Inmates strike to protest Alabama prison conditions

From Corporate Media:

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) – Prisoners in three different state prisons think it is time they get paid for doing kitchen work, laundry and maintenance tasks. In protest of not being paid for institutional work, some have refused to report for work at three different facilities since the weekend.

The inmates are also seeking better living conditions and a revamping of the parole system. They said prisons are too overcrowded. State prisons are operating at almost double the capacity they were built to hold.

The protest started Sunday in Atmore at Holman Correctional facility, then on Monday, the peaceful protest spread to St. Clair Correctional in Springville and Elmore Correctional. On Tuesday, all of the Elmore inmates returned to work and some followed suit in Holman, but the protest continued at St. Clair Correctional on Tuesday.

Some inmates have posted videos on YouTube as part of their movement, but officials would not comment on this and said they are open to discussing issues about the food at the facilities. Posting the videos would constitute a felony charge against a prisoner because cell phones are considered to be contraband inside prison walls.

Department of Corrections Spokesperson Brian Corbett said the protest may not be the best course of action because some of their complaints are things the department has no control over, such as altering terms of parole and sentences. He suggested the prisoners should make lawmakers aware of their concerns.

Denver: Solidarity event with California Hunger Strikers and hunted comrade Assata Shakur this weekend

According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, over 30,000 prisoners are now on hunger strike in California state facilities, including juvenile detention centers across the state.
(https://denverabc.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/california-doc-admits-30000-prisoners-on-hunger-strike/)

This major escalation of a 3 year long campaign by prisoners across the state to highlight the injustices and torturous conditions of solitary confinement and inhumane captivity represents what could become a high water mark in the modern prisoner movement.

The question that we, as outside supporters of this hunger strike now face is: Will we step up to ensure that these prisoners win this struggle, or will we watch and allow our comrades to struggle on their own?

On Saturday July 13th, solidarity actions with the hunger strikers will be happening across the country (and the world! Palestinian prisoners are hunger striking in solidarity with prisoners in California:
http://sfbayview.com/2013/palestinian-prisoners-pledge-solidarity-with-california-prisoners-on-hunger-strike/)

In Denver, we will be hosting an event that intends to draw the connection between the present day prisoner movement(s) and the liberatory social movements of the CoIntelPro (1960’s-1980’s) era. We will be screening a
documentary of “Eyes on the Rainbow”, a film about Assata Shakur, a comrade who broke out of prison in 1979, and has been hunted by the U.S. Government ever since.

Come join us on Saturday to show solidarity with our comrade Assata and the 30,000 (or more!) prisoners on hunger strike now in California (and Palestine, Ohio, and elsewhere).

Event info:
Film screening of “Eyes on the Rainbow”
Saturday July 13, 1:30pm
Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library
2401 Welton St, Denver, Colorado 80205

Please spread the word, and we hope to see you there!
SOLIDARITY!

California: DOC admits 30,000 prisoners on hunger strike

From the LA Times:

California officials Monday said 30,000 inmates refused meals at the start of what could be the largest prison protest in state history.

Inmates in two-thirds of the state’s 33 prisons, and at all four out-of-state private prisons, refused both breakfast and lunch on Monday, said corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton. In addition, 2,300 prisoners failed to go to work or attend their prison classes, either refusing or in some cases saying they were sick.

The corrections department will not acknowledge a hunger strike until inmates have missed nine consecutive meals. Even so, Thornton said, Monday’s numbers are far larger than those California saw two years earlier during a series of hunger strikes that drew international attention.

Despite the widespread work stoppages and meal refusals, Thornton said state prisons operated as usual through the day. “Everything has been running smoothly,” she said. “It was normal. There were no incidents.”

The protest, announced for months, is organized by a small group of inmates held in segregation at Pelican Bay State Prison near the Oregon border. Their list of demands, reiterated Monday, center on state policies that allow inmates to be held in isolation indefinitely, in some cases for decades, for ties to prison gangs.

Though prison officials contend those gang ties are validated, the state last year began releasing inmates from segregation who had no evidence of gang-related behavior. Nearly half of those reviewed have been returned to the general population.

The protest involves the same issues and many of the same inmates who led a series of protests in California prisons two years ago. At the height of those 2011 hunger strikes, more than 11,600 inmates at one point refused meals. The correction department’s official tally, which counts only those inmates on any given day who have skipped nine consecutive meals, never rose above 6,600.

Russia: Prisoners stage uprising against conditions

From Libcom.org:

Hundreds of prisoners at Prison Number 6 in Kopeisk, in the Urals region of Russia, have fought fierce battles with screws and security forces and launched a rooftop occupation in a protest against draconian conditions, torture, extortion, and the use of solitary confinement. Four inmates have died at the prison in recent years following beatings from staff. The protest lasted for two days before the police and army special forces managed to regain control.

The trouble started when around 250 prisoners refused to follow the prison rules and routine, demanding the immediate release of those in solitary confinement. An end to barbaric treatment and extortion were the main demands that the prisoners had. Whilst on the roof, the prisoners unfurled placards that read, “Help us”, and “We have a thousand on hunger strike”

Around 300 of the prisoner’s family and friends, as well as many former prisoners, gathered outside the jail, and staged a protest. They were shouting obscenities and throwing bottles at police and prison staff. The police made battered the protesters and made 39 arrests before the protest concluded.

