This is a continuation of the interview is in parts here:
The Incarcerated: Causes of Violence In Prisons, With Solutions (Part I)
The Incarcerated: Causes of Violence In Prisons, With Solutions (Part II)
The Incarcerated: Causes of Violence In Prisons, With Solutions (Part III)
The Incarcerated: Causes of Violence In Prisons, With Solutions (Part IV)
Editor’s note: this transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.
Jared: So I want to give you all an opportunity to talk about change. What changes would you like to see in the prison system? What changes do you think could improve the situation? And then the second part of that is, what would you like to see people on the outside do to support? But let’s start with the first part.
D: So what changes would we like to see in the prison system?
Jared: Yeah. I know some of you are abolitionists, but what can be done for immediate needs in terms of reforms.
D: Yeah, I’m always thinking about it as a dismantling process. I’ve been trying to push that for a while. We call it a dismantling process. And that gives the opportunity for other people to get in with their reform ideas because I don’t think we can go from one angle all the way to the other angle, like from zero to a hundred, it’s just not going to happen like that. It is not going to play out like that.
Nonetheless, some of the things that I feel can actually improve. Improvement. First and foremost, sentencing. Sentencing reform in the state of South Carolina. It’s not just sentencing reform in the state of South Carolina, it’s actually sentencing reform across the nation. They need to get rid of that Truth-In-Sentencing deal, period.
We need an end of dehumanizing conditions, and that means food improvement. We need open yards again, not just enclosed rec yards, we need these open rec yards again, where prisoners can move. We need prisoners to start being treated like humans. We need more rights to our visits. We need education programs, I’m a big one on education programs, in particular, Pell Grants, there are some other names, they need to be brought back to the prison systems again.
Not only that, but what the state of South Carolina did as the prison population fell they–instead of closing down the maximum security prisons, they closed down their work releases. We need work releases re-opened back up and expanded. Then we need one last thing: we need pay. We need prisoners to be able to be paid for their labor. If you’re doing general labor, you need to be able to be paid for that labor, just the way it comes in at ending prison slavery. We need to end prison slavery, which I think is a trigger toward abolitionist work. But nonetheless, we need to end prison slavery to bring back a lot of these prisoners getting paid their wages. So I think those are immediate things that can be improved on. Was there another question beyond that?
Jared: The second question was, what can people on the outside do that actually care about the situation, care about the conditions of prisoners, care about what’s going on in South Carolina?
D: On the outside right now, one of the biggest things we’re moving into in particular in Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, we need to move into becoming more involved in the electoral process, in particular, local politics. We need to become more involved in that. We’re hoping that our loved ones outside that support us, we need to organize more ground support as it relates to prisons. We need to see more protests, we need to see more meetings with these directors, we need to see more organizing at state capitols. We need to see more support of what has already been initiated on the ground in the state of South Carolina.
We need to figure out how to get our local county jails and get people who are detained there registered to vote, and get the voting machines into these county jails, and get these prisoners the ability that they can have the vote. The problem with state of South Carolina is it’s a good-old-boy system, and we need to change the face of it. And the only way we’re going to be able to change it is we have to get more involved in the electoral process, but not just voting for a Democrat or Republican or Independent or whatever, but voting for people that have prisoner’s best interests. Every group of people have interests and we have to find people that have our interests at heart.
E: I really agree with what D said, that’s all I was really going to say, really, about sentencing reform, more programs, even the better nutrition, and rec, let us get some physical exercise and more education.
S: I think we also need an outside grievance system. Because the grievance system is definitely not fair or impartial back here. The same people that work for the prison are the same people who are deciding if we should get results or not from our grievances. Everything else I think the brother already covered. But I also want to say for society, to them let he who has not sinned cast the first stone. Prisoners, some of us in here, have made mistakes and some of us did the things we did, but we made mistakes. But we have paid for our mistakes. Show some humanity. That’s what we want society to do is show some humanity.
D: One last note that I wanted to add, the ground is vibrating right now for a national strike August 21st throughout the nation. We have a number of states that are already vowing to participate in this national strike, particularly in support of the state of South Carolina and the recent issues that just happened. They say South Carolina is an example of what’s actually occurring throughout the nation. It just so happened that these particular people died here [at Lee Correctional] so they want to get in the back of this right here and they want to highlight it by mobilizing throughout the inside.
So we can ask those folks to support it on the outside, we need to support it on the outside to really support these actions. Let the people know that wherever prisoners may decide to have a strike or a sit in that the public is mindful and they are watching for any type of retaliatory actions that may take place throughout the process of this resistance that may be taking place across this nation, on August 21st.
Jared: Great, absolutely, is there anything else anyone wants to add about Lee or any of the other points where we might have missed something?
E: I would just like to add that in the aftermath of the incident that happened over at Lee, and all over the state, we’re being massively punished. No showers, power is being cut off all this time, we’ve been locked down for a week, almost going on two weeks, and we’ve only had one shower and that was like, they cut the hot water off. What type of inhumane thing is that?
Jared: Are there other conditions you want people to know about since the incident at Lee that haven’t been addressed?
S: One of the things is they have the metal plates on the window where you can’t see outside, you can’t see the sunlight, you can’t see the grass or the daylight. They got it sealed out where you can’t get no oxygen through it, the ventilation is all messed up, these are things that they just recently did. They’re putting flaps on the doors so you can just slide the meal through it. They are animalizing the prisoners.
End of interview.
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