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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Seven prison guards suspended after allegations of retaliatory beatings following strike

Atlanta Journal Constitution
Friday, January 21, 2011
By Joel Anderson

The Georgia Department of Corrections announced Friday that it was suspending seven prison guards with pay pending an investigation into allegations of inmate abuse at the Macon State Prison.

The suspensions stem from accusations that corrections officers beat prisoners on Dec. 16 as retaliation for a six-day work stoppage. Prisoners had been protesting conditions and the lack of pay for the jobs they perform around the institutions and for local governments.

Soon after, relatives and advocates said officers retaliated with violence against prisoners who participated in the protests, particularly at the Macon and Smith prisons.

Earlier this month, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said it would open an investigation into allegations.

Thanks to the Real Cost of Prisons blog

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Concern rises about inmates allegedly beaten by guards in Georgia strike and mistreatment of prisoners detained in institutions across the country

SF Bay View, Jan 10th, 2011

by Charlene Muhammad and Starla Muhammad, Final Call Staff Writers

(photo) In retaliation for organizing the Georgia prison strike, Miguel Jackson was pepper sprayed, handcuffed and beaten with hammers, resulting in a fractured nose and 50 stitches to his face, and guards tried to throw him over the railing from the second floor, his wife said. – Photo courtesy of the Final Call.

(FinalCall.com) – Like thousands of inmates scattered in prisons across the state of Georgia, Terrance Bryant Dean participated in an eight-day peaceful protest to highlight inhumane conditions in the prisons.

Days later he was brutally beaten by guards at Macon State Prison, his family and a coalition of supporters charge.

When his mother, Willie Maude Dean, and members of the Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights attempted to visit him at the Atlanta Medical Center on Dec. 31, the hospital claimed her son was no longer there and the corrections department claimed he was moved to Jackson State Prison the night before, according to an alert The Final Call received from coalition co-chair Elaine Brown.

Ms. Brown said the coalition found out about the beating during its second fact-finding visit to Smith State Prison on Dec. 30. Its first prison visit was to Macon on Dec. 20.The coalition asserts the beating was in retaliation for the protest, which began in early December.

In addition, Ms. Dean said the Georgia Department of Corrections has given no information about her son’s condition or his whereabouts.

The mother told coalition leaders after their latest visit that Macon State Warden Gregory McLaughlin told her that Terrance was in an isolation cell, but the mother believes he was already in the hospital.

The family of a second inmate, Miguel Jackson, alleges he was severely beaten by upwards of 20 guards Dec. 31 during what is called a “shakedown” at Smith State Prison near Glennville, Ga. in which corrections officers search prisoners’ cells. Upon finding nothing, said Mrs. Delma Jackson, Miguel’s wife, the officers accused Mr. Jackson of having “something.” Mr. Jackson was pepper sprayed, handcuffed and beaten repeatedly with hammers resulting in a fractured nose and 50 stitches to his face, said Mrs. Jackson. Guards also attempted to throw him over the railing from the second floor, she said.

And because the family has not been allowed to see him, his wife said they worry whether or not he may have a concussion or internal injuries. Upon seeing pictures of her husband, Mrs. Jackson said she and other family members drove New Year’s Day three and a half hours from Atlanta to check on his status.

Their visit was denied by corrections personnel, she said. This was after the family waited 90 minutes to be given a sheet to fill out, requesting a visit. “We didn’t even want to sit there and visit, we just wanted to see that he was okay and they denied us that right,” Mrs. Jackson told The Final Call.
When she asked prison officials why visitation was denied, all officials said was that there was an “incident” and the only one authorized to approve a visit would be the warden, who was not there, Mrs. Jackson continued. Mrs. Jackson said her husband’s fractured nose as of Jan. 3 still had not been reset and she worried the violent encounter will affect him psychologically.

She was upset that the prison still had not contacted her or the family about whether Mr. Jackson was in the infirmary with injuries. “That is our loved one, he’s a human being and they’re treating him like an animal,” she said.

“That is our loved one, he’s a human being and theyre treating him like an animal.” Mrs. Delma Jackson, Miguel’s wife

At press time, The Final Call was awaiting a reply to its voice message request for an interview with the Department of Corrections’ Public Affairs Office. The latest update on its web page is dated Dec. 15 and indicates that four facilities had returned to normal operations.

The prisoners’ strike included Hays, Smith, Telfair and Macon State Prisons and other facilities. Inside the institutions, inmates refused to come out of their cells to petition officials to be paid for work – given that they must pay for medical services – better medical care and better quality food, more self-improvement and educational programs, consistent disciplinary policies and a clear parole policy.

Coalition spokespersons said that beating occurred around the same time it was negotiating access to certain prisons to investigate conditions. And even as the delegation visited Macon State, the corrections department was apparently covering up the inmate’s reported retaliatory beating by several CERT (Correctional Emergency Response Team) members.
Witnesses reported to the coalition that CERT officers restrained Terrance Dean after an alleged dispute with a guard, dragged him from his cell in handcuffs and leg irons, removed him to the prison gym and beat him unconscious.

