One Prisoner! One Vote! Update

Anaviel Rakemeyahu

prison20 Because of an overwhelming amount of prisoners getting the word out about the Wednesday August 20, 2008 hearing on HB-4154 (Elderly Sentencing Adjustment), that took place at Chicago’s Thompson Center, there was an overflow crowd in attendance.

Bill Ryan credits this to the large amount of incarcerated men and women that filled out and returned their One Prisoner, One Vote registration forms. These forms were compiled into our database located at the Stateville Speaks headquarters.

So far, we have received over 200 names of people that are willing to support our cause, which includes registering as proxy voters for disenfranchised prisoners. This is a great start, but we need many more.

One Prisoner! One Vote! Is the first prisoner political movement of its kind that is working to empower the many disenfranchised incarcerated men and women throughout Illinois prison system.

Simply put, politics is power. Who gets it, when, where, why and how. Everyday in prisons across Illinois decisions are made for us. What to eat, when to eat. How to walk, how to talk. Even when to use the washroom. Prisoners have virtually no control or power over their existence.

What better way to galvanize and motivate prisoners than the aspiration and promise of obtaining political power? Everyone should control their own destiny and political power is what prisoners need and it’s the only power that lawmakers respect. Prisoners are often left out of the decision making while these men and women must face daily.

The more that I understand politics, and its relationship to our plight, the more I see that a political movement for and by disenfranchised incarcerated men and women is not only necessary, but is of extreme urgency!

The core belief and mantra of One Prisoner! One Vote! Is to educate, then organize our proxy voters all the way to the polls. We are no different than any other political lobbyist group.

Of course, we cannot physically lobby in Springfield, but we can lobby through letters, do research on politicians, educate family and friends on the political process and solicit proxy voters.

Because of our limitations, we have focused our efforts on primarily 8 areas:

1.     Educating ourselves and our supporters on the political process and on Illinois candidates.

2.     Identifying state Senators and Representatives in our supporters districts.

3.     Building on our existing One Prisoner! One Vote! Registry.

4.     Organizing a mailing list.

5.     Writing letters to legislators.

6.     Bringing attention to the many problems that exist within the Illinois prison complex.

7.     Having our supporters write letters, addressing our support or opposition to potential political bills of interest, and,

8.     Strategically organizing write-ins and phone-ins.

We understand that we have a long way to go. Also, that it’s highly unlikely that prisoners in Illinois will be restored the constitutional right to vote. However, we strongly feel that a campaign enlisting the support of proxy voters for prisoners will be highly successful.

For these reasons, we ask that you continue registering and informing your supporters on the work that is being done through One Prisoner! One Vote! Educate!…Organize!


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