Please Call and Sign Petition to Support an Ongoing Hunger Strike in Georgia Prison in its third week

From: Human Rights Coalition – PA Prison Report:

Action Alert: Please Call and Sign Petition to Support an Ongoing Hunger Strike in Georgia Prison in its third week

Another hunger strike, this one in Georgia is being waged by some of those who participated in the historic December 2010 work strike that sparked the growing wave of resistance inside the walls. Please sign the petition at this link and go to the bottom of this story from Black Agenda Report and make some calls for those on strike.

Starving For Change: Hunger Strike Underway In Georgia’s Jackson State Prison, Day 15
by BAR manging editor Bruce A. Dixon

Since June 10, according to accounts from prisoners and their families and Rev. Kenneth Glasgow of The Ordinary Peoples Society and the Prodigal Child Project, an undetermined number of prisoners at Georgia’s massive Diagnostic and Classification Prison near the city of Jackson have been on a hunger strike.

Back in December 2010, black, brown and white inmates in several Georgia prisons staged a peaceful protest remaining in their dorms and cells rather than go to meals or work assignments. Their reasonable demands included wages for work, speedier and more transparent status reviews, decent food, real medical care, a more sane visitation policy and the availability of educational and vocational programs behind the walls. State corrections officials responded with temporary cutoffs of heat, water and electricity in some buildings, along with an orgy of savage assaults and beatings across multiple institutions statewide. In one instance, corrections officials apparently conspired to conceal the whereabouts and condition of one prisoner who lingered near death in a coma for most of a week while they shuffled him hundreds of miles between prisons and hospitals.

State corrections say they rounded up 37 whom they believed were the strike leaders and put them under close confinement at Jackson, the same prison where Troy Davis was executed last year. Most of these prisoners have remained there in close confinement, with severely restricted access to visits, communication and their attorneys, and without medical attention for the past 18 months.

Some of these men are the Jackson State prison hunger strikers. After two weeks, according to the families of Miguel Jackson and Preston Whiting, they are weak from hunger and subject to fainting spells. But they seem to believe they have little to lose. They are, a letter from one of them asserts, “starving for change.” There were originally ten of them, but some may have been transferred out, and some other prisoners joined the strike. We hope to have clearer information tomorrow.

They are demanding access to proper hygiene, medical treatment for their numerous and severe injuries, many of which were inflicted 18 months ago, the restoration of their visiting and communications rights, and access to their meager personal property. They and their attorneys insist that the Georgia Department of Corrections follow its own published procedures requiring a status review of every inmate in punitive isolation every 30 days. They further insist that such evaluations be public and transparent so as to preclude the possibility of prejudicial conduct on the party of prison officials.

One of the strikers is Miguel Jackson, who was taken in handcuffs from his cell at Smith State Prison 18 months ago, removed to a secluded area out of range of the video cameras that monitor almost every inch of most Georgia prisons, and beaten with a hammer-like object. Jackson is one of several brutalized prisoners whose injuries have been untreated since. Despite a blizzard of demands by his attorney, prison officials have refused Jackson and other prisoners medical attention for months. And although they have not eaten in two weeks, Jackson’s wife said, at the nine-day mark when medical necessity usually demands prisoners be removed to the infimary, prison officials simply told Jackson “You’re going to die,” and left it at that.

“Most of civilized humanity regards extended solitary confinement as a crime,” said Rev. Kennieth Glasgow. “No less an establishment figure than Illinois Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) convened an extraordinary public hearing on the subject less than a week ago. We are calling on the governor to ensure proper medical treatment for the hunger strikers, to restore their visitation other rights and to end their punitive confinement without delay.

“We hope that people around the state and around the country will call the prison, the Department of Corrections and Georgia’s governor to express their concern for the well-being of the prisoners on hunger strike, and we further hope that they will join us on Monday July 2 for a day-long fast in solidarity with the Georgia prisoners who are only insisting upon their dignity, their humanity, their legal and human rights.”

