Saturday, November 21, 2015

More Writings from Rev. Pinkney in Prison

1) Rev. Pinkney Speaks from Prison
2) Marquette Branch Prison
3) Political Persecution
4) "Black Men in America Incarcerated at Higher Rate than Black Men Under Apartheid"
5) Excerpts from the New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

1) Rev. Pinkney Speaks from Prison

The state of Michigan convicts more than 75,000 people a year of committing felonies. More than 50,000 plead guilty to a plea bargain. At each stage of the process, law officials make discretionary decisions that are unchecked by other officials. The police decide who to arrest, then the prosecutors decide whether to prosecute. Prosecutors decide what charges to bring, and district judges decide whether there is probable cause to make the defendant stand trial. More than 99.9% of the time the judge will rule with evidence in favor of the prosecutor, and the circuit judges and juries decide whether the evidence shows guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. But not in America, where the white judges and juries have unrevealed, hidden, deeply-rooted racial prejudices.

This carefully constructed system of unchecks and unbalances  is designed to control the use of overwhelming government power against the accused, and against the people.

The price of failing to place any limits on the exercise of discretion is very high, for all taxpayers. The average cost of keeping innocent people in prison is about $35,000 to $40,000 a year. If half of those currently eligible were released, the savings would approach $17 million. The criminal justice system is a complete failure of integrity.

The function of judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys are effectively usurped by the corporations, which have merged with the government--not just in Berrien County, but across the country. For prisoners and their family members, the shift in emphasis from rehabilitation to punishment destroys the hope of the people, who can never earn their way home.

The price we the people are paying for unchecked discretion is tremendous. The prosecutor has all the resources and the home court advantage, including the judge in his pocket and the public defenders working with him. We find that evidence does not lie, but judges, prosecutors, law enforcement, and all white juries do. Let's stand together and fight back!

2) Marquette Branch Prison

Marquette Prison opened in 1889, one of the oldest prisons in Michigan. It is also the most racist. Marquette has a Level V section and an unsecured Level I, which operates like a Level V. Marquette is a prison where there are specific threats of death, forcible sexual assault, or substantial bodily injury in the immediate future.

In the last four months, there have been four killings and 17 assaults, which include a correctional officer tazing an inmate to death. This is not unusual. Warden Robert Napel would make Adolf Hitler proud.

Lansing, Michigan, is the headquarters of the Department of Corrections. Marquette Prison takes orders directly from Lansing. Lansing has condoned the actions at Marquette. They forgive and overlook their misdeeds. The Michigan Department of Corrections does not care about how many inmates are killed, assaulted, or sexually molested. They only care about me making a phone call. MDOC is trying to silence the voice of the people. Let me give you a few things to think about.

The telephone contract: Prisoners are charged 23 cents per minute for a call. GTL is charging 2-3 cents per minute. MDOC is making over 20 cents per minute revenue. I would like a copy of the prisoner phone contract for prisoner review, and to answer questions brought forth by the population. MDOC said the contract will not be provided to the prisoner population for review. The warden said the contract is between GTL and MDOC, not the prisoners. The warden forgets that prisoners are spending their families' money.

The commissary vendors charge the prisoners three times what the product costs. The warden said that the current store contract has been extended based on the same contract, that MDOC will operate the store in the manner it is currently running, and that there's nothing prisoners can do about it.

The warden is pimping the prisoners and the taxpayers. We must spread the word. We must stop the Department of Corrections and stand together!

3) Political Persecution

I am sitting in Marquette Branch Prison with a warden who thinks he is Adolf Hitler. He rules with an iron fist; what he says, goes. He is the Man. He believes in the capitalist system. We are living in America, where young Black men are being incarcerated at a rate of 10,000 per 100,000 (10%). The fact is Black people are targeted to go to prison. This isn't only about me, it's about the future of our children. Our criminal justice system is less about punishing the unjust and more about reflecting the power inequities we have in the United States. We must stand together. We can win!

4) Black Men in America Incarcerated at Higher Rate than Black Men Under Apartheid

Nearly forty percent of the 2.2 million Americans in prison are Black men. This amounts to one out of every nine Black men between the ages of 20 and 34, meaning one in three Black men will be imprisoned at some point in their lifetimes. Beginning in the 1970’s, statutes meant to lower crimes rates and deter the drug trade facilitated the explosion of the US prison population, with most of the increase coming from nonviolent drug offenses.  -April V. Taylor
Read more.

5) Excerpts from the New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

When someone is convicted of a crime today, their “debt to society” is never paid. The “cruel hand” that Frederick Douglass spoke of more than 150 years ago has appeared once again. In this new system of control, like the last, many black men “hold up [their] heads, if at all, against the withering influence of a nation’s scorn and contempt.” -p. 163
In 1987, when media hysteria regarding black drug crime was at a fever pitch and the evening news was saturated with images of black criminals shackled in courtrooms, the Supreme Court ruled in McClesky v. Kemp that racial bias in sentencing, even if shown through credible statistical evidence, could not be challenged under the Fourteenth Amendment in the absence of clear evidence of conscious, discriminatory intent. -p. 109
Read more.