Less Than 100 Years from a Desegregated America

by Andrew Suspense


Do I believe it is possible to overcome hundreds of years of slave trade mentality in America in our lifetime?

Obviously, NO!!! Whilst being objective! The Slave Trade mentality took a few cruel ideas that turned in 100’s of years and generations to first build, then to maintain such harsh judgements, treatment, and to reclassify a people because of the color of their skin – that is not unprecedented. But the systematic way that it grew and kept strong is unprecedented, largely because it still exists today! However, most laws as they are written to date are on the one hand antiqued… they were written to White America because when the laws were put on the books, America was still segregated and basic color segregation kept crimes and criminals to pockets of areas which also largely speaking crimes weren’t committed as freely and as prevalent as they are now! The systematic, and subliminal indoctrination of racism that maintained for hundreds of years, won’t be eradicated in a few decades when racism has now evolved and isn’t expressed as openly and as commonly as it once was. We aren’t even 100 years removed from a desegregated America!!!

As far as crimes being addressed — The most severely and most commonly committed crime in Virginia is robbery! Which is the one crime that has the highest conviction rate of any crime. It’s also committed mostly by minorities, and it is sentenced more harshly than any other!!! Here is a hard fact and I DON’T make mention of it as a way to demean or to mean that one crime is better or worse than the other, but the fact that it holds true is worth speaking on! If a guy raped a woman at knife or gun point, he will get less time than if he took a purse or wallet from the same woman at knife or gunpoint. So her being victimized on the severity scale her purse holds more value than her body/womanhood!!!
And the repeat offenders who victimize women are said that they are sick and need help!!! But the guy who took her money or watch is a hardened criminal who needs to be taken out of society for decades, with no help or rehabilitation. No educational opportunities to have a chance at a job or having skill sets to help ensure ones chances at being a productive citizen! And there could be 100 robberies and all 100 of them are committed 100% different, but no matter the crime Virginia doesn’t allow judges to sentence each according to each set of facts! Not to mention the representation that all too often falls below an adequate level!

“The prison system can be used/utilized by creating things like,” Convicted Leadership Academy’s!!! ” Prison is devoid of so many USEFUL things, whist spilling over in abundance with ignorance and stagnation!
But when we convicted felons step up and grab some of our at risk youth, then we, in that failure to act ,are responsible for forfeited futures! Our painful experiences need to be fuel or boost we need to get up and over our self created walls of doubt, and be the courage to step into a better me. WE have to talk to, we have to guide, we have to beg our youths, we have to yell at and out to OUR youths. Prisoners can talk to those who are seemingly headed to. We are the instruments and vehicles for rehabilitation for OUR youths!

It would be something like the girls and boys club but strictly with convicted felons mainly those currently serving.
Mass incarceration isn’t necessarily racially motivated, simply because America was still segregated which would have had tremendous impacts on volumes of crimes and geographically, so the penal statutes weren’t cratered to minorities even though it seems as if it was and is!? Oddly enough. But enough about what isn’t, or what we don’t have. Let’s just be the change and get it done, by getting it or any other idea going!

Andrew Suspense
Lawrenceville Correctional Center

What’s a Pound of Human Worth?

By Christopher Smith Read

The institution of slavery is still alive and well in these United States. For authority, I cite the U.S. Constitution, Amendment XIII: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Readers doubting the actual effect this has on the twenty-first century, consider this: the author, as a person “duly convicted” of a crime, is required to work for the Virginia Department of Corrections, as a condition of his good time earning allowance, and is paid 45 cents per hour. Minimum wage laws do not apply to slaves. If he doesn’t work, then the department, through its own legislatively delegated authority, can make him serve his entire 10 year sentence.

This is the reality for millions of men and women throughout this putatively liberty-loving country; a country which, with proper historical, economic, and political context, has zero choice to be what it is: the world leader for keeping people in bondage. Granted, many countries subject prisoners to far more barbaric forms of imprisonment, but the U.S. nevertheless stands quite alone when it comes to the sheer scale of its operations. And United States’ prisons are barbaric for a far more insidious reason: U.S. prisons impose a strict regimen of pure, profit-driven apathy.

