Tag Archive: prisoner resistance

Time to Speak Up: Women’s Prison Resistance in Alabama

tutwilerBy Victoria Law

Both incarcerated women and the U.S. Department of Justice agree: The Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Ala., is a hellish place. In a 36-page letter that the DOJ issued to the Alabama State Governor Robert Brentley in January, the agency declared, “The State of Alabama violates the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution by failing to protect women prisoners at Tutwiler from harm due to sexual abuse and harassment from correctional staff.”

Federal investigators found that, for nearly two decades, staff members at Tutwiler have sexually assaulted women and compelled them into sex to obtain necessities, such as feminine hygiene products and laundry service. Women who report sexual abuse are placed in solitary confinement, where they are given lie detector tests and are frequently threatened by other staff.

But while the DOJ’s letter — and conditions in Tutwiler — made headlines, less attention has been paid to the activism and organizing by women inside Alabama’s prisons. During the department’s investigation, for example, it received 233 letters from women currently incarcerated at Tutwiler detailing a host of concerns about the sexual abuse they’ve either personally experienced or witnessed. This figure does not include the letters that women have been sending to the Department of Justice and other government entities for years before the investigation was launched. When incarcerated, sending testimony letters is a potentially dangerous action. Women risked prison staff opening their letters and reading their complaints — and retaliating against them. Two hundred thirty-three women decided to take that risk. (more…)

Prisoner Hunger Strike Hits Polk Correctional

cantwontOn Monday, May 19th, 7 prisoners at Polk Correctional Institution in Butner, NC began a hunger strike in protest of a range of indignities and grievances. According to prisoners in the facility, additional men have been joining the strike since that first day. The strike was initiated in part by prisoners who were transferred out of Central Prison, following a class action lawsuit against the facility for abuse by guards in various “blind spots” around Unit One. That lawsuit has already forced the administration’s hand in videotaping any cell extractions by guards.

A demands and grievances list was sent by the prisoners to comrades on the outside. It reads as follows:

(more…)

Radical Philosophy and the Free Alabama Movement

famBy Lisa Guenther/From Truth Out

Last summer, thousands of prisoners in California launched a 60-day hunger strike to protest and transform oppressive policies in the California Department of Corrections. One member of the organizing team called their strike action a “multi-racial, multi–regional Human Rights Movement to challenge torture.”

This weekend, another prisoner-led human rights movement is gaining momentum in Alabama. The Free Alabama Movement (FAM) seeks to analyze, resist, and transform prison slavery from within the Prison Industrial Complex.

Both of these movements challenge us, as philosophers and as people, to interrogate the meaning of slavery, torture, human rights, and political action. What does it mean to struggle for one’s human rights as an “offender” in the world’s first prison society? What can philosophers and political theorists learn from the example of incarcerated intellectuals and political actors whose everyday lives are situated at the dangerous intersection of racism, economic exploitation, sexual violence, and civil death? What would it mean to respect the specificity of the Free Alabama Movement, and at the same time to recognize that even the freedom of non-incarcerated philosophers may be bound up with the freedom of Alabama? What is freedom, after all? What – and where – and who – is Alabama?

In what follows, I will share what I have learned about the Free Alabama Movement over the last couple of days. But don’t take my word for it! Check out the FAM website, which includes photos and videos of degrading prison conditions, as well as this brilliant spoken word analysis of prison slavery. Follow the movement on Facebook and Twitter. And read the 100-page manifesto written by prisoner-organizers about the situation in Alabama prisons and the movement to end prison slavery. (more…)

Inmates to strike in Alabama, declare prison is “running a slave empire”

Melvin Ray

Melvin Ray

Breaking: Reached in his cell, Free Alabama Movement leader tells Salon inmates will refuse work to end free labor

From Salon

Inmates at an Alabama prison plan to stage a work stoppage this weekend and hope to spur an escalating strike wave, a leader of the effort told Salon in a Thursday phone call from his jail cell.

“We decided that the only weapon or strategy … that we have is our labor, because that’s the only reason that we’re here,” said Melvin Ray, an inmate at the St. Clair correctional facility and founder of the prison-based group Free Alabama Movement. “They’re incarcerating people for the free labor.” Spokespeople for Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and his Department of Corrections did not respond to midday inquiries Thursday. Jobs done by inmates include kitchen and laundry work, chemical and license plate production, and furniture-making. In 2011, Alabama’s Department of Agriculture reportedly discussed using inmates to replace immigrants for agricultural work; in 2012, the state Senate passed a bill to let private businesses employ prison labor.

