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2016apr12-jkilgore

I can’t go to this but everyone in the Bay Area should.

Fighting Mass Incarceration: Strategies for Transformation
277 Cory Hall (off Hearst Ave) UC Berkeley
April 12, 2016
3:30pm-5:00pm

Discussion led by James Kilgore

THE BLURB

With the sudden trendiness of opposing mass incarceration, Dr. James Kilgore will critically examine the idea that bipartisan unity and legislative change hold the key to transforming the criminal justice system. Dr. Kilgore will outline how his book, Understanding Mass Incarceration: A People’s Guide to the Key Civil Rights Struggle of our Time, and what it aims to achieve as well as discuss the potentials/pitfalls of the present moment in the struggle to end mass incarceration.

Kilgore argues that the key to this issue is to build a large social movement led by those who have been critically impacted by mass incarceration. It is a movement that makes alliances with those fighting other key struggles of our time (climate justice, gender justice, economic justice, etc.) and creates a collective alternative.

kilgore-james

Topics will range from building out from the New Jim Crow analysis in relation to race, class and gender, examining political processes like reparations and Truth and Reconciliation Commissions as processes for transforming the criminal legal system and how we collectively imagine alternatives while fighting for important reforms.

KILGORE

Dr. James Kilgore is an activist, educator, and writer based at the University of Illinois. His most recent book is Understanding Mass Incarceration: A People’s Guide to the Key Civil Rights Struggle of Our Time. He is also the author of three novels, all which he drafted during his six and a half years in federal and state prisons in California.

DETAILS

277 Cory Hall (off Hearst Ave) UC Berkeley

Tuesday, April 12, 2016. 3:30pm-5:00pm

SFJailEnvironmentalImpactFlyer-3

Say NO to a New Jail in SF

The discussion about the long proposed San Francisco County Jail has taken many turns. It’d have been built by now without the opposition of many California groups fighting for social justice under the umbrella organisation CURB (Californian’s United for Responsible Budget).

On Monday, March 2nd from 6-8pm, Sheriff Mirkarimi and staff from the Department of Public Works will be hosting a public meeting on the environmental impact of the $278 million dollar jail plan at the Community Assessment and Service Center (CASC).

The CASC at 564 6th Street in San Francisco — it is just around the corner from San Francisco County Jail #3, at 850 Bryant.

All info and RSVP here.

RALLY

The protest rally begins in front of the jail at 850 Bryant on Monday, March 2nd at 5:30pm and moves to the Community Assessment and Service Center (CASC).

“Come prepared to dance! We will be joined by the BLO (Brass Liberation Orchestra)” says organiser Lisa Marie Alatorre, of the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness. “San Francisco needs real solutions to public safety, housing, jobs, education, mental health care, not more of the same failed policies that harm our community. Justice is won when we build a future of opportunity for everyone, not more jails.”

Make banners and signs that reflect the environmental impacts that jail and incarceration has on your life and your community.

All info and RSVP here.

CITY HALL MEETING

Separately to the Sheriff’s meeting, the Capitol Planning Committee is voting on the jail plan also on Monday!

Anyone who can speak out against the jail should go to San Francisco City Hall from noon to 2pm Monday, March 2nd and voice their concerns.

GET THE WORD OUT

On Facebook

Share the flyer.

#NoMoreJails

All info and RSVP here.

 

SHUT-Down-McFarland

California used to be a private prison-free state, but as overcrowding, unconstitutional conditions and budget crises have gripped, Governor Brown and legislators have increasingly turned to the quick-fix of leasing private facilities.

“One out of 10 California inmates is serving time in a leased or private prison,” reports the Los Angeles Times. “Women’s prisons are the most cramped: the Central California Women’s Facility at Chowchilla is listed at 182% capacity in last week’s state prison census report, with 1,600 prisoners more than it was intended to hold.”

The latest addition to California’s archipelago of lockdowns is McFarland Women’s Prison operated by GEO group, one of the two largest private prison corporations in the U.S. This is a backward step, not only because it is the reopening of a prison the state doesn’t need, but because profits will be made off of the back of those imprisoned. GEO Group has a history that includes sexual abuse and poor medical care in its jails and prisons.