How we got to this point is no mystery. In fact, we’ve been doing things this way for so long that even before 1776, when we declared ourselves independent, the stage was set for today. As I’ll argue, we have no choice in the matter; structurally, the U.S. was destined to commoditize human flesh. And only through wholesale, aggressive federal legislation – or better yet, Constitutional amendment – will this ever change. But this analysis will end with what the author sees as a naively Panglossian prescription, given the alignment of the current interests in this country. That said, as Red, played by Morgan Freeman, concedes over and over again in “Shawshank Redemption” : “Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.”

Over three centuries ago, in 1714, a transplant from Rotterdam settled into London and penned this scandalous poem:
“Millions endeavor to supply
Each others Lust and Vanity…
Thus every Part was full of Vice,
Yet the whole Mass a Paradise.”

Bernard de Mandeville (1670-1733), laid down the claim that “private vices are public virtues” in his “Fable of the Bees”, a sentiment not denied by the Father of Capitalism, Adam Smith (1723-1780), but put forth in his “Wealth of Nations”, with far more sensitivity to the era’s puritanical sensibilities than Mandeville could muster. Even still, both men had identified the beating heart of today’s free market, capitalist economies: people responding to incentives, exploiting opportunities with no regard for society’s well-being, and yet through their consumption, benefitting us all nonetheless.

And there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that capitalism generates wealth. Nor is there any real argument to be had that capitalism’s nearest competitors can even contend. They can’t. But, as with all things, there is a tradeoff; or, as economist’s call it, an opportunity cost. For to make a few immensely wealthy, and most historically far more comfortable than their ancestors, millions will find themselves locked in cages for profit. In a cruel twist, then, many victims of their of own vice, no doubt, will be locked away for public benefit – bees who can never come back to the hive.

Economies are circular networks; one person’s spending is another person’s income. Thus pretty much every tax dollar spent on incarceration ends up back into the hands of private enterprise. The concrete and fence contractors providing the means of bondage, the massive food distributors responsible for providing prisoners with the sustenance – just barely; even the army of correctional officers’ paychecks – all of this eventually worms its way back into private hands, private hands which constitute an asset holding class of people, U.S. citizen or not.

The asset holding class – or Marx’s capitalists – generally do not vote against their own interest. And they generally have an outsize influence on politics, being the people most likely to donate to politicians who will vouchsafe their wealth on the floors of this country’s legislative bodies.

And running prisons says nothing of the mega corporations existing in a symbiotic relationship with the state. Keefe Commissary Group, GTL, Bob Barker Corp., Armor Correctional Health, these are just a few named familiar to nearly every modern prisoner. Mega corporations such as these shamelessly gouge prisoners and their families, all with the blessing of the state in which they operate.

Yet, who can really blame the institutions and firms involved? Where’s the incentive not to seek profit from what lawbreakers have done to wrong society? If the state is to tax its citizens for arresting, prosecuting, and punishing those who harm society, then what’s wrong with getting tax payers the most utility for their dollar? In theory, if private enterprise, contracted to do what the state’s duty is, insofar as incarceration is concerned, can offset – or net out – the cost of its prisons, then society benefits; teleologically, this all sounds good and well. And the father of utilitarianism, Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), had exactly this in mind with his Panopticon, which, interestingly enough, Parliament shot down because they feared the corruptive effects private enterprises would have on the lives of the Kingdom’s prisoners. One today cannot avoid the feeling that this presumption was particularly prescient.

Britain’s Parliament was right to be suspicious. The problem with this utilitarian line of thinking is its paradoxically antithetical quality in light of the very idea – the central focus – of this country’s founding: liberty. How ironic the country oppressing us saw this yet we didn’t. And still don’t.

To see the root issue here we again turn to the Constitution. Fully four of the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution are intended to protect those accused and convicted of crimes. As much as liberty is explicitly revered in our founding document, the implicit reverence is no less apparent. Which is why, structurally, our free-market economy, with its incentives to commoditize people, is inherently at odds with what we hold most dear: freedom. Simply put, where there exists any incentive at all of the monetary sort to put people in bondage, then the interests of liberty and capitalism clash.

