Free Mississippi Movement

From: Free Alabama – Mississippi Movement Blogtalk Radio Show:

Please listen to the recording of August 8th FREE ALABAMA-MISSISSIPPI MOVEMENT’S blogtalkradio show as we continue our “HANDS OFF OF OUR WOMEN AT TUTWILER” series ahead of our “MARCH ON TUTWILER” AND rally at the State Capitol on August 23, 2014, beginning at 11 a.m.

Also, we will get an update on our FAMILY… in Georgia, and learn about new developments and oppressive tactics that are being carried out by the State against the Men and Women who want their FREEDOM over there also.

“MISSISSIPPI BROWN” will be back again and we look forward to another great show.

<!–[if IE]><![endif]–>

Listen To Social Networking Internet Radio Stations with 63945 on BlogTalkRadio

Free Alabama Movement Blogtalk Radio Show

From: Free Alabama Movement Blogtalk Radio Show:

Please listen to the recording of August 8th FREE ALABAMA-MISSISSIPPI MOVEMENT’S blogtalkradio show as we continue our “HANDS OFF OF OUR WOMEN AT TUTWILER” series ahead of our “MARCH ON TUTWILER” AND rally at the State Capitol on August 23, 2014, beginning at 11 a.m.

Also, we will get an update on our FAMILY… in Georgia, and learn about new developments and oppressive tactics that are being carried out by the State against the Men and Women who want their FREEDOM over there also.

“MISSISSIPPI BROWN” will be back again and we look forward to another great show.

<!–[if IE]><![endif]–>

Listen To Social Networking Internet Radio Stations with 63945 on BlogTalkRadio

Please also view this Youtube in which many people inside are interviewed by Free Alabama Movement, and living conditions are shown inside; please also visit their website: Freealabamamovement.com

Message by the Freedom Alabama Movement (FAM): Stop Slave Labor and other Human Rights Violations in Prisons!

This came via email, contact below:

Greetings of Solidarity! Feel free to copy and distro widely in an upcoming publication.
(This was written by a member of the IWW organizing committee.) 

We in the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) have been approached by a group of hundreds of prisoners in Alabama who are launching a second prison strike this year demanding an end to prisoners as slave labor, the massive overcrowding and horrifying health and human rights violations found in Alabama Prisons, and have put forward legislation for successful rehabilitation and a clear path for earning parole.


These brave men and women of the Free Alabama Movement (FAM) are building on the recent Hunger Strikes in Pelican Bay and the Georgia Prison Strike in 2010, with the aim of building a mass nonviolent movement inside and outside of prisons to earn their freedom, and to end the racist, capitalist system of mass incarceration called The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander and others.


The conditions in Alabama prisons are horrendous, packing twice as many people as are meant to be there, with everything from black mold, brown water, cancer causing foods, and general disrepair. They are also run by free, slave labor, with 10,000 people working to maintain the prisons daily, adding up to $600,000 dollars a day or $219,000,000 a year of slave labor if inmates were paid federal minimum wage, and tens of thousands more receiving mere dollars a day making products sold by the state or to private corporations.


While unique in some ways, the struggle of these brave human beings is the same as prisoners around the country, and the millions of black, brown, and working class women and men struggling to survive a system they are not meant to succeed within. These prisoners need your support, and for you to help spread the struggle.


To do so the Free Alabama Movement along with the IWW’s Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee is asking for the following:


1) For the creation of Prisoner Solidarity Committees in their local areas to raise money, attract media attention, and spread the word of this struggle to local prisons

2) Amplify the voices of prisoners by posting this and future updates to your website, facebook, sharing it to your email list, or with your contacts in prison

3) Join our email list so as to be kept up to date and amplify future updates

4) Donate money to the Free Alabama Movement and the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee at ??


The IWW is a grassroots revolutionary union open to all working people, including the incarcerated and the unemployed. Founded in 1905, we have gained reputation in recent years for struggles at Starbucks, Jimmy Johns, and the General Strike call during the Wisconsin Uprising. We are committed to amplifying the voices of prisoners, ending an economic system based on exploitation and racial caste systems like mass incarceration, and adding our contribution to the global movements for a just, free, and sustainable world. 

