What is the Jailhouse Lawyer’s Handbook and why is it a crucial tool for people in prison? Senior Legal Worker Ian Head spoke with a number of people who have influenced and been influenced by the handbook for the 41st episode of “The Activist Files,” “Jailhouse Lawyer’s Handbook: Exploring the legacy of inside-outside organizing.”
In this episode, Ian spoke with Brian Glick, a lawyer, Fordham Law School professor, writer and activist, and original author of the handbook; Jenipher Jones Bonio, lead counsel, Jailhouse Lawyers Speak International Law Project and program manager for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice Initiatives at Sturm College of Law; Lisa Drapkin, director of membership for the National Lawyers Guild, which helps with the distribution of the handbook; and Chinyere Ezie, our senior staff attorney and co-author of the updated edition of the Jailhouse Lawyer’s Handbook. Ian wrapped up the episode by playing a recording by Mumia Abu Jamal, political activist, journalist and jailhouse lawyer.
LISTEN AT bit.ly/activist-files
Logos of the Center for Constitutional Rights and the National Lawyers Guild at the top left. Underneath, black text on light background that says: “The Jailhouse Lawyer’s Handbook completely updated and revised.” The JLH cover is placed on the right of the image. Below there’s a section of white text on black background that reads “The new JLH includes: A section on issues of importance to LGBTQIA+ people and people living with HIV/AIDS. A new appendix of state-by-state information. Information about importune substantive and procedural developments since 2010.” Below is The Activist Files logo.
Jailhouse Lawyers Speak is proud to announce that our national organization has been awarded a large donation to utilize for our organization. We have not determined how or what these funds will be used for, but rest assured we will use these to grow and further develop our organization inside.
Jailhouse Lawyers Speak CC (national) will review how and when to utilize these funds after the New Year.
PURCHASE AND OWNERSHIP OF PROPERTY:
Through current personal and organizational funds of Jailhouse Lawyers Speak and Rocs House, JLS will be establishing a permanent central office space in what will be known (by vote) as “Rocs House”. Place and time TBA after closing on house in a few weeks. We will have bed space that we plan to designate as beds for women released from prison and women in need of safe housing. The structure and functioning of Rocs House will be that of a genuine home.
After initiation of this project, we will reevaluate this project after 12 months to determine its status.
At Rocs House, the initial outlined criteria:
* Persons returning from the women prison with a proven record of helping other women prisoners
* Persons referred for relocation safe housing by a counselor or case manager connected to the domestic violence network
Other related upcoming projects:
Seasonal Holiday Project (Dec 2021): writing to prisoners and sponsoring gifts to children of incarcerated moms/dads.
2022: Organizing Shut’em Down call inside
** We give a special thank you to the hands that pushed the Give Butter fundraiser. The shirt Abolition designs were awesome!
Thank you to all our supporters. Be sure to support our upcoming end of the year Seasonal Holiday gift program by becoming a sponsor. We will be releasing detail in October on how to sign up and be paired. Last year the program exceeded our expectations. We had more sponsors than children.
SHUT EM’ DOWN The primary function of the U.S. Prison Industrial Slave Complex (PISC) is the social containment and exploitation of surplus labor in Amerikkka. It has been that way since the ratification of the 13th Amendment saw the chattel slave system transition to the penal slave system. The twin pillars of capitalism: it’s race caste and economic class system’s, have ensured that New Afrikans, Latinos, Indigenous Nations and the poor are disproportionately targeted and fed into the maw of the PISC from it’s inception to the present day. But repression breeds resistance. The heroic and valiant Attica Uprising, inspired by Prison resistance in California, culminating in the martydom of the Honorable Komrade George Lester Jackson, saw the unquenchable spirit of Human Freedom rage against the inhumanity and brutality of imprisonment in Amerikkka and it’s excesses. The struggle has not relented or ceased, only evolved in intensity and urgency to see an end to the oppression of Man and Woman, by man and woman. No longer can we sit idely by as fascism advances and the People are ground down under the boot of economic desperation, the deliberate application of poverty, and the criminalization of those most disenfranchised in this society. In the spirit of the Attica Uprising, let us say in one voice, SHUT EM’ DOWN! End the social containment of Our Communities; end the racist assaults on Our humanity; end the school to poverty to prison pipeline by educating, organizing and mobilizing Ourselves and Our Communities to build the necessary structures to RESIST. Resistance is rationale. Build…until we win, or don’t lose.
