The fifth issue of News Inside answers a desperate call in a desperate time. “Send me all the free news you can. Please, I need it all,” wrote W. Mason who is incarcerated in a Pennsylvania prison. Those are the kind of pleas we get from all over the country as incarcerated people struggle to stay abreast of events in this moment of COVID-19 and global activism to end police brutality.
The latest issue of News Inside acknowledges that the world has changed after the on-camera killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. All shades of people have taken to the streets demanding that the book, the bookshelf and the whole library be thrown at Chauvin and the other three former officers involved in Floyd’s killing—Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao.
In Issue One, I wrote about serving my 27-year sentence and the crucial value of personal accountability. I don’t believe that value should be exclusive to people doing time. People who work in and around the criminal justice system should also answer for their actions.
Law enforcement accountability is at the center of “Which States Are Taking on Police Reform After George Floyd?” In the same vein, readers will also see how petitioners in North Carolina are moving the courts to acknowledge racial bias in jury selection in “New Hope for People Who Claim Racism Tainted Their Death Sentence.”
Since it’s impossible to forget COVID-19, Issue 5 includes “Jails Turn to UVC Robots To Fight Coronavirus.” I’m hoping that one will sate the appetite of all the techies in there.
To give incarcerated people a look at how artists are sharing their words with the world, we’ve included, “Shining a Light on Life Behind Bars”—a traveling exhibit that projects writings by currently and formerly incarcerated people onto buildings.
The messages remind me of a recent letter I was CC’d on from a group of self-described lifers and long-termers to their state’s governor. It reads:
“In most cases, inmates serving decades behind bars have relatively good disciplinary records, have completed all our required programs, earned labor department certificates, and even college diplomas … [yet] pleas for release go unnoticed even at the threat of dying from this horrible virus plaguing our nation. How are we to learn forgiveness, if we are the least likely to be forgiven?”
As a former long-termer myself, I hear them. And through this issue’s articles, I hope they feel heard as well.
Here are the stories in this issue:
- Which States Are Taking on Police Reform After George Floyd?
- You Can Get Kicked Out of a Jury Pool For Supporting Black Lives Matter
- Jails Turn to UVC Robots To Fight Coronavirus
- Can College Programs in Prison Survive COVID-19?
- New Hope for People Who Claim Racism Tainted Their Death Sentence
- These Political Candidates Are Embracing Their Criminal Records
- Prison Populations Drop by 100,000 During Pandemic
- No, Your Coronavirus Quarantine Is Not Just Like Being in Prison
- Shining a Light on Life Behind Bars