We at BAR and the Georgia Green Party hope that you will take the time today and tomorrow to do four things:

– Call, email and/or fax the numbers below. Politely convey your deep concern for the welfare of the prison hunger strikers at Georgia Diagnostic Prison, especially Mr. Jackson. We believe there are about ten of them, and will publish their names and ID numbers on Wednesday.

Sign the petition to Georgia’s governor demanding an end to the torture of solitary confinement and punitive isolation in its state prisons.

– Forward this article and the link to it all your friends, family and co-workers and ask them to do the same. Send or carry a copy to your pastor and ask him to mention the fast on Sunday, and invite him to fast that day as well.

– Participate in the July 2 solidarity fast with Georgia’s prisoners who are standing up for their human rights across lines of race and religion. The prisoners, like the rest of us, are black, brown and white and of varying religious beliefs.

Black Agenda Report will contain, in its regular Wednesday issue tomorrow an update on the strikers and their condition, and more information about the July 2 solidarity fast and other local activities in support of Georgia’s prisoners on hunger strike.

Who to Call

Fax phone
Warden, GA Diagnostic & Classification Prison, Butts County GA
Phone: 770-504-2000
Fax: 770-504-2006

GA Department of Corrections Ombudsman
Phone: 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.

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

Georgia governor Nathan Deal
Phone: 404-656-1776

Fax the governor at 404-657-7332.

You can also send the Governor a letter online by clicking here.

For its part, the Georgia Green Party sponsors an ongoing effort to work with the families of the incarcerated and others called the Campaign to End Mass Incarceration, and maintains a web page at http://www.endmassincarceration.org. The Campaign to End Mass Incarceration has a list of 13 demands.

To find out what you can do, and who you can connect with to do it, especially in Georgia, visit and register at www.endmassincarceration.org, and they’ll be in touch with you soon.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. Contact him at bruce.dixon(at)georgiagreenparty.org.

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Georgia Dept of Corrections Withholding Medical Care to Brutalized Inmates, Retaliatory Campaign Continues

By Bruce A. Dixon
03/21/2011
http://www.blackagendareport.com/content/georgia-dept-corrections-withholding-medical-care-brutalized-inmates-retaliatory-campaign-co

From the correspondence of their attorney and the testimony of their families and friends, details are emerging which indicate a still ongoing campaign of brutal beatings and withheld medical care in the wake of the December 2010 inmate strike in Georgia prisons. Does the fact that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has take charge of inquiries into the beatings confirm the suspicion of some that the Department of Corrections is not to be trusted with investigating itself? And is it time, as Rev. Kenneth Glasgow of The Ordinary Peoples Society suggests, for a thoroughgoing yearlong series of public hearings into all aspects of Georgia’s troubled prisons?

Is Georgia’s Dept of Corrections Withholding Medical Care To Beaten Prisoners as Part of Retaliatory Campaign After Dec 2010 Inmate Strike?
by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

“ …correctional officers singled out Miguel Jackson and Kelvin Stevenson, handcuffing and savagely beating both inmates after a search of their cells.”

Has the Georgia Department of Corrections, in the wake of the inmate strike of December 2010 embarked on a campaign of brutal retaliation against inmates in its custody? Is the department deliberately withholding medical treatment to prisoners its officers have viciously assaulted? Is the removal of Smith Prison’s former warden, and apparent demotion to a superintendent of a probation facility connected with extensive ongoing investigations into prison abuse and potential corruption? Have the department’s own internal affairs investigators turned a blind eye to ongoing threats and beatings inflicted upon prisoners with the apparent blessings of their supervisors, leaving investigations of these allegations exclusively to the GBI? And is the Department of Corrections preparing to go before a pliant southeast Georgia grand jury, where prisons are one of the region’s major industries, in the hope of seeking pre-emptive indictments against prisoners to shield its officers and supervisors from civil or criminal prosecution?
The questions around Georgia’s Department of Corrections are piling up. Some of the answers, as well as fuel for brand new questions, are in the stream of correspondence and open records requests filed by Mario Williams of Williams Oinonen LLC, attorney for several of the brutalized inmates.

