Angola 3 member Albert Woodfox indicted for 3rd time in 1972 murder of prison guard

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Albert Woodfox, the only member of the Angola 3 still behind bars, was indicted Thursday for the third time in the murder of a Louisiana State Penitentiary prison guard that occurred at the prison more than four decades ago.

Woodfox has been held in solitary confinement for more than 40 years as a result of his former convictions in the 1972 slaying of 23-year-old guard, Brent Miller. Now 67, Woodfox continues to maintain his innocence in the fatal stabbing and has a wide-reaching network of supporters advocating for his release. The indictment comes after a federal appeals court, in a ruling issued Nov. 20, agreed with a lower court that his conviction for Miller’s murder should be vacated.

Woodfox’s legal team earlier this week sought his release from prison on bail in anticipation that the state would try to re-indict him or appeal the latest decision of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court. Louisiana Attorney Buddy Caldwell announced in a press release Thursday a grand jury from West Feliciana Parish, where the prison at Angola is located, re-indicted Woodfox on the murder charge earlier that day.

“The facts of the case remain solid,” Caldwell said in the statement. “Despite Woodfox’s last-ditch efforts to obtain a ‘get out of jail free’ pass on grand jury selection issues, the proof of his guilt in committing the murder is undeniable.”

A three-judge panel from the Fifth Circuit, in its November ruling, unanimously upheld a lower court’s ruling that overturned Woodfox’s conviction. The court agreed with U.S. District Judge James Brady that Woodfox’s 1998 retrial was constitutionally mired by discrimination in the selection of the grand jury foreperson.

Amnesty International, a major human rights organization, has called for Woodfox’s release and has decried conditions of his solitary confinement, which a November editorial in The New York Times called “barbaric beyond measure.” Amnesty International started a petition this week asking Gov. Bobby Jindal not to oppose bail for Woodfox if it’s granted.

Steven Hawkins, the executive director of Amnesty International USA, said in a statement that Caldwell is “hell-bent” on keeping Woodfox behind bars.

“He should stop pursuing a campaign of vengeance by trying to re-indict a man who has already spent more than four decades in cruel confinement, after a legal process tainted with flaws,” the statement says.

Woodfox’s attorney George Kendall released the following statement in response to the indictment:

“We are extremely disappointed in today’s indictment of Albert Woodfox who has maintained his innocence since he was charged 42 years ago. This case has already spanned four decades and cost Louisiana millions of dollars, while Mr. Woodfox has been unjustly held in solitary confinement.”

Woodfox’s designation as a member of the Angola 3 stems from what the group’s supporters believe are wrongful convictions for prison murders in which Woodfox and two other prisoners were implicated for the purpose of silencing their activism. The International Coalition to Free the Angola 3 believes the men essentially became political prisoners for organizing an official Black Panther Party chapter inside the prison, which led hunger strikes and other demonstrations opposing inhumane prison conditions. Those conditions, in the early 1970s, included continued segregation, corruption and “systematic prison rape,” Pegram has said.

Taking the 42-year-old case to trial presents obvious challenges to all parties, but Pegram said Woodfox’s legal team is “not at all scared” of arguing the case in court and feels confident he will prevail.

An affidavit says the murder occurred as Miller was talking with fellow inmate Hezekiah Brown on Brown’s bed when Woodfox and two others pounced on him, leaving Miller with 32 stab wounds.

A year after Brown testified to help secure the convictions, Louisiana State Penitentiary Warden C. Murray Henderson wrote a letter seeking a pardon for Brown, who had served less than eight years of a life sentence, after Brown testified he was not promised favors for his testimony. An NPR report on the case links to the letter here. Prison officials also arranged to pay for his clemency and for a weekly delivery of a carton of cigarettes. Brown was eventually pardoned by Gov. Edwin Edwards in 1986 and died in 1996.

Pegram said there was no physical evidence linking Woodfox to the murder, and all of the witnesses either later recanted or were promised favors such as pardons. Many of the witnesses, too, are dead. A bloody fingerprint taken from the crime scene did not match Woodfox or his co-defendants, she said. That DNA evidence, which could potentially incriminate another suspect, has sine been lost.

“If the state really wants to go down this road, they will be reminded there is no physical evidence that links him to the crime, and witnesses have all been impeached or recanted,” Pegram said. “We are happy to say he will have the opportunity to demonstrate to the world that (Woodfox) did not commit this crime.”

