Telford Unit Prisoners suffer heat exhaustion: Denied medical care, access to cold water, and staff negligence

By Jason Renard Walker
Originaly published on Incarcerated Worker Organizing Committee (IWOC)’s site, July 18, 2018

Since 2011, at least twelve Texas prisoners have died from heat stroke, which was a result of the sweltering temperatures inside buildings, dorms, day rooms and the cells where prisoners live.

Hundreds more have suffered heat-related illnesses, many of whom were among the elderly and disabled inmates housed at the Wallace Pack Unit. This does not include prisoners who didn’t report their injuries or those who attempted to treat themselves.

The Pack Unit is a medical and geriatric prison where the indoor prisoner housing areas are not climate-controlled with air conditioning. Prisons like this cause a spike in heat-related injuries because the apparent temperature routinely exceeds 100 degrees Fahrenheit inside the housing areas. This is a state-wide problem, not just a Pack Unit one.

In 2011, Prisoner Keith Cole and others filed a 1983 Class Action under the 8th Amendment for cruel and unusual punishment and other heat-related violations. In 2017, Judge Keith Ellison granted Cole a preliminary injunction that ordered TDCJ to move all heat-sensitive prisoners from the Pack Unit to one of the few units that had adequate air conditioning to accommodate them. When the heat cooled, they would be moved back – over and over, until the problem is resolved.

But, like the lawsuit explained, all prisoners are likely to suffer heat-related injuries and deaths from these particular conditions, which opens up a Pandora’s Box for subsequent lawsuits.

Now TDCJ has a state-wide policy called Respite Training and Education. It is supposed to alert staff to how prisoners can access respite areas. In part, it says:

* inmates are allowed to access respite 24/7;
* inmates DO NOT need to be sick, injured or feeling bad to access respite, rather they may do so to cool down whenever they wish;
* to access respite, inmates can make the request to any correctional officer;
* if there are problems, ask to talk to a ranking correctional officer.

In fact, officials aren’t complying with this order, and have implemented a very crafty punishment program for prisoners who insist on protesting about being denied access to respite.

Most notably, on May 27th 2018, Officer Phillips, a black female who often brags about being the administration’s lapdog, made several prisoners strip out of their clothing and stand in the 3 Building’s hallway. She was the desk officer for that day. The reason was that these prisoners had complained of being hot, and others didn’t have their shirts tucked in. This was being done while prisoners were passing by going to dinner, and as another officer watched with a smile. I was a victim of this at one point myself.

A so-called legal eagle prisoner pretended to help the victims of this, but he turned out to be a servant of Phillips. I heard him tell Phillips to watch out, that plans be were being made to get her disciplined. She admitted to the lackey that her actions were retaliatory, and because “they wouldn’t shut the hell up.”

Such efforts to coerce prisoners who request respite are widespread, and prisoners are often prevented from actually getting access to respite areas. Denied commissary purchases, threats of cell shakedowns, and disciplinary cases are the usual scare tactics. These methods have been very effective: prisoners are willing to sweat in the day room and suffer heat exhaustion rather than face cruel and unusual punishment. Indeed, this situation alone is cruel and unusual punishment.

On July 24th, 2015, Deputy Director Robert Erison authorized a TDCJ state-wide memo to all TDCJ wardens and regional directors, ordering all wardens to make air-conditioned respite areas available. This included posting notices saying where these areas are located, and allowing staff and prisoners to use them as needed.

But, like at the Telford Unit, Pack Unit prisoners feel threatened just asking for a place to cool down. “I’ve only ever tried to use an area listed on TDCJ’s ‘notice to offenders’ once, and that was a bad experience”, said plaintiff Fred Wallace, in a declaration he wrote to the courts.

The Pack Unit’s warden, Roberto Herrera, investigated prisoners’ claims of being denied access to respite areas, and learned that many were denied for no reason at all, and others were handled unprofessionally.

These acts towards heat-exhausted prisoners in search of respite are devoid of logic or reason. No legitimate penological or institutional objective is furthered by this deliberate indifference. Since most prisoners don’t grieve this, these acts are seen as normal by staff and other prisoners, and so these practices remain ongoing.