Capitalism, however, cannot be cast off. It works too well. It creates too high a standard of living for far too many to replace with something untested. Though that does not imply market should run unfettered; that’s exactly why people are overly incarcerated today. Rather, the seemingly impossible task is to remind the people that liberty trumps profit, insofar as punishment is concerned.

Thus the author envisions a realignment of priorities, eschewing, by legislation, the incentives so at odds with liberty. In order to radically change the structure of our economy, to reduce the suffering of over incarceration – and ineffective incarceration – we must ensure the state and its private partners have zero monetary incentive to engage in such conflict-prone, deleterious practices in the first place. Positive policy changes will mean society actually pays for incarceration, and that the only real return is of people who’ve been truly rehabilitated. Thus the incentive must be for society to actually invest in those who run afoul of the law. Manufacturing need only perpetuates the problem.

When society actually pays for incarceration, then society will be incentivized to invest properly in the prophylactics to crime: education, vocational training, substances abuse counseling, and diversionary programs in lieu of incarceration. We do these things now, but they are lacking in efficiency and effectiveness.

This all skews left on the political spectrum, yet it’s far more than a matter of politics. But must we as a society simply box ourselves into the tribalistic corners from where we feel comfortable? Why can’t we dialogue, mutually engage, and share in diagnosing what’s wanting in society, without being beholden to some homogeneous theory of political and economic function?

The reality is that the incentive exists for the state to incarcerate any of us at any time because a whole industry – and wealth – has been erected on top of liberty. Society must have prisons. But society shouldn’t let that need drift into the realm of liberty. Until this incentive is removed, the over-incarceration will continue. We have no choice in the matter.

Christopher Smith Read #1770228
Haynesville Correctional Center
Haynesville, VA

Rehabilitation = Financial Literacy

You should not be fearful of Virginia offenders receiving a program that teaches financial literacy and skills in tech. This is form of education addresses the root of our criminal behavior and this is the only way to fully rehabilitate us. Justice should not only punish, and deter. Justice should also be restorative. Restoration is an important component, but it has to go beyond fines and court cost. If we never make the money that restitution will never get paid. But if part of my rehabilitation was geared toward teaching me the difference between assets and liabilities, and it showed me how my financial illiteracy made me a liability to my community but if I became an entrepreneur I could become an asset to it. This is the type of education that rehabilitates and increases public safety. You are not just sending me home with pocket money to spend. This education will teach me how to be self sufficient. Now I no longer need to rob or sell drugs when unemployment deprives my community of jobs.

Lord Serious is the author of three published books “The Powerless Pinky” (2017), “Apotheosis – Lord Serious Hakim Allah’s Habeas Corpus Appeal” (2019), and “Umoja Means Unity” (2022) all available on Amazon. You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube @lordseriousspeaks. Visit my website www.Lordseriousspeaks.com.

Design

It is not a matter of if the prison system is broken. Thats an understatement. The prison system is doing exactly what it was designed to do! Not only is it a business at the end of the day, but the beginning as well all at the expense of our people. This country was built upon slavery. So if you don’t acknowledge that; there’s no way that we can expect different result!

Leroy Williams
Deerfield Correctional

Re-Slaving America (Make America Great Again!?)

It’s a horrible sign that the country of America might actually be going backwards– towards the wrong direction… was this what was meant by the 2016 dog whistle calls to ” Make America Great Again”…?

Five states, here in America, are putting a rather interesting bill on their ballots this midterm election season… Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Oregon, and Vermont are all trying to reintroduce “forced labor” back into the American penal system. This situation makes this month’s Brilliance writing prompt somewhat prophetic…

“Am I incarcerated for profit?” (Brilliance writing prompt for October 2022) detailed the very gruesome history of the many insidious ways the powers of this country have exploited the American justice system and configured it into a racist pitfall (a “black hole”). All of this, in an effort to re-enslave black people, subjugate American minorities, and further the seemingly impenetrable grip racism has on this country…

Maybe the powers are going to decided to use the cover of a poor post-covid economy to bolster the need for slavery in prisons? They’ve already put forth the footwork for the past four years and successfully weaponized a fringe base of poor, white people, armed and even ready to storm the capital — maybe in hopes of taking the country “back” to “make it great again?” It is easy to accept the state of the economy as broken or unfit by those privileged but in poverty. But to those who have aligned such privilege with financial success and are now in want more, pointing them in the directions of the prison system as a means for their salvation is a welcomed fix.

