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#BLACKLIVESMATTER: EXCEPT IN PRISON, WHERE WE ARE ALL SLAVES


By: Daniel J. Simms, Incarcerated Independent Journalist/Author/Activist/Podcast Host. www.DanielJSimms.com. www.DefundDOC.net.


I am white. Yes. But I have also endured severe prejudice, stigma, and bigotry related to my incarceration and my jailhouse civil rights litigation. This experience has opened my eyes immensely to the atrocities facing our people. (See: Creative Prison Lawyering: From Silence to Democracy. 11 Geo. J. on Poverty L. and Pol'y 249, 275 (2004). By Jessica Feierman. " As long as prisoners continue to be disempowered and their voices largely silenced, they will be vulnerable to continued abuse"). Opening my eyes not only to the incredible suffering the prison community endures. But also to the more considerable suffering that African Americans and Hispanics have endured for generations. (See: Guns and Drugs. 84 Fordham L. Rev. 2173, 2194 (2016). Benjamin Levin. "Stating 'while fewer published studies focus on the racial dynamics of criminal gun law, the evidence that we do have suggests that people of color bear the brunt of enforcement").

(See also: Federal Felon-in-Possession Gun Laws: Criminalizing A Status, Disparately Affecting Black Defendants, and Continuing the Nation's Centuries-Old Methods to Disarm Black Communities. 21 CUNY L. Rev. 143, 175 (2018)). These are my people. Not by race, of course. By something even more virtuous: patriotic fervor. We are all one people. We are fellow Americans. Period. Not to mention, beyond shared citizenship, I have also suffered alongside my people. Experiencing the same systems of oppression, hate, and enslavement, they have endured for decades. It is no secret that overtly racist Politicians from generations ago enshrined their hate in legislation to suppress minorities, the poor, and the mentally ill. (See: Implicit Bias: Scientific Examinations. 94 Cal. L. Rev. 945 (2006). Anthony G. Greenwald and Linda Hamilton Krieger). Obviously, they gave lip service to race-neutral legislation, but their implicit prejudice is exposed through empirical data, which can not lie. (See: The Law of Implicit Bias. 94 Cal. L. Rev. 969, 986 (2006). Christine Jolls and Cass Sunstein). The overwhelming truth is they have created a system of hate with institutionalized atrocities. (See: Why Equal Protection No Longer Protects: The Evolving Forms of Status Enforcing State Action. 49 Stan. L. Rev. 1111 (1996)). "The concomitant twin of racism is class oppression. Race and class bias have always worked together to reinforce social control and economic distribution." (See: United States v. Clary, 846 F. Supp. 768 (1994)). "The difficult situation that a Court must face is determining whether a facially neutral statute was enacted for racial reasons and would have a disparate impact on a specific group. Whether or not racial discrimination was involved in legislative action that resulted in a law which, although facially neutral, still has a racially disparate impact 'demands a specific inquiry into such circumstantial evidence of intent as may be available.'" (See: Arlington High v. Metropolitan Housing Development Corporation, 492 U.S. 252, 266, 50 L. Ed. 2d 450, 97 S. Ct. 555 (1977)).


