The Visit That Never Was: The Continued Efforts To Destroy The Bonds Between Prisoners and Their Loved-Ones

By Uhuru B. Rowe
September 25, 2017

Anyone who has ever served time in a jail, prison, or a detention facility, or has been an inpatient at a hospital, knows the importance of receiving visits from loved-ones. Visits from the people we care about functions as a temporary reprieve from the drudgery of institutional life. They remind us that we are loved, valued, and cared for in a harsh and punitive environment which seeks to strip away every ounce of our humanity and self-esteem. Most importantly, they remind us that, despite being isolated away behind concrete walls, we are still part of a family unit; part of our community. So, when I was called for a visit on Sunday, September 24, 2017, here at Sussex 2 State Prison, I was overjoyed! But this feeling of being overjoyed was short-lived, and was quickly replaced with anger and frustration. Here’s why:

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Exploiting and Extorting Prisoners in Virginia for Profit

By Uhuru B. Rowe
February 1, 2017

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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