Wisconsin prison system revamps disciplinary rules

This comes from WisconsinWatch.org:

Wisconsin prison system revamps disciplinary rules: Changes come as concerns grow over use of solitary confinement

By: BILL LUEDERS, Dec. 10, 2014

The Wisconsin Department of Corrections is quietly preparing to make significant changes to its rules governing inmate discipline, amid heightened discomfort over the state’s use of solitary confinement.

“The disciplinary process should be used as a means to motivate the inmate to alter their negative behavior, with long-term correction of the behavior as the end goal,” wrote Cathy Jess, administrator of the DOC’s division of adult institutions, in a Sept. 25 memo to staff.

Jess’ memo, obtained by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, sheds light on the DOC’s revamping of its disciplinary code, last revised in 2001. The new code calls for speeding up the process of imposing discipline for minor offenses, while upholding the ideals of rehabilitation and fairness.

Prison officials have declined to discuss specifics and it remains unclear what changes will occur. But Jess calls the new rules, scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, “an excellent opportunity to focus on making positive changes” to the state’s use of solitary confinement, which in Wisconsin is called segregation. This has been a topic of growing state and national concern.

“Long-term segregation placements have been shown to be ineffective in terms of discipline and do not serve our corrective or rehabilitative goals,” the memo states.

About 1,500 of the state’s 22,000 inmates are in segregation, locked in their cells for upwards of 23 hours a day.

Read the rest of this interesting new development here.

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Perpetrators and enablers of torture in the U.S.

This article is from the SF Bay View
Posted By blockreportradio On November 1, 2009

by Corey Weinstein, M.D., C.C.H.P

Photo:

Anthony Hall, 18, spends 23 hours per day in this cell in the supermax prison in Boscobel, Wisc. Judging from letters to the Bay View from prisons throughout the country, Boscobel seems to be one of the worst for Black prisoners. Prison officials there have often refused to deliver the Bay View to subscribers on the excuse that it would “incite a riot.” –
Photo: Andy Manis, AP

During the past 25 years I’ve spent a lot of time with survivors of torture, men and women enduring long term solitary confinement in California’s prisons. They are the most urgent victims of U.S. mass incarceration with its overcrowded facilities and policy of incapacitation, not rehabilitation.

Those thousands held in solitary for years on end report the expected classic symptoms of psychic disturbance, mental deterioration and social disruption. As described by various penal psychiatric experts, the symptoms of this syndrome include massive free-floating anxiety, hyperresponsiveness to external stimuli, perceptual distortions and hallucinations, a feeling of unreality, difficulty with concentration and memory, acute confusional states, the emergence of primitive aggressive fantasies, persecutory ideation, motor excitement and violent destructive or self-mutilatory outbursts.

The degrading conditions produce behaviors ranging from fights among prisoners to assaults on staff, assaults by staff, excrement throwing, self mutilation and contract killings. Isolation tears apart family and friendship ties, creating social dislocation.

In California there are about 4,000 men and women held in the state’s supermax facilities, called Security Housing Units, including 600 serving SHU terms in Administrative Segregation. That is 2.5 percent of the total population of 160,000.

The regime in SHU is a 23.5 hour per day lockdown in the 8’ x 10’ cell with no communal activities aside from small group exercise yards for some. There is no work, no school, no communal worship and meals are eaten in cell.

TVs and radios must be purchased, so the poor have none. Visits are noncontact, behind glass and limited to one or two hours on each weekend visit day. Each prisoner must submit to being handcuffed behind the back in order to exit the cell. Leg iron hobble chains are commonly used.
More than 50 percent of the men in SHU are assigned indeterminate terms there because of alleged gang membership or activity. The only program that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCr) offers to them is to debrief.

The single way offered to earn their way out of SHU is to tell departmental gang investigators everything they know about gang membership and activities, including describing crimes they have committed. The department calls it debriefing. The prisoners call it “snitch, parole or die.” The only ways out are to snitch, finish the prison term or die. The protection against self incrimination is collapsed in the service of anti-gang investigation.

CDCr asserts that the lockdown and snitch policy are required for the safety and security of the institution. Having legitimate penalogical purpose, the SHU program is deemed worth any harm done to the prisoners.

California prisons continue to have a high rate of assaultive incidents among prisoners and from prisoners to staff. There is no proof or even any study that demonstrates that these measures are effective anti-gang measures. They appear to be no more useful than previous brutalities like that unleashed at Corcoran prison more than a decade ago.

Between 1988 and 1995, CDCr ran a program at the Corcoran SHU called the Integrated Yard Policy. Rival gang members were deliberately mixed together in small group exercise yards. The prisoners had to fight, and fight well or be punished by their own gangs.

When the fights occurred, guards were required to fire first anti-riot guns and then assault rifles at the combatants. Seven prisoners were killed and hundreds wounded. The program of beating prisoners down into the concrete with gunfire resulted in bigger, stronger gangs with new martyrs and heroes.
Mayhem and violence was added to the prison social system by departmental policy. No CDCr official has ever been held accountable or even assigned responsibility for what was know at Corcoran as the gladiator days. Line staff brought to trial by the U.S. Department of Justice avoided criminal convictions by proving that they were just following orders.

There are four prisons in California with SHUs: Corcoran, Pelican Bay and Tehachapi for men and Valley State Prison for Women. Only a few women have ever been given a SHU term for gang activity.

All those identified as gang members by the administrative kangaroo court serve SHU terms without end. The only way out is to debrief, to testify against oneself to prison rules violations and crimes.
Prisoners have found it very hard to attack the abuses in the SHU, even though the U.S. is under the jurisdiction of the U.N. Convention Against Torture (CAT). The U.S. states reservations to the treaty asserting that the U.S. Constitution and body of law are all that is required to satisfy the obligations of CAT.

But the 1995 Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) that prohibits a prisoner bringing action for mental or emotional injury without prior showing of physical injury is one law that violates CAT. The U.N. Committee on Torture expressed concern that by disallowing compensation for psychic abuse the PLRA is out of compliance with CAT.

Under CAT, torture includes “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted.” But the U.S. 1990 reservations to CAT were designed specifically to allow solitary confinement, as the reservations state that mental pain and suffering must be prolonged, be tied to infliction or threats of infliction of physical pain, the result of drugging or the result of death threats.

Despite SHU confinement without end to attempt to control gangs, prison gangs thrive in California’s prisons. The gang leadership predictably uses the snitch sessions to falsely target their rivals, or just recruit new members. Just as we have seen in U.S. anti-terror investigations, information derived from coercion is often unreliable.

Using indeterminate total lockdown to extract confessions is torture by international standards, as is the use of prolonged solitary confinement. U.S. prison officials order by rule the torture of prisoners. One in 31 adults in the U.S. is under the supervision of the criminal detention system – jail, prison, probation or parole – with 2.5 million behind bars.

Prisons dominate the lives of poor communities and communities of color and are ignored by affluent white America. One in 11 African-Americans and one in 27 Latino-Americans are under penal jurisdiction. Prisoners damaged by incarceration are returning to communities increasingly less able to absorb them.

The 2005 census found that severe poverty increased 26 percent more than the overall growth in poverty. In 2002, 43 percent of the nation’s poor were living in severe poverty, the highest rate since 1975.

Torture has always served more to beat down a population than to extract reliable information. The unstated goal is to incapacitate and marginalize the dangerous poor who are locked out of America’s opportunity and riches. The routine even banal nature of torture in U.S. prisons enables torture to be acceptable, and informs our failing strategies of dealing with any opposition by using brute force.

A more useful way to undermine and blunt prison gangs would be to provide programs and procedures that enliven the community of prisoners with rehabilitative activity making them too busy and too hopeful to become involved. Drug and mental health treatment and education and vocational training rather than enforced idleness and despair will help change the culture of the prison yard from a battleground to a place for personal and social renewal. To be successful at a renewal behind bars, a revitalization of our poor communities is desperately needed.

I’ll never forget my visit to several prisons in the United Kingdom a number of years ago. I toured one of their high security units housing eight of the 40 men out of 75,000 considered too dangerous or disruptive to be in any other facility. The men were out of their cells at exercise or at a computer or with a counselor or teacher.

The goal was to get them back on mainline through rehabilitation, not terror. With embarrassment, the host took us to the one cell holding the single individual who had to be continuously locked down and cuffed and hobbled before exit from his cell. I was equally embarrassed to tell our guide that this is how 2.5 percent of U.S. prisoners are routinely treated.

Corey Weinstein, MD, CCHP, is a physician, a Certified Correctional Health Professional and a renowned advocate for justice behind enemy lines. He can be reached at coreman @ igc.org.

Visiting and writing

This was written in 2005 for the FFUP Newsletter. SInce the internet host will cease to exist soon, we re-publish this here.

by D.

After giving this some thought, I have decided that my primary concern is not only the closure of the inhumane concentration camp and implement of racial/ethnic cleansing, but it is also – even while it still may operate – to have a system of real checks and balances. Right now, there is only a sham of such a recourse in the form of exhaustive remedies and CCE and ICRS. And these are only available for the inmate. I have never heard of an inmate, who has utilized these remedies, to have actually won his case. Even though he may have every evidence, and even court orders, he usually (always that I have known) loses.

But, it is the free citizen, like myself; the visitor, the correspondent, that has no recourse – unless you have the time and money to hire a lawyer to file a civil suit.

