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robertogreco : prison   25

What Do People in Solitary Confinement Want to See? | The New Yorker
“Willie Sterling III imagined this: a line of people, bonded by a belief in his humanity, travelling up a hill in southern Illinois to a cross that sits at its peak. The cross was Bald Knob Cross of Peace, a colossus more than a hundred feet tall. It was made of concrete and varnished with porcelain, and wherever you were, within thousands of miles, you strode in its shadow. Sterling saw his believers huddled at its base, praying for his deliverance from solitary confinement and for him to be granted parole after more than three decades behind bars.

Sterling envisioned this scene as part of a program—begun by a group of lawyers, community members, artists, and currently and formerly incarcerated men and their families, and based in Chicago—that fulfills the photography requests of inmates being held in solitary confinement. Tamms Correctional Center, where Sterling was held for several years, and which closed in 2013, was the only supermax prison in the state of Illinois; it housed people who were deemed “the worst of the worst,” as its first warden, George Welborn, told the Chicago Tribune in 1998, and it held the majority of them in what was euphemistically referred to as isolation. Tamms had seven hundred beds, five hundred of them in an all-solitary-confinement supermax facility. Those in solitary spent at least twenty-two hours a day in their cells. Some days, they were not let out at all. For meals, boiled eggs and loaves of congealed food were slid through a thin aperture in the steel cell door. The sink and the toilet were combined into one structure.

In 2006, activists formed a poetry committee to mitigate the sensory deprivation that the prison inflicted on the people held there. They exchanged letters and poems with the inmates. Two years later, the committee transformed into Tamms Year Ten, a coalition that protested the conditions at the prison, with the goal of seeing it shuttered. The group also asked inmates to fill out a form describing a picture that they would like to receive. A volunteer would then create it.

Laurie Jo Reynolds, the organizer of Tamms Year Ten, recently described to me, over the phone, the work that was done to fulfill Sterling’s request: “We got a caravan of sixteen family members. I got an a-cappella singer, one of our volunteers, to sing ‘Amazing Grace.’ And then we had to work it out with the proprietor of Bald Knob Cross that we would have dinner there, because it was dark by the time it was over.” In the wide-shot photo, the cross looms against a colorless sky as a crowd of people, dressed in white and black, huddles nearby, heads lowered. To Sterling, the image was an amulet, a prayer frozen in time. One year after Sterling received it, he was granted parole.”



“According to many human-rights organizations, the prolonged lack of human contact and sensory deprivation that inmates experience in solitary confinement qualifies as torture. The legislative campaign that Tamms Year Ten spearheaded succeeded in closing the prison. The photo-request project continued, in affiliation with the watchdog group Solitary Watch. Now known as Photo Requests from Solitary, it is run by Reynolds, Jean Casella, a co-director of Solitary Watch, and Jeanine Oleson, a professor of photography at Parsons School of Design. According to Casella, in six years, the program has received a few hundred requests for people imprisoned in Illinois, New York, California, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.”



“The sensual urges of the incarcerated are often demonized, dismissed as criminal or undeserved, but Photo Requests from Solitary regards them without judgment. Within the parameters of prison rules, the group fulfills requests of an erotic bent. Reynolds told me fondly about a man named Johnny, who asked for a particular screenshot of Jennifer Lopez’s butt from the “Jenny from the Block” music video. She noted that many men’s requests for pictures of women seemed tender, oriented to narrative and tableau—more like what you would see in “women’s porn,” she said. Dan, for instance, requested a modest fantasy: a picture of a “black female with hazel eyes,” with “orange and blue in the sky” and a Mercedes-Benz of “powder blue.” His request was realized via a collaboration between Photo Requests and Vice. The photographer, Jason Altaan, made the image glaringly arty; I wonder how Dan liked it.

Not all of the people who volunteer for these assignments are artists or photographers, per se. Most fulfill the assignments straightforwardly, without interpreting or embellishing, even when the requests are conceptual—men and women asking to be represented as howling wolves, or crying lions, or sad clowns. The volunteers do their best to be another person’s eyes, and to respect the significance of the exchange. (You can visit the project’s Web site and, if you’d like, fulfill a request of your own.) Frank, imprisoned in California, enclosed a photograph of his daughter with his form, asking that she be Photoshopped into an image of the Pyramid of the Sun, in Teotihuacán, Mexico. Jason Mena placed her in the sky above the structure, as if she were the sun. One man requested a new picture of his daughter; a volunteer travelled to her home to take it. In the box, time stands still and it doesn’t. Chris asked to see a photograph of the Barclays Center, in downtown Brooklyn, which had been built while he was incarcerated. “I just want to see it the best way the photographer can capture it. To feel as if I’m right there,” he wrote.

Advocates estimate that eighty thousand people are currently housed in solitary confinement, though the difficulty of tracking confined populations means that the number may be larger. A small exhibition of Photo Requests from Solitary was recently held at the Brooklyn Public Library, featuring banners printed with blown-up copies of some of the prisoners’ requests. I noticed that observers lingered longer on the request forms than they did on the pictures. Regrets, anguish, and hope emanated from the handwriting. The descriptions were abundant and precise, sometimes ecstatic—images that the inmates assembled from language long before they were made visual. “Motion!,” Mark, in Pennsylvania, writes. “I’ve been in solitary for twenty-three years and three days today. It’s like living in a still-life painting;. . . I’d like to see things moving. Perhaps traffic at night, lights shining and the trails from lights whizzing past.”“
doreenstfélix  photography  society  prison  solitaryconfinement  2019  imagery  sensorydeprivation  senses  humanrights  incarceration  solidarity 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Is Prison Necessary? Ruth Wilson Gilmore Might Change Your Mind - The New York Times
"“I get where you’re coming from,” she said. “But how about this: Instead of asking whether anyone should be locked up or go free, why don’t we think about why we solve problems by repeating the kind of behavior that brought us the problem in the first place?” She was asking them to consider why, as a society, we would choose to model cruelty and vengeance.

