An Open Call to Support on May 13, 2013Formerly Incarcerated People, Their Families, Friends, Allies and ComradesWe are seeking your participation in a very unusual event – a day-long grassroots lobbying visit to the California State Capitol led by formerly incarcerated people. As formerly incarcerated people we have been told on more than one occasion: “you have the right to remain silent!” However, when the suffering becomes too unbearable and negatively impacts all aspects of our personal, professional, family and community life, we have an obligation to speak up. The need to speak up is especially acute when it appears that this suffering has been designed to outlast our jail or prison sentences.
On May 13, 2013, we invite our brothers and sisters, supporters, allies, friends and comrades to join us and support the formerly incarcerated members of our community who have been rendered silent.
On several occasions we have been asked, why this year? Why not go to Sacramento some other time? Here’s why THIS time is an opportune time. There are currently a number of bills being considered that directly relate to our capacity to thrive as human beings. The stakes are high: our right to vote, our right to work, our right not to languish in a gang-database for the rest of our lives, and our ability to seek expungement relief – all these issues are being considered. We are witnessing the greatest change in the criminal injustice system in over 50 years. If this is not the time, then when?
We are just now beginning to secure support for the buses that will be rolling out of both Northern and Southern California. We are lining up various legislators to support this effort. We are beginning to contact the various caucuses in the State House for support.
If you are formerly incarcerated – Please join us! And to all other people of good will, please come out and support formerly incarcerated people in our fight for inclusion. Come out and support us speaking in our own voice. Help us speak truth to power and regain our dignity.
Please share with allies and invite people via facebook and twitter by clicking here
Organizer, All of Us or None
Organizer, All of Us or None
SUPPORTING THE CALL:
All Of Us Or None (Statewide)
Project Rebound-Associated Students Inc (SFSU)
Center for Young Women’s Development /CYWD (San Francisco)
New Way Of Life (Los Angeles)
Fathers and Families of San Joaquin
Safe Return (Richmond)
Contra Costa County Interfaith Supporting Community Organization/CCISCO
California Coalition of Women Prisoners / CCWP
United Playaz (San Francisco)
Homies Unidos (Los Angeles)
Starting Over (Riverside)
Life Support Alliance (Sacramento)
San Francisco Bay View National
Occupy 4 Prisoners (Bay Area)
Youth Justice Coalition (Los Angeles)
Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People’s Movement /FICPM (Nat’l)
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (San Francisco)
Families to Amend Three Strikes (Sacramento)
Office of Restorative Justice of the Los Angeles Archdiocese
Justice Reform Coalition
Associated Prison Ministries
United for Change
NMT/The Ripple Effect
Insight Prison Project
Prison Watch Network
California Families Against Solitary
Prison Reform Movement
What is CISPA, you may ask…
CISPA, or the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, is a law that would allow the government to extract your private information from the internet without a warrant. It’s the online equivalent of allowing a police officer to enter your home and start rummaging through your personal files without the permission of a court. The politicians who introduced this law pretend it will protect you but what it really does is circumvent your Fourth Amendment rights. CISPA also prevents you from suing companies when they illegally use your information.
Luckily there are numerous privacy advocates out there already fighting against CISPA such as the Internet Defense League, Fight for the Future, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Now it’s time for us to do our part.
Anonymous has asked numerous companies to participate in an internet blackout on Monday, April 22. But, regardless of what these companies choose to do, individuals like ourselves can still help spread awareness of this threat. Below is a link to an image that promotes the hashtag #StopCISPA on Twitter. Make it your profile image all day Monday. Leave it up as long as you want.
Profile Picture: http://i.imgur.com/Vr8XQQp.png
anonymous is calling for an internet blackout on april 22nd in protest of CISPA, one that i will be joining. they are trying to convince major websites to shut down for 24 hours.
when we all blacked out for SOPA, it seemed to make a point. we can make a point again.
This blog will go dark in support of #Stop CISPA.
On any given day, the color of a sign could mean the difference between an inmate exercising in the prison yard or being confined to their cell. When prisoners attack guards or other inmates, California allows its corrections officers to restrict all prisoners of that same race or ethnicity to prevent further violence.
Prison officials have said such moves can be necessary in a system plagued by some of the worst race-based gang violence in the country. Just last week, at least four inmates were taken to the hospital after a fight broke out between over 60 black and Hispanic inmates in a Los Angeles jail.
The labels “provide visual cues that allow prison officials to prevent race-based victimization, reduce race-based violence, and prevent thefts and assaults,” wrote the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, in response to a lawsuit.