My experience with WSPF has been one in which they have taken sentences out of context and portions of visits and made them into something (a conflict with the Administrative Code, and worse, their own special little rules and regulations) that was completely made up on their part. For instance, most recently they took a sentence out of one of my letters to an inmate, where I said I would send in to a pen pal service for him. In his letters to this pen pal service, this inmate always (always) put in the responding letter that he was in prison. In some form or another, he mentioned that he was incarcerated. I would send in his letter and the $6.00 that it cost to find a pen pal. Unknown to me, he had also written this service and mentioned that he would like to place an ad for himself. They (WSPF) says that he had planned to place an ad without telling them he was in prison and that constituted fraud. WSPF decided that, because I was paying for and sending ‘his’ letter to answer other ads, that I must also be part of the attempt to conceal that he was in prison in the ad that he planned to put in. As a result, they charged me with fraud, and demoted him from level 4 to level 1 or 2. (I’m not sure which). Although I had all the proof, they would not even consider that I was not involved or had knowledge of any wrong doing, or infringement of codes.

As a matter of fact, I was so distraught that my personal rights and freedoms could be so maligned, I also wrote legislators, the Governor Doyle, newspapers, etc. And no one responded. And I see this kind of power and control over ordinary citizens all the time. No agency should have that much control. There should be a recourse for families and incarcerated both.

The idea of the level system is a total sham. Many have gone through the levels and been dropped for nothing. And at the same time, many have been transferred out – for no apparent reason – without ever completing the level 4.

Court orders, protecting the inmates and their properties (legal and personal) have no protection within the walls of WSPF. They are able to confiscate, destroy, deface at will. And no one will put an end to this. Even though it has been decided that those in charge of such institutions need to obey their own laws to show that it is important to follow rules and regulations, it rarely happens. I have heard again and again the break down of court ordered protections. There needs to be someone – a real someone, not the imagined ‘monitor’ – that steps in and makes this ‘giant’ of small people with a little power, follow their own rules and the laws of this country. All the time, not just when someone is watching.

Coming to the Boscobel Supermax

By an inmate in WI

This essay was originally published at the FFUP website in 2005, but since the host will be closing down, we wanted to re-publish it here.

It was a dark, gloomy, overcast morning that greeted me as I awoke May 6, 2003. And the prognosis for the rest of the day didn’t appear to be any better. Because today was to my the last day in Racine Correctional Institution. I was due to depart to the Boscobel Supermax! Ever since I first had the fight, which landed me in the hole with a battery charge and I got 8 days seg, 360 days disciplinary separation, there had been a feeling of impending dread.

There was little doubt in my mind to what would be my fate. Often times I had hastily made that declaration in the heat of an argument- ‘I’ll be going to Boscobel Supermax and you’ll be going to Mercy Hospital.’ It was one of my favorite sayings. How could I know that it would become a self-fulfilling prophecy in a matter of days.

So here I was, stark naked in a cell at 5:30, I am preparing to leave. The stories about the place abounded, and although I had already done lots of hole time in lots of joints around the country, this place invoked thoughts of doom deep inside me. All those that were unfortunate enough to be headed for the Supermax were stripped, shackled, and placed in a transport van. It was pouring out as we struggled to board the van. The ride began slowly as we made our way out of the institution and no one said a word as we all looked out the window lost in our individual thoughts. My thoughts were that this really won’t be so bad. ‘Damn, I messed up.’

As we ventured down the back roads, the somber moods seemed to lighten and we began to comment on the different homes and vehicles we saw. Things really picked up as we made a pit stop at a gas station, that had several cute girls standing around. Surprisingly, we talked all the way there with very little room for pause.

As we neared the town of Boscobel, things began to tense up, you could fell it in the air, the only thing to relieve the tension was when we saw this black guy walking down the streets of a small town outside of Boscobel. The sign read: Boscobel 11 miles, as we crossed over the Wisconsin River, and we all began fading from the conversation to enter into our own thoughts. Once again, I was thinking how beautiful this area was, with its rolling hills full of trees, open plains full of crops and small valleys- I had never seen anything like it before. This is the perfect place to live- except if you are in Boscobel Supermax.

We turned off the two- lane highway and out across the town. There wasn’t too much to see until we headed toward another grove of trees only to discover that’s where they built the joint. Upon first glance it appeared to be like all the rest of the prisons I had seen, but upon closer inspection, the outside didn’t seem right. First of all, Boscobel doesn’t have any of the ascetic needs of other joints so its looks are as stern as the rest of it.

After an amusingly long and thorough search of the van we were allowed to proceed from the gatehouse to the sally port. An all I could think of was: ‘Who would want to sneak up on this joint? What a joke.’ Even the officers from RCI were amazed at the security measures. Once we reached the sally port, the doors opened and 6 or 7 Boscobel officers were standing there. The white shirt called out a name and one of the guys got off the van and was immediately surrounded by the Boscobel staff and taken into the building. It was really as extreme as it sounds. They literally all took hold of him, as if the cuffs, waistband, and shackles weren’t enough to restrain us.+

Then it was my turn. The same exact thing happened to me- every single guard placed his hand upon me as if I was Hannibal Lector!

Once inside, we were placed in strip cells and searched again. And from there they escorted me to my new home on alpha unit. There was an announcement over the PA that said two officers and one inmate were en route to Alpha. As I walked down a very long, brightly lit corridor, the officer instructed me not to look anywhere but straight ahead or else I would be taken down+ immediately.

We finally reach our destination: the alpha pod. I was placed in a cell in the fourth range. There was a concrete slab for a bed with a rather comfortable looking mattress; there were two cut away cubbyholes for storing personal items, a stainless steel toilet and sink combination which I always hate because of the cold on your butt when you flushed.

There were only two windows which one could peer out although there was little to see. I could look across from me into the adjacent room- a vestibule between two cells. But there didn’t seem to be anyone in there. The other window was a small cut on the wall which allowed access to the hallway. I could see only two other windows with the name of occupants posted under them.

After taking a nap, I heard some voices, which sounded as if it were right in the room with me. So I sprang up to discover I was alone and that the voices were coming out of the vents. Some guy with a harsh, crackling voice was calling me I think, ‘Hey, Young Blood.’ He said. I said, ‘I’m not no young buck dude- I’m 40 some years old.’ ‘Oh, I thought you were young, that’s why I said that,’ he responded. He told me who he was and gave me a crash course in how to do Supermax time. The things he said did help later on. But this was still about the most difficult time I’ve had to do and mainly it was because of the inmates- the kind of guys that get into the vent and talk for hours just crankin’ out.

Because of the sensory deprivation, things take on a new meaning. Just to see people was a big bonus even if they were just guards. To hear people talk about real events, since there were no newspapers, TV news or radio to keep you informed**, I know why so many guys go completely insane within this kind of environment. It’s because that’s what it’s designed to do- drive you crazy.

If I had not been for my faith in God, and through the help of some lovely people like FFUP, I might have lost my senses or lost my will to go on or to make the most of this situation. But I made it out of Boscobel and with the grace, mercy and love of God, I will soon make it home again.


+ taken down- tackled, pushed to the floor by all escorting guards- this is the ‘face forward policy’ and it causes much difficulty.

** Boscobel runs on a deprivation system called ‘the level system.’ Inmates are allowed more materials as they progress, although they never get to see or read local news and the TV channels are very limited. They only have a pen nib to write with. Even in the highest levels, this is a life of extreme deprivation.

Through The Looking Glass: A view inside Wisconsin’s Supermax

This essay was written and published on the Forum For Understanding Prisons (FFUP) website in 2006, and because the host will cease to exist, we re-publish it here.

By N. and M., prisoners in WSPF, Boscobel, Wisconsin

Given the crazed and hallucinatory results of confinement in WSPF’s (i.e Wisconsin Secure Program Facility) belly, my reference to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in this title appropriate-although it has somewhat improved all too often we’ve observed inmates who’ve buckled under the immense psychological pressure and become: Raving Lunatics who lash out in any way (usually verbally, seldom physically) at anyone and anything (TV, themselves, staff, family, other inmates); paranoid recluses, delusional recluses, perverted exhibitionists, or suicidal.

This madness I’ve experienced myself (i.e. the paranoid and delusional brand, it’s the basic product of WSPF, apparently. I am not a psychologist. I can only analyze what I see and feel), caused by the sensory deprivation, lack of sunlight, separation from loved ones, severe social-segregation and (last but not least) mind/physical games and abuse by staff (e.g. slamming our traps and bolts and our doors, lying about us to keep us here, constantly creating new restrictions, tearing our cells apart and using pat and strip searches to harass us, putting us on ground food loaf and no clothing restrictions, giving our mail to other inmates, disciplining us for expressing our views in the mail, giving us dirt clothes, feeding us junk food and kiddie portions, letting other inmates harass us by yelling or banging on walls/doors constantly. Beating us.. You name it)- WSPF is surreal in a Steven King sorta way (well, maybe more in a Dean Koontz INTENSITY sorta way!) and its not something that can be blamed on the inmates, for we didn’t create it.

For those of you who are internet-savvy, we suggest that you go to: www.uscourts.gov to review some of the cases concerning WSPF (WSPF was formerly called SMI- Supermax Correctional Institution, the former warden was Gerald Berge, now it’s Richard Schneiter) – you’ll find some that are ridiculous (e.g. by one inmate who likes to play with his genitals for every female staff member to see) – and some that are appalling (e.g. by an inmate who got his wrist broken by Sgt R. T. for refusing to kneel to be to be shackled, even though the inmate couldn’t kneel because of a knee injury and he was permitted to forgo kneeling (note: WSPF is the only WI prison the requires all inmates to kneel and be shackled, regardless of their potential for violence). But the glorious 7th Circuit blew them off, sometimes by ignoring critical facts, other times by just refusing to apply the law- we know how it goes, because they’ve done it to me, Nate Lindell, personally.

But it’s not just the courts who don’t give a damn (sure, they occasionally pretend to care, appointing a friend of the judge to pose for the cameras while blatantly selling us out-a la Ed Garvey, where 90% of us class members wanted a trial but Judge Crabb and the 7th court forced a settlement on us) its the public that doesn’t care AT ALL about what’s going on at WSPF. Maybe the public doesn’t know what’s going on (wasn’t that the excuse of the populace surrounding the WWII concentration camps) of maybe they choose not to care because they think we’re all “the worst of the worst” as former Governor Tommy Thompson asserted. Maybe the populace surrounding WSPF doesn’t care because they think torture of us prisoners is…appropriate.

