Shame on Alabama

By an Alabama inmate*

2015-2016

This is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God.

That is what the following that you are about to read is and will be. You may not like it, and you probably won’t, you may even doubt it or disregard it, but it will still be the truth, and not what your elected officials and appointed do-boys want you to believe, and yet have been reportedly telling you the public for years. If you doubt because of who or where I presently am, I can prove every word that’s said and that makes me dangerous to these liars.

I have been incarcerated here in the Alabama Department of Corruption (ADOC) since November, 1989, almost 26 straight years, for Theft of Property 1st degree, from Mobile County (I was passing through). I have not been out since that arrest, nor have I been pardoned, I have been denied repeatedly, yet I have only had 5 disciplinary infractions in all these years. I am well educated, and I have completed every so-called program the ADOC allows me to participate in. I am a practitioner of Native American Spirituality and believe deeply in the existence we as humans share, and yes there is a creator.

I am also guilty of the charged Alabama crime. I am sorry it happened and I have paid dearly for it. I have put this before you to let you know this will be based on facts, the truth, and be honestly given to you so you’ll know how your politicians are and have lied to you.

What you are about to be informed about is what the true reality is, no cover-up, no misinformation being thrown at you to scare you into reacting and doing (voting) on what your politicians are trying to get you to do. Just the true honest facts.

Fact 1

This wonderous cure-all Prison Reform Bill [SB67], that has been talked about for the last 15 years, that your legislature just passed, well here is the real scoop on it:

– It does not do anything to relieve the worst overcrowded prison system in these United States. They are telling the public it fixes the problem. They have lied to you! Why?

There is nothing in the whole Bill SB67 that relieves or releases, or even helps release anyone who now makes up this prison overcrowding problem. Nor would it help anyone who has done 20+ years inside here with a chance or any way out of here. Here is why:

First, they never tell you the public the exact real prison population. It is always between 28,000 or 33,000 whenever they state the prison population figures.

Second, if a prison system is designed to hold less than 14,000 inmates, and the actual population is one of thes 28,000 to 33,000 figures, how can a prison system only be 185 to 190% capacity when the figures say it’s actual number is twice the designated capacity? The true figures don’t lie, but the politicians tell you only what they want you to hear, and yet Sen. Cam Ward went before Congress on July 15, 2014, and stated the prison popuation was “192%,” but he doesn’t tell you the public that. You’re not really supposed to know, so they hide the real truth. Doesn’t it make you wonder what else they hide from you?

The Prison Bill has the Parole Board hiring 100 new parole officers, for who? Not anybody in here, but to drop the caseload of the already hired Parole Board officers, yet only 3 out of 10 people are granted parole. Those parole figures have steadily declined since 2008.

Also, they keep talking about the Federal government coming in and taking over the prison system. The Federal government doesn’t want to take over, it has 48 other states that have overcrowding problems to worry about. Alabama is just the worst.

If the Alabama politicians don’t fix the problems they themselves have helped create, then they can let the Feds take over, and sit back and say “We told you (Alabama) they would take over,” and they don’t have to worry about being voted out of their easy jobs by looking like they are easy on crime or couldn’t fix what their own have created.

Did you know that Governor Bentley’s January 14, 2014 State of the State address said not one word about fixing the prison probem? You should read it.

Fact 2

Sen. Ward and new Commissioner Dunn have both stated that 4500 inmates will be released within the next 5 years.

How?
They don’t tell you that.
Why?
Because that money will be released through normal ADOC or Parole operations. This does not drop the overcrowded population in any way. There are that many prisoners awaiting to come from county jails and the streets new. Yet, they also tell you the Prison Reform Bill will expand the prison system by up to 2000 more beds. Where are they gonna be put?

But it is interesting that neither 4500 released inmates nor the 2000 bed expansion was in the revised Bill the Governor signed.

What are you telling the public these lies for?

Again, there is nothing in this miraculous Bill that releaves the overcrowding.

And Mr Commissioner Dunn: the Federal Courts have already struck down the stacking of beds three (3) high. They stopped that at W.E. Donaldson and St. Clair. Making it even more overcrowded and dangerous is not the solution. There is already enough violence in here now, how much more will you create and how many more inmates will one guard have to oversee, or how many more stabbings and deaths will you allow?

And yes, a lot of these needless stabbings and inmate deaths are on those politicians’ hands for creating this mess in here. But they won’t take credit for that, will they? They tell you whatever they want you to believe, but it’s not reality. Nothing changes and what is bad gets worse.

For the last 15 years that I know of, every year it’s been the same: “The prison system is broke, we need more money.” Again more money is given, yet the system doesn’t get fixed, it gets worse. Yet these politicians keep saying the same old song and dance, but you keep re-electing these same showmen. They took $500 million from you to fix problems, and now they can’t repay it. Where did that money go? The same problems still exist, yet they will think up something new the following year. But that’s okay, you’ll never know about it.

Makes me wonder who the true criminals are: the ones who take your money by telling you whatever they want to -or what you want to hear, or us who are actually incarcerated, and who have to live in the mess they have created?