Inmates at St. Clair and two other prisons, Holman and Elmore, previously refused to work for several days in January. A Department of Corrections spokesperson told the Associated Press at the time that those protests were peaceful, and told AL.com that some of the inmates’ demands were outside the authority of the department to address. The state told the AP that a handful of inmates refused work, and others were prevented from working by safety or weather issues. In contrast, Ray told Salon the January effort drew the participation of all of St. Clair’s roughly 1,300 inmates and nearly all of Holman’s roughly 1,100. He predicted this weekend’s work stoppage would spread further and grow larger than that one, but also accused prison officials of hampering F.A.M.’s organizing by wielding threats and sending him and other leaders to solitary confinement. “It’s a hellhole,” he told Salon. “That’s what they created these things for: to destroy men.”

To grow the movement, said Ray, “We have to get them to understand: You’re not giving up anything. You don’t have anything. And you’re going to gain your freedom right here.” (more…)

A message from an anarchist prisoner on the Alabama prison work strike

adoc

HOW YOU CAN HELP

We ask that you make phone calls to the Warden, the commissioner of the Alabama Department of Correction, and the Governor of Alabama, to check on the situation, our condition, demands, and welfare.

Please call:

Warden Gary Hetzel (Holman Prison): (251) 368-8173
Commissioner Kim Thomas (Alabama DOC) (334) 353-3870
Governor Robert J. Bentley: (334) 242-7100

From Anarchy Live!

Clenched-fist salute!

I’m Michael and yes, I’m locked down in one of Amerika’s many prisons in the state of Alabama. But that does not excuse me from the struggle for a better world. And I believe that anarchism is the best alternative to what exists now. I believe this without reservations. Anarchism is not about building state power, but rather, destroying the state and building new humyn relationships based on mutual aid and cooperation and freedom.

I’m not a public speaker, but a warrior in the struggle to build that new humyn relationship, mutual aid, cooperation, and freedom from all coercive power, rather than a soldier, because a soldier is someone who is ordered about without thinking for him/herself in a hierarchical structure. A tool of a ruling power.

Right now there is a struggle going on in Alabama’s prisons demanding a change in the horrendous, unsanitary, and inhumane conditions in the prisons. In the prison I’m at, Holman, birds fly around the kitchen dropping bird shit on prisoners and/or their food, industrial light fixtures are falling from the ceiling injuring at least one prisoner seriously, during the winter months the showers are cold, the dorms are also cold in the winter, inadequate medical care, inadequate outdoors exercise time, inadequate nutrition, harassment of family members during visiting hours, and a host of other serious problems too numerous to list (see Justice or Just Business for more). But most of all, we are fighting and struggling for our dignity and humanity. (more…)

The Final Straw: Hunger strike at Westville in IN, Sean Swain radio and more!

This week’s episode of the Final Straw starts off with a couple of announcements about recent prisoner resistance from around the U.S. and the upcoming court dates for the NATO3.
http://freethenato3.wordpress.com/
http://prisonbooks.info/2014/01/10/inmates-strike-to-protest-alabama-pri…
http://www.illinoisprisontalk.org/index.php?topic=31966.0

Secondly, we’ll present a short audio essay by Sean Swain, a regularly occurring segment we hope to become a regular portion of our show. Find out more about Sean Swain at http://seanswain.org

This’ll be followed by an interview with Deedee, a member of Saving Our Families, a network of those with loved-ones in the Prison Industrial Complex, based out of Indiana. Deedee is also a supporter of Control Unit Prisoners on hunger strike at Westville Correction Facility in Indiana about the strike and the atrocious food distribution, run by Aramark Corrections Services based out of Philly PA. More info can be found at http://dignityatwestville.wordpress.com

(more…)

Update from the Collective Struggle inside the Westville Control Unit 10/15

bridgeFrom Rififi Bloomington

Aramark, the private company that won the contract for food at Westville Correctional Facility (a prison in northern Indiana), has enacted drastic cut-backs over the past several months. As a result, hot lunch trays have been replaced with cold, nutritionally deficient sack lunches. One prisoner reports dropping from 215 to 150 pounds during his stint in Westville. Prisoners began refusing these humiliating lunches in collective protest on January 13th, and now their struggle is expanding.