On July 2nd 2018, during one of the hottest days thus far, Officer Jessica N. Castro not only denied prisoners who asked for respite; she doubled back and wrote disciplinary cases on prisoners for taking their sweat-saturated shirts off, and standing by the open window on the dayroom stairwell. The rule book says we can’t take our shirts off in the dayroom or stand on the stairwell; it also says we can access respite 24/7. Who was wrong in this instance?

Castro spent her entire shift going from one pod section to the next, writing prisoners up for the exact same thing. She showed little regard for her own health and safety, constantly entering the cellblocks, which caused her entire uniform and face to be drenched in sweat after just a few minutes.

Most officers minimize the frequency and length of their visits to the cellblocks due to the humidity. They are most often seen when they come to retrieve a sweaty shirtless prisoner’s ID card to write them a case. They enter the cellblock dry and leave looking like they’ve had water thrown on them. The smarter guards won’t enter the cellblock, but have the prisoners slide their ID under the door.

Since it’s summer vacation, and the warden closed down the craft shop for political reasons, prisoners aren’t in school where there’s air conditioning, and the craft shop can’t be used as a respite area.

Inside the dayrooms, heat pours in from the open windows, while the exhaust vent pumps out the stale heat, so hot air is perpetually circulating. The dayroom water fountain doesn’t work, the bathroom sink’s cold water is broken, only giving us access to lukewarm water. The water cooler, which is supposed to have ice water in it 24/7, is normally empty, and only gets refilled two or three times a day. This is to support forty-eight prisoners. Debris is frequently found in it.

TDCJ standards require that each prisoner drink at least two gallons of water per day, but the water cooler couldn’t possibly be filled up enough to meet this standard. To top this off, we are only allowed to purchase twelve 16.9 ounce bottles of water from commissary every two weeks. These bottles only hold enough for two days, three at the most. They are considered emergency items. Readers, please demand that we get multiple special water purchases.

Dropping like flies in the summer heat

To avoid public scrutiny and accountability, officers and medical staff devise ways to misdiagnose heat-related injuries, so that their severity is hidden before they are documented in medical records.

On July 3rd, 2018, two prisoners were hauled to the infirmary for what were called “heat strokes”. At 2:20 PM, a call over the officer radio to all stations stated that a prisoner on 4 Building, F-Pod, had passed out from a “heat stroke”, and was unresponsive. Five minutes later, the same caller stated the the prisoner was responsive with a wet towel on his neck, and that it wasn’t a heat stroke; she didn’t state what the new diagnosis was.

Despite having no competent medical judgement, she or someone else diagnosed the injuries, changed the diagnosis, then had the prisoner walk to the infirmary in the heat, even though medical had said they were en route with a gurney. At 2:31PM, I watched from the law library as an old red-headed female nurse and a heavy-set old male nurse met with the prisoner, who was being escorted by a black female officer named “Garner” or “Garland”. This black prisoner was walked into the infirmary an hour after a white- or hispanic-looking prisoner was sent there on a gurney. Both had sweaty bodies and clothing. Both had the same initial diagnosis.

A prisoner living in 4 Building who wants to remain anonymous stated that “rank said medical can’t put the word ‘heat’ or ‘stroke’ on paper cause they gonna get sued.” This coincides with me hearing the guard on the radio change the diagnosis. And why they had the obviously heat-exhausted prisoner walk to the infirmary. The institution’s Rule #1 is that if it isn’t on paper, it didn’t happen. On July 6th, 2018, another prisoner dropped.

There are other cases of inappropriate denial of medical care and respite. On July 3rd, 2018, I returned from the law library, and was denied the opportunity to go into my cell, even though the pod officer was letting other prisoners do so. The white female guard told me that she wasn’t going to go to the third tier, where I stay, because it makes her “sweaty and dizzy”.

