Prisoners from Atlanta Arbitrarily Labeled Gang Members

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[Gang Validation] [Smith State Prison] [Georgia] [ULK Issue 41]
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Prisoners from Atlanta Arbitrarily Labeled Gang Members

For the past 19 months I have been locked down in solitary confinement, all because of a gang validation. In February 2013, I was taken from my cell and locked down in the hole, for nothing. I haven't broken any rules of the prison or given them any reason to punish me. Without a hearing or a proper investigation I was thrown in the hole and labeled "Goodfellas" (G.F.). They put a label on me and several others, and we are "guilty by association." No matter if you are G.F. or not, Smith State Prison will label you G.F. if you are from Atlanta. And the Goodfellas are the only group of people in this prison on lockdown.

Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) started this new program called the "tier program." From my understanding it was designed to treat us as individuals instead of as a group. It's supposedly a 9-month program, and when you complete the program you are supposed to get out of the hole. But that only applies to those who are not validated Goodfellas. If you are validated G.F. then you are stuck in the hole even after you complete the 9 months.

I have the Standard Operating Procedures of the administrative segregation Tier 2, and it states that Tier 2 program is not a punishment measure. Why do I feel that I'm being punished for no reason? All my privileges have been taken away. I can't go to the store for the same things as general population. I can't order a CD player, radio, books, magazines, etc. By being in the hole I have no access to a TV so I'm lost on what's going on in da outside world.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This system of labeling people as members of an organization based on where they are from is well documented in California as well, and we're sure it's going on in other states. While this practice purports to address regional disputes that may turn dangerous behind bars, this practice actually forces people who may not have identified with a lumpen organization to become affiliated for self-defense. It does help promote one goal of the prisons: to fuel disputes between prisoners and expand gang validations to justify locking up more people in long-term isolation, just like this writer explains is happening in Georgia where people labeled Goodfellas aren't let out of the hole in violation of the prison's own rules. We have reports that some G.F.s have been held in isolation for many years.

The United Front for Peace in Prison is taking this validation and turning it against the prisons by calling on all organizations and individuals to come together and fight together against the criminal injustice system. Whether or not you are actually a part of a lumpen organization, if you are put in a unit with others you can use this opportunity to promote peace and unity. And together we can fight to shut down control units, and build a movement that can defeat the imperialist system that needs prisons and long-term isolation units for social control.

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