Action Alert for Duane Peters of the Dallas 6

This comes from Support the SCI Dallas 6 (Pennsylvania):

PRISONER:
Duane Peters FP7306
SCI Mahanoy 301
Morea Rd,
Frackville, PA 17932

INFO:
Dallas 6 member Duane Peters has been under constant retaliation because of the Dallas 6 case. Some of the staff are the same staff that were at Dallas, some are family members, some friends. They are protecting the interests of the guards involved in this case.

As always, they came in the cell under the guise of a “contraband” search, flooded the cell and dropped legal documents and some artwork featuring the Dallas 6 into the water on the floor. This time, they have fashioned nooses and placed them in his cell. He continues to be told that he won’t make it to the Dallas 6 trial. He has been restricted from making phone calls and most importantly they are not letting him make ANY legal calls, which is court ordered. They continue to destroy and tamper with evidence. This is a reality for anyone with cases against the DOC or evidence that reveals their barbaric, tortuous treatment of inmates.

PLEASE CALL/FAX/EMAIL:

DOC Secretary John Wetzel
Phone: 717-728-4109
Fax: 717-728-4178
EMAIL: ra-contactdoc@pa.gov

DEMAND:
· Stop all harassment and retaliation to Duane Peters (his registration nr is: FP7306)
· Remind him that this issue has been brought to his attention at several town hall meetings and in writing and phone calls for the past two to three years
· Remind him that these reports are being shared with the Department of Justice and will continue to be shared with them
· If further harassment and retaliation continues, we will be asking for charges on everyone involved, from the guards up to the superintendent of SCI Mahanoy. The charges will be destroying evidence, ethnic intimidation and harassment.

*I would appreciate if you please email notes of your call to freedom4six@gmail.com.

WRITE A LETTER TO JUDGE GELB
Write a letter to Judge Gelb asking her to strictly enforce all of her court orders in the Dallas 6 case. Ask Judge Gelb to place an order against ethnic intimidation and retaliation and ensure that it is strictly enforced. If anyone wants a pre-made letter template, please email freedom4six@gmail.com for a copy.

Judge Lesa Gelb
Luzerne County Courthouose
200 N. River Street
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711

SEND A LETTER

FAX/MAIL A LETTER TO LUZERNE “KIDS FOR CASH” COUNTY DA,
DEMAND SHE DROP THE CHARGES AGAINST the DALLAS 6

Here is the letter you can send to the district attorney asking to drop the charges against the Dallas 6
Please feel free to forward and share with anyone who may be interested in participating.

Fax# (570) 825-1622
Stefanie J. Salavantis, District Attorney
Luzerne County Courthouse
200 N River St
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711

Dear District Attorney,

I am writing regarding the Dallas 6 case. This case has been in the courts going on five years. Carrington Keys, Duane Peters, Anthony Locke and Derrick Stanley have been waiting all these years for a chance to tell the truth in court. Anthony Kelly who pleaded out earlier has also been waiting for resolution of the case. False charges of rioting were brought against these men simply because they covered their cell windows to bring to your attention and the attention of other authorities gross violations of civil and human rights, abuse and torture that they experienced, witnessed and documented at SCI Dallas.

We know from the recent exposure of abuse by guards at Rikers Island and Attica prisons in New York State that there are many jurisdictions that are facing charges of gross abuse of prisoners. There are many in Pennsylvania and across the nation who know about the Dallas 6 men who are outraged that your office did not investigate the human rights violations that the men were non-violently protesting, but instead investigated and also charged the men with rioting for being whistleblowers!

Local and national organizations have endorsed and support these prisoners. All are watching. All are calling on your office to drop the charges against the Dallas 6, which are frivolous, false and vindictive, an abuse of power and a waste of taxpayers’ money. We call instead for an immediate investigation by your office, as well as by federal and state authorities, of the abuse of prisoners by guards at SCI Dallas and all Luzerne County prisons, and the prosecution of guilty parties, including of those in positions of responsibility who have been told about it, for allowing this injustice to continue.

Besides the obvious injustice of retaliation against the Dallas 6 for trying to draw attention to abuse of prisoners at SCI Dallas, other reasons your office should drop the charges include:
· Covering your window is a violation of DOC policy and should have been handled internally in the prisons, not through the courts.
· Covering your window is not a riot. It is impossible to hold a riot in solitary confinement.
· The only people injured during the incident were the peaceful prisoners who were physically attacked by guards.
· The men have endured well-documented human rights abuses at SCI Dallas and now further abuse and retaliation at SCI Mahanoy and SCI Retreat, which has been reported to the appropriate authorities.
· Trial has been consistently delayed for years, taking almost five years to prosecute a third class felony.
· The county and DOC have wasted thousands of taxpayer dollars in housing, transportation, police and court costs bringing them back and forth across the state for a group vendetta by public servants.
· The District Attorney office has taken responsibility for redaction of videotapes without the consent, approval or knowledge of the judge.
· The District Attorney’s office has not turned over full discovery within these five years which is in contempt of court orders.

