Announcement of Nationally Coordinated Prisoner Workstoppage for Sept 9, 2016

This comes from the IWOC, Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee:

4-1-2016

Prisoners from across the United States have just released this call to action for a nationally coordinated prisoner workstoppage against prison slavery to take place on September 9th, 2016.

This is a Call to Action Against Slavery in America

In one voice, rising from the cells of long term solitary confinement, echoed in the dormitories and cell blocks from Virginia to Oregon, we prisoners across the United States vow to finally end slavery in 2016.

On September 9th of 1971 prisoners took over and shut down Attica, New York State’s most notorious prison. On September 9th of 2016, we will begin an action to shut down prisons all across this country. We will not only demand the end to prison slavery, we will end it ourselves by ceasing to be slaves.

Read the rest here.


This is an article that appeared on TruthDig:

National Prison Strike Campaign Vows to End ‘American Slave System’
Posted on Apr 2, 2016
By Eric Ortiz

Starting Sept. 9, prisoners in the United States will begin a coordinated effort to shut down prisons across the country. They plan to stop working in correctional institutions. Without prisoners doing their jobs, these facilities cannot be run. According to Support Prisoner Resistance, the nationwide prisoner work stoppage will serve as a protest against prison slavery, the school-to-prison pipeline, police terror and post-release controls.

Prisoners organizing the strike are not making demands or requests in the usual sense. They are calling themselves to action in a planned protest and want every prisoner in every state and federal institution across America to “stop being a slave.”

Some people may bristle at the notion that prisoners are slaves, but they are forced to work for little or no pay. The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which abolished slavery, also maintains a legal exception for continued slavery in prisons. It states “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.”

Correctional officers watch over every move of prisoners, and if assigned tasks are not performed correctly, prisoners are punished.

Read the rest here.

JOIN US! Rally & Public Hearing on the SHU in Sacramento 2/25

Join us on Monday, February 25th @ 12pm for a rally to hold CDCR accountable for their failure to end their torture policies and respect the human rights of prisoners! Then let Jerry Brown, California legislators and CDCR hear your voice at a public hearing of the state assembly Public Safety Committee at 1pm, and pressure them to end their silence and inaction on this crucial issue! 
The Department of Corrections has implemented new statewide policies which they claim are a “dramatic” new change to how prisoners are sentenced to the SHU.  However, the new policies don’t change the fact that prisoners are still being gang validated for such innocent activities as possessing cultural artwork or reading political and historical books and articles. The policies also do nothing to alter or end the practice of long-term solitary confinement in California. 
We need your voices at this hearing in Sacramento of the state assembly’s Public Safety Committee, led by Chairperson Tom Ammiano, where CDCR will defend their new policy!  
***Check here for updates on carpool info next week! SEE YOU ON THE 25TH!

French Prisoner Philippe El Shennawy (58) starving himself to death because of the forever prison sentences

Philippe El Shennawy, who has been in prison in France since 1975, has stopped eating alltogether, because he has no hope of being released, after so many years behind bars, where he keeps on getting years added onto his sentence, even though he has no blood on his hands.


According to his lawyer, there are 600 prisoners who have been condemned "forever", sentences that cannot be done, sentences without reasoning.


Mr Shennawy's wife has had to move 21 times in 36 years in order to live close enough to visit him. He has been put in solitary confinement for 19 years.


In January of 2011, Mr El Shennawy even had France condemned in the European Court of Human Rights for violating his human rights: prison employees did full body searches on him up to 8 times a day, even though he was kept in complete isolation.


Please write to Mr El Shennawy and show solidarity and humanity:


Philippe El Shennawy
Maison centrale de Poissy,
17, rue de l’Abbaye,
78303 Poissy Cedex
France


Links:


Indymedia, June 29th: http://paris.indymedia.org/spip.php?article11229


Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/belgacem.soltani


Ban Public Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ban-Public/60922189529


Le Numéro Zero: http://lenumerozero.lautre.net/article2423.html


Libération: http://www.liberation.fr/societe/2012/07/04/apres-35-ans-en-prison-et-liberable-en-2032-el-shennawy-veut-mourir_831118


Le Monde, 17th June: http://libertes.blog.lemonde.fr/2012/06/17/philippe-el-shennawy-sortie-de-prison-prevue-en-2032/



This is from Ban Public, a French website for communicating about prisons in France and in Europe, of which Mr El Shennawy is an honorable 
Paris, le jeudi 7 juin 2012.
Bonjour,

Ces quelques lignes dans le but de vous informer de la situation de Monsieur Philippe El Shennawy, cinquante-huit ans. Il a décidé depuis deux semaines de se laisser mourir de faim dans une cellule de la maison centrale de Poissy, près de Paris. Il n’a rien avalé depuis le 23 mai dernier.

