The Free Virginia Movement

The Free Virginia Movement
By Uhuru B. Rowe, Founder

REVISED May 12, 2017



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.

Continue reading “The Free Virginia Movement”


Announcing the Free Virginia Movement!

By Uhuru B. Rowe
March 1, 2017


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.
Continue reading “Announcing the Free Virginia Movement!”

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.

Continue reading “Exploiting and Extorting Prisoners in Virginia for Profit”

Why We Can’t Go Free in Virginia

Why We Can’t Go Free in Virginia
By Uhuru B. Rowe
August 18, 2016

Every year, hundreds, perhaps thousands of bills are introduced and passed by congress into law on the federal, state, and local level without the knowledge of the average American citizen. Most people are unaware that they can show up at committees when these bills are being debated, analyzed and voted on by politicians and voice their opposition to said bills in an effort to prevent them from becoming law. Many bills are introduced, passed and signed into law with little to no input from the public, especially from those who will be adversely affected by these laws. One such law is the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.

Continue reading “Why We Can’t Go Free in Virginia”

Virginia State Republicans’ Proxy War Against Poor, Black and Brown People and the Birth of the Free Virginia Movement.

By Uhuru B. Rowe*
June 10, 2016

Well, it seems another Virginia (VA) Governor may bite the dust. Recently, CNN reported that Democratic VA Governor, Terry McAuliffe, is under investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Dept. of Justice for alleged improper financial contributions made to his 2013 Gubernatorial campaign by a Chinese businessman estimated to be worth $1 Billion. Continue reading “Virginia State Republicans’ Proxy War Against Poor, Black and Brown People and the Birth of the Free Virginia Movement.”

The “Non-Review” of Parole Reinstatement by the Parole Review Commission

By Uhuru B. Rowe
February 18, 2016

“The Commission did not specifically address reinstating discretionary parole due to the limited time for the Commission and the interrelated and complex issues (including incomplete data), which made this issue difficult to address in the time period allowed….,” Governor Terry McAuliffe revealed about the Commission on Parole Review in the Executive Summary section of his December 4, 2015 Governor’s Commission on Parole Review Final Report and Recommendations (Final R&R, p. 5).
This statement came as a surprise to Virginia prisoners sentenced under the draconian no-parole (85 percent) law, our loved-ones and community grassroots organizations because we all were extremely optimistic that the Commission would do the just and fair thing and recommend that parole be reinstated. But, what is even more shocking is that the Commission did not even consider or address the issue of parole reinstatement even though this was the main reason why the Commission was established in the first place. Continue reading “The “Non-Review” of Parole Reinstatement by the Parole Review Commission”

Support Uhuru’s Clemency Request

Uhuru B. Rowe (a.k.a. Brian L. Rowe), is a self-rehabilitated, self-educated writer, poet and activist who has been incarcerated for nearly 21 years at various prisons with the Virginia Dept. of Corrections.  Uhuru is currently in prison pursuant to a robbery he participated in on 1/19/1995, when he was barely 18 years old, that resulted in the shotting deaths of two people.  Uhuru was not the trigger-man, but he accepted responsibility for his actions and plead guilty.  Even though the sentencing guidelines recommended a maximum sentence of 13 years in prison, the sentencing judge ignored the recommendation and sentenced Rowe to a total of 93 years in prison.  This sentence is eighty years outside of the recommended guidelines.  Because Virginia abolished parole in 1995, Uhuru must serve 85% of his sentence.  Uhuru is a first time felon and deserves a second chance.  If he is not granted a second chance via clemency he will die in prison before his scheduled release date of 5/21/2076.  Uhuru’s clemency petition has been pending with Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe since June 2014.  A more in-depth discussion of Uhuru’s case, his accomplishments while in prison and the politics surrounding Virginia’s decision to abolish parole can be found here.  This article, written by Uhuru himself, also contains suggested ways you can aid and assist him.  Uhuru’s family, friends and community needs and wants him home!  You can write to Uhuru at:

Uhuru B. Rowe
P.O. Box 430
Dillwyn Virginia

You can contact Uhuru’s attorney, James B. Craven III, by phone at 919-688-8295 or by email at  Please donate much needed funds for Uhuru’s legal fund by here.  It is imperative for citizens of this country who are fed up with and impacted by mass incarceration to raise our collective voices in support of incarcerated people like Uhuru.  Uhuru, as well as his family, friends and supporters thank you in advance for any support that you can provide.

