If You Love the Planet but Hate the Prisons…

From Earth First! Newswire:

Support Organizing at the Intersection of Mass Incarceration and Ecological Destruction

by Panagioti / Prison Ecology Project

The Prison Ecology Project is currently raising funds to create activist tools for dismantling toxic prisons.  Your contributions will provide needed start-up funds for on-the-ground work to bridge the gap between criminal justice reform, prison abolition and the environmental movement. 


The prison industry has a long history of ecological violence. Rikers Island prison in New York City was literally built on a trash heap, and evidence suggests a high incidence of cancer among guards and prisoners. In California and Texas prisoners have little recourse but to drink arsenic-laced water. In Alabama, an overpopulated prison habitually dumps sewage into a river where people fish and swim. In Kentucky, construction of a new prison is poised to clear 700 acres of endangered species habitat. Stories like these are too common. The issues impact millions of people in and around prisons across the US but are largely ignored.

The Prison Ecology Project is uncovering these abuses and building a clearinghouse of data you can use to fight toxic prisons in your community.

We are a project of the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC), a national non-profit that advocates for protecting the human rights of people held in U.S. detention facilities, including their access to communications from outside sources. For 25 years, HRDC has published Prison Legal News, a monthly publication with subscribers in all 50 states and internationally. HRDC engages in litigation, conducts media and educational campaigns, provides testimony before legislative and regulatory bodies, and also does significant work around government transparency and accountability issues. Read more about HRDC’s history, staff, and extensive work on its website.

What We Need & What You Get

We are raising $15,000 to boost our research and data analysis work in this chronically understudied area, and to keep pressure on an industry notorious for its lack of transparency.

If we meet our stretch goal of $25,000, your donations will also fund our organizing work to halt the construction of new prisons. Our first target? A federal prison planned for Letcher County, Kentucky whose construction would demolish 700 acres of endangered species habitat in Appalachia while imprisoning people hundreds of miles from their families. If we raise these funds, we will plan an organizing tour across the southeast to mobilize against the permitting of this prison.

We are offering special gifts to our backers! Check out our list of perks available as thanks for contributions. You can find out more about the perks in our gallery.


The Impact

Prison Ecology Project is building a database of the five thousand prisons and jails around the country, finding the weak points in the environmental realm, and providing tools to organize locally.

Incarcerated people are one of the most vulnerable and uniquely over-burdened demographics in our nation. Prisons have become a big business. One fourth of the world’s prisoners are locked up in the US, where the the number of prisons has shot up by 500% in the last thirty years. Almost all of the prison population is low-income, and people of color are disproportionately represented by wide margins in every state.

Most people whose lives have been impacted by the criminal justice system have not engaged with the environmental movement up to the present time. The Prison Ecology Project creates an entryway for them, as we are able to illustrate that the environmental toll of building and operating prisons indicates yet another reason to massively reduce the nation’s prison populations and send people back to their families. Thus, an additional result of the project: the growth of the environmental movement.

Risks & Challenges

The prison industry is entrenched in US government and society, but is not untouchable. The Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) already succeeded in wielding large scale influence in the regulatory arena through the Prison Phone Justice Campaign, which zeroed in on price gouging by telecom companies in collusion with prisons and jails. Its data collection and analysis were central to getting the FCC to reduce inflated prison phone rates and safeguard the lifeline between the incarcerated and their loved ones. HRDC is also the publisher of Prison Legal News, which has exposed environmental problems and covered stories of whistleblower litigation in prisons for well over two decades. The Prison Ecology Project aims to build on this kind of success.

Other Ways You Can Help

Please spread the word! A crowdfunding campaign is as good as the crowd behind it. Use the Indiegogo social media tools. Tell your friends. Talk to your family. Share our campaign with your networks! Your efforts are key to our success.