Black August Organizing Committee Joka Heshima Jinsai & Abdul Olugbala Shakur
BLACK AUGUST RESISTANCE AND THE A.I.M.: For over four centuries New Afrikans in Amerikkka have struggled for Freedom, Justice, Equality and Human Rights. They have NOT found it. In spite of a culture of capitalist exploitation, institutional racism and unapologetic white supremacy- still Our People hope for change, never fully coming to grips with the reality that the only rights we have are those we can enforce. Across the long breadth and deapth of this historical miscarriage, intellectuals, activists and would-be progressives, ( and even some self-described Revolutionaries) have sought to realize these aims primarily through either the doctrine of reform and inclusion (an approach that history has proven is unequal to the task), or through decrying the evils of the “white man” and raging against external mechanisms designed to maintain Our oppression. But very rarely do we instead focus on HOW WE HAVE (or in many cases HAVE NOT) RESPONDED TO THAT OPPRESSION. The Community Development and empowerment initiatives we institute during Black August Memorial are central to Our culture of resistance. Black August Resistance is 365 days a year and the relative success of these initiatives will determine Our relative ability to resist capitalist excesses and encirclement campaigns. The Autonomous Infrastructure Mission (AIM) is specifically designed for this purpose- to make Our People and Our Communities AUTONOMOUS. In perhaps some of the most pattently irrational reasoning in human history, many New Afrikans have looked upon solutions to Our collective oppression, which are primarily orientated on Our self-determination and self-developnent, solutions which seek to resolve the INTERNAL contradictions at the root of Our National oppression, as somehow “radical”, “extremist” and most disturbingly, “unrealistic” (as if Our People are incapable of genuine Freedom). Our People- New Afrikans in Amerikkka -have undergone a contrapositive authoritarian conditioning process over the course of centuries, surviving some of the most brutal and unspeakable attrocities in human history, so of course some warping of the character structure, some collective irrationality and psychosis is to be expected. However, at this juncture in history, with an over 400 year long historical record to reflect upon, how is it we are still seeking to “reform” a system of institutional racism and naked exploitation which is functioning EXACTLY AS IT WAS INTENDED TO; when EVERY so called “reform” has simply been a refinement on the same institutions and mechanisms of oppression we’ve endured since 1619? At what point do we begin to look at Ourselves- Our own actions and inactions, both irrational and self-defeating , as the true basis of Our oppression, and then move against them? We have responded to organized policies of divide and control with disunity and self-hatred; Our response to the deliberate application of poverty is to rob, steal, pimp, and sale poison to one another; Our response to racist murder, police brutality and criminalization is to kill one another gang banging or to picket and plead this system to stop functioning as it was designed to. Instead of organizing Ourselves to be strong we continually choose weakness, constantly looking outside Ourselves for salvation from Our woes. Instead of structuring Ourselves to enforce Our rights, we beg the state -a state that has demonstrated in every way humanly possible over the course of CENTURIES that we are not included in its’ safeguards- to somehow honor Our rights. When we look at the condition of Our Communities and Our inadequate and irrational response to fixing it, no one can convince me that we are not functioning under some degree of colonial psychosis, a general inability to act rationally in order to confront and allieviate Our suffering. We must all recognize that genuine progressive social change is an exact science, based on a concrete analysis of Our concrete conditions. Such an analysis, both scientific and objective, bears some inescapable conclusions: 1) The development of Unity, Functional Unity, is a prerequisite for any solution with any hope of success. 2) Just as no one can be your master unless you consent to being a slave; no one can be Our oppressors if we act Collectively to oppose Our oppression. 3) No one outside of Our Communities is going to rescue Our Communities. 4) The only “rights” we have in THIS society are those we can enforce. 5) The ONLY way we are going to change Our Communities conditions for the better, is by organizing, maintaining and defending Our own Community based infrastructure. We have developed a blueprint to feed, clothe, house, educate, employ and Defend ourselves: THE AUTONOMOUS INFRASTRUCTURE MISSION, or A.I.M. The A.I.M. is composed of several contiguous Community development Initiatives designed to work in interconnection to form a single Autonomous Community-based Infrastructure capable of meeting the basic needs of Our People and linking to other A.I.M. organized Communities to magnify Our capacity to ensure Our general welfare and the health of Our People. The SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURAL COMMUNE (SAC) is designed to establish Our own food production, distribution and surplus systems in Our Communities based primarily on Our collective work and social cooperation. The COMMUNITY SAFE-ZONES INITIATIVE (CSZI) is designed to ensure there are spaces in Our Communities where Our People, Our Children, Women and Elders, may go about social life free from the fear of violent death, abuse, abduction or injury- safeguarded by both the mutual agreement and organized defense of specific spaces in Our Communities. The CLOSED-CIRCUIT ECONOMIC INITIATIVE (CCEI) ensures we can pool our resources to buy our own collectively owned businesses where we employ ONLY those