Website: Freealabamamovement.com
Facebook page
Twitter: @FREEALABAMAMOVE

Illinois prisoners in Menard High Security Unit plan to begin hunger strike Jan. 15

Reblogged from: SF Bay View
by Staughton Lynd 
Jan. 14, 2014

The following information is based on numerous letters from prisoners in the High Security Unit at Menard Correctional Center in Illinois written in December 2013. These prisoners expect to go on hunger strike on Jan. 15, 2014, due to their placement and retention in severe isolation, under inhumane living conditions, without notice, reasons or hearing. This will be a peaceful protest.
Retaliation can be expected. These men ask for our support and action. And they ask us to spread the word.

The IDOC website says, “Menard Correctional Center was established on the banks of the Mississippi River in 1878. … Menard is the state’s largest maximum security adult male facility.”

After the Tamms Correctional Center was closed in January 2013, several High Security Units have been opened in other prisons throughout Illinois. The High Security Unit at Menard Correctional Center is one of several such units housing prisoners in administrative detention who were in Tamms or who have filed grievances or complaints and others who would not have met the criteria for transfer to Tamms.


The men were transferred to Menard and continue to be kept in the High Security Unit without any notice, reasons or hearing. Prisoners who were transferred without so much as a ticket are being forced to complete a nine month three phase program – originally Tamms’ stepdown program – to earn back privileges they did nothing to lose.
The Illinois Department of Corrections has been unable to locate any records responsive to a Freedom of Information Act request for any administrative directives that deal with the “phase program.” The Menard rule book says that administrative detention is a non-disciplinary form of segregation from the general population that is reviewed every 90 days by the warden. However, the phase program is nine months. Therefore, no one is being considered for release until at least nine months after entering the system.
The 90-day review is supposed to be a review where release is considered. Instead, it is only a hearing where the prisoner is not present, and its only purpose is to determine if he should move from one phase to the next. To date, nobody has been released after the nine months. No notices are being given after any of these alleged hearings, and no basis for decision of continued placement is given either.

These prisoners expect to go on hunger strike on Jan. 15, 2014, due to their placement and retention in severe isolation, under inhumane living conditions, without notice, reasons or hearing. This will be a peaceful protest.

Prisoners have been filing grievances asking for uniform written policies that provide for constitutionally adequate notice of why an inmate is being placed in administrative detention and periodic review in the form of informal hearings that allow the prisoner to refute the alleged reasons for placement and retention in administrative detention.
Prisoners say that their conditions of confinement are deplorable. According to prisoners, conditions in the High Security Unit include
  • severe isolation without any mental health evaluation or treatment;
  • uncleanliness, rodent infestation and lack of any cleaning supplies to clean cells – no disinfectants, no toilet brushes;
  • no written policies requiring the daily sweeping and mopping of the wings;
  • lack of heat in the cells and only one small, thin blanket;
  • showers are moldy and often cold;
  • no hot water in the cells to wash up or clean eating utensils;
  • unauthorized deviation from the statewide menu, low calorie intake has prisoners losing weight;
  • not issued individual coats, have to share smelly coats with numerous men;
  • access to their legal materials limited to approximately once a month, delays in receiving legal mail;
  • no educational opportunities even though non-disciplinary prisoners should have the same access to education as the general population.
Many prisoners in the Menard High Security Unit are planning to turn in emergency grievances as well as begin a hunger strike on the morning of Jan. 15, 2014. They expect retaliation, possibly including beatings of inmates who are regarded as troublemakers.

Retaliation can be expected. These men ask for our support and action. And they ask us to spread the word.

How you can help

Prisoners in the High Security Unit at Menard Correctional Center ask you to make phone calls to the warden, the director of the Illinois Department of Corrections, and the governor on Jan. 15, 16 and 17, 2014, to check on their conditions, demands, and welfare. Please call:
Staughton Lynd, attorney, professor, historian, author, playwright, and civil rights and peace activist, can be reached at salynd@aol.com.

Illinois prisoners in Menard High Security Unit plan to begin hunger strike Jan. 15

Reblogged from: SF Bay View
by Staughton Lynd 
Jan. 14, 2014

The following information is based on numerous letters from prisoners in the High Security Unit at Menard Correctional Center in Illinois written in December 2013. These prisoners expect to go on hunger strike on Jan. 15, 2014, due to their placement and retention in severe isolation, under inhumane living conditions, without notice, reasons or hearing. This will be a peaceful protest.
Retaliation can be expected. These men ask for our support and action. And they ask us to spread the word.

The IDOC website says, “Menard Correctional Center was established on the banks of the Mississippi River in 1878. … Menard is the state’s largest maximum security adult male facility.”

After the Tamms Correctional Center was closed in January 2013, several High Security Units have been opened in other prisons throughout Illinois.

