Mail Call!


I'm serving a 96-month sentence due to a "rat" that caused a conspiracy. My brother is also doing a bit due to this same "rat" as well as two or three others. The rat got in trouble and was told to snitch or make up a lie if need be to save his sorry tail. This is where my brother, me and the rest came in. It's a nightmar.
Back to reality, I would like to know why Barry McCaffery says the ultimate goal is to decrease drug use when only one-third of the drug central budget is covering drug treatment, education and prevention. When two-thirds of the budget is going towards law enforcement and supply reduction? How's he going to eliminate dope when he can't even keep them out of schools, prisons, and churches? You name it, drugs are there. Unless there is adequate resources for drug treatment, rehabilitation and prevention the U.S. will continually consume billions and billions of dollars worth of drugs because of the demand. All the money put into stopping the drug is a waste when there is no appropriate treatment while one is incarcerated. There's more drugs in prison than some neighborhoods. It's bad, how's Barry going to stop drugs? He's not! The war on drugs has become a war against our own citizens. It's a way for the government to make money. Let the drugs come in and lock up U.S. and other country's citizens.
When is McCaffrey going to open his eyes? The logical thing to do is legalize drugs and the crimes will stop. The war on drugs cause the crimes associated with drugs. Not the drugs themselves. It's time for him to open his eyes and see, to change make alternatives, some policies that help the drug abusers as well as reduce the harm caused by the drug war. Barry, Barry, Barry don't be so contrary.
Daniel Picket #13470-058

I thought the last edition of The Razor Wire (May/June 2000) was excellent and contained a lot of useful information.
My son received a 6 1/2-year federal sentence for the manufacture of marijuana. His sentence was reduced to five years when the marijuana laws were changed. He has now been out of prison for three years and is doing very well in the work world. He had no problem finding employment, and almost all the employers who interviewed him were not concerned with his prison history. In fact, most of them were amazed that he was given so much (prison) time for growing marijuana.
I regularly write letters to Congress and to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees asking them to repeal mandatory sentencing. I always cite my son's success and emphasize he is doing well not because of his prison sentence, but in spite of it. Mandatory sentences are overkill. He would have done well had he been given probation or less prison time. We are losing valuable taxpaying members of society because of long incarceration.
I believe my son's case is not unique. I feel that all parents of loved ones who have been released from prison and are doing well need to communicate that fact when writing letters to their congressmen. We owe it to those still doing time to tell the politicians who pass insane drug laws that they are wasting taxpayer money and that most of those incarcerated for drugs would be successful given more lenient sentences.
Our obligation to those in prison does not end when our loved ones are released. We need to flood Congress with positive success stories while emphasizing that mandatory sentences are unnecessary and detrimental to the future of our youth.
Carla Widener

I am constantly asked why I have written as much as I have, trying to make a difference, when I won't be here to see any of it. It's because if I don't do my part, then I am as guilty as the rest of America for this situation. I am part of the new American prisoners' movement people who refuse to forget that they were Americans before being disenfranchised by our own government.
Don't get me wrong; I am not antigovernment, but I am anti-bureaucracy, and government can and will work if everyone gets involved. The things I have witnessed and been subjected to while incarcerated are a true travesty of the justice system, and I intend to work for social change for the rest of my life. I will never forget my pain nor the pain and suffering of my family. "United we stand, divided we fall."
Michael Butles 11582-023

I wish to congratulate you on your paper. It is one of the finest I have had the privilege to read.
As I see the prison system, the greatest problem is that the general public has no idea what is going on within these walls. People have little idea as to the wasted millions of their dollars that actually occurs. The general population is constantly bombarded with false propaganda under the guise of "protection of the public". Simply, it is not even close to that. It is about money, power, control, and with each new law that is passed in the states, another right is taken away in this supposedly free and democratic society.
I was one who believed in "if you do the crime, you must do the time", but the various corrections systems have carried that to extremes. I was always under the impression that when a judge sentences you to prison that the sentence was your punishment. This is no longer; as you are now sent to prison to be punished.
Yet, when you finally get released, then you are under the strict scrutiny of an agent who much of the time may have no idea how to run his or her own life, much less tell you how to run yours. Any little error that you now make can return you to prison without due process. The agent now has the strict authority, and does hold it over you like an executioner's axe. So, in short, when you finally are released, you must make absolutely sure that ANYONE AND EVERYONE adores you, because if they don't, you are sure to be returned to prison.
Could you please include my fiancé' on your mailing list as she is a victim of this so called drug war. She has been sent to an out-of-state prison, and taken away from her children for an extensive period of time. This, to me, is the worst possible thing to do to anyone. But, she is just one of over four thousand that are now shipped out-of-state by the Wisconsin prison system. The truly sad part is that this injustice will not stop until the general population calls for accountability from veteran prisoncrats.
Thank you for your attention.
Darwin Schmidt #187855

