July 23, 1998
I was moved and impressed by your article in the recent issue of the Drug Policy Foundation letter, Casualties of War. You said so many things that I have been wanting to say, and I believe there are many, many more of us out here in little fearful pockets of isolation, taking way too long to muster the courage to oppose the drug war publicly, and weighted with shame for our silence, which breeds more silence and more shame, until we are just stuck, feeling no joy or energy, only repressed rage and despair.
For a few years I've been supporting the DPF and the MPP, and subscribing to Prison Legal News, because I feel such compassion for those who have been caught in the widening net of the criminal injustice system, and I've just volunteered to network with FAMM in their campaign to reach legislators and the public about the harm done by mandatory minimum sentencing laws. But I know there must be more I can do, for each day that I'm breathing fresh air and able to walk and run and do as I please, is another day that so many, who are in no way criminals, are suffering deprivation of those freedoms in the hideous confines of prison, and I can't forget them. I honestly believe that much of what passes for depression, stress, and even chronic fatigue syndrome among our citizens is really the knowledge, hidden deep in the soul level, of the horrifying wrongness of our complicity in this offense against people, our own people, and ourselves, that is the war on drugs. We don't want to be at war. It is obscene that it has been allowed to progress this far.
Please accept this donation as a start of my involvement with November Coalition, and let me know of whatever else I can do to assist you in our cause. Thank you so much for your work and your words of inspiration and power. I would love to hear from you.
My name is Carl Heidbrink. I just read my first copy of the Razor Wire. I'm doing 12 years for possession of meth. I didn't know I was a POW, but the Razor Wire opened my eyes. I'm so glad there is some people fighting for us. I will tell everybody about this movement, and hope that I can help, too.
Carl Wesley Heidbrink, Prisoner of the Drug War
Subject: Re: I'd like to write to Cynthia D.
I have a few incarcerated pen pals already. They get a lot out of hearing from people on the outside. They also sometimes need help contacting educational institutions, coordinating warranty repairs on radios, headsets, etc. I'm glad to have an opportunity to do little things for people who desperately need someone on the outside, if for no other reason than to say "You're a person worthy of respect, consideration, understanding and affection no matter what terrible circumstances have been imposed upon you." I think if more people did this sort of thing, recidivism caused by rage and hopelessness might be lower. At any rate, Christ said whatever we do for the least of His brethren, we do for Him. I'm not religious but I do believe that each of us must do something good each day to keep society from decaying completely.
Charlie Sparks, a friend of mine, hosts the Penn-Pals website http://www.pennpals.org/ Please drop in if you aren't familiar with it. Charlie is a great guy who has helped many people in dire straits. He's very much into prisoners' rights.
I'll mention that I got Cynthia's address from you and include a printout of her Wall page when I write. Knowing people read it and care might make her feel less hopeless.
Editor's note: Cynthia's 2255 was successful and will soon
Today I was introduced to your much needed publication by a fellow inmate here at Allenwood, I am in the process of reading it cover to cover, I had to stop to write this letter when I read the story about the Kingsley family when Selena Kingsley wrote about her precious little J.J screaming "No Bye bye, Dada! No Bye Bye!" I had to wipe the tears out of my eyes.
How many more families like the Kingsleys need to be torn apart before the affected pubic realizes how much of a failure the so called War on drugs really is? I am here to tell everyone that the war on drugs is certainly a facade for a War on the American People. This country has never fought a war on anything. War is really fought against people, the only difference is that all other wars were fought against people other countries with the exception of the civil war.
Joe Falcone, Prisoner of the Drug War
From: Joni Joyner <Jjkrae@aol.com>
I would like to lead a group or help with one already established in Oklahoma. I have a very good friend who is serving 30 years for drugs. I was lucky. Back in 1987, I served time, but the good Lord blessed me with only a two year sentence. Since that time, I have been self employed, active in church, raised a beautiful family, contribute both money and time to my community. I would say I am a productive citizen. I know I could have been doing 30 years myself all because I "prescribed myself medications" that I could not get my physician to understand I needed.
I believe a lot of drug users suffer from chemical imbalance and when there is no money or education, they know that marijuana makes them feel better, gets them out of the bed for the day, or whatever....I wish the human race did not need drugs, but it is a fact of life. Doctors prescribe the wealthy and those who can afford decent medical coverage with their Xanax, Prozac, Ritalin and other psychiatric drugs without hesitation, and I just do not see people having to rot in prisons because of their emotional problems, some stemming back from childhood.
