Revolution #153, January 18, 2009
We received the following from PRLF
Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund Launches Campaign to Reach Women Prisoners
As the numbers of men and women being incarcerated in this country skyrocket, Revolution newspaper can be a lifeline. It connects prisoners to events in the world and enables them to understand and interact with critical issues of our time. And it engages them about what a future society could be.
Over the last year PRLF’s subscriptions to prisoners have grown from 700 to 825, and every response to requests brings a new flood of letters asking for the paper and other literature. Word of mouth is the main way news of Revolution and PRLF spreads through the prisons- subscribers sharing their papers and books and letting new friends know when they are transferred. But that same spontaneous process has not been unleashed yet in the women’s prisons. Although women are the fastest growing section of the prison population, only 1% of the PRLF Revolution subscribers are female.
Funds are urgently needed to transform this situation: to get the word about Revolution into women’s prisons to begin this dynamic and pay for 200 new subscriptions for women prisoners as a start. Ads will be placed in publications read by women prisoners, their families, and supporters and volunteers will go to buses that carry family members to visit imprisoned women.
$7,000 will pay for 200 new subscriptions for women prisoners.
$300 will pay for promotions to reach them
PRLF is a project of the International Humanities Center, a non-profit public charity, exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code (www.IHCenter.org). To contribute to PRLF, checks should be made payable to IHCenter/PRLF and mailed to:
|International Humanities Center
860 Via de La Paz, Suite B-1
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
|Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund
1327 N. Milwaukee, #407
Chicago, IL 60622
You can also make a non-tax deductible donation by mailing a check or money order made out to Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund to the PRLF address above.
Of all the women prisoners in the world, one-third are incarcerated in the United States. Since the “War on Drugs” began in the 1970s, the number of women in prison has grown by 404%. Figures for 2001 show Black women are imprisoned at a rate of 205 per 100,000; Hispanic women, 60/100,000; and white women, 34/100,000. In fact, Black women today are jailed at the same rate as white men. Women, like men, have been subjected to mandatory sentencing and “3 strikes” laws that keep them behind bars for 15-25 years for non-violent offenses. Over half of these women will never see their children while in jail and only a third will talk to them on the phone.
There are more women prisoners in California alone than there were in the whole United States 30 years ago. 6768 women are housed in two of the biggest prisons, where women are sorted into facilities of every level of security, from dormitories to Death Row, or subjected to isolation and sensory deprivation in the SHU (Security Housing Unit). Pregnant women give birth in shackles. If the newborns are not claimed in 24 hours by family members, who often live hundreds of miles away in urban areas, the babies are taken from the mother and put in foster care.
Women’s imprisonment is one more form and manifestation of the oppression of women under this system. 44% percent of the women behind bars report that they were physically and sexually abused at some point in their life, most before they were 18. Sexual abuse of women in prison is institutionalized, and rape and sexual harassment by guards is rampant. In California, 66% of the guards in women’s facilities are men, a nationwide phenomenon. In the name of “security,” they are empowered to watch the women showering and dressing and to perform humiliating body searches.
Increasingly, religion is promoted as a way to reinforce women’s subordination to authority. At the women’s prison in Grants, New Mexico a live-in religious program known as the “Faith Pod” teaches a Life Principles curriculum whose cornerstone is the godliness of submission to authority and the sanctity of patriarchal hierarchy.
PRLF received the following letter:
I am a woman...
I’m writing to you about your campaign to furnish Revolution newspaper subscriptions to prisoners. I think that is a wonderful idea and I pledge $25.00 per month for the next twelve months to the campaign. I am a woman. About eight years ago I was locked up in two federal institutions in Florida for nearly three years. Part of the misery of incarceration is the complete total control the oppressors have over the type of media and information you are exposed to. Television is allowed but, as we all know, that type of media exposure is not only unenlightening, but promotes the same values and worldview and only leads to fantasy life expectations. In prison people are constantly inundated with the messages they are all messed up, that the decisions they made in their lives led them to these tragic circumstances and that if they had behaved better they wouldn’t be in this situation. Well, I for one realize that the reasons many people are incarcerated is because they have learned their world outlook from the media, the schools and the society overall, that promotes look out for number one and get money and material possessions however you can and it doesn’t matter who it hurts. Most of the women are there for offenses dealing with drugs or taking money in one way or the other. Unfortunately many of these women are locked up and separated from their children because of their involvement with the men in their lives. Also most of the women were foster children or were molested and/or abused in their developing years.
This newspaper represents the outlook of the oppressed in this country and world. It shows us which side we are on and the only way toward liberation for ourselves and the oppressed around the world. This information is so very needed behind the prison walls. I’m not saying the information is going to be widely embraced by the population, but there are some women there who see that this system we are living under is not working in their interest. In the institutions where I was locked up, 50% of the prisoners were Latina. This is information that not many people know in the World. They were desperately poor in their countries and saw selling and distributing drugs as a way to take care of their families. In many ways that was their only choice because the local economies are driven by the demands of the United States.
I learned of this by reading the revolutionary press. I think the women locked up should be exposed to this information and realize that this system cannot and will not create a good and happy life for them and their children and that the only future they can expect in this present system is some form of misery for themselves and people in their class. It won’t change with the color of the President. We have to change the world. But we must understand it first.
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