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Message from Jason (from September 2014 newspaper)

Dear friends,

Firstly we must apologize for having a delay in newspapers. I know delays on the outside cause a lot of frustration for y’all. I know that you depend on us, please know that we are behind in newspaper production because we have lots on our plate and not out of any lack of care or attention to your needs. Thank you to those who have written to find out if all is okay, indeed all is fine. One of the reasons we are behind will become quite clear as you turn the pages of this newspaper.

After over a year of work, we are finally sending out Black and Pink’s National LGBTQ Prisoner Survey. The purpose of this survey is to find out more about the lives and experiences of incarcerated LGBTQ people. We are hoping to gather information that we can share with politicians, community organizations, and, most importantly, with all of our Black and Pink membership. Many of these questions were created by Black and Pink members who are in prison. The rest of the questions were created by “free world” volunteers. Everyone who fills out a complete survey and sends it back to us will receive a certificate of thanks as well as a Resource Guide with addresses of organizations (which will be shared over time in the Newspaper as well; it is convenient for us to mail it with the certificate). Each person who fills out a survey will also have the possibility of receiving $25 for commissary (there will be 25 randomly selected winners; sadly we do not have enough funds to give everyone $25). Our goal is to get AT LEAST 1,000 complete surveys, so please do fill it out. You might even see one of the question asked that you wrote in to us now being asked to our entire membership.

This survey is quite long. It will take about 90 minutes to finish the whole thing. Please fill out all of the questions that apply to you. The more complete surveys we get the more honest our final report will be. It is okay if you do not finish it all in one sitting. Many of the questions can bring up difficult emotions. We ask questions about sexual violence. We ask questions about discrimination. We ask questions about solitary confinement. It is very important that you are gentle with yourself as you take the survey. Take time to breathe. Take breaks as you need (there are reminders throughout the survey to take breaks).

The surveys will be anonymous. When you mail the survey back to us we will add your name to a database of people who completed the survey so we can send you a certificate and enter you into the raffle. We will keep your completed survey separate from your name, so no one will know what you said on the survey. However, your survey answers will only be anonymous to us and in our report; unfortunately we cannot control how prison guards behave. You know the prison guards where you are locked up best. You know whether or not they will look at your outgoing mail. Please make your decisions about the survey based on your best judgment. THANK YOU for taking this survey. We believe the results of this survey will be VERY helpful in our shared work.

When sending the survey back you will notice you can fold it up and use the Business Reply mail. You are welcome to use that, but we are asking that anyone who can afford to mail it back with a stamp of their own, please do. The more we save on postage, by sharing the costs, the more funds we will have for our work. Thank you for your powerful voices and your willingness to be part of this growing family. We keep our movement growing knowing that once there were no prisons, that day will come again.

In loving solidarity,
Jason

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