Chelsea Manning Is Free–But Whistleblowers Still Face Prison

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By Janine Jackson for FAIR – Human Rights Watch is glad that Chelsea Manning is free. A statement from the group’s General Counsel’s office notes that Manning’s “absurdly disproportionate” 35-year sentence for passing classified documents to Wikileaks in 2010, commuted by Barack Obama on his last day in office, was prosecuted under the Espionage Act of 1917, which they warn still stands ready for use against the next potential whistleblower. The Act was intended to punish those who leak secrets to foreign governments, but the US government is increasingly keen to turn it against those who give information to journalists. Critically, those prosecuted under the Act can’t argue they intended to serve the public interest, and prosecutors don’t have to prove that national security was harmed at all, much less that it outweighed the public’s right to know. So as Manning walks free after seven years and 120 days (or “just seven years,” as USA Today had it—5/17/17), some of it in solitary confinement, it’s worth remembering that corporate media did virtually nothing in support of her clemency, even though her revelations were the basis for countless media reports—including revelations about a 2007 US military attack in Iraq that killed two Reuters journalists.

Louisiana (Finally) Seeking To Reduce Prison Population

Louisiana prison bus

By Matt Higgins for Occupy.com. In a recent op-ed on nola.com, Lafourche (pronounced La-Foosh) Parish Sheriff Craig Webre wrote, “We shouldn’t incarcerate people just because they’re poor. Or just because they’re addicted. Or just because they don’t have a home. But we’ve done that for way too long.” Lafourche Parish, about an hour’s drive southwest of New Orleans, is a reliably conservative parish where more than three-quarters of voters voted for Donald Trump. Webre has served as sheriff of the parish for almost 25 years and was president of the National Sheriffs Association. Most of Webre’s op-ed focused on the report from the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Task Force, formed in 2015 by the state legislature to study ways to reduce incarceration. Louisiana incarcerates more people per capita than any other state in the union. According to the Task Force report, 8 percent of the state’s population is incarcerated, yet this “tough on crime” approach has failed to reduce it. One-third of inmates released return to prison within three years.

The Prisoners’ Revolt: The Real Reasons Behind The Palestinian Hunger Strike

Palestinian demand release of prisoners in Israeli prisons. (Photo: palsolidarity, file)

By Ramzy Baroud for Politics for the People – Gaza is the world’s largest open air prison. The West Bank is a prison, too, segmented into various wards, known as areas A, B and C. In fact, all Palestinians are subjected to varied degrees of military restrictions. At some level, they are all prisoners. East Jerusalem is cut off from the West Bank, and those in the West Bank are separated from one another. Palestinians in Israel are treated slightly better than their brethren in the Occupied Territories, but subsist in degrading conditions compared to the first-class status given to Israeli Jews, as per the virtue of their ethnicity alone. Palestinians ‘lucky’ enough to escape the handcuffs and shackles are still trapped in different ways. Palestinian refugees in Lebanon’s Ein el-Hilweh, like millions of Palestinian refugees in ‘shattat’ (Diaspora), are prisoners in refugee camps, carrying precarious, meaningless identification, cannot travel and are denied access to work. They languish in refugee camps, waiting for life to move forward, however slightly – as their fathers and grandfathers have done before them for nearly seventy years.

Chelsea Manning Set To Be Released On May 17, 2017

‘When the prison tried to break one of us, we all stood up.’ Photograph: Elijah Nouvelage / Reuters/Reuters

By Chelsea Manning for the Guardian. When the prison tried to break one of us, we all stood up. We looked out for each other. When they tried to divide us, and systematically discriminated against us, we embraced our diversity and pushed back. But, I also learned from all of you when to pick my battles. I grew up and grew connected because of the community you provided. For many of you, you are already free and living outside of the prison walls. Many of you will come home soon. Some of you still have many years to go. The most important thing that you taught me was how to write and how to speak in my own voice. I used to only know how to write memos. Now, I write like a human being, with dreams, desires and connections. I could not have done it without you. From where I am now, I still think of all of you. When I leave this place in May, I will still think of all of you. And to anyone who finds themselves feeling alone behind bars, know that there is a network of us who are thinking of you. You will never be forgotten.

