Prison Radio
Reginald Sinclair Lewis

My name is Reginald Sinclair Lewis. The name of this piece is “Say Our Names.” It is certainly deeply heartening to see throngs of Americans of all ages, races, educations, economic, and social strata, marching side by side. [] Rage, as they shout “black lives matter” in a powerful new civil rights movement for police reform galvanized by the televised public lynching of George Floyd before cops on the streets of Minneapolis. We are witnesses to a rage and sea of change of the country, the rapid obliteration of the old world, the burgeoning of a national and global racist consciousness and conscience.

But for countless no-named black men and women behind bars our death begins with a life sentence imposed by racist white judges,  prosecutors, and juries, [transcriber could not parse] personally selected to seal our fate. They give deference to the often precarious testimonies of police officers, detectives, medical examiners, and forensic experts. Failure to follow habeas corpus in federal court is also an act of futility. The Antiterrorism and Death Penalty Act makes it extremely difficult for judges to hear appeals or even grant evidentiary hearings.

We should ask this Congress to repeal that act and restore the protections of the sacred writ. And why not establish a national database to monitor corrupt judges and prosecutors? Since the facts can be gathered state by state, county by county, case by case, the evidence of their racial bias and animus, incontrovertible, circumstantial, and direct, can then be used to recall them from the bench. If we ought to restructure white supremacy as a social construction, we cannot ignore the fact that law enforcement and the penal system are wedded in an evil symbiosis of a wicked [] with an overwhelmingly white male patriarchal judiciary that converges into a straight line that leads African Americans into prison; say our names.