Prison Radio
Mumia Abu-Jamal

Correctional facilities, from maximum security facilities like San Quentin and Pelican Bay to immigration centers, the juvenile justice system, private for-profit prisons and county jails, where prisoners spend longer and longer periods of time under prison realignment, are one of the least visible parts of our society. With the largest incarceration rates of any industrialized country, the US depends on the limitation of communications into and out of prisons to maintain public acquiescence in having one out of every 20 men in the US under correctional supervision. The dehumanization of prisoners is accomplished in a variety of ways: by telephone calling rates characterized by ridiculously high commissions, by bureaucratic restrictions on press access to prisons, and by limitations on death sentence observation. Nationwide and local attention is starting to focus on prison access issues with the recent FCC decision to open a rule making process on interstate phone calling rates out of prisons, but the recent veto of a media access bill by CA Governor Brown (the 4th time this bill has been vetoed by 4 different governors, Brown joining in 2012 with previous vetoes by Pete Wilson, Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger) shows the distance remaining to travel. This panel seeks to surface some local and national fronts in communications access to prisons and prisoners as a central issue in honest discussion of a host of issues: the war on drugs, border militarization, surveillance and the growing criminalization of dissent, the death penalty, racism, and economic inequality.