Caldwell noted in his statement two juries have already convicted Woodfox in the murder, and now three grand juries have indicted him. The indictment does not preclude the attorney general from seeking relief from U.S. Supreme Court to get the conviction upheld, Attorney General spokesman Steven Hartman said.

The slain prison guard’s widow, Teenie Rogers, attended a rally in October 2013 with Angola 3 supporters demanding the state halt its attempts to keep Woodfox incarcerated for her late husband’s murder. She has said she believes Woodfox and his codefendant, the late Herman Wallace, were not involved in her husband’s death and has previously called for their release. In 2008, she told The Los Angeles Times, under the last name from a previous marriage: “If I were on that jury, I don’t think I would have convicted them.”

Caldwell’s release also levied a number criminal allegations against Woodfox unrelated to Miller’s murder, which a Feb. 10 affidavit says occurred in the late 1960s in New Orleans.

“Prior to arriving at Angola, Albert Woodfox began committing a series of crimes with escalated from minor offenses to violent crimes, including seven armed robberies and five aggravated rapes,” the attorney general’s statement says.

The release also says he faced five life sentences for the rape charges, however an attached affidavit suggests Woodfox was never convicted on any rape charges.

Moreover, in a 2008 court order from Judge Brady, the judge says, “given how long ago these arrests occurred as well as the fact that Mr. Woodfox was never convicted of these crimes… those allegations were irrelevant to Woodfox’s petition for release.”

The affidavit paints a similar picture of Woodfox as a danger to the public that the state used in 2008 to prevent Woodfox from being granted bail while the appeals process played out. “We will continue to fight to ensure that this dangerous man is held fully accountable for his actions,” Caldwell said Thursday.

Hawkins’ statement criticized Caldwell’s recent accusations against Woodfox regarding the rapes.

“(Caldwell’s) public accusations that Albert is a ‘serial rapist’ not only cross ethical boundaries, but inflame the public against a man who has suffered unspeakable cruelty at the hands of the Louisiana authorities,” Hawkins said.

Wallace, a fellow Angola 3 member, was released in October of 2013, two days before his death from complications of liver cancer.

Robert King, the third member of the Angola 3 who was convicted of killing a fellow inmate, was exonerated and released from prison in 2001 after 29 years in solitary. King remains active in the campaign to release Woodfox from prison and end the practice of solitary confinement.

Woodfox’s 1974 murder conviction was first overturned in 1992 by a state court due to “systematic discrimination.” He was then re-indicted in 1993 by a new grand jury and reconvicted five years later.

But District Judge Brady overturned this second conviction in 2008, stating Woodfox’s defense counsel was ineffective. The state appealed, and the case made its way for the first time to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Once there, the court reversed Brady’s ruling and determined that while his trial “was not perfect,” Woodfox couldn’t prove there would have been a different outcome with different counsel.

Woodfox’s attorneys then focused in on the discrimination issue, arguing there were also issues with the 1993 indictment because black grand jury foreman were woefully underrepresented in West Feliciana Parish in the previous 13 years.

Brady again agreed, overturning Woodfox’s conviction a second time in May 2012. The case was kicked up to the Fifth Circuit after the state appealed. The Fifth Circuit agreed, in the Nov. 20 ruling, that conviction should be overturned. The same court then denied, in a Feb. 3 ruling, the state’s request for a review of its decision by the Fifth Circuit’s full panel of judges.

Woodfox, of New Orleans, was originally sentenced to prison at Angola on charges of armed robbery. That sentence would have expired decades ago, coalition manager Tory Pegram said. Woodfox was at Angola only a few years before he was implicated, along with Wallace, in Miller’s murder. He’s currently housed at David Wade Correctional Center in Homer.

Take Action: End Solitary Confinement and Isolation, Support Palestinian Hunger Strikers

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Samidoun:

Over 100 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails are now participating in a collective hunger strike, as prisoners from Eshel and Ramon prisons joined the strike demanding an end to the policy of solitary confinement and in solidarity with Nahar al-Saadi, who has been held in solitary confinement since May 2013 and has been on hunger strike since 20 November. The collective strike was launched by 70 prisoners on 9 December. The strikers are demanding al-Saadi’s release from isolation; regular family visits for al-Saadi; and an end to the use of solitary confinement and isolation against Palestinian prisoners.

Al-Saadi, in isolation for a year and seven months, has been denied family visits and medical treatment, and was denied a lawyer visit just this week. Take Action today: Demand an end to solitary confinement and isolation!

