Blog

Police Shooting Survivor, Diamonds Ford, Out On Bail

09/28/2020 at 8:00 a.m. police went to the residence of Diamonds’ Ford in Jacksonville, Florida to execute a no-knock warrant related to someone who did not live there. Diamonds was asleep in bed when she awoke to the sound of glass shattering in her home. Afraid and believing that someone was breaking in, she grabbed her gun and shot toward the shattered windows. Once she emptied her clip, she ran to the bathroom and called 911 to report the intruder. While in the bathroom, she realized it was actually police that were in her home and surrendered immediately. Diamonds and her fiance were taken to the Duval County Jail and charged with attempted murder of a law enforcement officer. After 4 months in jail, and 40 days of solitary (well over what is considered torture by the United Nations), community organizers across the country came together to pay Diamonds’ half-million dollar bail and fight for her freedom. We’re happy to say that Diamonds is now back at home with her daughter! But she still needs our support. While we work on getting bail set for her fiance, Anthony, she and her lawyer are preparing for trial. Here’s how you can support her.


Our Demands

  1. Release Diamonds to await trial at her home with her daughter. #EndMoneyBail (Update: Diamonds was bailed out on February 5.)
  2. Drop the charge of “attempted murder of an officer.” Diamond had no legal duty to retreat once she believed she was in danger of being harmed. 
  3. Enact a statewide ban on no-knock warrants in Florida. #NoMoreNoKnocksFL

Fundraiser

Share and donate to the Diamonds Ford’s Bond Fund, organized by Juanita Ford.

This fund was initially made to pay for her bond. Though Diamonds’ bond was recently paid by several organizations including National Bail Fund Network, National Bail Out, and Minnesota Freedom Fund, she will still need financial support to get back on her feet and deal with this legal case while recovering from jail and reuniting with her family.

Petition

Sign the Petition – Justice for Diamonds Ford at bit.ly/DiamondsFordPetition

Media Kit

Use this media kit for sample tweets and graphics to share Diamonds stories.

Contact

If you have questions or want to get involved, email justicefordiamondsford@gmail.com and check the campaign website for updates.

#Endmoneybail #EndPretrialDetention #NoMoreNoKnocksFL #FreeDiamondsFord #Justice4DiamondsFord

RIP Rebecca Hensley

The world of abolition and liberation work recently lost a giant, a mentor of mentors, and a dear friend, Rebecca Hensley. Thank you to Calvin ‘Casino’ Coleman for this beautiful remembrance of the woman who reminds us that we are “powerful participants” in these trying times.

We’ll continue to follow in her footsteps and fight in her memory. Solidary with all who mourn her loss.

Author Calvin “Casino” Coleman poses with friend and mentor Rebecca Hensley during a visit. Hensley passed away Nov. 28, 2020. She was a lifelong revolutionary and prison abolitionist.

Fund Raiser for Comrade Malik and the San Francisco Bay View

Hey Comrades!! Please support Keith “Malik” Washington and the San Francisco Bay View. Malik spent nearly 20 years in Federal and State Prison. During that time he was able to transform himself into one of the most powerful organizers and activist behind enemy lines. Over seven years ago Malik began writing articles for the San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper. After his release on September 3rd, 2020 Malik and his fiancé, fellow abolitionist Nube Brown began their life journey together which includes maintaining the legacy and work of the legendary San Francisco Bay View. The baton is being passed to Nube and Malik. Publisher Dr. Willie Ratcliff and his wife editor Mary Ratcliff are both in their 80’s please donate generously in order to continue the Liberation Journalism of the SF Bay View. Please visit the gofundme here to contribute

:https://gf.me/u/y84fkv

or visit the SF Bay website here to for information about the virtual fundraiser and in person fundraiser today and tomorrow.

The Psychological Impact of Solitary Confinement

by Bryant Arroyo

The brain and nervous system, or “the mind” cannot function normally without stimulation. Neither can it function normally when given too much stimulus. The brain and the nervous system must be maintained in a “steady state.” A healthy mind is a product of interaction between itself and other organisms. Along w/reported intellectual impairment, perceptual deprivation reports psychotic-like hallucinations and effective changes in extreme behavior-including extreme boredom, restlessness, irritability,anger, unrealistic fears and anxieties, depression, physical complaints, and “development of a childish sense of humor, exaggerated emotional reactions, and excessive irritation by small things.” Note, prisoners become “dulled from monotonous prison experiences during confinement.”

