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At Ohio’s Supermax Prison, a Hunger Strike Ends But Extreme Isolation Remains

COOEYFrom Solitary Watch

Last week, men incarcerated at Ohio’s supermax prison, the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown, brought a month-long hunger strike to a close. Between 30 and 40 men had refused all meals since March 16 to protest new restrictions placed on already severely limited recreation and programming for those in solitary confinement. On Wednesday, April 15, all but one of the men agreed to suspend the hunger strike after a meeting with the warden at which the prison agreed to lifting some, but not all, of the new restrictions.

The Ohio State Penitentiary, or OSP, opened as Ohio’s first super maximum security facility in 1998. Conditions for the over 400 men held there are more restrictive than on Ohio’s death row. Even under policies that now exclude people with serious mental illness from placement there, the men incarcerated at OSP include those with mental health needs, including people with depression, dementia, cognitive and developmental disabilities.

Litigation by the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights about OSP’s conditions and the criteria for determining who was placed there went all the way to the Supreme Court in 2005. In that case, Austin v Wilkinson, the Court recognized that solitary confinement at OSP was an “atypical and substantial hardship.” The Court’s opinion, authored by Justice Antony Kennedy, included a description of the prison: (more…)

GEO Group’s Gulags Grasping for Green Approval

Greenwashing-the-Gulags-meme-UPDATEFrom EF! Newswire/ by Panagioti

All the LEED certifications in the world can’t cover up the constant flow of atrocities associated with prisons-for-profit, but that’s not going to stop them from trying.

Last month GEO Group garnered attention from the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) #GreenwashingTheGulags campaign for announcing that they had taken advantage of a publically-funded grant program to promote water conservation by installing a native landscape plan at the Desert View Modified Community Correctional which they run in drought-stricken Adelanto, California. Of course, the labor for the project was completed by prisoners, and now, where there was once just some dirt, there are well-arranged rocks. The landscape even includes rocks that were painted blue to spell out “GEO.”

Despite the new rocks, GEO still draws over 140,000 gallons every day to operate that 700-person facility alone. Never mind the nearby 1,300-bed Adelanto Detention Facility they also operate to house immigrant prisoners.

You can do the water math yourself, it’s not too complicated. The average prisoner requires about 200 gallons of water per day (well, a recent Environmental Impact Statement for a proposed federal prison actually put it at 214 gallons, but I’m trying to keep the calculations simple here.) (more…)

Body cameras could transform policing – for the worse

freskos-daviddeshaiesNew facial-recognition technology will enable police to justify stops with a mere glance

From ALJAZEERA

The day after video surfaced of a North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer shooting Walter Scott in the back, the town’s mayor announced plans to outfit all its police officers with body cameras. The New York Police Department has started to put cameras on officers, and the White House has announced a $263 million program to supply 50,000 body cameras to local police.

Advocates for these cameras hope that they will hold police accountable for their behavior. Skeptics point out that unobstructed video footage did nothing to win an indictment in the police killing of Eric Garner. But this debate has overlooked another possibility. Even if cameras reduce police violence, they could transform how citizens interact with police once facial recognition technology allows officers automatically to identify each individual they lay eyes on.

Facial recognition technology isn’t science fiction. Police in the United Kingdom, Dubai and Canada already wear cameras that can recognize faces to identify suspects and missing persons. Apps for Google Glass allow wearers to automatically connect faces to photos, and Taser — the leading seller of police body cameras — is developing cameras that integrate facial recognition with police databases. (more…)

Anarchist Resistance in Georgia Prisons Continues

prison_solidarityFrom Anarchist News

At least four prisoners in the Georgia State Prison in Reidsville are on hunger strike. They demand an end to the Tier Program, a system used to grant and withhold privileges from prisoners. To understand why this is significant, here’s some history:

In 2010, thousands of prisoners across Georgia, USA went on strike, refusing to leave their cells or cooperate with the prison in any way. The effort crossed race and gang lines, with normally rival groups working together. They were met with repression and violence, but resistance spilled into more prisons through communication over smuggled phones. It grew into international news.