As she spoke, she felt the kids icing her out, as if she were a new teacher who had come to proffer some bogus argument and tell them it was for their own good. But Gilmore pressed on, determined. She told them that in Spain, where it’s really quite rare for one person to kill another, the average time you might serve for murdering someone is seven years.

“What? Seven years!” The kids were in such disbelief about a seven-year sentence for murder that they relaxed a little bit. They could be outraged about that, instead of about Gilmore’s ideas.

Gilmore told them that in the unusual event that someone in Spain thinks he is going to solve a problem by killing another person, the response is that the person loses seven years of his life to think about what he has done, and to figure out how to live when released. “What this policy tells me,” she said, “is that where life is precious, life is precious.” Which is to say, she went on, in Spain people have decided that life has enough value that they are not going to behave in a punitive and violent and life-annihilating way toward people who hurt people. “And what this demonstrates is that for people trying to solve their everyday problems, behaving in a violent and life-annihilating way is not a solution.”

The children showed Gilmore no emotion except guarded doubt, expressed in side eye. She kept talking. She believed her own arguments and had given them many years of thought as an activist and a scholar, but the kids were a tough sell. They told Gilmore that they would think about what she said and dismissed her. As she left the room, she felt totally defeated.

At the end of the day, the kids made a presentation to the broader conference, announcing, to Gilmore’s surprise, that in their workshop they had come to the conclusion that there were three environmental hazards that affected their lives most pressingly as children growing up in the Central Valley. Those hazards were pesticides, the police and prisons.

“Sitting there listening to the kids stopped my heart,” Gilmore told me. “Why? Abolition is deliberately everything-ist; it’s about the entirety of human-environmental relations. So, when I gave the kids an example from a different place, I worried they might conclude that some people elsewhere were just better or kinder than people in the South San Joaquin Valley — in other words, they’d decide what happened elsewhere was irrelevant to their lives. But judging from their presentation, the kids lifted up the larger point of what I’d tried to share: Where life is precious, life is precious. They asked themselves, ‘Why do we feel every day that life here is not precious?’ In trying to answer, they identified what makes them vulnerable.”"



"The National Employment Law Project estimates that about 70 million people have a record of arrest or conviction, which often makes employment difficult. Many end up in the informal economy, which has been absorbing a huge share of labor over the last 20 years. “Gardener, home health care, sweatshops, you name it,” Gilmore told me. “These people have a place in the economy, but they have no control over that place.” She continued: “The key point here, about half of the work force, is to think not only about the enormity of the problem, but the enormity of the possibilities! That so many people could benefit from being organized into solid formations, could make certain kinds of demands, on the people who pay their wages, on the communities where they live. On the schools their children go to. This is part of what abolitionist thinking should lead us to.”

“Abolition,” as a word, is an intentional echo of the movement to abolish slavery. “This work will take generations, and I’m not going to be alive to see the changes,” the activist Mariame Kaba told me. “Similarly I know that our ancestors, who were slaves, could not have imagined my life.” And as Kaba and Davis and Richie and Gilmore all told me, unsolicited and in almost identical phrasing, it is not serendipity that the movement of prison abolition is being led by black women. Davis and Richie each used the term “abolition feminism.” “Historically, black feminists have had visions to change the structure of society in ways that would benefit not just black women but everyone,” Davis said. She also talked about Du Bois and the lessons drawn from his conception of what was needed: not merely a lack of slavery but a new society, utterly transformed. “I think the fact that so many people now do call themselves prison abolitionists,” Michelle Alexander told me, “is a testament to the fact that an enormous amount of work has been done, in academic circles and in grass-root circles. Still, if you just say ‘prison abolition’ on CNN, you’re going to have a lot of people shaking their heads. But Ruthie has always been very clear that prison abolition is not just about closing prisons. It’s a theory of change.”

When Gilmore encounters an audience that is hostile to prison abolition, an audience that supposes she’s naïvely suggesting that those in prison are there for smoking weed, and wants to tell her who’s really locked up, what terrible things they’ve done, she tells them she’s had a loved one murdered and isn’t there to talk about people who smoke weed. But as she acknowledged to me, “Part of the whole story that can’t be denied is that people are tired of harm, they are tired of grief and they are tired of anxiety.” She described to me conversations she’d had with people who are glad their abusive husband or father has been removed from their home, and would not want it any other way. Of her own encounter with murder, she’s more philosophical, even if the loss still seems raw.

“I had this heart-to-heart with my aunt, the mother of my murdered cousin, John. On the surface, we were talking about something else, but we were really talking about him. I said, ‘Forgive and forget.’ And she replied, ‘Forgive, but never forget.’ She was right: The conditions under which the atrocity occurred must change, so that they can’t occur again.”

