penal institutions


Country Legend Merle Haggard Dies At 79

“I’ve lived through 17 stays in penal institutions. Incarceration in a penitentiary. Five marriages, bankruptcy, a broken back, brawls, shooting incidents, swindlings, sickness, the death of loved ones and more. I’ve heard tens of thousands chant my name when I couldn’t hear the voice of my own soul. I wondered if God was listening and I was sure no one else was.”

With Merle Haggard’s passing, perhaps he’ll finally learn that God was indeed listening and was actually a fan.

Prisoners-especially blacks, Chicanos and Puerto Ricans-are increasingly advancing the proposition that they are political prisoners. They contend that they are political prisoners in the sense that they are largely the victims of an oppressive politico-economic order, swiftly becoming conscious of the causes underlying their victimization. The Folsom Prisoners’ Manifesto of Demands and Anti-Oppression Plat- form” attests to a lucid understanding of the structures of oppression within the prison-structures which contradict even the avowed function of the penal institution: “The program we are submitted to, under the ridiculous title of rehabilitation, is relative to the ancient stupidity of pouring water on the drowning man, in as much as we are treated for our hostilities by our program administrators with their hostility for medication.” The Manifesto also reflects an awareness that the severe social crisis taking place in this country, predicated in part on the ever-increasing mass consciousness of deepening social contradictions, is forcing the political function of the prisons to surface in all its brutality. Their contention that prisons are being transformed into the “fascist concentration camps of modern America,” should not be taken lightly, although it would be erroneous as well as defeatist in a practical sense, to maintain that fascism has irremediably established itself.
—  Angela Davis, Imprisoned Intellectuals
8/27/15 - 5:36 pm, Pozarevac Penal Correctional Institution, Serbia

John enters a cramped, interrogation room.  The walls are cinder block the floors unpainted cement.  The room contains a single table, and two metal chairs.  Mary sits in one of the chairs, slightly pale, hair crudely cropped even shorter than usual, and brushed simply back.  He face is unreadable as John enters, and takes the chair opposite her.

He sits and simply observes her for a moment.  She stares back at him without a word—cold as ice.  Finally John sniffs angrily and leans forward, resting his elbows on the table before him.

JOHN (tightly): So…

(Mary cocks her head to one side, in acknowledgement, but remains silent.)

JOHN (smiling dangerously in return): I’ve had quite the little commute today.  Plenty of time to be brought up to speed on your ‘mission’, previous employment—recreational activities… (a muscle at John’s jaw twitches, and he swallows, lips tight.  He sits back in his chair.)

Yeah, see, I had this whole speech planned out, and now I’m here, now I’m looking you in the eye, I’m not certain you deserve to hear it.

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