On Friday, April 24, I received a letter of rejection from the Texas Department of "Corrections" for Absent Cause
#2. Copies of the zine had been requested by four prisoners on death row in Huntsville.
The reason given is "Publication contains sexually explicit images" on pages 45 and 49. These are the painting "Tofu's Kiss" by Toni Lynn Crane and the photograph "It's What's Inside" by Heidi Calvert, featuring model Sash Suicide. Both are provocative explorations of women's bodies, identity and sexuality by feminist artists, but hardly "sexually explicit."
Of course, the notice was mailed and received too late to meet the two-week deadline of the appeals process.
#1 had several readers on death row in Huntsville, Texas, where it was passed around by activists from Panthers United for Revolutionary Education (PURE). One of the PURE brothers had planned to contribute a piece for the issue before a crackdown on all the prisoners prevented him from making the submission.
In 2000 I spent a few memorable months in Houston working with the courageous activists from the Texas Death Penalty Abolition
Movement to try and stop the executions of two political prisoners, Ponchai Kamau Wilkerson and Shaka Sankofa. During that time I gained an even greater admiration for the courage of PURE and others on death row, who fight to have a political voice under the most difficult conditions imaginable.
How ludicrous for the white-supremacist Texas corrections department -- with the country's biggest death row, that has executed innocent people, mentally ill people, juveniles and foreign nationals in violation of international law -- to judge the content and forbid prisoners from reading a progressive publication!
Please send letters of protest to: Texas Department of Corrections, Director's Review Committee, PO Box 99, Huntsville, TX 77342. Send copies to me at email@example.com or Absent Cause, PO Box 1568, New York, NY 10276.
I'd also like to hear from others whose zines have been rejected by prison authorities in Texas or other states.
redguard / Greg