Another inmate was gracious enough to extend your insightful newspaper to me. And I must say I was shocked. I had no idea such a controversial, informative publication existed. It was like a breath of fresh air. Because I, for one - who coincidentally is incarcerated for shoplifting to support a crack habit - had accepted the much-publicized yet errant notion that society had written us off. I see, now, that is not the case.
In response to your request for art sketches, I am sending you one I did about two years ago when I was experiencing some melancholy for what drugs did to my life. I had previously planned to reproduce and enlarge it when I got out with pastel and charcoal, but after reading your paper decided to send it to you. It's entitled "victims of circumstances".
I am indigent at the present, and this is the only way I can contribute to your cause. I sincerely hope you can use it. Also, I've included a subscription form and ask that you please put me on your subscribers' mailing list. May the love and peace of almighty God forever be upon you.
Respectfully, Dennis Reese #766568-E208

It has been a long time since we crossed paths. I was a prior subscriber to the paper before the BOP decided to relocate me. Through no decision of mine, I have been packed up and transferred from a fenced facility to an unfenced facility. I guess I should be thankful to my keepers after being incarcerated for 10 years that they now hold enough trust in me to allow me the privilege of not having to stare at the razor wire each and every minute of a twenty-four-hour day.
George Hills 11723-018

I am doing a ten-year sentence in federal prison for possession with intent to distribute marijuana. I have six years in and three to go. I was very impressed by your newspaper and amazed that someone out there actually speaks out for those of us who cannot do so for ourselves from in here.
I wasn't able to obtain an order form for your paper as the copy I saw was much read and torn up when I finally got my hands on it. I hope this letter will suffice. I don't have any stamps to send at this time as I am one of the few who refuse to work in Unicor's slave factory. However, I would certainly be willing to send some in the future.
David Parke #12742-039

Please add my story to the list of casualties in this war on drugs. I have eleven months to go. My wife, after 15 months of my absence, decided - on the advice of a therapist I asked her to consult about her severe depression - to call it quits with us or she would lose our children to the state because she is seeking help for her emotional problems.
The state therapist says, "Get rid of him or lose the kids." No contact with me, just a letter saying I can't be with you. Me or the kids. "Doctors' orders." No explaining, no nothing. I am not doing well. My family was my life. We were not having problems, just looking to not let this ruin our future, to put this behind us. She was only depressed, as we have never been apart since the day we met. She sought help, to be kicked again, torn up and alone.
Keith A. Zimmerman P29475

My NBC-affiliate news station in Boston presented a TV news spot about the criminal living next door, and the piece was about all the criminals soon coming out of prison from the first wave of mandatory-minimum prisoners finishing up their mandatory time in custody.
They had some statistics showing that a lot of those coming out are drug addicts and crooks. And when they come out, they'll be 'doing crime' again so they need to be watched, monitored and report to the police station and so on. Perhaps with mandatory minimums the parole requirements are different from regular sentencing (no parole officers), but the police said they expect an upswing in crime and criminal activity; the cops will monitor these people as best they can, but need more money of course.
What's so interesting is that the story came like 24-48 hours after the Gore speech on being the crime-watch president but no mention of Gore's plan in the story.
I figure sooner or later we'll all have to wear a wristband that conveniently displays crimes we've been convicted of. A red one for pot crimes, so we can be seen from a distance, and so kids can run the other way.
Kim Hanna

Hi! My name is Lisa. I 'm doing a 5 in Arizona for possession that wasn't even enough to sell. I was so tired of being an addict that I agreed to anything they offered. My folks were addicts (still are), ever since I was a twinkle. I've been doing time off and on since I was 11, trying to fight my wonderful family gift. Not too many facilities offer "free" help to addicts. There are of course all the A.A, C.A., and so forth but where do you live when all the shelters are full? I have 3 children who are suffering due to my addiction. I don't know how to even feel without using.
Anyway, enough of my sad case. I came across the Razor Wire from my cellie's friend.
I would really like to start receiving the newsletter.
Do you know that I actually cried (yeah, me cry), which is an unusually occurrence, when I read all the articles. I never knew that there were people who actually cared about someone like me. I have two more years to do and I'm scared to even get out!
My brother is also in prison in our home state. I would also like for him to receive the Razor Wire. I can't afford a cash contribution right now, but I can send a couple stamps now and then. Hopefully in the next letter!
Thank you for all you're doing. You bring me a ray of hope. I'm 30 years old, I'm tired of my prison.
I know the government really doesn't care about my brother and myself, but I do. It's sad to say but a lot of women in this facility don't care about fighting for our rights. They are too scared to lose their make-up and hair spray (no joke). Thanks for hope.
I hope to start receiving the Razor Wire soon.
Lisa Courtway #139621

In a somewhat bizarre turn of events, I wound up doing a one hour call in show today on the Voice of America. General McCaffrey cancelled his appearance and other drug warriors didn't want to do it, so they got me to fill in instead.
You can watch it on streaming audio for the next 24hours, after which you can listen to it on RealAudio at: The calls from around the world were overwhelmingly critical of the US drug war, and staff at the show weren't terribly fond of the drug war either. McCaffrey should have heeded Gore Vidal's advice: "Never turn down an opportunity to have sex or appear on TV." Many thanks to David Guard and Chad Thevenot at the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation for referring VOA to me.
Cheers, Sanho