For Gilmore, to “never forget” means you don’t solve a problem with state violence or with personal violence. Instead, you change the conditions under which violence prevailed. Among liberals, a kind of quasi-Christian idea about empathy circulates, the idea that we have to find a way to care about the people who’ve done bad. To Gilmore this is unconvincing. When she encountered the kids in Fresno who hassled her about prison abolition, she did not ask them to empathize with the people who might hurt them, or had. She instead asked them why, as individuals, and as a society, we believe that the way to solve a problem is by “killing it.” She was asking if punishment is logical, and if it works. She let the kids find their own way to answer."
prison  incarceration  prisons  2019  mariamekaba  ruthwilsongilmore  geography  policy  justice  prisonabolition  abolitionists  restorativejustice  socialjustice  transformativejustice  activism  punishment  vengeance  angeladavis  mikedavis  cedricobinson  barbarasmith  prisonindustrialcomplex  neilsmith  carceralgeography  bethrichie  society  rachelkushner 
april 2019 by robertogreco
The Markup
"We are a new publication illuminating the societal harms
 of emerging technologies. Technology is reshaping the news we get and what we believe; how our elections play out; our jobs and how we get them; how we access goods and services and what we pay for them; and who goes to prison versus who remains free. But there is not much independent analysis of the effects of these changes. That’s the problem The Markup aims to fix.

The Markup is a nonpartisan, nonprofit newsroom in New York. We begin publishing next year. In the meantime, please join our mailing list or support our work with a donation!"



"The Markup is a nonpartisan, nonprofit newsroom that produces meaningful data-centered journalism that reveals the societal harms of technology. We aim to hold the powerful to account, raise the cost of bad behavior and spur reforms.

The Markup is a new kind of journalistic organization, staffed with people who know how to investigate the uses of new technologies and make their effects understandable to non-experts. Our work is scientific and data-driven in nature. We develop hypotheses and assemble the data — through crowdsourcing, through FOIAs, and by scraping public sources — to surface stories.

We will publish our stories on our own site, and also through distribution partnerships with other media. We plan to distribute our work in multiple forms: through text-based stories, podcasts, radio appearances and video formats.

We will publish all our articles under a Creative Commons license so that others can freely republish our work. Whenever possible, we will also publish the data and code that we used in data-driven investigations, as well as a detailed methodology describing the data, its provenance and the statistical techniques used in our analysis. We hope that academics, journalists, policy-makers and others will be able to evaluate our data, replicate our analysis and build on our work.

We plan to launch in early 2019."
journalism  technology  emergintechnology  society  news  work  economics  prison  encarceration  lawenforcement  police  policy  data 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Prison Culture » Thinking Through the End of Police…
"Many people are more afraid of imagining a world without police than one without prisons. This seems especially true for people who consider themselves to be progressive. I don’t have the time, energy or inclination to write in depth about abolishing the police right now. But I’ve been asked a lot for ‘resources’ on the topic. To be honest, I’m crabby about offering those too. This is because what people usually mean by “resources” is a step-by-step guide or program. Well, that doesn’t exist because building a world without police is actually a collective project that will also mean that many, many other things will need to change too. That’s not a satisfying answer for people who don’t actually want to think and most importantly who think it’s “other people’s” responsibility to come up with “alternatives.”

Rinaldo Walcott offers a start for those looking for the right questions to ask about abolishing the police:
“We need broad based discussions about the future of modern policing and what it is really for.

We need to imagine a time when police are not needed. In the interim we need to disarm the police.

We must require police to work in communities they live in and make them accountable to communities they police.

We need to work towards forms of being in community where conflict is resolved within communities and where resolution is not necessarily oriented towards punishment.

These ways of being are not beyond us, indeed these ways of being are shared by many among us.

We need only recognize and acknowledge that such knowledge exists and the practice is doable.

In essence, any moral and ethical society willing to confront the deeper reasons why policing exist at all would be working towards its abolition.”


On another day when I am feeling less tired and more generous, I might write something that summarizes my ideas and thoughts on the matter. But not today…

So for now, here are a very few readings to help those who are interested in abolishing the police to think more deeply about the possibilities…"

[See also: https://www.facebook.com/luna.syenite/posts/2186195438292031

"I can't tell you how many messages I'm getting about these posters. I can't respond to all of them so I am going to comment on the biggest critiques (that are so important to acknowledge and address) and then refer back to this status.

1. "X solution can be oppressive" - Absolutely true. Any of the solutions named in the graphics could be enacted in oppressive ways. In order for these solutions to be implemented in the way they were imagined, the people implementing them must do so with an anti-oppressive (empowering) lens, outside of the systems and institutions currently oppressing people. I highly recommend anyone considering replacing policing, study Transformative Justice and its principles, study the work of anti-oppressive community organizers, especially those who are or have been marginalized.

These posters require us to imagine a better world, one in which the resources people need in order to address the root causes of violence and harm (oppression, exploitation) are collectively provided: free housing, free healthcare, and the preservation of our planet; and white supremacy is eliminated.

2. "Sometimes we need police in situations of life threatening violence" (or, "This would only work if you weren't directly experiencing violence in the moment) - There may be times of immediate life threatening violence in which a defensive organization is necessary to save lives (such as mass shootings, for example). Those people do not need to be the police, and we can envision all kinds of organizations that would be dedicated to liberation, self-determination, preservation of life, and using force as an absolute last resort. Such organizations would ideally be controlled / organized / held accountable by the people most impacted by violence.

