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Georgia DOC’s Tier II Program, extreme solitary confinement, is dehumanizing torture

November 27, 2015

by Justin Sinclair Ashley

I’m writing to you on behalf of myself and ALL of the other brothers who are sharing my same struggle as a captive of the Georgia Department of Oppression. Georgia is a “hate state,” so we have no “progressive” media outlets here in the state and we need to bring attention to our plight with hopes that the publicity will garner us some help in one fashion or another.

Georgia’s extremely cruel Tier II program seems to have been instigated by the historic but short-lived Georgia prison work strike of Dec. 9, 2010, put down with unparalleled brutality: Guards threw one prisoner off a tier and beat two others with hammers. That strike and the successful hunger strike at Lucasville in Ohio the next month inspired the California hunger strikes of 2011 and 2013. So as Georgia intensified the cruelty of Pelican Bay with Tier II to protect its slave labor regime (Georgia prisoners are paid nothing for work in our outside the prison), the Pelican Bay hunger strike heroes are gradually returning to “normal” prison life. The rally pictured here, on Jan. 6, 2011, called for a federal investigation, which culminated this year in the conviction of several of the guards who put down the Georgia work strike. – Photo: Kristi Swartz, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia’s extremely cruel Tier II program seems to have been instigated by the historic but short-lived Georgia prison work strike of Dec. 9, 2010, put down with unparalleled brutality: Guards threw one prisoner off a tier and beat two others with hammers. That strike and the successful hunger strike at Lucasville in Ohio the next month inspired the California hunger strikes of 2011 and 2013. So as Georgia intensified the cruelty of Pelican Bay with Tier II to protect its slave labor regime (Georgia prisoners are paid nothing for work in our outside the prison), the Pelican Bay hunger strike heroes are gradually returning to “normal” prison life. The rally pictured here, on Jan. 6, 2011, called for a federal investigation, which culminated this year in the conviction of several of the guards who put down the Georgia work strike. – Photo: Kristi Swartz, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

We are being oppressed and repressed from all angles by the state and, though some of us are fighting back, many of us have no knowledge of the “law” or anyone on the “outside” to help us wage war here in the depths of the beast – with those of us who are fighting and those who are willing to fight being a minority in the extreme.

And those who are the assimilators, the manipulated, the confused, and the mentally disturbed being in the majority – a majority who’s being willfully used by the state to subvert the intentions and pursuits of us who oppose the current system of oppression, a majority who’s blind to the fact that the war is against our captors and NOT against us fellow captives, for we are one and all considered “enemies of the state.”

We are being oppressed and repressed from all angles by the state and, though some of us are fighting back, many of us have no knowledge of the “law” or anyone on the “outside” to help us wage war here in the depths of the beast.

I myself was one of the blind until recently when I finally began to see that the “conditions of confinement” that we equate with the reason for our pain and suffering are merely the effects caused by the root of the problem – that problem being the incarceration and subjugation of the uneducated and impoverished – a problem enhanced by lack of awareness, knowledge, understanding, unity in purpose, courage, righteous and decisive leadership, discipline, guidance, sacrifice, finance, determination and networking on the part of Georgia’s incarcerated as a whole.

Therefore the fight for recognition and observing of our rights is being slowed to the point of almost being at a standstill. And it’s slowing even more with the spreading of Georgia’s newfound gangbanging culture which popped up out of nowhere about five years ago. The government is using us to undermine ourselves, and that’s due to ignorance, first and foremost.

So we are truly in need of an awakening here. The majority needs to be brought into the awareness of what the true issues are and made conscious of the fact that we ourselves wield the power to solve our problems.

Administrative Segregation Tier II Program, an extreme form of solitary confinement

In the name of liberty, life and human rights, the administrative segregation population at Georgia State Prison (GSP) is reaching out to you with hopes that you will advocate and intervene on our behalf to put an end to the horrific and inhumane conditions of confinement being forced upon us through the implementation of the Administrative Segregation Tier II Program, because the grievance system is a mockery and has rendered us no relief from the oppressive, repressive and dehumanizing tactics of the Georgia Department of Corrections.

The administrative segregation population at Georgia State Prison (GSP) is reaching out to you with hopes that you will advocate and intervene on our behalf to put an end to the horrific and inhumane conditions of confinement being forced upon us through the implementation of the Administrative Segregation Tier II Program.

