More Frequent Updates

We've been using this blog less and our facebook group more often, for random updates and events. So, if you wanna know what we're doing right now, go here.

Friday, April 19, 2013

This was read at OSU's Take Back the Night

RedBird was asked to speak on prison abolition and how it relates rape culture and sexual assault. Here's the reading.
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     Hi, I'm Kate and I'm part of a group called RedBird Prison Abolition here in Columbus. We support prisoners in Ohio. And I'm here because I love taking things back. I wanna take this night back. I wanna take it back to my mom and grandma and say look at this bad ass shit we're doing, (except I wouldn't swear, because they don't like that.) I wanna keep having nights like this, and I want to hold them up to rapists as a threat and as an example of the power that us here have to not only defend ourselves but take the offensive against a culture that's been steeped in rape for so long that some of us are way past bitter. Because we deserve a hell of a lot better, and you bet we can get it.

The first step being that we ‘get it’. All around us it's like we're standing in the middle of a big connect the dots drawing where the dots are things like the justice system, crime, education, prisons, the war on drugs, rape culture, the military... and the lines connecting them all are colored white for supremacy, are exclusively straight and cis in their direction and happen to be drawn by primarily male and able bodied men. It's despicable. And I hope you all wanna smudge up this drawing as much as I do. (Am I in the right place for this? Yeah? Alright.)

I'm also here as a prison abolitionist because prison is an integral part of keeping those dots connected, of upholding patriarchy and white supremacy. Now you might be like, prison, Abolition, isn't that kind of at odds with halting sexual assault? I mean, what about all the rapists who are in prison? And that is an excellent question cuz the prison and justice system do as much to halt or even diminish sexual assault as a fraternity. What about those rapists? They're coming right back into our communities with less stability and fewer opportunities to do much else than what gets people sent back to prison. And this is of course if they even went to prison in the first place. Often times people, especially white money men aren't even convicted.

Marissa Alexander
Courts deal with rape and sexual assault on an individual level, which is not without it's benefits, though the state daintily steps over acknowledging systemic problems which often result in the severe detriment of survivors. There is the case Marissa Alexander, who in 2010 after giving birth nine days previously to her son defended herself against assault that, from previous experience, she feared may be deadly. She fired a warning shot into her ceiling. The court thought she didn't need to. It also thought her assaulter's history of convictions and testimonies from others were inadmissible. The prosecutor asked for a 20 year sentence, minimum, for Marissa and got it.

There is also the recent case of CeCe McDonald who's assault wasn't specifically sexual assault, but an assault where in court, the assailant's swastika tattoo and three previous convictions for violent assault were ruled inadmissible as evidence that attacks against her were motivated by her race and gender identity. (CeCe is a Trans woman of color.)
CeCe McDonald

To hell with this justice system, police and prisons. We can do better than this.

Cuz here's where it stands now. The criminal court process has a penchant for re-traumatizing people who choose to go that route, and many do not for that very reason. The threat of conviction makes it less likely that a ‘perpetrator’ will get past denial and own up to what they did, which is often what one needs as a survivor to begin moving on.

This increases rates of PTSD and even sometimes ends up incarcerating the survivor themselves.

The prison system does not rehabilitate people, it traumatizes them, presents a sparse few opportunities upon release, save the opportunity to do something that'll put you back in prison. All the administration has to do is sit back and wait. It's quite the racket. Or rather, industry. Ohio is one of the only states left with “rehabilitation” still in its name. Most everybody else has dropped it.

And just a quick fact on prisons and female prisons, nearly 80% of people inside are mothers. Just think of what an effect this has on families. In some states, women give birth to their children while restrained in shackles. Talk about abuse. Women, men and people who prefer neither of those genders get thrown in female prisons for all kinds of reasons, but the fastest growing segment of the prison population is women of color.
 When someone first asked me to take a guess at this percentage (of growth) I failed utterly. The number of women of color have increased in prisons by over 80, no, sorry, 800% in the last 36 years. That's from 1977. And this is NOT because black or latina women commit more crimes than say white women. In fact, studies have shown that with regard to drugs, whites have more of a habit. Communities of color are intentionally targeted (by police and law enforcement) for incarceration-- making them basically shit otta luck when it comes to expecting anything but slow torture from the justice system.
This is the system we're working with now. And I don't want these things to stop us from doing the very best that we can with it when we do use it. Especially when it benefits the survivor and is what they want. But I want us to see it for what it is, as a system that makes money off of actively destroying people's lives. And not just other peoples'. It effects all of us.

