The Political Action Committee of the Free Virginia Movement

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By Uhuru Rowe, Founder 
May 27, 2017

E-mail: uhururowe76@yahoo.com

Blog: https:consciousprisoner.wordpress.com

Facebook: https:www.facebook.com/supportuhuru

     “Capitalism causes crime. Overwhelmingly, the victims of crime are poor and Third World people. Street crime is caused and perpetuated by joblessness and underemployment; by a ruling class that uses people for its own profit and discards them when it has no more profitable use for them. The capitalist prison and its bureaucracy is a loathsome parasite on society. Its sole purpose is to administer the warehousing and repression of human beings for whom capitalism has no use and no solution.”–George Jackson Brigade, in Capitalism Is Organized Crime

     The Free Virginia Movement (FVM) is proposing the formation of a Political Action Committee (PAC) which is a major point in Our Organizing Strategy. 

     Our PAC, once operational, will be capable of transforming the social, political, and economic reality for all Virginian’s–including incarcerated people and those who feel neglected and marginalized by a Virginia State Government and its politicians, most of whom serve the interests of the ruling capitalist elites–by: 1) educating members and the general public about political candidates for statewide offices at election time via social media, fliers, town hall meetings, assemblies, forums, workshops, etc.; 2) fund raising, pooling, and contributing funds to the campaigns of political candidates for statewide offices most likely to advance our interests and to lobby against against those candidates who, once in office, are most likely to act against the needs, concerns, and interests of incarcerated, Black, Brown, poor, low-income, working-class, and other marginalized and oppressed people; 3) and organizing and mobilizing a powerful grassroots voting bloc capable of influencing statewide elections in OUR favor. 

     This is needed because Virginia’s government and criminal injustice system–its laws, police departments, circuit courts, and prisons–are all biased against Black, Brown, poor, low-income, marginalized, disadvantaged, disenfranchised, and working-class people, including women, Muslims, immigrants, and LGBTQ people. We are all disposable people within a capitalist patriarchal system which places profit over human lives, and which discards us into prisons and jails when it has no more profitable use for us.

     In order to change this dynamic and overcome our shared-oppression, we must UNITE and ORGANIZE, BUILD POWER and MOBILIZE to FORCE change! It is time that incarcerated people, their families, and other Black, Brown, poor, low-income, marginalized, disadvantaged, disenfranchised, and working class people organize themselves under the banner of the Free Virginia Movement and its PAC into a force that can and will transform who has political power and control in Virginia and how that power and control affect our lives.

     There are approximately 38,000 people incarcerated in Virginia’s prisons. If each incarcerated person and at least three of their family members, friends, or associates register with the FVM/PAC and donate a minimum of just $5, we can organize the mobilization of over 150,000 people inside and outside of prison with a war chest of over a quarter million dollars that we can use to accomplish OUR GOALS.

      It is the late-great Howard Zinn who said that we cannot be neutral on a moving train. Amidst the hate, division, uncertainty, and turmoil that has swept the country since the “election” of Donald Trump to the White House, either we are going to allow ourselves to be forced backwards to a time when people of color, women, immigrants, and LGBTQ people were considered property and noncitizens and thus had no control over our lives and no rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit if happiness, or we are going to move forward and begin the historical task of UNITING and BUILDING and ORGANIZING a powerful grassroots political base in Virginia in order to change things ourselves. There is no in between.

     People, the days of mere lip service and half-ass organizing are over. Now is the time for action! The power structure has been duping us for far too long and so we must step up and retake control over our lives and the future of our families and communities.

     We are currently seeking individuals to fill the following positions: Director, State Coordinator, State Representative, National Representative, Treasurer, Volunteers, Fundraisers, Donors, and Sponsors. 

      If you are serious about building the FVM and our PAC, if you’re serious about achieving REAL change, and if you are able to fill one or more of the above positions, please contact me by e-mail at uhururowe76@yahoo.com, or you can contact me directly by downloading the JPay mobile app to your smartphone, log on, and sign up to exchange e-messages with me.

                                                NONE OF US ARE TRULY FREE UNTIL ALL ARE FREE!

The Free Virginia Movement

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The Free Virginia Movement
By Uhuru B. Rowe, Founder

REVISED May 12, 2017

E-mail: uhururowe76@yahoo.com

WHO WE ARE

     The Free Virginia Movement is an Inside-Out/Outside-In all-inclusive, coalition-based statewide movment and organizing effort founded by incarcerated people in the Virginia Department of Corrections in solidarity with the class struggles of Black, Brown, poor, low-income, disenfranchised, and working class people, to redress inhumane and harsh prison conditions; racial, class, and gender bias in the criminal legal system; the effects of mass incarceration and felony disenfranchisement laws on Black, Brown, poor, low-income and working-class communities; and the miriad of other laws, policies, and practices and procedures which discriminates against people because of their race, class, gender, sexuality, nationality, age, or disability. We recognize that incarcerated, Black, Brown, poor, low-income, oppressed, disenfranchised, and working-class people, are all victims of capitalist oppression and exploitation, Inside and Outside of prisons.

OUR PURPOSE AND ORGANIZING STRATEGY

     The FVM seeks to unite the struggles of Black, Brown, poor, low-income, disenfranchised, and working-class people in solidarity with the struggles of incarcerated people, as well as build coalitions with Human Rights, Civil Rights, Prison Advocacy, and Radical Activist, and Student Organizing Groups, across Racial, Cultural, Political, Religious, Gender, and Ideological lines into a consensus decision-making, democratically-run longterm coalition, that will meet, serve, address, and champion the needs and concerns of ALL incarcerated, felony convicted, Black, Brown, poor, oppressed, low-income, disenfranchised, and working-class people on a day-to-day basis. 