The beating remained unreported by corrections officials even though the coalition specifically raised questions about reports of retaliatory beatings, said the group. Questions were also asked about the status and whereabouts of 37 – or more – men the corrections department identified as strike “conspirators,” the coalition said.

The coalition formed to help support the prisoners’ calls for reform and includes the NAACP, the Nation of Islam, the ACLU of Georgia, the U.S. Human Rights Network, All of Us or None and The Ordinary People Society. Among other concerns is the potential cover up of an attempted murder.
“This agenda just got jumped up 10,000 times, not by us, but by them, these men who are suffering inside these walls. They’re the spark that lit the prairie fire and hopefully we who are on the outside that have united around their particular interests in Georgia can keep this going. The coalition has attracted a lot of people but the interesting thing is where in the hell is John Lewis? The coalition is growing but absent in any kind of way is the Congressional Black Caucus,” Ms. Brown said, referring to Congressman John Lewis, D-Ga., and other federal lawmakers.

She told The Final Call that few political officials from Georgia have addressed the issue. But state lawmaker Roberta Abdul Salaam has been very supportive, said coalition leaders. The coalition has reached out to CBC Chair Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and Rep. Lewis but have not received a response, said Ms. Brown.

“Everybody else in the world has come in without us sending a message to them, but not them. Where is the CBC? These men are their constituents, especially John Lewis, Tyrone Brooks (a state representative), and other Black leaders in Georgia,” asked Ms. Brown.

“We need them to do something: Bring the federal government in on behalf of these men … This is a disgrace that these people came into office on the blood of our people like Fannie Lou Hamer, who gave up her eye and her life … The duty of Black elected officials here is clear and they have failed to do their duty to these men and address this question. And I’m saying they should come on back home before we have to start talking about what we’re doing about their failure,” Ms. Brown said. Ed DuBose, head of the Georgia state NAACP, is co-chair of the coalition.

Coalition: Inmates complained of retaliation after peaceful strike

(photo) This unnamed prisoner in Georgia’s Smith State Prison was also beaten by guards. – Photo courtesy of Final Call
“They (inmates) got shipped out of their home institutions and were dispersed across the state. We think that they were primarily dispersed into two facilities but we have not had access to them yet,” said Ajamu Baraka, director of the U.S. Human Rights Network and a member of the delegation that visited Smith State Prison.

He said, “Among information received was that prisons only fed the inmates bologna sandwiches for six days – all to break the back of the strike. And then they released everybody and announced to the world that everything was fine. But the information we got was that the inmates understand that they struck a blow for their rights (and) that they may have to strike again to make sure that people understand how serious this situation really is,” Mr. Baraka told The Final Call.

After the visit, he said, the coalition’s concerns over conditions grew, particularly since Macon was supposed to be a model facility. For example, he said, “the hole” or isolation units, consist of 7-by-12-foot cells and inmates are double bunked in them 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Although inmates are supposed to get an hour out for recreation, the delegation learned that they hardly ever do for months at a time, Mr. Baraka added.
Mr. Baraka said he feels one reason prison authorities moved to shut down the strike quickly was because it could serve as a possible model for prisoners across the country.

But the outcome of the action in Georgia will determine whether there will be more and similar uprisings across the U.S., he predicted.
“The conditions in these prisons across the country are such that it’s amazing that we haven’t had more explosive situations or strikes, because you have overcrowding, brutality, neglect and the inability of prisoners to address these issues because of the Prison Reform Litigation Act passed by the Clinton administration, which has made it difficult for you to go to court to try to get the judiciary to intervene to deal with these inhumane conditions,” Mr. Baraka continued.

According to legal analysts, former President Bill Clinton passed the Prison Reform Litigation Act in 1996 to combat frivolous lawsuits brought by prisoners in an effort to unclog an already back-logged U.S. judicial system.
But Human Rights Watch said the federal law should be amended because it denies prisoners equal access to justice by singling out their lawsuits for burdens and restrictions that apply to no one else.

Racially biased policies and the prison economy

All of these issues are part of the larger problem with having a prison economy, said attorney Michelle Alexander, a civil rights advocate and author of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.”
She told The Final Call she doesn’t believe profit was the primary motive for the drug war and mass incarceration at the outset.
Nonetheless, the numbers are daunting. In 2007, nearly 2.3 million people were locked up in U.S. prisons, the highest incarceration rate in the world. Nearly 1 million Black men and women are incarcerated, 41 percent of total inmates.

According to criminal justice statistics by the NAACP, Blacks are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of Whites; one in six Black men had been incarcerated as of 2001; and one in 100 Black women is currently in prison. The U.S. is five percent of the world population yet has 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, according to an NAACP fact sheet.