We have finally seen the justice system in New York begin to address the crisis of prisoner abuse by holding those responsible to account through criminal charges and dismissals of perpetrators. Luzerne County has experienced corruption and interpersonal relationships among officials — when will justice arrive and prevail at Luzerne County? You are responsible for the actions of those who are part of your office since they take your direction and carry out your decisions. Failure to drop the charges will expose to the public the lack of will of your office to investigate serious human rights violations, make your office complicit in the punishment of and retaliation against men who bravely tried to bring to your attention injustices and illegal practices at SCI Dallas, and raise questions about whether your personal relationship with people connected with SCI Dallas constitutes a serious conflict of interest.

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Sincerely,
Your Name/Title
Phone/Email

OR
FAX A LETTER
Fax: (570) 825-1622
OR BOTH
TO:
Stefanie J. Salavantis, Esquire
Luzerne County District Attorney
200 North River St.
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711

POINTS
• The charges are false and retaliatory
• The only people injured during the incident were the prisoners who were peaceful
• The only violence was carried out by the guards, who should be on trial for abuse
• Covering your window is a violation of DOC policy and should have been handled internally not through the courts
• Covering your window is not a riot! It is impossible to hold a riot in solitary confinement. Everyone seems to know this except for your court.
• The District Attorney office has not turned over full discovery within these 5 years with no sanctions or contempt being cited against them.
• The District Attorney office has taken responsibility for redaction of videotapes without the consent, approval or knowledge of the judge. This is illegal.
• The county and DOC have wasted thousands of taxpayer dollars in housing, transportation and court costs bringing them back and forth across the state for a personal vendetta
• Trial has been consistently delayed for years, taking almost 5 years to prosecute a 3rd class felony
• The men have endured well documented human rights abuses at SCI Dallas and now further abuse and retaliation at SCI Mahanoy and SCI Retreat, which has been reported to the proper authorities.

Thank you!

More information about the case of the six men who made a peaceful protest inside their solitary confinement cells inside SCI Dallas, PA, and who were severely and unjustly punished by PA DOC can be found by going to the support site.

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Missouri prisoners in solitary confinement follow California’s lead, begin hunger strike

From: SF Bay View, Nov. 17th 2013

by Shyheim El-Mumin
I am a prisoner being held captive here in the state of Missouri at the Potosi Correctional Center’s Ad-Seg (Administrative Segregation, a form of solitary confinement) unit. Since my arrival here on Aug. 9, 2012, I’ve been a target for harassment. This is my fourth time here.
Potosi Correctional Center, Missouri, aerial view

An aerial view of Potosi Correctional Center

This is a maximum security prison, Level 5. This is the prison where they house Missouri’s death row prisoners. If I’m not mistaken, it is the only place where death row prisoners are allowed in general population. That alone says a lot about this prison.

The prisoners here are very passive, docile and self-patrolled. Even in the face of harsh racism, abuse and mistreatment, there are literally only a handful of us who dare to challenge the conditions of our confinement.
Every time I’ve been to this prison, I always catch an assault on one of these racist pigs. They are very in-your-face abusive. I try to address my issues through the proper channels, i.e., letters to the warden, grievances etc. to no avail! So I’ve often had to defend myself physically.
Well, on Sept. 23, 2013, Col. Ross and a new officer – first day on the job – tore my cell apart while I was in a shower. Ross has used “cell searches” as a means to taunt and harass prisoners by confiscating allowed items, tearing family photos and destroying legal materials. He’s very confident in his corrupt behavior due to the fact that his immediate supervisor, Correctional Officer II Wilfong, supports such reckless behavior.
Well, to make a long story short, I asked to see a supervisor and was denied. I refused to give back the handcuffs. Once a supervisor, COII Wilfong, arrived, I complied with the orders to be cuffed to the bench. While I was on the bench, Col. Ross started using foul, derogatory language towards me.
This provoked me into a physical altercation where I had to fight six officers. I held my own. Shit, I’m only 150 pounds, 5 feet 9 inches, but they didn’t want to see me head on. Once I was taken down and cuffed – I slipped my cuffs – and leg irons placed on me, I was beaten for like three minutes. I ended up with a busted lip, nose, a bruise under my eye and a fractured rib, and I was denied medical care from a nurse, Samantha Turntine, whose boyfriend was one of the officers I fought.
I was then stripped out and placed in an air-conditioned cell naked for a week without any mattress, blankets etc. I had to lie on concrete, enduring severe pain.

