|If you die in prison one of two things happens: the prison deletes the public record that you even existed (they disappear you). Or as in Indiana DOC they say you were “released.”
Curtis McGaha was not released on Monday 11-27-23 at 11am. He died. We only know that because Kenneth Zamarron, our correspondent, called with a commentary. He wanted to share with us the funny, wise, complicated, sports fan that Curtis was. Kenneth was both mourning & stepping up. Letting the world know that Curtis would not die unrecognized. He was also exposing the tragic and preventable death. Curtis’ requests for help were met with solitary confinement, not care. The DOC knew he was vulnerable and their response was to isolate and punish. Looking at the Indiana DOC webpage, you would think that Curtis is free. But Kenneth told us the truth.
Without Prison Radio, Kenneth would be holding that truth all alone. Instead we listened, we raged, we mourned and we shared. And through this, we resist the disappearance of our family members. We strategize and we plan for abolition. Knowing this truth, and understanding Kenneth’s loss and a sense of Kurt’s full self, we become better, more compassionate, and more committed abolitionists.
|Prison Radio shares voices and experiences that would otherwise be buried.. We will not let the state define our past, present or future. The state takes every opportunity to shape its narrative: inmate locators, court records, prison jackets all tell stories written by the jailers. The media delights in true crime sensationalism and psychological thrillers. Our correspondents are countering that massive disinformation narrative. They are telling their stories. We amplify them. And you listen – and share.
Remember: The U.S. incarcerates more people than any other industrialized nation, and has the highest level of violent crime. Prisons do not stop crime, and they never have. In fact, they are themselves a violence.
We understand the desire to “do something” about violence – But we know that we will be way way way safer if we spent all the billions we spend on crime and punishment on the structural violence of poverty and hopelessness. Prisons simply and categorically do not make anyone safer. In fact, it shreds the very community fabric that we desperately need to support real solutions.
Sharing these stories from inside reveal the truth of this disaster. And remind us of the human cost of prison. This is real journalism.
We get calls every day folks sharing stories and inform the abolition movement and correct history. Over 150 correspondents call us from Michigan, California, Minnesota, Ohio, Mississippi Nevada, Virginia, Washington, Georgia, Massachuesett, Kansas, Texas and all over the country. They help us see the violence and inhumanity of prison, and the resistance, the beautiful humanity that still shines. These voices show us that love will win.
|Our phones are open to anyone living inside, and our dedicated recording team works hard to post broadcast quality material on our website for radio stations, podcasts, and all media to learn from. No other organization offers this kind of open, uncensored access – these are not state-sponsored narratives, and they would otherwise be lost forever: stories of family separation, medical neglect, transphobia, solidarity, love, resilience, and determination: the very human reality inside a complex systemically working to dehumanize the folks it holds hostage.
But we insist on the truth. We insist on embracing our full humanity.
This is the truth of our work: Krystal Clark and her sisterhood of solidarity calling out the medical neglect of Michigan’s Women’s prison in Huron Valley. Bambi Nicole King sharing her story of the brutal isolation and sexual harassment of being trans-gendered inside an Indiana prison. Sheik Bilal Abdu Salaam-Bey explores the spirituality and resilience of the Black community in Kansas. Raymond White shares his story of an incarcerated young adulthood as he reflects on the trauma that led to violent choices and his desire to move forward and reshape himself – and help others make different choices.
|Listen to these and more at PrisonRadio.org.
This work is hard, these stories are often grim, often beautiful. Once you start to see the truth of the beauty and determination behind the prison walls, the insistence to be free, and to be fully human, you cannot turn your back on this work. That is why we have been doing it for 30 years. And it is only possible with your support. We are a movement resource – sharing voices that inform and lead abolition – and we exist only with support from the movement – people like you.
Please go to our website to hear our stories, reach out to your local radio stations and ask them to stream our material, and make a gift to keep our lines open, our website up and our rent paid.
We are everything with our family inside, and we are even more with you.
|In creative, revolutionary struggle, towards freedom,
Prison Radio Co-Director