Mail Call!

Dear November Coalition:
I have heard many people make comparisons between the increased militarization of the civil war in Colombia and America's war against Vietnam. Most of the people maimed and killed in Vietnam were Baby Boomers. In 1954, when the Vietnam conflict started taking a more prominent position in America's headlines because we were helping the French against the Vietnamese, most Baby Boomers were toddlers.
This is not an issue just for those who have teenagers and young adults in or about to enter the military. It is imperative that today's parents of infants and pre-schoolers - and those who plan on having children in the next few years - stand vigilant on this issue. It is your children who will pay the greatest price if this is not nipped in the bud right now.
Several South American countries are currently leaning toward decriminalization. Wisely, they have recognized that the real problem is not the product, but the market. A black market cannot be controlled, regulated or restricted. A legitimate market can.
Your tax dollars are being sent to South America to subsidize this supposed drug war - a war that wouldn't be taking place except for prohibition laws. Today, it is dollars. Allowed to fester into tomorrow, it will be your children.
Look at your babies tonight as they sleep peacefully in their cribs. Did you bring this child into the world, and are you raising him to, 20 years from now, be nothing more than a statistic of the US military? If that thought sends a chill down your spine, the time to take a stand, speak up and act is now. 2015 will be too late.
Think about it. - Ann

This is the second letter I've written you today. I requested Drug War Facts, but I cannot have it. I cannot receive books here. I'm sorry to waste your time with two letters in one day.
Again, congratulations to the newlyweds, and, again, thank you for printing my story "101 years for a used syringe." I love you all for the work you do; keep up the good fight.
Doug Jones

I've been receiving your newspaper for the past few months now. I just wanted to drop your organization a few lines to say thank you for your efforts in regards to changing unfair sentencing practices through vigils and lobbying on prisoners' behalf. More than that, I want to say 'thanks' for your stories about families and their struggle to maintain relationships while separated. These stories give me hope that as time goes by my relationship with my family has a chance to get stronger. I have no wish to be forgotten. I am married with two children, a daughter 14, and a son, 17. Those two are the real victims of this drug war.
My wife doesn't write anymore, and my son is always busy trying to take up the slack. But I hear from my little girl all the time so I know how hard my being here is on them. My daughter wants to understand what it's like for me in here, and I see her as one day becoming an activist for our cause. Could you please put her on your mailing list? Once again, thank you
P.S. I'm in the craft shop on my unit, and I have a few items I'd like to send; would that be all right?
Thanks again, Greg Ralston
Ed note: We would appreciate receiving crafts, Greg. Would they be potential fundraising items?

I must take strong exception to the Pew Research Center's survey of attitudes on illegal drugs discussed in the front-page article of the May/June 2001 issue of The Razor Wire. Survey respondents were asked if drug use should be treated as a crime or a disease. The answer to that depends on whether one views drugs as a menace or a plague.
Was there no room in this survey for those who believe that drugs are neither? That drug use is a lifestyle choice, sometimes a medical necessity and often a religious/cultural expression, and that drug users may be 'neither crooks nor sickies' but, instead, are victimized and persecuted citizens who deserve to be left alone? That those who have been unconstitutionally incarcerated and/or forced into "treatment" for merely exercising their God-given rights over what substances they may choose to ingest in their own private bodies are entitled to compensation and reparations for the crimes that have been committed against them by their own government? I'm glad I was never asked to participate in the Pew Research Center's survey. I would never have been able to choose between the two odious options presented.
Sincerely, Terry Phelan

Let's hope more people will be open about their feelings and spread the message in such an absolute way. The WOD is often not even on the radar screen. Dallas' main newspaper listed the top seven concerns for Texas recently. The WOD was not mentioned.

I read with interest Nora and Gary Callahan's comments on social class apropos the Drug War (The Drug War Is A Class Act, The Razor Wire, July/August/September 2001). I had the good fortune to know Gary Callahan at Seagoville FCI, and we often discussed the function of "class" in Drug War persecution. There is no way the ruling elites in this country will tolerate thousands of multimillionaire blacks, Latinos and poor whites via the illicit drug trade. Think about it: Would the powerful in contemporary America countenance for one moment the thought that an uneducated member of the lower class makes more money per year than their son or daughter who graduated from Harvard? And is now living next door? And is now dining at the same restaurants? And is now driving the same kind of car? I don't think so. Hence, not only do the DEA/ prosecutors jail those they arrest for heinous amounts of time, but they also, most importantly, rob them. That is why the Supreme Court ruled against double jeopardy law; the lower classes must be jailed and robbed. The days of the lower classes in America becoming mainstream through so called ill gotten gains (think Irish and Italians) are finished. I read a few years ago where a DEA agent said, "We are not going to have anymore Kennedys." Indeed not.
William E. Hall

