Friday, October 31, 2008
Part of your platform focuses on the prison-industrial complex. Can you explain what that means - many people don't understand that term - and describe its economic and social impact? How you propose changing the current system?
It's based off President Eisenhower's use of the term "military industrial complex." It is the idea of corporations and the state - particularly corporations - controlling how prisons are run and operated. It also includes any aspect of policing. The phrase was coined in the early 1990s when organizers like myself began seeing the connection between private corporations owning and operating prisons and the goods and services produced by prison labor in these prisons. Then Bill Clinton passed the Juvenile Justice Crime Bill, which made young people eligible to be sentenced as adults, expanded mandatory minimum drug laws, allowed 16 year-olds to be on death row, and got rid of the right of the writ of habeas corpus for many people in prison to be able to challenge their sentences. This has created a system where at any given time over 3 in 10 African American men and 1 out of every 8 Latino men are either in prison, on probation, or on parole. In this past year, we surpassed 2 million Americans incarcerated. 1 out of 100 Americans are either in prison, on parole, or on probation. I've been intimately involved in that struggle - fighting against the death penalty, stopping mandatory minimum sentencing, and not imprisoning people for non-violent felonies, particularly drug charges.
This is related to NAFTA and CAFTA - it's all interconnected. Once the borders were opened up for "free trade," when manufacturing industries started leaving in greater numbers during the 1980s and 1990s and corporations started shipping jobs overseas, communities became blighted. There were no jobs. So, as a Senator from New York said, if we build the prisons, they will come. Particularly in upstate New York and parts of rural Ohio, prisons provide some of the biggest job opportunities for communities where people lost manufacturing jobs with good benefits and good wages. Now they are working on incarcerating other human beings. Economically, that impacts the communities from which the incarcerated young men and women come from. For example, many in prison come from urban areas, and the Census doesn't count them where they actually live, but instead counts them where they are incarcerated. That helps those rural communities where prisons are built get more money and funding.
Socially, the impact is devastating for probably the next two generations, at least. Young people of color, young men and increasingly girls, are harassed and brutalized every day. When they go to the bus stop, there are police. When they go to school, there are police, and when they leave school, there are police. When they get back on the subway there are police, and when they get home, there are police. For me and my generation, this is the most devastating thing that has happened to us.
Neither party has even bothered to reference the prison industrial complex, or made the correlation between the people who are incarcerated and these larger issues. Young people of color, particularly working class young people, get caught up in the prison industrial complex, and when they come out they can't get jobs that allow them to live. It was like this even before capitalism began falling down around us.
As for how I would propose changing it, I would completely dismantle it. Rehabilitation is necessary in some cases, but in some cases I think the police need to be restrained. In some communities, young people can go and have fun and not be arrested, but black and Latino kids in their communities - doing the same things that white kids in the suburbs are doing - shouldn't get arrested. Neither should the white kids. There's no tolerance, particularly for young men of color, in this country. I think white police officers, at the end of the day, see black men clearly as the enemy. Police are trained to see a black man as their enemy, not as someone they are there to serve and protect.
Where can people dealing with these situations go? What resources are available to them?
One organization is Critical Resistance, which works to stop the prison industrial complex.....
White Out: The Continuing Significance of Racism (Paperback)
by Ashley W. Doane (Editor), Eduardo Bonilla-Silva (Editor)
Publisher: Routledge, Paperback: 304 pages
Reviews from Amazon.com -
An immensely valuable book. Here you will find vital information and analysis, both of the payoffs racism offers to whites, and of the immense costs racism imposes on the white psyche.
–Howard Winant, author of The World is a Ghetto: Race and Democracy Since World War II
Moving beyond static conceptualizations of whiteness, White Out redirects the focus of whiteness studies and produces an empirical understanding of white identity and the practices it produces.
–David T. Wellman, author of Portraits of White Racism
This wide-ranging and often brilliant collection places the critical study of whiteness right where it belongs--squarely within the larger framework of an analysis of a larger racial system that produces inequality and misery. Of all of the anthologies on whiteness, White Out is far and away the most successful at detailing how and why social structures matter when racial ideologies are made.