Addameer and Physicians for Human Rights issued an urgent call regarding the situation of Nahar al-Saadi, calling for an immediate end to solitary confinement. Isolation and solitary confinement are forms of torture, and Israel’s use of administrative detention is contrary to international law and human rights standards. Isolation is recognized by the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Torture as a form of torture when used for extended periods, as it is in Israeli prisons.

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Nahar al-Saadi with his mother

As Addameer and PHR report, “The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture details the severe psychological effects of solitary confinement, including that it causes ‘psychotic disturbances’… anxiety, depression, anger, cognitive disturbances, perceptual distortions, paranoia and psychosis and self-harm.’ Solitary confinement can also cause physiological damage. Prisoners often develop ‘gastroenterology, vascular, urinary and reproductive system illnesses as well as suffer from sleep disturbances and extreme fatigue. They also complain of tremors, recurrences of heart palpitations, recurrences of excessive perspiration.’

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society also reported that a meeting is being held between the leadership of the strike and the prison officials in Nafha prisons, as of the evening of 16 December.

Depending on the outcome of these discussions, it is expected that more prisoners will join the strike in coming days, in the event that the prison administration continues to reject the demands of striking prisoners. The Israeli prison administration has been imposing severe repression on the hunger strikers in an attempt to break the strike, transferring them from prison to prison, isolating 30 of them, threatening them and in some cases transferring them to Israeli “criminal” prison sections, away from other Palestinian political prisoners, as well as engaging in frequent violent raids and inspections in strikers’ rooms. Hussam Abed, one of the prisoners on hunger strike, said that he was denied salt and sugar, which he had been taking with water, by occupation prison officials.

IMEMC reported that “the detainees, held in solitary confinement, are currently in the prisons of Eshil, Nafha, Majeddo, Asqalan, Ramla and Ramon, facing very harsh living conditions and constant violations.

In addition, the Palestinian Prisoners Society has reported that the Prison Administration in the Negev Detention Camp has informed 45 striking detainees it intends to transfer them to other, unspecified prisons.”

Rafat Hamdouna, director of the Prisoners Center for Studies, said that the prisoners’ movement will not allow an open hunger strike to drag on for tens of days, urging international institutions to intervene and resolve this issue, and for broad actions in solidarity to ensure the success of the strike which aims, once more, to end the policy of isolation and solitary confinement.

In May 2012, in order to end the collective hunger strike of thousands of Palestinian political prisoners, the Israeli prison administration agreed to end the use of solitary confinement and isolation, releasing the 19 then held in isolation into general population. Since that time, the use of isolation and solitary confinement by Israeli prisons has been escalating, sparking this renewed hunger strike.

 TAKE ACTION! Demand:

  • the release of Nahar al-Saadi from solitary confinement
  • restoration of family and legal visits to Nahar al-Saadi, and proper medical access and treatment
  • an end to the use of solitary confinement and isolation against Palestinian political prisoners

1. Take action and demand an end to the use of solitary confinement and isolation, and the release of Nahar al-Saadi from solitary confinement. Sign the letter here and send it to Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Netanyahu.

2. Take action for Palestinian prisoners: protest at an Israeli consulate or embassy, or hold an educational event Palestinian prisoners. Share this alert on solitary confinement and the hunger strike.

3. Join the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions. Isolate Israel for its mass political imprisonment of Palestinians. Boycott products like HP and SodaStream, and demand an end to security contracts with G4S, which operates in Israeli prisons. Learn more at bdsmovement.net.

 

End Isolation and Solitary Confinement: Support Palestinian Prisoners on Hunger Strike

Write today to support the demands of the over 70 Palestinian political prisoners on hunger strike and call for an immediate end to the use of solitary confinement and isolation against Nahar al-Saadi, and all Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

A3 Newsletter December 9th, 2014: Give Albert a Hug for the Holidays

http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?ca=190a0f59-ee25-4678-9ebf-f4d027b35eee&c=ddd0f320-356e-11e3-9e24-d4ae52754dbc&ch=de9861d0-356e-11e3-9eba-d4ae52754dbc

albertIn Homer Louisiana, Albert Woodfox remains in his cell – 42 years in solitary and held under increasingly severe restrictions. From the unnecessary and extensive use of the black-box during transport, to the ‘catch-22′ system making it impossible for Albert to have contact visits, it appears that the response to his most recent court victory is to continue turning the screws ever tighter.

