By Chuck Armsbury, Senior Editor
There will be rumors
and rumors of rumors. It's confusing for sure, and we often scratch
our heads to come up with a response to various rumors we hear
at the home office.
"Are there tunnels under federal prisons where we'll be
gassed if things get really bad?" wondered several writers.
"We've heard that eligibility for release has been lowered
to 65% of sentence served, down from the current 85%," callers
ask frequently and hopefully.
No, neither of these rumors is true from what we know. But if
spreading rumors is as interesting and popular, as it seems,
how about spreading some rumors of our own? How about spreading
the rumor that parole will return to the federal prison system?
What could then stop such a positive rumor from becoming a real
force at some point with thousands repeating it - better yet,
supporting it? Imagine large crowds of citizens chanting "return
parole" at the prison gates while the Judiciary Committee
drafts new parole legislation. Now that would be a rumor we'd
love to support and report as fact. Meanwhile, let's get busy
describing our reality.
All you writers, heads up! The following guidelines for submitting
articles are from our website. Help us be better editors by sending
your best writing, nothing more, just your best.
November Coalition and Public Education
An understanding of our primary educational projects - how
and why we tell the public what we do - will help you determine
how you can participate.
We rely on telling the simple truth of the matter, believing
that sharing the anguish of injustice will "humanize"
drug war prisoners and allow us to counter political propaganda
demonizing them. We begin by sharing prisoner stories on The
Wall - both on the website and in the Razor Wire, our newspaper.
We share sentiments of children through their correspondence
with imprisoned parents, and prisoners' letters to their children,
their impassioned pleas to legislators for fairness and justice
for their parents, uncles and siblings. Formal expressions or
elements defining and animating this educational process include
prose, essays, letters, artwork and, most often, written narratives
of personal history and opinion. To promote further understanding
of how this works, please visit one or more of these sections
of the website for details at www.november.org, and/or become
a member and receive each quarterly issue of the Razor Wire.
Our home office manages a complex communication network for coordinating
volunteers nationwide - prisoners, their family members, friends,
other reform organizations - by traditional mail, electronic
mail and telephone. This thick web of communication is prompted
primarily by our public education projects that you see listed
here. People who read about us, and understand our mission, contact
us to learn how they can be involved.
Many stories find their way into major national magazines, newspapers,
TV news specials and documentaries. This is one, great reason
why your personal contributions to our growing, educational ability
is vital. If you don't tell us your stories, share your children's
material and your own sentiments - we can't share them with the
We look forward to reviewing your submissions!
Razor Wire submissions, suggestions &
We are looking for special observations about the drug war,
small stories, and interesting incidents or anecdotes. We don't
publish emotional 'rants' because our purpose is to promote constructive
communication and educate our readers. Remember, the Coalition's
primary mission is to expose and end the failed drug war; we
welcome interesting letters from prisoners and citizens on any
topic thought to be linked to our strategic mission.
Prisoners send letters by traditional postal mail, but those
online can email submissions. We publish photos or drawings that
can accompany your article. We especially look for written themes
that describe how and what ordinary citizens have done to convince
government officials, associates and friends to think critically
about the drug war. You can inspire us with a drug war story
about your success teaching someone in your family, office, church,
community group. You might also tell how you first learned about
the abuses and failure of the drug war, and what action you have
taken to encourage drug law reform.
Write your letter or article as best you can. Our editors will
correct spelling and glaring grammatical errors. Generally speaking,
shorter writing submissions get our attention. Please don't send
us a lengthy manuscript or essay without contacting us first;
chances are we will not have staff time available to read or
edit it. The Mail Call letters printed in the Razor Wire range
from 100 to 400 words. A feature article or guest column should
be no more than 1200 words. Submitted items should be typed,
double-spaced, or neatly printed by hand if you don't have access
to a typewriter.
If you are sending a submission by email, save the documents
as RFT (rich formatted text) if possible, or plain text and attach
to an email communication. If you are sending a photograph or
other "scanned" material, save as a JPEG and attach
to the email. If text or JPEG, please include a brief summary
of your submission in the body of the email. In the subject line,
type Razor Wire Submission. Include your contact information
if you are not already listed in our database. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to writing, you may involve yourself in distributing
the Razor Wire. Finally, you may want to use the Razor Wire as
an aid to study for your school, church, civic association, or
your circle of friends. We can make extra copies available for
these purposes. If this is something you want to do, volunteer
supplies are listed on page. Prisoners hold informal classes,
learning together how they can further the cause of drug policy
reform. "Free world" citizens and drug war prisoners
read from the same page in this unique educational process. Please
join us today.
The Wall - What we need to begin publicizing
- · Photograph - Preferably a family visitation photo
for stonger visual impact.
- · Short Story - Written from the prisoner's experience.
One or two pages reads best, even a paragraph or two is okay.
- · Pre-Sentence Investigation Report - This helps us
pre-screen any potential problems. When we ask about criminal
history -- we really need to know. The media often asks for stories
to publish -- we must have the truth. For state prisoners, any
documentation of past criminal history will be accepted. Case
managers can provide this paperwork. (The PSI or equivalent remains
confidential and is for our records only.) Please do not include
trial transcripts or legal court documents. We will request any
additional paperwork if needed.
- · Drug War Prisoner Questionnaire - This form asks
case information and details regarding sentencing. In order to
process a wall story we require the questionnaire completed and
signed by the prisoner.
Once our office receives all of the necessary items, we can
process the story. Upon completion, a proof will be sent to the
prisoner for approval. When the proof is returned to us, we will
make the necessary changes, if needed, and add the story to our
Wall portion of the website.
Children of War
The idea for this portion of the website came in the summer
of 1997 from Haley Ansil. She wanted to share a prayer she had
written for her father with our Internet visitors.
We feature children's drawings, poems, prayers and letters they
write to legislators in our newspaper, the Razor Wire, and on
our website. Sometimes a child will write an imprisoned parent
a letter that makes a "free citizen" that is visiting
our website pause and take notice. Feel free to send us such
correspondence if you would like it posted on the Internet or
published in our newspaper.
We also feature articles that have particular focus on children
who are direct victims of the drug war, such as teenager Ezekial
Hernandez, shot and killed by Marines while herding his goats.
The Marines thought he was a drug smuggler.
You may make an electronic submission of writing, but we prefer
to scan material in the children's handwriting when at all possible.
Visitation photos with their imprisoned parents make a welcome
addition to both website and the newspaper, and can accompany
anything that the guardian or parent and child want to submit
for consideration. Please include permission for us to make this
To make an electronic submission, email: email@example.com
Send "hard copy" of all submissions and photographs
The November Coalition · 795 South Cedar · Colville,