While in prison, they are not rehabilitated. They are further pushed down so that can not make it in society. Few of us do...BUT, with the grace of God and people like myself who are willing to help them start new lives, maybe we can help make their lives better upon discharge, so they will not have to spend their precious lives, which we all have a limited amount of anyway, in a rotten prison cell away from their family and loved ones.
Please send me information on helping.. I feel that society (and I can get hundreds of references) would have missed out on a lot had I been one of the unfortunate drug war prisoners for 30 years. My child would now be an orphan as his father was killed in an automobile accident on April Fools Day 1996. What would that accomplish????
My heart goes out to all prisoners who are there. My heart
goes out to their families and their precious little children.
Prisoners: Do not give up!
Your paper was passed to me from a Brother of time. I'm very amazed with the articles and letters we read from the Razor Wire. Your paper has inspired me to stand up, and look forward to my future. Please bless me with your paper will pass it to others to read and educate themselves. I have been in and out of prisons since '87, had a drug problem but never once was offered any type of drug treatment, or a GED. If I was offered treatment back in 1987 I might of never returned. Please educate with your paper, yes I will pass it along.
Sincerely David Neal, Prisoner of the drug war
John Wilson <email@example.com>
Hi Tom: Please forward this LTE to others. I would like TNC to see this published letter from an inmate in Huntsville State Prison.
John in Waco
Source: Waco Tribune-Herald, page 8A
I cannot unionize. I am not covered by worker's compensation. I am not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act. I agree to work weekend shifts, late night and holidays.
I am hired and fired at will, and I do not have to be paid minimum wage. I do not even voice grievances except at the risk of incurring arbitrary discipline.
I pay no taxes because I receive no income, as other states pay their employees. I am paid instead with an apparition called "good time" for good behavior as a form of control.
My function is to save the state millions of dollars each year for the work the state would normally have to hire free-world people to perform.
You do not have to worry about NAFTA or your jobs going to Mexico. I will have 25 percent of your jobs by the end of the decade.
I am called prison labor.
John Zurborg, Hunstville, Texas
Greetings. I'm a nonviolent drug offender doing a 30 year sentence in the state of Oklahoma. I am currently on your mailing list and I can't express myself enough to show my appreciation. After every issue I receive, I pray you never lose interest in what you are doing for us. As I read your words, I feel there is still hope. Salute!
Kent Bivin, Prisoner of the Drug War
In the mail call section of your paper last issue, I read something that rather stirred me up. It was written by David (last name withheld for obvious reasons). I would like to respond to David's comments.
It is well and good that David has chosen to say "No" to drugs. I applaud his efforts in that matter. David said the government won't send us to prison if we just won't sell drugs and he wants to know, "What's so hard about that?"
David, you missed the point. There are people incarcerated as part of "Just say no," who managed to say "no" for decades of their lives, people who either got caught up into something bigger than they were, or stood by a friend or family member in trouble. The reasons for drug dealing can range broadly, from economic desperation to greed.
Somewhere in the middle are people who are guilty by association, which by the way, should be illegal if we were living according to the Constitution you are defending, David.
Then there are the grandmothers and grandfathers in their 60's, 70's and 80's who are incarcerated because of their children or grandchildren's actions. They lose their homes, their life savings and their dream of a country that would not cause them harm.
David, let us not forget those who will be old and feeble, fearful and institutionalized when they are released and starting over will not be as simple as you described it to be. And God forbid, David, what about those who will never get a chance to start over?
David, my guess is that you got a few years. Perhaps you rolled on your friends to save your own neck, giving no thought to the length of time that they would receive, nor to their anguish. Ah, but you get to start over . . .
Your mentality appears to be the same as the government's in their "Just don't sell drugs and we won't send you to prison." If you had ears to hear, David, you would hear the politicians saying, "Let them languish in prison so I can look tough on crime come election day!"
My allegiance goes to no organization, or magazine or group. My allegiance goes to God who sustains me in all things. But I am thankful to those who care enough, who have the resolve to fight the wrongs through channels that are legal and may eventually make a difference.
David, there are many women doing long sentences, who were nowhere near as guilty as you have admitted to being and the majority of us have more guts and more conviction in our hearts than you will ever have! Get your head out of the sand, David. Quit Oshtrichising!
I am a prisoner of the failed drug war! I have been incarcerated for over 8 years and have 9 to go. I have worked real hard to keep the lines of communication open between my three daughters who have been scattered to three different states.
For the last 3 1/2 years I've studied, researched, and conversed with everyone I can get to stand still long enough as to substance use and abuse. I talk about things that are our rights, and the one's they say aren't, legal and illegal, the hazard of each, and the costs.
