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I looked out; I found a pen and a stamp at the same time, so I'm writing you. I need The Razor Wire! I'm tired of trying to read my cellie's issue. Forget it! Thanks - Bye!

Ray Tietjen, Prisoner

I recently received your publication Razor Wire. What a great job! It's the best effort I've seen yet. After 2 1/2 years of a 5-year sentence for growing under 10 lbs. of weed, I had almost lost my desire to fight. Thanks to you all my fire has been re-ignited and with added fuel.

I have a wife and three children left to poverty and unhappiness. I'm sure you've heard the story.

Anyway, I feel some folks would most definitely like your magazine and possibly assist in the movement.

A Prisoner of the Drug War

I'm currently finishing up a 2-year sentence for harboring a fugitive. I am a 38 year old father of three (ages 10, 12 and 13) who like so many of us in here had no prior criminal record. Alas, when a friend jumped bail and ran to avoid prosecution for being a drug user, I helped her to hide and would not tell the feds where she was. Now we are both in prison.

She sent me this copy and informed me that you put out a quality product that I would enjoy. I would like to receive a copy of your paper if possible.

Thank you for being there for all of us in here.

Steven Botkin, Prisoner of the Drug War

From: Walter Noons, Esq.
Subject: Community

Incarcerating anybody, for any reason, is a very important decision. To begin with, where does the right to incarcerate come from? I suspect that if it can come from anywhere, it must be the people. That's why in a criminal case, it is "the people" versus so-and-so: the people.

The people must be very discriminating about who they decide to incarcerate and why, less it is done to then. Although some would legitimately argue that no one, not even the people have the right to incarcerate anybody, ever! And I don't take exception to that.

However, most would agree, that at sometimes, and for some reasons, a person must be removed from the community, but only when that person threatens the survival of the community and its people. Therefore, the right to incarcerate can only be justified when the failure to do so will result in injury to the community and its people.

The current war on drugs is not so justified and is, in fact, anti-community. It removes from the community its most necessary persons along with those who merely cause no harm. The war on drugs is in opposition to the needs of the community, which is dependent upon its members to survive. A community does not need thieves, rapists, murders, arsonists nor the rest of the Rue de Macabre' traversing the communities we live in. A community does need its helpers and artists, artisans and healers. A community does need its mothers and fathers and children and grandparents.

The majority of persons being incarcerated by the war on drugs are marijuana users, cultivators, and distributors who, in overwhelming numbers, are person who pose no threat to the community and often are it greatest assets. Why then are they being removed from the community? What have they done to no longer be of the people, to no longer be, of the community? Are they not our brothers, our mothers, our friends? Are they not our teachers and bakers, our lovers, our mailmen? Where is the justification for their removal?

I say there is none. There is no legitimacy to the wholesale removal of hundreds of thousands of marijuana users, cultivators, and distributors from the community.

At worst, marijuana users, cultivators, and distributors pose no threat to the community. At best, marijuana users, cultivators, and distributors provide economic, recreational, medicinal, ecological, spiritual, agricultural, and numerous other services to the community. There is no reason, consistent with the idea of community, for the war on drugs. At best, the war on drugs is misguided policy. At worst, the war on drugs is a concerted war against the people for reasons known only to those who benefit from its continuance. There can be no other reasons.

End the war on drugs.

Just about every newspaper that you pick up to read has something to the effect that the drug war is a failure and that our massive prison-industrial complex is in need of dismantling. But none speak of ending the war or getting the nonviolent drug prisoners home.

We ended the Vietnam War over 26 years ago and we can also end this drug war, too. As in the Vietnam War, the casualties and the costs of the war on drugs continue to mount with no end in sight. We have been there before and most can still remember the pain and human suffering that Vietnam left behind. We can still remember the POWs from that war. Today, the war on drugs is our new Vietnam and we have our POWs too.

From the drug war, we have people in prison who are first-time, non-violent drug violators, sentenced to life without parole. In some cases these people were convicted without evidence other than the word of criminal informants looking for a way out of prison.