Whatever the reason for the ambivalence towards WSPF by the populace, its wrong. We’re not all “the worst of the worst” – few of us are unrepentantly evil. Although I’m (N.) a lifer, in prison because I killed someone while committing a burglary, I refuse to pursue a life of deviance, dishonorable behavior and self degradation- I did something foolish that can’t be fixed and hurt good people but that doesn’t mean I must continuously engage in criminal or evil behavior. I am more than a murderer- but WSPF does all it can to ensure we are criminal and nothing more.

As for my co-author (M.), “I am in here for burglarizing a house while people were away on vacation. I know that I did wrong but I did not hurt anyone, not would I have. I have spent most of my incarceration trying my utmost to educate myself and rehabilitate myself, despite the best efforts of WSPF to prevent that. I am a non-violent offender and will be getting out in 2 years.”

WSPF strips us of the humanity we have and some of us had little-(ALWAYS by no fault of our own-nobody’s born a sociopath but are made so) humanity in the first place. What sense does it make to torment and degrade people who’ve been tormented and degraded their entire life (such is both of our backgrounds. Both being abused and how amazing that we were able to come out of such lives), and smash any hope of becoming a fully developed human being?

By exposing guys to severe isolation and severe lack of physical interaction with other people. The coldness most of us learned at a young age stays with us. The psychologists here employ pills as the cure all end all and rarely engage in meaningful constructive help for inmates who refuse to take pills. Recently I spoke to a psychologist here, who told me that they only had to speak with inmates on clinical monitoring (pills) once a week and to those not on pills, once a month. And these “talks” only consist of either in front of your cell behind a steel door or behind a glass window in a no contact visit room, where we are handcuffed and some of us shackled.

My complaint about this is where is the social interaction necessary for anyone’s growth? By treating all of us as of we are wild animals, even if we don’t warrant such treatment, as most inmates rarely if ever display such behavior, but being labeled as such we become worse by the repetitive treatment by the staff and psychologists here, because the more a person is treated as if he is bad, the more he will believe that he is bad.

So due to the severe isolation and treatment of us as some how subhuman, we are lacking the emotional nurturing some of us need in order to teach us that we are not bad but chose to be. If there is a complete lack of empathy and love and want for us to succeed, I cannot reasonably see how anyone can justify the so-called programming here at WSPF.

The overwhelming vast majority of prisoners in all United State prisons come from dysfunctional homes where they were either treated very poorly or were out right abused and all in all, due to lack of nurturing we received as children, we grew up only looking out for ourselves. And since we had no one to love us, truly loved us, that is, teach us right from wrong, or to be there for us when we needed it the most, we developed survivalists’ behavior, that is – everyone for themselves. And since we did not have people to help us out or nurture us, we do not trust others and that that the only person who cares about us is ourselves, so we often times turn to other areas to fill the void we received growing up.

Some of us turned to stealing, lashing out against anyone to gain material prosperity and not caring what happens to them because no one cared what happens to us. Some of us joined gangs, looking for love and respect we did not receive at home. Some of us turned to drugs, to escape the lack of love we feel for ourselves and the world around us. The list of things we turn to is endless. But the point is, we, most of us anyways, become this way due to the lack of love and nurturing we received at home while growing up. Some may not have been our parents fault. Some of our parents may have been single parents who had to work all day to feed us and simply didn’t have time to spend with us and nurture us or teach us right from wrong. And some of our parents were either zoned out on drugs and cared only to be high and some were out and out abusive.

So what I am getting at is that how can anyone expect us to change our lives around and become productive, loving individuals if we never have been taught to be that way and we are not being taught that way here! And to add insult to injury, to be treated like we are a caged animal and no one here caring enough to take it upon themselves to do otherwise.

What is interesting about all that we have said relates to the programs here themselves. The programs here that they give us consist of them giving us a piece of paper with questions on it and having us watch a video that asks about the questions on the paper. The total lack of human empathy and contact by staff, the public, and programming here will virtually guarantee that little or no success will ever come out of WSPF. Because how can any of these so-called programs here be successful if they forget the most essential thing for our rehabilitation: our humanity.

Here’s an example of the guys we’ve met at WSPF, you decide if they’re “the worst of the worst”. M. (I’m here for threatening a supervisor); L. (he’s here, or was the last I knew, here for flashing a female guard); J. (he’s here for agreeing to have sex with a female staff member who found him attractive); S. (he’s here for having some skinhead literature); T. (he was here, for years, for trying to buy drugs); C. (he’s here because his DA recommended it, despite good behavior) R.D. B. (here for threatening staff), T. (here for selling cigarettes a guard brought in); J. (here for writing a book about a prisoner escaping).

The list could go on and on, most of these guys here have been here for years. N., I’m here because I stabbed some gang leader who threatened to stab me if I didn’t help him transfer money he extorted- I’m here, he isn’t. Once some of us arrive, we did engage in further rule violations (mostly due to being driven crazy) that is now cited to seal our lease at WSPF – but even this additional poor behavior doesn’t make us “the worst of the worst” unless, like WSPF administration, you are set on believing this.

Even if the public feels no ethical pangs about WSPF housing guys who really aren’t “supercriminals”, the public ought to care about WSPF sucking up unjustifiable amounts of its tax-dollars that OUGHT to be use to fund the UW system or any other productive US destructive government work for it costs AT LEAST twice as much to house an inmate at WSPF than it does to house them in a “normal prison. No big surprize, for at WSPF guards act as butlers and footmen, bringing us everything we need (food, clothing, meds, mail, etc,) and health costs are understandably higher for inmates who spend 24/7 in their cells alone. WSPF currently holds about 350 inmates, but there’s more than 100 vehicles out front! Yikes!

The sheer amount of money being spent to run this place can be offset by allowing inmates here to do some of the jobs the state pays staff here to do. This is the only institution in the state that doesn’t have inmates doing such as cooking, cleaning. laundry, mowing the lawn, janitorial etc. The state has to pay large fees for outside people to do these jobs, whereas if they allow inmates to have some of these jobs, the state could literally save millions of dollars that we could spend on things better than this.

Giving inmates jobs also give the inmates a sense of purpose and pride and gets inmate involved with becoming a responsible person, teaching them job skills, and taking pride in having a sense of accomplishment. And the out of the cell time would drastically improve morale of the inmates here.

Much more could be said about how Wisconsin as before WSPF (Supermax) was built. The inmates that were problematic were put in segregation units for long periods of time, but had a much greater opportunity for release from this status than inmates at WSPF. As shown by the report filed by Walter Dickey, December 20, 2005, who is the monitor in the case brought against Wisconsin’s DOC (Department of Corrections) the monitor reports that inmates are being over- classified to WSPF simply to fill bed space. Meaning that the DOC is sending people there who shouldn’t be there!

So this is the proof that some officials have little intent to release inmate here, but plan on keeping them solely to justify keeping this place, not to mention the cozy jobs this place provides and the state and federal money being put into city of Boscobel and Grant county for the upkeep of this prison.

WSPF has experienced some exposure as a crazy-maker, boondoggle-pushed by a former Governor with feeling of inadequacy who instead of buying a mustang built a supermax (like the kids in Texas and California)-so now calls itself a “program facility” and prison officials had told the media how it’s now a changed prison. Nothing has changed but some names- the “level system ” is now called a “phase system” and inmates are still kept at WSPF for years longer, based on “warnings” or merely having a “poor attitude”. Secret meetings are held where decisions are made to promote/demote inmates to different level phases. We are not even told who types the decisions/what we must do to leave or avoid demotion or who’s making accusations against us.

They tell us that they are going to have a meeting to review whether we will be advanced to a higher phase and we have no opportunity to speak on our behalf at such meetings to refute any unfounded allegations against us at these meetings. We are only told that such meetings are going to take place. Then they give us a slip stating that our so-called evaluations, and for some the so-called bad conduct listed on it we did not have the ability to refute, is for example: they said that one inmate’s cell smells badly, they told another that he needed a hair cut, they told another that he made inappropriate gestures to staff (without any staff telling him he was doing so or what the gestures were) and the list goes on from here.

Now how is it possible that inmates here are determined a threat for having long hair or if their cells smells badly? What does either have to do with threatening or dangerous behavior that so-called warrants the stay for inmates here?

Then the same sheets tell us we have to do certain programs that I described above, (that is a piece of paper and a video to watch) they tell us that we have to do these programs, and we do them, and we still are not advanced! Some inmates here have done ALL the programs here and yet they remain where they are.

We still do not get contact visits. We get no more than 2 (!) hours a week in the dog kennel outside recreation cages. We can only have up to 10 publications (all other Wisconsin prisoners can have 25) we can’t work and earn money. We’re stuck in our cells 24/7 subject to screams of those who can’t handle the stress. We have staff looking to make us crazy, slamming our traps, lying about us and bragging about their schemes to justify their cozy jobs. It’s amazing to us that ANY prisoners here would have any respect for the “system” or give a damn about obeying ethics that the system itself ignores.

A way back, as some may recall, a lot of WSPF inmates were released due to their mental health problems. Some, (including me, N., due to paranoid and mood disorders) were sent to Wisconsin’s Resource Center (WRC) which also employed a “level system ” WRC’s level system, unlike WSPF’s had inmates moseying around out doors within 2 weeks-it only went downhill for me after I (Nate) was moved to a unit with violent inmates (apparently because I wrote many group complaints or suits for others/where a guy who hated whites attacked me and another threatened to stab me. But the point is, WSPF’s level system (now Phase-) system has no intention of releasing us to general population conditions-it takes years to get to walk around. Yet at WRC it takes weeks! As social interaction is critical to rehabilitation, yet WSPF blatantly denied his, with no justification-WSPF’s labeling itself as a “program” is just an attempt to hide the reality from the public. Indeed D.J. and I are on a “long-term administrative confinement ” and must do AT LEAST two more years at WSPF despite our sterling behavior for years!