     Specifically, we aim to ORGANIZE town hall meetings, forums, work shops, assemblies and other movement-building activities to EDUCATE the people about elected and appointed officials who have consistently voted and acted against the needs, concerns, and interests of incarcerated, Black, Brown, poor, low-income, disenfranchised, oppressed, and working class people; BUILD a powerful and influencial grassroots voting bloc capable of shifting local and statewide elections in our favor; CREATE a network of human rights, civil rights, prison advocacy, radical activist and student/youth organizing groups to pressure prisons, legislatures, and government officials to enact laws, policies, practices and procedures that will meet and serve the needs of incarcerated, felony-convicted, disenfranchised, poor, low-income, and working class people who are often victims racism, classism, sexism, xenophobia, trans-/homophobia, criminalization, police harassment and violence, and mass incarceration; ENGAGE in mass rallies, marches, mobilizations, collective strikes and boycotts, and other forms of nonviolent protests to culminate on September 9th of each year in commemoration of the uprising at Attica Correctional Facility in New York on September 9, 1971; and GENERATE streams of phone calls, e-mails, petition drives, etc. in a collaborative effort to challenge, change, and transform the social, political, and economic reality in Virginia for ALL people, whether free or incarcerated!

     At every stage of the struggle WE, oppressed people, have petitioned the courts, filed grievances, appealed to the morality and conscience of those in power and authority over us, and patiently waited for the Virginia state government, and its various departments and agencies, to take corrective action. But just like the institution of chattel slavery, capitalism and mass incarceration are systems of oppression which uses incarcerated, Black, Brown, poor, low-income, disenfranchised, oppressed, and working-class people of ALL races, colors, creeds, genders, and sexual orientations as its nuts and bolts. The Free Virginia Movement seeks to break those nuts and bolts!

     Because the oppression, exploitation, and social/population control of incarcerated, Black, Brown, poor, low-income, and working class people are the motives behind mass, longterm incarceration, and felony-disenfranchisement here in Virginia, the FVM represents and IS the United Front capable of liberating us from the shackles of capitalist oppression and exploitation and its resultant racism, classism, sexism, homo-/transphobia, xenophobia, mass incarceration and any other system of oppression.
WHY THE FREE VIRGINIA MOVEMENT?

     A Federal law known as the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (VCCLEA), the largest Crime Bill in U.S. history with a price tag of $30 billion, was supported by Republicans and Democrats alike, and signed into law by former President Bill Clinton in 1994. 

     This Act included a provision called the Violent Offender Incarceration and Truth in Sentencing Incentive Grants (VOITIS) which provided grants to state and local correctional systems to expand their capacity to incarcerate violent offenders and impose longer and more determinate sentences. VOITIS is codified in federal law as Title 42, U.S.C.S., sections 13701, 13702, 13703, and 13704. 

     To qualify for these grants, states were required to pass Truth in Sentencing (TIS) laws which effectively abolished parole and mandated people convicted of Class 1 felonies to “serve not less than 85 percent of the sentence imposed….” (Title 42, USCS section 13704) 

     Lacking funds necessary to construct more prisons to accommodate its expanding prison population, VOITIS provided Virginia (VA) with an incentive to abolish parole for crimes committed on or after January 1, 1995, and implement TIS. House Bill No. 5001 was introduced by Republican Randy Forbes and signed into law by former Republican Governor George Allen during the 1994 Special Session of the VA General Assembly at a time when state Democrats controlled both the House and Senate.

     House Bill No. 5001 was codified as VA Code 53.1-165.1. Consequently, the amount of “good time” incarcerated people could earn to reduce their period of incarceration for good behavior was dramatically reduced from a maximum of thirty days credit for each thirty days served per VA Code 53.1-201 (before parole was abolished) to a maximum of four and one-half days credit for the same thirty days served per VA Code 53.1-202 (after parole was abolished). Prior to the abolition of parole, TIS, and the dramatic reduction of good time credits, the prison population in VA was approximately 18,000. In 2013, it reached a record 40,000 people incarcerated throughout the state, many of them coming from Black, Brown, poor, low-income, and working class communities.

ECONOMIC IMPACT OF ABOLITION OF PAROLE AND TRUTH-IN -SENTENCING



     Between 1996 and 1998, twenty-eight states which enacted TIS collectively received over $680 million in VOITIS grants, according to the U.S. Dept. of Justice, Office of Justice Programs. Fifteen out of twenty-seven states which received VOITIS grants in 1997 indicated that these grants were either a key or partial factor in their enactment of TIS which requires incarcerated people to serve no less than 85 percent of their sentences, including VA.

     Between 1996 and 1998, VA alone received a total of $11,201,786 in VOITIS grants which was put towards the funding for this state’s construction of two maximum and two supermax prisons: Sussex I, Sussex II, Red Onion, and Wallens Ridge State Prisons, respectively. All four of these new “state-of-the-art” prisons began accepting people in 1997 and 1998, with Sussex II housing people contracted from the District of Columbia.