But legal advocates say such practices are deeply problematic. “I haven’t seen anything like it since the days of segregation, when you had colored drinking fountains,” said Rebekah Evenson, an attorney with the nonprofit Prison Law Office.
A federal class-action lawsuit filed in 2011 by the Prison Law Office says race-based restrictions are an ineffective and unjust way of keeping prisoners safe. “Rather than targeting actual gang members, they assume every person is a gang member based on the color of their skin,” said Evenson, one of the lead lawyers in the case. According to the ACLU National Prison Project, California is the only state known to use race-based lockdowns.
State and federal courts have ruled against the practice multiple times. One state court judge concluded in 2002 that “managing inmates on the basis of ethnicity” was counterproductive, and instead increased hostilities among prisoners.
A recent review of corrections department reports, done for the Prison Law Office, suggests it’s still common practice. The analysis found that nearly half the 1,445 security-based lockdowns between January 2010 and November 2012 affected specific racial or ethnic groups. Inmates labeled as Hispanic were the most common targets, while inmates identified as “other,” (anyone not labeled black, white or Hispanic) were the least likely to be restricted.
Rejecting an inmate’s complaint in 2010, one prison’s inmate appeals reviewer noted that the department’s “policy is that when there is an incident involving any race, all inmates of that race are locked up.” Another review cited the same policy.
California’s corrections department spokesperson Terry Thornton said that’s not department policy. Thornton said policy dictates that restrictions will not “target a specific racial or ethnic group unless there is a legitimate penological interest in doing so.”
“A legitimate penological interest is safety, security,” Thornton said. “It’s protecting people’s lives.”
Prisoner advocates say race-based lockdowns may be yet another consequence of California’s crowding crisis. In 2011, the Supreme Court upheld a federal court ruling that crowding in the state’s prisons was severe enough to constitute cruel and unusual punishment, and required the state to cut its prison population.
Continue Reading @ OPB
- Are California state prisons racist? (salon.com)
- Race Matters: California Prison Officials Admit To Using Race-Based Segregation To Control Inmate Violence (bossip.com)
- California under fire for race-based lockdowns that can last for years (rawstory.com)
- Inside California’s Color-Coded, Race-Based Prisons (motherjones.com)
This just in from our friends at Friends Committee on Legislation California:
March 26. KEEP YOUR OPPOSITION LETTERS GOING!!!
- California Families of Prisoners in CDCr…take action NOW! (prisonmovement.wordpress.com)
The info below will have an effect on every prisoner and family member in a CA prison. Restitution will go up to 80% if this bill (AB 423) succeeds…please write letters NOW!!!
It’s URGENT!!! Please send a letter of opposition to:
Assembly Member Tom Ammiano
Chair, Assembly Member Public Safety Committee
Fax: (916) 319-3745
You can base your letter on the one below…..
Letters must be received by 5 pm Wednesday, 3/27.
It’s important that as many people as possible are aware of this bill.
Forward to other groups and individuals.
Attached is a copy of FCLCA’s opposition letter to Assembly Member Norma Torres and Assembly Member Tom Ammiano (Assembly Public Safety Committee Chair) concerning the proposed increase in withholding from prisoners’ trust accounts to 80 percent. The bill also contains a seemingly mean spirited (my editorial comment only) provision to delete the exemption of trust account funds for food purchases for overnight visits.
AB 109 – realignment of prisoners with low-level convictions to the counties – authorized counties to collect restitution, but did not mandate it. So, this has created a monkey wrench for the Victims Compensation and Government Claims Board.
Another key fact: In 2009, the legislature took $70 million from the Victims Compensation Fund to help balance the state’s budget. It wasn’t a loan – they just took it.
Despite these developments, the fund is solvent for the next 3-4 years, according to Wayne Strumpfer, legal counsel for the VCGB.
THE FRIENDS COMMITTEE ON LEGISLATION OF CALIFORNIA (FCLCA) IS A LEGISLATIVE ACTION GROUP FOUNDED BY QUAKERS IN 1952.
