Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Pinkney Writes from Marquette Branch Prison

Before his confinement to "segregation" (solitary), Rev. Pinkney sent us the writings below.

Federal, state, and local governments spend over $200 billion annually in tax dollars to ensure that one out of every 75 Americans is behind bars. Prison Profiteers (Tara Herivel and Paul Wright, eds., 2007) traces the flow of capital from public to private hands, and reveals how monies designated for public good with the help of wardens end up in the pockets of enterprises dedicated to keeping prison cells filled with your relatives and keeping the pubic in total fear. This is the weapon used by law enforcement to control the public.

Michigan Department of Correction's statement about Marquette Branch Prison is the biggest lie that has been told. The lie states: You have been placed at Marquette Branch Prison, 500 miles from your home, into a reduced security facility because department staff feel that you are a responsible individual who no longer needs confinement behind a wall or fence. But today we have three cast-iron faces. Serving time in a reduced security setting is much different from being in a regular prison because specific threats of death, forcible sexual attacks, and substantial bodily injuries occur more often. Many complaints are reported, but there is no relief. There is less freedom, no jobs, and the school is a joke. It's only about the federal dollars that MDOC receives.

Marquette Branch Prison is a place where prisoners are mistreated, poorly fed, beaten, and some even killed. This is an issue of moral standards and human rights. We must hold the MDOC accountable for their actions and inactions of wrongdoing. We demand that Warden Napel of Marquette Branch Prison be terminated immediately!

Pimping the Taxpayers

Although there is an expanding body of writing and analysis regarding the harms caused by mass incarceration in America, there is little discussion about the increasing number of entitites that profit from and subsequently engender the growth of prisons. Beginning with the owners of private prisons and extending through a whole range of esoteric industries from the maker of tazer stun guns, to riot security training companies, to prison  healthcare providers, to the politicians, lawyers, and bankers who structure deals along with the warden to steal money from the taxpayers.

While there are many industries that make money from prisons, they are eager to make use of the enormous labor pool of prisoners for whom the usual restrictions of labor protections do not apply. The public well-being is not one of the priorities of the profiteer.

The prison phone company contracts, awarded by MDOC on the basis of the largest kickback and with rates unequalled in any other setting and featuring price-gouging of prisoners' loved ones, enriches telecommunication firms and MDOC alike. The cost of a 15-minute phone call at 23 cents per minute is $3.45. The telecommunication company charges MDOC 2-3 cents per minute. The profit for MDOC is $3 per call.

The correctional guards are poorly educated and inadequately trained, with weapons like tazers where the companies profit from supplying these weapons to prison and jails.

On the surface, prison jobs appear to serve a number of positive aims. They provide pocket change for people who have no other money-making prospects, keep prisoners busy in an idle environment, and build skills prisoners might use after release. But prison labor is generally exempt from basic labor protections like worker's compensation, labor and industry safeguards, benefits of any kind, or the ability to unionize. This is a situation that has captured the interest of private businesses eager to circumvent such irritants as expensive regulations. The real beneficiaries of prison labor are the private companies who reap all the profit to the detriment of both captive and free world labor, which suffers the consequences of what is essentially unfair competition.

Let's face the facts: the Michigan Department of Corrections is pimping the taxpayers for every dollar they can get. When will the taxpayers say NO MORE?!

Cop Excuses

10 outrageous excuses cops have used to kill unarmed people over the past year

by Justin Gardner

Informed readers are well aware that U.S. police have the dubious reputation of killing lots of civilians compared to other countries. The War on Drugs provided much of the basis for this abomination. In four days, U.S. police killed as many people as Chinese police did in 2014, and more than five European countries' police did in 2014. In the first 24 days of 2015, U.S. police killed more people than England and Wales did in the last 24 years.

The worst part about this is how many of these victims were unarmed. As of June 1, 2015, 102 people killed by police were unarmed. We can add more to this number, including the killing of Zachary Hammond who was shot by a policeman through a car window over a bag of marijuana. Here are five of the most outrageous excuses police used for killing unarmed people during the last year.

1) He was walking with a purpose. Officer Vanessa Miller killed Ryan Bollinger (28) after witnessing him dancing in the street during a traffic stop. After a low-speed chase, Bollinger exited the vehicle and was "walking with a purpose" toward Miller who then shot him from inside the car through the rolled up window.