Tag Archive: Alabama

Ala. D.O.C. Devises Violent Plan to Secure Funding For New Prisons: Hunger Strike Under Way at Donaldson, CF

Posted on June 18, 2016 by FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT

Commissioner Jeff Dunn and the ADOC have resorted to state-sanctioned violence in efforts to contain the Movement for Human and Civil Rights that is being led by the men incarcerated in Alabama prisons.

In response to the violence that was provoked at Holman prison on March 11, 2016, by former warden Carter Davenport that lead to his forced resignation after he was also stabbed, the ADOC transferred five (5) men ( Antonio Spencer, Amir Davis, Kevin Eldridge, and two others ) from Holman prison in Atmore, Alabama to Donaldson CF in Bessemer, Al. Donaldson CF serves as the headquarters for the CERT Team for ADOC.

Upon entry to the back-gate receiving area at Donaldson CF, one by one, all five of these men were taken into a secluded area and then brutally beaten while handcuffed. These assaults was lead by Officer Gunn, while several supervisors and other officers either stood by and watched or participated in the assault. At least two of the assault victims, Amir Davis and Kevin Eldridge, reported that during the beatings they were stomped in their testicles and told that this was being done so they wouldn’t ever have children. All of these assaults have been verified through medical files, statements, and eyewitness accounts. Several officers were suspended and/or remain under investigation, yet not a single officer has been fired or charged with any crime.

“DONALDSON RESORTS “HOT BAY” SO-CALLED BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION DORMS TO IMPOSE PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL OPPRESSION “

Beginning on Friday, June 10, 2016, Donaldson CF started psychological oppression and provocation tactics by implementing a “hot bay” behavior modification dorm. Commissioner Dunn started their lateest “hot bay” by transferring men from St. Clair CF at the beginning of Summer. All of these men were taken from general population at St. Clair prison and then placed into this program without any form of due process. No paperwork was served explaining why they were being placed in the dorm or how long they would be there. All of their personal property was taken away, including legal work, canteen supplies, and personal mail, etc.

Additionally, they are behind denied access to visitation, religious services, recreation, and social services. In fact, some of these men have disciplinary free files for several years, yet they are being forcibly placed in this restrictive dorm. Several of the men who arrived from St. Clair report being assaulted handcuffed. Many of these men had received incentive packages while at St. Clair, only to arrive at Donaldson prison where it was then all taken away from them without explanation.

“HOT BAY” OCCUPANTS ORGANIZE HUNGER STRIKES TO PROTEST DUE PROCESS DEPRAVATIONS AND INHUMAN TREATMENT

On Thursday, June 16, 2016, all of the residents assigned to X dorm launch hunger strike to protest conditions. The hunger strike is in response to the Civil and Human rights violations, DEPRAVATIONS, inhumane conditions that include 24 hour lockdown in scorching hot two-man cells, a denial of basic hygiene and cleaning supplies, and the continued police assaults that kept taking place upon new arrivals from St. Clair.

One officer,(Godson) has assaulted atleast three people who were transferred to Donaldson from St. Clair or Holman prison, Zach Wilson, XaBrian, Jeremy Taylor, and during these incidents several witnesses heard the officer making statements like, ” You are with that Free Alabama Movement. Fuck Free Alabama Movement.”

FOR THE FULL ARTICLE, check out this post on the Free Alabama Movement’s website.

Forget hunger strikes. What prisons fear more? Labor strikes.

Via PRI and Yes! Magazine.

June 08, 2016 · 8:00 AM EDT
By Raven Rakia

On May 1, prison labor came to a halt in multiple prisons in Alabama. Starting at midnight that day, prisoners stayed in their dormitories — refusing to show up for work at their assigned posts: the kitchen, the license plate manufacturing plant, the recycling plant, the food processing center and a prison farm.

The prisoners’ demands were pretty simple: basic human rights, educational opportunities and a reform of Alabama’s harsh sentencing guidelines and parole board.

The strike in Alabama was just the latest in a series of strikes at US prisons. On April 4, at least seven prisons in Texas staged a work strike after a prisoner sent out a call with the help of outside organizers. About a month earlier, prisoners in states such as Texas, Alabama, Virginia and Ohio called for a national general strike among prisoners on Sept. 9. That’s the 45th anniversary of the Attica Rebellion, where guards and inmates died during a prison revolt in upstate New York.

The labor strikes are a turn from the most familiar type of political protest behind bars: the hunger strike.

While hunger strikes pull at the moral heartstrings of the public, work stoppages threaten the economic infrastructure of the prison system itself.