Peut-être connaissez-vous Monsieur El Shennawy, personnellement ou de réputation. Son nom évoque pour la presse à sensations une condamnation de la France par la Cour européenne des droits de l’homme à cause des fouilles incessantes imposées par l’administration, son évasion de l’Unité pour Malades Difficiles (UMD) de Montfavet pour résister à la folie vers laquelle le poussait l’institution psychiatrique, sa présidence d’honneur de l’association Ban Public, ou encore le célèbre braquage de l’avenue de Breteuil, au milieu des années 70, dans lequel il nie toujours formellement la moindre implication.

Philippe El Shennawy incarne aussi, pour beaucoup, une sorte de figure emblématique de la « longue peine », de la très longue peine. Bientôt de la peine infinie.

A cinquante-huit ans, il a vécu emmuré vivant presque en continu depuis 1975, date de sa première incarcération pour un vol à main armée.

Il a tourné dans quasiment toutes les prisons de France, baluchonné, étiqueté D.P.S, placé pendant 19 ans à l’isolement.

Plus de trente-sept années plus tard, il est toujours en prison, accumulant des peines qu’il lui reste à faire de 3 ans, 5 ans, 10 ans, 12 ans, 13 ans... Toujours sans avoir la plus petite goutte de sang sur les mains. Il est sous le coup d’une peine de sûreté qui court jusqu’en 2018.

Comme les condamnations dont il a écopé sont tombées pour des faits commis tous en même temps (à vrai dire, pour financer ses quelques mois de cavale), Monsieur El Shennawy a demandé une confusion de peines aux magistrats, afin que les peines les moins graves soient « absorbées » par les peines les plus importantes. Il l’a fait pour essayer de retrouver un horizon, pour pouvoir à nouveau s’imaginer un avenir, pour ne pas continuer à attendre et à faire attendre sa femme, ses enfants et petits-enfants, comme ça, sans savoir.

Mais le 18 mai dernier, la Chambre de l’instruction de la Cour d’appel de Versailles s’est contentée de ramener sa date de fin de peine de 2036 à 2032, comme si cela changeait véritablement quelque chose, comme si c’était ce qu’il lui demandait, alors qu’elle aurait légalement pu rapporter cette date de fin de peine vers l’année 2017.

Il n’y a aucune motivation à cette décision.

La seule chose à comprendre, c’est que pour la Chambre de l’instruction, il serait parfaitement normal que Monsieur El Shennawy ne sorte qu’à 78 ans, après avoir été privé de ses libertés pendant près de 54 ans.

La trajectoire de Philippe El Shennawy est très particulière, elle ne ressemble à aucune autre. Il n’empêche qu’il fait partie de ces centaines d’hommes en France qui, condamnés à la réclusion criminelle à perpétuité ou, tout simplement, à des peines à temps d’une longueur infinie ou qui s’accumulent entre elles, perdent de plus en plus l’espoir d’une perspective réaliste de sortie.

Son histoire est tout à fait propre à sa personne, son caractère, son entourage (heureusement encore extrêmement présent). C’est un homme d’une grande intelligence et d’un grand courage.

Dans le même temps, son histoire pose vraiment des problèmes beaucoup plus généraux comme l’allongement et l’accumulation des peines prononcées par les magistrats et les jurés, les discours publics de plus en plus présents sur la « dangerosité » supposée des uns et des autres, l’isolement et la solitude toujours plus grands ou, tout simplement, les peines de mort déguisées.

Philippe El Shennawy n’attend plus rien. Il ne demande plus rien. Il veut juste essayer de faire en sorte que les gens, dehors, sachent que des situations comme la sienne existent. Et combien elles sont difficilement supportables pour ceux qui les vivent et leurs proches. Monsieur El Shennawy espère que les choses vont changer. Pas pour lui, il n’y croit plus, mais pour les autres.

S’il a complètement cessé de s’alimenter, il boit encore de l’eau.

C’est un homme fort, solide, mais déjà affaibli par une grève de la faim précédente, de 80 jours.

Son désespoir commence à être plus que pesant.

Surtout, il faut bien comprendre une chose. Cette fois, Monsieur El Shennawy n’est pas en grève de la faim.

Il n’a pas de revendications.