Maybe the minimal headway made on social justice reforms leaves most with an unmerited sense of self satisfaction? So much that they aren’t even the least dissuaded to publicly disregard the mental wellness of Black Americans by resurrecting their most critical of traumas.

I hate that the connotation of capitalism can be justifiably understood to mean: at times we sacrifice long term mental anguish in hopes of short term monetary gains. and in a democracy like ours, this expense tends to always fall on the minority.

Why is forced labor in prisons an issue of race?

Well regardless of what our leaders are touting as true social justice reforms, the dramatic disparities in incarceration rates are still very well alive and thriving. the emphasis on racial justice, these past two years, has barely put a scratch on the issue of unfair treatment between minorities and the penal system. Black Americans still greatly outpace white ones in America’s prison population. And as described in the latest Brilliance prompt, the current state we are foregoing in this country concerning Black Americans and prison was deliberate in its design.

Given the recent events taking place within the Alabama prison system– where the incarcerated there are demonstrating a work stoppage in protest of inhumane living conditions and unfair treatment by the Alabama justice system, the fact that Alabama is amongst the states considering forced labor is nothing other than a symbol of its stern unwillingness to consider to the pleas of its prisoners. A bold statement that power is in no need of a heart nor soul. It only needs lives to stand over…

My hopes are that these aversive proposals to enslave prisoners do not go further than just racist propaganda, designed to motivate alt-right fringe voters to the polls.

If this horrible, racist. vision does manage to make it to fruition, my hope then is that the human soul that will forever fight for equality and justice, beats loudly throughout all the hearts of the oppressed and imprisoned, and that of all of their allies, and stands in opposition of such travesty…

Continue to fight for righteousness, because it is not freely given. We are all the children of freedom and it is our birthright to be free…

Love, peace, and power,

Q. Patterson

The Justice System’s Antiquated

The fact that the United States still operates under post civil war era criminal justice standards is plain wrong! Governments need frameworks to establish beginnings. Not saying the way of our founder’s frameworks were the right path to take, but frameworks are needed to build period. Once the initial building is over certain things need to change (amended) or be removed to better society or just to be morally sound. Again, in this essay’s case, the justice system’s correctional approach is antiquaaaaaaaaaadaaaaaaaaaaated in our modern society, which many people have fought and died so hard to change.

One of the essay questions that i personally would like to elaborate on is question #3: How can the prison system be use to better our community?

Well, my personal opinion is that I feel the number of correctional facilities should be reduced and the closed facilities should be remodeled into immigrant/disaster relief facilities where people in need have shelter, clean water, laundry, dinning areas and grounds for medical attention. The federal government could easily funnel some of it’s money used to incarcerate the population to aide others in more immediate need. While at the same time, create jobs for the economy that current inmates could be employed that would better the economy by being paid more, therefore, taxed more. This was one of the ides I had on this year’s fall essay. Thank you for the time that you took to read this and I hope that it may take root.

Shout out to the crew behind Brilliancebehindbars.com.
Keep up the work!

J. Reinard, LVCC

WHAT DOES CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM LOOK LIKE?

by Lord Serious

On September 26, 2022 Senator Jennifer Boysko and Delegate Irene Shin paid a visit to a group of prisoners at Lawrenceville Correctional Center. After introducing myself and thanking the distinguished guest for visiting us at the prison, I asked them what were their visions for prison reform and criminal justice reform. They each spoke of their record and the various bills they have sponsored and fought to get passed. I’d like to thank Q. Patterson and Sistas In Prison Reform (S.I.P) for giving me the opportunity to be a part of the group who were chosen to attend this meeting. Below is a draft of some of the speaking points I wrote to prepare for the meeting:

First, we offenders request that you amend Code 15.2-1636.7 to prohibit the Compensation Board from continuing to use the formula suggested by Virginia Association of Commonwealth’s Attorneys. This prosecutorial interest group has suggested a formula that incentives Commonwealths Attorneys offices to seek felony convictions for funding, and it deters prosecutors from using alternative methods to secure just and fair results.