Unable to contain the situation, prison officials identified the supposed “leaders” of the uprising and transferred them to Jackson State Prison. There they were held under very restrictive conditions – almost no visits, calls, or medical attention.

In 2012, those prisoners in Jackson started a hunger strike in protest of the restrictive conditions. They were fewer than in 2010, but gained attention and ultimately forced prison officials to meet and negotiate with them to improve conditions.

As one might imagine, officials were worried by a prison population that felt it could make demands. So since 2012, they have taken steps to prevent further resistance. Key among these is their use of the Tier Program. It effectively functions as an unaccountable and arbitrary criminal justice system within the prison itself. Prisoners placed on the program are assigned a tier: 1, 2 or 3. The higher the tier, the more restrictive and harsh their conditions are. The prisoner must then obey and cooperate with officials until they decide to move the prisoner to the next lower tier. (more…)

Protest the Prison Profiteers at GEO Group’s 2015 Shareholders Meeting

geogroup

From Drop GEO

This month the GEO Shareholders will be coming to Boca Raton for their annual meeting!

JOIN OUR RALLY to let them know that we are watching them and that profiting off people in prison is WRONG!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Meet at us at 855 South Federal Highway
Boca Raton, FL 33432

 

GEO Group is the second largest for-profit prison operator in the nation – and their headquarters is located in Boca Raton, FL. GEO makes millions of dollars every year…but only if the prison beds are filled. (more…)

The Final Straw: Hunger Strike at OSP Youngstown nears 30th day

Pirate_radio_station_5417.jpgFrom Asheville FM

Streaming at AshevilleFM from 3am EST on April 13th through April 19th, 2015, then podcasting at radio4all.net. Also airing this week on KOWA-LPFM in Olympia, WA, KWTF in Bodega Bay, CA, KXCF in Marshall, CA, and WCRS-LP Columbus Community Radio 98.3 and 102.1 FM. The show will later be archived at TheFinalStrawRadio.NoBlogs.Org. Drop us a line at thefinalstrawradio(aT)riseup(dooot)net for suggestions or comments.

This week we’re joined by Imam Siddique Abdullah Hasan, one of 6 prisoners who are almost a month into a solidarity hunger strike at Ohio State Prison in Youngstown to press the Warden about current conditions at the prison. Among the issues the hunger strike is protesting include the inability of all new/incoming prisoners to OSP and those currently on the highest level of security (5B) to attend congregational religious activities, also poor quality of food presented by Aramark (the company contracted to provide meals at OSP, and who’s food services sparked the hunger strike in January of 2014 at Westville Correctional Facility in Indiana) a lack of access to outside recreation for the prisoners and more. You may recall Hasan from a prior interview we did with him on the anniversary of the 1993 Lucasville Prisoner uprising which began because of some of the same issues and for which Hasan is facing the death penalty as an organizer of the beginning of the protest sparking the uprising as well as helping to organize the end of that uprising. The 1993 uprising resulted in the deaths of 9 prisoners (accused of being snitches) and one prison guard. To hear our interview with Hasan from October of 2013, click here.

Also, Sean Swain speaks about the hunger strike at OSP, where he was formerly incarcerated, and the harsh realities of lack of access to human interaction, direct sunlight and the out doors. (more…)

Everything The Police Said About Walter Scott’s Death Before A Video Showed What Really Happened

south carolinaFrom Think Progress

On Tuesday, South Carolina police officer Michael Thomas Slager was charged with first-degree murder for the shooting death of Walter Scott. Charges against South Carolina police officers for shooting someone are extremely rare. But what was particularly remarkable in this case was, for at least two days, Slager was apparently unaware that video of the entire incident existed.

This provides a unique opportunity to observe how one police officer sought to avoid accountability for his actions.

Between the time when he shot and killed Scott early Saturday morning and when charges were filed, Slager — using the both the police department and his attorney — was able to provide his “version” of the events. He appeared well on his way to avoiding charges and pinning the blame on Scott.

Then a video, shot by an anonymous bystander, revealed exactly what happened.