Il n’en peut tout simplement plus.

Il veut juste que ça s’arrête. Et il importait que vous en soyez averti, que ce déni d’humanité ne reste pas dans l’ombre.

Si vous voulez écrire à Monsieur Philippe El Shennawy, son adresse est la suivante
Maison centrale de Poissy, 17, rue de l’Abbaye, 78 303 Poissy Cedex.

Merci de bien vouloir faire en sorte que cette information circule le plus possible, dans tous les établissements pénitentiaires de France.

Why California’s prisoners are starving for solitary change

Californian prisoners have repeatedly gone on hunger strike over the solitary confinement in which some spend decades

By: Sadhbh Walshe
In: The Guardian, Wednesday 11 January 2012

[photo:]
Corcoran State Prison, California, where prisoners have been hunger striking to protest solitary confinement conditions. Photograph: Ben Margot/AP

On 19 December 2011, three prisoners at Corcoran State Prison wrote a letter to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) threatening to go on hunger strike if improvements were not made to their living conditions. Evidently, they received no response from the CDCR: the hunger strike began on 28 December.

This latest hunger strike, the third in less than six months, is small potatoes compared to the previous two, which were state-wide and involved thousands of inmates. According to Terry Thornton, a CDCR spokeswoman, it may already be over. But the fact that Californian prisoners have once again resorted to starving themselves to protest the conditions of their confinement does suggest that something is rotten in the Golden State’s penal system.

The first hunger strike began on 1 July 2011, and ended three weeks later when the CDCR agreed, in theory at least, to address the participants’ five core demands, which amounted to better living conditions, adequate food and clothing, an end to group punishments and most importantly, an end to the gang validation policy that sentences inmates to endless terms in solitary confinement cells, known as SHUs.

One of my correspondents, Anthony, who has an indeterminate SHU sentence (meaning, there’s no end in sight), described to me in a letter what it is about the SHU environment he and his fellow inmates find hard to tolerate.

“We’re entitled to receive 10 hours of ‘outdoor exercise’ a week, but lucky if we get half that. At times, we’re cooped up an entire week in our cells before the opportunity of expanding our lungs with fresh air. ‘Outdoor exercise’ consists of being placed in a dog kennel-like cage, no bigger than our cells. We’re prohibited from all recreational and exercise equipment, compelling most to pace idly back and forth.

“Blinding bright lights remain on 24 hours a day within our (windowless 8ft x 10ft) cells as we have been denied control over them. Our lavatories are electronically installed, allotting each cell two flushes every 15 minutes.”

The SHU residents are not alone in finding these conditions intolerable. On 18 October 2011, after inspecting such facilities, Juan Mendez, a United Nations expert on torture, called for all countries to ban the use of solitary confinement except in exceptional circumstances, and even then, for no longer than 15 days.

Personally, I don’t think I’d get through 15 hours locked up in a concrete box, with no window, bright lights glaring 24/7 and a toilet that won’t stop flushing, but 15 days would certainly be an improvement on 15 years, which is about the average length of time the men who have been writing to me from California’s SHUs have been locked up in these sensory deprivation units.

The CDCR’s Thornton confirmed that many inmates have spent several decades in the SHU (the record so far that I know of is 35 years), but made the point that most inmates earned their stay for acts of violence from which prisoners in the general population deserve to be protected. A valid argument, certainly, but how can you tell if an inmate is still a threat to the mainline population after he’s been locked in a box by himself for 20 plus years?

The problem for SHU inmates is that once they get sent to the box, it’s almost impossible to work their way out of it. Their options are to either “debrief, parole or die”, which as it turns out are non-options. Debriefing, or “snitching”, on other prisoners can provoke retaliation; parole is rarely granted and dying … well, suicides are certainly not rare in solitary confinement, but it turns out many SHU inmates still have the will to live.

The first hunger strike, which involved more than 6,000 inmates, brought little meaningful reform. After three weeks of starvation, the prisoners found that what they had gained amounted to little more than the right to purchase sweatpants and coloring pencils. Less than two months later, despite threats of disciplinary action by the CDCR (pdf), the hunger strike resumed with almost double the number of original participants (pdf). It all got a bit ugly for a while: mail and visiting privileges were suspended; attorneys for the hunger strikers were banned from entering the prison; participants received behavior violation write-ups; and according to several testimonies, the alleged leaders of the hunger strike were placed in freezing cold cells without proper clothing and forced to remain there for 15 days.

