What is recidivism?

23 Apr

“Recidivism” is a fancy word to describe people who commit another crime after being released from prison. Recidivism is a serious concern in prison policy, since one of the aims of prison is to deter crime. Here’s what we know:

Recidivism is common in the US: The most recent federal data on recidivism, published in April 2014, monitored offenders released from prison in 2005 and tracked their activity for the next five years.

That study found that 76.6 percent of ex-offenders were re-arrested at least once during that period. Additionally, it found that 55.4 percent of ex-offenders were convicted of a new crime within five years.

Here’s a breakdown of recidivism rates for people who got through various stages of the criminal justice system — from being arrested to being convicted to being sent back to prison or jail:


One of the big problems with recidivism data is that not every ex-offender who gets arrested or goes back to prison has committed a new crime. Many, especially in jail and state prisons, get reincarcerated for a technical violation of the terms of their parole (such as leaving the state or failing to check in with their probation officers).

Many ex-offenders are re-arrested for technicalities One-quarter of all prisoners released in 2005 were re-arrested for a technical parole violation at some point during the five years after their release.

While there’s no data on exactly how many people were put back in prison because of a technical violation, the data the federal government compiled shows that 28.2 percent of prisoners released in 2005 ended up getting convicted and sent back to prison, while 55.1 percent of all ex-offenders ended up back in prison on a new sentence or a technical violation. That suggests that as many as a quarter of all ex-offenders end up getting sent back to prison on technicalities.

States are now actively trying to prevent recidivism: Experts agree that the conditions that ex-offenders face when they re-enter their communities, such as high unemployment,often make it easier to return to crime.

In recent years, the question of how to prevent recidivism has led policymakers to change the way probation and parole work — so that instead of just checking up on ex-offenders to see if they’re falling back into criminal behavior, probation and parole officers are actively helping them stay out of it.


Profit from prisoners: How UNICOR capitalizes on inmate labor

23 Apr

“Although incarcerated, federal inmates feel a sense of patriotism and have continually contributed to our successful war efforts.”
—Federal Prison Industries (FPI)

An inmate sews pieces of a Maryland flag together for the Maryland Correctional Enterprises in Jessup, Md. (File photo)

An inmate sews pieces of a Maryland flag together for the Maryland Correctional Enterprises in Jessup, Md. 

Operating under the trade name of UNICOR with over 100 factories at 75 locations across the continental United States, Federal Prison Industries (FPI) produces a wide range of market-priced goods and services to the US Federal government and the private sector.

From manufacturing office furniture to recycling electronics, FPI operations even include a one-stop shopping call center staffed by inmates to speed processing of orders. Boasting ISO 9001:2000 certification and Lean Six Sigma processes in its factories, the FPI even makes helmets for the US military, using convict labor earning from $0.23 per hour up to a maximum of $1.15 per hour.

With a diversity of products and services from ADP (automatic data processing) and telecommunications services to XML (extensible markup language) tagging, the FPI is a huge government-run corporate entity, which not only sells to civilian federal agencies, but also to the US military.

Originally created in 1935 during the Great Depression under US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the FPI was the brainchild of Bureau of Prisons Director Sanford Bates, who conceived of the idea as a way to abate growing prison unrest, which he attributed to inmate idleness. Products manufactured, which included cotton duck cloth, shoes, brooms and brushes, were exclusively sold to the US government.

The FPI flourished and by 1937, in spite of the depression, the federally-owned enterprise boasted profits of $570,000.00, which is approximately $9.5 million in 2014 dollars. By the time of the Second World War, the FPI was operating 25 factories and producing over 70 products.  By 1941, FPI factories, with a workforce totaling 18 percent of the prison population, were turning out war material from bomb fins and casings to parachutes and TNT on a 3-shift, around-the-clock basis. Many ex-convicts, who had become skilled in welding, aircraft sheet metal work, shipbuilding and aviation mechanics, were able to find jobs in war industries immediately upon release.