Georgia State Prison, which for decades has held a large lockdown population with some inmates being on lockdown for 20 or more years, began what is called the Administrative Segregation Tier II Program on July 16, 2014. On this date, GDOC’s Tactical Squad, along with the GSP’s correctional officers, confiscated all of our personal clothing, hygiene products, health care products, books, photo albums, law books, magazines, newspapers, CD players, radios, drinking cups, bowls etc., with us being allowed to keep only 20 personal letters, a portion of legal mail, and a Bible or a Quran (one or the other), our personal hygiene products being replaced with only a soap, toothpaste and roll-on deodorant, which are of very low and poor quality.

Publications, education, radio and TV, law library denied

The guidelines for the Tier II Program, which lasts for a minimum of 12 months, places a ban on all books, newspapers, magazines, novels, textbooks, dictionaries and any self-help and self-educational materials. Per Deputy Warden of Care and Treatment Janet Brewton, we are not even allowed to receive books from the prison library for at least the first two phases of the program, which at a minimum takes six months to complete.

All books, magazines and newspapers which are mailed to us are being “returned to sender” without giving us notification or a chance to appeal the prison’s decision. All books are considered contraband except for the Bible and the Quran, and we are only allowed to have either one or the other in our possession.

We are not being allowed to continue educational correspondence courses to earn degrees or diplomas so that we can have a better chance of getting legitimate jobs upon release. The purpose for prison is to pay for our crimes, true enough, but penological interests are supposed to be for us to rehabilitate ourselves, educate ourselves, and thereby redeem ourselves so that we don’t return to society with the same mentalities that caused us to come to prison.

CERT (Correctional Emergency Response Team) officers, more accustomed to brutal and sometimes lethal cell extractions, demonstrate how they would handle an “emergency situation.” Many states train aggressive, muscle-bound guards in CERT torture techniques to terrorize prisoners. – Photo: Sarah Caldwell, Augusta Chronicle

CERT (Correctional Emergency Response Team) officers, more accustomed to brutal and sometimes lethal cell extractions, demonstrate how they would handle an “emergency situation.” Many states train aggressive, muscle-bound guards in CERT torture techniques to terrorize prisoners. – Photo: Sarah Caldwell, Augusta Chronicle

Inmates are allowed very restricted contact with and access to the “free world,” which is perpetuated in part by the ban on books and periodicals and the confiscation of all TVs and radios, which effectively blocks us from being kept abreast of current events and aware of the world’s happenings beyond the prison’s gates and implemented more thoroughly through the reduction of phone calls and visits to only three 15-minute collect calls and three two-hour non-contact visits for the first six months of enlistment in the program. Further restrictions are placed on the days and times that calls are allowed to be made and also on the days of visits and number of visitors – all to put further strain on maintaining contact with family, friends and attorneys as well, because there is no exemption from the phone regulations for placing calls to one’s attorney.

We are not being given proper access to the law and courts. Admin. seg. inmates are routinely denied “law library” by CERT (Correctional Emergency Response Team) officers. The law library for admin. seg. inmates only has seven small holding pens and one computer to service the needs of the entire lockdown population, which is approximately 600-700 inmates.

The reference library, which is supposed to print out cases and legal statutes, no longer sends the materials we request and hasn’t for almost a year. This is being done to keep us ignorant of our rights, to block us from preparing and filing lawsuits to protect our constitutionally protected liberties and rights and to stop us from pursuing freedom through appeals and habeas corpus.

Starvation diet

We are not being given the proper nutrition or portions of food and are not being allowed to purchase commissary as a means to supplement the malnutrition being forced upon us that is making the admin. seg. Tier II Population lose weight and suffer the pain of hunger as a means of punishment and torture. The malnutrition of the Tier II population is evident in the fact that the number of inmates being placed on medical diets to increase weight and calorie intake has made a steep incline.

Per the guidelines of the Food and Nutrition Board in the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, we are supposed to have a certain amount of calories on each tray we receive. All meals are supposed to contain 2,800 calories.

We are not being given the proper nutrition or portions of food and are not being allowed to purchase commissary as a means to supplement the malnutrition being forced upon us.

On the days inmates do not receive a mid-day meal – Friday, Saturday and Sunday – our breakfast and dinner portions are supposed to be larger so that we still receive the same number of calories daily, but GSP is not going by these guidelines. The trays often have old decayed food residue on them from being partially cleaned.

Bugs, both live and dead, are often found in the food, yet the officers still force the trays on the inmates. Also, per the DOC’s own standard operating procedure, meals are supposed to be served hot but they are almost always served cold.

Clothing, hygiene and cell cleaning curtailed

We are inadequately clothed. The prison won’t provide us with the proper clothing and won’t allow us to purchase the clothing we need, like the “general population” is being allowed to, as a means of punishment and torture.

