Billy from Texas on the September 9th Prisoner Strike

So family something is going to happen across this great nation. (yeah right), on September 9th of 2016.

There is a call for a nation-wide work stoppage for many reasons but to bring to light what’s going on. Slave Labor People, when TDC is part of the stock market due to our labor and skills we get nothing.
So if you will remember back in 1971, New York Attica Prison Rebellion was the day it begun, even though it only lasted 5 days on the 13th. State troupers fired and both guards and inmates were killed.
Keep it peaceful but lay it down. Just quit please, I beg you all. It’s not just our backs they’re making money off of. It’s our family also. Those who have to send money for us to survive in here, remember survive not spend every night while others around you don’t have soap or deodorant or basics. So while you’re pointing your finger at the dude in the shower with no shoes on, its because he or she is working his ass off for your and the system for free.

I hate to admit it but I know in my soul that shitty ass Texas will keep on doing what they do. But Billy ain’t.
You heard me say it before, I’m tired and I just can’t believe this chance will pass those by without even a thought.
Living like this is not normal and I just can’t resign myself to thinking any different.

It’s people like… Assata Shakur. She once said,

“People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to actually be aware of being a slave.”

With that ya’ll I leave you with just this poem. It seems anger is alive right now. From what happened in Orlando to what’s going on here. Jason is so right in his anger, but I guarantee it will inspire him and keep moving him forward not let it cripple him. I also feel if Jason and the many others trying to abolish prison successfully we have to work from the inside and not just sit on our collective asses and wait for it just to happen. What is your battle?

Wake Up People – by Billy 2016

Don’t allow them to tell you to it down and shut up.
You want real change, “Wake up” Start costing
Your system time and monies. Either on more man
Hours or our courts. They will notice.
Wake up
Let new ideas take over – tell them to keep
This in mind. “We will be always watching. No
Longer are we blind. We see their ploys we
Are not their toys – Wake up

The press and government tells us, Mr. Snowden
Should be tried for war crimes, or treason. Really?
The government or PIC tells us we’re not safe.
Snowden proved to us we were being watched.
George Orwell told of this in his book 1984
Now there is a camera on every corner or a prison
In ever county.
Wake up
“We must do this they say, it’s the only way
to keep us safe. Sleep people.
If you ask me we out number them now, look at
The chaos in the street its here people, Wake up.

Our schools are falling down, let’s build more prisons
Our government can’t pay its bills. Let’s build more prisons
Our government helps the banks still our money – but
God forbid, build more prisons.
Wait, did you hear our children are homeless and hungry?
They know our kids will steal for their food.
Look the little ignorants up-build more prisons
You are only being told what they cannot hide.
You will be just fine, go back to sleep
Wake up
There are such new passions and ideas,
I read them every day. Your allowing, mindless
Thinks to stop you like who’s hetero or gay
Our women are allowed to succeed when they
Roll over just to yawn. But in reality, their still
Oppressed and raped by dawn!
Wake up

If this poem has pissed you off, good, what
Are you going to do about it just there and
Brood?
Wake up!

I do wish to say I personally, wish to thank those who do write and try to better society inside and out.

Awake and struggling from the inside.

Peace,
Billy

August in Chicago –it’s happening!

Hey there pen-pals, volunteers & supporters!

Here’s some updates & announcements from the crew at Black & Pink Chicago this month.  As always – follow us on facebook for more up to date info, and drop us a line at blackandpinkchicago@gmail.com if you have any questions.

Fam Mail:

“Queer Reels: A Fundraiser for Black & Pink Inside Members”

Sunday, August 21 6-9 at the Dojo in Pilsen.

Suggested donation of $1-5 at the door/ no one turned away for lack of funds. We will also be tabling with merch including “Solidarity not Solitary” T-shirts and patches, and raffle tickets!

Pen-pal Matching Night will take place next on Monday August 15th, from 7-9pm at 656 W. Barry.  Come through if you’ve been meaning to be matched but haven’t started writing yet!

Community Dinner

Community Dinner teamed up with the Chicago  Community Bond Fund in July. We had over 40 community members from our groups come together to share a meal and stories with each other. We are hoping this event kicks off a series of community dinner collaborations between other abolitionist organizations in Chicago that we have crushes on. We also celebrated our 3rd birthday of being a chapter with birthday brownies!