From portions of that correspondence we know that on December 31, the day after a team of citizen observers were admitted to Smith Prison to interview staff and inmates, correctional officers singled out Miguel Jackson and Kelvin Stevenson, handcuffing and savagely beating both inmates after a search of their cells. Smith suffered multiple indentations to his head, blunt trauma apparently inflicted with a hammer-like object resulting in weeks of severe untreated pain. Georgia Diagnostic officials placed Kelevin in max lock down with a broken jaw that the officials knew needed to be wired, yet, waited nearly three weeks to do so, and only wired Kelevin’s jaw after repeated letters from Mr. Stevenson’s attorney to DOC officials requesting that immediate action be taken. And it is clear that Miguel Jackson and Kelvin Stevenson sustained these injuries not during the search, but only after they had been removed in handcuffs from their cells.

We know that all the fruitful investigations and arrest warrants for guards thus far were conducted and sworn out not by the Department of Corrections’ internal affairs officers, but by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. And we understand that the former warden at Smith State prison has been inexplicably transferred and demoted.

We know that Kelvin Stevenson and Miguel Jackson were denied doctor visits, urgently needed examinations and access to their own medical records for weeks after the assault despite daily complaint of hearing and memory problems, as well as problems with vision and other dangerous symptoms. The correspondence also documents a series of dire and terroristic threats made on multiple occasions by Jackson State correctional officers. After his attorney’s repeated complaints to Ricky Myrick of DOC’s Internal Investigations Unit, one of the guards making said threats was finally transferred out of the wing, but no other action was taken against him. The correctional officer continues to incite other inmates against Miguel Jackson by spreading rumors that he is a snitch.

“ Founded by ex-offenders in Alabama, The Ordinary Peoples Society has worked with prisoners, their families and communities for more than ten years in Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Louisiana.”

“ Over the last three months the attorney for the prisoner’s families has had to send a daily stream of letters, faxes, phone calls and document requests, visits and other inquiries to uncover and address the denial of medical care to the beaten prisoners, along with the facts of their cases,” declared Rev. Kenneth Glasgow of TOPS, The Ordinary Peoples Society [8]. “The Department of Corrections has dragged its feet at every opportunity during this time. The fact that GBI has had to take charge of investigating the vicious assaults of correctional officers and their supervisors upon prisoners is a clear admission on the part of state government that the Department of Corrections is unable or unwilling to uphold the laws it’s supposed to enforce.

“ So later this year TOPS is taking the lead in convening a series of public hearings throughout the state in which we will examine the way Georgia’s prisons operate, and specifically look into the wave of beatings, retaliations and cover ups that followed the inmate strike of December 2010.”

TOPS seems eminently qualified to lead such a public inquiry. In the decade since its founding The Ordinary Peoples Society has stood with and for prisoners, their families and communities in Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Louisiana, both on the level of individual and collective self-help, as well as advocacy on the level of public policy and public education. TOPS is working closely with the attorney for the families of prisoners Miguel Jackson, Kelvin Stevenson, Terrance Dean [10], and other recent victims of unlawful violence on the part of Georgia correctional officers.

“ We found out about TOPS from talking to the families of other prisoners,” Delma Jackson, the wife of Miguel Jackson told Black Agenda Report. “They told us that TOPS would work with us and stand with us to get the justice we need, both in prison and afterward. If there’s no jobs or education there’s not much for those who come out of prison, no way for them to support families and build new lives.”

Read the rest here.

Concern rises about inmates allegedly beaten by guards in Georgia strike and mistreatment of prisoners detained in institutions across the country

SF Bay View, Jan 10th, 2011

by Charlene Muhammad and Starla Muhammad, Final Call Staff Writers

(photo) In retaliation for organizing the Georgia prison strike, Miguel Jackson was pepper sprayed, handcuffed and beaten with hammers, resulting in a fractured nose and 50 stitches to his face, and guards tried to throw him over the railing from the second floor, his wife said. – Photo courtesy of the Final Call.