I like so many in this country must admit my ignorance of what are the truths. I knew it was illegal, but never to what extent. 10 years in prison is not what will make me better. My own self education will, and has changed my way of thinking as to the use of legal and illegal drugs. But that is my individual right of choice. As to these things, governments job is to educate and regulate, not dictate. They are supposed to be there to protect those who can't protect themselves, such as children, elderly, handicap, and so forth. But not consenting adults. Nor did we elect them to pick and chose what our individual rights of choice should be. Alcohol and tobacco are your choice, but marijuana isn't?
The government has made note to the fact that over 100 million people in this country have used illicit drugs. We won't challenge them as to what they consider illegal, or at what point the abuse of a legal become illegal, but with that 100 million, excluding children and old folks, that would represent half the people in this country.
We know they will never win the WOD by incarceration, invading other countries, or putting a wall on the Mexican border. We just tore down a wall in Germany so people could be free. It is the will of the people, and always will be. Sincere thanks for your efforts.
Anthony "John" Arthur, Prisoner of the Drug War
Subject: Howdy/get a hold of this...
Hello friends. My...well...health I guess you call this, is
much more stable than I thought possible under this stress crispy
diet. But something new gives me strength and I want to share
that quickly... As dangfangled as it may seem all this time I
have been on a little Macintosh Classic...any true revolutionary's
friend for text based information. I have seen the November site
from time to time at other's homes (I always show everyone the
November Coalition website). I now am the happy owner of a Pentium
and a laptop, the laptop sent from New Jersey by a cyber friend/supporter.
I'm leading up to the fact that I sat my tired butt down the
other night, intent to examine, for the first time in depth,
the Nov Coal site. I knew it was beautifully graphic, in more
than one way. I knew also that it was profound, moving and disturbing.
I didn't know the NC had received so many awards. :) I'll finish
by stating that I decided to go through the wall. I hadn't seen
it. I had this concept, @ 3+am that I would read every single
entry. Man was I wrong and did I give it a good try. I am so
humbled and speechless by the enormity of the database and the
divine message of hope...the vehicle of truth...the evidence
of tyranny and injustice...the human tragedy and the courage
of those being persecuted. You folks truly are the most amazing
folks I've never met, ceptin' a few I've been lucky enough to
know. I am in awe of your dedication and will do all I can to
assist the NC after my windmills have been properly jousted.
Thanks you all for having the guts, the will, the patience, the
vision and the heart to take on this incarnate of human evil
which has chosen the form of DRUG WAR this time around the circle
game of life.
...before I end this letter I would like to say thank you for all the effort that you are putting forth in the freeing the POW's of America's war on drugs. The reason I'm writing is also to send you the names of the family members who want me home, but unfortunately, they don't believe that there is an actual war in the country that we live in. So could you please send the following members of my family a copy of your newspaper so they may see that our newspaper isn't just Jail House Life.
Roderick Pringles, Prisoner of the Drug War
Date: July 4, 1998
I don't know about y'all, but I'm really having problems today. Something about the notion of our glorious freedoms is just not sitting well with me today.
I've went through the motions for the boys, and will continue to do so by taking them to the fireworks tonight. If it was up to me, I'd be in bed all day with the covers pulled over my head.
I can't get certain visions out of my head. I wonder about my husband, and the rest of our loved ones. I think of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, veterans who died for this country, and other things associated with the 4th. And I look at how far this country has strayed from the principles it was founded on. I don't know about y'all, but I doubt that my forefathers fought so that this country could appoint "czars."
Then I look at my 2 precious sons, and wonder how I can teach them...how I can keep my bitterness and rage from transferring to them. I wish that I could promise them the kind of country that I was brought up to believe in, but I can't. How, as a parent, do I balance the 2 views?
My husband called earlier this morning. The state is providing them with some sort of "special" meal for lunch today. I couldn't even eat the family dinner we went to today...all I could see in my mind was him and all the rest of the POW's in this country...lined up...to get their "special meal." No juicy steaks...no Mom's potato salad...no listening to the laughter and excitement of children...no cold beer to wash dinner down with...just a "special meal."
And later, when I'm sitting on a hill with my boys, watching the explosions in the sky...trying to muster enthusiasm for their sakes...and trying to ignore the happy families around us for my sake...what will Jimmy be doing?
He'll be laying back on his rack...state holiday, so no rec today to burn off his frustration. And I know that his focus will be on us, and how this day truly could be one of celebration...if only we could be together as husband and wife...and as a family. I hope that he understands that this day, just like every day since 05/24/95 has lost its luster for me.