Check out some news coverage of our efforts thus far:


Please donate to help reach our funding goal. Become a part of this growing movement to end mass incarceration and defend the earth. Your money will go towards:

1.  Exposing

the prison system for poisoning incarcerated people and destroying the environment

2.  Organizing

to engage local communities and create new tools, including a national database of toxic prisons and prison pollution

3.  Fighting

The construction of new prisons that tear apart human communities and damage ecosystems

4.  Protecting

Wildlife, waterways and the habitat of endangered species, such as the Indiana bat threatened by a new federal prison in southern Appalachia

$15,000 will give us resources to move forward on these four fronts. Check here for more details.

Thirteen More People Arrested in Seneca Lake Seven Generations Blockade

From Earth First! Newswire:

photo from We Are Seneca Lake

photo from We Are Seneca Lake

A Seven Generations blockade of a Crestwood fracked gas storage facility in Seneca Lake occurred this morning, resulting in 13 arrests. The same amount of activists were arrested on August 4, ratcheting up this month’s total to at least 26 people.

The arrestees represented students from five different colleges, as well as families, teenagers, and the elderly.

According to We Are Seneca Lake, “A tanker truck was waiting on the side of the road before the We Are Seneca Lake blockade was in place. The truck was later guided into the driveway in front of the blockaders. Blockaders were then told they were being arrested for disorderly conduct.”

A participant in the action, Gabriel Shapiro wrote:

“Today young people and their supporters took a stand for our collective future here in the Finger Lakes. Crestwood wants to turn our region into a storage hub for fracked gas serving the entire Northeast U.S. Their plans put too much at risk. We want to come back and possibly raise children here someday. We don’t want methane, LPG, brine, heavy machinery and the fracking industry to have anything to do with that.

“We are living a different story and it involves locally grown food, world class wine, and a vibrant, self-sustaining economy. We are the Finger Lakes and we are standing together for a different future than Crestwood is presenting us with.”

The We Are Seneca Lake civil disobedience campaign has been ongoing for years, and has led to hundreds of arrests. The campaign has brought public attention to the widespread disapproval of fossil fuels development in the region.

August 10 is Prisoners’ Justice Day: Let’s Bring the BOP’s Plans for a Prison on Mountaintop Removal Site to the Forefront

From Earth First! Journal:

By Panagioti / Prison Ecology Project

August 10 is a day that prisoners have declared Prisoners’ Justice Day. It’s a day to demonstrate solidarity in remembrance of those who have died unnecessarily behind bars—victims of murder, suicide and neglect—at the hands of the police state.



It started in Canada in 1975 following the death of prisoner Edward Nalon in a solitary unit of Millhaven Maximum Security Prison located in Ontario, and it has remained most recognized in that country. While there has been some success in calling to use this day as a way to bring awareness to the plights of incarcerated people who suffer injustice worldwide, it still hasn’t quite caught on in the U.S. … yet.

[Check out a collection of reflections from Prisoner Justice Day in recent years here, specifically this “open letter to construction workers at prisons” released in tandem with a 2012 call for blockades of work aimed at expanding the Collins Bay and Frontenac prisons.]

But anti-prison activists in the U.S. and abroad, particularly those with an interest in environmental justice, should note that this year’s August 10 is marked by the proposal to build a new federal maximum security prison in the Appalachian mountains of Letcher County in eastern Kentucky, on top of a former mountaintop removal coal mine.

Just this week, after several years of local debate about the economic failures of building prisons on low-income rural areas, the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has announced plans to move forward with another prison in a region that has been dubbed Appalachia’s Gulag Archipelago.

Despite the area’s long history of pollution from decades of blasting for coal, politicians like U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers have insisted on piling prisoners into this remote location which is likely to poison prisoners with tainted water. It also happens to be far from any reasonable transit options for family visitation, not to mention being planned on threatened and endangered species habitat of the incredibly biodiverse region.

What to do about the BOP’s Letcher County plan this Aug 10? 

Prisoners’ Justice Day is fast-approaching, but it’s not too late to plan for action. A quick place to start is sending over a letter to the BOP within this 30-day window telling them that the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS )is insufficient, as it does not recognize the civil rights that prisoners have to receive environmental justice protections. This is, of course, in addition to the myriad concerns related to perpetuating the racist and classist mass incarceration system by building more prisons to extract poor people from their communities and warehouse them in toxic places.

