Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It’s Like Capitol Hill Vote-Whipping, Only On Lockdown

In a marvelously rewarding tripe-athon of socio-anthropological exploratorio, the New York Times reports that for thousands of convicts suffering the carceral depredations of the state of Georgia (that’s our Georgia, as in peach, not the Caucasian Georgia, as in menaced by Russia), relief could be just a few days and a “non-violent protest” away. “[U]sing text messaging and word of mouth” via contraband cellphones—a modern-day underground railroad, if you will—internees of every stripe and inclination have spent months communicating prison-to-prison, organizing what the newspaper of record, ever the sober-sided analyst, christens “a grass-roots movement behind bars.”

Inmates said they would not perform chores, work for the Corrections Department’s industrial arm or shop at prison commissaries until a list of demands are addressed, including compensation for their work, more educational opportunities, better food and sentencing rules changes.

Next stop, UNION! (But “sentencing rules changes”? Too many jailhouse lawyers—and Times reporters—without enough educational opportunities, methinks.) 

(Can one be forgiven for wondering, by the way, just how much the compensation-deprived members of the Brown Side Locos, MS-13, the Dixie Mafia, the Aryan Brotherhood, the Crips, the Bloods, or the Five Percenters, to name but a small sampling of the whole dappled and various throng of prison gangs that have been brought to such togetherness by this prospectively peaceful enterprise, would enjoy the educational opportunities, not to say the food, of Tehran’s Evin Prison, or Cuba’s Combinado del Este, or the Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison in Zimbabwe?) 

In the meantime, all that inter- and intra-prisoner cellular bonding has been accompanied by a little extracurricular bonding, as well, notably with the New York Times’s own proud self:

Reached on their cellphones inside several prisons, six participants in the strike described a feat of social networking more reminiscent of Capitol Hill vote-whipping than jailhouse rebellion. . . .  “Anybody that has some sort of dictatorship or leadership amongst the crowds,” said Mike, one of several prisoners who contacted The New York Times to publicize their strike. “We have to come together and set aside all differences, whites, blacks, those of us that are affiliated in gangs.”

If all goes as planned, and the lockdowns that have already been instituted by wardens who are very likely wary of grass-roots movements and Capitol-Hill vote whippings behind Georgia bars are rescinded, the strike of the cons against the inadequate circumstances under which they are forced to do their time will take place this weekend. And, needless to say, they have a consultant: 

The inmates’ closest adviser outside prison walls is Elaine Brown, a longtime advocate for prisoners whose son is incarcerated at Macon State Prison, one of the other major protest sites. . . . A former Black Panther leader who is based in Oakland, Calif., Ms. Brown helped distill the inmate complaints into a list of demands. She held a conference call on Sunday evening to develop a strategy with various groups, including the Georgia chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Nation of Islam. 

The strategy? The Times doesn’t stoop to say, but where there’s a gathering of Panthers, the NAACP, and the Nation of Islam, can a protest—of whatever kind—outside the prison walls be far behind? 

And just in case the whole prison peace-movement thing comes a cropper, and the non- falls off the violence, rioters can always beat their cellphones into shivs.

1 comment:

  1. If you didn't tell me this was from the NYT, I would've guessed it was the Onion (assuming they haven't yet decided to merge and exploit their common market.) There is no longer such a thing as satire; there's just bizarre realities that haven't happened yet.