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The incidents described in this piece give context to the historical and contemporary art of abuse, inflicted on prisoners from the torturous isolation chambers of the Eastern State Penitentiary during the 1820s to the 1971 Attica rebellion and beyond. The documentation of the past and present grieved events of prison-controlled torture blaze a paper trail that shows abuse by guards is a lot deeper than being inadvertent or isolated events.
I’d like to send out a clenched fist salute to Amani Sawari of Jailhouse Lawyers Speak. I have studied the transcript of Amani’s appearance on Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman. Amani did an excellent job articulating the reasons for our actions. Amani also had the presence of mind to highlight and accentuate the fact that we, the prisoners across Amerika, seek to be treated as human beings and given meaningful opportunities toward our rehabilitation.
The recent prison uprising in South Carolina is often described as the deadliest in 25 years, referencing the Lucasville Uprising, which began on April 11, 1993, and lasted 11 days and took the lives of nine prisoners and one correctional officer. This week is the 25th anniversary of the 1993 Lucasville uprising, which is being “celebrated” by correctional officers by silencing the survivors of that riot, some of whom were framed for murder while the prisoners responsible for the violence were able to plead out and avoid punishment.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is denying Texas prisoners the ability to send or receive mail in light of Tropical Storm Harvey. Although Houston is a major mail hub for Texas, this does not explain why prisoners in areas of the state unaffected by the flooding – for example, Clements Unit in Amarillo – would be denied access to mail. In a press release, TDCJ stated that five Texas prisons have been evacuated.
Florida Department of Corrections has placed all of its 97,000 inmates on lockdown, just days before the Aug. 19 Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March on Washington, D.C., calling for an end to the legalized slavery of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Cracking down on the mobility of inmates by correctional officials has become a common tactic to prevent prisoners from joining outside supporters in calling for an end to mass incarceration.
When Texas correctional officials earlier this month saw an article by Kevin “Rashid” Johnson online that said they had gassed him and ransacked his cell in December, they punished him – again. In April, Texas became the latest to join a trend of states banning people in prisons, who do not have access to the internet, from having a social media account, saying it could be a threat to security. Civil rights leaders have blasted the decision and maintain that it is a violation of the First Amendment.
Anyone relying on mainstream media wouldn’t know it, but the U.S. prison system is shaking up right now. No one knows how big the initial strike was yet, but the information is slowly leaking out between the cracks in the prisons’ machinery of obscurity and isolation. Over the weekend more than 50 protests erupted across the country and around the world in solidarity with the Sept. 9 nationwide prisoner work stoppage and protest.