Eventually, a deal was reached, with promises from the CDCR to address the prisoners’ demands and to set about instigating a “step down” program, which would allow alleged gang members to earn their release from the SHU – without having to debrief. Laura Magnani, a member of the mediation team representing the prisoners, says the CDCR appear to be negotiating in good faith and progress is being made.

If this turns out to be the case, it’s good news. If not, more hunger strikes seem inevitable as does the possibility that deaths will occur. One would hope it will not take the creation of martyrs to bring about the changes that anyone with a conscience knows are overdue.

From: The Guardian (UK), Jan. 11th 2012

Mission Statement Occupy Las Vegas

Something is happening in Las Vegas, dear reader! No not glitter, glam and false smiles, but something real!
Please read the following mission statement from Occupy Las Vegas and join them if you can. If you are a family member or friend of someone in prison in Nevada, and you want to tell the crowds of Occupy, the 99%, of how our people in prisons are being mistreated, and our society is being disadvantaged because of the lack of human rights, re-education and rehabilitation, here is your chance to make your voice heard!
Please pass it on to people in prison, and if there is something to add (we think so), let the Occupy Las Vegas movement know!
Occupy Las Vegas has its website here.


Mission Statement: Occupy Las Vegas

The first questions that come out of anyone’s mouth whenever a new political movement arises are, “Who are they?” and “What do they want?”

They are good questions that should be answered.

WHO are we?

We are the 99% of Americans who have not benefited from the various financial bailouts, tax breaks, and other subsidies that the dominant 1% of the population have gained over the past several years.

We are students, veterans, homemakers, workers, the unemployed, those on Social Security benefits, those whose savings and investments were either wiped out or greatly diminished by the economic fluctuations starting in 2007.

We are those who have had our homes foreclosed upon, those whose homes are about to be foreclosed, those whose homes are now worth a fraction of what we paid for them, and those who have never owned a home and don’t expect to ever be able to.

We are the newly poor who wonder how everything for which we worked hard vanished so quickly and how we and our families are going to survive.

We are the long-time poor, who have never had much of a chance, let alone a voice, to make our own way in our current social and economic system.

We come from all backgrounds, races, and religions.

We are concerned about and more than a bit scared by the directions in which we see our lives, and the lives of our families, friends, neighbors going, the directions in which we see our nation and the whole planet going, and we are angry with those who have taken us in those directions.

We are part of a much larger global and national movement that wants real changes in how the world is run.

In short, we’re you, and you are one of us.

WHAT do we want?

We want an end to corporate money’s influence in politics, whether through campaign donations, PACs, or other groups. Money is not speech.

We want truly effective campaign finance reform, so that corporations and other interests have no overwhelming advantage over the rest of us in any part of American politics.

We want far greater legal accountability for public officials and corporate executives, and we demand that, if found guilty of committing crimes while in office, they are made to pay for those crimes in full, like anyone else.

We want our justice system to treat everyone equally regardless of origins or social class, at all levels and at every stage, from investigations to trials and sentencing.

We want an end to the continual attacks on our social safety net and on the rights of workers to organize themselves and, if need be, to strike to get better pay, benefits, and working conditions.

We want secure and sustainable investments and improvements in our social infrastructure, like schools and libraries, and to create an America where everyone may actually live in a decent and dignified manner, an America where everyone’s rights count and are respected by all.

This is who we are and what we want. We ask for no more and shall take no less.

We are the 99% and we will not be silenced.

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)

Oakland rallies in solidarity with historic Georgia prisoners’ strike

Ride it ‘til the wheels fall off …
SF Bay View, December 21, 2010

by Malaika Kambon


In solidarity with the Georgia prison strikers, student-led protesters in Oakland braved cold, driving, drenching rain to march from North County Jail to City Hall on Friday, Dec. 17. –
Photo: Malaika Kambon, People’s Eye Photography.

Prisoners in at least six Georgia prisons went on strike Dec. 9, issuing these demands:

A living wage for work: In violation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude, the DOC 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.


Will we insist our tax dollars go for schools, not jails, in time to save this beautiful child from the cradle-to-prison pipeline that snares a third of Black men? – Photo: Malaika Kambon, People’s Eye

On Friday, Dec. 17, a strong, positive, fiercely determined and highly spirited march and two rallies took place in downtown Oakland in support of those prisoners, whose strike has become the largest in U.S. history – their fight against inhumane conditions and demands for their human rights truly historic. Rising like a phoenix from the examples of struggle and resistance in the ‘60s and ‘70s, about 50-75 people held a rally and march despite the driving rain in support of prisoner demands and to protest the vicious retaliation being used by the state of Georgia in an effort to break the unity which has been forged by the striking prisoners, who – in their own words – intend to “ride it until the wheels fall off,” until they get their human rights.

