The case of the Dallas 6: Torture and retaliation against prisoner whistleblowers

by Shandre Delaney
SF Bay View, November 13th, 2014

Imagine sitting in a windowless 6-foot-by-9-foot room the size of a bathroom for 23 hours a day, unable to communicate with family or anyone on the outside. The lights are on 24/7. The only drinking water you have is brown from rust. You constantly hear mentally ill people screaming and harming themselves.

Within days of this torturous isolation you may begin to feel mental breakdown. Is this Guantánamo? Abu Ghraib? A torture chamber in some distant land? A torture chamber, yes, but a homegrown one.

This is solitary confinement in a state prison near you. The United States has many like the one in Dallas, Pennsylvania, a modern day dungeon, which imprisons people for years to face abuse and violence out of public view by guards paid with our tax dollars. But men inside also defend themselves and, even locked within their cells, try to fight back. One of those men was my son Carrington Keys.

The United States has many like the one in Dallas, Pennsylvania, a modern day dungeon, which imprisons people for years to face abuse and violence out of public view by guards paid with our tax dollars.

 

Six Black men – Andre Jacobs, Anthony Kelly, Anthony Locke, Duane Peters, Derrick Stanley and Carrington, now known as the Dallas 6 – blew the whistle and took nonviolent action to stop the abuse. It started when the Human Rights Coalition (HRC), a grassroots group of prisoners, ex-prisoners, activists and family members like myself, began receiving letters from prisoners alleging abuse.

We built abuse logs with information about beatings; mental abuse; glass, metal, feces, spit, semen and urine in the food; mail tampering; deprivation of human contact; withholding medication; and starvation. Particularly upsetting to the men was the coerced suicide by guards of a mentally ill white man. “Seeing that body bag come out really shook me,” said Derrick Stanley, now free.

The men went through all the complaint channels. Carrington wrote to then District Attorney Jackie Musto Carroll informing her of the abuses and asking for help. She never replied. He filed a lawsuit against her for turning a blind eye. He informed the family of the man coerced into suicide and they sued and won an undisclosed sum.

HRC compiled the abuse logs into the Institutionalized Cruelty report. But instead of ceasing, the abuse escalated. On April 29, 2010, after young Isaac Sanchez was bound, naked and bloody, to a restraint chair for at least 16 hours (two hours is the legal limit), the men peacefully covered their cell windows to ask for outside intervention.

Covering a cell window is a signal in Pennsylvania prisons to summon a captain, who is required to come down, so that the prisoner can make complaints directly to him about a guard or circumstance that they have exhausted all other means to resolve. Instead, guards in riot gear pepper-sprayed, tasered and beat the unarmed men.

The six were originally charged with refusing to obey an order, a misconduct charge handled within prison. Four months later, however, after the assaults became public when HRC filed a criminal complaint against the Department of Corrections (DOC), Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office, the DOC and the state police conspired to charge these men with riot, a felony.

Although former Luzerne County judges Mark Ciavarella Jr. and Michael Conahan now sit in prison for incarcerating youth for kickbacks (the “kids for cash” scandal), the corruption that enabled their outrageous crimes continues to flourish, as demonstrated by this malicious frame-up and cover-up.

Covering a cell window is a signal in Pennsylvania prisons to summon a captain, who is required to come down, so that the prisoner can make complaints directly to him about a guard or circumstance that they have exhausted all other means to resolve.

 

A common wish of prisoners is to be treated like human beings. They expect to do their time and come out. While guards are not expected to be courteous or sociable, they are expected not to harass, threaten, shout racial slurs, provoke suicide or retaliate because you use your right to complain about their lack of professionalism and ethics.

Whatever a person’s sentence, it does not include torture, abuse or murder. The law should be upheld. The guards and those covering up for them should be on trial, not the Dallas 6.

A common wish of prisoners is to be treated like human beings.

 

The Dallas 6 are part of a movement of prisoners, such as the California and Georgia prisoner hunger and work strikers, who use peaceful resistance to counter rampant abuses in solitary, crossing racial divides and ending hostilities among themselves to do so.

