Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
Call GA Governor, Prison Officials, Demand End to Deliberate Malnourishment & the "Tier Step Down" Program

Several years after peaceful prison hunger strikes asking for decent medical care, educational programs, an end to the incarceration of juveniles with adults and other reasonable demands, Georgia prison authorities continue to viciously retaliate against past and future dissenting prisoners with what they call Tier Step Down, a program that apparenlty includes deliberate malnourishment of prisoners and other brutal and inhuman treatment.

Call GA Governor, Prison Officials, Demand End to Deliberate Malnourishment & the "Tier Step Down" Program

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

Several years after inmate hunger strikes in multiple Georgia prisons in 2010 and 2012, officials at Georgia's Department of Corrections are still imposing vicious and illegal collective punishments. Both inmates who took part in past actions along with those the state thinks might be future threats are all being subjected to something Georgia calls “Tier Step Down.”

Under Tier Step Down, prisoners are doubled up in single cells designed for one person at half rations. They are unable to flush toilets have no access to medical care, educational programs or materials and other elementary human rights. Prisoners are prevented from bringing their grievances before responsible authorities in any meaningful way, and are frequently assaulted by staff when they try.

Kelvin Stevenson is a Georgia prisoner who was made an example after the 2010 hunger strike by Smith State Prison officials who beat him almost to death with a hammer. Stevenson is now confined at the Special Management Unit of Jackson State Prison, not far from where state officials murdered Troy Davis in 2011. He's one of those upon whom Tier Step Down is being inflicted.

In a series of letters published at Atlanta Indymedia, Mr. Stevenson describes the arbitrary and brutal treatment prisoners are being put through. He calls for intervention on the part of those outside the walls to rein in the savagery of prison authorities, for any combination of citizens, their organizations, their elected and appointed officials to take action compelling the Georgia Department of Corrections to treat prisoners with humanity and decency.

A good start would be calling prison officials and respectfully asking that Georgia prison officials unconditionally end the use of deliberate malnourishment, that they begin to treat prisoners in the Special Management Unit decently, allow them medical care, fair evaluations and access to educational materials, relieve their overcrowding and end the inhumane Tier Step Down Program. Prison officials in Georgia, like those across the rest of the vast US prison state are able to do what they do in part because so many of us turn the other way. It's time for all of us to turn toward the prisoners, our prisoners.

Black Agenda Report is asking that you call

  • Georgia Governor Nathan Deal at 404-656-1776;
  • Georgia Dept of Corrections Commissioner Homer Bryson at 404-656-4661
  • and Rick Jacobs, the GA DOC Director of Facilities at 478-992-5101

During business hours on weekdays Eastern Standard Time. When you do, please leave an appropriately respectful message expressing your concern for the condition of Mr. Stevenson and the other prisoners in the Special Management Unit.  Politely express your revulsion at the notion of deliberately malnourishing and withholding medical care from inmates, and ask for the re-evaluation of the Tier Step Down program.

This is a time when your call and a hundred like it truly DOES make a difference.

Do it now.  Please call the governor, call the head of the Department of Corrections, and call the Facilities Director. The three numbers of the governor, of Commissioner Homer Bryson and Rick Jacobs the Facilities Director are 404-656-1776 for Governor Nathan Deal. That's 404-656-1776.

For Department of Corrections Commissioner Homer Bryson the number is 404-656-4661. That's 404-656-4661.

And for Rick Jacobs, the Facilities Director who oversees the Tier Step Down Program the number is 478-992-5101. That's 478-992-5101.

This is Bruce Dixon at Black Agenda Radio. Find us at www.blackagendareport.com.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. He can be reached atbruce.dixon@blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20150401_bd_GA_prisoners.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:10pm EDT

Black Is Back Coalition to Hold National Conference on Black Community Control of Police

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The Mass Black Incarceration regime gains legitimacy through diversity in hiring and the collaboration of the servile Black political class.”

If the Black Lives Matter mobilization is to sustain itself – if it is to go beyond protests against the latest police atrocity and become a full-fledged movement – it must embrace the principle of Black community control of the police. The entire history of the United States screams out that Black people must define and control the processes by which justice is meted out in their own communities. If there is one historical truth that is indisputable in America, it is that Black people have never gotten justice from the U.S. criminal justice system – which is why one out of every eight prison inmates on planet Earth is a Black American.

In the nearly half century since the Black Panther Party described the police as an army of occupation in Black America, we have learned the very painful lesson that inclusion of large numbers of Blacks among the ranks of the police does not change the nature of the occupation. Nor does the naming of Black police chiefs, or the election of Black mayors and city councils – and certainly not the election of a Black corporate president. In fact, the Mass Black Incarceration regime – what Michelle Alexander calls the “New Jim Crow” – gains legitimacy through diversity in hiring and the collaboration of the servile Black political class. Black cops get jobs, but people get no justice, because the mission of the police remains the same: to contain, control and terrorize the Black community. That’s their job. And that will remain the mission of policing in the Black community until the community seizes control of the police.

Civilian review boards are not the equivalent of community control, by any measurement. Most are worthless. At best, such boards respond to police crimes after-the-fact and serve at the pleasure of politicians who are ultimately answerable to wealthy white people.

Black people have never gotten justice from the U.S. criminal justice system.”

So, what would Black community control of police look like? The Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations will hold a national conference in St. Louis, Missouri, on Saturday, April 18 and Sunday, April 19, to examine this crucial issue. If Black people fail to define for themselves the functions and obligations of policing in Black communities, then others will continue to do it for us. The choice is simple: either Black people discipline, direct, and hire and fire the police in their community, or the police continue to beat, kill and terrorize Black people in their own neighborhoods.

The National Conference on Black Community Control of Police will be held at the Janan Academy, at 3625 North Garrison Avenue, in St. Louis. Community organizers and activists from greater St. Louis and across the country will get down to the serious business of changing relationships of power on the streets of Black America, and advancing the cause of Black self-determination.

For more information and to register for the conference, go to the Black Is Back Coalition website. That’s BlackIsBackCoalition.org, for the National Conference on Community Control of Police, April 18 and 19, in St. Louis, Missouri.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

What: Black Community Control of Police Conference
When: April 18-19, 2015
Where: Janan Academy, 3625 N. Garrison Ave., St. Louis, MO
Contact: Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations, 224-572-9887 www.blackisbackcoalition.org

Direct download: 20150401_gf_ControlPolice.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:43am EDT