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Getting books behind bars

August 7, 2013

Seven Stories Press recently received a letter from a man named Luis Rodriguez who is incarcerated
in a prison in Pennsylvania. Mr. Rodriguez had requested a copy of Howard Zinn’s Terrorism and War, and Terrorism: Theirs and Ours and wrote back, voicing his experience behind bars and how these two books fit into his daily life as a prisoner:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As a Muslim American in prison for the first time in my life I [have] been through a lot of official oppression and discrimination for not only being Spanish but also a Muslim, and all this that many people don’t care about in society. I am only 30 years of age. I was a bright child like a star in the sky. My goal was to become a lawyer, to have a good wife and children, a house, and car. But life didn’t turn out that way. I do have children in which I have not seen in 5 years because this prison is too far from home. I have no family support and it’s scary because in September 2014 I max out my time in prison. Prison is the most corrupt department. [ There is] abuse, no help to inmates, and no programs. [ We also] know there are more prisons in America than schools. So what is the future of our children? Prisoners instead of doctors and scholars. Prison is a big money maker and [ the] crazy thing is that many believe that there are no jobs in America, that jobs are going to other countries. But the reality is that inmates in America are the ones doing [ the work] for 42 cents at most So D.O.C makes contracts with companies, and if you need proof [look up] D.O.C industries.com, P.A (so tax payers pay to keep prisons running while D.O.C is getting rich).

My fellow Americans, it’s time to stand up for what is right, fight for your rights, [and against] the government system that has you in debt [ causing] mothers to struggle with their children because fathers are in prison for a simple parking ticket, and given a 2 ½ to 5 years. So who is the real criminal? You or the system? Now because of this D.O.C or parking ticket punishment, the prisoner gets out of prison and doesn’t have a job. Everywhere he goes he doesn’t get hired because of a felony record and has to pay court fines, has to struggle to get back on his feet. [Then] the court issues out a warrant to arrest him, [ then there are] more fines, more court payments, and [he is] in prison again, but this time his wife leaves him and puts him on child support and he becomes the bad daddy and a criminal to the system….And it all started with a $15 parking ticket. The circle goes on but in reality, he is a victim of the system yet society treats him as a criminal. But who cares about the prisoners right?

It’s hard being in prisoner….I am grateful in so many ways and as I read and learn from the books that Seven Stories publish I see life in the real way and not the illusion being presented by T.V, media, and the system of corruption [ that is] full of lies. As an activist that took part in Vieques Puerto Rico from 2004 to 2006 to close the base military (Base military Americana) I know what[ it’s like] to fight and struggle for human rights. But in Pennsylvania inmates are not only beaten down, but broken down, and scared to get up [ because there is] no unity. En la union esta la fuerza. But there is no fuerza in America, and people refuse to wake up. As we all know now [the prison system] targets immigrants that only come to America seeking a better opportunity. [Why] are there gun control laws? Because one day people have to wake up and fight back the power before things get worse (when the system passes that martial law and starts oppressing the general population).

Mi nombre est Luis Antonio Perez. AKA: Micionero. If you love your country, fight for it, but first start by cleaning your home and stop the corruption in it. I love Americans but I hate the system which runs it, the people in power that don’t care for our children and the future of this country. I tell you what, if the system doesn’t kill me, I am going to make a change in history for the good of the poor and the people. I recommend people to read these books: Terrorism by Howard Zinn, and Terrorism Theirs and Ours by Eqbal Ahmad.

As-salamu alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakátuh. Respect and with Love for the sake of Alláh, Luis Antonio, Abdulláh Perez. AKA: Micionero.

P.S. My experience in prison is full of painful days and lonely nights. But with hardship comes relief. 

Recently, Seven Stories has enthusiastically agreed to participate in the OpPenPal,  a book club created by a group of activists striving to support political prisoners by sending letters and books to those who are imprisoned. For the past few months Seven Stories has been donating copies of titles once a month to prisoners who are on the OpPenPal list. Upon receiving books, prisoners are encouraged to write a letter back in response, voicing their experience in prison and commenting on how the book has affected their daily life. This response will be posted on the OpPenPal site in addition to our own website. The book is then promoted on the OpPenPal blog and social networks so that supporters can read along at home. Supports can also submit responses to the site and/or write back to prisoners to continue discussing the book.

Seven Stories is very excited about participating in this activist community- it’s an important step forward in fighting against the unjust prison system and the suffocating seclusion that many prisoners face behind bars.

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