Fasting to Protest Keefe Commissary in Virginia

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[Hunger Strike] [Organizing] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 37]
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Fasting to Protest Keefe Commissary in Virginia

A friend and I decided to observe a fast during the month of March because of the religious holidays such as Lent. Some people abstain from meat when they fast. Others won't eat anything during daylight hours. My friend and I decided to abstain from Keefe Commissary food during March. Our fast is prompted by the lack of economic justice and by the extortion of us by Keefe Commissary.

Our captors neither provide basic items such as deodorant, toothpaste, stamps, stationary, etc., nor pay us wages to allow us to purchase these items. So we are forced to ask our wimmin for financial support. And we are taking money from our wimmin when that money is also needed by our children.

But the united snakes is not satisfied by sinking its fangs into our necks just once. No, it strikes again by limiting our vendor to just Keefe Commissary. And Keefe Commissary sinks its own fangs into us by charging us exorbitant prices.

The united snakes bites us again by deducting 10-15% of all the money sent to us. Now 10% is supposedly for our "savings accounts" and is to be returned to us "upon release from prison." But in this settlement of Virginia, parole was abolished in July 1995. The prisoners whose release dates exceed their life expectancy (I know several men who cannot be released before the year 2300) still have 10% of all incoming money put into their "savings account."

It's very revealing that the Virginia Department of Corrections keeps the earned interest on these so-called savings accounts. If those accounts existed for the purpose of providing the prisoners with spending money upon release from prison (supposedly this will reduce recidivism), then wouldn't it be logical to also give the prisoner the earned interest?

It's also quite telling that the pittance paid for prison labor was cut from $10.50 per week to $4.05 per week. Paying us less money means our families send us more money which increases that 10% collected.

My friend and I came up with a list of these injustices. I wrote the list and sent it to a prisoner advocacy group for forwarding to the Virginia legislature. I included a letter stating we would be abstaining from Keefe Commissary for the month of March, and that the listed injustices are the reasons for it.

A captive working for the captors gave information about a copy of this letter that could be found in my friend's work desk. We are currently charged with "participating/encouraging others... in group demonstration" because other politically conscious prisoners have decided to join us in our fast. Not sure how many as of yet.

But according to Thornburg v. Abbot, 490 U.S. 401 (1989) the captors must have a penological interest in depriving prisoners of First Amendment rights. A religious fast is an expression protected by the First Amendment and by 42 U.S.C. 2000 et seq. The captors must show that our fasting is a threat to the security of the slave pens. Won't it be very revealing if the captors claim capitalist profits from Keefe are essential to the security of these gulags?

Of course our captors know they can, and most likely will, convict me of the offense even though the law is clear. The imperialist injustice system rarely grants punitive damages to a prisoner after the captors knowingly give a prisoner a conviction for actions that are both constitutionally protected and permitted. Pigs snub their snouts at the law without fear of repercussion.

I invite all prisoners in every gulag who read MIM(Prisons) publications to participate in fasting from commissary purchases during March. We can still eat from the prison slop trough. Decide which injustices you want addressed. Tell your friends why you are fasting. Send a list of injustices to the Chief Pig in Charge, your Governor, and report on your actions for Under Lock & Key.

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