Not surprisingly, the Louisiana Attorney General has filed an appeal with the Fifth Circuit Court asking them to review their recent ruling that upheld a lower court’s 2013 overturning of Albert’s conviction. We anticipate a response from the Fifth Circuit in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, want to register our concern with the Louisiana Department of Corrections about the recent denial of contact visits to Albert, as explained further in the section below. We hope you’ll join us in contacting the Department of Corrections to request that they apply their visitation policy fairly.

RECENT MEDIA COVERAGE: Times Picayune (1 , 2 , 3 , 4  II The Advocate II Democracy Now! (watch part two II The Guardian II Solitary Watch II Amnesty USA II Amnesty International II Telegraph UK II National Public Radio II ABA Journal II Reuters II NY Times: 4 decades of solitary//is “barbaric beyond measure”

 

Louisiana DOC Violates Own Policy to Wrongfully Deny Albert Contact Visits

Albert Woodfox, the last of the Angola 3 behind bars, has now been denied contact visits for almost two consecutive years.  During the latter part of his nearly 40 years at Angola, and for the first few at David Wade Correctional Center in Northern Louisiana where he has been held since 2010, Albert was allowed contact visits on occasion with people on his approved visiting list, as well as less frequent ones with “special visitors” pre-approved in advance on an individual one time basis.

Only months after Albert’s conviction was overturned a third time, Wade officials cut off all contact visits without explanation.  After pressure from Albert to reinstate the visits, the South Compound Supervisor Colonel Lonnie Nail, who oversees visiting at the prison, has agreed to allow the visits again, but only if Albert and others in CCR comply with the irregular and essentially impossible task of providing a list of who is coming for a contact visit on a particular day so that the Colonel can personally re-screen and re-approve the visitors, a process that is not only onerous but in violation of the Louisiana DOC’s own Visitation policy.

In the past, at times when contact visits were more generally allowed, Albert was allowed 2 full days per month for contact visits with anyone on his permanent visiting list (up to 5 at one time), without having to supply the exact date of future visits and certainly without additional screening of pre-approved visitors.

Visiting is not a right for prisoners, especially those in CCR.  In Louisiana, some of the details of visiting are left to the discretion of each institution, but statewide there is a detailed visitation policy which among other rights, allows all inmates to put up to 10 people on a “permanent” visiting list.  In order to receive a permanent slot, visitors must first pass extensive screening and background checks conducted by both the Louisiana Department of Corrections and the institution where the inmate is housed, as well as followup checks every two years.

As long as inmates have not had their privileges revoked for a specific institution-wide security concern, the pre-approved visitors on each inmate’s list can then arrive on any visiting day and have a contact visit with the prisoner.

Albert has repeatedly told Colonel Nail that it is impossible for him to know who is coming to visit him on any given visiting day given his lack of real time contact with the outside world, and he strongly believes that people on his permanent visiting list should not have to be re-subjected to an additional round of screening before each visit after already having been extensively vetted.  The DOC’s own visitation policy backs him up.

Based upon his own experience of spending 29 years in solitary confinement, Robert explains that the significance for Albert and all prisoners of having access to contact visits cannot be overstated. “I know how important they were for me. I went for a while without contact visits, but as I began receiving letters from supporters and eventually began to have contact visits, it was really uplifting for me and it freed my humanity. Contact visits were therapeutic and helped to combat the overwhelming sense of isolation. It means so much when you can embrace someone you love and have been separated from.”

 

TAKE ACTION – Operation “Give Albert a Hug for the Holidays”

Please take a moment today to remind the State that they can’t just continue to torture Albert and violate their own policies on our watch.  Print out this letter, sign and fax or mail to the Secretary of Corrections Jimmy LeBlanc and help us give Albert the gift of a hug from his loved ones this holiday season.

A sample letter is below:

Mr. James M. LeBlanc, Secretary
Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections
P.O. Box 94304
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9304
Phone: 225-342-6740; Fax: 225-342-3095

Dear Secretary LeBlanc:

Since the summer of 2013, Colonel Lonnie Nail and officials at David Wade Correctional Center have been arbitrarily denying contact visits to Albert Woodfox (DOC # 72148) in clear violation of multiple sections of DOC policy C-02-008:

1. Requiring Albert to provide names of people already on his
pre-approved and pre-screened permanent visiting list for selective,
additional screening before each visit violates *section 9.B.* of
the DOC’s visitation policy which provides that after the initial
approval process, rescreening is required only every 2 years by the
DOC, and only by one of 4 approved criminal history background check
methods–not on demand, subjectively before each visit by individual
institutions using possibly non-standardized, and certainly
non-transparent, methods.

