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Beyond Prisons — Episode 10: Demanding Human Rights At Vaughn feat. Emily Abendroth

On episode 10 of Beyond Prisons, we talk about Thomas Gordon, who is incarcerated at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, a state prison in Delaware.

Vaughn was the site of what has been called the Vaughn Rebellion, an uprising last February in response to horrendous living conditions that was met with brutal repression by corrections officers.

Thomas wrote an open letter after the rebellion, which described their demands for human rights, including a proper diet, an adequate grievance process, and access to programs and education.

Thomas’s friend Emily Abendroth joins hosts Brian Sonenstein and Kim Wilson to talk about her friendship with Thomas, the open letter, and what she’s learned from their correspondence. We discuss the risks and dangers Thomas faces in doing this work, the response from state officials and the media to the rebellion, and how officials have sought to increase their power in the aftermath by blaming staffing and security issues instead of addressing the root causes outlined by those incarcerated at Vaughn.

Emily Abendroth is a poet, teacher and anti-prison activist living in Philadelphia. She is an active organizer with the Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration (a grassroots campaign working to end life without parole sentencing in Pennsylvania) and is co-founder of Address This! (an education and empowerment project that provides innovative, social justice correspondence courses to individuals incarcerated in Pennsylvania) and LifeLines: Voices Against the Other Death Penalty (a media project conducted across the prison walls to highlight the voices and analysis of those serving death by incarceration sentences).  Her published works include the poetry book ]Exclosures[ and The Instead, a collaborative book with fiction writer Miranda Mellis, as well as numerous poetry chapbooks. Follow Emily’s work at:, and

Full Disclosure: Kim has two sons incarcerated at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center.

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Music & Production: Jared Ware

Beyond Prisons

Beyond Prisons

Beyond Prisons is a podcast on incarceration and prison abolition that elevates people directly impacted by the system. Hosted by Kim Wilson and Brian Sonenstein.