Following WWII, the Korean War generated more sales for the FPI, whose profits reached $29 million (about $260 million in 2014 dollars). Business was so good that the FPI initiated a $5-million expansion program, which resulted in improved production capacity just in time for the US war on Vietnam. By 1974, the FPI had grown so much that it was reorganized into seven industry specific business units: Automated Data Processing; Electronics; Graphics; Metals; Shoe and Brush; Textiles; and Woods and Plastics. The FPI’s focus shifted to marketing and in 1977, the government-owned entity inaugurated the UNICOR trade name and introduced new product lines in stainless steel, thermoplastics, printed circuits, modular furniture, Kevlar-reinforced items such as military helmets, and optics. By 2001, UNICOR sales of goods and services to the US Department of Defense (DOD) had climbed to $388 million.

In short, the FPI’s revenue depends heavily on sales to the US military machine. From aircraft cable and harness assemblies through helmets and night vision equipment to vests and body armor, which incidentally can be purchased on line, the FPI under its UNICOR trade name supplies a variety of military hardware and services for US imperial forces worldwide, all done by competitively-priced convict labor, who by the way must use at least 50 percent of their wages to pay court-ordered financial obligations.

Except for the US military and the CIA, all US federal agencies, unless granted a waiver by the FPI itself, are required to purchase from the FPI, provided that it can deliver the product or service in a timely manner at a competitive price. Helmets used by US troops in combat situations are among the items on the mandatory procurement list.

“You can trust us to do the right thing. As a Department of Justice component, UNICOR adheres to a strict code of ethics and incorporates only the highest standards of business practices,” UNICOR assures prospective customers on its website.

Regrettably, this did not turn out to be the case with 44,000 advanced combat helmets, which were part of a 600,000 item contract that fell under mandatory procurement. In 2007, the DoD awarded the contract, which represented one half of the US Army’s helmet requirements, on a non-competitive basis to ArmorSource LLC, which subcontracted to the FPI pursuant to a provision in US government procurement regulations. In addition, the FPI received another contract from the US Marine Corps for 100,000 lightweight helmets, which represented all of that service’s needs. Unfortunately, the helmets produced by the FPI failed to pass first article quality assurance inspections, but not before 44,000 of the defective headgear was issued to US troops stationed in Afghanistan.

The expansion of the FPI over the years is a result of the growth of US federal prison populations, which have increased almost sevenfold from 1980 to 2005. Since federal law requires offenders in prison to work, the FPI has capitalized on this situation by expanding to accommodate the burgeoning inmate numbers.

While some research indicates lower recidivism rates among ex-convicts who participated in FPI prison industry programs, the stark reality is that nearly half of those incarcerated return to prison within a year of being released. The net result of this alarming statistic is that the FPI has an almost guaranteed supply of slave-like workers at its disposal, giving it a huge competitive edge over virtually all small businesses when competing for the US government’s business. Nevertheless, the FPI insists that part of its mission, besides “keeping inmates constructively occupied” is to “minimize FPI’s impact on private business and labor.”

Even members of the extended DoD family have long complained about the FPI’s poor-quality products, higher prices and chronically late deliveries. Testifying in 1996 before the US House of Representatives, National Security Committee, Master Chief Petty Officer John Hagan, the most senior non-commissioned officer in the US Navy, stated, “UNICOR’s product is inferior, costs more and takes longer to procure. UNICOR has, in my opinion, exploited their special status instead of making changes which would make them more efficient.”

In a letter to Representative Van Hilleary (R-Tenn), deputy commander of the Defense Logistics Agency Defense Personnel Support Center George Allen wrote in May 1996 that UNICOR’s prices averaged 13 percent higher than those of private sector firms.

Besides gouging the DoD and endangering US troops with defective goods, the FPI is exposing its own inmate workers to toxic chemical waste as a result of working in its electronic recycling facilities.

