Posts filed under Prisons

Holman Prison Strike and Shutdown

Here is a note that I received through the IWW Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee about the prisoners’ strike at Holman Prison in Alabama, as well as (probably) a number of other prisons in the Southeast and across the U.S. For some context on the ongoing struggle over prison conditions and prison labor in Holman, see also GT 2016-04-10: Alabama Corrections and GT 2016-03-13: Prisoner Uprising in the Slaughterhouse. Anyway, here’s a reprint of the press release I received via e-mail from the IWOC yesterday evening at 10:36PM:

PRESS RELEASE Monday Sept 12th, 2016

Contact: Azzurra Crispino Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) Media Co-Chair

Prisoner Strikes and Supporter Protests Sweep the Nation

ATMORE, AL – Over the weekend more than 50 protests erupted across the country and around the world in solidarity with the September 9th nation-wide prisoner work stoppage and protest. Mothers and Families, the outside support organization for the Free Alabama Movement (FAM) rallied with drums and noisemakers outside of Holman Prison while workers kicked off their strike inside. “Officers are performing all tasks” a prisoner texted outside supporters indicating the prisoner work stoppage was successful.

Although the full extent of facilities participating in the strike will not be known for another two weeks, we have received early reports of work stoppage and resistance from Holmes, Gulf and Mayo units in FL, Fluvanna prison in Troy VA, and unnamed units in North Carolina and South Carolina. Central California Women’s Facility, Oregon State Penitentiary and St Cloud Correctional Facility in Minnesota were on lockdown in response to organizing on Friday. Hundreds of prisoners started fires, attacked surveillance cameras and damaged the facilities at Kinross Correctional in Northern Michigan and Holmes Correctional in Florida. No one was seriously injured and prisoners are refusing to work.

There are confirmed hunger strikes underway in Wisconsin, Ohio, California and Guantanamo Bay. At Merced County Jail in Central California family of inmates have reported that the hunger strikers were threatened with shotguns and dogs. In Ohio there are at least two prisons, Lucasville and Ohio State Penitentiary, where prisoners went on hunger strike beginning September 9th. Prisoners at both Ohio prisons have reported being threatened with being stripped of their contact visits in retaliation for going on strike. We stand in solidarity with prominent US Army whistle blower Chelsea Manning, who initiated a hunger strike on September 9th to protest lack of adequate medical care for trans prisoners.

In Greece and across the US, protests occurred outside of jail, prison and immigrant detention centers. Three large banners were held up facing the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville Ohio, the site of a massive and deadly prisoner uprising in 1993. The Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons rallied outside Buckeye State Prison in Arizona, one of many prisons where pollution and contaminated water harm prisoners.

US Embassy protests occurred in England, Australia, Sweden and Germany. From Oregon to Florida and in between, companies profiting off prison were targeted by outside protesters, including Bank of America, McDonalds, Aramark, AT&T and Starbucks. In Lansing Michigan protesters blocked a downtown intersection for hours with a large UHaul truck. In New York City and Durham North Carolina they blocked freeways. In Portland OR protesters disrupted an AT&T and McDonalds, both corporations which use prison labor, as well as held a noise demonstration outside a local jail, then they shut down traffic. There were arrests in: Oakland, CA; Milwaukee Wisconsin; Nashville, Tennessee; and Atlanta, Georgia. Most were quickly released, but at least three protesters in GA are facing multiple felonies.

Additional Information

Up-to-date list of institutions striking and solidarity actions here:

Organizations Endorsing the Strike here:

MEDIA AVAILABILITY: Prisoners, formerly incarcerated workers, family members, and local activists are available for interviews with local and national media.

See also.

Alabama Corrections

Shared Article from The Intercept

Alabama's Solution to Prison Riots: Build More Prisons

Alabama hopes to solve its prison crisis by building new prisons. Critics warn that more riots are likely.

In addition to its lawsuit, the SPLC issued a damning report exposing widespread neglect and denial of medical care. In particular, the SPLC found that to cut costs inmates were regularly denied medical treatment, which in several cases resulted in death. The report described requests for medical help that were ignored, derided, or met with beatings or segregation. It found that inmates were unwillingly or unknowingly signed up for “do not resuscitate” orders, that poor diabetes care led to frequent amputations, and contagious diseases like hepatitis C spread untreated. The SPLC also found that surgeries were denied for sometimes as long as a decade, broken bones were often ignored for weeks, and prisoners suffering from burns and strokes were at times denied care for days.

The inmate interviewed by The Intercept said that in one instance, a fellow prisoner repeatedly tried to gain admission to the infirmary but was turned away. When he finally saw a doctor, he was diagnosed with cancer, had five tumors removed, and died weeks later. “I felt like they killed him,” the inmate said. “We really have no value.”

. . .

Glasgow and others in close contact with prisoners told The Intercept that more protests across Alabama prisons are imminent, and they listed a long catalogue of abuses compounding prisoners’ anger over their living conditions, including rat infestations, inedible food they dubbed “road kill,” and guards forcing inmates to fight each other in laundry rooms while betting on the outcome.

“When we look at how our prisons run, it’s really not a criminal justice system. It’s a criminal enterprise. A legal, criminal, enterprise,” the Holman inmate said. “If you make a felon out of a man, you take away his rights as a human being.”

. . .

Alabama’s new prison plan, if enacted, will add approximately 3,000 beds to the system, reducing overcrowding to 125 percent. In order to pay for it, the state will authorize an $800 million bond, which will be serviced by up to $50 million a year redirected from what the state already spends to maintain its decrepit prisons. “We were already solving this problem long before this took place,” Alabama’s governor, Robert Bentley, said in a press conference following the riots. He called the proposal “transformational thinking.”