Grassroots organising is to protest the new prison at the end of this month. From the organisers:

RALLY AT MCFARLAND PARK, 100 FRONTAGE RD, MCFARLAND, CA, THURSDAY, JULY 31, 2014, 5 PM

Rally against McFarland Women’s Prison the GEO for-profit women’s prison recently opened in McFarland, California. Demand that the CDCR cancel its contract with GEO, release all prisoners through available alternative programs and divert the money being used to fund the prison to community-based services.

We will be linking up in McFarland with the Trail for Humanity, women and children marching across California to demand the protection of immigrant women and their families, comprehensive immigration reform and an end to racial profiling, and with members of the California Prison Moratorium Project who are joining the march.

Car caravan in the Bay Area is leaving from MacArthur BART, at 11 am, Thursday July 31, 2014. 
Information about other meeting sites to come soon.

For more campaign information and to sign up to caravan to McFarland, go to http://womenprisoners.org/ or email notomcfarlandgeo@gmail.com or call the California Coalition for Women Prisoners at 415-255-7036 ext. 4.

Women and trans people at two of California’s women’s prisons provided the following statement for our education on the matter.

STOP THE MCFARLAND GEO WOMEN’S PRISON!

We the undersigned incarcerated at Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF) and  the California Institution for Women (CIW) are outraged that CDCR has signed a contract with the GEO Group, the 2nd largest private, for-profit prison corporation in the U.S. According to the contract, GEO will open a new women’s prison in McFarland, CA by fall of 2014. We call upon California State Legislators to direct CDCR to cancel the contract with GEO and implement existing release programs instead of opening a new prison!

Once again we are shuffled around without regard for our well-being or our human rights. Since VSPW was converted to a men’s prison in January 2013, we have been subjected to overcrowding at historically high levels (CCWF is now at 185% capacity), even while the state is under court order to reduce the prison population. This is discrimination against people in women’s’ prisons!  As a result of this overcrowding, health care, mail services, food and education have greatly deteriorated. We are locked down more frequently, leading to heightened tensions, drug overdoses and suicides. The prison staff has responded by locking more people into solitary, further violating our human rights.

CDCR could easily implement existing programs to reduce overcrowding, such as: Alternative Custody Programs (ACP); Elder and Medical Parole; and Compassionate Release. Instead, on April 1, 2014 GEO announced its new contract with CDCR to open a 260 bed women’s prison with an “enhanced rehabilitation and recidivism reduction program.” This is nothing but a bad April Fool’s joke! The 260 women who are “chosen” to go to McFarland could be released through one of these other programs instead. None of us should be hauled off to showcase a so-called “gender responsive” prison and to put money in the pockets of GEO investors.

GEO is a private corporation whose business makes profit from imprisoning primarily people of color and immigrants. GEO’s press release about the new prison reports expected revenue of $9 million in McFarland’s first year. Think of how much $9 million could do for providing community-based re-entry services!

GEO has been the subject of numerous lawsuits around the country about atrocious, unconstitutional conditions. Private prisons are notorious for operating with even greater secrecy than the CDCR: assaults are 49% more frequent; racist behavior and sexual abuse by staff are widespread.

• GEO is responsible for human rights violations at many of their facilities.  In 2012 GEO was forced to close the Walnut Grove, Mississippi youth detention Center after being condemned for allowing, in the words of Fed. Judge Carlton Reeves, “a cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts and conditions to germinate, the sum of which places the offenders at substantial ongoing risk..”

• In March 2014, 1200 people detained in GEO’s Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, WA (for immigrants) went on hunger strike to protest the grossly inadequate medical care, exorbitant commissary prices and low or NO pay for work within the center.  Other GEO prisoners have since gone on hunger strike at detention facilities in Conroe, Texas and Stewart, Georgia.

• The city of McFarland is located in an area known as an environmental cancer cluster and breeding ground for Valley Fever.  Instead of opening new prisons in this area, all of them should be shut down.

• In January of 2014, Governor Jerry Brown’s reelection campaign reported $54,400 in donations from GEO Group. GEO Group has spent $7.6 million on lobbying and campaign contributions in the U.S. in the last decade.