from our Communities who don’t have a job, both circulating Our wealth in Our own Communities while eradicating unemployment as we expand the economic circuit. The NEW AFRIKAN MATH & SCIENCE CENTERS INITIATIVE ensures we have Community based institutions where Our People are assured a functional understanding of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math in order to meet the needs of Our Communities scientific and technological challenges. The EMERGENCY RESPONSE NETWORK (ERN)ensures Our Communities are prepared, both individually and collectively, to respond during times of natural disaster or civil unrest to ensure the health and safety of Our People. The YOUTH COMMUNITY ACTION PROGRAM (Y-CAP) will empower our Youth to both value and serve their Communities through a 2-phase program which includes knowledge of self and martial arts curriculum, combined with an economic empowerment program designed to both demonstrate the power of Cooperative Economics and Collective Work, as well as putting money in their Communities. The SECURE COMMUNITIES MANDATE (SCM) ensures Our Communities, both individually and collectively, have the means, skill, specialized knowledge and equipment to ensure Our collective self-defense against ANY threat to Our People’s lives or safety. We can no longer engage in the same hum-drum existence of sidewalk escapism, petty hustling and reactionary protesting, believing it will produce anything other than the same cycles of self defeating reform and repression. These are irrational responses to the social conditions we face, and have proven unequal to the unique challenges of the U.S. race/class arrangement. The A.I.M. gives us the capacity to meet Our People’s needs and defend Our rights in such a way that Our health and welfare is in Our hands. It is my sincerest hope that you will join us in this effort, and if you have, you will reaffirm that commitment. If you are not an A.I.M. Local Coordinator, become one by contacting National Coordinator, Adam Brashere (@ email@example.com) or one of the other National Coordinating Committee Members. We are Our own Liberators. In the spirit of Black August Resistance, let’s be about the business of building the Autonomous Community-based Infrastructure necessary to achieve genuine Freedom, Justice and Equality, and defend this new basis for social life. Until we win or don’t lose. -Joka Heshima Jinsai
NATIONAL SHUT’EM DOWN PRISONERS’ STRIKE AND BOYCOTT Abolition Right Now!
[NATIONAL, August-September] It is with a collective heavy heart, but a raging spirit of Abolition that Jailhouse Lawyers Speak announces the call for National Abolition Demonstrations inside the prisons and Jails of America! Jailhouse Lawyers Speak members around the nation are making a direct appeal for people locked up to disrupt the normal prison operations of america.These demonstrations will be known as National Shutem Down Demonstrations. Scheduled to take place August 21 – September 9th 2022. This announcement comes early to give our friends, families, comrades and supporters on the outside enough time to get the word inside to every jail, prison, and ICE facility by any means.
People have asked why we fight to end legalized enslavement and to abolish prisons in America?
We fight to end legalized enslavement because it’s wrong, promotes prisons, demands profits off the convicted, and it violates human rights.
Ending legalized enslavement will open cell doors, but like other countries with no slave laws on the books, Amerika will adjust when it amends the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution. The same way it did in maintaining White Supremacy through infrastructure racism. We too must adjust in tactics and strategies. Never forget that American prisons, jails and the police are the legacy of slavery.
Part of JLS adjusting is moving harder against the system core fascist tool: prisons and jails. We must shut them down. And for those that desire to see America do better, the fight must be to divert those funds back into disadvantaged communities. Poor communities are where over the majority of US prisoners come from. We would argue that we (people in prisons) are products of our environment.
As one human rights organization in the historical Prisoners Resistance Movement, we understand that everything has its season. The leaves are turning, freedom cries are in the air. Abolition must meet and seize the times.
SHUT’EM DOWN DEMONSTRATION METHODS
People in prisons, jails, or ICE can select one or multiple ways to participate in the Shut ‘Em Down demonstrations
1. Work Strikes: Prisoners will not report to assigned jobs. Each place of detention will determine how long its strike will last. Some of these strikes may translate into a local list of demands designed to improve conditions and reduce harm within the prison.
2. Sit-ins : In certain prisons, men and women will engage in sit – in protests.
3. Boycotts: All spending should be halted throughout demonstration dates. We ask those outside the walls not to make financial judgments for those inside. Men and women on the inside will inform you if they are participating in this boycott.
4. Hunger Strikes: Men and women shall refuse to eat. This is usually the only options some may have in order to participate
5. Sabotaging prison work equipment to ensure it will not function
Jailhouse Lawyers Speak placed an inside demonstration call in 2018 on the behalf of prisoners nationwide. With that strike call came a list of 10 demands. Today 2021 we are still calling on people on the inside and outside around the nation to lift back up those human rights demands (as amended). These are demands that thousands of people in prison around the nation agreed with by demonstrating and suffering horrible retaliation over. We will not abandon them. Those demands are steps in the right direction to dismantle the prison industrial slave complex.