1. Though section 12.F.7.b. stipulates that inmates housed in
segregation units shall be placed on non-contact visitation status,
*section 12.F.7.d.* requires that such a status be formally reviewed
at least every six months and never imposed as a “disciplinary
penalty.” Albert Woodfox has been in segregation nearly continuously
since 1972 and never had a formal review of his contact visit status
either upon initial placement, or since the twice monthly contact
visit days he’d come to expect were taken away nearly 18 months
ago–a systematic and ongoing violation of his due process rights
and this DOC regulation.

1. Finally, since inmates with the same security classification and
housing assignment in other parts of the State are currently allowed
(and Albert himself was permitted for years) to have 2 days of
contact visiting per month for any of the 10 members of their
permanent visiting lists (up to 5 visitors at one time), the new
screening process put in place by Colonel Nail at DWCC is in clear
violation of Albert’s rights, Albert’s visitor’s rights, and lies
contrary to very heart of the DOC’s visitation policy, *section 7:
Treatment of Visitors* which stipulates that: “/There shall be no
discrimination in visiting. All visitors and offenders shall be
provided equal opportunities in visiting in accordance with the
offender’s security classification and housing assignment./”

Though we are aware that visiting in a privilege, not a right, the restrictions imposed upon Albert Woodfox by officials at David Wade Correctional Center in the last few years violate the individual privacy and Louisiana DOC visitor rights of members of Albert’s permanent visiting list, as well as Albert’s due process rights and his right per the DOC’s own visitation policy to be provided equal opportunity to access contact visits as other Louisiana inmates in segregation.

We urge the Department of Corrections to put a stop to this discriminatory treatment immediately and reinstate 2 full days per month of contact visit privileges for any members of Albert’s approved visiting list (up to 5 at a time) as has historically been and, in other DOC facilities is currently, the SOP for segregation contact visits throughout the state.

Sincerely,

(YOUR NAME)

 

Holiday Reminder: Send Love to Albert, but not CDs or Stamps

Writing Albert to remind him that he’s in your thoughts and that he is not alone is as important as ever at this critical time for him.

As the Holidays approach, we want to remind supporters that he is not allowed to receive stamps or cds.  Cards and messages are always the best gift, but if you want to send more, the best way is to give some funds to his www.jpay.com account (#00072148) so he can buy stamps, cds or other personal items from the prison store. He can also receive any books, hardback or paperback, as long as they are sent to him directly through Amazon.

Through jpay, he can receive emails, although any photos sent will be black and white. If you send an email, jpay will ask if you want to pay extra for him to have money to respond via email. However, Albert is unfortunately not allowed to send email, so do not choose this option.

Albert Woodfox  #72148
David Wade Correctional Center
670 Bell Hill Road
Homer, LA  71040

Solitary confinement: Torture chambers for black revolutionaries

From Aljazeera:

“The torture technicians who developed the paradigm used in (prisons’) ‘control units’ realised that they not only had to separate those with leadership qualities, but also break those individuals’ minds and bodies and keep them separated until they are dead.” – Russell “Maroon” Shoats

Russell “Maroon” Shoats has been kept in solitary confinement in the state of Pennsylvania for 30 years after being elected president of the prison-approved Lifers’ Association. He was initially convicted for his alleged role in an attack authorities claim was carried out by militant black activists on the Fairmont Park Police Station in Philadelphia that left a park sergeant dead.

Despite not having violated prison rules in more than two decades, state prison officials refuse to release him into the general prison population.

Russell’s family and supporters claim that the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PA DOC) has unlawfully altered the consequences of his criminal conviction, sentencing him to die in solitary confinement – a death imposed by decades of no-touch torture.

The severity of the conditions he is subjected to and the extraordinary length of time they have been imposed for has sparked an international campaign to release him from solitary confinement – a campaign that has quickly attracted the support of leading human rights legal organisations, such as the Centre for Constitutional Rights and the National Lawyers Guild.

Less than two months after the campaign was formally launched with events in New York City and London, Juan Mendez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, agreed to make an official inquiry into Shoats’ 21 years of solitary confinement, sending a communication to the US State Department representative in Geneva, Switzerland.