Much more could be said about WSPF. E.g. how all of the staff end up marrying each other and act as a crime family, squeezing protection from the taxpayers and pain from prisoners; how even the tinyest of misconduct is the basis for severe abuse and degradation; how staff lie about us to keep us here. However, one can’t appreciate all of this unless they go through it.

What we’d like the recipients of this letter to do is come up here, contact the guys noted in this letter, just set up your cameras and microphones in the hallway for a few days- ask the crazed inmates Why they ask like they do. Ask the administration why they impose all the hardships on us (it has no legitimacy in behavior modification psychology- punishment is far less effective than rewarding good behavior). Maybe then you’ll agree with us that if rehabilitation of inmates is truly desired the following needs to occur for all WSPF inmates:

  1. An end to abuse and punishment
  2. personal analysis of who we are, what got us in prison, what we are seeking and can rationally expect.
  3. Diverse, intense job-training
  4. Diverse, intense social training
  5. Excessive outdoor exercise
  6. Diverse, intense education
  7. Employ a level system identical to that used at WRC.

June 12th 2006

A gulag of our own

Comparing WSPF with other US control unit prisons: A gulag of our own

By a WI Prisoner

Note: this essay was written in 2005, for the FFUP Newsletter Bridge of Voices. The host of this site will soon cease to exist, that is why we re-publish this here.

The dearth of inmates who actually fit the WSPF criteria of ‘assaultive to staff’, gang leadership, and ‘escape artists’, shows the folly of continuing to maintain a very costly facility in the subsequent era of fiscal deficit. The cost rises when almost all work, kitchen, maintenance, laundry, etc. must be performed by highly paid staff instead of the routine prison practice of having this work done by inmates of the rate of 15 to 30 cents per hour. With the DOC budget approaching One Billion dollars, can the electorate continue to support this ‘white elephant’ tucked in the southwest corner of the state?

One activist, L. F., points out other problems in this abhorrent correctional system, surely an extension of slavery, not withstanding the 13th amendment: a high percentage of inmates are Black or Hispanic (as opposed to their representation in the general population of WI) whereas ALL the correctional officials at Boscobel are white. Visits for most inmates are facilitated only by teleconference, hardly worth the trip from Milwaukee.

The free bus has recently been eliminated. One inmate writes: ‘This is the loudest unit (level3). I’ve been in since arrival. It’s been a few weeks since my level four hearing but I’m still here. NOT promising, I’m afraid. But the reason I’ll be given, if not promoted, will be fun.’ This guy was demoted to 3 for purportedly not turning in a library book in time.

One of the goals of a little grassroots prison reform group, Forum for Understanding Prisons (FFUP), is the education of the electorate on the abuses inherent in the administrative segregation management style at WSPF. With this in mind, they have conducted a national survey of other ‘Control Type’ supermax facilities, including the federal ADX facility in Colorado. In many ways, the results show that Wisconsin’s Gulag is one of the worst and most punitive of the US states. Let’s take a look at the ‘state of the art’ facility in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. (although no prisoner, including Unabomber Ted Kaszynnski can see the mountains). In contrast to WSPF, the inmates have: network , cable, and educational TV, whereas WSPF has 3 channels for religions and educational use. MSNBC has been eliminated. Meals in Colorado include hot breakfast. coffee, tea and fresh fruit. The Federal judge (Crabb) in WSPF lawsuit declined to prohibit ‘nutraloaf’-use in WSPF, an amalgamation of leftovers used to punish recalcitrant inmates. ADX has a shower stall in each cell that can be used anytime, whereas WSPF has limited use to three short periods per week even though the stalls are in the cells. In ADX the inmates can possess a multitude of property: books , shoes, pictures. sweat clothes; caps and gloves; whereas WSPF has few such allowable items. Recreation at ADX is offered 6 times per week with as many as 12 fellow prisoners. Although there is ‘recreation’ at WSPF, it means going to another very small cell, with no equipment, no water or toilet, and a ‘window’ in the ceiling that lets in only light (update: as per WSPF lawsuit. there have been installed outside cages for recreation).

An inmate writer from Red Onion Supermax Facilty in Pound Virginia, complained of use of stun gun devices and this is a situation that has not been repeated at WSPF. He cites the death of a 50 year old man thereafter being shot with a taser devise. In Wisconsin, deaths are not routinely disclosed and families have no details available as to circumstances, although there is a bill in the legislature that would create an independent board to investigate all death. At present, there is no accountability to families, legislators or citizen-electors.

The respondents from Dade County Correctional Institution in Florida cite poor medical and psychiatric care. This same problem is endemic at WSPF and cited on the Federal case by Attorney Ed Garvey: ‘It makes absolutely no sense to have a mentally ill inmate entombed in a cell.’ Those on psychotropic medications are increasingly sensitive to heat: the temperature at WSPF routinely exceeds 90 degrees F in summer. Until AC is installed (if ever), the DOC is instructed to pass out cups of ice but the once a day routine is teasingly inadequate.As a result of the Garvey lawsuit against SPF, there has been an air conditioning unit installed and an outdoor recreation unit built, and some of the mentally ill inmates have been removed, although the definition of mentally ill remains very limited.

Michigan has a ‘supermax’ behavior modification control unit complex located in Munising, a rural location and the respondent cites the same ‘stale, dusty, recycled air’ problem as we have at WSPF These sealed environments are invariably cold in winter and hot in summer. He states a ‘central air system’ is activated in summer. Michigan has a second high risk security prison in IONIA (L6). The respondent cites lack of accountability of staff (falsifying ‘refusals’, etc.), adverse cell conditions, lack of access to Rec. and Law Library, and withholding of food as punishment, all complaints heard at WSPF. In contrast, they have desks in their cells and access to private TV at some levels and the Michigan co-pay is 3 dollars, compared to 7.50 copay at WSPF.

One of the most notorious secure housing units (SHU) is the Pelican Bay SHU facility on the rural north coast of CA. The respondent decries lack of human contact, necessity to ‘snitch’ to get removed from most restrictions, no sunlight but , as opposed to WSPF- no camera in cell. (at WSPF some cells have cameras, not all- this was a change required by the lawsuit). He cites a small 10 by 20 recreation yard, actually concrete with 20 foot high plastic walls. This is what the inmates at WSPF have to forward to if their outdoor recreation facilities are ever opened to them Another problem at Pelican Bay is difficulty of access to local courts. When a staged fight between two opposing gang-oriented inmates was recorded on videotape and leaked to the press by a disgruntled guard, the subsequent lawsuit fell on deaf ears in the local court. When several of the co-conspirator guards were indicted, the local jury was quick to exonerate as the town’s economy is wholly dependent of the prison payroll.

In Wisconsin, only a few inmate (pro-se) lawsuits have reached the court of appeals level. Most are dismissed at the circuit court level in Dane Co. (DOC Headquarters) or Grant Co., the location of WSPF. Inmate B. Freeman tried to challenge his transfer to WSPF in a suit against Warden Berge but was dismissed on numerous procedural technicalities, dealing with ‘administrative remedies’ and time constraints. Inmate M. challenged the behavior modification and mail policy at WSPF and met with limited success. The prison litigation Reform Act (both Federal and State) precludes easy access to the courts to either challenge conditions of confinement, administrative rules, or even matters related to conviction. Whereas previously an ‘indigent’ inmate litigator could get a waiver of filing fees, that is no longer available (except to out of state prisoners) forcing a petitioner to allocate a years salary (150 dollars) to gain a hearing before a circuit court judge. ‘pay me now or pay me later’ is the mantra. A free citizen would be charged only a days pay.

Thus, the only real way to challenge the oppressive conditions at the various supermax prisons are with the help of watchdog groups such as the ACLU. The recent victory in Federal Dist court of WI in reassessing some procedures at WSPF was assisted by the ACLU. In New Mexico, the ACLU was instrumental in achieving a ‘settlement’ via lawsuit which addressed some of the same abuses seen at WSPF: lack of mental health assessment for inmates, specific screening criteria, and added staff.

The FFUP survey also looks at supermax prisons in TN, DE, VA, KS and MD. One inmate in MD write that, after 22 years, he still feels anger, anxiety, periods of rage, hallucinations, claustrophobia, insomnia, and loss of appetite. He states various rationales for taking inmates to the supermax (MCAC) as ‘those with enemies, assaultive behavior, or too many rule infractions.’ He laments loss of all personal property once admitted to MCAC. The same is true at WSPF where most inmate property gets sent out or destroyed upon reception. Upon release (to max), one has to start all over in acquisition of allowable personal property.

Many of the conditions at the nation’s supermaxes are summarized by the Coalition for Prisoner’s Rights in Sante Fe, NM. They state ‘from the beginning, control units have relied on sensory deprivation. People are confined in tiny cells, the size of a parking space (think: living in your bathroom) for 24 hours a day. Educational or therapeutic programming is nonexistent.’ Although WSPF has a CGIP program, they use the worst of the control unit techniques in strip searches, shackling, and isolating prisoners. The Coalition correctly states: ‘It is largely the most vulnerable prisoners who end up in extended isolation who may well be the least able to withstand its rigors and are most susceptible to complete mental breakdown or suicide.’ This indeed is a terrible legacy established at WSPF under the authority of the people of the state of Wisconsin.