(FinalCall.com) – Like thousands of inmates scattered in prisons across the state of Georgia, Terrance Bryant Dean participated in an eight-day peaceful protest to highlight inhumane conditions in the prisons.

Days later he was brutally beaten by guards at Macon State Prison, his family and a coalition of supporters charge.

When his mother, Willie Maude Dean, and members of the Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights attempted to visit him at the Atlanta Medical Center on Dec. 31, the hospital claimed her son was no longer there and the corrections department claimed he was moved to Jackson State Prison the night before, according to an alert The Final Call received from coalition co-chair Elaine Brown.

Ms. Brown said the coalition found out about the beating during its second fact-finding visit to Smith State Prison on Dec. 30. Its first prison visit was to Macon on Dec. 20.The coalition asserts the beating was in retaliation for the protest, which began in early December.

In addition, Ms. Dean said the Georgia Department of Corrections has given no information about her son’s condition or his whereabouts.

The mother told coalition leaders after their latest visit that Macon State Warden Gregory McLaughlin told her that Terrance was in an isolation cell, but the mother believes he was already in the hospital.

The family of a second inmate, Miguel Jackson, alleges he was severely beaten by upwards of 20 guards Dec. 31 during what is called a “shakedown” at Smith State Prison near Glennville, Ga. in which corrections officers search prisoners’ cells. Upon finding nothing, said Mrs. Delma Jackson, Miguel’s wife, the officers accused Mr. Jackson of having “something.” Mr. Jackson was pepper sprayed, handcuffed and beaten repeatedly with hammers resulting in a fractured nose and 50 stitches to his face, said Mrs. Jackson. Guards also attempted to throw him over the railing from the second floor, she said.

And because the family has not been allowed to see him, his wife said they worry whether or not he may have a concussion or internal injuries. Upon seeing pictures of her husband, Mrs. Jackson said she and other family members drove New Year’s Day three and a half hours from Atlanta to check on his status.

Their visit was denied by corrections personnel, she said. This was after the family waited 90 minutes to be given a sheet to fill out, requesting a visit. “We didn’t even want to sit there and visit, we just wanted to see that he was okay and they denied us that right,” Mrs. Jackson told The Final Call.
When she asked prison officials why visitation was denied, all officials said was that there was an “incident” and the only one authorized to approve a visit would be the warden, who was not there, Mrs. Jackson continued. Mrs. Jackson said her husband’s fractured nose as of Jan. 3 still had not been reset and she worried the violent encounter will affect him psychologically.

She was upset that the prison still had not contacted her or the family about whether Mr. Jackson was in the infirmary with injuries. “That is our loved one, he’s a human being and they’re treating him like an animal,” she said.

“That is our loved one, he’s a human being and theyre treating him like an animal.” Mrs. Delma Jackson, Miguel’s wife

At press time, The Final Call was awaiting a reply to its voice message request for an interview with the Department of Corrections’ Public Affairs Office. The latest update on its web page is dated Dec. 15 and indicates that four facilities had returned to normal operations.

The prisoners’ strike included Hays, Smith, Telfair and Macon State Prisons and other facilities. Inside the institutions, inmates refused to come out of their cells to petition officials to be paid for work – given that they must pay for medical services – better medical care and better quality food, more self-improvement and educational programs, consistent disciplinary policies and a clear parole policy.

Coalition spokespersons said that beating occurred around the same time it was negotiating access to certain prisons to investigate conditions. And even as the delegation visited Macon State, the corrections department was apparently covering up the inmate’s reported retaliatory beating by several CERT (Correctional Emergency Response Team) members.
Witnesses reported to the coalition that CERT officers restrained Terrance Dean after an alleged dispute 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 corrections officials even though the coalition specifically raised questions about reports of retaliatory beatings, said the group. Questions were also asked about the status and whereabouts of 37 – or more – men the corrections department identified as strike “conspirators,” the coalition said.