And, just to be clear, good riddance to rapists who get locked up per survivors wishes, because this is an accountability. But let's strive to do better than relying on prisons, police and prosecutors that support the very things we're fighting against. People have done better in the past using practices like restorative justice, talking circles, and even societies that utilize vigilante justice deal with harm more satisfactorily than the pervasive violence the prison system wreaks on our communities today. Let's work toward accountability on our own terms and that meets survivors’ needs. Let’s learn to trust one another, as much as we can anyway and take back our night.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Heinous & Humorous

Heinous & Humorous

GUNS 4 PENNIES from Field & Stream Mag
Warden Johnson at Madison Correctional in Londond OH is no longer allowing books, magazines, and religious cassette tapes to be sent to prisoners who are blind. For 20 years the Cleveland Public Library provided these to blind prisoners, but not anymore...
funny thing is
Dispite the fact that this clearly violates the American Disability Act--
One prisoner informed us that he is still permitted to receive Field & Stream magazine where there's advice on how to make a 1,000 yard shot with a rifle. It also advertizes where to buy cheap ammunition and assault rifles.

David Hughes, the prisoner who got the magazine says, "It's ironic that I'm allowed this kind of literature since I'm in prison for shooting a Muskingum Co. sherriff car with the sherriff in it." 

He says he would prefer that access to the Cleveland Library be returned, as what's going on now is humorous, yes, but he'd like to read something else.

from Madison Correctional Institution
Note: David wrote in a complaint that "Sighted prisoners have access to books, magazines and written religious material [...] through the prison library," which doesn't provide much for prisoners who are blind.  

He also says that Disability Rights Ohio has been willing to do little about protecting prisoners' rights.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Four Lucasville Uprising Prisoners on Hunger Strike.


April 11th, 2013, Youngstown, OH- Four prisoners housed at Ohio State Penitentiary began refusing food today. Greg Curry, Siddique Abdullah Hasan, Jason Robb and Bomani Shakur, who have been housed at OSP since it opened, are demanding that media outlets be allowed to come for sit-down on-camera interviews with them. In a recorded announcement, Bomani Shakur described the hunger strike as a "protest [of] the state's unfair and unreasonable refusal to grant us access to the media... I am an innocent man. This is injustice, the state of Ohio is trying to kill me."

Numerous news sources have recently contacted the prisoners because of their involvement in the Lucasville Uprising twenty years ago. The hunger strike was timed with the anniversary of the uprising, along with a conference focused on taking another look at what happened in 1993.

"There are two important reasons for media access. The first is to humanize the prisoner... the second... [is to give] the prisoner a way to contribute to the search for truth about his alleged crimes" wrote long time prisoner advocate Staughton Lynd. "[When] a journalist and a prisoner can speak face to face... the reporter [can] ask follow-up questions as in a courtroom cross-examination." Lynd also cites legal opinions that advocate a right for prisoners to speak to the media. See Staughton's full statement at
The prisoners announced the hunger strike during a brief informal telephone interview with The Associated Press, who ran an article on the eve of the hunger strike. Siddique Abdullah Hasan and Jason Robb were convicted of complicity in the murder of the hostage guard officer Vallandingham and condemned to death. They maintain their innocence and argue that as negotiators of the agreement that ended the uprising, they actually avoided further loss of life.  Bomani Shakur (also known as Keith Lamar) and Greg Curry both surrendered on the first day of the uprising, but were charged and convicted of killing perceived snitches in the first hours of the disturbance. They both also maintain their innocence. Curry is serving a life sentence. Shakur has appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

Supporters of the Lucasville Uprising Prisoners have planned a three day conference memorializing the Lucasville Uprising and re-examining the investigations and prosecutions that produced these convictions. The Re-Examining Lucasville conference will take place at Columbus State Community College on the weekend of April 19th-21st.

