“Hunger Games” seems to be the hottest thing going on the entertainment scene. Therefore I propose my own “hunger games,” more specifically a hunger strike that I intend to commence in the near future. Included in the post is a link to a letter to Warden T. C. Outlaw, setting forth the reasons that I assign for an upcoming hunger strike.

I also propose a federal statute that will 1) cut the cost of corrections dramatically while simultaneously reducing recidivism, 2) eliminate overcrowding in federal prisons, 3) demonstrate how to control health care costs in the US, and 4) demonstrate the potential of providing positive motivations for maintaining good health.

Human health is determined by the sum of many decisions, most of which are controlled by the individual. Currently, most of the health incentives presented by government policies are perverse – which is why the taxpayer costs associated with health care are exploding. For example, persons who damage their health sufficiently, through bad personal choices affecting their health, qualify for Social Security disability. They get money for being sick, nothing at all for eliminating the root cause of the illness.

The statute would reverse the process. Prison inmates would be rewarded for improving their health, with good time, parole, and meaningful economic opportunities. The information gained from the process would be made available to researchers in a publicly accessible database.

Read more HERE…

I think you’re going to kill me. When I say “you,” I’m talking about my good friends – my good church friends that I liked to hang out with when I was “on the street.” It’s not personal. I offer this conclusion altogether without rancor, and readily concede that you have no conscious object to kill me. You’re still my friends just as much as you ever were. You just happen to be on an inexorable course to starve me to death. Therefore I will hunger strike – for a very small demand – and invite you to watch.

Don’t worry, watching a death struggle is a primal urge – the Romans drew huge crowds for their gladiatorial contests. “Hunger games” is the hottest thing going in the current entertainment scene. Teens fighting to the death for the entertainment of others have proven to be highly marketable.

At first glance such might seem incompatible with our modern religious society. It’s not – far from it. Jesus counseled love for enemies. We’ve grown quite comfortable killing them – even when they haven’t actually done anything to hurt or threaten us. By any accounting the death toll from our misadventures in Iraq over the past 2 decades reaches 6 figures. It is no co-incidence that Ron Paul’s condemnation of militarism gains the least traction in the “Bible Belt.” The death and destruction of war is not so very different from a movie. It’s far away and patriotic and – for some of us – quite profitable as well.

But the opposite result obtains when a person has been humanized and individualized. In the abstract, a child killed by economic sanctions or by war in Iraq is a statistic or “collateral damage.” But if we look into a specific Iraqi child’s eyes, learn their name, and comprehend their individuality, their hopes and dreams and fears – we recoil in horror at the idea that their life can be reduced to a number. Military planners in WW I found that most soldiers avoided killing enemy soldiers that they could see, even under enemy fire. Modern military forces understand that basic human psychology, and use psychological tactics to desensitize soldiers to the idea of killing another human being on command. That’s one of the reasons I want you to watch – your very observation increases my chances of survival.

You most certainly can and should watch. The US Department of Justice-Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) promulgates “Program Statements,” same being the basic rules governing the operation of federal prisons. The Program Statements obligate prison authorities to keep records of what happens during the hunger strike. This prison by practice offers Ensure (a liquid nutritional supplement) and watches to verify consumption. They monitor and record weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, and temperature at least daily. They draw blood periodically and test it – for what specifically I’m not sure. If Ensure is refused when blood sugar falls below a certain level, they will force feed using a nasogastric feeding tube, all dutifully recorded on video. They’ve already done that to me twice during previous hunger strikes. All these records are available to the public under the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) if the hunger striker agrees, which I certainly will.

Video can be posted to the web for public consumption. The remaining data is not worth a lot in its basic form. But when that data is used to display information graphically, it becomes orders of magnitude more useful, for the purpose of informing and persuading. A visual depiction of information can be absorbed by the human mind in a small fraction of the time required to comprehend the underlying raw data – critical in an age when attention spans on the internet are measured in seconds. A picture is worth a thousand words. A graph is a picture explained with words and numbers.