We are not being given the means to sanitize the cells that we are housed in. The cells are filthy: Most have food, blood and feces on the walls and there is a serious rodent and insect infestation. Inmates are rarely if ever given the chance to properly clean the cells we live in 24 hours a day for five days of the week – with two hours recreation on Tuesday and Thursday – because of a lack of cleaning supplies and the laziness of officers who either won’t let us clean at all or either won’t give us anything except for a broom or maybe just some chemicals in a cup.

Because a small percentage of inmates flood their cells by making the toilet overflow, the prison administration has removed all toilet buttons out of the lockdown cells so that we cannot flush our own toilets; therefore, we rely on officers to flush the toilets for us. But some of them are lazy or just plain spiteful, so we may have feces and urine in the toilets for hours at a time. And since we aren’t being given a chance to clean the toilets often, they are filthy and give off a very bad odor, which we are forced to breathe in all day.

The prison won’t provide us with the proper clothing and won’t allow us to purchase the clothing we need, like the “general population” is being allowed to, as a means of punishment and torture.

We are not being allowed to have the hygienic products that we need and are not allowed to purchase any, so most inmates have a foul odor because the deodorant the state issues us is not an anti-perspirant and therefore doesn’t work for most of us. We are not allowed any lotions or greases, so we are forced to use the antibiotics and other ointments available through the prison’s medical department as moisturizer for our skin.

We are not allowed any shaving creams or after-shaves to combat the bumps that come from the hair clippers we are forcefully shaved with which are not being cleaned properly before, after or between uses.

No religious freedom

We are routinely denied the right of religious freedom and expression. GSP recognizes only the religions of Christianity and Islam and does not allow possession of any other religion’s texts or any religious material except the Bible and the Quran. We are not afforded any worship services or religious programming of any type.

We are not allowed to practice sincerely held beliefs, such as the Jewish and Rastafarian “Vow of Nazarite,” which forbids the cutting of the hair, and the “keeping of Kosher” for those whose beliefs restrict the eating of certain foods prepared in certain ways. Those of us whose religious beliefs forbid us from eating meat are not given vegan meals and are not being transferred to prisons that serve vegan meals, even after being approved to receive this type of meals.

We are routinely denied the right of religious freedom and expression.

Inmates are subjected to brutality, humiliation and harassment by correctional officers and staff at any given time. Officers and administrators here are prone to abuse their authority in dealing with inmates and meting out discipline and punishments.

Extreme punishment

Inmates are often assaulted while in handcuffs or other restraints for no reason at all but most frequently for practicing freedom of speech, which is a constitutionally protected right along with the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishments. But here at GSP, if an inmate addresses the warden or other administrative staff about anything they don’t like or about how inmates are being mistreated, you are liable to be sprayed with Mace, OC spray or any of the other toxic gases in their arsenal, stripped naked and humiliated and placed on “stripcell” with no bedding, clothing or anything else – regardless of the temperature – for eight or more hours just for exercising your First Amendment rights.

CERT teams from around the state of Georgia compete for the coveted Commissioner's Cup on Oct. 18, 2013. All that muscle is employed in the oppression of the mostly Black Georgia prison population. – Photo: Georgia Corrections

CERT teams from around the state of Georgia compete for the coveted Commissioner’s Cup on Oct. 18, 2013. All that muscle is employed in the oppression of the mostly Black Georgia prison population. – Photo: Georgia Corrections

Inmates are forced by the prison’s administrators and officers to bunk with other inmates against their will, even when inmates let the officers know that there will be a conflict if they force the inmates into the cell with each other. Because of this deliberate indifference on behalf of the prison’s employees, there have been deaths, numerous stabbings and other serious injuries to inmates. Inmates in “protective custody” are also being subjected to these same dangers.

Mental health inmates are oftentimes punished for mental infirmities and deficiencies that are beyond their control and made worse by the conditions of confinement forced upon them and the lack of dedicated attention and help by the mental health staff here. Mental health inmates here are suffering and being punished because of a lack of treatment by psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health counseling staff.

Many are wrongly diagnosed and are either overly or under-medicated, and many who need and beg for psychiatric help are given no help at all. Signs of mental deterioration often go undocumented unless it’s a suicide attempt; the only other way they’ll be documented is in a “disciplinary report.” Mental health inmates on admin. seg. are being afforded no programing and are left to their own devices, which is leading to rapid deterioration of their mental faculties and mental state.

Inmates are often assaulted while in handcuffs or other restraints for no reason at all but most frequently for practicing freedom of speech.

