not something I have thought about casually and then moved on. It’s something I think about every day. As I look back, I remember the expressions of both fear and courage on the faces of my brothers and sisters as we were being attacked.
By Popular Resistance. Seoul, South Korea – As we have written before, the South Korean government of Park Geun-Hye, the daughter of the former military dictator Park Chung-Hee, is using the National Security Law to arrest and jail peaceful activists. One young activist in particular needs our help. Her name is Kim Hye-Young and she was arrested in the summer of 2015 during a sit-in at a peaceful protest. She has thyroid cancer and a panic disorder and she has been in jail ever since. She was sentenced to two years in prison. She must be released because not only is this an outrageous sentence for her political expression, but the conditions in jail are harming her health. Kim Young-Hye went on hunger strike shortly after her formal sentencing on May 26, 2016. Her health is deteriorating further.
By David Omondi, Dennis Apel and Jeff Dietrich. The letters below were sent by Felton Davis and were written by three peace activists who were recently sentenced to jail in Los Angeles for their nonviolent action at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Felton writes: Activists from California have been sentenced to federal prison following a nonviolent witness for peace at Vandenberg Air Force Base earlier this year. They began their sentences at the Los Angeles Metropolitan Detention Center , but may be transferred to other prisons. Here in the East, four of us who were arrested at the Pentagon on March 25th have had our charges dropped. Libby Johnson, Sr. Carol Gilbert, Sr. Ardeth Platte , and myself were scheduled for trial on May 20th for “failure to obey a lawful order,” but were informed by the US Attorney’s office that they would not be proceeding with the case. It’s impossible to compare these short sentences handed out to people who are coming from a position of social privilege, with the fate of those who are entrapped, stigmatized, convicted through “guilt by association,” loaded with trumped-up charges, and taken away to be held in isolation for long periods.
By Alice Speri for The Intercept – ALABAMA PRISONERS WHO have been on strike for 10 days over unpaid labor and prison conditions are accusing officials of retaliating against their protest by starving them. The coordinated strike started on May 1, International Workers’ Day, when prisoners at the Holman and Elmore facilities refused to report to their prison jobs and has since expanded to Staton, St. Clair, and Donaldson’s facilities, according to organizers with the Free Alabama Movement, a network of prison activists.
By Polly Hughes for Counter Punch. Michigan – Little bitty Benton Harbor was the testing ground. It was the testing ground to see what they can get away with….It’s comin’ to your city next, whether you like it or not. (Rev.Edward Pinkney) What do Michigan emergency managers, water rights, illegal corporate land acquisitions, and gentrification have to do with political prisoner Rev. Edward Pinkney? Rev. Pinkney has been fighting against injustice for decades in the small town of Benton Harbor, Michigan. But, his activism has reached far beyond Benton Harbor, the first city in Michigan to fall under the control of an emergency financial manager (EFM) in 2010. In July 2014, Pinkney joined many (estimated 5,000-10,000 activists) in a defiant protest, organized by Nurses United, and in walking through Detroit turning the water back on at residences.
By Eric Ortiz for TruthDig. Starting Sept. 9, prisoners in the United States will begin a coordinated effort to shut down prisons across the country. They plan to stop working in correctional institutions. Without prisoners doing their jobs, these facilities cannot be run. According to Support Prisoner Resistance, the nationwide prisoner work stoppage will serve as a protest against prison slavery, the school-to-prison pipeline, police terror and post-release controls. Prisoners organizing the strike are not making demands or requests in the usual sense. They are calling themselves to action in a planned protest and want every prisoner in every state and federal institution across America to “stop being a slave.” Some people may bristle at the notion that prisoners are slaves, but they are forced to work for little or no pay.
By Jose Manuel Lopez of TodosUnidosDescolonizarPR. Bayamon,Puerto Rico – Our partner, reporter and political activist Edwin Chungo Molina is promoting an interesting campaign to force the United States (US) government to release Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera. Oscar has served 34 years in a US prison for exercising his inalienable right to use all means necessary to decolonize Puerto Rico. The US government is the criminal for ignoring 34 United Nations (UN) resolutions asking it to immediately decolonize Puerto Rico. In 1960, the UN determined democratically that colonialism is a crime against humanity because it threatens world peace.
By Leonard Peltier for CounterPunch. Coleman, FL – What can I say that I have not said before? I guess I can start by saying see you later to all of those who have passed in the last year. We Natives don’t like to mention their names. We believe that if we speak their names it disrupts their journey. They may lose their way and their spirits wander forever. If too many call out to them, they will try to come back. But their spirits know we are thinking about them, so all I will say is safe journey and I hope to see you soon. On February 6th, I will have been imprisoned for 40 years! I’m 71 years old and still in a maximum security penitentiary. At my age, I’m not sure I have much time left.