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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: August, 1990

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Volume 1, Number 4

In this issue:

  1. HR-4079: A National Crime Emergency? (p 1)
  2. Editorial Comments (p 2)
  3. Storm Warning (p 2)
  4. Repeal "Point 100" Statute (p 3)
  5. Of Bannings and Unbannings: Why Do They Do It? (p 4)
  6. Prisoners in Struggle (p 5)
  7. Struggle in Ohio (p 6)
  8. GRAPO Prisoner Dies (p 6)
  9. Where Now for the Sex Offender? (p 7)
  10. In Defense of the Struggle Against Sexism (p 8)
  11. Letters From Readers (p 9)

HR-4079: A National Crime Emergency?

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, it does. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, Jr., resigned his seat, leaving President Bush to name an even more reactionary successor. Not only will the pro-choice Roe v. Wade ruling fall by the wayside, making life for women increasingly difficult, but we behind bars can expect an even faster rollback of gains won by prisoners as a result of their struggles during the late `60's and early `70's.

The growing reactionary trend is not limited to the judicial arena, either. On the legislative front we are being confronted with a pair of draconian crime bills that make past legislative outrages look like liberal blessings.

Both the U.S. House and Senate have major anti-crime bills pending. In mid-July the Senate passed and sent on to the House a bill authorizing capital punishment for 32 different offenses - from treason to killing a nuclear regulatory inspector (watch out all you would be killers of nuclear regulatory inspectors). The Senate would also limit the appeals of death-row prisoners, making for quicker state-sanctioned murders; expand the police powers of the FBI; authorize massive funding for the building of new prisons, etc.

While ...

Editorial Comments

The sharp-eyed reader will have noticed our new return address for the newsletter. This is the 3rd new address in 4 issues, and it isn't even in Washington State. Paul's dad in Florida has agreed to be our outside publisher until such a time as we are able to build a core of people willing to do the job here in the Northwest. Mail all donations of stamps and money to:

Prisoners Legal News
PO Box 1684
Lake Worth, FL 33460
Send articles, poetry, graphics, and your letters (but not money) to Paul or me at::

Paul Wright #930783
Box 5000, HC-63
Clallam Bay, WA 98326
Edward Mead #251397
PO Box 777
Monroe, WA 98272

Speaking of money, it costs 3¢ a page to reproduce the ten paged copy of the newsletter you are reading (30¢/issue), and it costs an additional 25¢ to mail it to each reader. That's a total of 55¢ of our money to get this paper to each person. Plus we put a lot of work into writing and typing the articles, pasting in graphics, etc. Then we have outside volunteers who reproduce and mail the paper, and maintain our mailing list ...

Storm Warning

By Paul Wright

This is a bi-monthly magazine put out by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (anti-imperialist). There are a disproportionate number of veterans in the gulags in this country, as most prisoners have noticed by now. Storm Warning (SW) is free to prisoners; the editors did time in Vietnam for mutiny. Each issue has a lot of articles on the failed U.S. invasion of Vietnam, as well as current stuff such as the role of sexism and the oppression of women in a militarized society such as ours. The last issue has a very good article about women in combat and the society that puts them there in the first place.

For those of us that were in the military you'll know exactly where they're coming from; if you haven't, you'll get an idea of what it's like. The VVAG (AI) is also in the forefront of the struggle against repressive laws (when the anti-flag burning law came into effect they set fire to 1,000 flags in front of the Seattle post office, their "thousand points of light"), against sexism and against U.S. aggression in Central America and elsewhere. They ...

Repeal "Point 100" Statute

By Dan Pens

All pre-SRA prisoners must jump through an invisible hoop before they can be paroled. Sound like something out of Alice in Wonderland? Well, it's the law.

RCW 9.95.100 ("point 100") is a 1939 statute that has remained unchanged since 1955. Kit Bail is quoted in a recent Shelton-Mason County Journal article as saying, "It's the statute that says `you may not release - not you shouldn't, but may not release - somebody short of their maximum term unless you can make a finding that they're reasonably rehabilitated and safe to be at large'." She goes on to point out the statute as being, "pretty much the crux of the issue when you're talking about [the] nearly 2,500 pre-SRA inmates still in the system."

Why this outmoded statute remains on the books is a mystery. It imposes a duty on the Board to determine the "rehabilitation" and likelihood to re-offend of prisoners eligible for parole. This is plainly asking the under qualified to do the utterly impossible.

The statute also imposes a liability on the state and the Board if they should somehow fail to do the impossible. If an "un-rehabilitated" prisoner ...

Of Bannings and Unbannings: Why Do They Do It?

Of Bannings and Unbannings: Why do they do it?

By Ed Mead

As many of you know issue #2 of the PLN was banned from both the Penitentiary and the Reformatory. We immediately drafted a comprehensive civil rights complaint challenging the censorship, but just days before the suit was to be filed both bannings were reversed. The warden at the Penitentiary said our newsletter "fails to rise to a level of having the potential to be intellectually disruptive to our population." He went on the say that most of the writing is done "by radical, but harmless, malcontents that receive little support or sympathy form our general population. The articles promote somewhat archaic concepts that fail to generate patronage form our very young population." He said that each future issue would be carefully examined by officials, presumably to insure that we stay "harmless."

Our law suit raised a number of issues, one of which that prisoncrats suppressed our paper not because of any legitimate security concerns, but rather because of a Nazi-like drive to prevent us form communicating an alternative to corrections to prisoner, their families, and, ultimately, the community. An important aspect of this alternative, we argued, is the ...

