In a letter to Congresswoman Barbara Lee, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Black August Organizing Committee wrote:
Dear Congresswoman Lee:
For 30 years, the Black August Organizing Committee has worked on behalf of incarcerated men, women and children across the country. Some of us were at one time incarcerated and witnessed firsthand the unconscionable behaviors of those in positions of authority and the unimaginable conditions of those who hold no power at all.
Sadly, over the years, we have lost many of our friends and family members as a direct result of practices and policies that demean and devalue lives within prison walls. This mentality allows atrocities to occur far from the public’s watchful eye. We are sure that if the citizens of this country knew what occurs – not in some distant foreign country – but within our own borders, there would surely be a call for immediate reform.
The Black August Organizing Committee is aware, and this letter is that call.
Our new president states repeatedly that America does not engage in or support torture. The Black August Organizing Committee has evidence that this very thing occurs every day within the walls of America’s prisons.
If America is to truly become the country that President Obama and all those who voted for him claim to believe in, she must immediately address the inhumane and unjust conditions that incarcerated men and women are subjected to. We cannot say to the world that Guantanamo Bay is a disgrace while simultaneously turning a blind eye when guards in Pelican Bay beat prisoners and deny basic necessities such as medical care.
America must first get honest about what is happening within her prison walls and then she must get serious about doing something about it.
To begin to address these issues, The Black August Organizing Committee asks the following:
That the Congressional Black Caucus sends delegations to visit some of America’s most notorious prisons. In particular, a delegation should go to Colorado’s Super Max Prison which is currently housing Imam Jamil Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown.
That the Congressional Black Caucus immediately opens an investigation into the maltreatment of those people currently incarcerated as a direct result of their political beliefs and/or activities. In particular, an investigation must be launched into the unwarranted isolation and 24-hour lockdown of Imam Jamil Al-Amin for allegedly violating phone privileges for inmates.
The allegation against Imam al-Amin is unfounded and without logistical possibility as Imam al-Amin has no control over the access to or use of the prison inmate phone.
As a result of these allegations, Imam al-Amin was stripped searched, his Quran and all other personal belongings were seized and he was placed in a cell with no bed, no control over the lights and no shower.
The Black August Organizing Committee, in solidarity with the family and friends of Imam al-Amin, seeks immediate answers to the following questions: Why was Jamil Al-Amin placed in the hole? How long is he expected to be held in the High Security Unit? What are his current living conditions?
That the Congressional Black Caucus write, publish and disseminate a detailed congressional report on the state of America’s prisons, the physical, mental and emotional state of America’s prisoners and a blueprint for correcting the gross dysfunctions that exist within American prison walls.
That the Congressional Black Caucus coordinate a meeting with members of the president’s staff, specifically with the director of the Bureau of Prisons and other relevant parties – including the Black August Organizing Committee – to review the findings of the report and develop recommendations for solutions.
The Black August Organizing Committee keeps and will continue to keep watch over America’s prisons. We continue to compile a growing collection of reports and evidence of human rights violations and abuses and are eager to explore possible solutions with America’s leaders.
While we are a resource to all prisoners across the country, we are particularly concerned with those who are – and continue to be – incarcerated for their political activities and beliefs. This practice in itself is perhaps one of the most disturbing trends in America’s prisons. Those who dare to stand up to the system or participate in “free speech” find themselves locked up and shut down in depraved conditions for years, far longer than imposed by their original sentence.
The Black August Organizing Committee works diligently to form alliances with like-minded groups and is preparing to align with national and international organizations concerning this issue. We are positive that if the United Nation’s Human Rights Commissioner were involved with the inspection and investigation of claims within the context of a legal documentation of abuses and conditions that exceed proper limits, the findings would provoke international concern.
We look forward to your response(s) to our letter and to our inquiries about the current conditions of Imam Jamil Al-Amin. We also appreciate your attention to this matter and thank you in advance for your timely response.
The Black August Organizing Committee
The Black August Organizing Committee can be reached at 1714 Franklin Street #100-309, Oakland, CA 94612, 1-888-600-1722 or RoyBoomba@aol.com.