The Militant sends New Year’s greetings to fellow workers behind bars. We pledge to continue to report the truth about the conditions you face and to fight to get to you news about the struggles of working people worldwide.
The U.S. rulers preside over the highest incarceration rate in the world, with almost 2.3 million behind bars and 4.5 million on parole or probation. Over 90% of those locked up were intimidated into signing plea bargains, waving the right to a jury trial, under threat that even harsher sentences would be imposed.
The “justice” system under capitalism is designed to break and demoralize workers and to serve as a warning to millions of other working people to submit to the dictates of the bosses and their government. Prisoners are subject to inhumane solitary confinement and numerous other indignities daily. And 40% of those in prison are Black, even though African Americans are just 13% of the country’s population.
We hail the recent protests that forced the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to block the execution of Rodney Reed, who has been on death row for over 20 years, framed up for a crime he didn’t commit. Opposition to the death penalty — a weapon of terror wielded against the working class under capitalism — continues to grow.
We call for the release of all remaining imprisoned Black Panthers, including Ed Poindexter in Nebraska and Jalil Muntaqim in New York; of Leonard Peltier, a Native American activist framed on murder charges and imprisoned for decades far from his family; and Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was railroaded into jail in Pennsylvania in 1982 and has had to fight to get the medical care he needs. And of all class-struggle and political prisoners worldwide.
We celebrate the release from prison in Russia of Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who was framed-up after speaking out against Moscow’s seizure of Crimea in 2014. On his release this September Sentsov demanded freedom for all Ukrainian political prisoners held by the Vladimir Putin regime’s gulag.
After a hard-fought battle this year a victory has been won against Florida prison officials’ attempt to suppress the Militant. Broad support was won from organizations and individuals who sent letters of protest to prison authorities. Several of the Militant’s subscribers behind bars also stood up to prison authorities and filed grievances against the impoundment of their subscriptions. As a result of the campaign, since mid-August no further issues of the paper have been suppressed.
As we’ve done in New York, New Jersey and Florida this year, we will continue to join in ongoing fights for the right of workers behind bars to get the papers and books of their choice.
Over 6 million people in the United States are prevented from voting by laws that attack the rights of former felons. After working people in Florida overwhelmingly passed Amendment 4 last year to restore voting rights to over a million former prisoners who have completed parole, state legislators imposed new restrictions forcing former felons to pay all outstanding court fees before they can exercise their constitutional rights. The fight to regain the right to vote continues here and in Kentucky, Iowa and other states.
We encourage workers behind bars to get subscriptions to the Militant and order books by Socialist Workers Party leaders and other revolutionary fighters published by Pathfinder Press. These titles contain the lessons of previous revolutionary battles and help arm us to build the party that is necessary to lead working people to fight for political power.
We ask readers of the paper to contribute to the Militant’s prisoners fund that makes it possible to offer reduced -price subscriptions to workers behind bars.