The San Francisco Giants clinched their spot in the MLB playoffs this week. At San Quentin State Prison in California, another Giants team has already played their championship game. George Lavender travels to San Quentin to tell the story.
The quest to overturn structural racial and economic injustice in the United States is arguably most powerful in the growing movement to end the racialized system of mass incarceration. Leading the struggle to dismantle the US prison-industrial complex stands the Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People's Movement.
"Can we imagine a world in which the police in poor communities act not as an occupying force...but instead as mediators of disputes, people residents can turn to for help and support, without fear of going to prison? If we stretch ourselves even further, can we imagine the police connecting residents to jobs and social services, rather than disconnecting them?"
Florence says he came up with the idea of the tape as a way to talk to his cousin, who is currently serving a 26-to-life sentence for murder at Auburn Correctional Facility in upstate New York.
“I can’t pick up the phone and call him,” Florence said. “I can’t hug him. I can’t look him in the eye and tell him how I feel.” So he started writing “4 Da Mountains” as a way to tell his cousin everything he wanted to say.
But when Florence brought the script to his group and they started working on the tracks, the project grew into something for the prison population at large. “We [all] have people we love who are incarcerated,” Florence said.
Florence and the other members of Da Cloth are passionate about prison reform—and hope to draw attention to issues such as mandatory minimum sentencing for nonviolent crimes, the psychological effects of solitary confinement, and the general mistreatment of prisoners.
“My goal right now is to show these conditions,” Florence said. “This is the stuff that gets swept under the rug.”
Equal Voice News covers news about America's working families, poverty and policy. Topics include: housing, employment, education, immigration and health care. Online newspaper is supported by Marguerite Casey Foundation.
This site began in the summer of 2007 as a personal attempt at transparency. Having never found a way to be comfortable in my own skin, I allowed the masks I developed as a child to take control. The results were not pretty: I lied to everyone, all of the time, for years. After arriving on Death Row, I began to put the pieces together for this site. Exposing my personal diary in the most open forum ever designed by human beings seemed like the most un-Thomas thing I could imagine, an attempt, I hoped, at re-forging myself, at putting back together all of the pieces. I never had any expectation that anyone would ever stumble across my tiny plot of digital backwater; it was merely the principle that someone might which comprised the core of the challenge. For well over a year I was writing to an audience of precisely no one, and I was fine with that.
Somehow, inexplicably, Minutes Before Six (MB6) began to gain a few readers. True, a significant portion of this early audience only showed up to take pot shots at me. Behind the haters and the trolls, however, were others: decent, genuine people who felt conflicted over the death penalty and the rise of the prison-industrial machine. I didn’t have all of the answers for the questions asked by this group, but l knew that if we met in the center for meaningful dialogue, we would collectively figure some of them out.
On Sunday, John Oliver's main story was a look at the racism and corruption inherent in the American prison system, and our national apathy toward it. And if you think that sounds terribly unfunny, you're right ... Oliver doesn't find it funny either.
As Mother's Day sentiments begin flooding our social media timelines, with each poster opining that theirs is the greatest mother, we tend to forget how painful this day can be for some: mothers and children who have been separated for various heart-wrenching reasons, including incarceration. Oftentimes, these are mothers who found themselves in relationships where domestic violence proliferated, and - with few options - were forced to make decisions and sacrifices in the face of circumstances many will never know. According to the Correctional Association of New York, the overwhelming majority of women in prison are domestic violence survivors. It is no wonder these mothers frequently go unconsidered, since their collective voice is rarely amplified. Their situations rarely meet the mainstream public eye unless they are brought into another conversation, usually for the purpose of comparison, and often in negligible ways.
At the forefront of leadership in the struggle to end the US system of mass incarceration stands the Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People's Movement (FICPM), a nationwide coalition of formerly incarcerated men and women who are holding forth a radical vision for justice and transformation, and who are putting that vision to work in towns and cities across the nation. This 29-minute radio documentary highlights the voices of nine members of the FICPM steering committee, men and women who have experienced the workings of the US criminal justice system from the inside out, and who have dedicated themselves to the work of building a new and better future, not only for presently and formerly incarcerated people, but for the entire nation.