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Supermax Psych: “Behavior Modification” at Marion Federal Prison

by James Ridgeway and Jean Casella at Solitary Watch

“Eddie Griffin, a former Civil Rights Movement activist and Black Panther, spent 12 years in federal prison for bank robbery, beginning in the early 1970s. After he was injured doing prison labor at Terre Haute Federal Prison, and refused to return to work under unsafe conditions, he was labelled “incorrigible” and transferred to the U.S. Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois.

Built to replace Alcatraz in 1963, Marion is widely acknowledged to be the first modern “supermax,” and was once the highest security and most notorious prison in the federal system. That distinction today belongs to ADX Florence in Colorado, but Marion is now home to one of the ultra-isolated federal Communications Management Units opened during the Bush Administration.

‘Breaking Men’s Minds: Behavior Control and Human Experimentation at the Federal Prison in Marion’ is a remarkable article authored by Griffin and published in the Journal of Prisoners on Prisons in 1993 (vol. 4, no. 2). (H/T to Alan for alerting us to the piece.) In it, he discusses the realities of the “behavior modification program” instituted at Marion in the 1960s. Griffin begins by describing the control of every moment–and every movement–in the lives of prisoners.”

Read the rest here.

Action Alert: Demand Medical Treatment for Anarchist Prisoner Jerome White-Bey

55 year old Jerome White-Bey continues to be unjustly confined in Ad Seg (the hole), denied medical treatment for liver disease. A prison doctor prescribed interferon treatment for Jerome’s liver disease, however the Regional Medical Director Dr. Conley and the Director Mr. George A. Lombardi has refused to transfer him. Denying such treatment could prove deadly.  Denial of medical care is one of the many ways that the prison system abuses political and politicized prisons.

Jerome is reaching out to those on the outside to pressure officials to provide him with the treatment he deserves.

People are encouraged to write letters and make phone calls to:
1.        George A. Lombardi  (Director)
2.        Ms. Lisa Jones
3.        Dr. Conley (Regional Medical Director)
4.        Ms. Gloria Perry  (MD Chief Medical Officer)

Missouri Department of Corrections
2729 Plaza Drive
P.O. Box 236
Jefferson City, MO. 65102

Phone number is: 573-751-2389

Sample letter:

Dear Director Lombardi,

I write to you out of deep concern for prison inmate Jerome White-Bey #37479 who is suffering from liver disease.  The visiting doctor prescribed interferon treatment for him, but he continues to be denied this treatment.  If gone untreated, his condition could worsen.

I am asking that you immediately grant Mr. White-Bey the interferon treatment he needs to protect his health and to remove him from administrative segregation.  Under the Eigth Amendment prisoners are entitled to adequate medical care.  I hope that you take immediate action to uphold Mr White-Bey’s rights and health.

I and all who share concern would be gratified by a reply from you as soon as possible. Thank you for your time on this important matter.
Respectfully yours,

[Your Name]

Lucasville Hunger Strike Ends in Victory!

According to the Lucasville Five supporters, Bomani Shakur, Siddique Abdullah Hasan, and Jason Robb  have all ended their hunger strike in response to prison officials agreeing to meet virtually all of the demands set out.  This came on the heels of a public rally outside Ohio’s Supermax Prison.

The full details of the agreement will be released soon.  In the meantime, the three are recovering from nearly two weeks without food.  As one supporter put it,

“this time they were fighting about their conditions of confinement but now they begin the fight for their lives. They were wrongfully convicted of complicity in 1993 murders in Lucasville prison and have faced retribution because they refused to provide snitch testimony against others who actually committed those murders. Now, because of Ohio’s (and other states’) application of the death penalty, they still face execution at a future date. Ohio is today exceeded only by Texas in its enthusiasm for applying the death penalty. We need to take some of this energy that was created around the hunger strike to help these men fight for their lives.”

Support the Lucasville Five Hunger Strike!

