Thanks to Mother Jones and AIDS activists for the inspiration, and thank you to those of you who joined or supported the walkers at the Liver Life Walk, Saturday. The T-shirts and banner invited a number of opportunities to raise awareness about Hepatitis C in jail and prison, and it was good to meet so many other people interested in working towards some common objectives. We also made a huge birthday card for Davon (March 23, 2010). Once I get my 35mm film from the day developed and on a disc, we’ll have the photos and thoughts on the walk up for you.
The new blog is up, now: hit it at http://hardtimehepc.blogspot.com. Let us know how it works for you, if you have other resource ideas for us to link to or upload, or if you’d like to help organize and keep posts current. I'll be anchoring it for awhile as Julie learns the mechanics, so shoot me an email if you have thoughts on content, links, layout, tone, etc. (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you need to connect about family organizing stuff, start with Julie. You can track her down fastest at Julie.email@example.com .
The audience here is mainly us: friends and families of prisoners, ex-prisoners, anarchist and Unitarian sympathizers, and hopefully the folks inside as well, since some articles would be good to put together and mail out as a newsletter for those who aren't on-line. We expect the State to be listening in from time to time as well, and will probably automatically shoot them our posts to keep them informed. ADC employees on the line or in health services who share our concerns and have information to offer, we will respect your anonymity. We’re much more about finding out who’s going to take responsibility for helping us through this with as many survivors as possible, than we are about ferreting out who’s to blame for where we’re at to begin with.
Really, I’ve done some research and we’re in about the same place most of the states and the Feds are - only we’re lifting the veil of silence that fell over this epidemic soon after it was announced, a decade ago. They must have realized how much it would cost to treat all those infected, and decided to just watch it, for the most part, until the more important socioeconomic classes were affected. Criminals and their families – and their communities (mostly of color) – are intended to be exploited; that’s why the 13th Amendment was written as it is. It’s interesting that they designated the “duly convicted”, not the “guilty,” as slaves of the state.
Anyway, as for the HARD TIME blog, the authors and editors are us, too. We're developing some basic guidelines for guest blogs/submissions so we can maintain a constructive dialogue, but anyone interested in posting (beyond a comment after someone else's) should contact myself or Julie (firstname.lastname@example.org) with their interest and the email address they want to use to log on. We still have to decide editorial responsibility, etc. once we have a more developed collective of family/prisoner activists. Since this is the time frame when we work that stuff out - dividing responsibility and power, basically - it would be a good time to get involved.
The Liver Life walk was an amazing experience, by the way, and brought home to me again the importance of what we’re doing. I’ve lost several family members to liver cancer or disease, and am hoping not to lose my big brother that way; his Hep C has already been wreaking havoc on his liver, and he’s not eligible for treatment. He’s nearly 50 now, though, and at least he’s a free man. Not many people can say that, even in their 70’s with no criminal record. I think my brother could honestly say he’s a free man if he was in prison – on a good day, anyway. God knows he’s transcended hell enough time himself – he might as well have been getting shuffled through USP-Lewisburg and beat up each time, as they appear to be fond of doing there…
I’ll be calling on folks for help with that place soon. It’s the federal pen in PA that Leonard Peltier and my buddy Byron Chubbuck are at right now, among others. I have documentation of more than one person’s abuse at the hands of guards, now, which is on its way to the PA ACLU and the DOJ. If any of those prisoners out there are further abused or retaliated against, I want their families to notify us and the DOJ and the PA ACLU immediately. I’m asking directly for a CRIPA investigation of the place, not just blogging it (though I know they read that post). After mailing our letter to the DOJ, we (
It should be a far more serious offense for an officer of the law to do violence to an institutionalized person – a captive who is completely at the mercy of them and their institution – than for a prisoner to defend himself against a rogue guard (or six of them with tasers). We expect more of people in uniform than that. The officers in question in each of the abuse cases (I’m sure Warden Bledsoe already knows who they are) should be removed from positions in which they can harm prisoners pending the outcomes of multiple investigations – internal and external alike.
More on the Liver Life Walk once I recover. Thank you to the American Liver Foundation for all the good work you do, and the lives you help save. Please, folks, if you even just drop them $10 with a note to “support Hep C treatment for prisoners,” it would be awesome. There were even some folks from the GLBTQ activist community in drag, there. The Liver Foundation was accommodating of everyone who cared about their constituents. I think this means they consider prisoners with Hep C to be “theirs”, too. That’s actually more than I might have expected, after the way I’ve seen the “duly convicted” treated in recent months – particularly Jamie Scott.
I don’t know what’s up with the Mississippi Kidney Foundation. It would help if a wealthy