Rattling The Bars

Rattling The Bars

Rattling the Bars, hosted by former Black Panther and political prisoner Marshall “Eddie” Conway, puts the voices of the people most harmed by our system of mass incarceration at the center of our reporting on the fight to end it. Become a supporter of this podcast: https://www.spreaker.com/podcast/rattling-the-bars--4799829/support.

Episodes

July 8, 2024 31 mins
One of the most persistent myths about the US prison system is that the system of mass incarceration helps deter and change harmful behavior. Yet according to the federal government's own statistics, more than 80 percent of formerly incarcerated people will be arrested within a decade after their release. The astronomical rate of recidivism reflects two realities: the prison system targets people for political reasons, and fails to...
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It's been 40 years since supervised release was first introduced into the federal court system by the 1984 Sentencing Reform Act. Supervised release, which replaced federal parole and probation, is a secondary sentence judges can impose that only comes into effect once people have already served their time in prison. The legality of the widespread use of supervised release, not to mention its overall constitutionality, is highly co...
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For the past 54 years, Thomas 'Tahaka' Gaither has lived behind bars as a political prisoner. A former member of the Black Panther Party Baltimore Chapter, Gaither was a close associate of 'Marshall' Eddie Conway Jr., who spent his last years as host of Rattling the Bars. Although Gaither was released on parole decades ago, he was forced to return to prison in the late 1990s when Gov. Glendening revoked parole for anyone who had re...
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The prison system keeps millions of families from celebrating Father's Day together. For Alexia Pitter of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, separation from her father, Gasi Pitter, has been a lifelong reality. Kept from even embracing her father during prison visits as a child, Alexia's struggle to build and maintain a relationship with Gasi has required taking on the entire prison system. After believing for many years her fath...
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The lived reality of the racist prison system can get lost in the swirl of facts and figures surrounding mass incarceration. Frigid cells in winters and sweltering conditions in summers; the volatility and capriciousness of hostile guards and correctional staff; food barely fit for human consumption; isolation from one's community and deprivation from the routines and small freedoms that made up one's identity prior to incarceratio...
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In 1977, American Indian Movement member Leonard Peltier was convicted of the murder of two FBI agents, and has remained a political prisoner of the US ever since. Peltier's conviction has long been contested by activists and legal experts. Despite the recantation of three key witnesses, his case has never been brought back to trial. Peltier has been eligible for parole since 1992, and the federal government has ignored calls to fr...
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Despite now spending 47 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit, Leonard Peltier continues to be denied parole by the federal government of the United States. Why has the US so obstinately refused to free Peltier, despite decades of international outcry? The answer lies in the threat posed by what Peltier represents—the demands of the Indigenous liberation movement for sovereignty and justice after centuries of US settler c...
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The oppression of Black people is more than just a historical or political question. The accumulated harms of centuries of slavery, segregation, mass incarceration, and racism in all forms have a psychological and medical effect, in addition to political and economic ones. Trauma, after all, describes the physical injury of the brain as a result of harmful experiences. At the scale of communities and generations, such trauma can be...
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Critics of the prison industrial complex have long noted the system's failure to properly rehabilitate those who are locked away in its bowels. Christina Merryman and Ameena Deramous return to Rattling the Bars for the second part of a two-part interview on the reality facing prisoners in Maryland's only women's correctional facility.

Click here to listen to Part 1

Studio Production: David Hebden
Post-Production: Cameron Granadino

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For decades, prisoners' rights advocates have called on the State of Maryland to address its flagrant discrimination against prisoners housed in the state's sole women's prison. As The Real News has previously reported, conditions in the Maryland Correctional Institute for Women are akin to "torture," and the lack of resources and services dedicated to incarcerated women amounts to state-sanctioned, gender-based discrimination. Chr...
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The prevalence of sexual violence in the US prison system is so widespread and accepted that it's often made the butt of jokes in popular culture. Yet the reality is that countless survivors of the prison system carry the scars and traumas of sexual abuse—and for many, the perpetrators of these crimes were the very prison staff charged with their protection. Juvenile victims of the prison system are no exception. In Maryland, sever...
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From Assata Shakur to Leonard Peltier, social movements have lifted up political prisoners as revolutionary examples and fought protracted, often decades-long campaigns to secure their release. Now, a new collection from AK Press, Rattling the Cages: Oral Histories of North American Political Prisoners, gathers the experience and wisdom of some 30 political prisoners in one place for the first time. Eric King and Josh Davidson, the...
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The system of mass incarceration in the US offers few second chances to prisoners, and Maryland is no exception. As The Real News has previously reported, the state's parole system puts incarcerated people at the mercy of an inefficient, capricious process that is unlikely to deliver a speedy release for many. Now, a new bill in the Maryland legislature could create new pathways to freedom for prisoners who've served 20 years or mo...
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A group of current and former prisoners have sued the state of Alabama with the support of two unions who have signed on as co-plaintiffs, the Union of Southern Service Workers, and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. The lawsuit claims that Alabama's system of prison labor amounts to a "modern-day form of slavery" that generates massive profits for private businesses and revenues for the state by forcing incarcerated...
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The US has one of the highest prisoner recidivism rates in the world: over 70% of incarcerated people who are released from prison in the US will be rearrested within five years of their release date. That is not an accident. Our system of mass incarceration sets people up to fail as they leave the prison system and try to reintegrate into society. That is why organizations like Hope for Prisoners in Nevada are working to provide r...
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The crisis of mass incarceration is about more than the conduct of police officers—it's a question of public expenditures, and how pouring taxpayer money into incarceration at the expense of other, more humanizing ventures takes a toll on society at large. As public schools and public health programs across the nation grapple with a host of preventable problems arising from underinvestment, state and local governments across the na...
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Black people have produced their own historical accounts as long as Black people have been in America. From oral tradition to the first publications of Phyllis Wheatley, to the many Black publishing houses and newspapers that blossomed after emancipation, Black people have always been the foremost chroniclers and documenters of their own stories. Now, a new collection compiles some 400 historical documents across 178 years in an un...
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Last June, the state of Wisconsin placed two correctional institutions in Green Bay and Waupun on lockdown due to concerns about overcrowding and the quality of facilities. In the ensuing months, several other Wisconsin state prisons have been affected by the lockdown, and Gov. Evers has yet to present a clear plan to end it. Meanwhile, thousands of incarcerated people have been trapped in horrendous conditions. Inmates are spendin...
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The nightmarish reality of the prison industrial complex depends on a vast array of stereotypes and tropes about incarcerated people that have proliferated through our culture. From the myth of the ‘superpredator’ to other racist and anti-poor constructions of the prisoner, the real stories and lives of the human beings trapped in the prison system are obscured by a veil of assumptions propagated by the institutions and interests m...
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Regarded by many as a form of torture, abolishing solitary confinement has become a goal for many activists for prison reform and abolition. In Washington, DC, the End Solitary Confinement 2023 bill would seek to end the practice in District facilities by requiring incarcerated people have access to at least eight hours a day outside their cells. Herbert Robinson, co-facilitator of the Unlock the Box campaign in DC, joins Rattling ...
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