New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Facing the Prison Problem

May 31, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Angola 3 News, Family, Politics

An Interview with Author and Former Prisoner Shawn Griffith

by Angola 3 News

If given the attention it deserves, an important new book is certain to make significant contributions to the public discussions of US Facing The Prison Problemprison policy. The author, Shawn Griffith, was released last year from Florida’s prison system at the age of 41, after spending most of his life, almost 24 years, behind bars, including seven in solitary confinement. Facing the US Prison Problem 2.3 Million Strong: An Ex-Con’s View of the Mistakes and the Solution was self-published just months after Griffith was released from what is the third largest state prison system in the US, after California and Texas.

This new book’s thoughtful analysis and chilling reflections on what author Shawn Griffith experienced while incarcerated is a remarkable illustration of why the US public must listen to the voices of current and former prisoners who have stories that only they can tell. Griffith writes that “by integrating my own personal experiences with statistics and examples from different corrections systems around the nation, I am attempting to discredit the general perception that the system is designed to enforce and protect justice for everyone. The U.S. criminal justice system is an economically and politically profitable enterprise for special interest groups in this country. The general taxpayer needs to understand how the abusive policies fostered by these groups worsen the U.S. prison problem and the debt crisis through wasted corrections expenditures.” (more…)

Organize Some More

May 15, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Angola 3 News, Current Events, Politics

Russell Shoatz Files Lawsuit Against Long-Term Solitary Confinement

by Angola 3 News

Last week, on Wednesday, May 8, lawyers for Russell ‘Maroon’ Shoatz filed a federal lawsuit regarding his placement in solitary confinement for over 22 consecutive years. The written complaint, directed at Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Secretary now clockJohn Wetzel and the Superintendents of SCI-Greene, where Shoatz was last held, and SCI-Mahanoy, where he was transferred to on March 28, 2013, states that this “is an action for injunctive, declaratory and monetary relief for violations of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.”

Last month, when a 30-day action campaign was launched calling for Russell ‘Maroon’ Shoatz’s immediate release from solitary confinement, the campaign promised to file this litigation if Maroon had not been transferred into general population by the morning of May 8. On Thursday, May 9 the lawsuit was announced at a press conference was held in Pittsburgh, outside the City-County Building. (more…)

Indefinite Enemies

May 13, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Looking at the Humanity of Others

by Robert C. Koehler

You’re strapped to a metal table, unable to move. They stick a two-foot plastic tube up your nose, then down the back of your throat into your stomach. They squirt in the liquid protein. You gag, bleed, vomit. It’s unbearably painful.

The practice of involuntary force-feeding is condemned by most medical organizations, including the AMA. It’s banned by most governments. It’s torture.

When I read about the process by which authorities are breaking the hunger strike at the Guantanamo Bay detention center — a process that’s also used regularly in U.S. federal prisons, by the way — I was struck by the utter efficiency of it. The “food” is transmitted directly from bureaucracy to digestive system, bypassing the consciousness of the individual hunger striker. The human being inhabiting this body is completely irrelevant; he only dies when we say so.

Just think about how powerful we are. Just think about how secure we are.

In the overall context of the war on terror and the harm it has unleashed on the world, the Guantanamo hunger strike, involving 100 of the 166 detainees still being held at the facility — about two dozen of whom are now being force-fed — is a fairly small matter, perhaps. But the symbolic significance of it is beyond description, not only because of the hatred it foments against the United States and the combatants it recruits, but also because of the obvious common decency and common sense it flouts. (more…)

Love in Our Time

May 08, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Brian Terrell, Politics

Security for All as a Requisite for Survival

by Brian Terrell

In the final weeks of a six month prison sentence for protesting remote control murder by drones, specifically from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, I can only reflect on my time of captivity in light of the crimes that brought me here.  In these ominous times, it is America’s officials and judges and not the anarchists who exhibit the most flagrant contempt for the rule of law and it is due to the malfeasance of these that I owe the distinction of this sabbatical.