If you were at FCI Forrest City on September 26th, 2000 and saw a pesticide drift after the dusting plane flew nearby, and/or if you experienced any unusual illness after this date, you may need to file a complaint with this organization: The Arkansas State Plant Board - Box 1069 - Little Rock, Arkansas, 72203. Be prepared to present medical proof of symptoms. It is alleged that on September 26th, 2000, Johnny Poe, a pilot employed with Hutcharson Flying Services Inc., flew a crop duster applying a pesticide/insecticide called Atraps ULV on cotton growing about 200-250 yards from the prison fence in FCI Forrest City.
Name withheld

I am a prisoner of war here at FPC Alderson. I am serving a 78-month sentence. I saw your publication today. I have been incarcerated for 30 months and am shocked because I had never heard of you guys until now! I can't believe that only a small number of people have heard about you! What can I do to help?
Every one here should be involved in your organization if you ask me, not only the inmates but the families as well! I am enclosing the names and addresses of my family in hopes that your publication may open their eyes and show them exactly where the government is taking our country!
Thank you, M Sykes

My name is Gary Webb. I am in prison in California's SHU at Pelican Bay. I have 25 to life for passing a bad $7.00 check. A friend of mine told me you have a newsletter called The Razor Wire; how do I get on your mailing list?
Respectfully, Gary Webb
Editor's note: Gary, prisoner memberships (which include a subscription to the Razor Wire and regular updates, too - is only $6 per year. Any extra support is appreciated. Yes, we take stamps, too. See the membership form on page 5.

I would like to say thank you! TNC is doing a great job keeping society informed of the unjust war going on in America's front yard. I hope other prisoners who read The Razor Wire truly understand and take to heart how much TNC is doing for all of us behind these walls and fences.
The good fight can become a drawn-out struggle when dealing with attitudes expressed as "It does not involve me;" "It sounds good, but it isn't going to help," or just the peculiar mindset of closed-minded people. It is sad to say, but we have those types with us in here too. When I talk to some people, it is easy to see how society has gotten to the point we are now. What everyone needs to understand is: we are not claiming complete innocence; we are just explaining our side of the story and questioning the unjust amounts of time that first-time offenders and drug users are receiving. That's all, nothing else. Thank you once again TNC! You all have my deepest love and respect. Keep up the fight out there, and I'll keep it going within those fences.
Richard Perrine

I am one of those mothers with a son in prison doing time for drugs. He did wrong, but he didn't and doesn't deserve 34 years. I think that is too much punishment for a first time offense. So I hope our membership and Razor Wire subscription will help my son get some knowledge and inspiration.
I have paid out so much money to lawyers trying to get help but nothing happens. They take the money, but I don't get anything like satisfaction, neither did my son get justice. I am just a country girl who works hard every day and who wants some help for my only son. I just hope and pray there be some honest people left. I just want help for my son
Thanks, Rebecca Prevatte

I read numerous periodical, newsletters and notes regarding the prison nation that has risen since my incarceration. I've written a few articles and sent them to various news agencies. What makes this writing significantly different is that it is the first where I will throw into the discussion without fear of retaliation. The spark for this endeavor is the suspension of the U.S. Constitution, and California's blanket policy that some men are above the law. Beyond the publication of this writing, my hope will have substantial reason to be null and void, but thanks TNC.
I have served in excess of 31 years behind bars, and have miraculously maintained my sanity. I did the crime, served all this time, and am now a political prisoner of a system that's severed its original intent of dispensing justice. I tried to buy drugs to sell and killed one of the participants. I have been in prison since then. My father died, my brother died, my mother died, and the infrastructure for my support has severely been diminished to one sister and a few distant relatives. My children, a man and a woman, grew up without me.
There are a million stories. I've heard volumes of them. None terrifies me more than the abyss I look into now - hopelessness. I wonder when will "they" come to take me away.
Rubin Williams