Is this responsible use of taxpayer resources? The Wisconsin Catholic Conference calls this issue one of the ‘common good.’ The simple question is: ‘what did we get in public benefits as a result of expenditure of this money?’ It costs twice as much to house an inmate at WSPF as it does in a regular WI prison- 26 thousand a year to about 56 thousand (2001 figures). Are we safer? Most of these inmates will be returned to society after years of isolation, filled with rage and unmet needs. Would we be better off with a humane system that mandates treatment and retraining?

A disproportionate amount of DOC spending occurs as a result of this misguided attempt to ‘micromanage’ WSPF’s 300-some prisoners. With a mandated 4% cut by the Doyle administration for all state agencies, the DOC has to squeeze its other agencies to maintain WSPF employment levels. Nice work if you can get it, notwithstanding the not uncommon reports of domestic abuse in WI Co. families.

The future of WSPF needs to be reassessed at all levels by citizens and their watchdog groups concerned with realistic stewardship of state budget money and humane treatment of incarcerated individuals.

Other than the removal of the most obviously mentally ill inmates, and the change of status to a maximum level institution, WSPF conditions remain the same as before the lawsuit, thought by many to be among the worst in the nation. With the status change to maximum, inmates can be housed at WSPF with less due process, and the floodgates are open. Most people still call it ‘the supermax’ however, because conditions are like those of a supermax.

Other than to tear the place down, WSPF could be converted to a regular maximum facility with school, recreation and library. Or convert the facility to a training center for DOC recruits, keeping 125 inmates under close supervision, yet let them interact with staff-in –training so each group can establish better understanding of their role in the life of our own little gulag in rural Wisconsin.

In the final analysis, we are forced to admit that we may have the worst punitive facility, supermax or otherwise, in the nation (I’ll look it up) once commented: ‘you can judge the degree of civilization of a society by looking at its prisons.’ We have to do better.

Wisconsin Prison Watch – January 2009 Newsletter

Friends,

Three questions have presented themselves in letters during these past few months that I would like to address. Question 1. Does WPW avoid news articles and opinion about sex offenders? Question 2. Should WPW “tone down” the rhetoric and seek credibility? Question 3. Why don’t you do more investigative articles and more research?

Question 1. Does WPW avoid news articles and opinion about sex offenders? No, our mission is to highlight and expose the crimes committed by the DOC, Parole Commission and (in)justice system. We never ask, nor do we feel it important to consider the crime of the prisoner. Our newsletter also tries to highlight the societal penchant and immorality of putting people in cages as a method of solving social problems. We do not express an opinion on the crimes of those behind bars – it is not our concern. Our concern is with the crimes committed by those in uniform.

Question 2. Should WPW “tone down” the rhetoric and seek credibility? We are what we are. Actually, we do curb our contempt and disgust with the abuse and indignity heaped on prisoners. We are outraged and hope that message is loud and clear. We wonder, from whom the questioner thinks we should seek credibility? Certainly not from the institutions and bureaucrats who run them, they are not responsive to polite pleas or reasoned arguments. Have you filed an ICI lately?

Maybe the questioner thinks the public needs to hear a “reasonable” articulation of the “problems” behind the walls? On this point we agree – to a degree. WPW does inform the press whenever important stories arise. For the most part, the press is not interested, because the public is not interested and if the public’s not interested the advertisers lose interest. In a capitalist system the merit of the story is subjugated to the profit margins. But, as I said, we agree and do our best to inform the main stream press.

But, we are not the main stream press; our newsletter goes to prisoners who already know they are being abused, degraded and dehumanized. The families kinda know it but don’t believe it from their loved ones. So, the purpose of the WPW newsletter is to, not only expose the rot, but to heighten political awareness and understanding of “how the system works”, and how we need to resist the oppression. If you don’t think you’re being oppressed then this newsletter is not for you. If you think prisons serve a legitimate purpose then this newsletter is not for you. If you think bending a knee to the powers that be will reform prison policies, this newsletter is not for you. If you think the public will be moved to compassion if one more story of abuse gets published, you’re deluding yourself.

Question 3. Why don’t you do more investigative articles and more research? The primary reason is, we don’t have the time or resources. There’s an important book written by the feminist group INCITE!, titled The Revolution Will Not Be Funded, from which we draw a lesson. We don’t seek funding from institutions, charities, or foundations because we do not want our message or objectives to be blunted or coerced by the funders. We are funded by YOU, the people who are impacted by the prison system. If what we say and do serves a purpose, the funding will continue. If we become insipid and ineffective, we will disappear.

Another reason why we don’t do investigative journalism is because we don’t have a large volunteer staff. We would love to have a bunch of people sitting around with nothing to do, ready to research and investigate. Hey wait a minute, there are a bunch of guys sitting around with nothing to do. Get busy and send in articles and reports.

So, you see, it’s up to you. Send us contributions and ask others to subscribe and support our work. Also, send us your reports and investigations or just send your reflections on “how the system works”. Send us news articles and court cases. This is your newsletter.

Some of you are really busy. We’ve received some really powerful court cases. Some guys are trying to shake things up in the courts. Some have sent us reports of success despite the many hurdles placed on their efforts. Many of us don’t understand the law and its convoluted language. Many of us are frustrated by the lying, cheating, and corruption we face when trying to get some justice. Here at WPW we are continually frustrated by the lack of public concern, the lack of revolutionary spirit, the lack of political awareness, and the lack of outrage, but we fight on. Not because we think we can win, but because we must. We must resist, we are compelled to resist the dehumanization and stupidity of prisons. We cannot do otherwise but resist this culture of oppression.

The winter weather has chilled the desire to protest and leaflet outside of the DOC and prisons but PAW is making plans for the spring. One thing for sure, a contingent of PAW members will be visiting the Capitol to let the Governor know that Al Graham needs to go. He’s up for reappointment in March and PAW wants to make it clear, families are being victimized by the Parole Commission. We urge all families of incarcerated to call or write to the governor to let him know what you think of Al Graham. More info on page 5.

American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) has organized a campaign called STOPMAX whose mission states, in part: “To promote and support a national movement to end the use of solitary confinement and related forms of torture in US prisons”. Your editor has been invited to sit on the steering committee and I will bring my knowledge and experience in dealing with Wisconsin’s overuse of segregation units to the national discussion. Comments from those suffering this barbarity are welcome.

We are in the process of compiling a handbook for families of incarcerated. The purpose is to help families understand the process and negotiate the bureaucracy while supporting their loved one. Suggestions are welcome – please tell us what you think your families should have known or should know in order to help you on the inside

in solidarity,

WPW

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Illinois Prisoners Win $8 Million for Failure to Treat Hep C, from PLN

A federal jury has awarded four Illinois prisoners over $2 million apiece in a civil rights action filed against state prison officials for denying treatment for Hepatitis C (Hep C).

In 2005, Edward J. Roe, Anthony P. Stasiak, Timothy J. Stephen and Jackson Walker, all state prisoners at the Logan Correctional Center (LCC) in Lincoln, Illinois, were denied Hep C treatment. Hep C is a blood-borne disease that can cause liver failure if left untreated; it is most often spread through IV drug use, needle sharing (including tattoo needles) and unprotected sex.

Larry Sims, the Chief Administrative Officer at LCC; Willard Elyea, Medical Director for the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC); and IDOC Director Roger Walker refused to provide Hep C treatment based on a blanket policy that denied such treatment to prisoners with fewer than 18 months left to serve on their sentences.

In September 2005, the four LCC prisoners filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois. They claimed the non-treatment policy resulted from the defendants’ deliberate indifference to their serious medical needs, in violation of the 8th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

On February 15, 2008 a federal jury agreed that the policy was unconstitutional, and awarded the prisoners $20,000 each in actual damages and $2,000,000 each in punitive damages.

Attorney H. Kent Heller of Mattoon, Illinois represented the plaintiffs; he said this was the largest monetary judgment he had ever won for a client. Attorney fees have not yet been awarded in this case. See: Roe v. Sims, U.S.D.C. CD Ill., Case No. 3:06-cv-03034-HAB-CHE.

Hep C-related prison litigation appears to be on the upswing, since large numbers of prisoners are infected with the disease and most prison systems are unwilling to provide the expensive – though necessary – medical treatment for it.

For example, on July 8, 2008, a class action lawsuit was filed against the California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) on behalf of California’s 159,000 state prisoners. The complaint states they do not receive adequate treatment for Hep C, which infects an estimated 40 percent of the CDCR population. See: Jackson v. Dezember, U.S.D.C. CD Cal., Case No. 2:08-cv-04454-GHK-FMO.

“This is a nasty, nasty disease,” said attorney Shawn Khorrami, who filed the class action suit. “We don’t allow this kind of punishment in America, where someone has a disease and we have them suffer from it and have all kinds of problems going forward in their lives just because they’ve committed a crime.”

Actually prison officials routinely allow such punitive medical neglect to occur, which is why such lawsuits are necessary.

UPDATE ON THE HEP-C CLASS ACTION

A few of you have contacted attorney Heller on this but we know more under-treated and untreated cases of Hep-C are out there. Spread the word because this action could have some deep implications for the DOC (financial) and for those suffering this disease (financial and health). For more information write to:

Attorney Kent Heller
Heller, Holmes & Associates, P.C.
1101 Broadway
P.O. Box 889
Mattoon, IL 61938

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Dear Prison Watch,

Hey! I’ve been down for 25 years all together in this fucked up system and all I can say is, it’s about time somebody kept an eye on these freaks!

This is my eighth time in, 4 were revocations, and the other four were all property crimes, yet I’ve served more time than a few lifers I’ve met.

Right now I’m almost done with a five year sentence for breaking my probation by going to Texas (absconding) for two months. This five year sentence stems from a 1998 burglary conviction where I stole a check for $420 and cashed it.

