Volume 3: No. 1
Jan/Feb 1999
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The Razor Wire

Director's Message

This letter was published in our latest "print" edition.
This newspaper is mailed into almost 500 prisons.

As you can see reading this issue, reinforcements have arrived at long last. Tom has learned to split wood, but he still cheats and uses a blow dryer to start the fire when the kindling is stubborn (but that's okay I tell him, we won't tell anybody).

We have a new format for the paper. I hope that you can see the importance of having The Razor Wire in retail stores. We are ready to go this next step, but it is going to be up to our membership to support the project . It is imperative that our voice be heard in mainstream America. Now more than ever, so please be as generous as you can afford to be.

At the end of September I attended Critical Resistance in San Francisco, then flew east to meet with Chris Cross in Allentown, PA, where we did a radio show and held a local TNC meeting. The same occurred in NY City, Newark, NJ, at Ruetgers Law School, and in Washington D.C. where Eric Sterling, President of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, provided us with meeting space and dinner. Paul Lewin and I attended the Amnesty International Press Conference (see below). On October 3rd I spoke at the Boston Freedom Rally and we have been at events throughout the Northwest as well.

In November I was a speaker in Bloomington, Indiana with Dr. Clarence Lusane, author many books including, Pipe Dream Blues, Racism and the War on Drugs and Mike Gray, author of the newly released, Drug Crazy. A varied group of sponsors made the symposium, Hidden Casualties of the War on Drugs a very enlightening afternoon. The audience that filled the large room was attentive and I was surprised to see so many people middle aged and beyond in attendance. Later in the evening we did a radio show and the 3 hour symposium held earlier in the day will be televised in its entirety in Bloomington and edited to one hour and aired in Indianapolis.

In Bloomington I was able to finally meet our regional leader, Selena Kingsley, but we certainly have known each other for quite some time now. Getting a physical hug, instead of a cyber ~hug~ was wonderful. (Selena compiled a list of every prison in the country in preparation for my trip back east in early autumn - many thanks to her for all of her diligent work!)

In my travels and speaking engagements there is something distinctly different in the wind. When it comes to questions and answers, the attendees rarely have a question-they stand to air their own complaint about the war on drugs and they are angry at their government for refusing to listen to reason. They are sick and tired of seeing their constitutional rights plundered and when I asked the large crowd that had come inside on a gorgeous, warm and sunny afternoon in the middle of November how many of them had a loved one in prison- at least a third of the audience raised their hands. The family and friends of drug war prisoners are coming out of isolation to oppose the war on drugs. I really can not bring you better news than that.

Our legislators are not listening to us. We continue to receive copies of their responses to your letters and it is obvious that our letters are not being read and our views considered by the majority of legislators that receive them. Please, when one of your government representatives is so careless as to have a clerk dash off a "canned" response with a keystroke of a word processor-write back and demand that your letter be personally addressed so that you are assured that your concerns have been examined. Keep sending us copies of your letters and the responses that you receive. We have plans for them.

Pass on copies of your letters and the response you receive to your local newspaper editors as well as our office. Call your lawmakers - state and federal and ask for a meeting. We must talk this year-in written word and with our voices to demand justice and the end to this tragic war on drugs. We are closer now than ever and that means it is time to work harder, not rest on our laurels.

Many of you write saying: "Tell me what to do." We have shared examples of published letters of prisoners - write! Loved ones - write and call and keep talking to those you associate with. Volunteer to lead a drug law vigil, or sponsor one.

To talk of ending the drug war is no longer a subject that is "controversial". In airports, train and bus stations all over this country, I have yet to have one person tell me that my position is wrong. Everyone that I've talked to, and that is no small number, immediately smiles and I am amazed at how much they know about this horrible fraud that is our war on drugs. They know what the problem is and most of the time their first concern is how many people we are imprisoning. Dan Baum, author of Smoke and Mirrors, says, "I can't find anyone who will defend it anymore-except the people whose jobs depend on it . . . "

Well, me either.