This formula contributes to the mass incarceration of Black and Brown people. It encourages prosecutors to seek felony charges over misdemeanors, and it deters them from recommending diversion programs, even in cases where a misdemeanor or diversion program will result in a more just result without jeopardizing public safety. Furthermore, the formula fails to factor in the socioeconomic factors that also influence crime. All of this results in a biased criminal justice system that encourages its prosecutors to over charge and excessively sentence minorities so that their office will receive more funding.

Once this formula has been replaced with a method that will eradicate the bias and exploitative nature of the Criminal justice system. Many of your funding issues will be solved when it comes to the Department of Corrections, because prosecutors will be less inclined to charge every criminal defendant they possibly can with a felony and sentence them to prison. Those who can remain in the community without jeopardizing public safety will receive an adequate punishment without ever having to step foot in a prison, thus they will be less of a burden on the Virginia tax payer.

Next, we request that you amend Code 9.1-601 Citizen Review Panels. We ask that you expand their oversight abilities beyond the police department. We request that their oversight authority be amended to include the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Offices and the Probation and Parole Office.

It is our position that a lot of the socioeconomic bias that infects the criminal justice system goes beyond just police brutality. The entire system neither values nor does it respect the Black and Brown life, especially when they are from impoverished communities. Therefore, we ask that municipalities be given the authority to establish Community Review Panels that will maintain the checks and balances and make these two critical departments accountable to the communities they serve.

The Community Review Panel should be allowed to play a role in determining whether Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Offices are dealing too harshly with the citizens in their community. It’s easy for an office of predominantly White people to send young Black and Brown men to prison for multiple decades for their first felony offense. But the very communities that we’re committing our crimes in do not always agree that a lengthy prison sentence is an appropriate punishment, and the voice of the community should have some influence in these matters before trial. Community Review Panels should be granted the authority to recommend eligible cases for diversion programs when appropriate.

The Community Review Panel should also be granted authority to review the practices of the probation and parole offices for biases and abuses of power. Ex-offenders on probation and parole have no right to an attorney for a revocation hearing and neither can they appeal the decision if their parole has been revoked. This leaves ex-offenders at the mercy of the probation and parole office and they are powerless to prevent abuses of power. Therefore, Community Review Panels should also be granted oversight authority to protect returning citizens from bias probation or parole officers.

And lastly, we would like you to pass a law to make financial literacy a requirement for our rehabilitation. The Uniform Crime Report data shows that poverty is a major contributor to crime. In fact, that report list economic conditions and employment availability as the #3 influencer to crime in the Commonwealth, eclipsed only by population density and population stability which were #1 and #2 respectively.

Legislators in Virginia recognize that having access to more financial resources can help prevent recidivism. This is why the law was passed that now requires us to save $1,000 in our hold account. Obviously, legislators realized that Virginia offenders were not doing a good enough job with saving their money and many were being released with only the $25 they gave you for the bus ticket and the lack of financial stability is what was leading many to re-offend. Unfortunately, with inflation steadily increasing that $1,000 will have less impact by the time many of us are released.

So that $1,000 is not enough. If you distinguished guest are serious about prison reform and preventing recidivism then the nature of the Department of Corrections will have to change course, it must turn away from it’s past when it was a system that used mass incarceration as a profitable economic model. This economic model has failed and your budget issues and the statistics all show that mass incarceration is an unnecessary burden on the tax payer and it has never increased public safety.

-Lord Serious, September 2022

A Message From Keen Mountain

Peace and chaos and confusion universe, and salute to Q always.

