We’ve just received a letter from an inmate at Corcoran State Prison, addressed to “Zine in Progress,” asking for “something to read, anything you have laying around old/new would be very much appreciated.”
That’s the kind of thing that stops me in my tracks & makes me pay attention. I know if I was in prison I would be going crazy if I didn’t have reading material. Reading (& writing) are the only things that would make prison life (almost) bearable for me, I imagine, if I was in those shoes. So I’m handwriting a response & preparing what I hope will be an excellent zine-and-lit package to send back to him.
I can’t help being curious as to how he came across ZiP. It must’ve been via internet (do prisoners have computer access? I’m so ignorant about what that’s like)—no way one of the 100 or so print copies of the zine could’ve found its way behind bars (but how sort of awesome it would be if it had!) Unless maybe he was only recently sentenced, & knew about the zine from before? Not important, however….
My eagerness to respond to this request is making me feel I should begin regularly writing & sending books & reading material to prisoners again, like I used to way back in the Evergreen days, under the benign influence of Oshan—who, incidentally, has to reappear in court tomorrow for the kickoff of trial 2.0. I plan to show up tomorrow, if not today, to support him. I can hardly imagine what he must be going through, how exhausted & demoralized he must be. He’s living the reality of something I’ve literally had nightmares about: the very real possibility of losing his freedom — not forever, but for a very long time, if found guilty.
This reminds me of some statistics I just came across, from which I quote:
“Of the inmates residing in federal prisons as of September 2011, and for whom offense data are known, more than half (101,929 or 50.4%) were serving sentences for federal drug offenses—including simple possession. And of the 24,366 federal drug offenders known to have been sentenced for drug related offenses, 6,336 were sentenced for marijuana-related offenses.”
Re: that last figure: 25% of federal drug offenders, or approx 12.5% of all people in federal prisons as of Sept 2011, are there on charges relating to a plant that has never directly caused a human death, is known to be a highly effective pain reliever & was recently proven (by scientists at CalPacific here in SF) able to stop the metastasis of aggressive forms of cancer.
Yeah, you heard about that, right?