I was forced to sit the in the dayroom for over two hours. During the first thirty minutes, I became heat-exhausted, so I tried to contact the pod officer. I was told to shut up and sit down. I contacted Officer Michelle R. Lafayette, who was working in the guard tower that watched over the three pod section and controlling the doors. I’m in A-Pod, 2 Section.

I asked if I could access a respite area to cool down and get some water, since the water cooler was empty. “A re-what?” she laughed over the intercom. “We don’t do that here”, she said, before cutting off the intercom.

I spent over an hour trying to get her and the other pod guard to notify medical staff or ranking staff, because I began to feel dizzy. Efforts to go in my cell, which has a fan, were maliciously denied. Lafayette told me that she was giving me a direct order to get away from the door and the intercom. If I didn’t, I would receive three cases, she said, for failing to obey a direct order; for being out of place (we can’t loiter by the door or intercom); and the third for asking for water – which she claimed is the same as begging her to bring in drugs. No respite or medical care was provided.

Heaven and hell’s kitchen

During lunch and dinner in the dining rooms is no different than in the living areas. These “chow halls” are twice as small as the day room, but hold a lot more people, often being at full capacity thirty minutes at a time. They contain no air conditioning, and the hot air circulates just like in the dayrooms.

More often than not, the soupy flavorless meals are piping hot, coupled with a complete lack of anything to drink. When drinks are there, they are lukewarm, and rarely contain ice.

After prisoners are done eating, they are forced to wait in a single-file or double-file line, sometimes for twenty minutes, until the exit door is opened by Sgt. Huff. This lifeless control freak closes the exit and entrance doors, so that comers and goers are at his mercy entering and exiting the chow halls. When he’s not around, they remain open or are closed briefly. If any prisoners that dare to beat on the door or beg him to open it, he subjects us to a longer wait. “Keep beating on the door and I won’t open it”, he says. Even officers in the chow hall suffer, and are only bowing down to their supervisor. Sweaty shirts and faces gleam everywhere.

The Officers’ Dining Room (ODR), which is built and looks like the chow halls, is a complete contrast. This ODR has top-of-the line air-conditioning, table cloths, chairs, ice-cold beverages, a wide variety of “solid food” choices, adequate lighting, and is always swept and cleaned by prisoners.

Such conditions in the chow hall don’t exist, and one would be lucky to be assigned to a table that is at least half-wiped. In fact, the ODR is one of the places TDCJ lists as a respite area.

Experts and the courts say this is unconstitutional

Even thought the Cole v. Collier class action suit focuses on the Pack Unit, many of the conditions that create heat stroke-threatening temperatures inside the cell blocks are the same everywhere, if not worse.

Dr McGeehin, a lead scientist for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with other expert witnesses, testifies that the most proven effective method for reducing heat exhaustion is adequate air conditioning.

In fact, ice water, cold showers, breeze fans, and industrial blow fans in the day room, have proven ineffective in temperatures over 95 degrees, and serve as a short term measure only, according to expert witnesses.

Fans are proven to only circulate the heat that’s drawn in from open windows and ventilation, which can increase heat exhaustion by drying out the skin.

TDCJ claims that providing adequate air conditioning to prisoners is costly and would compromise an already decreased budget. But experts calculated that TDCJ can provide enough air conditioning, not only to the Pack Unit, but other units. It is TDCJ who installed air conditioning units in the slaughter hog barns because they wanted the pigs to live comfortably. It had nothing to do with its meat being less nutritious.

TDCJ also tried to claim that the respite areas can offset the need for air conditioning units, but it’s already been proven in the Cole v. Collier suit that respite areas aren’t always accessible; can accommodate all prisoners; and that many times prisoners are denied access.

They even had Dr Means, a defendant in related prisoner wrongful-death cases, get on the stand and try to persuade the judge that air conditioning isn’t effective. She was viewed as incredible by the judge, who commented “on the stand, she was unable to directly answer most of the questions by Plaintiffs’ counsel, and was even nonresponsive to questions posed by this Court.” (See Document 473, Memorandum Order).