This is off-topic but I would like to share a jewel with you. Today is the funeral of a nurse at Keen Mountain who was murdered by her baby’s father who was a correctional officer here…

Now, this is a sad moment because she treated me as a human, one of the very few that do in the system. Thou I’m weird to almost everyone I meet, due to me claiming to be God and also short, legally blind, and walk with a limp lol. But ask anyone who knows me, I stand on all infinite because I don’t go through life looking at it as if its dangerous. I go through life as I know I control it, and life don’t control me because me and life is bond meaning together…. understand. Everything is attracted to everything when U understand you. Thus, my name is Allure meaning attraction. -smiles-. This is what im predicting (The Seer, which is the follow up of my name Allure, which means prophet) -another smile-. This was a sacrifice so the Universe can now show U that don’t have a development of realization that the material world power is unstable in the mind…the devil. And they look at us (inmates) as if we are nothing but hire deadly inmates!?

All these years the government – and when I mean government, I’m including prison guards along with police cause they all are one. Murdering us. Committing crimes while working as a crime fighter. Then they say correctional center, ha ha, yea to correct you not to know self. Look, I’m Allure The Seer Of Truth GOD! And iuno what the rest of y’all will do but peaceful talks only work with a peaceful person. The government is not peaceful. Extremely tired of talking fareal to all who just hear, rather than listen and application. Last chance, know yaself.

-Allure The Seer Of Truth God

Share this with the world:
“Change comes from knowing we are all the same.”

Am I Imprisoned for Profit?

Editor’s Note: Quadaire has been on a long lockdown for the past few weeks, and spent some time researching the deep roots of mass incarceration. He wanted to share the facts he learned and engage the incarcerated population in Virginia.

Since its conception, America has benefit from free labor and the industry of slavery. Slavery has long been abolished, but the clause of ‘supporting it in cases of punishment for a crime’ has been continuously exploited by corporations and politicians. This has lead to the modern day social crisis of mass incarceration and the lucrative enterprise of the prion industrial complex.

Post-civil war, disgruntled Southern lawmakers sought to evade the parameters laid out by the Reconstruction Amendments (Amendments XIII, XIV, and XV). They used the exception marked out in the 13th amendment that legalized slavery in case of punishment for a crime as the basis for achieving their goal. Incarcerating former slaves disqualified their newfound citizenship, nullified their voting rights, and returned them to chains and involuntary servitude. These Southern lawmakers legislated numerous laws and policies such as “Race Codes,” “Black Codes” and many more targeting former slaves for incarceration. White Southerners effectively weaponized the law to enlist America’s Criminal Justice System as a device to perpetuate slavery under other names.

One of these reimagined forms of slavery mirrored a pre-civil war program used in Louisiana, known as “convict leasing.” Incarcerated prisoners were leased to private companies and plantations as laborers. Ironically, these programs were often many more times dangerous than slavery conditions prior. Private companies held no direct investments when it came to their leased laborers. Unlike former slave owners who stood to lose money if the slaves were to get horribly sick or die, private companies with leased convicts were less dissuaded to put them in very unsafe and hostile environments. Convicts were more harshly abused, and in many cases, company task masters would drive them to their deaths. Since the convict leasing program was facilitated through contracts between the prison and the employer, when a laborer died, the prison would simply replace them to meet their contractural obligations and business resumed as usual.

Convict leasing took numerous lives before it was outlawed. Eventually, the program was replaced by ‘correctional enterprises’ — state-owned companies that used prisoner’s forced labor. Correctional enterprises used prisoner labor to manufacture a number of products ranging from eye glasses, shoes, and state license plates. Correctional enterprises are still widely used today. While they gross multi-million dollars a year, their workers, incarcerated peoples, average to earn about $1 per day to take care of themselves and in many cases, their families.

The prison industrial complex has thus evolved. Today, the highest grossing business fueled by the incarceration of Americans is that of the private prison sector. Private prison corporations gross multi-billion dollars a year. The business arrangement set between these corporations who provide incarceration services to the governmental agencies that employ them is a simple one: Incarcerated service providers supply bed space to state and federal agencies and must meet a quote of occupants in order to satisfy their contracted obligations. The most sinister part of this dynamic is the corporations that provide private prisons are publicly traded on the stock market. Thus, anyone and everyone, even law enforcement officers can profit from an increase in the incarceration rate.

