Prisoners Reignite Movement To End Mass Incarceration

March 11, 2023 Raymond Williams  WAGING NONVIOLENCE

Death by incarceration is the most prevalent and most overlooked form of state sponsored execution. They call it a life sentence, but that is a misnomer. Any prison sentence that a person cannot outlive is a sentence to death.

On Dec. 5, I sat in a circle with 30 prisoners at the Washington Correction Center in Shelton, Washington. As we looked around the room, anticipation, resolve and relief reflected in our eyes — yet we were all eager for this moment.

Unable to meet due to COVID restrictions, we watched the world change around us for nearly three years. During this time tragedies like the murder of George Floyd, Brianna Taylor and countless others took place, and justice reform became a dinner-table conversation for many Americans. As incarcerated activists, we sat silenced, unable to convene — even though, as stakeholders, experts in the field and leaders in justice reform efforts in Washington state, we have a lot to contribute. Nevertheless, our passion for the work smoldered, and this circle was the oxygen needed to light the fire of our movement once again.

I looked around the room with pride, then uttered the most powerful five words I will ever speak, “Welcome to Concerned Lifers everyone.” To those of us familiar with this call-to-order, they were words we thought would never be spoken again.

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