SHUT’EM DOWN ABOLITION DEMANDS
Based on the 2018 national prisoners strike 10 demands and the overall scope of the 10 demands we are demanding:
1. The end to prison slavery. The 13th Amendment punishment clause to the US Constitution be repealed. (Popular language “amended”).
Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Rep. William Lacy Clay of Missouri introduced a joint resolution that would remove the 13th Amendment’s “punishment clause,” or language that excepted convicted prisoners from the ban on slavery and involuntary servitude. Jailhouse Lawyers Speak agrees with this historical move to end legalized enslavement of the people in the US
2. The closure of a majority of jails and prisons in every state. This includes federal prisons and ICE. (Outside organizers and/or people currently inside should select and educate the public as to why certain confinement hell holes must be shut down)
Closures should be followed by laws being enacted to reduce the use of cells. And force resources that would have been allocated to those jails and prisons into the poorer communities to aid in ending poverty crimes
3. Immediately closing down all private prisons
4. Freeing All Political Prisoners in the US prisons
WHAT CAN YOU DO ON THE OUTSIDE TO HELP
Share this press release everywhere, especially to media outlets
Create promotional materials to send inside, share on social media, and to pass out at events
Organize Abolitionist events to promote ShutEm Down 2022
Promote the Shut’em Down Abolition demands
Organize event to educate and demand the closure of prisons, jails, and ICE
*Consider applying for the following Committee/seats:
– Abolition Convention Planning Committee.
This Committee will be responsible for organizing the Convention.
– JLS International Law Project.
Volunteer lawyers and law students only.
Contact project attorneys: Jenipher Jones and Audrey Bomse for an application firstname.lastname@example.org
– NSD Political Prisoners Freedom Committee.
Will be responsible for Political Prisoners campaigns.
– NSD Lobbyist Committee
At least one volunteer lobbyist will be needed for every state.
People inside that would like to share their ideas on places that should be closed down or notice that their place of confinement will be participating can write to:
KC IWOC PO Box 414304 Kansas City, MO 64141
All media inquiries contact: email@example.com
A call to action. National “Shut’em Down” demonstrations August 21st and September 9th.
Over the last year prisoners across the country have been holding the longest and largest spontaneous demonstrations in response to covid. With approximately 300,000 (the number is possibly as high as 800,000) people in prison having been infected by covid prisoners have continued to demand basic human rights protections. These demonstrations have been sporadic and largely ignored by the public as prisoners and supporters demanded covid safety and precautions be enacted in prisons. In a number of states, these covid demonstrations have turned into widespread and hard fought successful court battles for releasing prisoners.
As we draft this press release we note that North Carolina is about to release approximately 3,000 prisoners due to a lawsuit settled over covid.
Even with all the releases and won policy changes, this country cannot make up for the hundreds of thousands that became ill or the thousands that were killed by covid. Unlike reporters we know that everytime a prison official comes to work, our lives are in jeopardy because they may be infected. The same is true regarding prisoners deaths, we attribute every death to prison officials infecting the prison population.
Now let us take a moment to think on how over the capacity US prisons and jails are. People are being stacked on top of each other. Even with their on guard to prisoner ratio, they admittedly fall outrageously short.
Lives could have been saved if America was on the path of Abolition. We must struggle harder to close prisons, jails and to free people from the grips of American prison slavery. This is all stated while recognizing that we must develop effective strategies to have the billions of taxpayers dollars used to grow the prison industrial slave complex (PISC) redirected to the communities.
Without going into the recent political presidential acrobats, we do want to acknowledge we feel a stronger need then ever to make it known that the people in prison struggles will not be pushed to the back burner in the muddy waters of trying to make people feel good about their party politics.
In the spirit of Abolition on the historical dates of August 21st and September 9th, 2021 organizers must highlight prisoners’ historical struggles, and the current political struggles to dismantle the prison industrial slave complex. Jailhouse Lawyers Speak is calling for mass outside demonstrations.
Specific locations: ICE, jails, prisons, and higher learning institutions. (With regards to higher learning institutions we are pointing towards the learning institutions with connections to prison labor).
A few states may already have specific ongoing campaigns that directly speak to decarceration or closing down a prison or jail. Efforts should be made to network to boost those campaigns on these dates at the recommended locations.
