In this edition: Sexual abuse and cover up at Albion, Immigrant detention center expands in Clearfield County, Egregious conditions for women at Alabama Prison and more…
Petition to End the 20+ years of Solitary Confinement Torture of Russell Maroon Shoatz reached 2521 signatures. Please sign here if you have not signed the petition yet and share widely. Thank You!
News from the Inside
Sexual abuse and retaliation at SCI Albion: On January 25, 2012, Khalil Hammond, a prisoner in the Restricted Housing Unit at State Correctional Institution (SCI) Albion, was strip searched before going to the law library. During the search, prison guard J. Clinger made sexual advances towards Hammond, asking him to “grab his penis and stroke it for him.” Hammond told Clinger that his comments made him uncomfortable and that he was writing him up. Clinger immediately slammed Khalil’s door and refused to take him to the law library.
Minutes later, Hammond was approached by prison guard Machintosh who informed him that Clinger was writing him up for assault. That night, Hammond’s cell was sprayed with pepper spray and he was subsequently physically assaulted. The next day, Hammond was forced into a suicide smock and placed in an empty cell for 7 days with no mattress, pillow, clothes, legal work, or hygiene products. Prison guard Clinger routinely made threatening comments toward Hammond during this time.
On February 9, Hammond reported the abuse to the Program Review Committee (PRC) and asked them to permanently separate Clinger and himself. The PRC told Hammond that Clinger was under investigation. On February 24, before Hammond was going to get yard, he was approached by Clinger to be strip searched. He told the prison guard on duty that he didn’t feel comfortable with Clinger doing the search, but was told that he had no choice. Instead of being subjected to more sexual abuse, Hammond decided not to take yard. The next day, as Clinger gave Hammond his food tray, he told him that he hoped that he would die and choke on his own blood. Hammond ignored the comments, as these types of verbal abuse from Clinger had become common. While eating, however, he found razor blades in his food. He immediately wrote a complaint to be separated from Clinger, but the complaint went unanswered.
Clinger still works on the RHU and is in daily contact with Hammond. He has notified everyone possible to the situation, but no action has been taken. It is also unclear as to why Hammond is still being housed in the RHU, as he has been conduct free for 90 days.
During a phone call with the Superintendent’s Assistant at SCI Albion, an HRC correspondent was told that Hammond “knows why he is in the RHU,” when it is clear that he does not, or is being held without disciplinary merit. The Superintendent’s Assistant would not give any more details as to why he continues to be housed there. In regards to the reports of sexual abuse, she claimed all reports of abuse are internally investigated and that there was no substantive evidence as to Hammond’s claims. When asked about the handling of this specific investigation and seeking of “substantive evidence”, she would not give an answer as to who was interviewed or questioned.
Prisoner Alfred Mayo Still Not Being Provided Medical Care: Prisoner Alfred Mayo was transferred to SCI Dallas from SCI Frackville after HRC members and Alfred’s family persistently called Frackville demanding that he be transferred to a prison with an infirmary to address his medical needs. When he was transferred, he was told that he would receive regular blood tests and would get to go visit a physician at an outside hospital. Mayo has not been receiving regular blood testing and has not been taken to an outside hospital to get proper diagnosis and treatment for his failing kidneys.
When Alfred Mayo first arrived at SCI Frackville in January of 2009, he was perfectly healthy. A little over a month later he caught a small cold. In response he was treated with large amounts of antibiotics. In the middle of March, Mayo began complaining about flu like symptoms and requesting sick call. His weight went from 250 pounds to 172 pounds. It wasn’t until August that he had any blood work done. After his blood work was done he was immediately sent to the infirmary at SCI Mahoney, where he was told that his kidneys were failing and it was likely that they would never function normally again. When Mayo asked what could have caused it, he was told it was the antibiotics he was previously placed on. Since then Mayo has been taking a steroid to keep his kidneys functioning, and it is unlikely that he will be able to stop taking it any time soon. Mayo filed grievances against SCI Frackville’s medical department, and in response has was retaliated against in the form of harassment and fabricated misconducts.
He remains in the RHU in SCI Dallas based on the fabricated misconducts issued against him during his time at Frackville. Mayo is terrified that if he does not receive the medical care he needs his condition will get worse and possibly result in his death.
Prison Housing Immigrants Expands in PA: The Moshannon Valley Correctional Center, a prison that detains immigrants who have been convicted of a crime, had its contract renewed this week, under the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The contract extends operation of the prison for four more years and includes an expansion of 325 beds. Clearfield County Commissioner John Sobol announced announcedd that the expansion will create 8 new jobs for area residents.
The prison is run by GEO group, one of two major private stakeholders in the expansion and profiteering off of mass incarceration in the US. The ACLU has reported extensively on the moral and economic tradeoffs of privatizing prisons, including the lack of accountability for treatment of people, reduced costs for medical care, and the construction of legislative and sentencing policies by private interest groups, that increase the numbers of incarcerated people for the sake of private profit. A report
released in 2011 shows that the federal government will continue their war on immigration by expanding contracts with private prison companies and increasing funding to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). The US spends approximately 1.9 billion dollars annually to lock up 400,000 immigrants.
