I have for a while wanted to put out a post prison letter. I would start one, even got one pretty close to done and then could not get it done. This lack of focus, restlessness, nightmares, and unpredictabliltiy has been called Post Tramatic Stress. I am not sure what it is but having read a dignostic manual defination from a book loaned me, it seems like it could be this. Anyhow, I am getting help. It is a humbling experience to sometimes not be able to put two thoughts together or to "loose it" and simply just cry for a while.
It seems impossible just two months at Carswell could provoke such strong experiences but when I think about my friends being there, in some cases for the rest of their lives, well, there is a depth of sadness I never in my life have felt before. The inhumane treatment of the guards comes up when I read the account of an article I am enclosing. It is hard to put into words but the helplessness, the feeling one gets that they are not really human in the eyes of those guards...it just gets to you. Even if you have a very high self esteem, you begin to feel less than and then start feeling as if you don't have any rights as a person.
I wanted to give some hopeful news. It seems that people have taken parts of those prison letters and presented them to their Senator. Well, she has asked for more information and is getting other Senators involved.
In another development, one friend from Carswell asked me for an immigration lawyer who works with the poor. Well, someone put me intouch with another person who was able to help find an organization in Ft. Worth!
I am absolutely certain peacemaking is a communal activity. Together people can achieve what they could not achieve alone. This is so true here. So if you want, I will continue to write with news from Carswell and related prison news. I am including a part of an e:mail from one of my friends in Carswell. She encourages us to support this early release Bill currently in committee. Please click on the link and write your congressperson in support. This gives so much hope to the women there that people care and are willing to write, call and advocate for them. It is all they have, really.
I did receive an e:mail from one woman, Ms Smith, who we call the DA of Carswell because she helps so many women with their appeals and 2255 forms. She wrote to me that an officer told a woman who had put some clothes in the washer on the "hot water" cycle to remove them or go to the SHU. She told the officer the water was too hot at that moment. The officer screamed at her to remove the clothes. The woman had third degree burn on her hands and had to be taken to the burn center. The officer bragged to the other women that she would not get into trouble. Well, the officer was "rotated" early from that unit. I am sure she not be in any kind of trouble but at least she was investigated.
I am so grateful for you support. It helps to know there are places on this earth where people are treated as people. It is my hope that bit by bit people will be able to "sow love where there is hatred...and where there is despair there will be light instead."
May peace fill our minds and love fill our hearts,
18 July 2007
BORDERLANDS: Everybody does not love Raymondville
by Haven Whiteside
[Note: People wishing to follow the progress of Christian Peacemaker Team's
Borderland's Witness drive may do so at
Everybody does not love Raymondville, a federal detention facility forty
miles north of the Mexican border, near Brownsville, Texas. Run by Management Training Corporation (MTC) of Utah, under contract with the Department of Homeland Security, it holds persons suspected of immigration violations of various kinds. Currently 2000 prisoners are awaiting processing there. The U.S. authorities have brought from all over the United States, so most of them are far away from family or any other support.
According to attorney Jodi Goodwin, who works with these immigrants,
processing can take from weeks to many months. The only inmates to receive legal advice are those with money to hire a private attorney, or lucky enough to find one pro bono.
Jay Johnson Castro, a border activist from Del Rio, Texas, calls Raymondville a "concentration camp." Elizabeth Garcia (CPT-Brownsville) and others have nicknamed it "RITMO," because they see it functioning in ways similar to the GITMO facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where prisoners from the U.S. "War on Terror" are held without due process and mistreated.
Some refer to Raymondville as "Tent City", because it consists of ten huge tents of Kevlar-like material, holding 200 people each. In the middle of each are the toilets, with no privacy. Food is inadequate and does not meet the nutritional needs of people from the many different countries and cultures there. Surrounding the facility are two 14-foot chain-link fences, with double coils of razor wire on top and in between.
Most of these prisoners are only accused of various immigration violations and are not required under the law to stay in detentions while being processed.
On Sunday morning, after Mass and breakfast at San Felipe de Jesus in
Brownsville, the CPT Borderlands Witness team headed to Raymondville for a vigil. We parked in the lot out front and got out our banner, saying "Close RITMO Now." To our surprise, we found no signs restricting our presence. But before long, two guards driving the perimeter road stopped and told us to go back. While walking towards the front, were able to show our banner to some young men in the yard inside. They gave us thumbs-up signs. The guards walked respectfully behind us, just making sure we kept going until we reached the front corner of the administrative building.
There they said we could hold our prayer vigil on the sidewalk, which we
proceeded to do for the next half hour. Later, apparently on word from
above, an officer directed us to the parking lot, where we continued our
vigil. The only audience was the guards. When invited, they declined to join us, but some appeared to be listening.
As the hour drew to an end, a county official came out with him and said the sheriff was on his way. Not sure of the implications, but apparently free to go, we packed up our banner, got in the car, and headed down the road before noontime, on a quiet Texas Sunday.
Here is a web site where you can support the bill advocating early release for non-violent prisoners over the age of 45:
Click on the email link to your own congressman, then write a brief statement of your support for the bill HR 261.