Simon Trinidad is peace negotiator for the FARC, currently serving a life sentence at the super max federal prison in Florence, Colorado under conditions where he can receive no mail or visitors and is only allowed one hour a day in the general prison population.
July 30th is Simon Trinidad’s 70th birthday. An international campaign has been organized to celebrate this political prisoner and demand his release.
• Join the Twitter Storm July 30th use hash tags #FreeSimonTrinidad @realDonaldTrump @SimonTrinidadLi @IvanDuque @JEP_Colombia
• For further information check out the website www.FreeSimonTrinidad.org
US Must Return Political Prisoner Simón Trinidad to Colombia
(July 9, 2020) — Murderous violence and oligarchy were at the center of Colombian political life during the 20th century. Colombians by the millions were marginalized, impoverished, and/or displaced from small land holdings. Violence and the failings of liberal democracy turned Simón Trinidad into a revolutionary. Few in the United States and Europe know about him. Colombia’s allies in both places overlook the Colombian terror regime.
Simón Trinidad matters; his time has come. This leader of the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) faced bizarre and unfounded criminal charges in a U.S. court. He’s being held under the cruelest of conditions in a federal prison in Florence, Colorado. He will die there unless he is released. Simón Trinidad will be 70 years old on July 30.
An international campaign is demanding that the U. S. government return Simón Trinidad to Colombia. What follows is an appeal on behalf of that campaign. Here are some facts:
Trinidad’s birth name was Ricardo Palmera. His family included lawyers, politicians and landowners and was based in Valledupar, Cesar Department, Colombia. There, Palmera worked as a banker, taught economics in a regional university, and managed his family’s agricultural holdings. Affiliated with the Liberal Party, he favored agrarian reform. Then Palmera joined the left-leaning Patriotic Union, formed in 1985.
That electoral coalition was immediately smothered in violence and murder. Palmera’s close comrades were being killed. Others departed for exile. On October 11, 1987, assassins killed Patriotic Union presidential candidate Jaime Pardo Leal, someone whom Palmera greatly admired. Discovering that he too was about to be killed, Palmera left Valledupar and joined the FARC. He took the name Simón Trinidad.
With that insurgency, Trinidad was responsible for propaganda and political education. He served as a peace negotiator. In December, 2003, Trinidad was in Ecuador preparing to meet with United Nations official James Lemoyne to discuss FARC plans to liberate hostages. On January 2, 2004, he was arrested there – with CIA help – and within two days had been delivered to Colombia. He remained in custody until December 31, 2004, when the Colombian government extradited him to the United States.
Simón Trinidad faced four jury trials between October, 2006 and April, 2008. The first trial ended in a deadlocked jury, the second one yielded a conviction, and the third and fourth trial each ended with juries deadlocked on a drug-trafficking charge. He was convicted of having conspired with other members of the FARC – terrorists in U. S. government eyes – to capture and hold hostage three U.S. drug-war contractors.
Trinidad’s first trial judge was replaced after he had illegally interviewed jurors to secure information potentially useful to the prosecutors in his second trial.
The new judge sentenced Simón Trinidad to 60 years in prison, 20 years for each of the three U.S. contractors being held hostage by the FARC. Trinidad was 57 years old.
He is serving his sentence at a U.S. “supermax” federal prison. Trinidad remained in solitary confinement from the time of his arrival in the United States until 2018. Now he may eat a midday meal in a dining hall. He is not allowed to receive letters, emails, or periodicals. Phone calls are limited. Visitors are rare and very few, apart from his U.S. lawyers.
Peace negotiations between the FARC and Colombian government took place in Havana from 2012 until 2016. The FARC delegation sought Simón Trinidad’s presence there as spokesperson and negotiator. Colombia’s government never requested authorities in Washington to release him for that purpose. There’s no indication that the latter would have done so.
The eventual Peace Agreement provided for a “Special Jurisdiction for Peace.” There, former combatants on both sides of the conflict have the opportunity, if they choose, to speak the truth about crimes they may have committed and have the court decide upon pardon or punishment. Simón Trinidad chose to participate. To do so he needs to be in Colombia.