• GEO lobbied strongly to advance laws that increased the time served for drug convictions and other non-violent crimes through mandatory minimum sentencing, three-strikes laws, and truth-in-sentencing laws. GEO was a member of the American Legislative Exchange Commission (ALEC) when the model bill that became AB 1070 (profiling immigrants in Arizona) was drafted. These legal changes resulted in significant profits for GEO.

• In McFarland, CA, GEO has signed a contract incentivizing prolonged incarceration over release by charging the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation less per prisoner if the facility is more than half full.

• GEO operates reentry facilities around the state, including the Taylor Street Center at in San Francisco and the Oakland Center in Oakland.  Residents experience these facilities as “re-entry prisons” that are structured to threaten and punish people rather than providing support for people to reenter community life.

It is shameful that CDCR is about to open a for-profit “boutique prison” that does nothing positive to solve the disproportionate overcrowding in the women’s prisons at this time. Assembly Members and Senators, please intervene!  Stop the GEO prison from opening. Instead use this $9 million to fully implement existing release programs immediately and fund community-based (not for-profit) reentry programs.

Thank you for listening to this urgent request,

Natalie DeMola, CCWF

Jane Dorotik, CIW

Fonda Gayden, CCWF

Anne Marie Harrison, CCWF

Valerie Juarez, CCWF

Terah Lawyer, CCWF

ChiChi Locci, CCWF

Maydee Morris, CCWF

Amy Preasmeyer, CCWF

Patrice Wallace, CCWF

If you can make it to McFarland (a typically remotely-located prison) in California’s central valley, I urge you to do so.

Matt Bor‘s statement is just terrific and pointed.

I’ve had a few conversation on my travels with people about the Occupy movement. For it to really drive the national agenda and to mold presidential candidates who will not be able to ignore the 99% the cause will need to unite workers, unions, students but most importantly the poverty-stricken.

The poor lose the most in a society where a select few control the majority of wealth.

I suspect poor folk might be more concerned with holding things together in their own neighbourhoods than having the time and incentives to join open-ended demonstrations in the downtown precincts of American cities.

But for a truly important Occupy movement the voices of the most disenfranchised are essential.

I’m left to wonder what the 2.3 million Americans behind bars (who obviously can’t pitch a tent or picket a capitol building) might think of the involvement of the people from their (usually the economically ravaged) communities. In fact I’m wondering what the incarcerated masses think of the Occupy movement generally.*

Despite the figure of incarcerated folk being actually about .7% of all Americans, we should note that 1 in 100 American adults are in prison or jail, and that 7 million American (approx 2% of the total population) are in custody, on parole or under other forms of supervision.

Matt Bor does a great job in confusing our presumptions about ‘freedom of assembly.’

I, for one, would appreciate seeing actual protest signs with this mantra at Occupy gatherings.

Check out Matt Bor’s blog and buy a copy of the cartoon here.

*Anecdotally, many prisoners I’ve worked with as an educator sympathise most with Republican notions of “freedom” and are suspicious of government “meddling”.

In my spare time I enjoy sorting my socks in color sequence, imagining the sound of volcanoes and simulating flight with the aid of Google Earth.

On a recent “flight” out of Boeing Field, here in Seattle, I noticed a plucky peace protest right under the nose of one of Americas largest military contractors.

Behind Lockheed Martin, Boeing is the second biggest defence contractor in the nation.

Keep you eye on the top left as I zoom in …

… closer …

… closer ….

… hooray! Whoever you are, you peace-luvvin’, rooftop decoratin’ hippiester, I salute you.

MAKE ART, NOT BOMBS

It one thing having foolish and clumsy media commentary of flash-in-the-pan (US) regional stories. It is another when CNN and Anderson Cooper use that same approach covering a humanitarian disaster.

As folk interested in media we should speak out when we see offensive framing and “reporting”.

Anderson Cooper’s bravado is only slightly more insulting than other major networks, but if we picket Cooper and his CNN editors maybe we’ll make a dent large enough that other major networks will also take note.