The High Security Unit at Menard Correctional Center is one of several such units housing prisoners in administrative detention who were in Tamms or who have filed grievances or complaints and others who would not have met the criteria for transfer to Tamms.

The men were transferred to Menard and continue to be kept in the High Security Unit without any notice, reasons or hearing. Prisoners who were transferred without so much as a ticket are being forced to complete a nine month three phase program – originally Tamms’ stepdown program – to earn back privileges they did nothing to lose.
The Illinois Department of Corrections has been unable to locate any records responsive to a Freedom of Information Act request for any administrative directives that deal with the “phase program.” The Menard rule book says that administrative detention is a non-disciplinary form of segregation from the general population that is reviewed every 90 days by the warden. However, the phase program is nine months. Therefore, no one is being considered for release until at least nine months after entering the system.
The 90-day review is supposed to be a review where release is considered. Instead, it is only a hearing where the prisoner is not present, and its only purpose is to determine if he should move from one phase to the next. To date, nobody has been released after the nine months. No notices are being given after any of these alleged hearings, and no basis for decision of continued placement is given either.

These prisoners expect to go on hunger strike on Jan. 15, 2014, due to their placement and retention in severe isolation, under inhumane living conditions, without notice, reasons or hearing. This will be a peaceful protest.

Prisoners have been filing grievances asking for uniform written policies that provide for constitutionally adequate notice of why an inmate is being placed in administrative detention and periodic review in the form of informal hearings that allow the prisoner to refute the alleged reasons for placement and retention in administrative detention.
Prisoners say that their conditions of confinement are deplorable. According to prisoners, conditions in the High Security Unit include
  • severe isolation without any mental health evaluation or treatment;
  • uncleanliness, rodent infestation and lack of any cleaning supplies to clean cells – no disinfectants, no toilet brushes;
  • no written policies requiring the daily sweeping and mopping of the wings;
  • lack of heat in the cells and only one small, thin blanket;
  • showers are moldy and often cold;
  • no hot water in the cells to wash up or clean eating utensils;
  • unauthorized deviation from the statewide menu, low calorie intake has prisoners losing weight;
  • not issued individual coats, have to share smelly coats with numerous men;
  • access to their legal materials limited to approximately once a month, delays in receiving legal mail;
  • no educational opportunities even though non-disciplinary prisoners should have the same access to education as the general population.
Many prisoners in the Menard High Security Unit are planning to turn in emergency grievances as well as begin a hunger strike on the morning of Jan. 15, 2014. They expect retaliation, possibly including beatings of inmates who are regarded as troublemakers.

Retaliation can be expected. These men ask for our support and action. And they ask us to spread the word.

How you can help

Prisoners in the High Security Unit at Menard Correctional Center ask you to make phone calls to the warden, the director of the Illinois Department of Corrections, and the governor on Jan. 15, 16 and 17, 2014, to check on their conditions, demands, and welfare. Please call:
Staughton Lynd, attorney, professor, historian, author, playwright, and civil rights and peace activist, can be reached at salynd@aol.com.