Making the Case
Simón Trinidad, faithful to his principles, sought justice for the oppressed. Now he asks for justice. While a few solidarity activists may seize upon one or two aspects of his political life to justify their support for him, others latch onto a full menu of good reasons for demanding that the U.S. government return Simón Trinidad to Colombia.
• The U.S. government must allow Simón Trinidad to appear before the Special Jurisdiction for Peace. It would thereby show respect for the Peace Agreement between the FARC and Colombian government.
• The U.S. government has violated Trinidad’s basic legal and human rights. Trinidad was extradited as a drug-trafficker, which he was not. He was guilty of rebellion, which is a political crime. Extradition treaties and international human-rights law prohibit extradition for political crimes. The U.S. government subjected Trinidad to irregular court proceedings. His judge applied a wildly excessive sentence to a crime he didn’t commit. His prison conditions are inhumane.
• U.S. intervention in Colombia set the stage for Simón Trinidad’s mistreatment at U.S. hands. To rescue him would strike a blow at U.S. imperialism. The U.S. government has long provided Colombia with military assistance, notably through its Plan Colombia, in effect after 2000. While ostensibly targeting drug-traffickers, Plan Colombia laid siege to the FARC. As a highly visible FARC peace negotiator in talks with the Colombian government inCaguán(1999-2001), Simón Trinidad became a trophy prisoner. In the background was Plan Colombia, which had already helped torpedo the peace talks.
On display with Trinidad’s capture and extradition was the top-down nature of imperialist relations with client nations. Perhaps to please its boss, Colombia’s government almost immediately signaled its intention to extradite Trinidad to the United States, doing so even before a criminal charge had been announced. And Colombia’s political opposition regularly claims that national sovereignty is diminished every time prisoners like Simón Trinidad are referred to the United States for prosecution and punishment.
• Solidarity activists in many countries have long admired those working and marginalized peoples in Colombia who have stood up to a ruling class intent upon plunder and oppression. They did so by joining indigenous and Afro-Colombian resistance movements, labor unions, leftist political parties, the FARC and other insurgencies. Simón Trinidad was in that fight: by the company he keeps, he warrants support in his campaign to return to Colombia.
• Simón Trinidad was and is a revolutionary. The job description of progressives everywhere is to fight oppression and injustice. Now many of them are learning the truth about capitalism. They see climate change on the horizon and pandemic and economic collapse already here. All of those now embracing the revolutionary option have good reason to be at Simón Trinidad’s side.
As a member of the FARC, Simón Trinidad saw violence against the Patriotic Union turn into massacre. Many of the estimated 5,000 murder victims were former FARC members who were participating in electoral politics. Murderous violence and war between rich and poor are still at the center of Colombian politics. Following the signing of the Peace Agreement, assassins have killed more than 200 ex-FARC combatants and hundreds of community and political leaders, mainly in rural areas. The U.S. government, allied to the partisans of violence in Colombia, is complicit.
That kind of violence helped to put Simón Trinidad on the revolutionary path. One good way to demonstrate abhorrence of U.S. promotion of violence in Colombia, we think, is to join the fight for Simón Trinidad’s return now to Colombia.
For more information about the campaign to return Simón Trinidad to Colombia, go to https://www.libertadsimontrinidad.com/. Contact email@example.com with questions or with your offer to join the campaign.
Other Political Prisoners Held by the US
Alliance for Global Justice
This is a list of individuals who are currently incarcerated in the U.S, are targets because of their actions threatening US imperial power, and who were imprisoned for their political activity. AfGJ considers them both political prisoners and “Prisoners of Empire“. Our listing of these prisoners does not constitute endorsement of the tactics or goals of every individual included here. But we strenuously reject the individualized and out-of-context treatment of these cases and the allegations that they are simply “common crimes”.
Rather, they are, each and every one, related to some ongoing struggle against repression and Empire — whether or not we approve of the tactics. In many cases those arrested have been clearly set up, falsely accused, railroaded, and/or denied adequate defense and basic human rights. In every instance, the cases are political in nature, and require a political solution. We also further recognize that the failure to resist oppression, repression, and Empire is a right, and the failure to do so is itself a crime against the people.