One more interesting concept to identify in the scheme of prison for profit is a little more subtle than others. In 1994, 10 years after the first installation of a private prison, the Clinton Administration enacted the Crime Act. This piece of legislation awarded incentives to the states who get more severe on crime. The Crime Act inadvertently encouraged systemic racism with monetary gain and further the profit-for-prison dynamic.

In a perfect world, we can see the logic in society profiting from anti-social acts such as crime. But in America, our racist past infects our criminal justice system to its core. Post-Civil War and Jim Crow politicians have taken advantage of that notion from the onset of the Emancipation Proclamation. Segregationist politicians worked hard to frame the tactics of the civil rights movement as ‘crime running rapid in the streets’ and spawned “tough-on-crime” politics that still serve as the breeding ground for dog whistle politics today. (as defined in Rethinking Incarceration, as racial legislation ensconced within coded rhetoric about the common good)

Never forget that the American justice system is built on principles of the slave trade, monetary gain at the cost of human lives. Everything from the low cost, low quality food being served in prison mess halls, the highly marked up nearly expired food products being pushed through commissary, excessive price tags on essentially free services such as emails, all combined with state-sponsored monetary incentives for persecuting felony charges, keeping an ample incarceration rate, and cutting corners on a bare essentials are all aimed at profiting of human lives…

All of this takes place under the guise of sound economical principles, public safety, and justice for victims, but just as slavery was regarded as a noble conquest in the eyes of many Americans, profiting from the misfortune of already poor, disparaged people is nothing more than vile, life-costing capitalism.

Quadaire Patterson

Thought Starter Questions for the Incarcerated:

Write your own essay, poem, or submit art relative to this topic. Do not forget to include your name and any contact information for any readers who may be able to offer you some assistance.

  1. Do you believe it is possible to overcome hundreds of years of slave trade mentality in America and your lifetime?
  2. Crime must be addressed in order to have a functional and productive society. How can society better use the prison system to work for those incarcerated and the general public?
  3. How can the prison system be used to serve communities?
  4. Do you believe that mass incarceration is racially motivated due to the past? Why or why not?
  5. Do you believe America can survive without the use of slavery in one form or another?

Fit For Society

How much time am I expected to serve before I’m deemed by the public eye as being fit for society? When will enough be enough? There has to be a common denominator where the offender and the people in power can have a meeting of the minds to determine how much is enough time. What is time but the calculated motion measuring how long it takes to get from one place to another? With that being said who are you to determine how far I have come in my growth and development as a man, and how long it has taken me to do so? So once again, how much is enough time?

What if my rehabilitation has come faster than the average offender’s? I have done more than enough to exemplify that I am, and have been for a while now, deemed fit for society. What is the purpose of programs, vocational trades, maintaining employment, and being infraction free if they are not tools used to determine whether or not a person is rehabilitated? The prison system is broken and it is obvious that those in power do not believe in their own system. Their theory is to lock them up and throw away the key, whether you’re innocent or guilty. I have been incarcerated for 21 years and have done everything there is to do, but yet I am not deserving of the good time sentence credit because I am considered to be a violent offender.

Before parole was abolished, was it not for non-violent and violent offenders. When the 85% good time went into effect, was it not for both non-violent and violent offenders? If so, then why change the customs of past laws and legislations to exclude a certain category and class of people that in past history, were treated with equality. Did our United States Constitution not grant us equality and protect us from cruel and unusual punishment? Are those in power not supposed to uphold the Constitution?

How much is too much time? A message for the political powers that be. I am serving a 53-year sentence for a robbery that I committed in which no one was harmed. I plead guilty to a term of 13 years for this offense. I was given 40 years solely for a crime that is documented that I didn’t commit – so you tell me how much is enough time.

My name is Antoinne Pitt # 1157338 I’m currently housed at Lawrenceville Correctional Center. Peace and Blessings to you all.