March 23, 2013
Assembly Member Norma Torres
Sacramento, CA 95814
Re: Assembly Bill 423
OPPOSE SB 423
Dear Assembly Member Torres,
The Friends Committee on Legislation of California (FCLCA), a Quaker -based, statewide lobby
which advocates for state laws that are compassionate and respectful of the inherent worth of
every person, regrets to inform you of our opposition to AB 423. This bill requires the California
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to withhold 80 percent of prisoners and
Department of Juvenile Justice Wards’ trust accounts and/or wages for transfer to the Victims
Compensation and Government Claims Board (VCGB) in order to satisfy a restitution order or
fine and deletes the exemption of funds for the purchase of food from prison canteens for
FCLCA believes we should do more to restore the victims of crime and understands the
importance of restitution. However, 75 percent of the monies in prisoner’s trust accounts
comes from contributions from family members of the incarcerated who send in money so that
their loved ones may make purchases from prison canteens. An 80 percent withholding rate is
excessive. When coupled with CDCR’s five percent processing fee, a prisoner whose father
sends $100 dollars to his trust account would receive only $15. Families of the incarcerated,
who have committed no crime, comprise some of California’s most economically distressed
We are also skeptical of the provision deleting the exemption of funds for the purchase of food for overnight visits. Only prisoners who have a parole date may have overnight visits. While the amount of money of collected for restitution by deleting this exemption seems likely to have very little impact on the solvency of the Victims Compensation Fund, the impact borne by prisoners and their families would be significant.
We understand that realigning a significant portion of California’s prison population has created
challenges with regards to collecting restitution. Moreover, in 2009, the Legislature took away
$70 million from the Victims Compensation Fund in order to help balance the state’s budget. A
2008 audit of VCGCB by the Bureau of State Audits also pointed to its increasingly high
overhead even when its payouts declined. Despite these long terms
challenges, we also understand that the Victims Compensation Fund is solvent for the next three to four years.
Prison canteens help ameliorate prison life and lower stress levels within prisons. As a result
they promote safety for prisoners and staff alike. Rather than imposing an excessive “tax” on
the family members of the incarcerated, we urge the Legislature to consider how we might
better extend the collection of restitution to prisoners realigned by AB 109 and other
reasonable ways to make the fund solvent over the long run.
For these reasons, FCLCA respectively opposes AB 423.
We hope to discuss this bill with your office next week. In the meantime, please feel free tocontact our office if you would like to
discuss our position.
Gov. Brown has declared that the prison crisis that allowed prisoners to die is over and that prisoners are receiving good care. His words, not ours.
We know that is a HUGE LIE. CDCR still refuses to acknowledge there is an issue; they refuse to address the real issues…what is it going to take?
by Mutope Duguma, Sitawa N. Jamaa, Abdul O. Shakur and Sondai K. Dumisani
It is obvious that the governor has not produced any data that supports his claim. Furthermore, the governor is deliberately misinforming the public, because he and the officials of CDCr – the secretary and undersecretary – are arbitrarily choosing not to provide the public with adequate information that pertains to the incompetence that continues to endanger prisoners by murdering them through direct medical neglect and incompetence.
We prisoners have read the Los Angeles Times article by Paige St. John, “California suppressed consultant’s report on inmate suicides,” dated Feb. 28, 2013, and we can only hope that justice will continue to prevail, by not only maintaining the oversight of CDCr’s “health care service,” as well as extend it to the very root of the problems that cause the very many deaths and suicides that are happening throughout CDCr.
Solitary confinement in California and throughout the United States is real. The lingering of human beings – i.e., prisoners – in these torture chambers (SHUs and Ad Segs) indefinitely has basically created the result that led to human beings dying unnecessarily inside these solitary confinement torture units.
Alex Machado, Christian Gomez, Armando Morales, John Owen Vick and Hozel Alonzo Blanchard are all men who should be alive, by all means, and the fact that the CDCr has reported 32 deaths by suicide in the year of 2012 alone should be more than enough reason for the oversight to be continued – and expanded as well. The CDCr’s own experts afforded them the procedures to follow in order to prevent such deaths. However, not only did the CDCr attempt to suppress this report and now the evidence in it, but the CDCr had the audacity to request that the United States District Court destroy that report.
The governor and the officials of CDCr are arbitrarily choosing not to provide the public with adequate information that pertains to the incompetence that continues to endanger prisoners by murdering them through direct medical neglect and incompetence.
Thankfully, for the lives of California prisoners, the judge refused to cooperate with such a conspiracy. Suppression of evidence like this is not an isolated act, because we prisoners know that the licensed vocational nurses and registered nurses and doctors do not responsibly oversee the CDCr health care services. Their actions are influenced by the local officials and officers who have total control over the prison.
Alex Machado, Christian Gomez, Armando Morales, John Owen Vick and Hozel Alonzo Blanchard are all men who should be alive, by all means, and the fact that the CDCr has reported 32 deaths by suicide in the year of 2012 alone should be more than enough reason for the oversight to be continued – and expanded as well.