In a recent publicity stunt reported in Mother Jones
magazine, the ACLU challenged a leader in private prison operations, Corrections Corporation of America, to a public debate about the value of their services. “CCA and other private prison companies are shielded from public scrutiny by a veil of secrecy, despite locking up nearly 130,000 prisoners and an additional 15,000 immigration detainees each year while receiving billions of taxpayer dollars.” In 2001, the Supreme Court ruled that prisoners cannot sue private prison companies over alleged constitutional violations, meaning there is no federal judicial oversight over the treatment of prisoners at privately owned or run facilities.
The push for immigrant detention has increased alongside the expansion of private prisons in the US, including Pennsylvania. Over the past decade, a charge of anti-immigrant sentiment in central PA was led by Mayor Lou Barletta of Hazelton, who attempted to pass a series of anti-immigrant regulations beginning in 2006 that were later argued and found
unconstitutional by civil rights lawyers of the ACLU. Barletta attempted to establish his own rule of law in the town that would trump federal immigration law, and punish those conspiring to support the work and lives of new immigrants. In 2010, the U.S. court of appeals, in a case Lozano v. Hazelton, ruled that it was unconstitutional for a local county to punish landlords and employees who rented to or hired undocumented workers. Barletta’s regulations were fueled by race bating, scapegoating, and false propaganda that stated undocumented workers were bankrupting the city, increasing healthcare costs and increasing crime. When brought to court, evidence at trial showed that from 2000-2005, Latino immigrants actually helped to transform a huge city budget deficit into a surplus, that the private hospital system made a $4 million profit and that the crime rate actually fell.
Across the Nation
Red Onion State Prison Hunger Strike Continues: Despite conflicting reports from mainstream media about the ongoing hunger strike at Red Onion State Prison, organizers working in solidarity with those inside indicate that the strike continues and that organized resistance will continue until conditions improve. A group of 45 prisoners began fasting last Tuesday, May 22 in response to deplorable living conditions, violations of VDOC policy, and violations of constitutional and human rights. Prisoners posted a list of ten demands they need met including: properly cooked food, portion sizes that comply with VDOC policy, access to grievance forms, access to high ranking officials to solve problems, transparent processes to get out of long term segregation, cleaning supplies, medical treatment, a neutral outside body that can monitor conditions and respond to abuse, a monthly haircut and fresh razors each week, and freedom from retaliation for participating in the strike. There is an active petition to the Governor of Virginia in support of the prisoners demands and a radio show to call and express solidarity. Visit the Solidarity with Virginia Hunger Strikers Blog for more information.
Alabama Women’s Prisoners Sexually Abused By Guards: According to a new report by the Equal Justice Initiative, prison guards at the only women’s prison in Alabama regularly sexually harass, abuse and even rape female prisoners. Numerous female prisoners at Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Alabama, reported becoming pregnant after being raped by male prison staff over the past five years, said Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), which investigated the allegations. Other sexual misconduct, including pervasive harassment, unwanted touching and invasion of privacy, is commonplace according to Stevenson. Sex between staff and prisoners is a regular occurrence, with staff requiring women to perform sexual favors in exchange for smuggled contraband goods, the report found. “What we found is pretty shocking,” Stevenson said. “We think there’s widespread sex abuse and assaults of women by correctional staff.”
The report’s findings include allegations that prisoners who reported sexual abuse by guards to senior staff, including the warden, Frank Albright, say they were placed in solitary confinement, lost privileges and were subjected to verbal abuse.
Stevenson said the Alabama attorney general’s office had been alerted to the problem through lawsuits filed against the state on behalf of women raped and impregnated while they were incarcerated at Tutwiler. The state has aggressively fought to have the litigation dismissed.
The United States Justice Department announced an investigation of the prison soon after the report was released.
Philly area: Wednesdays are Write On! Prison Letter Writing Night at the LAVA space at 4134 Lancaster, 7-9 pm. Come help us stay connected with the many prisoners who write to us with news from inside, learn to document crimes committed by prison staff, and help bring an end to the abuse and torture of our brothers and sisters behind bars.
If you’d like to know more about the Human Rights Coalition or would like to get involved, come to Write On!, to our monthly general meetings (second Wednesday of each month, 5-7pm), or call us at 215-921-3491, email: email@example.com
, or visit our website at http://www.hrcoalition.org./
Write On! – Letter writing to prisoners and HRC work night every Wednesday at 5129 Penn Avenue from 7 -10pm. To get involved with HRC/Fed Up! in Pittsburgh, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
or call 412-654-9070.
You’ve been listening to the Human Rights Coalition’s PA Prison Report. HRC is a group of current and former prisoners, family members, and supporters, whose ultimate goal is to abolish prisons.
Keep up the fight!