To Whom It May Concern:
The justification of the Hip-Hop Summit took place in the context of the Cultural Diversity Class through the Educational Department in Coleman II Adult Continued Education (A.C.E.) program. The purpose of this event was to utilize Hip-Hop as a vehicle to discuss social issues and to educate the inmate population on the art form as well as to identify and analyze the challenges for individual development and rehabilitation within the prison setting.
The goal of documentation of the interaction and dialogue between outside and inside participation was to produce publication and audio-visual materials to be used to display the reflection of incarcerated inmates on these issues. Another goal was to service the academic and social development of the Hip-Hop generation. The major question that was posed during the Hip-Hop Summit was centered on the argument that Rap lyrics have played a role in the criminalization of Black and Latino youth, the promotion of crime, the increase of the United States prison population. Over the years certain media outlets and politicians have helped to create the perception that “Hip-Hop” equals crime.
Warden Carlyle Holder, the Chief Administrator responsible for three of the five institutions on the Coleman compound, must be commended for his innovative leadership, style of work, vision, and awareness of the impact of constructive programs on behavior and atmosphere in his prisons. As a result the prisons under his leadership have been distinguished from the mayhem that exists 200 yards away in Coleman (USP) I, under a different leadership and philosophy. A critical statistical review would bear out this comparison.
In Coleman II, the Hip-Hop Summit among other programs are realized because he is more than qualified to put forward a style of work and vision that induces varying concepts into the national debate. His initiative and insight to perceive the subtle differences between perception and reality of Hip-Hop’s effect on his population underline his intellect and astuteness and are a tribute to his stewardship. Just to raise that there may be a plausible alternative, explanation or constructive usage is what raises Warden Holder above his peers.
Allowing the documentation was important memorializing his efforts. This Warden is an asset, not a threat to the organizational dynamics of the B.O.P mission statement. The act of documentation of his program for all three of the institutions he oversees, speaks to his position on transparency.
The Hip-Hop Summit at Coleman II was in fact the second one held. The other was at another institution (The Hip-Hop Community has responded enthusiastically to the dialogue) but it was only one of the many creative Cultural and Religious Diversity programs initiated under his leadership that supported a vision of the role of educational and cultural programs was to establish institutional culture that encouraged self development, personal restraint and the maximizing of personal potential. The diminished cross cultural contradiction and violence that exist in Big Sandy is quite evidently absent from Coleman II, Medium, and the Camp. This is a stark difference and highlights the importance of these programs.
Do Prison Programs, which include outside guest participation, (in fact well known individuals) promote the proper atmosphere in a Maximum Security Prison? The philosophy suggested is that an increase in social awareness and responsibility encourages cultural interaction and empathy, other than on a purely religious orientation. We assume that schools of higher learning that incorporate the Hip-Hop rap dialogues have the same intention in exploring these issues. Many have said that these programs create an outlet for the mind that has given up all hope, that positive achievement was a mere illusion. The ability to see civilians in society interacting with prisoners without a prejudice agenda helps the concept of meaningful re-entry through personal presentation.
The B.O.P mission statement that now has shifted with more emphasis on Programs achievement as the important standard of review, suggests that there must be a motivational tool and programs availability under the Program Statement. Warden Holder has ensured both. And in light of mandatory sentences, it is clear that the women and men prisoners identify with his efforts. The support from his staff is demonstrated by the fact that they continue to volunteer their time for the various programs without being paid. And still no one has come forward with any specific problems, which has resulted from this vision that can outweigh the benefits.
It’s important to look at the specific type and variety of programs which speaks to the breadth of effort to be inclusive of the total populations. First, one must acknowledge Warden Holder personal convictions, as it’s transmitted to staff and prisoners alike. By his own confessions of being a Christian, induces the obligation that everyone has a right to dignity and respect. No matter their station in life, there is hope, no matter how far removed, there is a divine possibility. His detractors are quite aware of his convictions and principles. This exposé and explanation is reasoning to those who are in search for objective facts and results “For truth must be told. It holds up the sky and keeps the powerful honest”.
This list of functions is instructive-half of the events have been realized. And the others are either still in the planning stages or being resisted by subordinate staff. This perspective is not to be viewed as a finger pointing exercise. The reality is Warden Holder is being constrained in his efforts because there is a suggestion of an abuse of the transparent process. Images of the various programs have been made public without approval. As per policy these incidents can be addressed. There has been no suggestion of any violence or disruption of the orderly running of the institution either immediately or potentially – rather just the opposite is true. The crediting of the program in helping to maintain order is what has been demonstrated.
A strict procedure for institutional review of all visual documentation has been required and mostly adhered to. To use those issues to undermine the exceptional leadership and discretion is a “straw horse” to usher in a different vision without the justification or verification of success, particularly in light of the opposite model inside the walls of Beaumont, the attempt by a distant authority to interfere with this eclectic approach that has been so productive, and from a distance, authority will undermine the intuitive insight that distinguishes this particular leadership. Although there will be an opportunity to pattern this model as documentation and access are developed.
This review is not just support for Warden Carlyle Holder; rather it magnifies the need to embrace a vision. The fact that he has the authority and courage to pursue his convictions, by the implementation of programs that insure security and human development, provides for any objective observer, a model that can join the debate on what is the most effective way to advance hope and human development that heretofore has been a failure under the present mission directive in the B.O.P.
THE TYPES OF PROGRAMS PROPOSED AND IMPLEMENTED FOR THE INMATE POPULATION HAVE INCLUDED BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO:
A. Christian Motorcycle Group
B. Study of Sexual Deviancy
C. Gospel Chorus
D. Culture of Rehabilitation
E. Hip-Hop Summit
F. Symposium Crime and Gender, Victim Impact
G. Women’s Camp Family Day
H. Re-Entry Program Choices, Challenges, Change
I. NAACP USP Coleman II Visiting Room Family Day
J. Actor “Roc” Ministry (Charles Dutton)
K. Gospel Women’s Harp Players
L. National Director of the NAACP (Bruce Gordon)
M. Kwanzaa Program Sponsored by the Department of African American Studies at Georgia State University
N. Battle of the Bands between USP Coleman II and Medium (Televised)
O. Black Block History- Special Guests: Ja Rule, Jamal Joseph, and Stephanie Agosta
P. Paula White Ministries
Q. Sherrly Merdock- Ministries- Singer
R. T.D. Jakes- Pastor
S. Ministry of Love- Teach Aids Awareness
Men must be judged by their consequences not their intention, and consequences must be assessed by techniques of historical analysis and projection.
Coleman II, Medium and the Women Camp under the stewardship of Warden Holder, demonstrates the history of a man and his staff through their personal accomplishments that have not let personal choices take priority over their social responsibility, which they have inherited by the long struggle for Civil and Human Rights. Any support and inquiries that will lead you to support this vision that’s being tampered with would be strongly considered as an act of allegiance.
Thank you for your consideration,
Dr. Mutulu Shakur