Martha Just One of Us

I am writing you in regards to outrageous articles in other magazines that have been printed about the lifestyle of inmates here at FCI Danbury. The most recent article insists that lesbian gangs await Martha Stewart, guards who enjoy voyeurism, maggots in the food, etc. ... and states we are "love starved" and "sex crazed."

Please print the "real deal" for us. I have been an inmate at FCI Danbury for seven years now and never have I found maggots in my food. The food isn't the greatest, but it does not contain maggots. There are no "gangs" here, nor have I ever been approached by a gang or lesbian gang. The misconception of life in FCI Danbury is so outrageous that many of us realize that because of these outrageous stories, it's no wonder society doesn't want to accept us back into it.

I won't deny that there are incarcerated women who prefer the same sex. However, most of them led a lesbian lifestyle on the streets as well. This is not lesbian hell as Heidi Fleiss declares. I am not a lesbian, nor are many other women incarcerated here at FCI Danbury. I haven't heard one person say that they want to make Martha their "girlfriend" as these magazines state.

Everyone dreads the unknown. However, Martha, if sent to prison, will not endure the hell these magazines paint for her. I work in the Law Library and overhear women speaking of Martha Stewart's troubles, and it's always with compassion and empathy.

Please inform your readers that we shower with doors and shower curtains. Officers do not watch! Toilets are not exposed, and officers do not look the other way when a fight occurs. Which I bet is less often than fights at the local bar. Officers [have been] charged with sexual abuse of an inmate; although wrong, it has always been consensual here and not forced! Also inform the readers that inmates do not always get housed within 500 miles of their home. It depends if you are camp status or not and if there is a female facility to accommodate within the 500-mile area, which usually there's not. Women do not sit idly around all day long. They are involved in educational and therapeutic programs, trying to better themselves.

The majority of us are non-violent offenders, doing draconian time because of the War on Drugs. Many of us have only hopes of laws changing to receive relief. It's upsetting that we are seen as "love starved" and "sex crazed." Yes, we are love starved, for our families. Please inform the public of the "real deal" here at FCI Danbury. There is no physical abuse, constant danger or vicious gangs. Only women who desperately miss their children, husbands and parents. Martha Stewart is not the only one who would be out of her element in prison. We all are.

Vicki Rosepiler, POWOD
Federal Correctional Institution
Danbury, Conn.

Literary Vandalism

Dispatch: "At York Correctional Facility in East Lyme 15 women inmates lost up to five years of work when officials at the prison's school ordered all hard drives used for a writing class erased and its computer disks turned over. ... Department of Correction Commissioner Theresa Lantz halted the writing program March 29 after learning that inmate Barbara Parsons Lane had won a $25,000 PEN American Center prize for her work on the 2003 book Couldn't Keep It To Myself: Testimonies from our Imprisoned Sisters." -- Associated Press.

Dear Commissioner Lantz:

As you review your work in the privacy of your conscience, here, from H.L. Mencken's Prejudices, is a piece for you to ponder.

"Let us summon from the shades the immortal soul of James Harlan, born in 1820, entered into rest in 1899. In the year 1865 this Harlan resigned from the US Senate to enter the cabinet of Abraham Lincoln as Sec'y of the Interior. One of the clerks in that department, at $600 a year, was Walt Whitman, lately emerged from three years of hard service as an army nurse during the Civil War. One day, discovering that Whitman was the author of a book called Leaves of Grass, Harlan ordered him incontinently kicked out, and it was done forthwith. Let us remember this event and this man; he is too precious to die. Let us repair, once a year, to our accustomed houses of worship and there give thanks to God that one day in 1865 brought together the greatest poet that America has ever produced and the damnedest ass."

While it is true that Ms. Lane is undoubtedly not the writer Whitman was, since even Mencken wasn't -- and although it is equally believed, though debatable, that prisoners must be wholly repressed at all times lest recognition of their humanity, however sparse, lead to further crimes -- still, looks to me like you're going down in history with Br'er Harlan, honey.

Squash 'em while you got 'em.

James McCarty Yeager
Bethesda, Md.

Shame on Nader Critics

Having just read your editorial in the 3/15/04 TPP ["What About Ralph"] I am compelled to write to you that I was shocked, upset and very strongly opposed to your negative view of Ralph Nader's decision to run for president. Besides being an undemocratic (verging on dictatorial) view.

I believe Nader is doing a superbly, unselfishly commendable act of courage, exposing himself to the vilification, ridicule and possibly physical threats by taking on the two great political parties who have both failed miserably to ... represent the American people (especially minority peoples) ...

Shame on you!

Your [editorial] probably could be used against any independent candidate running for any office. In contrast, I believe independent candidates are the healthiest signs of our democracy and country. Independent parties keep the two parties from ignoring he needs of the people. (Remember Perot was the one who raised the issue of health care needs, etc.) ...

Diane Sank
Englewood Cliffs, NJ

Editor replies: As the editorial stated, we think Nader's rerun for the presidency is a bad idea. "But ultimately Nader has a right to run for president. And the rest of us have a right not to support him." Anyone who thinks that opinion is undemocratic, "verging on dictatorial," will get an education from a second term of George W. Bush.

Dennis Still My Man

Professor Charles Derber's article ""Regime Change Begins at Home" in the 4/15/04 TPP said it succinctly when he said, "We need to abolish the corporate system of rule that currently dominates democracy."

That truism comes quickly to mind when we hear of the off-shore corporations, the absence of any substantial contribution that corporate America makes to the assets of our economy and the tax breaks recently extended to the corporate CEOs by the Bush administration. All of this is illustrated by the outsourcing of a large portion of our industrial economy with cheap foreign labor.