As we are subjected to the newly imposed restrictions of confinement it has become more difficult to engage in educational programs effectively under Covid-19. On 8/13/20, I personally witnessed a prisoner packing up his property to be parole the next day. The effects of sensory & perceptual deprivation this prisoner exhibited remained with him even after his release. It will be extremely difficult to adjust to the “new-norm” because our emotional & mental mechanisms are adjusted to deprivation circumstances; there is little tolerance 4 the myriad of sensory input in normal environments. The prisoner’s anxiety becomes so great that he/she will seek a means to return to prison w/its decreased input & routine experiences. In the psychological sphere, cruel treatment and its results are not so flagrant because mental destruction is less apparent than physical destruction. Damage to the mind is not as visible as a withered hand. But the reality is the same: Human impairment as a result of destructive treatment while in prison. When treatment in prison leads to a person’s mental impairment, by definition that treatment must be seen as cruel–truly barbaric!

The PADOC’s Administrative imposition of Solitary Confinement is undoubtedly a constitutes a form of cruel & unusual punishment under the 8th Amendment. The distinction between “segregation” and “solitary” is often no more than mere semantics. The detrimental effects of isolation & idleness are just as apparent in both “solitary” & “segregation.” Isolation as a treatment is punitive, destructive, defeats the purpose of any kind of rehabilitation efforts and harkens back to medieval times. There is no justification for such treatment unless your purpose is to dehumanize and destroy my mind… Prisoners are entitled, as a constitutional right to fresh air, outdoor exercise, recreation and educational programs while in solitary confinement. Now, Secy. Wetzel has minimized the 5 weekly phone calls to once, a week, and 5 free emails vouchers to zero a week. The underlying reason Secy. Wetzel previous provided us with both 5 phone calls & 5 free email vouchers was due to the implementation of restricting the prison population from having contact visits, in the first place. We [Prisoners] are being denied meaningful educational, work programs under the PADOC’s imposed Administrative Isolation-Confinement. As a result, prisoners are spending a substantial amount of time, inside their cells/dormitories in absolute idleness. Such unbroken inactivity increases boredom, tension and frustration, which in turn promotes incidents of violence. The evidence reflects that idleness of this magnitude destroys the human element internally escalating suicides, a host of medical problems, and hurt people, hurting people.

Furthermore, PA, Secy. John E. Wetzel, is noncompliant, in utter contempt by defying the Center Disease Control’s [new] protocol guidelines, which states:”225-50 can congregate amongst each other by wearing their personal mask, within, this number of persons. PADOC, Secy. Wetzel, is currently disallowing the I/M population (both top & bottom tiers combined consists of a total of 108-12 I/M’s) from congregating, together which is a striking departure by the CDC’s 225-50 I/M’s. Secy. Wetzel is arbitrarily & deliberately delaying the total of I/M’s from congregating by depriving us the accurate amount of recreation which is 2 hrs., in the morning, noon & night. We only receive 1hr. intervals during all three periods of recreation, totaling 3hrs., instead of 6hrs., per day. Secy. Wetzel utilized subterfuge to make a subrosa deal w/guard’s union to continue subjecting the PA. I/M’s to the new form of Administrative Custody by subjecting us to 3hrs. of recreation per day punitively with impunity… Secy. Wetzel is ignoring the basic tenets of the CDC guidelines and should be held accountable for creating a ‘culture of laziness’ and ‘overweight staff members,’ within, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections because has setup a subpar example of leadership by miseducation his coworkers to ‘milk-the-cow’ off of the back of the taxpaying citizens.

In conclusion, I’ll depart with this final thought by James Allen: “They themselves are makers of themselves by virtue of the thoughts which they choose and encourage: that the mind is the master weaver, both of the inner garment of character and the outer garment of circumstances and that, as they may have hitherto woven ignorance & pain they may know to weave enlightenment.

