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Criminal Injustice

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    Repression Breeds Resistance: Reflections on 10 Years of the Prison Industrial Complex Isaac Ontiveros and Rachel Herzing March 11, 2011

    Five years ago, one of us wrote an introduction to a series of pieces on the prison industrial complex (PIC) in Left Turn’s fifth anniversary issue. There, the police shootings of Amadou Diallo and Abner Louima, the horror of the US prison population topping 2,000,000 people, the heightened surveillance following September 11, 2001, and the rapid construction of a police state in post-Katrina New Orleans were the context for the discussion. In the five years that followed, the PIC has continued to grow and adapt to the shifting terrain of a country at war abroad and with itself.

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    Imprisoned in New Orleans Jordan Flaherty, Tamika Middleton February 16, 2006

    When hurricane Katrina hit, there was no evacuation plan for 7,000 prisoners in the New Orleans city jail, generally known as Orleans Parish Prison (OPP), or the approximate 1,500 prisoners in nearby jails. According to first-hand accounts gathered by advocates, prisoners were abandoned in their cells while the water was rising around them. They were subjected to a heavily armed “rescue” by state prison guards that involved beatings, mace and being left in the sun with no water or food for several days, followed by a transfer to state maximum security prisons.

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    Police Brutality From the Bay to LA: Justice for Oscar Grant Moves to the City of Angels Erinn Carter and Traci Harris April 1, 2010

    In the early morning hours of New Year’s Day 2009, BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) Police Officer Johannes Mehserle shot Oscar Grant in the back as he lay face down on the ground in front of a train car filled with people. He died several hours later. Uprisings in Oakland—including the killing of four cops by 26-year-old Lovelle Mixon—led the Alameda County District Attorney’s office to argue that while an impartial jury couldn’t be found in Oakland, one can be found in Los Angeles.

    When Mehserle goes on trial this May, Los Angeles will once again be the central location for a fight involving police brutality against communities of color.

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    Imprisoned Intellectual: A Review of "Meditations on Frantz Fanon's Wretched of the Earth" Dan Berger December 1, 2010

    MEDITATIONS ON FRANTZ FANON’S WRETCHED OF THE EARTH
    BY JAMES YAKI SAYLES

    Kersplebedeb and Spear and Shield Publications, 2010

    For more than twenty years, James Yaki Sayles (also known as Atiba Shanna) was one of the most profound theorists writing from within US prisons. Yaki turned his decades of confinement into a time to theorize and a place to strategize, working to maintain connections between what was happening inside prisons and what was happening outside of them.

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    Breaking Barriers to Employment: Criminal Record Reform in Massachusetts Aaron Tanaka December 1, 2010

    This summer, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed a landmark law reforming the state’s criminal background check system. Aimed at improving acc ess to jobs, housing and other vital services for residents with arrest records, overhauling the Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) has been a target for Massachusetts community activists for over a decade. The successful passage of CORI reform marked a notable break from War on Drugs crime policies that have driven the rapid expansion of police and prisons since the early 1970s. Massachusetts’ precedent-setting laws frontline a growing national movement to reverse the systemic economic barriers faced by formerly convicted people. 

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    American Methods:Torture and the Logic of Domination Dan Horowitz de Garcia February 01, 2007

    American Methods is the latest from the author of Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America. In his latest book, Williams has produced a well-documented and extremely readable, if also extremely disturbing, piece of work that seeks to lay out the idea that torture works. He explains that torture is not something used to get information or punish, but is rather a system designed to control populations and is a base characteristic of state power. He writes, “Torture doesn’t represent a system of failure; it is the system.”

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    Abu Ghraibs in our Backyard Zein El-Amine September 14, 2004

    As a result of the Abu Ghraib scandal, stories proliferated on the conditions inside US prisons and there were numerous editorials in mainstream newspapers that drew parallels between the abuse of Iraqi prisoners and the abuse of US prisoners. Every abuse at Abu Ghraib that was revealed in the media is part of the daily routine in US jails: fatal beatings by prison guards, hooding of prisoners for endless hours and raping and sodomizing both male and female prisoners by the guards.

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    American Gulag Pt. 2: Guantanamo Bay Jumana Musa August 01, 2005

    Much has been made in the past few weeks about Amnesty International’s (AI) use of the word “Gulag” in referring to the detention facilities at the US Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba where approximately 520 detainees from 35 countries are being held indefinitely, the vast majority without charge. General Meyers called it irresponsible. Secretary Rumsfeld called it reprehensible. Vice President Cheney said he was offended and did not take the report seriously. President Bush said it was absurd.

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