USA: Political Prisons

Robert Meeropol 16.04.2010 20:25 Themen: Repression Weltweit
I first heard of Daniel McGowan ( several years ago. He's one of more than a dozen "green scare defendants" now serving time in Federal prison. During the 1990's several groups of young, militant environmental and animal rights activists engaged in property destruction actions such as burning SUV's or destroying a horse slaughterhouse.
After the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act, and more recently, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, federal prosecutors have been arresting those supposedly involved, treating them as domestic terrorists even though no people or animals were killed or even injured in any of their actions, and imposing long prison sentences upon them.

Daniel, at the time of his arrest, was a progressive activist in New York City, who had "walked away from these kind of actions a long time ago," [ ]. While in prison he maintained contact with a large community of supporters and continued to write about progressive issues. He first contacted the Rosenberg Fund for Children (RFC, not on his own behalf (he and his wife have no children), but to suggest other political prisoners with children the RFC might support. Daniel is one of those people who look beyond themselves no matter what their circumstance to figure out ways to help others.

Apparently his jailors didn't approve. They transferred Daniel to their new Communications Management Unit (CMU) in Marion, Illinois. This occurred despite the fact the Daniel had no in-prison infractions to justify such action. Daniel's new "crime" seems to be his contact with his political support group and his continued exercise of his first amendment rights.

The Center for Constitutional Rights describes these political prisons on their website. "In 2006 and 2007, the [Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP)] secretly created two experimental prison units designed to isolate certain prisoners from the rest of the prison population and the
outside world. These units are called Communications Management Units or CMUs, and despite the fact that their creation marked a dramatic change in BOP policy, they were opened without the required opportunity for public notice and comment." [
holder- et-al ]

The BOP has long housed some political prisoners in lockdown facilities of this nature, but had limited such draconian conditions of confinement to those it claimed were the most violent and dangerous criminals. These new CMU units are not designed to house maximum security prisoners. Instead they are social and political control experiments that Wardens can use to isolate "average" prisoners who are outspoken or have the wrong religion. Inmates at the CMU are only allowed limited communication with the outside world, and to see
loved ones through plexi-glass barriers and talk via phone hook-ups.

Daniel's community of support has not taken his transfer to the CMU passively. The "Friends of Daniel McGowan" group (see and the "Support Daniel McGowan" Facebook Group) organized an art auction that drew public attention to his situation, and that of others (over 60% of them Muslim) held at the CMU. At Daniel's request, 50% of the funds raised by the group, over $1,000, was donated to the RFC's Granting Fund. Daniel wrote in explanation: "Although we do not have children ourselves, we have 6 nieces and the pain I feel being separated from them is great. I truly can't imagine what it would be like if I had children - especially in this unit without contact visits."

This struck a deep chord in me. If these rules had been applied to my parents after their arrest I would have no conscious memory of their touch or their voices. The only clear memories I have is from those few precious hours we spent together during a dozen or so prison visits I had with them.

And the family connection runs deeper. I was surprised while viewing a slide show of the art exhibit Daniel's wife helped to organize, to see my younger daughter, Rachel (who is a staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights), speaking at the opening! Earlier this week Rachel and another CCR attorney filed suit in Federal District Court in Washington, DC on behalf of Daniel McGowan, another political prisoner connected with the RFC, and others, claiming the CMUs violated the prisoners' first amendment and due process rights because they are confined in this extra punitive detention "without legitimate reason or meaningful process, [and . ] in retaliation for their protected religious beliefs, unpopular political views, or lawful advocacy challenging rights violations in prison."

I'm proud to link my family and my community to those of Daniel McGowan.
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R. Meeropol: son of the Rosenbergs

info on the author 16.04.2010 - 20:35
Robert Meeropol is the younger son of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg.

In 1953, when he was six years old, the United States Government executed his parents for "conspiring to steal the secret of the atomic bomb."

Since 1990 he has served as the Executive Director of the Rosenberg Fund for Children ( ), a non-profit, public foundation that provides for the educational and emotional needs of both targeted activist youth and children in this country whose parents have been harassed, injured, jailed, lost jobs or died in the course of their progressive activities.

