Non-White Classification Pt 2-Terry Thomas

In the MDOC 65% of all clerk positions, 70% of Maintenance jobs and 50% of all Toutor jobs are held by “White” prisoners. This is by design because most of these positions are hand-picked by the assignmet supervisors rather than being chosen by the classification director from first-come-first-serve pools. Supervisors are allowed to slect prsoner on the basis of who they “feel comfortabe” with, while all the SECURITY SENSITIVE jobs require the prisoner be cleared by the local inspector.

Prisoner representatives (who are decisivie voices in how the funds earned in the prisoner store are spent, and act as liaisons between the administration and the population), are also divided between white and non-white. Each housing unit elects only two (one white, one non-white), to serve a six month term as part of the “Warden’s Forum” The “election” is done by ballot and the ballots are counted by the unit councler outside of the view of any prisoners. Without any way to varify that the results accurately reflect the voting, they have to trust i the integrity of the people who make their living perpetuating their confinment. The fact that HALF of all prisoner reps MUST BE WHITE suggests that the administration believes a non-white prisoner could not be trusted to represent the interests of white prisoners and that the interests of white prisoners MUST BE REPRESENTED in any discussions between prisoners and staff. Meanwhile, among the “non-white” population are blacks (who account for 65% of prisoners) and have no such garauntees written into the policy. There is no mandate in policy requiring that any of the prisoner reps be black, becaue the policy does not treat the interests of blacks as a priority. It is entirely possible that there can be one white and one nonwhite “elected”, who have no understandng of the need for a good afro comb verus an afro pick. Or how about, wave grease vs. hair grease?, or doo rags vs. wave caps, wave brushes vs. hair brushes etc.. What would whites or hispanics understand about these thngs? In fact, there are several things that are a daily part of black life which fall outside the experience of other ethnic groups. Without proportional representation in all aspects of the prison’s economy and political life, these things are not reflected in what is purchased with the funds they and their families pour into the prison stores. As an example it is only in recent years that the cable system included any channels which had “black” content. However, even today there are only two such channels BET and CENTRIC. That’s two out of fifty six channels; less than one percent. While conversely there are six FOX cnannels in addition to MTV, VH1, CMT etc. In fact all the other channels cater to white and/or conservative culture.

So you might ask yourself ; “Why this effort to defer to white prisoners?” The answer is the same as it always is; to keep the money and the power in white hands. If prisoners don’t have a source of income from prison jobs, they have to ask their families for money, so when you block the best payig jobs from black prisoners it ensures that money from the black community will flow into these institutions where the sate takes several bites out of it to agument their revenue steams. This bleeds money from our communties that could be put to more productive uses. Those prisoners who cannot support themselves from prison jobs or family conntributons often turn to more illicit sources of income which often result in longer prison stays. This policy is just a small part in an elaborate combination of seemingly unrelated legislative acts that ensure blacks will remain a permanent undercass fit for generating profits but not for sharing in them. Racial bias in prison is just good business for the dominate culture. It helps to perpetuate the advantages they enjoy and profit from.

by

Terry L. Thomas-Bey 194430

NOTE: Percentages are accurate as of 1/8/2018

Non-White Classification Pt 1-Terry Thomas

At the best of times, prison is a traumatic experience filled with stress, danger and glimpses into the darker regions of the human heart. The rules and policies of the instutions which house those confined to prison are supposed to operate as a mitigating balance to these negative forces. They are meant to restrain the harmful aspects of human impluse and prejudice. However even a brief inspection of the policies of MDOC reveals to us an environment which intentionally cultivates racial division and animus.

It starts with the hiring practices. The MDOC advertises for new applicants in publications that service predominately white rural areas. Resulting in a staff that is 83% white, composed of 20% legacy hires who’s fathers, grandfathers, or other relatives arranged for thier jobs(aka nepotism). Secondly, few if any of the prisons are located within convenient commutting distance of the major cities in the state, making it necessary for inner-city applcants to either relocate to all white areas or face daily commutes that could represent hours of travel time. Facilities that are located near large populations, are often the cause of those populations being so large because ancillary industries have moved into the area to feed off that correctional facility. Lastly, work programs inside prisons seem to be the only arena in the country (other than insurance actuarial tables) where it is legal to discriminate along racial lines.