The Lucasville Uprising was a historic prison uprising in which black and white prisoners united in protest over inhumane prison conditions.  Out of that five prisoners were framed for murders of prisoners that took place during the rebellion.  They were all sentenced to death and have been kept in solitary confinement and denied even the most basic of rights typically afforded death row inmates.

Four of the five are now engaged in a hunger strike in hopes of winning the few rights they are due before they are executed.

People can keep up with the hunger strike and join in the campaign to support the Lucasville Five by doing the following.

  • Join the Facebook Support Page
  • Sign the online petition
  • Email lucasvillefreedom(at)gmail.com to get connected with the campaign
  • Call or write Gary Moore, Director, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction
    770 West Broad Street
    Columbus, OH 43222
    614-752-1159

Background Information

Press Conference on Georgia Prisons

A press conference was held (Thursday) morning in Atlanta GA to press for changes in GA prisons. Here is the press release, please post.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 6, 2011

10:30 a.m.Georgia State Capitol, 206 Washington Street

Atlanta, Georgia

NEW CHARGES OF INMATE BEATINGS
Reports from Prison Visits Set Off Coalition Appeal to DOC and Governor-Elect for More Access.

The Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights, formed to support the interests and agenda of thousands of Georgia prisoners who staged a peaceful protest and work strike initiated early last December, will host a press conference this Thursday. The mothers and other family members of Terrance Dean and Miguel Jackson, inmates reportedly brutally beaten by guards at Macon State and Smith State Prisons in connection with the strike, will be in attendance.The press conference follows reports of violent abuses of these men and others and the findings of fact by Coalition delegations after visits to two prisons in December. These reports have increased fears of the targeting of and retaliation against inmates on account of their peaceful protest for their human rights and raise the urgency for immediate reform.

“These new developments have increased our fears and our legitimate call formore access to inmates,” said Elaine Brown, Co-Chair of the Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners Rights. (more…)

Durham Herald-Sun: New Wave of Prison Revolts Likely

(originally printed in the Durham Herald-Sun)

By Neal Richards
Guest columnist

Sometimes big news can happen right under your nose and you won’t hear about it. I spend much of my free time working with an organization called the Prison Books Collective, a Chapel Hill-based group that sends reading materials to prisoners and publishes their writing. And yet it took a hurried text message from a friend to hear about what is probably the biggest prison strike ever to occur in the United States.

Starting on Dec. 9, thousands of prisoners spanning six different facilities across Georgia refused to leave their cells to go to work. In protest of forced work without pay, poor food and health treatment, and a variety of other grievances, prisoners united across racial, religious and gang loyalties to self-organize a massive rebellion coordinated primarily by word of mouth and phone.

After six days of lockdown, during which guards turned off the prisoners’ heat and water and beat up suspected leaders, the prisoners decided to end their strike. The strikers have pledged to take further action if their demands are not met soon. One prisoner was quoted in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as saying, “We did it peacefully and tried to do it the right way. But these guys are to the point that if this [the protest] don’t work, they’re going to go about it the way they know best [with violence].”

Despite relative media silence around the strike, word has spread, and supporters around the country have expressed solidarity with numerous demonstrations outside prisons. On Dec. 17, a demonstration occurred outside Raleigh’s Central Prison, with protesters banging on drums and holding signs that read “Love for All Prison Rebels” and “Solidarity with the Georgia Strikers.”

The Georgia strike is not just a rebellion against inhumane conditions, but also against a society that locks up more of its inhabitants per capita than any other country in the world. Historically, and particularly in the South, systems of incarceration and policing have been directly inherited from chattel slavery; two of the oldest prisons we send books to literally started as plantations. These systems thus extend beyond prison to the methods of policing and surveillance that permeate our daily lives. The solidarity demonstrations are not surprising: A rebellion against prison is bound to expand in a society in which workplaces and neighborhoods increasingly resemble prisons.

Every week, I correspond with prisoners around the South as part of my work with the Prison Books Collective. Based on what I’ve seen, this strike represents the beginning of a new wave of prisoners’ self-organizing. Considering that the American prison population has grown from roughly 300,000 to nearly 2.4 million people since the last wave of prison rebellions in the early 1970s, the next wave of revolt is bound to be deeper and more widespread.