The coalition formed to help support the prisoners’ calls for reform and includes the NAACP, the Nation of Islam, the ACLU of Georgia, the U.S. Human Rights Network, All of Us or None and The Ordinary People Society. Among other concerns is the potential cover up of an attempted murder.
“This agenda just got jumped up 10,000 times, not by us, but by them, these men who are suffering inside these walls. They’re the spark that lit the prairie fire and hopefully we who are on the outside that have united around their particular interests in Georgia can keep this going. The coalition has attracted a lot of people but the interesting thing is where in the hell is John Lewis? The coalition is growing but absent in any kind of way is the Congressional Black Caucus,” Ms. Brown said, referring to Congressman John Lewis, D-Ga., and other federal lawmakers.

She told The Final Call that few political officials from Georgia have addressed the issue. But state lawmaker Roberta Abdul Salaam has been very supportive, said coalition leaders. The coalition has reached out to CBC Chair Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and Rep. Lewis but have not received a response, said Ms. Brown.

“Everybody else in the world has come in without us sending a message to them, but not them. Where is the CBC? These men are their constituents, especially John Lewis, Tyrone Brooks (a state representative), and other Black leaders in Georgia,” asked Ms. Brown.

“We need them to do something: Bring the federal government in on behalf of these men … This is a disgrace that these people came into office on the blood of our people like Fannie Lou Hamer, who gave up her eye and her life … The duty of Black elected officials here is clear and they have failed to do their duty to these men and address this question. And I’m saying they should come on back home before we have to start talking about what we’re doing about their failure,” Ms. Brown said. Ed DuBose, head of the Georgia state NAACP, is co-chair of the coalition.

Coalition: Inmates complained of retaliation after peaceful strike

(photo) This unnamed prisoner in Georgia’s Smith State Prison was also beaten by guards. – Photo courtesy of Final Call

“They (inmates) got shipped out of their home institutions and were dispersed across the state. We think that they were primarily dispersed into two facilities but we have not had access to them yet,” said Ajamu Baraka, director of the U.S. Human Rights Network and a member of the delegation that visited Smith State Prison.

He said, “Among information received was that prisons only fed the inmates bologna sandwiches for six days – all to break the back of the strike. And then they released everybody and announced to the world that everything was fine. But the information we got was that the inmates understand that they struck a blow for their rights (and) that they may have to strike again to make sure that people understand how serious this situation really is,” Mr. Baraka told The Final Call.

After the visit, he said, the coalition’s concerns over conditions grew, particularly since Macon was supposed to be a model facility. For example, he said, “the hole” or isolation units, consist of 7-by-12-foot cells and inmates are double bunked in them 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Although inmates are supposed to get an hour out for recreation, the delegation learned that they hardly ever do for months at a time, Mr. Baraka added.
Mr. Baraka said he feels one reason prison authorities moved to shut down the strike quickly was because it could serve as a possible model for prisoners across the country.

But the outcome of the action in Georgia will determine whether there will be more and similar uprisings across the U.S., he predicted.
“The conditions in these prisons across the country are such that it’s amazing that we haven’t had more explosive situations or strikes, because you have overcrowding, brutality, neglect and the inability of prisoners to address these issues because of the Prison Reform Litigation Act passed by the Clinton administration, which has made it difficult for you to go to court to try to get the judiciary to intervene to deal with these inhumane conditions,” Mr. Baraka continued.

According to legal analysts, former President Bill Clinton passed the Prison Reform Litigation Act in 1996 to combat frivolous lawsuits brought by prisoners in an effort to unclog an already back-logged U.S. judicial system.
But Human Rights Watch said the federal law should be amended because it denies prisoners equal access to justice by singling out their lawsuits for burdens and restrictions that apply to no one else.

Racially biased policies and the prison economy

All of these issues are part of the larger problem with having a prison economy, said attorney Michelle Alexander, a civil rights advocate and author of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.”
She told The Final Call she doesn’t believe profit was the primary motive for the drug war and mass incarceration at the outset.
Nonetheless, the numbers are daunting. In 2007, nearly 2.3 million people were locked up in U.S. prisons, the highest incarceration rate in the world. Nearly 1 million Black men and women are incarcerated, 41 percent of total inmates.