In March 2005, Leroy Smith, a prison safety manager at a UNICOR electronic equipment recycling facility, blew the whistle on the laxity of the government-owned corporation’s e-waste policies and procedures, which were resulting in the daily exposure of inmates to toxic materials.  Referring to UNICOR’s recycling plants as “toxic sweatshops,” a 2006 report by the Center for Environmental Health quoted US Special Counsel Scott Bloch as saying that “workers and inmates were exposed to hazardous materials without protection… and the Bureau of Prisons and Federal Prison Industries did nothing to stop it, and indeed frustrated attempts to investigate the matter…”

The report charges that “UNICOR facilities repeatedly failed to provide proper recycling procedures to captive laborers and staff supervisors.”

The late Chief Justice Warren E. Burger said, “It makes no sense to put people in prison and not train them to do something constructive.” While agreeing in principle with his statement, I would disagree that the use of convicts to produce war material for the world’s most destructive military power, or exposing them to daily doses of toxic chemicals is “something constructive.”

Rather than build bombs or body armor for the DoD, it would be far better to employ these offenders in local communities on much-needed infrastructure and environmental projects. That would be truly constructive, not only for the individuals, but also for the society as a whole.

By Yuram Abdullah Weiler

Via Press TV

Orange is the new symbol

23 Apr

Originally posted on EMIT -- End MAss Incarceration Together:

"orange ribbons" are a powerful symbol that Americans must work together to "end mass incarceration" because it is one of the worst injustices of our time. "Michelle Alexander" in "The New Jim Crow" describes the "racism" behind the massive incarceration of American black and latino people, many because of harsh "mandatory minimum" sentencing.

Have an orange ribbon making party to churn out a few hundred or thousand ribbons as a wearable symbol of the movement to end mass incarceration.

Wearing an orange ribbon daily is a potent reminder that the United States incarcerates 25 percent of the world’s inmates, even though we have 5 percent of the world’s population.

You can make a pile of orange ribbons to wear and share with friends and fellow activists. See here for an illustrated guide to making orange ribbons.

I came up with the idea of wearing a ribbon after hearing the story of a man I’ll call “James” while volunteering in a prison. James had careers as a dancer, a character on Sesame Street, and in a show in Las Vegas, where he owned a nightclub. Unfortunately, his boyfriend at the time insisted that James receive packages in the mail. James resisted, and his boyfriend threatened…

View original 237 more words


22 Apr



A Call for October 2014 -  A MONTH OF RESISTANCE TO




For 2 generations, Black and Latina/Latino youth in the U.S. have been shipped off to prison in numbers never before seen anywhere in the world at any time. More than 2 million people, of all nationalities languish in prison-ten times the number 50 years ago. The U.S. has 5% of the world’s population but 25% of the world’s prison population! More than 60% of those in U.S. prisons are Black or Latina/o. 32% of Black men between the ages of 20 and 29 are in prison or on parole or probation on any given day. More than 80,000 people in prison are held in solitary confinement under conditions that fit the international definition of torture.

The incarceration of women has increased by 800% over the last 30 years. They, along with those whose sexual orientation is not “mainstream” or who are gender non-conforming – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex prisoners – face extremely harsh and abusive treatment in prison, including widespread rape. Alongside this has risen a massive program of criminally prosecuting undocumented immigrants, essentially hidden from public view. As a result of the devastation of their homelands, these immigrants have been driven to this country to work without papers, and today they are being criminalized. The US chastises other countries for human rights violations, yet it enmeshes the lives of tens of millions of people in its criminal “injustice” system. The courts, cops, prisons and La Migra all play a part in enforcing mass incarceration. There are genocidal aspects and a genocidal logic to this program, and it has been gathering momentum. All this is intolerable, and, if it isn’t stopped, it will get much worse!

