New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Strangers in a Strange Land

November 19, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Devon G. Pena, Family, Politics

Recent Study Focuses Attention on Deportees

by Devon G. Peña

While the Obama Administration continues to make news by breaking the record number of deportations, the U.S. and Mexican publics actually know very little about the demographic background, socioeconomic status, and living conditions of the deportees. I just returned from a lecture tour to San Diego and what I learned is very troubling.

It has been infuriating to witness the unfolding of the Obama Administration’s deportation policies, which have been driven by a monthly quota system established back in 2009 and designed to serve the demands of private correctional and prison corporations for a steady stream of bodies to fill the 34,000 beds in the nondescript and semi-secret detention centers built across the country since the end of the Bush II years. We first reported on this activity in October 2010 — see Detaining Profits — and will revisit the privatization of prison and detention institutions in a forthcoming post. (more…)

Unpleasant Truths

October 17, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Politics, Victoria Law

Following Hunger Strikes, California Reconsiders Solitary Confinement

by Victoria Law

“Tell us the truth, even if it’s not pleasant,” State Assembly member Tom Ammiano told California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) officials, advocates, formerly incarcerated people and family members.

On Wednesday, October 9, the California legislature’s Public Safety Committee held the first of several hearings about the use of solitary confinement in California’s prisons. These hearings were prompted by a 60-day hunger strike that rocked California’s prison system this past summer.

On July 8, 2013, over 30,000 people incarcerated throughout California refused meals. Hunger strikers issued five core demands: (more…)

Responsible Designs

August 22, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Angola 3 News, Politics

Saying No to the Architecture of Solitary Confinement and Cruelty

by Angola 3 News

Friday, August 16 marked the 40th consecutive day of a multi-ethnic statewide prisoner hunger strike initiated from inside the Security Housing Unit (SHU) of California’sPelican Bay State Prison. When the strike first began on July 8, the ‘California Department of Corrections and Reform’ (CDCR) reported 30,000 participants statewide, which the Los Angeles Times reported “could be the largest prison protest in state history.”

This week, as the striking prisoners’ health continued to worsen, the families of prisoners and supporters gathered on the steps of the State Capitol building in Sacramento, and over 120 health professionals called “upon Governor Jerry Brown and Jeffrey Beard, Secretary of the CDCR, to immediately enter into good-faith negotiations with the prisoner representatives, and to respond to their demands, in order to end this crisis before lives are lost.”

The current hunger strike follows on the heels of a similar 2011 strike that was also initiated from the Pelican Bay SHU, with the same five demands. Further illustrating the scandalous nature of California’s prison system, this month the US Supreme Court ruling once again that 10,000 prisoners must be removed from state prisons, and documentation has emerged of widespread sterilization of California’s female prisoners. (more…)

Opening the Box

July 24, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Angola 3 News, Culture, Politics

Sarah Shourd on Herman Wallace, California Hunger Strikers and the Horror of Solitary Confinement

by Angola 3 News

Last month, we were devastated to learn that the Angola 3’s Herman Wallace had been diagnosed with liver cancer, and that he was continuing to be held in isolation in a locked room at Hunt Correctional Center’s prison infirmary. Reflecting on his confinement while battling cancer, Herman said: “My own body has now become a tool of torture against me.”

On July 10, Amnesty International launched a campaign directed at Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, calling for Herman’s immediate release on humanitarian grounds (take action here). “After decades of cruel conditions and a conviction that continues to be challenged by the courts, he should be released immediately to his family so that he can be cared for humanely during his last months,” said Amnesty USA campaigner Tessa Murphy. (more…)

Things Have to Change

July 12, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Jan Lundberg, Politics

Understanding the Worsening Vibe of Violence in the U.S.

by Jan Lundberg

It certainly feels to me more peaceful and convivial in Germany and Holland, for example, than in the U.S. Aside from the oft-heard complaint of the U.S. as a crime-ridden and crazy place, here are three factors out of several offered in this article that contribute to significant cultural and physical-environment differences:

Image* The threat of physical violence posed by police and associated agencies that can instill fear without even making direct contact with civilians. * Job-insecurity and obsession about money for survival and self-image. * The car-oriented infrastructure that makes most streets potential death zones for pedestrians and bicyclists, not to mention creating ugly urban blight. (Not necessarily listed in order of importance.)

There appears to be more shocking police brutality in the U.S. than before, with more focus by alternative media outlets. Conventional news reporters tend to downplay police crimes because the police are important sources for news stories. But regardless, violence by police, sociopaths killing random crowds, and rising suicides are but symptoms of a society looking more like a madhouse than anywhere else besides war zones. (more…)

Transgender Migrants

June 14, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Devon G. Pena, Politics

State Violence and Comprehensive Immigration Reform

by Devon G. Peña

“Death is unspeakable. It is silenced by the austere and pious rhetoric of nationalism, ‘honor’, ‘compassion’, and the ‘culture of life’ itself.” — Stuart J. Murray, “Thanatopolitics,” p. 196

“Death is not a biological moment but a political decision.” — Lindsay A. Hall, “Death, power, and the body,” p. ii

Let us never forget Victoria Arellano. She was a 23-year-old transgender immigrant from Mexico murdered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security while in detention in May of 2007. It has been six years almost to the day and no one has ever been charged with her murder or even discharged from staff positions at the Customs and Border Enforcement (CBE) detention center on Terminal Island in San Pedro, California where she was killed. It is ironic that until the 19th century Terminal Island was known as La Isla del Muerto (The Island of the Dead).

I was reminded of Victoria’s death this morning after awakening from a restless sleep. This may sound odd but what woke me up was my inability to stop thinking about the implications posed by the passage of the current Gang of Eight immigration reform packet, as it now seems it might. What will it mean for Mexican and other undocumented immigrants? I am finishing Dispossession: The Performative in the Political (2013), a book in which Judith Butler and Athena Athanasiou engage in a lengthy conversation about the conditions and struggles of people who are dispossessed — those who have lost land, property, citizenship, or even a sense of a broader belonging to the world (alienation?). (more…)

Between Torture and Resistance

June 13, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Guest Author, Politics

Review of New Book by Puerto Rican Independentista Oscar López Rivera

by Hans Bennett

“It is much easier not to struggle, to give up and take the path of the living dead. But if we want to live, we must struggle.” — Oscar López Rivera, 1991

May 29th marked 32 years since Puerto Rican activist Oscar López Rivera was arrested and later convicted of “seditious conspiracy,” a questionable charge that Archbishop Desmond Tutu has interpreted to mean “conspiring to free his people from the shackles of imperial injustice.”

Today, 70-year-old Oscar López Rivera, never accused of hurting anyone, remains in a cell at FCI Terre Haute, in Indiana. Supporters around the world continue to seek his release, most recently by asking US President Barack Obama for a commutation of his sentence. Similar pardons granted by President Truman in 1952, President Carter in 1979, and President Clinton in 1999, were the legal bases for the release of many other Puerto Rican political prisoners.

Since all of Oscar López Rivera’s original co-defendants have since won their release, he is famous in Puerto Rico as the longest-held Independentista political prisoner. (more…)