Please support Sean Swain – falsely accused

This below comes from the site of Sean Swain, which is maintained by supporters of this Ohio prisoner.
Sean is accused of being a member or leader of a group in Ohio’s prisons that promotes destruction; this group (?) called the “army of the 12 monkeys” has spread lots of flyers inside the prisons calling for destructive actions, rather than constructive, peaceful ones. 
Sean denies being a part of them, and the prison bosses are keen to lock him in supermax conditions, because Sean speaks his mind about the whole prison system. 

It is a shame that Sean will become a victim of urresponsible individuals (or is it a provocation?) and dictatorial prisoncrats. Please keep supporting Sean Swain!

February 13, 2013
Wednesday, Feb 13th, Mansfield OH- Tomorrow is the deadline for Sean Swain to file his final appeal to Warden Terry Tibbals. Supporters are asking people to call the Warden on Friday to oppose the transfer. The Rules Infraction Board found Sean guilty of leading The Army of the 12 Monkeys, a group calling for sabotage and low intensity guerrilla warfare against the prison system. They had no evidence against Sean other than an alleged “ideological match” with the propaganda put out by this group.

Sean has been under strict supervision in a control unit since September, but the activities of the Army of the 12 Monkeys have continued in Mansfield and may have spread to a second correctional institution in Ohio. On January 15th, at least four prisoners were transferred from general population in Mansfield to segregation for allegedly engaging in 12 Monkeys activity including breaking windows.

On the weekend of Jan 26 there was a large fight at Lake Erie Correctional, one of Ohio’s three private prisons. In multiple fights, which involved multiple offenders, only one prisoner was hospitalized because of injuries inflicted by a correctional officer. 40 prisoners were transferred to ManCI and put in quarantined segregation, in their own seg block. Rumors from that cell block are that the Army of the 12 Monkeys sent a press release claiming responsibility for the fight before it happened. The fact that the ODRC transferred so many prisoners to ManCI would support these rumors, they might be trying to contain any prisoners exposed to 12 Monkeys propaganda in one institution.

Sean Swain is has been an outspoken anarchist and proponent of prisoners’ rights for many years. Before the accusations and transfer to segregation, Sean was writing strong opposition pieces to the ODRC’s privatization of prisoner commissary accounts. Sean has served over 20 years of a life sentance for a murder he maintains was self-defense against a man who broke into his house.

If the transfer to Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP) goes through, he fears he may spend the rest of his life there. Recently Cornelius Harris, a prisoner on level 5 at OSP went on a 36 day hunger strike demanding a step-down procedure after spending three years in solitary on level 5 with no incident reports. Prisoners accused of participating in the Lucasville Uprising 20 years ago have been held on level 5 at OSP since the facility opened in 1998.

Writing materials no longer allowed inside Mansfield Ad. Seg….

We received this from a correspondent who is currently in the “hole” in Mansfield C.I.:

Oct 10, 2012
Mansfield C.I.
From the “hole” (administrative segregation)
This is the last working pen we have. Guards said they no longer provide pens + they won’t let us get to our property to get pens, so this is a way to silence the entire segregation population. Isn’t it coincidental that policy changes like this occur every time I’m placed in segregation? You would almost think this is an effort to silence me, and everyone else impacted are just dolphins caught in a tuna net. So this may be the last anyone hears from me for a while, including my attorney. No pen, no outgoing mail.
As a last matter, all reading material sent to me is withheld, it would be wonderful if out of spite a million people sent reading material and overwhelmed the […] mailroom.

People: Please send this man some mail and interesting politically progressive reading materials (copies)!

Sean Swain # 243205
Mansfield C.I.
P. O. Box 788
1150 North Main Street
Mansfield, Ohio 44901

(or via Jpay.com)

See for Sean’s writings and thoughts: Seanswain.org

Instead of treatment, it’s torture

This article reflects what has also become custom in Wisconsin, and we should all be very critical about how our prisoners, fellow human beings, are treated.

