Dear Friends, Supporters, Comrades, Brothers and Sisters:
I am now beginning my fourth (4th) year of imprisonment. It does not get better and I have to gut check myself regularly to be certain that I am resisting the pervasive institutionalization that takes place. A certain degree of reclusiveness with the help of good books, interesting people to correspond with, writing on topics of public interest, seems to work for me. Of course I still am working with any woman who needs help but I know that my sometimes truthtelling self is not what folks here want to hear. I do try to give folks whatever comfort I can. An old timer here, 18 years in, has begun an initiative to mobilize for prison reform by getting people on the outside to sign off on her well written petition to the White House. She is straight out of the courage and style of the old southern civil rights struggle but has now dedicated herself to this. The demands are modest. I have placed her petition on this, my website. Please sign on.
On a personal note, I am feeling well although we are now pressuring the prison medical authorities to send me out to have biopsies done of some hot spots that showed up on a pet scan I had back in October. I am refusing to jump off any bridges until I come to them so not to worry !!
We are worrying through the next step on the legal journey. I am reminded of the rejoinder of a group of Panthers arrested and then beaten, when their lawyer said not to worry; “The system does work”. One of them said “Yeah, for who? ” Indeed that is the question. The US Supreme Court only accepts 2% of the cases submitted to it. We have great issues but coping with an inhospitable Court, we are still trying to figure what will pique their interest… a legal guessing game. We have asked the best among us to give us their thoughts But … We will wait and see. We must fight on in whatever forum is available–What else?
Some of you have written asking where I get the strength to keep on. My simple and truthful and sincere and heartfelt answer is that I get it from the depth of love and respect from my beloved partner, Ralph, my dear children and their children, and from all the people, that stay in touch with me, yes. I receive regular and wonderful mail from all segments of the movement, from the young asking for advice “on being a lawyer like you”, from octogenarians, nonagenarians and 70 + who have given their political all for their lifetimes and continue to do so, from the lawyers in the Guild, from the poets and the songwriters, the rappers and the writers whose art is not separated from our movement for change–So Many More. So impossible to include everyone but know that even if I am slow to answer, I read every word I receive and it sustains me and strengthens me and makes it possible to face each new day. While the political landscape is gloomy at best, I always remember that in the 50’s, no-one imagined that the 60’s were right around the corner ! Onward !!
President Barack Obama
Dear President Obama:
I support change in the federal prison system. I want to see:
* Parole Reinstated
* Mandatory minimum sentencing abolished
* Conspiracy Laws Re-evaluated
* Good Time Credit Increased
* Post Rehabilitation incentives
* Retroactive application to all changes
Our federal penal system is broken. Billions of dollars are being wasted. It is costing more to incarcerate than to educate. A disproportionate number of federal prisoners are non-violent offenders and pose no threat to the safety and security of our nation. The cost of welfare programs for children whose parents are incarcerated continues to escalate.
Mr. President, I implore you to make federal prison reform a top priority of your agenda. Our voices MUST be heard.