[col. writ. 12/17/11] (c) '11 Mumia Abu-Jamal
Every prison is the same; and every prison is different.
Every prison has its own mythos, (think Alcatraz, Sing Sing, Attica), its own rhythm. hard, cool, tight, relaxed, severe or super max. And every prison is run by class -as in how courts or administrators have classified a crime according to whose interests are threatened.
For example, in every 'hole" in the State, where all Death Rows are sited, men and women with the worst sentences live the least contentious lives. If they can afford it, (really if their family can), they TV, radio and other amenities -if they can afford it. Some work prison jobs for the glorious wage of around $35 to $50 a month (yes, a month) There, every mind is attuned to the ultimate sentence -death - and against such an immensity, amenities seem trivial.
Yet Death Row is a class (as in classification) and beyond it lies a chasm of classifications that are as maddening as they are mundane - AC (Administrative Custody), DC (Disciplinary Custody), PC (Protective Custody), and beyond.
All are lock-up statuses, all have their distinct rules of what is or isn't allowed, and all have degrees of repression.
Every major U.S. history book has described America as virtually classless, with rigid class distinctions more a British or European thing. How then can a Nation that claimed classlessness give birth to such institutions that are so riddled with class differentiations?
Because America was never classless, and not only did it have rigid classes, it had (and has), caste, more rigid than stone. Millions of Blacks live in such a caste, as noted recently in Michelle Alexander's excellent work, The New Jim Crow.
The ruling, wealthy class built prisons and courts to protect them and their wealth from the masses. They have also built the ideological illusion of classlessness, which is maintained through their media. They brayed about freedom, while erecting the most massive prison complex (the prison-industrial-complex) this earth has ever seen.
They built Prison Nation.
(c) '11 maj
Mumia Abu-Jamal was transfered on Wed December 12th from death row at SCI Greene in Waynesburg PA to SCI Mahanoy in Frackville PA. He remains in Administrative Custody, which has severe restrictions. He has not been able to reach anyone by phone and has had limited visits. Even though he is not technically on Death Row, Mumia remains in solitary confinement. For the first few days of his confinement he had eight sheets of paper and a rubber pen. He now has access to four books and more paper. His visits are still non-contact, behind plexiglass and he is shackled hands in front him with leg irons during these non-contact visits. During his seven hour ride from one rural prison to another he was able to see rolling hills of grass, cows, trees, and the open sky. This is the first time he has been outside of solitary confinement on death row in over fifteen years.
Note from Mumia:
“Well I am here at SCI Mahanoy (accent 1st syllable “Mah-ha-nay) or “slo-death row’: I rapped with two people pre-Mahanoy who told me that the event in Philadelphia was off the hook! I wish I coulda seen it! Shit I wish I was there! This joint is a country joint like Greene but they don’t feel as outwardly “country” as Green (tho they are). Greene guards dig country music; These dudes are generally younger like top 40. But its definitely got a Greene vibe- I think of it as “son of Greene.” I am skimpin ona paper cuz I only got 2 pp left. Give my love to alla peeps” Mu (Mumia Abu-Jamal).