Richard Morano is Free!

Richard Morano, one of the five individuals extradited to Canada for charges stemming from the 2010 Toronto G20 protests is free! Richard plead to six counts and was sentenced to 7 months in jail. He was released on June 17th, after serving half of his sentence, and was given 2 years probation.

Welcome home, Richard. May Joel and Kevin (another extraditee) follow you soon!

Read more at notorontog20extradition.wordpress.com

Joel’s Blog: Trust and Community

July 7, 2014

In a few days I will mark my 5 month anniversary.  I’m finding the time
moves faster now that I have a constant routine.  I’ve also gotten pretty
close with the main players on my range, and they’ve accepted me as one of
them.  I genuinely enjoy spending time with these 4 or 5 guys, whether it’s
sharing meals, playing cards, watching movies, or working out.

New York City is a frustrating place for me because there is so much
emphasis on the individual.  It’s hard to feel like you’re part of a
community in such a big city.  Even though I managed to develop close and
important friendships before my incarceration, I felt surprisingly alone.
I think part of being human is the need to feel like you belong somewhere.
Living in such a massive capitalistic hub like NYC can be alienating
because of the difficulty of satisfying our communal needs.

Read the rest here!

Joel’s Blog: Settling In

It’s been three months since I last tasted freedom and I finally feel like I’m settling in to the bulk of my sentence.  Fortunately, these early months have gone well and been without any major incident.  It’s amazing to get so many letters of support from folks around the world.

Getting a letter while behind bars is an amazing feeling.  Thank you to everyone who took some time out of their day to sit down and write.  I’m doing my best to respond to each letter, so if you haven’t gotten anything from me yet, I haven’t forgotten.  Also, for some reason, the mail censors keep tearing off return addresses so unless you include your return address in the body of the letter somewhere, I have no way of knowing where to send a response.

Read the rest here!

Joel’s Blog: Transfers, Transfers, and More Transfers

May 1, 2014

As I mentioned in my last post, after spending over a month on Unit 5 I was transferred to the education range on Unit 6. At that time I wasn’t happy about moving for a couple of reasons. A.) in jail being uprooted and then forced to adapt to a new environment is exhausting and often traumatizing and B.) Unit 5 is a good place filled with good people. Subjectively speaking it is a more down-to-earth, “real” jail experience with plentiful amounts of solidarity amongst prisoners.

Read the rest here!

New Donation Information!

Due to changes with our original donation service, the task of collecting donations for Joel has been taken on by the wonderful folks at Guelph ABC.

You can donate by sending checks made out to Guelph ABC to:

Guelph ABC
Box 183
Guelph, Ontario
N1H 6J6

You can also donate to their PayPal account, visit http://guelphabc.noblogs.org and click on the PayPal icon on the right hand side.

Please email GABC to let them know you made a donation: guelphabc [at] riseup [dot] net

Joel’s Blog: On Patriarchy and Homophobia

March 28, 2014

A few things have been bothering me about jail life.  I found myself getting along with other prisoners but some things annoy me; namely, the copious amounts of sexism, misogyny, and homophobia on display here.  I’m not in a position to confront people on these issues so I’ve resorted to writing to vent my frustration.  First, on the issue of misogyny, in here it is common to hear women described as things, “bitches”, and “sluts”.  It’s also common to hear guys brag about the sexual things they would do to a woman if given the opportunity.  These things are often very derogatory.

This is done to demonstrate masculinity and affirm heterosexuality in a place that is overtly homophobic.  Much of this behavior is, without a doubt, rooted in insecurity and an overwhelming desire to fit in with the pack.  Regarding homosexuality, there seems to be an accepted consensus that being gay is bad.  I’ve had a few disagreements with other inmates regarding gay marriage or any reforms that would progress gay rights.  The folks I spend time with outside jail are mostly all progressive on social issues so I’m having difficulty gauging whether jail culture is objectively more misogynistic and homophobic than mainstream culture.  My theory is that these behaviors are just more condensed and highlighted in here.

I also have a theory that homophobia in jail is a response to mainstream stereotypes around sexual assaults behind bars.  Most people, when you tell them you’ve been to jail, will wonder – if not ask directly – whether you’ve encountered rape and violence during your incarceration.  It appears that the homophobia here might be a way to discourage and neutralize sexual assaults before it happens.  Sexual assault within the Canadian provincial jail system is essentially nonexistent and that is mainly because inmate culture has zero tolerance for it.  Perhaps this intense homophobia is a crude reaction to the fear of sexual assault.  Asserting one’s masculinity through sexism might be another reaction to such a fear.  That wouldn’t make these behaviors justifiable but it would help explain them.

What is most peculiar is the existence of anti-authoritarian ideas and anti-gay/anti-woman ideas among inmates.  I’m opposed to all oppressive systems that are designed to empower one group of people over another.   This goes for economic as well as social systems.  These are ideas I’ve spent quite a bit of time refining and thinking about.  I’m just not on the same page as my fellow prisoners on these matters.  Unfortunately, I’m not in a great position to agitate for change in here.  All I can do thus far is disassociate myself from the situations that make me uncomfortable.

Written by Joel Bitar, an American activist serving a 20-month sentence in Canada for charges stemming from the 2010 Toronto G20 protests.