Prisoners in Struggle

By: Paul Wright

We have recently received information about the following prisoners in West Germany the US and England who are being persecuted because of their political beliefs. To help, I have a packet of pre-typed letters addressed to the authorities responsible for the treatment of each of the below prisoners. If you want a set, send Paul a SASE, and he will send it to you. If you are in Europe or want more info on the prisoners themselves, write:

Comhphobal Cumhacht
C/O Gefangen Initiative
Lessing Str. 18
D-4600 Dortmund 1
West Germany

Heres a quick run down on each prisoner: Gerry Hanratty is an Irish Republican POW in West Germany awaiting trial in Kaisheim prison on charges of illegal weapons possession. Of greater concern is the fact that the British government has applied for Gerrys extradition to Northern Ireland. While imprisoned in the infamous H-Blocks prison in 1981 Gerry was brutally beaten by British soldiers and prison guards, he recently received an award of 1,500 pounds from the European Court of Human Rights for his injuries. If returned to Northern Ireland, Gerry will not be allowed a jury trial and faces the real ...

Struggle in Ohio

Struggle In Ohio

By Paul Wright

There have been 5 prisoners and one staff member (schoolteacher) killed at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio since 1990 rolled in. Governor Celeste ordered an investigation into all aspects of SOCF operations by the State Highway Patrol. The mainstream media only reported gang and drug activity as being targeted. This investigation was prompted by a yearlong investigation by the state legislatures prison watchdog committee, the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee as well as the nationwide hunger strike protesting conditions at SOCF. When the schoolteacher, Ms. Beverly Taylor was killed at the prison on June 7, 1990, guards and civilians picketed the prison calling for more staffing and better security. House Speaker Verne Rifle responded by appointing an 11 member select House Committee to investigate allegations of overcrowding, mismanagement and understaffing at SOCF. The House Committee investigation marks the third probe of Beverly Taylor's death, joining the SHP and CIIC.

In response to letters form all over the world, demanding that injunctive relief be ordered halting a lot of the conditions complained of at SOCF, United States District Judge S. Arthur Speigel asked the US attorney to have the Civil Rights Division ...

GRAPO Prisoner Dies

In Issue #1 of PLN we reported the hunger strike by GRAPO (Anti-Fascist Resistance Groups, First of October) in Spain who seek to end the governments policy of placing them in control units, dispersing them in different prisons, beating them, censoring their mail, prohibiting visits, etc.

The strike started on November 30, 1990. As it went on the Spanish Gov. sought to prolong it by force-feeding the prisoners against their will. This was done until the Dr. charged with force-feeding the prisoners was assassinated on March 27, 1990. With the force-feeding stopped the prisoners deteriorated rapidly.

On May 25, 1990, Jose Manuel Sevillano Martin died of a heart attack after going 167 days without food. As of early July, several other GRAPO prisoners are in critical condition, many have already suffered permanent damage to their health as a result of the strike.

In a recent letter received by PLN, from a GRAPO prisoner, he states that it appears the Spanish government may be ready to negotiate over the prison conditions the GRAPO prisoners are subjected to. There are 42 prisoners on strike at this time.

There have been demonstrations in support of the prisoners in: Vancouver BC, Toronto, New York ...

Where Now for the Sex Offender?

This is the third and final part of our series on sex offenders. The first two installements ("Them Today, Us Tomorrow" and "We Are All Prisoners") were critical of non-sex offenders for discriminating against people on the basis of offense. In today's article we will put the shoe on the other foot. We will criticize the manner in which many sex offenders elect to do their time, and we will offer some comradely suggestions for improvement. (Also read "In Defense Of The Struggle Against Sexism" on the next page.)

It has been this writer's experience that rapists and others convicted of sex crimes against women and children generally tend to adopt a two-pronged strategy for doing their time and getting out of prison. Firstly, they try to do their time through the process of denial. They deny they are sex offenders or, when that isn't possible, they tell people it wa all just a simple misunderstanding. "She was very mature and sexually aggressive," confided one sex offender about his seven year old victim.

The second prong of that stragey, getting out of prison, almost always involves massive participation in institutional programming activities, and in maintaining a clear ...

In Defense of the Struggle Against Sexism

In Defense Of The Struggle Against Sexism

With this issue of the PLN I conclude my three part series on sex offenders. And while I am writing this before the first installment of the series has been mailed out to readers, I am sufficiently confident of the adverse response by prisoners and outside folks that I can write my defense now. The charge will be that I am "soft" on rape because I don't think prisoners should subject other prisoners to additional punishments due to the nature of their crimes (in fact I don't believe in the usefulness of punishment at all), because I believe it ultimately hurts the interest of prisoners in general to do so, and because I say that if change is to come in this area it must be organized by sex offenders themselves.

Those who have known me for a long time remember that I organized Men Against Sexism inside the walls at Walla Walla back in 1977. We accomplished many things, one of which was the virtual elimination of the widespread practice of prisoner-on-prisoner rape and the buying and selling of prisoners by each other. We fought against rape with our lives ...

Letters From Readers

From Germany

Thanks a lot for the prisoners Legal News. I was impressed. From my (own experience in) making flyers I can imagine how much work you put into these important pages, even if you collect articles. "The Terry" by D.P. fit exactly in a discussion we had in Kassel. Some members of our "Anti-Repression Plenum" didn't want to have contact with prisoners in Kassel prison. They say, e.g., "I just can't. I know the Fiauenhaus (women refuge) murderer is in there, many more of them are convicted of rape - I can't"

I myself think it is rather superficial to say s.b. is among the group and therefore I don't want to have anything to do with all of them and s.b. did something (maybe) and I push him/her away for the rest of his/her life. What D.P. writes was very important for me/us.


Even Christians Can Read It

Got a copy of PLN (#2) and I like it twice as much as the first one. I was able to send a copy to my ex-wife and ex-kids at my ex-home because you left out the "F ...


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