This mass incarceration comes out of racial politics stirred up by the Republican Party, attorney Alexander argued. Essentially, she said, the GOP exploited the fears and anxieties of poor working class Whites by launching a movement promising to “get tough” on “those people” and built a campaign around crime and welfare to mobilize poor and working class White voters to defect from the Democratic Party and join the Republican Party in droves.
“But now that the war on drugs and mass incarceration has gained such steam, there’s a whole range of interests that has found that they can profit from caging human beings. And it’s not just the private prison companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange, but it’s a whole range of corporate interests,” she said.

“You know, taser gun manufacturers, phone companies that gouge prisoners and their families, the private health care providers that provide typically abysmal health care to prisoners, and prison guard unions,” all of whom now lobby for harsh criminal justice policies to try to ensure their profits and jobs will continue for a foreseeable future, attorney Alexander said.
Back in the day, prisons used to have their stock prices posted in the front of the facilities, because guards had employee stock options, according to Alex Friedmann, associate editor of Prison Legal News and president of the Private Corrections Institute, a non-profit advocacy group that opposes the privatization of prisons. He spoke of his past experience of 10 years of incarceration.

“When the guards came into work, they could see how well the company was doing … so they had a vested interest to make sure that the company did well, so that meant cutting back on costs. So if you had to screw prisoners out of something or remove something from them to save money and increase your bottom line, that’s what you would do. …

“It went along the lines of a for-profit industry, you know, ‘These are little money signs, just $45 a day per diem that we make for keeping them in prison, so it’s not really a person, just a number with a dollar sign in front of it,’” Mr. Friedmann said.

But soon employee morale suffered when the stock spiraled downward and people came to work only to find out that their entire savings had been wiped out, he said.
Mr. Friedmann echoed attorney Alexander’s sentiments that the correctional system exploded in the 1980s, and after the military industrial complex went downhill, the prison industrial complex arose. Security resources, law enforcement and military got funneled into the war on drugs and crime rose. But it’s really a war on Americans, citizens accused of crime and recreational drug use, he asserted.

“Our justice system is not only racially skewed but more so it’s class-based. Prison Legal News approaches it from the standpoint that the criminal justice system is primarily management for poor America. … You don’t see a lot of rich people because we have a two-tiered justice system: The poor go to prison and the rich tend to get drug treatment or probation or home confinement or GPS monitoring or something else,” Mr. Friedmann said.

The poor go to prison and the rich tend to get drug treatment or probation or home confinement or GPS monitoring or something else.” Alex Friedmann, associate editor of Prison Legal News

The problem, say civil and human rights activists, amounts to a systematic pattern of over-incarceration that needs to be addressed, particularly since more than half of the millions of people in U.S. prisons are non-violent offenders. Chara Fisher Jackson, legal director of the ACLU of Georgia, says the issues of prison overcrowding, lack of access to health care, inhumane treatment and other abuses are happening nationwide, but people have a right to basic human rights regardless of their circumstances.

Alternatives to expensive incarceration

Inmate advocates argue that the nearly $70 billion being spent nationally on corrections each year could be better used on non-vengeful alternatives, like drug treatment and programs that are mental-health focused. But instead of a rehabilitative approach, the country takes a retributive one that requires not an eye for an eye, but an eye and 20 years to life, Mr. Friedmann said.
He cited home monitoring, work service, day fines, split confinement, like weekends in jail or work days and evenings in jail as a few alternative solutions.

The main thing that people need to see is that prisoners are human beings and 95 percent of them will be re-entering their communities, he said.

The options are people who have been abused, degraded, humiliated and treated like slaves or people that have been helped, rehabilitated and served through programs, the prison reform advocate continued.

“I think that would be a simple solution, but not for our country,” he said.
Nathaniel Ali, executive director of the inmate and ex-offender education and resource advocacy group National Association of Brothers and Sisters In & Out of Prison, asserted that problems highlighted by the Georgia inmates exist in institutions nationwide.

These conditions are a continuation of policies tied to economics and “slaveocracy” – prisons profiting off the backs of inmates and their families.
There is a real connection to maintaining poverty through the prison industrial complex, said Mr. Ali. Excessive charges by phone companies for telephone calls are just one example, he added.

Phone calls, price gouging and family suffering

Activists added though prisons scoff at and punish prisoners for using cell phones, the system generated the need for phones because of price gouging for calls and denying inmates access to their families.

“The excessive charges for telephone calls has been an issue for years but now companies are beginning to diversify because there is money to be made,” but not just by MCI, Mr. Ali said.

“What is happening is larger companies are subcontracting with smaller companies who are in turn also billing telephone calls. So in essence, inmates and their families are being double billed for one phone call. If the first minute is $3 and something then it’s going to end up being $6 and something …. Companies are cashing in with the digital technology with what they know is going to be profitable, which is the inmates wanting to hear somebody’s voice on the other end of the line,” he said.