Please see the notes at the bottom of the page regarding Guantanamo Bay, immigrant detention, and mass incarceration. We want to acknowledge Stan Smith and the Chicago Committee to Free the Five (773-376-7521, firstname.lastname@example.org) for initiating this project and compiling the original list in 2013.
We need your help. This list is an ongoing draft. If you see any mistakes, persons who should be listed who are not included, have updates on the status of political prisoners or have any other questions or comments, please send them to James@AFGJ.org. Click here to see Spanish version
Leonard Peltier is an activist in the American Indian Movement. In a COINTELPRO style operation, he was sentenced to life for murdering two FBI agents. Evidence exonerating Peltier was withheld by the FBI. In his appeal, the government admitted it had no evidence to show he killed the two FBI agents. Peltier has been imprisoned for 35 years for this crime that he did not commit. To learn more see Robert Redford’s documentary “Incident at Oglala” or visit http://whoisleonardpeltier.info.
Mumia Abu Jamal is the most prominent political prisoner in the US. In 1981, COINTELPRO style, he was arrested and sentenced to death in an unfair trial for the murder of a Philadelphia policeman. Mumia was an organizer and campaigner against police abuses in the African-American community, and was the President of the Association of Black Journalists. During his imprisonment he has published several books and other commentaries, notably Live from Death Row. See documentaries “Mumia Abu Jamal: A Case For Reasonable Doubt?” and “Mumia: Long Distance Revolutionary” or visit http://freemumia.com/ or http://millions4mumia.org.
Simón Trinidad, aka Ricardo Palmera, is a long-time leader of mass movements for social change, and was a top negotiator for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP). He was arrested in 2004 in Ecuador in the process of negotiating with the UN for their release of FARC prisoners. He was then extradited to the U.S. on charges of narco-trafficking and kidnapping and subjected to four separate trials due to the difficulty the prosecution had in securing a conviction. A Colombian government spokesperson told the Alliance for Global Justice in April 2015 that the repatriation of Trinidad to Colombia is key to the success of the peace talks between FARC-EP and the Colombian Government. So far, the US government has refused. Learn more at http://freericardopalmera.org.
Ivan Vargas is a citizen of Colombia and was a member of FARC. He was captured by Colombian forces and then extradited to the United States in violation of Colombia’s self-determination. He is incarcerated in here on bogus drug trafficking charges. His repatriation to Colombia is important to create the conditions for stable peace between FARC and the Colombian government.
Black Panther Party (BPP), New Afrikan, and Black Liberation Army political prisoners were victims of the COINTELPRO operations in the 1960s-70s when the FBI sought to destroy the Black liberation movement. Those currently incarcerated include, but are not limited to:
- Russell Maroon Shoats, http://russellmaroonshoats.wordpress.com
- Jalil Muntaqim, http://www.freejalil.com
- Mutulu Shakur, http://assatashakur.org
- Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, formerly H. Rap Brown, http://imamjamilactionnetwork.weebly.com
- Sundiata Acoli was with Assata Shakur (who escaped and found political asylum in Cuba), http://sundiataacoli.org
- Veronza Bowers, imprisoned for 40 years, was convicted of murder on the word of two government informers. There were no eye-witnesses and no evidence independent of these informants. At trial, two relatives of the informants gave testimony insisting that they were lying was ignored. http://veronza.org
- Ed Poindexter was a target of COINTELPRO, serving life sentences on charges of killing an Omaha policeman. He was convicted on the testimony of a teenage boy who was beaten by the police and threatened with the electric chair if he did not blame the crime on Poindexter and on Mondo we Langa (who died in prison). Amnesty International defends them as prisoners of conscience. See: http://www.n2pp.info, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wi0luaq0eyM, http://www.itsabouttimebpp.com/Announcements/Justice_for_the_Omaha_Two.html
- Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald, the longest held Black Panther Party prisoner, http://www.thejerichomovement.com/profile/fitzgerald-romaine-chip
- Kamau Sadiki, http://freekamau.com
- Kojo Bomani Sababu (Grailing Brown) was active with the Black Liberation Army, and is a New Afrikan Prisoner of War. Sababu attempted to free Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera while they were both incarcerated in Kansas, and was convicted of conspiracy. http://prisonersolidarity.net/prisoner/kojo-bomani-sababu-grailing-brown
- Ruchell “Cinque” Magee was already imprisoned when he appeared in a courtroom to testify in a trial related to the Soledad Prison Revolt. There, he was spontaneously recruited into the Marin County Courthouse Rebellion, a bid to expose the racist court system and negotiate the liberation of the Soledad Brothers by taking hostages. http://www.thejerichomovement.com/profile/magee-ruchell-cinque
To learn more about Black Panther Party (BPP), New Afrikan, and Black Liberation Army political prisoners, see the documentary films The FBI’s War on Black America: COINTELPRO, Cointelpro 101, or visit the Prison Activist Resource Center and the Jericho Movement.