Mass incarceration has grown beside the criminalization of whole peoples; a situation in which every African-American or Latina/o is a permanent suspect – treated as guilty until proven innocent by police and racist vigilantes, if they can survive to prove their innocence. This is especially concentrated among the youth, starting with cops in schools, arresting children for things that used to mean a visit to the principal’s office at worse, putting youth on a trajectory from school to prison. Black and Latina/o youth have a target on their backs in this society. Literally tens of millions of lives have been scarred and worse – both the direct victims and their families and communities. People who heroically resisted these and other injustices have been imprisoned, some of them for decades. These political prisoners must be freed.

The malignancy of mass incarceration did not arise from a sudden epidemic of crime. Nor did it result from people making poor personal choices. Instead it arose from cold political calculations made in response to the massive and heroic struggle for the rights of Black and other minority peoples that took place in the 1960’s and 70’s, and in response to the enormous economic and social changes brought about by globalized production. This cancer of mass incarceration has been, from the beginning, nothing but a new Jim Crow in place of the old one. Like the old Jim Crow, it drew on, fed off and reinforced the deep-seated roots of the racism that grew up with slavery. Like the old Jim Crow, it has been, from the beginning, unjustifiable, utterly immoral and thoroughly illegitimate.

This must stop – NOW! Not the next generation, not in ten years, not any time off in some promised future that never seems to come. NOW!

But it will not stop unless and until millions of people, of all nationalities, stand up and say NO MORE, in unmistakable terms. The history of this and every other country shows that without struggle, there can be no positive change; but with struggle this kind of change becomes possible.

It is not enough to oppose this in the privacy of your own conscience or the company of like-minded people. It is not enough to curse this out, but then tell yourself nothing can be done. If you live your life under this threat, you MUST act. If you understand how wrong this is and how much it devastates the lives of so many millions, you MUST act.

NOW is the time to act. People are beginning to awaken and stir. Resistance has begun: heroic hunger strikes by people in prisons and detention centers and outpourings in response to murders by police and racist vigilantes. Prisoners in solitary confinement in California declared a cessation of racial hostilities as Black, Latino and white prisoners came together to resist the torture of solitary confinement. All this must be taken to a much higher level. We call for a massive Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration in October of this year; a Month that can impact all of society; one that can open the eyes of millions of people to the need to end this new Jim Crow.

In October, 2014, our resistance to mass incarceration must reverberate across the country and around the world. There must be powerful demonstrations nationwide on October 22, the National Day of Protest to Stop Police brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation. Throughout October there must be panels and symposiums on campuses and in neighborhoods; major concerts and other cultural expressions; ferment in the faith communities, and more—all aimed at taking the movement to STOP mass incarceration to a much higher level. October, 2014, must be a month that makes clear that thousands and thousands are willing to stand up and speak out today and to awaken and rally forth millions. It must be the beginning of the end of the mass incarceration in the U.S.

Click Here to Endorse the Call

KY Prison Under Investigation After Staff Allegedly Allows Inmate to Starve Himself to Death

21 Apr

A prison doctor has been fired and two other staffers are in the midst of being dismissed after an inmate at the Kentucky State Penitentiary starved himself to death, a case that has exposed lapses in medical treatment and in how hunger strikes are handled at the facility. Prison officials have asked prosecutors to investigate after The Associated Press began asking questions about the inmate’s death.

AP Photo
AP Photo/uncredited

James Kenneth Embry, 57 and with just three years left on a nine-year sentence for drug offenses, began to spiral out of control in the spring of 2013 after he stopped taking anti-anxiety medication. Seven months later, in December, after weeks of erratic behavior – from telling prison staff he felt anxious and paranoid to banging his head on his cell door – Embry eventually refused most of his meals. By the time of his death in January of this year, he had shed more than 30 pounds on his 6-foot frame and died weighing just 138 pounds, according to documents reviewed by the AP.