Prison staff relationships are intermingled through personal relations – marriage, family, friendship – and are reflected by the transitions from health care services to corrections or vice versa. A good example as to how much the officials and officers control health care services can be seen in the two 2011 prisoner hunger strikes.
On July 2, 2011, prisoners held in solitary confinement in SHU and Ad Seg for years, subjected to torture and cruel and unusual punishment in violation of our U.S. constitutional rights, decided to go on a peaceful hunger strike, in which over 6,000 of us participated.
The only reason we received adequate health care services (medical treatment) during our July 1, 2011, hunger strike that lasted to July 20 is because the federal receivership oversaw the medical treatment; prisoners were weighed, vitals checked, vitamins provided daily. This prevented thousands of prisoners from suffering when many emergencies could have resulted in thousands of prisoners dying, due to CDCr Secretary Matthew Cate and Undersecretary Scott Kernan violating a verbal agreement to implement our reasonable Five Core Demands, an agreement that resulted in us ending our first hunger strike.
The only reason we received adequate health care services (medical treatment) during our July 1, 2011, hunger strike that lasted to July 20 is because the federal receivership oversaw the medical treatment.
Therefore, we decided to go back on our second hunger strike on Sept. 26, 2011, in which 12,000 prisoners participated throughout CDCr, clearly demonstrating that there is a widespread problem of deliberate medical neglect and torture inside CDCr solitary confinement units.
During our Sept. 26, 2011, hunger strike, which lasted to Oct. 13, 2011, the federal receivership allowed CDCr to oversee the health care services. The result of this action not only placed prisoners’ health at risk, but CDCr immediately implemented a policy protocol for overseeing the hunger strike that was catastrophic for prisoners: Thousands suffered and several died when CDCr was allowed to have control over the hunger strike, in which hunger strikers were denied medical treatment throughout the hunger strike.
The prison guards have no medical training yet were allowed to say to medical personnel that a prisoner was faking – “He’s not sick” – and oddly enough, the medical staff tended to allow this to be the authority on which they proceeded. Thousands of prisoners suffered behind this ill advised information. We received no daily checkups, no vitals checks, no vitamins, no weigh-ins conducted under CDCr medical supervision. Many times medical problems were treated too late and by this time the damage was done.
The conflict of interest lies in the relationships between the prison guards, who are responsible for providing security only, and those who are responsible for providing health care services, food and religious services etc. Unfortunately, the prison guards have structured the prison environment around the deprivation of the prisoners, simply to demonstrate its dominance over prisoners, which creates severe violation of prisoners’ constitutionally protected rights.
During our Sept. 26, 2011, hunger strike, which lasted to Oct. 13, 2011, thousands suffered and several died when CDCr was allowed to have control over the hunger strike, in which hunger strikers were denied medical treatment throughout the hunger strike.
The Bill of Rights’ 10 original amendments and Reconstruction amendments 11 through 27 of the Constitution – particularly important in respect to prisoners, the First, Fifth, Eighth and 14th Amendments – are deliberately violated routinely. The many settlements of prisoner lawsuits in years past speak volumes to this fact.
Gov. Brown’s current changes have not rendered any justice or humane treatment of prisoners thus far, and the death count and the many prisoners held inside solitary confinement, who suffer from numerous ailments and torture, only seem to exacerbate this problem. Therefore, we prisoners can only hope, in the interest of our livelihood and humanity, that the courts expand their oversight and open up an independent investigation as to why prisoners are held unjustly in solitary confinement.
Send our brothers some love and light:
- Mutope Duguma (James Crawford), D-05596, D1-117 up, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532
- Sitawa N. Jamaa (Ronnie Dewberry), C-35671, D1-117 low, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532
- Abdul O. Shakur (James Harvey), C-48884, D1-119 low, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532
- Sondai K. Dumisani (Randall Ellis), C-68764, D1-223 low, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532
Via SF Bay View
- Sacramento hearing exposes CDCR’s hidden agenda (prisonmovement.wordpress.com)
- CDCr caught lying….AGAIN! (prisonmovement.wordpress.com)
- California Assembly Reviews Solitary Confinement (inprisonedwomen.wordpress.com)
- They dont care about us….. (prisonmovement.wordpress.com)
- Judge Rules California Solitary Confinement Lawsuit Should Have Its Day in Court (solitarywatch.com)
- California’s HUGE chess game (prisonmovement.wordpress.com)
SCPR, Solitary Watch, LA Times and Slate have all published very recent articles regarding suicides in California state prisons after the federal monitor Dr. Raymond Patterson up and quit. Frustrated, claiming any future attempts at investigating is a waste of time and effort, he made it very clear that state prison officials just don’t care and are not interested in finding a solution. Dr. Patterson blasted the state for failing to follow many of the recommendations he made over the last 14 years. Nothing new there as far as CDCR goes…Does Little Hoover Commission ring a bell?