The MOVE 9 were sentenced to 30-100 in prison After the August 8, 1978 siege of their Philadelphia home by 600 heavily armed cops. The entire group was falsely convicted of killing a police officer who died in the cops’ own cross fire, despite the trial judge’s statement that he had no idea who shot the officer. The MOVE 9 were part of the communally-living, radical black MOVE family, a longstanding target of the Philadelphia city government. In 1985, eleven MOVE family members, including five children, were massacred by Philly cops when a bomb was dropped on their living quarters. Merle Africa and Phil Africa died in prison. Eddie, Janet, Janine, Mike Africa remain in jail. http://move9parole.blogspot.com
The Water Protector Prisoners are prisoners of empire who have been incarcerated for their resistance to the Dakota Access Pipe Line and its threats to the Missouri River and the Standing Rock Sioux people. Currently there are two people still serving sentences. To find out more about the Water Protectors visit:
The Water Protector Prisoners still in prison are:
- Red Fawn Fallis was sentenced on July 11, 2018 to 57 months in federal prison. https://www.standwithredfawn.org/
- Michael Rattler Markus was sentenced on September 27, 2018 to 36 months in prison. https://www.facebook.com/FreeRattler
Fred “Muhammad” Burton was jailed in 1970 during a time of massive police crackdowns on black activists in Philadelphia, and framed for the murder of a policeman. http://www.advocateforjustice.net/SupportFreedomForFrederickBurton.html
David Gilbert is a radical left wing activist and was a member of the Weather Underground, a militant leftist group active in the 1970s. He helped found Colombia University’s chapter of Students for a Democratic Society. Gilbert took part in a botched bank robbery in 1981 along with members of the Black Liberation Army, and was sentenced to 75 years in prison. http://abcf.net/prisoners/gilbert.htm
Jaan Karl Laaman and Tom Manning were members of United Freedom Front, an underground leftist group that bombed government and corporate buildings in the 1970s, funding their tactics through bank expropriations. They strongly opposed South African apartheid and US imperialism in Central American. Laaman writes and edits for the 4struggle magazine. https://www.facebook.com/Free-Jaan-Laaman-893324014061467/; http://prisonersolidarity.net/prisoner/tom-manning
Rev. Joy Powell was a consistent activist against police brutality, violence and oppression in her community. She was warned by the Rochester Police that she was a target because of her speaking out against corruption. Rev. Joy, a Black woman, was convicted of burglary and assault by an all-white jury; the state provided no evidence and no eyewitnesses. She was given 16 years. http://freejoypowell.org
Ana Belen Montes was a Pentagon intelligence analyst who alerted the Cuban government of plans the US government had of militarized agression against Cuba. Belen Montes told the judge who heard her case, “I engaged in the activity that brought me before you because I obeyed my conscience rather than the law…We have displayed intolerance and contempt towards Cuba for most of the last four decades. I hope my case in some way will encourage our government to abandon its hostility towards Cuba and to work with Havana in a spirit of tolerance, mutual respect, and understanding.” She was arrested in 2001, pled guilty to one count of espionage, and is being held in solitary confinement in a Fort Worth, Texas. http://www.prolibertad.org/ana-belen-montes
Jeremy Hammond was arrested in 2012 for the hacking of Strategic Forecasting, Inc. (Stratfor), leaking information to Wikileaks showing that Stratfor spies on human rights activists at the behest of corporations and the U.S. government. He has been denied bail and held in solitary confinement, facing a maximum sentence of ten years. http://freejeremy.net
Matthew DeHart worked as an intelligence officer for US National Guard. He was involved with Wikileaks and the hacktivist group Anonymous. Prior to his arrest DeHart ran a server that housed documents bound for Wikileaks. When sensitive documents about the CIA were uploaded to the server by an anonymous third party, DeHart was targeted by the federal government, and was drugged and interrogated about the documents. The federal government brought charges of child pornography against him, allowing them to gain access to his computers. https://mattdehart.com/
Patrice Lumumba Ford was a Muslim targeted after 9-11 as part of the Portland Seven. Lumumba accepted a plea agreement, but he refused to further the “war on terror” by helping with more prosecutions. For that refusal, he was sentenced to 18 years in a maximum-security federal prison on “conspiracy” charges. http://freelumumba.org
Amina Ali and Hawo Hassan were convicted of “material support for terrorism” in 2011, and given 20 and 10 year sentences respectively. The two Rochester, Minnesota women had collected clothing and raised money to help destitute people in their homeland. The prosecution claims that they helped al-Shabab, an Islamist organization that fights to free Somalia from foreign domination.