     Because of laws like the VCCLEA and the draconian measures it spurred (e.g., TIS, abolition of parole, Three Strikes, expansion of police forces and prisons), the U.S. prison population has grown to become the largest in the world with 2.5 million mostly Black, Brown, poor, low income, and working class people confined in its local, state, and federal jails, prisons, and detention centers, which cost tax payers $80 billion annually.

     In VA, the corrections operating budget, which exceeded $1 billion in 2014, commands the greater portion of the state budget each year at the expense of urgently needed social justice programs, such as quality childcare, education, health care, food, housing, jobs, and other basic human rights.

     The abolition of parole and the implementation of TIS has not prevented, reduced, or deterred crime any more than it did prior to 1995; but has succeeded only in increasing the prison population and the annual corrections’ budget to one of the highest in the country, while warehousing Black, Brown, poor, low-income and working class people for decades.

      Since taking office in 2014, Dem. Governor, Terry McAuliffe, sought to correct these injustices with his Executive Order #44, which created the bipartisan Commission on Parole Review as a vehicle to bring together elected officials, community organizations, professionals, faith leaders, and concerned citizens to discuss how parole could be reinstated without compromising public safety. However, state Republicans were so hostile to the idea of parole reinstatement–and the creation of the Commission itself–that Commission members never specifically discussed reinstating parole even though that was the reason for its creation in the first place. Furthermore, the few recommendations proposed by the Commission did not result in the passage of any laws during the 2016 and 2017 General Assembly Sessions as it relates to much needed criminal legal system reform.

      Governor McAuliffe also signed an April 22, 2016 Executive Order which summarily restored the civil rights of over 200,000 violent and nonviolent felony convicted people who have successfully paid their debts to society and have made great strides towards becoming productive, law-abiding, taxpaying citizens of this Commonwealth. As expected, state Republicans opposed this move and sued Governor McAuliffe in court. The VA Supreme Court, bowing to partisan politics, nullified the governor’s April 22 Executive Order, relegating more than 200,000 people, mostly people of color, back to the level of second-class disenfranchised citizens. 

      Clearly, state Republicans’ fierce opposition to the creation of the Parole Review Commission, the reinstatement of parole, the restoration of rights, and other forms of criminal legal system reform, is actually a class war against Black, Brown, poor, low income, disenfranchised, and working class people who are the overwhelming majority of people who are sent to and warehoused in VA prisons.

      Therefore, seeing that five Commission on Parole Review meetings were held where the opinions and concerns of family, friends, and supporters of incarcerated people, and of other poor, low-income, disenfranchised, and working class people in favor of parole reinstatement and other reform measures repeatedly fell on the deaf ears of Commission members; seeing that the Commission failed to recommend parole reinstatement because of opposition from state Republicans who have vowed that parole, in any form (including for juveniles sentenced to unconstitutional life without parole sentences) will never be reinstated so long as they constitute the majority in the House and Senate; seeing that Republicans will constitute the majority in the House and Senate for the foreseeable future; seeing that both the 2016 and 2017 Generally Assembly Sessions concluded without the passage of much needed criminal legal system reform; and seeing that mass incarceration, overcrowded and understaffed prisons, draconian truth in sentencing sentences, abolition of parole, long-term incarceration with little chance of early release, and cutbacks to CTE and other educational and rehabilitation programs will persist unabated, it is time for incarcerated, Black, Brown, poor, low income and working class people to UNITE, ORGANIZE, and AGITATE under the banner of the FVM which is rooted in the class struggle practice of “An Injury To One Is An Injury To All” and “None Of Us Are Free Until All Are Free.”

OUR GOALS (WHAT WE WANT)

     1) WE WANT the Reinstatement of parole for all incarcerated people whose crimes occurred on or after January 1, 1995, and are currently serving a sentence under the so-called no parole (85%) law by repealing VA Codes 53.1-165.1 and 53.1-202.3, and reinstituting parole eligibility under VA Code 53.1-201. The above restoration of parole and Good Conduct Allowance must be RETROACTIVELY applied to ALL incarcerated people currently serving sentences under the no parole (85%) law.

     2) WE WANT the Amendment and Reenactment of VA Code 19.2-303 so that ALL people currently incarcerated in the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOc) can petition the court which heard their case for a suspension/reduction/modification of the unserved portion of the sentence after 1) serving a base minimum of fifteen (15) years, and 2) after the completion of an Educational/Vocational/Rehabilitation/Reentry Preparedness Program. The Amendment and Reenactment of VA Code 19.2-303 must be RETROACTIVELY applied to ALL people currently incarcerated in the VADOc.*

      3) WE WANT the Amendment and Reenactment of VA Code 19.2-298.01 (B) and (F) so that the sentencing court must provide an adequate explanation when it sentences a defendant outside the sentencing guidelines to allow for meaningful appellate review of said sentence. This will promote the perception of fair sentencing and provide an appellate remedy when courts impose sentences which are outside of the sentencing guidelines recommendations. The Amendment and Reenactment of VA Code 19.2-298.01 (B) and (F) must be RETROACTIVELY applied to ALL people currently serving sentences under the no parole (85%) law.

      4) WE WANT the Amendment and Reenactment of VA Code 53.1-40.01 so that the qualifying age for consideration of early geriatric “parole” is 1) the age of 55 or older and who has served at least five years of the sentence imposed or 2) the age of 50 or older and who has served at least ten years of the sentence imposed. The Amendment and Reenactment of VA Code 53.1-40.01 must be RETROACTIVELY applied to ALL people currently incarcerated in the VADOc.