It was exposed by the courts that TDCJ failed to provide each unit living area with air conditioning, and that this was done for “political and financial reasons”. And that by doing this, they were deliberately indifferent, and subjecting prisoners to unnecessary “cruel and unusual punishment”. The State of Texas requires county jails to keep indoor temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees (see Title 37 Texas Administrative Code, 259.160). This is because, when it’s 98 degrees outside, it can easily get up to 110 degrees inside places that lack adequate air conditioning.

The Telford Unit is one of those places. Unit Warden Garth Parker is responsible for ensuring that constitutional conditions of confinement exist at the Telford Unit. He won’t move to change these conditions until he’s faced with public scrutiny, enquiries, and protest. Something that he doesn’t expect to happen, something that needs to happen.

Readers, please call Warden Parker at the Telford Unit (903-628-3171), and demand that he investigate and remedy the situation where prisoners are denied access to respite, medical care, and the lack of oversight that Cpt. Beard, Warden Townsend, Warden Aisebrook, and Medical Supervisor R. Burreson are providing to ensure these needs are met.

Dare to struggle, dare to win, all power to the people!

Jason Renard Walker, #1532092
Telford Unit
3899 Hwy 98
New Boston, TX 75570

Note:
All references from the Pack Unit, the Cole v. Collier suit, and any mention of expert witnesses are drawn from 14-1698 – Cole et al v. Collier et al, Court Documents #38, #174, #473, #629.

Note:
This article was originally censored by the mailroom, on the grounds that the original version of the article mentioned Jason’s affiliation with the New Afrikan Black Panther Party in the byline. Telford mailroom staff claim that any mention of the words “Black Panther” counts as gang activity, and this censorship comes in the context of what seems to be a co-ordinated clampdown on NABPP members across Texas.
Readers are encouraged to contact the TDCJ Ombudsman at ombudsman@tdcj.texas.gov, as well as the Telford Unit’s management at 903-628-3171 and garth.parker@tdcj.texas.gov, to request that they cease the campaign of harassment and retaliation against Jason, and provide all inmates with adequate relief from the extreme heat. Let them know that we’re looking out for Jason and will hold the prison accountable if anything happens to him!

Letters to Jason at Jason Renard Walker, #1532092, Telford Unit, 3899 Hwy 98, New Boston, TX 75570, will also help to break down his sense of isolation and show the administration that there are people watching out for him, but as mentioned above, be aware that his mail is undergoing heavy censorship.

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Letter to Texas DCJ about a Prisoner in dire need of medical care

Sir,
This concerns inmate Jeffrey Thomas #1392641, who is being held at McConnell Unit. He has been suffering – progressively – from an unbelievably painful hernia for over 3 years and is in dire need of a proper hernia operation – as soon as possible – before he dies.

Please see to it that Mr Thomas receive adequate medical care IMMEDIATELY, by having him examined and treated by an outside hospital. He also needs mental healthcare and he needs to be in a unit where his medical needs are met, including his level of feeling safe.

His healthcare is your responsibility, and so is his death, if he should die of neglected or inadequate medical care on your guard. Remember the lives in your hands, to care for them as well as you personally possibly can.
In hopes you are hearing our pleas for our brother Jeffrey.

Sent to:
tbcj@tdcj.texas.gov (The Chair of the (TBCJ) Texas Board of Criminal Justice, Dale Wainwright)
exec.services@tdcj.state.tx.us (TDCJ Director Bryan Collier)
ombudsman@tdcj.texas.gov
Philip.Sifuentes@tdcj.texas.gov (Senior Warden)
Billy.Hirsch@tdcj.texas.gov (CI Division Deputy Director)
Miguel.Martinez@tdcj.texas.gov (Regional Director: Miguel Martinez, Region IV)

The New Forgotten Men and Women-Elderly Prisoners Appeal for Help!

Received via email from JusticeforMajorTillery.org on March 16, 2018:

In December 2017, Major Tillery, sixty-seven years old and imprisoned for life without the possibility of parole in Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution at Frackville made a proposal to Superintendent Kathy Brittain for remedial policies and to stop the disrespectful and abusive treatment of the seniors.