Open Letter from Robert Seth Hayes

Freedom Archives, March 2010 16.04.2010 - 20:38
Revolutionary Greetings,

My name is Robert Seth Hayes, and I am a former member of the Black Panther Party who has been held as a political prisoner in New York State for the past 37 years. I am presently awaiting a parole board hearing in June 2010, but I intend to post-pone the hearing while I await the results of my legal battle in the courts concerning my appeal of the 2008 decision of the NYS Parole Board commissioners in my case. I believe we have a better than good chance of gaining a new hearing with new guidelines or restrictions on what can and cannot be used at my hearings.

I've spent over 37 years in prison thus far. On many occasions I felt release imminent only to be disappointed and almost discouraged by the blatant racism manifested by those with authority over me. After bringing the spot light on my condition and circumstances before the courts. I now feel I have a better than good chance of winning release. We are presently in court seeking a reversal to the order which denied me parole for another 2 years. The 2008 parole board hearing was the sixth time I'd attended without gaining parole or possible consideration for parole. Now up for parole for the seventh time, I hope to win. Because my next parole board appearance is slated for June 2010, I plan on postponing that hearing as I await the results of our present petition before the courts.

If we are able to win a victory in court it will grant me a clean slate to approach the parole board with consideration for release. The commissioners at that time will only be able to make their decision on my conviction, and my present time served. At long last, the only considerations will be my achievements while incarcerated and my goals and plans upon being released, and not my political beliefs, my past membership in the Black Panther Party or my military record in Vietnam – all issues that the parole board has used to deny me parole in the past.

We are prepared to argue before the courts that the commissioners of Parole court hearing are utilizing false and misleading information in making a determination of continued incarceration and thereby straying from the official guidelines which they are required to uphold. If they are forced to use the actual law in their decision, they will only be able to look at my original conviction and my behavior over the time I served in prison. They will be hard pressed to demand continued incarceration based on "gut feelings", outside the commitments of the law. I believe that I stand a good chance for release or absent that, a powerful argument to make an appeal to a higher court over the misapplication of Rules, law and obligations on the part of those on the Lower Court level.

I am therefore asking you to consider your ability to aid and assist me in my goals. We are working towards a $3,500.00 legal bill to pay for legal representation for the Article 78 now in the courts awaiting a decision. Any help that you can provide by sending donations directly to my attorney would be greatly appreciated:

Cheryl L. Kates, Esq.
Attorney At Law
PO Box 711
Honeoye, New York 14471

(585) 820-3818

or send the donation directly to my finance officer:

Nate Buckley
438 Massachusetts Ave
Buffalo, New York, 14213

(716) 886-0544

Your aide and assistance is sorely needed. I respect that times are hard and that many of you, having already given once, can barely afford to do so now. In light of that and the goal intended, I ask again and will gratefully accept whatever amount you can either raise or extend. Struggle is ongoing and our objective must always remain clear. I/we do not ask that you become burdened, but rather continually aware of what we want, what we intend, what we support. I hope to hear that this call was respected, honored and served. Much love to you. I remain.

Dedicated and Responsive,
Comrade Robert Seth' Hayes

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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praktische Solidarität für Gefangene

Berliner Free Mumia Bündnis 19.04.2010 - 11:00
Es gibt sehr viele politische Gefangene in den USA. Öffentlichkeit hilft immer, sie nicht in Vergessenheit geraten zu lassen und hilft den Betroffenen konkret.

Das Beispiel der Solidaritätsarbeit für Mumia Abu-Jamal zeigt, wie effektiv das sein kann. Obwohl er schon mehrfach vom Staat umgebracht werden sollte, konnte das durch weltweite Proteste bisher verhindert werden. Mumias Fall steht nach über 28 Jahren Haft inzwischen symbolisch für die Barberei der Todesstrafe an sich sowie die vielen ungelösten Fragen des Umgangs mit Minderheiten nicht-europäischen Ursprungs in den USA.

Völkermord und gewaltsame Vertreibung, Rassismus und Gefängnissklaverei - das sind die offenen Auseinandersetzungen, die in den USA von der Mehrheit systematisch gedeckelt oder ausgeblendet werden.

Schreibt Gefangenen, durchbrecht die Isolation. Beispiel:

Organisiert Spenden für Verteidigung, z.B.
und Soligruppen, z.B.

Geht auf die Strasse, z.B. an Mumias Geburtstag in Berlin oder in Frankfurt, Kiel, Hildesheim, Leipzig oder Nürnberg