The ever-encroaching behemoth Prison Industrial Complex has entrenched and expanded itself into a mega-billion dollar pillar of an empire. Simultaneously, prisons have activated people into resistance, reform, and alternatives. Some work with organizations, some in small groups, and some in isolation.
Primary blogger for Unprison is Bruce Reilly, a member of Direct Action for Rights & Equality since the inception of its Behind the Walls prison committee in 1999. Bruce was a jailhouse lawyer for 12 years inside, and is a steering committee member of the Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People’s Movement. His poetry, screenwriting, and PIC commentary has appeared in numerous places over the years, and now he attends Tulane Law School. He is also a member of Voice of the Ex-Offender.
“Before I even went to prison, I had done a terrible and irrevocable thing and had to figure out what to do next. Rather than dive into drugs and suppress my emotions, rather than kill myself, I committed to helping people in any way I could. During prison, and after prison, I found many opportunities to assist- particularly those who may be ill equipped to deal with the law. Some are clearly innocent, and/or suffering from addiction or mental illness, have learning disabilities, or speak English as a second language. For some people, if it weren’t me helping, it would be nobody. If there’s anything I can do on others’ behalf, I feel an obligation to give everything I’ve got.”
Bruce Reilly is a co-founder of Transcending Through Education Foundation, a scholarship program; serves on the board of Louisiana Chapter of National Lawyers Guild, and advisory board of Prison Policy Initiative. He has been a lead member of groups that reformed policies in housing, employment, voting, prison conditions and drug sentencing.
The Prison Industrial Complex has grown out of ignorance and mechanized the suffering of far too many. They fight to imprison. We fight to unprison.