Warden T. C. Outlaw opposes this hunger strike for the simple reason that it conveys discontent with power and eloquence not possible with words alone. He’s asked me to state my reasons for threatening a hunger strike. I’ve done that in a LETTER [See at end of post] outlining his tactics against hunger strikers – dehydration being a favorite – and demanding assurances that such will not be repeated. If he refuses – and I think he will – I will hunger strike for the purpose of establishing the rights of prison inmates who hunger strike.

You’re probably convinced that the US government is humane and civilized and would never starve anyone to death. However, let me most humbly and gently remind you that Allied military leaders took local Germans to view the piles of corpses, precisely because the average German had that same faith in their own government. The Allied military leadership wished to demonstrate graphically – for the postwar German populace as well as future generations – how tragically misplaced that faith turned out to be.

To lay the foundation for the argument, consider the government spending in this country at two points in time, one hundred years apart, treating spending as pennies per dollar of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). A century ago the US had a 92 cent private economy supporting 8 cents worth of government – at every level. Federal spending was less than 3 cents total. National defense in peacetime constituted about 1/3 of federal spending – generally a penny or less of GDP. State and local government combined- which included most primary and secondary education – cost 5 cents. Under this laissez faire governmental regime, the nation mushroomed from a colonial backwater to the undisputed industrial leader of the world, in no more than 130 years, despite missteps including a destructive and bloody civil war in the middle of that time period.

Laissez faire economic and social policies coupled with a minimalist military establishment fueled the boom, the greatest expansion of human wealth and economic security in the history of mankind. We weren’t perfect by any means, nor were we the only ones to discover the power of liberty. During a Golden Era epitomized by the half-century 1825-1875, Britain held government spending, at all levels, to 12-13% of GDP. This feat – exemplary by any modern standards – is made all the more remarkable by the fact that Britain ruled the waves for the entire period.

As Britain trended away from laissez faire economic policies, its economic rank relative to the rest of the world relentlessly receded. The US followed the trend away from a laissez faire governmental structure, but not in large degree before the US dollar was established as the reserve currency of the world. After US currency had established complete dominance, the promises to pay gold coin embodied thereby were repudiated, and prohibited for about 40 years. Worse yet, no major economy operated on a gold standard, which might form the basis for protection against theft by inflation.

Lies by their very nature conflict with the truth. Fiat money – usually made of paper – is inherently dishonest. Gold and other commodity money of honest weight and fineness is the truth. That’s why corrupt governments hate and persecute the use of gold and silver as money – it exposes and competes with their lies. But paper money doesn’t create wealth; it only enables unscrupulous political leaders to redistribute wealth.

Federal spending can be roughly allocated as follows: 6 cents for military, 6 cents for medical services (mostly giveaways but partly employee compensation), 6 cents for social security, and 6 cents for everything else. Precision isn’t necessary or even particularly helpful to the discussion. Note that each of the four categories now consume about double the GDP share claimed by the entire federal government a century ago. That’s an 8 fold increase in the federal government’s share of the GDP pie.

Federal revenue can be roughly allocated as follows: 6 cents from federal individual income tax, 6 cents from Social Security/Payroll taxes, and 3 cents – what the federal government spent in total a century ago – from everything else. If that doesn’t look right to you – be my guest, slice it your way. The fact remains that the federal government in round numbers collects 15% of GDP in taxes and spends 25% of GDP. The aforementioned tax revenues are supplemented by “borrowing” of nearly 10% of GDP – a staggering sum that exceeds the annual GDP of all but the 10-12 richest nations of the world.

Extracting 40 cents from a 60 cent private economy is impossible in the long term. That’s why such massive borrowing is necessary. But bond purchasers don’t buy pretty pieces of paper, at least not intentionally. They buy future cash flows equal to the principal lent plus interest. If there is no future source of money for the promised payments, bondholders scramble, which results in a crash of the value of the bonds. The only floor is complete worthlessness. This scenario has played itself out many times in history.