–David R. Roediger is the author of Colored White: Transcending The Racial Past
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
California's Prop. 5 Will Save Lives and Money
Alternatives to Incarceration
By MARGARET DOOLEY-SAMMULI, Counterpunch.org
Saving Land Lowers Taxes
From www.savejeanklockpark.org -
There are 27 golf courses within a 30 mile radius of Benton Harbor, some are exclusive, some are not. Some have closed to become residential properties and some are struggling to keep the courses open. Jack Nicklaus Signature golf courses also fail and that is a huge concern. There is no guarantee that this course will succeed and it’s the opinion of many that it will not. Not in this area. To use Jean Klock Park on speculation that the course will survive is not only risky but highly irresponsible. Jean Klock Park should not be sacrificed for other’s lack of vision. Instead it should serve as its own centerpiece as an historical and natural resource.
Friends of Jean Klock Park are joined by the Alliance for the Great Lakes and local citizens and organizations in their effort to preserve the natural heritage of the park.
We are also part of the Defense of Place Michigan coalition of park advocacy groups. For more information about why parks are for future generations please visit www.defenseofplace.org.
Thanks to the sponsorship and support of the Michigan Environmental Council the Friends of Jean Klock Park were awarded a grant from the Great Lakes Aquatic Network Fund (now Freshwater Future) for various expenses.
The efforts of others in the cause to "Save Jean Klock Park" are expanding!
Please visit www.protectjkp.com.
Wall Street Journal excerpt on golf courses:
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
A note or letter can be as simple as, "I support clemency for Rev. Edward Pinkney."
Sign your name address.
Send letters to:
Honorable Jennifer Granholm
P.O. Box 30013
Lansing, Michigan, 48909
Please contribute to Rev. Pinkney's Legal Defense Fund for the ACLU's appeal case.
Send donations to:
Reverend Edward Pinkney Defense Fund
1940 Union Street
Benton Harbor, Michigan, 49022
See 10 Reasons to Donate $10 to the Rev. Pinkney Defense Fund
Excerpt from the Detroit Metro Times story on clemency in Michigan (8/22/07):
"In Michigan, any prisoner may apply for a pardon or commutation of sentence to the state's Parole Board, which reviews the applications and makes recommendations to the governor. Public hearings must be held before the board makes a recommendation for executive clemency. Victims, their families or other interested persons who have told the Department of Corrections Office of Crime Victim Services they want information about prisoners — including notification of parole hearings — will receive updates.
If the governor grants a commutation, the prisoner's sentence is reduced to the number of years served and the prisoner goes on parole. If the governor pardons someone, the sentence is effectively voided and the prisoner is freed.
A pardon implies society's forgiveness. A commutation says justice is not served by keeping the prisoner locked up.
Overall, prisoners' requests for clemency from Michigan's governors have had varying success with the last three administrations even as the prison population has grown and pressures to control costs have increased. Granholm, a Democrat in the first year of her second term, has granted 12 commutations and one pardon...In nearly five years in office, Granholm has granted a dozen, all for medical reasons...."
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Reverend Edward Pinkney is an activist from Benton Harbor who for years has spoken out against discrimination against African Americans in Berrien County courts. Recently, Rev. Pinkney was charged with election law violations and convicted by an all white jury. While on probation pending a motion for a new trial, he wrote an article for a small Chicago newspaper about his case in which he severely criticized the judge who presided over the case. Paraphrasing the Bible, Rev. Pinkney predicted in the article that God would bring harm upon the judge and his family if he did not do the right thing. Based solely on the newspaper article, the judge found that Rev. Pinkney violated the terms of his probation and another judge sentenced him to 3-10 years in prison. The ACLU is representing Rev. Pinkney on the appeal. We will argue that a judge cannot punish a person for writing an article critical of the court and that Rev. Pinkney's prediction of what God might do to a judge cannot be construed as a "true threat." People v. Pinkney.
American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan,
Fall '08 Newsletter, page 4
(Click on Print Materials and then Newsletters or download PDF)
Friday, October 24, 2008
Michigan Minister Runs for Congress From Prison
(excerpt)...Pinkney says he’s being harassed for his outspoken opposition to an upscale, 530-acre residential and commercial development in southwestern Michigan. Pinkney is upset that Benton Harbor city leaders are allowing the developers to use 22 acres of a city park that borders Lake Michigan for three holes of a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course that is the heart of the project.
Pinkney decided to run for Congress to bring attention to his situation and “stand up for what is right.”
“The only way that we can get the word out and bring these people to justice is if I ran for office,” Pinkney says.
See this story in:
Detroit Free Press
Even the Corrections Connection Network News is watching!
