community-based, non-corporate, participatory media
On today's show: We examine the issue of juvenile life without parole. An exclusive interview with a member of the Anonymous hacking group about recent arrests; We examine the impact of the Marcellus drilling industry on forest ecology; Updates of prisoner abuse and resistance from inside the prison industrial complex and more in our local and global headlines.
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Rustbelt Radio for March 26th, 2012
Welcome to this week's edition of Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's bi-weekly review of the news from the grassroots, news overlooked by the corporate media.
On today's show...
Rustbelt Radio is broadcast live from WRCT studios every other Monday at 6 PM on 88.3 FM in Pittsburgh, and the program airs again on WRCT every Tuesday morning at 9AM.
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We turn now to local stories.
The following audio is from the indymedia video report "Forest Ecology and Marcellus Development," available at shadbushcollective.org.
This story was produced by Jessica McPherson. To view the video version, visit shadbushcollective.org.
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You are listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's bi-weekly review of news overlooked by the corporate media. We turn now to other independent news from around the world.
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This piece was produced by Nigel Perry with a musical track "AntiSec" by Y.T. Cracker.
You're listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's bi-weekly review of news from the grassroots.
Today we bring you the first in a series of reports on the issue of juvenile life without parole sentencing. In Pennsylvania, life means life, and unless parole is specified during sentencing, someone who is sentenced to life in prison will never be released. A campaign is building from groups such as The Sentencing Project and the American Civil Liberties Union to end life without parole sentencing for juveniles. In most states, juveniles cannot be sentenced to life without parole unless they are convicted of first degree homicide. While this is indeed a heinous crime, many question whether life without parole is too harsh a sentence to impose on a person who is not fully adult. Others also raise questions about the role of racial and economic prejudices, and about whether crime victims and society at large even benefit from this practice. In this first part of the series we look at the issue from the perspective of those imprisoned and their families.
On March 10th, the American Civil Liberties Union held an event to raise awareness of the issue of juvenile life without parole and build participation in the campaign to end this practice. The event took place at the Northview Heights public housing community.
Akin Adepoju [PRONOUNCE: AAY – kin ah-dep-oh-ju], an attorney at the federal public defender’s office in Pennsylvania’s western district, described watching a 13 year old get processed into an adult prison:
Pennsylvania has over 450 people serving life without parole for crimes they committed as juveniles. This is more than any other state, and 20% of the nation’s total.
The Sentencing Project, a national group advocating for prison reform, published a report in March of 2012 based on surveys completed by about 70% of the nation’s juvenile lifers. It essentially found that for most of these kids, society failed to provide resources for them or even safeguard them from experiencing abusive harm long before they committed their crimes. The vast majority of them witnessed violence in their homes and neighborhoods; half of them, and a whopping 80% of girls, had been physically abused themselves. Most also had educational and economic disadvantages, and family members who were incarcerated.
The racial make up of juvenile lifers is hugely skewed in comparison to outside society. While African Americans make up 13% of the United States’ population, 60% of juvenile lifers are African American. The Sentencing Project report found that African Americans are sentenced to life without parole at far higher rates than whites, especially when the victim is white.
Deb Bailey spoke at the ACLU event, and her story demonstrates how racism and judicial failure pervade the criminal justice system at every stage. Her son was sentenced to life without parole at 15. Both parents have college degrees, and the family had a middle class economic situation. Her son had no prior criminal record, and they hired an expensive lawyer to defend his case. Nevertheless, the story she tells is marked by injustices that appear largely motivated by racial discrimination.
After his arrest, Bailey’s son was placed in Shuman Juvenile Detention Center.
According to Bailey, civil rights violations continued during the trial:
Attorney Eleanor Bush spoke to the impacts life without parole sentences can have on families and communities.
However, even though juvenile lifers often come from backgrounds of abuse, inadequate education, and poverty, and have not made the developmental transition to adulthood, they face an even bleaker environment than most prisoners do for personal development.
Continuing on with the theme of Juvenile Life Without Parole, the following segment is from an interview that was completed with Anita Colon (pronounce: cologne) with Rustbelt Radio volunteer Lizzie Anderson in the spring of 2008. Colon is an activist working against JLWOP and also the sister of Robert Saleem Holbrook, an activist who is serving this sentence and whose work we feature on the show semi-regularly. Colon answers questions about this sentence and why she and many others believe it is inhumane and unnecessary.
And now a piece written by Robert Saleem Holbrook who is incarcerated in SCI Coal Township for being found guilty of committing a crime as a 16 year old in Philadelphia. Holbrook was given the sentence of life without parole for being a lookout for a drug deal in which someone was murdered by an adult in the deal. The piece, which was written in December of 2011, is entitled “Crushed against the Law: A Personal Account of the Justice that is Blind,” and is read by Lizzie Anderson.
The background music was by Explosions in the Sky, with a song called The Only Moment We Were Alone.
On our next show, we will feature legal updates around Juvenile Life Without Parole.
This piece was produced by Jessica McPherson and Lizzie Anderson.
And now we present the Indymedia Calendar of Events:
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Thanks for tuning in to Rustbelt Radio here on WRCT Pittsburgh, WIUP Indiana, WNJR Washington, WLRI LanChester, and FRSC Santa Cruz.
Our hosts this week are [ Emily DeMarco ] and [ Jessica McPherson ] with contributions from [ Jessica McPherson, Lizzie Anderson, Nigel Perry and Robert Saleem Holbrook ]. This week's show was produced by Shawn Watson (and) Phill Cresswell. Special thanks to all of our hosts, producers, and contributors.
You can get involved with Rustbelt Radio! To contact us, email RADIO at I-N-D-Y-P-G-H dot ORG. Become our fan on Facebook to receive updates on our latest episode, and follow us on Twitter @pghimc. All of our shows are available on our website at RADIO dot INDY-P-G-H dot ORG and this show can be heard again Tuesday morning on WRCT at 9 AM after Democracy Now!
Tune in next week at this time for another edition of Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's bi-weekly review of news from the grassroots.