For well over 20 plus years, CDCR has failed to take any direction in correcting the abysmal prison system that is draining California. $10 Billion this year is budgeted for “corrections” -when no one is being corrected or rehabilitated. CDCR and Governor Brown feel the federal oversight needs to go away now, because they ‘have things under control’ and oversight is no longer needed. Really?
Realignment has been nothing more than smoke and mirrors, moving prisoners to overcrowded county jails and out of state private prisons. As I have said previously, a huge chess game played with human beings as pawns. When do the games end? When do we start addressing the problems that are glaringly obvious?
Here’s Southern California Public Radio’s report with the details:
[Dr. Raymond] Patterson has analyzed inmate suicides in state prisons for more than a decade and made recommendations every year on how prison officials could reduce the suicide rate. In his report on 2012 suicides, Patterson wrote that his recommendations go “unheeded, year after year,” while suicides “continue unabated.” Patterson concluded that state prison officials just don’t care about the issue, and that making any more recommendations would be “a further waste of time and effort.”
That report paints a rather depressing picture of the California prison system: The state has 24 suicides for every 100,000 inmates, a rate that is climbing and already 50 percent above the national average. Inmates in segregation units were 33 times more likely to commit suicide. Of the first 15 suicides of 2012, three were discovered after the onset of rigor mortis, and 13 had indicators of “inadequate assessment, treatment or intervention.”
An inmate at Chino State Prison, which houses 5,500 inmates, walks past the double and triple bunk beds in a gymnasium that was modified to house 213 prisoners in Chino, Calif. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
- CDCr caught lying….AGAIN! (prisonmovement.wordpress.com)
- California’s HUGE chess game (prisonmovement.wordpress.com)
- New Plan Would Return Calif. Inmates to State Prisons by June 2016 (prisonmovement.wordpress.com)
- California suppressed consultant’s report on inmate suicides (moorbey.wordpress.com)
- Calif. ‘buried’ report on inmate suicides (upi.com)
- Sacramento hearing exposes CDCR’s hidden agenda (prisonmovement.wordpress.com)
- AP Exclusive: Inmate lawsuits cost Calif. $200M (sacbee.com)
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/Hudyma Natallia
In 2003, former U.S. Navy Corpsman Jeremy Usher returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, only to suffer from flashbacks of combat and a variety of mental health issues, including nightmares and insomnia, panic attacks, and depression. Thanks to medical marijuana, he is doing better, but is now facing jail time for choosing a medication the federal government refuses to legitimize.
A combat medic, Usher was on the back of a helicopter sent to rescue wounded marines when he was shot in the head, causing brain damage and memory loss and leaving him with a stutter. When he walked out of a treatment at a San Diego hospital, he was still not well, and according to the Greeley Tribune, “suffered form extreme paranoia as he wandered San Diego, constantly spinning around while walking to make sure no one was sneaking up on him.”
According to the the Greeley Tribune, Usher then began self-medicating with alcohol, marking the beginnings of his criminal record. He is currently serving probation in Colorado for his second and third DUIs. Usher says he is cleaning up in his act in counseling and school, but is facing jail time for violating probation by treating his PTSD with medical marijuana nonetheless. For failing dozens of drug tests, he could do 29 days in jail.
Usher told the Greeley Tribune he feels like he is “being punished for being a little different” and “not understanding why.” His doctors have written letters to the court explaining that medical marijuana and Marinol pills have helped treat his PTSD, and they recommend he stay on it. Nonetheless, America‘s draconian drug policy is now threatening to send a traumatized veteran to jail, where he worries his progress could begin to reverse
Surely, living without medication in jail, where the environment is often unpredictable and violent, is not beneficial to a PTSD sufferer’s mental health. Moreover, if Usher is abstaining from drinking and using medical marijuana to treat the PTSD that caused his self-medication and run-ins with the law in the first place, identifying the public safety threat that might justify his incarceration is difficult, to say the least.
Usher maintains hope that he will be allowed to continue his medication, but also wants to prevent the same consequences for other veterans.
