From the Prisoners Human Rights Movement: A Case for Releasing Prisoners, i.e. “non-violent” versus “violent” prisoners
By Kijana Tashiri Askari
Since the inception of its birth, the fabric of Amerikkka’s nation has been built upon violent crimes being perpetrated against the people. This truth is currently evident throughout its history: from the imperialist wars of aggression being waged against Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, etc. to European settlers from England coming to the Amerikkkas and forcefully taking the land from the indigenous people through countless acts of genocide-based violence; and in 1619, when western imperialists forcefully kidnapped Afrikans from the mothaland of Afrika via the trans-atlantic slave trade, and brought us to the shores of Amerikkka in chains, to be enslaved as chattel property.
Examples of this truth are endless, especially when you factor in the exception clause of the 13th Amendment to the U.$ Constitution, which legalizes slavery (e.g. “violence”) in Amerikkka!! And this speaks to the phenomenon of mass incarceration via the construct of the Prison Industrial Slave Complex (P.I.S.C.), which in essence is a continuum of state-sanctioned violence (e.g “chattel slavery”).
These historical facts are relevant in relation to the current national discussion on what constitutes a “non-violent” and/or a “violent” crime, and who should or should not be released from prison per this distinction. In recent years, California Legislators have been scrambling to reduce the prison population, only after a court-ordered mandate was issued. Since this instruction was given, the P.I.S.C. has been outsourcing prisoners to other states, in a bid to save their profit-based system of campitalism, to give the appearance of compliance.
California State Legislators have also introduced legislation in the form of Propositions 36, 47, and now 57 for purposes of providing non-violent offenders a means of iberation from their captivity under this court order. But again, what actually constitutes a “violent” crime, or a “non-violent” crime?
Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary defines “violence” as:
“An unjust or unwarranted exertion of force or power, as against rights or laws.”
Therefore, the acts of individuals who have been classified as “non-violent,” require us to examine this a bit closer. For example, in the case of petty theft and/or second-degree burglary. These acts actually constitute a form of violence, if we are to accept Webster’s definition of violence in that the Human Rights of the People have been violated, by having their personal property taken without their consent.
In instances of prostitution, we have human beings forced to dehumanize themselves through sexual acts that they would otherwise oppose. Because it is a matter of being able to feed, clothe and shelter yourself, or starve to death under the system of capitalism.
Drug addiction is also a form of violence when you factor in the violent convulsions the human body experiences, while enduring withdrawals. This forces people to commit “property crimes” against the community, to address their sickness, which constitutes violence in relation to:
“An Unjust Or Unwarranted Exertion Of Force Or Power, As Against Rights Or Laws.”
So the basis of who should or who should not be released from prison, cannot be simplified to “violent” and/or “non-violent,” as all crime contains some form of violence!! Hence, the appropriate step for considering a person’s release has to be inclusive of:
– the completion of their prison sentence time;
– their behavior while in prison;
– their positive achievements in redeeming themselves from criminal behavior; and
– their positive contributions to society.
For example, while I came to prison for attempted murder (e.g. “violence”), I have since transformed my criminal behavior and values over the years, by creating the People’s Domestic Crisis Intervention Initiative (P.D.C.I.I.), which is a platform for eradicating domestic violence in our communities. I also mentor the youth on issues of ending gang violence in our communities through the W.L. Nolen Mentorship Program (W.L.N.M.P.) (see also here). So should people like me be excluded from consideration of being released, when I have clearly demonstrated a polarizing shift from being a violent criminal offender?
Freedom is a constant struggle!
For further discussion on this issue, contact me at:
Kijana Tashiri Askari
s/n Marcus Harrison #H54077
P.O. Box 5246
Corcoran, CA 93212
For more information about the W.L. Nolen Mentorship Program (W.L.N.M.P.) write to:
c/o Chairman KTA
P.O. Box 7907
Austin, TX 7871