One question prisoners ask the USN more than any other is, “Why can’t y’all all work together?”
The Universal Support Network tries to focus on “right now” issues. Fighting to eliminate the death penalty is great, but there are way more issues affecting prisoners than the death penalty, and that issue serves only the prisoners on death row. Finding housing for sex offenders is important, but it’s not the only important aspect of the reform movement, and that issue affects only prisoners who are already out of prison.
Sometimes the USN is one person, sometimes it’s five people. Sometimes it has money, sometimes it owes money.
Sometimes it has time, sometimes it doesn’t. The USN doesn’t have a website. The USN WILL work with others as long as there is a believable, realistic purpose. The USN president Minister Norman V. Whiteside works with prisoners fighting their cases. He goes to prison and officiates marriages. He helps prisoners in custody matters. He accepts phone calls from prisoners at least 5 times a day and is connected to at least 350 prisoners on Jpay. He assists lawyers with getting prisoner cases back in the courts. He writes letters and emails to the governor, the ODRC director, judges, the parole board, parole officers, and challenges prosecutors who use unsavory tactics.
Desi Weaver networks with several people who claim they are about prisoner rights. Recently, he presented a local version of “Court Watch” to the table in which USN personnel will begin sitting in courtrooms and try to dissuade defendants from being tricked by their lawyers who want only for those defendants to plead themselves into an unfair prison sentence.
The USN does not want to meet, have coffee and donuts, and merely discuss what’s going on in prison, or report how many times we have been in the news. The USN cannot afford to align itself with anyone who merely wants to present “lip service.”
It’s so easy to get people to hold signs on their days off, and rally when they have nothing else to do, but USN staff will give up Christmas, Mother’s Day, and Easter to protest the wrongs of the prison and parole systems.
So, what is USN doing now? Not as much as we would like to. However, we have recently assisted prisoners in exposing organizations like the NLPA, we have assisted defendants in exposing corrupt law enforcement operatives, and we continue to make it cost-effective for prisoners to get their cases heard in the courts and before the Ohio parole board.
When we can network with other organizations that are willing to do the types of things we do and are willing to do, then we will. In the meantime, we like how we roll and several prisoners across the state have expressed immense satisfaction with the way we roll.
We are not always in a position to take collect calls, and sometimes it takes us awhile to respond to mail and Jpay, but if you have an issue that demands immediate attention, we plan on establishing a hotline. Yes, sometimes we will even take calls from prisoners who just need to talk to someone. We ask that you be patient and understand that besides donations we receive periodically, we use our own money to keep going.
Prisoners, please try to keep your head up, keep having Faith and continue to be well.