“The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said, ‘Justice is a human need; therefore justice is a human right,’” said Nation of Islam Student Prison Reform Minister Abdullah Muhammad.

He said the needs and rights of families are critical. “The high prices for phone calls cause some family members to block calls from jails and prisons, which can negatively affect family relations. And anything that disrupts family or is against the general welfare of the family is therefore against the aim and purpose of God and creation,” Minister Muhammad said.

According to Prisoners.com, a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit organization, an inmate may open an account with the telephone company and give them money in advance. However, in that instance the prisoner pays about $6.16 for a 15-minute conversation. Comparable service for persons not in prison costs about 75 cents.

“Somebody’s getting rich on the backs of prisoners and their families,” notes the site.

Prisoners.com goes on to note that for collect telephone calls, the inmate’s family must pay about $7 for a 15-minute conversation. If the phone call is disconnected before the allotted time, reconnection fees may apply.
For inmates, who in some cases make as little as $20 to $30 per month, a 30-minute telephone call to a loved one may cost half a month’s wages.

This story first appeared in the Final Call, at http://www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/National_News_2/article_7536.shtml.

Support the struggle for human rights in Georgia prisons

By Ikemba S. Mutulu, SF Bay View
January 12, 2011

I’d like to offer this word of support to the convicts and comrades out in them Georgia dungeons doing your thing. As word comes out about the inhumane conditions there, it’s important we all stand in solidarity with these men. To recognize and demand one’s own humanity is to simultaneously acknowledge and stand in unison for the human rights of all peoples.

The state will make every excuse to deny this systematic pattern of abuse and corruption in the prisons. They will try to criminalize our protests as riots and our self defense against their brutality as unprovoked attacks on them.
So it is vital for loved ones and supporters on the outside to witness as much as possible, get as many first hand accounts as possible and report it to the people.

And we on the inside must continue the struggle, educating one another and doing what is necessary to make our voices heard. The young brothers there said, “Know your rights.” And I would add, “Know your worth.”

(Send our brother some love and light. Write to: Marritte Funches, 37050, NNCC, P.O. Box 7000, Carson City, NV 89702)

Message from a prisoner in Georgia

by Zak Solomon, Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights

This email was sent Tuesday, Jan. 11 (texted in several segments):
“As salamu alaikum. Brother, I am known as a Freedom Fighter. I am a Muslim incarcerated in the Georgia prison. I am at one of the prisons that were locked down in December. Many injustices are happening here.

“Since the beatings of inmates with hammers by corrections staff, another approach by staff is taking place. Instead of the staff themselves beating inmates, they are allowing the so called gang bangers and so called thugs to do it and then they compensate them in some fashion, as well as protect them from disciplinary action.
 
“If you would like to contact me about this, please feel free to do so. I am working with as many outside organizations as possible. For the safety of my life and fear of retaliation by staff, please keep my identity and phone info confidential. As salamu alaikum.”
(Photo: In retaliation for organizing the Georgia prison strike, Miguel Jackson was pepper sprayed, handcuffed and beaten with hammers, resulting in a fractured nose and 50 stitches to his face, and guards tried to throw him over the railing from the second floor, his wife said. – Photo courtesy of the Final Call.)

After discussion with members and affiliates of the Concerned Coalition, it seems that the best response we can take at the moment is to call Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, at (404) 656-1776.

Deal (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nathan_Deal) is an anti-immigrant former prosecutor and has little concern for the prisoners’ rights or their safety. Short of going out to Georgia, shutting down his phone lines appears to be the most effective way to let him know the world is watching.

We are in the process of putting together a call-in campaign, where different cities commit to shutting down the governor’s office’s phone lines on consecutive days – until the 37 disappeared prisoners’ status and whereabouts are released and good faith negotiations with CCRPR on the prisoners’ demands have begun.

If you are willing to help organize the call-in campaign, please reply to Zak Solomon, zsol13@gmail.com. No in-person meetings will be required. Please share this information.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Press Conference on Georgia Prisons

From: Denis O'Hearn 9:14am Jan 8 

A press conference was held this morning in Atlanta GA to press for changes in GA prisons. Here is the press release, please post.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 6, 2011
10:30 a.m.
Georgia State Capitol
206 Washington Street
Atlanta, Georgia

NEW CHARGES OF INMATE BEATINGS

Reports from Prison Visits
Set Off Coalition Appeal to DOC and Governor-Elect for More Access

The Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners' Rights, formed to support the interests and agenda of thousands of Georgia prisoners who staged a peaceful protest and work strike initiated early last December, will host a press conference this Thursday. The mothers and other family members of Terrance Dean and Miguel Jackson, inmates reportedly brutally beaten by guards at Macon State and Smith State Prisons in connection with the strike, will be in attendance.
The press conference follows reports of violent abuses of these men and others and the findings of fact by Coalition delegations after visits to two prisons in December. These reports have increased fears of the targeting of and retaliation against inmates on account of their peaceful protest for their human rights and raise the urgency for immediate reform.

