N.C prisoner protester speaks out to America from solitary confinement on 2020 elections

Watterson, Randy A.

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Submission 11/10/19 N.C. Prisoner Protestor Speaks Out to America from Solitary Confinement on 2020 Elections There is an estimated 2.7 million prisoners behind bars in the United States making us the leader of the world in mass incarceration. With the 2020 elections coming up and as the result of felony disenfranchisement, we as prisoners are excluded from being a class constituency which means that we as disingenuous "persons" do not matter because we have been transformed into "slaves" through the 13th amendment to the United States Constitution. However, what we can do is advocate for a presidential candidate who favors the poor, people of color, the elderly, and the incarcerated by writing to our families and friends and convincing them as to why they should vote for this type of candidate. If all 2.7 million of us all join hands and can convince just one person to vote for a candidate who is willing to address the struggles of prisoners, climate change, white supremacy, women's rights, education, rehabilitation, bullying, health care, immigration and all of the senseless mass shootings that have been ignored for too long in this country, it is possible that we as prisoners can sway this election enough to usher someone competent enough into office who can create humane laws who will put an end to life sentences and laws that transform its citizens into slaves upon conviction of crime. Its time to address all of these reminders of history's shameful past by ending slavery altogether, and restore civility to a society thats spinning out of control as the result of those who are full of hatred and unwilling to forgive. That is why it is necessary to ignore tough on crime democrats and republicans and especially politicians like Joe Biden who supported the policies of the Clinton administration as did Barack Obama. Every since Bill Clinton rode into office in the 1990's and like his predecessors, he was eager to enforce his tough on crime policies. For example, in 1992 while running for president while governor of Arkansas, he was quick to demonstrate his policies by approving and overseeing the execution of a mentally retarded man on death row. Then, early in his administration in 1993, he and then attorney Janet Reno approved an FBI attack on a group of religious zealots ensconced in a building complex in Waco Texas who weren't bothering anyone. Instead of waiting on negotiations to bring about a safe solution, the FBI violently attacked first with gunfire, military tanks and tear gas resulting in a fire that swept through the religious compound killing 86 Christian men, women, and children without remorse. Despite the fact that more than 30 women and helpless children were crowded into one room, a tank crashed into the concrete building sending chunks of center blocks onto the women and children crushing them. The rest were shot or suffocated by dust and gas vapors from doses of tear gas shot into their shelter. The charred corpse of a 6 yr old little girl identified as "Star," David Koresh's oldest daughter was found with her spine bent into a backward bow until her head almost touched her feet. Her little muscles were contracted by the combined effects of the fires heat, and the cyanide in her body, a by product of [CS?] gas suffocation. It was learned that false allegations of child molestation in the compound was the excuse used by Clinton and Reno to justify the senseless massacre. Clinton's law and order approach led him early in his first term to sign legislation cutting funds for state resource centers that supplied lawyers to indigent prisoners. The result according to Bob Herbert writing for the New York Times was that a man facing the death penalty in Georgia had to appear at his habeas corpus proceedings without an attorney. Then, in 1994 and as a result of Clintons policies, North Carolina law makers repealed its "Fair Sentencing" laws that permitted prisoners to become eligible for parole after serving one fourth of their sentence, to an extremely harsher "Structured Sentencing" scheme that now requires prisoners to serve 85% of their sentences which continues to feed the U.S growing machine of mass incarceration. In 1996 Clinton signed legislation that made it even more difficult for judges to put prison systems under special masters to ensure the improvement of terrible prison conditions. He also approved a statute withholding federal funds for legal services where lawyers used those funds to handle class action suits challenging assaults on civil liberties. He even approved 8 billion dollars under his 1996 "Crime Bill" which republicans and democrats approved of the advancement of police, building new prisons and jails and extending the death penalty to a wide range of offenses. The same policies Joe Biden supported under the Obama Administration. The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed by menacing it with an endless series of demonizing prisoners and their crimes. Amongst that demonization, which has become societies new normal under our current Trump Administration, is immigrants, the poor, people of color and those on welfare. Immigrants, people of color and criminals are a convenient object of attack, because, as non-voters their interests could be safely ignored. Then congress passed the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act signed by Clinton allowing the deportation of any immigrant convicted of a crime. Even lawful permanent residents who married Americans and had children weren't exempt. Today, under the AEDPA, prisoners only have one year to file post-conviction motions after conviction of crime to preserve their rights to federal review of errors in their cases, whereas prior to Clintons Tough on Crime policies, these errors could be reviewed at any time. Additionally, Clinton didn't want to raise taxes