Plaster lathe hewn by
Hand with horse hair plaster. Still
better than shitrock.
Plaster lathe hewn by
Hand with horse hair plaster. Still
better than shitrock.
This is a revamp of a guide I put together years ago. If anyone has any updates or changes please email me!
Writing political prisoners is an important way of lending support to folks incarcerated due to their beliefs. There are many types of political prisoners on the left – animal liberation, earth liberation/environmental, black Panthers/liberation, indigenous movements, anarchists, marxists, etc. Incarceration is isolating and difficult. Letters are something that can help bolster spirits of those inside.
Here are some tips:
A Few Do’s and Don’ts in Correspondence
A few dos and don’ts on writing prisoners whose backgrounds/politics you may not know.
Do use common sense. Use a “neutral” address for yourself, such as a Post Office Box, for correspondence.
Do not divulge sensitive personal information (i.e. your home address, phone number, credit card and bank details, people’s full names, etc. ) to a prisoner, particularly one you have never dealt with before. This is for your security and that of the prisoner. Be aware that authorities often read these letters and sensitive information can get into the wrong hands. Occasionally, prisoners have misused this information as well.
Do not send money or honor immediate requests for money.
Do think ahead. Research local prison regulations. Learn about the prisoner before writing. Make sure to put a return address on your envelope. When first writing to an incarcerated person make sure you ask them specifically what the rules are for writing letters, and make a careful note of them. No one under eighteen years of age should be writing a prisoner — again, this is for the prisoner’s security as well as the writer’s.
Do be forward and clear in your letter as well as your intentions. Say who you are, and if it’s relevant that you’re with an organization. Be upfront about your politics and say where you heard about the prisoners and her/his case. If you are interested in starting a pen-pal relationship and that is all, say so. Ask if they would like to correspond and if they’d like to discuss any topics, as well as what topics they don’t wish to discuss. Keep your first letter reasonably short and to the point.
Do be patient. Prisoners may not write back or may take awhile. They may occasionally sound cynical, angry or disinterested in their words — keep in mind many “supporters” or people who’ve written before may have stopped writing them, made promises/lied to them, or they just had a rough day and they’re venting that on paper. Responding to an angry letter with more anger is not helpful.
Do deal with the right channels. If a prisoner wants you to send a book, ask what channels their institution requires for that, or refer them to a Book-to-Prisoners project near their unit. If a prisoner is getting out in the next few weeks, do not offer your place to stay (no matter how desperate they sound) unless you have corresponded for a significant amount of time and are in contact with both a parole officer and a prison intermediary (e.g. prison chaplain). Even in cases like this, it is far more helpful to a prisoner to help them secure employment and develop a support base (whether that is through her/his church/mosque, family, friends, etc. ) than to Chances are, there’s a legal process to be dealt with in cases like this and they need to be followed by both you and the prisoner. However, use your head and don’t land in a bad situation or one that will land the prisoner back in jail.
Do not make promises. Many well-meaning people write letters offering support to a prisoner, or make offers for help out of good will. Unfortunately, most never follow through and build false hope in a prisoner. This is not fair to them. If you’re writing, don’t make promises. Don’t offer to do a support campaign if you can’t make that time.
Don’t offer to send items when you can’t afford it. Be honest. It’s best to start writing and keep it that way, at least until a relationship is established.
Do not romanticize prisons or prisoners. Many activists have ideas about who prisoners are, why they’re locked up, the system, etc. While it’s correct to have political clarity about incarceration and the nature of the criminal justice system, it is not correct to romanticize a prisoner, anything they might be locked up for (especially a “social crime”) and their lives. They’re people just like you, and have strengths and weaknesses. It is dangerous to assume that anyone (free or jailed) is able to overcome all their personal weaknesses, or be completely truthful, or are not dealing with the stressful situation they’re in in negative ways. Some are estranged from their families as a direct result of their own actions. Some may have learned manipulative behaviors over the years. Prisoners are people like you.
Do not discuss potentially illegal political action with a prisoner. Again, this is for your security and theirs. Prisoners have and can be implicated for outside action that violates the law and you should be mindful that, if authorities even find such information in the hands of prisoners, prisoners can face added time and harsh treatment.
Do not attempt to place political judgments on prisoners’ experiences. Some prisoners, out of desperation, write publications to get pen pals and may not agree completely with the views of the paper, but read it for information. Some prisoners have been converted to Christianity or are Muslims. Some have views that may be somewhat backward. Rather than attack a prisoner, it’s best to be polite, but firm, if there’s something you’d rather not discuss or find objectionable.