"These new developments have increased our fears and our legitimate call for more access to inmates," said Elaine Brown, Co-Chair of the Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners Rights.

Ed Dubose, Coalition Co-Chair and president of the NAACP of Georgia, stated, "Family members are frantic and mothers are crying and anguished after learning their loved ones have been badly injured. We cannot allow those cries to go unanswered. Since the start of the December 9 peaceful work stoppage and appeal for reform and respect for human rights, some inmates have been targeted and others have simply disappeared. We are urging the Department of Corrections and Governor-Elect Nathan Deal to act now to halt these unjust practices and treat these men like human beings."

Black, brown, white, Muslim, Christian, Rastafarian prisoners, including those at Augusta, Baldwin, Calhoun, Hancock, Hays, Macon, Rogers, Smith, Telfair, Valdosta and Ware State Prisons, joined a peaceful work stoppage December 9, 2010, refusing to come out of their cells as part of a petition to the corrections department.

Among concerns expressed by inmates were not being paid for their labor; being charged excessive fees for basic medical treatments; language barriers suffered by Latino inmates; arbitrary, harsh disciplinary practices; too few opportunities for education and self improvement; and unjust parole denials.

Coalition leaders attending the press conference will be Mr. Dubose, Ajamu Baraka of the U.S. Human Rights Network, Pastor Kenneth Glasgow of The Ordinary People Society, Chara Jackson of the ACLU of Georgia, along with Abdul Sharrief Muhammad of the Nation of Islam.

The prisoners have been petitioning the corrections department for their human rights, including wages for labor, decent health care and nutritional meals, a halt to cruel and unusual punishments, and an end to unjust just parole decisions.


Freedom Archives
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415 863-9977

Friday, January 7, 2011

Medical neglect stalks Georgia prisons

From: Black Agenda Report
Taken from: SF Bay View, Jan. 6, 2011

by Black Agenda Report managing editor Bruce A. Dixon


Can’t breathe? Crushing chest pains creeping up the side of your neck? See a doctor? In prison? Don’t bet on it.Arnold Porter was serious, and seriously worried. He was dizzy and short of breath, he told Dr. William Sightler, with a crushing, tightening sensation in his chest with pain shooting up one side of his neck. “Maybe I have a clogged artery. This is not my normal health,” he told Dr. Sightler. “Please help. I need something done fast.”

Slow motion heart attacks, in which symptoms leading up to full cardiac arrest build and worsen gradually over weeks or months are quite common. Porter should have been a lucky man, being able to bring his heart attack symptoms into in a physician’s office, except for one thing. Porter was a prisoner at Georgia’s Wheeler Correctional Facility, operated by the notorious Corrections Corporation of America. And William Slighter was their doctor, not his.

According to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Dublin, Ga., Porter repeatedly and insistently sought medical aid throughout the month of December 2006, informing Dr. Sightler and a prison nurse of his symptoms and urgently requesting some kind, any kind of diagnostic treatment for his chest pain, shortness of breath, profuse sweating and the other classic markers of cardiac disease. By Dec. 29, the complaint states, Porter’s symptoms were well documented in his file, but the first appointment with Dr. Sightler was delayed a full 35 days. It was at this appointment that Porter stated he thought he might have a clogged artery and asked for help.

Dr. Sightler, Nurse Newcurt and the prison Director of Nursing Carolyn White, the complaint alleges, did nothing. Wheeler is a privatized prison, run by a highly profitable corporation. Private prisons, as well as publicly-run prisons with privatized medical care, have built-in reasons to skimp on diagnostic testing and all kinds of care. Medical care costs money, and they’re in business to make it, not to spend it.

On Oct. 16, 2007, Arnold Porter went into full cardiac arrest. He died. His pulse and breathing stopped, he had to be brought back with a combination of electric shock and cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Porter is lucky to be alive today. He’s a long way from being well but has made it far enough back to draft and file his own complaint against CCA, the state of Georgia, and the doctors and nurses who refused to treat him ‘til he reached the point of death.

Porter’s sister Vondra told Black Agenda Report, “My brother says, ‘They’ve already tried to kill me. I don’t know what more they can do.’” So Porter is doing what he can do, acting as a jailhouse lawyer, researching and assisting with the pleas and motions of other prisoners at Coffee Correctional facility, where he is now held.

Some other Georgia prisoners are not so fortunate. Terrance Dean, who was brutally beaten by officials at Macon State Prison in mid-December, around the same time as the visit of a Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights fact-finding team, finally got a visit from his sister on Sunday, Jan. 2.

“He’s got a long way to go,” said Wendy Johnson of Atlanta. “He’s in a wheelchair, his speech is slurred, and he seems to have partial paralysis in his arm and leg on one side. He can’t walk without help … He is very fearful.” According to Johnson, the last time he saw his mother, in November, he was in normal physical condition with no complaints.