Citations

D. Schultz, Sensory Restriction: “Effects on Behavior, 13-15 (1965). “The brain is. of a self-contained entity where only activity is storing & recirculating, input. It is postulated, that only from interaction with other people can the mind develop in the first place & maintain a ” steady state,” thereafter. Houston, Inquiry into the structure of mentation processes, 21 Psych. Rep. 649, 653-54 (1967).

More about the author, Bryant Arroyo, can be found on PrisonRadio.org. Additional sources for this article came from State Impact (A reporting project of  NPR member stations) and the Washington Post. Contact Bryant directly at:
Bryant Arroyo, #CU1126SCI Frackville1111 Altamont BlvdFrackville, PA 17931

Hurricane Sally Phone Zap

[Image of probabilities of 34-kt winds]

PUSH OUT TO ANY ORGANIZATIONS YOU KNOW THAT MIGHT HELP, AND REPORTERS!

Tropical Storm Sally is expected to make landfall by Tuesday at unknown intensity––it could be a Cat 2 hurricane or higher––with New Orleans directly in its path. The storm will hit Louisiana and Mississippi, states with the 2nd and 3rd highest incarceration rates per capita. There are tens of thousands of people behind bars directly in the storm’s path with no ability to evacuate or procure their own clean water, food, or basic hygiene in its aftermath. 

Just two weeks ago ICE detainees impacted by Hurricane Laura were stranded in unlivable conditions, left desperately protesting for their own survival only for a local sheriff to brag that officers “squashed” the protest with a “show of force”. At least one detainee died of COVID in the aftermath, as others reported being locked in a room without ventilation alongside people suffering from the virus.

We need your help applying pressure to ensure these horrors don’t happen again. Phone zaps have proved effective in past years when we forced North Carolina and Virginia to evacuate prisons ahead of Hurricane Florence! And with the criminal injustice system feeling the power of the people this summer, Texas DOC and many other facilities remembered past years’ calls and evacuated before Laura.

Demands-

  1. MASS RELEASE NOW → For areas not yet impacted, allow incarcerated people to be released to their family  members when possible. Start with the elderly and medically compromised.
  1. EVACUATE FACILITIES IN EVAC ZONES IN THE MOST COVID SAFE MANNER POSSIBLE → If people are being moved to another facility, make sure they are quarantined away from the population for at least 2 weeks. 
  2. STOCKPILE –> Facilities not yet in evacuation zones or unable to evacuate must stockpile food, water, medicine, and sanitation supplies.

When you get a response tweet @FightXPrisons!

Phone numbers aren’t working? Tweet us or e-mail with number updates too! 

Keep them talking, ask questions, get info. If you can, tell them you’re recording the phone call, and email it to us. If it turns out they’re lying, we’ll have voice-recorded evidence. (Email FightToxicPrisons@gmail.com and include “Sally” and Department you called in email title)!

ALSO- 

We don’t trust ANY Department of Corrections. Per Jailhouse Lawyers Speak’s advice, “If you know any prisoners in this storm path, it’s important to tell them to fill up any containers or bags with water NOW!! Prisons are notorious for not giving adequate drinking water to prisoners if any at all after the water is contaminated.”

CALL SCRIPT:

“Hello, I am calling to demand you take immediate action to protect incarcerated people during hurricane Sally. To ensure the safety of people inside you must initiate a mass release process, starting with the medically vulnerable. Incarcerated people should be released to their families! Facilities in evac zones must be evacuated in a COVID safe manner. This means quarantining for 2 weeks and ensuring all incacerated people have access to masks and sanitation supplies. Finally, for all facilities not yet in evacuation zones, you must begin stockpiling supplies, including: food, water, medicine, and sanitation supplies.”

TIPS FOR MAKING CALLS: 

  • Be firm but polite, insist on speaking to the person you are calling for
  • Leave a message if no one answers
  • Refuse to give any information that you may be uncomfortable sharing with the state (e.g. full legal name, organizational affiliation, etc.)
  • Send any new information gathered from calls to fighttoxicprisons@gmail.com or Tweet @FightXPrisons  

Who To Call:

Louisiana

Louisiana Governer John Bel Edwards- 

(225) 342-7015 or (866) 366-1121

twitter.com/LouisianaGov 

-Louisiana Dept of Public Safety & Corrections (LDPS&C)

