I have a sister working out of Alabama on human rights and prison reform. Her name is Roberta Franklin and she blasts out clear messages that would create a conscience in any decent human being via her radio show.
Indecent human beings don't want to hear that much truth when there's a profit to be made off the very primitive and ineffective practice of locking people in cages. Something that never has and never will work to reduce crime.
On Saturday morning, Aug. 13, on the north side of the White House in Washington D.C. from 9 AM to 2 PM, Roberta is leading a march to put an end to the human bondage industry that we know as prisons.
There are 2 million people in prison across America. The greatest majority of them are not murderers, rapists and child molesters. They are addicts and the mentally ill and many of them are guilty of a much lesser crime or completely innocent.
We have a problem in America.
There is no judicial accountability and prosecutors are building their careers off sending the poor to prison. Prosecutors have no repercussions if they withhold, distort or lie about evidence and we as citizens have allowed this sorry state of affairs.
There are now millions of people who cannot vote because they have been in prison or are currently behind bars. Imagine, your hard-earned tax dollars has put 2 million US citizens in prison, not including all the jails and juvenile halls.
That means that if each prisoner has ten friends and family members, there are 20 million voters who know that the court system is broken and that there is little or no justice left in our land. The Constitution has been reduced to a meaningless scrap of paper that few in power want to defend. In fact there were recent changes to the Bill of Rights that would cause our forefathers to spin in their graves under this Patriot Act.
20 million family members of incarcerated. That is one huge voting lobby. Trouble is, those affected are often not educated in how to organize and get out the vote to put an end to the oppression that has devastated so many people in our country that they are coming to stand outside the White House to be recognized.
Because if 20 million people mobilized themselves the way that the law enforcement labor unions, prosecutors, judges and district attorneys have put such as heavy hand over them, recalls and impeachments of Conservatives would be taking place in every city in America.
Does 20 million affected lives ring a bell with any of the politicians or is the assumption simply that these unwashed masses make the best slaves and do not have the good sense to organize?
If we suggested the 2 million in prison be sent to a penal colony in Australia, the lawmakers would really get their panties in a wad. Most of them were put into office with the dollars and votes of those who profit from locking people in cages to propose ever-more punishing laws in order to keep the prisons well-stocked with more slaves thereby creating more jobs.
These lawmakers funded and elected by law enforcement do not really have strive to lower crime, they're bought off to keep an industry going similar to what is happening with the war. A proper term is simply "human exploitation.".
There are doubting Thomases (and Thomasinas) who believe everyone who goes to prison is guilty but that's because no one in their family has gone through a criminal trial - yet. The sentences are outrageous even for addicts and the mentally ill who have acted out and broken a law.
Roberta Franklin wants America to see that the families of prisoners are store clerks, secretaries, nurses, teachers, social workers, your neighbors. Every mother should shiver in their beds for what my sister Roberta Franklin and I know about what is actually going on inside these bloodhouse prisons.
Anyone who can make it to the March living on the East Coast please be there. The people who have a loved one in prison are usually financially devastated, having spent every dime they own. Their presence may be impossible as these are the poorest of the poor in our society the majority of the time. They struggled to get there in an effort to be heard.
There are Americans who will buy cigarettes, beer, pizza, or spend everything they own on attorneys who are up against brick walls. They haven't been taught to invest in supporting prisoner activists or organizing their only hope for rescue -- a massive voting lobby.
Those who haven't lost their loved ones -- yet -- to the punishing machine can be seen by the tens of thousands at sporting events. They waste the entire day and night watching television without ever once writing a letter to an editor. Our forefathers taught us that in times of oppression that writing to notify the other citizens is an absolute necessity but only the educated do this.
These are some of the basic reasons other citizen's groups hold the jailer's keys They can organize, get out the vote, raise money, write, hold pickets without a strain.
If you can't come to Washington on Aug. 13, light a candle. All over the country, tearful family members will light candles on Aug. 12 and 13 outside in our yards or on porches or decks to show support for the March on Washington.
The lawmakers only respect those voting groups that have the funds and numbers to be able to elect or recall them but as awareness grows across the nation due to the work of ordinary people dedicated to social justice, we just might see a turning of the tide.
Of course many more Republicans will have to lose their own family members to prison for crimes that aren't really crimes. Unless the liberals can stand up to this Fascism and get some people elected to office who will be Smart on Crime for a change we will all suffer due to apathy and ignorance of the problems and how to solve them.
One baby step at a time, some invest the hours and personal sacrifice it takes to wake up the others. Roberta Franklin is a person who is much more than an armchair philosopher. She IS the public education for Alabama and now going into Washington D.C. Godspeed as you go to face the devils ruining so many lives in the name of justice.
B. Cayenne Bird is a 37-year veteran journalist who volunteers her time as founder and director of United for No Injustice, Oppression or Neglect (UNION). The UNION is active in prison reform and criminal justice issues. She is a mother and grandmother and focuses on human rights and restorative justice. She is also the host of television series "Cayenne Common Sense" and publishes a daily online newsletter.