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USA: Blogging from Prison

Reading books, playing cards, or learning new skills, are some of the tips on how to deal with going to jail offered by former inmate Sam Stanfield on Ezine @rticles. But for the 1 in 100 adults in prisons across the USA, another pastime can now be blogging – at least via someone on the outside with access to a computer.

Blogging from prison is becoming more and more widespread.

Shaun Attwood

Shaun Attwood

Shaun Atwood, a former prisoner, now maintains a blog titled, Jon’s Jail Journal, in which he posts letters from imprisoned Americans.

Late last year, he received a letter from “lifer” Renee, who was sentenced to 60 years in an Arizona prison when she was only a teenager. Renee writes that she works and goes to school, and also describes other prison happenings.

“You asked what I think of chow. Oh that made me laugh. I can not eat in the kitchen. I’ve seen them pull a cockroach out of the soup and keep serving it. I’ve seen the trays on the yard and the pigeons eating out of them. Raw chicken lying about not covered up. It grosses me out.”

Shannon Park

Shannon Park

Also in Arizona, is Shannon Park, a writer and human rights activist. Park writes on his blog, Persevering Prison Pages, that his prison complex is lacking staff.

“Contrary to popular belief and information provided to Arizona's lawmakers and tax-payers, filled COII positions in the ADOC are lacking. Enough so that guards must be pulled from other units to keep the minimal number of guards needed to keep a unit running. And lawmakers are currently in the process of reducing the number of COII's in ADOC by 614. Being short staffed while over-crowded can be very harmful. Especially in a place riddled with drugs, frustration, hunger, animosity and addicts who believe they have nothing to lose.”

Park goes on to describe some of the activities of other cell members including use of heroine and other drugs. He says monitoring is lacking because of diminished staff.

On the blog, Friends of Prisoners, a recent post asks readers to become pen pals with four prisoners who are mentally ill. One is James Schmeisser from Wisconsin who writes that he is isolated.

“Hello to those who are caring, loving and understanding. I am at this time under considerable duress due to my current situation. I’m isolated for 24 hours a day 3X a week and 23 hours 4X a week. I have no family support, moral support, friend support etc. As most people I have made mistakes and my kids and I have suffered and I actually don’t know what to do. The devil has been actively destroying everything in my life. Including my attempts to be a better man, my back is up against the wall and truly I am suffering mentally, emotionally and physically.”

Support the SHAC 7Activism is also alive in prison with a group called SHAC7, who were imprisoned for “campaigning to close down the notorious animal testing lab, Huntingdon Life Sciences.”

One of the group’s members, Josh Harper has a self-titled blog. In his latest post, he writes that he continues to fight, and refuses to consider the prison his home.

“As of today the state has stolen the last two years of my life. On November 16th of 2006, I walked into the nearby Federal Detention Center, was stripped naked, given a jumpsuit, and thrown in a cell for advocating controversial tactics to shut down an animal lab.

The first inmates I met gave me some advice— try to forget you are here. Don’t think about the time. Do your best not to remember the outside world. What awful advice! Although it might make my life harder, I’m relieved that I still bristle at incarceration. I never want to be one of the fully domesticated folks who slowly stop seeing the bars and razor wire and start to consider this place home. I hate prison with a passion. That lets me know I’m still sane.”

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