(225) 342-9711 or (318) 283-0842 or (225) 342-6740

Alabama 

-Alabama Dept of Corrections

(344) 353-3883 – press 3 for “inmate inquiries”; goes to T. Smith inbox; press 5 for other ADOC inquiries; answered by admin

BALDWIN COUNTY REGIONAL JUVENILE DETENTION CENTERNext to a landfill and the Styx River! (251) 580-2540
FOUNTAIN CORRECTIONAL FACILITYFurther inland but has flooded in the past (251) 368-8122
ESCAMBIA COUNTY JAILAbout 5 miles from pensacola bay (251) 809-0741 connects to sheriff’s office, press 2 for jail staff and/or press 5 for sheriff’s secretary

Mississippi 

-Mississippi Governer Tate Reeves – 

(601) 359-3150

Florida

Angela Gordon, director of DOC Region 1 (Florida panhandle, where extreme flooding is occurring)

(850) 627-5511

Holmes Correctional Insititution

Phone — (850) 547-8600

Chaplain — (850) 547-8598

Fax — (850) 547-0522

Hurricane Laura Aftermath: Demand Safety for ICE Detainees

[Last Updated 8/31/2020 4:30PM CST]

In the aftermath of the Category 4 Hurricane Laura, we know that incarcerated people in parts of Louisiana and Southeast Texas have been experiencing power outages, water shortages, and other impacts of the hurricane combined with institutional abuse and neglect. Information is slow to get out. If you have a loved one incarcerated in the area who has been impacted by the hurricane, please get in touch with us as fighttoxicprisons@gmail.com

Here is what we know as of now:

Reports have come in from immigrant detainees at Jackson Parish Correctional Center who have experienced flooding, been without food for at least two days, and some have been locked outside despite extreme heat. Even prior to this, detainees (including covid patients with asthma) have been without air conditioning, locked in their rooms without air circulation or windows. There have also been reports of discrimination against non-English speaking detainees. Similar reports are emerging from Lasalle Correctional Center.

Jackson Parish Sheriff’s Departments admitted that detainees staged protests against the appalling conditions within the facility. While the Sheriffs Department stated that protests have been ‘squashed and activity is back to normal’, we know this ‘normal’ is a cover up for their continued neglect and abuse. 

If the Jackson Parish Correctional Center had been evacuated in the days leading up to the hurricane, this could have been avoided. We know that most deaths of incarcerated people in hurricanes occur in the days and weeks following the storm, and there is still time to keep folks safe. Families have asked that we call the facilities and apply pressure. We have included a few additional targets. Make sure those in power know we are still watching them.

DEMAND HUMANE TREATMENT IN THE AFTERMATH OF HURRICANE LAURA:

Update (8/31 2:35pm CST] In less than 4 hours, many of these phone numbers have been disconnected by the administrations in an effort to evade public accountability. This is a sign that the pressure is working! For now let’s focus on e-mailing and writing complaints to: (scroll to the bottom of this page for a letter template)

abrown@jacksonparishsheriff.com

DHSOIGHOTLINE@DHS.GOV

Who to Call:

Press should contact Bryan Cox: (504) 329-2588

(Bryan’s mailbox is full but members of the press, including independent media, are encouraged to text him at the same number 😉

Jackson Parish Correctional Center:
(318) 259-4742

Jackson Parish Sheriff Office: (Ask to speak with Andy Brown)

Write Andy a letter: 500 East Court Street, Room 100 Jonesboro, LA 71251

Phone: 318.259.9021
FAX: 318.259.8268

Email: abrown@jacksonparishsheriff.com

LaSalle Correctional Center

Write a letter: 15976 US HWY 165, OLLA, LA 71465

(318) 495-6200

LaSalle Correction Management Office

Write a letter: 192 Bastille Lane, Suite 200 Ruston, LA 71270

T: (318) 232-1500

F: (318) 232-1501 

Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General:

Write a letter: Attn: Office of Investigations – Hotline 245 Murray Drive, Building 410 Stop: 2600, Washington, DC 20528

Ask to submit a report (do not give them any personal info you are not comfortable with)

Call: 1-800-323-8603

​Fax: 202-254-4292

DHSOIGHOTLINE@DHS.GOV

Office of the Principal Legal Advisor, New Orleans:

