Prison Radio
Charles Karim Diggs

Good evening. My name is Charles Karim Diggs. Once again, I’m at Graterford prison in Pennsylvania. My number is AK7945.

I want to talk about, uh, the, the hurricane that’s going on in the country and the topic of my, uh, subject is what about the 100,000 or 200,000 people in prison in Texas and Florida and South Carolina?

In the last several days, we have experienced severe hurricanes throughout Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and South Carolina. The question is, is the health and sanity a part of the national disaster that has been declared? And what I mean by health and sanity is that it’s the prisoners. Have they been considered? what’s happening with them?

The state of Texas is the second largest prison population in the country. The last figure I read, it was over a 100,000. California has about 125,000. I think New York is the third, and Pennsylvania is the fifth. We have over 51,000. In these states that have been hit by these hurricanes, I’ve heard nothing on the news, CNN or any of the local news, about the conditions or what are they going to do with their prisoners.

They told everyone else to evacuate. And I just laying on my bed thinking, wow, what about all these prisoners stuck, locked in these cells, these dormitories, you know, what caution is the state going to take in maintaining the health and sanity of these prisons.

That’s just a question I want to put out there, and maybe the families, other people in government, you know, should think about that. You know, how we got these prisons built in these different counties and when national disaster hits, is there any plan to maintain, you know, that the safety and protection, you know, of the- of the prisoners.

There’s another, uh, aspect to this large prison population in these different states.

I’ve observed that wherever you have a large urban population of African-Americans and Hispanics, you have a large prison population throughout those states, in those counties. There’s another connection that’s relative to this massive incarceration also is that in these urban areas, these major cities, the schools are producing a lot of failures.

And everyone knows by now that when you don’t have an effective education or trade, the crime community, or the crime underworld, becomes appealing to you. So there is a- a system of which we call the pipeline from school to prison.

I would hope that the national disaster that’s taking place, it will cause us to think about all the American citizens as being a part of America, not certain people’s lives are more important or more precious than others.

And after these hurricanes are over, we’re going to find that many people don’t have their homes, they don’t have insurance, they don’t have their cars. They will have to start over again. Well, this is the condition that prisoners experience, the 600,000 that are paroled every year. When they go back to society, they have to start all over again with nothing but a felony on their record, which makes it very difficult to sustain themselves in society because of the label.

These labels is what continuously keep a felon in the state of third-class citizenship. And I believe it’s part of the recidivism rate because when they go out into society, they’re not accepted as other people in society is accepted, and so they have that cloud over them.

They’re always a felon, even if they max out on their parole, complete their parole, they always looked at as an ex-felon. Ex-felon, ex-convict. And those labels hurt because it stops one from integrating back into society as a whole person. So I just wanted to bring that, uh, to the attention.

So maybe we can preserve the sacredness that all people are human beings, whether they’re in jail or not, and they need to be protected and their health and their sanity and well-being as the rest of the citizens in this nation. I just hope that, um, that the prisoners are being taken care of that are not being neglected and that they are afforded the same human treatment, human rights that the rest of the citizens in those states are enjoying.

I thank you for listening to my, uh, my little essay here and I just would like to, uh, wish everybody safe. Thank you.

These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.