A quick update on a few different US prison rebels currently requesting outside support:
Long-term political prisoner Jalil Muntaqim is still asking for regular twitterstorms in support of his appeal for clemency, with the next one being scheduled for Wednesday 27th. If you use twitter, Jalil’s asking that you tweet NY Governor Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) saying
“I add my voice to demand: Commutation of sentence for Anthony Jalil Bottom #77A4283 NOW! #clemency4jalil”
Another New York Black Panther/Black Liberation Army prisoner, Herman Bell, was recently given a brutal beating after prison guards claim that this 69-year-old man mysteriously chose to attack a guard for no reason, and just happened to do this somewhere where there were no witnesses present. Herman’s friends and family are asking that people email Anthony.Annucci@doccs.ny.gov to send the following message:
“Dear Commissioner Annucci:
I am writing in concern and outrage over the unprovoked beating by Great Meadow C.F. correctional officers of Herman Bell, #79C0262.
On September 5th, with no provocation, five or six correctional officers assaulted this widely respected elder. These guards punched and kicked Mr. Bell all over his body while he was on the ground. He was kneed in the chest and stomach, breaking two of his ribs. One guard then grabbed his head and slammed it into the ground three times, at which point Mr. Bell thought his life would be ending. He was excessively maced at close range all over his face and eyes, causing temporarily blindness and inability to breathe.
Mr. Bell is accused of assaulting one of the officers. This charge is absurd. The assault on Herman Bell is part of an epidemic of violence by NYS prison guards against the incarcerated population–an epidemic documented by the New York Times and other journalists, as well as by criminal justice agencies.
The idea that this 69-year-old man would have hit an officer is ludicrous, as he was about to have a family visit (the first in two and a half years) and was beginning preparations for an appearance at the Board of Parole this coming February. Mr. Bell was looking forward to the family visit with great anticipation, and he is optimistic about his chances at the Board, given recent changes in parole regulations and the appointment of new commissioners. There is absolutely no doubt that he did not commit any infraction on September 5th; he also has not had a ticket in the past 20 years. Mr. Bell has been imprisoned in the NY State system for over 38 years and has never been accused of assaulting staff.
This brutal assault by Great Meadow guards constitutes not only staff abuse but also elder abuse. Mr. Bell will be 70 years of age in four months. He was badly injured in the beating. Mr. Bell requires both a CT scan of his head and an ophthalmology examination.
I write to demand that you take these actions:
That Herman Bell be immediately given adequate medical screening and attention at an outside hospital;
That CO J. Saunders and the other officers responsible for the beating be fired;
That the ridiculous charges brought against Herman Bell be dropped immediately and that he be returned at least to general population (he had been on the Honor Block at Great Meadow and despite his request was never given a reason for being moved to general population);
That Mr. Bell’s family visits be reinstated;
That Mr. Bell be moved to a facility where his family visiting can take place and be rescheduled at the earliest possible date.
In the Wabash Valley facility in Indiana, an inmate was involved in a confrontation with a guard who’s been described as “part of a network of closely associated guards and administrators who maintain the prison as a machine of racism, dehumanization and torture. Numerous inmates of Wabash Valley have testified to their treatment by the cabal of “good ol’ boy” guards, who take pleasure in humiliating and abusing inmates in their custody. Spitting in food, confiscating mail, making general threats against family and supporters are common practices of this network of officers and administrators.”
A second inmate, who’s been active in helping to get word of this situation out, is now also facing disciplinary charges as a means of retaliation. Supporters ask that you call Wabash Valley warden Richard Brown at 812-398-5050 and IDOC Commissioner Robert E. Carter Jr. at 317-232-5711, or email IDOC officials at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, and email@example.com, to say that you are aware that Shaka Shakur, 135647, is being charged for defending himself against mistreatment by guards and that Jimmy Jones, 891782, is facing repression for exposing the situation. Demand that charges against Shaka be dropped and all disciplinary action against Jones be ceased.
Finally, down in Texas, Keith “Comrade Malik” Washington, an incredibly prolific writer and organizer who’s done some amazing work in exposing the horrific conditions in Texas prisons, is currently asking for support against retaliation. He asks for people to email Ombudsman@tdcj.texas.gov with the following message, and to send a copy to him if possible:
“Attn: Ombudsman Office – Media Correspondents – Prisoner Rights Adcvocates & Texas Legislators
Subject: Follow-Up Complaint Citing Retaliation Against Prisoner Keith H. Washington and failure of Eastham Unit Administration to implement remediation measures to eradicate black mold
Dear Ombudsman and All Interested Parties,
I am submitting this formal public complaint on behalf of Keith H. Washington (TDC#1487958) who is currently housed at the Eastham Ad-Seg Unit located in Lovelady, TX.