Shukri Abu-Baker and Ghassan Elashi of the Holy Land Foundation, were each sentenced in 2008 to 65 years in prison. Three others of the Holy Land 5 were sentenced to 13-20 years: Mohammad El-Mezain, Abdulrahman Odeh and Mufid Abdulqader. All were imprisoned for giving more than $12 million to charitable groups in Palestine which funded hospitals, schools and fed the poor and orphans. The U.S. government said these groups were controlled by Hamas, a group it lists as a terrorist organization. Hamas is the elected government of Gaza. Some of these charitable committees were also still receiving US funding through USAID as late as 2006. Testimony was given in the case by an Israeli government agent whose identity and evidence was kept secret from the defense. This was the first time in American legal history that testimony has been allowed from an expert witness with no identity, and therefore immune from perjury. The defendants were acquitted in their first trial when the jury remained deadlocked. http://freedomtogive.com
Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is an American-educated Pakistani neuroscientist who was convicted in a U.S. court of assault with intent to murder her U.S. interrogators in Afghanistan and sentenced to 86 years in prison. Four British Parliamentarians wrote to President Obama “there was an utter lack of concrete evidence tying Dr. Siddiqui to the weapon she allegedly fired at a US officer”, calling for her to be freed immediately. The weapon she allegedly fired in the small interrogation room did not have her fingerprints, nor was there evidence the gun was fired. http://freeaafia.org
Dr. Rafil Dhafir founded the charity, Help the Needy in direct response to the humanitarian catastrophe created by the brutal sanctions against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. For 13 years before his arrest, he publicized the plight of the Iraqi people and raised funds to help them. According to the government, Dhafir donated $1.4 million of his own money over the years. As an oncologist, he was also concerned about the effects of depleted uranium on the Iraqi population which was experiencing skyrocketing cancer rates. In February 2003, just before the second US war on Iraq, Dhafir was arrested as a “funder of terrorism,” though no evidence was presented at trial. Dhafir was sentenced to 22 years in prison connected to breaking the sanctions against Iraq. http://dhafirtrial.net
Dr. Abdelhaleem Ashqar was found guilty in 2007 of “refusal to collaborate with federal grand juries investigating the Palestinian anti-occupation movement”. Despite being aquitted of initial charges of racketeering, he was sentenced to prison for 11 years. Dr. Ashqar, formerly a professor at Howard University, has long been a victim of government surveillance, harrasment, and intimidation for his support of Hamas and the people of Palestine. http://www.muslimlinkpaper.com/community-news/community-news/3834-jailed-and-abandoned-abdelhaleem-ashqar-continues-to-live-by-his-principles.html
Brandon Baxter, Joshua “Skelly” Stafford, Connor Stevens, and Doug Wright are the Cleveland 4. They were Occupy Cleveland activists arrested on April 30th, 2012 for planning to blow up a bridge. However, the FBI had infiltrated Occupy Cleveland, created the scheme, and incited the group to join in on the plans. Occupy is a decentralized political protest movement against social and economic inequality, most active from 2011 and 2012. In many US cities, including Cleveland, Occupy protesters formed long-term encampments in central plazas and squares. http://www.cleveland4solidarity.org/
The NATO 5 were jailed in May 2012 before the NATO summit in Chicago, based on entrapment and the accusations of undercover police informants. Jared Chase still remains in prison. https://www.prisonersolidarity.com/prisoner/jared-jay-chase
Bill Dunne is an an anti-authoritarian who was arrested in 1979 for the attempted liberation of an anarchist political prisoner. Dunne is politically active in prison. He organizes solidarity 5k runs with the Anarchist Black Cross, helps educate fellow inmates, and writes and edites for the 4struggle magazine. http://www.thejerichomovement.com/profile/dunne-bill
