by Unheard Voices of the Concrete Jungle
Update: Prison Organizer Kinetik Justice transferred on sixth day of hunger strike
March 13, 2019 – At approximately 1 p.m. on March 12, representatives, advocates and family members of Robert Earl Council (aka Kinetik Justice Amun) were notified that Council was once again transferred to another institution. The transfer took place on Day 6 of a hunger strike that Council started in protest of his unwarranted return to segregation and transfer to Holman Correctional Facility. Council’s placement in solitary confinement occurred following a raid that took place while he was housed in general population at St. Clair Correctional Facility recently, without any disciplinary infraction or incident.
At this time, the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) still refuses to give any explanation or justification as to why Council was transferred in the first place. The ADOC also refuses to give any information regarding Council’s present status, placement or condition. In response to the public’s concern about Council’s wellbeing, the ADOC stated:
“The Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) does not publicly disclose a person’s level of confinement during incarceration because of security reasons. In addition, an inmate’s medical condition is safeguarded through the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA); therefore, ADOC cannot release the inmate’s current health information as protected by federal law.”
A nationwide call-in campaign took place starting on March 8 to demand answers from Holman CF and the ADOC Commissioner’s Office. There is reason to believe that the ADOC is retaliating against Robert Earl Council due to this pressure from outside supporters as well as recent media coverage on the hunger strike.
However, all actions taken to shed light on the situation have been carried out by concerned community members and journalists, with no involvement or direction from Council himself. Community members across the country and activists from Unheard Voices OTCJ, the Free Alabama Movemen, and The Ordinary People’s Society (TOPS) will continue to demand justification and accountability from the ADOC on the placement and conditions of Robert Earl Council (#181418).
March 11, 2019 – Robert Earl Council, a prison leader nationally known as Kinetik Justice, was recently placed in a solitary housing unit (SHU) at Holman Correctional Facility despite the lack of any altercation, investigation or disciplinary infraction from the ADOC (Alabama Department of Corrections) to justify it. Solitary confinement is torture, according to the United Nations, and is justified only in the most extreme cases and even then for no longer than 15 days.
As a last resort to protest the Alabama Department of Corrections’ unlawful use of solitary confinement, Council notified Warden Cynthia Stewart, at 3 a.m. on March 7, 2019, that he is on an official hunger strike, refusing all food and liquids. Now his hunger strike continues into a fifth day, and he will continue until he is released back into general population and the ADOC is held accountable.
As Council explained, “ADOC’s actions amount to a violation of our due process rights and the Eighth Amendment’s ‘Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause.’” Council was transferred to the SHU at Holman following a major shakedown at St. Clair Correctional Facility on Feb. 28, where ADOC had brought in more than 300 law enforcement officers from seven state and local agencies to track down contraband.
As a last resort to protest the Alabama Department of Corrections’ unlawful use of solitary confinement, Council notified Warden Cynthia Stewart, at 3 a.m. on March 7, 2019, that he is on an official hunger strike, refusing all food and liquids. Now his hunger strike continues into a fifth day.
While plenty of officers were available for the shakedown, the Montgomery Advertiser points to chronic understaffing of both prison guards and mental health staff throughout ADOC. “At Holman prison, where a man was stabbed to death in early December and multiple others wounded in a spate of violent incidents, more than 60 percent of security positions were unfilled,” the Advertiser reported on Feb. 28.
Council was inside his general population cell at St. Clair Correctional Facility around 2 a.m. on the 28th, when a platoon of ADOC’s emergency response team members and local law enforcement SWAT team members entered his cell. Council was handcuffed and immediately escorted to an awaiting bus to be transported to Holman.
Council arrived at Holman later that day to an all-too-familiar scene. He was placed in Holman’s solitary housing unit (SHU) once again, after previously spending 54 months in solitary from 2014 to 2018 for leading a peaceful work strike at the same facility.