With everyone working across the nation on the same days, this would magnify our struggle for humanity and highlight specific state related campaigns. These “Shut’em Down” demonstrations should serve as a wake up call to every person in this nation that the current jailing path does not work and it’s time to end it.
In the days leading up to the Shut’em Down demonstrations, we will post locations of planned Abolition demonstrations and endorsements of these events on our website:
Mother’s Day, JLS will specifically target a section of the prison class at the women prisons for sponsored Blackstone Career Institute paralegal courses at $826.00 per person.
Immediately, we are asking that if you know of any jailhouse lawyers detained at women prisons that would like to be sponsored, send us their full contact information — firstname.lastname@example.org
Furthermore, we are requesting for individuals and organizations to send this information into the women prisons. Individuals at the women prisons can contact JLS by mail at:
With the women population exploding in the near future we should expect women’s living conditions to become as brutal, violent and inhumane as men’s prisons across the board. There is a need to ensure that they have equal access to our resistance networks. This means ensuring they have trained organized paralegals ready to aid prisoners with filings to the courts and international community.
We are not sure of the total number of women jailhouse lawyers we will have to be sponsored. We are asking the names be submitted before the deadline April 15, 2021 for this purpose.
“Black Community Activist in South Carolina prison humiliated by racist guards and placed in segregation on trumped up charges”.
On the day of the Capital Hill fiasco, January 6, 2021, Black community activist David “Shango” Ballard (SCDC# 378412), SC Political Prisoner, was harassed and framed by a known racist white Lt. named Kevin Borem that refers to Black people in prison as boys. David was targeted by this vengeful Lt and others guards due to his willingness to speak up and file complaints against them for issues like not wearing a PPE properly.
On this particular date David was snatched up by several Perry Correctional Institutional Staff, taken to an isolated area, humiliated by being forcefully given a face and hair cut. Afterwards he was moved to solitary confinement.
He was later served an infraction for threatening an officer. This was to justify the use of force. A common charging tactic universally used by arresting officers.
Currently the comrade is being forced to remain in punitive segregation. He has been assaulted, humiliated, falsely charged, and placed in isolation. It is David Ballard belief and ours that his life is in immediate danger.
The South Carolina chapter of Jailhouse Lawyers Speak in collaboration with PSL Columbia and Black Liberation Fund is calling for supporters to help us have this comrade transferred to another prison for his safety.
I am calling/emailing about the safety of David Ballard #378412 who is currently held at Perry Correctional Institution. He was assaulted by officers who held him down to cut his hair and shave his face bald, all in an effort to humiliate him for filing complaints against Perry Correctional Institutional staff.
Particularly Lt. Kevin Borem has shown consistent patterns to cause David harm. This is no longer professional but personal.
For the reasons stated I am demanding for David to be removed from Perry Correctional Institution immediately.
David Ballard demands are:
1. Transfer David Ballard out of Perry Correctional Institution for his safety and dismiss all disciplinary actions
2. A formal investigation be made into the physical, verbal, and mental abuse by Lt. Kevin Borem against David Ballard
3. Take David Ballard out of isolation, which is in violation of the Nelson Mandela rules.
4. Require ALL staff wear PPE and follow all CDC guidelines in regards to COVID practices.
Who to call:
(864) 243-4700 or (803) 737-1752 – Perry Correctional Warden Charles Williams
803.896.8555 – Agency Director Brian Stirling
864.380.8777 – State Rep. Eddie Tallon
803.734.2430 – Governor McMaster’s office
803.896.8508 – Deputy Director of Legal and Compliance Salley Elliot
Who to email:
Dayne Hail Assistant to the Director of SCDC: Haile.Dayne@doc.sc.gov
The “Amend the 13th: Abolish “Legal” Slavery in Amerika Movement” is an all-inclusive, coalition-based national campaign and community-based organizing effort which is determined to remove the “legal” and social basis for the dehumanization of those subject to the judicial machinery of the United States – and finally abolish slavery in Amerika once and for all.
The movement has three basic aims:
To amend the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to remove its “legal” slavery provision for all persons: including those found guilty and sentenced for a felony offence.
To abolish and/or repeal all “civil death” and social containment statutes and ordinances which do not afford prisoners, ex-offenders and their communities full human, political, economic and participatory rights in social life in Amerika that derive their power from the 13th Amendment.
To develop and implement as quickly as possible autonomous community-based economic, political and social infrastructure capable of eliminating, mitigating or diminishing to the greatest degree the negative impact of mass incarceration, criminalization and “legal” slavery on our communities.
Additional state coordinators are needed for this org. If you are willing, step up. Contact the ” Amend The 13th” National Coordinator at email@example.com.
Yes, you are welcome to message or email us for information firstname.lastname@example.org