Maybe those elected officials should spend some time in here, I bet they’d change their tunes. But like Don Seigleman who got caught in the cookie jar, he is in a nice federal retirement home prison.

Fact 3

Some of us (a lot actually) have lived in here 20+ years and have lived through the ADOC’s bragging about feeding all its inmates three (3) times a day on less than $1.00 (one dollar) (in the 1980s and ’90s).

Well, guess what? Now most of us that have lived through that are sick. I am 61 years old and my health and that of a lot of older inmates is failing and an awful lot are dying in here.

We do not get fresh vegetables or fruit (one apple, one orange a month). Our meat patties are made by the ADOC and are full of meat byproducts. The veggies come out of cans gotten from the lowest bidders. They are not the same quality you buy at the grocery store. And they are usually over- or undercooked and not seasoned at all. The cooking is done by inmates who would rather steal it to sell, than take pride or time to prepare it. Almost all who are forced to work in the kitchens don’t want or care to be there anyway. So why should they care what the food tastes like?

We do not get salt or pepper. Yet if you read an ADOC menu it makes it sound like we eat at a four (4) star restaurant, and your tax dollars at work. Why would you have multiple dieticians working in Montgomery on a menu that almost never changes? It has only changed 3 or 4 times in the last 20 years, and these multiple dieticians are getting paid very good money for basically doing nothing.

Your tax dollars at work.

Or take the “ADOC family plan.” There are so many family members working in the ADOC, like one family member working in the laundry and two in the kitchen. Even some akin to eachother work the same shifts. There are husbands and wives working the same shifts at some prisons, yet they are not supposed to be doing that. But the ADOC does what it wants.

You should see how much wasted food goes out of here because no one will eat it. The cats in here won’t even eat these meat patties they give us, they are that bad.

After all these years of havingto eat these meals to survive in here, the quality and quantity we are fed has destroyed a lot of our health. The ADOC’s medical costs have soared because of it. There’s all kinds of newspaper articles to look it up, or better just ask the commissioners. They are constantly complaining about health costs to the media. Well again, they have helped cause these rising health costs by these unhealthy meals they feed us in here, year after year.

Do you know how the health inspectors do spot-checks on restaurants you go to? Not in here, they know days ahead of time when they’ll make their spot-checks for inspection. And it will be clean and pretty, but yet there will be roaches and rats still running around. And within a day of the inspection they look like they usually do: unclean tables (metal), black knots so thick you can’t even see the trays with food on them. Who cleans these? Inmates who don’t want to work but are forced to. What would you expect of 1200 men, locked up and who do not want to work (for very low wages) or even care about something that “belongs to the state”? But these state inspectors work for…the state. Go figure.

Fact 4

This new Commissioner Dunn has said if the Legislature cuts his budget he’ll have to close 2 prisons. Wake up out there: where would he move 2000 inmates to? He certainly cannot release them and he won’t. There is no place to move that many inmates to. So he is already sounding like a politician. And here’s an ex-military officer coming in to run a prison system that’s 20+ years behind the times, and way behind the other state prison systems.

Commissioner Dunn took office on April 1st 2015, and he is yet to even visit the first prison he’s deciding over. How can you lead when you haven’t even seen what you are leading and the true picture of how messed up it is? Are you, Commissioner Dunn, relying on what some staff member who has had an easy cushy job for years tells you what you want to know? Are you even going to talk to us who have been here longer than your officers, about the real issues inside here? Oh yeah, we don’t know anything or matter to you. Kim Thomas didn’t listen either, tht makes us in here wonder why he ran away and went to work for Governor Bentley’s legal team: was he bailing out before it really got bad? What’s the deal on that?

But here is reality: one officer being responsible for two (2) cell blocks that hold over 200 people each for 8 hours (Draper), and here one officer over 240 or 188 inmates, and now according to the June 12, 2015 newsarticle that they have changed the projected Red Eagle prison, and will close Ventress and Draper, and say that 5000 inmates have to be moved. Well, another lie! Between the two prisons there are only about 2600 at most. Another score tactic to be used on you, the public.

And now here’s another State Finance Director, Bill Newton, telling you in this June 12th article that the ADOC is going to have to close two prisons. What does he have to do with ADOC? Is he just trying to make it sound good, and cause panic? It’s a lie and they can and will not do it. They have been threatening to close a prison for years (so they say) and have not, and can’t do it. Alabama, are you listening to these lies?

I live in a 240 men dorm (warehouse). My bed is 39 inches from someone on each side of me, and 21 inches from the bed that makes up the isle behind my head, from the mattrass, which is 1 ½ inches thick; one steel bed frame (not springs) to the bed directly above me is 27 inches, When I sit on the edge of this bed, my neck hits the steel frame above me. I have one blanket, two sheets, no pillow, and I had better take care of those sheets, because I won’t get any more (I’ve had one set for six years). I have a laundry bag and a bed box that is 31 ½ x 25 x 6 inches, or 3 square feet of storage space. That’s it to hold anything I have after 24 years in here. It’s about the size of one of your chest of drawers. And you’ll still have more space. That’s my home, subject to be searched anytime 24/7, to be torn up or destroyed and anything taken as contraband by any ADOC employee wanting to do it. For any reason or no reason at all.

