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The lockdown of 47,000 prisoners in all 25 Pennsylvania prisons began Aug. 29, 2018, and lasted for 12 days. Department of Corrections (DOC) Secretary John Wetzel backed by Gov. Tom Wolf said the lockdown was an emergency measure to protect prison guards. They claimed there was widespread illness of guards from physical contact with synthetic drugs. This is false. The lockdown looks like it was a planned pre-emptive action so that the National Prison Strike didn’t spread to Pennsylvania prisons. The “drug emergency” was a pretext to isolate, repress and control prisoners.
“I am going to boycott the third-party correspondence system,” Bryant Arroyo, an activist and organizer currently detained at SCI Frackville in central Pennsylvania, told this Workers World reporter during an extended Sept. 23 interview. Arroyo urges all prisoners to immediately cease sending and accepting mail in response to the draconian new prison policies of current Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf.
Just a few hours ago, I placed a call to my civil lawyer, Bret Grote of the Pittsburg-based Abolitionist Law Center. I could hear the excitement in his voice. “Did you hear the news yet?” he asked. I hadn’t. Then he told me that U.S. District Judge Robert Mariani granted our motion for a preliminary injunction, ordering heath care staff on the DOC’s Hepatitis Care Committee to cease their unconstitutional protocol in my case and to begin treatment of my hepatitis infection with direct-acting antiviral medications.
The Black August Rebellion is a month that the California state prisoners fast. They fast in the month of August to pay homage to the fallen comrades. Do make sure that this year you honor our comrade and hero lost last Aug. 12, Hugo “Yogi” Pinell. However you mark Black August, do it. You won’t be alone. The next chapter of Black August history is yours to write.
“Who gets treated for hepatitis C?” is a medical decision for infectious disease specialists, not a question of “ethics, costs or access” for well-meaning executives. “Who pays?” depends on measuring the real social costs of failing to treat a national epidemic and cannot be measured by the limited considerations of private entities and public agencies in a single state, or even several states.
They are called the Dallas 6 – and we ain’t talking about Texas. Dallas, in Pennsylvania, is one of nearly 30 prisons in the state, located in its rural outback. The six are young Black men who, in 2010, tried to stage a peaceful protest in the prison’s “hole,” its solitary confinement unit. The Dallas 6 are potentially facing more prison time for refusing to submit to torture, for men have died, in America, while strapped into the torture chair.
“My talk with Maroon today was very moving. There are no words to adequately convey the significance of his release to the general population for him and his family. This is a significant victory for a growing people’s movement against solitary confinement and the human rights violations inherent in mass incarceration. If we continue to work hard and support one another in this movement, these victories could very well become a habit.”
Several days ago, the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting in Philadelphia, delivered a shocking decision in the continuing case of Lorenzo Johnson, the New Yorker recently released from 17 years in prison after the very same court found the evidence was insufficient to uphold a conviction. Lorenzo, known by family and friends as Cat, spent just over four months in freedom.
Lorenzo “Cat” Johnson’s story is an excruciatingly clear example of an innocent man caught in a corrupt process. The state has worked overtime to keep him locked up for life. Evidence was falsified by the police and prosecution. And when a federal appeals court ruled this so-called evidence was legally insufficient to convict, the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in and reinstated his conviction.