The 'Friends of Marcia Powell' are autonomous groups and individuals engaging in prisoner outreach, informal advocacy, and organized protest and direct actions in a sustained campaign to: promote prisoner rights and welfare in America; engage the Arizona public in a creative and thoughtful critique of our system of "justice;” deconstruct the prison industrial complex; and dismantle this racist, classist patriarchy...

Retiring "Free Marcia Powell"

As of December 2, 2010 (with occasional exceptions) I'm retiring this blog to direct more of my time and energy into prisoner rights and my other blogs; I just can't do anyone justice when spread so thin. I'll keep the site open so folks can search the archives and use the links, but won't be updating it with new posts. If you're looking for the latest, try Arizona Prison Watch. Most of the pieces posted here were cross-posted to one or both of those sites already.

Thanks for visiting. Peace out - Peg.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

US Political Prisoners "Stay Strong".

News on our other political prisoners this week is not as good at that which we just received on Marilyn Buck...


Ashanti Alston shared the following note from former Black Panther Sundiata Acoli, who was recently in front of the parole board:

July 14, 2010

Greetings All,

Received a letter today from the Board advising that the 3-Member Panel gave me a 10 year "hit." The basis for the hit will be explained in the Notice of Decision which will be forwarded to me upon its completion. I'll forward copies of the Decision to the Attys and SAFC when I receive it. Stay strong, I will too.

L, S, Su


A contract has reportedly been put out on Leonard Peltier's life. He's presently at Lewisburg federal prison. Don't bother with the warden there - contact the White House to demand extra protection for him (202-456-1111). Tell them its long past time to set that man free, while you're at it.


Long time liberation movement lawyer Lynne Stewart was handed a ten year sentence this week because the government had appealed her original sentence of 28 months, arguing it was too short (they wanted her to die in prison). This one may turn out to be a death penalty, as at the age of 70 she's fighting cancer behind bars, where the odds aren't so good, so send healing thoughts her way. Lynne's supporters' website, above, should have updated info on where/how to send her words of encouragement and solidarity. Keep her engaged in the movement without getting her into trouble*, if you can.

* I probably shouldn't have to say this, but all political prisoners' incoming and outgoing mail is read, logged, and censored as the government sees fit for these folks, so keep in mind that if you write to any of them you'll end up on a list of people who correspond with "terrorists"- and if you send anything too inflammatory they might have to pay for it, not you, so be cool. *

I recently made up a bunch of protest postcards, by the way, which can be good to send to prisoners if they're allowed to get the DIY kind. You can make them out of your own protest photos, like this one from a First Amendment rights event we chalked outside of (color computer-enhanced):

or something about current events like this:

Make sure to keep the activities you photograph legal, please. For the one on the left I didn't litter or commit criminal damage, I'm just holding my banner there, and was able to bring it home and re-use it elsewhere. I actually made a lot of postcards for local politicians and national media out of that one to show that the Resistance here is alive and well.

If you have the computer and printer but not a camera, then you might download or scan cool images like this one, which honors all political prisoners (quote by Elizabeth Gurley-Flynn):

The art is by Ricardo Levins Morales from the now-disbanded Northland Poster Collective. Morales has great stuff and would probably be honored if something like this was mailed to political prisoners -just give credit where it's due and don't mass-produce. Buy his posters and notecards there if you can - he's got some amazing work - it's all social justice stuff. Check it out.

So, those are just a few ideas. You can fit four postcards on a piece of 8 1/2 x 11 card stock or cheap photo paper, and even design the other side like a regular postcard, with captions and stuff. Prisoners of all stripes tend to get a kick out of them - especially if you've done some creative direct actions. I've also made signs to hold up and shoot for specific prisoners and done more stuff like that chalking up there (that's not the best, but she liked it. At least it gives you the idea). Once you get the technicalities worked out of setting up the postcard page, it's pretty easy to keep making them for people - assuming you've got the computer and printer handy.

All three names up there are linked to their websites, which almost always have prisoner contact info. I have a whole bunch of political prisoner links on the Prison Abolitionist, too, near the end of the left column. If you're think of writing to an activist slammed hard in the Green Scare (Jeffrey Leurs is free, now, by the way), or perhaps to a lesser-known prisoner, there are far too many to choose from.

Whether or not the prisoner you correspond with has a website put up by supporters (if they don't that's a clue that they might not be getting a whole lot of mail, so you might want to reach out to them), once you figure out what prison system they're in (most but not all are in federal prisons), check out the appropriate website to make sure you know the mail policies (here's the BOP's). That'll save a little hassle and time.

Another good resource for political prisoner contact info is the zine produced by Jaan Lamaan and friends, 4struggle mag. In fact, if you hunt around you'll find a few publications with letters from prisoners of all kinds in them who are interested in corresponding.

Finally, if you're doing more than just a one-time salute, make sure it's something you can stick with and that your priority is to support the prisoner, not to get your own ego needs met. Just because you can't see or speak to them face-to-face doesn't mean that you don't end up developing a relationship that your pen-pal may find a welcome relief from the misery of incarceration. As in any friendship, honor them by remaining engaged and responsive, or don't set them up only to fall silent to begin with. Try to be consistent. Try not to be too intrusive, and don't talk about their politics - let them do that if they want to. They know better than us what's safe ground to cover and what's taboo.

I say that all from experience, unfortunately - I've learned too much at others' expense at times, I'm afraid. Hopefully you won't repeat the same mistakes I've made.

Good luck.

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