Dean was transferred in apparent secrecy to an Atlanta hospital more than 130 miles away from the prison. His family was not informed at all by state authorities of either his injury or his transfer. They had to find out by other means. And although Johnson spoke to Steve Franklin of CBS Atlanta on Friday, the story appears to have received little or no on-air coverage and cannot be found on the station’s web site.

“We’re going to do everything we can to find out what happened to Terrance Dean and everything we can to make sure justice is served,” pledged Rev. Kenny Glasgow of The Ordinary Peoples Society.

At Smith Prison, where another fact-finding visit occurred, there was at least one incident which may be another case of official retaliation for the prison strike. The wife of another prisoner at that institution spoke to corporate media reporters just before New Year’s about her husband, whose nose was broken and not reset and who had other injuries. Again, the story has seen little light. The family has retained an attorney and is looking into its legal options.

The Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoner Rights expects to hold a press conference in Atlanta Jan. 6 at 10:30 in downtown Atlanta. We’ll be there.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report [2]and is based in Marietta, Georgia. He’s also a member of the Georgia Green Party’s state committee.


New charges of inmate beatings

by the Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights

The Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights, formed to support the interests and agenda of thousands of Georgia prisoners who staged a peaceful protest and work strike initiated Dec. 9, will host a press conference this Thursday, Jan. 6. The mothers and other family members of Terrance Dean and Miguel Jackson, inmates reportedly brutally beaten by guards at Macon State and Smith State Prisons in connection with the strike, will be in attendance.

The press conference follows reports of violent abuses of these men and others and the findings of fact by coalition delegations after visits to two prisons in December. These reports have increased fears of the targeting of and retaliation against inmates on account of their peaceful protest for their human rights and raise the urgency for immediate reform.

“These new developments have increased our fears and our legitimate call for more access to inmates,” said Elaine Brown, co-chair of the Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights.

Ed Dubose, coalition co-chair and president of the NAACP of Georgia, stated: “Family members are frantic and mothers are crying and anguished after learning their loved ones have been badly injured. We cannot allow those cries to go unanswered. Since the start of the Dec. 9 peaceful work stoppage and appeal for reform and respect for human rights, some inmates have been targeted and others have simply disappeared. We are urging the Department of Corrections and Governor-Elect Nathan Deal to act now to halt these unjust practices and treat these men like human beings.”

Black, brown, white, Muslim, Christian and Rastafarian prisoners, including those at Augusta, Baldwin, Calhoun, Calhoun, Hays, Macon, Rogers, Smith, Telfair, Valdosta and Ware State Prisons, joined a peaceful work stoppage Dec. 9, 2010, refusing to come out of their cells as part of a petition to the Corrections Department.

Among concerns expressed by inmates were not being paid for their labor; being charged excessive fees for basic medical treatments; language barriers suffered by Latino inmates; arbitrary, harsh disciplinary practices; too few opportunities for education and self improvement; and unjust parole denials.

Coalition leaders attending the press conference will be Mr. Dubose, Ajamu Baraka of the U.S. Human Rights Network, Pastor Kenneth Glasgow of The Ordinary People Society, Chara Jackson of the ACLU of Georgia, along with Abdul Sharrief Muhammad of the Nation of Islam.

The prisoners have been petitioning the corrections department for their human rights, including wages for labor, decent health care and nutritional meals, a halt to cruel and unusual punishments and an end to unjust just parole decisions.

The Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights can be reached through Leila McDowell at lmcdowell@naacpnet.org or concernedcoalitionga@gmail.com.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Brutal Reprisals Against Peaceful GA Inmate Strikers Confirmed. Was One Victim Hidden For Weeks By Prison Authorities?

From Black Agenda Report:

Created 01/01/2011 - 10:08

By BAR Managing Editor Bruce A. Dixon

Black, brown and white inmates in 6 Georgia prisons nonviolently locked themselves in their cells for several days beginning December 9, demanding wages for work, educational opportunities, adequate food and medical care, just parole decisions and access to their families. The peaceful inmate strikers, as we reported the following day, were already victims of brutal retaliation on the part of correctional officials, ranging from cutoffs of heat and hot water to unprovoked assaults by correctional employees upon prisoners.

It now appears that at least one inmate, Terrance Dean of Bibb County GA was brutally assaulted by staff at Macon State Prison on or about December 16 was so severely injured prison officials secretly evacuated him to a hospital in Atlanta without bothering to inform his family. It's not known at this time which Department of Corrections officials authorized the secret evacuation, who decided not to notify Dean's family of either his injuries or his whereabouts, or whether the prisoner was transported the roughly 130 miles to Atlanta via ground or air ambulance. The first word the prisoner's family received of either the beating or Dean's whereabouts was when they were contacted December 30 or 31 by the friends and associates of other prisoners on the outside. Neither the Department of Corrections nor Atlanta Medical Center, where the prisoner was held for about two weeks, has released any information about the extent of the prisoner's injuries, his current medical condition, or how he was injured.