According to criminal justice statistics by the NAACP, Blacks are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of Whites; one in six Black men had been incarcerated as of 2001; and one in 100 Black women is currently in prison. The U.S. is five percent of the world population yet has 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, according to an NAACP fact sheet.

This mass incarceration comes out of racial politics stirred up by the Republican Party, attorney Alexander argued. Essentially, she said, the GOP exploited the fears and anxieties of poor working class Whites by launching a movement promising to “get tough” on “those people” and built a campaign around crime and welfare to mobilize poor and working class White voters to defect from the Democratic Party and join the Republican Party in droves.
“But now that the war on drugs and mass incarceration has gained such steam, there’s a whole range of interests that has found that they can profit from caging human beings. And it’s not just the private prison companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange, but it’s a whole range of corporate interests,” she said.

“You know, taser gun manufacturers, phone companies that gouge prisoners and their families, the private health care providers that provide typically abysmal health care to prisoners, and prison guard unions,” all of whom now lobby for harsh criminal justice policies to try to ensure their profits and jobs will continue for a foreseeable future, attorney Alexander said.
Back in the day, prisons used to have their stock prices posted in the front of the facilities, because guards had employee stock options, according to Alex Friedmann, associate editor of Prison Legal News and president of the Private Corrections Institute, a non-profit advocacy group that opposes the privatization of prisons. He spoke of his past experience of 10 years of incarceration.

“When the guards came into work, they could see how well the company was doing … so they had a vested interest to make sure that the company did well, so that meant cutting back on costs. So if you had to screw prisoners out of something or remove something from them to save money and increase your bottom line, that’s what you would do. …

“It went along the lines of a for-profit industry, you know, ‘These are little money signs, just $45 a day per diem that we make for keeping them in prison, so it’s not really a person, just a number with a dollar sign in front of it,’” Mr. Friedmann said.

But soon employee morale suffered when the stock spiraled downward and people came to work only to find out that their entire savings had been wiped out, he said.
Mr. Friedmann echoed attorney Alexander’s sentiments that the correctional system exploded in the 1980s, and after the military industrial complex went downhill, the prison industrial complex arose. Security resources, law enforcement and military got funneled into the war on drugs and crime rose. But it’s really a war on Americans, citizens accused of crime and recreational drug use, he asserted.

“Our justice system is not only racially skewed but more so it’s class-based. Prison Legal News approaches it from the standpoint that the criminal justice system is primarily management for poor America. … You don’t see a lot of rich people because we have a two-tiered justice system: The poor go to prison and the rich tend to get drug treatment or probation or home confinement or GPS monitoring or something else,” Mr. Friedmann said.

The poor go to prison and the rich tend to get drug treatment or probation or home confinement or GPS monitoring or something else.” Alex Friedmann, associate editor of Prison Legal News

The problem, say civil and human rights activists, amounts to a systematic pattern of over-incarceration that needs to be addressed, particularly since more than half of the millions of people in U.S. prisons are non-violent offenders. Chara Fisher Jackson, legal director of the ACLU of Georgia, says the issues of prison overcrowding, lack of access to health care, inhumane treatment and other abuses are happening nationwide, but people have a right to basic human rights regardless of their circumstances.

Alternatives to expensive incarceration

Inmate advocates argue that the nearly $70 billion being spent nationally on corrections each year could be better used on non-vengeful alternatives, like drug treatment and programs that are mental-health focused. But instead of a rehabilitative approach, the country takes a retributive one that requires not an eye for an eye, but an eye and 20 years to life, Mr. Friedmann said.
He cited home monitoring, work service, day fines, split confinement, like weekends in jail or work days and evenings in jail as a few alternative solutions.

The main thing that people need to see is that prisoners are human beings and 95 percent of them will be re-entering their communities, he said.

