We know it takes courage to continuously speak out and invoke change. People in U.S prisons are calling on you now to stand with us in strength and numbers in our ongoing historical struggle for ABOLITION!
How to get started:
Organize a Shut ‘Em Down demonstration in the spirit of Abolition on or between August 21st, 2022 through September 9th, 2022 in your local area. We encourage outside supporters to join together, develop strategies to promote the closing of prisons, jails and immigration facilities. Organize a demonstration at your local jail, prison, immigration center, or a politician office. This list of places is not limited, be creative.
You can help by sharing this message far and wide within your networks. Can’t stop, Won’t Stop!
HALT the building of new jails and prisons. REDIRECT prison and police funding to communities. END prison slavery.
Prisoners on the inside will disrupt the system and demonstrate in several prisons alongside outside efforts by demonstrating:
Food refusals as set by each demonstrator
Prisoncrats have minimized the number of people working in designated work areas inside the prison and outside prisoner work crews that vary state-by-state. Any refusals to work will look different based on the state and local place of confinement. We are not making an official call for a national work strike, however, we highly encourage labor unions join us in the call for Abolition by demanding the end to prison slavery via the 13th Amendment, a crucial focal point in the process to dismantle the prison industrial slave complex.
A Deeper Look:
Police budgets have ballooned tenfold, this is translating into an increase in copaganda, arrests, flooded courts, packed prisons, increased home confinement and e-carceration which expands the walls of prisons to our communities.
As we stated in 2021, the Abolition perspective is the way to combat this extreme US pro prison ideology called mass incarceration, also known as legalized slavery.
After all the organizing and the hard work put into the demos, refuel yourself and keep the momentum going by staying connected with your local supporters and organizers. We must continue to push the movement forward by hosting Abolitionist workshops, study groups and seminars NOT ONLY for those who are seasoned in the movement but to welcome and educate people who want to know more in order to do more and create the impact we fight so hard to see. Choose designated public places and continue to learn and educate yourself and others on Abolition. Jailhouse Lawyers Speak agrees with defunding the police campaigns because billions of police dollars could be utilized to rebuild devastated communities and raise the quality of life for families that have been grossly impacted by law enforcement and carceral systems. Poverty crimes are still filling jails and prisons. Reallocating those funds would be a monumental accomplishment in our lifetime!
Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. FREEDOM NOW! Dare 2 Struggle, Dare 2 Win!
In the spirit of Abolition and on the behalf of Shut’Em Down
JAILHOUSE LAWYERS SPEAK
Visit: iamweubuntu.com for updates and links Updates will also be added to: shutemdowndemos.com
Submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues in Response to the Call for Inputs
Respectfully Submitted by: Kerry McLean, Esq. & Audrey Bomse, on behalf of the NLG IC and JLS
This submission is presented by the National Lawyers Guild International Committee (NLG IC). The NLG IC supports legal work around the world “to the end that human rights and the rights of ecosystems shall be regarded as more sacred than property interests.” The NLG provides assistance and solidarity to movements in the United States and abroad that work for social justice. With members throughout the US and abroad, the NLG IC plays an active role in international advocacy and ongoing projects in the pursuit of human rights and social justice.
This submission is jointly presented by Jailhouse Lawyers Speak (JLS) International Law Project, a joint project of the JLS and the NLG. JLS is a national collective of imprisoned persons fighting for human rights. It organizes across the US inside and outside of the prisons. It was the organizing force behind the 2018 National Prison Strike.
This submission responds to item 4 in the Call for Inputs: Access to Justice and administration of Criminal Justice. Part I of our submission concerns police violence against people of African descent. Part II of our submission contends that slavery exists in the US today in the jails and prisons and that people of African descent are particularly impacted.
Part I: Police Violence Against People of African Descent
Law enforcement in the United States routinely subjects people of African descent to policing to control their movement and actions, and metes out harsh punishment for any perceived infraction. Law enforcement targeting of people of African descent for control and violence is not something new in the United States. It began centuries ago with the creation of “slave patrols,”1 where whites were tasked with catching enslaved people who had escaped to freedom. Slave patrols also kept watchful eyes on enslaved people that they believed might be planning an escape, and the slave patrols exerted violence over enslaved people deemed defiant.
In modern times there are various scenarios where people of African descent are targeted by law enforcement. For this short submission we will highlight a few.
One common encounter is the pretextual traffic stop, where a Black driver’s car is pulled over by the police for a minor reason or no reason at all, and the driver is questioned and often searched. Many of those encounters end with the Black driver being shot by the police officer
without cause. In the case of Black female drivers, they are often subjected to degrading and invasive strip searches by the police, sometimes in the view of people passing by.2
Another scenario occurs when a Black person is experiencing a mental health crisis, and someone calls the emergency number to get help for the person in crisis. The police do not properly respond to incidents involving people who are having a mental health crisis. When the person having the mental health crisis is Black factors such as racial stereotyping, racial profiling and even racial animus influence the outcome of the encounter.