Also worth noting is that there is a major PR firm called Cardno who is contracted by the BOP to conduct the EIS study. They are likely representing many more of your corporate and state enemies as well. According to their website, “Cardno now has about 8,200 staff working in 300 offices, on projects across more than 100 countries around the world.”  Their corporate offices are located within the following regions:
Australasia    Middle East    UK/Europe
North America    Africa    Asia
Latin America



The following text provides some additional history on Prisoners Justice Day becoming international day of solidarity with prisoners:


In 1983, prisoners in France refused to eat in recognition of August 10th, the following statement would be read on the Paris radio station Frequence-Libre:

Why not have on August 10 an international day of solidarity with our imprisoned brothers and sisters,

For here or elsewhere, prison kills,
Whether it be Nalon in Ontario, Bader or Meinhoff in West Germany,
Claude or Ivan in Switzerland, Bobby Sands in Ireland,
Mirval, Haadjadj, Onno, Youssef or so many others in France,
Whether they are serving 53 years like Alexandre Cotte or 16 years like Youssef,
Whether they are considered political or common prisoners,

By the mid 1990´s prisoners in parts of Germany, England and the United States would join this day of protest.

The number of issues focused on over twenty-five years has been extensive:

Double Bunking
Youth Incarceration
Safe Tattooing Inside
Special Handling Units
The Wrongfully Convicted
Twenty-five Year Sentences
The Right to Freedom of Speech
The Women Self-defense Review
Abolition of National Parole Board
The Right to Vote in Federal Elections
Decriminalization of Victimless Crime
Health Care Needs of Prisoners With HIV & AIDS
Return to Shorter Sentences with 1/3 Time Off For Good Behaviour
Medical Care and the Same Options for Treatment as Outside Prison
The Integration of Protective Custody prisoners into General Population
Decarceration – Release of Prisoners Who Already Served Their Sentence
Alternatives to Incarceration – the Eventual Abolition of Prisons
The Recognition of Political Prisoners in Canada
Early Intervention Programs for At-Risk Youth
Moratorium on the Building of New Prisons
The Incarceration of Refugee Claimants
The Prisoners´ Right to Unionize
Privatization of Food Services
Needle Exchange Programs
Privatization of Prisons
Involuntary Transfers
Education Programs
Gating of Prisoners

The Right to Recognize August 10th Without Reprisals


…August 10, the day prisoners have set aside as a day to fast and refuse to work in a show of solidarity to remember those who have died unnecessarily — victims of murder, suicide and neglect.

…the day when organizations and individuals in the community hold demonstrations, vigils, worship services and other events in common resistance with prisoners.

…the day to raise issue with the fact that a very high rate of women are in prison for protecting themselves against their abusers. This makes it obvious that the legal system does not protect women who suffer violence at the hands of their partners.

…is the day to remember that there are a disproportionate number of Natives, African-Canadians and other minorities and marginalized people in prisons. Prisons are the ultimate form of oppression against struggles of recognition and self-determination.

…the day to raise public awareness of the demands made by prisoners to change the criminal justice system and the brutal and inhumane conditions that lead to so many prison deaths.

…the day to oppose prison violence, police violence, and violence against women and children.

…the day to publicize that, in their fight for freedom and equality, the actions of many political prisoners have been criminalized by government. As a result, there are false claims that there are no political prisoners in north american prisons.

…the day to raise public awareness of the economic and social costs of a system of criminal justice which punishes for revenge. If there is ever to be social justice, it will only come about using a model of healing justice, connecting people to the crimes and helping offenders take responsibility for their actions.

…the day to renew the struggle for HIV/AIDS education, prevention and treatment in prison.

…the day to remind people that the criminal justice system and the psychiatric system are mutually reinforcing methods that the state uses to control human beings. There is a lot of brutality by staff committed in the name of treatment. Moreover, many deaths in the psych-prisons remain uninvestigated.

Info on Prisoners’ Justice Day courtesy of PrisonJustice.ca.