GOLF COURSE TAKES SHAPE
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
"Cornerstone, the CWCC and the CPC are no more separate altruistic entities than are the tentacles of an octopus."
Sunday, October 19, 2008
More Benton Harbor lives ruined - Poverty (ie, no jobs) has always been main cause of "crime" - Keep jobs out of BH, the easier to lock people up
Officer: Two nabbed in alleged drug deal
; Detective says men sold suspected crack to undercover officer, By H-P STAFF, 10/18/08
BENTON HARBOR — Two men were arrested Thursday after one of them allegedly sold crack cocaine to an undercover police officer, Berrien County sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Robert Boyce said. The suspects tossed suspected crack cocaine out the window of their car as a uniformed deputy stopped them after the buy, said Boyce, of the sheriff’s Narcotics Unit.Terrance Scott, 24, of 344 High St., Benton Harbor, was booked at the county jail on charges of cocaine delivery and possession with intent to deliver cocaine, both second offenses. Scott is also charged with driving with a suspended license and was being sought on a warrant for nonsupport.Dwayne Yarbrough, 25, of 1087 Monroe St., Benton Harbor, was booked on a charge of second-offense possession with intent to deliver cocaine. Boyce said the undercover officer made the purchase around 2:15 p.m. The two suspects then drove away from the sale scene and were stopped by a deputy in the 800 block of Colfax Avenue. When the deputy made the stop, the two men began throwing suspected drugs out of the vehicle, Boyce said. Police seized $223 in cash and two cell phones subject to civil forfeiture proceedings in Berrien County Trial Court.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Benton Harbor will be stuck paying off the cleanup of all the contaminated lands for the whole project
Thank goodness for deeds of an ‘audacious few’
Monday, October 13, 2008
Published Oct 9, 2008 9:04 PM
By Andrea Egypt, Detroit
Rev. Pinkney won the nomination even though Berrien County’s criminal justice system has locked him away on a 3-to-10-year prison sentence. The reverend is Benton Harbor’s community activist and minister for the oppressed and dissident African-American, Latin@ and white populations.
Despite his imprisonment, Rev. Pinkney remains defiant and vigilant against the ruling elites of this southwest Michigan community.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Justice Rally, Benton Harbor
An unidentified woman walks towards some of the expensive homes
being built near Jean Klock Park on the shore of Lake Michigan in
Benton Harbor. PHOTO /DAYMON J. HARTLEY
Park Protestors Arrested in Standoff with Police
The Whirlpool Corporation-backed Harbor Shores Community Redevelopment, Inc., started destroying the natural resources of Jean Klock Park in Benton Harbor, removing 90-year old trees from the Lake Michigan shore and destroying some of the park's dunes to create an asphalt parking lot.
Residents who filed a lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C. in August to stop the construction of an exclusive private golf course in Benton Harbor's only beachfront park, rushed to Jean Klock Park with other community activists as soon as they saw the bulldozers.
Three Benton Township residents sat on downed, historic cottonwood trees destroyed by the bulldozers and were arrested for civil disobedience.After the arrests, the developers continued the destruction of the park by cutting away some of the southern dunes.
All of this destruction is part of the illegal conversion of Jean Klock Park. A federal lawsuit is pending. The plaintiffs filed a motion for a restraining order to halt the destruction. For more informatino, visit defenseofplace.org and Protect Jean Klock Park, protectjkp.com
Excerpted from a press release from Defense of Place
How Do You Rape a City?
The way a city is raped is to take everything out of it that is of some value. Benton Harbor was a city of businesses, of restaurants, of schools and factories. You take out all the local busineses and bring in new development, but they come in with their rules and the local people don't have any jobs, don't have a chance for anything. If the downtrodden people don't adhere to the new rules, they come in with law enforcement. Do that sound like a city we know? As for what happened in Jean Klock park, "how can you trespass on your own park? How can you be arrested for trespassing in your own city, in a public park, on a public beach on the lakefront? The city has been taken over, given over by city officials, and now we are the trespassers.
- MC, a community activist
Friday, October 10, 2008
You can help rectify the injustices in Benton Harbor and, particularly, against BANCO leader Rev. Pinkney as they fight alongside local and statewide residents to promote economic and social justice in this community. Please make a contribution to the BANCO Legal Defense Fund so we can "Free Rev. Pinkney!"
