We aint havin no prisons for youth!!


root - Posted on 02 November 2006

Youth represent at the 4th annual Not Down with the Lockdown Hip Hop Show and Rally to Close the CYA Youth Prisons

by Laurence Ashton/PNN Youth in Media

"In god we trust.. trust in.. we want more for you - we don't want prisons for our youth - in god we trust in… In.." The lilting voice of poet and singer Sierra sailed across the sun drenched Frank Ogawa Plaza in downtown Oakland. Sierra's beautiful wordz and knowledge joined the powerful line-up of youth and adults of all colors, cultures and spirits who came together as a community to speak out against the California Youth Authority (CYA) and the prison industrial complex at a rally sponsored by Books Not Bars and Lets Get Free

The Books Not Bars "Alternatives for Youth" Campaign is a statewide effort to close the notorious prisons of the California Youth Authority (CYA), the state's prison system for youth.

More than 90 percent of the youth locked up in CYA are rearrested within three years. To quote the BooksNotBars website "CYA is supposed to lower the crime rate. But all it does is lower the chances that kids are going to go on to get a good education or have a good career. When youth get out of CYA, they just go back into the juvenile or adult criminal justice system. The only thing CYA prepares youth for is a cell in an adult prison."

Their website goes on to list some of the shocking abuses reported in a series of official reports on CYA;

*Youth locked in 23-hour-a-day solitary confinement without cause for months on end;

*Youth locked in four-by-four cages during class time;

Epidemic violence, often instigated by guards (further confirmed by the recent video showing guards beating two young wards);

rampant sexual assault;

abuse of chemical weapons on wards;

virtually non-existent care for wards with mental health or substance abuse problems (8- to 19-month waiting periods for service); and

Shocking negligence in medical care, especially emergency care.

Research into the practices of other states' policies in regards to youth justice have shown that there are alternative ways with to deal with youth offenders, rather than the arcane and abusive practices of the California criminal Unjustice System

"We see prisons but we aint having it" The rally was emceed by brother in struggle Jakati Omani, who peppered each pause with his own brand of hip Hop activism and be-down scholarship

The day of inspiration progressed with conscious rappers like the young African Descendent warriors known as "Reparation Records" and Big Dan from Youth Uprising in Oakland filling our minds with knowledge to free us up from the state sponsored oppressors known as CYA.

Then, like Moses parting the red sea, in this case it was the black brown, yellow and white seas of change present at the rally; United Playas; the powerful cru of youth, adult and family warriors on issues of education, anti-gang violence and hope, flooded the plaza, bringing their own spirits who will not be oppressed or discouraged. Their multi-generational, multi-cultural cru brought yet another hit of togetherness and solidarity. On the backs of their solid Black T-shirts was the solid message of the day; CLOSE CYA-

Laurence is a youth in media writer for POOR/PNN Toread more about the Books not bars campaign go on-line to www.booksnotbars.org

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