Within week, 2 die at Hays State Prison in Trion, Ga.

From: Chattanooga Times Free Press, Dec 28th 2012

Dec 28, 2012 (Menafn – Chattanooga Times Free Press – McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) –The death of an inmate on Christmas night at Hays State Prison in Trion, Ga., was the second in a week.

State investigators say they don’t believe the deaths are related, though both died in the same cellblock at the maximum security prison.

“They weren’t tied any way together,” Georgia Bureau of Investigations Agent James Harris said. “That was the first thing on our minds.”

Damien McClain, 27, who was serving time on two armed robbery convictions, was killed in a prison cell late Christmas night after getting in a fight with another inmate, Harris said.

On Thursday, GBI agents arrested inmate Daniel Ferguson and charged him with murder in McClain’s death. Ferguson, who already is serving a life sentence for murder, was taken to the Chattooga County Jail to be booked and then likely will be returned to Hays to await a transfer, officials said.

GBI agents were at the prison Thursday investigating McClain’s death and that of 25-year-old Derrick Stubbs, who was found dead Dec. 19.

While Georgia Department of Corrections officials have been mum on Stubbs’ death, his mother, Shawn Singleton, said she was told her son was being held in protective custody after a fight when he was found dead. Stubbs had been at Hays for more than a year on two counts of armed robbery.

Singleton, who is burying her son today in Chicago, is searching for more answers to what happened, but she said corrections officials won’t return her calls.

Read the rest here: http://www.menafn.com/menafn/561d65d1-0c54-4990-a6be-e1d71789dd22/Within-week-2-die-at-Hays-State-Prison-Trion-Ga?src=main

GA Prison Hunger Strike Enters 5th Week

From: Black Agenda Report
July 12th 2012

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

As the hunger strike by 9 Georgia prisoners demanding medical care, due process and human rights enters its 5th week, prison officials are surprised at the level of outside support the inmates enjoy despite a virtual news whiteout. Concerned family members and others plan to visit the Department of Corrections headquarters on Monday, July 16.

Hunger Strike in GA Prison Enters 5th Week

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

The hunger strike begun on June 11 by nine prisoners at Georgia’s massive Diagnostic and Classification prison, the same place where Troy Davis was murdered last year, continues into its fifth week. Though reports published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution declare the strike over, the families and one of the attorneys of inmates insist that the nine prisoners remain resolved, and continue to insist on administrative review of their status, adequate medical care, and access to mail and visitation privileges with their families and attorneys which have been arbitrarily denied them.

Our sources claim that these nine were among the 37 singled out by corrections officials in late 2010 and early 2011 after the peaceful strike by Georgia prisoners of December 2010. They were rounded up, many severely beaten, and transferred to close confinement and constant lockdown at Jackson, where they have remained ever since.

On Monday July 9, about 30 people showed up at Georgia’s state capitol to visit the governor’s office, where they left letters of support for the hunger strikers. Through direct and indirect contacts with their families and attorneys and other inmates, the prisoners know that they DO have significant support on the outside. The warden, for example, remarked to Miguel Jackson his surprise that the Georgia Green Party was supporting the strikers. Your phone calls to the prison warden, to the Department of Corrections, and the governor of Georgia have already made a difference.

Whether or not the hunger strike lasts much longer, the nine prisoners involved have already demonstrated their unshakable resolve , and deserve your continued concern and support, and your calls, which are still needed.

When you call, ask about them by name and ID number. Here are the names and ID numbers of the nine prisoners now in the fifth week of their hunger strike. They are:

Justin Boston, ID 1305227

Quentin D. Cooks, ID 1142336

Contravius Grier, ID 591396

Miguel Jackson, ID 890692

Bobby Anthony Minor, ID 1191993

Dexter Shaw, ID 429768

Robert Watkins, ID 1245402

Demetrius White, ID 581709

And here are the people to call:

Warden, GA Diagnostic & Classification Prison, Butts County GA: 770-504-2000

Brian Owens, Commissioner, GA Department of Corrections, ask for his administrative assistant Peggy Chapman 478-992-5258

Georgia governor Nathan Deal: 404-656-1776
Fax the governor at 404-657-7332.
You can also send the Governor a letter online by clicking here.

