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Men of Consciousness

Dear Fellow Prisoners:

Sometime during the close of 1998 I was shaken by the cold callous reality that if any reform, change or relief is to take place in terms of the heinous sentences meted out for first-time and/or nonviolent offenses, it would not come en masse through the courts. Sorry fellas, as much as I hate to be the bearer of bad news during a time like this, I have to admit, Mumia Abu-Jamal was right when he observed that, "Law is only politics by another name."
So, although you may take comfort in the fact that you have a paid high profile designer attorney; you may hold dear to the deceptively attractive and false belief that bucking prison authorities will provide the quick-fix remedy everyone desires; or you may be one who just prays all the time, but does nothing but wait for something to fall from the sky.

The truth of the matter is, none of the forestated scenarios hold the results hoped for. In reality, our beef concerning unjust laws is not with prison authorities or the courts, but with the legislators who make the laws. Accordingly, as long as the politicians (who are actually the servants of the tax paying public) can enact these senseless laws and create the political climate that governs their interpretation, the courts will seldom if ever rule favorably for you and I, even when the law is seemingly on your side. Why is that, you might ask?

However hard and painfully truthful this may be, we must stretch our comprehension to recognize and understand that where politics are involved it is not about what is right or wrong, but what is politically correct at the time. The current political climate is not conducive to any mass exodus of prisoners returning to society, non-violent, first-time or otherwise. Consequently, no matter how much you pay an attorney or how many cases you have supporting the illegality of your conviction, nine times out of ten, look for the courts to rule politically correct.

In other words, AFFIRMED!!! What now, you wonder, because he is definitely tell'en the Truth.

Several years ago I conceptualized the idea of Men of Consciousness (MOC). It is not an established organization, but a concept that portends to transcend divisions, by identifying its members on the basis of whoever embraces the concept and practice the underlying principles. In all of the prisons, home to nearly 2 million human beings, we are divided along racial lines, gang affiliation, geographical locations, but especially religious persuasions.

However comforting or consoling religion may be, it distracts us from the harsh reality of what we're up against, and undermines our collective ability to extricate ourselves from this ever-pressing dilemma. Thus, the necessity for an idea or concept like MOC is that it transcends all barriers that tend to divide. We come together on Universal Principles of Truth, Responsibility, Commitment, and Positive Conscious Thinking. These Principles, absent our individual philosophies, serve to foster the harmony and unison that is destroyed by our respective belief systems.

Our oath is that we will turn away from evil and strive to be upright productive men. Next, we adopted an action agenda, which entailed rallying and mobilizing fellow prisoners around positive common interest initiatives we share collectively, like returning home to shoulder the responsibility as husbands and fathers we neglected in our ignorance. Regardless of what differences we may have, our common bond is that everyone desires a second chance to return home. So, we must be mature enough to rise above our differences, and collectively work toward our common goal.

In today's highly politically charged lock 'em up climate, hundreds of thousands of men and women throughout the prison system have been so overwhelmed by inordinate sentences and the general insensitivity of government that we have thrown in the towel in terms of challenging the fairness of this system. MOC works to develop creative strategies to redeem us from the grip of apathy, complacency, pessimism, and inconstancy; as these attitudes are expressed in our overindulgence in TV, sport & play, gambling and relentless and useless idle conversation.

For the past several months we have been working on a Letter Writing Campaign which entails targeting our families for active duty in the criminal justice reform movement. Our families represent our support base. As they align themselves with organizations like The November Coalition, FAMM, CURE, Nation of Islam Prison Reform, Human Rights and the Drug War etc., they increasingly become a FORCE to be reckoned with. Power concedes nothing without a demand. We must become actively involved in the growing opposition to the so-called 'War on Drugs', challenging our families to do likewise.

Lastly, and most importantly, we strongly encourage prisoners to empower the many organizations working in our behalf. Each month we should have a sizeable donation sent to one of the frontline reform organizations. Our first donation was only $50, sent to The November Coalition; however, as we continue to move in the science of political and economic empowerment, we intend to capture the support of our entire population. By all means, we must be committed to this task beyond just talking, praying or complaining.

Just imagine how powerful and more effective our representatives could become if they had nearly $1,000,000 or more pouring out of the prisons each month.

It ain't in the talk! Lets get to work!!! NOW!!!

Your brother in struggle,

Mujaddid R. Muhammad, Prisoner of the Drug War


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