“On behalf of all the Elderly Members of the General Population” Major Tillery asked for “humanistic consideration for health reasons” to implement some commonsensical, little or no cost changes: housing unit adjustments for the elderly; modifying shower times; providing additional blankets and cold-weather clothing items like gloves and long-johns; virtual visitation with even older parents. He also suggested a pilot program that combined seniors mentoring younger prisoners while getting their help in escorting the elderly in the prison. This program would “bridge the gap between the elderly and youth, create meaningful interaction—now and in the future with family and friends—and educate about diversity of true ethnic cultural differences.”

Pennsylvania has the second highest percentage of elderly prisoners in the U.S., related to the fact that it is one of six states that have prison sentences of life without the possibility of parole. In 1980 there were 370 elderly people in PA’s state prisons, as of 2014 there were 8000, which was 16% of PA prisoners over the age of 55. As of January 1, 2018, the DOC reported 10,442 inmates over the age of 50. The consequences of lack of adequate health care for any and all prisoners is exacerbated when it comes to elderly prisoners; years of prison life, including the food and quality of the water. The leading causes of death in the state’s prisons are heart disease, cancer, and liver disease. Studies establish that the elderly prison population is at higher risk for self-harm, suicide and victimization by staff and other prisoners
On January 3, 2018, Major Tillery re-submitted his proposals to Sup. Brittain, the Office of Legal Counsel to the Department of Corrections (DOC) and the Deputy Secty for the Eastern Region stating the denial of accommodations for elderly prisoners is a violation of the American Disabilities Act as applied to the Elderly. He said:

“It is cruel and unusual punishment for the elderly to be abused and mistreated by correctional staff, our primary caretakers…. Medical and elderly care is part of reasonable care, custody and control [by the DOC] under color of law.”

The prison response is a once-a-week activities program and to limit participation to the twenty-two prisoners at SCI Frackville who are over 65. This doesn’t even comply with the DOC recognition that in the prison system, 50 is considered elderly.

With the support of other elderly prisoners, Major Tillery on February 16, 2018 gave notice to the Office of Legal Counsel for the PA. Department of Corrections (DOC) and Sup. Brittain:

“I am required to try and solve the Elderly Prisoners’ Issues by law under the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act before seeking class action Litigation. Supt. Brittain you know this is a real issue, and I realize changes take awhile. However, not being taken seriously for something this important I have no other choice, to save my life and others. I’ve been housed in the hardest control units in the U.S. I have issues from years of isolation, starvation and other abuses while at Marion [infamous federal lock-down prison], they fed me one meal a day, in the dark and now I’m old and still going through it.”

Major Tillery asks for “proper medical care opposed to dismissing our concerns and needs.” This complaint is for consideration of aging prisoners, eliminating lengthy periods of standing for count, or in line for medications and commissary or out in the cold between buildings or in the cell without long johns, gloves, sweaters, extra blankets. It is also a demand to stop staff bullying and harassment of elderly prisoners for memory loss, inability to hear announcements, or time needed to walk through the prison from the cell to the mess hall to the infirmary. The proposals repeated the need for a mentoring program with younger prisoners that would also provide assistance to seniors.

YOU CAN HELP:

TELL PRISON OFFICIALS:
Elderly Prisoners Need Respect and Additional Care
Implement Major Tillery’s Proposals, including an elderly housing unit and a mentoring program with younger prisoners; more medical attention; and appropriate clothing and additional blankets in cold weather

CALL:
SCI Frackville Superintendent Kathy Brittain 570 874-4516
Dep. Secretary, DOC Eastern Region Michael Wenerowicz 717 728 4122 or 4123

EMAIL: Ra-contactdoc@pa.gov

Excerpts of testimonials from Major Tillery, Terrence Poles and Clifford Smith below. Read these in full on Justice for Major Tillery

The New Forgotten Men and Women!
Major Tillery AM978, January 18, 2018

Now we have a group of “New Forgotten Man and Women,” the elderly held in Pennsylvania state prisons. Take myself– in 1983 at the age of 33 I entered the prison with a life sentence, without the chance of parole. At that time I was both mentally and physically strong. Even back then I noticed how older people were being treated; the lack of concern [for] programming for elderly assistance didn’t exist.