“I want to raise enough awareness so that this doesn’t happen to guys coming out of there,” Jeremy told the Greeley Tribune.
“I’m never going to be free of the flashes of the memories; I’m stuck with those for life. What I’m able to do is manage those in an appropriate manner, without just going out and cracking open a bottle.”
- Medical Marijuana For PTSD Treatment? (violenceinquiry.wordpress.com)
From Starbucks to Microsoft: a sampling of what US inmates make, and for whom
Tens of thousands of US inmates are paid from pennies to minimum wage—minus fines and victim compensation—for everything from grunt work to firefighting to specialized labor.
The breaded chicken patty your child bites into at school may have been made by a worker earning twenty cents an hour, not in a faraway country, but by a member of an invisible American workforce: prisoners. At the Union Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison in Florida, inmates from a nearby lower-security prison manufacture tons of processed beef, chicken and pork for Prison Rehabilitative Industries and Diversified Enterprises (PRIDE), a privately held non-profit corporation that operates the state’s forty-one work programs. In addition to processed food, PRIDE’s website reveals an array of products for sale through contracts with private companies, from eyeglasses to office furniture, to be shipped from a distribution center in Florida to businesses across the US. PRIDE boasts that its work programs are “designed to provide vocational training, to improve prison security, to reduce the cost of state government, and to promote the rehabilitation of the state inmates.”
And Each month, California inmates process more than 680,000 pounds of beef, 400,000 pounds of chicken products, 450,000 gallons of milk, 280,000 loaves of bread, and 2.9 million eggs (from 160,000 inmate-raised hens). Starbucks subcontractor Signature Packaging Solutions has hired Washington prisoners to package holiday coffees (as well as Nintendo Game Boys). Confronted by a reporter in 2001, a Starbucks rep called the setup “entirely consistent with our mission statement.”
Texas inmates produce brooms and brushes, bedding and mattresses, toilets, sinks, showers, and bullwhips.
In Texas, prisoners make officers’ duty belts, handcuff cases, and prison-cell accessories. California convicts make gun containers, creepers (to peek under vehicles), and human-silhouette targets.
A stitch in time: California inmates sew their own garb. In the 1990s, subcontractor Third Generation hired 35 female South Carolina inmates to sew lingerie and leisure wear for Victoria’s Secret and JCPenney. In 1997, a California prison put two men in solitary for telling journalists they were ordered to replace “Made in Honduras” labels on garments with “Made in the usa.”
Open wide: At California’s prison dental laboratory, inmates produce a complete prosthesis selection, including custom trays, try-ins, bite blocks, and dentures.
Constructive criticism: Prisoners in for burglary, battery, drug and gun charges, and escape helped build a Wal-Mart distribution center in Wisconsin in 2005, until community uproar halted the program. (Company policy says, “Forced or prison labor will not be tolerated by Wal-Mart.”)
On call: Its inmate call centers are the “best kept secret in outsourcing,” Unicor boasts. In 1994, a contractor for gop congressional hopeful Jack Metcalf hired Washington state prisoners to call and remind voters he was pro-death penalty. Metcalf, who prevailed, said he never knew.
Federal Prison Industries, a.k.a. Unicor, says that in addition to soldiers’ uniforms, bedding, shoes, helmets, and flak vests, inmates have “produced missile cables (including those used on the Patriot missiles during the Gulf War)” and “wiring harnesses for jets and tanks.” In 1997, according to Prison Legal News, Boeing subcontractor MicroJet had prisoners cutting airplane components, paying $7 an hour for work that paid union wages of $30 on the outside.
Fidelity Investments (Fidelity). This “financial investment” corporation is involved in holding the retirement and 401(k) accounts of millions of Americans. Many of the largest companies in our country offer Fidelity Investments as the sole source of retirement investing for their employees.
Fidelity was previously identified as a funder of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in an earlir Insourcing blog. ALEC is deeply invested in supporting Corrections Corporation of American (CCA) and Geo Group (Geo) – that are both corporate members of ALEC. ALEC has willingly accepted responsibility for enactment of laws authorizing and increasing the use of inmates in manufacturing of products as well as the housing of those inmates by private corporations such as CCA and Geo.
Unfortunately if your retirement savings, 401(K) or other investments are held by Fidelity, chances are some of your money is invested by Fidelity in either the use of prison labor or in other operations related to the prison industrial complex (PIC).
