A 60% Infection Rate

Originally published on 1/15/2020

Dear Friend,

Since the beginning of this pandemic Michigan’s grassroots organizations have been asking Governor Whitmer, and the appointed Director of the MDOC Heidi Washington, to handle this crisis with public health and human rights in mind. Michigan’s DOC is currently fighting a COVID infection rate of 60% amongst it’s population of 41,000 residents. 

Grassroots organizations are working over-time and collaboratively to support the incarcerated and their families during this chaotic time. They’ve co-drafted this whitepaper report, “I Don’t Want To Die In Prison”, co-sponsored this helpful resource guide, hosted Twitter Storms #LetMIPeopleGO, and have asked those with personal experience to fill out this questionnaire

Advocacy groups are calling for: 

  1. Review of any person who is past their earliest release date (ERD) and release all people past their ERDs including all people serving on parolable life sentences who have 15 or more years served.
  2. Waiving requirements for programming that is required for parole.
  3. More transparency from the MDOC on their internal response to COVID-19 in prisons. 
  4. Provide free phone calls for people in prison. 
  5. Creation and implementation of a meaningful commutation process which includes an expansion of the parole board with expertise in and focus on long serving people.

Humanity for Prisoners president Matt Tjapkes says eliminating the $5.00 per visit medical co-pays for MDOC residents should be a top priority. In 2020, his organization had 18,610 requests for assistance. HFP provides personalized problem-solving services for incarcerated persons in order to alleviate suffering beyond the just administration of their sentences. 

Michigan incarcerates 641 per 100,000: a rate higher than most countries in the world, almost matching the United States’ national average. Yet, their state prisons have a COVID-19 infection rate of 58%.

Data collected by Medium.com/@MichiganDOC

Michigan reduced the number of men incarcerated in its state prisons by 8% between 2009-2015, but counter-productively incarcerated 30% more women over the same period; now housing over 2100 female residents in a single facility built for 1100.

Call for Correspondents in Michigan

Prison Radio is looking for new correspondents in Michigan! If you have friends and relatives inside, please have them contact us to record a commentary! They can call (415) 648-4505 to reach our recording staff between 6-9pm EST. 

It is this reaching across the walls, and airing of these crucial voices, that builds the type of solidarity that we will need for the fight ahead.

#LetMIPeopleGo – Decarcerate Now!

As the COVID-19 case numbers soar, the urgency of decarceration reaches unprecedented levels. Michigan’s Governor Whitmer should at minimum consider clemency for all over 55 with 20+ years served, those with pre-existing conditions and those within 12 months of their ERD.

As with prisons across the country, decarceration of MDOC overcrowded facilities is the only chance to slow the death toll and control the virus inside Michigan prisons.

Prison Radio will continue to liberate voices from the inside while keeping our supporters up to date. We appreciate your continued support

When We Fight, We Win! 

Jen Szenay
Prison Radio Staff

Quest For Justice

Originally published on 1/13/2020

Dear Friend,

In the time of great crisis, there is immense opportunity. The grassroots quest for justice on every front has gotten clearer and stronger. Our demands for a more just and peaceful world will not be denied. 

This has been a wild year and a wild time for all of us – and people living inside prison are on the front line. They need us. They need you. Our work across 2020 shared experiences and insights of folks that are rarely heard.  People inside will lead this struggle. This amplification of their voices and perspectives happened because of your support. 

It is not too late to join our year-end giving campaign- we are so close at 99% of our goal of 75K.

Just now a donor has stepped up and pledged to  every gift that we get until the campaign ends tomorrow. If you give a dollar – we will get three! The small print- this 3-to-1 matching grant is only good until Friday and the matching donor has capped their gift at 20K. 

Please step in and make a gift today.

In solidarity and a vision of freedom,

Jennifer Beach & Noelle Hanrahan, J.D, P.I.
Prison Radio Co-Directors

A New Georgia Must Address the Old Georgia

Originally published on 1/8/2020

Dear Friend,

Immediately before the far right brazenly attempted a coup, the eyes of the nation were on the people of Georgia exercising their right to vote.

Our support of Georgia’s grassroots organizing should extend to the people living inside Georgia’s prisons. “Immediate steps are needed to change the trajectory of Georgia’s prisons. 2020 will be a record year for inmate deaths, not merely because of the failure to address and manage Covid-19, but also because of record numbers of  homicides and suicides,” says Susan Sparks Burns, founder of They Have No Voice.

THNV has created a Sustainable Corrections System Proposal consisting of 32 Steps To a System We Can Support. Among their goals: the human right to health care. THNV founder Burns notes, “All facilities housing at least 500 inmates shall have an adequate level of medical staffing 24/7/365. At no time shall facilities housing 500 or more inmates be without on-site medical staff.”

Georgia incarcerates 970 per 100,000. A rate higher than most countries in the world, including the United States’ national average. 

Data collected by Prison Policy Initiative

Residents inside GDOC face such tortures as extended time in “yard cages” that resemble dog kennels. 

Yard Cages at Phillips State Prison in Buford, GA.

Call for Correspondents in Georgia
Prison Radio is looking for new correspondents in Georgia! We’ve had correspondents there in the past, and now we want to hear from more folks. If you have friends and relatives inside, please have them contact us to record a commentary! They can call (415) 648-4505 to reach our recording staff.

It is this reaching across the walls, and airing of these crucial voices, that builds the type  of solidarity that we will need for the fight ahead. 

Decarceration Now!
Decarceration is more urgent this year than ever. Georgia’s Governor Kemp, like all Governors, needs to grant mass clemency to all over 55, pregnant, and to those with pre-existing conditions.

Decarceration is the only chance to control the virus both inside and outside the prisons.

Prison Radio will continue to liberate voices from the inside while keeping our supporters up to date. We appreciate your continued support

When We Fight, We Win! 

Jen Szenay & Noelle Hanrahan, P.I., J.D.
Prison Radio Staff