Our next ‘Community Dinner’ will be on Wednesday August 24th from 6-8 at 637 S. Dearborn, with Love & Protect.  They are hosting a letter-writing night to find pen-pals for more of their members, and we’ll be joining that effort and providing a meal for all who come through.  Join us!

Political Education
Political education did a PIC 101 workshop for Fed Up Fest: A Queer & Trans punk fest. The workshop used a “crime map” to explore the root causes of crimes, which stage police come into the scene of a crime, and the systemic oppressions that make up what the prison industrial complex is.

Advocacy

From our friends at Uptown People’s Law Center we’ve learned about this critical opportunity to take action on solitary confinement. Although IDOC has published proposed regulations which might reduce the harm of solitary confinement, these proposed regulations don’t apply to people who are essentially in solitary and who rarely get to leave their cells, including those in protective custody, a form of solitary that is often used to ‘protect’ LGBTQ folks from violence by subjecting them to the violence of isolation. Furthermore, the proposed regulations still exceed the 15-day maximum for solitary confinement stipulated under international law.

How can you help? File a public comment by August 15th, stating your concerns about the use of solitary in IDOC. Important: if enough people comment, IDOC will have to hold a hearing. Submit your comment, and get your friends to submit as well!

Comments can be submitted to:

Ms. Echo Beekman, Rules Coordinator

Illinois Department of Corrections

1301 Concordia Court

P. O. Box 19277

Springfield, IL 62794-9277

Re-entry

Do you know of friendly landlords who will rent for super cheap and/or not do background checks?  Do you have old furniture or clothes to donate?  Do you want to be a friend to someone who’s just getting out of prison and looking for community support?

Let us know – we have members getting out all the time and the situation in Chicago for folks returning from prison is stark. (Half of all prisoners who get out go back in within 3 months of getting out).  There are very material ways to show up for people on the regular, and all of us has something to offer.

E-mail blackandpinkchicago@gmail.com with any contributions or ideas you have.

Other stuff that is super rad and relevant:

The Movement for Black Lives released a platform of policy demands.  If you haven’t taken the time to read it – change that.  This is a really big deal. Many of the demands align with our own abolitionist visions and principles, and we look forward to seeing the ways that organizations and communities across the country continue to put these demands into action.

Aaaaand this month marks 6 years since the passing of Marilyn Buck.  Not familiar with her?  She was a white anti-imperialist who was a part of the team that liberated Assata Shakur from prison and became a political prisoner in the US for 29 years.  She died of cancer in 2010, but not until she had left a powerful legacy about the meaning of solidarity in practice.  Check out this interview with her here: https://vimeo.com/16406539

 

That’s all for now – onwards,

B&P Chi

Message from Jason (July/August 2016)

Dear friends,

I hope this note finds you as well as possible. I know that some folks are probably melting in the heat. I know that some prisons are not providing appropriate ventilation, air conditioning, and fans. Please know that you are being thought of during the summer heat.

As you go through this month’s magazine you will see a continuation of stories from people about the Orlando shooting. The process of grief can be long. t imagine we will have stories, letters and poems about Orlando for months and even years to come. As was noted last month and in the post card that went out, there are not enough spaces inside prison to do the needed healing when tragedies like the Orlando shooting occur. Our magazine can, hopefully, be an outlet for some of that healing work. Hopefully you can feel a sense of connection as you write your own responses and read the responses of others. Grief and anger are powerful and we need to turn that in to action. There is much we can all do to help our world heal.

I have been thinking a lot about substance use and drug addiction lately. The War on Drugs is one of the leading causes of incarceration in the United States. This is especially true for Black, Latin@, and American Indian/Indigenous people. I realize that we do not talk enough about drug use and struggles in the newspaper. It is something we talk about a lot with formerly incarcerated and currently court-involved people who are on the outside. There is often a lot of work to be done to support sobriety when folks are on the outside. There is also, however. some support and space that we should make for people on the inside.

As an open family Black and Pink does not have any judgment about people choosing to use any kind of substance. The truth is that we all use mind/body altering substances. If you eat candy, drink soda, or have coffee, then you’re using substances that alter your mind/body. Caffeine and sugar are both strong substances that impact our mood, energy, and attention. Some of us even get addicted to these substances. Have you ever had a headache because you had not had your morning coffee? I know I have. While almost all of us use some kind of substance throughout the day the truth is that some substances have more of an impact on the body than others.

