Writings

What More Does It Want

Saleem reading "What More Does it Want" over the phone on Pittsburgh's Rustbelt Radio March 31st,2008

And now for this week's report on the prison industrial complex, produced by Fed Up, the local chapter of The Human Rights Coalition.

Produced by Fed Up, the local chapter of The Human Rights Coalition.

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One Hood Mission Statement

The title of this organization shall be One Hood. One Hood will be a bridge for resolving gang and neighborhood disputes through dialogue and negotiation within the prison and by extension on the streets as the culture of prison is increasingly influencing the culture of the streets. One Hood will serve to unite neighborhoods, end gang warfare and make men responsible defenders of their neighborhoods. One Hood will develop new and innovative concepts to address gang and neighborhood violence using conflict resolution initiatives.

And Life to Go: Juvenile Offenders Sentenced to Life Without Parole in Pennsylvania

by Robert L. Holbrook

HISTORICAL CONTEXT

In response to a perception in the rise in crimes committed amongst juvenile gangs in Philadelphia in the late 1960s and early 1970s as well as to serve as a deterrent to other juvenile offenders, Pennsylvania’s legislature embraced the “Adult Crime, Adult Time” slogan to adjudicate juvenile offenders charged with murder. The rationale behind the slogan was that if a juvenile offender commits an adult crime (i.e. murder) he/she should do adult time. In theory the concept seemed to be an effective way of punishing the “worst of the worst” juvenile offenders and also to send a message to other juvenile offenders that such crimes would not be tolerated. How else could society punish juvenile offenders that committed the ultimate crime and deter others from doing the same? Treat them like adults. The fact that their mental state is not of an adult does not matter. The act takes precedence over the mental state of the offender,

Open Letter to Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf on Juveniles Sentenced To Life Without Parole in Pennsylvania

Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf
Senate Box 203012
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3012

RE: Juveniles Sentenced To Life Without Parole in Pennsylvania

Dear Honorable Stewart J. Greenleaf:

Pennsylvania presently leads the nation in the amount of juvenile offenders sentenced to life without parole according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette "How Pennsylvania Teens End Up Put Away For Life" (2/19/07) and Human Rights Watch annual national statistics.

To Snitch Or Not To Snitch: The View From The Other Side

I decided to write this article in response to the endless criticism that is being directed against the "Stop Snitching" movement by critics claiming Hip Hop is responsible for the "Stop Snitching" movement and the "Us vs. Them" mentality youth of color have towards law enforcement agencies. As a former gang member and street combatant of the drug wars that dominated the streets of Philly in the late 80's and a member of the generation that came of age listening to Hip Hop I believe I am qualified to offer a frontline perspective from the other side of the issue, especially as one who was sentenced to life without parole as a juvenile because of the testimony of a snitch co-defendant that was close to 10 years older than I.

International Rogue

by Robert X. Holbrook 26 Dec 2004

When it comes to observing the rules and norms of international law the United States, far from being its protector, is one of the greatest and most habitual offenders. In 1989 the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child which established international standards for the treatment of children. The convention covers everything from thc state's protection of children to its punishment of children. Article 37(a) of the Convention states that State Parties shall ensure

(a) No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Neither Capital Punishment nor Life imprisonment without the possibility of release shall be imposed for offenses committed by persons below eighteen years of age.

A New Era in Revolutionary Struggle

by Robert 12X Holbrook

In Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, the former guerrilla leader of the Sandinista Movement and one-time president in the 1980’s has been swept back into the presidency; not at the head of a guerrilla column but through elections and popular support. In Bolivia, Evo Morales, a former cocoa farmer from the Indian highlands of Bolivia is elected president and with large popular support nationalized the Bolivian oil industry and returns more of the proceeds to the poor. They join Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez in checking Amerikkkan imperialism and interference in Latin America. Brazil and Ecuador also have popularly elected leftist governments that have checked Amerikkkan plans to turn all of Latin America into a free trade zone, rejecting Amerikkkan neoliberal policies in the region. Even Chile, historically a staunch Amerikkkan ally, is ruled by a socialist government lukewarm to Amerikkkan plans.

Control Units: High Tech Brutality

by Robert X. Holbrook

The purpose of isolation and sensory deprivation is to disrupt one’s balance, inner equilibrium, to dehumanize, to strip away the prisoner’s unique individuality. -Dr. Mutulu Shakur

A prisoner’s whole existence, especially one in a control unit, is defined by numbers, statistics, and information transferred through an endless process of paperwork. When I go to the Program Review Committee here in the Special Management Unit (a control unit) at SCI Greene, my release to general population is repeatedly denied, they claim, because of a history of assaultive behavior. It is useless to defend myself against their rationale, yet I do to probe the predictable response of my captors.

Family Values

by Robert X. Holbrook

Lately within Department of Corrections (DOC) around the country all the rage has been around so called Family Values programs the institutions are implementing. The stated purpose of these programs is to introduce the prisoner to the values of society and to teach him the values that surround the family. The assumption being that prisoners have no sense of family and the D.O.C. can instill in us the values of family and our responsibility to society. I find this a incredibly sad approach. How in the world can the D.O.C. teach family values? How can an institution committed to the destruction of the family teach family values to prisoners. How can an institution that sends men 300 miles away from their homes and family as a matter of policy have the audacity to attempt to teach its prisoners family values? By comparison, this would be like a serial killer teaching a course on the sanctity of life and humanity. Only a psychopathic personality, in the case of the D.O.C. a psychopathic bureaucracy, would take such a course of action and see no hypocrisy in it.

The Tragedy of Man

A philosopher once wrote, “The tragedy of a Man is he was once a child.” For the 332 men and women languishing in Pennsylvania prisons who were sentenced to life without parole (LWOP), as juveniles, that statement is all too true. I write this article from personal experience, reflection and observation having been sentenced to LWOP as a juvenile. As a juvenile awaiting trial in 1990 in Philadelphia, and certified as an adult in the Youth Study Center, I can recall some incredibly ironic moments that illustrate the lunacy of treating juvenile offenders as if they were capable of adult culpability in the so-called criminal justice system.

During the summer of 1990, while at the Youth Study Center, it was decreed that henceforth juveniles certified as adults would no longer be allowed to purchase or smoke cigarettes because we were under 18 and it was a criminal offense for the city to sell cigarettes to juveniles.

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