3. "I have had to call the police to save my life." - Yes. Same. And this is not condemning anyone for using the tools that currently exist to save their own life. And it is absolutely harmful and violent that in our society the only means we have to save our lives in violent situations is to call the police and initiate a system of incarceration that does not hear our voices, address our needs, seek actual justice, resolve the root causes of violence, or seek to support us as people experiencing violence. It is harmful that our only option is to expose other people to the possibility of having their life or their freedom taken by the police or prisons. We need other options.

4. "Police are people too." - Yes, and their personhood does not mean that their profession, nor the power that is granted to them in that profession, needs to continue in order for their humanity to be recognized. Policing is harmful and violent and therefore must lose its power in society. Taking that power from individual officers is not a denial of their humanity.

5. "Why can't we just reform policing" - Read Alex Vitale's book "The End of Policing" for a detailed answer to this question - it's really good.

6. "What does Taking Accountability mean?" - In Transformative Justice practice, "Taking Accountability" means that the person who has done harm receives support in changing their behavior, takes responsibility for what they've done, takes steps to repair the harm done according to the wishes and needs of the person who was harmed, and changes their behavior. It also means that the community asks why the person caused harm in the first place (what the "root cause" of harm is), such as poverty, lack of access to healthcare, social isolation, or other unmet needs. The community is responsible for addressing the causes of harm that are cultural and social.

Not everyone is willing to take accountability for their actions of course (we need a major cultural shift to make this more likely), and in the case that the person who did harm does not choose to take accountability, it means that the community takes collective action to prevent that person from doing harm again, such as spreading awareness about the harm, doing education about how to prevent that harm, and intervening where and when the harm is happening so that the person can no longer successfully do so. It means protecting each other in ways that reduce harm, rather than produce it.

For more info about Transformative Justice here is a hand out comparing it to other forms of justice: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1oGeWHm8zHKm_31Ng3j5mqKwyiGw02t3ikOh_3UZHD74/edit

Here is a reading list: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1OMAg9P5Ad9vMwnqvguZHDKyqU75ygUKyxDXleIWnC8s/edit

Here is a link every single person should click: http://www.usprisonculture.com/blog/transformative-justice/

7. "Can I share these with x" Yes, you can share the images however you want. Here is a google drive with printable versions: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1HUpCPvOwUJElxtUP4mCysAY9GyZrSmUk

8. "I like all of these except the domestic violence one" - see all of the above and I highly recommend that people look into the work of Survived and Punished, an organization that specifically works with survivors of domestic and other violence who are then violently pulled into the policing and carceral system.

9. "Crisis Intervention Teams include police" - In these graphics, I am not using the term in the way it is used related to policing, I am using it as a name for a totally invented kind of team that would not in any way be connected to the police and would be staffed with people who are trained in anti-oppressive means of addressing conflicts. To be as clear as possible: I do not support any measure that would fund, reform, or employ police. And any of these solutions would require that people experiencing marginalization or oppression be empowered to collectively control the resources / services themselves.

These are the resources shared by the person who raised this concern, if anyone would like to look:

Alternatives to Police in Mental Health Crisis: https://www.facebook.com/pg/ACPDMHC/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1596632663793562

The Myth of Awareness Training
https://www.facebook.com/notes/kerima-cevik/the-myth-of-awareness-training-the-danger-of-disability-registries-special-ids-a/1647219461995178/ "

posted here:
https://robertogreco.tumblr.com/post/175793815358/alternatives-to-police-and-punishment-are-real ]

[via:
https://twitter.com/AFSCAZ/status/1015285772994281472
via

"Alternatives to police and punishment are real and tangible. Check out some of the great work from Luna Syenite, who has made them free to share. https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1HUpCPvOwUJElxtUP4mCysAY9GyZrSmUk … #Harmreduction #treatmentnotprison #communitynotprisons"
https://twitter.com/reclaimuc/status/1015293012555919360

"Imagine a world without police.... posters inspired by the work of @prisonculture and created by Luna Syenite (https://www.facebook.com/luna.syenite/posts/2186195438292031 …) #AbolishICE #AbolishThePolice"
https://twitter.com/regina_tweeta/status/1017097476883582976

"As a follow up see: https://medium.com/@icelevel/whos-left-mariame-26ed2237ada6 …... which also features @projectnia & @prisonculture. We can change the way resources are allocated to change outcomes. Police & prisons aren't the only solutions. #AbolishICE #AbolishThePolice #ServicesNotSentences"
https://twitter.com/regina_tweeta/status/1017099000665821192 ]
activism  police  policing  prison  mariamekaba  rinaldowalcott  2014  reference  resources  publicsafety  lunasyenite 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Beyond Prisons #19: Hope Is A Discipline feat. Mariame Kaba
"In Episode 19 of Beyond Prisons, hosts Brian Sonenstein and Kim Wilson catch up with activist, writer, and educator Mariame Kaba.

Mariame shares her experiences advocating on behalf of Bresha Meadows, a teenage girl who killed her abusive father and was detained while facing the possibility of trial as an adult and a lifetime of incarceration. She recount’s Bresha’s story and explains how activists worked to make sure the family’s needs were met and help them navigate the collateral consequences of detention, including an enormous financial burden and the shame and stigma that makes people internalize their struggle.

Mariame explains how children who are abused face limited options and harsh punishment for trying to escape their abusers and even harsher punishment for defending themselves. She talks about the racialized aspect of this arrangement, and how black children are dehumanized and not seen as children but as criminals in training.

She discusses the work that Survived and Punished put into assembling a tool kit to help people who are victims of abuse and are criminalized for survival actions. The tool kit has information on what the group thinks works for supporting immigrant survivors, trans survivors, how to engage with the media and legal teams, how to raise money and build a base of support, and more. Their website also has interviews and videos that provide more information.