With this in mind consider what federal revenues might secure the payment of bonded indebtedness. The 6 cents for Social Security cannot constitute security for a loan in the mind of the simplest investor. Social Security money goes in and out of the Treasury. In fact Social Security doesn’t pay for itself anymore – it requires a constant stream of cash from the general fund to pay promised benefits.

The 3 cents derived from “everything else” was needed for the federal government even 100 years ago. No investor of any sophistication wants the government that owes them money to simply walk away from core responsibilities – basic defense, foreign relations, justice, etc.

This leaves 6 cents – perhaps 2 or 3 more in a flush year – from the income tax. But the federal government borrows close to 10% of GDP, an amount generally equal to or exceeding individual income tax receipts. Most of that is no longer derived from borrowing in the normal sense of the word. In 2011 the Federal Reserve “bought” over 60% of federal bonded indebtedness sold. Since the Federal Reserve created this “money” out of thin air, “buying” these obligations is printing money, neither more nor less.

Thus the day to day solvency of the federal government depends upon the ability to 1) print vast amounts of paper or electronic “money” 2) borrow in financial markets, 3) maintain confidence in depreciating currency, and 4) keep real interest rates at roughly zero. The publicly held debt will soon equal annual GDP. A 10% average interest rate on treasury obligations – hardly unreasonable in light of past history – would consume more than the entire income tax generates, to pay interest on the debt alone. Under such a scenario, governmental bankruptcy and financial disaster cannot be far away. But it is utterly irrational to believe that investors will tolerate negative after tax real returns forever.

Thus the income tax is not mission critical in the ordinary sense of a source of operating revenue – that’s not even the point of it, at least at the present time. The income tax – along with a fiat currency – provides the foundation for the ability of governments to borrow vast sums. If the income tax collapses, even the dumbest investor will be able to see that federal treasury obligations are a Ponzi scheme – founded on the same principles as Bernie Madoff’s scheme, and destined to the same fate.

Social Security suffers from the same defect. It’s a Ponzi scheme, dependent on payments from new “investors” to pay off old “investors.” Rational workers pay the tax not because it makes any economic sense, but rather because of extortionate collection tactics, and the threat of prison. Even so, Social Security now depends upon routine infusions of money borrowed from the general fund of the US Treasury, to avoid immediate default. This is not to criticize any Social Security recipient. Indeed, a Ponzi scheme is only exposed for what it is when enough people show up to demand their promised benefits. Rather, this is quite simply a statement of sobering facts that can be deduced from reading mainstream newspapers for any length of time.

Without income and Social Security and related wage withholding taxes, the federal government collects about 3 cents of GDP. That’s enough for a legitimate government, but only about 1/8 of the amount demanded by the welfare/warfare/police state that currently exists in Washington, DC.

If I win my case, the federal income tax is exposed for what it really is – a complete and utter fraud. The whole oppressive house of cards comes crashing down – overnight. That’s why the Department of Justice-Federal Bureau of Prisons, (BOP) has refused to allow me to have possession of so much as the official docket items in the district court proceedings. I haven’t seen a copy of the indictment for nearly 2 years, despite the fact that Supreme Court caselaw prohibits prison authorities from interfering in any way with my possession and use of my own property, for legal purposes. I cannot sue, because the BOP has used their farcical “administrative remedies” to stall and delay my claim for access to legal papers and my other property necessary for reasonable access to the courts. I filed a motion to Judge Friot asking for my right of legal access – he refused to consider it.

I repeatedly asked the 10th Circuit to enforce my right of reasonable access to the courts – they refused each time. Instead they demanded that I prepare a brief from memory, without access to the relevant legal authorities, and without other basics necessary to prosecute an appeal. I refused to lend respectability to any such judicial fraud. The 10th Circuit thereupon, over my vociferous objection, construed my adoption of Springer’s pleadings as a brief; even though my adoption pleadings expressly disclaimed that status, and didn’t even pretend to contain the required elements of an opening brief.

