Tag Archive: prisoner abuse

On the Way to Solitary, Women in Massachusetts Jail Get Strip Searched and Videotaped

WMRWCCAerial1WebBy Victoria Law / From Solitary Watch

“When women are moved to the Segregation Unit for mental health or disciplinary reasons, they are strip searched. With four or more officers present, the inmate must: take off all her clothes, lift her breasts and, if large, her stomach, turn around, bend over, spread her buttocks with her hands and cough, and stand up and face the wall. If the woman is menstruating, she must remove her tampon or pad and hand it to a guard. An officer with a video camera stands a few feet away and records the entire strip search. This officer is almost always male.”

This is a description of what has happened when women are taken to solitary confinement at the Western Massachusetts Regional Women’s Correctional Center (WCC) in Chicopee. The procedure has been followed not only for women being sent to isolation for violating jail rules but also women who are being placed on suicide watch or who have requested protective custody. Since September 15, 2008, on approximately 274 occasions, a male corrections officer recorded the strip search with a handheld video camera; 178 women were affected by this practice.

In 2009, Debra Baggett wrote a letter to the law office of Howard Friedman about this practice. The office, which has been involved in a number of cases involving prisoner rights and strip searches, investigated Baggett’s complaints. “We found that the jail had a written policy allowing male guards to videotape the strip searches,” stated David Milton, the attorney representing the women. When the jail refused to change its policy, Baggett and a group of other women held at the jail filed suit. (more…)

Despite Retaliation, Menard Inmate Urges Further Solidarity

cantwontFrom Anti-State St. Louis

The following is a letter from one inmate at the High Security Unit (HSU) at Menard Correctional, encouraging continued acts of solidarity despite retaliation.

I am sorry to report that the guys here at Menard, HSU have again been subjected to oppressive, retaliatory acts at the hands of these evil, sadistic pigs.

On April 12, 2014 at approx. 8 a.m. a construction crew showed up outside of our windows w/ large, metal square boxes with slots in the front. By 11 a.m. they were attached to our windows. We can not see outside anymore, nor do we get any sunlight, or air circulation. These taken in conjunction with our solid steel cell doors are going to make it unbearable this coming summer.

These shutters were placed on our windows specifically for our communication with you brothers and sisters during our “peaceful protest.” DO NOT let this retaliatory act prevent you from future protest, though we can’t see you, we will still be able to hear you and “that type” of support motivates the brothers in here like nothing else! (more…)

“His eyes had a far-off stare: New details on inmate’s death

michael_kerr_webBy Billy Ball

From The Indy

Handcuffed in a cell for six days, covered in his own feces, without food and water: That is how Michael Anthony Kerr spent the final days of his life, according to a letter written by a former Alexander Correctional Institution inmate who shared a cell block in solitary confinement with the now-deceased prisoner.

This month, the INDY reported that Kerr, a 53-year-old Sampson County man with a long criminal record and a history of mental illness, died during the two-and-a-half-hour trip from Alexander Correctional in Taylorsville to Central Prison in Raleigh on March 12. Prior to his death, Kerr had spent more than a month in solitary confinement.

The letter, dated April 1, from an inmate, whose identity is being withheld by the INDY to protect his safety, offers new details on Kerr’s death. (The inmate’s letter has been edited by the INDY for clarity.)

The INDY wrote to the prisoner but received no response. The inmate, who has a lengthy criminal history as well as dozens of prison infractions for fighting and disobeying orders, had recently been transferred to another prison.

“When I came onto the block with Mr. Kerr, he was not eating,” the inmate wrote. “He was using the bathroom on himself, laying in feces. … Sergeant was saying, ‘Look at his pants halfway down. His butt is out. Look at his crusty feet.'” (more…)

Call-In Day Monday April 28th In Support of Menard Hunger Strikers

call-inFrom Anti-State St. Louis

On this upcoming Monday, April 28th we are asking and encouraging people to participate in a Call-In Day in support of the prisoners in the High Security Unit at Menard Correctional Center in Illinois who are facing retaliation for engaging in a hunger strike in January. Prisoners there have been beaten by guards and metal boxes have been placed over their windows—preventing future engagement with noise demonstrations outside the prison, but also preventing sunlight from coming into their cells and increasing the sensory deprivation they experience in solitary confinement.

We hope that any pressure on the administration can draw attention to the inhumane treatment prisoners are forced to endure and help prisoners get their demands met.

 We are trying to focus our calls between 10am and noon on Monday, April 28th: But calling at other times is also useful.

Warden Kim Butler  (New as of April 2014 and the first woman warden at Menard–a 20-year veteran of the Illinois Dept of Corrections).
618-826-5071 ext. 2225

Illinois Department of Corrections
Director Lisa Weitekamp
217-558-2200 x. 4166

CONTEXT FOR THE CALL-IN DAY (more…)