Terrible Tier II: We are fighting for our lives

by Deron Ruffin

Artist Javier Torres writes: “The art piece that I put together expresses the effects of long term solitary confinement. The man in the drawing is made of stone – not that long term solitary confinement turns you into stone, but it’s something that it does to you internally and mentally. I’ve been in solitary confinement for only a short time and I can say that it’s not a good place. These torture chambers need to be shut down.” He calls this artwork “Solitaire.” – Art: Javier Torres
Artist Javier Torres writes: “The art piece that I put together expresses the effects of long term solitary confinement. The man in the drawing is made of stone – not that long term solitary confinement turns you into stone, but it’s something that it does to you internally and mentally. I’ve been in solitary confinement for only a short time and I can say that it’s not a good place. These torture chambers need to be shut down.” He calls this artwork “Solitaire.” – Art: Javier Torres, V-68554, PBSP A7-C125, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532

68554, PBSP A7-C125

I’m writing to show the brothers some love who went on hunger strike in California. It’s crazy how you see other people going through the same thing that you are living. What really impressed me is the fact that all the brothers stood up for the cause – putting aside small differences, colors, beliefs, lifestyles, sets and anything that could divide the much needed unity. That alone deserves a salute.

I’m writing this on behalf of myself and the Goodfellas, which the Georgia Department of Corrections has validated as a security threat group. We are being held indefinitely in a very restrictive and oppressive program called Tier II: Behavior Modification Program, which is identical to the severe conditions of the SHU in California and any supermax long term program across the nation.

We are being held based on affiliation alone or have been falsely validated because of association. The main reason used to substantiate our validation is being from Atlanta, Georgia; the GDC feels that a person from Atlanta must be a Goodfella if not something else.

The GDC has a list of more than 1,000 STGs and will validate any young Black man without ever notifying him that he has been labeled something that represents a certain code and lifestyle. The “Good Ol’ Boy State” is targeting all the Black men from Atlanta and discriminates against the Goodfellas, while white inmates never get validated as a security threat group member unless they have done something wrong a few times.

The GDC has had all the validated Goodfellas locked down since Feb. 14, 2013, and the entire validated group was forced into the Tier II program in August through October 2015 despite the requirement that a person, to be placed in this oppressive program, must have committed a violent act. It’s going on three years and the GDC still hasn’t released any validated Goodfellas and they refuse to tell any of us when anyone of us will be able to return to general population.

We are being held indefinitely in a very restrictive and oppressive program called Tier II: Behavior Modification Program, which is identical to the severe conditions of the SHU in California and any supermax long term program across the nation.

This is the entire validated group – medium security, close security, brothers with a lot of time, others with only a short time and some who just entered the system with the validation – is being deprived of contact visitation, parole mandated classes, GED classes, and chances to be transferred to halfway houses or work release prisons to rehabilitate ourselves. The ones not a part of Goodfellas are told to renounce – “snitch” – in order to have the validation removed.

We are being held based on affiliation alone or have been falsely validated because of association.

Deron Ruffin
Deron Ruffin

The Tier II program is a nine month to two year program with three required phases of 90 days, but even after completing the program, we still cannot be released, because it says we are noted a threat to secure operations of the institution. How long does someone remain a threat?

People change, things change, views change, the world changes, yet no one has individually been noted as a threat. How can a man with 10 months be a threat without any disciplinary infractions?

We are being held in a hard spot due to the numbers. It’s just us, maybe 20, give or take, at each prison and some of us have followed all the rules, waiting on parole. We’re not in touch with our families and no one knows anything.

People change, things change, views change, the world changes, yet no one has individually been noted as a threat. How can a man with 10 months be a threat without any disciplinary infractions?

We are in a very racist state and are in need of help, phone calls to the commissioner, emails; we need some force to allow the doors to open. We are putting together a class action to try to get some justice to return back to population, because we are fighting for our lives, our minds and our families.

Editor’s note: Call Georgia Department of Corrections Commissioner Homer Bryson at 404-656-4661.

Send our brother some love and light: Deron Ruffin, 1111773, Telfair State Prison, P.O. Box 549, Helena GA 31037.