For those of us who are troubled by this prospect, it is high time to reevaluate everything we think we know about crime, punishment and policing.

Neal Richards is based in Chapel Hill.

Action Alert: Call In to End the Long Term Solitary Confinement of Russell Maroon Shoatz

After being on 23 hour lockdown for the past 21 years, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections has recommended that BLA Prisoner of War Russell Maroon Shoatz be released into the prison’s general population.

Russell has not had any infractions in the last 21 years and everyone is on board with his release except for the Superintendent of SCI Greene, Louis Folino.

Russell’s supporters are urging people to call Mr. Folino and ask that he support the decision to release Russell into general population.

The Program Review Board meeting is January 5th so time is of the essence!  Here is the number and a sample phone script.  Also, RSVP for the call-in on facebook and spread the word to others!!

Superintendent Folino- (724) 852-2903 (ask for Tracey Shawley if he is not available)

Sample Phone Script

Caller: Hi, can I please speak with Superintendent Folino.

Prison: May I ask who is calling.

Caller: My name is ______ and I am calling in regards to the upcoming Review Board meeting for Russell Maroon Shoatz.

Prison:  Just one moment.
(Or more likely) He is not available. Can I take a message?

Caller: Hello Mr. Folino/Mrs. Shawley.  I am calling to strongly encourage you to move prisoner Russell Maroon Shoatz from 23 hour lockdown into the general population.  My understanding is that the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections has recommended his release into general population and given his clean record over the past 21 years I think it is without a doubt the just and right thing to do.  Thank you for your time.

You can also write a letter  to:
Supt, Folino, 169 Progress Drive, Waynesburg, Pa 15370

Scott Sisters to be Freed After 16 Years in Jail for $11 Robbery

jamieandgladysscott

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour has suspended the life sentences of a pair of African American sisters who had served 16 years in prison for taking part in an $11 armed robbery. For years civil rights advocates, including the NAACP, have called for the release of Jamie and Gladys Scott, often known as just as the Scott Sisters. One of the sisters, 38-year-old Jamie Scott, is in need of a kidney transplant. Her sister Gladys Scott has agreed to donate one of her kidneys as a condition for her release from prison.

You can send them a welcome home greeting here.

Political Prisoners’ Birthdays Year End Report

Our Year End Report

Dear Friends and Comrades,
This poster marks a year of making these posters! Our collective is super excited to be able to have kept up for an entire year while expanding what we are pretty sure is the most extensive database of US political Prisoners’ birthdays. We plan on continuing to compile these birthdays and addresses for years to come. What started as a really shitty looking punk poster sent to 20 personal contacts in the south east is now emailed out to over 200 infoshops and individuals, mailed to just about every books 2 prisoners in the country and 500 are included in every package of three major radical distributors. Its also changed the way the Earth First! Journal does their prisoner support page. It is our hope that all this has increased political prisoner mail and support exponentially by using a decentralized yet coordinated model. This project serves to connect the current movements and struggles with our warriors and elders who have been captured and in many cases tortured and left to be forgotten by the US empire. Most signs point to this project as a raging success in terms of its original scope and goals. (more…)

The Worst of the Worst: Supermax Torture in America

“They beat the shit out of you,” Mike James said, hunched near the smeared plexiglass separating us. He was talking about the cell “extractions” he’d endured at the hands of the supermax-unit guards at the Maine State Prison.

“They push you, knee you, poke you,” he said, his voice faint but ardent through the speaker. “They slam your head against the wall and drop you on the floor while you’re cuffed.” He lifted his manacled hands to a scar on his chin. “They split it wide open. They’re yelling ‘Stop resisting! Stop resisting!’ when you’re not even moving.”

When you meet Mike James you notice first his deep-set eyes and the many scars on his shaved head, including a deep, horizontal gash. He got that by scraping his head on the cell door slot, which guards use to pass in food trays.

Read the rest here.