The strike in Alabama was organized by the Free Alabama Movement, a nonviolent grassroots organizing group created by prisoners that focuses on the human rights of Alabama’s imprisoned. Not only does Alabama have one of the highest incarceration rates in the United States, but it also has one of the most overcrowded prison systems. The system’s current population sits at about 80 percent over capacity. With nearly double the inmates that the prisons were designed to hold, the packed prisons produce violence, unsanitary conditions and medical neglect.

“We view prison labor as real slavery … [in] 1865 when the 13th Amendment was ratified … they started the first wave of mass incarcerating black people,” said Melvin Ray, co-founder of the Free Alabama Movement. In the years after slavery, a formal prison system formed in the South. Some plantations were bought by the state and turned into prisons. “They use [these prisons] as a tool of control. They target African-American communities. They target politically conscious people, politically conscious organizations. And they use these prisons as a form of social control in addition to a plantation [that’s] generating revenue.”

In 2014, when Ray, along with Robert Council, founded the Free Alabama Movement, they organized a work stoppage at the Holman and St. Clair prisons. The strike at Holman prison, where Council was incarcerated, lasted from Jan. 1 to 22. Immediately afterward, both men were thrown into solitary confinement. Ray stayed there for more than a year and was just recently released to general population. Council remains in solitary confinement to this day.

Prison officials list a number of reasons for Council’s segregation, including that he allegedly administered the Free Alabama Movement Facebook group, and he was a leading and significant factor in the work strike.

In the past, hunger strikes have targeted solitary confinement. The well-known hunger strike in 2013, where tens of thousands of prisoners across California refused to eat for 60 days, protested the state’s use of indefinite solitary confinement. It was coupled with other political organizing, including lawsuits and another smaller hunger strike in 2011. Two years after what was called the largest hunger strike in US history, California agreed to limit its use of solitary confinement.

From Robben Island to Guantanamo to San Quentin, the hunger strike and the penitentiary seem attached to each other. Yet the organizers of the Free Alabama Movement have intentionally moved away from the practice.

In an essay titled “Let The Crops Rot in the Fields,” Ray and Council laid out a plan for tackling mass incarceration. The essay argues that the old ways of protesting in prisons—including hunger strikes and letter-writing campaigns — are not sufficient. Instead, organizers should attack the economic incentive of prisons. The answer, then, is to stop working—and remove the corporate profit from the prison industrial complex. The title was a reference to work strikes conducted by people who were enslaved in the South.

Members of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, the prison-organizing group of the Industrial Workers of the World labor union, started sending copies of “Let The Crops Rot in the Fields” to prisoners in other states. The labor union, apparently the only current union that welcomes prisoners, has about 800 members behind bars across the country. The essay has inspired prisoners in Virginia, Ohio, and Mississippi to organize to participate in the National Day of Strike in September 2016 and, for Texas, to have organized a work strike of their own in April.

Ray and Council haven’t always held these views. “Over the years we’ve tried a few other different things. We’ve tried letter-writing campaigns. We’ve tried marching, protesting, filing complaints in the court. We’ve tried basically all of the avenues that can be used that are made available to people who are incarcerated,” Council said.

In 2007, the entire population at Holman prison, including Council, participated in a hunger strike. The prison was in a deplorable state — backed-up sewage issues, mold on the walls, collapsed and rusted pipes. The prisoners demanded that internal affairs and reporters be allowed inside the prison to document the conditions.

Ray and Council met in prison when they were both jailhouse lawyers, assisting other prisoners with filing lawsuits and complaints about the issues in the prison while also writing their own. As their incarceration continued and their lawsuits and grievances against the prisons went nowhere, Council, Ray, and other prisoners began to have a change of heart on how to bring about change.

“We were begging [officials] to please follow the rules. Please have mercy on me. We’re asking some people to have mercy that just don’t have any mercy,” Council explained. “That revelation brought us to the fact that you can’t appeal to the moral [part] of a system that doesn’t have morals.”

The sentiment echoes the thoughts of the late Stokely Carmichael, a civil rights leader and organizer with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which led the civil rights movement among youth in the South.

“In order for nonviolence to work, your opponents must have a conscience,” he said in 1967, two years after the assassination of Malcolm X and a year before Martin Luther King Jr. was killed. “The United States has none.”

Alex Friedmann, the managing editor of Prison Legal News, a publication of the Human Rights Defense Center, said in an email that prisons would “grind to a halt” without the use of prison labor. “The work strikes in the Alabama and Texas prison systems are a natural and predictable result of treating prisoners as slaves and often benefiting — and often profiting — from their labor. If prison officials treat prisoners as slaves, then they should not be surprised when there are occasional slave revolts,” Friedmann said.

For the rest of the article, please check out Yes! Magazine!

Support the Holman 3

call-in

From Anarchy Live!

