by Prison Abolition Prisoner Support (PAPS) and The Ordinary People Society (TOPS)
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.
Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, who was recently moved to a Florida prison from a Texas unit on interstate compact following a massive call-in and write-in campaign to return his legal materials, witnessed these same tactics in Texas prior to the 2016 national prison strikes: “The actual aim of this lockdown was and is to pre-empt the prisoners at this unit from participating in the Sept. 9 protest by confining everyone to their cells in advance of it and well into the period during which it might last.”
Mr. Johnson, who organizes with the New Afrikan Black Panther Party Prison Chapter, has been disappeared in the Florida Department of Corrections system. The inmate locator website and officials will not reveal where he is being held, once again making vague claims of security threats – as they are doing to attempt to justify this unreasonable lockdown.
Prison activists and family members of prisoners are concerned that this lockdown and repression may lead to more violence. At Kinross Prison in Michigan last September, inmates peacefully marched in the yard and then were met with brutal retaliation from correctional officers.
Speaking from the Millions for Prisoners rally at the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC), Alejo Stark of Michigan Abolition and Prisoner Support (MAPS) stated, “Protest at Kinross Correctional Facility had been peacefully resolved for hours before MDOC sent in ERT squads, causing panic and terror by deploying chemical weapons at imprisoned people.”
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.
Pastor Kenneth Glasgow of The Ordinary Peoples Society was held in three different Florida prisons for a span of two years before becoming a prisoner advocate for the last two decades. “These lockdowns are some of the most egregious, inhumane places that these prisoners can find themselves. But it also burdens the families because they do not know the whereabouts or the care-abouts of their family members. They cannot visit them or call them to know whether they are alive or dead.”