The fiercely determined group of resisters to police and prison industrial complex brutality were Afrikan, Asian, Latin@, white and more – retired workers, students, labor union organizers, small children, prison organizers and just folks stopping briefly at the end of the day to see what was going down.
Cars honked in support. We stopped traffic on the way.

There was no visible police presence; i.e., we did not get brutalized or beaten to death as we made our way from North County Jailto the steps of Oakland’s City Hall, where more demonstrators awaited the march.
There were solidarity messages from San Quentin and other prisons.

There were speakers with solidarity messages, from Martina Correia, sister of Troy Anthony Davis, an innocent Afrikan man who currently sits on Georgia’s Death Row. The state of Georgia has attempted to execute him three times.

There were speakers representing Kevin Cooper, another innocent Afrikan man, currently on California’s Death Row.

Photo:

Veteran activists joined college students and Oaklanders of all stripes to speak out in solidarity with courageous organizers behind enemy lines in Georgia prisons striking to end prison slavery – they are forced to work without any pay whatsoever – and other atrocities that violate the Constitution and their human rights. This rally was held at the North County Jail before the march to City Hall. – Photo: Malaika Kambon, People’s Eye Photography

Kevin Cooper’s solidarity statement reads:

“On Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010, the inmates in the state of Georgia sat down in unity and peace in order to stand up for their human rights. African American, White and Latino inmates put aside their differences, if they had any, and came together as a ‘People’ fighting for their humanity in a system that dehumanizes all of them. For this they have my utmost respect and appreciation and support. I am in true solidarity with them all!”
There were speakers there who made the vital connections between the liberation struggles in the Sudan, Haiti, Palestine, the Congo and more; who made the connections between struggles in ecology, labor, education, economics and housing; who fight against poverty with the same determination as they fight against police brutality, the prison industrial complex, and the wanton killing of our sons, daughters, elders and peers; who fight against racial injustices as well as divisions of caste and class.

All in all, the message was clear: We stand in solidarity with Georgia’s striking prisoners.
We vow to continue to organize, because we need more people. Inclement weather cannot and did not stop us.

Remember Attica! Fight for Haiti! Pamojas Tutashinda! ‘Til the wheels fall off, and beyond!

Malaika H. Kambon is a freelance photojournalist, owner of People’s Eye Photography and an MA candidate in Interdisciplinary Studies at San Francisco State University. She can be reached at kambonrb@pacbell.net. 

http://sfbayview.com/2010/ride-it-til-the-wheels-fall-off-…/ 

Please sign the Statement of Solidarity with the GA Prisoner Strike!

To: General Public.
A Moment for Movement-Building: Statement of Solidarity with Georgia Prisoner Strike.

Please sign the statement here:

http://www.petitiononline.com/wagesnow/petition.html

Inmates in Georgia Prisons Use Contraband Phones to Coordinate Protest

New York Times
By SARAH WHEATON
Published: December 12, 2010

The prison protest has entered the wireless age.

Inmates in at least seven Georgia prisons have used contraband cellphones to coordinate a nonviolent strike this weekend, saying they want better living conditions and to be paid for work they do in the prisons.

Inmates said they would not perform chores, work for the Corrections Department’s industrial arm or shop at prison commissaries until a list of demands is addressed, including compensation for their work, more educational opportunities, better food and sentencing rules changes.

The protest began Thursday, but inmates said that organizers had spent months building a web of disparate factions and gangs — groups not known to cooperate — into a unified coalition using text messaging and word of mouth.

Officials at the Georgia Department of Corrections did not respond on Sunday to phone and e-mail messages seeking comment.

Smuggled cellphones have been commonplace in prisons for years; Charles Manson was caught with one in a California penitentiary this month. Officials worry that inmates will use them to issue orders to accomplices on the outside or to plan escape attempts.
But the Georgia protest appears to be the first use of the technology to orchestrate a grass-roots movement behind bars.

Reached on their cellphones inside several prisons, six participants in the strike described a feat of social networking more reminiscent of Capitol Hill vote-whipping than jailhouse rebellion.

Conditions at the state prisons have been in decline, the inmates said. But “they took the cigarettes away in August or September, and a bunch of us just got to talking, and that was a big factor,” said Mike, an inmate at the Smith State Prison in Glennville who declined to give his full name.