St. Clair Correctional Facility in Springville, Alabama is the subject of a class action lawsuit filed by the Alabama Justice Initiative on behalf of prisoners housed at St. Clair. The focus of the lawsuit is the extremely violent atmosphere at the prison, the violent assaults inflicted upon prisoners by high-ranking and low-ranking guards. There has been a long train of assaults on prisoners by guards.

On June 17, 2015, prisoners at St. Clair called a halt to the unchecked assaults: by retaliating against two guards who were assaulting a prisoner. A crowd of prisoners beat the two guards, who have a long history of assaulting prisoners. Seventeen prisoners were swept up in the haste to quell the rebellion. Prison officials don’t know what prisoners took part in the rebellion. All seventeen prisoners were placed in segregation. Of the seventeen, three were transferred to Donaldson Max. in Bessemer, Alabama and three were transferred to Holman Max., and eleven are still at St. Clair.

The three prisoners – Brandon Lee, Johnathan Mallory, and Jamie Montgomery – transferred to Holman’s segregation unit, have not been charged and/or received any disciplinary write up for any institutional rule violation, but are continually being refused release to general population.

We need everyone that reads this to call the Warden at Holman prison and the Commissioner of the Alabama Dept. of Corrections, and demand that Brandon Lee, Johnathan Mallory, and Jamie Montgomery be immediately released into general population due to the fact that none of them have been charged with any rule infraction at St. Clair or Holman. (more…)

Alabama Case Illustrates Difficulties Women Behind Bars Face When Seeking Abortion

janedoe

From Truth Out/ By Victoria Law

Should sheriffs and other jail staff be allowed to decide whether a woman can obtain an abortion? When a woman is arrested and incarcerated, should her reproductive rights be stripped from her? Based on their actions against a woman in custody this past month, Rick Singleton, the sheriff of Lauderdale County Jail in Florence, Alabama, and district attorney Chris Connolly seem to think so. They may also have set a precedent for any other law enforcement seeking to prevent women from seeking abortions—throw up enough obstacles and she’ll decide to carry the pregnancy to term.

Last month, 29-year-old “Jane Doe” entered the Lauderdale County Jail. She already knew that she was pregnant. So did the authorities—accused of exposing her embryo to drugs, she had been arrested under Alabama’s chemical endangerment law. Shortly after her arrival, on July 10, she requested a medical furlough, which is a temporary release for medical reasons, to obtain an abortion. The nearest abortion provider is approximately 75 miles away in Huntsville, Alabama, which provides abortions up to 21.6 weeks. According to the suit she filed, Jane Doe was not requesting that the jail pay for the procedure; she would pay for both the abortion and transportation to the clinic on her own.

Nonetheless, three days later, the sheriff denied her request. According to court documents, his response read, “It is the policy of this office that all non-emergency services are provided through our medical staff at the jail. Your request cannot be handled by our staff and on its face, it does not constitute a medical emergency.” If she wanted an abortion, he concluded, “a Court Order will be required directing the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Department to transport you to Huntsville, Alabama, for the stated purpose.” So, Jane Doe, whose current release date is unknown, requested just that. With the assistance of the ACLU in Alabama, she filed a lawsuit in federal court. On Monday, July 29, Jane Doe had a hearing as to whether being in jail should restrict her right to an abortion. Then she had to wait even longer—the judge stated that he would issue his ruling on Friday, July 31. (more…)

Identity Theft, Tax Fraud Snares Prisoners

The Internal Revenue Service has said identity theft of prisoners is rampant.

The Internal Revenue Service has said identity theft of prisoners is rampant.

Corrections employees in several states face federal prosecutions

 

From The Wall Street Journal

A raft of federal prosecutions has uncovered tax-fraud schemes involving the theft of Social Security numbers of U.S. prisoners, in many cases by corrections employees.

Last year alone, federal courts meted out prison sentences to an Alabama bail bondsman, two former Alabama corrections employees, a Florida corrections officer and a Georgia man, who were convicted separately of stealing the identities of more than 1,200 prisoners and claiming more than $6.5 million in tax refunds under the inmates’ names.

In January, a Kentucky judge sentenced a local corrections officer to three years in prison for filching prisoner information to open up credit-card accounts with Capital One, Barclays Bank and Victoria’s Secret.