GA Department of Corrections Ombudsman
478-992-5367 or 478-992-5358

No fax, but you can email them at Ombudsman@dcor.state.ga.us. Please add a cc to the email, info@georgiagreenparty.org.

Sign the petition in support of the Jackson Prison hunger strikers: Click here

If you’re in the Atlanta area on Monday, July 16, join us as we travel by van and carpool to the headquarters of the Georgia Department of Corrections in Forsyth GA where, along with the families of some of the strikers, we will demand a meeting with Brian Owens, the head of the department. Meet us at the West End MARTA station, 9 AM sharp. Some cars will be returning around lunch time, some others will probably stay in Forsyth the whole day.

The prisoners behind those walls have done all they can do. What you can do is sign the petition supporting the demands of the hunger strikers. You can pick up the phone to call and express your concern and support. You can forward this to your email and social networks, family, friends and acquaintances.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. He can be reached via this site’s contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Please also read: There Is No Justice In Georgia, in the SF Bay View, July 11th 2012 http://sfbayview.com/2012/there-is-no-justice-in-georgia/

Please also read: Protesters demand Georgia prison reform: About 40 demonstrators gathered outside the state Capitol in Atlanta on Monday to express support for Georgia prison inmates who have reportedly been on a hunger strike for nearly a month. http://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta/protesters-demand-georgia-prison-1475266.html

All eyes on Shawn Whatley…

Help us out here, folks, if you’re hitting this post. The Department of Justice Civil Rights Division’s Special Litigation Section is responsible for investigating abusive patterns and practices in state prisons under the Civil Rights for Institutionalized Persons Act. Some of the rights violations that the prisoners were striking over and retaliation against activists are institutionalized a bad patterns and practices that need to be CRIPAed. 
Contact them here: 
Johnathan M. Smith, Chief
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division – Special Litigation
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. – 
Washington, D.C. 20530

(202) 514-6255
toll-free at (877) 218-5228

FAX – (202) 514-0212
Alt. FAX – (202) 514-6273
Email – Special.Litigation@usdoj.gov

You can also complain to Georgia state officials about Shawn’s treatment here; and below:
Brian Owens, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections

  • Call: 478-992-5258 (This is the number for Owens’ administrative assistant Peggy Chapman. Urge her to give him the message.)
  • Call: 478-992-5367 (This is the Office of the Ombudsman, which is the official channel for raising concerns over prisoner treatment)

Nathan Deal, Governor of Georgia

  • Call: 404-656-1776
  • Send the Governor a letter online by clicking here.
Letters can also be mailed or faxed:

Office of the Governor Nathan Deal, State of Georgia
203 State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334
Fax: 404-657-7332 

In the meantime, the let the Georgia Department of Corrections know we’re watching what’s happening to Shawn by writing to him and telling him that ourselves. He’s doing life in there and facing heavy fire, so try to stick with him if you start something or they’ll be on him as soon as the mail lets up again… 
Here he is:

GA D&C Prison
Immediate Justice and Human Rights for Georgia State Prisoner Shawn Whatley!
Mar 1, 2011
Eljeer Hawkins, Bronx, New York
“My life is in Imminent Danger” – Shawn Whatley, 2/10/2011

Since the brutal attack on Shawn Whatley by Telfair state prison guards, on January 12, 2011 Socialist Alternative/CWI launched a solidarity campaign to defend and highlight the case of Shawn Whatley and Georgia prison strike activists. But the life of Shawn Whatley still hangs in the balance along with countless others.

Shawn Whatley as of today (3/1/11) is being held at Jackson state prison. On February 1, 2011 Shawn Whatley had submitted a sworn statement to Brian Owens, Commissioner of Department of Corrections, requesting extreme protective custody from all Georgia Department corrections staff/employees sent from Ware state prison.