According to a study by the Treatment Advocacy Center, people with “untreated severe mental illness are involved in at least 1 in 4 and as many as half of all fatal police shootings.”3 There are many cases of Black people suffering a mental health crisis who were killed by police. One database that tracks police violence reports that 216 Black people with mental illnesses have been killed by police since 2015.4
As discussed above, Black women and Black people with mental illnesses are targeted for policing and subjected to forms of police violence. The same is true for Black children. Schools discipline Black students far more than white students. Black students were arrested at three times the rate of white students.5In some states, Black students were eight times more likely to be arrested than white students.6
Black girls were arrested at four times the rate of white girls.7In some states Black girls were more than eight times as likely to be arrested than white girls.8
The disparity in treatment of students based on race begins as early as pre-school. According to a 2014 report by the US Department of Education, Black children account for 18% of preschool enrollment, yet at least 42% of the preschool children receiving suspensions from school are Black.9 By contrast, white students make up 43% of preschool enrollment but only 28% of white preschool children received suspensions from school.10
Black girls as young as 5 years old have been arrested for temper tantrums.11
We share as evidence the final report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence Against People of African Descent in the United States. The Commission
of Inquiry’s report is the result of extensive research and evidence collected during live hearings conducted by respected, independent jurists from around the world.12 The report makes a thorough examination of police violence against people of African descent.
Part II: The Existence of Slavery in US Jails & Prisons & the Disproportionate Impact on Black People
The NLG respectfully submits that the United States continues to practice slavery, though now it is practiced in its jail cells and prisons. The U.S. criminal justice system is rooted in slavery and Jim Crow, which directly inform the practices and policies of U.S. jails and prisons today. The 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution establishes that “[n]either slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” 13 Ever since the Amendment’s ratification over 150 years ago, the United States has relied on this slavery exception clause to profit from prison labor as a form of legalized slavery. While it is in clear violation of international law, the 13th Amendment remains the law of the land in the United States.
In 2021, the United States still practices slavery inside its jails14 and prisons. Incarcerated people are forced to pick cotton on American prison farms and face disciplinary action if they do not produce high enough yields or harvest quickly enough.15 During a global pandemic, prison laborers have been tasked with producing PPE, serving food, sanitizing cells of the sick, and even burying those who have succumbed to the COVID-19 virus, while they themselves are unable to access basic protective gear, masks, or even supplies like hand sanitizer, and can face consequences if they refuse.16 David Fathi, Director of the ACLU’s National Prison Project maintains, that “[t]he inherently coercive nature of the prison environment means that there is very little that is truly voluntary in prison.”17
The federal government rakes in an estimated $500 million annually, and the states over $1 billion from their highly lucrative prison industries.18 Activists and advocates have successfully campaigned to strike slavery-exception clauses from state constitutions in states like Colorado, and there are strong movements to do the same in New Jersey and New Mexico. A bipartisan joint resolution known as the “Abolition Amendment” has been introduced in the U.S. Congress with the same goal. One of the co-sponsors of the congressional resolution, democratic Senator William Lacy Clay, stated: “Our Abolition Amendment seeks to finish the job that President Lincoln started by ending the punishment clause in the 13th Amendment to eliminate the
dehumanizing and discriminatory forced labor of prisoners for profit that has been used to drive the over-incarceration of African Americans since the end of the Civil War. No American should ever be subject to involuntary servitude, even if they are incarcerated.”19
Courts and politicians have openly acknowledged the fact that prison labor parallels chattel slavery. Prison laborers are largely excluded from human rights and labor protections afforded to other workers, and there is little existing recourse domestically or internationally currently available to them.
Black people are disproportionately impacted. Black men account for approximately 13% of the population in the US, yet represent 35% of those incarcerated.20 One in three Black men in the US will be incarcerated during his lifetime, compared to one in six Latino men and one in 17 white men.21
One in 18 Black women in the US will be incarcerated during her lifetime, compared to one in 111 white women.22
The reasons for the racial disparities in incarceration are well documented. They are a result of systemic racism, flaws in the criminal legal system, and harsh treatment of Black people accused of crimes. Thus, there exists a situation where Black people in the United States are disproportionately imprisoned and subjected to involuntary servitude.
We appreciate the opportunity to share information with you concerning racist policing and racist police violence against a minority population, and about forced prison labor disproportionately affecting a minority population. We hope that the information presented will be useful when meeting with representatives of the United States government and making recommendations.
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.
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
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 email@example.com
– 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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 — email@example.com
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yes, you are welcome to message or email us for information email@example.com