An excerpt from a letter from Sean:
Prisons are definitely operating wrong and are creating greater social problems than what they purport to “solve”. But the fact is, the justice and prison systems are not operating to address crime and criminality. Prisons serve racial, economic, and political motives, and the prisons do so quite well. So, any effort to reform the prisons must be based on the false premise that prisons “aren’t working,” when in fact, they are working perfectly. They are keeping minority populations from booming, they are working as a relief valve on the unemployment rate; they are keeping the rabble-rousers off the campuses and out of the factories and tilting the political spectrum to the right.
Also, they don’t really want prisons to succeed at the rehabilitation mission. They just don’t. If prisoners get here and receive the empowering tools they really need for productive, law-abiding lives, get out, get decent jobs, and knock some other precariously-positioned and desperate worker to the bottom of the ladder, where that worker will have to rob the liquor store to feed his or her kids.
The real crime is that the privileged few limit employment and create economic desperation. They use that as a tool. The desperate and unemployed are used by the factory manager as leverage. “Want to raise? Want a union? Want benefits? That guy sleeping in his car will do your job cheaper. So get back to work asshole.” Since the 70s, workers real income has been cut in half as a consequence. So if we “rehabilitate prisoners,” free-world workers are essentially volunteering to trade places with them.
We cannot reform prisons without re-imagining the entire social system. That’s my thinking. So, if we want a future we truly deserve, where power is not consolidated in the hands of the few, while the rest of us sit in our assigned seats, we have to attack the existing order. We have to make it unmanageable. Make it unravel.
It’s happening anyway.
We’re up against an enemy that’s afraid of ideas. I found out this week that prisoners at level 5 on death row–who are convicted of leading the Lucasville riot and killing a corrections officer now have a JPay kiosk access. They can do video visits. They can access to music and emails. I can’t. They are five privilege levels lower than me, housed at Supermax, but they have more communication privileges than I do. That means I am more dangerous than prisoners who led a riot and killed staff, and I haven’t done anything. Except explain reality to people in an honest way, publicly.
The enemy is more afraid of ideas than they are of riots and death. I say all that to say this: to anyone truly interested in bringing about that future we deserve, we cannot be the folks who advocated for southern plantations to be more “humane”–we have to be the 21st century versions of John Brown. Only we have to succeed at Harper’s Ferry and arm the slaves, and burn the plantations, and upset the entire social economic political status quo.
That’s my thinking. It’s not enough to tear down the false idols. The whole temple has to go. I’m talking about tearing down civilization itself. We deserve better.
Prisoner and total reform advocate
“Currently held in SHU for political beliefs”
Please write me:
Sean Swain A243205
PO Box 120
Lebanon OH, 45036