Setting aside for a moment the gross imbalance in prison population numbers and what they indicate about the court systems which feed them, I would like to focus on the classification headings by which Michigan’s prisoners are sorted for the purposes of employment and represention in prisoner interactions with the administration, into two groups White and Non-White. It might astonish the public to learn that despite the fact that they account for less than twenty percent of the prison population, fully one half of skilled work assignments are reserved exclusively for white prisoners. The remainder of the jobs are divided between the NON-WHITE prisoners. This includes, hispanics, Asians, Orientials, Arabs and blacks (who alone account for nearly sixty-five percent of the prison population). This policy is known as “racial balancing”.  

The division of the prison population into only two groups (I.e. white or nonwhite) is a bold and offensive statement of white supremacy. It puts everyone on notice that the only factor of importance to them is a person’s whiteness. It doesn’t matter if you’re black, Asian or Hispanic, you are only judged by you’re lack of whiteness. You are defined not by who you are but by who you’re not. You are judged by the fact of your “otherness”. According to this policy all other races are interchangeable except whites. In fact the interests of white prisoners are so important to them that they’ve structured their policies to ensure that those interests are represented in any discussions between prisoners and staff regardless of the demographic make up of the population. In point of fact, if they are 20% of the population and people of color are 80%, then they are saying we’ve gone from being considered equal to 3/5 of a human being during slavery to being considered equal to 1/4 of a human being as prisoners.

For the purposes of this article we will define racisim as; “The instutionalized practice of confering advantages to one group over another solely on the basis of race.” With this definition in mind let’s examine an example of this “Racial balancing policy” in action, The single largest work force in the Department of Corrections is the Food Services assignment. In most prisons the jobs are split between two or three shifts. Each area of the kitchen has two skilled positions: 1. A Lead worker who works five days a week for skilled pay. 2. A Relief Lead who fills in for the lead worker on his two off days and in many (but not all) prisons he works the remaining three days of his work week at semi-skilled pay. This of course means that if you give the lead to the white prisoner and the relief lead to the non-white prisoner, you have thechnically given them both “skilled jobs”, while in practice you have given the white prisoner an income 60% higher than the “non-white” prisoner. Add to this the posibiity that the non-white in question could be latino or asian and the net result being that on paper you have been racially fair while in practice you have neatly marginalized the overwhelming majority of the prison population This is a common practice in the facilities in the Upper Peninsula.  

Our Black-James Crawford

Our black is beautiful, our black is love, our black is original, our black is pure , I wear my blackness with confidence. I show no fear it’s a duality to this history moment our black is hated, our black was beaten, rape , held in bondage , most of all our black was murder and y’all wonder why we got a chip on our shoulder psychological chain reaction.

Blood of a slave body of a king mind of a God it’s helluva thing, our black is one with the culture so we are equal. 

Being this color pressure is applied on a day to basis the force behind chemical melanin and melationin in our brain the reason we got this glorious color on our body’s and faces the people of this color was dehumanize and sold off as live stock our ancestors was rob of their true nature as human beings whites looked at us as animals existing in a human shall.

They said we was unattractive and we came with a foul smell just thinking about how they did our people in the Atlantic Slave Trade make me stick to my stomach full of pain and rage like Nat Turner ready to rebell. 


Our black come with the natted hair with a Fiske that the unlike woman and man stare born to dream chase and conquer reality mind built to cope with family tragedy, our black region supreme over all colors I hold my black fist high for solidarity and all the blacks who fought through the struggles. 

They place things in our community for us to kill each other . 

We refuse to be broken our black is striving to take back everything that was stolen . We just needed to be awoken to the right knowledge so wake up our black is dieing at a alarming rate you are what you eat so take that chicken off your plate get it. 

Our black was brain wash they want to divide us they want us to think we are all different but they can never separate us from our black peace.

