SOLIDARITY STAMP DRIVE 2017
Dear Justice Now Supporter,
My name is Lynn Noyes, better known as Optimus Prime. I’m currently incarcerated, stuck in a broken system that’s sexist, racist, and dehumanizing in every possible way. It is designed to be oppressive. In my heart, I’m an abolitionist, advocate and a speaker. In traditional cultures, I would be a firestarter. I love being of service to others. I have the radar for finding the one person who feels like they’re alone in a room full of people; I will go to them and encourage them to step up and heal. Justice Now helped me realize that I can either be part of the problem and say nothing, or I can be part of the solution and use the voice that I have now to say something.
Today, I am using my voice to ask for your support with Justice Now’s 9th Annual Solidarity Stamp Drive. The Solidarity Stamp Drive is a powerful collaboration across prison walls and follows Justice Now's tradition of partnering with people in women's prisons to change, and eventually to abolish, the prison system. Those of us on the inside oppose the harms of prison we experience daily by donating unused stamps to support Justice Now’s work. Those on the outside can act in solidarity with us by matching our donations in cash. Donating and advocating for the Stamp Drive comes full circle.
The level of abuse that goes on daily behind these walls is in no way rehabilitative, and no human being should have to endure it. We’re human beings having a human experience, and there currently isn’t any responsibility or accountability from any level of staff with the way that power is abused in here. I wouldn’t have guessed in a million years that I would have ended up in prison for anything, and it’s shocking. I think of the things that I’ve seen on TV; when Abu Ghraib prison was in the news, the world was in shock about what was happening to the prisoners over there. This happens in prisons in the United States every day. It happens in here. It happens all the time. Nobody’s exempt from coming here, especially with the political climate today of mass incarceration.
Justice Now carries the voices of the people who have been silenced by incarceration to say that this is happening. It has been really critical for me to have the support network that I found with Justice Now. Organizations like Justice Now help to remind me that what I say does matter. I’m somebody’s loved one. We’re all somebody’s loved one. Justice Now recognizes this and takes on the role of advocating and pushing forth successes for all of us inside. I want people to know that this is absolutely vital work if you want to save lives.
In the past year, Justice Now has had the following exciting successes:
Justice Now continues to strengthen coalitional relationships with other anti-prison and advocacy organizations on a variety of campaigns. We have joined forces with Decarcerate Alameda County Coalition to fight the planned Santa Rita jail expansion, which proposes to build a new 30,000 sq.ft. mental health unit allocating $54 million from SB863. Together with Justice Reinvestment Coalition, The Praxis Project and All of Us or None, we are strategically finding ways to track Prop 47 savings and propose alternatives that support black and brown women and girls. Additionally, we work as part of a Trans Advocacy Coalition to combat discrimination and coordinate direct service efforts for trans and gender nonconforming people inside.
Justice Now organizers and allies pushed forward with the process of developing a necessary and vital reentry project at Justice Now. So far, we have conducted multiple interviews with people who have gone through a variety of reentry programs and processes, and continuously see patterns of violence and abuse within these processes.
Justice Now continues to partner with terminally ill people in prison and their family members in fighting for compassionate release from prison. Justice Now also provides support to people in prison and their loved ones in ensuring that people inside with urgent medical concerns receive appropriate care.
Justice Now’s inspirational and dedicated intern cohorts have been an integral part of Justice Now for many years, and none of our work would be possible without them. Many of our interns come from communities that carry histories of resistance, pushing forth Justice Now’s principle of having impacted people lead our organizing efforts.
Justice Now’s Fellowship program is designed as a 6-month stipended position for previously incarcerated organizers. We are currently strengthening the program by collaborating with allied organizations and directly impacted people who can provide the knowledge and resources needed to maximize the support offered to Fellows. We have already begun interviewing for our next Fellow.
With your help during this year’s Solidarity Stamp Drive, we can continue the mobilization for political change. Let us continue to stand together.
All of Justice Now’s work is only possible with the knowledge & support that inside organizers share, and through constantly strengthening coalitional relationships over the prison walls. Those on the outside can act in solidarity with us by matching (or doubling!) our stamp donations in cash. We welcome any gift or contribution that you feel that you can make, or any support you can give.
Change has to happen and it can start one person at a time. Whether it’s from the inside out or the outside in, it’s a full circle partnership, and I think that’s essential. Since California is one of the places becoming a prison state, now is a really good time to stand up and do something. Right now I don’t see things getting better, I see them getting worse. Raising our voices collectively is so important, or we all could be here for the tiniest little thing. Anybody, anywhere, any community, regardless of socioeconomic status, can make a difference. It just takes people helping people.
Lynn Noyes (Optimus Prime)