The 10th Circuit decision panel summarily affirmed my conviction without an appeal brief. On petition for rehearing en banc not one judge was willing to condemn this flagrant denial of due process. I attempted to file a motion to US Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor, asking for an order prohibiting the BOP from interfering with the use of my own property for the preparation of a petition for certiorari to the US Supreme Court. A deputy clerk sent a letter saying that the motion wouldn’t be filed, implying various reasons but not relying on any specific reason.

Thus we see that the courts at every level from the trial court to the US Supreme Court have demonstrated a total lack of faith in the convictions of Stilley and Springer. If they don’t have faith in these convictions, why should you?

Imprisoning political dissidents is essential to keeping the river of federal money flowing, but that’s no way at all out of our financial straits. In fact it does nothing but gets us deeper into trouble, and makes recovery that much longer and harder. None of the judges and prosecutors who cheated us out of due process are so self deluded as to think they provided a permanent remedy. They are simply buying time. Functionally it is equivalent of a heroin junkie, knowing that “effective dose” and “lethal dose” are very soon to be one and the same, with trembling hands injecting another shot of heroin, and falling into a fitful stupor.

A financial and human holocaust looms large on the horizon. The consequences of similar financial recklessness in the past have been bloody indeed. The French Revolution was precipitated at least in part by deficit spending for a large standing army in peacetime. Hitler was originally a marginal politician garnering perhaps 2-3% of the vote. His popularity and rise to power was predicated at least in part upon the hardships occasioned by hyperinflation of the German mark following WW I. The end game was WW II, one of the bloodiest episodes in human history. Despite the carnage wrought directly by the war, many historians conclude that starvation caused more deaths than actual combat.

Consider these sobering statistics. The US has 5% of the world population and 25% of the world’s prisoners. In other words, we incarcerate at 5 times the world average. In the early years of the republic, the opposite was the case – we incarcerated at rates far below those that prevailed in Europe. The US had achieved rough parity with the civilized world by 1980. The run-up in incarceration rates started in earnest in the early 1980s – partly but by no means entirely the poisonous fruit of the “Great Society” programs of the 1960s.

The “Great Society” devastated those it purported to help – the poor and minorities – more than anyone else. In the 1960s black leaders expressed alarm because black illegitimacy rates were 25% for blacks versus 3% for whites. Today it’s 73% for blacks and 29% for whites – a social holocaust before our very eyes. The same phenomenon – social devastation wrought by misguided attempts to “help” disadvantaged groups – exhibits itself on Indian reservations in the form of economic dependency, alcoholism, and despair. Humans simply aren’t designed to live without goals and work. Yet nearly half of all US Americans depend on the government for all or a substantial part of their sustenance. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

“Jim Crow” is alive and well in the prison/industrial complex. In the state of Iowa, more than a third of all adult black males have lost their right to vote as a result of a criminal conviction. One in nine – well over 10% – of black males in the US age 20-34 are incarcerated. Time Magazine 10-31-11 p. 92. Blacks and other minorities are much more likely to go to prison than whites, and are sentenced to markedly harsher sentences based on similar facts.

There are about 2.3 million persons in jail or prison in the US at any given time, at a taxpayer cost of some $70 billion. The children of incarcerated persons are much more likely to offend than the general population. Thus the $70 billion taxpayer cost represents just part of the damage done.

From 1950 to present, health care costs have increased from 3% of GDP to 18% of GDP. About 60-80% of these costs could be avoided by a healthy diet and healthy lifestyle. Close to half of all medical costs are paid by the government at one level or another. Prisoners are plagued by the same problems that are devastating the populace in general. Huge taxpayer savings could be achieved if inmates were given the tools and motivation to improve their health.