Give amnesty to the drug war prisoners, and return them to their families.

David Correa, Prisoner of the Drug War

Dear Sirs,

What can I say, except unbelievable! I just read The Razor Wire (March-April issue) for the first time and it was like seeing my own thoughts and ideas on paper for the first time.

I would share some of the stories of stupidity and ignorance exercised by the BOP but you've probably heard a ton of them, and they haven't milled enough paper to print them all.

The Federal Prison System is what I like to call 'the two legged cattle business'. The more heads you have the more money you can make. The problem is mainstream America doesn't know how the Federal courts work; heck, hardly anyone does.

Thank you for existing, I will try to send money soon.

J. M. Bernal, Prisoner of the Drug War

From: Mike Ford
Subject: Impressed

I am more than impressed by your website. I spent considerable time browsing the content growing evermore enraged/incredulous/disbelieving/depressed/discouraged...

Your site is a bleak reminder of the sheer immensity of the problem. My heart breaks for the women and families who have been torn apart by the very system they are taxed to perpetuate. I actually shed a tear at some of the letters. I am so ashamed to be a part, however unwilling, in the misery we are heaping on our neighbors.

In case no one else tells you today I am grateful for all your work and efforts.

From: Dorothy Fadiman
Subject: More Information

I am a documentary filmmaker, very interested in this subject. [The war on drugs]

Is there a resource/site where I could review (read about) and/or find out about the possibility of previewing (on videotape) those productions which have already been released and/or shown on TV? Thank you. Dorothy.

[Ed. note: Dorothy was referred to]

I am writing this letter to The November Coalition because for the first time I have seen a cause that I can support. I have been given a ray of hope that justice can at least be recognized. All people involved in the drug war are not hard core criminals. I have met more than two thousand of them over the past two years and I know what I am talking about. The United States of America has declared war on its own citizenry and our jails are full as a result; young men and women given ungodly amounts of time. The only people I see benefiting from this mass arrest are the people working for the law enforcement industry.

I ask the November Coalition to continue to fight for justice and I promise to add one name to the list of people who will support your cause, and mine!

C. D. Logan, Prisoner of War in America

From: Kathy Anderson
Subject: President Clinton

I was reading the story about Diana Buchanan (25 years for crack cocaine); she mentioned writing to the President. I want to know if he responded, had someone else respond or did he just ignore her article???

Concerned about the War on Drugs, Kathy Anderson

[No, President Clinton did not respond. - Ed.]

From: Lil Swartz
Subject: Don't give up on them

Hi Tom. I sent you some mail that my daughter had written in hopes you could use her story in your newspaper. Did you get it? Please let me know as there are a few people up in Dublin [women's prison] waiting to hear from me, as some of the girls have no one. It seems they are forgotten. My daughter begs me, "Please mom don't give up on me!" like so many others have given up on any hope for their children.

[Ed. - Lil's daughter is Andrea Asch - see her story on the Wall here]

From: Deborah Rizer
Subject: Student seeking info

Hello. I am a student at Lakeland College in Kirtland, Ohio. I am writing a research paper about how the legalization of all drugs could be beneficial. I feel that the most valuable source available are the people who come in frequent contact with the ideas of drug legalization. I would greatly appreciate it if someone involved in your organization would take a few moments to answer some questions regarding drug policy reform.

Attention Taxpayers!

I am a POW. The government spent nearly a million of your dollars to entrap and convict my stepbrother three others and myself. They will spend that much again on the BOP to keep us in cages. All for a crime that never took place and couldn't possibly have happened, despite the aggressive coercion of the FBI, Customs Agents, and the highly paid rat. I just wonder how long the American people will keep hitting themselves in the face before they realize what's they're doing.

Glen Chastain, Prisoner of the Drug War

Dear TNC

When I was a little boy I never knew that the Red, White and Blue represented the government. I used to sing to the top of my lungs singing to that damn flag, with my right hand over my heart!

