Monday, August 20, 2012

Prison(er) Advocacy and Activism Series: How to do prisoner advocacy. Reaching inside and resisting the Prison Industrial Complex. (PIC)

How to do prisoner advocacy.  Reaching inside and resisting the Prison Industrial Complex. (PIC)

Two very different forms of prisoner advocacy which I've found inspiring, both coming from the USA, but could just as easily be replicated in a Canadian context!

The first 3 links provide information on the successful closing down of one of the most brutal forms of imprisonment.  That is a whole prison, for the purpose of holding people in long term solitary confinement with no phone calls in some areas and extremely limited visitation.  Some prisoners went in when the place - TAMMS Correctional opened a decade ago and were not heard from again.  These places are referred to as supermax prisons, and created for the purpose of controlling, torturing, and humiliating the so called worst of the worst.  The problem with these horror stories (besides the obvious human rights violations already mentioned) was that there were no parametres for who could or should be sent there.  Rather than imprisoning the most violent or so called dangerous prisoners, those who had beefs with guards or who pissed of the prison administration in some way, were now in for a treat.  As if the state didn't have enough valves to release oceans of pain as it was....Now administrators have the supermax.  

However thanks to a few concerned citizens, those administrators now have one less supermax!


 "Between the Bars" is a US based prisoner advocacy initiative.  Its a blog which allows prisoners to write in to the producer on the outside and have posts put up.  I've never seen anything quite like it and think its a terrific idea for someone to take up this side of the border.  This particular blog posts actual images of the hand written letters, an archiac form of written communication of which prisoners have no choice, denied computer access as they are.
The posts on Between the Bars give a really detailed and at times really disturbing  view of life inside.  Check out the post copied below the next paragraph.

About Between the Bars
"Between the Bars is a weblog platform for people in prison, through which the 1% of America which is behind bars can tell their stories. Since people in prison are routinely denied access to the Internet, we enable them to blog by scanning letters. We aim to provide a positive outlet for creativity, a tool to assist in the maintenance of social safety nets, an opportunity to forge connections between people inside and outside of prison, and a means to promote non-criminal identities and personal expression. We hope to improve prisoner's lives, and help to reduce recidivism" 

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