The Dallas 6 trial started Nov. 10, is scheduled to continue Nov. 17-20 and may resume in February. This is a landmark case for all who believe in justice, anti-racism and human rights. The public needs to know, and the decent guards need to be supported rather than letting their brutish colleagues dominate the DOC with their illegal sadism in prisons and courtrooms. We demand accountability.

Shandre Delaney, coordinator of the Justice for the Dallas 6 Support Campaign and mother of Carrington Keys, one of the Dallas 6, has been an advocate for human and civil rights for 15 years at Human Rights Coalition and Abolitionist Law Center in Pittsburgh. She can be reached at sd4hrc@gmail.com. This story first appeared on Truthout. Visit scidallas6.blogspot.com and the Facebook page for the latest information.

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Support the SCI Dallas 6!

From: SF Bay View, Nov, 13, 2014

The Dallas 6 trial, begun Nov. 10, is back in session at least through Nov. 20 at Luzerne County Courthouse; transportation is available to and from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh – email sd4hrc@gmail.com. Two stories follow.

The Dallas 6 go to court
by Mumia Abu-Jamal

They are called the Dallas 6 – and we ain’t talking about Texas.
Dallas, in Pennsylvania, is one of nearly 30 prisons in the state, located in its rural outback. The six are young Black men who, in 2010, tried to stage a peaceful protest in the prison’s “hole,” its solitary confinement unit.

They were moved to such protest after witnessing another prisoner, Isaac Sanchez, being strapped into a torture chair (prison officials call it a “restraint chair”) for hours – even overnight. When guards threatened to do the same to them, the men tried to cover their cell doors with their bedding – and refused to leave their cell, in an effort to protect themselves.

The guards armed themselves with batons and electrified equipment, and they stormed the six cells, leaving the men beaten, bloody, naked, eyes burning, their flesh seared with pepper spray.

All of the guards later admitted they suffered no injuries. How could they? They wore black body armor and helmets – what prisoners call “star wars” garb.

After some of the men filed grievances and civil suits, the DA replied with criminal charges, and on Nov. 10, 2014, the men were marched into Luzerne County Courthouse, in Wilkes-Barre, Penn., to face “riot” charges.

They were gassed, they were beaten, they were tasered and zapped with electro-shields – and they face riot charges!

It should be noted that this is the same county where judges took money to send kids to jail, where no one reported their monstrous actions – not even the DA! – for nearly a decade!

The Dallas 6 – Andre Jacobs, Anthony Kelley, Carrington Keys, Anthony Locke, Dwayne Peters and Derrick Stanley – are potentially facing more prison time for refusing to submit to torture, for men have died, in America, while strapped into the torture chair.

Should they have meekly submitted to torture – like sheep to the slaughter?

For more information on the Dallas 6, go to scidallas6.blogspot.com.
Help the Dallas 6 stand for justice and human rights!

© Copyright 2014 Mumia Abu-Jamal. Read Mumia’s latest book, “The Classroom and the Cell: Conversations on Black Life in America,” co-authored by Columbia University professor Marc Lamont Hill, available from Third World Press, TWPBooks.com. Keep updated at www.freemumia.com. For Mumia’s commentaries, visit www.prisonradio.org. For recent interviews with Mumia, visit www.blockreportradio.com. Encourage the media to publish and broadcast Mumia’s commentaries and interviews. Send our brotha some love and light: Mumia Abu-Jamal, AM 8335, SCIMahanoy, 301 Morea Road, Frackville, PA 17932.

