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Old 04-12-2003, 06:53 PM
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Default Ideas from convict at Pelican Bay

This is too long for the newsletter but I wanted to share a letter with you in hopes that your loved ones would like to get involved. Love Barbara

Greetings From Pelican Bay;

I have been informed that PTO is starting a newsletter and is asking for contributors. I have been asked to write a little something detailing the conditions here. Iím torn though because while I fully support PTO I am not sure where theyíre headed with this newsletter. I have spent about 20 years in prison and in that time Iíve read so many prisoner rights/support group newsletters that itís mind-boggling. Iím sorry to say theyíre all about the same. They describe whatís wrong with the system and attempt to rally support by pointing out these wrongs. They never offer a clear plan as to how to change things other than asking people to attend rallies and write letters to the lawmakers. Not to mention that their main tactic is playing the race card, clearly this hasnít been effective and it strains race relations on the inside. We must present a united front or we are doomed. So I am not comfortable contributing to any paper that plans to use the same old tactics. I am equally not comfortable spending my time complaining about how bad we have it. It serves o purpose we live in a time where people are sent to prison for the rest of their lives because they stole a pack of lunchmeat and the general public feels that is just fine. That is reality so why spend the energy trying to convince the general public that the system is broke. The readers of this newsletter are either in prison or have a loved one in prison so they all know all too well that the system is broke. So why waste the time and energy complaining?

The kind of newsletter that interests me is one dedicated to finding solutions like a giant think tank. It is like this, if someone has a gripe they have to offer a possible solution to it or come up with a solution to a preexisting gripe. I mean a better one or a way to improve on the one first given by the griper. Iíll kick it off, Iíll say what I think is the biggest problem and offer a viable plan to correct the problem. Then in your following issue people can write in and agree with me and offer to help in whatever way they can think of or they can disagree with me on the merits of my gripe and explain why my gripe isnít valid. Or submit a new gripe and a plan to solve it.

My gripe is that the prison guards unions and various other groups and unions donate so much money into the political process that they totally control the decision making process where it relates to crime and punishment. All unions have 2 main goals, first is to grow the second is to achieve whatever is in the best interest of their members. So for obvious reasons the guards unions are in direct conflict with any attempt at rehabilitation and all that that entails. I suggest the prisonerís rights movement single biggest obstacle is the money donated by the guards unions to the political process that is my gripe.

My solution is this, we out spend them, now donít laugh. I might be thinking big but itís possible here is how. PTO grows itís membership up to 100,000 once it reaches this goal it starts taking $10.00 donations from all itís members each month that brings in one million dollars a month. PTO keeps its overhead low and basically just turns the money over to the most influential lobbyist money can buy. Of course PTO will have some expenses but they should turn over 90% of all donations to the lobbyist and disclose all money records on their website. There is over 2 million people in prison in this country so the 100,000 members is not unthinkable. One million dollars a month is a huge amount for any group or union to donate. It would buy us a voice and a loud one. I truly believe that we can all stand on our soap boxes and shout about all the wrongs of the system but no one who can help will be listening until we hand them a check.

I also have an idea on how to help PTO grow it is just one idea and we will need many such ideas. We at PrionInk would be willing to add the PTO website address and a few relative words to the back of our greeting cards. We sell most of our cards to prisoners in sets of 5 Ė 10 Ė and 20 they in turn trade them to other prisoners for store Ė at a nice profit, the people who buy them then send them to their families. I believe that our artwork is impressive enough to grab most peoples attention once they see our cards a lot of them will log on to see what PTO is all about.

I do not believe it is enough for us prisoners to simply tell other people to have their families log on to PTO because most prisoners have very little confidence in the possibility that any group will ever actually do anything that will help our families or us. However I think most of our families have more faith than we do and would immediately be interested in the comradery and hope that PTO has to offer. The trick isnít getting the word out to the prisoners thatís easy and you can bet that all the Christmas cards that PTO members sent got everyoneís attention. Everyone I know wants to be added to the list. But I donít know what PTOís intentions are. Anyhow the trick is getting the word to our loved ones.

I would also like to point out that there is only 6 artists at PrisonInk so our art will not appeal to everyone so I suggest that if any of you know artists who can produce cards of a high enough quality to equally grab peoples attention then you should look into having your own cards made. If you have any questions we would be happy to answer them if we can.

It is also worth mentioning that the powers that be are well aware of the potential possibilities of a group like PTO so you can expect them to try to cause disharmony among your members. They will in fact become PTO members and try to get the group to spend all itís energy on frivolity. They will also do their best to exploit every little difference we will have. They always use a divide and conquer tactic, so expect it. I would like to recommend a book it is set in Elizabethan England it is about Christopher Marlowe but really it is about politics, but not what you would expect, I think it is a must read for anyone who is interested in the prison rights movement even though it has nothing to do with prisoners or their rights. The beginning is so slow but the ending is great and unexpected! I canít remember the authors name but the book title is ďThe ReckoningĒ

Well that is what I have to say. Bottom line money talks and anything else is a waste of time and energy. Respectfully, Richard
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