An internal investigation determined that medical personnel failed to provide him anti-anxiety medication that may have kept his suicidal thoughts at bay and didn’t take steps to check on him as his condition worsened. The internal review of Embry’s death also exposed broader problems involving the treatment of inmates – including a failure to regularly check inmates on medical rounds and communication lapses among medical staff.

The AP, tipped off to Embry’s death, obtained scores of documents under Kentucky’s Open Records Act, including a report detailing the investigation into Embry’s death, an autopsy report and personnel files. Along with interviews with corrections officials and correspondence with inmates, the documents describe Embry’s increasingly paranoid behavior until his death and the numerous opportunities for various prison staff to have intervened.

“It’s just very, very, very disturbing,” said Greg Belzley, a Louisville, Ky.-based attorney who specializes in inmate rights litigation and reviewed some of the documents obtained by the AP. “How do you just watch a man starve to death?”

According to the report of the internal investigation, Embry stopped taking medications for anxiety in May 2013. Seven months later, he told the lead prison psychologist, Jean Hinkebein, on Dec. 3 that he felt anxious and paranoid and wanted to restart those medications. But the psychologist concluded Embry didn’t have any significant mental health issues even though Embry repeatedly talked about wanting to hurt himself. Hinkebein and an associate considered his comments vague, and his request for medication was denied.

Seven days later, on Dec. 10, Embry began banging his head on his cell door and was moved to an observation cell where he refused meals and told the prison psychologist, “I don’t have any hope.”

He soon began refusing most food, though he drank tea on occasion while continuing to make threats to hurt himself in the ensuing weeks.

A nurse checked on Embry on Jan. 4, finding him weak and shaky, and advised him to resume eating. Embry responded that it had been too long for him to start taking food again. Nine days later, on the very day he died, an advanced practice registered nurse named Bob Wilkinson refused a request from other medical staffers to move him to the infirmary at 11:51 a.m. and said the inmate should be taken off a hunger strike watch, according to the internal investigative report. Guards found Embry unresponsive in his cell hours later, his head slumped to the side. He was pronounced dead at 5:29 p.m.

Lyon County Coroner Ronnie Patton classified Embry’s death as a suicide and listed dehydration as the primary cause of death, with starvation and several other medical ailments as secondary causes.

The documents obtained by the AP show a prison system with a dated protocol for handling hunger strikes, staff who weren’t familiar with its provisions, and others who said they were told not to follow them. In Embry’s case, those in charge of his well-being were simply counting on him to cave in and start eating again on his own, the records show.

On Jan. 16, three days after Embry’s death, Steve Hiland, the lead physician at the maximum-security prison, signed off on a nurse’s note about Embry consistently refusing food and being taken off of the hunger strike watch because he drank tea. During the internal investigation, Hiland said he believed a hunger strike consisted of missing “six or eight meals” and ended when the inmate ate or drank anything at all.

In a revealing exchange, investigators asked Hiland how he thought inmates are supposed to be removed from a hunger strike. Hiland told them that prison staff “usually don’t have to worry about it because they (the inmates) eventually give up.”

When Embry stopped eating regularly, the Corrections Department’s existing guidelines recommended multiple checks of the inmate’s vital signs three times a week , repeated visits with a physician and ongoing evaluations by a psychologist.

Medical staff would later tell internal investigators they were either unfamiliar with the protocols for handling a hunger strike or that Hiland and Wilkinson forbade those procedures from being used. There is no mention of whether anyone considered force-feeding the inmate.

Corrections investigators determined Embry continued to refuse most food, though he drank tea on occasion while continuing to make threats to hurt himself in the ensuing weeks. Investigators concluded that Embry refused 35 of 36 meals before his death.

The state has placed Hinkebein, who is also in private practice in Central City, Ky., on administrative leave, and said it is in the process of firing her and her associate. Hinkebein declined to comment, saying she’s still a state employee.

