Kite Line is a weekly radio program and podcast that focuses on issues in the prison system and beyond.

On the inside, a message is called a kite: whispered words, a note passed hand to hand, or a request submitted to guards for medical care. 

Illicit or not, sending a kite means trusting that other people will pass it farther along, until it reaches its destination. 

We make this show to pass along words, across the prison walls

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Recent Episodes

270 | A Slightly Bigger Cage – Jail Expansion for Monroe County

In 2008, Monroe County moved to build a new, expanded jail -framed as a “justice campus” using humanitarian rhetoric.  In response, a diverse group of local residents founded an organization called Decarcerate Monroe County (DMC).  Here is how they later summarized their activities:“DMC’s framework included embracing alternatives to punitive justice, promoting ways to decarcerate, and building a safer community. The justice campus proposal was defeated and the organization went on to fight campaigns against gentrification and discrimination, to ban the box (disclosing a felony conviction on job applications), to keep police out

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269 | A Perfect Storm – Conditions at Attica

This month, we are commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Attica prison uprising, a high point of the cycle of prisoners’ struggle of the 1960s and 1970s. We share experiences from former Attica prisoners Joseph Hayden and Carlos Roche, and attorney Elizabeth Fink, who all describe the events of that day and the days leading up to the event. Afterwards, we return to Frank Smith, known as Big Black, a prisoner at Attica who participated in the uprising and successfully organized the security for outside negotiators who entered the prison. 

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268 | The Attica Commune

Three years ago on Kite Line, we aired an episode about the Attica Prison Uprising of 1971. This week, September 9th to September 13th, will mark fifty years between us and the event. We share this piece again today, with updated contributions from its author, analyzing the growing challenges to our collective survival, both inside and outside the prisons.  What the author calls the commune – the enduring forms of collectivity and care developed through rebellion – is the best chance we have for survival.  This dimension of the Attica Uprising, such as the prisoners’ experiments

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267 | We Are Human Beings: Words From an Attica Rebel

This month, we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Attica prison uprising, a high point of the prisoners’ movement of the 1960s and 70s.  On September 9th, 1971, prisoners revolted, building on their own organizing and local grievances, as well as responding to the assassination of George Jackson by guards at Soledad Prison in California.  Right now, marking both events and continuing a long tradition of struggle, prisoners and their allies across the US are conducting a Shut ‘Em Down campaign against prison slavery. Frank Smith, known as Big Black, was a prisoner

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266 | The Punitive Image of the State

For our episode this week, we share the second of a two-part conversation between Nicole Fleetwood and Micol Seigel. Fleetwood’s recent book, Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration, is a wide-ranging exploration of visual art made by people in prison. Fleetwood explains “I started working on this book as a way to deal with the grief about so many of my relatives, neighbors, and childhood friends who were spending years, decades, or life sentences in prison. It was also an effort to connect with others who are separated from their loved

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265 | Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration, Part One

We start out by sharing a statement from Jailhouse Lawyers Speak about the Shut ‘Em Down campaign, scheduled for August 21st and September 9th, historic days for Black struggle inside and against prison. Afterwards, we share the first of a two-part conversation between Nicole Fleetwood and Micol Seigel. Fleetwood’s recent book, Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration, is an exploration of visual art made by people in prison. Fleetwood says, “I started working on this book as a way to deal with the grief about so many of

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