Let me share my story. Currently, I am eighteen years into a thirty-four-year prison sentence. I did not kill anyone, and no one was severely hurt. Essentially, it was a botched drug deal dispute that turned into an alleged armed robbery. Virtually anyone who has bought street drugs could be in my shoes today. Having a dispute over the prices of street drugs and street rumors, demanding your money back, the dealer refuses to refund the money, and ultimately, in your drug-induced mind, using violence to get your money back. Despite the relatively modest amount of violence, practically none, apart from the alleged armed robbery itself. The State is immorally using it as a pretext to murder me with a de facto death sentence. I am not unique. Millions of Americans are being unethically killed by long sentences. (See: The New Civil Death: Rethinking Punishment in the Era of Mass Conviction. 160 U. PA. L. Rev. 1789, 1805 (2012)). (See also: The Coalition Abolish Death by Incarceration. Decarcerate PA. http://www.decarceratepa.info/CADBI [http://www.perma.cc/Q7EJ-FA59] "Describing a coalition of organizations dedicated to abolishing 'death by Incarceration,' or a mandatory life without parole sentence"). The most disparately impacted are black or brown Americans. (See also: Hostage to the Drug War: The National Purse, the Constitution, and the Black Community. 24 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 557, 599-616 (1991). Powell and Hershenov). Some are merely poor like me, growing up in foster care, no one guiding or caring how I lived, without sufficient power and money to combat the inequities inherent in the criminal justice system (See: Hopeless in Seattle: A Fosterkid's Manifesto. By Daniel J. Simms). While some are struggling with mental health problems. With a familial history of heart disease, along with a current diagnosis by DOC medical that I have a high chance of a fatal stroke within the next ten years, it is likely, if not guaranteed, that I will die in Prison (See: Life Without Parole as Death Without Dignity. 72 Ala. L. Rev. 327, 388 (2020). Brittany L. Deitch). My sentence is a product of the unfairly harsh mandatory minimum sentences. (See: The Mostly Unintended Effects of Mandatory Penalties: Two Centuries of Consistent Findings. 38 Crime and Just. 65, 95 (2009). By Michael Tonry. "No individual evaluation has demonstrated crime reduction effects attributable to enactment or implementation of a mandatory minimum sentence law"). Twenty-two years of this sentence is straight time, meaning no good time; it is a day for day. It is terrible. I do not wish such cruelly long and disproportionate sentences on my worst enemy.

Meaning if I persistently misbehave in Prison. Or if I follow every rule and become a model prisoner. Neither one matters because the sentence will always be twenty-two years flat. That does not even include the twelve years for the actual underlying crime of robbery 1°. Thankfully, millions of incarcerated Americans and I have undergone our own self-disciplined, self-educated, and self-propelled rehabilitation metamorphosis. Despite the pressure on all sides to fail. To be a statistic. And to sleeplessly accept the abuse and subjugation by our government. That, however, is not in my spirit. We must speak out against corruption and injustice. Cruelly long, disproportionate sentences are blatant injustices against all our people. We must protest them. (See: The Disutility of Injustice. 85 N.Y. U. L. Rev. 1940, 2016 (2010). By Paul H. Robinson, et al.. "[Studies suggest] that knowledge of systemic injustice produced by the criminal justice system can have a range of deleterious effects on people's attitudes and behavior. People are less likely to comply with laws they perceive as unjust. They may also be less likely to comply with the law in general when they perceive the criminal justice system to cause injustices....[In contrast] if the criminal justice system reflects ordinary perceptions of justice, it can take advantage of a range of psychological mechanisms that increase assistance, compliance, and deference"). (See also: The New Jim Crow: How Mass Incarceration Turns People of Color Into Permanent Second Class Citizens. Am. Prospect (Jan.-Feb. 2011). Michelle Alexander. "It is legal to discriminate against ex-offenders in ways it was legal to discriminate against African-Americans. Once you're labeled a felon, depending upon what State you're in, the old forms of discrimination....are suddenly legal. As a criminal, you have scarcely more rights and arguably less respect than a black man living in Alabama at the height of Jim Crow").


There are atrocious ancillary effects that many in the public may not fully appreciate. For instance: (1) Our people are systemically enslaved by our government. (See: The Thirteenth Amendment: Modern Slavery, Capitalism, and Mass Incarceration. 104 Cornell L. Rev. 899, 935-41 (2019). By Michelle Goodwin). (See also: Yes, Prisoners Used to Sew Lingerie For Victoria Secrets - Just like in 'Orange is the New Black.' Season 3. Wash. Post. (June 17th, 2015). By Emily Yahr. http://www.Washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2015/06/17/year-prisoners-used-to-sew-lingerie-for-victoria-secrets-just-like-in-orange-is-the-new-black-season-3/?utmterm=.8b0e0e322858. [http://www.perma.cc/LA92-VTEP]). (See also: America Never Abolished Slavery. Huffington Post. (May 2nd, 2015). By Angela F. Chan. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/angela-f-chan/america-never-abolished-slaveryb6777420.html [http://www.perma.cc/HD9K-VZBF] "People incarcerated in America....are forced to work for pennies an hour with the profits going to countries, states, and private corporations, including Target, Revlon, and Whole Foods"). (2) Extraction of funds due to monopoly on captive consumer's family, friends, or community. (See: Predatory Pricing and Related Practices Under Section Two of the Sherman Act: A Comment. 89 Harv. L. Rev. 869 (1976). Federic M. Sherer). Prison commissary products, property items, and services providers (i.e., phone, e-mail, video visits, media, etc.) are charging exorbitantly high prices due to their monopoly on captive consumers, which is grossly illegal in any other context, but due to stigma and prejudice against prisoners, they are able to exploit them. (3) Heartbreaking familial separation and alienation. (See: Families Left Behind: The Hidden Costs of Incarceration and Reentry. Urban Institute Pol'y Ctr. by Jeremy Travis et al.. http://www.urban.org/uploadedpdf/310882_families_left_behind.pdf. "reported that incarcerated fathers and mothers are housed an average of 100 and 160 miles, respectively, from their children." "stating that over half of incarcerated parents report never receiving a personal visit from their children"). (4) Scandalous prison politics. (See: Angela Davis: An Autobiography 52 (1988). By Angela Davis. "Describing how prisoners internal cultures 'in order to shield themselves from the open or covert terror designed to break their spirits...[t]his culture is one of resistance, but a resistance of desperation'"). (See also: A Million Jockers, Punks, and Queens, in Prison Masculinities 118. By Stephen Donaldson. Don Sabo, Terry A. Kupers and Willie London eds., 2001. "Describing prisoners' own accounts of prison 'subculture' which fuses sexual and social roles and assigns all prisoners accordingly"). (5) Bloody prison violence. (See: Prisons are Violent And Dehumanizing, in America's Prisons: Opposing Viewpoints. 67 (D. Bender, B. Leon, and B. Szumski 4th ed. 1985). By Steve Lerner). (6) Prolific guard brutality. (See: Contexts of Ill-Treatment: The Relationship of Captivity and Prison Confinement to Cruel, Inhumane, or Degrading Treatment and Torture. Craig Haney and Shirin Baths Hay). (7) Widespread prison administration corruption. (See: The Challenge of Prison Oversight. 47 Am. Crim. L. Rev. 1453, 1453 (2010). By David C. Fathi. "Describing how prisons are largely hidden from public view and few constituencies exist that care about the unpopular and disempowered people held there"). (8) Bullets over books, education, and rehabilitation. (See: Cost and Punishment: Reassessing Incarceration Costs and the Value of College-in-Prison Programs. Northern Ill. Univ. L. Rev. (2011). Gregory A. Knott. "The first study to examine college-in-prison programs, discussing role such programs may have in reducing recidivism and incarceration costs"). (9) Lack of meaningful mental health treatment. (See: Trauma Exposure and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Among Incarcerated Men. 91 J. URB. Health 707 (2014). By Nancy Wolff, Jessica Huening, Jing Shi, and B. Christopher Frueh), and. (10) Appalling prison conditions and human rights violations. (See: Confronting Confinement: A Report of the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America's Prisons. 22 Wash. U. J.L. and Pol'y 385, 461-62. (2006). By John J. Gibbons and Nicholas de B. Katzenbach). (See also: The Democracy to Which We Are Entitled: Human Rights and the Problem of Money in Politics. 26 Harv. Hum. Rts. J. 39, 73 (2013). By Timothy K. Kuhner).