McDonald’s too, although they are not “directly” using inmate labor in their food service operations, they are dependent upon the use of inmate labor to reduce costs associated with those operations. The way they do this is by contracting to purchase their uniforms and some of the plastic utensils provided to customers from a company using inmate labor to make those uniforms and utensils. The uniforms are made by Oregon Inmates. Wendy’s has also been identified as relying upon prison labor to reduce their cost of operations – and they fund ALEC.
Two other U.S. companies relying upon prison labor for products sold in their stores are K-Mart and J.C. Penny. Both sell Jeans made by inmates in Tennessee prisons. The same prison in Tennessee provides labor for Eddie Bauer’s wooden rocking horses.
What about services such as Insurance? Banking? Utilities – gas, oil, electricity? Prescription drugs? Are all of these services or commodities tied to prison labor and the PIC? Unfortunately, yes. Many insurance companies are tied to ALEC…as are corporations involving utilities provided to you in your city or town. To name jut a few brand names you’ll recognize that are invested in prison labor or PIC through ALEC are:
BANKS: American General Financial Group, American Express Company, Bank of America, Community Financial Services Corporation, Credit Card Coalition, Credit Union National Association, Inc., Fidelity Inestments, Harris Trust & Savings Bank, Household International, LaSalle National Bank, J.P. Morgan & Company, Non-Bank Funds Transmitters Group
ENERGY PRODUCERS/OIL: American Petroleum Institute, Amoco Corporation, ARCO, BP America, Inc., Caltex Petroleum, Chevron Corporation, ExxonMobil Corporation, Mobil Oil Corporation, Phillips Petroleum Company.
ENERGY PRODUCERS/UTILITIES: American Electric Power Association, American Gas Association, Center for Energy and Economic Development, Commonwealth Edison Company, Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc., Edison Electric Institute, Independent Power Producers of New York, Koch Industries, Inc., Mid-American Energy Company, Natural Gas Supply Association, PG&E Corporation/PG&E National Energy Group, U.S. Generating Company.
INSURANCE: Alliance of American Insurers, Allstate Insurance Company, American Council of Life Insurance, American Insurance Association, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Corporation, Coalition for Asbestos Justice, (This organization was formed in October 2000 to explore new judicial approaches to asbestos litigation.” Its members include ACE-USA, Chubb & Son, CNA service mark companies, Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company, Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc., Kemper Insurance Companies, Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, and St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company. Counsel to the coalition is Victor E. Schwartz of the law firm of Crowell & Moring in Washington, D.C., a longtime ALEC ally.)
Fortis Health, GEICO, Golden Rule Insurance Company, Guarantee Trust Life Insurance, MEGA Life and Health Insurance Company, National Association of Independent Insurers, Nationwide Insurance/National Financial, State Farm Insurance Companies, Wausau Insurance Companies, Zurich Insurance.
PHARMACEUTICALS: Abbott Laboratories, Aventis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Bayer Corporation, Eli Lilly & Company, GlaxoSmithKline, Glaxo Wellcome, Inc., Hoffman-LaRoche, Inc., Merck & Company, Inc., Pfizer, Inc., Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of
America (PhRMA), Pharmacia Corporation, Rhone-Poulenc Rorer, Inc., Schering-Plough Corporation, Smith, Kline & French, WYETH, a division of American Home Products Corporation.
MANUFACTURING:American Plastics Council, Archer Daniels Midland Corporation, AutoZone, Inc. (aftermarket automotive parts), Cargill, Inc., Caterpillar, Inc., Chlorine Chemistry Council, Deere & Company, Fruit of the Loom, Grocery Manufacturers of America, Inland Steel Industries, Inc., International Game Technology, International Paper, Johnson & Johnson, Keystone Automotive Industries, Motorola, Inc., Procter & Gamble, Sara Lee Corporation.
TELECOMMUNICATIONS: AT&T, Ameritech, BellSouth Telecommunications, Inc., GTE Corporation, MCI, National Cable and Telecommunications Association, SBC Communications, Inc., Sprint, UST Public Affairs, Inc., Verizon Communications, Inc.
TRANSPORTATION: Air Transport Association of America, American Trucking Association, The Boeing Company, United Airlines, United Parcel Service (UPS).