And it’s hot: not airconditioned, only a few ceiling fans. The airconditioning is for the ADOC or medical units. Nowhere else. Not for the inmates. And the temperatures go up into the high 90s and more. It’s not a nice environment to live in or sleep in, and to prove my point: on June 13th 2015 there was one officer over 188 inmates and he got stabbed for taking a phone. This put all the other staff on panic. Just another day in the ADOC.

Fact 5

The ADOC budget is $400 million dollars plus, yet here in one of Alabama’s oldest prisons which is falling apart the maintenance budget is only $60.000 a year. That is to fix all the maintenance problems. When it rains, the dorm I live in has a mini flood from the water coming in, and this is every time it rains, and yet the ADOC paid $20 million in overtime salaries to its employees, for one year. What other company or state agency pays that kind of money for overtime?

In 2009, the overtime salaries for the ADOC went like this:

A C.O.I. officer made $28 and change. A sergeant $32 and change, a lieutenant $38 and change, and a captain $42 and change, and every weekend a aptain would sit in a tower for 8 hours and get paid $42 an hour. All overtime, and I think it’s the same now in 2015, but you pay that, Alabama.

And in here I get one (1) roll of toilet paper and one (1) bar of soap a week. I get 3 sets of clothes: 3 shirts, 3 pants, and that’s supposed to last a year, with one of those sets being for visitation. I get no other type hygiene products except for shaving cream and a disposable razor. We must be clean shaved at all times. If you need anything else you buy it or do without.

Fact 6

The Alabama courts have nowhere to send mental health prisoners. The State has closed its main mental health facilities, so guess where the State through its judges are sending these individuals? They have flooded the prison system with the mental health patients.

It’s not a pretty sight in here seeing the problems and situations these guys face. They need more help than these officers are willing or trained to give them, or are even equipped to handle. There has been a mental health lawsuit filed against the State by the Southern Poverty Law Center on this issue, yet it remains unresolved. And yet, the infamous Senator Ward told a congressional subcommittee on July 15, 2014, that 56,2% of Alabama prisoners have mental health problems [see page 8 of http://media.al.com/news_impact/other/Read%20what%20Ward%20told%20the%20panel.pdf ]. And yet I have seen first hand these same mental patients stopped, beat up, attacked, robbed of their possessions, and made to stand up all day in an enclosed shower stall, as punishment for their actions, this being done by inmates and prison guards. They truly need help.

But Senator Ward went all the way to Washington to talk about an Alabama prison problem. Why did he spend the taxpayers’ money to discuss an Alabama problem with some other people who can’t fix the Alabama problem? Was he grandstanding? Or being a typical politician?

Did you know Senator Ward submitted the Bill to repeal the Kirby Law, which actually helped some inmates sentenced to Life Without Parole or Life get their sentences reduced? (See this article by Lee Hedgepeth, in the Alabama Political Reporter on Senator Ward’s SB84, Jan. 25 [13], 2014). This was the only law that these inmates could use to get actual help from the court system for errors that had been made on their sentences. Sounds like Senator Ward doesn’t like inmates or inmates getting help.

Is that, Sen. Ward, why this Prison Reform Bill you pushed through does absolutely nothing to ease the real problems? What the public doesn’t know is you have pushed through this Bill that actually raises and increases sentences to further fill the system, yet this Bill you kept saying will save Alabama money and ease the worst crowded prison system in America does neither. No one has eased the present problem. It’s still here. This SB67 isn’t even a good bandaid to slow it down. You’ve shoved more responsibility on a Parole Board and the ADOC to manage things they can’t manage now.

People, do not believe me, read the Bill, then you’ll understand. They talk the talk, and yet it’s always the same, just different words and promises or quick fixes that actually change nothing in here, the words just fool you, the ones who pay for their unfulfilled promises.

Senator Ward must want to be Governor. It seems like you always want to be seen or heard. Hey Senator, even I, a lowly inmate, can tell you how to truly ease overcrowding in just a couple of very simple ways. You make it seem like it’s a major problem. You don’t want to ease this moneymaker, just tell the public the truth, and how about that DUI problem, Senator Ward?

Fact 7

We inmates are simply being warehoused. I know the public isn’t really concerned with inmate comfort, but as they continue to pack us into these few facilities and not truly letting anyone out, we have become a cash cow for the ADOC through the tax payers and the Federal Funds that the State gets for prisoners that they also do not tell the public about (which is in the millions of dollars).

So the more they keep in here, the more money comes into Alabama, its a fact, at $42.50 a fay (Senator Ward’s figure before Congress). For every inmate in the ADOC you add it up, and with some of us being in here 20+ years (on property crimes) and then parole and probation violaters that are kept for 5+ years or more, for simple technical violations like moving without permission or failed drug tests, who are yet not let back out for long periods of time… Don’t get me wrong, some of these other inmates that have done 20+ years need and should be in here.

