[Pnews] My Future in Prison - Kathy Kelly

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jan 23 13:56:02 EST 2015

Weekend Edition January 23-25, 2015

*A Wrongheaded Criminal Justice System*

  My Future in Prison


The Bureau of Prisons contacted me today, assigning me a prison number 
and a new address: for the next 90 days, beginning tomorrow, I’ll live 
at FMC Lexington, in the satellite prison camp for women, adjacent to 
Lexington’s federal medical center for men. Very early tomorrow morning, 
Buddy Bell, Cassandra Dixon, and Paco and Silver, two house guests whom 
we first met in protests on South Korea’s Jeju Island 
<http://www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=24986>, will travel 
with me to Kentucky and deliver me to the satellite women’s prison 
outside the Federal Medical Center for men.

In December, 2014, Judge Matt Whitworth sentenced me to three months in 
federal prison after Georgia Walker and I had attempted 
<http://dissidentvoice.org/2014/12/drones-and-discrimination/> to 
deliver a loaf of bread and a letter to the commander of Whiteman Air 
Force base, asking him to stop his troops from piloting lethal drone 
flights over Afghanistan from within the base. Judge Whitworth allowed 
me over a month to surrender myself to prison; but whether you are a 
soldier or a civilian, a target or an unlucky bystander, you can’t 
surrender to a drone.

When I was imprisoned at Lexington prison in 1988, after a federal 
magistrate in Missouri sentenced me to one year in prison for planting 
corn on nuclear missile silo sites, other women prisoners playfully 
nicknamed me “Missiles.” One of my sisters reliably made me laugh today, 
texting me to ask if I thought the women this time would call me “Drones.”

It’s good to laugh and feel camaraderie before heading into prison. For 
someone like me, very nearly saturated in “white privilege” through much 
of this arrest, trial, and sentencing process, 90% (or more) of my 
experience will likely depend on attitude.

But, for many of the people I’ll meet in prison, an initial arrest very 
likely began with something like a “night raid” staged in Iraq or 
Afghanistan, complete with armed police surrounding and bursting into 
their home to remove them from children and families, often with 
helicopters overhead, sequestering them in a county jail, often with 
very little oversight to assure that guards and wardens treat them 
fairly. Some prisoners will not have had a chance to see their children 
before being shipped clear across the country. Some will not have been 
given adequate medical care as they adjust to life in prison, possibly 
going without prescribed medicines and often traumatized by the sudden 
dissolution of ties with family and community. Some will not have had 
the means to hire a lawyer and may not have learned much about their 
case from an overworked public defender.

In the U.S., the criminal justice system disproportionately incarcerates 
people of color for petty offences. Many take plea bargains under threat 
of excessive, punitive sentences. If I were a young black male, the U.S. 
penal system quite likely would not have allowed me to turn myself in to 
a federal prison camp.

I’ll be incarcerated in a satellite camp outside a medical facility 
where I expect the wards are crowded with geriatric patients. How bleak 
and unnecessary it is to confine people for decades. My friend Brian 
Terrell, who was incarcerated in Yankton, South Dakota for six months 
after crossing the line at Whiteman AFB, told me that while in prison he 
saw signs on the walls recruiting prisoners to train for medically 
assisting geriatric male prisoners. I shudder to think of our culture’s 
pervading callousness, pointlessly consigning so many aged people to 
languish in prison.

I will be free in three months, but our collective future is most 
assuredly shackled to a wrongheaded criminal justice system. I hope this 
compulsively vengeful and diseased criminal justice system will change 
during my lifetime. And I hope that my short sojourn inside Lexington’s 
prison walls will help me better understand and perhaps help shed some 
small light on the systems that affect other people trapped there.


/Photo: Shane Franklin./

During recent visits with concerned communities focused on drone 
warfare, many have helped me see a connection between the drone killings 
across Central Asia and the Middle East and the casual executions and 
incarceration of young black males in our own country.

In Afghanistan, where the noise of air strikes and civil war have faded 
to the buzz of drones and the silence of empty promises, our friends in 
the Afghan Peace Volunteers (APVs) continue their peace building 
efforts. Last week, eighty street children walked 
from the APV center to the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission 
office to assert their right to education. Their signs expressed their 
determination to help create a school for street children. One sign 
said, “We don’t want your charity. We want dignity.”

Our young friends wish to provide a better life for the very children 
whose only other ways off the streets may well include joining the 
Taliban, criminal gangs, or some other militia. Meanwhile, the United 
States’ vengeful stance as a nation, concerned with protecting its 
wealth and status at all costs and its safety above all considerations 
of equity or reason, destroys the lives of the impoverished at home as 
it destroys those abroad.

The “Black Lives Matter <http://blacklivesmatter.com/>” protests need 
our support, as do the March 4-6 protests to “Shut Down Creech 
Air Force Base. Our friends in the Afghan Peace Volunteers will continue 
to do vital work for peace and solidarity, in Kabul, that needs our 
support. It’s encouraging to know that thousands upon thousands of 
committed people seek and find work to make our world less like a prison 
for our neighbors and ourselves.

My address for the next three months is

    Kathy Kelly 04971-045




    P.O. BOX 14525

    LEXINGTON, KY  40512

/*Kathy Kelly* co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence. For more 
information, please contact VCNV at info at vcnv.org <mailto:info at vcnv.org>./

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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