Advocates are also encouraging supporters to call Warden David Bobby at OSP and request that he negotiate with and allow media access. Warden Bobby can be reached at 330-743-0700 ext 2006. Supporters can also write to the prisoners at the following addresses.

Greg Curry 213-159
Siddique Abdullah Hasan R130-559
Jason Robb 308-919
Bomani Shakur (Lamar) 317-117


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Trans Identities and the Prison Industrial Complex

Members of RedBird will be presenting at the Trans Ohio conference on April 27th

Trans Identities and the Prison Industrial Complex by Alec Armstrong and Genelle Denzin
Our workshop will begin with a short presentation on the ways our justice system has historically affected and still affects transgender folks in the US. We will include discussion of current ODRC policy on housing and healthcare for transgender people who are in prison. We will examine recent instances of transgender people’s experiences with the criminal justice system and instances of support and organizing to address these issues. The rest of the workshop will be facilitated discussion with the goals of thinking critically, creating meaningful connections between people, and collaborating on ideas for action.

Four Lucasville Uprising Prisoners Start Hunger Strike

Greg Curry, Siddique Abdullah Hasan, Jason Robb and Bomani Shakur will begin refusing food on April 11th. They are demanding that media be allowed access to sit-down interviews with them. These interviews are essential to  humanizing the prisoners and allowing them to contribute to the search for truth about his alleged crimes. A face to face interview permits follow-up questions and a more direct and thorough interaction than other forms of interview.

The Associated Press Columbus has written an article on the hunger strike, which is getting national attention.

 RedBird has been involved in setting up The Re-Examing Lucasville conference this conference on the Lucasville Uprising. Please come, learn, participate.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Voices from Solitary: A Sentence Worse Than Death
Reposted from Solitary Watch 3/11/13elmira

“I’ve read of the studies done regarding the effects of long-term isolation in solitary confinement on inmates, seen how researchers say it can ruin a man’s mind, and I’ve watched with my own eyes the slow descent of sane men into madness—sometimes not so slow. What I’ve never seen the experts write about, though, is what year after year of abject isolation can do to that immaterial part in our middle where hopes survive or die and the spirit resides.”
 .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
“You deserve an eternity in hell,” Onondaga County Supreme Court judge Kevin Mulroy told me from his bench as I stood before him for sentencing on July 10, 1987. Apparently he had the idea that God was not the only one qualified to make such judgment calls.

Judge Mulroy wanted to “pump six buck’s worth of electricity into [my] body,” he also said, though I suggest that it wouldn’t have taken six cent’s worth to get me good and dead. He must have wanted to reduce me and The Chair to a pile of ashes. My “friend” Governor Mario Cuomo wouldn’t allow him to do that, though, the judge went on, bemoaning New York State’s lack of a death statute due to the then-Governor’s repeated vetoes of death penalty bills that had been approved by the state legislature. Governor Cuomo’s publicly expressed dudgeon over being called a friend of mine by Judge Mulroy was understandable, given the crimes that I had just been convicted of committing. I didn’t care much for him either, truth be told. He built too many new prisons in my opinion, and cut academic and vocational programs in the prisons already standing.
Read the rest HERE.

This is an essay by William Blake, who has been held in solitary confinement for nearly 26 years. Currently he is in administrative segregation at Elmira Correctional Facility, a maximum security facility located in south central New York State. In 1987, Blake, then 23 and in county court on a drug charge, murdered one deputy and wounded another in a failed escape attempt. He was sentenced to 77 years to life. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Sean Swain Update is experiencing technical difficulties and is down. It will hopefully be back in a few days.

In the meantime, there are some interesting developments...

First, ManCI staff continues to delay, deny and interfere with peoples' mail. Henry David Thoreau's Walden was denied, which inspired Sean to file this hilariously exacting and thorough informal complaint.

Trevor Clark, legal council from ODRC central office met with Sean, BlackJack, Leslie Dillon, and Shawn Marshall (all of the people accused of A12M activities). According to Sean Mr Clark said, in frustration: "I've got 2 lunatics (Dillon, Marshall) one guy who won't talk to me (BlackJack) and one guy who won't shut the fuck up (Swain).