August 7, 2020
Photo of Angola Prison inmates from The Guardian article of August 31, 2018 entitled US inmates claim retaliation by prison officials as result of multi-state strike
The dates will be somewhat off, so let me just say that in the last six months or so, God (yes, I still believe, in spite of the 2016 election…) has lead me to foreign legal lands. Terra Firma that doesn’t involve immigration. Does this make me happy? I don’t know. As our president would say about death numbers during COVID, it is what it is.
If you know me, you know how strongly I feel about bullying and unfairness. This phenomenon exhibits itself in my outspokenness (a.k.a. my big mouth), my behavior, my posts, my writing. In fact, the helicopter of injustice whirs around my brain constantly. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. (Think, M*A*S*H* Incoming!) Inequity in anything, makes me cuckoo. Really. Then like the chopper, I spin around in circles trying to figure out how I can change the maltreatment de jour. My fingers tap manically on the keyboard in research. I can spend hours trying to trouble shoot a miscarriage, trying to get right to the heart of the matter.
Eventually, the whirlybird of prison injustice, the Prison Industrial Complex, mass incarceration, extended slavery, whatever you want to call it, was destined to enter the airspace in my cerebellum (no wisecracks, please). I learned that something is rotten in the state of Denmark; only “Denmark” here is the United States of America.
I’ve never had an interest in criminal law, in defending so-called criminals; mainly because I tend to be gullible (or naïve, fair or just maternal?), and would totally believe the accused regardless of innocence. But, the Creator being all Wisdom-n-all, and One not to waste anything, got my attention recently.
Perhaps about eight months ago, I “liked” a Facebook page related to reducing incarceration in Louisiana, so the springs beneath my subconscious began to gurgle. But the page administrator came on a little too strong and a little too specifically and spoke about defending a specific inmate—himself, a lifer, formerly incarcerated at the old plantation, Angola, then at Elayn Hunt); and I believe at the time, I was looking for a way to end the whole damn prison system. Policy change that could benefit him and everyone else. I told him that my license was inactive in Louisiana, which was and is true, and that I couldn’t defend him.
But, as I mentioned in my blog post of September 2019, the private detention/prison situation (in that case, immigration-related) also makes me whackadoodle. Fast forward to the death of Mr. George Floyd, and now I am catapulted like the cow in Monty Python’s Holy Grail onto police brutality and prison injustice. I reach out to the inmate who originally contacted me. It seems he has a valid complaint about being temporarily insane at the commission of the crime and possibly mentally incompetent during the trial too. Still, at this point, I have not reactivated my law license in the Bayou State.
Why am I telling you all this? Because I want you to come with me on this ride. I am learning. I want you to learn too. And, to act. And to surpass me with your brilliance and your leadership and maybe even be the one to end all of this. I have practiced immigration law for the last twenty years, and except for the occasional brush with criminal immigration (twice), I do not have criminal experience. But we can become educated together! I want you to know about this cancer chewing up our country. About the amoeba of public and private prisons using prisonized labor to make money. Let me say that again: to make money!
Watch the documentary 13th, (free on YouTube) and you will learn, as I did, about the loophole in the Thirteenth Amendment, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted. You will see the immediate move from slavery directly into using prisoners for labor, the rounding up freed slaves for ridiculous crimes (e.g. loitery) so that the free labor could continue.
Think about it: if a prison is private, what is its commodity? People. And what color is that commodity? Black. And brown.
So, please take my researching, laptop banging fingers (at a social distance) and come with me as I investigate this God-awful industry. And, for the record, I will reactivate my Louisiana license soon. Maybe I’ll be able to help the inmate after all.