But long sentences and life sentences back in the 1970s could be served in 7 to 10 years, then paroled, then it went to 15 years at one time in Alabama. Now according to this 3-member Parole Board, they told my family and several others, that in Alabama a Life sentence means a Life sentence. Even if an inmate was not sentenced to Life Without Parole, and yet I know an inmate who was paroled in 4 years on a Life sentence. So who truly makes the rules or the law, the Parole Board? If someone with a Life sentence can’t be paroled (for a property offense, like mine) or the Parole Board won’t parole someone who is eligible, how does someone get out, and help ease the overcrowding that is happening in Alabama? He (she) doesn’t, he has become part of the warehousing and money machine and will probably die in here (my biggest fear).

These politicians have no solution to ease overcrowded prisons. Well, to name but one:

Set a cap on how long someone must actually serve on a life sentence. Other States already have done so, it carries from 15 years to 25, 30 years for others. After that many years of being locked up, shouldn’t someone be abe to be released for nonviolent property crimes? There are a lot of them in here, including myself.

There is no such thing as rehabilitation in the Alabama prison system. There is not! There are no life skills programs for the majority who need it, only for a very select few, which the ADOC wants to showboat or deceive the public with for more money. The ones chosen have little time to serve and haven’t been locked up for any prolongued time either. Your tax money at work. It may help a few but it ignores the many. If you do not try to rehabilitate yourself, the State won’t and doesn’t care: if you do or don’t, it’s all money in their bank so why should they care?

Let me give you some of the parole figures given at a meeting of citizens in Birmingham, which come from the Council of State Government Justice Center (CSG). They said Alabama has some of the highest crime rates in the country. Total crime is 8th highest, violent crime 14th, and property crime 7th compared to all other states, for the years 2008-2012 [see also these figures.]

The actual Alabama Parole figure are for 2008: 43%, 2009: 41%, 2010: 40%, 2011: 31%, 2012: 29%, 2013: 30%. If you’ll notice the figures that made parole have steadily declined. Why? What happened that so many were denied parole? Alabama is 4th in the country in adult incarceration (CSG), yet the Parole Board has kept more and more fom being released, again: why?

More prisoners, more money? Shouldn’t somebody explain this steady decline in paroles? I bet no one will, ’cause they don’t care. Yet the prison population in 2008 was 29,959, and then in 2013 it rose to 32,467, and they keep telling the public that the prison is only at 190%. And yet 2,266 more inmates have come into the prison system since 2008, than have gone out. Can you guess where they put them?

Fact 8

The ADOC has sold off all their moneymaking industries, the farms, farm equipment, horses, cattle, hogs, catfish ponds, and now there is nothing for inmates to do. No way to work off stress or be kept occupied, or to learn any type of responsibility, or work-ethic. A few go to trade school (more money into the system), a few get GED’s, but the larger majority of ADOC inmates do nothing, except, lay around, shoot the breeze, about all the things they want someone to believe. They talk about the crimes they did or are going to do, only differently, so they don’t get caught, gangbang, get tattood, or do drugs. Yet these are the revolving-door ‘non-violent’ inmates who are always being released.

Do you know that a study was done on 100 violent inmates and 100 non-violent inmates who were released. Here is the result: 85% of the [so-called] non-violent offenders came back, yet only 2% of the ‘violent’ offenders returned. Are you listening? Gives you something to think about, doesn’t it? ADOC job security, and lots of money for the State to get.

I’ve watched these non-violent inmates come and go, some as many as 3 or 4 times with new sentences and still get back out, with almost no actual time spent incarcerated. When some of us oldtimers try to teach or show these newbys (shorttimers) how to think or act differently to change their lives and stay out, we’re laughed at or told we don’t know what’s going on. It’s amazing they’re doing life on the installment plan, and don’t even realize it.

But I guess when half your neighborhood is in here, it’s just like being at home, and easier to plan the next great caper. The courts give all these short split sentences and know they’ll only be here for a little while, so why should they do any work or try to change in here, or even get on education? Some never get out of bed, just up all night, and no responsibilities. They don’t care, nor does the ADOC.

The less the ADOC officers have to do, the better they like it. And they tell us so. Free easy money, and all the overtime they want… don’t believe me, but check out the July 7/8, 2014 Tuscaloosa News article, which states: 20 million in overtime paid to prisons. This was done in 2013. This article appeared in every State newspaper. Quick, join up, corrections is hiring. There’s a 21-year-old who just worked 50 hours overtime, at $28.00 an hour. Good money.