Federal prisons provide taxpayers exactly the opposite of that which is promised. I heard Warden T.C. Outlaw from his own mouth say that 70% of us would come back to prison. Formal education in this prison is a farce and a taxpayer rip-off. Informal education is obstructed and discouraged. The goal of health care is nothing more than 1) making sure most of us don’t leave here feet first in a manner that would embarrass the prison, and 2) dumping as many medical and dental problems as possible on somebody else. Seriously, why do we bother with a “corrections” system that produces such uniformly horrendous results?

Virtually no competent correctional system produces a recidivism rate much over 20%. Protestations to the contrary – saying that bad behavior simply cannot be corrected – are the refuge of the corrupt and incompetent. There are many well documented examples of recidivism rates from single digits to the low twenties. Indeed, in their hypocritical “Doing the Right Thing” morals class we were shown films about such high achieving programs – but then stiff armed when we asked for the most basic tools to help reduce recidivism.

Corrections at little or no taxpayer cost are not without precedent. Arkansas did it a half century ago, although the system included abuses and inefficiencies that should not be repeated. The Law of Moses created cities of refuge that functioned as temporary internal exile for what we would probably call involuntary manslaughter, at little if any cost to society at large. It also harmed families much less than modern jails and prisons.

The difference between an 8 cent government and a 40 cent government can be traced almost entirely to the following fallacies: 1) a “strong military” – expending more than 1% of GDP – makes us safer; 2) individuals don’t have an obligation to provide materially for their own children and their elderly parents – both childhood education and elder care should be socialized; 3) the government can improve the lives of the citizens by printing money to subsidize favored individuals or endeavors, 4) the government – not individuals – should be primarily responsible for health care.

This situation has come about because “conservatives” support the warfare/security state while “liberals” support the welfare state. Most of the federal pie has been divided along these artificial ideological lines, and each side fights for its share of the loot.

We ought to either accept both or reject both. The “strong military” doctrine has inflicted incalculable damage upon national security in at least two ways. First it makes enemies, an indispensable prerequisite of war. Second, it injures our financial and industrial base, key to deterrence of foreign aggression, and also key to success if a protracted military struggle becomes unavoidable. Can we not see the folly of becoming dependent upon other nations – China for example – for borrowed money to fight a war that such lenders might justifiably resent and oppose?

The welfare state and the warfare state are branches of one poisonous tree – the love of government sponsored security over personal liberty. Each branch delivers exactly the opposite of the promised benefits.

The federal deficit could be eliminated entirely by the following two policy changes. One, cut military spending to the historic norm of 1% of GDP, or less. That saves about 5 cents on the GDP dollar. Two, reduce the 8 or 9 cents of GDP devoted to government financed health care down to the 2-3 cents that’s necessary – whether or not publicly funded – even when individuals carefully protect their health. That saves at least 5 cents on the GDP dollar, about 3/4 of which is federally funded. The value of those two changes approximates the current nominal federal deficit.

The captive population of a federal prison is the perfect place to show how much health can be improved, and health care costs reduced, by the proper opportunity and motivation. Opportunity requires healthy food, exercise equipment, and health monitoring capabilities. There is no greater motivation to the average prisoner than the chance for more good time, parole, and meaningful economic opportunities.

Those are precisely the opportunities and motivators outlined in this proposed federal STATUTE [See at end of post]. It is based on a simple but profound premise. Incarcerated persons should be provided a meaningful chance to learn, exercise, and most critically, demonstrate personal responsibility. This statute challenges convicted persons to lose excess weight, get in good physical condition, and get blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride readings to reasonable levels – by healthy diet and lifestyle choices, not by expensive pharmaceutical drugs that mask problems and bring bad side effects. The public will get the information derived from this project in a publicly accessible database.

The rewards authorized by the statute include opportunities to earn money, along with “good time” and parole opportunities approximating those available to state prisoners. However, in order to qualify for parole, the inmate would also have to 1) demonstrate the ability and willingness to support themselves, children in their custody, and any aged parent not capable of providing their own support, and 2) save 30% of their net earnings. The restoration of their civil rights, under terms that enhance rather than detract from public safety, is also authorized.

