Saturday, July 23, 2011

Countdown Time

One more week and counting the days, hours and minutes until I can hug "Baby Boy" in person, in the flesh!

Micah is in the yard (happy dance time for all).

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Good Times

Well as good as they can be in prison I would say good times. Just got a call from Micah. After one month in the hole he has finally landed in the yard! Just in time for a personal visit for the first time in over three years. Now the whole airfare and taking time off really pays off and I am so excited to see Baby Boy!

Monday, July 18, 2011

What A Sorry State

Prisoners Have Nothing to Gain By Eating

Prisoners risking death by refusing food in the Pelican Bay supermax, and those hunger striking in solidarity in prisons around California are a judgment of our sickness. “The degree of civilization in a society,” said Dostoyevsky, “can be judged by entering its prisons.”

Civilization is something we no longer seem to aspire to. The United States locks up more people and a greater percentage of its people than anyone else. We lock them in training centers for anger and violence. We subject them to rape, assault, humiliation, and isolation. We throw the innocent in with the guilty, the young with the old, the nonviolent with the violent, the hopeful with those who’ve lost all interest in life.

And we routinely subject large numbers of prisoners to the torture of near-total isolation. We lock human beings in little boxes for 22 or 23 hours per day. When it’s done to an accused whistleblower like Bradley Manning, we protest. But what about when it’s done to thousands of people, many of them baselessly accused of being members of gangs? Where is the outrage?

We should be refusing to eat. We should be shutting down our government with nonviolent action. We should be risking the lives we have. Instead the burden has fallen to those who have little or no lives to risk. The prisoners themselves are taking action and gaining power from behind bars.

Look at the prisoners’ demands. They want an end to group punishment of individual rules violations. That seems like a basic requirement of justice. Bombing a nation because some terrorists spent time there may make sense to our politicians, but it is horribly unjust to the people living and dying under the bombs. Stopping and searching people who look like they might be immigrants may make sense to those whose hatred of immigrants is distorting their thinking, but it is outrageously unjust from the perspective of the innocent people repeatedly harassed. Punishing everyone in a prison for something one person did make sense if the goal is cruelty. But will the innocent prisoners thus abused eventually emerge from prison believing they’ve been given fair treatment by a justice system with which they should comply? Or will they be released thirsting for vengeance? Or thirst for vengeance while never being released? And will we be able to keep what we have done to them secret from ourselves? Will we not continue to grow more ill?

They want an end to the use of completely unreliable criteria for labeling a prisoner a gang member and on that basis subjecting them to the torture of isolation. Should a tattoo or the word of someone offered decent food in exchange for a name really be the test of whether a human being should be placed at risk of severe mental damage? Should anything? Would we stand for another nation treating people this way? Don’t tell me it’s necessary and responsible. It would cost a lot less money to offer children decent schools and food and guidance than it does to imprison men. This is a luxury. It’s a sick indulgence of a wealthy country. We can afford to engage in massive sadistic cruelty. But that shouldn’t mean that we have to do it.

They want compliance with the recommendations found in the latest study our government produced to make itself feel better despite ignoring it. They want an end to the long-term solitary confinement that takes people’s minds away. They are risking death by starvation to end death by deprivation of human contact. We could risk a lot less to do it for them.

They want adequate food provided to all prisoners and an end to the practice of depriving some and feeding others as a tool for manipulating people like wild beasts. They want basic decency, including the ability to make one phone call per week. They want standards of health and humanity that do not even begin to approach those we are required by international treaty to provide to prisoners of war. For that matter, they want to cease being treated in a manner that would get you locked up with them if you treated a dog or a cat that way.

All the prisoners are asking of us is that we spread the word. But, in fact, they are not asking this of us. They are offering it to us. They are leading us where we need to go, and doing it from behind bars. We would need to go to this place even if we had no prisons. We are allowing our government to destroy the physical environment. Our children will have no more reason to eat than these prisoners do, if we fail to act. We are allowing our government to murder on a massive scale through what it calls the “Defense” Department, a name as skillfully chosen as that of a “Corrections” Department. We need to do some real defending and correcting. Some of us have plans for October. The least among us are showing us how right now.

David Swanson is an anti-war activist. Read other articles by David.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Letters Rock

At this time and point LETTERS ROCK! I got to talk to Micah today and he was in a much better mood than last week. he said the weather had cooled off somewhat because the humidity had dropped.

I cannot even imagine only being able to talk to one person a week, and only for fifteen minutes. I cannot wait until next week, we get to see Micah!

He is begging for letters, without t.v., music, or other people there is not much to keep him entertained.

So if you are a little bored with summer and all, go to "amazing mail" and send him a post card, I can guarantee you he will love it!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Three Weeks in the Hole/Three Years in Hell

Micah has been in the hole for three weeks now. We were planning a trip to visit him, but it looks like we will be visiting him through glass once again. What a bummer!

He was taken into protective detention three weeks ago. It would not be so bad if it weren't over 90 degrees in his cell. The walls are so hot he has to sleep on the concrete floor. He is allowed out once a week to call us for 15 minutes and one half hour a day to walk around the cube.

I don't know how long he will be here, could be the next 15 months. In that case he could sure use lots of uplifting letters of encouragement and love. He is more discouraged than I have ever seen him in the last three years.

Three years ago today Micah was incarcerated. I know he is counting the days, hours and minutes until this hell is over for him.

We were on the phone all day with Warden, Deputy Warden as well as councelor. Our one request, please try to make him a little more comfortable. It is inhumane to keep a person in that kind of heat in any situation.

I don't know how many are following the happenings in Calif. at Pelican Bay prison. That is a solitary prison. There are inmates, people there that have been in solitary over 25 years! What kind of people are we that we could allow that kind of torture to go on among us? How can we stand silent while people are being held in cages with no human contact?

I remember when my kids were young they would do volunteer hours at the pound and no kill shelter. They would go to "walk the dogs and socialize the cats".