Street News Service

TOP STORY – Instead of treatment, it’s torture (Streetvibes)
Eli Braun, September 7, 2009
During 70 days of solitary confinement at Toledo Correctional Institution, Sean Swain spent 23 hours a day locked in his cell. His only opportunity for social interaction and “recreation,” consisted of the one hour spent out-with his cell each day going through the prisons routine process of invasive searches. As Eli Braun reports, the rise of solitary-confinement units at U.S. prisons indicates a disturbing trend in the development of the penal system, especially for prisoners suffering from mental illness or drug abuse, for whom such treatment can further exacerbate existing conditions. Instead of treatment, it’s torture
CINCINATTI, USA – During his 70 days of solitary confinement at Toledo Correctional Institution, Sean Swain spent 23 hours a day locked in his cell. He spent the 24th hour, his only opportunity for social interaction and “recreation,” being strip-searched, including a “visual body-cavity search.” By comparison, inmates in “general population” spend 11 hours a day locked in their cells.Solitary confinement cripples prisoners’ capacity for social interaction and can exacerbate or even cause mental-health crises. The rise of solitary-confinement units at U.S. prisons indicates a disturbing trend, especially for prisoners suffering from mental illness or drug abuse. Studies find that solitary confinement is not just ineffective at promoting good behavior, but is a full-fledged form of torture, breaking down the healthy and further enfeebling the ill.
Since 1991, Swain, now 49, has been sent to solitary confinement “seven or eight times,” including a 144-day stint from May to October 2003. Most recently, he violated rules by “encourage(ing) prisoners to partake in a 30-day work stoppage,” according to the official conduct report.
During his 70 days in isolation, Swain didn’t know when he would be returned to general population. He remains in prison.
“Cage without a curtain”
Swain details the conditions in solitary confinement, also known as “segregation.” “The tube lighting in segregation cells is never shut off,” Swain says. “Insects were breeding in the mops, which had not been exchanged for months. Those same insect-infested mops were provided to us for cell-cleaning.”As he cleaned, insects would swarm around the cell’s lighting fixture.
Prisoners in solitary confinement had access to showers and recreation only Monday to Friday. Weekends were spent entirely locked in, though Swain believes that policy might have changed.
At times he lacked soap and toothpaste. In his final week in segregation, as solitary confinement is known, the cellblock ran out of toilet paper, he says.
Reports from Ohio’s Correctional Institution Inspection Committee (CIIC) and correspondence with other prisoners confirm unsanitary conditions at some prisons. The CIIC is authorized by the Ohio Legislature to regularly inspect prisons and provide oversight.
For showers, “I was issued a single state towel upon entering segregation” and never had the opportunity “to exchange it for clean,” Swain says. But he considered himself fortunate to have been issued a towel at all, as some inmates in segregation never got one.“Or maybe I wasn’t so lucky, since I ended up with bacteria and fungus on my feet,” he says.
Prisoners who didn’t receive towels instead used bed sheets. The shower stall was “a cage without a curtain,” Swain says. Even though prisoners tried to arrange their clothing across the shower bars for privacy, prisoners were subject to public view. Some mentally disturbed prisoners, informally labeled “serial jackers,” would watch through the bars of their cells “as if enjoying a personal peep-show.” The water would last approximately five to 10 minutes, then stop without warning for 10 minutes. “If someone has soap on his face or in her eyes, he must stand naked and wet for 10 minutes. … In some of the showers, hitting the button before the 10-minute waiting duration resets the timer and causes the 10-minute duration to start over,” Swain says.
Isolation cells might no longer be strictly isolated. Due to overcrowding, some prisons now double-bunk their segregation cells. Some prisoners spend 23 hours a day locked in with another person, in a cell designed for single occupancy.
System-wide, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections operates at 134 percent of capacity, with 11 of the 32 institutions operating above 150 percent capacity. According to one CIIC report, “One had to stand sideways to walk through the rows of bunk beds.” Overcrowding might also result in long waits “for those in segregation who are being transferred to other prisons, all due to the need to wait for an open bed,” the CIIC reported. The result, it appears, is extended periods of isolation. Swain attributes the length of his 144-day-term in isolation in 2003 not to the severity of his infraction but to the wait for an open bed.‘The hole’ by any other name. Although he spent 23 hours a day alone in his cell, in another sense, Swain wasn’t alone.
Some 25,000 U.S. prisoners reside in solitary confinement at “supermax prisons.” An additional 50,000 to 80,000 prisoners reside in restrictive and isolated “segregation” or “special housing” units at non-supermax prisons, according to a recent New Yorker article. In Ohio at mid-year 2007, 1,869 men and 90 women lived in isolation, whether through formal segregation or security levels 4 or 5, according to the American Correctional Association. It’s not known how many prisoners reside in solitary confinement at some point during their stay. Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville and Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown can hold prisoners in lockdown for years at a time, including for their entire sentences.