Wise Words-James Crawford

Wisdom From The Elders

This is a topic that must be pay attention to because we tend to take advice and jewels from those that manifest before us for granted. When one take time out their day to sit with a elder from family members men or women, to elders one know and absorb the knowledge that’s express through their wisdom (things they experience) should be cherish and honor. When the youth humble themselves enough to become a student then one third eye will be open (mind) to new things also this will be closing the gap between generations. See when the youth abstract the knowledge then they can cross over the bridge to wisdom which is the application of knowledge the result will be a understanding so they can view things from a clear picture to see that understanding is the highest form of love. With that being mentioned when elders share there knowledge ,and wisdom it only birth a understanding which is their love for that individual.

Self Examination And Self Growth

Self examination should be put into practice on a daily basis because it’s best to view ourselves in any situation rather it’s a positive or negative situation. When one use self examination a person can make better decisions, which lead up to a person changing things in their life, it’s another form to get to know self more deeper that’s apart of redefineing yourself so you can be a stronger you, most of the time we are scared to self examine the things we know or need to know because the lack of studying or willing to learn due to no discipline well as a pluted perception.

Self Examination will give you answers to certain ways and actions that you maybe questioning yourself about, self examination will bring about structure to ones life. Without first self examining yourself your aim and purpose won’t have the full potential. Self Growth, most of the time we be the main source to hindering ourselves, if there is no growth then stagnation exist and if one is stagnated then that person is stuck in position (complacent) with that decay start and eventually death arrive mentally. Self growth can not happen if one have not change his or her perception which is molded by thought because those two things is what make up one reality but a mind state without change is dead. When self growth is accomplished self determination will be the reward.

Self growth start internally then the external follows just like the mental is the engine and the physical is the vehicle that represent once thoughts. These two forms of thinking are very important to ones shaping and molding themselves into a successful person to me you need both to get ahead in life. To me self examination, and self growth are synonymous to each other because the act of process, and progress if one look close in self examination self growth is present at the end of the day each one are dealing with a mental process. To end my build take this, when one change their thought, their perception will change, only then will one reality change.

Funding Our Own Incarceration-Charles A. Jackson

FUNDING OUR OWN INCARCERATION
BY CHARLES A. JACKSON BEY
As we know the cost of living in the outside world has been going up and the battle for minimum wage has reached nearly ten dollars per hour throughout Michigan. Be mindful the institutional factory jobs has been removed throughout Michigan prison system, as well as our work bonuses for the remaining jobs such as food service. Over the last 30years prison wages have not gone up! throughout Michigan, it is widely known that state prisoners such as myself can barely support ourselves with a prison job adding to pennies a day. We are considered blessed if we have the help of family and friends. It should be noted once again that prison wages have not increased in over 30years. Yet the prison store prices have gone up! Along with prison job pay scales going down. On top of limiting us to only 200 hours as food service workers, with a starting rate at 17.5¢ unskilled, 23.5¢ semiskilled, and 32.5¢ skilled per hour, consider how prisoners are being held responsible for the following living expenses toward funding our own incarceration:

A. Hygiene supplies including sales tax

B. Over-the-counter medications,
including sales tax

C. Co-payments for medical, dental, optical services, in the amount of $5.00 per visit individually

D. Legal photocopies along with notary
services in the amount of $1.00 per notary.

Pursuant to MDOC policy directive PD 03.04.101, which governs medical service providers to charge prisoners a $5.00 medical co-payment for all medical services as delineated above, placing extreme hardship on all prisoners! so this alone does save the state and prison system thousands of dollars. This is in addition to the fact that all the work we do would otherwise cost the state money to hire people from outside to do, which means prisoners are taking on the many facility operations.

Also look how we add additional funding to our own incarceration, comparing store prices from 2008 to those of 2020:

*noodles then 20¢ now 35¢
*white rice then 65¢ now $1.39
*chili no beans then $1.45 now $3.33
*peanut butter then $1.70 now $3.29
*tuna fish then $1.30 now $4.42
*footlocker then $79.40 now $112.00
*protein powder then $10.90 now $15.51
*cough drops then 65¢ now 93¢
*stamped envelope then 41¢ now 59¢
*Colgate toothpaste then $1.50 now $2.80 
*Soap then 40¢ for Ivory, 60¢ for Dial, now 65¢ for off-brand

Keep in mind that in reality we are unable to actually afford any of these items on a 17, 23, or 32¢ income, so that means that those of us who are blessed to still have family, friends, and love ones to help support us are the ones actually being fleeced. Which they are the actual tax paying citizens funding our own incarceration through the Securepak ordering system, phone system, J-pay Music, and the fee for sending financial aid to our accounts just so we can keep funding our own incarceration through the system of highway robbery with no gun!