The conditions, transgressions and violations experienced on PCC Ad-Seg offenders are continually worsening and becoming more restrictive.

As a result of this, about 15 prisoners decided to go on a hunger strike to protest too much abuse, neglect, sanitation issues etc. We’ve been on hunger strike since Oct. 13, going on a week as of this writing. We got prisoners to sign a petition in support of our cause. The following prisoners are the hunger strikers of Potosi.
We strike in support of brothers out there in California and across the nation held captive in these SHU units and Ad-Seg units: Shyheim D. El-Mumin (509071), J.C. Bryant (1161135), Dorrian Perry (1077683), Barry Baker (1094541), Hashim Mohammad (1105506), James Poe (349575), Kyle Roberts (1173831), Anthony Hughs (115096) and Garry Mays (1130204).
We are asking that you all who are reading this contact Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and Director George A. Lumbardi at (573) 526-6607, P.O. Box 236, Jefferson City, MO 65102, www.doc.mo.gov; Warden Troy Steele, (573) 438-6000, 11593 State Hwy O, Mineral Point, MO 63660; as well as the ACLU in St. Louis, Missouri, and ask for John Chasenoff, Civil Rights Division, ACLU Eastern Missouri, 454 Whittier, St. Louis, MO 63108, (314) 652-3111.

PCC prisoners are in desperate need of assistance from any and all outside organizations, politicians, agencies, state representatives, officials, media, investigative agencies etc. Please assist us to make prison officials cease their transgressions and malicious violations of our federally and state-protected rights and cease continuing restrictions of confinement.

We sent a copy of the petition to these people as well as others. We’re hoping to get their attention through the media as well. We have little to no grassroots movements advocating for prisoners’ rights. We’re hoping with a little push from the outside that something can be done soon.
Potosi Correctional Center, Missouri, buildings

Potosi prison was one of the largest building projects in the Midwest during the 1980s. Costing $56 million, it is designed for 500 maximum security prisoners.

Prisoners have died in the past here at PCC attempting a hunger strike. These corrupt officers will try to do everything they can to undermine our strike. This is a peaceful demonstration. Several of us have chronic care issues. I’m diabetic and I have not taken my medication in over a week. I can’t take it due to the fact I’m not eating. J.C. Bryant has high blood pressure.

Their hunger strike policy doesn’t have a set mandate that outlines the procedure when a patient who needs chronic care needs goes on hunger strike. We’re supposed to be placed in the infirmary after 21 missed meals. We’ve missed that many or more, but staff are neglecting to mark down meds missed.
We appreciate your help. Please read our petition.

Petition

We prisoners being held at Potosi Correctional Center in the custody of MDOC, being housed in the prison’s Administrative Segregation Units HV 2 and 3B, sign this petition voluntarily under our own free wills, without any coercion, threats, harm nor promises to obtain our signatures.
The following issues outlined within this petition are continuing and ongoing, significantly adverse issues and transgressions experienced by us collectively and individually. We have repeatedly attempted to address these issues via the prison grievance process. Our attempts have been unsuccessful and perfunctorily denied.
Our issues are protected rights under the U.S. Constitution, Missouri Constitution, Penal Code Chapter 217 RSMO. Additionally, these rights are recognized and protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Issues

1. Due process rights regarding deprivation of property and deprivation of liberty in relation to normal daily routine – including placement in restrictive Ad-Seg units for significant and extensive time periods for virtually nothing, i.e., severely minor petty infractions, disciplinary hearings, release from Ad-Seg units and assignment to general population status, protective custody committee etc.

Due process rights regarding deprivation of property and deprivation of liberty.

2. Right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, i.e., PCC guards regularly abuse their authority and position with the use of excessive force, deliberate and callous indifference toward prisoners suffering at the hand of their fellow staff members, physical and verbal abuse by guards, retaliation on prisoners for speaking out against transgressions, injurious and malicious conduct inflicted by staff, retaliation for utilizing the grievance process, taunting and truculent harassment by guards, psychological torture through the use of “strip cells,” which cause extreme and severe intentional emotional distress which results in mental illness for many prisoners, as well as physical injury caused by the “strip cells.”

Right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.