But, you should also be aware that some ADOC personell, not all, have stolen from inmates, took illegal cellphones and then sold them back to whom they were taken from or to other inmates. For a $19.95 flip phone it costs upwards of $300.00 without a charger, for the smartphones it’s $350-600, without chargers. I’ve seen guards charge toll fees to transport contraband from the kitchen to cell blocs (St. Clair) or let inmates steal what they want as long as the kitchen officers get their cut; take an inmate’s personal property and call it ‘contraband,’ even religious items; take legal paperwork and personal legal books (at Fountain) to hinder legal work, and deliberately take and the destroy sacred religious articles, that inmates are actually allowed to have, then tell them “You don’t like it? Sue me, we’ve got plenty of lawyers” (St. Clair). But you, tax payers, pay for this. This has happened and still happens. A guard walks into a kitchen during chow call, takes a small brown paperbag, fills it with cookies made for the inmates, then walks around eating these same cookies in front of all in the chow hall, an inmate confronts him, then writes a complaint on him, and the inmate gets punished and locked up in segregation, and the officers laugh about it (St. Clair). And they keep saying Tutwiler is a bad place. But nobody wants to know about any of this.

You follow the rules they (ADOC) have set out and nobody cares or does anything. You complain or cause trouble by having someone on the outside complain, then you (the inmate) are going to end up in segregation or at worst stabbed up or beat up by this officer’s homeboy who is a locked up inmate or inmates, it happens in here, but no one cares. There are stabbings or killings happening in here pretty often but the outside is very seldom ever told. And I ask: Hello, are you listening or do you even care?

Welcome to the ADOC and reality. I know you the public have your own lives and problems, but hey you’re paying for this stuff with your tax dollars. Your State governments and State agencies are not telling you the truth about what you should know about. But the only thing that I have been able to come up with these 20+ years is, the Legislature keeps shifting the burdens on to the next ones, and the next one keeps passing it on down the line. The State Legislature that you vote for does not fix the very problem they have helped create. Yet they cry wolf and say whatever they need to say to get more of your money, for their self-caused problems. And you continue to pay!

Hey Alabama, are you that blind, nonhearing, or do you just not want to get involved? Well you re involved, because what you keep failing to acknowledge is these locked-up individuals in here, will get out some day, and they will be changed, angry, unskilled to cope with modern society, and desperate. What will you do when you release someone society has passed by with new technologies, new laws that make it harder on the ones released and you give him $10.00 to get started on? Could you do it?

Hey Alabama, your prison system is a mess and it is only getting worse, because you keep changing the commissioner at the top trying to change the system or fix the problem, yet all the rest of the top stay the same. So what’s gonna change? Nothing! You have to change the people causing the problem to make things change. The ADOC will never change, because it’s going to keep doing what it always has, and the people of Alabama will keep on paying for it, because the ADOC is not accountable or answerable for anything it does, or any amount of money you supply it to spend.

But Alabama, you should want to know. And you should want to know how you’re being lied to. Do you? Prove it.

Alabama, life has changed as I knew it 25 years ago. Cell phones have been invented, Ipods, even MP3-players have come and have now mostly gone. But I have done what I can to change me. I used what was offered. But then I am from a different generation.

What does the future hold? I have no idea. But your taxpayers will foot the bill for it. You will continue to pay for your politicians, and they’ll get rich. They still won’t tell you the truth, ’cause it’s like what Jack Nicholson said in “A Few Good Men,” “The Truth, you can’t handle the Truth.” I do give you more credit, but time will tell, how long you keep accepting the loss of your hard-earned money. For your politicians’ failures, and when the ‘mass accident’ that’s waiting to happen in here, happens, they’ll come crying and screaming for you to give more money to fix their continued failure. As Senator Ward said in 2012, cited in a Jan. 7th, 2014 article: “The whole system is a ticking time bomb…”

It has already actually started, these last 3 years with all the inmate killings and assaults or other acts of violence within these fences. This is even on Correctional officers. The mini-riot at St. Clair. The incidents at Holman, and all the ones you don’t know about most of all. Because they won’t tell you about that unless it fits their agenda’s.

An ADOC officer stated to me that, “If this place was a dog pound in here, the way it is ran and the conditions it’s in, someone would be in jail for it.” It’s amazing that a dog pound is in beter shape than a prison system. Even their own ADOC employees know it. But they won’t let you know that.

I promised the Truth, well did you truly want it? ‘Cause that’s what you’ve been given.

The ADOC do not want us writing or letting those on the outside world to know about what it’s really like, or what goes on in here. Out of sight, out of accountability, the beatings, stabbings, the real violence, the race-related problems [unreadable], and how the keepers of the gates are not all they are supposed to be. You should check out how many have been charged and convicted for stealing our Social Security numbers and ID’s and selling them. Yet the ADOC doesn’t even tell us about this going on, we find out from newspapers. They have stolen mine and filled false Income Tax on me twice… And I knew nothing about it. [see: here (Justice Department website) and here for example]

One final word, for those of us who do get out, will you be there to help or to turn your backs on us, as your judges, district attorneys, legislators, and so-called defense attorneys all have when we enter the system, when we have been abused, dehumanized, stripped of any pride or ambitions, and yet tryign to have a little dignity in the face of adversity?