Office of the Principal Legal Advisor, 1250 Poydras Street, Suite 2100, New Orleans,  LA,  70113

Phone: (504) 599-7938

Contact the ICE Field Office Director at: Field Office Director, Enforcement and Removal Operations U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement 1250 Poydras Suite 325, New Orleans, LA 70113

Write the Office of Professional Responsibility: Director, Office of Professional Responsibility U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement P.O. Box 14475 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington, D.C. 20044

What To Say:

Suggested Call Script:

“Hello, I was recently made aware that immigrant detainees in Jackson Parish were not evacuated during Hurricane Laura and are now dealing with flooding, water and food shortages. Some people have even been locked outside in extreme heat. Prior to this disaster, there were already complaints of medical abuse and discrimination amidst the COVID19 pandemic. Now we are even more concerned about the safety of those inside. I demand that you ensure immediate and adequate food, water, and medical care to people detained in Jackson Parish, and I will continue calling to follow up.”

Please report any new info from calls or e-mails to us at fighttoxicprisons@gmail.com

LETTER TEMPLATE:

To Whom It May Concern: 

I am writing to demand that the Jackson Parish and LaSalle Correctional Centers immediately provide sufficient water and food to all detainees housed at these facilities. I am also writing to demand that detainees be allowed access to air-conditioning, and allotted time outside (at least ~1-2 hours) each day, to get fresh air. A disaster relief organization that has been responding to hurricanes since Katrina, Mutual Aid Disaster Relief, has offered to provide supplies to detainees in Jackson Parish but the facility has refused to accept these donations. I urge you to accept and distribute those supply donations from Mutual Aid Disaster Relief and other concerned loved ones immediately. I also urge you to provide translations/interpreters for non-English speaking detainees and end discriminatory practices towards them immediately.

Direct reports are coming in from people inside saying that detainees have been without food for over two days. Democracy Now! reported ‘unliveable conditions’ on August 31st, 2020, including the facilities being flooded with urine and feces, and some detainees being locked outside overnight during extreme weather. This is a huge public health crisis and we are appalled at the level of cruel and unusual punishment exhibited by ICE in the wake of Hurricane Laura. Even prior to this disaster, despite extreme heat, detainees have been without air conditioning, locked in their rooms without air circulation or windows – some suffering from COVID-19 and asthma. If the power outage issue has been fixed as noted in the Jackson Parish Sheriff’s Department’s social media posts, there is no reason to withhold air conditioning from detainees in the extreme heat of late summer.

Jackson Parish Sheriff’s Department admitted that detainees staged protests against the appalling conditions within the facility. While the Sheriff’s Department stated that protests have been ‘squashed and activity is back to normal,’ we know this normal is simply a return to neglect and abuse. We know the neglect and abuse that detainees face will continue to come down even harder on non-English speaking detainees and we are watching, and listening.

If the Jackson Parish Correctional Center had been evacuated in the days leading up to the hurricane, following proper disaster-prep protocol, this could have been avoided. Before the next hurricane season, it is imperative that Jackson Parish Correctional Center implement a permanent evacuation procedure that protects detainees in this facility from all future hurricanes, and the severe cases of abuse and neglect that follow.

Image Credit: Maria Asuncion Bilbao

URGENT: Hurricane Laura Phone Zap

[Update as of 8/28/2020 1pm CST:]

We are waiting on more info from folks incarcerated in Louisiana and Southeast Texas before moving forward. If you have a loved one incarcerated in the area who would be interested in connecting, reach out to us at fighttoxicprisons@gmail.com or on social media. If you know any journalists, influencers, or other media platforms who would be interested in covering this issue, please send them our way.

[Updates as of 8/27/2020 3:33pm CST:]

  • There are 5 facilities in Lake Charles which have been heavily impacted. We are trying to get info on where people may have been evacuated to, and who may have been left behind.
  • In Texas, parts of USP Beaumont that were not evacuated are experiencing power outages and are now running on generators.
  • In Louisiana, we heard from Comrade Malik at USP Pollock that the storm did not hit them.

PUSH OUT TO ANY ORGANIZATIONS YOU KNOW THAT MIGHT HELP, AND REPORTERS!