3. Right to be free from inhumane and/or excessively restrictive conditions of confinement. This includes, but is not limited to, sanitation regarding clothing, showers, squalor of living quarters, inadequate food portions, ill-prepared or under-cooked food, sanitation regarding food preparation by protective custody inmates – protective custody inmates are responsible for preparing the Ad-Seg units’ food, e.g., making juice, putting the food portions on Ad-Seg offenders’ food trays before the trays are sent to the Ad-Seg units. It is a known fact amongst Ad-Seg prisoners that protective custody offenders (PC) regularly tamper with the Ad-Seg prisoners’ food!
On Oct. 4, 2013, a P.C. prisoner was caught urinating in the Ad-Seg prisoners’ juice! This type of behavior is known by all non-P.C. prisoners to regularly occur. There is no telling how long these types of acts have been occurring! Officials are indifferent to this type of behavior from P.C. prisoners.
P.C. prisoners tampering with Ad-Seg prisoners’ food constitutes subjecting Ad-Seg prisoners to the possibility of contagious diseases, e.g., AIDS, HIV, Hepatitis A, B, C etc. Officials are aware of this risk of exposure to disease yet fail to remedy it and thus are guilty of deliberate indifference and failure to protect!
There was a time, fairly recently, when HU3 GP offenders prepared Ad-Seg trays. This was an efficient practice and prevented Ad-Seg prisoners from being exposed to risk of disease. P.C. prisoners are vindictive towards G.P. and Ad-Seg prisoners and resent G.P. prisoners for making P.C. offenders feel like they require administrative protection! G.P. offenders should be allowed to prepare Ad-Seg trays once again to minimize risk to Ad-Seg prisoners.

Right to be free from inhumane and/or excessively restrictive conditions of confinement.

4. The right to be free from denial of medical services and to receive adequate and appropriate medical care from prison medical health care providers. Corizen is a private FOR PROFIT corporation. Corizen’s only motivation and goal is to make profit! As a private corporation motivated by financial gain, Corizen often employs inexperienced and undertrained staff at a significantly lower pay rate. This results in the negligence, denial of treatment and malpractice by medical staff! Also Corizen has a standard custom to deny prisoners medical treatment that is necessary because they simply do not want to spend any “unnecessary finances” on treatment that is not “life threatening.” This is precisely why Corizen, formally “CMS” has been the subject of much litigation in prisons across the nation.
Additionally, prisoners who suffer from mental illness are denied access to treatment or medical care. Mentally ill prisoners are routinely put in Ad-Seg and left there. Potosi Correctional Center has an extensive “special needs” unit (SNU) that is designed to care for mentally ill prisoners.
However, due to unlimited staff and space in the SHU unit, mentally ill prisoners are routinely warehoused in Ad-Seg, where officers do not have to “deal with” these prisoners. This is deliberately denying necessary treatment to these prisoners and causing them to experience grossly excessive stints in Ad-Seg based solely on their mental illness.
Moreover, non-mentally ill Ad-Seg offenders are exposed to the rants and disturbing “outbursts” of these mentally ill prisoners. This is a systematic design to “punish” non-mentally ill Ad-Seg offenders and deprive them of sleep by constant exposure to loud noise. This constitutes “psychological warfare” by constant stress!

Right to be free from denial of medical services and to receive adequate and appropriate medical care from prison medical health care providers.

5. PCC officials violate prisoners’ right to receive adequate outside exercise a minimum of three times a week. DOC policy (IPS 11-48) “medical exercise” and the Missouri Court of Appeals in Hosna v. Groose specifically mandate that all prisoners will be given outside recreation and exercise no less than three times a week for an hour each period.
However, Ad-Seg prisoners are denied this right! Moreover, when Ad-Seg prisoners receive a conduct violation for ANY reason, they receive living area restriction (LAR) for disciplinary sanctions. This precludes Ad-Seg offenders from receiving recreation, thus violating Ad-Seg prisoners’ rights with respect to adequate out-of-cell exercise.

Right to receive adequate outside exercise a minimum of three times a week.

6. Right to receive access to the courts and access to self-help reading materials. DOC Policy IS/SOP 21-1.2 specifically states that Ad-Seg offenders are allowed to possess and retain a total of six books at one time. Three books are allowed from the prison library and three prisoners’ personal books are allowed.
Despite the clear language within the above-cited policy, Ad-Seg prisoners are DENIED any personal books! Numerous prisoners are pro se litigants and own various soft-cover legal self-help books and educational books, which they are denied. This is done to impede or frustrate prisoners’ attempts to litigate court actions and to deny prisoners access to the court system.
Law clerks or “jailhouse lawyers” are prohibited by prison policy from assisting prisoners with any form of legal assistance. Pro se prisoners who are “laymen” and/or lack necessary skills, knowledge and experience in the legal field are forced to complete a special unit legal request form in order to receive the needed legal information.
If Ad-Seg prisoners do not know exactly what legal information to request, they are forced to describe briefly and concisely their legal situation and then are left to the mercy of the unskilled and inadequate “law clerks.” More often than not the law clerks lack the skills to do thorough legal research on the computer to obtain needed legal information. This is another systematic design to satisfy public policy on paper while simultaneously realistically severely restricting Ad-Seg prisoners access to courts, providing us with “law clerks” with inadequate skills.
Furthermore, in order for ANY Ad-Seg prisoner to receive ANY legal materials from the library – case laws, statutes, court rules etc. – the prisoner MUST prove that he has a legal deadline imposed by law in relation to an active, pending case. If an Ad-Seg prisoner fails to show a pending case with a timeline, he is DENIED ALL LEGAL MATERIALS!