Mariame reacts to a common question asked of abolitionists, which is what to do about people who have caused serious harm to others. She talks about the fear of criminals in society and the severe misperceptions among the public of who is incarcerated and what it means to be in prison. The effectiveness of prison as a tool to fight sexual violence, murder, and other serious crimes is questioned.

The conversation continues with Mariame’s view of abolition as a collective project that embraces people who sense there is a problem with American institutions and are interested in figuring out what to do about it. She explains what she means when she says hope is a discipline, not an emotion or sense of optimism, and how this informs her organizing. Self care is examined as a community project. Finally, Mariame shares what books are on her shelf and what she’s reading right now.

Mariame Kaba is an organizer, educator, and curator. Her work focuses on ending violence, dismantling the prison industrial complex, transformative justice, and supporting youth leadership development. She is the founder and director of Project NIA, a grassroots organization with a vision to end youth incarceration. She was a member of the editorial board for Violence Against Women: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal from January 2003 to December 2008. She was a founding advisory board member of the Chicago Community Bond Fund and she’s a member of the Critical Resistance community advisory board. Kaba currently organizes with the Survived and Punished collective and, in addition to organizing and serving many other organizations, she is an educator and also runs the blog Prison Culture."
mariamekaba  children  youth  incarceration  briansonenstein  kimwilson  abuse  breshameadows  prison  violence 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Ear Hustle
"The podcast is a partnership between Earlonne Woods and Antwan Williams, currently incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison, and Nigel Poor, a Bay Area artist. The team works in San Quentin’s media lab to produce stories that are sometimes difficult, often funny and always honest, offering a nuanced view of people living within the American prison system."
podcasts  sanquentin  prison  earlonnewoods  antwanwilliams  nigelpoor  incarceration  tolisten 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Table Service — The California Sunday Magazine
"Of the 12 front-of-house employees standing around the table, five are ex-felons, including Boone. Cala is one of the few restaurants in the country that has a policy of seeking out and hiring former convicts. Some have come through probation departments or recommendations from public defenders; others walked in off the street. They now make up about a third of Cala’s 43-person staff. Everyone works at least 30 hours a week, receives benefits, and shares the house’s pooled tips. “It’s not a charity. It’s a business,” Cámara says. “I think it’s a better business model for this type of food and service to have people committed full time and people who take care of what I need them to take care of, because then I take care of them.”

One of Mexico’s most revered chefs, Cámara has done something similar at Contramar, her Mexico City restaurant. “There, it happens in a less institutionalized way,” she says. “I basically have a lot of people who have had a rough life, poor in every sense.” In San Francisco, she faces a different challenge: Attracting and retaining qualified staff is extremely difficult because the city has become such an expensive place to live. She opened Cala, her first restaurant in the U.S., in October 2015. Eight months later, Food and Wine named it one of the top ten new restaurants of the year.

Cala’s general manager, Emma Rosenbush, met Cámara while running a pop-up restaurant in Mexico City. Rosenbush had once worked as a litigation assistant for the Berkeley Prison Law Office, where she became concerned about California’s high rate of recidivism. She was not just receptive to the idea of hiring ex-felons, she could supply a list of organizations that could help. Rosenbush and Cámara started with an informational meeting at the San Francisco Probation Center, and so many people showed up that Rosenbush had to schedule 20-­minute interviews over two days. By the end of the second day, Rosenbush had met with close to 40 candidates. They weren’t asked where they were incarcerated, what their crime was, or if it was violent.

Rosenbush and Cámara winnowed the candidates to 25 and trained them in a classroom at the probation department. They started with the basics, like wine comes from grapes. Two weeks later, they ran a mock service in the café of Delancey Street, a nonprofit that provides vocational training for ex-felons and recovering addicts. “That initial run-through was really challenging,” Rosenbush says. “The lack of experience was very clear.”

Cala opened with 70 percent of its staff ex-felons, which Rosenbush acknowledges was overambitious. She’s had to fire a number. “If you are late because you can’t get it together,” she says, “there’s no preferential treatment given to anyone. They have to perform at a certain level or they can’t work here anymore. Are you warm? Are you kind? Do you have the hospitality gene?” She says of Boone, “I could tell within the first 30 seconds he had it. So lovely and eloquent. I liked him right away.”"
restaurants  sanfrancisco  prison  ex-felons  rehabilitation  cala  food  employment  probation 
december 2016 by robertogreco
The Century of the Fugitive and the Secret of the Detainee | SAMPLE REALITY
"And what is the relationship between fugitives and detainees?

As the fugitive becomes one of the dominant images in American cinematic, literary, and folk culture, the detainee will become one of the dominant figures in real life.

The principle works under a law of inverse visibility. Detainees, for all their sheer number, will be virtually invisible to the mainstream media. The more detainees held indeterminately in detention centers, internment camps, and black ops military barracks, the less visible they will be. In their place stands their opposite: the fugitive.