Do not attack or insult a prisoner because of their religions, preferences or experiences. If the prisoner declares her/himself a white supremacist, you are well within your rights to explain your disagreements, encourage them to reconsider their views and discontinue the relationship; please be aware that several white supremacist gangs have ties to the outside from prison and it is smart not to get into insults or threats against such prisoners.
Don’t send literature unless requested and be aware you don’t have to go with every request.
Here is a great resource from February of 2017 from the New York City Anarchist Black Cross that gives you background on various political prisoners and how to write them: https://animalliberationpressoffice.org/NAALPO/2017/03/13/u-s-political-prisoner-and-prisoner-of-war-listing/
Standing desk because
Growing children can reach on
To table tops now
The baby screams to
Be picked up and then squirms to
Get back down. Repeat.
Everyday I navigate the planet, and am faced repeatedly with yall being petty. This column is to address yall’s petty bullshit. Call it calling out, or calling in, or maybe just calling bullshit. I’m calling yall petty, and this is why:
I assume many of you are familiar with the type of mail which comes sealed tight and with three perforated edges which must be removed in a particular order so as to not disrupt or adversely tear the space time continuum. Often these sorts of complex paper sculptures contain one of my favorite things to receive in the mail, which is a check! Money! Love it!
When I am not expecting a check, or have not recently signed on to an online class action lawsuit based on mislabeling or bad advertising by some food company, these three tear sided papers become a different animal altogether. You may notice they come with bold words like “urgent” “final notice” “please for the love of god open me” “time is running out” etc. These urgent mailers also come in your standard letter envelope as well.
I think these sorts of approaches to junk mail are petty as hell. They imply that there is some preexisting business arrangement or contract. And occasionally some urgent or final notice mail appears that is legitimate. Sometimes (ha) I forget to pay bills. Big deal.
The joke is on all urgent mail senders, scammers or not. I have a petty as hell internal algorithym, which means that the more urgent and serious a piece of mail looks, the longer it takes me to open it. Longer meaning well into the span of months. Also this internal petty system of mine is great at losing said pieces of mail in lieu of opening them. Leave an unopened “final notice” bill in a satchel long enough and it vanishes into the depths of granola crumbs and squished dreams.
When I do get around to opening these urgent pieces of mail I have found that over half of them are not even worth procrastinating, they are spam that is just going in the trash. Wasting my powerful procrastination skills on nothing. So petty of these companies.
I have a busy life. A lot to do everyday, more than fits timewise. There is a hell of a lot more going on that is truly urgent than some threatening piece of paper. A full baby diaper is urgent. Me owing some asshole corporation $100 bucks is not.
Urgent mail is petty. My not opening mail is pettier. My advice on this one, is realize I’m not gonna pay you and save yaself a stamp. My more serious advice is that all the urgent type language on envelopes sets off my anxiety like woah, and I am probably not the only one. I doubt the urgency you print onto things helps you get people to pay. Submit to my superior pettiness. When I finally do open your bill, it’s just going in my folder titled ‘Bills I Don’t Intend to Pay’.
If you’ve noticed people being petty, submit your complaint and maybe I will expound upon it. If you’re mad because I pointed out how petty you are, sounds like you are being extra petty. Either way, firstname.lastname@example.org
And nutritional yeast in
Every pasta dish
Small business is broke
One week and catching up the
next. Stressful lifestyle.
Three hundred gallon
Rain water collection tank
Is empty. Such drought.
Hello! I am Mo Karnage.
My blog and other media platforms are a peek into my detritus lifestyle. Detritus being the material that sinks to the bottom of the ocean, feeding bottom feeders like crabs, and me!
I am an herbalist, parent, avid reader, author, carpenter, environmentalist, social justice advocate, vegan, queer, genderqueer, redneck, anarchist, witch, and more!
I am always happy for opportunities to be published or paid for my writing. I am also interested in opportunities to present at events or conferences on subjects relating to: radical history, anarchism, know your rights, sustainability and old windows, food not bombs, women in construction, herbalism and ptsd, how to write prisoners, grassroots organizing, plant walks, etc.
My construction business is Karnage Construction LLC, and I am a Class A Licensed Contractor! Let me build your house, or manage your project! I also run Butch for Hire, aimed towards oddjobs, moving, honey-do list items etc.