Inmates validated by the Georgia Department of Corrections as being part of the Goodfellas, Young Mafia Family or plain and simply as “Mob” are being subjected to group punishment, and all inmates with this validation are kept on admin. seg. and must have been on lockdown since November of 2011 or even longer. Per Georgia DOC Commissioner Brian Owens, they will remain on lockdown indefinitely with the excuse that it is for their own protection.

But inmates with this validation are not being held on protective custody but are instead being punished through the Tier Program. The given reason for placement is that inmates received disciplinary reports in the past, which constitutes double jeopardy because sanctions were given for the disciplinary reports and none of the sanctions included placement in the Tier Program.

The standard operating procedure for the Tier II Program states that inmates can only be held on the program for a maximum of two years, but inmates validated as “Mob” are being transferred from prison to prison at the completion of one prison’s Tier program requirements and forced to begin the program again at the entry level.

Inmates with this validation are being discriminated against. This is the only group that is kept locked down as a whole – just on a label alone – at all Georgia DOC’s prisons. Many of these inmates are being punished because of the deeds of others who have this same validation, but other gangs and organizations are not being subjected to this same discriminatory treatment.

This is torture

We know that prison isn’t supposed to be comfortable, but what we are experiencing at the hands of the administrators and staff here is TORTURE and extreme abuse of authority. Regardless of our debts to society, we are no less human than anyone else and are all someone’s son, father, brother, nephew, uncle, husband or friend.

Many of us are mentally unstable, indigent or have no family or friends who are willing to help us fight for our rights to be treated like human beings and not be subjected to such demoralizing and dehumanizing treatment. There are also many amongst us here who’ve adapted and accept the treatment because they don’t have the will or the “knowhow” to combat all of the wrongs that we are being subjected to.

Courage, knowledge and unity are at an all-time low, with the majority of us being ignorant of the laws that give us certain rights and of the legal system used to protect those rights. Therefore we are in dire need of outside help, a voice to speak on our behalf from beyond the prison’s walls and gates along with legal representation.

We know that prison isn’t supposed to be comfortable, but what we are experiencing at the hands of the administrators and staff here is TORTURE and extreme abuse of authority.

Hopefully you will have sympathy for our struggle and lend us a hand because we honestly need it. There are many other injustices that we are being subjected to on a daily basis, but it would take many more pages to tell of them all. Hopefully, what has already been exposed to you is enough to grasp your attention, tug at your heart and garner your help, which would be greatly appreciated by us, one and all.

Georgia is a “hate state,” so we have no “progressive” media outlets here in the state and we need to bring attention to our plight with hopes that the publicity will garner us some help in one fashion or another.

So could you PLEASE give us a hand in our plight and could you respond to this letter to let us know whether or not you can aide us. Also, if you know of anyone who could or might be interested in helping us, could you refer us to them or send their contact information.

All replies should be made to either one or both of the following: “Justice” aka Justin Sinclair Ashley, 1298541, or “Supreme” aka Jeffery Sewell, 1138555, Georgia State Prison, 300 First Ave. South, Reidsville, GA 30499.

Inspiration

You can look in a person’s eyez

And see what type of spirit they possess;

Whether it be a strong minded, firm and conscious individual,

Or whether it be someone who’s less.

It can be a person who’s weak

Or someone you know in your heart that’s not right;

Or it can be the one who has the courage

And the willpower 2 fight.

I see inspiration when I look at you,

And into those eyez of yours;

I see a person who’s been through a lot

And who’s fought many different wars.

Whether they were physical, mental or spiritual

You went through hurt and pain;

I can feel your struggle,

Hear your cry …

See the clouds above you

Before they start 2 rain.

But instead of feeling sorry 4 you

I’m proud of you, you make me smile

Just knowing that you made it through the storm

Makes me want 2 press on 4 a while.

I was gonna complain a little

Vent off some anger

And a whole lot of frustration,

But just seeing your face again

Gives a little bit of hope

And a lot more INSPIRATION.

A Nigga’s Fate

These KKKrakers got a Nigga labeled

They say Blacks are “thugs”

They’re on a mission 2 kill us and lock us up.

One Nigga gets knocked

Then another takes his place

And after a few weeks

He’s another forgotten face

Either lost 2 the system

Or his face on a shirt

Either bound by chains

Or he’s covered up with dirt

“The Land of the Free”?

I guess that’s only just a name

Cause the prison’s overcrowded

And we still coming in

– Justin Sinclair Ashley

Send our brother some love and light: Justin Sinclair Ashley, 1298541, Georgia State Prison, 300 First Ave. South, Reidsville, GA 30499.

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