Read more

Update on Anarchist Prisoner Sean Swain and Coordinated Rebellion at Mansfield Correctional

From Sean Swain

We have just received confirmation that between the night of Wednesday, September 19th and Monday, September 24th, Sean was held in a suicide cell in the medical wing of the prison, despite the fact that he is not in any way a suicide risk. Apparently the prison maintains a special cell behind the medical department to be used as punishment for inmates: “torture cell number 112.”

This cell does not have a bed, just a concrete floor that Sean was forced to sleep on. The cell had no heat and Sean did not shower, have access to incoming mail, pen, paper or any of his belongings. He also did not eat for two days.

Sean is now being held in “normal” segregation pending an investigation that now involves the Ohio State Patrol (which has jurisdiction over criminal investigations within the ODRC).

Apparently, these trumped up charges are somehow related to the recent uprising at Mansfield Correctional on Wednesday, September 19th in which guards used fire hoses to quell the rebellion. Inmates calling themselves “The Army of the Twelve Monkeys,” powered by anger sweeping through the prison over the negative impact of the recent privatization of the prison commissary, have created mayhem throughout the institution.

Despite the fact that Sean does not seem to have been involved in the riot, it seems like the prison is attempting to pin Sean as the “leader” of this movement. This is most likely based solely on the fact that Sean, as a prolific writer and harsh critic of prisons, recently penned a critique of the new privatization plan.

Called JPay, the new system requires friends, families and supporters to send money orders to a private corporation in Hollywood, Florida, rather than directly to the ODRC as in the past. In addition, JPay takes a chunk of the money as a “service fee.” The only people allowed to put money on an inmate’s books are those on their visitation list.

Please take a minute to send a letter, article, some paper (up to 5 blank sheets per envelope) or a couple embossed envelopes to Sean. He could really use our encouragement and support right now, as well as the impact it has on the prison to see a targeted inmate receiving a ton of mail.

Solidarity means attack!

Preliminary Reports of a Riot at Mansfield Correctional. Anarchist Prisoner Sean Swain in the Hole.

From Sean Swain

We have received preliminary reports of a riot at Mansfield Correctional Institution where Sean Swain is being held. According to the prison, fire hoses were used against those involved in the uprising. As of now, we have no details as to what conditions instigated the riot or what Sean is being charged with.

Sean is being held in segregation in the medical wing of the prison. According to prison administrators, he is being held there because the normal segregation cells are all full as a result of the riot. But we also know that the administration likes to use the suicide cells in the medical wing for disciplinary purposes (as have done with Sean in the past).

The prison claims that Sean is unhurt and that he is not in the infirmary for medical reasons. We have little reason to believe anything they say, but we hope that this is true.

We are asking everyone to put pressure on the prison administrators. The goal is to draw attention to Sean’s situation, to demonstrate that he has support and that their attacks against him will not go unnoticed.

In calling the prison, our tactic is to ask, as many times as possible, to as many different people as possible, Where is Sean Swain? Why is he being held in solitary confinement in the infirmary? When will he be released?

If they do not pick up, leave voice mails asking these questions.

Mansfield Correctional Institution

(419) 525-4455

Mr. Moral- Caseworker

ext. -4310

Maryland Christopher

Health Care Administrator

ext. -2100

Terry Tibbals- Warden

ext. -2005

Scott Basquin- Assistant Warden

ext. -2004

Also, please take a moment to write to Sean. He likely does not have access to reading materials and certainly has no access to the warmth of his comrades. Even a short note saying that you are thinking of him would have a huge effect. A photograph of something pretty or an article you enjoyed, an embossed envelope and a few sheets of writing paper would be even better.

Sean Swain #243-205

MANCI

P.O. Box 788

Mansfield, OH 44901

Or choose your own creative methods of demonstrating solidarity for a comrade under attack.

seanswain.org

Colombia: 11,000 prisoners on hunger strike

From Libcom.org:

More than 11,000 Colombian prisoners across 21 jails are now over two weeks into a hunger strike and other acts of resistance.

They are demanding the following:

1) Declare a state of emergency in the country’s correctional facilities and install a National Board of Consultation with inmate representation to develop a plan to address prison conditions.
2) End overcrowding
3) End filthy and unhealthy prison conditions and maintain an adequate system of healthcare.

The prison system in Colombia has been given advice and money from the United States, which has resulted in a legacy of repression and mistreatment.

Water and food within the prison system is in short supply, and is often not fit for human consumption – some of which has been found to contain evidence of faces. In many jails, prisoners still have to shit and piss in buckets or plastic bags

Within recent years, overcrowding in Colombian jails has risen enormously (up to 40% in some areas). The prison estate has a maximum capacity for 78,000 people, yet there are at least 134,000 people currently incarcerated.

Also rising rapidly is the torture and ill treatment of prisoners, and in particularly – political prisoners.

Colombia recognises three types of ‘political prisoner’:

1) Prisoners of conscience – people arrested for political activities and charged with such crimes as, “Rebellion”.
2) Victims of set-ups – persons arrested for political reasons based on false testimonies.
3) Prisoners of war. An estimated 1,000 political prisoners are members of guerrilla groups.

Political prisoners (Colombia has 10,000) are kept in severely restricted conditions. They are often kept in solitary confinement, prevented from sending or receiving mail and the only human contact they are allowed is with prison officers.