Right to receive access to the courts and access to self-help reading materials.

7. The Ad-Seg committee is exposing Ad-Seg offenders to a “Catch 22” which imposes an “atypical and significant hardship” in relation to the normal daily routine associated with prison conditions. This also violates Ad-Seg prisoners’ equal protection rights in relation to “similarly situated” prisoners.
The Ad-Seg committee forces Ad-Seg prisoners to double cell for up to 90 days in order to be released from Ad-Seg confinement. If the Ad-Seg prisoner receives a CDV (conduct violation), he is given a longer stay in Ad-Seg no matter how trivial the CDV.
If an Ad-Seg offender has zero CDVs in a 12-month period, yet receives one CDV for a trivial incident – e.g., violating an institutional rule – he gets more Ad-Seg time. However, if a GP offender receives the same CDV and already has three or four CDVs on his record, he would receive activity restriction as a sanction, as opposed to Ad-Seg assignment, like the Ad-Seg prisoner with the better behavior record!
Additionally, if an Ad-Seg offender is released to GP (General Population), he must sign a “contract,” aka a “program plan.” Once he signs the forced contract in exchange for release from Ad-Seg confinement, he is released to GP.
The forced terms of the “contract” state that if an offender released from Ad-Seg receives a CDV, no matter how minor or trivial, he is automatically guilty of violating the forced terms of the contract. As a result of “violating” his contract by receiving a minor CDV, he is automatically placed back into Ad-Seg to repeat the process.
Whereas, if the Ad-Seg prisoner wasn’t on the contract, he would not be subject to being placed back into Ad-Seg automatically for the same minor CDV. Additionally, any prisoner in GP who receives the same CDV isn’t exposed to automatic placement in Ad-Seg.
This violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and subjects the Ad-Seg prisoner to re-assignment for incidents that would otherwise not warrant or justify Ad-Seg assignment. This vicious cycle isn’t related to any “legitimate penological security interest or goal.” It only serves as an unconstitutional mechanism to impose grossly disproportionate and excessively lengthy Ad-Seg assignment upon offenders by prison officials in an attempt to control or remedy the PCC bed space issue, as well as discriminate against a certain “class” of prisoners by nefarious and injurious Ad-Seg assignment.
Further, PCC Ad-Seg unit provides no “incentive” to Ad-Seg prisoners, as the other Missouri DOC facilities do. Double cell status is considered “progressive” toward GP status. However, Ad-Seg prisoners are placed in a double cell with zero privileges or incentives or means to motivate continued good behavior and progression! It is a very stressful proposition!
Other Missouri DOC so-called “progressive” Ad-Seg units such as JCCC offer double cell status incentives via certain privileges. Ad-Seg prisoners at JCCC receive food items through canteen purchase, retain property such as T.V.s, Walkmans, clothes (personal), typewriters, fans, etc.
The above incentive procedure encourages continued good conduct, relieves stress, provides motivation for correction of issues, reduces tension and hostility, reduces violence between cellmates, reduces tension and strain on staff-prisoner relations and is overall generally positive and encouraging to Ad-Seg prisoners. PCC officials should institute a similar incentive program to facilitate successful rehabilitation for Ad-Seg prisoners.
There are electrical outlets in place in double cells at PCC Ad-Seg Units 2A and 3B. Furthermore, double celling is essential for the efficient operations of the prison. If offenders didn’t voluntarily double cell, there would be no place to house the excess prisoners. Why not reward prisoners for their cooperation?

Equal protection rights in relation to “similarly situated” prisoners.

8. Officials are sanctioning Ad-Seg offenders with living area restriction (LAR). This is not supported by Chapter 217.RSM, the governing penal code. Ad-Seg offenders are already confined and restricted to their cells and living areas. Therefore, this sanction is “arbitrary and capricious” and excessive! It serves no legitimate penological security interest or goal.
9. Potosi Correctional Center refuses to transfer prisoners to appropriate facilities based on the prisoners’ custody level. Several prisoners meet the guidelines under the newly instituted “external re-classification system,” effective May 1, 2013, to be housed at minimum security facilities.
PCC officials are therefore denying to those minimum security prisoners housed at PCC, which is maximum security, access to rehabilitative pre-release programs that prepare pre-release prisoners for successful transition and re-entry into society! They’re also denied vocational and job training that only minimum security facilities provide!