I have been in recovery for almost 8 years. My drug of choice was alcohol. I used to binge drink way too much, black out regularly, and make really bad choices for my safety and the safety of others around me. Not drinking at all is the best solution for me. I remember when I tried moderation. I would try to just have one or two drinks and stop, but that never worked for me. I know some people who are good at moderation, that has never been my strength.

What has been your relationship to substances? Do you struggle with addiction? What is your drug of choice? Black and Pink released in our survey report very clear recommendations to decriminalize all amounts and all types of drugs. We do not believe making substances illegal makes any one’s life better. Our strong belief in decriminalization does not mean we ignore the problems substances can cause in someone’s life. Some people make choices to use substances because life feels too challenging at times and it is really important to have a break. Other people use substances to make a fun night even more fun. There are those who use substances because they feel too much pain without them. As an open family we are not trying to get everyone to stop using all substances. Our dream is for people to have access to the support and resources they need. Substance use can be a really important coping mechanism. It is really important that we do not take anyone’s coping mechanisms away without being sure they have plenty of other coping mechanisms to replace it with. It is equally important that we remove temptations from people who have made a decision that they want to give something up. If someone wants to stop using heroin, it is our responsibility as a family to make sure they have all the tools they need to do that. We need to make sure they are not put in a place where they have to be tempted.

The US prison system is not helping any of us truly deal with the harms that can be caused by addition. As an open family we must work together to create the solutions we need that honor people’s right to make choices about their bodies while being sure everyone has access to treatment and care that they need. We need to keep coming up with new answers knowing that once there were no prisons, that day will come again.

In loving solidarity,
Jason

Letters to Our Family (July 2016)

To All of Our Black and Pink Family,
After the horrible act of hate that claimed the lives of 49 or our brothers and sisters in Orlando, Florida, the LGBTQI Two Spirit community here at USP Tucson made history as we came together to celebrate the first ever LGBTQI 2 Spirit History/Pride event in the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Dedicated to those we lost and their families, the event began with a moment of silence followed by some LGBT history, a performance by the prison band “Danger to Society”, and a reading by the Diversity Committee.
Afterward the psychology department gave a brief presentation on Gender Dysphoria, Transgender issues, PREA, and supporting each other. This was followed by presentations from the LGBT 2 Spirit community members. Presentations ranged from poetry, music, spoken word pieces, to personal stories of acceptance and learning to love yourself. the band ‘Danger to Society” performed all original music.
The event kicked off at 1PM and wrapped up around 3:15PM. Around 100 members of the LGBT community here at USP Tucson gathered to celebrate and show their pride in the first ever LGBTQI 2 Spirit History/Pride event ever in Federal BOP history.
My celly, who goes by “Ian”, served as our Master of Ceremonies and it was my celly who fought hard to get this event approved. Trust me, it didn’t just happen. Since February, he has fought to make this historic event happen. the administration made him jump through hoop after hoop, and there were times he shed tears and wanted to give up. His ideas were constantly being denied and it was really hard to see someone try so hard only to get rejected and when he wanted to give up, I asked him “why was this so important to him?” He told me, “Everyone else has their days or months. There’s Black History Month, Native American Heritage Month, the church has December, part of March and April. What do we have?”
He asked his peers and friends what they though and everyone told him, “It’ll never happen, the warden will never okay it.” And after all the rejection, even I began to wonder. Then one day his staff sponsor stopped us on the sidewalk and said, “The warden finally agreed. He approved your event this morning.” After that, Ian had to arrange a date for the use of the chapel in June, then arrange for a band from the Recreation Department, meet with Psychology to see if they would be willing to present something, and the most important thing, he didn’t take “No” for an answer!
To all of the B&P family, don’t ever give up! If you believe in something, fight for it!
We made history because my celly, Ian, fought for what he believed in, and we are already making plans for bigger and better things for next year.
With love and hope,
Mark (Mato Witko Oka) – Arizona

 

