Retaliation by Geo Against Hunger Strikers Leaves Two injured

From: NWDCResistance
Feb. 10, 2018
An update on the hunger strike going on at Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, WA:

At least two cases of assault by Geo guards have been reported by people refusing to eat.

Tacoma, WA – At least 2 people on hunger strike reported being assaulted by Geo guards for refusing to eat as their right to express their demands was met with beatings, leaving one person with a black eye and one with a neck injury. At least 5 units have reported joining the hunger strike that began on Wednesday, February 7th to protest the abuses they face inside the facility, which is owned and operated by GEO Group, a private prison company, for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

In an attempt to document the injuries and assault, legal counsel from NWDC Resistance grassroots group was denied entrance to the facility this morning. “This morning I was denied access to two people that called us requesting my visit so I could document the assault they were victims of. Geo guards claimed ICE is not on site and that I have to wait to talk to them until Monday showing a clear effort to deny these people access to outside witness of their injuries” said Toby Joseph legal counsel member of NWDC Resistance.

The partner of one the persons injured met with Mr. Joseph outside the facility this morning telling him she was able to visit her partner and saw through the glass in the visitation area his injuries of a black eye and neck injuries.

The supporters of the strikers are calling for a rally tomorrow Sunday at 1PM outside the gates of the facility.

NWDC Resistance is a volunteer community group that emerged to fight deportations in 2014 at the now-infamous Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, WA. NWDC Resistance is part of the #Not1More campaign and supported people detained who organized hunger strikes asking for a halt to all deportations and better treatment and conditions.


NWDC: Despite Threats and Retaliation, Hunger Strikers Continue Protest ICE Ignores Demands for Improved Conditions

NWDC: RELEASE May 4, 2017
Despite Threats and Retaliation, Hunger Strikers Continue Protest
ICE Ignores Demands for Improved Conditions

Tacoma, WA/The Dalles, OR – Immigrants held at ICE facilities in two states – the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC), run by GEO Group, and NORCOR, a rural public jail – continued their hunger strike today, despite growing weakness from lack of food. The exponential growth of immigration detention has led ICE to contract the function of detaining immigrants out to both private prison companies and to county governments, with both treating immigrants as a source of profit.

ICE has been using NORCOR as ‘overflow’ detention space for immigrants held at NWDC, and is regularly transferring people back and forth from the NWDC to NORCOR. People held at NORCOR have limited access to lawyers and to the legal documents they need to fight and win their deportation cases. They are often transferred back to NWDC only for their hearings, then shipped back to NORCOR, where they face terrible conditions. Jessica Campbell of the Rural Organizing Project affirmed, “No one deserves to endure the conditions at NORCOR – neither the immigrants ICE is paying to house there, nor the people of Oregon who end up there as part of criminal processes. It’s unsafe for everyone.”

The strike began on April 10th, when 750 people at the NWDC began refusing meals. The protest spread to NORCOR this past weekend. Maru Mora Villalpando of NWDC Resistance confirmed, “It’s very clear from our contact with people inside the facilities and with family members of those detained that the hunger strike continues in both Oregon and Washington State.” She continued, “The question for us is, how will ICE assure that the abuses that these whistle-blowing hunger strikers have brought to light are addressed?”

From the beginning of the protest, instead of using the strike as an opportunity to look into the serious concerns raised by the hunger strikers, ICE and GEO have both denied the strike is occurring and retaliated against strikers. Hunger strikers have been transferred to NORCOR in retaliation for their participation. One person who refused transfer to NORCOR was put in solitary confinement.

Just this week, hunger striking women have been threatened with forced feeding – a practice that is recognized under international law to be torture. In an attempt to break their spirit, hunger strikers have been told the strike has been ineffective and that the public is ignoring it.

Hunger striker demands terrible conditions inside detention center be addressed- including the poor quality of the food, the $1 a day pay, and the lack of medical care. They also call for more expedited court proceedings and the end of transfers between detention facilities. Hunger strikers consistently communicate, “We are doing this for our families.” Despite their incredibly oppressive conditions, locked away and facing deportation in an immigration prison in the middle of an industrial zone and in a rural county jail, hunger strikers have acted collectively and brought national attention to the terrible conditions they face and to the ongoing crisis of deportations, conditions the U.S. government must address.

For live updates, visit

Hungerstrikes in NWDC and Boycott of Keefe Prison Commissary

April 28, 2017

Over Fifty Detainees Continue On Hunger Strike as Public Pressure Grows Against NWDC | Up to 100 Detainees Boycott Keefe Commissary Services

Tacoma, WA – Immigrants incarcerated at the Northwest Detention Center continued their protest of poor conditions inside the Tacoma immigration prison through a third week. NWDC Resistance confirmed that at least 50 detainees are refusing to eat, and as many as 100 are extending their protest to boycotting the commissary.