Full story at Aljazeera

Pelican Bay Human Rights Movement: Short Corridor Collecitve’s Counter-Proposal to CDCR

From Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity

Modern-Management Control Unit (MMCU)

This proposal starts by looking at concrete programs that have been implemented by CDCR and functioned effectively, and by examining how they can be immediately adapted to the present-day PBSP and all 180 prison structures.

In the 1970s and 1980s the Max-B management control unit programs, such as Chino, DVI, and San Quentin Max-B, afforded as much programming as the General Population (GP) prisoners had, and held individual prisoners accountable, who failed to program within the MCU setting.

Today (2012) there are still some small Max-B type programs functioning in a few CDCR facilities under different names, but segregated with the same objectives.

The new 180 design prison complexes are perfectly structured for the necessary control setting and for meeting all the security requirements needed to make this modern (Max-B MCU) type of unti(s) more durable and cost-effective to operate for the California tax payers. Continue reading

The New Boss Looks a Lot Like the Old Boss

From Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity

AN ANALYSIS OF THE CDCR’S PROPOSED MODIFICATION OF THE VALIDATION AND SHU PLACEMENT PROCESS

By Ed Mead

“[T]he goals we are currently pursuing are objectively incorrect. To reform the validation process is good, but as an ultimate objective it is not a resolution. It’s a peripheral manifestation of the SHU’s themselves. It’s secondary, like bed sores on a cancer patient. Bandages and topical treatment are necessary, as a reformation of the validation process, to cure the bed sores, which are peripheral to the cancer, but the patient needs to be cured of the cancer. We are not going to be cured of perpetual isolation with Band-Aids, by reformation of the process, but only by dealing with the principle source of this illness—the SHU itself.” – A SHU prisoner

In an apparent response to CA hunger strikes one and two the CDCR has proposed new regulations with respect to gang management and SHU placement. As you’d expect, there is very little velvet glove and a lot of iron fist—lots of stick but little carrot. The essence of their draft rules is to do away with gang status as a means of SHU or ASU placement, and to replace it with some sort of threat model or designation, like the feds do. In other words, instead of them saying you are somehow related to a gang, a classification the courts have held requires some measure of proof; they now change the name of “gang” to “Security Threat Group.” If you should (god forbid) be one of those people who might write about or verbally communicate something to the effect of how messed up it is to be a slave in 2012 America, then you are a “threat.” My friend Bill Dunne has been perpetually locked down in the federal system under just such a designation. But more to the point, how does this proposed new policy meet the five core demands?

 

The name has changed but the game is the same

The CDCR plans to no longer utilize the terms “Prison Gangs” or “Disruptive Groups” and instead will use a “Security Threat Group” designation or STG. STGs are divided into two groups, STG-I and STG-II, what used to be gang members and gang associates or affiliates, respectively. What is a STG? It is defined as “[a]ny group or organization of two or more members, either formal or informal (including traditional prison gangs) that may have a common name or identifying sign or symbol, whose members engage in activities that include, but are not limited to … acts or violations of the department’s written rules and regulations” or any law or attempting, planning, soliciting, etc. to do such things. How is one assessed to be an STG? The list is too long to detail here, suffice it to say two or more people who the cops feel might represent “a potential threat to the safe and secure environment of the institution … such activities as group disturbances [like a peaceful hunger strike?].” Continue reading

How Many Prisoners Are in Solitary Confinement in the United States?

From SolitaryWatch

The number of inmates held in solitary confinement in the United States has been notoriously difficult to determine. Most states do not publish the relevant data, and many do not even collect it. Attempts to come up with a figure have been denounced as imperfect, based on state-by-state variances and shortcomings in data-gathering and in conceptions of what constitutes solitary confinement.

A widely accepted 2005 study found that some 25,000 prisoners were being held in supermax prisons around the country. And in the last year, that figure seems to dominate in the mainstream press. The Washington Post, in a recent front-page article on solitary confinement in Virginia, noted that “44 states…use solitary confinement,” and cited an “estimated 25,000 people in solitary in the nation’s state and federal prisons.” The problem here is that the 25,000 figure (as well as the 44) applies to supermax prisons only. It does not claim to account for the tens of thousands of additional prisoners held in the Secure Housing Units, Restricted Housing Units, Special Management Units and other isolation cells in prisons and jails around the country. Yet it is being cited as a total for the nation’s overall use of solitary confinement.

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