Like ex-Supreme Court Judge Sue Bell Cobb said in her own editorial from 2014, WWJD? Reform Alabama’s horrible criminal sentencing laws. What would Jesus do, Alabama, about these packed prisons and horrible criminal sentencing laws?

Alabama, don’t let them keep telling you only what they want you to know. Ask questions, or in the end you’ll be paying a lot more of your money on taxes for things you do not want or need.

Thanks for listening, Alabama, I only hope you truly are.

Now for a quick update:
The ADOC has stopped serving its inmates eggs of any kind, and hasn’t for a few months now. ADOC is also not giving adequate substitutes calorie-wise, if at all, to make up for its loss of food that makes up our daily diets. They have taken away pancakes, oranges, apples (we only got them once a month). No type of fresh produce of any kind. Yet their prison budget was fully funded and they have still cut down on the portions they feed us. Why?

They are telling us here at Atmore that before or shortly after the New Year (2016) they are going to put 250 more inmates into an already overcrowded unit (1250 inmates). And we’re wondering where these extra beds will go!

So Alabama, are you listening? I’m still wondering why Cam Ward keeps talking about the millions that are going to be saved by the ADOC (Nov. 6, 2015)…. How is this Bill you passed saving any money, when you had to have 26 million to fund it and will have to keep funding it? You are not saving anything. Quit telling the people of Alabama fairy tales. Oh, I forgot you’re a politician, you’re good at that. But what about your DUI, do you want to tell us more about that? I didn’t think so.

Well Alabama, you’ve been told, will you continue to let business be as usual? Your money, your future neighbors are in here. Are you just going to let the time bomb explode? These killings, stabbings, semi-riot situations happening all over the state, but do they tell you the truth or even let you know it?

It’s your choice and really your responsibility, and as Judge Sue Bell Cobb said: “Alabama what would Jesus do?”

Shame on Alabama!

The author of this pamphlet

And all Alabama inmates

Dec. 2015

Finished typing and editing on June 2016

  • We’ve made this article anonymous, because we do not want to cause the author any repercussions for expressing his opinion.

Also published on Decarcerate the Garden State

Games the gang investigators play

This is a piece from Aug 16, 2012, published in the SF Bay View, but it is as relevant as ever: nothing has changed within the CDCr and in how the Institutional Gang Investigators (IGI) work! The public and those who represent them should take serious note that IGI is often said to be acting without any court-intervention, giving punishment to imprisoned people on often false reports, falsified reports, made-up reports. If a possible crime occurs, should the accused not be given a trial? And what are the reasons for the possibly substantiated rumors that IGI might falsify reports? Could it be to keep the SHU’s filled with so-called “validated” prisoners, allegedly gang-members, or in the new vocabulary of CDCr: “Security Threat Groups” (STG)?

For a SHU-prisoner, the prisons receive more money from you, the tax payers, than for a prisoner in General Population. Think about it, and start asking your representatives questions!

This is just a quick note to say thank you for the March issue and another April and May issue of the S.F. Bay View you sent. I read the March issue and can see why these fascist captors of mine kept it from me. They already look at us New Afrikkkans as suspected “gang” members and anything political or educational we read they label it gang material. It’s absurd!

They’ve been keeping my mail for at least an extra week after I receive it from my family, and any books or other forms of reading material they hold for a month or so before they issue it to me. I know it’s a game the IGIs (Institutional Gang Investigators) use to keep us New Afrikkkans, Southern and Northern Mexicans, oppressed Whites and Native Amerikkkans buried alive in these concrete tombs under their three-point gang validation, which, since our statewide hunger strike, they continue to do.

I’ve seen four gang validation packages issued out within the last two weeks by these IGI oppressors, who in all actuality are their own gang. I remember reading about IGI Duarte in Calipatria State Prison being under investigation himself for putting together false validation packages on comrades; well, he isn’t the only one to do so. I’m more than certain if the CDC got more IGIs under investigation for false acts to get brothers validated, these tables would really turn and society would see who the real gang members are.

Thank you for continuing to be the driving force in bringing awareness to the free world about our constant struggles to fight our oppressors. I’ve given out the other two Bay Views you sent to some comrades to read and hopefully get subscriptions as well.

In true solidarity struggle,

Comrade T

Stop the McFarland GEO Women’s Prison!

From the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, Aug 8th, 2014

Letter signed by women and trans prisoners at CCWF and CIW

 STOP THE MCFARLAND GEO WOMEN’S PRISON!

 We the undersigned incarcerated at Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF) and  the California Institution for Women (CIW) are outraged that CDCR has signed a contract with the GEO Group, the 2nd largest private, for-profit prison corporation in the U.S. According to the contract, GEO will open a new women’s prison in McFarland, CA by fall of 2014.

We call upon California State Legislators to direct CDCR to cancel the contract with GEO and implement existing release programs instead of opening a new prison!

 Once again we are shuffled around without regard for our well-being or our human rights. Since VSPW was converted to a men’s prison in January 2013, we have been subjected to overcrowding at historically high levels (CCWF is now at 185% capacity), even while the state is under court order to reduce the prison population. This is discrimination against people in women’s’ prisons!  As a result of this overcrowding, health care, mail services, food and education have greatly deteriorated. We are locked down more frequently, leading to heightened tensions, drug overdoses and suicides. The prison staff has responded by locking more people into solitary, further violating our human rights.