As community concerns grew, GEO Group Vice President wrote an April 15th op-ed claiming that “banning a private immigration detention facility… could hurt the very residents in the care of immigration authorities.” Those on hunger strike directly contradicted GEO’s claims that the private-prison company offers “humane” services, stating, “If this is called humane treatment, well I am sorry because I call this inhumane treatment and protecting their own economic interests.” On Tuesday, April 25th, Tacoma City Council held a public hearing to discuss halting plans for the facility’s expansion. In the packed hearing, NWDC Resistance presented a petition with over 600 signatures calling on Tacoma City Council to act against deplorable health conditions at the NWDC.

Hunger strikers demand minimal living standards:
1) lower prices in commissary
2) have contact visits [rather than talking on a phone through a clear plastic wall]
3) pay more than $1 to workers [per day]
4) better food

Commissary prices rose dramatically just before the hunger strikes began, decreasing detainees’ access to food, clothes, and toiletries. As a result, almost 100 people are currently boycotting Keefe Commissary Network, the only story they can purchase from while in detention. Keefe Commissary Network is a private corporation that has sparked other lawsuits, notably one that revealed how much more people had to pay for basic goods in privately run facilities (as opposed to state-run facilities).

To learn more about the case, check out “How one inmate discovered his private prison was ripping him off — and took his warden to court” at

For live updates on activism at the NWDC, visit:

NWDC Resistance is a volunteer community group that emerged to fight deportations in 2014 at the now-infamous Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, WA as part of the #Not1More campaign, and supported people detained who organized hunger strikes asking for a halt to all deportations and better treatment and conditions.

Sell Block: Broken prison labor program fails to keep promises, costs millions (3 part series)

This is a Seattle Times special report, dated Dec. 13th. 2014, investigated by By Michael J. Berens and Mike Baker.

Three decades ago, as get-tough-on-crime laws channeled more offenders behind bars, the state Department of Corrections launched a campaign to leverage profits from prisoners.

Compel inmates to produce low-cost goods for state agencies at no public cost. Teach offenders new skills to help them land better jobs after release. Turn bad people into better people and reduce crime.

Washington’s pitch — crime can pay — was an easy public sell.

Today, some 1,600 incarcerated men and women in prison factories produce everything from dorm furniture to school lunches. Washington Correctional Industries (CI) generates up to $70 million in sales a year, ranking as the nation’s fourth-largest prison labor program.

But behind CI’s glossy brochures and polished YouTube videos is a broken program that has cost taxpayers millions of dollars, charged exorbitant markups to state agencies to make up for losses, and taken jobs from private businesses that can’t compete with cheap prison labor, a Seattle Times investigation has found.

Far from being self-sufficient, CI has cost taxpayers at least $20 million since 2007, including $750,000 spent over three years on a fish farm to raise tilapia that has yet to yield a single meal.

Part 2:  Recycling scheme lost state $1 million

Part 3: Why license plates have cost us so much

Prisoners in CA prepare for peaceful protests starting on 7/8, other States’ Prisoners join in Solidarity: WA, LA, OH…

In Louisiana State Prison, Angola, LA, a few prisoners on solitary confinement have announced to their freinds they will fast for the first week of the July 8th 2013 California hunter strike in solidarity.

In Ohio State Penitentiary, a supermax housing amongst others prisoners who were condemned to death and who were given a life sentence following the Lucasville 1993 prison disturbance under very suspicious circumstances, some prisoners have also announced to friends they will fast in solidarity for the first few days. 

This following story comes from the SF Bay View, and shows prisoners from WA in solidarity with those in CA who are being held under extreme and neverending circumstances.

Prisoners in Washington State to join July 8 strike called by California prisoners

From: SF Bay View, June 26, 2013

by Diana George, Free Us All Coalition

Seattle, Washington (June 26, 2013) – Prisoners in the state of Washington will go on strike on July 8, 2013, refusing to work on that day. Some prisoners in Washington, including some in juvenile facilities, have vowed to join the nonviolent strike. The strike’s aim is two-fold: to show support for the hunger strikers in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and to join California prisoners in protesting long-term solitary confinement and other human rights abuses in U.S. prisons.


The Washington prison strike on July 8 will coincide with hunger strikes and work stoppages at Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City, California, and at least four other prisons in California. The California prisoners’ demands include an end to long-term solitary confinement and to such practices as “gang debriefing.”