Marius Mason (formerly known as Marie Mason) is an environmental political prisoner serving a 22 year sentence. In March 2008, Marius was arrested for vandalism of a laboratory creating genetically modified organisms for Monsanto. He was charged with arson for this and for damaging logging equipment in 1999 and 2000. No one was harmed by these actions. Marius pled guilty to arson charges, but the judge applied a “terrorism enhancement.” He was sentenced to 22 years, and is now serving the longest sentence of any “Green Scare” prisoner. http://supportmariemason.org
Joseph Buddenberg was arrested and convicted along with Nicole Kissane on federal terrorism charges for freeing animals on fur farms. Buddenberg, an animal rights activist and vegan, was sentenced to two years in federal prison. The law under which he was charged, the Conspiracy to Violate the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, is “bought and paid for by corporations that profit from the exploitation of animals”, says Rachel Meeropol of the Center for Constitutional Rights. Buddenberg is being held in prison in California, while Kissane will serve out her sentence in Ireland. https://supportnicoleandjoseph.com/
Norman Lowry is an antiwar activist who is serving a sentence of 7 years for blocking the entrance of an army recruitment facility while attempting to dissuade soliders from murdering in the name of the US government. A judge told Lowry that unless he renounced his nonviolent tactics, he would not be released for parole before fully completing his sentence. He has been in prison since 2012. http://normanlowry.blogspot.com/
Abdul Azeez, Malik Smith, and Hanif Shabazz Bey are from the US occupied Virgin Islands, and are the three members of the Virgin Island Five who are still incarcerated. After a murder of eight American tourists to the island during a period of anti-imperial struggle against the US, the five men were targeted for being supporters of the anti-imperial struggle, falsely accused of murdering the Americans, and tortured. They were each given eight consecutive life sentences and are currently imprisoned in Arizona.
Byron Shane “Oso Blanco” Chubbuck is a member of the wolf clan Cherokee/Chocktaw. He expropriated money from over a dozen US banks to give to the Zapatistas of Chiapas, Mexico. He became known as “Robin the Hood” because he would let the bank tellers know that he was taking the money to give to the poor. http://freeosoblanco.blogspot.com/
Alvaro Luna Hernandez is a Chicano community organizer and prison activist. He was the National Coordinator of the Ricardo Aldape Guerra Defense Committee and involved in anti-police brutality activism in Houston. He was continually targeted by the police, who in 1996 attempted to arrest him for a spurious robbery charge that was later dismissed. The police used violence to arrest him, but after a days-long manhunt, it was ultimately Luna Hernandez who was sentenced to 50 years in prison on trumped up charges of threatening a sheriff while resisting arrest. http://www.freealvaro.net/
Ramsey Muñiz is a Chicano activist who ran for governor of Texas in 1972 and 1974 as the Raza Unida Party candidate. La Raza Unida is a political party most active in the Southwest in the 1970s that focusing on working class issues and Chicano nationalism. Members faced repression for posing a serious threat to the two-party status-quo. Muñiz faced two drug-related charges and pled guilty before the three-strikes law was implemented. In 1994, he went to prison for life for his “third-strike.” Muñiz and his supporters maintain that the charge that sent him to prison for life was a frame-up. http://www.freeramsey.com/
Josh Williams was an active Black Lives Matter protester in Ferguson, Missouri. He participated in the protests against police brutality, sparked by the shooting of an unarmed teenager by a police officer. At the age of 19, Williams was sentenced to 8 years in prison for arson, burglary, and stealing. He entered a QuickTrip convenience store, which had previously been broken into by other looters, and lit fires inside and outside the store. His shockingly long sentence by a St. Louis judge was meant to intimidate other protestors against police brutality. Williams will be released in 2021. http://www.riverfronttimes.com/newsblog/2015/12/11/ferguson-protesters-express-shock-at-eight-year-sentence-for-joshua-williams
Stephen Kelly remains locked up in Glynn County Detention Center in Brunswick, Georgia where he is awaiting sentencing for his part in the King’s Bay Plowshares direct action for nuclear disarmament. http://www.nukeresister.org/inside-out/