CDCR could easily implement existing programs to reduce overcrowding, such as: Alternative Custody Programs (ACP); Elder and Medical Parole; and Compassionate Release. Instead, on April 1, 2014 GEO announced its new contract with CDCR to open a 260 bed women’s prison with an “enhanced rehabilitation and recidivism reduction program.” This is nothing but a bad April Fool’s joke! The 260 women who are “chosen” to go to McFarland could be released through one of these other programs instead. None of us should be hauled off to showcase a so-called “gender responsive” prison and to put money in the pockets of GEO investors.

GEO is a private corporation whose business makes profit from imprisoning primarily people of color and immigrants. GEO’s press release about the new prison reports expected revenue of $9 million in McFarland’s first year. Think of how much $9 million could do for providing community-based re-entry services!

GEO has been the subject of numerous lawsuits around the country about atrocious, unconstitutional conditions. Private prisons are notorious for operating with even greater secrecy than the CDCR: assaults are 49% more frequent; racist behavior and sexual abuse by staff are widespread.

GEO is responsible for human rights violations at many of their facilities.  In 2012 GEO was forced to close the Walnut Grove, Mississippi youth detention Center after being condemned for allowing, in the words of Fed. Judge Carlton Reeves, “a cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts and conditions to germinate, the sum of which places the offenders at substantial ongoing risk.”

  • In March 2014, 1200 people detained in GEO’s Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, WA (for immigrants) went on hunger strike to protest the grossly inadequate medical care, exorbitant commissary prices and low or NO pay for work within the center.  Other GEO prisoners have since gone on hunger strike at detention facilities in Conroe, Texas and Stewart, Georgia.
  • In January of 2014, Governor Jerry Brown’s reelection campaign reported $54,400 in donations from GEO Group. GEO Group has spent $7.6 million on lobbying and campaign contributions in the U.S. in the last decade.

 GEO lobbied strongly to advance laws that increased the time served for drug convictions and other non-violent crimes through mandatory minimum sentencing, three-strikes laws, and truth-in-sentencing laws. GEO was a member of the American Legislative Exchange Commission (ALEC) when the model bill that became AB 1070 (profiling immigrants in Arizona) was drafted. These legal changes resulted in significant profits for GEO.

  • In McFarland, CA, GEO has signed a contract incentivizing prolonged incarceration over release by charging the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation less per prisoner if the facility is more than half full.
  • GEO operates reentry facilities around the state, including the Taylor Street Center at in San Francisco and the Oakland Center in Oakland.  Residents experience these facilities as “re-entry prisons” that are structured to threaten and punish people rather than providing support for people to reenter community life.  .

It is shameful that CDCR is about to open a for-profit “boutique prison” that does nothing positive to solve the disproportionate overcrowding in the women’s prisons at this time. Assembly Members and Senators, please intervene!  Stop the GEO prison from opening. Instead use this $9 million to fully implement existing release programs immediately and fund community-based (not for-profit) reentry programs.

Thank you for listening to this urgent request,

Natalie DeMola, CCWF

Jane Dorotik, CIW

Fonda Gayden, CCWF

Anne Marie Harrison, CCWF

Valerie Juarez, CCWF

Terah Lawyer, CCWF

ChiChi Locci, CCWF

Maydee Morris, CCWF

Amy Preasmeyer, CCWF

Patrice Wallace, CCWF

Protest against the Attorney General of Nevada’s Office

Tonja Brown:
We protested against the Attorney General’s Office for withholding evidence in cases.
The actual banner is 4′ x 130′.

Press release about the action:

I will be joining Ty Robben along with others for a protest at the Attorney General’s Office on Tuesday at noon. Due to the investigative reporting by Joe Hart and Geoff Dornan regarding the computer glitch that has caused inmates to have false felony charges placed in their files, the Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice has called for an examination into computer glitch.

What the Advisory Commission does not know is how the Attorney General’s Office is, in part, responsible for the denials in at least one former inmate, Nolan Klein’s Parole and a Pardon, because, their office withheld exculpatory evidence from Mr. Klein and the federal court in the 2005 case of Klein v Helling. These Brady violations by the Attorney General’s Office and being compounded by the computer glitch resulted in Mr. Klein’s Paroles, a Pardon, his freedom and his fife.

I anxiously await the results from the Examination that was order by Assemblyman Horne on March 7, 2012. On April 17, 2012 I will turn over the exculpatory evidence and show the Commission the irreparable harm this has caused Mr. Klein and his family.

The Brady violations by the Attorney General’s Office has placed the intregity of the Attorney General’s Office in question. I have asked the Governor to contact the the United States Justice Department to investigation the Atttorney General’s Office for civil rights violations.

Tonja Brown

Read it in the Nevada Appeal (subscription is needed)…

See further: New Blog about State employees

May 13th: Never forget 1985! Now is the time to free the MOVE 9!