Prison administrators and correctional officers refer to the various forms of these 23-hour-a-day cells as “administrative segregation.” Prisoners prefer a less euphemistic name: “the hole” or “the box.” Besides those names, there are several bureaucratic others. After an alleged infraction, an inmate might first be placed in “security control” for one to 15 days while an investigation unfolds. If deemed guilty, the inmate might spend an additional one to 15 days in “disciplinary control,” which can be extended to 30 days for subsequent infractions. An inmate can be referred to “local control” for up to six months if his presence in general population is a security threat or if he’s “failed to adjust to population.” “Those criteria are “broad and subject to wide interpretation,” says Shirley Pope, executive director of the CIIC. If an inmate’s own security is threatened, he can be kept in solitary confinement in local control even though he might not be the cause of the potential disturbance. After “local control,” an inmate can be transferred to 4B, a long-term lockdown where some people spend years in extreme isolation. These lockdown units aren’t technically considered “segregation,” as prisoners in 4B aren’t being punished for particular infractions. But it’s “segregation under a different name, the same conditions, the same lockdown,” Pope says.
Unlike segregation units, 4B units don’t have regular mental-health rounds. Pope is concerned that mentally ill prisoners in 4B aren’t properly cared for. The CIIC recently identified 218 mentally ill prisoners in 4B at Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, “in spite of the known mental-health deterioration stemming from long-term isolation.”‘Psychological warfare’“It is widely accepted among mental-health professionals that long-term isolation of the mentally ill results in deterioration, not recovery,” the CIIC noted in a 2008 report. Nevertheless, the mentally ill seem propelled toward solitary confinement. Swain says he was surrounded by people “who attempted suicide, some multiple times; who threw feces and food; who engaged in rattling their doors and pounding; who yelled from cell to cell or screamed incoherently at all hours.”
Prisoners suffered sleep deprivation from the constant noise. Many suicide attempts happen in segregation units. Inmates attempt to hang themselves with sheets, overdose with stockpiled medications or cut themselves with blades from safety razors. Cruelly, segregation disproportionately houses those prisoners least able to endure the psychological impact of isolation. Advocates point out that the mentally ill rarely belong in prison in the first place, much less in solitary confinement. The mentally ill might be targeted under the “failure to adjust” criterion and then sent to punitive solitary units for behavioral problems related to their illness. Mentally ill state prisoners are nearly twice as likely to physically or verbally assault staff or other prisoners, according to a 2006 study by the U.S. Department of Justice.The solution is not to stiffen penalties. For mentally ill “feces throwers” at Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, the CIIC reported that “prosecution for harassment does little if anything in deterrence.” Instead, state prisons should improve mental-health services. The bipartisan Council of State Governments found that inadequacies in mental-health services “can lead to inmate-on-staff assaults, inmate-on-inmate assaults and other use-of-force incidents.”Meanwhile, for the mentally ill in solitary confinement, their health deteriorates, their behavior worsens and their security level rises. They might be transferred to higher-security institutions.
“If they had a mental health advocate, that wouldn’t happen,” Pope says. “They require therapeutic interventions before they’re “bumped up in security status and end up at Lucasville.” In a sense, the mentally ill are trapped. “Their behavior is destined to deteriorate under those conditions,” Pope says. “Then their poor behavior is used to justify why they should be there.” Unsurprisingly, many drug offenders continue to abuse substances during their incarceration. They can be sent to segregation after they’re caught with illegal substances. But solitary confinement does nothing to mitigate or heal their addiction. A report by Human Rights Watch held that New York State was inflicting cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by isolating drug offenders while also denying them treatment during lock-up. “I’ve had 15, 16 drug tickets, no assaults or anything like that,” said Peter G., a prisoner quoted in the report. “I’ve never been in a treatment program. Now I’m in the box till 2012. I’m a drug addict. If you know I’m a drug addict, why are you putting me in a box?” Ohio offers some substance-abuse treatment to those in isolation, with programs varying by institution, according to CIIC.
Advocates question the segregation of drug offenders in the first place. To the extent their infraction stems from an underlying addiction, they should be treated instead of punished. Some administrators, say solitary confinement reduces violence and helps maintain order. But the bipartisan Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons found the very opposite. “The increasing use of high-security segregation is counter-productive, often causing violence inside facilities and contributing to recidivism after release,” the commission said. The commission called for ending long-term isolation in U.S. prisons. It determined that after 10 days, solitary confinement was seriously detrimental to prisoners’ well-being.
Some administrators maintain that they have no alternative to locking dangerous prisoners in solitary units. But correctional policies in other nations undermine that claim. The British provide their most dangerous prisoners with opportunities for work, education and programming intended to increase social skills, according to The New Yorker. The Missouri Division of Youth Services recently reduced its use of solitary confinement for juveniles.Swain calls segregation “psychological warfare.” “The use of isolation not only escalates the inmate’s sense of alienation, but also further serves to remove the individual from proper staff supervision,” the CIIC found.To be rehabilitative, prisons must promote integration over isolation, therapy over torture.
By Eli Braun
Reprinted from name of street paper© Street News Service: http://www.street-papers.org/
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