Writings from Prison

CONTRABAND

FREEDOM:
is contraband in prison because free thinking, independence of spirit and open mindedness are like acids that eat away at all prison bars.

EQUALITY:
is contraband in prison because brotherhood always speaks out against and threatens power structures.

JUSTICE:
Is contraband in prison. How many of my brothers are here who shouldn’t be? Some innocent of guilt, others guilty of innocence

PEACE:
Is contraband in prison. From fists and shanks, to shields and batons. Violence is the way of all tyranny.

LOVE:
Is contraband in prison. The warm embrace of family and friends. The touching and holding of lovers dear. The fires of passion, stoked and quenched by hands, lips, tongues and bodies. All this is denied and forbidden here. There is no room for love in hell!

TRUTH:
Is contraband in prison. Because if we knew even half of what the system didn’t want us to know, surely the walls would come tumbling down. For their bricks are laid with the mortar of double think. And their foundations are always built upon falsehood. This is the house Orwell’s Big Brother built.

UNITY:
Is contraband in prison. Because through unity we can join the fight against cruelty, malfeasance and corruption, as a bulwark of mighty solidarity. For unity always stands tall against unfairness of all kinds.

But, if I take your hand……..you, me and tomorrow link up as one. Together, perhaps, we can find a way out of this deception, this mis-nomer, this evil hoax, this lie the system calls “corrections”.

United there is little we cannot do. Making vows against injustice, raising voices in loud protest against harm masquerading as “rehabilitation”. Speaking truth to power, we are a resounding war cry, shouting down all that is unfair.

We are the caged wretches whose words are a conspiracy against the silence of indifference. And, our voices will never stop yelling “foul!” until we are finally heard. Alfred N Rea #206314, MacDougall/Walker C.I. 1153 East St. South, Suffield CT 06080

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From our friends in Positive Action Creates Everything (PACE) in Vacaville

To the ‘Free World’

Most people know that the word unity means to come together as one for one central reason, yet in this world of ours we are being taught that unity can be thought of as the inclusion of this group or that group. Nowhere is that more prevalent than in both state and federal prisons. In the Ass Backwards State of Arkansas I have lived in 5 separate prison units and the one commonality (other than the rank homophobia and deplorable living conditions) is the seemingly willing separation and compartmentalization of the LGBTQIA groups. I hesitate to call them communities because there is very little common about them. We’ve become so complacent with connecting with only one group of people that we freely treat the other non-hetero groups with the very same contempt that we as a community have been shown.

People; Wake the Hell Up! We have enough to worry and deal with without protecting our asses from our own! Are we really so self-destructive that we are willing to throw away decades of progress and sabotage ourselves? Well, I assure you that I am not! My love and caring is for everyone; Gay, Hertero, Trans, Les, and every other letter in the alphabet!

That being said, I offer up a challenge to those in the “free world” (and I use that term loosely), to prove not only to others but to yourselves that the LGBT community is still a community, i.e. focus on those currently imprisoned. For so many of us, the very personal choice we’ve made about our sexuality and/or gender has left us without the most basic support that our so called family and friends should’ve provided. Yes, we are in prison. But does that mean we should be left without the very connections that come with mail. Visitations, care packages etc? Some of us suffer pain that changes us from the people who care about others to the bitter, angry, poisonous souls whose hearts have all but turned to stone.

My challenge to you is to be someone’s pen-pal, someone’s visitor who has none, start a collection for those who are indigent, for those who are truly forgotten. Organizations like Black and Pink, LAGAI, GLAD and the like are massively overwhelmed and can only do so much. Everything I’ve spoke of I’ve witnessed firsthand. We need the compassion, who will be the first to show some true solidarity? James Owens AKA Elaine #139166, PO Box 1630, Malvern AR 72109

Gate Money?