Subsequently, Shawn was transferred from Ware to Jackson state prison. Shawn has indicated that his 8th and 14th Amendment rights are being violated as he is held in perpetual lockdown every day. Shawn is deprived of property, family access through visits and phone calls, mail privileges (until a grievance was filed), contact with lawyers, adequate food, medical attention after the brutal attack on January 12, 2011, and he has to sleep on the hard and cold floor of a cell with bloodstained walls around him.

Shawn is not at Jackson state prison for disciplinary reasons but for protection from retaliatory violence by corrections officers. The reason for his transfer was for his safety. The problem is that Jackson state prison is under the direction of the Georgia state prison system and despite Shawn being under “protective custody,” the prospect of further brutality and inhuman conditions is an ever-present reality Shawn faces. In his letter to Commissioner Owens, Shawn asked: “You expect me to eat food served and prepared by the Georgia department of corrections, the very ones that I have requested extreme protection from? Does that make sense?”

On February 21, 2011 seven Georgia prison guards were arrested on charges of beating an inmate, inflicting injuries so severe that the prisoner was in the hospital for “an extended period of time,” according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. These arrests were made due to the pressure of protests of activists, organizations, families of inmates, and groups like Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights.

We must continue to raise the issue that the retaliatory violence after the historic Georgia prisoners strike isn’t due to “rogue” corrections officers within the Georgia penal system, but is in fact ingrained in the entire racist and inhumane prison-industrial complex that serves the interests of a capitalist system.

The struggle to defend and demand justice for Shawn Whatley is an urgent task for activists and social justice organizations and we will continue our pursuit for justice and dignity for Georgia state prisoners.

We demand:

   * Immediate access to family, friends and lawyers through phone calls, mail and visits.

   * Proper medical care with frequent checkups by medical staff and the dietary needs necessary to control Shawn’s high blood pressure condition.

   * An end to the inhumane and unsanitary living conditions with a clean cell and bed.

   * Shawn’s transfer to a federal prison facility that’s not under the jurisdiction of the Georgia state prison system.

Additional links on Shawn and the Georgia prisoner strike:

Georgia Prison Striker Severely Beaten; Department of Corrections Cover-Up

From: US Human Rights Network

For Immediate Release                              Contact:  Elaine Brown, 404-542-1211
December 31, 2010                                                    Leila McDowell, 410-336-7879
                                                                                    Follow us on Facebook.com

Department of Corrections Cover-Up
Family members and Coalition members, including NAACP Georgia State Conference President Ed Dubose and Georgia ACLU Legal Director Chara Jackson, will attempt to see beaten prisoner today at Atlanta Medical Center
12 Noon 

The Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights learned that on or about December 16, TERRANCE BRYANT DEAN was severely beaten by guards at Macon State Prison where he was incarcerated.  The Coalition asserts this brutal beating was not isolated and was a retaliatory act carried out by the Department of Corrections (DOC) against non-violent striking inmates.   The Coalition was formed to support the interests and agenda of thousands of Georgia prisoners who staged a peaceful protest and work strike initiated in early December. 

The Coalition is concerned about continued violent retaliation against the multiracial group of prisoners who staged a peaceful protest to be paid for their labor, for educational opportunities, access to family members, an end to cruel and unusual punishments, and other human rights.  The eight-day strike, begun in early December, involved united prison populations at various prisons, including Hays, Smith, Telfair and Macon State Prisons.

Dean’s mother, Mrs. Willie Maude Dean, stated that since she learned from inmates that her son had been beaten, she has been given no information about his condition or whereabouts by the DOC, and that she and Dean’s sisters, Wendy Johnson and Natasha Montgomery, have been denied access to him since they discovered he was hospitalized at Atlanta Medical Center.
It was around the same time of this beating that the Coalition was meeting with the DOC making the demand that a Coalition fact-finding delegation be provided access to certain prisons to investigate conditions inside.   

