Drug War Prisoners



Long in the planning stage, a web site that will serve as a platform for the POW community is ready to open. This bulletin explains the purpose of the web site www.drugwarprisoners.org and suggests ways you can participate.
A web site on the Internet is the best possible way to get a message out these days. TV gets into people's homes, and a TV program can be copied on a VCR, but by and large a TV show comes on one day and has gone the next. Books last as long as they remain in print, but few people take time to read. Commercial magazines and newspapers depend on revenue from ads and like TV cater to the interests of advertisers, which limits coverage of unpopular subjects like America's POW crisis. A web site not only makes information available 24 hours a day and never shuts down, but costs nothing to view and very little to produce. Operating non-stop, worldwide, and not tied to the demands of advertisers, it provides a means of getting the inside story of the Drug War to people who might otherwise be ignorant of the danger it poses to a democratic society.
Drug War sites can work both ways. A number of pro-Drug War sites operate on the Internet, for the most part backed by government agencies or the PR departments of organized religion. Sites critical of the Drug War are fewer in number and those taking issue with the POW crisis fewer still. Among the latter, www.november.org and www.hr95.org (web sites of The November Coalition and Human Rights and the Drug War, respectively) deserve the highest praise.
While there is room for an additional web site that speaks for prisoners of the War on Drugs, there would be no sense in duplicating the work of sites like www.november.org and www.hr95.org that already exist. The aim of www.drugwarprisoners.org is to give the POW community an opportunity to address the public directly. The aim is to provide the public with information not only about the men and women in America's Drug War prisons but by the prisoners themselves - by you. The intention is for the bulk of the material posted on the site to express your ideas, your thoughts on the direction the Drug War is taking America, your feelings and your sense of right and wrong. The site is meant for you to run, from inside prison, with a minimum of interference from an editor who can at best guess at the conditions you face every day. The uncensored voice of the Drug War prisoner is what the public will hear. Tell the public what you want the public to know, and the site will do its job.
The purpose of the site is to break the wall of silence that envelops America's Drug War prisons and let the public in. No better understanding of the sordid character of America's Drug War can be had than the understanding to be gained from Drug War prisoners. Prisoners are the experts from whom the rest of us can learn. Your insights will educate the rest of us, put us straight on how the Drug War works. You know, we don't.
www.drugwarprisoners.org is designed for the use of those whose interests it serves. Of the various sections of the site, most depend on entries sent in by POWs. For example, the section COLUMNS invites any POW to submit a column at regular intervals much as a columnist submits a column to a newspaper. Such columns will be posted on the site and acquaint the reader with the outlook that a particular POW wants to espress
The section VOICES does the same for occasional pieces sent in by POWs. VOICES is for POWs who won't write regularly but have something important to tell the public. Editorial policy is to post entries exactly as they are received - no messing around or fancying up. The voice of the POW does not need prettifying.
Another section, DIALOG, invites POWs to open a dialog with the public by sending in a remark, a statement, or a question to which a viewer can respond. The response is posted under the initial entry, and the POW who started the dialog receives a copy. The dialog can end there, or take a further step if the POW decides to continue. The hope is that a conversation between inside and outside will tell the public a lot about the inner workings of the Drug War.
Other sections include pages for MEDIA reviews, PROJECTS (e.g. a project for boycotting corporations that profit from low-cost POW labor), and suggestions for RESEARCH (what happens if a major earthquake hits a prison?) All are open to the POW who wishes to make his or her voice heard. Future sections will include one for marketing arts and crafts you make after-hours - 100 per cent of any proceeds going to you the maker.
This should give a fair impression of the purpose the new web site is meant to serve. See if you think there is a part you would like to play. Remember the reason for the web site in the first place is to confront the public with the reality of a Drug War that hunts down people who have a use for drugs and locks them up - locks you up - in prisons. Americans had better wake up if they don't want to go further down the road of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia: Drug Czar McCaffrey has already referred to America's Drug War prisons as "gulags." The ultimate purpose of the site is to swell the movement that will bring the Drug War to a halt, clear out the prisons, and send Drug War prisoners home. No one will call for your freedom except the American public itself - elected politicians and agents of big corporations have too much to lose - and the public won't raise its voice until you provide it with a reason to.
Send your stuff to the Committee on Unjust Sentencing, 2554 Lincoln Blvd, Suite 1005, Venice, CA 90291-5082, and together let's make www.drugwarprisoners.org a success.


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