So, yes it’s true, I’m sitting here, taking up a single cell (red tag) in Green Bay, for a crime that occurred over ten years ago. And, it was my only violation after three years of supervision; working, paying rent and minding my own business. No ATR, no work release; five years on a ten year withheld sentence. They extradited me 1620 miles on an eight day bus ride from Hell.

All this for going down to Texas to roof houses damaged in Katrina, to make $15 an hour cash instead of $11.50 minus taxes here in Wisconsin. The state has spent thirty thousand dollars a year “punishing” me for stealing a check and then leaving the state for a better job.

Anyway, I’ll be out soon with 20 months of parole which I may or may not get revoked on. And of course when I get released I will have zero dollars and zero cents because that’s the way the DOC likes to see you leave. But you can bet I’ll get that “good luck out there” on the way out the door, because they always smile and say that when you leave prison, just to let you know they care, you’re their friend and it’s not personal.

Sincerely,
Scott McLeod

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Doyle named Obama’s Commerce Secretary (parody by Bonnie Abzug)

Wisconsin Governor was recently chosen to replace Gov. Bill Richardson for US Commerce Secretary. Doyle was chosen and then his name was quickly withdrawn due to the fact that the State of Wisconsin stands at the top (worst) ranking of Black incarceration rates in the whole United States of Amerikkka!

Wisconsin Prison Activists were elated by the nomination, hoping that a new Governor would realize the highest ranking of top Black Incarceration rates were sure signs of the racism in Wisconsin state laws, justice system and its whole state government. Activists hoped a new Governor would stand on a bully pulpit and make this gross and shameful record a thing of the past. They were sure that a new governor would get rid of the regressive Parole Chair, Al Graham.

Obama and his aides must have made note of Doyle’s and the State of Wisconsin’s abysmal treatment of its Black population and decided that this type of politician is not wanted in their cabinet. Unfortunately Obama’s de-cision does not bode well for our state.

As a matter of reference, Minnesota and Wisconsin both have the same minority population demographics and crime rate. Minnesota houses 9000 prisoners while Wisconsin houses over 22,000. How many times must these statistics be shown before our state’s citizens force our government representatives to rectify this inequity.

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Notes from Starvin’ Naked Marvin: The Day After

What does Barack Obama’s election mean for Black prisoners?
Very little and a great deal. Very little in that it’s unlikely he’ll make sweeping changes to the justice system. Obama was not elected on a platform for social change, he ran and won with an economic agenda and was supported by the same money ‘strokers’ that have supported every president. IF Blacks, especially those imprisoned, expect social change they’re going to be disappointed.

Obama’s election though, in a psychological sense, means a great deal to prisoners. Prisoners are quicker than free persons to believe they can not fight and win against an entrenched system and that color is an inherent bar to success. Obama has shown that the bar to success of Black men is mostly a bar of their own making, a self-imposed limit on how high they can climb.

Obama’s victory is a classic lesson in vision and persistence all prisoners should study, especially Black prisoners. For in that lesson is the means to overcome the horrors of both imprisonment and the justice system. His victory instructs us to first recognize our own worth and to respect the worth of others, then to establish a goal and pursue it through planning and preparation, and finally, most importantly, to embrace a single-minded focus toward achieving that goal.

Obama’s victory has shown us that even ‘blue sky’ is not limited to one who’s determined to achieve a goal. How then can we, given his example, fail to take on and defeat the problems of injustice and imprisonment we face?

Let me propose a goal for all prisoners: The reduction and reformation of the prison system into a more human-centered service through the non-violent destabilization of the current dehumanizing system. Prisons operate efficiently and effectively because we prisoners allow them to do so. Without our support, mentally by obeying orders, and physically by working in prisons, the prison system, as it now stands, would collapse. This is a fact we’ve known but have been afraid to exploit.

To achieve this goal we must first set aside our fear. Fear is the mind killer, it prevents self defense. For unless you are willing to abandon your fears and risk everything you stand to gain nothing. Ask yourself if your life has value and worth not just to you but also those with whom you interact – your family, your friends. If you answer is yes then you must vigorously defend your life from the ravages of a system which as declared your life worthless.

Since, to this system, you’re only a body give them that body without its mind. Do not perform any function or obey any order which supports the orderly running of any prison. Non-violently refuse to be an intelligent but willing victim of a rogue system. Refuse to accept their pronouncement of you as worthless. Make them work like hell to maintain you and this system.

In this country we’ve allowed morality and conscience to be replacement with bad laws. To obey such law is to deny your humanity and the responsibility you bear, as an American , to raise protest in the face of injustice.

Look to President-Elect Obama as your inspiration towards this goal. It only seems like ‘blue sky’ because we fear to fight for our worth.

Warren G. Lilly, Jr.,, pen name Starvin’ Naked Marvin, has been hunger striking for over four years in protest of Wisconsin’s and America’s abusive overuse of imprisonment. He refuses to eat, wear clothing, and obey orders, and is force fed thrice daily, Monday through Saturday. Warren asks prisoners and free persons to fast with him every Sunday then to e-mail or write to their Governor in support of his protest.

Contact Warren at: Warren G. Lilly, Jr.
DOC # 447655
WCI, P.O. Box 351
Waupun, WI 53963-0351
Warrenlilly.blogspot.com

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“One of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the great struggle for independence.”
Charles Austin Beard

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Studies: Wisconsin has highest racial disparity in drug sentences

Associated Press
05/06/2008

MILWAUKEE — Two new studies show Wisconsin has the highest racial disparity in the nation when it comes to sentences for drug convictions.

Blacks in the Badger State are 42 times more likely than whites to be sentenced to prison for drug convictions, according to studies by Human Rights Watch and The Sentencing Project. In Minnesota, blacks are ten-times more likely to be sentenced, the report said.

The Sentencing Project examines data from 43 of the nation’s largest cities between 1980 and 2003. The Human Rights Watch study looks at racial disparities among drug offenders sent to prison in 34 states.

According to the research, blacks are sent to prison for drug offenses at a rate at least 10 times that of whites in 16 states, with the disparity the greatest in Wisconsin.

Ratio of black/white rates of prison admissions for drug offenses, 2003.
(Rates calculated per 1,000 residents of each race)

Alabama **** 3.5
California *********** 10.6
Colorado ***************14.4
Florida ************11.7
Georgia ***** 5.0
Hawaii ****** 5.8
Illinois ************************* 23.6
Iowa ******** 7.7
Kentucky ******6.2
Louisiana ******* 7.3
Maryland ***************** 17.4
Michigan ************ 11.8
Minnesota ********** 10.1
Mississippi ** 3.0
Missouri *** 2.7
Nebraska ***** 4.6
Nevada *******6.6
New Hampshire *******7.1
New Jersey *********************20.6
New York **************14.3
North Carolina *********** 10.9
North Dakota **** 3.8
Oklahoma **** 4.4
Oregon **** 4.1
Pennsylvania ************* 13.1
South Carolina ********* 9.3
South Dakota ********* 9.0
Tennessee ******** 8.4
Texas ************ 11.7
Utah ******** 7.5
Virginia *************13.2
Washington ********** 10.1
West Virginia **************** 16.3
Wisconsin ***************************************** 42.4
Total ********** 10.1

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HOME DEPOT ACCUSED OF VIOLATING CIVIL RIGHTS OF JOB APPLICANTS WITH CRIMINAL RECORDS—National Employment Law Project seeking other people who have been denied employment

Two African-American men have filed charges of discrimination against Home Depot alleging that the company’s rejection of their job applications based on their past criminal records violates federal civil rights laws forbidding race discrimination because the practice has an adverse impact on African Americans and Hispanics. The charges were filed with the New York office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The charging parties are being represented by the Legal Action Center (www.lac.org), Outten & Golden LLP (www.outtengolden.com), the National Employment Law Project (www.nelp.org) and Goldstein, Demchak, Baller, Borgen & Dardarian (www.gdblegal.com).

As part of their investigation of these claims, the charging parties counsel are interested in speaking to other African Americans and Hispanics who have been rejected for employment by Home Depot because of a past criminal record.

People in New York State should contact the Legal Action Center, 212-243-1313 (outside of NY City, call 800-223-4044), and ask to speak to a paralegal about the Home Depot case. People in California should contact the National Employment Law Project, 510-409-2427. People outside of New York or California should contact Justin Swartz at Outten & Golden, 212-245-1000.

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A note from a friend at WCI

As a Wisconsin State prisoner at the Waupun “correctional” Institution (WCI), the guards, the wardens, and other administrative staff don’t have to say out loud what they really think of me and other state prisoners, (That prisoners are sub-human), they show it to us every day by exploiting our labor; by locking us up in cells – some of us double celled – that even animals would deteriorate in; by keeping us away from those we love; by instilling in our minds, fear, anger, hatred, disgust and a deep contempt for the injustices inherent in the “rule of law”; by keeping us prisoners locked up, away from, and alienated from each other when we try to educate and organize ourselves to do something about our sub-human conditions and subhuman treatment; and by subjecting us to endure years and years of this systemic dehumanization without ever knowing if, when, or how we will finally be released.

Such is the stuff that keeps Wisconsin prisons overcrowded and the recidivism rate at nearly 70% which begs the question, what are they correcting? And even more deplorable, all this state sponsored systematic dehumanization takes place in the name of “corrections” at taxpayers expense of $30,000 or more per year per prisoner!

Signed – Just another forgotten and anonymous WCI state prisoner. (I am not afraid to sign my name to this letter to the editor of WPW; I’m just not stupid enough to sign it publicly as I know if I do, I’ll end up in HSU again for stating what I know to be the facts and truth… so much for the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and for freedom of speech!)
11-13-08

************************

5,000 prisoners on hunger strike across Greece in demand for reforms!

All 21 Greek prisons are in the grip of prisoners 3-stage campaign in demand of 45-point reform. As part of the protest, more than 5,000 inmates are now on hunger strike.