To gain release from solitary confinement, California prisoners are pressured to “debrief,” denouncing fellow prisoners as gang members, who are then punished with solitary confinement. Some California prisoners have been held in isolation for more than 30 years; the strike’s aim is to end this torture.

The California prison strikes will be the third such strike to occur in the last three years. On July, 1, 2011, 6,600 prisoners in the state of California went on a nonviolent hunger strike that began in Pelican Bay State Prison and spread to other facilities in the state. Later that year, their demands still unmet, nearly 12,000 California prisoners resumed the hunger strike in September and October 2011.

This year’s call for a strike includes nonviolent work stoppage by prisoners in the general population, alongside the hunger strikes of those prisoners in solitary confinement. In California, as in Washington, work stoppages are slated to include all work, including tasks essential to the day-to-day functioning of the prisons, increasing the strike’s impact.

Diana George of the Free Us All Coalition in Washington can be reached at To learn more, she recommends and

AT&T to pay Washington prisoners’ families $45 million in telephone class action settlement

From the Seattle Times, Feb. 3 2013

Posted by Jonathan Martin

AT&T has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit involving collect calls made from Washington State prisons for $45 million, making at least 70,000 families eligible for payments.

The settlement, filed late Friday in King County Superior Court, ends a 12-year lawsuit that pin-balled between the state Supreme Court, the state Utilities and Trade Commission and King County Superior Court. Filed in 2000, the lawsuit accused AT&T and other phone companies of failing to disclose exorbitant rates for collect calls from prison. The case settled just as it was set to go to trial in King County to determine damages.

The lawsuit covers collect calls made between 1996 and 2000 from Department of Corrections facilities. The lawsuit was filed by family and friends of Paul Wright, editor of Prison Legal News and a former inmate in Washington State. Wright estimated that between 70,000 and 172,000 people could eligible for refunds, which include full reimbursement of the call charges, plus $200 per person.

At the time, those charges were $3.95 for the first minute and $.90 for each additional minute, according to Seattle attorney Chris Youtz, who pressed the class action case. After 20 minutes, the calls ended, requiring a new call, and a new surcharge. “The rates were ridiculous,” said Youtz.

Youtz said at least three people wracked up $20,000 in charges, according an analysis done during discovery in the case; others had $10,000 bills. Newspapers, such as The Seattle Times, and Columbia Legal Services, a nonprofit that monitors prison conditions, also likely will receive refunds for calls received from prisoners. If there is money left over after all class members who can be found are reimbursed – a big if, given the length of time that has gone by – some of the remainder will go to the Legal Foundation of Washington, which helps low-income people groups get lawyers, as well as to groups supporting prisoners’ families.

Legal notices will be filed notifying people of the potential refund. AT&T spokesman Marty Richter sent the following statement:

Read the rest here:

State prisons rethink solitary confinement

This is an article from the Seattle Times:

Washington’s prisons are at the forefront of a new approach to solitary confinement, finding that a new focus on rehabilitation may calm some inmates’ behavior in prison and prevent violence once they are back on the street.

By Jonathan Martin, Seattle Times, January 7, 2013

CLALLAM BAY CORRECTIONS CENTER — Being alone in your own head 23 hours a day in a 48-square-foot poured-concrete cell makes, inmates say, the mad madder and the bad even worse.

“One guy told me he had, like, 15 faces on tissue paper, and he had names on them,” said inmate Michael Richards, who spent about seven of the last 11 years in solitary confinement at Clallam Bay Corrections Center. “He’d say, ‘Hey Bob, good morning.’ He’d talk to them through the day, just to keep that contact, because he couldn’t talk to anyone else.”

For centuries, solitary confinement has been the big stick of prisons, the harshest means to deter rule-breaking.

But the benefits are being reconsidered, and Washington state is at the forefront of a national re-examination. Instead of facing nothing but forced solitude, Washington inmates in solitary units — called Intensive Management Units, or IMUs — are increasingly being let out for hours to attend classes, see counselors or hit the gym.

It is a clear move to the left in prison management, but one that Washington prison managers say is rooted in data. More emphasis on rehabilitation appears to calm behavior in the prison, and cuts violent recidivism on the streets, experts say. It is also a cost-saver: Solitary confinement costs about three times as much as keeping a prisoner in general custody.

At Walla Walla, hard-core gang members assigned to isolation units are chained to classroom desks for nine hours a week. At the Monroe Correctional Complex, a special unit for inmates with mental illness and traumatic brain injuries — who often end up in solitary confinement — is in the works.

At Clallam Bay, once the so-called gladiator ground of the state prison system, the new approach has slowed a revolving door of hardened inmates who returned, again and again, to isolation.