Detainee should be the watchword of the 21st century, but it won’t. Instead, the fugitive will dominate the stories we tell ourselves about the modern world."
fugitives  detainees  surveillance  police  prison  amrksample  2013  storytelling  law  visibility  legibility 
february 2015 by robertogreco
10 (Not Entirely Crazy) Theories Explaining the Great Crime Decline | The Marshall Project
"Over the course of the 1990s, crime rates dropped, on average, by more than one-third. It was a historic anomaly; one that scholar Frank Zimring dubbed “the great American crime decline.” No one was sure how long the trend would last. Then, in 2010, the Bureau of Justice Statistics announced that the homicide rate had reached a four-decade low. (Since then, overall crime rates have remained relatively flat.)While everyone agrees this is fantastic news, no one, least of all researchers and experts, can agree on exactly why it happened. Below are 10 popular theories for the decline, from abortion to lead to technology to the broken windows theory, with unvarnished views from three leading researchers—Zimring; Richard Rosenfeld, chairman of a National Academy of Sciences roundtable on crime trends; and John Roman of The Urban Institute—on which are the most plausible.

The “abortion filter” […]

The happy pill thesis […]

The lead hypothesis […]

Aging boomers […]

The tech thesis […]

Crack is whack […]

The roaring ’90s (and Obama-mania) […]

The prison boom […]

Police on the beat […]

Immigration and Gentrification […]"
crime  theories  theory  marshallproject  abortion  lead  prozac  ritalin  behavior  moods  babyboomers  population  demographics  technology  airconditioning  television  tv  cars  debitcards  currency  transactions  crack  drugs  economics  unemployment  greatrecession  recession  prison  incarceration  police  lawenforcement  gentrification  immigration  boomers 
november 2014 by robertogreco
SAHA / Sunday Times Heritage Project - Memorials
"Christopher Van Wyk:

He fell from the ninth floor
He hanged himself
He slipped on a piece of soap while washing
He hanged himself
He slipped on a piece of soap while washing
He fell from the ninth floor
He hanged himself while washing
He slipped from the ninth floor
He hung from the ninth floor
He slipped on the ninth floor while washing
He fell from a piece of soap while slipping
He hung from the ninth floor
He washed from the ninth floor while slipping
He hung from a piece of soap while slipping

-----

The poem was a savage swipe at the old Security Police, who inhabited the top floors of John Vorster Square, the nondescript office block that squats at the bottom of Ferreirasdorp and gazes blankly onto the top deck of the M1 South.

Between October 27 1971 and January 30 1990, eight people died there after being detained by the Security Police: Ahmed Timol ("fell" from the 10th floor); Wellington Tshazibane (found hanged in his cell); Elmon Malele (died after hitting his head on a table); Matthews Mojo Mabelane (fell from the 10th floor); Dr Neil Aggett (found hanged); Ernest Moabi Dipale (found hanged); Maisha Stanza Bopape (probably killed during electric shock torture and his body disposed of - it was never found); Clayton Sizwe Sithole (found hanged)."
apartheid  poetry  prison  poems  christophervanwyk  southafrica  via:coreycaitlin 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Reading Proust in prison - Austin Kleon
"Daniel Genis spent ten years in prison and read over one thousand books:
He read “In Search of Lost Time” alongside two academic guidebooks, full of notations in French, and a dictionary. He said that no other novel gave him as much appreciation for his time in prison. “Of course, we are memory artists as well…,” he wrote of prisoners in his journal, in the entry on “Time Regained.” “Everyone inside tries to make their time go by as quickly as possible and live entirely in the past,” he said. “But to kill your days is essentially to shorten your own life.” In prison, time was both an enemy and a resource, and Genis said that Proust convinced him that the only way to exist outside of it, however briefly, was to become a writer himself… Later, when he came across a character in a Murakami novel who says that one really has to be in jail to read Proust, Genis said that he laughed louder than he had in ten years.

Murakami might be on to something. The people I know of who’ve read a stupendous amount of books in a certain period of time have lived in a kind of sparse, prison-like existence. When the depression hit, Joseph Campbell moved to a shack outside of Woodstock, New York, and read nine hours a day for five years. When I was 20, I spent 6 months in Cambridge, England living in a room the size of a broom closet, and that’s when I read Shakespeare, Dickens, Dostoevsky, Joyce, etc. (At one point, Genis’s father tells him to read Ulysses in prison, because “he wouldn’t have the willpower to get through it once he became a free man.”) My friend was in the Peace Corps for two years in Africa, and he said all there was to do at night was smoke weed and read. He read a couple hundred books.

Maybe that’s what college should be: two years where your rent is paid and you do nothing but read…"
danielgenis  reading  concentration  attention  prison  imprisonment  isolation  harukimurakami  proust  josephcampbell  marcelproust 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Autism | Mada Masr
"In prison I try to make up for my inactivity, my helplessness, by reading. Maybe I can get information or wisdom that would be of use to those who visit me, or could help me the day I'm released.

I read — among other things — about autism. I lose myself in reading and find myself thinking about the troubles of the revolution. I imagine that autism is a good metaphor for our condition. I start writing texts that contrast a child losing — or not having — the ability to speak with a generation gradually losing its ability to chant. Or that compare his impaired communication with our inability to understand those queues of dancing voters.(1) Or that try to develop an image where an extreme sensitivity to sound makes it painful to hear the bullets fired regularly by the state — bullets inaudible to those who don't share our disability. Our disability causes us to be troubled by the sight of the blood of those martyred to things other than duty — a sight which clearly does not offend the eyes of the delegates.(2)

The texts are poor, inaccurate and with no basis in science. You don't get autism because of the shocks life delivers. It's a condition that is known and documented. It's mostly to do with learning difficulties and what we can do about them. The books talk about the importance of paying attention to the "secret curriculum."

