Processing Distortion with Peter B. Collins: Political Prisoners in America

Peter B. Collins Presents Dan Berger

America is #1 in incarceration, and many people aren’t aware of the political prisoners in our penal system. Berger’s new book is a concise overview of groups and individuals who have been convicted and sentenced for life or lengthy terms. We discuss Mumia Abu-Jamal and members of the Black Liberation Army and Black Panthers, Puerto Rican independence activists, Native Americans including Leonard Peltier, and the new generation of political prisoners since 9/11. We refer to this letter from Texas death row inmate Ray Jasper, who is next in line to be executed, and personalizes the disproportionate conviction rate and sentences for African Americans. At the end of the show, you’ll hear an archived message from Leonard Peltier set to a song by Robbie Robertson.

*Dan Berger is an assistant professor of comparative ethnic studies in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington at Bothell. His work focuses on race, prisons, and social movements in U.S. life and history. His new book is The Struggle Within: Prisons, Political Prisoners, and Mass Movements in the United States (PM Press) and his website is

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  1. avatar sikko sikko says:

    The conversation about political prisoners is very important in today’s age but you cant have the conversation without mentioning people like Barrett Brown and Andrew Auernheimer (also known as Weev). Both exposed corruption and negligence on the part of governments and huge corporations. Barrett committed no crime in the process and faces 70+ years (down from 100+ years as of 3/5 when the govt dropped a lot of the trumped up charges against him) while Weev’s only “crime” amounted to accessing public facing websites. They even doubled Weev’s sentence because he refuse to apologize for his “crime”. Theres a whole new generation of political prisoners in this country surounding the internet and online activism.

  2. avatar raymond arruda says:

    Dear Sibel, I have been unable to listen to the full episodes. As a subscriber (Dec. 28, 2013) this puzzles me. Originally had no problems but as of late nothing, nada. Have messaged and no response. Sincerely Raymond Arruda

  3. The In-Justice system in this country is a travesty. People like Leonard Peltier shouldn’t have been freed long ago.

  4. avatar raymond arruda says:

    A note of appreciation for the manner in which the problem I was experiencing listening to the entire episode. Thank You Raymond Arruda

  5. A great presentation on a subject that needs to be discussed. I know you couldn’t cover all the issues but one that disturbs me is this three strike law and the way it is being used. People are being put in prison under this when their third strike was stealing a candy bar or posession of a small amount of pot. Upon their third strike (no matter whether any of the offenses were violent) a person goes to prion for LIFE! Even more horrifying to me is the fact that prisons are being privitized and so we have a stock market on human suffering. Now they are intent on making quotas of imprisonment for the prison corporations–not to mention slave labor that I understand a prisoner has to engage in. The US is indeed becoming a repressive an down right scarry place to live.

  6. avatar carlpolizzi says:

    Add Edgar Steele to this list of political prisoners!

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