The Free Alabama Movement (F.A.M.) has long been a model for prisoners attempting to organize in peaceful but powerful protest against inhumane conditions and dehumanizing treatment. They now have set out a powerful model for legislating true change for and on behalf of prisoners nationwide. It is titled “ALABAMA’S EDUCATION, REHABILITATION, AND RE-ENTRY PREPAREDNESS BILL.” Read and/or download the full text here.
Some highlights from the document: Continue reading
All lovers of justice are invited to a free public reading of the play “Caged” on May 22nd at 7:00pm, in Kerney Hall of Mercer County Community College (Trenton Campus). “Caged” was written by a group of currently and formerly incarcerated people with the assistance of Pulitzer Prize winning author Chris Hedges. Addressing the audience immediately following the reading will be Chris Hedges as well as one of the recently released authors of the play. For more on this play and how and why it was written, see Hedges’ article, “The Play’s the Thing.”
In the first of a two-part series on prison profiteering schemes, Al Jazeera America tackles the exorbitant cost heaped on released prisoners and their families by JPay, Chase Bank, Keefe Group, and other prison bankers. Continue reading
Thank you to all who attended our first meeting on April 4. If you were unable, please read this column by Chris Hedges covering our event.
With this first very powerful event behind us, it is time to put some very clear demands forward so that our members can begin taking action to catalyze change for those who are incarcerated, formerly incarcerated, and/or supporting incarcerated loved ones. We have added a page titled “Objectives,” wherein you can find the list of demands for which we are working.
In bringing the issue of prison profiteering in New Jersey to light, we are doing deeper investigations into the state and local contracts that govern the auctioning of prison services to private companies, but we are asking all of our members, inside and outside the prison cells to ACT NOW based on the information we do have. Here are the boycotts for which we are calling immediately: Continue reading
Please plan to join the Interfaith Prison Coalition and its partners for the first organizational meeting:
SATURDAY, APRIL 4
Elmwood Presbyterian Church
377 Clinton Avenue
Newark, NJ 07108
10:00AM – 12:00PM
Speakers will include Larry Hamm, Gale Muhammad, and other activists and artists. We will hear music performed by the Mike Packer Blues Band. Light refreshments will be served. PLEASE RSVP HERE.
A 2014 article published by the Center for Public Integrity details new exploits of JPay Inc., the company now handling nearly 70% of all U.S. prisoner bank accounts, making additional profits on released prisoners trying to access the money from their prisoner accounts. These funds have likely already been subject to surcharges when deposited by families through JPay, and now ex-prisoners are forced to contribute to the for-profit company each time they use their “debit cards” upon release. JPay now issues these debit cards for individuals released from county jails and state prisons in New Jersey. Here is an excerpt from the linked article.
JPay provides the cards in at least 11 states. In most cases, the fees exceed what consumers would pay for similar services.
In Michigan, for example, JPay charges users 50 cents to check the card’s balance at an ATM, $2 to withdraw cash, 70 cents to make a purchase and 50 cents a month for a maintenance fee. Even not using the card costs money. Doing nothing draws a $2.99 fee after 60 days. To cancel the card, it costs $9.95.
Watch this compelling two-part interview through The Real News between Eddie Conway and Chris Hedges. In it, they discuss the way prison profiteers capitalize on captive consumer markets. Read the transcript below.
It is often said that people who are incarcerated are “paying their debt to society.” In New Jersey, as across the country, the reverse is true: the prison is not the place where debts are paid, but where debts are incurred. While serving their sentences, prisoners and their families are facing mountainous fees, fines, surcharges, and price spikes. Private companies are benefiting not only through imposing costs on poor families, but through employing a captive workforce and retaining a captive consumer market. With impunity, the Department of Corrections is preying on vulnerable individuals and their families by capitalizing on decreases in real income. In attempting to pay off this societal debt, individuals are instead leaving prison burdened with thousands of dollars in debt and undue fractures in their social support networks. Consider the following ways the New Jersey prison system is economically torpedoing poor families. Continue reading
This morning, Pulitzer prize winning author Chris Hedges, formerly incarcerated Black Panther Earl Amin, and community organizer Amos Caley gave an interview discussing the prison profiteering in New Jersey state prisons. Among the many items discussed, they addressed the privatization of prison services, the gouging of poor families for corporate profit, the political roots of the current system of incarceration, and the response of the Interfaith Prison Coalition in New Jersey. Listen to the entire interview here.
A 2014 report, “Survivors Speak,” has been published by the American Friends Service Committee, which details testimonies of torture by prisoners in the United States prison system. Read the full report here: FINAL AFSC shadow report – Survivors Speak. These accounts, although horrifying, are vital in this work to confront and redress the abusive and exploitive practices propagated and condoned by the New Jersey Department of Corrections.