“Occupy” our Prisons across the USA!


by Not_Me

As I sit and write this, there are multitudes of men and women, young and old taking to the streets of America and indeed the world and demanding meaningful and lasting reform within their governments. I am unsure of how much this news manages to filter in and out of the prison industrial complex, nor can I say how accurate it all is, we live after-all in a society where the truth is contorted by omission and spun in a manner as to confuse and lose the underlying purposes and points. So let me share with you some experiences that are a mix of my first-hand accounts in New York City and the collective experiences of people I know throughout the country and world. On 17-September, a handful of people, perhaps 1500 at its height in the day but quickly tapering off into a few hundred assumed control of a park in lower Manhattan; They come from a myriad of backgrounds, some are obviously the young anarchist or hippy sort that we have come to expect in our protests, others are less typical—a group of grandmothers joined for instance. The news has further painted them as socialists, anti-corporatists and overly idealistic youth with no coherent vision and so on. There is some truth to this—there are socialists, staunch capitalists, anarchists, republicans, democrats, independents and tea partiers alike are represented in the park. When you consider it, this is not as odd as it seems, the movement is as diverse as the country itself. These people have all come together, not all for the same reasons or with the same visions of what they’d like to see changed, but with the belief that together we the people can solve the problems our politicians either cannot or will not. We do agree on everything and generally refrain from the talking points that continually divide our country. The movement is truly as diverse as the country itself, and these is how you know it is real and know that it is actually the citizens joined together and not just another candle light vigil that demands attention on one problem area. Our country is tired and requires this if we are to continue as the great nation we once were. However, in the month or so past this the movement has expanded beyond the wildest dream of its organizers. As of a few days ago there were approximately 20,000 people in the park and they’ve since had to expand into a second park. Similar protests, ‘occupations’ is what they’re being called, have sprung up all over the country and world. In Los Angeles well over a thousand recently marched, in Charlotte I read yesterday that their march spanned several blocks and they were estimating another thousand people. In Indianapolis, 1200 plus. We find this all over the country now—Boson, San Francisco, Austin, Dallas, Orlando, et cetera. Furthermore, our cries have reached 6 continents, with similar events taking place in places like Australia, where here on the 15th of October, today, every capital city has an occupation planned. In Manchester, England over 35,000 marched—15,000 in Glasgow. And this is the tip of the iceberg, today there are occupations taking place on 6 continents in over thirty countries and in a truly profound way, history is happening and the choices we make or do not make will be recorded in its pages. The one word has gone up around the world and it is “revolution”, and for the first time in my entire life, I sincerely have hope for the country, its citizens and also the world. But enough of the bloodless revolution on the outside let us speak of matters that affect you personally. While you’re loved ones take to the streets invoking the spirit of 1776, disbanding their prisons of the mind and soul, you are the veterans of literal cells, literal chains and literal oppression. Even if you are entirely guilty, your country and government has failed you. We are filled with so much rhetoric as children, that once a person has served their time their debt to society is paid or that it is better to let a hundred guilty men go free than wrongly convict one innocent. You know, as well as I do, that this is just that—empty rhetoric. Through my own experiences I’ve learned how supposedly inalienable rights are in fact quite alienable; how the rights to a jury trial is not actually guaranteed via a contortion of common law history, as if we did not fight a revolution to be free of British law and customs in the first place. How the grand jury system has been absolutely abused, and how helpless you are if you find yourself its target. I’ve seen first-hand how our government outsources to contractors to evade the 4th amendment, and all of this is of the abuses suffered before you even go to the first prison. Our words are empty when they remain just that your debt to society will be continually paid over the course of your life. When you are released, you will likely have no access to federal assistance for things like housing, or work. The military quite likely will not accept you, nor will apartments or housing due to the myriad of crime-free housing and similar. How you will struggle to find work and much of it will be quite limited in ability to advance and grow from. These things always struck me profoundly because I can think of few groups of citizens more in need of such assistance. However, there is one right that allows all of these other transgressions stem from—your inability to vote. I speak not just of the felons loss of rights that may or may not be regained once they have returned to the outside world, but also of their right to vote inside. There can be no wonder that your conditions inside and your options outside continually to get worse as our politicians have no incentive to make things better for you; how many would vote for a candidate who spoke of prisoner’s rights and reform in the institutions that house our inmates? I can think of one group of people who would enthusiastically—the prisoners themselves. In no other way can we assure that your interests are served than to return the voting rights of all citizens, free men or otherwise. This is a human right, available to all that should be inviolate, period. Until we regain that for you, I can see no method for ever fully realizing this objective. So now we’ve come to the point where I ask something of you, and I do so acutely aware of the dangers you face by doing so, please be mindful, that you are free the instant you wish to be. It is a decision of the mind, and once you make this decision, no physical brutality can take this away from you without your consent. It truly is the last bastion of the free man. Hold yourselves accountable to the pages of history and your faith alone, refuse to eat and refuse to work. Join the men and women in California in their hungry strike, show solidarity with the people occupying parks and streets all over the world, and refuse to eat and refuse to work. Stand up by sitting down and represent your own interests, refuse to eat and refuse to work. Do not stop until they’ve returned your right to vote, do not let fear or oppression rule you, refuse to eat, refuse to work.

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3 thoughts on ““Occupy” our Prisons across the USA!

  1. The biggest problem facing this country is that the majority of the population do not even vote, they should make internet voting possible so everyone is more encouraged to participate…afterall if I can bank online and file my tax return with the IRS why not vote? the real reason why is they would have no clue what the outcome of an election would be if the majority of the populace participated.

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  2. Indeed, it gives politicians a weapon far more powerful than gerrymandering of districts to remove entire classes of citizens from the voting pool. When you consider that there really is no definition for can and cannot classify as a felony at a state level, and the myriad of states laws regarding disenfranchisement, a fuzzy image of a country that simply buries a fairly large cross-section of their citizens emerges.

    Furthermore, it’s easy politricks, everyone likes being ‘tough on crime’, no one thinks about what the people in prison actually did, no one considers that we’ve created a system that really only knows how to plea bargain, or just how horribly ineffective both paid attorneys or public defenders are. It really is ‘freedom and justice for all who can afford it’.

    That said, there is absolutely one easy solution– return inmates and ex-convicts back into the voting pool, if they too were part of it, the politicians would have to settle on some middle ground. And this isn’t even touching how all over Europe it’s been declared an inviolate human right and prisoners are allowed to vote.

    It just makes me sick how little we’re taught about our bill of rights actually holds true in practice. Thanks for the kind words, until victory we proceed )

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  3. Brilliant Article Not_Me, I really agree that voting rights need to be restored. It is within the establishments best interests to forbid those who oppose its views to be disallowed from having a say.

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