(more…)

Demand condoms for Alabama prisoners!

condoms_bannerFrom Indiana Queer Prisoner Solidarity

On February 10, 2015, prisoners in Alabama need as many people as possible to call the prison officials below and demand that condoms be made available to prisoners through the medical healthcare unit and/or by adding them to the list of approved commissary items and products prisoners are allowed to purchase. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are rampant in the prisons and to minimize their spread, condoms are a necessity! This is a major health issue. One prison has already been placed on quarantine due to widespread STDs. CALL: Commissioner Kim Thomas: (334) 353-3883 Governor Robert Bentley: (334) 242-7100 Spread the word! We want condoms! SUGGESTED SCRIPT: (more…)

Free Alabama & Mississippi Movements in prisons & updates on Sean Swain

f-a-m-bwFrom The Final Straw

Streaming at AshevilleFM from 3am EST on February 2nd through February 8th, 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

Prior to the main portion of this week’s episode, we hear a Sean Swain segment and also Ben Turk comes on to talk about difficulties Sean’s currently facing (for instance beginning a hunger strike on Monday due to shenanigans by officials at OSP, where Sean is being held, and possibly JPAY (the company that contracts communication with Ohio’s DRC) that have limited his communications again.
It is suggested that folks concerned called the boss of the ODRC Lead Council Trevor Clark’s boss (Stephen Grey 614 752 1765). More on this can be found here.

The majority of this week’s episode is a conversation with incarcerated members of the Free Alabama & Mississippi Movements. The FAMMC (now including inmates in California as well) is an inmate-drive non-violent, civil disobedience movement with the goal of bettering the situations of prisoners, challenging the profits of prison corporations and departments of correction, ending the impunity of wardens and guards and abolishing the “new slavery” of mass incarceration in the U.S.

(more…)

Help Stop the Reign of Terror by Alabama Prison Officials

adoc(from Free Alabama Movement)

The Free Alabama Movement (FAM), composed of some of the men and women incarcerated in Alabama state prisons, along with their family members and friends, are in urgent need of your help. Currently, three Alabama maximum security prisons for men are on lockdown. At one of those prisons, St. Clair Correctional Facility (SCCF) in Springville, Ala., the men are daily being subjected to beatings by guards and other unprecedented violence.

Furthermore, the U.S. Dept. of Justice has just ended an investigation of Alabama’s Tutwiler Prison for Women, where the women have been habitually raped and sexually abused by the male guards and staff going back 20 years.

Please help FAM with its campaign to get the man fired who is responsible for the reign of terror at SCCF, Warden Carter Davenport, and to get Tutwiler’s warden, Bobby Barrett, fired. Send the letter below to Col. Jefferson Dunn, who (after retiring from the Air Force) will take office in March as the new commissioner of the Alabama Dept. of Corrections (ADOC). (more…)

Supreme Court rules for Native American inmates in Alabama

Doug Dark Horns Bailey talks about trying to practice his religious beliefs during the more than 18 years he spent in prison.

Doug Dark Horns Bailey talks about trying to practice his religious beliefs during the more than 18 years he spent in prison.

From Montgomery Observer

The U.S. Supreme Court says a lower court must reconsider whether Native Americans in Alabama prisons can have longer hair.

The high court on Monday reversed an 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that had upheld an Alabama Department of Corrections policy saying Native American inmates had to keep their hair cut short, which Native Americans argue deny them their right to religious expression.

As is often the case, the justices did not issue an opinion with its ruling, but ordered the 11th Circuit to reconsider the decision in light of its ruling last week in Holt v. Hobbs. In that case, the court ruled that the Arkansas Department of Correction could not deny a Muslim inmate’s request to grow a half-inch beard in accordance with his religious beliefs, saying the state had failed to show a compelling reason to deny the request.

Bob Horton, a spokesman for ADOC, said in a statement that the decision was expected.

“Until the 11th Circuit has a hearing and offers a ruling, ADOC will continue to enforce its current policy,” the statement said.

(more…)

Former Tutwiler inmate says broken leg not treated for days

ledbetterFrom Corporate Media

BIRMINGHAM, AL –Imagine slipping and falling on a wet floor, suffering a painful fracture in your leg that requires surgery, but not receiving a diagnosis, treatment or even pain medication for more than three days. Imagine only having an ice pack to apply to that injury as it continues to swell, turning black and blue. Imagine being told you’re not “on the list” to see a doctor as your pain goes from severe to excruciating. Fifty-seven-year-old Susan Ledbetter doesn’t have to imagine an ordeal like that, she says she lived it.

In 2012, Ledbetter began serving almost nine months at Alabama’s Tutwiler Prison for Women for drug charges. In May 2012, she turned herself into Calhoun County authorities, pleaded guilty to second degree unlawful manufacturing of a controlled substance and in her words, “wanted to do her time and get on with her life.”

She reported to Tutwiler Prison June 1, 2012 and shortly after arriving, began working in the prison’s kitchen.

Ledbetter, a mother and grandmother, a former truck driver and bartender, has not had an easy life. We interviewed her outside her mobile home in rural Calhoun County, a home she returned to after prison with no power or running water. Her utilities were turned off while she was incarcerated and it took her months to scrape together enough money to get them turned back on. (more…)