Relief

The above issues and transgressions violate Ad-Seg offenders’ First, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and 14th Amendment constitutional rights, violate relevant sections and amendments to the Missouri Constitution, Chapter 217 RSMO, and violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The conditions, transgressions and violations experienced on PCC Ad-Seg offenders are continually worsening and becoming more restrictive.
PCC prisoners are in desperate need of assistance from any and all outside organizations, politicians, agencies, state representatives, officials, media, investigative agencies etc. Please assist us to make prison officials cease their transgressions and malicious violations of our federally and state-protected rights and cease continuing restrictions of confinement.
Missouri Potosi prisoners' petition signatures 101513
Send our brother some love and light: James Lenoir (Shyheim D. El-Mumin), 509071, PCC, 11593 State Hwy O, Mineral Point, MO 63660.

Just got word that Soja has ended his hunger strike

From: Redbird Prison Abolition:
Nov. 4th 2013

UPDATE: Just got word that Soja has ended his hunger strike.

“I ended my hunger strike Nov 1, 2013, after a long discussion about my property and the harassment, I agreed to come off strike if my property was brought to me, which was given to me a short while later.

However, my issues with the harassment wasn’t taken too serious in my opinion. I was only told that he would keep his attention on the issue and be fair if something was to happen. At that point  his attention won’t stop something happening to me if that’s what is planned.”

Statement by Cornelius Soja Harris about his peaceful hunger protest that he started on Oct. 12th

Statement by Cornelius Soja Harris, October 31st, 2013:
Because of the lack of fear in my heart and the victories I achieved at trial several months back, I am now a marked man, Every official at OSP from the correctional officer to the warden has violated their own policies when it comes to me. I have experienced some of the worst conditions a man can experience in prison; however, I have managed to control the extreme violence I am capable of inflicting on my tormentors, but everything has its limits, even patience.
I have been refusing food since the 12th of October, and it don’t look like there’s an end in sight. My demands are simple:
          I am asking the administration to put separations on me and the officers who were involved in the criminal cases I recently went to trial for, and
          To hand over my clothing items that were recently sent to me a few days ago. I was authorized to order these items by the former warden Bobby because my property was destroyed by officers several months ago. Deputy warden Remmick is trying to blackmail me with my clothing items, stating I will get my clothing items when I ride out of state.
          My final demand is that all of my informal complaints be fairly investigated and the officers who threatened and harassed me be punished, and all the fake conduct reports they wrote on me be tossed out.
I have tried to compromise with these people over and over, but compromise with such an enemy is impossible. They want me to surrender my pride, courage, individuality, self-respect and my self-determination, and that I can not do!
I am asking for the support of my comrades on the outside who care about the quality of justice.
I will continue to fight for myself regardless, but I know the power is in the people, and my people is who I want on my team.
Written by Cornelius Harris, October 31st, 2013, sent to the editor of Ohio Prison Watch.
Address:
Cornelius Harris
# 525945
Ohio State Penitentiary
878 Coitsville-Hubbard Road
Youngstown, OH 44505
What can you do?

Tel. of Warden Jay Forshey: (330) 743-0700, ext. 2000
Please call the prison and ask to speak to Warden Forshey, and please politely ask that he orders the humble things Cornelius Harris asks be done. You can email the Warden by writing his first and second name separated by a dot, followed by: @odrc.state.oh.us 
We heard from the Warden that he is trying to meet with Cornelius. Also that the harassment allegations are being investigated by the institutional inspector. – We wonder how independent the inspector is, but we hope that the harassments will stop. We want to trust the warden that he does everything he can to make sure no one is being harassed by staff, being that a prisoner is in a situation of dependency and that any (mis)use of power against a prisoner (or any human being) is detrimental to the prisoner, his or her development, human dignity, and that is in itself bad for all of humanity.

Please also write to Cornelius Harris #A525945 to let him know you support him. He can also be reached via Jpay.com.

Note from OH PW: Cornelius Soja Harris wrote also that the first shift shines the light in his eyes every time they do a security check, and refuses to take him to recreation. They also use racial slurs against him such as: “nigger”, as well as disrespectful terms such as: “bitch”, “fag,” “piece of shit.”

Soja on Hunger Strike Against Continued Torture and Retaliation – refusing food since Oct. 12th!

From: Redbird Prison Abolition, Oct 21st 2013:

Cornelius “Soja” Harris, the supermax prisoner who endured multiple extended hunger strikes early in 2013 is again refusing food.

Harris requested a transfer to a safer facility, where he wouldn’t be targeted for retaliation by staff, as he had been at OSP for years. The prison administration refused to transfer him in-state, but approved a transfer to a prison in Maryland.