     5) WE WANT the Amendment and Reenactment of VA Code 53.1-44 so that it clearly articulates that ALL of the income, gains, profits, etc. accumulated as a result of the VADOc investment of funds in the Inmate Trust Account on stocks, bonds, and federally-insured investments be used solely to create more educational, vocational, rehabilitation, reentry, treatment, and work programs for incarcerated people, as well as for recreational supplies and infrastructure needs like library books, newspapers, and other periodicals, televisions, computers, microwaves, etc. Currently, the ambiguity of this law leaves room for the VADOc to profit off of and exploit incarcerated people by utilizing the income, gains, and profits derived from the investment of said funds in the Inmate Trust Account for its own benefit and not for the benefit of incarcerated people. Furthermore, WE WANT the implementation of a policy which mandates the issuance of a quarterly financial statement by the VADOc to ALL incarcerated people, and made accessible to the general public, detailing how and where these incomes, gains, and profits are being spent by the Department.

      6) WE WANT the Amendment and Reenactment of VA Code 53.1-43.1 so that in addition to any incarcerated person sentenced to death or life imprisonment, any person sentenced to a lengthy “term of years” or a de facto life without parole sentence where their mandatory/Good Time release date is past their life expectancy, they must be EXEMPT from the withholding and depositing of ten percent of their incoming funds (sent to them by family and friends from poor, low-income, and working-class communities) into a Savings and Hold Account. Furthermore, ALL funds of incarcerated people currently held by the VADOc in a Savings and Hold Accounts MUST immediately be transferred to their Spend accounts if they meet the criterion above.

      7) WE WANT the Amendment and Reenactment of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to remove/strike the Slavery Exception Clause for felony convicted people. The 13th Amendment as currently constructed legalizes slavery for a person convicted of a crime (i.e. felony) and has led to the implementation of laws/policies which has a disproportionate impact on Black, Brown, poor, low-income, and working-class communities; the overpolicing and criminalization of Black, Brown, poor, and low-income communities; racial and class bias in the criminal legal system; mass incarceration of Black, Brown, poor, low-income, and working class people; felony disenfranchisement laws; exploiting the labor of incarcerated people for profit; private companies like Keefe Commissary, JPay and Global Tel Link overcharging incarcerated people for goods and services; private corporations contracted by the VA State government to build and operate prisons, jails, and detention centers; and the racial disparities in Virginia’s prisons and jails.

      8) WE WANT the Enactment of a state law which grants every person convicted of a violent felony, upon their release from prison, the automatic restoration of his or her civil rights. Current government policy requires that a person convicted of a violent felony make a formal request to the Governor for the restoration of his or her rights five years after completion of their period of probation and parole.

     This waiting period, and the bureaucratic red tape associated with the restoration process, has a disproportionate impact on Black, Brown, poor, low-income, disenfranchised, and working class people, prevents them from being recognized as full citizens, relegates them to a permanent second-class status with no rights, and denies them the opportunity to fully integrate back into society. The implementation of this state law MUST be RETROACTIVELY applied to ALL violent felony convicted people already released from prison

     9) WE WANT the Enactment of a state law that will 1) require state courts to resentence those sentenced to Juvenile Life Without Parole (JLWOP) and Defacto Juvenile Life Without Parole (DJLWOP) sentences to a term that will allow a meaningful opportunity of release; or 2) require the Virginia Parole Board to conduct specialized Youth Offender Parole Hearings on the 25th year of incarceration for those sentenced to JLWOP and DJLWOP, taking into account the diminished culpability and hallmark features of youth and any subsequent growth and maturity during incarceration. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in the cases of Graham v. Florida, 130 S.Ct. 2011 (2010) and Miller v. Alabama, 132 S.Ct. 2455 (2012)–both of which the Virginia legislature and courts have refused to honor–that JLWOP sentences, which does not provide a meaningful opportunity for release, offends the 8th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Several state and federal courts also recognize that lengthy term-of- years sentences without parole are the functional equivalent of juvenile life without parole sentences (JLWOP). We refer to these as de facto juvenile life without parole sentences (DJLWOP). The implementation of either of these proposed state laws, which will put Virginia in compliance with U.S. Supreme Court precedent, must be RETROACTIVELY applied to ALL incarcerated people sentenced to JLWOP and DJLWOP sentences.

     10) WE WANT the Enactment of a state law that will 1) require state courts to resentence those people who were sentenced between 1995 and 2000 when jury instructions about the abolition of parole now mandated by Fishback were not required, or 2) require the Virginia Parole Board to conduct specialized Parole Review Hearings for those people sentenced prior to Fishback. The VA Supreme Court has ruled in the case of Fishback v. Commonwealth, 260 Va. 104, 532 S.E.2d 629 (2000), that it was trial error not to instruct jurors during the sentencing phase of trial that parole had been abolished for crimes committed on or after January 1, 1995. However, the Fishback decision was not made retroactive and those who were already sentenced under the no-parole (85%) law prior to this ruling in 2000 did not have the benefit of the jury instruction now mandated by Fishback. The enactment of a state law as proposed above will correct this obvious injustice.