Hurricane Laura has made landfall as a record breaking Category 4 hurricane. In Louisiana and Texas 50,000+ people behind prison bars lie directly in it’s path with no ability to evacuate.

We need your help applying pressure to ensure the horrors that happened at FCI Beaumont during Hurricane Harvey don’t happen again. Phone zaps have proved effective in the past when we forced North Carolina and Virginia to evacuate prisons ahead of Hurricane Florence!

Demands-

  1. MASS RELEASE NOW → For areas not yet impacted, allow incarcerated people to be released to their family  members when possible. Start with the elderly and medically compromised.
  1. EVACUATE FACILITIES IN EVAC ZONES IN THE MOST COVID SAFE MANNER POSSIBLE → If people are being moved to another facility, make sure they are quarantined away from the population for at least 2 weeks. 
  2. STOCKPILE –> Facilities not yet in evacuation zones or unable to evacuate must stockpile food, water, medicine, and sanitation supplies.

When you get a response tweet @FightXPrisons!

Phone numbers aren’t working? Tweet us or e-mail with number updates too! 

Keep them talking, ask questions, get info. If you can, tell them you’re recording the phone call, and email it to us. If it turns out they’re lying, we’ll have voice-recorded evidence. (Email FightToxicPrisons@gmail.com and include “Marco/Laura” and Department you called in email title)!

ALSO- 

We don’t trust ANY Department of Corrections. Per Jailhouse Lawyers Speak’s advice, “If you know any prisoners in this storm path, it’s important to tell them to fill up any containers or bags with water NOW!! Prisons are notorious for not giving adequate drinking water to prisoners if any at all after the water is contaminated.”

CALL SCRIPT:

“Hello, I am calling to demand you take immediate action to protect incarecerated people during hurricane Marco and Laura. To ensure the safety of people inside you must initiate a mass release process, starting with the medically vulnerable. Incarcerated people should be released to their families! Facilities in evac zones must be evacuated in a COVID safe manner. This means quarantining for 2 weeks and ensuring all incacerated people have access to masks and sanitation supplies. Finally, for all facilities not yet in evacuation zones, you must begin stockpiling supplies, including: food, water, medicine, and sanitation supplies.”

TIPS FOR MAKING CALLS: 

  • Be firm but polite, insist on speaking to the person you are calling for
  • Leave a message if no one answers
  • Refuse to give any information that you may be uncomfortable sharing with the state (e.g. full legal name, organizational affiliation, etc.)
  • Send any new information gathered from calls to fighttoxicprisons@gmail.com or Tweet @FightXPrisons  

Who To Call:

ICE Immigrant Detention Centers- Tweet at- @ICEgov

Dallas- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

  • (214) 424-7800

Demand Immediate Evacuation of All Immigrant Detainees

Louisiana

  • New Orleans Field Office
    • 504-599-7800

Louisiana Governor- twitter.com/LouisianaGov

225 342 7015

Federal Bureau of Prisons- Tweet at- @TheJusticeDept

South Central Regional Office Located in Grand Prarie, TX

972-730-8600 (press 9 for Safety)

Dirty Darrington Phone Zap!

PHONE ZAP!

Darrington Unit is currently on an extended( 2 month long) lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. There are currently 7 confirmed positive cases and approximately 300 incarcerated people on “medical restriction” (lockdown) or “medical isolation”(solitary confinement) at the unit. Darrington Unit is not doing enough for prisoners’ safety amidst Covid-19.  They are not even providing hand sanitizer or other basic sanitation supplies.  Darrington Unit is not providing reasonable nutrition as they are only giving prisoners cold sandwiches which often contain only peanut butter, which is insufficient and unhealthy for everyone, but especially dangerous for those with Diabetes.  Furthermore, adequate lighting is not being provided in the E-Line showers and I-row showers are flooding sewage water into cells, causing urgent concerns for the safety and health of incarcerated people in the unit.

Read an interview here on the conditions at Darrington Unit before the pandemic, as reported by Comrade Z who is incarcerated there. They include issues with mold, pest infestations, unsafe lighting, inadequate law library services, as well as rampant abuse, violence, and indifference to suicides. There are three additional articles on Dirty Darrington reprinted here.

