By Chuck Armsbury, Senior Editor
from prisoner Jon Von Moos at USP Marion - the federal prison
at the tip of southern Illinois built to replace Alcatraz - and
now a 21st Century dungeon still on permanent deadlock status
after more than 15 years. He's staring at you from Marion in
the photo below, even now reaching beyond his tomb-like cage.
Jon sent poems, his photo and concise, damning words describing
what Marion and Control Unit prisons (like Washington's upcoming
SHU exposure in our In the News section) are doing emotionally
and mentally to men confined to a cell 24 hours/day, seven days/week,
year after year. The November Coalition is necessarily growing
more concerned about prison conditions because we're getting
more and more reports of brutal guards and deteriorating prison
conditions in our piles of mail daily.
writes in his Quietus poem,
I live in a deep well from which I cannot
It is cold and damp and lonely, but
the water I have is pure.
Inscribed herein there are words that
sustain my mind and spirit.
I know why the great philosophers' last words were "more
Jon described his own tortured thoughts as
he explained the madness created and managed by confinement and
sensory deprivation in dungeons such as Marion or Florence ADX.
Warden Pugh of Florence, by the way, doesn't like us writing
about his stompin' Cowboy guards and inhumane housing conditions.
And so the Razor Wire has been censored, now undeliverable to
ADX prisoners for a time, but we will very soon marshal forces
to challenge Pugh's decision in the appropriate federal court.
crew from San Francisco visited TNC's Colville home/office on
one of winter's harshest days last month. In a far-flung search
for a drug war theme for their proposed documentary trailer,
they followed leads from prisoners and their loved ones and kept
hearing about the November Coalition. Only planning originally
to interview and film a drug war prisoner in Spokane, they were
drawn magically in heavy snow to Colville. You can see some of
their setup in a photo on this page, and a look at Chuck and
Nora's office area.
While we're in New York City for Nora's guest appearance on the
Montel Williams' Show on March 15th, we'll also schedule planning
meetings with Coalition leaders in the east. It looks like we're
about scheduled for a drug war presentation at Eastern Washington
University near Spokane in late-April. This will be a major forum
on the drug war expected to attract a large class of social science
students and faculty.
Nora and I will attend the Western Prison Project's Annual Conference
in Portland, Oregon May 5-6. Our attendance there last year resulted
in excellent networking with Brigette Sarabi, WPP organizer,
and other reformers from several nearby states. Plus, we get
to visit and play with some of my children and grandchildren
living in the City.
Before we travel to Albuquerque for the Lindesmith Center - Drug
Policy Foundation Annual Conference, Nora and I will visit her
brother Gary at Seagoville. This year's DPF Conference ought
to be especially changed, charged and ready for action after
meeting in a state governed by one of the leading reformers in
the movement, Gary Johnson. In September, we will be bringing
our community chapter leaders together for a workshop in Colville.
Pardongate is upon us, cynically shifting public attention from
all those not so well known prisoners that we knew deserved release
on the merits of their case for clemency, not because they had
a lot of money to give like Mr. Rich. It was particularly disturbing
to hear from informed sources that Clinton simply ran out of
hours in his final day in the White House and was unable to even
process the stacks of commutation petitions on his desk.
Thanks for all your letters, news clippings and cool envelope
art. Keep it coming, and know that we shall prevail. Power to