“Now that we’ve got it up and running, to look at it through the rearview mirror, we wonder why didn’t we do this 10 years ago,” said Assistant Secretary Dan Pacholke, a 30-year Department of Corrections (DOC) veteran.

A failed notion

Solitary confinement’s history is a pendulum swing between concepts of punishment and rehabilitation. It was pioneered in the early 1800s so inmates, alone with just a Bible, could repent. It fell out of favor when the U.S. Supreme Court in 1890 found inmates, unreformed, instead grew “violently insane” or suicidal.

It returned to wider use in the 1990s as states, drifting from rehabilitation, built “Supermax” prisons; by 2005, 40 states had at least 25,000 prisoners on lockdown 23 hours a day. A series of recent lawsuits, alleging the practice violates the Constitution’s Eighth Amendment prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment, led to court orders curtailing its use.

Washington avoided such lawsuits but began reconsidering solitary after violent clashes in IMU units at Shelton in the mid-1990s. About 400 of the state’s 17,500 inmates are in such units, which also house death-row prisoners and those in protective custody.

University of Washington professor David Lovell studied solitary confinement in the state under a DOC contract, and found the isolated inmates were most often gang members serving long sentences for violent crimes. Up to 45 percent were mentally ill or had traumatic brain injuries.

And once in solitary, they stayed in — for nearly a year, on average — because prison staff were reluctant to send likely violent inmates back into the general population.

Those who were released often returned, after committing new assaults on corrections officers or other inmates.

Most disturbing, Lovell found a quarter of inmates were released to the streets directly from solitary confinement. Unaccustomed to human contact, they were more prone to quickly commit new violence.

Despite those findings, Lovell, now a criminal-justice analyst in California, said inmates in isolation “are not permanently dangerous.”

“What we found most surprising was how intact many of them were” even after months of solitude, said Lovell. “It shows you that people can get used to anything. I’m not sure how heartwarming that conclusion is.”

“Time to jump”

Roy Marchand, serving 10 years for manslaughter, did 27 months in isolation, but lasted just 30 days before getting into a fight and going right back.

“The minute you think it’s disrespect time or what not, it’s time to jump, because usually the one who jumps first gets on top,” he said.

Life in solitary is spare: no personal effects except what can be posted within a 12- by 18-inch space on the wall; meals slid through a door; and one hour a day for showering or for exercise in a small, walled yard, with two officers in escort.

At Clallam Bay, the path out of isolation runs through the color-coded tiers of the Intensive Transition Program (ITP), housed since 2006 in a unit originally built for juveniles.

About 30 inmates, all volunteers, agree to a nine-month program stocked with coursework such as “moral recognition therapy” and “self-repair,” gradually earning more freedoms.

“Someone needs to say, “I want this,’ ” said IMU supervisor Steve Blakeman, bald and weathered, a corrections officer out of central casting. “The novelty of living in a box has worn off.”

Isolation has a purpose, Blakeman said, comparing it to the “adult version of having to stand in the corner.” But Lovell’s data — especially on the recidivism for those released directly to the street — was important, Blakeman said.

“These are the guys who are going to be in the grocery-store line next to your daughter one day,” he said. “This is an ethic and legal responsibility we have to the community.”

The four-step program starts in an unusual classroom: a row of steel cages, inmates chained to floor-mounted chain hooks beneath metal desks. Earnest Collins, a 24-year-old serving a life sentence for murdering a SeaTac cabdriver, volunteered after two fights earned him trips to solitary.

The program, he acknowledged, also would allow him more visits with his toddler-aged son. Family visits are highly restricted while an inmate is in isolation.

Collins insists he is “open” to change, reading, at Blakeman’s suggestion, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”

“I wish life were like ‘The Butterfly Effect,’ ” said Collins, recalling a 2004 movie about a man using supernatural power to alter past events. “I wish I could go back.”

Before the program started, inmates released from isolation returned more than 50 percent of the time. Since then, 131 inmates have graduated; 107 have not returned.

“It works because it’s rational for someone to choose to live in a way that doesn’t have them locked in a hole,” said Lovell. “If you give them the choice, it’s a rational decision to make.”

Mental plight

In prison lingo, they are called “dings” — inmates suffering psychotic episodes, banging on sinks, smearing feces on themselves and their walls, shouting in their solo cells. Inmates with mental illness have historically clustered in isolation units, sometimes because of their behavior, sometimes voluntarily checking into protective custody.

Clallam Bay’s ITP has two staff psychologists, one of the biggest added costs.

Pacholke, the assistant DOC secretary, said the planned isolation unit at Monroe for inmates with mental illness or traumatic brain injuries will include group mental-health care, a result of work with disability advocates. “You want to somewhat create a safe harbor,” he said.
Read the rest here: