True to this… not new to this. Black With No Chaser’s commitment to the struggle and to the people of their community has always been the motivating factor behind its creation. A multifaceted startup – it is not merely a storyteller for the movement, but an advocate actively engaged within it.
Joining the Poor People’s Campaign, People’s Advocacy Institute, NAACP, One Voice Mississippi, Southern Poverty Law Center, and others; Black With No Chaser is committed to being a change agent.
The State of Mississippi has failed the men and women housed in the custody of MDOC, as well as, those employed by MDOC in the same egregious manner as the Army Corps of Engineers who knowingly ignored the signs that the levees would fail well before Katrina. Left to suffer in overcrowded spaces in undermanned facilities, MDOC inmates have been forced to drink contaminated water, walk through and sleep in raw sewage, have their mental and physical health neglected in rat, roach, and mold-infested facilities, all while simply trying to survive on the inside of prison walls. The circumstances before us today were never a matter of IF, but WHEN? Even after being warned by the head officer in MDOC, former commissioner, Pelicia Hall, the signs were ignored by Mississippi’s leadership. It is the cumulative effect of these years of neglect that has resulted in what we are currently witnessing- not violence precipitated by organizations, but violence in the form of leadership that has failed to lead for decades. We are aware of the longsuffering of many inmates entrusted to the care of the State of Mississippi for many years, spanning generations, even. What would be arguable as to their constitutional right to not be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, should be clearly understood as a right when viewed through the lens of humanity. These recent horrific and disturbing events that have taken place at prison facilities across the state require swift and thoughtful action from our state’s top leadership. However, we cannot rest until the ongoing neglect of our state’s prison systems, as evidenced in a prison environment rampant with danger zones, health hazards, inadequate housing, overcrowding, undermanned, undertrained guards, and antiquated policies are addressed and strategic plans are put in place to establish new standards, expectations, and alternatives for the MDOC that has cost at least five, and quite possibly more, people their lives in the last week.
* This IS NOT an inmate problem
* 70% of the people in prison are not affiliated with any organizations
* Mississippi has an OVERincarceration issue; 40% of the people in Mississippi prisons are
nonviolent or drug offenders
* The Mississippi State Legislature has consistently cut MDOC’s budget, even though the commissioner
asked for additional funding to raise correctional officer salaries to retain guard staff. Pelicia herself
described the situation as a “pressure cooker.” And guess what? It blew.
Why is it that the State of Mississippi is more committed to chains than they are committed to change– chains that will shackle people’s feet instead of change that will set people free?
Call your representatives and tell them “It’s time to Represent!”
1. We MUST de-carcerate these prisons. The way we start doing that is by reducing the population of incarcerated people. We must first demand that ALL non-violent offenders and those incarcerated for drug-related offenses be immediately released. We must demand that parole be immediately reinstated for ALL incarcerated people and that immediate eligibility be granted to those who qualify. We MUST go to our representatives. Call our representatives and have our neighbors contact their representatives and tell them to LET OUR PEOPLE GO!
2. We must demand accountability from our legislature. You will not put this on the inmates. That accountability must come in the form of real and tangible change. This old system must be broken down and replaced by a new, more imaginative system focused on healing and restoring our incarcerated brothers and sisters.
3. We must demand the removal of inmates from units 32 & 29 and the permanent closure of those units. Inmates are people too and they deserve to be housed in clean, sanitary facilities with healthy food and clean water, at the very least.
4. We must demand the employment of properly trained and humanely compassionate guards. We don’t just need humane conditions in the prisons that exist, we need humane people that understand that the overcriminalization of poor people, particularly black men and women, and the resulting trauma that occurs.
5. We must get involved. If you have access to the internet and social media, follow organizations like Black With No Chaser, Poor People’s Campaign, MSDream, and others. Again, contact your lawmakers and demand change!
6. We MUST stay connected. Make sure that we are able to get in contact with you through email and/or by phone to follow the next steps.
7. We MUST continue to FIGHT! Understand that this is not a fight for today and today alone, but this is a fight for tomorrow and all the days that follow.