      11) WE WANT the Enactment of a state law which raises the current minimum wage of $7.25/hour to a minimum wage of $15/hour. The current state minimum wage of $7.25/hour does not account for the rising cost of living and inflation, and as a result, minimum wage earners, most of whom are poor, low-income, disenfranchised, women, and formerly incarcerated, cannot adequately maintain and/or provide for themselves and their families with the basic necessities of life, e.g. food, clothing, and housing; in addition to obligations to pay off any court fines/fees imposed by the criminal legal system. To be able to work and provide for ones own self and family with the basic necessities of life is a fundamental Human Right, and the denial of this right as a result of the current minimum wage creates the conditions by which one may feel compelled to engage in black market criminal activities to supplement his/her income. This dynamic feeds into the hands of prisoncrats who has a vested interest in perpetuating mass incarceration and the criminalization of poor and low-income people, many of whom are people of color. 

      12) WE WANT the Enactment of a VADOc policy or state law that requires the VADOc to provide special conjugal visits on a predetermined basis for those people who are, or have been, legally and lawfully married, within the Department. Every person, whether incarcerated or free, heterosexual or lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, upon marriage, should be able to consummate such a marriage with a conjugal visit.

      13) WE WANT the Enactment of a VADOc policy or state law which authorizes unlimited, unrestricted access of the news media (print, internet, and television media) into any and all state prisons, jails, detention centers, and correctional facilities here in Virginia. The news media shall be allowed to use any audio, video, or other recording equipment when surveying the inside of a any state prison, jail, detention center, or correctional facility. In addition, the news media shall be allowed to interview any incarcerated or detained person, with request for such an interview made at least one week in advance. This is needed because incarcerated and detained people are isolated and hidden away outside of the public eye within a vast network of prisons, jails, detention centers, and correctional facilities where there is little to no transparency and accountability. This makes incarcerated and detained people particularly vulnerable to abuse, neglect, mistreatment, and other criminal and inhumane acts committed by those in authority over them. The above proposed media access will bring to light what has historically been kept in the dark behind a curtain of lies, corruption, secrecy, and cover-ups.

      14) WE WANT the Enactment of a VADOc policy or state law which establishes an independent Ombudsman/Grievance Coordinator/Human Rights Advocate, wholly separate and independent from the VADOc, to receive, investigate, and resolve allegations of abuse, neglect, mistreatment, etc. made by people incarcerated in the VADOc in a fair and prompt manner. Currently, complaints and grievances made by incarcerated people are received and investigated by an Ombudsman/Grievance Coordinator/Human Rights Advocate who is employed by the VADOc. History and circumstances has shown that such a VADOc-employed Ombudsman/Grievance Coordinator/Human Rights Advocate is more loyal to other VADOc employees and biased against incarcerated people. Thus perfectly legitimate complaints and grievances made by incarcerated people are routinely rejected, ignored, overlooked, or swept under the rug in order maintain loyalty and a code of silence among VADOC employees.

      15) WE WANT the REPEAL of VA Code 53.1-32 which allows the VADOc to levy co-payment fees against incarcerated people in exchange for Prison Health Care Services. Indeed, prisons themselves are mostly responsible for the illnesses incarcerated people develop, e.g. by, inter alia, denying them access the healthy and nutritious food and clean drinking water. Therefore, incarcerated people should be afforded FREE Health Care Services. Further, we understand that such a fee, along with disciplinary fines and exorbitant prices charged for commissary items, are just routine tactic used by the VADOc to exploit/extort incarcerated people to offset the rising costs associated with mass incarceration. 

      16) WE WANT the Abolition of any VADOc policy, practice, or procedure which violates the human/constitutional rights of incarcerated people and endangers/hinders their spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical health and wellbeing and rehabilitation efforts including, but not limited to: (A) VADOc Operating Procedure (OP) 601.6(IV)(c)(14) which prohibits incarcerated people from completing more than one Career and Technical Education (CTE) program; (B) O.P. 601.6(IV)(c)(9) which discriminates against incarcerated people with lengthy sentences and who wants to participate in a CTE program, by placing them on a separate “long list” where it may take years to enroll in a CTE program; (C) VADOc “cost saving” and counter-rehabilitative practice of assigning one incarcerated person to multiple work assignments to the exclusion of others who want “to learn job skills and develop good work habits and attitudes that [they] can apply to jobs after [they] are released.” (quoting O.P. 841.2(IV)(B)(4)); (D) VADOc “cost saving” practice of denying Hepatitis-C infected incarcerated people FULL access to FDA-approved drugs like Harvoni and Sovaldi–which are known to have cure rates of over a 90 percent–until they have developed internal organ damage or failure; (E) VADOc “cost saving” practice of regularly feeding incarcerated people cheap, soy, processed, and other synthetic meats which are known causes of various cancers and other serious health problems; (F) VADOc “cost saving” and counter-rehabilitative practice of not providing practical up-to-date, technology-based CTE programs. Current CTE programs offered by the VADOc are considered out-of-date compared to similar programs offered to citizens out in society. VA prisons must move towards a technological CTE programming system, and to not do so is a disservice to the communities incarcerated people will eventually return to. Therefore, CTE programs must resemble as closely as possible that of CTE training and programs offered to the average citizen as to prepare incarcerated people for the conditions of normal occupational life; (G) VADOc racially and politically motivated practice of censoring/disapproving books, newspapers, magazines, etc., which are geared towards an African-American, Leftist, Radical, or Progressive audience; (H) VADOc and Keefe Commissary Group’s exploitative and profiteering practice of price-gouging incarcerated people via regular price-hikes on all items sold in the prison commissaries; (I) VADOc exploitative and profiteering practice of levying and imposing fines on incarcerated people as punishment for being found guilty of a disciplinary infraction; and (J) VADOc inhumane practice of not providing incarcerated people with access to clean drinking water. The water in Virginia prisons is discolored, foul-tasting, and foul-smelling as a result of probably being contaminated with high levels of rust, lead, and other contaminants. Whether free or incarcerated, having access to safe and clean drinking water is a fundamental Human Right!