My last critical point which I want to enlighten readers to is this Safe & Just Michigan gave the two following statements in the spring of 2019:

1) People incarcerated in Michigan are serving some of the longest sentences in the nation, with an average minimum sentence that is 10.3 years and growing, and
2) Michigan’s prison population has fallen 23% between 2006, when it reached its largest size of 51,515 people, and 2017.

These two statements might sound like they cancel each other out, but both statements are true. The paradox is one of the interesting facts brought to light in the Michigan Department of Corrections’ 2017 statistical report, which was released in January 2019. It’s no coincidence that the average minimum prison sentence is rising at the same time the overall prison population is declining. In fact, the two are related. In recent years, efforts have been made to find ways to divert people from prison for offenses that bring shorter prison sentences. Problem-solving courts, such as substance use courts and mental health courts, offer treatment programs instead of prison time. This has reduced the state’s prison population. However, that has done nothing to reduce the number of people who are still serving long-term sentences. While people serving sentences of 20years or more comprised 18.3% of the prison population in 1998, as of 2017 they represent 31.7% of the population. We have fewer people coming to prison, but those who are coming are coming for a longer time, adding to the system of funding our own incarceration along with the tax-paying citizens of Michigan being fleece.

According to a report by the Senate Fiscal Agency, a reduction in 13,000 prison beds would result in a $494,000,000 savings. Even with this decrease Michigan still has an incredible amount of work to do in order to lower the prison population further. Even with that cut over the last 14years, Michigan still spends over $2 billion on corrections alone. Like many states, Michigan has reached a critical point in the status of it’s corrections department. Instead it should be Michigan Department of Corruption or Misusing Michiganders’ Deposits on Corruption because the MDOC has deviated from the concept of Michigan Department of Corrections. Because in reality that term would represent an individual being corrected from their error by being rehabilitated through adequate programming, restorative justice, and prison reform.

So you citizens should be fed up! with the lies and misuse of your tax dollars going towards the funding of our own incarceration!!! I know I am, what about you???

Family & Friend Support Pt 2-Joseph

Dear Readers,

The one thing many prisoners yearn for is support from family and friends. When many of us came to prison, we were forced to be alone. And for many of us that unknown experience is scary. Support in most cases is given in the beginning of our sentence but as the days and years pass things begin to change. Life continues to go on without us. Its a cliché quote that says, ” Out of sight, Out of mind” and sadly it plays its way out in our daily lives as the days and years pass. Its not that they love us less or they don’t care but life doesn’t stop for them and unfortunately were no longer present.

Nothing about prison is normal or humane. Prison is a abnormal environment. This is why support is truly needed. Family keeps a prisoner engaged with reality. Family reminds us that we are human beings that have emotions and feelings. Support is giving help and encouragement. 

Prison places a enormous hardship on the mental mindset. Its a daily struggle remaining normal in a abnormal environment. Some have the mindset of not changing and they accept the negative trajectory of their life.

For those who do seek change and accept that this is a positive trajectory to a new life. They now are seen as the abnormal individuals in this environment where the criminal mentality is deemed normal. So we seek the support of positive people to keep us focus and motivated in are journey of being productive citizens.

The support from family and friends is very essential to our mental growth and change. We need to be encouraged with positive words of hope and change. We need to know we are loved, missed and needed. This comes by way of letters and phone calls. Simple jpays that say I love you and stay focus go along way. A lot of men don’t like to write other men however understand that its needed. Men need to seek counsel from other men. Steel sharpens steel. Men that will hold us accountable to take our rightful place in this world as productive men. 