Protest Disciplinary Actions Against Prison Hunger Strikers

This was sent by email to those who signed up to pledge taking action, but everyone can participate!
Greetings to all Pledge signers,
As you know, on July 8, 2013 more than 30,000 California prisoners initiated a historic hunger strike calling on the Governor and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to meet their 5 Core Demands. Sixty days and one death later, the strikers suspended the strike.
Thank you so much for continuing your support of the hunger strikers.
CDCR RETALIATES AGAINST PEACEFUL PROTEST WITH ACCUSATIONS OF SERIOUS RULE VIOLATIONS (115 WRITE-UP)
The hunger strike was a non-violent and peaceful protest of resistance against the violence and torture perpetrated against prisoners by prison staff. Prisoners all over the world use hunger strikes to affirm their humanity. Hunger striking is a time-honored form of peaceful protest, going back hundreds – perhaps thousands – of years. It allows nonviolent dissent for people who lack viable methods to obtain redress of grievances.
Every person who participated in this summer’s peaceful protest of refusing meals has received a 115 write-up, accusing him of committing a serious rule violation for his participation in the hunger strike. This is a continuation of CDCR’s attacks on the nonviolent protest.
A 115 WRITE-UP CAN EXTEND SOLITARY CONFINEMENT PERIOD AND RESULT IN DENIAL OF PAROLE
A 115 is serious. It can result in extending a prisoner’s period of solitary confinement by years, in the imposition of penalties like television restrictions, or in becoming the basis for denying parole.
If the 115 is gang-related, the results are even worse: it can be used to validate a prisoner as a gang member or associate. Validation can cause the prisoner to be moved to the Security Housing Unit (the “SHU,” aka solitary confinement), or to be kept longer in the SHU. Officials at California State Prison Corcoran, and possibly at other prisons, encouraged prisoners to stipulate that they had participated in the hunger strike, in exchange for a lesser 115 penalty. But that stipulation included a phrase acknowledging that the hunger strike was organized or directed by prison gangs, leading to grave repercussions for participants throughout the system.
Keeping people in solitary confinement for more years, because they peacefully protested solitary confinement, is outrageous! This is a symptom of the unjust retaliation that CDCR is perpetuating against hunger strikers.
TELL CDCR THAT THE PRACTICE OF ISSUING 115 WRITE-UPS FOR PARTICIPATING IN THE HUNGER STRIKE IS OUTRAGEOUS
Please contact M. D. Stainer, Director of the Division of Adult Institutions at CDCR. Your voice needs to be heard by the people making decisions! Tell him to end this policy of punishing people for refusing their meals in nonviolent protest, and to reverse the 115s that were given out. Let him know that you are distressed to hear that about his policy of issuing 115 write-ups, further oppressing the peaceful hunger strikers.
M.D. Stainer, Director
Division of Adult Institutions
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
P. O. Box 942883
Sacramento CA. 94283
(916) 445-7688
PHSS will let you know when we find out the effects of our collective activity. Please share this Alert with your networks!
In solidarity,
Dana Gross, for Emergency Response Network – Pledge of Resistance
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition

California has breached human rights of prisoners on hunger strike

Posted: 22 July 2013

‘Prisoners … should not be subjected to punitive measures for exercising their right to engage in peaceful protest’ – Angela Wright


The Californian prison authorities have breached international human rights obligations by taking punitive measures against prisoners on hunger strike, Amnesty International said today.

More than 1,000 inmates in prisons across California remain on hunger strike over conditions for thousands held in solitary confinement in the state’s prisons, with the protest entering its third week.

This is down from approximately 30,000 prisoners in more than 24 prisons who began their hunger strike on 8 July to protest against the state’s policy of long-term solitary confinement in so-called “Security Housing Units”.

On 11 July, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation threatened to take disciplinary action against all those participating in the hunger strike – a move which may extend their time in the secure units.

Hunger strike leaders have also been subjected to increased isolation, where they face harsher conditions and increased restrictions on communication with their lawyers.

A core group of hunger strikers in the north Californian Pelican Bay Security Housing Units claim the prison authorities have blasted cold air into their cells, as well as confiscated fluids, hygiene products and legal materials.

Last year Amnesty published a highly critical 58-page report on the units, describing the “shocking” conditions endured by more than 3,000 prisoners, including 78 people who had spent more than two decades in isolation units (see http://amn.st/12HjOav).

Amnesty International’s USA researcher Angela Wright said:

“Prolonged isolation under conditions which can only be described as cruel and inhumane treatment is prohibited under international law.

“It is unsurprising that prisoners in the SHU are protesting the conditions of their detention.
“Prisoners seeking an end to inhumane conditions should not be subjected to punitive measures for exercising their right to engage in peaceful protest. 

“Rather than punishing prisoners further with the threat of disciplinary action, the Department of Corrections should commit to meaningful reforms that will address the inhumanity of the state’s prison system.”

While California’s Department of Corrections has introduced changes to how individuals are assigned to the units, and how they can work their way out, Amnesty believes that these reforms do not go far enough.

Numerous studies have shown that being held under such harsh environmental conditions is detrimental to a prisoner’s psychological and physical health.

Prisoners held under these conditions are denied rehabilitative or educational programming, and have little or no social contact – including with family members. Most are eventually released back into mainstream society where the long-term effects of their confinement make reintegration harder.

Amnesty is urging California’s Department of Corrections to introduce long-overdue reforms to the secure units system to ensure that California’s treatment of prisoners does not violate its obligation under international human rights law to treat all prisoners humanely.
 