The options are people who have been abused, degraded, humiliated and treated like slaves or people that have been helped, rehabilitated and served through programs, the prison reform advocate continued.

“I think that would be a simple solution, but not for our country,” he said.
Nathaniel Ali, executive director of the inmate and ex-offender education and resource advocacy group National Association of Brothers and Sisters In & Out of Prison, asserted that problems highlighted by the Georgia inmates exist in institutions nationwide.

These conditions are a continuation of policies tied to economics and “slaveocracy” – prisons profiting off the backs of inmates and their families.
There is a real connection to maintaining poverty through the prison industrial complex, said Mr. Ali. Excessive charges by phone companies for telephone calls are just one example, he added.

Phone calls, price gouging and family suffering

Activists added though prisons scoff at and punish prisoners for using cell phones, the system generated the need for phones because of price gouging for calls and denying inmates access to their families.

“The excessive charges for telephone calls has been an issue for years but now companies are beginning to diversify because there is money to be made,” but not just by MCI, Mr. Ali said.

“What is happening is larger companies are subcontracting with smaller companies who are in turn also billing telephone calls. So in essence, inmates and their families are being double billed for one phone call. If the first minute is $3 and something then it’s going to end up being $6 and something …. Companies are cashing in with the digital technology with what they know is going to be profitable, which is the inmates wanting to hear somebody’s voice on the other end of the line,” he said.

“The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said, ‘Justice is a human need; therefore justice is a human right,’” said Nation of Islam Student Prison Reform Minister Abdullah Muhammad.

He said the needs and rights of families are critical. “The high prices for phone calls cause some family members to block calls from jails and prisons, which can negatively affect family relations. And anything that disrupts family or is against the general welfare of the family is therefore against the aim and purpose of God and creation,” Minister Muhammad said.

According to Prisoners.com, a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit organization, an inmate may open an account with the telephone company and give them money in advance. However, in that instance the prisoner pays about $6.16 for a 15-minute conversation. Comparable service for persons not in prison costs about 75 cents.

“Somebody’s getting rich on the backs of prisoners and their families,” notes the site.

Prisoners.com goes on to note that for collect telephone calls, the inmate’s family must pay about $7 for a 15-minute conversation. If the phone call is disconnected before the allotted time, reconnection fees may apply.
For inmates, who in some cases make as little as $20 to $30 per month, a 30-minute telephone call to a loved one may cost half a month’s wages.

This story first appeared in the Final Call, at http://www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/National_News_2/article_7536.shtml.

Support the struggle for human rights in Georgia prisons

By Ikemba S. Mutulu, SF Bay View
January 12, 2011

I’d like to offer this word of support to the convicts and comrades out in them Georgia dungeons doing your thing. As word comes out about the inhumane conditions there, it’s important we all stand in solidarity with these men. To recognize and demand one’s own humanity is to simultaneously acknowledge and stand in unison for the human rights of all peoples.

The state will make every excuse to deny this systematic pattern of abuse and corruption in the prisons. They will try to criminalize our protests as riots and our self defense against their brutality as unprovoked attacks on them.
So it is vital for loved ones and supporters on the outside to witness as much as possible, get as many first hand accounts as possible and report it to the people.

And we on the inside must continue the struggle, educating one another and doing what is necessary to make our voices heard. The young brothers there said, “Know your rights.” And I would add, “Know your worth.”

(Send our brother some love and light. Write to: Marritte Funches, 37050, NNCC, P.O. Box 7000, Carson City, NV 89702)

Message from a prisoner in Georgia

by Zak Solomon, Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights

This email was sent Tuesday, Jan. 11 (texted in several segments):
“As salamu alaikum. Brother, I am known as a Freedom Fighter. I am a Muslim incarcerated in the Georgia prison. I am at one of the prisons that were locked down in December. Many injustices are happening here.

“Since the beatings of inmates with hammers by corrections staff, another approach by staff is taking place. Instead of the staff themselves beating inmates, they are allowing the so called gang bangers and so called thugs to do it and then they compensate them in some fashion, as well as protect them from disciplinary action.
 
