Tag Archive: torture

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…)

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…)

Retaliation Against Hunger Strikers at Menard–Windows Blocked, Strikers Beaten

349804_Menard Correctional CenterFrom Anti-State St. Louis

The following consists of excerpts, lightly edited by Alice Lynd, from letters by eight men in Administrative Detention at the Menard Correctional Center in Illinois, dated April 12-14, 2014.

Windows covered

On the morning of Saturday, April 12, 2014, maintenance workers drilled big metal boxes on the outside of our windows. We can no longer see out the windows and barely any sunlight comes in.

All of the windows in the High Security Unit are being covered (blocked) with a steel covering in retaliation of our hollering out to the protestors that marched outside the facility during our last hunger strike.

We were told, “How you like your view now?”

With summer approaching, not only will our air flow circulation be affected, but we . . . have steel doors. We will now be forced to live in what will amount to an extremely hot tomb. I’m thinking there has to be a whole lot of information available dealing with . . . the effects of no natural sunlight in an area of indeterminate placement. (more…)

ADX H-Unit on Hunger Strike, Prisoners Being Force-Fed

adx-watchtowersFrom Solitary Watch

According to reports this morning from inside the U.S. Penitentiary, Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX) in Florence, CO, eight to nine people held in the super-secret H-Unit are on hunger strike and are being force-fed. While run by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), the unit has strong FBI involvement in its management.

Mahmud Abouhalima, convicted of taking part in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, was sentenced to 240 years in prison. After serving some time in general population prisons within the federal system, he landed in H-Unit at ADX, the federal government’s only supermax prison.

In November of last year, Solitary Watch published a court document it obtained containing a statement compiled for Ayyad v. Holder by Abouhalima. In it, Abouhalima challenges his confinement, asserting that it violates his constitutional right to due process. He also claims the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is heavily involved in managing H-Unit, with its authority overriding that of BOP administrative staff. By law, the FBI is not authorized to run prisons in the U.S. (more…)

Solitary Confinement May Dramatically Alter Brain Shape In Just Days, Neuroscientist Says

A solitary cell at Angola prison in the early 1970s

A solitary cell at Angola prison in the early 1970s

From Think Progress

Solitary confinement has been called a “living death,” cruel and unusual, and torture. Studies of the prison practice of placing inmates in a solitary, often concrete windowless cell for 23 hours a day with almost no human contact, have found that the psychological impact is dramatic after just a few days.

A University of Michigan neuroscientist suggested Friday that the physical impact on the brain could be just as significant if not moreso, and could “dramatically change the brain” in just a matter of days. Speaking on a panel about solitary confinement, neuroscientist Huda Akil said inaccess to inmates has prevented much formal study on brain changes while held in confinement. But she said a number of other studies have documented how each of the factors involved in solitary confinement change the physical shape of the brain. The lack of physical interaction with the natural world, the lack of social interaction, and the lack of touch and visual stimulation alone are each “by itself is sufficient to dramatically change the brain,” Akil said at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting.

She said particular parts of the brain that are subject to extreme stress can “actually shrink,” including the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory, spatial orientation, and control of emotions. (more…)

Remembering Herman Wallace, prisons, solitary confinement and freedom

herman-photo_a-harkness1by scott crowe / scottcrowe.org

In the 70’s a bullet was sent to kill Herman Wallace while in prison for his political activities as a Black Panther.  This was a special bullet. It wasn’t cased in metal with gun powder.  It was of a different kind. It was a bullet named solitary confinement. Like all bullets it came fast and unexpectedly. It came to silence. To stop. Its effects are the same as the other type of bullet. Silence and death. In these no one can talk.  No one can hear the rage, the resistance the love for better humanity. This bullet would stop that.

This bullet came from a gun shaped like the prison system. The prison gun with its shining cold steel, its levers and site aimed on punishment and retribution. Its intent–to silence. This gun in Louisiana was aimed directly at Herman Wallace, Albert Woodfox, Robert King, Zulu and any like them for resisting the their systems, their exploitations, their degradation and their other guns. This kind of gun is everywhere in prisons all over. Its coldness, its steel, its trigger is waiting to be pulled. To silence those who refuse.

The trigger of this gun was pulled by those who assume to hold Power. In this case the petty politicians, redundant bureaucracies and corrupt administrations all within the so called justice systems. If there was to be blood it had their fingerprints all over the gun. Remember prisons don’t kill people. People kill people. Those who held this gun have names. (more…)

Herman Wallace Dies After 41 Years In Solitary

Herman Wallace, April 2013.

Herman Wallace, April 2013.

‘Angola 3′ member Herman Wallace dies three days after being freed from 41 years of solitary

From the Huffington Post

NEW ORLEANS — NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A 71-year-old man who spent more than four decades in solitary confinement in Louisiana died Friday, less than a week after a judge freed him and granted him a new trial.