Mansfield Correctional Uses Food as Punishment

From our email contact:
July 9th 2012

Ohio has been experiencing an extreme heat wave the past weeks causing deaths as reported by the Columbus Dispatch. Inmates in the 1B pod at Mansfield had a peaceful sit out on Friday 6th of July, related to their recreation time which has been severely limited as a result of the new Tiered system Gary Mohr has implemented. 
The inmates were told by Lt. Hoy they would get an extra hour of recreation time and the sit out ended as peacefully as it started. But as a result of this peaceful demonstration they were punished Saturday by not being fed any food until 5 pm on Saturday – now I find this appalling as we know not all inmates can afford commissary food that they stockpile in their cell. And with the heat, the body uses more energy to try to cool itself. The inmates were also kept in their cells with no air movement (they do not have air conditioned cells) to assist the body with cooling itself down. 
Many inmates reported feeling ill.  Then on Sunday they did not get fed until 3:30 pm. These inmates did not get a hot dinner but a bagged bologna sandwich while other blocks received hot meals. This lack of nutrition as punishment I find repulsive as I do not treat my pets in this manner nor would I expect fellow man to be treated in this manner by someone who has control over him. These are people the prison is dealing with, they are not animals but are being treated worse than we treat animals, by a system that has control over them. Would you leave a pet in a closet with no air movement or air conditioning when it is over 100 degrees?
The problem with this system is there is no oversight by people not associated with the system. Allowing them to police themselves is not working and allows cruelty and inhumane treatment to continue.

Preliminary Hearing for the Dallas 6 on Friday Nov 12th 2010

RELEASE: Preliminary Hearing Friday for the Dallas 6
Prisoners assaulted by guards charged with “Riot” for peaceful protest
Contact:      Andy Switzer             hrc.philly.support@gmail.com            (267) 269-5448
Bret Grote              hrcfedup@gmail.com                         (412) 654-9070
Rescheduled preliminary hearings will take place this Friday for six men charged with “Riot” for staging a peaceful protest against racism, food deprivation, physical and psychological abuse in the solitary confinement unit at the State Correctional Institution (SCI) at Dallas. The hearings will take place at 9:00 a.m. in front of the Trucksville Magistrate, James Tupper at 11 Carverton Road, Trucksville, PA.
On April 25, 2009, guards at SCI Dallas intensified their campaign of retaliation and intimidation against prisoners who had cooperated with the Human Rights Coalition in the publication of a 93-page report detailing starvation, brutality, racism, guard encouragement of suicide, and cover-up by prison officials. On April 28, guards attacked Isaac Sanchez with pepper spray and electro-shock weapons, leaving him naked and strapped to a restraint chair for approximately 16 hours.
The following day, Andre Jacobs, Carrington Keys, Duane Peters-El, Derrick Stanley, Anthony Locke, and Anthony Kelly covered the windows of their solitary confinement cells and demanded that abusive guards be removed from the block, and they be permitted to speak with media or the public defender’s office. All 6 were beaten, tasered, pepper-sprayed, and left naked and bleeding in restraints for hours.
The Human Rights Coalition filed a criminal complaint with the District Attorney of Luzerne County. Assistant DA David Pedri rejected the complaint without even speaking with victims or prisoner witnesses. In November, Pedri rejected earlier complaints on the grounds that the violated statutes were not cited, despite the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure stating that such citations were not required.
The results of an HRC investigation into the April attacks against the Dallas 6/7 were documented in a 25-page report, Resistance and Retaliation, released in August. This incident was also brought to light in front of a Pa. House Judiciary Committee hearing on August 2nd. 
Shandre Delaney, the mother of Carrington Keys and an HRC member, said this type of prosecution is a standard tactic: “The prison and their friends in the DA’s office want to turn reality on its head and make the oppressor look like the victim and the oppressed look like the aggressor. They’ve tried it before, but it won’t work this time.”

Human Rights Coalition-Philadelphia                   Human Rights Coalition-Pittsburgh

HRC Support Committee                                       FedUp! Chapter
hrc.support.philly@gmail.com                              hrcfedup@gmail.com
www.hrcoalition.org                                              http://www.thomasmertoncenter.org/fedup


Action alert: prisoners at SCI Huntingdon extracted, being sprayed continuously with chemical OC spray, denied food and water, extremely at risk

From: HRC-FedUp!