The morning of Friday, December 31, Dean's sister, along with ACLU attorney Chara Jackson and GA state NAACP chief Ed DuBose representing the Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoner's Rights [4] showed up at the Atlanta Medical Center demanding to see the injured prisoner or at least have his whereabouts confirmed. After several hours of delay, correctional officials said his mother and sister, along with the attorney would be allowed to visit him at Jackson State Prison Sunday, January 2, but they offered no explanation of the reasons for his secretive transfer. Hospital officials also refused to offer any information on Dean's injuries, even to his family, on grounds of doctor-patient confidentiality.

“We assume that state officials have a written policy requiring them to inform family members in the event of the serious injury of their loved ones in prison,” said the Georgia Green Party [5]'s Hugh Esco. “If Georgia corrections personnel did brutally beat Terrance Dean, transfer him secretly more than a hundred miles from the scene of the crime scene and neglect to inform his family about his injuries or whereabouts they could be parties to a criminal conspiracy. The Green Party has written a letter to the outgoing and incoming governors asking them to look carefully at the events surrounding the case of Mr. Dean. We also note that the Department of Corrections promised access to the 37 prisoners whom it transferred as a result of the inmate strike that began on December 9. We hope this is a promise they keep, so that the public can get a complete and accurate picture of what goes on behind those walls.”

Dean's sister, attorney Chara Jackson, and the NAACP's Ed DuBose briefed the press at Atlanta Medical Center, including representatives from at least one local TV station repeatedly beginning at noon on Friday, and assured Black Agenda Report that they will attempt to see Terrance Dean at Jackson State Prison on Sunday, January 2. But as of nearly 24 hours later, on the morning of January 1, 2011 no corporate news outlet is publicly asking or answering any of the key questions around the assault on Terrance Dean, or what look for all the world like official attempts to conceal it from his family and the public.

“This is no surprise,” offered BAR executive editor Glen Ford. “For corporate journalists, a story without input from government or corporate officials is no story at all. For these so-called reporters, the story has a big hole in it as long as state officials decline to comment, even though official misconduct on the part of government IS the story. If the state declines to comment until Sunday or Monday, they will sit on the story till then. Establishment journalists are nothing if not disciplined and well-trained.”

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, based in Marietta GA, and a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. Both Black Agenda Report and the Georgia Green Party are members of the Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoner's Rights [4].



Source URL: http://blackagendareport.com/?q=content/brutal-reprisals-against-peaceful-ga-inmate-strikers-confirmed-was-one-victim-hidden-weeks-p

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Georgia Prison Striker Severely Beaten; Department of Corrections Cover-Up

From: US Human Rights Network

For Immediate Release                              Contact:  Elaine Brown, 404-542-1211
December 31, 2010                                                    Leila McDowell, 410-336-7879
                                                                                    concernedcoalitionga@gmail.com
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GEORGIA PRISON STRIKER SEVERELY BEATEN
Department of Corrections Cover-Up

Family members and Coalition members, including NAACP Georgia State Conference President Ed Dubose and Georgia ACLU Legal Director Chara Jackson, will attempt to see beaten prisoner today at Atlanta Medical Center
12 Noon 

The Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights learned that on or about December 16, TERRANCE BRYANT DEAN was severely beaten by guards at Macon State Prison where he was incarcerated.  The Coalition asserts this brutal beating was not isolated and was a retaliatory act carried out by the Department of Corrections (DOC) against non-violent striking inmates.   The Coalition was formed to support the interests and agenda of thousands of Georgia prisoners who staged a peaceful protest and work strike initiated in early December. 

The Coalition is concerned about continued violent retaliation against the multiracial group of prisoners who staged a peaceful protest to be paid for their labor, for educational opportunities, access to family members, an end to cruel and unusual punishments, and other human rights.  The eight-day strike, begun in early December, involved united prison populations at various prisons, including Hays, Smith, Telfair and Macon State Prisons.

Dean’s mother, Mrs. Willie Maude Dean, stated that since she learned from inmates that her son had been beaten, she has been given no information about his condition or whereabouts by the DOC, and that she and Dean’s sisters, Wendy Johnson and Natasha Montgomery, have been denied access to him since they discovered he was hospitalized at Atlanta Medical Center.
It was around the same time of this beating that the Coalition was meeting with the DOC making the demand that a Coalition fact-finding delegation be provided access to certain prisons to investigate conditions inside.   

The DOC acceded to provide such access to a Coalition delegation—starting at Macon State Prison.  However, even as the delegation visited Macon State, the DOC was apparently covering-up Dean’s reported retaliatory beating there by several CERT (Correctional Emergency Response Team) Team members, who witnesses reported restrained Dean after an alleged altercation with a guard, dragged him from his cell in handcuffs and leg irons, removed him to the prison gym and beat him unconscious.  The beating remained unreported by the DOC even though the Coalition specifically raised questions about reports of retaliatory beatings and about the status and whereabouts of 37—or more—men the DOC identified as strike “conspirators.” 