The organizers set a date for the start and, using contact numbers from time spent at other prisons or connections from the outside, began sending text messages to inmates known to hold sway.

“Anybody that has some sort of dictatorship or leadership amongst the crowds,” said Mike, one of several prisoners who contacted The New York Times to publicize their strike. “We have to come together and set aside all differences, whites, blacks, those of us that are affiliated in gangs.”

Read the rest here.

————–

We received this comment:

One way to start downsizing the prison-industrail complex is to call for an Intermediate Sanctions Bill (BDR 509) in the 2011 Legislature. The plan could reduce the prison population by 400 people next year. Please email Assembly Judiciary Chairman William Horne at william@williamhorne.com and tell him to support the Bill. Or better yet, call him at (702) 457-6963.

http://www.democracynow.org/2010/12/14/prisoner_advocate_elaine_brown_on_georgia

Black Agenda Report

http://prisonministry.net/NARPR
(sent in by Dahn Shaulis)
——————
Here are the demands of the Georgia Prisoner Strikers:

A LIVING WAGE FOR WORK: In violation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude, the DOC 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 8th Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments, 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 PUNISHMENTS: In further violation of the 8th Amendment, the DOC is responsible for cruel prisoner punishments for minor infractions of rules.

· DECENT LIVING CONDITIONS: Georgia prisoners are confined in over-crowded, 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.

Prisoner leaders issued the following call: “No more slavery. Injustice in one place is injustice to all. Inform your family to support our cause. Lock down for liberty!”

Also see this website run by Thousand Kites: Support Georgia Prisoners and this interview on DemocracyNow.org with Elaine Brown, co-ordinator:

Here is a follow up on the website of Change.org.

Georgia: Prisoners’ protest over. For now.

By Rhonda Cook
3:49 p.m. Wednesday, December 15, 2010
The prison system began lifting lock downs at four institutions and returning the facilities to normal operations Wednesday and inmate said they were ending their protest for now and reporting to work assignments.
One of the organizers of the protest said prisoners are still going to pursue their concerns. If the Department of Corrections ignores their requests, the next protest will be violent, he said.
Prison officials did not say what led to the decision to end the lock downs that had been in place since last Thursday. But an inmate at Smith State Prison in Glenville said in a telephone interview prisoners had agreed to end their “non-violent” protest to allow administrators time to focus on their concerns rather than operating the institutions without inmate labor.
“We’ve ended the protest,” said Mike, a convicted armed robber who was one of the inmates who planned and coordinated the work stoppage. “We needed to come off lock down so we can go to the law library and start … the paperwork for a [prison conditions] lawsuit.
“We’re just giving them time to … meet our requests without having to worry about us on lock down,” Mike told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Wednesday.
Mike is one of the inmates who organized the protest at Smith prison who has talked to the AJC about it. He did not want his last name published for fear of retaliation from prison officials, but agreed to allow the AJC to verify his prisoner identification number, which the paper then cross-checked with the Department of Corrections website.
Inmates began planning the protest in early September when tobacco was banned throughout the prison system. The inmates said they picked  Dec. 9 as the day to start because it allowed time for the word to spread throughout the system and because the temperature in the cellblocks would be cooler by then, which is important when otherwise violent men are trying to keep their tempers in check.
Over the months before the protest and in the days after it began, updates and details were spread inmate-to-inmate and prison-to-prison using cell phones, text messages and word of mouth.
Beginning last Thursday and for six days inmates at several prisons refused to leave their cells in protest of the lack of pay for the work they do maintaining and running prison operations and cleaning other government properties; state law forbids paying inmates except for one limited program. The  prisoners also were protesting the quality of the food and the lack of  fruits and vegetables, the quality of medical care, the availability of education and job training programs, parole decisions and overall conditions.
Read more here… 

———————– 
Here is a message of support to those who went on strike in the Georgia prisons:

A letter to the prisoners on strike in Georgia
Posted By Mary On December 15, 2010 SF Bay View
The organizations expressing their support in this letter are sponsoring a rally and march on Friday, Dec. 17, starting at 4 p.m. at North County Jail, 661 Washington St. in Downtown Oakland, and later marching to 14th and Broadway – JOIN THEM!
We, as members of activist and community organizations in the Bay Area of California, send our support for your strike against the terrible conditions you face in Georgia’s prisons. We salute you for making history as your strike has become the largest prison strike in the history of this nation. As steadfast defenders of human and civil rights, we recognize the potential that your action has to improve the lives of millions subject to inhumane treatment in correctional facilities across this country.
Photo:
This chain gang was photographed on a road near the maximum security South Florida Reception Center in Miami. Chain gangs are becoming common again, especially in the South. If the striking Georgia prisoners draw enough support, prisoners in neighboring states like Florida and around the country are likely to make similar demands.
Every single day, prisoners face the same deplorable and unnecessarily punitive conditions that you have courageously decided to stand up against. For too long, this nation has chosen silence in the face of the gross injustices that our brothers and sisters in prison are subjected to. Your fight against these injustices is a necessary and righteous struggle that must be carried out to victory.
We have heard about the brutal acts that Georgia Department of Corrections officers have been resorting to as a means of breaking your protest and we denounce them. In order to put a stop to the violence to which you have been subjected, we are now in the process of developing contacts with the personnel at the different prison facilities and circulating petitions addressed to the governor and the Georgia DOC. We will continue to expose the DOC’s shameless physical attacks on you and use our influence to call for an immediate end to the violence.
Here, in the Bay Area, we are all too familiar with the violence that this system is known to unleash upon our people. Recently, our community erupted in protest over the killing of an unarmed innocent Black man named Oscar Grant by transit police in Oakland. We forced the authorities to arrest and convict the police officer responsible for Grant’s murder by building up a mass movement. We intend to win justice with you and stop the violent repression of your peaceful protest in the same way – by appealing to the power and influence of the masses.
We fully support all of your demands. We strongly identify with your demand for expanded educational opportunities. In recent years, our state government has been initiating a series of massive cuts to our system of public education that continue to endanger our right to a quality, affordable education; in response, students all across our state have stood up and fought back just as you are doing now.
In fact, students and workers across the globe have begun to organize and fight back against austerity measures and the corresponding violence of the state. Just in the past few weeks in Greece, Ireland, Spain, England, Italy, Haiti, Puerto Rico – tens and hundreds of thousands of students and workers have taken to the streets. We, as a movement, are gaining momentum and we do so even more as our struggles are unified and seen as interdependent.
At times we are discouraged. It may seem insurmountable. But in the words of Malcolm X, “Power in defense of freedom is greater than power on behalf of tyranny and oppression.”
You have inspired us. News of your strike, from day one, has served to inspire and invigorate hundreds of students and community organizers here in Berkeley and Oakland alone. We are especially inspired by your ability to organize across color lines and are interested in hearing an account from the inside of how this process developed and was accomplished.
You have also encouraged us to take more direct actions toward radical prison reform in our own communities, namely Santa Rita County Jail and San Quentin Prison. We are now beginning the process of developing a similar set of demands regarding expediting processing – it can take 20-30 hours to get a bed; they call it “bullpen therapy” – nutrition, visiting and phone calls, educational services, legal support, compensation for labor and humane treatment in general. We will also seek to unify the education and prison justice movements by collaborating with existing organizations that have been engaging in this work.
We echo your call: No more Slavery! Injustice to one is injustice to all!
In us, students, activists, the community members and people of the Bay Area, you have an ally. We will continue to spread the news about your cause all over the Bay Area and California, the country and world. We pledge to do everything in our power to make sure your demands are met.
In solidarity,
UC-Berkeley Student Worker Action Team (SWAT), Community Action Project (CAP), La Voz de los Trabajadores (www.lavozlit.com), Laney College Student Unity & Power (SUPLaney.wordpress.com), Laney College Black Student Union (BSU), Bay Area United Against War Newsletter (bauaw.org), Socialist Viewpoint magazine (socialistviewpoint.org), Workers International League (www.socialistappeal.org), Bay Area ISO (norcalsocialism.org), We Are the Crisis (UC Davis Chapter), Bicycle Barricades (UC Davis)

This letter originally appeared at Defend California Public Education [2] on Dec. 15, posted by Juan G. It is also available there and below as a petition you can sign: Solidarity Petition for the Prisoners on Strike in Georgia

GA Prison Inmates Stage 1-Day Peaceful Strike Today (9th December 2010)

From: Black Agenda Report

12/09/2010 – Bruce A. Dixon

By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

In an action which is unprecedented on several levels, black, brown and white inmates of Georgia’s notorious state prison system are standing together for a historic one day peaceful strike today, during which they are remaining in their cells, refusing work and other assignments and activities. This is a groundbreaking event not only because inmates are standing up for themselves and their own human rughts, but because prisoners are setting an example by reaching across racial boundaries which, in prisons, have historically been used to pit oppressed communities against each other. PRESS RELEASE BELOW THE FOLD

The action is taking place today in at least half a dozen of Georgia’s more than one hundred state prisons, correctional facilities, work camps, county prisons and other correctional facilities. We have unconfirmed reports that authorities at Macon State prison have aggressively responded to the strike by sending tactical squads in to rough up and menace inmates.