When many prisoners got incarcerated a lot of family members were young so bonds and relationships were unable to be developed. Now as they come of age into adulthood, they have no idea who we are but we have no idea who they have grown to be. I’m embarking on a journey to learn my family as we speak. When I left they were baby’s and teens now there mothers and business women. Who have no idea who I am as a man today. They only know what is told to them and somebody else’s perspective of you is subjective or bias. Especially if they haven’t had any contact with you to see your growth and evolution. I would like my family to get to know the man I am today because Im no longer the man I was 13 years ago. When I am released I will need their support more then ever. The parole board wants to know that prisoners being let back into the communities have some form of a support system.

Prison is designed to destroy family ties by way of systematically employing many tactics to discourage healthy and consistent relationships. For example, you may be from Detroit but instead of housing you within reasonable driving distance they house you up north 5 to 8 hours away. Knowing that this will discourage your family from visiting. They make the application process to visit complicated by denying applicants because they failed to put N/A in places that don’t apply to them. Making them fill the whole application out again only to deny them again for something trivial. These tactics are meant to discourage families from visiting. It has happen to me numerous times so I speak from experience. Physical interaction is another very important aspect of support. 

Friendships come in many ways. We cherish them because a true friend is hard to find. Everyone wants to be your friend when your doing good and on top but your TRUE friends will be by your side when your at your lowest.

The voice and message I’m sending out is this, if you have someone in your family or if you have a friend incarcerated reach out to them. Your support is truly needed. A simple, “How you doing” and Keep your head up goes a long way. Remind them they are human beings because this system is designed to dehumanize them. Its not all about money and food packages. We need to know somebody cares. Despite the mistakes we have made we still are human. If you truly love them know they need your help as they change. No one makes it to the top alone.

I thank you for reading my post. Please leave a comment and continue to visit for more thoughts beyond the wall.

Joseph Green

Family & Friend Support-Jerome Walker

My name is Jerome Walker, but most people call me Don’Jay or DJ for short.

I am here to talk about how essential it is to having family & friends support while being in prison.

I

During my first 5 years in prison, I had little to no family support due to the crime I committed, or from their misconception on what had took place.

By not having any support, I let it dictate the way I did my time. I was considered what most called a hard ass. I didn’t listen and came in as if I had a chip on my shoulder. I began to lash out as I was catching unnecessary tickets and constantly getting in trouble and going to the hole. To me, it was like without family being by myside, I began to contemplate was life really worth living?

The saddest thing is when I got locked up, my daughter was only 8 days old. I didn’t have the support of her mother, nor did I had the support of my family.

I only could hear through new prisoners coming in telling me how such & such died, and how my daughter’s mother is out there struggling.

There was barley any pictures coming in, any money to buy the necessities.
A lot of people had to rob and steal because they were unable to have that family support that all people in prison needs.

5 years into my time, one close member in our family died from cancer. The family came together and reached out to me and decided that life was too short to harbor unwanted feelings.

I was reached out by many family members and friends.

Having family and friends write to you and tell you to keep your head up, and we are in this with you made everything felt like there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

I instantly changed my behavior. I put away my childish ways and became a man. I managed to get my GED, some certificates in Culinary arts, Custodial maintenance and many others. I started to interact with family more, and my dark days seems to have light in them.

Family support is so essential for us on lock down, because without it, it seems like we are fighting the world alone. Sometimes we become depressed and want to give up on life. It’s like, if they don’t care, why should I?

My happiest moment is when I had help from family and friends in finding my daughter 3 years ago. We have built an unbreakable relationship, and she is part of my support system.

My biggest support system now is my mother, sisters, daughter, uncles, father, cousin, and many of friends. There’s light at the end of my tunnel as I strived to be a better person for my family, myself, and friends.

I have a petition going towards my release in accordance to the change of law dealing with juvenile lifers, please go to my facebook page at Jerome Jay Walker click on the link and signed the petition I have on there. If you don’t see it, please send a friend request and I will accept you as a friend, you will then see the link and be able to sign it, and please, share it with your friends. Thank you for signing.

Sincerely,

Jerome Walker #277651

Naeem Nusaga

Naeem Nusaga shared his thoughts with Joseph and I surrounding his own conviction and how he identifies with “Writing my Wrongs” written by Shaka Senghor.

