SIXTH MENARD UPDATE
The following consists of excerpts, lightly edited by Alice Lynd, from letters by eight men in Administrative Detention at the Menard Correctional Center in Illinois, dated April 12 - 14, 2014.
On the morning of Saturday, April 12, 2014, maintenance workers drilled big metal boxes on the outside of our windows. We can no longer see out the windows and barely any sunlight comes in.
UPDATE: The court in Luzerne County has granted a continuance, and the Dallas 6 court date is rescheduled for August 11th. Please update your schedules and continue to offer any support that you can.
The juried trial of the Dallas 6 will begin on May 5th in Wilkes-Barre, PA, and these courageous men and their families and supporters need all of the support they can get! So here are three easy ways for everybody to provide support to the Dallas 6:
1. SPREAD THE WORD!
The Dallas 6 are facing charges because they contributed to HRC's report, "Institutionalized Cruelty: Torture in SCI Dallas and Prisons Throughout Pennsylvania" (LINK), and then subsequently stood up for their lives, which is documented in HRC's report, "Resistance and Retaliation: Contuing Repression at SCI Dallas" (LINK). It is critical to support the brave action of these men for what they've done, and for the legal precedent that this court case will establish. If they are charged with "riot" for putting their mattresses on their doors and asking for outside intervention when their lives were threatened by Corrections Officers in SCI Dallas, then PA prison authorities will be empowered to continue to abuse, torture, and kill prisoners in Pennsylvania without public scrutiny and accountability. Conversely, if the Dallas 6 are justifiably cleared of all charges, then prisoners in Pennsylvania will be further empowered to speak up against abuse, torture, and state-sanctioned death.
Members of the Dallas 6 and their family members are available to speak to press! Contact Shandre Delaney, the mother of Carrington Keys of the Dallas 6, at SD4HRC@gmail.com or 412-403-6101.
2. PACK THE COURTHOUSE ON MAY 5TH AND ON!
There will be jury selection on May 5th, and the trial will last for several days after in Wilkes-Barre, PA. HRC is coordinating travel from Philadelphia, Harrisburg, and Pittsburgh, and has rides available. Call 267-293-9169 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org (with your name and phone number) if you need a ride and/or lodging in the Wilkes-Barre area, or if you have a car or lodging available there. Let us know if you can attend for one, two, or three days. We plan to have a rally outside of the courthouse with signs and chants on May 5th, and we need to pack the courtroom full of comrades and supporters of the Dallas 6!
3. DONATE TO THE WORK OF HRC
Please continue to support the work of HRC by donating to our PayPal account (LINK). All expenses for the Dallas 6 trial will come out of the pockets of HRC members and the operating costs of HRC, and it is essential for us to have funding to continue our work. Any donation, no matter how large or small, is greatly appreciated!
Check out HRC members Karen Lee and Shandre Delaney's radio segment "The Effect of Mass Incarceration on Families" on the Wake Up African People radio show, this Friday(3/28) at 9:30 pm
What is the effect of mass incarceration on urban black families?
More than seven times as many people are incarcerated in the United States as in Europe. The main victims of the prison boom are minority, particularly African American, men, who, as sociologist Bruce Western has found, are eight times more likely to have served time in prison than white men. The effects of mass incarceration extend beyond the prisoner and his immediate experience of confinement, and can have a significant impact on the prisoner’s family. A slew of recent studies by Western and others suggests that the wave of mass incarceration contributes to the decline of families and the social fabric that binds them, leading to the further disintegration of already-disadvantaged inner-city neighborhoods.
The Human Rights Coalition condemns the practices of medical neglect, abuse, and cruel and unusual punishment that prison officials of SCI Graterford are practicing on Ricky Clark (#FW1824). We call on all people, government, and prison officials to take immediate action to end these malicious and abusive practices, return Mr. Clark to general population in SCI Graterford, and ensure that he has access to all necessary medical care.
Institutionalized Cruelty, a film by James Tedrow, discusses the abuse of solitary confinement in the Pennsylvania prison system, as documented by Human Rights Coalition investigations. The film includes video of the cell extraction of Carrington Keyes, a member of the Dallas 6, as well as discussing the death of John Carter during a cell extraction, and the decades long solitary confinement of Russell Maroon Shoatz and Arthur Cetewayo Johnson. Persons interviewed include Abolitionist Law Center board members Shandre Delaney, Bret Grote, and Dustin McDaniel.
January 27, 2014: Pittsburgh PA — On Monday, January 27, United States District Magistrate for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Cynthia Reed Eddy, issued a decision denying defendants’ motion to dismiss in the case of Shoatz v. Wetzel. The ruling allows Russell Maroon Shoatz to move forward with the legal challenge to his more than 22 consecutive years in solitary confinement.
Shoatz brought suit in May 2013 on the grounds that he has been subjected to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and that prison officials have deprived him of his procedural and substantive due process rights for keeping him in solitary confinement without meaningful review and on insufficient grounds. ...read more
January 9, 2014: Philadelphia, PA — The Human Rights Coalition (HRC), politicized prisoner Robert Saleem Holbrook, and College of Charleston Professor Kristi Brian brought a lawsuit yesterday against several employees of the State Correctional Institution (SCI) at Coal Township and the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PA DOC) for confiscation of mail sent to Holbrook, a co-founder of HRC currently held at SCI Coal Township.
“Today HRC is going on the offensive to fight back against prison censorship,” editor of The Movement and HRC-Philadelphia activist Patricia Vickers stated. “It is long overdue that prison officials are held to account for their attempts to silence those who speak out against this abusive system. The rights, health, and lives of our loved ones are at stake.”
The suit, Holbrook et al. v. Jellen et al., filed by the Abolitionist Law Center, details a series of confiscations of Holbrook’s mail since January 2012 that includes academic correspondence with a college professor and issues of The Movement, essays written by Angela Y. Davis and James Baldwin, a newsletter published by HRC which focuses on prison abuse, solitary confinement, and ways that prisoners’ family members can come together to challenge human rights abuses and injustice in the criminal legal system. (read more)