My Struggle for Freedom in the midst of Virginia’s Truth-in-Sentencing and Abolition of Parole Laws

I am a 38-year-old Black male from the city of Richmond, Virginia, who has been incarcerated at various prisons in the Virginia Department of Corrections for over 20 consecutive years. I am serving a 93-year prison sentence without the possibility of parole for my participation in a robbery that resulted in the shooting deaths of two innocent people.

Uhuru (right) visits with his family, stepfather James, mother Claretha and nephew Remarkable, on Oct. 7, 2012.

Faced with overwhelming evidence of my guilt, I entered into a “blind” plea to two counts of second degree murder, robbery, and three counts of use of a firearm during the commission of a felony, although I never possessed a gun. Little did I know, my fate was sealed. Continue reading “My Struggle for Freedom in the midst of Virginia’s Truth-in-Sentencing and Abolition of Parole Laws”

Boycott Keefe 2015

This statement is intended to keep the Keefe boycott fresh on the agenda for
2015. In the wake of organized strikes in prisons all over the country in 2013 and 2014; the recent national multiracial protests surrounding the police killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, and the grand jury’s decision not to indict their murderers — Officers Daniel Pantaleo and Darren Wilson; and the October Month of Resistance against mass incarceration, police terror, repression, and the criminalization of a generation, the conditions under which the prisoner-class is being subjected to is ripe for resistance.
Keefe Commissary Network Sales (Keefe) is a private mega-conglomerate
corporation that has taken over commissary operations inside numerous prisons and jails across America. There is no question that Keefe is price-gouging prisoners. Nor is there a question that the goods/products Keefe sells to prisoners are of a poor and defective quality. The question is what actions can we take that can lead to qualitative changes in our environment?

Our torturous, prolonged confinement is the result of “tough on crime” political rhetoric and “truth-in-sentencing” laws enacted in the early to mid-90’s which made federal grants available to any state willing to abolish parole and mandate its prisoners to serve at least 85% of the sentence imposed.

One such law is the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (VC-
CLA), which was sponsored by then-Texas US Representative Jack Brooks and
signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton. This Act included a provision called
Violent Offender Incarceration and Truth-in-Sentencing incentive grants (VOITIS)
which provided funds to state and local correctional systems to expand their capacity to incarcerate violent offenders and to impose longer and more determinate

According to the Office of Justice Programs within the US Dept. of Justice, between 1996-1998 28 states received over $680 million in truth-in-sentencing incentive grants in exchange for abolishing parole and implementing this so called 85% law. Virginia received a total of $11,201,786 during this period. According to the General Accounting Office, 15 out of 28 states indicated that these grants were either a main or partial factor in their enactment of truth-in-sentencing legislation, including Virginia. In reality, these states traded human lives in exchange for capital (money) to expand the Prison Industrial Complex.

We can bear witness to how private monopoly corporations like Keefe, JPay, Global Tel Link, GEO group, ACA, etc. had a vested interest in and benefited from the passage of VCCLA and VOITIS.
Because we of the prisoner-class are imprisoned pursuant to the political agenda stated
above, we are ALL political prisoners. Therefore, in response, we must become polit-
ical, and stop being willing pawns in a system that has brought nothing but death, de-
struction, and despair to the New Afrikan (Black), Brown, and poor white communities.
Don’t order a so-called gift package from Keefe’s subsidiary, Access Secure Pak.
Buy only essential items from the private prison commissary, such as hygiene prod-
ucts, stationery, stamps, and survival foods like Ramen soups and peanut butter. If you file a complaint against Keeefe with the Consumer Protection Division at PO Box 899, Jefferson City MO 65102 they will issue you a case number where you
can compile evidence and related documents in regards to Keefe’s price-gouging
tactics. File complaints with the Federal Trade Commission at 600 Pennsylvania
Ave., Washington DC 20580. Send them copies of commissary price lists and your commissary receipts.  Every complaint we file and every collective step we take will
“cause a ripple in the ocean of oppression” to quote my comrade B. Nimrod.
Power to the prisoners who don’t fear justice!