Dear Black + Pink Family,
Hello again from Florida. As I’m sure is the case with many of you, I was shocked and hurt after the attack in Orlando. This was not just an attack on one nightclub, it was an attack against our whole community. On the same day, police foiled an attack in California by a man with guns and explosives who intended to harm people at a Pride event.
Sadly, I do not think that we’ve seen the last of large-scale violence against us. As I watched TV news coverage of the attacks, I heard hateful comments by other prisoners in the dayroom implying that we’d gotten what we deserve and applauding the shooter. Hate against us did not magically disappear when the Supreme Court gave us marriage equality. If anything, it may be intensifying in a backlash. Our community is much more visible than it used to be, and there’s a lot of anger over the legal victories we’ve had in such a short time. I don’t say this to make you afraid, but to make you aware. The worst mass shooting in this nation’s history didn’t target the government, the military, political or religious targets, but it was against us. When we go back out into society, we need to be conscious of the circumstances we’re walking into. What can we do to improve the safety for ourselves and others in the LGBT community? Here are some of my suggestions, and I’d like to see what others think too…
Although most of us are felons with no gun rights, we should encourage others in our community who are eligible an willing to carry a gun to do so. Self-defense classes would also be a good idea. If you go to a club or public event, know where the exits are or where you could go for safety an shelter. Report threats anyone makes in person or on the Internet to authorities and demand action.
Although I believe that, in the long term, society will continue to become more accepting of us, we’re not completely there yet. Be strong and be empowered. We will not go back into our closets. We will not cede the progress that we’ve fought so hard for. We will be resilient and unified, and we will move forward.
Ryan in Florida

 

Today the LGBTQ community was attacked by a man in Florida. As a gay man I understand first hand how the LGBTQ community is misunderstood. Too many people believe that loving somebody of the same sex is a disease. But as we all know, it’s a way of life.
For too many years the LGBTQ has been misconstrued to be Taboo. More knowledge needs to be spread to people outside the LGBTQ community. I am deeply saddened by this shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando Florida. It is a extremely heartbreaking event. In my opinion judging somebody on their sexual preference is the same thing as judging somebody on the color of their skin, the clothing they wear or by what religious faith they belong to. It all needs to be abolished.
It doesn’t matter if you’re behind prison walls or outside those gates, chances are you know somebody who is of the LGBTQ family. Each and every day our brothers and sisters need your support. The more we support each other the stronger we become. Don’t be afraid to stick up for one another. In the prison I’m located at in Wisconsin I’ve seen on numerous occasions straight men hurl derogatory comments at Gay or Bi men. And in those groups are people that are supposed to be friends with the man who’s being put down, those individuals won’t stop the problem because they’re afraid of the social stigma of “Guilty by association.” If those friends won’t stick up for you because they’re afraid of what their friends might say it’s time to find some new friends.
After the shooting in Florida, the media needs to starts shining a light on the LGBTQ community. Enough with the shootings. Everybody needs to gain a better knowledge into different cultures we can end all this nonsense violence.
I hope this letter gives people something to thing about. This is my first letter to the B+P family newsletter. I love all of you and I look forward to reading future articles. I’ve gained lots of insights on different issues. In February of 2016 I found out my dad is transgender and my twin brother is also gay. Thanks so much for the paper and all the support that’s send out each month.
Sincerely,
Jordan B., WI

 

Dear beloved family,
I want to extend my love to each and every one of you. I want to send my prayers and express my sorrows to and for the families and the 102 victims of the Orlando, Florida terrorist attack at one of our familial clubs on June 12, 2016. You are not alone in your mourning. I am crying beside you in heart and in spirit.
Now I am a first time writer, so please allow me to introduce myself. I am a 25 year old bisexual white man. I want to comment on 2 entries in the My 2016 issue of B&P.
First, Jason’s “message” on superheroes and comics. I disagree that his message was a silly reflection. I believe that we ALL truly are superheroes, if we choose to be. We do not need to be able to fly, walk through walls, or throw fire from our palms to be superheroes. Just because we can’t do these things does not mean we can’t be superheroes. I mean, one of Jason’s “super powrs” is his ability to keep our LGBTQ family united through this newsletter and the pen pal program. One of my “super powers” is my ability to find some reality in something that seems to be pure fantasy. All of us, in many ways, are like the DC, Marvel, and CAPCOM characters. Our “super powers” are just not as mythical, yet are just as glamorous! Our powers must be developed and nurtured. And just like the TV superheroes, we all have weaknesses. So we must determine our weaknesses and develop a wall of protection around our weaknesses.
We also have a team to fight for justice, equality, freedom, and liberation. That team is you and I. We are the “Super Black & Pink Pride League!”. And according to the count in May 2016 we have within prison, over 9,400 members of this elite team of loving, compassionate Superheroes! And there are many more members on the outside. So I call upon you all, in the closet or out, my heroes, find and nurture your true powers. You are all my heroes and I need all of you to help me in our fight for liberation. We will win…only if we stand together.
Butterfly B of Texas, my beloved sister, your poem entitled “ME” really touched my heart and is part of the reason I decided to finally write a submission after 3 years of receiving the newsletter. I have a similar poem called “Look a Little Deeper” that I will submit.
I want you all to know that you all live in my heart, warming and comforting. And if you so desire, I will live in your hearts so you will never have to be lonely.
Stay Strong and Love Deep.
Jesse AKA Lestat King! CA