on the wealthy, or cut funds to the military so he sacrificed the poor, the children, education, and the elderly. During Clintons term, an estimated 40 million people were without health care insurance and infants died of sickness and malnutrition at a rate higher than that of any industrialized country. For people of color, the statistics were especially troubling. Black infants died at twice the rate of white children. After we survived this Clinton and Bush Administration, Barack Obama promised change to the black communities and all Americans and he did provide a system of health care during his term but what else has changed? He still followed the same Tough on Crime policies set by the Clintons and allotted 25 billion more dollars to the Edward Burn Foundation for the Advancement of Police Departments and building more jails and prisons. Obama even boasted publicly: "It's a proven fact, if we build more prisons they'll (police) fill em." Then came our current president, Donald Trump who has improved our economy significantly but as a republican, he still continues on with the same old unchanged policies by previous administrations that has had zero effect on recidivism. Now we have Joe Biden as a front runner, former vice president to Barack Obama and cheerleader for Clintons' policies with even more skeletons in his closet too numerous to write about who proposes to give police departments a staggering unprecedented 300 billion dollars! So if the Clintons, Obama and Biden could care less about the execution of mentally retarded person and the FBI murdering an innocent 6 year old little Christian white girl and other children in Waco, Texas, poor folks, and people of color, then what do you think Joe Biden and the majority of our current presidential candidates thinks about prisoners and our families who are struggling out there to support our children living in poverty while we're locked up in all of this violence being tortured or if we ever go home? Instead of giving 300 billion dollars to narcissistic police to carouse around in brand new police cars, building more prisons and disarming America's right to bear arms in furtherance of building a police state, this money could be offered to non-profit corporations to hire people to build homes for our homeless, construct public and environmentally safe public transport systems, clean up our oceans, lakes, air, and turn our cities into decent places to live. If we as Americans don't act now and if Biden or some other Tough on Crime candidate gets elected, the same old policies will continue as before allowing cities to fester, forcing rural people to face debt and foreclosures, no rehabilitation improvements to address criminal behavior or our mass incarceration problem, no increases to teachers salaries and no end to the growing number of mass shootings, creating a marginal population of idle desperate people, many of them young, many of them people of color as well as middle class white folks who turn to drugs and crime constituting a continuing threat to public safety. The response of our government to such foreseeable signs of desperation, anger, and alienation has been historically quite predictable. Build more jails and prisons, lock up more people and give them longer sentences. Execute more prisoners and continue on with the same Tough on Crime policies that has produced all of this desperation in the first place. In truth, American favor policies that neither democrats or republicans are willing to put forward with the exception of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Universal health care, guaranteed employment, help for the poor and homeless, with taxes on the rich, cuts to police and military budgets to pay for social security, educational and rehabilitation institutions, criminal justice reform, restoration of families separated by incarceration, public safety, and Americas image before the world should be our focus. The gap between national policy and the true feelings of decent American people suggest that another scenario is possible, one that envisions in the present 20th century, citizens and prisoners organizing to demand what the Declaration of Independence promised: a government that protects the equal rights of everyone to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This means economic arrangements to distribute the national wealth rationally and humanely. Bernie Sanders proposed policies align with the Declaration of Independence and with the American peoples feelings. I believe that those of us closest to the problem are closest to the solution. I am a prisoner wrongfully convicted of a crime I did not commit and have been in prison for 11 years fighting for justice and I am currently in solitary confinement for organizing with other prisoners to bring public awareness to our harsh conditions of confinement and excessively long sentences through our Aug 20, 2018. "Hyde CI protest itsgoingdown.org" that was joined by thousands of prisoners across 17 states on Aug 21, 2018. The court system failed us, and our government has failed the American people through its Tough on Crime policies. We as disenfranchised prisoners can do little to make America great again because we have no voice, but the person reading this article can because as a citizen its up to you who becomes our next president. But before casting your vote, I ask you to take into consideration that prisoners and criminals aren't the only ones who need to be rehabilitated and reformed, it is our Tough on Crime politicians and their policies. It all starts with education, and those who possess empathy for others, and a honest president who supports the Declaration of Independence and thats Bernie Sanders. ℅ Pasquotank Corr. Inst. by: Randy A. Watterson [ID] 527 Commerce Dr. Elizabeth City, N.C. 27909

Author: Watterson, Randy A.

Author Location: North Carolina

Date: November 10, 2019

Genre: Essay

Extent: 4 pages

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