SPARC Prisoner Stories Project: Artist Showcase & Silent Auction
The state of Virginia is home to two of the most brutal prisons in the country -Red Onion & Wallens Ridge State Prisons. Located in the middle of coal mine country. Both created through the destruction of the environment and of course, the surrounding communities. Having spent over 14 years in captivity — six of which were spent between these two institutions — I can say that the daily living conditions inside these human warehouses are hell, to say the least. Men are tortured in these places every single day — enduring 5 point restraints, having their bones broken, being bitten by dogs, being held in solitary confinement indefinitely, being denied adequate medical care, being forced to work for less than a dollar a day, being denied visits due to the distance between the prisons and the communities where 99.9% of the prisoners previously resided. This means that the majority of the men *never* receive a visit during their time there – which was also the case for me. The Rideshare Program, which SPARC has had going on for almost a year now, is helping to bridge that gap between prisoners and their families, friends and communities. Four trips have taken place so far. All were successes. However, not being a non-profit, thus not having access to the coffers of the of the very corporations which are responsible for much of the suffering, SPARC survives through the love and strength of the community. The resources which exist amongst the people. All of those who have ever lost a son or daughter (or both) to a system that runs off human blood and suffering. All of those who have ever been sentenced to 1, 5, 20 years or live without mama and daddy (or both). All of the folks who have ever endured the nightmare of existence within a concrete box – those who survived as well as those who perished within the beast. All of the soldiers who have fought to keep the issue in the forefront of societies mind – while seeking to gain a few concessions along the way. And, most of all, all the brothers and sisters who are still living behind enemy lines. It’s these brave souls that endure the horror with a tenacity that folks living in minimum security (us out here) could never truly understand. It’s these folks that I gather my greatest level of inspiration from.