 

Dear good and faithful Family,
What up! It’s your girl, yep your little sister Dede. After getting my hands on that May 2016 issue and seeing it for the first time in months and reading it…not only did it bring a smile to my face and make me dance a little, but I couldn’t help the few tears that escaped my eyes. This newsletter/paper makes me feel so connected and a part of this family. When I read it, the love and feel and see in this community is beyond amazing and is so palpable you can touch it. I’m so proud to be a part of this family and community! So thank you and I love you all =]. Now I have a couple of things I would like to respond to: first, my heart goes out to the survivors and victims and of course their families of the tragedy in Orlando that happened to this community (LGBTQIA) and the Latino community as well. I can’t speak for the world, but I can speak for me and this community when I say, Stay strong Orlando, I love you so do my bros and sisters of this family and community (LGBTQ). You are in our hearts and prayers. Love and solidarity Orlando!
Next, to my sister Jackelyn of MI, I want to thank you for the encouragement, support and love you showed me and our sister Jada. Girl, I know it’s hard, by reading your story I could tell you were very frustrated, hurt, and in pain. My advice to you is it’s okay to be strong and to try and tough it out, but truthfully what a lot of people don’t tell you is it’s okay to fall apart too. Just cry and let the tears fall and this goes for anybody. It’s okay to cry it out to someone you love or trust to let out all those emotions or if you don’t have anyone do it by yourself and when you’re done (crying) write it down. I love you and I’m proud to call you my sister! =]. Also to Tiffany, Ms. Tiffany in PA congrats on coming to terms with your true self. It’s never too late, I’m proud of you and I love you.
Lastly, Jason you aren’t the only one who loves comic books and superheroes. I’m a huge Marvel fan as well. I do like DC (Superman) but that’s all really now Marvel-wise. I love the X-men group-wise, individually I would say would have to be Thor and Wolverine. I just love how they both struggle with their issues and their humanity is so transparent to you that it’s beautiful.
I want to give a shout-out to 2 very good and important women Mrs. Gege of Light and Caitlin of hearts on a wire. I would like to welcome my sister Ms. Jackelyn to this family and community. You are loved and I love you girl.
In loving solidarity
Your sister,
Dede, PA xoxo
P.S. Stay strong Orlando we love you!!

 

Dear Sisters,
Like many of you, I am a transwoman housed in a male prison. I know that some days it is hard, that fighting the good fight is frustrating. The first girl to hit the barrier is bound to take some lumps; the barrier of sexism and discrimination is no exception. Someone has to be first and we are just the girls for the job. Determined and motivated.
One area where I have recently made some progress is in pat and strip searches. PREA states that no searches can be conducted to determine your gender or development. Further, PREA states that security staff will be trained in “how to perform cross-gender pat-down searches, and searches of transgender and intersex inmates.” Per the PREA resource website and recent court rulings, there are three options available to search transgender inmates: 1) have the search performed by a member of that inmate’s gender identity, 2) have medical staff conduct the search, and 3) if no gender-same personnel are available, male staff may perform the pat-search. (This means that when men search us, they are to use the backs of their hands on our chest, groin, and buttocks). The size or presence of breasts is not a factor, nor is anything else. Medical staff may not determine your eligibility for this by your transitional state. Gender identity is the only ruling factor. If you identify as female, they must search you as a female.
When I first learned this I was scared. Not of the rules, but of standing up and asking for that in public. Even though I am a known transwoman, that is different than making an issue of it with security staff. Then I realized that my still being semi-closeted made me invisible to staff. Their position that they don’t need to change the policies for the few transwomen they see was justified. Sure I was on the rolls as trans, but I wasn’t pressing the issues. So, at my next pat-search, I hiked up my panties, so to speak, and made the request.
“I am transgender, please use the back of your hand across my chest.”
When he did it without a blink, I felt so validated. But they have not all been so easy. A few days ago I made that same exact request. The officer looked at my chest and said,”There’s nothing there! I can conduct a pat search in any way I want.” He then searched me palm inward, grasping my breast as a show of authority before he was done. Weighing my options, I discussed this with staff as “a training discrepancy.” After all, what I am after is fixing the problem not a lengthy court battle to”get back” at someone. After a discussion with several security staff members, they scheduled training for their officers on how to pat-search transwomen.
Victory by inches.
Renee, in Washington

