Prisoners' struggles

But I do have some feelings. One sector in particular seems ripe for eruption -- the prison struggle.

I think I have mentioned the journal *Prison Legal News* before on this or other lists. For several years now I have considered it the one indispensable publication I subscribe to (before even LBO or MR). I discovered this publication through a somewhat circuitous route. In his marvellous essay, "Gruesome Gertie at the Buckle of the Bible Belt" (NLR 209/1995), Peter Linebaugh referred to the publication of Angola Prison convicts, *The Angolite*. I subscribed to that (a fine publication in itself), which apparently put me on the mailing list of PLN, which sent me a sample copy.

Prison Legal News

2400 NW 80th St #148

Seattle WA 98117

A one year sub is $15 for prisoners, $25 for individuals, $60 for lawyers and institutions. It is edited by Paul Wright and Dan Pens (both prisoners in Washington State prison system). They have recently announced a web site: It is intended to develop into "an exhaustive research site for prison litigation."

See also, *The Celling of America: An Inside Look at the U.S. Prison Industry* by Daniel Burton Rose, Dan Pens, and Paul Wright*, Common Courage Press, 1998. 264 pages. $19.95.

Two other books of interest are

Walter Rideau and Ron Wikberg [eds. of The Angolite], *Life Sentences: Rage and Survival Behind Bars*, Times Books, 1992. $15.00 (at least when I bought it).

Jerome G. Miller, *Search and Destroy: African-Ameican Males in the Criminal Justice System*; Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996. [My copy of it is hardbound. I do not remember the price or know if it is available in paper.] Miller has been the director of juvenile detention systems in Mass. & Ill -- so he knows the American Gulag from the administrative side.

I have not gotten around to owning yet what I am sure is a fine book:

H. Bruce Franklin, *Prison Writing in 20th Century America*, Penguin, 1998. 368 pages. $13.95.

I vaguely remember from over 50 years ago reading a book (title?) by the retired warden of Sing Sing Prison (published sometime in the '30s I believe). I remember it only for its indictment of the death penalty. Peter Linebaugh has written a history of the death penalty in the 18th century, coordinating it with the transformation of the work force during that century. I have not read it, but on the basis of a couple reviews and Linebaugh's article in NLR I suspect it is already a classic. Anyone who has not read "Gruesome Gertie" should immediately obtain a copy of NLR 209 if they have to mortgage the homestead or go without food food for 3 days to pay for it.

I have a couple footnotes to Ken's comments. First, whether the prisons erupt or not, a working-class struggle that does not take up the cause of the victims of the American Gulag will not be worth shit. Second, Linebaugh points out that so far the resistance to the death penalty has come primarily from the African American population. "Abolition is led by African-Americans, as is clear by looking at the racial composition of consensual executions. Of the 229 executions since 1976, twenty-nine, or 12 percent, have been consensual. Only two have been of African-Americans, twenty-four were white."

Carroll Cox