portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article commentary oregon & cascadia

prisons & prisoners

how did the break the chains conference go?

im wondering how it went, from what i read on the website, it sounded great. was it?
BTC collective-please print a summary of the conference.
Short Answer 13.Aug.2003 08:58


The answer I typed in was erased... I will attempt to reconstruct the previous attempt to recognize and elucidate the importance of this event...

I especially was working on expressing the perception that I walked away with. Listening to the participants in these workshops, it became clear to me that whether people believe in reform as a tactic in other areas of struggle or not, it seems that in this one area we can all agree that when our people are taken hostage by the State, and when we are negotiating for their very survival, it is incredibly important that we work toward making conditions more humane within the prison system, with the hope that (hopefully) someday there will be a time when prisons are no longer needed, and when this and other regimes stop locking people up for participating in vicimless crimes. As Chrystos emphasized repeatedly, before the arrival of the colonizers to this nation, not one prison was ever built.

I am compiling notes and information from the websites we were told about from the all-too short workshops, where I learned about struggles for international help for political prisoner support in the Basque lands, in Ireland, in Italy, and here. I listened to inspirational speakers tell their stories and give words of wisdom to us in the road that lies ahead; I was very inspired by the words and visioning, and even constructive and loving respectful criticism for each other's ideas by Ed Mead, Laura Whitehorn, Derrick Jenson, Rita "Bo" Brown, Chrystos, Ward Churchill, Splitting the Sky and by the music of Jim Page.

Workshops by folks doing prisoner support work enlightened me about how there have been important changes made from within as well as outside the prison system, like how the California Coalition for Women Prisoners has worked toward giving women prisoners a voice, and about the desperate need to work toward helping improve health care systems in prison, ( ccwp@igc.org) discussions about hospice care inside or outside of prisons... and was blessed to get a copy of the Prison Art Newsletter put out by Ed Mead ( info@prisonart.org) and about other issues like Measure 11 in Oregon and conditions in Walla Walla Washington being worked on by the Western Prison Project... About prison labor issues, although I really want to know more about this union-busting slave-labor scheme...

I was inspired by folks in the workshops doing prisoner support work both here and in California, by the depth of information provided in these all-too-short workshops by folks like Peter Urban, Paulette D'Auteuil, Janice Jordan, Michael Novick and many many others that I am running out of time to name but that are listed in the conference schedule of events.

I am presently writing up the first story about the Basque peoples, and the other workshops that I attended will follow. In the meantime if folks want to educate themselves on some of these struggles going on internationally, nationally and locally, here are just a few of the many websites we were directed to during the course of this awesomely inspiring conference:

Basque peoples:
basque information center (Holland): www.baskinfo.org

Welch Republican Socialist Party:  http://www.cymrugoch.org/
Irish Republican Socialist Party:  http://www.irsm.org/irsm.html

Revolutionary Association of the The women of Afghanistan: www.rawa.org
Jews Against the Occupation: www.jewsagainsttheoccupation.org
Minority Rights Group International: www.minorityrights.org
National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns (England) ww.ncadc.org.uk

Jericho Movement: www.jerichomovement.com
Prison Activist Resource Center: www.prisonactivist.org
Eddie Hatcher, native american political prisoner: www.eddiehatcher.org
Rob "Los ricos"Thaxton: Chicano Anarchist political prisoner: www.defenestrator.org/roblosricos
Prison Sucks (prison stats): www.prisonsucks.com
Western Prison Project: www.westernprisonproject.org
California Coalition for Women Prisoners: www.womenprisoners.org
Books Not Bars www.booksnotbars.org
Class Struggle Online: www.anarchosyndicalism.org
California Prison Focus: www.prisons.org
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children: www.prisonerswithchildren.org
Anarchist Black Cross Network: www.anarchistblackcross.org
Women of Color Resource Center: www.coloredgirls.org
Federation of Revolutionary Anarchist Collectives: www.frac.ws
Families Against Mandatory Minimums: www.famm.org