The internal investigation found that Hiland and Wilkinson didn’t check on inmates as they should have during routine visits. The report also documented multiple communication problems among medical staff and allegations that other nurses were intimidated by Wilkinson, a contract staffer who works for Nashville, Tenn.-based Correct Care Solutions.

Phone and email messages left with the company seeking comment from managers there and from Wilkinson were not returned.

Hiland said the Corrections Department used Embry’s death as an excuse to fire him so that Correct Care Solutions could fill his $164,554-a-year job more cheaply. Since firing Hiland last month, the state has given the Corrections Department’s medical chief, Douglas Crall, direct oversight of medical care at the penitentiary. The state has also hired the company on a one-year contract worth $14.8 million to provide nurses for all 12 of Kentucky’s prisons.

“I never saw this guy, never met him,” Hiland said of Embry. “I was convinced it was a way to get rid of me. I was told I should have known about it.”

Hiland, who maintained a private practice in Eddyville, a town of 2,500, while he was in charge of health care at the nearby penitentiary, didn’t address the state’s claims directly, saying only that he was on vacation when Embry died and did nothing wrong.

It’s not the first time his work has been called into question. The doctor has been sued in federal court 103 times since 1992 by inmates and their attorneys.

While many of the lawsuits filed were dismissed, Hiland reached an undisclosed settlement with the family of one inmate who died after Hiland repeatedly diagnosed him as faking illness. U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Russell Jr., in declining to dismiss the family’s lawsuit against Hiland, wrote that the attention paid to the inmate’s medical complaints was “so cursory as to amount to no treatment at all.”

The Kentucky Attorney General’s Office criminal review of Embry’s death is ongoing, Daniel Kemp, a spokesman for Attorney General Jack Conway, told the AP.

Once the investigation is complete, corrections officials will decide whether to file complaints with the licensing boards overseeing the doctors and Wilkinson, department spokeswoman Lisa Lamb said.

“We are still reviewing all possibilities, which is one reason we asked an outside agency to look at our investigation in order to see if any other actions were warranted,” Lamb said.

Embry, a heating and air conditioning repairman by trade, had no family or friends visit him at the prison, and no one claimed his remains. He is buried in a potter’s field near the penitentiary.

Solidarity with the Incarcerated Workers of the Free Alabama Movement!

20 Apr

Freeing Alabama: Incarcerated Workers of the World Unite!


 IWW Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee


Solidarity with the Incarcerated Workers of the Free Alabama Movement!

We in the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) have been approached by a group of hundreds of people currently incarcerated in Alabama who are launching a nonviolent prison strike beginning this Sunday April 20th to demand an end to slave labor, the massive overcrowding and horrifying health and human rights violations found in Alabama Prisons, and the passage of legislation they have drafted.

This is the second peaceful and nonviolent protest initiated by the brave men and women of the Free Alabama Movement (F.A.M.) this year building on the recent Hunger Strikes in Pelican Bay and the Georgia Prison Strike in 2010. They aim to build a mass movement inside and outside of prisons to earn their freedom, and end the racist, capitalist system of mass incarceration called The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander and others. The Free Alabama Movement is waging a non-violent and peaceful protest for their civil, economic, and human rights.

The conditions in Alabama prisons are horrendous, packing twice as many people as the 16,000 that can be housed “humanely”, with everything from black mold, brown water, cancer causing foods, insect infestations, and general disrepair. They are also run by free, slave labor, with 10,000 incarcerated people working to maintain the prisons daily, adding up to $600,000 dollars a day, or $219,000,000 a year of slave labor if inmates were paid federal minimum wage, with tens of thousands more receiving pennies a day making products for the state or private corporations.

In response, the Free Alabama Movement is pushing a comprehensive “Freedom Bill” (Alabama’s Education, Rehabilitation, and Re-entry Preparedness Bill) designed to end these horrors and create a much reduced correctional system actually intended to achieve rehabilitation and a secure, just, anti-racist society.
While unique in some ways, the struggle of these brave human beings is the same as the millions of black, brown, and working class men, women, and youth struggling to survive a system they are not meant to succeed within. We advance their struggle by building our own, and working together for an end to this “system that crushes people and penalizes them for not being able to stand the weight”.

