Editorial by Ed Mead
As regular readers know, there has been much discussion in recent issues regarding the question of interracial celling. Some have said I let fools get into my head, or even worse. For those folks I would suggest they read the first letter on page seven (“Another Voice”). While I talked about dope-fiends and the like in my December editorial, I was only aiming at those who only want out of the SHU so they can go back to the destructive practices that got them in there in the first place—practices that have transformed the California prisons system into the stinking puss pot that it currently is.
We are all against racism, even though sometimes it does not seem like that’s the case. Look down deep and you’ll see that I’m right. That said, were I a shot caller, I would promptly work to desegregate all mainline mess halls. Doing away with the current seating arrangements in the state’s prison chow halls would send a very powerful and long overdue message to the world that racism is not our friend. The sooner prisoners learn this basic lesson the sooner they will come to understand what the struggle for justice is all about, and the sooner they will be in a position to start winning that struggle.
Some of you think that you need to write more articles and such in an effort to educate the public around the issue of isolation and the SHU. That’s never a bad idea. But let me tell you, it was your peaceful struggle that sent the message out world-wide.
As a direct result of your hunger strikes the whole issue of isolation is being rethought on a national scale. Last week the front page of the Seattle Times headlined this state’s need to rethink its use of solitary confinement. Similar articles have been in the Boston Globe, the LA Times, the New York Times, etc.
Prisoners first tried to get prison officials to recognize the wrongness of what was being done to them in the name of justice. That effort quickly failed. Prisoners were next rebuffed by the courts (who today seem to care great deal about retribution and very little about actual justice). These are the very same courts who uphold the ban on media access to prisoners. But what won the day was the unity and the strength of the prisoners’ struggle (and the righteousness of their cause) that is continuing to forcing this nation to shift away from the use of SHUs.
It’s a slow process, but, thanks to all of you who sacrificed and suffered (the original fighters), it is now happening. It is a first step in the direction of extending democracy to all—including the right to vote and to have your status changed from that of a slave-of-the-state to that of a citizen of this country (which is a righteous and just status for you to have). We must all agree that the deprivation of citizenship should never be part of any criminal punishment.
As of this date donations to the Rock newsletter have reached $1, 451 in money and 3,188 stamps (mostly all from prisoners). Your adoption of this publication as something you value is not only heartwarming, it is essential to the continuing effort to keep this newsletter going.
With this issue we are a quarter of the way into our second year of publication, yet there are those who have been on the mailing list since the very beginning who have not helped out. The mailing list started out as 100 people but has now grown to over 300. Of that number 113 have never contributed a single stamp, and 70 of you have contributed less than ten stamps. This means that about a third of the readers are carrying almost all of the weight.
Back when I only had a hundred readers I would put two issues out with four reams of paper and one toner cartridge for my laser printer. Paper is $50 a case (10 reams) and toner is $153 per cartridge. Thanks to the third of you who contribute to this effort, I am not presently hurting for either stamps or money.
I would nonetheless like to see those of you who have enjoyed a free ride for all this time kick down a little financial help. Maybe you don’t see this newsletter as being of any value to you? If that’s the case you should ask to be removed from the mailing list. I don’t want to just whack that 113 from the list. It shouldn’t come to that. Yet if finances do get tight I’ll give folks fair warning before doing any mass deletions.
I gather the news, type it up, do the layout, maintain the database, print the newsletter and the address labels, collate the pages, staple, fold, stamp, etc. All I ask in return is that you pay the costs of production, $15 or 30 stamps a year (it works out to a mere 2.5 stamps a month). Let’s all pitch in and help.