Director's message to the prisoners of war,
You won't see a lot of event photographs and reports in this issue, but that does not mean that we have been idle. The winter season brought travels to a minimum and there was a lot of work to do in planing and implementing next steps.
We have 50,000 of our tabloid of prisoners stories in the hands of volunteers that are distributing them. As you read this, there are 50,000 Americans reading your stories, but sorry, no way to convey this in photos. If you are interested in helping distributing our literature, please write or call so we can include you on that list.
We need to discuss our website. I cannot emphasize enough what a tremendous job all of you have done in development of this educational tool. Recent media contacts have been made after a visit to our web pages. I am going to subhead contacts that were made via the website or ones easily directed to pertinent information they needed.
Documentary Film Producers
Mainly Camp productions of Washington is planing on producing a drug war documentary, as is Cristina Berio of California and Josh Maulden of New York City. Our input has been solicited and our website gives them a wealth of information and film ideas. Word gets around with ease and relatively low costs.
We were contacted by a gentleman in Alabama who wrote, "I heard about you through The Resurrection News." The Boonesville Advertiser printed a letter from Mike Montavlo, POW with our contact information. High Times has interviewed me regarding an article featuring our organization and the March issue of Hemp Magazine is featuring one as well. The North Columbia Monthly, an eastern Washington publication is publishing POW Larry Bolain's article on Forfeiture in their February issue. North Coast Xpress out of northern California just asked permission to feature our writers, too.
Here is a great story from Dave Perk, POW. "I was listening to Mike Malloy, a talk show host on WLS, 890 AM, an out of Chicago mega station. The topic was prisons, and he was really giving the republicans heck for enforcing a system where all privileges have been removed, and no rehabilitation or work skills incorporated into prison programs. A woman named, "Susan" phones in. She says that she used to be for the drug war until her 18-year old son was arrested for .24 grams of heroin and got a four-year state prison sentence. All of a sudden, out of the blue, she said, "I'm a member of the November Coalition, are you familiar with our organization?" Malloy says, "Vaguely, but please tell me more." She went on for about 15 minutes talking about Nora Callahan organizing the group, a bit about her brother, Gary and then got into talking about the problems of prohibition. I don't know who Susan is, or if you are aware of her, but she was really GREAT! I sat up in bed and yelled, woke my cellie up. Everyone listening to that show were shouting, "Yeah!"
Susan was the first Internet contact I made "online" with a loved one of a drug war prisoner, folks! And yes, she is great. She found our website . . . as many more have since last April. "The Wall" is stunning in that people that visit this portion of the site are quite literally stunned - keep sending your photographs and stories - you are doing a remarkable job at educating not only the public, but creating media interest in our movement as well.
A lot of you ask, "What can I do to help? I'm in prison, so I can't do much." Oh yeah? Well I beg to differ. You can write publications that you know of and tell them about our organization. You can Xerox portions of the newspaper and send it on. Be sure to include our website address. Write letters to the editor and in 250 words give them your drug war beefs. Soon we hope to have a volunteer who can help you edit the letters you write to the editor. (If you are that outside volunteer-write us, e-mail us or call us and we will surely put you to work.)
Glenn Early and Bob Riley, both POWs send out website notices to radio personalities, celebrities, politicians, newspapers . . . here is a recent e-mail response to one of those letters:
Subject: web page
Thank you for sending me the note alerting me to your web page. There appears to be much worthwhile information there. I will continue to monitor your web page. I believe that there are signs that the campaign to remedy our present drug laws is beginning to catch the attention of many ordinary citizens. Last week I spoke to about 80 women, members of a conservative women's club and urging that we change course in drug legislation and received an excellent response. Our bar association which is a very good one has agreed to sponsor a forum highlighting reform. I intend to spread the word locally to the best of my ability that we need change and soon. Keep me informed.
That was an e-mail from Senior Federal Judge John Curtin of Buffalo, New York. He is an avid reformist. He is also aware of our efforts thanks to the work of Glenn and Bob. So when you have spare time, remember that you have much power in regard to putting out the word -much more than you might think.
When submitting your family visitation photo and story for inclusion into our website and publications, please send these to Tom Murlowski at : 5150 Balboa Arms Drive #E14, San Diego, CA 92117. Tom is our web master, (I call him Major Tom) and thanks to a donation of scanner and printer, is now able to take over this responsibility. Your photograph will be kept until we have had a chance to scan, make placement in publications and then it will be returned to you. Be patient, sometimes this process can take us quite awhile. We save money this way, and you all know how precious that resource is.