I am writing to find out who can help us on this very serious matter at hand. It’s got to do with our California gate money. [Gate money is what is given to prisoners when they are released.] I remember back in 1987 getting $200.00. Well, it’s 2017, wow, and still getting $200.00? How does that work? Lots of us need the help, the support and the push from the outside on this urgent matter at hand. It’s as simple as I got nobody and no clothes so I get charged for shirt and pants, boxers, socks, $48.00. No buying extra! I’m in Ione CA and going to L.A. County CA so now that’s about $65.00 give or take. So now that about $103 and while the bus makes stops, I’m getting hungry and want a smoke bad; all nervous, been down 10 years so maybe a soda, chips, a lighter and a cheap pack of smokes. So $110.00 and maybe change, that leaves me with $90.00 left!! Is that crazy? Again no family so what to do? If possible, cause it’s cold, to a second hand store, a jacket, a beanie – $77.00 left. Hey, need some hygiene or get a room to sleep? Good but not really cause I’m stressed out. Getting a room, $65.00, so leaves me $12.00 in the morning, buy some milk, a donut and get 1 0r 2 busses so I’m like maybe $3.00 left. And the parole or probation tells me – Hey go to G.R. or G.A. That’s my help. Isn’t that fuckin crazy. Need answers, need help. Joe Calderon #AH-3702, Mule Creek S.P. B-7-113Low, PO Box 409040, Ione CA 95640

Discrimination at Dublin

I feel that the world needs to know what the Assistant Wardens [AWs] here at Dublin [CA] are doing to the inmates, especially the Native American community. I hope this is a call to action for any organization that can help us.

The AWs have taken our beads, our cloth, our regalia. We are supposed to have a pow-wow on the 22nd of October. How do you Jingle Dance without a Jingle dress? How do you Fancy Shawl Dance without a Fancy Shawl? Most of these items were donated by volunteers. It’s 2017 and the government is still taking from the Native Americans. I hope someone out there can help us.

[Excerpted from email from Laura to AWs 10/3/17]. I am writing you today regarding the Native American regalia being taken …for the first time in known history. Maybe you don’t understand the significance of the pow-wow so I will try and explain.
Our pow-wow is a religious ceremony and requires the use of regalia. We open the ceremony with a prayer to the 4 directions and the Great Spirit or Creator. We have many songs and dances. For instance, the Jingle Dance which came to a young woman in her dream as her grandfather was suffering an illness. Upon awakening, the girl made the dress and danced the Jingle Dance and her grandfather was healed. So this Dance is for healing. The fans we use for this dance have Eagle feathers and the Eagle carries our prayers to the Great Spirit. We need our fans. The Fancy Shawl Dance is usually for the younger healthy women. We dance this dance for those who can no longer dance. This is more healing for the people. We cannot dance the Fancy Shawl Dance without a Fancy Shawl. The songs we sing are in memory and in honor of the ancestors. We come together as a community in love and celebration of life and we give thanks. This is very spiritual. Every prison I have been at, even higher security prisons, have allowed this.

The Free Exercise Clause protects a prisoner’s right to practice his/her religion as long as doing so does not unduly burden the institution. (Richards v White, 957F.2nd 471, 474, 7th Cir. 1992). There is no burden placed upon the institution. We already have regalia – in your office. I understand that the prison has a compelling interest in maintaining security. However, this is a low security Camp and no one has ever escaped prison wearing brightly colored Native American regalia. Please consider our request. Laura La Paz #30388-034, Satellite Prison Camp Dublin, 5675 8th St Camp Parks, Dublin CA 94568.

L.I.G.H.T.

We are the Learning Initiative for Gay, Heterosexual and Transgender folks (L.I.G.H.T.). We were created in the bowels of the slave ships known as the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) and are currently focused on Trans and Gender Variant issues within prisons. We publish a quarterly newsletter called Hearts on a Wire/On the Inside Out which is a collaborative with our outside collective. We have about 400+ members in PA and a few elsewhere. We are beginning a large scale project called the Resourceful LIGHT which will be a large and hopefully a complete resource guide with state by state directories of services for folks who are incarcerated.

Are you incarcerated and interested in helping? We would love to hear about experiences you and other have had with organizations, good or bad. Also, do you have ideas that you think we should add or consider? We are also interested in articles, particularly How-To’s and important court decisions. We will consider all articles but be mindful that we can’t promise to publish your article. When you send artwork or articles, please include your name, address and your signed permission to publish your work. Please try to keep submissions to a reasonable size. Lastly for those of us on the inside of the PIC, we need your help getting folks involved. Tell your friends and family about our project, feel free to circulate my info and our collective address in Philadelphia. We welcome any and all thoughts, criticism, advice, ideas etc. that you have to offer and also, any help you can spare. We need funding too to print and pay for postage so if you or someone you know wants to contribute, they can send donations to our outside collective: Caitlyn Barry, Hearts on a Wire 1315 Spruce St. Phila.PA 19107, heartsonawire@gmail.com

In closing, I just want you all to know that I/We are doing all that we can do to bring us all a little bit of hope in this dark corrupt setting. We will never stop fighting for true justice reform and equality. Chris Calix (Mrs GeGe) #JY4937, SCI Rockview, PO Box A, Bellefonte PA 16823