Mrs. Dean told Coalition leaders last night that when she asked Macon State Warden McLaughlin where was her son, based on concerns raised by prisoner reports he had been beaten nearly to death, McLaughlin told her he was “in the hole,” or, an isolation cell.  In fact, Mr. Dean was already in the hospital. 

The Coalition is raising concerns about the potential cover up of an attempted murder and the refusal, to date, of the prison to identify the missing 37 or more inmates deemed “conspirators” by the DOC.   The Coalition is calling for the DOC and other state officials to sit down with the inmates to start a process to realize the inmates’ human rights. 

The Coalition, which has grown into an entity of thousands of supporters and hundreds of organizations across the U.S. and internationally, includes the NAACP, the Nation of Islam, the ACLU, the U.S. Human Rights Network, All of Us or None, The Ordinary People Society and many others, and is co-chaired by Dubose and author-activist Elaine Brown.

A Coalition fact-finding delegation visited Macon State Prison on December 20 and was visiting Smith State Prison yesterday, December 29th, when the Coalition uncovered facts about Mr. Dean’s reported, brutal beating.  The Coalition is planning to release a full report of its investigations and prison visits once the investigations are completed.

Date of Publication: 
Sat, 12/31/2011

Fact-Finding Delegation from Coalition Supporting GA Prisoners Gathers Incredible Accounts at Macon Prison

Summary: 
For Immediate Release                                  
December 22, 2010                    

Contact: Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights
                 concernedcoalitionga@gmail.com  

Fact-Finding Delegation From Coalition Supporting Georgia Prisoners Gathers Incredible Accounts from Inmates, Conditions at Macon Prison

The Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights, formed to support the interests and agenda of thousands of Georgia prisoners who staged a peaceful protest and work strike initiated in early December, had a fact-finding delegation visit Macon State Prison (Oglethorpe, Georgia) Dec. 20 as a follow up to a meeting with Dept. of Corrections officials concerning the non-violent action by inmates in 10 institutions.

“The delegation was able to hear incredible stories from inmates, confirm inmate participation in and widespread support for the peaceful strike that started Dec. 9 and to see conditions that have raised serious concerns and questions. It is clear that we must continue to examine the complaints from prisoners, their petition for change, and their appeal that their human rights be respected and, therefore, visit more institutions and speak directly with more prisoners,” said former Black Panther leader Elaine Brown, who has been spearheading much of the support activity and outreach on behalf of Black, brown, white, Muslim, Christian, Rastafarian prisoners, including those at Augusta, Baldwin, Calhoun, Hancock, Hays, Macon, Rogers, Smith, Telfair, Valdosta and Ware State Prisons.

“The corrections department made the proper decision by allowing us to review conditions and speak with inmates in this historic first step toward learning what is happening behind prison walls,” delegation member Rachel Talbot Ross of the NAACP stated. “Inmates paying for medication but not earning money for their work, language barriers suffered by Latino prisoners because of a lack of information in Spanish, unclear disciplinary policies and reasons for transferring or isolating prisoners, too few opportunities for education and self improvement were among accounts offered by inmates,” reported delegation member Ajamu Baraka of the U.S. Human Rights Network. 

“Most amazing was the renewed hope and commitment to petitioning the institutions and corrections department for reform expressed by the prisoners. One inmate told us that in 15 years behind bars, this is the first time he has seen any sign someone is concerned about their plight. Prisoners also shared with us how some policies are causing hardships for their families when it comes to visitation and financial support from loved ones," said delegation member Charles Muhammad of the Nation of Islam.

"We need more information and more access to determine where policy is flawed and where other problems come from. Our desire is to reenter an institution the last week in December. We hope to issue some kind of report in early January,” said delegation member Chara Fisher Jackson of the ACLU of Georgia.

Members of the delegation included the NAACP, the Nation of Islam, the U.S. Human Rights Network, the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, The Ordinary People Society (TOPS), and the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition.
The prisoners are petitioning the corrections department for their human rights, including being paid for their labor, provided educational opportunities, decent health care and nutritional meals, a halt to cruel and unusual punishments, and an end to unjust parole decisions. 

Date of Publication: 
Thu, 12/23/2010

In Solidarity With:

In Solidarity With:
Californiaprisonwatch.org

In Solidarity with:

In Solidarity with:
Nevada Prison Watch

In Solidarity with:

In Solidarity with:
Pennsylvania Prison Watch

Statement of Solidarity!

To: General Public.
A Moment for Movement-Building: Statement of Solidarity with Georgia Prisoner Strike.

Please sign the statement here:

http://www.petitiononline.com/wagesnow/petition.html
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