Kite Line is a radio program devoted to prison issues around the Midwest and beyond. Behind the prison walls, a message is called a kite: whispered words, a note passed hand to hand, or a request submitted to the guards for medical care. Illicit or not, sending a kite means trusting that other people will bear it farther along till it reaches its destination. On the show, we hope to pass along words across the prison walls.
July 30, 2021: Standing Together
This week, we are highlighting two experiences of outside solidarity with prisoners. First, we share audio from last week's rally in Indianapolis for clemency, including a recorded statement by Leon Benson, a longtime imprisoned organizer, as well as a speech by his son, Leon Bluitt, about the impact of growing up with an incarcerated parent.
After that, we feature an interview with Danielle Chanzes, one of three people arrested on felony charges after a solidarity demo outside Florida State Prison last December. The protest was responding to prisoners demanding improved COVID safety measures amid miserable conditions and was also a memorial for Karen Smith, a dynamic abolitionist organizer and previous Kite Line contributor who passed away last year. Danielle took her charges to trial and won last week, and today she explains the importance of her fight in the context of a generalized drive to repress protest in Florida and across the US.
You can find our interviews with Karen Smith, along with our coverage of Leon Benson by searching for them on our new website: kitelineradio.org
July 23, 2021: Prison by Any Other Name, Part Two
This week on Kite Line, we continue our conversation with prison abolitionist journalists Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law. We share the second half of our discussion on their recent book, Prison by Any Other Name: Harmful Consequences of Popular Reforms. The book is an in-depth look at the various “alternatives to prison” that are held up as substitutes for incarceration, but which, in many cases, bring surveillance into our homes and communities.
The alternatives mentioned in our discussion last week – electronic monitoring, probation, court mandated psychiatric confinement or Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOTS), and the sex offender registry – are just a few of the methods they analyze. For instance, “community policing” often means over-policing neighborhoods that are predominately inhabited by people of color, leading to rising arrests and police harassment. This week, they talk about issues with child protective services, community policing, school resource officers, and tell us of possible abolitionist horizons.
In this episode we mention Isaiah Willoughby, who was arrested and federally charged with one count of arson in connection to a fire at the Seattle Police Department East Precinct.
You can write letters to him at:
Isaiah Willoughby #49960-086
P.O. Box 13900
Seattle, WA 98198
You can hear the first part of the conversation with Law and Schenwar here.
July 16, 2021: Prison By Any Other Name, Part One
This week on Kite Line, we speak with prison abolitionist journalists Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law. We share the first part of our discussion on their recent book, Prison by Any Other Name: Harmful Consequences of Popular Reforms. The book is an in-depth look at the various "alternatives to prison" that are held up as substitutes for incarceration, but which, in many cases, bring surveillance into our homes and communities. The alternatives mentioned in our discussion today - electronic monitoring, probation, court mandated psychiatric confinement or Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOTS), and the sex offender registry - are just a few of the methods critiques in their book.
Law has been on the show before, and you can hear her talk about women's resistance within prisons here, and on a panel about carceral feminism here.
July 9, 2021: On Strike
This week, amid a spate of prisoners' strikes, we share our monthly round up of prison disturbances for June 2021, compiled by Perilous Chronicle. Prisoners are hunger striking across the continent, agitating for safer conditions, and pushing back against labor exploitation. We share an excerpt of the story entitled Prisoners Strike Against Racism and Colonialism in Canada’s “New Residential Schools” written by Abby Stadnyk. This agitation is particularly striking as we approach Black August and the broad calls for "Shut 'Em Down" protests on August 21st and September 9th.
Afterwards, we have more from David Campbell, former anitfacist political prisoner, who recently did a year on Rikers Island. In this segment, he continues to talk about “sticking it up”- the various ways that prisoners resist their confinement. In his case, they had to strike in order to get masks and cleaning supplies to help protect them as COVID-19 spread throughout the facility. Last week, he told us about conditions on Rikers, and the lead up to their strike. In this segment, he starts out with the aftermath of the strike and how things changed once they finally received media attention.
You can read the entire article by Stadnyk here.
July 1, 2021: Stick-up on Rikers Island
This week, we continue talking to David Campbell, former anti-fascist political prisoner who recently did a year on Rikers Island. In our last conversation with David, he discussed the circumstances of how he ended up in the Rikers facility- the short of it being that he was sentenced to his time after a fight with some Trump supporters in NYC. In our segment today, he spells out some of the ways doing a long stint in jail is different than one in prison, and also about what it was like to organize in prison during COVID-19. We will continue to air our conversation with David next week.
David wrote an article with the same name for Hard Crackers Magazine, which you can read here.
You can hear our previous episode with David here.
June 25, 2021: Cory Cardinal, Rest In Power
Our episode this week is a memorial to Cory Cardinal. Regular listeners will remember Cory as the organizer of the recent hunger strikes in Saskatoon Correctional and as a past contributor to Kite Line. An inspiration to many and a tireless advocate on behalf of incarcerated people, Cory passed away earlier this month. Written and read by Abby Stadnyk, with contributions from Cory in his own words, this episode focuses on both his life and organizing, and how the system he struggled within ultimately killed him.
Thanks to Abby, Perilous Chronicle, and to all who contributed their words to the show. You can find previous episodes with Cory here, here, here, here and here.
You can read the full piece by Stadnyk, along with photos and links:
In Memoriam: Cory Charles Cardinal (1983-2021)
Informational and Engrossing
Everyone should listen to this podcast.. it’ll open your eyes to the prison system, and to US American systems of injustice in general.
Best prisoner podcast hands down
I LOVE kiteline! It’s a woman-made syndicated radio program. They are so easy to listen to. Kiteline features interviews with prisoners, activists and professors which are as often funny and inspiring as they are sobering and sad. Interviews are paired with historical and sociological lessons on prison issues.
If only more people listened to this podcast and heard the stories of how prisons abuse their power. This podcast through interviews with scholars and people struggling in the system show the disastrous effects and harm produced by our prison system. Anyone interested in prison abolition should listen to this podcast.