Speech for the Fight Toxic Prisons 2017 National Convergence Conference.
Hello there, environmentalists ecologists, bioneers, blue gold rainforest protectors, movers, shakers, GMO opponents, green tech innovators, indigenous leaders, social-environmental justice activists gathered here today. I want to thank you for your magnanimous invitation to join all of the environmental regulators at this unprecedented Fight Toxic Prisons 2017 National Convergence Conference at Denton, Fort Worth, Texas.
The environment includes everything around an individual: the air one breathes, the water they drink, and the place in which he or she lives. As such, the environment serves as a protective factor and promotes one’s overall physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing.
So much have the various features of the earth have been shown to be in delicate balance, such as the physical and chemical properties of water, plant life, the ecosystem, the complexity of the atmosphere, etcetera, that British astronomer, Sir Fred Hoyle, was moved to state: “Rather than accept the fantastically small probability of life having arisen through the blind forces of nature, it seemed better to suppose that the origin of life was a deliberate intellectual act.”
This is why we are here to deliberately fight toxic prisons together in support of those inside the nation of prisoners.
I believe it is important that the voices of all who are directly and indirectly impacted by the building of this massive $444 million project be heard in connection to the proposed project. I’d like to start off by stating the words, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed. It is the only thing that ever has,” by Margaret Mead.
Many states have already learned a painful lesson from their dealing with projects such as the one being proposed by the Bureau of Prisons, plans to build their facility on a toxic coal mine site in Letcher County. And this is because in every one of those cases, the tragic consequences of allowing similar projects to operate in those other communities could not have been fully appreciated until it was too late to stop the devastation to both human lives and the environment.
Indeed, too often the problem is that the people in those communities are unaware that these companies have a specific set of criteria for targeting their next victim community. That is communities with high unemployment rates where people are in financial trouble, and once those factors are in play, they got what they need to get their foot in the door.
Sadly, even when some might feel apprehensive about the potentially bad consequences of having these projects in their communities, those real concerns compete with the fear of an uncertain financial future for themselves and their families. And that is when the seduction dance begins on the part of these giant corporations, the Bureau of Prisons.
First, they come into the community, offering a bright future for those who would support their plans by promises of a good-paying job. Then to do away with any real concerns about their personal health and environmental damage, they bring in their so-called experts in their expensive suits with an air of respectability, pretending to be pillars of society—when they are nothing more than hired guns who come into an unsuspecting community speaking the latest impressive-sounding scientific jargon.
And with the skill of a master illusionist, they complete the deception started by company executives. The tragic success of this deceit is reflected in the readiness with which people, the tax-paying citizens, unwittingly welcome these corporate environmental terrorists into their communities only to regret it later with their lives are devastated by an unlivable environment and their bodies ravaged by terminal diseases.
One of the strongest examples we have that this project is being proposed without any thought of consequences to environmental justice, water quality prisoners rights, and endangered species, and the lack of assessing alternatives to incarceration can be found in the EIS, Environmental Impact Statement, where the Bureau of Prisons states they determined there is no significant new information relevant to environmental concerns and appreciable changes to potential impact as a result of modifications to the [inaudible] site.
It is very clear from the portion of the statement that the BOP have no idea as to what the detrimental impact of building this federal facility atop a toxic mine site—costing taxpayers $444 million out of the federal budget—will have to both human life or to the environment for that matter.
In light of this revelation, we have to ask: can anyone see the insanity in this? In effect, the BOP doesn’t mind experimenting to gather data in which close to several thousand federal prisoners, federal corrections officers, civilian staff, and the rest of the population of the Roxana site community will be reduced to the status of guinea pigs. In effect, lab rats.
In closing, there are two reasons for doing anything: a good reason, then there is the real reason. Fight the Bureau of Prisons from building atop a toxic mine site in Roxana. Mutual allegiance is our support system. That is our contract. Is there any economic feasibility to waste taxpayers money, $444 million on a federal prison, that will eventually promote sickness and cancer causing diseases to both the federal prisoners and civilian staff members alike?
Protest, fight, fight, fight.
The voice and face inside the nation of prisoners: Bryant Arroyo, for Prison Radio.
These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.