Harris initially accepted the transfer, but requested more information about the prison he’d be going to, what conditions were like and whether or not he’d be on 23 hour a day solitary confinement as is the case for prisoners at OSP.

The UN has classified this type of long term solitary confinement as a torture method, but it remains increasingly common in US prisons. Harris refuses to comply with torture, and has thus been targetted by OSP staff. Harris said he would refuse to ride out, unless he had assurance that the torture of solitary confinement would cease in the Maryland prison.

In response OSP staff threatened to hurt Harris and destroy his property. Harris responded to these threats by going on a peaceful hunger strike. He has been refusing food since Oct 12th, OSP officials say that they have met with Harris about the hunger strike and are awaiting a date for the transfer to Maryland, where standard reception procedures will take place to determine his security level and conditions of confinement. In the meantime, other staff are interfering with the delivery of a clothing box that one of Harris’ supporters had sent to him.

Please call the prison and request that Cornelius Harris’ demands be met and that Lt Bright, who threatened Harris, not be allowed access to Harris or his property.

Call 330-743-0700 and dial ext 2006 for the Warden’s office. The secretary will likely transfer you to Officer Remmick’s voicemail, where you can leave a message. Reference Cornelius Harris’ prisoner number: 525-945.

You can also write support letters to Soja at:

Cornelius “Soja” Harris 525-945
Ohio State Penitentiary
878 Coitsville-Hubbard Rd
Youngstown OH 44505

Or via Jpay.com

Judge Rules That Retaliation Lawsuit Against Department of Corrections Can Proceed

A press release by the ACLU
March 1, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

A federal judge yesterday refused to dismiss an ACLU lawsuit brought on behalf of an ACI inmate who was retaliated against by guards after he publicly criticized Department of Corrections’ mail policies and sought legal assistance from the ACLU. The pattern of harassment against inmate Jason Cook, which included strip searches, loss of his prison job, destruction of his personal property, and disciplinary time in segregation, began after Cook was quoted in a Providence Journal story criticizing a DOC policy limiting the written materials available to inmates. The policy was later rescinded.

The ACLU lawsuit argues that corrections officials’ actions “in retaliating against Cook for publicly criticizing policy changes” at the DOC violated his First Amendment right to freedom of speech “and displayed both deliberate indifference and a reckless disregard of Cook’s constitutional rights.” The suit further claims that the various disciplinary actions taken against him violated Cook’s due process rights.

In court, the Department of Corrections made the troubling argument that Cook had no First Amendment right to speak to the Providence Journal about the policy and therefore his suit should be thrown out. Last September, a magistrate judge rejected DOC’s argument, but the agency appealed that ruling. Yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge William Smith agreed that the ACLU’s retaliation claims could proceed, and further ruled that Cook’s due process claims should also not be dismissed.

The mail policy at issue that Cook initially protested, and that was ultimately withdrawn after the ACLU intervened, barred family members from ordering books or magazine subscriptions for inmates. Instead, inmates could only obtain publications directly from a publisher with their own funds. The lawsuit is being handled by ACLU volunteer attorneys from the law firm of DeLuca and Weizenbaum.

ACLU of RI executive director Steven Brown said today: “The DOC’s position that inmates could be disciplined simply for bringing prison conditions and policies to the public’s attention was extremely troubling. We are pleased that the court has rejected it, and that Mr. Cook can proceed with his claims.” A summary of the actions taken against Cook after he spoke out:

ALLEGATIONS OF RETALIATION AGAINST JASON COOK BY DOC OFFICIALS

  • In October 2007, a Providence Journal story quoted Cook criticizing a new DOC policy limiting the written materials available to inmates. A week later, he was fired from his kitchen job under the pretext that he was caught on a video camera stealing state property. He was later found not guilty of the charge.
  • In February 2008, the RI ACLU intervened on Cook’s behalf in the dispute over the new inmate mail policy by writing DOC officials in support of his position. Shortly thereafter, correctional officers conducted a destructive search of Cook’s cell that damaged some of his personal property.
  • After complaining to the DOC’s Office of Inspections about that search, Cook was advised that other inmates in his module with similar complaints should contact the Office. Cook posted a notice to that effect on an inmate bulletin board. A few days later, as a result of that posting, he was disciplined for “engaging in or encouraging a group demonstration and/or activities,” strip searched and taken to segregation. Two weeks later, he was finally given a hearing on the charge, but not allowed to present and/or question any witnesses. In the meantime, the mail policy about which he and the ACLU had complained was rescinded by the DOC.
  • Cook was found guilty of the charge and sanctioned with 30 days in segregation and the loss of good time. At the end of the hearing on the charge, the hearing officer turned off the tape recorder of the proceeding and told Cook that “this is what happens when you get the ACLU involved in our business.”
  • In May 2008, Cook was once again strip searched and thrown into segregation on the grounds that a letter he had written to the Parole Board was “threatening.” He was held in segregation for almost three weeks without a hearing before being released.
  • In September 2008, Cook sent a letter to Corrections Director A.T. Wall protesting the lack of a response to grievances he had submitted. Two days later, Cook was again subjected to a strip search and a cell search where his property was destroyed. Officers also looked through Cook’s legal materials and asked him if he had communicated further with any Providence Journal reporters.

