HRC Prison Report: The News from Inside
Elyse Wilson unable to walk, denied food and medical care at Muncy: The Human Rights Coalition received a report from Elyse Wilson, a prisoner at the State Correctional Institution (SCI) at Muncy, Pennsylvania on Saturday, February 26th, describing the prison's refusal to provide her necessary medical treatment. Elyse is unable to walk after a pre-existing back injury worsened. Prison staff refused to take her to the medical department for treatment. As a consequence, Elyse had missed two meals since she cannot walk to the cafeteria. She anticipated missing the remainder of her meals over the weekend, as she does not have medical clearance to have meals delivered to her cell. Medical staff had approved her for an assessment regarding her injury that was scheduled for January 25th, but the assessment never happened. HRC has received numerous reports during the past two years regarding inadequate or non-existent medical care at the two women’s state prisons at Muncy and Cambridge Springs, demonstrating a pattern of human rights violations.
SCI Rockview: A prisoner in the Restricted Housing Unit at Rockview reports in late February the denial of food to solitary confinement prisoners, as well as general conditions of fear and retaliation fostered by staff on the unit.
According to the reports, Corrections Officers Hall, Perks and Fisher have been witnessed denying meals to prisoners housed on the unit, most recently Thomas Moore. In the words of the reporter, "Once these (prison staff) see a person has no support on the outside, they'll do all sorts of things and even when they get caught it's as if it never happened.. ..A lot of people inside these walls are very afraid to (stand) up for others and themselves being that speaking up will most likely lead to retaliation.."
Multiple suicide attempts at SCI Huntingdon: Two prisoners in the solitary confinement unit at SCI Huntingdon attempted suicide at the end of February according to six affidavits received by HRC. After multiple requests to staff regarding his deteriorating psychological condition were ignored, a prisoner attempted to take his own life by jumping head first off of his bunk. Prison staff removed him from his cell, but refused to take him to the medical department; within seven hours he attempted to kill himself again. When he was removed from his cell this time he had blood on his head, shoulders, and chest area. Guards Campbell, Cook, and others assaulted the suicidal man, with Cook attacking him with an electro-shock taser at least three times while he was handcuffed, shackled, and face down on the ground. All staff involved were European-Americans, while the prisoner was an African-American.
When several other prisoners in the solitary unit spoke out against this mistreatment, two were removed to different parts of the unit. One of these men was given access to a lighter, and set his cell on fire in an apparent suicide attempt. Both him and the other man who had been moved were attacked with pepper spray and moved yet again.
All three men remain in solitary confinement, deprived of mental health care. HRC has received hundreds of pages of documentation from prisoners in solitary at SCI Huntingdon during the past 14 months detailing severe torture, including routine acts of retaliation, starvation, brutality, and overt racism.
SCI Forest: News from SCI Forest describes continued racial harassment of prisoners of color and the transfer of a Lieutenant widely reported to be a ringleader of human rights violations at the prison.
Larry Jefferson reports on February 23 that during a cell search in the Restricted Housing Unit earlier in the day, he was told by Lt. Deer, "I'm going to break you, I hate black niggers from Philly" and that he "couldn't wait to get his boys together to beat the black off" of Mr. Jefferson.
Deer is the subject of multiple reports made to the Human Rights Coalition of prisoner abuse at Forest over the past two years. When called by human rights supporters concerned about Mr. Jefferson's safety, Lt. Deer's supervisor assured the caller that Deer was soon to be transferred to another prison. No disciplinary sanctions against Deer are known to be pending.
FOCUS on Women Campaign: New Voices Pittsburgh hosted a Community Forum on Tuesday, March 1st as part of their FOCUS on Women Campaign. The Forum sought to educate the public about the experiences of incarcerated women and challenge the increasing and disproportionate rates of incarceration of women of color in the local County Jails and State prisons. Distinguished panelists included Carol Washington, Executive Director of North Shore Community Alliance, Aya De Chellis of Allegheny Reproductive Health, and Patricia James of Bethlehem Haven. Along with community members, the panelists discussed the impact of trauma, mental illness, and drug policies on the increasing rates of incarceration for African American and poor women. The criminalization of undocumented women and women's sexuality was also discussed.
Across the Nation
Prison Emergency Summit February 26th: Using the success of the recent hunger strike of three Lucasville uprising prisoners at Ohio State Penitentiary as a jumping off point, the Lucasville Uprising Freedom Network reached out to community groups, student organizations, academics with special interest in prison issues and prisoner advocacy networks to host a one day conference at Cleveland State University on February 26.
The conference topics included: the January 2011 campaign to overturn the false convictions of the Lucasville uprising prisoners in Ohio; December 2010 strike of 20,000 prisoners in Georgia; the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal and why we must fight to Free Mumia, the wrongful conviction of Jaoquin Hicks, the brutal beating of Rebecca Whitby by Cleveland Police Officers in April 2009, the privatization of Ohio’s prisons; and whether today’s prisons represent the re-imposition of slavery. One of the highlights of the conference was the screening of “Dark Little Secret,” a new documentary by Youngstown filmmaker D Jones, which examined the prison system and outlined how the prison industrial complex operates in the United States.
The conference was organized by the Lucasville Uprising Freedom Network, New Black Panther Party-Cleveland Link, Black on Black Crime Inc., Survivors/Victims of Tragedy Inc., Peoples Fightback Center, Workers World Party, Cleveland FIST, Oppressed Peoples Nation, LOOP (Loved Ones Of Prisoners), Cleveland Anarchist Black Cross, and the Joaquin Hicks Real People Movement and was attended by members of HRC FedUp!
Philly area: Wednesdays are Write On! Prison Letter Writing Night at the LAVA space at 4134 Lancaster, 6-9pm. 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.
March is New Volunteer Training Month at HRC-Philly, every Saturday from 1-4 pm! Come learn how to investigate and document prison abuse, make emergency calls to prisons and public officials, take part in the Prison Report and more!
If you'd like to know more about the Human Rights Coalition or would like to get involved, call us at 215-921-3491, email email@example.com, or visit our website at http://www.hrcoalition.org./
Pittsburgh area: 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.