From the August 2003 Idaho Observer:

The Auschwitz Factor

“The hope of liberty and of opportunity is the only incentive to life, especially the prisoner's life. Society has sinned so long against him [the prisoner] it ought at least to leave him that ... until the conditions that breed both the prisoner and the jailer will be forever abolished.” ~Emma Goldman, from Prisons: A Social Crime and Failure, 1911

by Reginald S. Lewis

You don't have to be a good patriotic American to reject the notion that fascistic forces are presently operating within the hegemony of this so-called free democracy. For the independent thinker, the evidence abounds. You don't even have to travel beyond your own state to find it. Gaze longingly into the seedy underbelly of the industrialized prison gulag where you live -- not at all dissimilar to the militarized zones in old Iron Curtain countries, oppressive concentration camps, where cold-eyed men in crisp dark uniforms, thick black boots, stubby crew cuts, poised in gun turrets or escorting scowling German Shephard guard dogs who patrol the perimeter encased in endless islands of glistening razor wire.

Come closer. Look harder. HARDER!

The scene is a crude reflection from another wartime, another brutal regime -- and in another country.

In order to justify the ghettocized criminalization and mass round up of a particular segment of society -- involves the gradual stripping away of all humanness, the cloak of civility and decency, denuded by the powerful corporate lap dog media's dissemination of vicious propaganda campaigns designed to ignite the passions of lawmakers, judges and juries indoctrinated with a predisposition as to the guilt of poor blacks, Latinos and whites.

Their tacit nod of approval makes them agents in a secret covert action targeting “those people,” them, “the vermin,” captured, corralled, like cattle, and transported far away -- somewhere never to be seen or heard from again.

In the last 10 years or more, state and federal inmates have been dehumanized by a conservative politician-driven agenda fueling the gradual return to the shrewd Alcatraz mindset. War is declared upon the evolution of the mind and spirit trapped in these control units. Law libraries are being shut down. Educational grants and student loans once readily available to inmates were completely cut by Congress. In many states, funding for free legal aid centers were obliterated to dust.

And this mistreatment of prisoners is being sanctioned by a plurality of Americans who believe these cruel measures are necessary to protect society from “those animals” -- even at taxpayer expense, as long as you keep them hidden and out-of-sight. The consensus is: “They'll never come for me.”

The Final Solution

In the present political climate of the so-called “War on Terrorism,” a hypnotic fear of the middle eastern bogeyman is spiraling out of control among the masses. A flurry of anti-terrorism bills usurp the protections of the American Constitution.

We've all heard of the USA/Patriot Act, or HR 3162, which contains multiple layers and sections that should shock and outrage American citizens. The feds can enter your home under the provision -- without you being there -- no warrant needed, plant evidence -- and introduce the same tainted evidence against you at your trial, where you will not receive due process, access to an attorney or witnesses.

At this point, your websites are being monitored, someone is reading your emails and listening to your telephone calls. And this all can come about by someone simply telling any federal magistrate, “Uh, we suspect so-and-so of this or that.”

Now think about the little old ladies protesting outside of federal buildings; left-wing publications; radical bookstores; non-profit charitable organizations raising money for unpopular causes.

Now read HR 3162. And read it again.


Reginald Sinclair Lewis is a widely-published African-American poet, essayist and playwright on Pennsylvania's Death Row. He has garnered numerous awards for his writing including three PEN American Center writing awards for Prisoners. Two of his plays for children have been professionally produced on stage. On Death Row for over 20 years, he was in San Diego during the time a 250 lb. man was stabbed to death inside a seedy drug bar in Philadelphia. On the day he was arrested, the Philadelphia police seized Reggie's black briefcase, containing jewelry, bus tickets stubs and other papers proving he had been in California -- but his legal papers disappeared. His incompetent court-appointed attorney failed to put on a proper defense. The lawyer pocketed money the family had raised for plane tickets for witnesses -- and he was tried and convicted by an illegal, all-white jury in an unjust trial presided over by the notoriously corrupt Philadelphia Judge Albert F. Sabo.

One of the most eloquent voices coming out of “Shadow America,” he has published two books of poetry, Leaving Death Row, and Inside My Head, which was voted among “The Top 15 Books of 2002.”

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