This is not impossible. The Chinese have a 30% savings rate despite an official per capita income little more than 1/8 of ours. The Chinese people diligently save and invest even when their income barely exceeds the most basic subsistence. Why can’t federal prisoners learn to live on 70% of a much larger earning capacity, and yet provide clothing, housing, education and medical care for their children and dependent parents?

Consider that I am now deemed entitled to 1) perhaps 22 square feet of personal living space, in a room that wasn’t designed to house anyone; 2) a 15 cubic foot locker that is arbitrarily raided and ransacked whenever the guards feel like it; 3) a daily budget for foodstuffs of $2.90, 3) an annual allotment of 3 white T-shirts, 3 boxer shorts, 3 pairs of socks, and 36 small bars of cheap soap. It doesn’t take much to provide a federal prisoner with a serious upgrade in living standards.

Don’t think that the powerbrokers of the BOP will be an ally in this venture. This plan interferes with the orgy of graft and corruption that “liberates” well over $100 million dollars from taxpayer wallets, at this prison complex alone. This plan also exposes the BOP’s fraud and incompetence to public view. Expecting them to approve of this is equivalent to expecting a Chicago gangster to be delighted when his “customers” inform him that they have found another way to “protect” their businesses.

If you can’t or won’t do this now, how will you keep me alive when the federal government loses the power to live beyond its means? We’re prisoners – the bottom of the social heap. Will you keep us alive after a collapse of the currency, when the federal budget is no larger than half the current amount? History militates against it.

It is no answer to say that in such economic straits prisoners will be released en masse. Do you really want inmates who have been warehoused, abused, and provoked for years, even decades, to be dumped on the street, dead broke, with no honest livelihood? That’s insanity. Yet if we refuse to see the evil and prepare against it, those will be the stark choices – starvation of prisoners, or a chaotic and unplanned mass release.

You can see from my letter to Warden Outlaw that his practices are targeted toward breaking hunger strikes by unlawful means such as dehydration and hypothermia. Dehydration can cause sudden death or disability, unrelated to actual starvation. The BOP uses these tactics only because it thinks that the public either isn’t looking or doesn’t care about the life of an inmate, one way or another.

If a senseless death is my lot in life, tell me now. If not, make Warden Outlaw, the BOP, and your legislators aware that the political price of killing or disabling me is more than they can afford. Success in this endeavor requires a division of labor. It’s my job to hold out until the BOP blinks. It’s your job, not mine – and I say this with the utmost humility and respect – to make sure that this confrontation doesn’t cost me life or permanent injury. That’s not an unreasonable request – mostly it involves peacefully petitioning your own elected leaders, and encouraging others to do the same.

I make no secret of the fact that I want the implementation of the proposed law, but that is not the specific demand of the hunger strike. In any contest of wills against a vastly more powerful foe, the likelihood of success is dependent not only on the force applied, but also upon the size of the demand balanced against it. For this reason this particular hunger strike is predicated upon a tiny demand – that this prison demonstrate actual compliance with BOP Program Statements respecting hunger strikers. Think of this as a flywheel. Once a flywheel begins to move, however slightly, the addition of momentum is not so difficult.

Before you criticize me for first picking a fight with the federal prison workers union and then asking for your help, look at the numbers. The BOP has 36,000 employees – by no means are all of whom enemies. Some of them will be our allies. But their labor union – the American Federation of Government Employees, Council of Prison Locals – protects ghost employees, featherbedding, corruption, and incompetence.

The Southern Baptist Convention – organizational head of the churches that I usually frequented – has about 17 million members. Jesus said He was Truth and said that He would send us the Spirit of Truth to guide us. Logically, who ought to win this fight?