I and many other media correspondents as well as prisoner rights advocates are very upset and disappointed concerning the reports we have received in reference to the reprisals visited upon Mr. Washington because he has brought to light the existence of black mold and cracked/peeling paint in the cells at the Ad-Seg Unit at Eastham.
Our primary problem concerns TDCJ prison officials at Eastham conspiratorial practice violate Keith’s first amendment rights. Specifically, to petition the government and file complaints in order to resolve inhumane living conditions.
Keith reports that on 9/7/17 at approximately 6pm on F-Line at the Eastham Ad-Seg Unit Lieutenant Salvador Villanueva arrived at Keith’s cell front (F-1-14) and said: “Did you have your family call up here to complain about something?” Keith replied “yes,” and he proceeded to show Villanueva large amounts of cracked and peeled paint on his cell walls. Lt. Villanueva told Keith that Assistant Warden Gregory Vaughn had told him to come talk to Keith but he was unclear as to what was to be done. Lt. Villanueva said he would call the Warden back in order to receive further instruction.
Please be advised that prior to this incident, prisoner rights advocates Joan Kain, Dr. Heinz Leitner, and Ms. Julie Schneyer had filed complaints on Keith’s behalf in order to address the pervasive and systemic problem of black mold and cracked/peeled paint in the cells at the Eastham Ad-Seg Unit. In her rebuttal complaint Ms. Joan Kain requested that an independent third party take digital photos of the cell walls in Keith’s cell (F-1-14) and other cells on F-Line which have similar problems. In a previous Ombudsman complaint (INQ-11-5229-76) Eastham Ad-Seg employees had erroneously reported the inside of the Ad-Seg cells were free of cracked and peeling paint.
Note: On 9/5/17, TDCJ Lieutenant Baker did take digital photos of the walls in Keith’s cell and that of one of his neighbors, Noah Coffin (TDC# 1795167). These digital photos taken by Lieutenant Baker must have revealed some glaring inconsistencies in earlier reports, because Mr. Coffin was moved immediately and on 9/8/17 Keith was moved from cell F-1-14 to E-1-13. Keith reports cell E-1-13 also has a serious problem with cracked and peeling paint as well as black mold spores!
We view this as a retaliatory act by Assistant Warden Vaughn and Lieutenant Villanueva. Keith reports that Eastham prison officials moved different prisoners in both he and Mr. Coffin’s previous cells! It is obvious that Eastham Unit prison officials refuse to acknowledge serious infrastructure and safety hazards. Eastham Unit prison officials will not initiate remediation measures to eradicate black mold spores.
We do not want Keith moved! We want an independent third party to immediately take digital photos of allthe walls in cell E-1-13 as well as the areas around the toilet and under the sink where Keith reports mold being present! TDCJ’s own Employee Rules of Conduct prohibit this unethical behavior of Assistant Warden Vaughn and Lieutenant Salvador Villanueva. P.D. 22 Rule 22b states: the agency prohibits “harassing or retaliating against an offender or another individual for participating in an official investigation/inquiry or for pursuing legal activities (i.e. petitioning the courts) – Violation Level 1.”
Be advised, Keith does have two federal lawsuits pending and one specificially cites not only retaliation for engaging in “protected conduct” but he also challenges unconstitutional conditions of confinement such as this exposure to toxic substances such as black mold.
I am requesting that an immediate investigation be undertaken at the Eastham Ad-Seg Unit namely into Assistant Ward Gregory Vaughn’s performance methods supervising the Ad-Seg Unit. There are noticeable appearances of a pattern of neglect and retaliation. It is high time the American Corrections Association start performing thorough inspections of these aging structures and actually look closely at the living conditions of prisoners who are trapped in solitary confinement for decades!
Lieutenant Villanueva and Assistant Warden Vaughn should be held accountable for their actions. Black mold, toxic water, rodent and rat infestation–no human being should be forced to live in these conditions. Let’s stop making excuses and commence to rectifying these serious issues.