Currently reading: Strangers in Paradise
Currently reading: Strangers in Paradise
Taystee’s return inspired so many feelings: sadness that she got locked up again, happiness that she was back on the show, delight that her and Poussey could be besties again. But the conversation between Taystee and Poussey in the library was perhaps the series’ most intentional indictment of the system in the entire season, in which Taystee recalls the impossibility of “starting over” after prison. She had no place to live, clothes to wear or food to eat. It was impossible to find a good-paying job, and check-ins with parole officers loomed ever-present.
As described in depth in Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, former prisoners with drug offenses on their record face insurmountable challenges. They may find themselves ineligible for food stamps, public housing (or any housing), federally funded health and welfare benefits and federal educational assistance — demerits which hit especially hard for mothers with children and for women of color, who already suffer discrimination in those sectors with or without a record. “Once labeled a felon, the badge of inferiority remains with you for the rest of your life, relegating you to a permanent second-class status,” Alexander writes. “Today a criminal freed from prison has scarcely more rights, and arguably less respect, than a freed slave or a black person living ‘free’ in Mississippi at the height of Jim Crow.” Many will lose the right to vote or to hold a driver’s license.
Taystee, who owes the prison “$900 in fees,” is not alone with that type of debt — upon release, former inmates often are required to pay fees for parole or probation, jail book-in fees, jail per diems for pretrial detention, pre-sentence report fees and so many more. Missing a payment could land you back in jail.
Securing post-incarceration employment is really really really really hard. Employers are biased against applicants with criminal records, and prison time leaves gaps in employment history, training and education. Jobs requiring minimal training, like factory work, are sparse in this economy, leaving only the service sector. Those who fail to get a job or return to the underground economy in desperation will usually end up back in prison.
Another reason why Alternative to Incarceration programs, such as the Drew House in Brooklyn (run by the organization Housing + Solutions, which also runs multiple other transitional and permanent housing programs), are so important.
At Drew House, women convicted of felonies and their children are allowed to live in their own apartment together. The women complete their sentences (and once they do, their convictions are cleared from their records) while having access to counseling, and assistance in how to look for jobs and housing. Families are able to stay together, women are given help in becoming more self-reliant, and once their time is completed they don’t have that conviction on their record which would make finding work and housing even harder. A Columbia University report on Drew House had the recommendation “Scale up and replicate this model.” More programs like this would benefit so many communities.
— Assata Shakur
The 'guest right' is an ancient and sacred tradition dating back to the First Men. Any guest who eats his host’s food, customarily bread and salt in particular, is protected from harm for the length of his or her stay. A guest who does not highly trust his host will immediately ask for food upon arriving at the keep. Ill fortune is said to fall upon those who betray this pact, and it is an offence punishable by the gods themselves.
Jim Ward (ft. Tegan Quin), “Broken Songs”
I’m not too comfortable to fall from the start
When it gets too intimate, then I fall apart
Alison Krauss, “Let Me Touch you for Awhile”
I’m gonna ruin my black mascara,
You’re drinking whiskey when it should be wine.
Renee laying the smack down
Gotham Central 007
Pepper Coat, “Sam Hall”
damn your eyes
Pepper Coat - “She’s Gone & I’m Here” | Official Music Video [2011, Prize Pig!] (by PEPCOAT)