On Monday, June 1st, call TDCJ’s Darrington Unit at 281-595-3465 between 9AM to 5PM and leave a message for Warden Bruce Armstrong.

List of Demands: 

  • Prevention: Provide sanitation supplies including hand sanitizer & masks
  • Treatment: Routine temperature & symptom checks for incarcerated people
  • Meals: Improve nutrition, calories/substance, variety & attention to special dietary needs
  • Communication: increase access to phones & ability to buy envelopes & stamps
  • Safety: Immediately address issues with sewage backup & needed repairs to showers & lighting


Sample script:

“I am calling because I am concerned about the physical and mental health and safety of the people incarcerated at your unit.  Darrington Unit needs to take better Covid-19 precautions in all sections of the prison.  This includes masks and hand sanitizer being provided to all incarcerated people.  Routine temperature and symptom checks on prisoners are also needed.  Prisoners need a well-balanced diet and sandwiches alone are not enough.  It is crucial that prisoners’ have access to communication during this worldwide pandemic and they must continue to have phone and commissary access to ensure that is possible. It is also crucial for prisoners’ physical safety that the lighting in all showers is adequate.  Furthermore, the showers need full repairs, not just patch jobs.  Flooding sewage water into cells is detrimental to prisoners’ physical and mental health.”

Please contact FightToxicPrisons@gmail.com to report the response you receive from the unit.

Thank you for your solidarity!

Activist Chains Self to Barrels in Front of Governor’s Mansion Demanding Release of Prisoners at Risk of COVID-19

 

Friday, April 17th 2020 

[Last Edited April 20th 2020] 

 

On the morning of April 17th, a protest took place at Governor Ron DeSantis’ mansion in Tallahassee, FL demanding the Governor take immediate action to protect prisoners from COVID-19. Protesters demanded that Governor Ron DeSantis and Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Mark Inch take immediate steps to:

 

  1. Release people from state prisons, county jails, juvenile and immigrant detention centers, beginning with those most vulnerable to infection and those nearest to their release dates
  2.  Provide proper sanitation supplies, soap, and personal protective equipment to everyone inside prisons and jails while release plans are implemented
  3. Require all facilities to provide free phone calls and video visitations during the pandemic and until FDOC reinstates in-person visitations
  4. Terminate all costs associated with seeking medical care and essential hygiene products, ensuring prisoners can see the doctor upon first request

 

At the demonstration an activist chained themself to barrels reading “End the Massacre” and “Free Prisoners Now” beneath a banner that read “DeSantis and Inch, 1000s Will Die, COVID = Death, Act Now!” Protesters brought a letter addressed to the Governor listing the demands and imploring him to act immediately.

 

This protest came on the heels of news that for over a week the FDOC hid the deaths of two prisoners from COVID-19 at Blackwater River Correctional Facility. With an additional two COVID-19 related deaths announced late Thursday evening (Florida Phoenix). Meanwhile, neither FDOC Secretary Mark Inch nor Governor Ron DeSantis have taken any substantive steps to release or protect prisoners, indeed only hastening the guaranteed infection of tens of thousands behind bars by re-instituting transfers of prisoners between prisons within the last week. 

 

Prisons and jails are unique in their ability to rapidly spread COVID-19. New York City jails have reported an infection rate nearly 10 times higher than New York State as a whole, and 18 times higher than the rate in Italy. With this rate of infection a projected 100,000 prisoners across the country will die from COVID-19 if releases do not happen. In Florida alone we can expect to see the deaths of over 7,500 people in prisons and jails (Business Insider). 

 

One accomplice at the April 17th demonstration was arrested before 8am. Shortly after, the fire department blocked off visibility to the scene using tarps. The person locked down was then given no other protective equipment besides plastic goggles, and the fire department proceeded to cut into the exterior of the barrels using a chisel and jackhammer, before recklessly cutting the person out over the course of 2 hours. Both protesters were booked at Leon County Jail and were bailed and bonded by supporters later the same day. 

 

Friday’s protest was the latest escalation in a series of demonstrations across the State that started with car caravans engaging in various “honk-out” protests against the inaction of county jails and state prisons around COVID-19. On Monday, groups from across Florida converged in Tallahassee and surrounded the Capitol building and the FDOC building to bring these demands directly to DeSantis and Inch (Tallahassee Democrat). 

