Mail Call!

I was waiting for the Jan/Feb issue to arrive and was so glad to get it. Being in prison, I have three main concerns: 1) food poisoning, 2) contagious diseases, and 3) not getting the Razor Wire. Thankfully, now I only have two things to worry about for the next 2 months. Thanks for a great issue.
I see everyone is all jazzed up about Proposition 36 passing in California. While I too consider this a great victory, I am still waiting to see how our political machine implements the program. After all, some thought the 3 strikes law was a good thing until we saw how "they" used it to throw non-violent offenders in prison for 25 to life. I've got a pal doing 25 to life for a dime of meth! It was good to see a proposition win that the CCPOA (California Correctional Peace Officers Association) fought so hard to defeat. We can win one step at a time. I overheard a CO here saying they expect Prop. 36 to cut 3,000 new inmates a month from the prison rolls. This is a growing possibility, even if it's only another rumor now.
I've read many letters in the Razor Wire from inmates complaining about low-paying jobs. Don't trip. Lots of workers in CA prisons get no pay at all. Refusal to work gets you more time or loss of privileges! Keep that great paper coming.
Brian Jentsch

I have often wondered how long my composure would hold up under these conditions. Let me say what my 39 years of life has produced from my own life in modern slavery, and the constant practices of discrimination against African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, poor whites, and others outside the American Dream. Based on my experience from being incarcerated, it is now clear what the slavemasters' intentions were when they wrote the 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution.
To completely abolish slavery meant also destroying the corporate institutions and the economics of cheap labor. The Master wouldn't have that. Slavery is the devil incarnate, a very evil institution used to demoralize, dehumanize, murder, castrate, torture, exploit, pimp. The war on drugs fabricated a scheme to use the 13th Amendment to manufacture a system to legally retain and increase slavery as a punishment for crime in America - making billions of dollars off cheap labor. The frightening part is that American leaders have the audacity to order a war on drugs that they bring into the country.
After reading Oliver North's book Under Fire, I was shocked by the uncompromising no tolerance policy the government claimed to implement with the war on drugs. The Boland Amendment stopped funds from going to Central America. The Contra rebels (a secret military operation organized by the C.I.A.) purchased weapons with cocaine to continue financing their military operation. Drugs are destroying our society, but blacks, other minorities and poor people on the whole don't control the flow or major operations, and the government will never admit to being responsible.
So the war on drugs starts in the neighborhoods in America where cocaine has never been manufactured. We are prisoners of war. We have been victims since slavery, and still are according to the 13th Amendment scheme to justify it all by the call to make war on drugs. Mandatory sentencing policies keep the new slaves in the 'factories with walls', as Supreme Court Justice Rehnquist once promoted publicly. What a brilliant plan.
Donny Williams

I just received my first issue of The Razor Wire. I find it very informative as well as supportive. I am being "housed" at F.C.I. Loretto that is supposed to be a "low" as far as security classification is considered. This facility was converted from a convent to house 300-500 inmates; the population is now 1200 with the new building. Though there is a new building, which houses about 600 - 700 people, services for the larger population have not expanded.
I am in need of contacts with other organizations like yours that inform and encourage inmates to hang in there no matter what their individual situation may be. For one, I am in need of professional medical services. Here at Loretta, the health care professionals go by the general rule that the inmate is lying or faking illness to receive narcotic drugs. While this may be the case for some inmates, it is not the case for all. Because of this general attitude found among paid staff, inmates like myself, who are in dire need of medical attention, have to suffer.
As anyone who has been or is incarcerated should know, the administrative remedy process is not designed to help; its sole purpose is to delay the filing of a civil cause of action. If there are other organizations that could help with this medical injustice, please send me information on them so I can have some help in this painful battle. I think you in advance.
Dudley Kim Smith

(Editor's note: Inquiries about Mr. Smith may be addressed to the Razor Wire Editor by phone, email or letter.)

Thought I'd share an interesting experience regarding the method I used to pass out the 4-page Tabloid describing the November Coalition. I made copies of the "Open the Can" CANpaign and inserted that information in each issue. I checked the viewing schedule for the movie "TRAFFIC" and positioned myself so that as people were exiting, I could hand out copies with both hands (door to my left and the door to my right).
I think that the movie certainly made a point as I did, shouting "You've seen the movie; now get the true inside stories; get the real deal!" I truly felt connected because people were receptive, and a few asked questions such as: Why isn't the government putting the drug users/dealers in programs for rehabilitation? Another questioned the extent of time served and the crippling affect to the families, whereupon children suffer because they're denied the love and affection needed by a parent.
One interesting feedback was that of an elderly lady, furious that this Drug War has caused more harm to the 'American' by increasing the amount of families on public welfare and assistance. A younger gent asked, "What is our government trying to do to us? Not only do agents confiscate assets, but they incarcerate the very same person, and then years later release he or she, expecting them to pay taxes and fines even after being used as "slave labor" by the government at 50 cents an hour."
Lee in Miami