Use the "Make a Donation" button on the BANCO homepage for PayPal, or mail your check or money order to:
BANCO, 1940 Union St, Benton Harbor, MI 49022
Your $10 will help:
1) Support the right of Benton Harbor citizens to take a stand against a corrupt political and judicial system;
2) Free Rev. Pinkney from Ojibway Correctional Facility as a political prisoner living in horrible conditions!;
3) Defend our friend and colleague Rev. Pinkney who was imprisoned after an unjust trial on trumped-up charges (several witnesses were paid to falsely testify against him);
4) Fund the appeal to have Rev. Pinkney's erroneous conviction heard before a higher court;
5) Defend the right of Benton Harbor residents to speak out against injustice without intimidation and reprisals (two key witnesses for the defense were arrested and imprisoned);
6) Stop the disenfranchisement of Benton Harbor voters (a valid recall election was overturned);
7) Support BANCO's fight against brutality and sexual harassment by police;
8) Improve the conditions in a community with 90% unemployment and under-employment (material aid is needed);
9) Challenge economic and racial apartheid in the U.S. today;
10) Spread the word as we join with others worldwide--like Danny Glover, Ed Asner, Howard Zinn--calling for justice in Benton Harbor. Together we can make a difference!
Thursday, October 09, 2008
On Oct. 7 the Herald Palladium reported on the supposed "expansion" of Jean Klock Park, the comparison of the conversion of its 22 acres of contiguous dunes and other areas, and the mitigation (land swap) of 47 acres of designated wetlands which are not connected, but rather and obviously disconnected from Jean Klock Park.
Is it a fair trade? (PDF)
Monday, October 06, 2008
How People Tell Cops They're Guilty Even When They Aren't
by Emily Horowitz, 10/6/08, http://www.counterpunch.org/horowitz10062008.htmlEmily Horowitz is a professor of sociology and criminal justice at St. Francis College (Brooklyn, NY). She serves as a director of the National Center for Reason and Justice (www.ncrj.org), an innocence project for people wrongly accused or convicted of crimes against children and a sponsor of Khemwatie Bedessie.
It’s also agreed that illegal practices occur frequently in the interrogation room, and that cops later lie about them on the stand. And when there is an argument about veracity, research suggests that no group of people – not judges, prosecutors or juries – can tell whether a confession is true or false simply by reading a transcript or watching the video...not just the confession should be recorded, but also the full interrogation that led up to it. The idea is to avoid methods that – as the Supreme Court has put it – “shock the conscience” and “offend the community’s sense of fair play and decency.”
Ten years ago, only two states were recording interrogations. Now, nine states and the District of Columbia do, and they are joined by more than 500 local police departments nationwide ... it’s spreading, says Northwestern University legal scholar Steven Drizin, an expert on false confessions who has advocated for taping for years.
...1966 Miranda decision, Earl Warren recommended that the police find other evidence to solve a crime than the “cruel, simple expedient of compelling it from [the suspect’s] own mouth.”
...wholly opposes the eliciting and use of confession to solve and prosecute crimes. But, if confession is employed, he believes the case should never go forward unless meaningful evidence is first gathered...
Forensic science in the U.S. today is so sophisticated and high tech...that police have only to use it. All that is required to convict criminals justly is that the cops do their job.
Further, reliance on confessions promotes disgraceful conditions of detention. Jails are often worse than prisons. Filth, bad food, lack of sunlight, crowding and violence pressure people to say they did something – anything, whether it’s true or not – just to get out of lockup. Then, because they’ve confessed, we figure it’s OK to keep others like them in awful cells – and to bring in more detainees for interrogation. It’s a vicious circle, and most who get trapped in it are poor, uneducated, and unacculturated. Their marginal status is bound up with the moralistic judgment that they are different from us, and therefore bad. Their badness reinforces our willingness to keep a bad system in place. It probably also allows us to export illegal interrogation – our 1930s-era torture, updated – to places like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.
Ninety-two per cent of felony convictions are obtained by plea bargains or confessions. That’s a far higher rate than in other countries...Italy’s, for example, is 8 per cent...
Relying on confessions to prosecute crimes is thrifty because it avoids the need for costly investigations. But it’s also very destructive to justice...
Sunday, October 05, 2008
Thursday, October 02, 2008
H-P BENTON HARBOR — The Benton Harbor Police Department will add a third unmarked car to its fleet following action Monday by the City Commission.
The commission approved the purchase of a 2008 Chevrolet Impala for $17,298 from Berger Chevrolet in Grand Rapids. It will be bought through Michigan’s state purchasing program, police Chief Al Mingo said.