As of Monday the 3rd of November the totality of prison across Greece are under a 3-stage campaign in demand of a 45-point reform, asking amongst other things for abolition of all juvenile prisons, greater freedoms, reduction of prison service and better conditions. The first stage of the prisoners struggle in which 8,000 out of 15,000 inmates took part consisted of refusing food from the prison catering. On Friday the 7th, 1,000 of them upgraded to the second stage of the campaign by going on hunger strike. The number of the hunger strikers today (11/7/08) is 5,120, 17 of whom have sewn their mouths. The third stage of the campaign, general uprising, looms over the prison establishment as outside the prisons solidarity campaigns are filling the streets of the Greek cities with protest marches, concerts and various forms of direct action.

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Sen. Webb’s Call for Prison Reform

January 1, 2009
Editorial – N.Y. Times

This country puts too many people behind bars for too long. Most elected officials, afraid of being tarred as soft on crime, ignore these problems. Sen. Jim Webb, a Democrat of Virginia, is now courageously stepping into the void, calling for a national commission to re-assess criminal justice policy. Other members of Congress should show the same courage and rally to the cause.

The United States has the world’s highest reported incarceration rate. Although it has less than 5 percent of the world’s population, it has almost one-quarter of the world’s prisoners. And for the first time in history, more than 1 in 100 American adults are behind bars.

Many inmates are serving long sentences for nonviolent crimes, including minor drug offenses. It also is extraordinarily expensive. Billions of dollars now being spent on prisons each year could be used in far more socially productive ways.

Senator Webb — a former Marine and secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration — is in many ways an unlikely person to champion criminal justice reform. But his background makes him an especially effective advocate for a cause that has often been associated with liberals and academics.

In his two years in the Senate, Mr. Webb has held hearings on the cost of mass incarceration and on the criminal justice system’s response to the problems of illegal drugs. He also has called attention to the challenges of prisoner re-entry and of the need to provide released inmates, who have paid their debts to society, more help getting jobs and resuming productive lives.

Mr. Webb says he intends to introduce legislation to create a national commission to investigate these issues. With Barack Obama in the White House, and strong Democratic majorities in Congress, the political climate should be more favorable than it has been in years. And the economic downturn should make both federal and state lawmakers receptive to the idea of reforming a prison system that is as wasteful as it is inhumane.

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Prison Action Wisconsin
P.O. Box 05669
Milwaukee, WI 53205

Prison Action Wisconsin General Membership meetings are held on the second Saturday of every month at:

All God’s Children Church
3356 N. Martin Luther King Dr.
Milwaukee, WI

January 10, 2009
February 14, 2009
March 14, 2009

Committees meet more often and on different days.

We ask all prisoners to urge their family attend our meetings and support our effort. It is only through a united voice that we will be heard.

Prison Action Wisconsin asks that all who read this message call or write governor Doyle to let him know we are being victimized by Alfonso Graham and the Parole Commission. Many of our loved ones are ready to come home and we are ready to help them restart their lives.

Let the Governor know it is cruel and unusual punishment to keep families waiting, not knowing what is expected of their loved ones and what they need to do to get released.

Tell the Governor to appoint a progressive and reasonable Parole Commission Chair who will listen to the families.

PAW also asks that you call your State Senator and Representative with the same message.

We can force a change. We need to make the calls. We need to lobby the legislators. Please join us at the Capitol in February for a day of lobbying. Please make the calls.

Office of the Governor
608-266-1212

Senator Lena Taylor
608-266-5810

Senator Spencer Coggs
608-266-2500

Representative Marc Pocan
608-266-8570

Representative Leon Young
608-266-3786

Representative Tamara Grigsby
608-266-0645

Legislative Hotline
Toll-free: 1-800-362-9472

****************

WORT – Madison’s progressive, community owned, volunteer operated radio station sent holiday messages over the airwaves to those locked up behind the walls. Families called and left a recorded message for their loved one which was compiled and aired during the holiday season. We hope you caught the show. Some of the folks who called in:

Beverly Pittman, Unity Brown, Draylon Oliver, Roy Taylor, Wayco, Lavail Coleman, Chazna Hopkins, Rhonda Oliver, Duvila Rivers, Carl Brown, LaQuanda Jones, Carolyn Arrington, Rosenil Hicks, Awdarrah Bowman, Zolo Farrior, Kathleen Hart, Sarah Freeman, Montrell Oliver, Frank Van den Bosch, Avishareail Stringfellow, Cencreaha Alexander, Ajinai Kenyadah, and many others.

WORT is not a powerful radio station and many in the remote areas of Wisconsin probably didn’t get the holiday greeting so…

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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ARTISTS AGAINST THE PRISON INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX

PROJECT LODGE
817 E. Johnson St. Madison

January 30 – Feb 5
Reception, Fri., Jan 30 7pm -10pm

Gallery Hours – 10am – 5pm M-F

Sponsored by Justseeds’ Artists
Cooperative & WI Books to Prisoners,
A project of Rainbow Bookstore

Over 30 prints by printmakers nationwide addressing the use of policing, prisons and,
punishment as a “solution” to social, political and, economic problems and more than
70 critical drawings by prisoners will be on display.

Artwork is welcome year around for public education.
Please send or deliver artwork to:

Wisconsin Books to prisoners
Rainbow Bookstore
426 W. Gilman St.
Madison, WI 53703

Contact: Camy or John at 608-262-9036

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WSPF – When will it ever convert into a general population?
by: Comrade Muhammad Crutchfield

For almost two years now WSPF, formerly the WI SuperMax, has supposedly been converting into a “general population” prison. Prisoners who first arrived have told me that the place has been a mess from day one, with no real format as to how it operates. I’ve been here since Sept. 17, 2008 and know from personal experience that the place is nothing more than a continued human experiment, as it was originally designed to be.

Every week there’s a new rule on top of a rule. Memos are constantly being put out by the so-called Charlie and Delta Unit Manager on just about everything you can imagine, mainly non-sense.

For instance, no prisoner can get state soap unless they are indigent. Also, only prisoners without type-writers may put in a request to use the so-called ‘law-library’ type-writer. They must get the typing ribbon from the bubble Sgt. and return it to him once done. They must also show him/her what they typed to prove that it was strictly legal materials.

About a month and a half ago a prisoner wanted to call his attorney, but had to go through all kinds of hoops. The reason being, his so-called social worker thought that the forms he produced to her (DOC FORMS) were fake, because she’d never seen them before. He was told by her that she’d been a social worker at WSPF for years and had never seen such forms, nor had she ever heard of any prisoner having a non-monitored phone call to his attorney. She told him that she “felt he was getting away with something and am going to investigate”.

Her investigation found that she’d been un-informed, WSPF was/is recording/ monitoring even prisoners attorney calls, at least one of his attorney phone calls had been “monitored” (which was quickly denied by the Warden after an outside concerned person called and inquired about the matter), and that WSPF is basically violating client/ attorney confidential rights. He was told that notices would be put up in each phone call area notifying prisoners of the bogus monitoring of even attorney calls. This was at least two months ago and still nothing is posted.

Among the numerous other problems here of major significance, the lack of contact visiting is the biggest felt, especially on those who get regular visits. Because WSPF was not designed for population there was never an area built for visiting. However, as soon as it was decreed that WSPF would be converting into a general max, it became the DOC’s responsibility to build a visiting room or convert some area in the prison into a temporary visiting room until one was built. Denying us contact visits is a violation of the WI Admin. Code (see visiting regulations regarding visits in its entirety). The WI Admin. Code clearly states that the only way a prisoners visits can be made non-contact is for punitive reasons. I can’t speak for everyone else, but I haven’t violated any WI Admin. Code, nor have my visits been restricted (except forcefully by the DOC sending me here). Rumors have it that a visiting room will be built within another one or two years.

WSPF has made an art of penny-pinching. Three times a week prisoners are fed bag breakfasts, they aren’t given state boots, no state hygiene items are given out, job wages are being intentionally kept low that normally pay higher elsewhere. The main kitchen better not catch a worker-prisoner eating an extra sugar packet or salt packet if he values his job.

There is no population here. Prisoners are constantly being put through one form of psychological game play after another by staff. Last week prisoners signed up for “rec.” only to be told they didn’t have it, even though a schedule was passed to all saying they did. After complaints, they were eventually let out that afternoon. Ironically, later that evening, the list with all of the names on it for phone calls was suspiciously “lost” and guys were told they couldn’t call their loved ones. These are just some of the problems, but the real problem is us……

DARE TO STRUGGLE!!!!!!!

“SETTLE YOUR QUARRELS, COME TOGETHER, UNDERSTAND THE REALITY OF THE SITUATION, UNDERSTAND THAT FASCISM IS ALREADY HERE.”

“DO WHAT MUST BE DONE, DISCOVER YOUR HUMANITY AND YOUR LIFE IN THE REVOLUTION. PASS ON THE TORCH, JOIN US, GIVE UP YOUR LIFE FOR THE PEOPLE.”
Comrade/Brother, George Jackson

WA-ALAYKUM AS-salaam
Comrade Muhammad Crutchfield

****************************

Free the San Francisco Eight!!!!!
Notes pertaining to SORP:
from Chris Klingeisen

The DOC is administrating Civil Punishment on the persons who are incarcerated by enforcing the policy 301.45 (10) and thus turned the punishment towards the families of the incarcerated, due to the fact that 95% of the inmates cannot afford to pay this fee. This fee has doubled, prior was $50.00 a year, now $100.00 a year. This action by itself is punishment especially when it is administered to the incarcerated. It is different when the offender is released and then he can take this responsibility. The only factor that is in question is the timing of this policy.