Naeem

ABOUT MY CONVICTION: 

At age 19, my best friend Henry Dillard and I were both wrongly convicted of second degree murder and other lesser offenses in the County of Saginaw, MI. Ironically, there was NO PHYSICAL EVIDENCE that directly linked us to these two crimes, nor, did any of the various identifiable prints collected from both crime scenes matched any of ours who were alleged involved. After four friends were identified and arrested, investigative officers pressured and coached two of them to lie against their childhood friends; in order to save themselves from a possible life sentence. These two alleged eyewitnesses, Christopher and Rodgers, have since confessed in sworn affidavits to this unmitigated truth.

Moreover, I look forward to sharing with you “my true story” and the intriguing dynamics behind how two investigative officers were manipulated and bamboozled when they sought out information about an actual crime(s) from a notorious drug informant named, Robert ‘Bryant’ Wilbert, who diverted their entire investigation and spun a cogent tale so intricate, you’d thought it was professionally written and produced on a movie set in Hollywood; except, this was no hollywood script…this was MY LIFE!

MORE ABOUT NAEEM: 

During 26 consecutive years of a wrongful imprisonment, I’ve maintained an excellent institutional record as a model prisoner and only incurred one (1) major ticket for being inside the gymnasium unauthorized. I’ve opted early on to use my time constructively to become better, not bitter. I refused to be your average prisoner. I acquired a High School Equivalence Certificate, Tech Math, Custodial Maintenance, Introduction to Computers, Mentored the Youth, employed at MSI Laundry for seven (7) consecutive years, and even penned four (4) books; including “The Girl In The Mirror” that I dedicated to both my lovely nieces, Core’Ana and Core’Asia Davis, with the hopes of inspiring all teenage girls to live about negative influence and identify with the beauty within. My third book “Confronting The Hood Mentality” (although COMPLETED, not yet published) is directly aimed towards helping young black American youth in the inner city to avoid cultural pitfalls, peer pressure, and to boldly lead a purpose-driven life.
Today, I am a man of great faith, insight, integrity, and committed to using the rest of my life making a positive impact in the lives of others. Granted, prison doesn’t have the most favorable conditions live in, but it does however have the most favorable conditions to GROW IN, that is, if you expend your time constructively. With maturity, I’ve now gained a new perspective on life and is all for healing, not hurting my community. Upon my release, I aspire to engage in public speaking, book tours, support prison reform, and work with at-risk youth.

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

My synopsis of the memoir: “Writing My Wrongs” by author Shaka Senghor

When I first opened and began reading from the pages of the memoir ‘Writing My Wrongs,’ I was quickly captivated by the life journey of James White, Sr. who had later intellectually evolved into the man now known simply as Shaka. Like a tiny, fluttery butterfly that’s admired for its beautiful wings, he too had to undergo a mental and spiritual metamorphosis of his own inside an American prison.
Unfortunately, no gun has ever been manufactured with a ‘rewind button’, meaning once you squeeze the trigger and the projectile exit the metal barrel of the gun at a high velocity, there’s no taking it back! You then have to live with the consequences of your actions, and by living with them, what I mean is you have to make atonement for your actions by understanding the damage in which you’ve caused. While serving 7 years in solitary confinement, Shaka began atoning for his transgressions and misdeeds, while confronting the hurt, pain, and unforgiveness from his past. Before long, the journey of redemption, forgiveness, and enlightenment prompted him to write a poignant letter to his victim. 

On page 4, he openly writes: 

“Today, when I look back, I wish I could change the past. I wish I could restore your life so that your children could have known the safety and security of having their father in the house. I wish I could bring you back to life so that your wife could enjoy the presence of her husband and your parents could see you reaching your dreams.”

The acronym for L.I.F.E. is Lessons Improves Future Experiences! Often times, we have to go through something in order to become something. We must learn from our past experiences and commit to do better in the now experiences, in order to improve our future experiences. As human beings (or God’s children), we’re all subject to make mistakes, but the biggest mistake of all is NOT learning from them. Against all odds, Shaka chose to learn from them by turning to deep introspection. He then was able to RIGHT his wrongs by “Writing His Wrongs”, then followed them with corresponding actions that gives us all hope for change. Yes, making a change for the better can be hard and difficult, but it is possible, especially if you lean on God’s broad shoulders as a source of guidance and strength. As no man is given a cross too heavy to bear!!