 

Everyday DeSantis and Inch fail to take action guarantees an ever growing number of people behind bars will die. Blood is already on their hands but they still have the power to prevent, or perpetrate, a massacre. The choice is theirs.

 

Pictures and video available upon request.

For media inquiries contact media liaison:

Mei Azaad fighttoxicprisons@gmail.com 

206 409 5390

 

To support our demands, contact Governor Desantis:

850-488-7146

Ron.DeSantis@myflorida.com

@GovRobDesantis

 

To donate to the bail fund:

paypal: fighttoxicprisons@gmail.com

cashapp: $FightToxicPrisons

 

 

ALABAMA RE-OPENS OLDEST PRISON AS A COVID19 DEATH CAMP 

 

April 7th 2020 

In response to the COVID19 pandemic, the Alabama Department of Corrections is re-opening the solitary confinement wing of Draper Correctional Facility. At least 300 cots are being added to the dilapidated prison in order to house incarcerated people infected by the virus. This information was brought to us by an anonymous person incarcerated at Elmore C.C., who was told of the plan by a correctional officer. As usual, the ADOC has refused to confirm, deny, or give any comment on the situation. 

Draper C.F., built in 1938, was condemned by the public health department and decommissioned in March 2018 due to structural and environmental concerns including severe black mold, open sewage running throughout the facility, and toxic fumes. This was described by the DOJ’s April 2019 report on the Alabama prison system. Since then, part of the facility has still been used for vocational and educational programming. Our inside correspondent explained his fear that “you will have inmates with a deadly respiratory disease living in toxic conditions with no medical care. So bottomline, that’s a deathzone”. 

The condemned facility is part of a larger prison complex which includes Staton C.F. and Elmore C.C., and is just a few miles from the Frank Lee Youth Center work release program. Despite the steeply climbing rate of COVID19 in Alabama, housing transfers between these facilities are still taking place. This is extremely concerning because out of the already overcrowded facilities clustered around Draper C.F., only one of them (Staton) has an infirmary, which can only house a few people at a time. Based on the spread of COVID19 in other federal and state correctional systems, we know that it is only a matter of time before we see a new humanitarian disaster in Alabama’s prisons

draper map

[Map by the author] 

Moreover, Elmore county is severely medically underresourced. According to a recent study on Alabama’s medical infrastructure, Elmore is among counties with the lowest number of hospital beds per person. Elmore Community Hospital already has multiple patients with COVID19 and no intensive care units. This is not unique, as most prisons in the region are located in rural areas with minimal medical infrastructure. 

alabama hospital beds elmore

[Graphic by Ramsey Archibald, edited by the author to highlight Elmore County]

A worker at Staton C.F. already tested positive on March 27th, and since then only 3 people at the facility have been tested. There is no solitary confinement block at Elmore or Staton, and the dorm layout makes it impossible for incarcerated people to physically distance.  This suggests that there is a high likelihood of an outbreak there being covered up. Nonetheless, the prison administrations and the ADOC fail at providing even basic sanitation supplies, gloves, or masks to incarcerated people or staff. In fact, bleach is still considered contraband. “When it comes to guards, [Kay Ivey]’s throwing them to the wolves too, and then they’re taking it home to their families and communities” 

elmore dorm 2

 “If you not on the end of a row, you sleeping next to 6 people within a 6 foot radius. How we gonna social distance?”

[Photo and quote from inside Elmore C.C. on April 6th 2020]

As our inside correspondent explained, “under these circumstances, the only viable option is mass release”, which several other states have already started carrying out through the CARES Act, compassionate release, and granting clemency. Despite pressure from the media, public health experts, and the Lt. Governor of Alabama, Kay Ivey continues to fail at mitigating imminent and unnecessary deaths on a massive scale. 

Over a year after threatening to take over the ADOC, the Department of Justice must follow through on its April 2019 report by superseding the jurisdiction of the ADOC, and issuing mass releases without electronic home monitoring. At the very least, Wiliam Barr must issue the same order he gave for federal facilities, to release elderly and immunocompromised people from Alabama state prisons, and meanwhile provide necessary supplies to others. 

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