That is one reason why I, who have to wait until May to cast my vote in the Oregon Democratic primary, will be voting for Dennis Kucinich. In spite of the clear vision of a Kerry win for the Democratic Party's presidential candidacy, I'm voting for Kucinich in order to send a message to Mr. Kerry and the Democratic Party that "me-too-ing" the corporate agenda that controls the Republican party and Democratic Party leadership (e.g. Bill Clinton and wife Hillary) is no longer acceptable. It's high time that the American people extricate themselves from corporate control and vote for the agenda of the common citizen.

Karl G. Sorg
Eugene, Ore.

Stick With Dems

There are extremists in both major political parties, e.g. neoconservatives in the Republicans and left-wing liberals in the Democrats and, judging by occasional letters in TPP, among Greens. A letter in the 3/1/04 issue implies that a vote for a Republican or Democrat serves the interests of the "top 1% billionaires"; another favors complete withdrawal from all foreign military bases. Yes, wealthy individuals and corporations have too much influence on government and there is waste in the military. The ultimate answer is campaign finance reform with no loopholes and elimination of wasteful deployment of the military. However, voting today for a third-party candidate will not change anything. Extreme isolationism, as it was called prior to WWII, will only allow world problems to come closer to home, although I concede there is waste which must be eliminated.

Also in the 3/1/04 issue, John Buell makes my point here. He writes that "Kucinich will not win any primaries ... but will keep alive issues (emphasis added) the Democrats must address. Until instant runoff voting is approved, those who feel strongly about issues should voice those feelings within the party closest to their ideas, and it would appear that most progressives are closer to Democratic philosophies in their beliefs. Many, many years ago, when I lived in another area, I joined the local Democratic organization which had not won a township committee seat in years. By addressing the issues vocally and getting press coverage -- which is usual for major parties but essentially non-existent for minor parties -- we were able to force the Republican officials to correct practices potentially harmful to the local community in order to maintain their power.

Further to the point of whether to vote for the Green candidate as a show of protest, I cite Ted Glick's 3/15/04 piece in which he asks Ralph Nader if he intends to work with other minor political figures in his campaign inasmuch as "there are no blocs of voters within the Democratic party who are currently considering leaving that party to form something more progressive." Because there is not yet a large enough progressive bloc of voters to positively affect an election it is more important to work within an established party which, if enough new members join, will be forced to adopt some of their policies.

I am for instant runoff elections but until that becomes a reality, progressives must work within an established party to have the impact on government that is needed today. Protest votes in favor of a strong third-party will have an impact only when runoff elections are established!

(Incidentally, although a resident of New Jersey, I do not know Mr. Glick, who recently ran for a political office [US Senate]. His failure to get any newspaper publicity was an example of the need to work within an established party until either runoff voting is here or a new party has a significant number of voters.)

Louis Shor
Mt. Laurel, N.J.

New Flag Pledge

Donald Kaul, in "One Nation, Divisible After All" [5/1/04 TPP], did not mention that pledging allegiance to a flag is a form of paganism. Roman soldiers worshipped their legion's ensigns (standards) or flags and kept them in temples between battles. For some, it was the only religion they had.

A better rendition of the pledge might be: "This is the flag of our country, the emblem of freedom and the symbol of unity. (Courtesy: Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.) We pledge allegiance to the republic for which it stands, the United States of America, one nation (under God moot), indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Joseph J. Kuciejczyk
St Louis, Mo.

Deport Offshore CEOs

Conservatives and Republicans are always ready to demand that the undeserving, in their opinion, be denied or have their citizenship taken away and be unceremoniously deported.

Why not pass a law that takes away the citizenship of the major players who send their corporations offshore, then deport them?

Chris Gray
Monticello, Ark.


In Joyce Marcel's article, "Wonderful Film Women" [4/15/04 TPP], there is an incorrect statement.

Sofia Coppola is not the first woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for best director. She is the first American woman. However, the Italian director, Lina Wertmuller, was nominated for best director for the 1976 film, Seven Beauties. My source is Film Encyclopedia, 4th edition, by Katz.

Joanne Skirving
Portland, OR


Get It Off Your Chest


Write: Letters to the Editor

Progressive Populist

PO Box 150517

Austin, TX 78715-0517

Email editor@populist.com

Please keep them under 300 words.


Re: Margie Burns' article "All in the (Profiteering) First Family" [4/15/04 TPP], on close relatives of President George W. Bush who benefit financially from the Iraq invasion, a reader noted that St. Louis-based Engineered Support Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: EASI), where Bush's uncle, William H.T. Bush, joined the board of directors in 2000, has been a major military contractor for years. "This company has been selling military equipment before President Bush was elected (sic). In fact an order for chemical shelters was also ordered in 2000." EASI delivered its first six production units of its chemical biological protector shelter system to the US Army in June 2000 under a $43.8 million contract for 113 units approved by the Clinton administration through November 2001. However, as Burns reported, EASI's business with the Pentagon has increased under the Bush administration, from $330 million in contracts in 2001 to $380 million in 2002. For fiscal 2003 the company reported orders for a record $658 million, with expectations of a 30% increase in 2004.


In "Bush Regime Can't Handle Success," by Sam Uretsky [5/1/04 TPP], an editing error switched the homeland of automobile assembly plants. Uretsky accurately wrote: "The Japanese yen gained about 13%, which gives a price advantage to a car made in the US, like the BMW Z4 or Acura TL, over cars built in other nations, like the Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Marquis." The Crown Vic and Marquis are made in Canada while the Acura TL is built in Ohio and the BMW Z4 is built in South Carolina.