 

Black & Pink Family,
I wanted to wish everyone well and to bring up some good news. Concerning your article, “The Misclassification of Transgender Women in HIV Research” April 2016, it seems that California [CDCR] finally gets the picture. We are people too.
Last week condom dispensers were put in all day rooms. No condoms as of yet; however, we have been told by the first of the month. The condom dispensers say 3 per person and give instructions for disposal. They also state CDCR does not approve of or endorse sex.
The legislative body in California ordered CDCR in 2005, I think 2005, to issue condoms to fight HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases with condoms & cost effective measures. One person with HIV could cost hundreds of thousands in housing and medical vs. the cost of condoms. I hope people will use them, but we all still need to be careful, so be a slut but a careful slut.
Take care, with love,
Keith, CA

Boston-based organizations denounce the American Correctional Associaton!

NO ACA

PRESS RELEASE

BOSTON—A coalition of Boston-based justice organizations denounces the American Correctional Association (ACA) and will protest the group’s annual conference, to be held August 5-10 at Hynes Convention Center. The ACA, which a federal appeals court Judge David L. Bazelon has called a “propaganda vehicle for corrections authorities,” promotes prison profiteering and rubber stamps torture, slavery, racism, rape, child abuse, and medical neglect in the prisons it accredits.

On Sunday, August 7 at 3pm, the coalition and its supporters will hold a demonstration called “Imagine a World Without Prisons” to protest the ACA Board of Governor’s meeting. The ACA’s vision is to “shape the future of corrections,” but after 147 years as the face of reform, the ACA continues to perpetuate the worst kind of dehumanization from our past. We invite our community to stand with us and shape our own future—a future without prisons.

Organizations led by currently and formerly incarcerated people and communities of color overrepresented in prisons call on Bostonians, Bay Staters, and people across the United States to condemn the ACA and envision a world without prisons. While the ACA describes claims a “legacy of care” and touts a commitment to improving the justice system, the organization actually puts a veneer of credibility and professionalism on rampant human rights abuses in prisons across the United States.

Our coalition includes Black and Pink, The City School, Families for Justice as Healing, and the Young Abolitionists. These organizations support currently and formerly incarcerated people, challenge policies in order to dismantle the prison industrial complex, and create transformative justice alternatives to the United States’ dependence on criminal punishment system. Prison is an American sickness. We are working to remake the world without prisons.

The ACA silences prisoner grievances and sweeps horrific abuses under the rug. During a deposition for a California Class Action lawsuit Plata v. Brown, the ACA Director of Standards, Accreditation and Professional Development from 2006-2014 admitted that ACA auditors were not required to include prisoner complaints in their evaluations of prisons, and could accredit prisons even if courts held that their conditions were unconstitutional.

“I spent 15 years in the Federal Corrections Institution and Camp at Danbury,” Beatrice Codianni said. “Whenever the ACA was coming the staff would go into ‘lipstick on a pig’ mode. “We were told that we could not talk to the inspectors. I wrote to the ACA about my concerns: worms in the showers, exposed fiberglass over bunks, mold, the medical site at the camp wasn’t handicap accessible, and the inside entrance to the visiting room wasn’t handicap accessible. The medical care was substandard. I never heard back. Other women who wrote to the ACA never received a response either. I want the public to know that the inspections are a farce.” The ACA accredited FCI Danbury.

ACA Accreditation Rubber Stamps Human Rights Abuses

The following abuses have been documented at these ACA accredited jails and prisons, among many more:

  • Chicopee Women’s Jail in Massachusetts: Women incarcerated there recently won a lawsuit against the prison because prison staff was video taping their strip searches.
  • Bridgewater State Hospital in Massachusetts: Multiple prisoners committed suicide and staff murdered a prisoner while forcing him into restraints.
  • Many Georgia DOC prisons: The entire Georgia DOC is under DOJ investigation for sexual abuse of LGBT prisoners.
  • The Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility in Mississippi, run by Geo Group, a private prison corporation: The US Department of Justice found “systemic, egregious practices” at the prison, including “brazen” sexual misconduct involving juvenile offenders that was “among the worst that we’ve seen in any facility in the nation.”