The DOC acceded to provide such access to a Coalition delegation—starting at Macon State Prison.  However, even as the delegation visited Macon State, the DOC was apparently covering-up Dean’s reported retaliatory beating there by several CERT (Correctional Emergency Response Team) Team members, who witnesses reported restrained Dean after an alleged altercation with a guard, dragged him from his cell in handcuffs and leg irons, removed him to the prison gym and beat him unconscious.  The beating remained unreported by the DOC even though the Coalition specifically raised questions about reports of retaliatory beatings and about the status and whereabouts of 37—or more—men the DOC identified as strike “conspirators.” 

Mrs. Dean told Coalition leaders last night that when she asked Macon State Warden McLaughlin where was her son, based on concerns raised by prisoner reports he had been beaten nearly to death, McLaughlin told her he was “in the hole,” or, an isolation cell.  In fact, Mr. Dean was already in the hospital. 

The Coalition is raising concerns about the potential cover up of an attempted murder and the refusal, to date, of the prison to identify the missing 37 or more inmates deemed “conspirators” by the DOC.   The Coalition is calling for the DOC and other state officials to sit down with the inmates to start a process to realize the inmates’ human rights. 

The Coalition, which has grown into an entity of thousands of supporters and hundreds of organizations across the U.S. and internationally, includes the NAACP, the Nation of Islam, the ACLU, the U.S. Human Rights Network, All of Us or None, The Ordinary People Society and many others, and is co-chaired by Dubose and author-activist Elaine Brown.

A Coalition fact-finding delegation visited Macon State Prison on December 20 and was visiting Smith State Prison yesterday, December 29th, when the Coalition uncovered facts about Mr. Dean’s reported, brutal beating.  The Coalition is planning to release a full report of its investigations and prison visits once the investigations are completed.

Date of Publication: 
Sat, 12/31/2011

Georgia on my mind: Prisoner Rights investigation.

These activists and prisoners in Georgia rock – so does the Black Agenda Report (go there or email the Concerned Coalition to Protect Prisoner Rights instead of the New York Times for news updates on the prisons. The NYT doesn’t know what they’re talking about.)


Community Coalition Meets With GA Corrections Officials, Visits First Prison. What Would Dr. King Say or Do?
By Bruce A. Dixon
Created 12/22/2010 – 12:37
Submitted by Bruce A. Dixon on Wed, 12/22/2010 – 12:37

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon, with assistance from Ingemar Smith

Last Friday members of the Concerned Coalition to Protect Prisoner Rights met with Georgia correctional officials. The following Monday they commenced the first of a series of fact finding visits to the state’s correctional institutions, seeking the reasons and right response to the stand of inmates demanding their human rights. Dr. King’s annual holiday is coming up too. What would he say about the prisoners and the nation’s misguided public policy of mass incarceration? What would he do, and what should we?

“’The prisoners have done all they can do now. It’s up to us to build a movement out here that can make the changes which have to be made.’”

Eight days after the start of Georgia’s historic prisoner’s strike, in which thousands of inmates in at least six prisons refused to leave their cells, demanding wages for work, education and self-improvement programs, medical care, better access to their families and more, representatives of the communities the inmates came from met in downtown Atlanta with state corrections officials. The community delegation, calling itself the Concerned Coalition to Protect Prisoners Rights, was headed by Ed Dubose of the NAACP [3] of Georgia’s state conference, and included representatives from the US Human Rights Organization [4], the Nation of Islam [5], the Green Party of Georgia [6], The Ordinary Peoples Society [7], and attorneys from the ACLU of Georgia, [8] the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition [9] and elsewhere, along with state representative Roberta Abdul-Salaam [10].

State officials claimed they knew about the strike action well in advance, and said they locked the institutions down as a preemptive measure. They declared they’d confiscated more than a hundred cell phones, mostly in public places, and identified dozens of inmates whom they believed were leaders of the strike. They admitted confining these inmates to isolation and in some cases transferring them to other institutions.

