A Gazan’s Wishes For 2015

Electricity, again! Every Palestinian wishes every year to have 24/7 electricity. Currently, Gaza power operates on a “6 hours on, 12 hours off” schedule. Only 6 hours of electricity a day! It is 3:46 AM right now and I should finish writing this piece before the clock strikes 7 AM for I won’t have electricity for the following 12 hours. Today’s share of electricity, for example, is from 1 AM to 7 AM—it’s the time in which “normal” people sleep. Power cuts twist my sleep time to reading or doing my assignments. Can’t I just sleep, not caring about when electricity will come on or go off?

I think these two wishes are enough for 2015. I will keep hoping I get my maps sometime soon. Knowing very well that electricity will never come all day long here, I won’t waste my hope for it.

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Why Prisons Don’t Work And How We Can Do Better

As prisons continue to devastate communities — particularly low-income communities of color — and drain government budgets, there’s been a shift from the ferocious “tough on crime” mentality of the 1980s to questioning whether so many people need to be locked up. The continued popularity of Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow,” daily news stories about prison atrocities, and the rise in prison justice organizing both inside prisons and in outside communities demonstrate that more and more people — including those who formerly advocated for draconian prison sentences — are questioning the need for mass incarceration.

Conversations about ending mass incarceration often center on people imprisoned for non-violent drug offenses. But what about everyone else? How do we address the harm they’ve caused without relying on locking them in cages?

Maya Schenwar, editor-in-chief of the daily news site Truthout, starts to answer this question in her new book “Locked Down, Locked Out: How Prisons Don’t Work and How We Can Do Better.”

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Dallas 6: Torture & Retaliation Against Prisoner Whistleblowers

Imagine sitting in a windowless 6-foot by 9-foot room the size of a bathroom for 23 hours a day, unable to communicate with family or anyone on the outside. The lights are on 24/7. The only drinking water you have is brown from rust. You constantly hear mentally ill people screaming and harming themselves. Within days of this torturous isolation you may begin to feel mental breakdown. Is this Guantánamo? Abu Ghraib? A torture chamber in some distant land? A torture chamber, yes, but a homegrown one.

This is solitary confinement in a state prison near you. The United States has many like the one in Dallas, Pennsylvania, a modern day dungeon, which imprisons people for years to face abuse and violence out of public view by guards paid with our tax dollars. But men inside also defend themselves and, even locked within their cells, try to fight back. One of those men was my son Carrington Keys.

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