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Two hands in chains that are breaking apart. (Courtesy of Adobe Stock by Kevin Carden)

Project addresses prison as system of slavery

Liberate the Caged Voices comes to Humboldt State University to shed light on criminal justice system

Liberate the Caged Voices comes to Humboldt State University to shed light on criminal justice system

Most people in their 50s do not suddenly turn to social justice activism.

They don’t organize marches to support prisoners rights. They don’t travel around the state informing ordinary citizens of solitary confinement.

But when Nube Brown hit her 50s she had what she calls “a midlife awakening,” and did just that.

Brown is the creator of Liberate the Caged Voices, a project formed out of the California Prison Focus that provides a platform and structure to get incarcerated voices heard. California Prison Focus is an Oakland non-profit that advocates for the immediate stopping of all solitary confinement.

They publish a quarterly newspaper, Prison Focus, that is written by and for incarcerated individuals, their family and friends. They travel regularly to Pelican Bay and Corcoran state prisons to document conditions on the inside, they keep correspondence with incarcerated individuals and have a radio station.

“This project is beyond the reports,” Brown said. “It’s literally just to get people behind bars known by people outside the bars.”

Brown started volunteering with California Prison Focus about two years ago and knew this is exactly where she wanted to be. Brown, who also works a full time job in San Jose, said this work has opened her eyes to modern day slavery that is still going on. Letters are constantly flooding in at California Prison Focus and Brown said the content in the letters especially moved her and eventually prompted her to start Liberate the Caged Voices.

“I was blown away by the letters, so much intelligence and talent,” Brown said.

Brown started Liberate the Caged Voices earlier this year with the first in San Jose. Brown said there is a basic structure to the event but she keeps it very flexible. She said at a Liberate the Caged Voices event people read letters from incarcerated individuals and create an open space for awareness.

On Nov. 16 Brown hosted Liberate the Caged Voices at HSU with the help of Nathaniel Mcguigan, member of Humboldt’s chapter of Party of Liberation and Socialism and M.E.Ch.A and Deema Hindawi, member of Students for Quality Education.

“Humboldt is a racist but also progressive place,” Brown said. “Completely other energy that is malleable and open to human rights and justice.”

Brown’s mother, Karpani Davis, brought the idea of bringing Liberate the Caged Voices to HSU to Mcguigan and Hindawi at a Justice for Josiah committee meeting. Both agreed it would be a perfect event for the campus and decided to help organize.

Nathaniel Mcguigan became active in Humboldt’s chapter of Party of Liberation and Socialism or PSL in 2017 because he said it was a bigger platform with like minded individuals who were fighting for justice. Mcguigan, who is a prison abolitionist, said there is a lack of mentors because older people are being incarcerated for their freedom fighting

“There are a lot of comrades in the movement who have been imprisoned by the state,” Mcguigan said.

Deema Hindawi, also a prison abolitionist began her school career pursuing law enforcement but soon learned it was not for her and switched to criminology. She said the learning material and experiences changed every outlook in her life.

“In criminology you’re either a reformist, abolitionist, or ignorant,” Hindawi said.

Brown said she is excited to bring Liberate the Caged Voices to a university campus. She said it’s important to get students involved and to educate them to understand what is happening.

“We’re putting kids away in the juvenile system for bad grades and missing school,” Brown said. “It’s disgusting.”

This will be the fourth Liberate the Caged Voices in an on-going series. Brown said after Humboldt it will be a once a month event and hopefully just keep on continuing in different places.

If she could, Brown said she would do it every week but with a full time job it limits her time.

Brown said the idea for Liberate the Caged Voices future is to have other people host them in their areas. She said she is just building a base, a working template so other people can do it that is unique to those involved.

“I don’t really call it the criminal justice system,” Brown said. “Its a system of slavery.”


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