*Because nearly every policy, practice, or procedure of the VA Dept. of Corrections as it relates to incarcerated people are counter-rehabilitative, counterproductive and, in fact, operates in opposition to real Corrections, we in the Free Virginia Movement use a lowercase “c” in VADOc to reflect this point.

Neutralize Their Activities. Part II

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​The Footprints of COINTELPRO from The Black Panther Party, the MOVE Organization, and Beyond
By Uhuru B. Rowe

     The residue of COINTELPRO can be seen on the frame-up conviction of former Black Panther, Journalist, and MOVE supporter, Mumia Abu-Jamal, for the December 1981 murder of a Philadelphia police officer. 

     It is undeniably seen on the May 13, 1985, assault on MOVE by the Philadelphia police department and the federal government, this time at their Osage Avenue compound. When the well fortified walls of this compound could not be penetrated by police bullets, they dropped a bomb on the roof from a helicopter, reminiscent of the 1921 bombing of a Black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma known as Black Wall Street. The explosion resulted in an inferno which burned to death 11 MOVE members, including five children, and decimated an entire Black neighborhood. Firefighters on the scene reported that the police department prevented them from extinguishing the blaze and even shot at MOVE members attempting to flee from the fire. When it was all over, Romona Africa and 13-year-old Birdie Africa were the only two survivors.
If COINTELPRO was allegedly dismantled in 1971 after being exposed as a secret domestic war strategy against the Black Liberation Movement which used blatantly illegal means to murder, frame and imprison Black Freedom Fighters, then how does one explain the events from 1971 onward, especially the two assaults on the MOVE Organization? The answer is simple: Even though the FBI dropped the name, COINTELPRO is still alive and well, and busy stifling dissent, and imprisoning, discrediting, and even killing those brave enough to radically oppose this corrupt american government which, since 1492, has washed its hands in the blood of millions, perhaps billions, of innocent people.
     It is in the spirit of COINTELPRO that MOVE 9 members Merle Africa and William Phillips Africa, and former Black Panther Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa, died in prison on March 13, 1998, January 10, 2015, and March 11, 2016, respectively, under highly suspicious circumstances. 
It is in the spirit of COINTELPRO that the remaining MOVE 9 members and former Black Panthers like Ed Poindexter, Herman Bell, Seth Hayes, Dr. Mutulu Shakur, Jalil Muntaqim (Anthony Bottom), Sundiata Acoli, and several others, remain entombed in prison cells and are repeatedly denied parole for obviously political reasons.

     It is in the spirit of COINTELPRO that the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, at the behest of the vindictive Philadelphia Fraternal Order of the Police, continues it’s original mission to legally lynch Mumia Abu-Jamal by denying him adequate medical treatment for his advanced Hepatitis C infection.

    It is in the spirit of COINTELPRO that the FBI on May 2, 2013 placed Assata Olugbala Shakur on the “Most Wanted Terrorist” list with an offer of $1 Million reward for information leading to her capture and return. This $1 Million FBI reward adds to the $1 Million reward offered by the state of New Jersey.

     It is in the spirit of COINTELPRO that since 1996, the Los Angeles Police Department, in collaboration with the FBI, has embarked on a campaign of terror to harass, imprison, and assassinate members of the Black Riders Liberation Party, which is a New Generation Black Panther for Self-Defense founded by former gang banging youth-turned-revolutionaries, as a polical vehicle to resist and overcome capitalist white supremacy and police brutality.

     It is in the spirit of COINTELPRO that the corporate media, in collusion with government officials and various police departments and their unions, have attempted to discredit, slander, and vilify the Black Lives Matter activists as a bunch of anti-government, anti-law enforcement, and white-hating Black radicals who advocates the killing of police officers, government officials, and white people. This strategy used against Black Lives Matter was also used against the Black Panther Party in an effort to discredit them in the eyes of broader society, especially in the eyes of potential White sympathizers. This strategy mirrors goal number 4 of Hoover’s COINTELPRO which was to “Prevent militant black nationalist groups and leaders from gaining respectability by discrediting them…to the white community, both the responsible community and to the “liberal” who have vestiges of sympathy for militant black nationalist [sic] simply because they are Negroes.”

     And so what remains is that it is in the spirit of the revolutionary 60s and 70s that we must resist the racist power structure and the repression of the New Black Liberation Movement, and the continued unjust imprisonment of Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War. 

     So what is to be done? A simple protest? Not if we desire real change and end our oppression once and for all. Protests often flare up after being popularized on social media, and after a short period of time, they fizzle out, and with it, the rage, energy, and enthusiasm of The People. The purpose of protest (in my opinion) is not an occasion to simply to show up and voice our opposition against a specific oppression or injustice, and then fade back into obscurity once concessions are promised, but not given. A toddler will express similar opposition by throwing a tantrum if its bottle or pacifier is unjustly taken away. In most cases the toddler will not relent until its adversary concedes and returns the thing it was deprived of. What the toddler does not know is that it won that battle but not the war; thus its adversary lives to treat it unjustly again, and the cycle repeats itself. This is the cycle that the oppresed class–like the toddler–finds itself locked in: injustice=protest=concessions promised or given=momentary satisfaction=new injustice. 