The Free Alabama Movement is partnering with the IWW’s Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee to ask you toCreate a Incarcerated Workers Solidarity Committee in your area to raise money, take action, and spread the word of this struggle, including to local prisons.

Contact us at iwoc@riseup.net. Solidarity and be in touch!

The IWW Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee in partnership with the Free Alabama Movement

The IWW is an grassroots, revolutionary union open to all working people, including the incarcerated and the unemployed. Founded in 1905, we’ve come back strong in recent years with struggles at Starbucks, Jimmy Johns, and the General Strike call during the Wisconsin Uprising. We are committed to amplifying the voices of prisoners, ending an economic system based on exploitation and racial caste systems like mass incarceration, and adding our contribution to the global movements for a just, free, and sustainable world. Our guiding motto is “An injury to one is an injury to all!”.





Activist Prepares for Hunger Strike to Combat Police Brutality, Misconduct and Shootings in California

18 Apr

Please lend your support and share this article!!

By Gregg L Greer, Editor for One World

On May 13, 2014 A California Professor James Cosner will go on a hunger strike “to his death,” according to Cosner and Organizers (CAMPAIGN 4 JUSTICE) as a method of civil disobedience against the State of California in a battle for cause. Cosner’s desire is to bring national attention to the growing stream of violent deaths of many mostly young men (citizens)-the reason given-is the incredibly tragic way many have died (resulting at hands of Police) or better know as “Police Brutality.

Jame.3 (PS)

Although he (Cosner) has not fallen victim to directly to Police Brutality, Cosner though his long-term Social Activismhas dedicated his life to the rescinding of unethical social and economic aspects of the Criminal Justice policies in California and abroad. Additionally, Cosner has had dealings with law enforcement, which is not unusual and usually “Power for the Course,” as most advocates consider civil disobedience to be a very successful method of fighting Injustice.



In California,  use of deadly force by police shootings continue to disturb communities. The “Hardest,” demographic base hit are low-income communities and communities of color. Many citizens recognize that no force is exceedingly more explosive and leads to tragedy, more than Police Brutality caused deadly force. Activist believe the multiple cases that most go under  Federal Justice Department scrutiny and investigation concerns are records of police wrongdoing addressed over the last several years, also any inquiries to the United States Attorneys and in addition to The Federal Bureau of Investigation. Activist believe the investigations, must include any/all Police Brutality cases handled solely by local police departments.


David Silva-murdered-by-police in Bakersfield, CA

Cosner’s objection, while timely, is not without merit- to date there are a growing list of examples – one in particular, in Bakersfield California, a 911 caller claimed a, “guy” had been viciously battered to death on one road by eight police officers. The man, who died that evening, was father of four, David Sal Silva, 33. Two eyewitnesses claimed to have recorded videos of the beating on their cell phones, but local police seized the phones.



Other Major California Cases


Kenneth Harding Jr. was gunned down in the Bay Area streets by San Francisco Police for allegedly failing to pay a $2.00 transit fare. More info https://www.facebook.com/groups/433149643404154/
Kenneth Harding Jr. was gunned down in the Bay Area streets by San Francisco Police for allegedly failing to pay a $2.00 transit fare

It has been two years since Kenneth Harding Jr. was gunned down in the Bay Area streets by San Francisco Police for allegedly failing to pay a $2.00 transit fare. Police later claimed that Kenneth Harding Jr., 19, allegedly shot himself to death during an exchange of gunfire with police as he ran away from two officers who attempted to arrest him for alleged fare avoidance.

Oscar Grat Foundation, includes other families of victims murdered by "Police Brutality."  http://www.oscargrantfoundation.com/
Oscar Grant Foundation, includes other families of victims murdered by “Police Brutality.”