Super Max Prisoner Represents Himself in Court while on Hunger Strike and Wins

This is a press release, published by Redbird Prison Abolition on Feb. 9th:

Contact: Ben Turk
Phone: 614-704-4699
Website: RedBirdPrisonAbolition.org

Friday, February 8th, Mahoning County, OH-

The jury largely sided with hunger striking super max prisoner Cornelius Harris in his criminal trial this week. Harris was facing nine felony charges stemming from fights with guards at The Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP). Harris has long maintained that these fights were actually initiated by guards who have targeted him for harassment and abuse. Earlier this week, a jury found largely in Mr Harris’ favor.

Mr Harris initiated his hunger strike on January fourth, and went to trial later in the month. He represented himself, and part way through the trial he was transferred to Franklin Medical Center (FMC) because of his deteriorating health due to the hunger strike. Mr Harris says he has lost about fifty pounds, and is experiencing sharp pains in his legs. Doctors report that he is close to suffering serious medical problems like organ failure because he has refused food for so long.

On Tuesday February 5th, the court Judge Maureen Sweeney ordered Mr Harris return to court to complete his trial, against the wishes of doctors at FMC. Harris was transferred back to OSP and appeared in court, ending the jury phase of trial on Friday, February 8th. Mr Harris was charged with two counts of attempted aggravated murder, one count of attempted murder, three counts of felonious assault, and three possession of a dangerous weapon while in detention charges. He was found not guilty of the attempted murder and felonious assault charges. Both attempted aggravated murder charges were reduced to felonious assault.

Mr Harris represented himself, with no assistance from lawyers, while his health was seriously compromised by the hunger strike. He says he is confident that under different circumstances, or with legal representation he would have also beaten the remaining charges.

As of Friday evening, Mr Harris is still on hunger strike. He was threatening to refuse water as well as food, a decision that would risk ending his life within 72 hours, but after the trial results and a meeting with the warden, he decided to drink water at least through the weekend. Mr Harris is making two main demands. First, an end to this harassment from guards and second, an improved procedure for security level review.

In June of 2012, Mr Harris released a statement, posted to RedBird Prison Abolition’s website detailing this abuse. In this statement he names correctional officers Timothy McVay, James Burns, Kieth Hawn and Waylon Wine as abusers. Mr Harris is concerned that these or other guards may escalate harassment and violence against him because of the results of the trial.

Mr Harris has been incarcerated at OSP since being transferred from Southern Ohio Correctional Institution (SOCF) in Lucasville five and a half years ago. The incidents producing these criminal charges occurred in 2009 and 2010. Mr Harris says he has not had any incident reports for the last three years, but has been kept on level 5 with severely restricted access to visitors, commissary and programming. Under these limitations, there is very little any level 5 prisoners can do to demonstrate good behaviour and reduce their security level.

In June of 2012, a death sentenced level 5 prisoner at OSP named Jason Robb went on a nine day hunger strike which ended with modifications to security review procedure and privileges for him and other death sentenced prisoners at OSP. These changes include limited congregate recreation, full contact visits, and increased frequency of security reviews. These changes allow the death sentenced prisoners at OSP to demonstrate ability to be housed on death row in Chillicothe. Mr Harris is demanding that these changes also apply to him. Mr Harris says Warden David Bobby is unwilling to meet these demands because he would have to apply the same changes to all level 5 prisoners.

Prisoner advocates say that these step-down procedures should be applied to all level 5 prisoners. Prisoners on level 5 at OSP spend 23 hours a day alone in their small cells, often for years on end. They have no human contact other than guards. These conditions are common in US super max prisons, but violate international human rights standards and are widely considered a form of torture.

Supporters are requesting that people call OSP Warden David Bobby on Monday, demanding that Mr Harris be kept safe from retaliation and have his hunger strike demands met. Warden Bobby can be reached at 330-743-0700 ext 2006. People are also encouraged to contact central office and demand oversight and changes to the security review system for level 5 prisoners. The number for Central Office is 614-752-1159.

Note from OHPW: Cornelius Harris’ ODRC registration nr is: #A525945