Westville’s Control Unit is divided into four pods, each containing four sections. As the collective protest spreads, it’s expected to involve majorities in all eight sections of A and B pods before the end of the week. Prisoners report that many within the Control Unit are setting aside petty differences in order to support each other and share food.

In response to the start of the protest and the mass call-in day on 1/14, prison bureaucrats are foisting responsibility for the malnourishing lunches onto Aramark. However, we know that the two are acting in collusion; the DOC could act to force the contractor to bring back hot lunches. Prisoners have been inspired by the massive response to the call-in day from around the United States. They are determined to continue until they win.

Now is the time to multiply solidarity actions and pressure against the Indiana DOC and Aramark. Continue calling IDOC Commissioner Bruce Lemmon at (317) 232-5711 and Aramark Correctional Services at (800) 777-7090 (though we’ve heard that they have sometimes stopped picking up in response to the flood of calls they’ve received so far). (more…)

Indiana Prisoner Solidarity: Tuesday January 14th 8am – Emergency Call-in Day

call-inFrom Riffi

On Monday, January 13th, Indiana prisoners being detained in Westville Correctional Facility began to refuse the nutritionally deficient, unappetizing cold sack lunches they have been forced to endure over the past several months and have issued a call for solidarity. A mass call-in, starting at 8am on Tuesday, is being planned to put pressure on IDOC officials and Aramark Correctional Services to reinstitute hot lunch trays.

On Tuesday, let’s show solidarity and inundate IDOC Commissioner Bruce Lemmon 317 232 5711 and Aramark Correctional Services (800) 777-7090 with phone calls demanding the return of hot lunch trays for Indiana prisoners.

Why is this happening?

According to “official” sources, the switch to sack lunches was a 90 day test program launched in response to a prisoner’s request to increase recreation and shower time. Overlooking the absurd proposition that a prison would change its food policy based on a prisoner request for extended recreation time, the fact is that since the conversion to sack lunches, recreation and shower time have not increased, and the 90 day trial period has long since passed.

The truth is more likely to be found in the bottom line and Aramark’s business history. In 2005, Aramark Correctional Services (ACS) signed aquarter billion dollar, ten year contract with the Indiana Department of Corrections to provide meals for inmates. Since then, Indiana DOC has saved more than $11 million a year, spending approximately $1.19 per meal/per prisoner. In other states these savings have been achieved as a result of skimping on food portions and quality. In Florida, an audit of ACS found the company was cutting costs/increasing profits by cutting portions on meals. In Kentucky, similar skimping on portions coupled with a decrease in the quality of food led to food riots in 2009. During the investigation that followed, Aramark refused to provide Kentucky auditors with access to its records, making a claim to their proprietary rights and confidentiality. (more…)

Inmates strike to protest Alabama prison conditions

FREE_ALABAMA_MOVEMENT_FAM_UNCONDITIONAL_142335787_thumbnailFrom WAFF

HUNTSVILLE, AL  – January 7th

Prisoners in three different state prisons think it is time they get paid for doing kitchen work, laundry and maintenance tasks. In protest of not being paid for institutional work, some have refused to report for work at three different facilities since the weekend.

The inmates are also seeking better living conditions and a revamping of the parole system. They said prisons are too overcrowded. State prisons are operating at almost double the capacity they were built to hold. (more…)

Plea change hearing set in Miss. prison riot case

mississippi riotFrom Capitalist Media

NATCHEZ, Miss. — A change of plea hearing has been scheduled for Nov. 19 for an inmate charged with participating in a deadly prison riot in Mississippi.

One guard was killed and 20 people were injured in the May 20, 2012, riot at the privately-run Adams County Correctional Facility in Natchez, which holds immigrants convicted of crimes while being in the U.S. illegally.

A court filing said the plea change hearing in U.S. District Court in Natchez is for Jesus Beltran-Rodriguez, who had earlier pleaded not guilty.

Court records said Beltran-Rodriguez is one of the inmates suspected of beating the guard, Catlin Carithers, who died. (more…)