Emergency Response Network Action Alert

8 prisoners at SCI Huntingdon extracted, being sprayed continuously with chemical OC spray, denied food and water, extremely at risk

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Please Call SCI Huntingdon Superintendent Raymond Lawler and DOC Secretary Shirley Moore Smeal and demand an end to food deprivation and racist discrimination against Huntingdon Prisoners in the solitary confinement units.

Vincent Hallman,
Jeremiah Weems,
Rhonshawn Jackson,
Jamiel Johnson,
Gary Wallace,
Kyle Klein,
Anthony Martin,
Anthony Allen,
Eric Mackie

On September 29, 8 prisoners from SCI Huntingdon planned a peaceful protest to speak out against ongoing intimidation, harassment, assault, food deprivation, and racism, racism, racism. Jamiel Johnson wrote HRC the day after, saying he and the other prisoners need immediate help and they are fighting for their lives.

The protest consisted of 8 prisoners refusing to return to their cells after being let outside for yard. They were issued misconduct reports and then “extracted” from their yard cages by being sprayed with chemical OC spray which affects their eyes, nose and breathing. (Check: YouTube: OC Spray)

Vincent Hallman wrote that the correctional officers carted out three canisters of spray and then just “went at them” until they folded.

While they were out in the yard, another prisoner in solitary confinement, Jeremiah Weems, was being sprayed with OC spray, extracted from his cell and taken to a restraint chair in a secluded part of the prison. The outside prisoners were brought in to medical but were not able to rinse their eyes of the blinding chemical or shower the chemicals off their person.

Jamiel Johnson reported that once the prisoners were back in their cells, the abuse continued. The men inside their cells were sprayed and extracted, stripped, denied clothes, moved to other cells, moved back to OC cells, denied food, had the water turned off in all their cells and the air conditioning cranked up. The action is ongoing.

Please Call (talking points below):

SCI Huntingdon- (814) 643-2400 Ask to speak to Superintendent Lawler and say you are reporting abuse.

Regional Secretary Randall Britton -(717) 975-4930
Ask to speak to Randall Britton and say you are reporting abuse at SCI Huntingdon.

Secretary Shirley Moore Smeal –(717) 975-4859 (note: this was updated 10/11)
Ask to speak to Secretary Smeal and say you are reporting abuse at SCI Huntingdon.

Talking Points for speaking to the Department of Corrections:

1) Tell them that you heard that a bunch of prisoners at SCI Huntingdon had a protest on September 29th as a REACTION against abusive conditions in the solitary confinement units

2) Ask them if they know of any abuse happening to prisoners in the solitary confinement units

3) After they say no, tell them you heard that a bunch of prisoners were losing weight and starving because they are regularly being denied food, especially last month during the Muslim holiday of Ramadan.

4) Ask them what chemical weapon’s are being sprayed on the prisoners and if there are any side effects to these chemical weapons

5) Ask them what measures are taken against guards who use racist language towards prisoners in the solitary confinement units. Ask them if calling prisoners “monkeys” and “niggers” is acceptable professional behavior.

6) Ask them if there is someone else you can speak to, who will address the problem in a proactive way.

7) Tell them you think the prisoner’s should be transferred because at this point, you do not see how they could be treated fairly

Please call SCI Huntingdon and other DOC officials and demand an end to the abuse and retaliation that has been ongoing at this institution. Please call elected officials and media people if you have time too. You can also write these officials if you can not make a phone call (addresses below). You can also reply to this email with comments if you cannot respond in any other way.Thank you for taking time to respond to this alert and raise the voices of the people inside whose human rights are being violated.

Courage and Solidarity,

HRC-Fed Up!

Address for SCI Huntingdon:

Superintendent Raymond Lawler
1100 Pike St
Huntingdon PA 16654

Address for Regional Deputy Secretary Randall Britton and
Address for Secretary of the Department of Corrections Shirley Moore Smeal:

2520 Lisburn Rd
P.O. Box 598
Camp Hill PA 17001