We might have difficulty learning the official school curriculum. We might find some subjects difficult, and autism might make it up for us by making others easy. But the heart of the problem is in the secret curriculum: the lessons and skills and bases and rules of human communication. Nobody hid this curriculum: humans assumed it was known and understood and so no-one wrote it down. Why do we ask each other "how are you" when we meet though we've no wish for a detailed answer? What pushes us to declare a love we don't feel and hide the love we do? What's the importance of showing various kinds and degrees of respect to colleagues and bosses? Why does the teacher want to hear a pin drop though she has no pin in her hand?

And that's not to mention the complex rules for speech and clothing and behavior that depend on distributions of relationships and that change in response to time and place and social context. We live by a complex and complicated system that is always in flux. Most of us don't need to actively learn all its details, but most people who live with autism stand helpless in front of it. Their isolation increases unless someone makes the effort to teach them the secret curriculum. It doesn't matter if the details of this curriculum are useful or logical or not; if you don't conform to them society will reject you. Which is easier? To persuade society that a response to "how are you" with a real report about one's feelings does no harm and might even be useful, or that it's OK not to ask how one is doing if it's a quick meeting and doesn't allow for a conversation about feelings — or to train the disabled minority to respond with "al-hamdulillah" (fine, thank you) whatever their real feelings.

The books warn: don't train for conformity. Our duty is to teach the curriculum and to empower the "disabled" person to register and grasp what society expects and then decide of his own free will how he should behave. He might decide to conform or he might rebel. "What's easiest" isn't the only question. Pay attention to what's richer and more beautiful and more compassionate and better.

I like the idea of the secret curriculum. Which one of us "normal" people has not been confused or suffocated by the assumed rules of behaving and communicating. Which one of us hasn't been seized by the wish to scream or cry or curse or hug or kiss inappropriately? Practically half the secret curriculum is to do with how to hide the effects of the rare moments with which you explode — hide them or rebel and don't conform.

They arrive and break my train of thought and my reading stops. We've expected them since the news of their torture was leaked into the papers and since we learned that the prison administration was expecting newcomers from Abu Zaabal prison. We tried to prepare to receive them, but how do you welcome a friend who went through the battle with you but went through his experience alone? Will he be comforted if you tell him that your old jail/his new jail is safe and that his ordeal is over? Will he be angry? Should I feel guilty or grateful? We must have learned this in the secret curriculum; the gradations in the acuteness of injustice and in the price people pay are nothing new. I've spent my life with these gradations so why am I confused by the heat of their anger? We adopt autism. We receive them with a detailed report about the facts: there is no torture here but you're probably here to stay, the law means nothing and the constitution offers no hope and the courts are worth nothing. We shall stay until they're done with their damned road map. They reply with similar autism with a detailed report about the torture in a steady mechanical delivery with no embarrassment, no concealment. The books tell me not to assume the absence of feeling; autism hampers expression and communication, it does not negate feeling."



"Which is easier? To train the minority unable to conform to the hidden constitution to ignore injustice as long as it falls on others, to avoid challenging authority and to assume its good intentions, or to persuade society of the absurdity of trying to live with an authority that allows itself murder and torture and detentions as long as it adheres to hidden rules?

The books warn us: don't train for conformity. Our duty is to learn the curriculum to empower the "disabled" person to register and grasp what society expects and then decide of his own free will how he should behave. He might decide to conform or he might rebel.

"What's easiest" isn't the only question. Pay attention to what's richer, what's more beautiful, more just, more compassionate. What's better."
madamasr  autism  learning  hiddencurriculum  communication  2014  conformity  injustice  society  torture  war  egypt  secretcurriculum  hiddenconstitution  alaaabdelfattah  expression  emotion  emotions  prison  behavior  violence  power  control  colonialism  domination 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Human Rights Poem (55): In Detention | P.a.p.-Blog // Human Rights Etc.
"In Detention, by Christopher van Wyk

He fell from the ninth floor
He hanged himself
He slipped on a piece of soap while washing
He hanged himself
He slipped on a piece of soap while washing
He fell from the ninth floor
He hanged himself while washing
He slipped from the ninth floor
He hung from the ninth floor
He slipped on the ninth floor while washing
He fell from a piece of soap while slipping
He hung from the ninth floor
He washed from the ninth floor while slipping
He hung from a piece of soap while washing."

[via: https://twitter.com/coreycaitlin/status/408793539661672448
https://twitter.com/coreycaitlin/status/408793830666682368 ]
christophervanwyk  humanrights  inprisonment  prison  detention  poems  poetry 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Orion - May/June 2013 - Page 18-19
"Mysteries of Thoreau Unsolved: On the dirtiness of laundry and the strength of sisters" by Rebecca Solnit

"None of us is pure, and purity is a dreary pursuit best left to Puritans."
rebeccasolnit  sisters  siblings  thoreau  activism  importance  2013  purpose  labor  work  writing  laundry  martinlutherkingjr  walden  abolitionists  history  picasso  michaelbranch  michaelsims  chores  purity  liberation  freedom  prison  mlk 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Mass Incarceration and Criminal Justice in America : The New Yorker
In a society where Constitution worship is still a requisite…Stuntz startlingly suggests…Bill of Rights is a terrible document w/ which to start justice system—much inferior to…French Declaration of the Rights of Man, which Jefferson…may have helped shape while…Madison was writing ours.

