There is Strength in Numbers

by Prisoner, CCWF
Two women looking out between prison barsI’ve served 7+ years of a LWOP (life without parole) sentence and have witnessed numerous divide-and-conquer practices by the staff at CCWF, VSPW and my county of commitment. Allow me to say that these practices are only successful when we as inmates decide that our quarterly packages, special purchases and the rest of the privileges are more important than standing together for our rights and equal treatment. Before I ever stepped foot on prison grounds I was told about convicts who stuck together and fought against the cruel and unjust ways of those in authority. Yet the one sit-out I’ve witnessed, organized by Women’s Advisory Council Committee members, the organizers backed off and pretended to be spectators instead of participants once the authorities were called in to diffuse the situation. Each time we prisoners are stripped of our dignity by some new rule created to cause division, there are complaints in the thousands yet no one dares to use the appeals process, write a letter to an organization, or simply do their part to help us say to the powers that be, “Enough is enough!” As inmates we all witnessed racism, prejudice, peer pressure tactics, harassments, etc. How many times have we heard someone say, “I’m going home soon. It’s not my problem. Let the lifers take care of it.” And then we end up violating parole and return to endure these same hardships we could have put an end to. Male prisoners continue to fight for their rights and stick together against the system even if they don’t get along on the yard. Privileges come second to rights and humane treatment. This should be an example to us. Instead we often use an excuse to stay in the shadows and let someone else fight for our rights.
There’s strength in numbers! Instead of judging your neighbor, stand beside her and as a whole stand up for your rights. Divide and conquer is just one more way to keep us separated and unfocussed on what we deserve–to be treated as human beings.