Plz Sign for Last British Citizen still being held in "Gitmo"

“I Affirm Our Right to Life”: Shaker Aamer, the Last British Resident in Guantánamo, Explains His Peaceful Protest and Hunger Strike
From the website of Andy Worthington
6.4.12
Please Sign Here: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/shaker-aamerguantanamo-bay/

This article is the second of two articles providing new commentary by Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantánamo — and reproducing a statement he made about conditions in the prison, with additional notes by Ramzi Kassem, one of his lawyers. The two articles were published simultaneously — here and on the website of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, and this is a cross-post of the article published on “Close Guantánamo.” Also, if you’re interested in seeing Shaker Aamer freed from Guantánamo, please sign the e-petition to the British government calling for his release (if you’re a UK citizen or resident — whatever your age), and the international petition on the Care 2 Petition Site, which will be delivered to both the US and UK governments.

In a letter dated July 15, 2011, which has recently been unclassified by the Pentagon, Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantánamo, explained why he was embarking on a peaceful protest, which also involved a hunger strike. These reasons are posted below, because they provide a compelling snapshot of the current conditions in the prison, touching on the injustice of holding people for nine years — now ten — without charge or trial, so that they can be legitimately regarded as hostages; preventing them from having contact with their families; and not meeting their needs regarding healthcare and diet. He also criticized President Obama administration for not keeping his promise to close Guantanamo within a year of taking office.

These complaints are valid for all the prisoners still held at Guantánamo (171 in total), but from what we understand, Shaker Aamer is one of 89 prisoners who are still held despite being cleared for release over two years ago by an interagency Task Force established by President Obama. This, of course, is an absolute disgrace, and in Shaker’s case it is compounded by the fact that he was first told he was cleared under President Bush in 2007, and the British government has also been seeking his return for the last five years.

Following the points raised in the letter, below, Ramzi Kassem, a law professor at the City University of New York, who is one of Aamer’s attorneys, explained that, on a visit in January, his client described what took place during the widespread peaceful protest and hunger strike on the tenth anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo (on January 11 this year), and provided further background information regarding his complaints about the food and the lack of communication with his family, and also his frank and obviously very real fears about being killed.

SUBJECT: Peaceful Protest

From GTMO detainee to his lawyer.

I the signatory below, in Camp 5E [“Five Echo,” described here] announce the start of a peaceful protest/hunger strike for the reasons enumerated below:

1. The opening and continuing operation of this unjust detention facility for the ninth year of my continuing and indefinite detention in the absence of any real accusation or crimes committed. Therefore I am hostage.

2. The inhumane treatment and deprivation of some of the items we are truly in need of, most important of which are the family calls since they are most critical to our families, especially to those experiencing special circumstances. Therefore, I want these calls to take place on a continuing basis and recur once every 15 days. These family calls ought to last no less than 2 hours with further consideration given to those experiencing special circumstances. I also speak for the regular mail to be made more efficient and provide us with e-mail.

3. The inhumane treatment is taking place at the hospital among other areas especially affecting the sick and those who are on strike and our deprivation of real treatment, health diet and appropriate clothing which are not provided to us nor are we allowed to provide them for ourselves.

4. Not upholding the promise that both your president and government gave on 01/21/2009 concerning the closing of Guantánamo detention facility. Very few people have left ever since although many here have been deemed to not represent any danger for the United States. Therefore, I ask you to establish justice and remove the injustice that has befallen us and our brothers in all detention centers.

By submitting these demands, I affirm our right to life. We want our freedom and the right to return to our homes since I am innocent of the charges (if there were any) you have levied against us. I ask that you establish justice that you claim to be a foundation of your country.

After these years of hardship we have spent here — and which I managed to do only through the grace of God, otherwise I would have lost my sanity — I want you to consider my case as soon as possible and give me the right to a just and public trial or set me free without conditions.

Shaker Aamer (00239)

*****

Following this letter, Aamer was instrumental in organizing a peaceful hunger strike and protest on the tenth anniversary of the opening of the prison, on January 11 this year, which I reported here.

In a meeting with Ramzi Kassem on January 27, he explained that he and another prisoner were “on punishment status” during the week of the anniversary. With an eye for symbolism, they had asked to be issued with orange jumpsuits, which were worn by all the prisoners in the early days of Guantánamo, but were then issued only to prisoners “on punishment status.” However, the Joint Task Force refused, and Shaker found it ironic that refusing to allow the orange jumpsuits to be used was “part of an effort to whitewash the prison’s image.”

He complained that, despite claims that the prisoners are all fed well, the food is, in fact, “all mixed up together: the tuna mixed with the fruit salad, the eggs mixed with the oatmeal.” And then, he said, “there’s the thick, heavy, oddly non-circular shaped pseudo-falafel,” which he has taken to calling the “constipation cube.” He has explained that you could “throw it against a wall and it wouldn’t crumble apart.” As he stated: “You gonna be clogged up. No way you gonna go to the bathroom.”