Fran Thompson is a long-time ecological defender. She is in jail for murder after she successfully defended herself, killing a man who had threatened to murder her and had broken into her home. What she did was an act of personal defense against the patriarchal system, and she was also targeted because of her eco-defense, including that she was not allowed to enter a plea of self-defense. https://freefran.noblogs.org/
Guantanamo inmates are prisoners held in indefinite detention without trial, most since 2002. The Guantanamo Prison, part of the US base there illegally occupying Cuban land, is notorious for its inhumane and degrading conditions and systemic use of torture. According to Witness Against Torture there are 40 prisoners at the prison despite 16 of them having been cleared for release. http://closeguantanamo.org, http://www.witnesstorture.org
Immigrant detention centers hold undocumented workers, families and students. Every year more than 400,000 immigrants are detained, and on any given day there are around 40,000 persons in immigrant detention centers. These individuals are jailed because of the US’s fervent anti-immigrant political ideology.
As recently as the 1980s, immigrants were rarely detained. They were either accused of misdemeanors and quickly deported or permitted to go about their lives pending immigration hearings. In recent years there has been a massive boom in immigrant detention and deportation. Even though we are experiencing the lowest level of immigration from Mexico into the US in 45 years, private immigrant detention centers are a booming and highly protected industry. The US government has promised to supply enough undocumented immigrants to keep 36,000 beds in detention centers occupied all year round.
Racism, class repression, and xenophobia are the political forces underlying the boom in immigrant detainees. The US government increasingly criminalizes undocumented people. Rather than treating them like low-level civil offenders, our new policy is to target them arbitrarily, and once they are arrested to lock them up. Being undocumented is a highly-politicized crime. Those incarcerated in immigration detention centers are a class of Prisoners of Empire too numerous to name.
Mass incarceration is a foundational element of racist and anti-worker oppression. Not every target of state repression makes it to jail or is given a chance to defend themselves in court or even be charged with a crime. Many of those who die as a result of state-sanctioned violence are guilty of nothing more than fitting an ethnic profile that makes one a suspect by virtue of the color of their skin. Every 28 hours in 2012 someone employed or protected by the US government killed a Black man, woman or child.
While non-hispanic Whites make up 63.7% of the US population, people of African heritage and Latinos make up almost two thirds of those in US jails. Persons lacking a GED or high school diploma make up 47 percent of inmates, and the annual income of the incarcerated, prior to their arrests, was 41% less than their peers among the un-incarcerated.
With under 5% of the world’s population, the US jails 25% of the world prison population, with 2.3 million prisoners. The development and growth of the mass incarceration model took place at the same time crime rates have been in decline. The primary purpose of the US prison system appears to be about social control, intimidation of resistance and the maintenance of a massive and legal form of slave labor.
Conditions in US prisons reflect a lack of basic health care, isolation from family and community, lack of educational opportunity, widespread incidents of torture and beatings, and generally degrading treatment. US prisons hold over 80,000 persons in solitary confinement. In 2012 alone the Justice Department estimates there had been 216,000 victims of prison rape.
While we do not call all prisoners political prisoners, we must note that they are all subjects to a politically motivated system of oppression. The repercussions of the US incarceration model are felt acutely far beyond the locked doors and bars of our jails. The politics of fear is diffused throughout US society, particularly for poor people and racial minorities. We have seven million US residents who are in prison, on parole or on probation. When we consider the massive government monitoring of our population, we can justifiably call the United States a prison nation.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.