Also, the threat of submitting offenders to collections will cause issues in the future. This can have adverse effects on the person while he is attempting to apply for a job, (many employers look at a person’s credit history). There are some offenders like myself who have good credit and this action threatens it. Also, this action would cause issue when a person is applying for credit, DVR, school, S.S., & grants. This may seem small at first but it is major to a person who is trying to be a positive person in the community. This action over time will explode into many infractions in a person’s life. Simply by waiting when the offender is released it then would be more responsible to apply this action. In some cases, offenders may be incarcerated for a number of years and building debt. This action is added stress and possibly a factor on one’s desire to correct their issues.

****************

“The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion among the poor that we have a democracy, and second, the chronic terror among the rich, lest we get it.” – Edward Dowling

************

“…it is essential if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression that human rights should be protected by the rule of law.” (preamble) – Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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Message from Moso

Dear Comrades,

I’m writing this article to hopefully welcome our new readers. As mentioned in the last edition, there has been an effort by PAW to bring more attention to our struggle by passing out material in front of the prisons during visiting hours.

I believed this was a good idea because, as we have seen, most prisoners have not attempted to get their families and loved ones involved. We have been depending on inmates to contact their families from prison and have them sign them up or join them up with the organization.

It appears only when they face adversity and experience abuse of power by correctional officials by getting a unjustified conduct reports or having their visitors mistreated, do they then seek assistance from a outside source once they realize they themselves have no power. But unless the organization itself has a sufficient amount of members and resources, it can help no one. So we ourselves have to be the leaders, as no one else will save us, but us.

I think Frank did a good job of explaining the different mission of this organization from that of the others. It’s nice to have them attempt to at least do something different than what a lot of progressives are doing. Now that society has made some progress with the recent election of Barack Obama, doors are about to open.

Insanity has been defined as when a person does the same thing over and over, but always expects a different result. A lot of the progressives now want to institute a lot of the same things tried in the past, in the belief that it will make things better such as treatment programs and counseling, etc., etc.

These are good intentions, but are misguided. This stuff has already been tried back in the late 60s and 70s when liberals were in control. It had a lot of beneficial results, however, we still have a lot of the same problems today as we had then.

So now, it’s time to think of a radical solution, which even the so called “Progressives” are afraid to tackle for fear of not being “politically correct”. They want to talk about: the problem of the incarceration rate. However, they don’t want to discuss the root cause of the high rate of incarceration.

Why is there no discussion of what was really behind this conspiracy called the War on Drugs? Everyone want to speak on the ill effects of drugs and how it is destroying communities and society. That’s really a sham. The drugs are not what’s causing the crime and violence, instead it is the laws that are the culprit. It is the enactment of these draconian laws that has reinvented prohibition.

Most have some limited knowledge of history – it was prohibition that gave rise to the “gangster age”. It was only after seeing the effects on the White Majority population, (mass arrests and prison sentences), that a Constitutional Amendment was passed, to abolish the Prohibition Act. However, the effects of the prohibition laws were studied and mastered by social scientists, to where they have now been reapplied to carry out a agenda of political power, population control, and subversion of the United States Constitution.

The only way these power hungry “one worlders” can take people’s rights away, is if citizens voluntarily give them up. Before Bush and his backers so clumsily exposed this secret technology and plot under the guise of the war on terror, it was being used to target people and organizations under the guise of the war on drugs. They already knew the prohibition of drugs would cause rival drug gangs and warfare, armed robberies and violent crimes, just as gangsters did back in the prohibition era, lured by profits and riches. This is assured by making the product illegal. Look at the prisons today. Once we could buy tobbacco in pouches which cost about 85 cents. However, now that this item is “prohibited”, the same item will sell for over $50.00 a pouch.

The same principle applies. Thus, it is the law that is causing the destruction of poor people and making them “victims” of the conspiracy. This is why over 80% of us are in prison. We walked into the trap and many more will follow unless and until we deal with the real causes of these social ills. As long as they have the community’s eyes stuck on the trick that the drugs are the problem, and the false “solution” to stop using, selling and buying drugs, they will be blind to the real crooks who knows it is the law (which they control), that is the real enemy. However, it is politically incorrect to say drugs should not be illegal even though they were only made illegal as part of a conspiracy. So even though it’s the truth, it is a radical truth whose time for light has come.

For those who have access to a library, a book entitled Down by the River, authored by Charles Bowden, reveals a lot of information and history about the secret dealings of the United States Government and the Mexican Government and this fake “war on drugs” and its real purpose. So it will be the WPW that will be reporting on and organizing to address such topics.

Additionally, who is advocating for the prisoner victims to these past plots? Who speaks for those who have been given these life ending terms of incarceration for crimes like armed robbery, burglary, felony murder, etc., etc.? Who will expose how they stacked the state Courts with these Federalist Judges, (which is a judicial cult), bent on protecting the corporate and police state interests against the little people who have no power?

With sufficient political power, relief could be gained by organizing and getting the political power to have laws changed to where inmates can get adequate post conviction relief and sentence modifications. When these extreme Right Wing Republicans were in power, they pretty much shut the door to make sure a lot of their handy work does not get undone. We have to change that. And as the recent election of Barack Obama has shown, if you organize from the grass roots, ordinary people can do extraordinary things. If you want justice and relief, get involved and support the WPW and PAW. More information will be submitted in future editions.

MoSo,

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“What is the great American sin? Extravagance? Vice? Graft? No; it is a kind of half-humorous, good-natured indifference, a lack of “concentrated indignation” as my English friend calls it, which allows extravagance and vice to flourish. Trace most of our ills to their source, and it is found that they exist by virtue of an easy-going, fatalistic indifference which dislikes to have its comfort disturbed….The most shameless greed, the most sickening industrial atrocities, the most appalling public scandals are exposed, but a half-cynical and wholly indifferent public passes them by with hardly a shrug of the shoulders; and they are lost in the medley of events. This is the great American sin.”: Joseph Fort Newman, Atlantic Monthly, October 1922

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The United States: A Country Without Mercy

By Paul Craig Roberts

December 16, 2008 The Christmas season is a time to remember the unfortunate, among whom are those who have been wrongly convicted.

In the United States, the country with the largest prison population in the world, the number of wrongly convicted is very large. Hardly any felony charges are resolved with trials. The vast majority of defendants, both innocent and guilty, are coerced into plea bargains. Not only are the innocent framed, but the guilty as well. It is quicker and less expensive to frame the guilty than to convict them on the evidence.

Many Americans are wrongfully convicted, because they trust the justice system. They naively believe that police and prosecutors are moved by evidence and have a sense of justice. The trust they have in authorities makes them easy victims of a system that has no moral conscience and is untroubled by the injustice it perpetrates.

Lt. William Strong, son of a military family, tired of his wife’s unfaithfulness and filed for divorce. The unfaithful wife retaliated by accusing Strong of rape. There was no evidence of rape, but Strong was deceived into a plea bargain. Once Strong entered a plea, he was double-crossed and given 60 years.

Christophe Gaynor took an adolescent skate board team to New York City for a competition. One of the kids attempted to buy illicit drugs. Gaynor threatened to tell the boy’s parents, and the boy preempted Gaynor by accusing him of sexual molestation.

Gaynor was openly framed in the Arlington, Virginia, court system.

Americans, or perhaps more accurately some Americans, were horrified by the photographs showing the torture of Iraqi detainees in Abu Ghraib by the US military. The Senate Armed Services Committee has issued a report which concludes that the torture policy originated at the highest level of the Bush administration. Those Americans with a moral conscience have reeled under further revelations–the torture of Guantanamo detainees, the transport of people seized by US authorities to third world countries to be tortured.
We have to ask ourselves why American service men and women and CIA operatives delight in torturing people about whom they know nothing? It has been well known since the Stalin era that torture never produces accurate information. Yet, US soldiers and CIA personnel jumped at the green light given to torture by President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, and the US Department of Justice. Why weren’t our soldiers shocked instead at the immorality of their leaders?

One answer is that the US military no longer operates according to a code of honor. Military discipline in the traditional sense does not exist. The ethos of the US military has degenerated into kick-ass macho. Major General Taguba, who, instead of covering up the Abu Ghraib scandal, attempted in his report to hold the US military to its traditional principles, was forced to resign from the US Army.

Another answer is that the work of torture, like police work and prosecutorial work, attracts brutal people who enjoy inflicting harm on others. The two Republican female US Attorneys in Alabama who framed Democratic Governor Seligman enjoyed ruining Seligman and bringing grief to his family.

Deborah Davies of the BBC’s Channel 4 undertook a four-month investigation of the torture of American prisoners inside American prisons. Videos taken by sadistic prison guards and videos recovered from surveillance cameras reveal horrible acts of torture and even of murder of prisoners by prison guards.

An American prison reformer told Deborah Davies, “We’ve become immune to the abuse. The brutality has become customary.”

Few Americans seem to be disturbed as these inhumane and illegal practices continue unabated. Americans continue to see themselves as the salt of the earth, the “indispensable people.”

“Law and order conservatives” have a great responsibility for this evil. Just as “law and order conservatives” created hysteria among the people about crime, they created hysteria about terrorists. Hysterical people condone great evils and arm government with power in the mistaken belief that it will protect them.

What kind of people have we become when we exercise no oversight over a criminal justice (sic) system that destroys the lives of innocent people and locks them away in prisons to be tortured by sadistic guards?

*********************

Wrongful Convictions

Results of a Washington and Lee School of Law examination into the principle causes of wrongful convictions.

DNA Inclusions *
Other Forensic Inclusions *****
False Confessions ************
Informant/Snitches ************
False Witness Testimony ************
Bad Lawyering **************
Microscopic Hair Comparison ****************
Defective/Fraudulent Science ********************
Prosecutorial Misconduct ***********************
Police Misconduct **************************
Serology Inclusion ***************************
Mistaken Identification *******************************************
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%

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WISCONSIN PRISON WATCH NEWSLETTER
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