    In the Walnut Grove case, U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves wrote the facility had “allowed a cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts and conditions to germinate, the sum of which places the offenders at substantial ongoing risk.”Yet one year later, while still in the process of complying with the settlement agreement, Walnut Grove scored a 100% on another ACA accreditation audit.

    The ACA and Prison Profiteering

  • Former ACA President Christopher Epps was convicted of accepting bribes from consultants for Geo Group and Global Tel*Link, major prison profiteers, to establish contracts in Mississippi. While he was indicted and convicted, he wasn’t just one bad apple.
  • The ACA itself is a business, making money for officials by selling its accreditation to jails and prisons. As of 2014, ACA accreditation fees ranged from $8,100-$19,500, a financial burden borne by taxpayers. The ACA receives these public tax dollars and then uses them to rubber stamp abuses in prisons and jails, causing double harm to the general public.
  • CA accreditation lasts for three years, meaning the organization can continue paying auditors—mostly prison and jail employees—to evaluate facilities. Last year, ACA paid out over $2 million to these auditors.
  • In 2014, the ACA received $4.6 million in taxpayer dollars to facilitate its bogus accreditations.

    For more information, see www.americancorrections.org.

    Contact:
    Khari Charles
    Black and Pink 769-233-6148
    charlescjefferson@gmail.com

    ###

Upcoming Community Dinners

The next Chicago community dinners will be:
Sunday, July 24th (with Chicago Community Bond Fund!) and
Sunday, August 28th

If you’d like to learn more about Black and Pink, chat with Black and Pink members, and participate in this great community with food and conversation, community dinner is a great way to do all of those things. Community dinners are potluck style, so please bring some food to share if you can, and are held at 656 W. Barry Street. We look forward to seeing you there!

Abuse in Texas Prison

what-can-i-do

 

Sometimes we get letters from prisoners where they just want us to know about the violence and harm that is happening. Sometimes they are doing all the advocacy on their own and they need us to know that they are fighting. Sometimes the best thing you can do is bear witness to the suffering and the resilience. And yet, if you live in Texas, you could take it another step and take some action. You can call the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and tell them you know what’s going on and demand that they step in and take action to stop this abuse.

But everyone can read what Nedro Parker has written. Everyone can hold him in your heart. Everyone can drop a note of support. Read the documents below and send a card to:
Nedro Gwen Parker 802077
TDCJ Montford LTC
8602 Peach Ave.
Lubbock, TX 79404

TDCJ prison guard violations reported by Nedro Parker 3

TDCJ prison guard violations reported by Nedro Parker 2

TDCJ prison guard violations reported by Nedro Parker

TDCJ abuses reported to officials

Message from Jason (June 2016)

Dear friends,

I hope this note finds you as well as possible. As I write this letter LGBTQ people around the country are grieving after the brutal attack on the club Pulse’s Latinx* night in Orlando, Florida. Those of us on the outside have been able to go to public vigils and have been allowed to grieve with our loved ones. I know that inside the prison walls gatherings of groups to mourn can be forbidden. Grieving in community is so important, please know that we on the outside are holding each of you in our hearts as we light candles in honor of those lives that were taken from us.

Like many of us on the outside, maybe you are having moments of feeling hopeless and broken. Like many of us on the outside, maybe you can imagine what the scene must have looked like before the shooting happened, remembering a club you went to on the outside. Maybe you can remember the feeling of the music washing over you as you danced with friends or were getting sweaty with a cutie you met that night. Maybe you went to a club where you were able to be yourself for the first time, not afraid that your family would see you or that a co-worker would find out. Maybe you can feel the beat of the music in your heart as you think about the safe haven bars and clubs have been for so many LGBTQ people.

As the names are made public maybe you recognize someone you knew, a friend, a family member, a lover. This loss of life touches so many of us. Looking at the faces of those who were killed, maybe you can see yourself in them. Maybe they look like you, like your family, like the people you have been in love with. As you read their names, and notice that half of them are Puerto Rican, maybe you can feel your heart ache for your own community, a community targeted by racism and colonization and yet a community of vibrant resistance and survival. Have you noticed how young some of the victims were? I had a rush of sadness fill my body when I learned it was an 18+ club. I was imagining those who were out at the club for the first time, who built up the courage to go out, maybe spent hours picking out the right outfit to try to impress someone, and then I imagine the fear that must have taken over  when the first shots were fired.

