Monday, September 20, 2010

Convicts Voting Bloc

by Mansa Lutalo lyapo -aka- Mr. Rufus West
August 29, 2010
In the state of Wisconsin, convicts are prohibited from voting until his/her prison, parole or extended supervision time has expired. In the interim thousands of Wisconsin convicts exist without the ability to play a part in shaping social policies that affect them. As a result no substantive prison legislation is being pushed unless it's related to keeping prisoners locked up for unnecessarily long periods or taking something from us. The political culture that exists is that if a politician speaks out on behalf of prisoners he/she is being "soft on crime." It's an effective slogan because most politicians are concerned about staying in office and not doing anything to jeopardize job. Their lackadaisical attitude is furthered by the fact that they know that we are not exercising our political power as a voting Bloc.

Just because we are convicts does not mean that we cease citizens of Wisconsin. Politicians are subordinate to their Citizens. Until the law is changed to allow convicts the right to vote, I propose that we exercise our right to vote via having people we know who are not convicts cast their ballot in our interest. Many of us convicts have Lena Taylor's "Standard Legislative Address Form," which is the form she wants prisoners to use when grieving to her about a certain complaint about prison conditions/legislation. What we fail to realize that she is only one person. Thus, what we have to do is get senators and representatives to step up to the plate.I believe that this can be accomplished via the Convicts voting Bloc (CVB). Through CVB convicts will educate eligible voters ( or direct them to FFUP to get educated) about FFUP's social agenda on prison politics and plug them into FFUP. The Bloc must be established and oiganized to the extent that the participants must be ready to act for the sake of the Community Forgiveness And Reconciliation Movement (CFARM).

For example, in the 1st edition of CFARM's newsletter there was a petition advocating for the release of certain prisoners. This petition was not for convicts to sign. It was for us to send to eligible voters, have them solicit as many signatures of eligible voters, and then have them send the signatures to FFUP. FFUP should receive at least 10,000 signatures, considering that there are tens of thousands of convicts in the state of Wisconsin. After this goal is reached, FFUP will send the petitions all at one time to the Wisconsin legislators.

History has taught me that politicians will uniformly get behind a social agenda when their constituents speak in one loud, single voice. They understand that failure to adhere to their constituents could result in them being replaced at the next election cycle. I believe that we must seize the time right now to support this righteous endeavor. Nobody can punish you for telling your people who are eligible vote in CVB activities. If you think the Wisconsin prison system is bad now, you just don’t
know.. the worst is yet to come.
Mansa Lutalo lyapo