Herman Wallace’s attorneys said he died at a supporter’s home in New Orleans. Wallace had been diagnosed with terminal liver cancer and stopped receiving treatment. Wallace was held for years at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. In 2009, Wallace was moved from Angola to “closed-cell restriction” at Hunt Correctional in St. Gabriel, where he recently was taken to the prison’s hospital unit.

Jackie Sumell, a longtime supporter of Wallace, said he was surrounded by friends and family when he died. Wallace at one point told them, “I love you all,” according to Sumell. (more…)

Herman Wallace’s Conviction Overturned and Immediate Release Ordered!

herman-2-april-2013

Update, 10 pm: Angola 3 News reports that Herman Wallace is free from solitary and from prison:

Even after Judge Jackson’s late evening ruling denying the State’s attempt at a stay and again ordering his immediate release, the State continued to stall. Once notified of the continued delay, Judge Jackson stoically refused to leave his quarters until Herman was released, and just minutes ago, Herman was driven away from the prison a free man, awake and able to revel in this miraculous turn of events. The State will likely still appeal to the 5th Circuit and attempt to have the order reversed, and may even re-indict him, but it seems that Herman, against all odds, has won.

From Angola 3 News

–Read today’s court ruling here
For more background, view the new Solitary Watch article here.

Miraculous news this morning! Judge Brian A. Jackson, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana, has overturned Herman’s conviction, granting him full habeas relief based on the systematic exclusion of women from the jury in violation of the 14th Amendment.

Even more astonishingly, the Judge clearly orders that “the State immediately release Mr. Wallace from custody.”  No application for bail is required, and the State is given 30 days to notify Herman if they plan to re-indict him. (more…)

Fighting Spirit: A Message from Herman Wallace, imprisoned black liberation warrior with failing health

herman-2-april-2013

Update, October 1st, 10 pm: Angola 3 News reports that Herman Wallace is free from solitary and from prison:

Even after Judge Jackson’s late evening ruling denying the State’s attempt at a stay and again ordering his immediate release, the State continued to stall. Once notified of the continued delay, Judge Jackson stoically refused to leave his quarters until Herman was released, and just minutes ago, Herman was driven away from the prison a free man, awake and able to revel in this miraculous turn of events. The State will likely still appeal to the 5th Circuit and attempt to have the order reversed, and may even re-indict him, but it seems that Herman, against all odds, has won.

From Angola 3 News:

PLEASE TAKE ACTION: Demand Humane Release for Herman! USAUK,FranceBelgium, and elsewhere

On Saturday. August 31st, I was transferred to LSU Hospital for evaluation. I was informed that the chemo treatments had failed and were making matters worse and so all treatment came to an end. The oncologists advised that nothing can be done for me medically within the standard care that they are authorized to provide. They recommended that I be admitted to hospice care to make my remaining days as comfortable as possible. I have been given 2 months to live.

I want the world to know that I am an innocent man and that Albert Woodfox is innocent as well. We are just two of thousands of wrongfully convicted prisoners held captive in the American Gulag. We mourn for the family of Brent Miller and the many other victims of murder who will never be able to find closure for the loss of their loved ones due to the unjust criminal justice system in this country. We mourn for the loss of the families of those unjustly accused who suffer the loss of their loved ones as well.

Only a handful of prisoners globally have withstood the duration of years of harsh and solitary confinement that Albert and myself have.  The State may have stolen my life, but my spirit will continue to struggle along with Albert and the many comrades that have joined us along the way here in the belly of the beast.

In 1970 I took an oath to dedicate my life as a servant of the people, and although I’m down on my back, I remain at your service. I want to thank all of you, my devoted supporters, for being with me to the end.

End 40 Years of Solitary Confinement: Justice for the Angola 3

For nearly 40 years, Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace have been held in solitary confinement, mostly in the Louisiana State Penitentiary (known as Angola prison).

The men, originally jailed in unrelated cases of armed robbery, were convicted of the murder of a prison guard in 1972, despite a lack of physical evidence. Robert King, another inmate and the third member of the so-called “Angola 3,” was released from 29 years of isolation after his conviction was overturned in 2001.

Throughout their prolonged incarceration in Closed Cell Restriction (CCR) Woodfox and Wallace have endured very restrictive conditions, including periods of 23 hour cell confinement.

Louisiana prison authorities have failed to meaningfully review the men’s continued isolation, simply rubberstamping the original decision to confine the men in CCR. Decades of solitary confinement have had a clear psychological effect on the men, and they both suffer from serious health problems caused or made worse by their years of close confinement.

Ask Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal to end this human rights abuse that has cast a shadow on the international reputation of the state of Louisiana. End 40 years of solitary confinement for Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace!

SIGN THE AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PETITION NOW!