Hunger strike to stop abuse in Arizona

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[Abuse] [Hunger Strike] [Arizona State Prison Complex Central Unit] [Arizona]

Hunger strike to stop abuse in Arizona

I’m writing to request assistance with my imminent hunger strike, commencing 12/8/2017. You can help by calling the prison, repetitively and constantly, urging them to resolve the inhumane and unconstitutional conditions of confinement and mistreatment prison officials are subjecting me to here in Kasson Unit, which are enumerated below.

I’ve submitted dozens of Releases of Information to Kasson’s Mental Health Lead, Dr. Tracy Rogers, my therapist/advocate. The R.O.I.s allow her to discuss with you all matters concerning me. They allow ADC to do the same. Rogers and my mother (who is also the legal agent of my powers of attorney) are well-informed of these strike issues and can help you help me. I strongly urge you contact both to coordinate the best possible plan of advocacy for resolution. However, please do not hesitate to call in now. Ask for resolution. Demand it.

I went through a similar strike in Sep., 2017. It lasted 13 days. I lost 26 lbs., or 14% of my body mass. Prison officials, during the strike, seemed willing, eager, to resolve the issues, but, as soon as I ended the strike (because they promised concessions and resolutions), they reneged and let the issues go unresolved. In fact, more issues have risen since, and they continue to perpetrate and ignore them.

Please know that prison officials here, including mental health staff, can force me to be placed in the Mental Health Suicide Watch Pod. There, I will be stripped of all clothing, property, hygiene - everything. I will not be able to write, send personal or legal mail, work on my civil rights cases and appeals. Placement in Watch is purely retaliation and serves no purpose other than to act as a deterrent. Watch cells are filthy, never cleaned, cold. I’ll receive no recreation or out-of-cell time. They’ll be treating me worse than a dog at the pound on the eve of being euthanized. That is the ethos of Kasson Unit.

Kasson Unit is rife with staff misconduct, psychological torture, psychological and sexual abuse by staff, illegal destruction of personal property (a violation of A.R.S. §31-228(A)), and other unconstitutional and illegal acts and procedures of prison officials. Kasson is the most corrupt, broken unit I’ve been in in my entire 12.5 years in ADC. The misconduct is systemic, and very few staff have managed to avoid the pool of corruption.

This hunger strike is my last resort, my only recourse, so please help me urge them, these government officials who are paid with your tax dollars, to grant resolutions before things worsen. This strike is about finding justice, equality, fair and humane treatment, and human decency. The issues I’m trying to resolve are described below. Thank you very much for your concern and solidarity.

  1. Kasson Unit must eliminate the extreme cockroach infestation. Each 4-man pod has thousands of roaches, each cell hundreds. They crawl everywhere: walls, floors, ceiling, property, clothing, bed, even my body, while sleeping. Staff have even delivered my food with roaches in it. They refuse to properly address the problem, will not pay their contracted exterminators the required amount to actually exterminate them. In my 15 months here they’ve sprayed a minimal amount of pesticide in the cells only twice. It is extremely unsanitary.

  2. Since Jan, 2017, mail room, at Sgt. J. Ramos’ direction, has been returning to sender all incoming books and magazines I subscribe to, in violation of my First Amendment rights. They falsely claim I have in my possession more than the allowed limit of books (10) and magazines (5). They do this because I challenge their illegal exclusions and censorship of certain magazines, such as Esquire, US Weekly, Cosmopolitan, etc. They figure that if they return to sender all publications, I won’t be able to appeal censorship. They allow, seldomly, only secular publications, another First Amendment violation.

  3. Staff, including C.O.3 Oswald, C.O.4 Castorena, and Dep. Warden Montano, refuse to allow me reasonable - or any - telephonic access to call my attorneys of record. This is causing irreparable damage to my legal cases and is highly unconstitutional. Pima Co. Judge Godoy has ordered an inquiry into this matter, but staff continue to refuse any legal calls, since Feb, 2017.

  4. Staff must provide me with unfettered access to grievance forms, per policy (D.O. B02.01.1.7) and the Redress of Grievances clause of the First Amendment, but they consistently deny them. Additionally, Oswald refused to respond to most of my informal grievances, though his job, and policy (D.O. 802.02.13), mandates Responses. Their justification for this is that I “file too many grievances.” There is no limit for filing grievances. Also, Grievance Coordinator Castorena refuses to process valid grievances, instead returning them “processed” under false pretexts, in violation of the grievance policy. 4(A) This issue is compounded by staff’s refusal to properly address the problem. All staff, including Central Office, Admin., Programs and Security, routinely refuse to respond to my Inmate Letters, in violation of D.O. 916. They claim they never received them, though I retain proof of receipt by staff. They are attempting to effectively silence me. They must respond to all Inmate Letter forms. 4(B) This matter also relates to issue #2, as Florence Complex Publication Review staff commonly refuse to acknowledge receipt of my Exclusion Appeals, a Due Process violation.

  5. Staff will not respect my Right to Education. They allowed me to begin earning my paralegal degree from Blackstone Career Inst. in May, 2017, but have returned to sender all course materials since June, relying on unconstitutional prison policies as a justification. This is a self-pay course, which will improve my life and reduce chances of recidivism upon release. This prison must allow me to resume this course.

  6. I have a Special Needs Order (S.N.O.) for sunglasses, to help me treat my photosensitivity. I’ve had approved sunglasses sent in but Property Officer C.O.2 M. Del Valle refuses to give them to me, without any justification. Exposure to bright light causes migraines. My sunglasses have been sent in previously, but staff stole them. Now this pair is in jeopardy of being stolen, or “lost.”

  7. Property Officer Del Valle is violating prison policies and AZ (ARS §31-228(A)) by destroying my property. She refuses to allow me to return to sender non-allowable items (e.g. photos, etc.) received via mail, in violation of D.O. 909. & She instead decides to illegally destroy it.

  8. Staff are withholding my TV because I’m serving Loss of Privilege (LOP) disciplinary sanctions, though they permit everybody else on LOP to retain/possess their TV. They single me out because I file so many grievances and lawsuits, which other prisoners are afraid to do for fear of retaliation - like having appliances seized.

  9. In July, 2017, staff inappropriately placed me under protective custody (P.C.) without providing me any notice (Due Process). Placing me under PC was retaliation, an attack on my pride and integrity, and is totally unwarranted. They claim it was due to a single written threat on my safety. 9(A) Further, Dep. Warden Mortano refuses to process my requests to be removed from P.C., a violation of D.O. 805. (See also:4(A))

  10. Mail Room staff are enforcing unfair, unconstitutional and illegal mail policies, which must cease. D.O. 914.02.1.5, 1.5.1,, 1.5.2, 05.1.3, 1.3.2, 1.5, 1.5.4 and 1.8 allow staff to read, seize and withhold incoming and outgoing mail if staff, regardless of rank, don’t like or find offensive the content of the personal correspondence. I’ve personally been aggrieved of this issue. The policies & procedures are totally unconstitutional, too vague, and illegal. 10(A) Additionally, staff refuse to allow self-addressed stamped envelopes (SASEs) to be received unless they are sent from a secular (Christian) group. They routinely seize SASEs sent from non-secular groups, a violation of D.O. 914. and the First Amendment. (I declare under penalty of perjury the foregoing is true and correct.)