On Saturday the police released a statement alleging that Scott had attempted to gain control of a Taser from Slager and that he was shot in a struggle over the weapon. (more…)

The Final Straw: A chat with Eric McDavid on prison, post-incarceration, hope, ice cream & more

ericmcdavidFrom The Final Straw

Streaming at AshevilleFM from 3am EST on April 6th through April 12th, 2015, then podcasting at radio4all.net. Also airing this week on KOWA-LPFM in Olympia, WA, KWTF in Bodega Bay, CA, KXCF in Marshall, CA, and WCRS-LP Columbus Community Radio 98.3 and 102.1 FM. The show will later be archived at TheFinalStrawRadio.NoBlogs.Org. Drop us a line at thefinalstrawradio(aT)riseup(dooot)net for suggestions or comments.

This week we’re speaking with Eric McDavid, a recently released eco-anarchist and vegan. Eric and his two co-defendants (Lauren Weiner and Zachary Jenson) were entrapped by an FBI agent provocateur who went by the name of “Anna” and arrested for allegedly planning to blow up cell-phone towers, small dams & a lab researeching genetically modifying trees. Eric was arrested in January of 2006 during an FBI raid on the cabin that “Anna” was providing for the four.

During the court case, the government prosecutors were able to turn Zachary and Lauren against their slightly older co-defendant, Eric, with threats of spending decades of their life behind bars. So, Zachary and Lauren posed Eric as their “leader” and threw him under the bus. As a result, Eric was given a 20 year sentence for what was effectively the charge of being guilty of Thought Crime.

(more…)

Political Prisoner Birthday Poster For April 2015 Is Now Available

anarchist-cupcakes

Hello Friends and Comrades,

1) Here is the political prisoner birthday poster for April. As always, please post this poster publicly and/or use it to start a card writing night of your own.

2) On March 30th, Mumia Abu-Jamal was rushed to the hospital after passing out at State Correctional Institution (SCI) Mahanoy. He was admitted to the Schuylkill Medical Center with a blood sugar level of 779. Today, he received visits from his wife, Wadiya, and his brother, Keith Cook. Mumia’s blood sugar had dropped to 333 as of a couple hours ago. This is still elevated and at an unhealthy level.

Mumia’s family and supporters are asking that you call now to demand that Mumia’s case be reviewed by doctors representing the family: Say you are calling about prisoner WESLEY COOK, #AM8335

  • Pennsylvania Bureau of Health Care Director Chris Oppman, 717-728-5311 (an activist says he’s personally answering this number and that he has replaced Richard Ellers)
  • Corrections Secretary John Wetzel, 717-728-4109 or ra-crpadocsecretary@pa.gov
  • Schuylkill Medical Center Superintendent Mark Lory,
    420 S. Jackson St., Pottsville, PA 17901, 570-621-5000
    (or his secretary, Diane Doyn, ext. 5102)
  • Mahanoy State Correctional Institute Superintendent John Kerestes, 570-773-2158 (or his secretary, Mary Kay)

3) Be sure to check out the latest Political Prisoner/Prisoner Of  War every-other week update by the  NYC-Anarchist Black Cross. There are lots of important updates on many political prisoners.

Until Every Cage Is Empty,

Chapel Hill Prison Books Collective

Human Rights Groups and Environmentalists Oppose New Federal Prison on Abandoned Coal Mine in Kentucky

environmentHuman Rights Groups and Environmentalists Oppose New Federal Prison on Abandoned Coal Mine in Kentucky  

Organizations and individuals from across the country have joined the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) in filing a comment opposing a plan by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to build a new federal correctional facility in the Appalachian mountains of eastern Kentucky. The comment, filed on Monday pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), addresses multiple issues related to a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that analyses two potential locations for constructing the largest federal prison in the region—both on former coal mining sites.

The public comment, which can be read in its entirety here, follows several years of controversy surrounding this project in a rural region where the prison industry has made many unfulfilled promises of economic prosperity to local communities.

The comment provides a thorough analysis of the impact of the proposed facility siting and addresses social, economic and ecological concerns, including: (more…)