I am also feeling angry. I am angry that the shooter, Omar Mateen, was able to get ahold of such a dangerous weapon. I am angry that he worked for the world’s largest security company, G4S, and was a prison guard for adults and youth. I am angry that no one stopped him from getting so violent. I am angry that no one got him help when he started acting violently to his ex-wife. I am angry that we live in a culture that told  him it is okay to devalue the lives of LGBTQ people. I am angry that his father taught him that being LGBTQ was wrong. I am angry that he might have been gay and too afraid to confront his own sexuality. I am angry that our LGBTQ communities are not better at welcoming people in and providing care that affirms people and all their different identities.

When I’m not feeling angry at Omar Mateen, I am feeling angry at the way politicians are reacting to this horrible moment. The two primary presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, are using this moment to build up support to increase the power of the FBI and the NSA. They are also using Omar Mateen’s religion to target all Muslim people and strengthen the already powerful Islamophobia that exists across the country. I am angry that they are trying to turn the suffering and death of our people into more violence against people of color, particularly Arab and South Asian people, around the world. It is unacceptable for them to take advantage of this moment to create more racism, more Islamophobia, and more suffering.

We must know that as we grieve, we will not allow the government to use our grief to support their racist and Islamophobic efforts. We have the ability to transform our grief into something else. Let us turn our grief in to stronger solidarity. Let us turn our anger into deeper commitment to liberation. Let us turn our fear in to hope for a world free from violence and oppression. Let us do so as we keep building our movement knowing that once there were no prisons, that day will come again.

In loving solidarity,
Jason

*Latinx is a term used to be inclusive of gender non-conforming and trans people of Latin American heritage

Looking for opportunities to volunteer?

**UPDATED TO CORRECT AUGUST PEN PAL MATCHING DATE**

Hello friends! If you’ve been thinking about volunteering with Black and Pink, now is the time! We’re a bit behind on processing mail from our inside members and we would love your help. Come share a meal, eat snacks, check out our impressive stamp collection, and write to our incarcerated LGBTQ fam.

If you are interested in becoming a pen pal to an LGBTQ-identified person in prison do pen pal matching every third Monday of the month! Upcoming pen pal matching days are: Monday, June 20th, Monday, July 18th, and Monday, August 15th.

Mail processing and Pen Pal matching are held 6-9pm at 656 W Barry, Second Unitarian Church in the basement.

Hope to see you there!

Updates from Chicago!

2016 is well on its way, and Black and Pink Chicago has been doing so much! As the sun (finally) starts to show its face in the Windy City, here are some things Black and Pink organizers and members are up to:

  • For the past few months, Illinois members have been organizing hard to rally support for Illinois Anti-Solitary Bill HB5417, which would have limited the use of solitary confinement in all detention facilities in Illinois, including juvenile facilities and ICE immigration detention facilities, to 5 days within a 150 day period. In support of this effort, Black and Pink members traveled to Springfield for lobby days, relentlessly called their representatives, and created memes and this zine to spread the word. SO MANY inside members responded to the survey we sent out and shared their stories and experiences with solitary confinement –thank you so much to everyone who was a part of that effort!
  • The Reentry Resource working group has raised over $1,300 (as of this post) through their GoFundMe campaign! With these funds, we’ll be able to support so many more of our inside members who are getting out through the transition. To donate, visit https://www.gofundme.com/bpreentry by June 9th, and help us reach our goal of $2,500!
  • Along with increasing our web presence here, check out the Black and Pink Chicago Tumblr! We’ll be posting requests from inside members, member artwork, and other updates about organizing and advocacy that’s going on.
  • We’re engaging in important discussions about the language we’re using in Black and Pink posts and publications, especially as this relates to language that perpetuates rape culture and other forms of oppression. Black and Pink members have all kinds of experiences, backgrounds, beliefs, and values, and supporting all of those through our language is a crucial part of everyone feeling safe and welcome in this work we’re engaging in together.
  • Join us for our next Pen Pal Matching day on June 20th! Pen Pal Matching is every 3rd Monday of the month. At the event, you can get matched with a pen pal, learn about Black and Pink’s history, mission, and structure, and talk with other Black and Pink members.

Thanks to everyone for your support and for all the work that you do <3

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