Shorts from Inside

On behalf of the PACE (Positive Actions Create Everything) LGBT group, I want to say thank you for your support. I continue to get so much mail from the articles you have published. We are all in transition each day so we must embrace the changes in everyone. It is for us to have faith, hope, tolerance and equality for everyone in the New year. The PACE group will celebrate 1 year together in January. We are all so proud of this group and what we stand for. We love you all. PACE c/o Lisa Strawn #D01271, V-240, Box 2000, Vacaville CA 95646

Hey! What’s up, family? I just want to inform some of the people I’m in contact with that I’m sorry for not writing back sooner (Mark Kelley, Sister Eva). A lot of my support network was in Puerto Rico and right now, they are not doing so good. So you’re welcome to contact me direct. Much love, Alfredo Arvelo, 9005 Old River Rd. Marcy NY 13403

Dear New Friends – I just received the first edition of your UltraViolet paper. Thank you again so much. It is the first mail I’ve gotten in a very long time. Years! I have read your paper front to back and really enjoyed your articles. Especially the Lin Zenki/Hillary Parsons. Very touching and sad. Made me cry! I hope they are in a much better place as I like to believe. I also enjoyed your inside articles especially. My heartfelt best to everyone in this inside struggle. Much luv Bradford, Cumberland MD

Greetings: I just received your latest issue of UV. Thank you. I was saddened to read of the recent passing of the feminist-warrior women (there were several this time). They were Titans of the cause for freedom and stood for right and wrong! I grew up with a mother who is still a hippie at 69. Her health is beginning to fade also. And I do see it is time this next generation, including mine, step-up and do our part. It’s like walking in the footsteps of giants! I was born male, however I see myself as “two-spirit”. Keep up the fight! I’m proud of all of you and send you my love and my light. Namaste, Erika. Livingston TX

Shout out to my LGBTQ family world-wide. This is Seaneal from Missouri. I am a Transgender MTF. Anyway I am writing to share the issues going on here in the DOC. When a Transgender inate gets diagnosed with having Gender Dysphoria by the MODOC’s own employees, we are still denied Hormone Therapy just because of us not having them before we came to prison. This is cruel and unusual punishment as well as deliberate indifference to our medical needs, which is in violation of the constitution – specifically the 8th amendment. Since the staff are targeting the LGBTQ Community, I say we give resistance to everything the staff are not supposed to do. Do not be afraid to file grievances. With enough effort, we can accomplish a lot with the link in our pens. With love, Seaneal, Cameron MO

Dear Friends. I just wanted to say thank you. I love the UV paper. When I read it I get the feeling that my friends wrote it. I am just an old school anarchist. I hope that all is well. Of course it never is but … I have found that no matter how horrible the conditions are, if you have the company of a decent person those horrible conditions just become part of the scenery. Nathan, Pacific MO

I wrote you under the name Ally-Cat. I was fighting policy for transgenders and for myself. I have since lost that fight. They have denied me transgender paperwork and say “I’m just gay”. I don’t understand it cause I look like a girl and even cry like one. I’ve followed the entire grievance process and lost completely. Finally to GEO Corporation who runs this prison. I want you to know athat you have been mean, cruel and relentless on me and my transgender ass. I’ve kept a log and all my paperwork. I will show the world how mean you are and just how “great” you are. You’ve done nothing but make fun of me and abuse me in the sickest way. But I’ve been strong, fierce and feminine, believe that. I wear dresses (out of sheets, dance like a princess and love like a goddess. I look sexy in make up (markers) and stuff my homemade bra. I’ve been reborn, my name is Ashley Paris. New Castile IN

Dearest LAGAI. I’m just writing to say thank you for sending me the Fall issue of UV. I thought that LAGAI was just about fighting for LGBTQI+ rights. But, based on what I’ve read in UV I see that you have a much broader leftist agenda. I’m also delighted by the fact that you wonderful people at UV appear to be part of the ANTIFA movement. That is so cool! So I realize how important LAGAI and the ANTIFA crusade are to saving the world from right-wing oppression. Yours in solidarity, Alfred, Suffield CT

Author: lagai

LAGAI-Queer Insurrection is one of the oldest radical queer liberation groups in the U.S. We publish UltraViolet, a more or less bimonthly newspaper, which is mailed free of charge to over 1500 people, including over 800 prisoners. Our website is www.lagai.org.

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