Write to Pinkney: Lakeland Correctional Facility, Rev. Edward Pinkney # 294671, 141 First St. Coldwater, MI 49036

Thursday, October 08, 2015

URGENT: Call MDOC Director to Urge Rev. Pinkney's Safe Return Down State

On Tuesday, Oct. 6, at 6am, without notice to him or his family, political prisoner Rev. Edward Pinkney was transferred from Lakeland Correctional Facility in Coldwater, MI, to Kinross C.F. in the Upper Peninsula. The next day he was transferred to Marquette Branch Prison in Marquette, MI--nearly 500 miles from his wife and supporters in southern MI.

Call Michigan Department of Corrections Director Heidi Washington to express your concern about Rev. Pinkney's safety and to urge his return down state. Here's a script you can use or adapt:

"My name is _______ and I'm calling from __________. I'm calling about Rev. Edward Pinkney, ID #294671. On Tuesday he was suddenly transferred from the Lakeland facility to Marquette, 500 miles from his family. I am concerned about the Reverend's health and welfare. He needs to be brought back down state where his wife and attorney will be able to visit him while his appeal continues."

Phone number: 517-241-7238 (Sandy Simon, Director Washington's assistant)

Try to call during business hours, ideally on Friday, 10/9. If you're not allowed to speak directly to Director Washington, leave a message with her assistant.

We do not know why Rev. Pinkney was transferred. MDOC officials have not yet given any credible explanation.

Please send letters to:
Marquette Branch Prison
Rev. Edward Pinkney N-E-93 #294671
1960 US Hwy 41 South
Marquette, MI 49855

Please donate at http://bhbanco.org (Donate button) or send checks to BANCO:
c/o Dorothy Pinkney
1940 Union St.
Benton Harbor, MI 49022

Ring of Snitches: How Police Slapped False Murder Convictions on Young Black Men

From Ring of Snitches

Agacinski, who recently headed the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission, says nothing was ever done to address the concerns he outlined.
"I was low-middle-ranking management. I wasn't part of top level," he told Truthout. "Nobody ever told me anything else and I have no idea if [the memo] was acted upon."
One informant Agacinski mentioned by name in the memo was Lacino Hamilton's snitch, Olivera Rico Cowen, a man living with AIDS. In July 1994, three weeks before Hamilton was arrested for his foster mother's murder, Cowen was granted a radically reduced sentence for cooperating with homicide detectives. Instead of serving five to 15 years in prison, he would only have to do a year - as long as he continued to cooperate with homicide investigators.
But Cowen didn't live that long. He spent the last months of his life on the ninth floor of the police department, loyally trying to coerce a confession out of Hamilton.
"Reading and Rebelling"
Lacino Hamilton rejects the legitimacy of the entire carceral system, and says his resistance to the system's dictates has likely made his life harder in his current prison, the already violent Kinross Correctional Facility. Over the last 19 years, Hamilton frequently bounced around different prisons until ending up at Kinross, near the Canadian border.
"I don't know how to reconcile or accept this. I just don't know how, so I don't try," he told Truthout, adding that he spent much of his time "reading and rebelling."
Even after nearly two decades of imprisonment, Hamilton rages against prisons, police and a whole social order founded on oppression.
"How some of us live is not a mistake; neither is it the product of a broken system," he wrote in an essay from prison. "We live like that because it is profitable to a lot of people businesses: pawn shops, pay-day loan services, slum lords, creditors, social services, and others who traffic in misery."
These days, Hamilton has reason to feel optimistic. After writing to thousands of journalists, lawyers and colleges to plead his case, he finally got in touch with Claudia Whitman from the NDRAN, who supplied this reporter with most of the documents behind this story. Whitman also made contact with Christopher Brooks, the prisoner who says he knows who really killed Hamilton's foster mother. With Whitman's help, Hamilton was able to convince an up-and-coming attorney to work to overturn his conviction pro bono.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

"America Has the Greatest Legal System in the World"

From The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

Of all the reasons that we fail to know the truth about mass incarceration, though, one stands out: a profound misunderstanding regarding how racial oppression actually works. If someone were to visit the United States from another country (or another planet) and ask: Is the U.S. criminal justice system some kind of tool of racial control? Most Americans would swiftly deny it. Numerous reasons would leap to mind why that could not possibly be the case. The visitor would be told that crime rates, black culture, or bad schools were to blame. “The system is not run by a bunch of racists,” the apologist would explain. “It’s run by people who are trying to fight crime.” That response is predictable, because most people assume that racism, and racial systems generally, are fundamentally a function of attitudes. Because mass incarceration is officially colorblind, it seems inconceivable that the system could function much like a racial caste system. The widespread and mistaken belief that racial animus is necessary for the creation and maintenance of racialized systems of social control is the most important reason that we, as a nation, have remained in deep denial.


The hidden racial prejudice. It is part of a process under way all across America in various forms. You'd better keep your mind on your freedom and freedom on your mind, because the corporate power structure is determined to crush anyone who stands in its way. -Rev. Pinkney

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Keep Your Mind on Your Freedom and Freedom on Your Mind!

From The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

We may think we know how the criminal justice system works. Television is overloaded with fictional dramas about police, crime, and prosecutor shows such as Law and Order. These fictional dramas, like the evening news, tend to focus on individual stories of crime, victimization, and punishment.

A charismatic police officer, investigator, or prosecutor struggles with his own demons while heroically trying to solve a horrible crime. He ultimately achieves a personal and moral victory by finding the bad guy and throwing him in jail. That is the made-for-TV version of the criminal justice system. It perpetuates the myth that the primary function of the system is to keep our streets safe and our homes secure by rooting out dangerous criminals and punishing them. These television shows, especially those that romanticize drug-law enforcement, are the modern-day equivalent of the old movies portraying happy slaves, the fictional gloss placed on a brutal system of racialized oppresion and control.

Those who have been swept within the criminal justice system know that the way the system actually works bears little resemblance to what happens on television or in movies. Full-blown trials of innocents rarely occur, many people never even meet with an attorney, witnesses are routinely paid and coerced by the government, police regularly stop and search people for no reason whatsoever, penalties for many crimes are so severe that innocent people plead guilty, accepting plea bargains to avoid harsh mandatory sentences, and children, even as young as fourteen, are sent to prisons. Rules of law and procedure, such as guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, can be found easily by all-white juries.

We shall see how the system of mass incarceration actually works. Our focus is the war on drugs. The reason is simple. Convictions for drug offenses are the single most important cause of the explosion of incarceration rates in the United States. Drug offenses alone account for two-thirds of the rise in the federal and state inmate population and more than half of the rise in state prisoners between 1985 and 2000. Approximately a half million people are in prison or jail for drug offenses today compared to an estimated 41,100 in 1980, an increase of 1,100 percent. Drug arrests have tripled since 1980. As a result, more than 31 million people have been arrested for drug offenses since the drug war began. To put the matter in perspective consider this: there are more people in prison and jail today just for drug offenses than were incarcerated for all reasons in 1980. Nothing has contributed more to the systematic mass incarceration of people of color in the United States than the war on drugs.

The myth is that the war on drugs is aimed at ridding the nation of drug kingpins or big time dealers--nothing could be further from the truth! You must keep your mind on your freedom, keep freedom on your mind! -Rev. Pinkney