I am a prisoner of the infamous war on drugs and a member of The November Coalition. I have been getting a subscription to The Razor Wire for some years now, and I am requesting that the newspaper continue to be sent to me.
I have been recently transferred to FPC Leavenworth from FPC El Paso. I arrived here on December 1st, 2000. I was granted this furlough transfer via Greyhound bus. It was real cool to say the least to travel this way. I have been locked up for 11 1/2 years now, and 9 years of that was spent in numerous FCI's around the country. I was 'free' for 26 hours; I heard children laugh and cry, so cute they were. I heard women talk, saw them smile and laugh; my heart rejoiced at the smile of such wonderful beings.
Needless to say when I was free for those 26 hours, I did not want to return to prison. The furlough program in the BOP is a partial solution to us who are confined, and sometimes one cannot be selfish and think only of oneself when so many others can also benefit from such a short relief from prison. That is why I arrived at USP Leavenworth to see the Great Wall and gun towers on time, so as to not be the one to run and help the BOP rid itself of the furlough program with the "jargon" that inmates ruin it for themselves. I hate hearing that because that line is a cop-out by the BOP.
I received 30, 10, 10 in years to run concurrently in Judge Walter Smith's Courtroom in Waco, Texas for 6 1/2 grams of LSD. I must serve 17 1/2 years for a crime committed in 1987 for blotter acid in which the weight issue of the LSD is considered by total weight under the "old law", compared to the newer Sentencing Guidelines. I have had a "petition for commutation of sentence" filed with the U.S. pardon attorney since 01/09/00, as I had exhausted most of my judicial avenues. Wish me luck!
I did receive the Sept/Oct/Nov issue of the Razor Wire while still in FPC El Paso. I was amazed and yet extremely happy to see that Amy Pofahl's sentence was commuted. I did follow her case for some years and felt I knew her from reading reports about her in the Razor Wire. I also noticed standing with Amy in the picture in the newspaper, was one "Heather Silverstein Jordan". If possible, could you tell Heather that I said hello, and I am happy to see her free, alive, well and remaining with her husband. I have lost contact with Heather after communicating by mail years ago when we were both confined.
Thank you for your publication and help; look for a donation from me soon. God bless and peace to all who work so hard for social justice.
John C. DeLario, Jr.

It gives me great pleasure to drop you these few lines. I am an inmate at the Butner, NC federal facility, and I would like to extend my gratitude to you and your staff in your progressive works with the "November Coalition". I read your articles on "Running out of time," and I was touched at your willing effort about the drug policy issues, and the release of first offenders and nonviolent prisoners.
I've been convicted by guilt of association and each and everyday I'm hoping for your progressive effort to get some kind of recognition in this judicial system. Thanks again Mrs. Callahan, and continue your progressive works. I remain yours truly.
Melvin Williams

I would like to be placed on the free subscription list for your publication, the Razor Wire, and if possible, to obtain a copy of all issues of said publication for the year 2000.
I must thank you for the previous issues of the Razor Wire, which you mailed to me in 1999. I used the information contained in several issues to challenge by legal motion the New York State sentencing policies; of course I did not obtain relief from the unfair-by-definition and politically conservative state courts.
The State Department of Correctional Services, however, had a reaction. After the motion was filed, papers in question were unlawfully and surreptitiously withheld and read by the prison and departmental officials in January 2000 before being mailed to the court. The Department published in one of its monthly DOCS Today publication, at the beginning of 2000, a pointless article about, but acknowledging, the existence of the Razor Wire. Keep up the good work.
Roberto Ciaprazi

I just received the January/February issue of the Razor Wire, and thanks. Somehow, I perceive a touch of success from the articles it contained. You all have taken on a monster, but surely you all know that. The release of the two ladies is truly a victory, may it be the very tip of the iceberg.
I'm now half way through my seventh year in this mess with an out-date of 2016. Inside the wire there is no sense of relief. They continue to pack us in here, closer and closer quartered. Here in FCI Yazoo City we sleep in hallways, TV rooms, storage bin holes, and they keep the SHU full with new arrivals.
This past week I heard of a new arrival that was in here for conspiracy to sell deer meat. My-my! These folks just can't find enough dangerous drug dealers to keep the numbers rolling. Friends, this is a business, and politicians are making big money in it.
I applaud your efforts and encourage every one of you to continue. Our cause is a worthy on which speaks out against a true injustice. I also pray that God go before you, open the doors, and give each one of you wisdom and favor. I'm including names of family and friends for you to send a copy of the Razor Wire. These people are all capable of helping spread the word of truth to others, maybe some will.
Michael Siebe

You are having your Dollar Campaign 2001; so I hope the $10.00 helps. The Razor Wire really has had some excellent legal articles in it recently! Keep it up, please.
November Coalition chase the path, correctly, of recommending commutations for all prisoners with non-violent drug crimes who have served more than 5 years of their sentence.
Personally, I have had some good news: the magistrate judge in my § 2255 is recommending in her report that my sentence be vacated and I be resentenced.
Since I have a 20-year sentence for marijuana conspiracy, this is good news. One of my main arguments was, due to ineffective assistance of counsel, the court never established the "scope of the criminal activity" or "scope of the criminal agreement" as required under the sentencing guidelines.
You had a very good article on this subject in the recent Razor Wire. It was by Michael S. Gelacak, former Vice-Chairman of the United States Sentencing Commission, and appeared on page 6. I have since spoken to Mr. Gelacak and have written him a letter. He is absolutely right: the number of cases in which the court did not first determine scope is probably staggering.
Know you are busy so I will let you go. Thanks again though.
Most sincerely, Charles Creshore

Thanks to all the staff at the November Coalition for giving a mother a ray of hope. Your hard work and dedication are greatly appreciated.
Sincerely, Lorraine Arcuri

Being active with November Coalition makes a difference. Here is the response I received from my state senator:
Thank you for your email about the Drug Enforcement Administration and the possibility of new regulations on the importation of hemp based products. At your request, I have written a letter to Frank Sapeinza, Chief of the Drug and Chemical Evaluation Section at the DEA to voice my opposition to such restrictions.
Thank you for contacting me and please keep in touch.
Senator Pat Thibaudeau
43rd Legislative District
email from: Alice Chandlerid

I am writing this pursuant to the November Coalition. I receive each month from you. First off, thank you for the hard work you all are doing. Your fight to stop the war on drugs, is helping many of us. I share the Coalition paper with twenty sometimes more inmates and they all get something good out of it.
I think most of us are just now realizing there are people like the November Coalition that are on our side.
Thank you, Dan West