As I share in the perspectives gained from residing in the federal prison camp in Yankton, South Dakota, it is important to disclose that as a political prisoner sent up on trumped misdemeanor charges for a few months, my situation is not the same as my fellow inmates!  Of  all nonviolent “offenders,” most by far are prisoners of the war on drugs and most are serving sentences of many years.  I also try to avoid the temptation to exaggerate the hardships and privations I’ve suffered here.  Certainly, doing time in a minimum security camp is easier time than in most other kinds of jails.  If basic necessities are barely met, they are met.  I am in good company and time is passing with little drama and without fear.  For me, these months have been more a test of patience than of courage. (more…)

A Challenging Course

May 03, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Angola 3 News, Family, Politics

Why Russell ‘Maroon’ Shoatz Must Be Released From Solitary Confinement

by Angola 3 News

This month, a 30-day action campaign was launched demanding the release of Russell ‘Maroon’ Shoatz from solitary confinement, where he has been held for over 23 consecutive years, and 28 of the last 30 years, in Pennsylvania prisons. On April 8, when the campaign began, Maroon’s legal team sent a letter to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PA DOC), demanding his release from solitary confinement and promising litigation against the PA DOC if he is not transferred to general population by May 8.

The action campaign describes Maroon as “a former leader of the Black Panthers and the Black freedom movement, born in Philadelphia in 1943 and originally imprisoned in January 1972 for actions relating to his political involvement. With an extraordinary thirty-plus years spent in solitary confinement…Maroon’s case is one of the most shocking examples of U.S. torture of political prisoners, and one of the most egregious examples of human rights violations regarding prison conditions anywhere in the world. His ‘Maroon’ nickname is, in part, due to his continued resistance — which twice led him to escape confinement; it is also based on his continued clear analysis, including recent writings on ecology and matriarchy.” (more…)

The Color Maroon

April 29, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Guest Author, Politics

Lessons on Life, Liberation from Imprisoned Activist Russell Shoatz

Russell Maroon Shoatz is a former leader of the Black Panthers and the Black freedom movement, born in Philadelphia in 1943 and originally imprisoned in January 1972 for actions relating to his political involvement. With an extraordinary thirty-plus years spent in solitary confinement — including the past twenty-three years continuously — Maroon’s case is one of the most shocking examples of U.S. torture of political prisoners, and one of the most egregious examples of human rights violations regarding prison conditions anywhere in the world. His “Maroon” nickname is, in part, due to his continued resistance — which twice led him to escape confinement; it is also based on his continued political analysis, including recent writings on ecology and matriarchy that are found in his recently published book: Maroon the Implacable: The Collected Writings of Russell Maroon Shoatz.

This interview was conducted via correspondence by Lisa Guenther, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University. (more…)

Closing Cages

March 15, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Politics, Victoria Law

People Power Helps Stop Youth Incarceration

by Victoria Law

While Illinois is closing two youth prisons as a cost-cutting measure, other states are not. Washington State’s King County recently passed a $210 million renovation and expansion of its youth jail. Undeterred, activists work to halt the jail. In Baltimore, organizing against a youth jail proves that popular disapproval can derail supposedly done deals.

With the number of youth behind bars at an all-time low — dropping 41 percent from 107,000 in 1995 to under 71,000 in 2010 — are more youth jails really necessary? Research has shown that community-based programs that keep youth connected to their families are more likely to succeed than jails or prisons. So when Dede Adhanom learned that King County was proposing to renovate and expand its current youth jail in Seattle’s Central District, she was outraged.

On April 5, 2012, King County Council members held a public meeting at Seattle University to introduce Proposition 1, a $210 million tax levy to renovate the dilapidated King County Youth Services Center to include a youth detention center with 154 dorms as well as ten family courtrooms. “It was at 1 PM. A lot of people can’t make 1 PM meetings unless they work at a job that pays them to be there,” Adhanom noted. Undeterred, she and several others attended. “We shouted them out of there. That they’re having the public meeting at 1 PM shows their intentions.” (more…)