Next on the agenda is our address at "headquarters". We have a post office box. Monday's and Friday's mail call is enormous and doesn't always fit in the box, so we are putting out our office street address-feel free to use it. We have printed it on the front of this issue for you.
Remember that our deadline for the next issue is March 15th. On the subject of submissions, we get a lot of them and try to include as much as we can. We are attempting to balance the voice of the prisoners of war with that of reform professionals. This issue there was so much to report regarding current events that it might be somewhat "out of kilter". The CASA report and reports of Clinton's drug testing proposals were not covered adequately in the mainstream media. This issue, these things as well as other current events deserved the scrutiny that we can provide. Don't let this daunt your participation however and keep those submissions coming in. Lots of articles, cartoons, poetry and art find their way to our website if not the newspaper.
Congress has just started a new session, so there is no report on legislation. Next issue we will of course apprise our readers of what they have in store for us.
We are still working on a 2 hour college presentation. If you are a college graduate, we would like to use your story to introduce our efforts to the student union of the college where you graduated from. We realize that this might be a humbling experience and one you would rather avoid. But please remember, we need to use any advantage to get a foot in this door.
A new volunteer, "Sam the Booth Man," is toiling away on our "Jail Cell" displays. He and Martha are working on ways that we can make the booths available on a large scale; lowering the cost and weight of our present design. We will keep you posted on the progress in this regard. We need hundreds of booth displays all over the country this spring - this project will receive a lot of attention in the coming months. You will be glad to know that materials were donated to complete two more our of "jail cell" booths. Sam and Martha are working on them now. Michael "Miguet" Krawitz of Virginia has booth plans in hand as well..
On page 2 you will find an article about a call for amnesty in Israel. We want to propose an amnesty call in the U.S. Please send your comments and suggestions and I will include a report on this in the next issue. Send you artistic ideas for a US amnesty poster!
We have added hundreds of you to our mailing list in the last two months, but have received relatively few contact addresses from you. Okay here comes the lecture:
How do you suppose your loved-ones will get involved in opposing this war if they don't know of our efforts? We haven't made it as far as the national news yet. Send in the names and addresses of your family and friends if you haven't already. We want to invite them to join in the work of reform! Course, if you want us to simply complain about the drug laws in this newspaper . . . well, of course you don't, so share your address book with us!
While I am lecturing - here goes another. Last issue I wrote up a call-out for Crack Cocaine prisoners. We need your photos and stories in order to make a publication about the crack laws. Guess how many came in? None! Does that mean that you do not want us to campaign for your freedom? Or have you just given up to despair? If it's despair we can help. I get real depressed at times myself and I have my freedom. I can't imagine what you go through - an inkling of your despair makes me half sick. But we have to cooperate. Send them in and we will do it. We can find the funding for the project and we can find people that will work this issue with heart. Okay? Good.
There have been numerous requests for back issues and we are out of them. Some issue 3 and 4 went out close to this mailing, so you might have been a recipient of more than one newsletter if you were new to the list. We hope to publish a special edition in June that will take the "best" from all of the issues from our first year of publications and make these available to all those on our mailing list. This will be a large print run as they will make great distribution material. If you have any thoughts of this selection process, we expect to hear from you.
Reading a borrowed copy? Send us your name and address and you can have your very own-to share. You may notice this edition is printed on whiter, heavier stock. We didn't do this to spend more money or seem "flashier." We did it because many of you wrote telling us how many people were reading them and that your copy had been literally read to death. This should slow down the disintegration problem and help the dissemination process. We are thrilled that they are read to the point of worn out.
When you receive this issue I will have just returned from a trip back east. I will be in New York for a few days beginning on February 5th, in Washington DC the 9th-13th. Our regional leaders, William Perry and Mike Krawitz and I will stroll the grounds around the capital, creating visions for our future presence in DC. The trip is full of appointments, meetings and strategy sessions- expect a full report on this trip in the next issue. Until then, I leave you with this:
When the November Coalition was first forming, a dear friend of mine by the name of Duane Mathis asked me, "Aren't you just giving them false hope?"
I wasn't able to answer him right away. I thought about the question for a few days and when I had the answer I told him. "Nope. There is no such thing as false hope. If we had no hope, how could we stop the war? Hope puts us to work and so, hope is what will end this war and bring our loved ones home."
Thank you for all the Christmas cards and New Year blessings sent to headquarters. Many of you send us the, "take some time to enjoy life, too." We do, but there are never enough hours in the day - for you inside the walls and wire, those hours are far too many. Life will surely be more enjoyable when freedom comes. One day how about we all take time to enjoy life - and how I hope and pray that day comes soon. There is much work to do however, but keep hope alive.
We are leaving the light on for you,