I was in the prison yard this morning, trying to get my young  together to have a discussion about their future, when two of them were pulled away by guys from their town to politic about the phone. As I said before, the phones are claimed by gangs and cliques. UFD, however, doesn’t claim a phone, so we usually get on the phones claimed by dudes from the same town, city, or borough we respectively come from. And there’s always some kind of politics behind all of this nonsense. Even I am f
rced to deal with the politics over the phones claimed by my town. The difference is I don’t let that interfere with UFD or my outreach and mentorship work with the young prisoners that I deal with. I got upset because two young  spent the remaining yard time politicking over the phone when I needed to talk to them about more important matters.
This is just one of many examples of how the prison environment corrupts and damages young prisoners. If the civilian administration had enough yard phones installed to accommodate everyone, that would be one less thing for prisoners to fight and politic over. What’s sad is how no one really seems to care!
Neither the Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York or the New York Civil Liberties Union would do anything. They, and others, all claim they lack resources to help. They won’t even write a letter or make a call to the governor or to the commissioner about our specific complaints. All the while prisoners, especially young prisoners, are fighting and politicking over yard phones.
It’s ridiculous. And don’t get me started about prison reform advocates and prison abolition. I haven’t heard from one of them over this issue. It seems to me people want to do more talking about and studying of the problem rather than working on tangible solutions. And no solutions related to prison issues can be maximally effective without the involvement and leadership of conscious prisoners and without a strong prison movement.
This is why the UFD prison initiative, where I’ve worked with to positively organize, motivate, inspire, educate, and mentor young prisoners, and to steer them away from gangs, drugs, and violence is so vital. For one, it would be the youth in prison who will win the fight for prison reform and then for prison abolition. But if they can’t be saved from the corrupt and damaging forces of the prison environment and help to change and better themselves, what the hell is the point?
This is Dontie S. Mitchell, better known as Mfalme Sikivu, reporting to you from Great Meadow Corrections Facility in Comstock, New York. Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @freeDontieMitchell. Also join the Dontie Mitchell support committee Facebook group if you want to help support my work. Thank you for listening.
These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.