From the weblog Move9Parole:

Friday May 13, Join the MOVE organization to watch “MOVE: A Confrontation” to understand the unjust incarceration of the MOVE 9 and how the battle for their release leads to the bombing of MOVE in 1985.

L-13 Gladfelter Hall, Temple University
1115 W. Berks Street, Philadelphia 6-9 pm

Saturday May 14, join us for a rally Broad & Chestnut sts, Philadelphia 12-3 pm
——

“…it is time to put what I have learned into practice; freedom will only be won by the sweat on our brows”
—Safiya Bukhari

Four years ago, as a junior in college in Virginia, I met this Elder named Leroy who was the janitor at the school library. After about five minutes of conversation, he asked of my origins. I replied “home of the moonshine, Franklin, Virginia”. After turning the question back on him, he responded―”I am from Philly, home of a Black mayor throwing a bomb on some Black folks house.”

That was my first piece of information about MOVE.

Three Years ago, I moved to Philly and I was surprised to see the light being dimmed on the MOVE 9’s case. It was one of the biggest cases of injustice in Philadelphia, and people had seem to forget that not only one, but nine of their own political prisoners were doing a 30-100 year bid in prison.

I remember watching the gritty, Black and White, documentary, “MOVE: Confrontation in Philadelphia” and feeling the outrage of the community after the August 8, 1978 incident. People were in the streets cursing and exposing the corruption of Philadelphia police and rallying together for the MOVE 9. Fast Forward thirty years later and while engaging in dialogue with people around the MOVE 9 case, I hear time and time again, ―”they are still incarcerated?”, “Hold up, you mean to tell me there are people in prison right now who are apart of MOVE?”

This type of brain drain is very devastating to an important case such as this one that needs support in the form of people power in demanding the MOVE 9’s freedom!

Everyday, I am making more of a personal commitment to the MOVE 9, while working towards enlightening my community about this case and putting out the information in order to ensure that our brothers and sisters of the MOVE 9 will make it back to us as well.

Even if you do not agree with the principles of the MOVE organization, or support their stance, we can agree on as a community that our political prisoners must come home! We must take the initiative to enlighten one another about the MOVE 9 and strategize on how we can get Chuck, Mike, Janet, Janine, Debbie, Delbert, Phil, and Eddie home (and justice for Sis Merle as well). Along the way, hopefully we can enlighten others to find it in their conscience to make a MOVE for the MOVE 9!

Ona MOVE,

Iresha Picot, MOVE Supporter

Friday May 13, watch “August 8, 1978” to understand the unjust incarceration of the MOVE 9 and how the battle for their release lead to the bombing of MOVE in 1985.

L-13 Gladfelter Hall, Temple University
1115 W. Berks Street, Philadelphia 6-9 pm

Saturday May 14, join us for a rally Broad & Chestnut sts, Philadelphia 12-3 pm

From Ramona Africa: To this day no official has been held accountable for the murder of our MOVE family which the whole world witnessed. Meanwhile,the MOVE 9 still sit in prison 33 years after being falsely accused of a murder officials know they didn’t commit and nobody can say they saw anyone of them commit. In fact,at the end of the trial the trial judge stated publicly that he didn’t have the faintest idea who killed Officer Ramp on August 8,1978.

Officials can’t give us back our family that they murdered on May 13th 26 years ago but they can give us back our innocent family members that they have behind their prison walls despite their innocence.

onamovellja@aol.com

Judge Convicted in Pennsylvania Kids-for-Cash Scheme, Faces Long Prison Term and Class Action Lawsuit

From: DemocracyNow:
Feb 22nd, 2011

A federal jury has found a former Pennsylvania judge guilty of participating in a so-called “kids for cash” scheme, in which he received money in exchange for sending juvenile offenders to for-profit youth jails over the years. Former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella, Jr., was convicted Friday of accepting bribes and kickbacks for putting juveniles into detention centers operated by PA Child Care and a sister company, Western Pennsylvania Child Care. Ciavarella and another judge, Michael Conahan, are said to have received $2.6 million for their efforts.

Ciavarella faces a maximum sentence of 157 years in prison, in addition to a class action lawsuit on behalf of the youths’ families. For more on this story, we are joined by Marsha Levick of the Juvenile Law Center and to Sandy Fonzo, who believes her son’s suicide was related to his treatment by Ciavarella.

Read the rest here.

Former Judge Is on Trial in ‘Cash for Kids’ Scheme

New York Times
By Jon Hurdle and Sabrina Tavernise
February 8, 2011

SCRANTON, Pa. — A former Pennsylvania judge went on trial in federal court on Tuesday, charged with racketeering, bribery and extortion in what prosecutors say was a $2.8 million scheme to send juvenile delinquents to privately run prisons.

The case against the judge, Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., who presided in Luzerne County, drew national attention for what legal experts say is a dangerous gap in the juvenile justice systems of many states — children appearing in court without lawyers.

Read the rest here.