PR: What is HRC doing specifically to challenge the use of solitary confinement?
BG: Aside from public education and advocacy, we are working to develop a legislative campaign with allied organizations such as the American Friends Service Committee, the NationalReligious Campaign Against Torture, and the ACLU. While it is still in the planning stages, this campaign can be useful as a means for furthering political organizing objectives.
Ultimately, any efforts to push back against torture and get people out of prison is contingent upon the wholesale removal from power of both corporate-backed imperial parties, the redistribution and redefinition of political power, and the elimination of an economic system with its roots in the market, replaced by one that has its roots in the earth. Anything less spells certain doom for our specific efforts to abolish solitary confinement, mass incarceration, and prisons, as well as our very survival on this planet.
PR: HRC is also now starting a campaign to have Russell Shoats transferred out of solitary confinement at SCI-Greene. How can our readers support this?
BG: Russell Shoats, discussed above, is a co-founder of HRC who has spent 20 years in the hole as a consequence of his principles and resistance to the inhumanity and criminality of this system. He is a 68-year-old revolutionary who has taught and inspired countless other prisoners and activists inside and outside the walls.
Along with HRC, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the National Lawyers Guild have submitted letters to the PA DOC requesting that Maroon be released into general population.
Supporters can visit a recently-created website and click the "Follow" link at the bottom right to receive email updates when new postings are available. There is a sample letter on the site, and soon more material will be added. A new interview was just posted where Maroon discusses his thoughts on the importance of democracy and self-determination to movement building, the power of the feminist movement and matriarchal politics, Occupy Wall Street, and the imperative of centering food security (and square-foot gardening) in our movements.
PR: Anything else to add?
BG: It is absolutely critical to the fate of movements for social justice in this country that the situation of prisoners and the function of prisons in the social order take a central role in our analysis and practice. Everybody can correspond with a prisoner, help out a local group, get on email lists, and research the reality of the prison nation. It is not the land of the free, never was, never was intended to be, and the sooner we disabuse those around us of that notion the better chance there is to win some badly-needed victories. There is no dream too big and no action too small, let's keep at it till the walls crumble.
--Prison Radio first began recording Mumia Abu-Jamal's radio essays in the early 1990's and we continue to this day. Our mission is to challenge unjust police and prosecutorial practices which result in mass incarceration, racism, and gender discrimination by airing the voices of men and women victimized by an unjust criminal justice system. Our website, www.prisonradio.org features Mumia's essays and much more, including the latest news about his case. To receive our email newsletter, please sign up on the bottom of our website's front page.
Hans Bennett is an independent multi-media journalist and co-founder of Journalists for Mumia (http://www.abu-jamal-news.com).