OTHER U.S. COMPANIES: Amway Corporation, Cabot Sedgewick, Cendant Corporation, Corrections Corporation of America, Dresser Industries, Federated Department Stores, International Gold Corporation, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Microsoft Corporation, Newmont Mining Corporation, Quaker Oats, Sears, Roebuck & Company, Service Corporation International, Taxpayers Network, Inc., Turner Construction, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
ORGANIZATIONS/ASSOCIATIONS: Adolph Coors Foundation, Ameritech Foundation, Bell & Howell Foundation, Carthage Foundation, Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, ELW Foundation, Grocery Manufacturers of America, Heartland Institute of Chicago, The Heritage Foundation, Iowans for Tax Relief, Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation of Milwaukee, National Pork Producers Association, National Rifle Association, Olin Foundation, Roe Foundation, Scaiffe Foundation, Shell Oil Company Foundation, Smith Richardson Foundation, Steel Recycling Institute, Tax Education Support Organization, Texas Educational Foundation, UPS Foundation.
As the foregoing illustrates, many U.S. companies and corporations not only fund ALEC’s activities regarding prison labor and PIC, they have foundations that also contribute handsomely to ALEC. Many are represented upon ALEC”s Private Enterprise Board.
The federal government is on a rampage to punish Anonymous-style hackers.
Did he engage in a spree of murders? Run a child-sex ring? Not quite. His crime: making leaked e-mails accessible to the public—documents that shine a light on the shadowy world of intelligence contracting in the post-9/11 era.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/Rob Kints
Alleged “hacktivist” Barrett Brown, the 31-year old mislabeled “spokesman” for the shadowy hacker collective known as Anonymous, faces federal charges that could put him away for over a hundred years. Did he engage in a spree of murders? Run a child-sex ring? Not quite. His crime: making leaked e-mails accessible to the public—documents that shine a light on the shadowy world of intelligence contracting in the post-9/11 era.
A critically acclaimed author and provocative journalist, Brown cannot be too easily dismissed as some unruly malcontent typing away in the back of a gritty espresso lounge. He is eccentric. And he was clearly high on something, if only his own hubris, when he made a threatening video that put him in the feds’ crosshairs. But that’s not the real reason for the government’s overreaction. Evidence indicates it has a lot more to do with sending a message to the community he comes from, which the government sees—correctly—as a threat.
The Barrett Brown case is simply the latest in a string of prosecutions in which the government pursues anyone involved in making information “liberated” from governmental or corporate entities easily accessible to the public. Those targeted are not necessarily accused of the illegal entry itself (the “hack”) or violating contracts (as in the case of a “leak”). These are people performing a function analogous to that of a newspaper—yet they can face prison sentences longer than those prescribed for murderers, rapists, and terrorists.
The Obama administration’s assault on accountability is dual-pronged: attack the messenger (as in the case of Brown, WikiLeaks, even New York Times reporters) and attack the source ( Bradley Manning, John Kiriakou, Thomas Drake, etc.). In fact, seven of those sources have been indicted as traitors under the 1917 Espionage Act during the Obama years alone—more than double the “espionage” charges against whistleblowers by all previous presidential administrations combined.
The Espionage Act is a draconian relic from World War I designed to prevent infiltration by foreign agents, like those of the Kaiser’s Germany. It has a sordid history as an instrument against American dissenters who leak to the media, including Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, but has been used sparingly hitherto—until Barack Obama’s administration.
The government’s position is that revealing this information to the media enables “enemies” to see it. Thus, whoever blows the whistle is “aiding the enemy.” But in these cases, the enemy is the American people.
Brown, in federal custody since September 2012, has been jousting with the feds for quite some time.
Round one of his travails began on March 6, 2012, when FBI agents raided his Dallas apartment, looking for evidence related to the 2011 hack of e-mails belonging to Stratfor—a private firm with substantial links to the American intelligence community. Brown sought refuge at his mother’s, but Special Agents arrived there as well, later in the evening. Although the feds found no incriminating evidence, they continued to harass Brown and his family, threatening to file obstruction of justice charges against Brown’s mother for hosting her son during the raid. This prompted Brown to record an ominous YouTube video threatening the Special Agent in charge of the investigation. He was arrested that evening and held for weeks without indictment, under the claim he was an imminent threat to the agent’s safety. In early October 2012, he was finally charged on a number of counts related to harassment of a federal officer.
In December of that year, while still in custody, he was indicted on an additional charge: “trafficking” in stolen material. Had he been shipping purloined goods across state lines? Hardly. His “trafficking,” according to the government, consisted of posting a link in a chat room.
Continue Reading @ AlterNet
- The Saga of Barrett Brown: Inside Anonymous and the War on Secrecy (alternet.org)
- Targeting Jeremy Hammond (indybay.org)
- Hactivist, Internet innovator Aaron Swartz commits suicide (pcworld.com)
- Prosecuting Whistleblowers Instead of Criminals (dissidentvoice.org)