     As this demonstrates, the purpose of protest (i.e. struggle) should not be an occasion to simply voice dissatisfaction and seek concessions from the oppressive power structure, but to FORCE complete change. And if we only succeed in gaining crumbs from the table of the oppressor, but fail to force complete change, then capitalist oppression will do what it has always done when confronted with protests: slither like a snake behind closed doors, reorganize and reconstruct itself, then arise anew; e.g. from chattel slavery to segregation to mass incarceration; from Black Codes to felony disenfranchisement laws; from lynchings and ku klux klan terror to police killings of unarmed Black people; from “fugitive slave”-catchers to police officers (modern-day slave-catchers) occupying and patrolling Black communities seeking to “capture” Black bodies. 

     The only way that We The People can break this cyclical reorganization and reconstruction of racist and capitalist oppression is by forcing the current system to change COMPLETELY (utilizing whatever force is necessary) or by completely dismantling the current system and building a new one in its place. 

     In this era of multiracial class solidarity among the oppressed people on the planet, and savvy social media organzing, especially among the youth, we certainly have the capacity to do either. The question is do we recognize our potential, and if so, when are we going to MOVE…?

Free all Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War!

Neutralize Their Activites:  The Footprints of COINTELPRO from The Black Panther Party, the MOVE Organization, and Beyond

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By Uhuru B. Rowe
March 28, 2017

E-mail: uhururowe76@yahoo.com

    I will like to expound on the U.S. government-sanctioned attacks on the MOVE Organization within the larger context of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) campaign of harassment, murder, and imprisonment during the revolutionary 60s and 70s, and even today, in an effort to thwart the realization and actualization of Black Power and Black Liberation . 
     

     The MOVE Organization, founded by John Africa, a former Black Panther, was/is a militant Black Liberation “back-to-nature” communal organization, which, like the Black Panthers, advocated armed self-defense. This stance of armed self-defense put the MOVE Organization–like the Black Panther Party– unwittingly in the cross-hairs of the federal government.

     I will attempt draw a connection between the tactics used to dismantle and destroy the Black Panther Party and disrupt the Black Liberation Movement and the attacks on the MOVE Organization and the imprisonment of some of its leadership in 1978 and 1985 as being directly related to former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s illegal Counterintelligence Program, although this program was discontinued in 1971.

     More broadly, COINTELPRO was a clandestine and illegal counterintelligence operation which spied on and framed innocent America citizens deemed subversive. This included those in the Communist, Civil Rights, Human Rights, anti-war, anti-imperialist…..and ESPECIALLY those in the Black Liberation Movement.
Less than one year after Dr. Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seal founded the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPP) in West Oakland on October 22, 1966, Hoover labeled the BPP “the greatest internal security threat to the country.” This one statement represented a declaration of war against the Black Panthers.

     According to a August 1967 FBI internal memorandum, the stated goals of COINTELPRO during this period was to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize the activities of black nationalist, hate-type organizations and groupings…” This memorandum was distributed by Hoover to every FBI field office in the country with specific instructions to not “make this program public” and to not “tell anybody it exists.” 
The goals of COINTELPRO were achieved by Hoover via illegal and evil activities like spying; infiltration; wiretaps; entrapments; frame-ups; fomenting and instigating conflicts and animosities between different black nationalist groups; and outright assassinations. Two hundred forty-five out of 290 COINTELPRO actions were directed against the BPP. During 1969 alone, over 400 Black Panthers were stopped and arrested, over 20 BPP offices nationwide were illegally raided without search or arrest warrants, and by the end of 1971, 40 members of the BPP were assassinated by police. 

     The most notable COINTELPRO responsible assassinations were of Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968; Lil Bobby Hutton on April 6, 1968; Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter and John Huggins on January 17, 1969; Fred Hampton, Sr. and Mark Clark on December 4, 1969; and Carl Bernard Hampton on July 26, 1970.

     There was the attempted COINTELPRO assassinations of Black Panthers on December 8, 1969 at their Los Angeles headquarters on 41st and Central where S.W.A.T. was deployed for the first time in U.S. history; and the attempted assassination of the leadership of the Republic of New Afrika on August 18, 1971 in Jackson, Mississippi. The last COINTELPRO action was the 1971 frame-up convictions of Black Panthers Ed Poindexter and Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa (AKA David Rice), also known as the Omaha 2, for the August 1970 bombing murder of an Omaha police officer…Mondo we Langa died in the Nebraska State Prison on March 11, 2016 and Ed Poindexter remains entombed in a prison cell after 47 consecutive years.

     The illegal and clandestine COINTELPRO was exposed and forced to shut down in 1971 when white anti-war activists broke into the FBI office in Media, PA, retrieved what came to be known as the COINTELPRO Papers, and released copies of it to news agencies across the country.

     The point I want to make clear is just as the adoption of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has not prevented the the rise of neo-slavery in the form of the criminalization and mass incarceration of Black people, the dismantling of COINTELPRO did not prevent the FBI’s continued frame-up arrests and convictions, and assassinations of those fighting for the liberation of Black people. 

     The residue of COINTELPRO can been seen on the August 21, 1971 assassination of BPP Field Marshall George Lester Jackson in San Quentin State Prison in California, and the May 2, 1973 assassination of Zayd Shakur by New Jersey State Police which left Assata Shakur and Sundiata Acoli severely wounded and their subsequent frame-up arrest, conviction, and sentence of life plus 30 years in prison. Assata was liberated from Clinton State Prison on November 2, 1979 by the Black Liberation Army and has been living in exile in Cuba. Sundiata remains entombed in a concrete box after 44 consecutive years.