I never would have guessed I'd be in prison for the rest of my life either, but unfortunately I am. I was sentenced to 20 years in '95 for crack conspiracy. The Judge said he didn't want to give me so much time because of my record. I've never been in trouble with the law in 27 years.

I was happy too, just knowing that he didn't want to give me that much time, but one minute later he said, "but I must", because of some chart called 'the guidelines'. I felt my world crushed, I saw my children flash before my eyes. I turned to look at my family in the courtroom, they all had tears running down their faces but were saying it's going to be okay. I kept my composure. I felt I had to stay strong in front of everyone so I said, "Okay, Judge, I'll use this time to educate myself and rehabilitate myself".

Nine months later I was back in court. The prosecutor said I should have gotten life for a gun I was found not guilty for at trial. Then he said to give me at least 30 years, and the Judge said "Okay, Mr. Booker, due to the guide lines I must give you 360 months for being an organizer of a drug ring."

Six months later I was back in court, the prosecutor appealed again, saying give me life. On Oct 1st, l997, in front of another Judge they gave me life, because the first Judge said he refused to give me life; I didn't deserve the 20 or the 30!!

Our people must know what we are heading for....

Robert Booker, Prisoner of the Drug War

My home before I was arrested was Evansville, Indiana. A reporter there has asked me several times if there are groups of people who care about reducing prison sentences, prison overcrowding, and sentence reductions for non-violent offenders. If you are interested in contacting him, let me know.

Thank you very much, even though I haven't yet seen your newspaper. I found your address in the law library, filed under 'People who care about people'.

Herschel Seifert, Prisoner of the Drug War

[Ed. - We contacted him]

I live in Lompoc, where my husband is facing 36 to life on the three strikes law, which I feel targets addicts. It concerns me that our solution to addiction is life in prison. This drug war is so frightening. I have been trying to educate people I know to confront the reality of substance abuse. The drug war propaganda that presents addicts as gun toting violent maniacs sickens me, because that is not the typical addict. I have been writing local, state and federal officials to voice my opinions and offer suggestions and alternatives, such as restorative justice, instead of life for non-violent drug offenders.

I would be interested in meeting with other women in Lompoc. It is a hard life when your loved one is taken from you; a good person with a problem that is treatable. It is similar to the grief of your loved one dying. I know, for I have experienced both. Thank you.

Sincerely, Judy Savoy

From: Joni Wilder
Subject: cruel and inhumane punishment

I would very interested in the November Coalition. My son is a victim of the War on Drugs.

I have a new approach to this problem I call the triple A plan. It is to make people Aware, to ask for them to take Action, and to hold these agencies Accountable. Even after my son's release I plan to stay active in my plan because I know this same scenario is being played out a thousand times over each day. For me this war is no different than the Vietnam War where this government sent home our men emotionally scarred and maimed beyond repair. Initially my concern was for my own son; I have since found a burning in me to stand up and be counted, to speak out as a voice in the wilderness against the injustice of the justice system. Perhaps if enough voices are raised we can become a loud shout.

May God Bless our every effort to put correct back into correction centers.

When I called my family and told them that I had 30 years in prison, they said, "It's OK you'll probably make parole in about 5 or 6 years." They didn't even know that there wasn't any parole in the federal system! I could go on and on with things that the public is not informed about. This brings me to the reason I'm writing.

I have been reading your paper for about two or three years now. I have always had to borrow it from someone and that can be very, very, hard sometimes. A lot of people hide information here and sometimes try to charge you for it. Most people only share them with their friends then store them in their lockers. Well it was a blessing for me to read your last Newsletter. I have been indigent since I was incarcerated, so when I read that you were giving a free issue to inmates and their families I could have cried! (SMILE).

I promise you that my newsletter will not be stored in a locker. Thank you very, very, much and God bless you all. You are in my prayers.

Markus L. Reece, Prisoner of the Drug War

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