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I really hate wasting time correcting the errors of careless journalists. However, in his article on trash-transfer stations (“Talking Trash,” 1/26), Paul Ruffins refers to me as the D.C. Statehood Green Party “spokesperson” (I am not) and attributes some comments to me regarding the proposed Ward 8 prison that require clarification.
First the small stuff: Although I did indeed spend much of my childhood living next to Sing Sing Prison, I doubt that I said it was in upstate New York, because it is actually just outside New York City. And, although I did agree with Ruffins’ assertion that prisons in and of themselves don’t necessarily harm the economy of the surrounding community, as some of the Ward 8 prison opponents argued, there was far more to the opposition that was not addressed in the article.
The major oversight that Ruffins makes in attempting to tie the prison issue to his article’s theme regarding black vs. white environmentalists is that many of the opponents to the Ward 8 prison, including the Statehood Green Party, based their opposition on more than simple NIMBYism and the potential loss of waterfront parkland. In trying to pigeonhole Statehood Greens into his stereotyped view of narrowly focused enviro-types, Ruffins himself misses the larger issues regarding
The crux of the Statehood Green Party’s opposition to the Ward 8 prison was that it was yet another congressionally imposed mandate on D.C. residents and would have been a private facility managed by a corporation (white-owned, by the way) that profits from incarcerating the poor and people of color. Contrary to the assertions of some, the prison opponents were not responsible for breaking up families by shipping D.C. inmates all over the countryCongress and the Corrections Corporation of America were. While the prison supporters shouted “Keep them home!” the Statehood Greens’ rallying cry was, and remains, “Education, not incarceration!” and “Jobs, not jails!”
Yes, it is undeniable that Ward 8 has traditionally been the dumping ground for the city’s less desirable facilities, and the Statehood Green Party has been consistent in decrying the injustice of that fact. And yes, the Statehood Greens adamantly oppose the mindless destruction of urban greenspace. But if Ruffins wanted to bring in the proposed Ward 8 prison to his discussion of environmental justice, he should have dealt with all its disturbing implicationscorporate control of the criminal justice system, misdirection of public resources for private profit, and Congress once again telling D.C. residents what’s best for them. That’s what the opposition to that ill-conceived project was really all about.