The article, "Judge halts planned construction of Delano Prison," on page 4 of the July/Sept. 2001 (Vol 5, No. 4) issue of the Razor Wire omits the most important facts behind prison construction. The article states that a 5,160 bed maximum-security prison will cost California taxpayers $335,000,000.
By dividing this 1/3 billion-dollar sum to build the prison by the 5,160 number of beds, we get the cost of each bed - almost $65,000 each! From the article no one knows if there is to be one bunk per cell or two. The normal one or two person prison cell is about 8-9 feet by 10-11 feet with a toilet, sink, and maybe a metal or wood locker and desk with a plastic chair or stationary metal stool. The price? $65,000 for one person, $130,000 for an 8'x10' brick dungeon cell? The price is unbelievable but true. Jane and Joe taxpayer are getting ripped-off-big time. Unquestionably, fraud, theft and embezzlement are common features in prison construction, but the prisoners aren't to blame for it.
The wing I'm in at BSPC-Douglas (Mojave Unit) has 28 bunks (2 1/2 ft. wide), 3 urinals, 2 toilets, 3 sinks, and 3 showers, and it cost Arizona taxpayers $1,200,000 at the current going rate of $40,000 per bunk. Yet, in Arizona, prisoners earning no more than 50¢ per hour build prisons. Arizona revised statutes, A.R.S. section 31-253 permit this; the rip-off in Arizona is huge.
The Sam Lewis prisons in Buckeye (Phoenix) Arizona cost about $300,000,000 for about 5,000 beds. Isn't that an astonishing price, $60,000 per bed, considering prisoners making 50¢ an hour built it all?
Thus, the economic, social and mathematical facts are that prisons do not and cannot cost what taxpayers are charged for them. It must be less, or no more, expensive to keep prisoners in absolute luxury than it is to put them in brick dungeons. The true scandal is that taxpayers are whipped into frothing, hysterical frenzies that blind them to the obvious fraud behind the price of prisons.
The November Coalition should investigate and expose this fraud. Then, of course, we'd probably need more prisons to keep all these who have stolen public funds in the name of "public-safety" and prison construction. It is truly the "crime of the century." Once the fraud is prosecuted, the prisons needed to hold all these public officials and their cronies will be much cheaper.
Theodore C. Kulbs
Editor's Note: Who is the November Coalition? Just a reminder: it's all of us working together, each doing their part to end the war on drugs.

Didn't get my Razor Wire this time around, but it's entirely my fault because I didn't send you guys my new mailing address. I transferred here to FCI Memphis from Englewood (CO), have been here for two months now, and have been meaning to drop you folks a few lines. Please understand. Memphis is my hometown (born and raised here), and I haven't been home in over twenty-five years!
So, I have been catching up on all my last visits and getting to know my family again and also my four grand-kids and I have never seen any of my grandkids in person before; so, you can see where I am coming from, right?
Well, I do enjoy the Razor Wire that you folks publish, and thanks for all the time and effort that you guys put out trying to help us lost souls. Without people like you trying to change the laws and caring about us old and young dudes in these prisons, we wouldn't stand a chance.
Always, Tony Gentry

I can't thank you enough for how you fight for all of us prisoners of the drug war. I only wish that members of my black race would join the fight and be less patient waiting on a change in the law to just fall from the sky into our laps. I am African-American. I can't tell you how many times I have run around the various compounds over these nine years and shown inmates your newspaper and also FAMM's. Everyone wants to read the articles, but few want to take action. I'd bet you that at least 85% of the families of African-Americans who are incarcerated for crack-cocaine don't even know what a 100:1 ratio is, or the various statistics that show the discriminatory impact it has on African-Americans. We all need to study.
Thank you for the open and in-depth article in the last Director's Message titled "Lessons from a loser, because sometimes we win." Once everyone in this country faces the problems of racism head-on, and comes together to fix it, we will experience true harmony of love and peace that all races should share in this beautiful country. We are all family. Now we must start living and supporting one another, as a family should.
My mom and I will continue to fight alongside you until we tear this drug war and prison industry down.
Willie Jackson, POWD

We here at the Pekin Federal Prison Camp for women would like to share with you our week of June 25 to July 1, 2001. It was a very moving experience! With June 26th being the one-year anniversary of Apprendi, and several new bills and laws being voted on, we decided this would be a perfect opportunity to bond together because "strength comes in numbers."
On Monday June 25th, those wishing to participate fasted from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. We held prayer circles at 6 a.m., 11 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. We made a lap around the track. On the 26th we continued our fast and our prayer circles at 6 a.m. and 8:30 p.m., and, of course, our lap. This would be our schedule for the rest of the week.
By the time Sunday July 1st rolled around, and we did our seven laps, we had a total of 1043 participants! We had seven leaders, seven laps, seven days, seven ladies saved and seven originators!
We wish to say "God bless to all who participated, to those who said prayers and to the staff. Hopefully, other inmates and families/churches around the nation will join us next year.

Over the past several years, I have needed medical treatment from various doctors. ALL of them view the "drug problem" as a medical issue, not a criminal one, and I usually drop a new issue of the Razor Wire at everybody's office, whether I need an appointment or not.
My primary care doctor is very much interested, and I usually give him a handful of the papers that he passes around. This last time he put a pile of them in his waiting room. He told me later that he had never had a problem with periodicals being taken, but when he looked the next day, all of the Razor Wires were gone.
My nurse friend puts several copies in the waiting room of the outpatient surgery center where she works. They aren't usually taken but get awfully ragged as time passes between issues.
Sydnie M. Starkey, TNC volunteer, Colorado