Podcast Episode 3: Pagans & Prisons
“Prisons are designed to be oppressive, and they’re designed to crush the spirit. If there is a way we can go in there and foster spirit to grow, what a powerful, powerful thing that is.”
“I remember the very first time I went into the prison. You go through the front gate which is all barbed wire, which is weird. Then you go through these series of portals, of gates that make these gigantic clanging noises when they lock, it’s really just totally unsettling. By the time you finally get out into the population you’re completely unnerved already.
But then I got out into the main yard, a little nervous of course, and I start looking around. I’m looking at all these guys, looking them in the face, in the eyes. I realized, these are just a bunch of Mainers. These are the guys I grew up with. They’re just people who screwed up, and most of them should not be prison. The fear immediately disappeared.”
“This is the power of the state elevated to godhood.”
“We’re number one in prisoners.
By every measure the U.S. leads the world in prisoners, with 2.2 million people in jail and more than 4.8 million on parole. No nation tops that – not China with 1.7 million, not Russia with 670,000. We not only have the highest number of prisoners, we have the highest percentage of people in prison or jail. In the U.S., 702 of every 100,000 people were in prison or jail in 2013. Cuba has 510 per 100,000 people in prison, Russia has 467, and Iran has 290.
Black and Latino Americans have been especially hard hit: they form over 39 percent of the prison population. One in every three black men is expected to serve time during their lives (at least under our current criminal justice system). Approximately half of all inmates are there for violating drug prohibition laws.
How is it that America, supposedly the beacon of freedom and democracy for the rest of the world, has more prisoners than any police state?”
— Les Leopold, Runaway Inequality: An Activist’s Guide to Economic Justice
“If you don’t want to reach out to somebody in prison, work on building the pagan community…. period.”
Thanks to Alban Artur, Kevin Emmons, and Janine Marie for their insights and experiences. Thanks to Dr. Bones for the rant. Thanks to the Order Of Maine Druidry for playing the community drum and holding space. Thanks to the weather gods for the rain transitioning into snow. Background music and rhythm programming by James Lindenschmidt.
Want to tell your story?
I am actively looking for folks to tell their stories, sing their songs, or contribute other chants & rants for future episodes. If you have an idea you’d like to contribute, please contact me.