Prisoner advocates were less impressed. “That would just move the problem,” said Watson. “In Alabama, we have a history: If we build them, then we overfill them.” Morrison, of EJI, said the state consulted several experts about its prison problems, and none had recommended building new prisons as a solution. “A multi-year prison construction does not address the immediate crisis they have,” she said.

Prisoners and their advocates say the only way to make incarceration humane — and legal — is to drastically cut the population of prisons, not build new prisons.

–Alice Speri, Alabama’s Solution to Prison Riots: Build More Prisons
The Intercept, 8 April 2016.

Prisoner Uprising in the Slaughterhouse

Shared Article from CNN

Alabama prison riot: Warden, officer stabbed

Inmates at an Alabama prison stabbed their warden and a correctional officer, started a fire in a hallway and posted pictures of the mayhem on social …

There was an uprising this weekend at Holman Prison in Atmore, Alabama. Prisoners stabbed a hack, and then they stabbed the warden, and took over a dormitory building. According to the inmates, they were rioting because the guard used excessive force when trying to break up a fight between inmates. The state and every surrounding law-enforcement agency deployed massive force to seize back control over this one building and the prison is now on lockdown.

Holman Prison is a Jim Crow-era prison that was opened in 1969 and designed to hold 637 prisoners. Like all Alabama prisons, Holman is desperately overcrowded, with 991 prisoners locked together, including 157 inmates awaiting execution on death row. The prison population exploded in the 1970s, due largely to changes in sentencing for drug crimes as part of the War on Drugs; the inmate population is about 60% African-American, 40% white. The prison is located near Mobile on the South Alabama coastal plains. Temperatures routinely rise to over 100 degrees every summer. The prison has no air conditioning. Holman has a reputation for being one of the most violent prisons in Alabama, partly due to the constant overcrowding and the brutal conditions. The prison’s nicknames among the inmates include “the Slaughterhouse,” “the Bottom,” and “the Pit.”

Since they took back control over the dormitory building, Alabama DOC authorities have responded by making an intensive search for contraband cell phones, because apparently the real crime here is that you were able to see photo and videos of this happening.

Every prison is a factory of brutality and a slaughterhouse of systemic violence. Every human being caged is an offense against humanity. Free every prisoner, abolish every prison. Break the cages, burn down the prisons, and bury the chains.

Sand in the gears

Shared Article from

The Compartmentalization of Injustice

Open Source Web Analytics

From BroadSnark:

When I was on grand jury duty we were told again and again that we were not to think about the consequences. When people asked what the possible punishment could be – because they clearly did not think the person should go to prison – the prosecutors would refuse to answer. When people had questions about the legality of searches, the prosecutors would tell us that the defense attorney would worry about that. When people asked questions about the flimsy evidence, the prosecutors told them that those matters would get settled at trial – knowing full well the case would never go to trial.

. . . On my better days I tried to focus on just how hard the system works to keep us compartmentalized. Without compartmentalization, the whole system would fail. As obedient as the people in that grand jury room were, had they had the opportunity to determine the actual consequences, I believe many of them would have refused to send people to prison. And I say that knowing that they were almost completely unaware of what happens in those places.

Our lives are entirely compartmentalized. We are pressured to limit our thinking all the time. We study in silos of academic disciplines. We work in factories or offices where we have little idea where our tasks fit into the whole. We draw lines through our work and personal lives so that the filth we do to earn a living might not dirty the rest of our lives. We allow ourselves to be cogs in oppression machines.

We have to stop compartmentalizing. We have to stop taking the easy road of choosing to follow orders because resisting is hard. It isn’t o.k. to just go along.

–BroadSnark, The Compartmentalization of Injustice (9 May 2014)

You really should read the whole thing.

This may also be of some relevance to this; and also to this; and, strategically, to this.

Pattern of Abuse

Shared Article from

In Rare Move, DCF Transfers Juvenile To Prison With No Pending C…

A youth under the care of the Department of Children and Families has been transferred to an adult prison with no criminal charge pending — a ra… (via Nathan Goodman)

OK, so, N.B.: this Connecticut youth is a 16 year old trans woman and, if confined to an adult prison, is at even higher than normal risk for suffering all kinds of extreme violence while imprisoned. She is in any case being locked up in an adult prison without any formal charges ever having been filed against her. She is being sent to prison with no charges and no due process because DCF has a statute allowing it to put children in its “care” in prison on their own authority, without any charges at all, for the sake of “treatment” (!). This is considered an appropriate authorized measure.

They are asserting this power here because, although they are not filing any charges and have no intention of subjecting any of this to ordinary due process, they allege that this allegedly fought a guard. She allegedly fought a guard because two of the domming guards ganged up and grabbed her and tried to “bear hug” immobilize her to keep her from walking away to somewhere she wanted to go.

The guard wanted to stop her from walking freely away because she is an inmate confined in a DCF juvie-prison “locked-treatment” “training school,” which she is forcibly forbidden to leave.

She is an inmate of a DCF juvie-prison “locked treatment” “training school” because DCF has asserted custody over her, or, as the youth’s “defenders” put it, thinking they are helping, “DCF is this youth’s parent” (the Corps is mother, the Corps is father), and as such, they claim, they are “obligated” (!) to lock her up in the name of “programming and treatment.”

DCF took custody, locked her up and started forcing this “treatment” on her without her permission and against her will, because they were going to save her from being “a victim of serious, longstanding abuse.”

So, you know, good job on that so far, y’all, I’ll bet prison will really help.

In case you were wondering this story is like everything I hate about the liberal state, rolled into one dystopian package and labeled helpfully FOR HER OWN GOOD.

(Via Nathan Goodman.)

See also.

#AbolishJuvie #AbolishPrison #YouthLiberation #TransYouth #WhyDontYouGoTreatYourself