Although I was 33 then, it struck me as wrong and on several occasions I complained to the administration on behalf of the elderly and mentally ill prisoners. This bothered me to the point that I filed a civil lawsuit on these issues. [Tillery v. Owens, a federal a lawsuit that ended double-celling (4 in a cell) in PA prisons and required the Pa. Department of Corrections to provide additional mental and medical health care to prisoners.] …

The DOC has a humanitarian problem as it relates to how people treat other people.
Now I face the same fears. Not dying, but to die among people and medical staff who would treat one of the dogs up here with more care and compassion than me. I’m not exaggerating, it’s true. I have it a little better than most older prisoners here, because after 35 years I helped raise a lot of these young brothers, so they check on me daily. But what about the others, the older people who are not Major Tillery? They get pushed around, cheated for phone time, medical treatment just flat out dogged by both staff and other prisoners. I only get problems mostly from administration. So when the old people come to me, I try to bring their grievances with mine. And like I started— ‘Forgotten Men and Women in 1983’ and now ‘Forgotten in 2018’ … .

Aging in Prison
By Bro Tacuma/Terrence Poles BL5740

NEGLECT, CARELESSNESS and DISRESPECT, are the main aspects of aging in prison that the general public isn’t fully aware of. First and foremost my name is Terrence Poles. I’m 55 years old, and I’ve been serving a DBI sentence since 1989. (Death By Incarceration: AKA LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE.)

We’re NEGLECTED because the state doesn’t offer any meaningful or therapeutic programs for the elderly.

Because of their CARELESSNESS and callousness, they won’t even give/allow me to use an extra mattress (for back pain and arthritis).

The DISRESPECT is manifested in so many ways. We aren’t given thermals, vitamins, or nutrients and other things that will prolong our health and well-being. There isn’t even a housing unit for the elderly. Some older individuals have serious medical issues, which may cause them to have to get in the showers at certain times. Instead of having to wait until 3 pm standing for sometimes 15 minutes to 20 minutes just to get into the shower.

A Summary of Life, My Life as an Old Man…
By Clifford Smith AM8913 (AKA) Robert Amin Atkins

It’s 2018: I’ve been incarcerated for 36 years, watching my life, my hopes, dreams, and visions slip away. That’s my perception. It’s a reality that society, my correctional community see me, and all the elderly at SCI Frackville.

Is it unreasonable to request civil, fundamental, basic human rights for the elderly? Fair treatment programs that inspire growth? Awareness of how to transition to old age? It’s a difficult task, with deliberate indifference from staff, and other inmates who don’t understand that they will eventually grow old, and die in prison. Why can’t we die with respect and dignity?

I’m fighting for the right to be treated fairly as we grow older. I’m afraid I will have my job taken from me because I am an old man and continue to question, challenge our treatment.

When you speak truth to power there are consequences; but we won’t be silent. The simple things we do day to day are a challenge, like walking to the dining hall. I’m bumped, pushed just because I don’t move fast enough. If I don’t chew fast enough, I’m not allowed to finish my meal. I’ve outlined many examples of abuse and questions about the treatment of the elderly.

In struggle, Amin The (Old Man)

Write separately to:

Major Tillery AM9786
Clifford Smith AM8913
Terrence Poles BL5740

SCI Frackville
1111 Altamount Blvd.
Frackville, PA 17931

For More Information, Go To: JusticeForMajorTillery.org
Call/Write:
Kamilah Iddeen (717) 379-9009,
Kamilah29@yahoo.com

Rachel Wolkenstein, Esq. (917) 689-4009, RachelWolkenstein@gmail.com

JusticeForMajorTillery.org

Retaliation by Geo Against Hunger Strikers Leaves Two injured

From: NWDCResistance
Feb. 10, 2018
An update on the hunger strike going on at Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, WA:

At least two cases of assault by Geo guards have been reported by people refusing to eat.