…trouble w/…Bill of Rights…is that it emphasizes process & procedure rather than principles…Declaration of Rights of Man says, Be just!…Bill of Rights says, Be fair! Instead of announcing general principles—no one should be accused of something that wasn’t a crime when he did it; cruel punishments are always wrong; the goal of justice is, above all, that justice be done—it talks procedurally. You can’t search someone without a reason…can’t accuse him w/out allowing him to see evidence…& so on… has led to the current mess, where accused criminals get laboriously articulated protection against procedural errors & no protection at all against outrageous & obvious violations of simple justice."
constitution  justice  process  procedure  policy  2012  criminaljusticesystem  us  jails  race  reform  legal  prisons  law  politics  crime  prison  williamjstuntz  adamgopnik 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Adventure! | This American Life
"ACT ONE. CHINESE CHECKMATE. Some adventures you seek out on purpose, and others hunt you down. Producer Alex Blumberg tells this story, about the experience a guy had in China...which started out as first kind of adventure, then quickly turned into the second kind. Alex is one of the creators of Planet Money."
adventure  experience  thisamericanlife  2011  china  prison  diversity  travel  crime  culture  misunderstanding  life 
october 2011 by robertogreco
Norwegian v American justice: Plush and unusual punishment | The Economist
"In general, my reaction to Norway's lenient, rehabilitation-focused justice system is not that the Norwegian sense of retributive justice is underdeveloped and defective, but that America's is. Norway has one of the world's lowest murder rates. America is worst in the developed world. Maybe we could learn something. Perhaps we should wonder why our detention facilities aren't more like Halden. Of course, we couldn't afford it, as we imprison such a disgracefully huge portion of our population, and in often sub-human conditions…

Were the mass-kid-killing Mr Breivik thrown into this lion's den, there's a good chance he would not come out alive. And I think a lot of Americans would cheer that result. But clearly there is something wrong with a lot of us such that so many of our jails and prisons are like this. And maybe there is something wrong with relishing the idea of Mr Breivik's lawless death at the hands of wilding prisoners."
norway  prisons  prison  incarceration  rehabilitation  us  punishment  2011 
july 2011 by robertogreco
The Atlantic :: Magazine :: Prison Without Walls
"Incarceration in America is a failure by almost any measure. But what if the prisons could be turned inside out, with convicts released into society under constant electronic surveillance? Radical though it may seem, early experiments suggest that such a science-fiction scenario might cut crime, reduce costs, and even prove more just."
prison  security  surveillance  us  crime  punishment  rehabilitation  incarceration  2010  alternative  society  money  policy 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Seven Sins of Our System of Forced Education | Psychology Today
Forced education interferes with children's abilities to educate themselves... 1. Denial of liberty on the basis of age. 2. Fostering of shame, on the one hand, and hubris, on the other. 3. Interference with the development of cooperation and nurturance. 4. Interference with the development of personal responsibility and self-direction. 5. Linking of learning with fear, loathing, and drudgery. 6. Inhibition of critical thinking. 7. Reduction in diversity of skills, knowledge, and ways of thinking."
education  psychology  learning  unschooling  reform  deschooling  freedom  schooling  schools  self-directedlearning  responsibility  compulsory  petergray  highered  academia  homeschool  pedagogy  prison  cooperation  teaching 
october 2009 by robertogreco
From The Magazine : Radar Online : What better mentor for a 10-year-old than Charles Manson? Little Billy seeks life advice, and America's most notorious killers are happy to oblige
"What better mentor for a 10-year-old than Charles Manson? Little Billy seeks life advice, and America's most notorious killers are happy to oblige"
crime  children  prison  humor  letters 
april 2008 by robertogreco
LA Weekly - A Terrible Thing to Waste
"Convicted as an ecoterrorist, a brilliant young scholar nose-dives in prison UPDATE: Excerpts of letters from Billy Cottrell in prison"
prison  terrorism  environment  activism  ecoterrorism  autism  local  losangeles  caltech  pasadena  science  psychology  justice 
march 2007 by robertogreco
The Stanford Prison Experiment: A Simulation Study of the Psychology of Imprisonment
"features an extensive slide show and information about this classic psychology experiment, including parallels with the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. What happens when you put good people in an evil place? Does humanity win over evil, or does evil tr
crime  history  psychology  experiments  prison  ethics  abuse  research  society  human  behavior  torture  philipzimbardo 
january 2007 by robertogreco
The banality of evil « Neurophilosophy - Philip Zimbardo Experiment
"The terrible things my guards did to their prisoners were comparable to the horrors inflicted on the Iraqi detainees. My guards repeatedly stripped their prisoners naked, hooded them, chained them, denied them food or bedding privileges, put them into so
crime  history  psychology  experiments  prison  ethics  abuse  research  society  human  behavior  torture  philipzimbardo 
january 2007 by robertogreco
Pure Pedantry : Stanford Prison experiment posted on YouTube
"The experiment randomly assigned male undergraduate students to participate in a two week mock prison. They were randomly assigned to be guards and inmates. However, things went horribly wrong."
crime  history  psychology  experiments  prison  ethics  abuse  research  society  human  behavior  torture  philipzimbardo  video  youtube 
january 2007 by robertogreco
BBC NEWS | Photo journal: Inside a Bolivian jail, Introduction
"San Pedro prison, the biggest in Bolivia's main city, La Paz, is home to about 1,500 inmates. Once you pass the thick walls and the security gates, any resemblance to a normal jail disappears: there are children playing, market stalls, restaurants, haird
bolivia  photography  society  world  latinamerica  culture  prison  images  policy 
september 2006 by robertogreco

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