Prison is an ideological breeding ground for hate, religious extremism, homophobia, anti-authoritarian sentiment, sexism, racism, misogyny, and xenophobia. We are warehousing non-violent offenders; the vast majority drug addicted or mentally-ill. They are in a vulnerable predisposition for social influence and many benign inmates come out hardened criminals-- a much greater threat to the community than before they were incarcerated.
Prison is emblematic of modern slavery. It is the direct result of the prejudice and fallacious War on Drugs and the draconian mandatory minimum legislation that consequently doubled the population of inmates in the federal prison system after they were enacted.
I witnessed murders, suicides, stabbings, beatings, police corruption, brutality, and heard rumors of rape and riots. I had untreated bi-polar disorder before prison and it was certainly exasperated by my nightmarish long-term incarceration, which included lengthy trips to solitary confinement for testing positive for narcotics. I am now diagnosed with severe PTSD, depression, separation anxiety, suicidal ideation, insomnia, paranoia, aggression, and fits of unmanageable rage.
My situation, like so many others, is a medical problem, period. The prison-industrial –complex radicalizes, stigmatizes, and perpetuates the cyclical bondage of social immobility by choosing mass incarceration over much needed rehabilitation.
We need sweeping prison reform. And we need it now.
I’ve assembled some of the leading prison reform proponents in the country. We have support from the film, television, literary, sport, and music communities.
On Monday, December 4th, 2017 we are going to host a live event in Santa Barbara, California to speak about the atrocities of jail and prison. There will be live music and speeches’ by a number of influential people that have been personally affected by this national epidemic. Danny Trejo, a well-known actor and ex-con, is hosting and Kristina Sunshine Jung, daughter of Boston George Jung, will be speaking out about growing up without her father, for the first time publicly since the film Blow was released.
It will be a red carpet event for the premier of the trailer for IDIOT SAVANT: THE SVAGE LIFE OF RYAN LEONE; a documentary that explores my life, addiction, career, and the devastating effects the legal system has had on myself and my blameless family.
I am going to launch a non-profit called THE PRODIGY FOUNDATION. I understand from firsthand experience that prison reform needs a multifaceted approach. THE PRODIGY FOUNDATION will foster the sweeping prison reform our country so desperately needs, expand literacy in jails and prisons nationally, help end mass incarceration and recidivism, and help pay for inmate to have better access to education and vocational training. We also want to help provide resources for families affected by incarceration, nurture talents and refurbish the self-esteem that is affected by the stigma of being labeled a criminal.
We want to make palpable changes to this deplorable and barbaric national crisis.
We need your help. Even if it’s a small amount of money, I can assure you we are going to beat this if we all contribute something. I have been without money many times in my life and I understand if you can’t make a financial contribution. You can write congress, sign petitions, share this fundraiser, and volunteer to make real changes. I’d like anyone that made it this far in my message, to think about whoever you may know in jail or prison. It may be someone you don’t even know personally. I want you to buy a postcard and a stamp. I want you to send them a note, that you are thinking about them-- that they aren’t alone or forgotten. I know from experience that this postcard will bring a smile to an inmate's face.
In a place where smiles are often forgotten- a place that should truly only be reserved for the real monsters of this world.
11/17/17 - Santa Barbara, CA
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