Tacoma, WA – At least 2 people on hunger strike reported being assaulted by Geo guards for refusing to eat as their right to express their demands was met with beatings, leaving one person with a black eye and one with a neck injury. At least 5 units have reported joining the hunger strike that began on Wednesday, February 7th to protest the abuses they face inside the facility, which is owned and operated by GEO Group, a private prison company, for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

In an attempt to document the injuries and assault, legal counsel from NWDC Resistance grassroots group was denied entrance to the facility this morning. “This morning I was denied access to two people that called us requesting my visit so I could document the assault they were victims of. Geo guards claimed ICE is not on site and that I have to wait to talk to them until Monday showing a clear effort to deny these people access to outside witness of their injuries” said Toby Joseph legal counsel member of NWDC Resistance.

The partner of one the persons injured met with Mr. Joseph outside the facility this morning telling him she was able to visit her partner and saw through the glass in the visitation area his injuries of a black eye and neck injuries.

The supporters of the strikers are calling for a rally tomorrow Sunday at 1PM outside the gates of the facility.

###
NWDC Resistance is a volunteer community group that emerged to fight deportations in 2014 at the now-infamous Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, WA. NWDC Resistance is part of the #Not1More campaign and supported people detained who organized hunger strikes asking for a halt to all deportations and better treatment and conditions.

Over 100 People Detained in ICE Custody Begin Hunger Strike and Work Stoppage Inside the Northwest Detention Center

From: Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) Resistance:
Feb. 9, 2018

Over 100 People Detained in ICE Custody Begin Hunger Strike and Work Stoppage Inside the Northwest Detention Center
Migrants detained begin hunger strike, demand better conditions, lower bonds and end of indefinite detention

Tacoma, WA – At least 120 detained migrants in four units at the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) have begun a hunger strike to protest the abuses they face inside the facility, which is owned and operated by GEO Group, a private prison company, for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The strike comes at the heels of a work stoppage on Wednesday February 7th by detained people who work in the kitchen and just days after NWDC Resistance held a People’s Tribunal in front of the NWDC.

Leaders of the strike report continued inhumane conditions and abuse at NWDC. Strikers are demanding GEO Group provide edible, nutritious food and emphasized the egregiousness of GEO’s practices by saying “food has gotten so bad it makes people sick. Food served in the hole [solitary confinement] is hardly enough, as we received smaller portions than people in general population.” The use of isolation, particularly as a form of retaliation, is a prevalent issue at NWDC. Strikers have also reported that GEO guards constantly search the beds and units of detained people without reason nor explanation and demand an end to these searches.

In addition, strikers demand ICE provide fair hearings and lower bonds, particularly in light of recent bond amounts as high as $35,000. This contributes to ICE’s practices of indefinite and prolonged detention, as do excessively long delays in carrying out deportation orders. Together, these have the effect of keeping people incarcerated and growing GEO’s profits.

Lastly, strikers delivered a message of resistance and called on others to join their efforts, “We are used to retaliation and intimidation, we are placed in the hole constantly, but no more! We need everyone to join us and stop working!”

NWDC Resistance activists and allies will mobilize to support strikers at the Northwest Detention Center. For live updates on the strike, visit https://www.facebook.com/NWDCResistance/

###
NWDC Resistance is a volunteer community group that emerged to fight deportations in 2014 at the now-infamous Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, WA. NWDC Resistance is part of the #Not1More campaign and supported people detained who organized hunger strikes asking for a halt to all deportations and better treatment and conditions.

Leonard Peltier Statement February 6-2018 – 43 years innocent in prison – Donate and sign!

Logo of Free Leonard Peltier Defense Committee

Free Leonard Peltier Defense Committee

Free Leonard Peltier Defense Committee
Greetings Family, Friends and Supporters

I am overwhelmed that today Feb 6th is the start of my 43rd year in prison. I have had such high hopes over the years that I might be getting out and returning to my family in North Dakota. And yet here I am in 2018 still struggling for my FREEDOM at 73.

I don’t want to sound ungrateful to all my supporters who have stood by me through all these years. I dearly love and respect you and thank you for the love & respect you have given me.

