The 13th Amendment reads in Section One: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, nor any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Understanding this contradictory character of the Amendment sheds light on the utilization of the criminal justice system in the perpetuation of bondage for the purpose of institutional racism and class exploitation.
James, who is in his twenties, has been beaten all his life, first by family members: “I was punched, kicked, slapped, bitten, thrown against the wall.” He began seeing mental-health workers at four and taking psychiatric medication at seven. He said he was bipolar and had many other disorders. When a took him off his meds at age eighteen, he got into “selling drugs, robbing people, fighting, burglaries.” He received a twelve-year sentence for robbery. Of the four years James had been in prison when
LETTER FROM PELICAN BAY PRISONER REPRESENTATIVESTO MEMBERS OF THE STATE ASSEMBLY & SENATEWe are writing to offer our position on the two bills pending before the Assembly and theSenate (SB 892 and AB 1652) dealing with the solitary confinement and gang validation policiesof the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).
In 2007 James was tried ten assault charges for biting and kicking guards and throwing feces at them. Most were felony charges, and if convicted he could have served decades more in prison. Inmates almost never beat such charges, but James’s court-appointed lawyer, Joseph Steinberger, a scrappy ex-New Yorker, succeeded with a defense rare in cases of Maine prisoners accused of crimes: he convinced a jury in Rockland, the nearby county seat, to find James “not criminally responsible” by reason of insan
This American system of administrative punishment—except in extremely rare cases, prison staff, not judges, decide who goes into the hole—has no counterpart in scale or severity. There are solitary-confinement cells in other countries’ prisons and the odd, small supermax, such as the Vught prison in the Netherlands, but they are few. When Corey Weinstein, a San Francisco physician, toured prisons in the United Kingdom in 2004 on behalf of the American Public Health Association, he was shown “eight o
Folks have probably heard by now that the African American Museum and Library, Oakland (AAMLO), is without a permanent director. While the search is being articulated and mounted, Susan D. Anderson, Bay Area author and founder of Memory House, will act as interim director and chief curator for the next six to nine months as the Public Library (OPL) mounts a national search to find the right person for the job.After randomly being awakened in the early morning, boarded onto the TDCJ transportation bus, then