All Of Palestine Is On Strike

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By Mazin Qumsiyeh. Today all of Palestine is on strike in solidarity with the fasting prisoners and tomorrow is a day of indignation, demonstrations, and confrontations with the occupiers. Bethlehem is a ghost town and all shops and public transportation are closed and Israeli helicopters are in the skies. Today, Palestinians and their friends around the world show solidarity with over 1800 Palestinian political prisoners who are on their 11th day of hunger strike. Salt and water is all they will take until their just and rightful demands are met (basic decent treatment in prison based on international law). It sounds simple but this is a profound even in Palestinian and human history. The price one pays for resistance is injury, death or imprisonment.

Obituary: Minneapolis Pacifist Went To Prison Three Times Opposing War

March 30, 1955 Off to Jail Again -- Minnesota’s four Doty brothers surrendered Tuesday to the United States marshal in St. Paul to begin a second prison term for their defiance of military conscription. Above, they are leaving the federal courthouse on their way to Ramsey county jail, accompanied by their father, William (far left), a Bruno, Minn., farmer, who served a World War I prison term for his pacifist beliefs. The brothers, all sentenced to two years, are (left to right Joel. 28, Orin, 27, Paul, 26, and Sid, 25. Their jailward journey ironically took them past a United States air force recruiting sign outside the courthouse. Joel, spokesman for the brothers, handed reporters a handwritten statement reaffirming their belief that “conscription and war is wrong” and declaring that “we feel that we are going back to prison for the second time for the same offense”. March 29, 1955 Larry Schreiber, Minneapolis Star Tribune

By Randy Furst for the Star Tribune. In the early 1950s, during the onset of the Korean War, he and his brothers Joel, Paul and Sid refused to register for the draft and were convicted in federal court and sent to prison. Someone registered them, according to his daughter, so when they got out of prison, they received a military call-up notice. They refused to show up for induction, were convicted again and sent to prison a second time. “He used to say to me, ‘One person doing something is better than a thousand people doing nothing,’ ” she recalled. “He never gave up on trying to educate and raise people’s consciousness.”

With DeVos, We’re Likely To See A Charter School To Prison Pipeline

From therealnews.com

By Karen Dolan for The Real News Netowrk – Dolan said what we’re likely to see is a charter school to prison pipeline. “Children in charter schools – Black, brown, Latino, LGBTQ, and children with disabilities – are over-disciplined in rates even significantly higher than they are in public schools,” Dolan explained. She said that children of color, even pre-schoolers, are between four and six times more likely to be expelled than white children for the same behavioral offenses – from scribbling on desks, to wearing distracting jewelry. Expulsions increase children’s chances of coming into contact with the juvenile justice system. And those who have contact with the justice system in their youth have “very high – up to 70% higher” chances of reoffending, Dolan said.

Brown Reports On More Instances Of Misconduct In Prison System

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By Staff of Free Barrett – In the four years I’ve spent in federal prison for my supposedly criminal efforts to look into government misconduct in cooperation with a loose array of Anonymous-affiliated hackers, I’ve had the unique experience of investigating government misconduct from within. But although I’ve spent much of this time writing about prison life in articles for The Intercept and other outlets, I’ve generally refrained from going into the specific violations of Bureau of Prisons policy and even federal law that one witnesses on a daily basis in BOP institutions.

As Obama’s Presidency Enters Final Months, Thousands Hope For Clemency

Lauren Walker / Truthout

By Victoria Law for Truthout – As Obama’s presidency enters its final months, thousands of people imprisoned on federal drug sentences fervently hope he will grant them clemency. But family members, loved ones and those who have spent time behind bars are determined to help push as many people as possible out the prison doors before Obama leaves the Oval Office. In August, their effort got two significant boosts. On August 3, 214 people in federal prisons across the country were called into their case managers’ offices.

Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling Appears To Have Suffered A Heart Attack in Prison

CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling. (photo: ExposeFacts.org)

By John Kiriakou for Reader Supported News – I’ve written a couple of articles recently, here and here, about CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling and his battle to get adequate medical care while incarcerated in the Federal Correctional Institution at Englewood, Colorado. Jeffrey has a history of atrial fibrillation. He has had several medical “episodes” in prison related to his heart, and prison officials have refused to allow him to see an outside cardiologist or to go to a hospital for tests.

Creating Enemies: US Military Admits ISIS Leader Was Held In Abu Gharib

Camp Bucca prison near Basra, Iraq, Sept. 16, 2009. Photo: Essam Al-Sudani/AFP/Getty Images

By Joshua Eaton for the Intercept. In February 2004, U.S. troops brought a man named Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim al-Badry to Abu Ghraib in Iraq and assigned him serial number US9IZ-157911CI. The prison was about to become international news, but the prisoner would remain largely unknown for the next decade. At the time the man was brought in, Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba was finalizing his report on allegations of abuse at Abu Ghraib’s Hard Site — a prison building used to house detainees singled out for their alleged violence or their perceived intelligence value. Just weeks later, the first pictures of detainee abuse were published on CBS News and in the New Yorker. Today, detainee US9IZ-157911CI is better known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State. His presence at Abu Ghraib, a fact not previously made public, provides yet another possible key to the enigmatic leader’s biography and may shed new light on the role U.S. detention facilities played in the rise of the Islamic State.

Detained Mothers Launch Hunger Strike, Vow to Leave ‘Alive or Dead’

Mothers in Detention

By Sonali Kolhatkar for Truthdig. Dozens of undocumented women being held with their children at the Berks County Residential Center in Pennsylvania are on a hunger strike that they say will culminate in their leaving the facility “alive or dead.” The mothers are essentially being held prisoner under an Obama administration plan to detain undocumented families while their papers for asylum are being processed. Their children range in age from 2 to 16. A Philadelphia-based grass-roots organization called Juntos has been working to shut down Berks for nearly two years. It should not be such a difficult task, given that the facility is violating policy on many fronts. In an interview, Juntos Executive Director Erika Almiron told me that Berks was licensed as a “child residential facility” rather than a “detention center,” and that there is “no license that they can get in the state of Pennsylvania to fit what they want to do.” The detention center’s license expired in February, and Juntos and its allies pressured the Department of Human Services (akin to a child welfare department) to refuse renewal. But Berks County commissioners inexplicably appealed the decision. While the appeal is in process, the facility continues to operate and keep the women and children as prisoners.

Turkey – World Leader In Imprisoned Journalists

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By Staff of RSF – The witchhunt launched in the wake of the 15 July coup attempt in Turkey continues to take a heavy toll on journalists. In the draconian state of emergency imposed after the abortive coup, the authorities have closed more than 100 media outlets critical of the government, placed 42 journalists in provisional detention and banned many others from travelling abroad.

Obama Commutes 214 Prison Sentences, Largest In One Day Ever

President Obama speaks in Newark, New Jersey, in 2015 about the difficulties formerly incarcerated people face when re-entering society after serving time in prison.
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

By Leon Neyfakh for Slate – President Obama has used his clemency power to shorten the prison sentences of 214 federal inmates doing time for drug offenses, it was announced on Wednesday. It’s Obama’s third time this year issuing commutations, a move that reflects his administration’s belief that too many people are serving overly harsh prison sentences because of a criminal justice system that is too tough on nonviolent crime. Wednesday’s batch of commutations brings the total number of people whose sentences Obama has shortened to 562—more than the previous nine presidents combined, according to the White House.

Loved Ones Search For Answers In Shaylene Graves’ Prison Death

Shaylene Graves and her mother, Sheri Graves, pose for a photo together at the California Institution for Women visiting room in March 2016. (Photo: Sheri Graves)

By Victoria Law for Truthout – Wednesday, July 27, should have been the day that 27-year-old Shaylene Graves walked out of prison a free woman. After eight years in prison, Graves, known as Light Blue or simply Blue to her friends, was looking forward to her first meal out of prison and the welcome-home party her family was planning. Her family never got to throw that party. At 6:30 am on June 1, Graves’ mom Sheri was sitting in her car waiting for her oldest son Michael.