I apologize for posting this...but I really needed to get it out of my system. I think I can continue with the happy face for the kids now. If you have read this, thank you for listening. Just being able to tell it to people who understand helps ease the burden.
To those who have chose to fight this battle...well, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Hopefully someday, due to your efforts, my family can have a reason to celebrate...and mean it.
It is my sincere prayer that this correspondence will find
you and the November Coalition at best in all areas of endeavor.
I am a POW, held in a "Concentration Camp" (Prison) in Valdosta, Georgia. I was sentenced to serve 10 years for possession of cocaine, less than .01 gram. (A nonviolent, victimless, unlawful activity.) Ten years for less than .01 gram of cocaine.
I am the father of nine children who don't understand why I must spend 10 years in prison when I haven't caused harm to another individual nor taken property which belonged to someone. . . Ten years for a victimless, nonviolent, unlawful activity!!!
I would like to add my voice to the other "Political Prisoners" and American Citizens who are just saying No to this so-called "War On Drugs." It is a privilege and a blessing to be able to pass along this message of importance to those like myself (POW's) and their families who have the courage to speak out against the "American Government" for its crimes of false and unlawful imprisonment of a people, dehumanizing practices, racial and illegal sentencing laws, conspiracy of mass murder and other crimes against its citizens. Because there's such a strong national thrust to incarcerate minorities and the prisons have become a "Corporate Venture," achieving justice, let alone mercy is becoming practically impossible. With public fear mounting that crime is rampant and that minorities and addicts are unpredictably violent and dangerous, we are in imminent danger of losing our freedom and our lives regardless of our position or our past. But as always has been the case, most will not wake up until it is too late and they too are personally looking from behind prison doors.
The only thing that can turn this "Oppressive System" around is a "Mass Movement." Until then our efforts as individuals will be fruitless. Disturbingly, it appears that Leadership in Minority Communities do not seem to understand the seriousness of this "Mass Lock-Up' of the minority populations. Those who are somewhat aware are coming to recognize that this imprisonment is not to insure public safety as is being portrayed by politicians, but that this climate has been deliberately created and promoted for the build-up of prisons and breakdown of our communities, families and selves. It is a political more than an economic maneuver. This so called "War On Drugs" means more fatherless homes, more women forced to head households on too little income. It means the continued destruction of our families, while political rhetoric on "Family Values" is at it's shrillest.
A "Billion Dollar Prison Industrial Complex" already is booming, fueled by a disproportionate number of Blacks and Hispanics providing human capital and labor. Currently, the USA has 1.5 million or more inmates in jails and prisonsmore than eight times the incarceration rate of other European or Western nations. Prison construction continues to soar at an alarming speed and prisons are now attracting large investors.
The American Justice System, which seems bent on continuing the tradition of "Crushing" rather than dispensing justice, has lost all credibility. Once justice is gone, crime and chaos increaseand that hurts everybody.
We must protest! Protest the re-enslavement of a people in the disguise of "Criminal Just-Us."
Protest Racism and Discrimination in the courtsUnfair sentencingIllegal Life Sentences!! Protest the Overcrowding and Dehumanizing Acts. Protest Newt Gingrinch's proposal of Mandatory Death Penalties. Protest the lack of concern by the so-called LeadersProtest the revengeful politics which promote inhumane criminal laws.
We must pray! Pray for justice and equity in the courts, and an end to racist judgeslet us pray! Pray for a Rehabilitative System. Pray for Leaders who will be courageous in leading the protest against injustice. Pray for people who will not be cowardly in protecting our young men and women from evil and oppression in the courts and prisons. We must pray for more treatment beds, and less prisons! Pray for the POW's who can't speak out because of the fear of even harsher punishments.
We must create this "Movement" in order to open the system up for exit. Everyone must to the field to work if we are to see changes. Yes! Where there is life there is hope.
Willa Chico 'Ahad Ibn Summerour
I just received my first paper from you and I'd like to say thank you to Kay Lee for telling me about it. She sent me a copy a couple of months ago, but during a raid on my cell, one of the men in blue just had to have it. I believe it's long past due that we the people stand up and be heard along with being seen. Enough is enough. This is no longer a free country. Our government says what we will and will not do, and it is time we the people stand up for our rights and our lives.
The government needs to leave us alone, and let us be free from a government that is only stealing from us what is ours. God put everything on this earth for a reason. What gives man the right to say, "no" when it isn't theirs in the first place?
Roy Jennings, Prisoner of the Drug War