“If you would like to contact me about this, please feel free to do so. I am working with as many outside organizations as possible. For the safety of my life and fear of retaliation by staff, please keep my identity and phone info confidential. As salamu alaikum.”
(Photo: In retaliation for organizing the Georgia prison strike, Miguel Jackson was pepper sprayed, handcuffed and beaten with hammers, resulting in a fractured nose and 50 stitches to his face, and guards tried to throw him over the railing from the second floor, his wife said. – Photo courtesy of the Final Call.)

After discussion with members and affiliates of the Concerned Coalition, it seems that the best response we can take at the moment is to call Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, at (404) 656-1776.

Deal (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nathan_Deal) is an anti-immigrant former prosecutor and has little concern for the prisoners’ rights or their safety. Short of going out to Georgia, shutting down his phone lines appears to be the most effective way to let him know the world is watching.

We are in the process of putting together a call-in campaign, where different cities commit to shutting down the governor’s office’s phone lines on consecutive days – until the 37 disappeared prisoners’ status and whereabouts are released and good faith negotiations with CCRPR on the prisoners’ demands have begun.

If you are willing to help organize the call-in campaign, please reply to Zak Solomon, zsol13@gmail.com. No in-person meetings will be required. Please share this information.

Press Conference on Georgia Prisons

From: Denis O’Hearn 9:14am Jan 8 


A press conference was held this morning in Atlanta GA to press for changes in GA prisons. Here is the press release, please post.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 6, 2011
10:30 a.m.
Georgia State Capitol
206 Washington Street
Atlanta, Georgia

NEW CHARGES OF INMATE BEATINGS

Reports from Prison Visits
Set Off Coalition Appeal to DOC and Governor-Elect for More Access

The Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights, formed to support the interests and agenda of thousands of Georgia prisoners who staged a peaceful protest and work strike initiated early last December, will host a press conference this Thursday. The mothers and other family members of Terrance Dean and Miguel Jackson, inmates reportedly brutally beaten by guards at Macon State and Smith State Prisons in connection with the strike, will be in attendance.
The press conference follows reports of violent abuses of these men and others and the findings of fact by Coalition delegations after visits to two prisons in December. These reports have increased fears of the targeting of and retaliation against inmates on account of their peaceful protest for their human rights and raise the urgency for immediate reform.

“These new developments have increased our fears and our legitimate call for more access to inmates,” said Elaine Brown, Co-Chair of the Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners Rights.

Ed Dubose, Coalition Co-Chair and president of the NAACP of Georgia, stated, “Family members are frantic and mothers are crying and anguished after learning their loved ones have been badly injured. We cannot allow those cries to go unanswered. Since the start of the December 9 peaceful work stoppage and appeal for reform and respect for human rights, some inmates have been targeted and others have simply disappeared. We are urging the Department of Corrections and Governor-Elect Nathan Deal to act now to halt these unjust practices and treat these men like human beings.”

Black, brown, white, Muslim, Christian, Rastafarian prisoners, including those at Augusta, Baldwin, Calhoun, Hancock, Hays, Macon, Rogers, Smith, Telfair, Valdosta and Ware State Prisons, joined a peaceful work stoppage December 9, 2010, refusing to come out of their cells as part of a petition to the corrections department.

Among concerns expressed by inmates were not being paid for their labor; being charged excessive fees for basic medical treatments; language barriers suffered by Latino inmates; arbitrary, harsh disciplinary practices; too few opportunities for education and self improvement; and unjust parole denials.

Coalition leaders attending the press conference will be Mr. Dubose, Ajamu Baraka of the U.S. Human Rights Network, Pastor Kenneth Glasgow of The Ordinary People Society, Chara Jackson of the ACLU of Georgia, along with Abdul Sharrief Muhammad of the Nation of Islam.

The prisoners have been petitioning the corrections department for their human rights, including wages for labor, decent health care and nutritional meals, a halt to cruel and unusual punishments, and an end to unjust just parole decisions.

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