The fact is, the criminal justice system is rigged. (See: Code of the Street: Decency, Violence, and the Moral Life of the Inner City. 145 (2000). Elijah Anderson). (See also: The Economist's Guide to Crime Busting. Philip J. Cook and Jens Ludwig. Wilson Q (Winter 2011) at 62. "Most of us choose to abstain from crime in part because we have a lot to lose if we get caught...The calculus for an unemployed dropout with readily available criminal options and few licit prospects is likely to be quite different"). The historical origins of mass incarceration can not be forgotten. There is a Latin legal doctrine named "void ab initio" which stands for void from the beginning due to fraud, duress, coercion, or undue influence. Mass Incarceration should be void ab initio. The government should not be in the business of enslaving and destroying our people. It should be in the business of saving and restoring them. We must collectively organize as one people, White, Black, or Brown, and demand real systemic change. As someone who grew up in foster care, the streets of Seattle, juvenile institutions, and prisons, I can testify to how corrupt and unfair this system is toward our people. The American people. And in particular, African Americans. (See: Policing the Black Man. Pantheon Books (1st ed. 2017). Angela Davis. "convict leasing, the practice of 'selling' the labor of state and local prisoners to private interests for State profit....The presumptive identity of black men as 'slaves' evolved into the presumptive identity of 'criminal,' and we have yet to fully recover from this historical frame"). My message is we must unite and organize. We need to transform all prisons into treatment and career centers. We should educate and treat our people so they do not recidivate and have productive lives.

(See: Education vs. Incarceration. Am. Prospect (Jan.-Feb. 2011). Steven Hawkins. "The American prison population has more than quadrupled in the past three decades, growing from 500,000 in 1980 to 2.3 million in 2010").


You can continue to educate yourself on the injustices and inequities inflicted upon you by simply subscribing to our free podcast and blog. www.DefundDOC.net. Every new subscriber will receive a free digital copy of one of my books: "DEFUND D.O.C.: TURNING ALL PRISONS INTO TREATMENT AND CAREER CENTERS," or, "THE ART OF LIVING: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO ACHIEVE SUCCESS IN LIFE AND BUSINESS, I LEARNED IN PRISON."


Become a Reality T.V. Star! We are excited to invite you to be a part of history through a revolutionary new reality show: LOVE AND PRISON ACTIVISM. The reality show seeks to inspire prison reform by humanizing prisoners and those who love them. Showcasing their struggles and highlighting activism will assuredly change the narrative and allow space for true reform to occur. You do not need prior experience in mass incarceration to be a part of the show. All you need is a love for the American people. Therefore, everyone is invited to audition. Moreover, due to the immense need for people to attend rallies and protests in their States, literally everyone can appear and be featured in the show. So, do not miss your opportunity to take part in this groundbreaking effort. We will be launching it on July 4th to coincide with our Country's previous fight for independence and freedom. This new fight we are embarking on is critical to realign U.S. policy with the people's demands. Foremost is ending prisoner slavery, turning all prisons into treatment and career centers, and reducing all non-homicide offenses down to a maximum of eight to ten years. You can receive all updates and news regarding the pending social justice reality show by easily subscribing to the podcast and blog. www.DefundDOC.net.


If you would like to support this overdue social justice mission, you can also purchase items from our branded collections. Currently, we have sweatshirts, tee shirts, and more on our website, Cadmus Publishing (coming soon), Etsy, and our TikTok store. All profits go towards advancing your interests and the interests of the American people. Remember, supporting this cause is merely an insurance policy. Because you, or your descendants, have a fifty-fifty percent chance of going to Prison within the next fifty years based on the historical growth of mass incarceration since the 1970s.


You can also purchase the special limited-time offer "Supporters Book Bundle" of all three of my digital books: "HOPELESS IN SEATTLE: A FOSTERKID'S MANIFESTO," "DEFUND D.O.C.," and "THE ART OF LIVING." All for the price of one book: $14.99. If you buy all three printed versions on Amazon or other booksellers, it would cost you double that amount. Plus, it will help us further the social justice campaign. www.DefundDOC.net.


Please share to friends, family, and groups you are a part of, so we can spread the word for this cause. We thank each and every one of our supporters!

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