Outside calls from concerned citizens and news media will tend to stay the hand of prison authorities who may tend to react with reckless and brutal aggression. So calls to the warden’s office of the following Georgia State Prisons expressing concern for the welfare of the prisoners during this and the next few days are welcome.

Press Release

BIGGEST PRISONER STRIKE IN U.S. HISTORY

Thousands of Georgia Prisoners to Stage Peaceful Protest

December 8, 2010…Atlanta, Georgia

Contacts: Elaine Brown, 404-542-1211, sistaelaine@gmail.com;Valerie Porter, 229-931-5348, lashan123@att.net; Faye Sanders, 478-550-7046, reshelias@yahoo.com

Tomorrow morning, December 9, 2010, thousands of Georgia prisoners will refuse to work, stop all other activities and remain in their cells in a peaceful, one-day protest for their human rights. The December 9 Strike is projected to be the biggest prisoner protest in the history of the United States.

These thousands of men, from Baldwin, Hancock, Hays, Macon, Smith and Telfair State Prisons, among others, state they are striking to press the Georgia Department of Corrections (“DOC”) to stop treating them like animals and slaves and institute programs that address their basic human rights. They have set forth the following demands:

· A LIVING WAGE FOR WORK: In violation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude, the DOC 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 8th Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments, 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 PUNISHMENTS: In further violation of the 8th Amendment, the DOC is responsible for cruel prisoner punishments for minor infractions of rules.

· DECENT LIVING CONDITIONS: Georgia prisoners are confined in over-crowded, 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.

Prisoner leaders issued the following call: “No more slavery. Injustice in one place is injustice to all. Inform your family to support our cause. Lock down for liberty!”

————————————————————————————

See also: New York Times

December 12, 2010
Prisoners Strike in Georgia
By SARAH WHEATON

In a protest apparently assembled largely through a network of banned cellphones, inmates across at least six prisons in Georgia have been on strike since Thursday, calling for better conditions and compensation, several inmates and an outside advocate said.

Inmates have refused to leave their cells or perform their jobs, in a demonstration that seems to transcend racial and gang factions that do not often cooperate.

“Their general rage found a home among them — common ground — and they set aside their differences to make an incredible statement,” said Elaine Brown, a former Black Panther leader who has taken up the inmates’ cause. She said that different factions’ leaders recruited members to participate, but the movement lacks a definitive torchbearer.

Ms. Brown said thousands of inmates were participating in the strike.

The Georgia Department of Corrections could not be reached for comment Saturday night.

“We’re not coming out until something is done. We’re not going to work until something is done,” said one inmate at Rogers State Prison in Reidsville. He refused to give his name because he was speaking on a banned cellphone.

Several inmates, who used cellphones to call The Times from their cells, said they found out about the protest from text messages and did not know whether specific individuals were behind it.

“This is a pretty much organic effort on their part,” said Ms. Brown, a longtime prisoner advocate, who distilled the inmates’ complaints into a list of demands. “They did it, and then they reached out to me.” Ms. Brown, the founder of the National Alliance for Radical Prison Reform in Locust Grove, Ga., said she has spoken to more than 200 prisoners over the past two days.

The Corrections Department placed several of the facilities where inmates planned to strike under indefinite lockdown on Thursday, according to local reports.

“We’re hearing in the news they’re putting it down as we’re starting a riot, so they locked all the prison down,” said a 20-year-old inmate at Hays State Prison in Trion, who also refused to give his name. But, he said, “We locked ourselves down.”

Even if the Corrections Department did want to sit down at the table with the inmates, the spontaneous nature of the strike has left the prisoners without a representative to serve as negotiator, Ms. Brown said.

Ms. Brown, who lives in Oakland, Calif., said she planned to gather legal and advocacy groups on Monday to help coordinate a strategy for the inmates.

Chief among the prisoners’ demands is that they be compensated for jailhouse labor. They are also demanding better educational opportunities, nutrition, and access to their families.

“We committed the crime, we’re here for a reason,” said the Hays inmate. “But at the same time we’re men. We can’t be treated like animals.”