The coalition asserted that brutal reprisals were being taken against nonviolent strikers by prison authorities, and that constant threats being made against inmates. These incidents, the coalition insisted, along with the vast gulf between the reasonable demands of the inmates and some of the well-known conditions in the state’s penal institutions made the immediate entry into the affected prisons by a fact finding team of advocates, community representatives and attorneys at the earliest moment an absolute necessity. The meeting adjourned awaiting the state’s decision. And late Friday afternoon, state corrections officials agreed to access by a small number of delegated observers, who would visit Macon State Prison, some two hours south of Atlanta the following Monday.

The observers who visited Macon State on December 20 would not comment on what they saw and heard, except to confirm that they did interview staff and prisoners for about five hours. Macon State, some said, was the institution chosen by the Department of Corrections. Subsequent visits would have to be made to other institutions, they confirmed, including some of those where the alleged strike leaders were being held.

“We understand where we are and how we got here,” explained Rev. Kenny Glasgow of The Ordinary Peoples Society (TOPS) after his visit to Macon State. A former prisoner himself who spent fourteen years behind the walls, Glasgow runs a series of re-entry programs for former inmates in Georgia and Alabama. “We only got to sit down with correctional officials, we only gained access to the prisons because of the courageous stand of those behind the walls. It was their willingness to work together across different lines and to sacrifice the very limited freedom and safety they have that got us to this point. The prisoners have done all they can do now. It’s up to us to build a movement out here that can make the changes which have to be made.”

The Concerned Coalition to Protect Prisoners Rights is expected to request to visit at least one more Georgia penal institution before the year ends to continue its fact finding process. Coalition spokespeople have been deluged with messages of solidarity and support from across the country and around the world. Meetings, marches and demonstrations have taken place in Oakland, Detroit, and New York and elsewhere [11]. The Center for Constitutional Rights and other outfits are circulating online petitions which have garnered thousands of signatures in support of the prisoners. Those wishing to contact the Coalition via email can do so at concernedcoalitionga(at)gmail.com.

“Any holiday celebration, any dinner, parade, or commemoration of Dr. King’s life and work that does not embrace the cause of Georgia’s and the nation’s prisoners… is an empty one…”

In about three weeks we’ll all be celebrating the January 15 anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birth. Many have remarked on the great distance between the actual life and work of Dr. King and the empty plaster saint of nonviolence that some have turned him into. The truth is that the living Marin Luther King was a fearless opponent of injustice, a man unafraid of endorsing unpopular causes, so long as these causes were just. If Dr. King were alive today he would wrap his arms around the cause of Georgia’s and this nation’s prisoners. Work without wages is indeed close to slavery. Even if the 13th Amendment permits “involuntary servitude” of those convicted of crimes Dr. King might rightly observe, that this was passed almost a century and a half ago, and that many things “legal” are neither moral nor advisable.

The U.S. has four and half percent of the world’s population and nearly twenty five percent of its prisoners. Georgia leads the nation with an astounding one in thirteen of its adult citizens in prisons and jails, or under court and correctional supervision, thanks to innovations like the privatization of misdemeanor probation. When advocating ever-longer sentences becomes a standard campaign tactic for ambitious politicians, when fortunes are made overcharging inmate families for phone calls and raking off ten percent and more of paltry funds families send their loved ones, when prisons become growth industries with their own lobbyists, punishment has become a crime.

Any holiday celebration, any dinner, parade, or commemoration of Dr. King’s life and work that does not embrace the cause of Georgia’s and the nation’s prisoners, that does not critically examine the facts America’s current policy of mass incarceration is an empty one, a hollow mockery of the man King was and the movement he stood for. More than twenty thousand in Atlanta march in observance of Dr. King’s life and work every year. The shiny new sanctuary of Ebeneezer Baptist Church is always filled with dignitaries on that day. Let’s see how many signs there are outside the church supporting the prisoners on King’s day in Atlanta and around the country. And let’s see if the dignitaries inside Ebeneezer can even bring themselves to mention the people behind the walls, the locked down and and the left out, who are truly Dr. King’s people. And ours.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor of Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. [12] He can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.