The welcome of the faithful into the kingdom of heaven included the words “…I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Explaining further Jesus said “whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.” Concerning those consigned to eternal destruction Jesus said “…I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.” Matthew 25:31-46 (NIV)

The gospels make it clear that divine forgiveness is contingent on forgiveness of other people. I’m asking you to forgive my Negro friend serving a 20 year mandatory minimum sentence for just over 2 ounces of crack cocaine – a sentence enhanced based on a prior conviction that was never actually entered of record in state court. I’m asking you to forgive the prisoner who pleaded guilty in exchange for a 10 year sentence, because the government lawyer threatened him with a life sentence if he persisted in his demand for a trial.

If you’re willing to forgive some offenders but not others, think about who Jesus forgave. He 1) told the woman taken in adultery – a capital offense under Moses’ law – “neither do I condemn you; go now and leave your life of sin” 2) told the penitent robber crucified with him – who had verbally abused him earlier in the day – “…today you will be with me in paradise,” 3) told the religious scholar who correctly identified the two greatest commandment that “You are not far from the kingdom of God,” and 4) let the rich young ruler – hands down the most likeable, and the only one of the four Jesus is specifically said to have loved – walk away sorrowfully, empty handed. Mark 10:21

I read various newspapers, which gives me a finger on the pulse of society. On the one hand I see the societal bitterness, hatred and prejudice against persons convicted of crime – of any kind. Witness the angry outcry against the governor of Mississippi because he pardoned some convicts, including many who had long since completed their sentences. Little mention was made of their efforts at penance, reform, and self improvement. Politicians quite reasonably avoid acts that are politically expensive.

On the other hand there are many good hearted people in this country who recognize that most of us will eventually rejoin society, and that rational self interest militates in favor of giving prisoners a chance to succeed upon release. I’m speaking to you, hoping you’ll persuade others of the merits of your position. Great social changes – whether good or bad – are often wrought not by the majority, but by a tireless minority keen to set brushfires in the minds of the people.

The tools of social change have never been better. Bank of America quickly backed down from a $5 per month charge on certain accountholders, when hundreds of thousands of customers expressed their opposition by an online petition, even though it had no binding force whatsoever. A proposed law called “Stop Online Piracy Now” (SOPA) went down in flames, and quickly, when the public rose up in arms using among other things social media. SOPA was backed by wealthy and politically powerful interests. Say what you will, but Congress is in fact highly responsive to public opinion decisively expressed.

After the rich young ruler walked away, Jesus told his disciples that those who left houses, lands, family, etc, for his sake would receive a hundred fold reward in this life (with persecutions, don’t forget that) along with eternal life. Jesus promised to keep accurate score – His reward, even for such a small thing as “a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple,” will not be lost. Matt. 10:42

The forgiveness that I seek on behalf of my fellows isn’t free – it comes at a substantial price measured in self discipline, hard work, and thrift. The value received by you in exchange, in immediate financial and societal benefits, is more than sufficient to warrant your support. But the dividends of your kindness and mercy to us will continue for generations to come. The benefit of cutting a 70% recidivism rate to a reasonable level cannot be measured in dollars alone.

The curse of a corrupt prison system that exists for no reason other than gratuitous cruelty and dishonest gain can be broken. You – the taxpayers who elected the members of Congress and tasked them with supervision of the public purse – hold the keys. Your elected representatives are not called “public servants” for nothing. As the master of your public servants, you have both the legal right and the moral duty to ensure that their job is performed in a reasonably competent manner. As the German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer said:

Silence in the face of evil is itself evil:
God will not hold us guiltless.
Not to speak is to speak.
Not to act is to act.

I’ve given Warden Outlaw until Tuesday, May 1, 2012 to decide how he’ll respond to my demands for humane treatment of hunger strikers in his custody. If he refuses, I will at a time of my own choosing commence a hunger strike. If you’ll watch, I’ll keep you posted on progress, and also on opportunities to help.

Letter to Outlaw Warden-041612

Prison Reform Act of 2012