Michael Shaw just emailed this to concerned social media types. I am behind his sentiment:

I’m writing because I’ve just done a post at BAGnewsNotes that I think is extremely important.

It’s an appeal to readers to contact CNN, or tweet them (@andersoncooper @CNN – PLEASE STOP visually exploiting the Haitians! http://bit.ly/8R1DGc) about the way Anderson Cooper/CNN is visually exploiting the Haitians.

What Cooper has been doing is a complete affront, and it’s time we pushed back in a more systematic way.  Haiti is going through a completely sub-human experience as it is, and the humanitarian effort, and dignity for its people, should absolutely extend to the media sphere.

Thanks so much for putting your eyes on this, and being part of the response.

Here’s hoping.

© 2009 Ged Murray

© 2009 Ged Murray

To append my last post about iconic photographs of rooftop inmates during the Strangeways riot of 1990 is a nod to the work of Ged Murray. Previous lamentations at the lack of Strangeways photography were premature on my part … I just had to keep digging.

© 2009 Ged Murray

© 2009 Ged Murray

These are my choice shots from a series of 20 Strangeways images on Ged Murray’s website. The image below of the two inmates in discussion is iconic (according to my brother). The silhouetted tower is instantly recognisable.

© 2009 Ged Murray

© 2009 Ged Murray

© 2009 Ged Murray

© 2009 Ged Murray

© 2009 Ged Murray

© 2009 Ged Murray

© 2009 Ged Murray

© 2009 Ged Murray

© 2009 Ged Murray

© 2009 Ged Murray

This last image of an inmate with signs took a large portion of my time. I am still thinking it over. Unerringly, I like the image. The shot bypasses the potency of icon and dilutes our consumption of events; returning our appreciation to more modest levels, focusing on the individual lives involved during a brief but pivotal moment in the history of British governmental prison policy.

© 2009 Ged Murray

© 2009 Ged Murray

__________________________________

Thanks to Ged Murray for his permission to publish the images.

Update: Prison Photography collated a Directory of Photographic & Visual Resources for Guantanamo in May 2009.

Guantanamo Prisoner, Political Graffiti. Banksy

Guantanamo Prisoner, Political Graffiti. Banksy

Anyone who says the recent media tour of Guantanamo isn’t a public relations exercise by the lame duck has not had their eyes open. Global media were given a tour of camps 4, 5 and 6 at Gitmo and all the footage was screened and vetted before release.

Video: Here is the Guardian’s three minute offering. With any hope Obama will put this illegal operation out of action in 2009.

Artistic legacy of Guantanamo

Guantanamo Protesters outside the US Embassy, London

Guantanamo Protesters outside the US Embassy, London

Meanwhile, we can think of the potency that the orange jump-suit has gained. It’s another icon of the Bush presidency. With regard it’s establishment and its bare-faced operations, Guantanamo was far outside of the public’s imagination. Our culture stomached the guilt and under the Bush administration it was never likely Guantanamo prison would be brought back into line with international law. Activist and non-activist art protested Guantanamo by subverting the camp’s own visual vocabulary.

UHC Collective. Art Instalation, Manchester, 2003. Guards with replica guns were on duty 24 hrs and followed a regime copied from media reports.

UHC Collective. "This is Camp X-Ray". Art Installation, Manchester, 2003. Guards with replica guns were on duty 24 hrs and followed a regime copied from media reports.

Back on my home turf in Manchester, UHC, a notoriously bold and inventive art collective, scaled up a version of Camp X-Ray on an unused lot in Withington. It was complete with guard towers, fake guns and orders and activity that replicated the media’s reports of Guantanamo, Cuba. See other UHC Projects here, and read the BBC report here.

Road to Guantanamo (2006). A Michael Winterbottom Film

Road to Guantanamo (2006). A Michael Winterbottom Film, Spanish Release

And while we are not focusing entirely on photography, slightly off topic with video, I cannot recommend Road to Guantanamo highly enough. The film tells the ridiculous story of three young British-Pakistanis who were in the wrong place at the wrong time (southern Afghanistan, November 2003), and ended up in Guantanamo for 2 years. Your jaw will not leave the floor.

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