Aamer explained that the quality of the food improved slightly in the first half of January, in an evidently cynical attempt to keep the prisoners calm on the anniversary, but then became as inedible as ever — so inedible, as Aamer said, that “sometimes even the stray cats he cares for during his recreation time won’t touch it.”

He also explained his fears — that he doesn’t feel safe without the constant presence of attorneys, and the constant threat of embarrassment in the media directed at the prison authorities. Only then, he said, does he believe there will there be “a meaningful check” on the abuse of prisoners.

He has said that he fears for his life, and fears that if, in the course of a “Forced Cell Extraction” by the notorious Immediate Reaction Force (the armored guards responsible for maintaining discipline and punishing infringements of the rules), the guards kill him, they will tell the world it was a suicide. Who knows, he has asked, if the men that the authorities claimed committed suicide truly had — the three men who died in 2006, and the others in 2007, 2009 and 2011? What, he wonders, if, instead of killing him, they paralyze him during one of their brutal beatings?

Touching on one of his major complaints in his letter of July 2011, Aamer stated that he has not been allowed to communicate with his wife and their children in London since a videoteleconference (VTC) arranged by the International Committee of the Red Cross on August 12, 2011, and another with his mother and relatives immediately after Ramadan. The ICRC told him there would be another VTC with his family in December 2011, but that call never took place, and he wonders why. He also wonders why his brother and his family haven’t written to him, or if they know where to send letters.

He also fears that his letters to his family in the UK are not being sent, and has stated that he would like his attorney to find out how many of his letters have been received. Sadly, he has not received any letters from his wife in three years, with the exception of a single letter delivered by the British government via military lawyers for the prison authorities at GTMO.

Aamer asked Kassem if he knew what “SOP” stands for. He replied, “Standard Operating Procedures,” but Aamer told him, “Shit on Paper,” and told him that was the running joke amongst the prisoners, guards, and officers alike.

Shaking his head, and noting that he is now 46 years old, Aamer explained that in the last ten years, he has sat across the table from roughly 200 interrogators, and said, “Some of them were extremely experienced, older than 70 years of age.” However, neither they, nor the countless rotations of guards, have succeeded in breaking his spirit. As he said: “What keeps me happy, what keeps me alive, is that I haven’t surrendered. I tell the guards that even though they are putting shackles on me. I’m still a free man.”

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK)

Protest retaliation against Georgia prisoners

It is not the “Twitter Revolution” or the “Facebook Revolution”, but could it be the “Cellphone Revolution”? But the crackdown by those in power is merciless to those involved in a peaceful protest in the Georgia prisons of last December. We need to fill up Liberation Square in Georgia State quickly!

From: SF Bay View

by Mary Ratcliff, Feb 20, 2011

Georgia State Prison, Reidsville
 

If the military now running Egypt is as repressive as Mubarak, you know the Egyptians will be outraged. They won’t stand for it. Whenever we in the U.S. make a brave step forward … and are pushed back a couple of steps, we should be outraged too. And we should make some noise.

On Dec. 9, thousands of prisoners in Georgia – prisoners from different prisons, of different races, ages and religions – made a very brave step forward. They all sat down at once, demanding a living wage for work, education opportunities, decent health care, an end to cruel and unusual punishment, decent living conditions, nutritional meals, vocational and self-improvement opportunities, access to families and just parole decisions. (The full list of demands, in the prisoners’ words, is reprinted below.) It was the biggest prison strike in U.S. history.

Eight days later, the newly formed Concerned Coalition to Protect Prisoners’ Rights met in Atlanta with Georgia prison officials, who, Bruce Dixon reported, told them they had “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.”

Miguel Jackson was reportedly attacked by about 20 guards at Smith State Prison and beaten with hammers. Eugene Thomas says several of the prisoners at Smith accused of organizing the Dec. 9 prison strike are now in the hole at Reidsville, though he hasn’t been able to contact them yet.

Now, over two months later, 37 of those confined are still missing – no news of where they are or how they are doing – and several cases of hideous retaliation have come to light, including that of Miguel Jackson, who was pepper sprayed, handcuffed and beaten with hammers, resulting in a fractured nose and 50 stitches to his face. Guards then tried to throw him over the railing from the second floor, his wife said.
On Jan. 11, a Georgia prisoner sent a text message to Zak Solomon of the Concerned Coalition to Protect Prisoners’ Rights, saying: “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.”

