Not So Securus

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Massive Hack of 70 Million Prisoner Phone Calls Indicates Violations of Attorney-Client Privilege

“This may be the most massive breach of the attorney-client privilege in modern U.S. history, and that’s certainly something to be concerned about,” said David Fathi, director of the ACLU’s National Prison Project. “A lot of prisoner rights are limited because of their conviction and incarceration, but their protection by the attorney-client privilege is not.”

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The Other Side of the Tracks

How railroads, highways and other man-made lines racially divide America’s cities.

Shreveport, La.

“Look at racial maps of many American cities, and stark boundaries between neighboring black and white communities frequently denote an impassable railroad or highway, or a historically uncrossable avenue. Infrastructure has long played this role: reinforcing unspoken divides, walling off communities, containing their expansion, physically isolating them from schools or parks or neighbors nearby.”

Prison Bankers Cash in on Captive Customers

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“I would send him money even if it broke me, because I do go without paying some bills sometimes to go see him,” Pat says.

Between gas to make the trip and overpriced sandwiches from the prison vending machine, visiting Bland costs about $50, a strain on her housekeeper’s wages. So she alternates, visiting Eddie one week and sending him money the next.

To get cash to her son, Pat used to purchase a money order at the post office for $1.25 and mail it to the prison, for a total cost of less than $2. But in March of last year, the Virginia Department of Corrections informed her that JPay Inc., a private company in Florida, would begin handling all deposits into inmates’ accounts.

Sending a money order through JPay takes too long, so Taylor started using her debit card to get him funds instead. To send Eddie $50, Taylor must pay $6.95 to JPay. Depending on how much she can afford to send, the fee can be as high as 35 percent. In other states, JPay’s fees approach 45 percent.

After the fee, the state takes out another 15 percent of her money for court fees and a mandatory savings account, which Eddie will receive upon his release in 2021, minus the interest, which goes to the Department of Corrections.

Eddie needs money to pay for basic needs like toothpaste, visits to the doctor and winter clothes. In some states families of inmates pay for toilet paper, electricity, even room and board, as governments increasingly shift the costs of imprisonment from taxpayers to the families of inmates.

“To give him $50, I have to send $70 off my card,” says Taylor, who moved to a smaller apartment on the outskirts of Johnson City in part because of the rising cost of supporting Eddie.

“They’re punishing the families, not the inmates.”

The Recollectors

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The Recollectors is a storytelling site and community for the many children and families left behind by parents who died of AIDS.

When AIDS first emerged in the U.S. decades ago, there was a collective cultural assumption that the disease primarily afflicted gay men who had no children. But that was never true: men and women of all sexual identities, income levels, and cultural backgrounds contracted HIV, and in a variety of ways. Many of these people, including gay men, were survived by children. Because of the secrecy and stigma surrounding AIDS —both at the height of the crisis during the 80s and 90s, and today—a lot of us who lost parents to the disease learned to keep quiet and grieve in the shadows.

The Recollectors grew out of two friends’ experiences losing their fathers to AIDS in 1992. Our fathers died under very different circumstances: Alysia’s father was fully out, living in San Francisco, and passed away in an AIDS hospice, while Whitney’s father was closeted in suburban Kentucky. Until meeting each other, we didn’t really know anyone else who could understand and relate to our experience—but considering that 650,000 people have died of AIDS in the U.S. since the advent of the crisis, we knew we couldn’t be the only ones.

So we created The Recollectors to fill that gap: to build a community to share these parents’ stories, to expand the history of AIDS in the U.S., and to connect with others who know what it’s like to experience this kind of singular isolating loss.

On the Pulse of Morning

1
A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Marked the mastodon,
The dinosaur, who left dried tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.

2
But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.
I will give you no hiding place down here.

3
You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance.
Your mouths spilling words

4
Armed for slaughter.
The Rock cries out to us today, you may stand upon me,
But do not hide your face.

5
Across the wall of the world,
A River sings a beautiful song. It says,
Come, rest here by my side.

6
Each of you, a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.
Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.
Yet today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more. Come,
Clad in peace, and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I and the
Tree and the rock were one.
Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your
Brow and when you yet knew you still
Knew nothing.
The River sang and sings on.

-2-

7
There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing River and the wise Rock.
So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew
The African, the Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheik,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the Tree.

8
They hear the first and last of every Tree
Speak to humankind today. Come to me, here beside the River.
Plant yourself beside the River.

9
Each of you, descendant of some passed
On traveller, has been paid for.
You, who gave me my first name, you,
Pawnee, Apache, Seneca, you
Cherokee Nation, who rested with me, then
Forced on bloody feet,
Left me to the employment of
Other seekers — desperate for gain,
Starving for gold.
You, the Turk, the Arab, the Swede, the German, the Eskimo, the Scot,
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru, bought,
Sold, stolen, arriving on the nightmare
Praying for a dream.
Here, root yourselves beside me.
I am that Tree planted by the River,
Which will not be moved.
I, the Rock, I the River, I the Tree
I am yours — your passages have been paid.
Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.
History, despite its wrenching pain
Cannot be unlived, but if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.

-3-

10
Lift up your eyes upon
This day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.

11
Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands,
Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts
Each new hour holds new chances
For a new beginning.
Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.

12
The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out and upon me, the
Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.
No less to Midas than the mendicant.
No less to you now than the mastodon then.

13
Here, on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes, and into
Your brother’s face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope —
Good morning.

– Maya Angelou