But the truth is I am tired and often my ailments cause me pain with little relief for days at a time. I just had heart surgery and I have other medical issues that need to be addressed: my aortic aneurysm, that could burst at any time, my prostate and arthritis in my hip and knees. I do not think I have another ten years, and what I do have I would like to spend with my family. Nothing would bring me more happiness than being able to hug my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

I did not come to prison to become a political prisoner. I’ve been part of Native resistance since I was nine years of age. My sister, cousin and I were kidnapped and taken to boarding school. This incident and how it affected my cousin Pauline, had an enormous effect on me. This same feeling haunts me as I reflect upon my past 42 years of false imprisonment. This false imprisonment has the same feeling as when I heard the false affidavit the FBI manufactured about Myrtle Poor Bear being at Oglala on the day of the fire-fight. A fabricated document used to extradite me illegally from Canada in 1976.

I know you know that the FBI files are full of information that proves my innocence. Yet many of those files are still withheld from my legal team. During my appeal before the 8th Circuit, the former Prosecuting Attorney, Lynn Crooks, said to Judge Heaney. “Your honor, we do not know who killed those agents. Further, we don’t know what participation if any, Mr. Peltier had in it”. That statement exonerates me, and I should have been released. But here I sit, 43 years later still struggling for my Freedom.

I have pleaded my innocence for so long now, in so many courts of law, in so many public statements issued through the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, that I will not argue it here. But I will say again I DID NOT KILL THOSE AGENTS!

Right now I need my supporters here in the US and throughout the world helping me. We need donations large or small to help pay my legal team to do the research that will get me back into court or get me moved closer to home or a compassionate released based on my poor health and age.
Please help me to go home, help me win my freedom!

There is a new petition my Canadian brothers and sisters are circulating internationally that will be attached to my letter. Please sign it and download it so you can take it to your work, school or place of worship. Get as many signatures as you can, a MILLION would be great!

I have been a warrior since age nine. At 73 I remain a warrior. I have been here too long. The beginning of my 43rd year plus over 20 years of good time credit, that makes 60+ years behind bars.

I need your help. I need your help today! A day in prison for me is a lifetime for those outside because I am isolated from the world.

I remain strong only because of your support, through prayers, activism and your donations that keep my legal hope alive.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse
Doksha,

Leonard Peltier

If you would like a paper petition please mail: contact@whoisleonardpeltier.info

Please Donatehttps://www.whoisleonardpeltier.info/donate-now/#overlay-10582

Please Signhttps://www.gopetition.com/petitions/international-demand-for-the-immediate-freedom-of-indigenous-political-prisoner-leonard-peltier-89637-132-wrongfully-imprisoned-42-yrs3.html

Darren Rainey: Family settles lawsuit in Florida Prisoner’s shower death

This news just in, about Darren Rainey, the man who prison guards in Florida tortured to death by putting him in a hot shower for two hours, without any consequences for their actions. Florida prosecutors endorse murder, as long as it is by “law enforcers.” What a messy state! Endorsing bullies…

Thanks to Heinz from Austria we have this set of links on the story of Darren’s awful death at the hands of bullies, and of the brave and ethics abiding Harold Hempstead, who deserves our respect and support for reporting on this tragic murder by the state of Florida:

Family settles lawsuit in Florida Prisoner’s shower death

http://www.wral.com/family-settles-lawsuit-in-florida-prisoner-s-shower-death/17291485/

The family of a mentally ill Florida inmate who died after being left for nearly two hours in a hot shower has settled a civil rights lawsuit against the state’s Department of Corrections.

Florida prosecutors refuse to charge guards for trapping prisoner in hot shower until it killed him

One inmate alleges Darren Rainey was yelling and screaming in the shower for two hours

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/miami-dade-prison-darren-rainey-no-charge-guards-hot-shower-boiled-burns-schizophrenic-a7637051.html

Inmate Rainey’s death deemed not a crime; but an ‘accident’ — really?!

http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/editorials/article140231758.html

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/5144fII7u-L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

http://www.georgemallinckrodt.com/getting_away_with_murder.htm