Yesterday, legendary prisoner advocate Kiilu Nyasha received text messages from a Georgia prisoner whose close friend is Eugene Thomas, known to Bay View readers for a number of stories, most recently “Still no news of 37 missing Georgia prison strikers,” in which he wrote, “Reidsville, where we are, is hiding some of those brothers. This place has a history of hiding people, as they did Imam Jamil A. Al-Amin [the former H. Rap Brown] before transferring him to federal prison in Florence, Colorado.”

This photo, run on page 3 of the Bay View’s February print edition, along with his published stories, may have prompted retaliation against Eugene Thomas. From left are Israel Espinoza, Jamelle Tatum, Eugene Thomas and Quayshaun Adams. – Photo: Robert Broughton

Brother Eugene, his friend wrote to Kiilu, is the latest victim of retaliation.
“Dear sistah,” he wrote, ”This is Mabu from the Georgia prison movement. I am a close comrade of Bro. Eugene Thomas of Georgia State Prison [also known as Reidsville], who is a known activist for prisoners’ rights and a devout Muslim. This morning I received word that he and a 56-year-old inmate by the name of Willie Mosley had been locked down and placed in the hole for alleged exposure charges.

“Anyone who has been to Reidsville knows that there are steel doors that enclose one into the showers there. Brothers usually crack the large steel doors for two reasons: one, to place your clothes and towel on the outer corner of the door so they don’t get wet. And secondly, to be able to breathe amongst so much steam and heat in the shower.

“Now a white female officer by the name of Shannon Campbell has tried to slander the brothers’ character with such filthy accusations. These brothers have never had any history of such behavior and have a number of witnesses to prove them innocent. However, most prison infractions are judged at kangaroo courts within the system not by a group of the subjects’ peers but by the staff’s coworkers. All charges will be based on officer’s ‘factual statement.’
“It is no coincidence that Bro. Eugene is being framed up at such a time. He just recently wrote an inspiring piece for the SF Bay View and submitted images of prisoners in Reidsville enjoying the paper in a study group. This is merely Georgia prison authorities’ traditional form of retaliation by criminalizing consciousness.

“Please call Georgia State Prison to see that the brothers get a fair trial and all their witnesses are allowed to file statements on their behalf and show up on the assigned court date for testimony. Otherwise they could face a long isolation sentence, store and phone restriction. Please call (912) 557-7301. In the words of Che Guavara, ‘No one is free where others are oppressed!’”

Time to express our outrage

The time has come for us to express our outrage. The phone number provided by Mabu, (912) 557-7301, takes you to the office of Warden Bruce Chatman, whose appointment to that position took effect very recently, on Dec. 16, 2010. Tell him – or leave a message – that you are concerned about Eugene Thomas and Willie Mosley, that you suspect they are being falsely charged and that you want an immediate investigation.
Even more importantly, tell Warden Chatman that Eugene Thomas and all prisoners are entitled to the fundamental human right of free speech. Tell him that retaliation against a prisoner for speaking out is intolerable.

The Reidsville 3

In “Still no news of 37 missing Georgia prison strikers,” Eugene Thomas also wrote: “(W)e have a situation here where three young brothers, including my old cellmate, are being held for murder and robbery of an older white prisoner … These folks have been just holding these young brothers. They haven’t indicted neither one of them, haven’t fingerprinted either of them, aren’t giving them their proper segregation hearing — just holding them in lockup. It’s an interesting story, especially in light of everything taking place in Georgia now and with this place being a massive lockdown facility. They’ve been in the ‘hole’ now five months. I call them the ‘Reidsville 3.’”

Today, I got a call from the grandmother of one of those young men. Her grandson, Maurice C. Orr, is only 18 years old. After being placed in segregation – “the hole” – he was entitled by Georgia law to an informal hearing within 96 hours, a formal hearing with legal representation within 90 days and the opportunity to appeal the decision. Yet after six months, he has received none of that – no due process whatsoever.