Council was finally released from solitary in late 2018 after attorney David Gespass filed a motion for habeas corpus on behalf of Council in the court, challenging the ADOC’s unconstitutional practice of holding of him in solitary confinement for 54 months without just cause. However, in August of last year, the ADOC released Council right before a court hearing on the motion, making the case moot. (see Robert E Council vs. Warden Bolling Cv.-2017-101 filed in the Bessemer division of Jefferson County, Alabama.)
In response to the hunger strike, all three wardens at Holman CF – Stewart, Raybon and Mitchell – have stated that they are simply following orders from ADOC Commissioner Jefferson Dunn. Dunn has not given any public statement on the matter.
Council’s current confinement is reflective of the ADOC’s retaliatory actions in anticipation of state-wide protests to stop new prison construction, instead of using that money to expand education and rehabilitation programs. This hunger strike is part of an escalating movement both in and outside of prisons, including the 2018 National Prison Strike, drawing attention to the rampant corruption and abuses.
In response to the hunger strike, all three wardens at Holman CF – Stewart, Raybon and Mitchell – have stated that they are simply following orders from ADOC Commissioner Jefferson Dunn.
On March 7, activists, students and community members from all over the country initiated a national call-in campaign to demand an explanation from the ADOC that is now being intensified. Supporters are calling to demand Council’s release from solitary confinement, and an end to retaliation against Council and other prisoners. Support for the hunger strike is steadily growing.
If the demand to return Robert Earl Council back to general population is not met by Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Jefferson Dunn by March 15, 2019, a protest will convene at Holman Correctional Facility.
Unheard Voices of the Concrete Jungle can be reached at Unheardvoices78@gmail.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/unheard.voices.79. Visit their website, at https://unheardvoicesotcj.wordpress.com/. Bay View staff contributed to this story.
Phone zap for Kinetik Justice
Robert Earl Council, aka Kinetic Justice Amun, writes: “I have personally questioned all three (Holman) wardens – Stewart, Raybon and Mitchell – in regards to why I have been placed and continue to be held in solitary confinement indefinitely. All three affirmed that they are just following orders from the commissioner.
“Therefore, I am on a hunger strike until the commissioner provides justification for the illegal placement of over 30 men in solitary confinement, indefinitely without a charge. Then, if no justification is provided, we seek ACCOUNTABILITY.”
Kinetik Justice has committed no infraction and is being punished simply because he is an effective educator and leader. So long as he is on hunger strike, folks need to call and help pressure the prison administration.
“I am on a hunger strike until the commissioner provides justification for the illegal placement of over 30 men in solitary confinement, indefinitely without a charge. Then, if no justification is provided, we seek ACCOUNTABILITY.”
Hello, my name is __________________ and I’m calling from ________________. You should be aware this call is being recorded. I just learned that Robert Earl Council, #181418, is on hunger strike in response to being placed in a solitary holding unit with no infraction or disciplinary charge. Council has been singled out following a raid at St. Clair’s last week and I am very concerned about his health and safety.
I demand Robert Earl Council’s immediate release from solitary confinement and an end to further retaliation against him.
Are there plans to release him to general population as soon as possible? (If not) Who can I speak to about that? I will keep calling until Council is released.
Note: Be stern with the individual who answers the phone. Insist to speak to who you call for. Give no more information to the secretary other than your name. RECORD YOUR PHONE CALL IF POSSIBLE. Forward any and all updates or recordings to our email, email@example.com.
Call and/or email the following:
- ADOC Commissioner Jefferson Dunn, 334-53-3870 or Jefferson.Dunn@doc.alabama.gov
- Public Information Officer Bob Horton, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Holman Warden Cynthia Stewart, email@example.com
- Holman Correctional Facility, 251-368-8173
The Facebook event page can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/349342515922611/?ti=ia.
Send our brother some love and light: Robert Earl Council, 181418, Holman CF, 3700 Holman, Atmore, AL 36503-3700.