      The residue of COINTELPRO-like operations can certainly be seen on the military assault on the MOVE Organization in Philadelphia. On August 8, 1978, the MOVE Organization’s Powelton Village compound was surrounded and shot up by 600 Philadelphia cops, who has such an uncontrollable lust for blood that day, they killed one of their own officers in their line of fire. The following nine MOVE members were framed-up for the officer’s death and sentenced to 30 to 100 years in prison: Merle Africa, Janet Holloway, Janine Phillips Africa, Debbie Sims Africa, Delbert Orr Africa, William Phillips Africa, Charles Sims Africa, Edward Goodman Africa, and Michael Davis Africa. They have become known as the MOVE 9.

The Decline of Vocational Programs in the Virginia Prison System

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By Uhuru B. Rowe
April 6, 2017
E-mail: uhururowe76@yahoo.com

According to the Virginia Dept. of Corrections’ Operating Procedure (OP) 606.6 which governs Career and Technical Education (CTE) Programs for incarperated people, “It is the policy of the Division of Education to provide offenders committed to the Department of Corrections (VADOC) with the opportunity to participate in career and technical education or apprenticeship training programs that increase the opportunity for students to secure and maintain gainful employment in a chosen career field upon release.”

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Announcing the Free Virginia Movement!

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By Uhuru B. Rowe
March 1, 2017
E-mail: uhururowe76@yahoo.com

WHY THE FREE VIRGINIA MOVEMENT?

A Federal law known as the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (VCCLEA) includes a provision called the Violent Offender Incarceration and Truth in Sentencing Incentive Grants (VOITIS) which provides grants to state and local correctional systems to expand their capacity to incarcerate violent offenders and impose larger and more determinate sentences.
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Exploiting and Extorting Prisoners in Virginia for Profit

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By Uhuru B. Rowe
February 1, 2017
Email: uhururowe76@yahoo.com

Imagine this: You have slaved hard on your lousy job where you are overworked, underpaid and under appreciated. But, somehow, you’ve manage to maintain your sense self-respect, self-worth, and dignity. You eagerly anticipate receiving your paycheck at the end of the week, and rightly so! Your mortgage or rent is past due. Your refrigerator is almost empty. Your children need school supplies. Your car needs fixing. And when it’s all said and done, you’ll barely have enough money to pay off your student loan and credit card debt. You make your way to your boss’s office to receive your paycheck. As you examine it to see how much of YOUR money the government (and even your boss) stiffed you out of this time, something catches your eye: Your employer– under instructions from the government, he/she explains–has deducted 10 percent from your earnings to be stored in a government-controlled personal trust account until it has a balance of $1,000 and which will be payable to you at an unattainable age (e.g. 100-years-old). Even worst, your employer invests this deductible in stocks and bonds and any increments or profits derived therefrom will be used for their own personal pleasure or benefit. Wouldn’t this obvious extortion and exploitation make you mad as hell and ready to strike?

Well, this is how incarcerated people feel in the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) when this “10 percent” is deducted from the funds sent to us by our loved-ones (many of whom are poor or working-class people) and from the slave wages we make from prison jobs which pays as little as .35 an hour.

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Do Incarcerated Black Lives Matter?

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DO INCARCERATED BLACK LIVES MATTER?
IF SO, SUPPORT UHURU’S CLEMENCY REQUEST

Uhuru Rowe is a self-educated, socially conscious, politically active brother, who has been incarcerated for 22 consecutive years in the Virginia (VA) prison system where he has often experienced retaliation from prison authorities because of his political beliefs, organizing activities, and for speaking out against inhuman prison conditions.

Uhuru was involved in a robbery back in 1995 that resulted in the shooting deaths of two people. Though Uhuru was not the trigger-man, he accepted responsibility for his actions and entered a non-cooperating guilty plea which sealed his fate. The sentencing guidelines recommended a maximum sentence of only 13 years, but former Richmond circuit court judge, James B. Wilkinson, who was known to be a racist, ignored the recommendation and sentenced Uhuru to an aggregate sentence totaling 93 years. This sentence is an unprecedented 80 years over the guidelines recommendations! Continue reading

Get Organized: Help Make 2017 My Last Year of Incarceration.

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By Uhuru B. Rowe
January 10, 2017

E-mail: uhururowe76@yahoo.com
Happy New Year to all of you! I wish you-all the best on your personal and professional endeavors.

I am calling on ALL concerned citizens who believe in justice, fairness and second chances to please GET ORGANIZED around my struggle to regain my freedom and help make 2017 my last year in prison. Continue reading

Life At Sussex 2 State Prison

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By Uhuru B. Rowe
December 12, 2016
e-mail: uhururowe76@yahoo.com

Its been 95 days since I was transferred to Sussex 2 State Prison, which opened in 1998 to house what the state deemed “the worst of the worst.” Prisoners here are anything but! Its main purpose, as with most prison construction, was to create jobs and to control the population of the Black communities.

Inside this prison are numerous electronically operated razor wire topped fences which are designed for optimal controlled-movement. There are barking K9 dogs which snap and drool at us when we leave our housing units. There are armed guards positioned above on the catwalk poised to shoot down at us at a moments notice. Continue reading