7.24.2008

how to write to james burmeister and other u.s. federal prisoners

I received this from James Burmeister's support campaign. Perhaps you'll take a few moments to write to both James and Robin. Even if you don't, this information might come in handy one day.

The guidelines come from the Lacey Phillabaum website.

Googling, I learned that Lacey Phillabaum is an Oregon woman who served time in federal prison for participating in radical environmental activism. Rather than link to stories about Phillabaum, I will give you something in her own words, about the Bush administrations war on our planet.

BOP = Bureau of Prisons

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Mail sent into and out of any correctional facility will be read. Don't send letters that reference criminal activity, business affairs or escape plans.

• Letters must include a full name and return address for the sender.

• Use the inmate's full name and UPC code or register number.

• Small water stains or dirt on a letter can cause it to be rejected. No tears, damnit!

• Stationery and cards are allowed, but artwork with glue, glitter, paint, felt pens, crayons or markers will be rejected. Hallmark should make a prison-approved line of cards because they'll stick glitter on anything and glue in the most surprising places. Check cards closely. The basic rule of thumb is that the BOP is inimical toward art and beauty.

• Correspondence using code or is not allowed. Not even pig Latin. No porn either.

• A single photocopy of an interesting news or magazine article may be sent. Originals from the newspaper or magazine cannot. Multiple copies of an article are not allowed (no propagandizing in prison).

• Inmates are only allowed a limited number of photos and no Polaroids. It's better to send color copies of photos than originals, as copies don't count against the limit (go figure).

• Don't send uncancelled stamps, blank paper or cards. Inmates are sometimes limited in how many stamps and envelopes they can buy so responses may be slow.

• All publications must be received directly from the publisher or distributors like Powells or Amazon.

• No message can be sent on the outside of the envelope so no clever notes.

[From James Burmeister's campaign]

Don't be discouraged by the BOP's "culture of no"! Trying to get a letter into a prison is a window into the intense bureaucratic rules that govern every aspect of a prisoner's life. The rules can seem daunting but a simple, heartfelt letter can breach the walls and makes a huge difference to those inside. Mail is the single most important aspect of many prisoners' lives. Please try.

James Burmeister can be reached at this address:

James Burmeister
Box A
Building 7741 PMB
1158 Gold Vault Rd.
Fort Knox, Kentucky 40121-5184
USA

2 comments:

Cuica2 said...

Hi there -

The info you got on Lacey Phillabaum is wrong. She is a snitch who cooperated with the federal government to put activists in prison in order to save her own skin.

We should absolutely support war resisters and other political prisoners, and writing them is the best way to do it. Letter-writing guidelines can be found on the websites of those who have stayed true to their values, have not betrayed their friends, and have continued to demonstrate what it means to be a dedicated activist. Daniel McGowan, Jonathan Paul, Briana Waters, and Eric McDavid all come immediately to mind.

Please do more research on Lacey and consider editing or removing this post. You have (probably unwittingly) contributed to her propaganda campaign to paint herself as a victim rather than the perpetrator of a huge betrayal of the entire environmental activist community. She is not someone who deserves your support.

L-girl said...

Thanks for your feedback. I don't feel it's my place to judge someone who chose to "name names" over a lengthy prison sentence. It's easy to point fingers, much harder to sacrifice oneself for a cause. The environmental movement will survive Lacey's "betrayal", and I won't judge her.

Please do more research on Lacey and consider editing or removing this post.

In fact I considered rejecting your comment, but realized I should not.

It's not up to you to decide who deserves my support. It's up to me. Best of luck to you.