Like the 37 missing men identified as leaders of the historic Dec. 9 prison strike and like Imam Jamil, the Reidsville 3 have been “hidden” by Georgia prison authorities. This is one of the practices that led to the prison strike.
“The hole” is a terrible place for anyone, especially an 18-year-old youngster like Maurice Orr, diagnosed as bipolar, who suffers from anxiety, claustrophobia and asthma – the asthma intensified by stifling heat and a lack of ventilation in the bowels of the old prison. He’s rarely allowed outdoors and is getting no medical or mental health care. Ironically, according to Wikipedia, Georgia State Prison’s Mental Health Program is a model for the federal prison system.
Maurice’s grandmother, who raised him and his brother since they were toddlers, says he is constantly being humiliated by the guards, who subject him to frequent strip searches. She believes they are trying to provoke him to violence, giving them an excuse to brutalize him.

“He’s got a good heart,” she says. “He’s a very good child. He’s smart. He can do ‘most everything. Whenever he’d get sick, I’d get sick. That’s how close we are.”

What we can and must do

Prison conditions are abominable all over the country, judging from the fistful of letters the Bay View receives every day from prisoners in every state. To a great extent, the current scourge of mass incarceration – the U.S., with 4.5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, is the world’s first prison state – is retaliation for the civil rights and Black power movements.

Too long have we tolerated this backsliding from the great advances of the ‘60s. When we are presented with a clear case of retaliation, we must protest.

Let’s begin by taking Zak Solomon’s advice: “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 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.”

The governor is responsible for the wellbeing of all Georgia residents, including those who reside in its prisons, whether he likes them or not. We who do care about our brothers and sisters locked up in Georgia dungeons must convince him to stop hiding and brutalizing prisoners and instead to sit down with them to negotiate their righteous demands.

The prisoners accused of organizing the Dec. 9 prison strike “got shipped out of their home institutions and were dispersed across the state,” Ajamu Baraka, director of the U.S. Human Rights Network and a member of the Concerned Coalition to Protect Prisoners’ Rights, told the Final Call. Gov. Deal must be made to account for the whereabouts and the condition of each of them.

“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,” the Final Call reported. “But the outcome of the action in Georgia will determine whether there will be more and similar uprisings across the U.S., he predicted.”

Call Warden Chatman and Gov. Deal

Readers are urged to call

• Warden Bruce Chatman of Georgia State Prison at (912) 557-7301 concerning
o The apparently retaliatory segregation (transfer to “the hole”) of Eugene Thomas and Willie Mosley and
o The segregation and denial of due process to 18-year-old Maurice Orr and the others accused with him.
• Gov. Nathan Deal at (404) 656-1776 concerning
o The Dec. 9 prison strike demands and
o Hiding and retaliating against those accused of involvement in the Dec. 9 prison strike.

Readers are also encouraged to write words of encouragement to

• Eugene Thomas, 671488, Georgia State Prison, 2164 Georgia Highway 147, Reidsville, GA 30499, and
• Maurice Orr, 11199555, Georgia State Prison, 2164 Georgia Highway 147, Reidsville, GA 30499

The Dec. 9 prison strikers’ demands

A living wage for work: In violation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude, the DOC [Georgia Department of Corrections] demands prisoners work for free.
Educational opportunities: For the great majority of prisoners, the DOC denies all opportunities for education beyond the GED, despite the benefit to both prisoners and society.
Decent health care: In violation of the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, the DOC denies adequate medical care to prisoners, charges excessive fees for the most minimal care and is responsible for extraordinary pain and suffering.
An end to cruel and unusual punishment: In further violation of the Eighth Amendment, the DOC is responsible for cruel prisoner punishments for minor infractions of rules.
Decent living conditions: Georgia prisoners are confined in overcrowded, substandard conditions, with little heat in winter and oppressive heat in summer.
Nutritional meals: Vegetables and fruit are in short supply in DOC facilities while starches and fatty foods are plentiful.
Vocational and self-improvement opportunities: The DOC has stripped its facilities of all opportunities for skills training, self-improvement and proper exercise.
Access to families: The DOC has disconnected thousands of prisoners from their families by imposing excessive telephone charges and innumerable barriers to visitation.
Just parole decisions: The Parole Board capriciously and regularly denies parole to the majority of prisoners despite evidence of eligibility.

Bay View editor Mary Ratcliff can be reached at editor@sfbayview.com or (415) 671-0789. Other writings by Eugene Thomas published by the Bay View are “Georgia prisoners: Standing up by sitting down” and “Rallying, rioting, rebelling: Revolution.”

Block Report Radio on the Georgia Prison Strike

Minister of Information JR interviews long time Georgia prisoner Eugene Thomas about prison conditions that led up to the biggest prisoner strike in U.S. history, begun Dec. 9, 2010.
Click here to hear it!
 (scroll down please)

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.