This blog post was written by Ademo Freeman from Valley Street Jail.
Before coming to jail, I used a song and some clips my friend Clyde Voluntaryist put together called, “None of us are free, one of us is caged.” More recently, I received a letter from a person I’ve never met who credited the “Free Ademo” movement for bringing him and his friends to the concept of Voluntaryism. Jay, the man who sent me such letter, stated, “We are no more free than you, except that our cage has a larger roaming ground and aims to be more subtle.”
Before I elaborate more on that statement, I’d like to thank everyone who made this interaction possible. The “Free Ademo” movement is something I can not take credit for. It’s something y’all have done, and done extremely well. Be proud of yourselves as I’m sure ‘Jay and his friends’ are not the only one’s you’ve touched.
Back to the issue at hand – freedom. As I sit in my jail cell, writing this on the lamest excuse for a desk combined with some of the most ridiculous rules you’d ever hear, it’s obvious I am not free. That I am in fact caged and basically the slave of my captors. But what about you?
Are you free? If society was as clearly controlled at the setting I currently live in, would you tolerate it with the same compliance as you do current day-to-day life?
Let me expand a little more on what I’m trying to say. In my jail cell, all movements are controlled. When I was taken to court for my trial, in order to leave my unit I had to have my jail ID. To leave the jail, I had to have the proper paperwork. Some may say that’s understandable because I’m an inmate, but how is that any different from those who are not incarcerated? In order to leave your house, you need a government driver’s license – which is the exact same size as my jail ID. Of course, you can walk without it, unless you’re stopped and questioned by the police. Then, like me when I roam the jail as their worked, you must produce such identification in order to end the involuntary interaction. Even if you have the ID, states require you to have some sort of registration. Sounds very similar to the paperwork required to transport me.
Look at it from another angle and you get the same effect. Everything in my possession (ie, in my jail cell) must be jail issued. I’m told how many razors, toothbrushes and even how much food I can have in my possession. There is a whole chapter in the handbook dedicated to what I can possess while caged here. Again, many will say, “What do you expect?” or, the common line on the inside is, “Welcome to jail.” Is this really all that different from those outside of jail, though?
In some states you’re told how many guns or ammunition for those guns you can possess. Even possession of a medication can land you in the cell next to mine without proper paperwork – as in, some state licensed doctor’s permission slip. For me, if a cellmate gives me an extra soup or shirt and I don’t possess the proper proof, I can be written up or taken to the hole. Some governments – state or local – go as far as to tell you how many cars, trees, or animals you can have on “your” property. There have even been stories of people being charged or harassed for painting their house a certain color, or for refusing to move a piece of property (Ian’s couch, for example) from their own property.
I could go on and on about the control, oppression, and restrictions put on people every day. The point Jay reminded me of is simple: Your jail might be bigger, your chains invisible, but they’re restraining you just the same as mine. Yes, we’re all oppressed and it’s not getting any better. When will we break these chains?