With the particular example of Oscar Grant, Officer Johannes Mehserle claimed he mixed his service revolver for his taser. However, for what reason? Would the officer taser Grant in the first place? Grant continued to be restrained, also as he was circled by police officers and lying face-down in cuffs on the Oakland rapid transit platform. Many who know of the incident still question, under which? assumption did Mehserle think of the necessity to use any force at all? Officer Mehserle was eventually convicted in criminal court of involuntary manslaughter but completed less than two years in prison.

Rarely do methods of civil defiance draw the same level of public awareness as a hunger strike. This method has been used around world over to galvanize public support, unite a movement, and draw awareness to issues that under other conditions might go overlooked. What is completely reliant is how long the striker can continue to go without his or her most essential instincts, hunger strikes do not require posters or conference halls or television cameras. It is a method of dissent available to practically anyone, anywhere in the world.


Here is a brief history of more well known-Hunger Strikes. While Cosner has not made himself a comparison to anyone else- Cosner’s Actions are inline in comparison and also the thoughts and views of many great leaders, examples include;

mahatma gandhi biography

1. Mohandas Gandhi
An influence for many non-violent peace demonstrations, Gandhi conducted a twenty-one day fast against British control in February 1943. A Separate fast in 1948 concluded after five days, with Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus declaring they would work toward Gandhi’s concept of comprehensive national solidarity.

cEASER cHavez

2. Cesar Chavez
The Latino-American labor movement leader used hunger strikes on various occasions while agitating for farm workers. In 1968, Chavez began a 25-day fast to obtain recognition for the union he helped co-found, the United Farm Workers.


 bobby_sands_33. Bobby Sands
An Irish nationalist died 66 days into a hunger strike in 1981, and likewise Nine hunger strikers died after Sands after necessitating that many Irish Republican Army members were made political prisoners by the British during the unrest. The 27-year-old Sands dropped 60 pounds before he died.


Statement from James Cosner

On May 13th, whether I am one or many, I will not eat as a form of spiritual and political protest until either I return to my ancestors or until the government meets the following demands:

First: Free Leonard Peltier, Move 9/8, Mumia Abu Jamal, Ramsey Muniz, and Rocky Boice immediately!

2nd: Fire immediately and level 1st degree murder charges against the following officers:

Gregory Sur and company for killing Mark Garcia, retry Johannes Mehserly for killing Oscar Grant, John Moody for killing Ernest Duenez, Miguel Masso for killing Allen Blueford, Steve Gilley for killing Michael Nida, Manuel Ramos for killing Kelly Thomas, Richard Hastings, Mikeal Ali, and Mathew Lopez for killing Kenneth Harding, Dan Hurtado, Ray Drabek, and Mike Brannigan for killing Martin Angel Hernandez, John Nesbitt, Gregory Dunn, and Erick Azarvand for killing James Rivera, Dominique Perez and Keith Sandy for killing James Boyed, and ?? for killing Everado Toress.



As landscape gets denser, more complex, the public outcry from inside California is growing louder, there will be more groups willing to come forward and engage the public, and the ability to undertake collective action. In the political arena, as the protests and demonstrations are increased Cosner and his group of “Freedom Fighters,” can only hope that their coordinated public effort with bring much-needed change.

I am committed to a particular course of action because I believe it to be true, my truth, and if I am wrong then I will take responsibility for being wrong. But, I do not believe that I am wrong.
We do wish for all the Creator’s children to mature, to grow up, to take responsibility, to find integrity, to secure intelligence, and achieve lasting wisdom.

James Cosner, Peace!

For More Information on James Cosner and the CAMPAIGN 4 JUSTICE visit:


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One World

Gregg L. Greer a Public Speaker, Pastor, Writer and Social Activist. Gregg  L. Greer as the Editor of One World, and One World Today internet journals. you can reach him at one1worldtoday@gmail.com.



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