TN Prisoners Organize to Prevent Privatization and Further Degradation

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[Organizing] [Prison Labor] [Abuse] [Turney Center Industrial Prison] [Tennessee] [ULK Issue 26]
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TN Prisoners Organize to Prevent Privatization and Further Degradation

When Republican Bill Haslam was elected Governor of the $tate of Tennessee, he appointed Derrick D. Schofield as Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Corrections (TDOC). I assume the "D" in Schofield's middle name stands for either dumbass or dickhead, because since then the conditions in prison have deteriorated. Schofield is one of the $nakes that was instrumental in causing the largest prison sit-down in United Snakes hystory.

It is no doubt that the Governor brought this individual to cause chaos and mayhem to the captives at all the prisons in Tennessee. They do this in the hopes of enticing the captives to riot so that they can receive federal funds and justify turning the state plantations over to Correctional Corporation of America (CCA). This way they can pad their pockets and implement new legislature that will rob the captives of what little dignity they may have left.

Many of your politicians have stock in CCA as well as political allegiance to their dubious goals. Recently it was revealed that CCA had sent letters to most state governments offering to buy up prisons on the condition that the state contracts with them for at least 20 years, and that the state keeps the prison at a 90% occupancy rate or more. Such a move would further cement the prison industrial complex that profits off humyn suffering while lessening government oversight in how prisoners are treated.(1)

Schofield has attempted to remove all identity and dignity from all captives. His agenda is to persecute instead of rehabilitate the captives. His tactics have been to disregard policies and procedures that have been in place for years and implement unwritten rules. He has caused an atmosphere of hate, discontent and danger for both his employees and the captives.

Captives are required to walk single-file under escort on the compound, a specified distance apart. Captives are not allowed to talk or have their hands in their pockets while under escort, even during cold weather, and the TDOC has not issued gloves to all captives. Captives must be neatly dressed and keep their cells in an orderly condition with beds made, and must stand at attention during morning inspections without speaking, engaging in any other activity or making eye contact with the inspectors. This includes captives who work night shifts who do not get off work until early in the morning, yet must be out of bed for inspection. When captives are called to meals, they are required to line up and wait outside until it is their turn to go to the dining hall, even when it is pouring rain. Captives must keep their property in specific locations in their cells, and property storage rules have been changed multiple times in an arbitrary manner, leading to confusion and frustration among both captives and staff. Captives may no longer possess coat hangers, which makes it difficult to dry wet towels. Permissible items on the property list have been changed and, rather than be grandfathered in, items that are no longer allowed have been confiscated or required to be mailed out.

Wardens have been transferred to different facilities, and it has been stated that Schofield intends to continue transferring Wardens every few years, which may have an adverse impact on institutional stability. There are daily cell inspections, including by Wardens and deputy Wardens, which means that all of a facility's highest-ranking administrators are on the compound at the same time, which may constitute a security risk.

The policy changes that Schofield has implemented have significant consequences. This is not a concern that is only an opinion of the captives. At least four Wardens have resigned or retired since Schofield was appointed commissioner, some due to the implementation of Schofield's new unwritten policies. Also, a number of TDOC staff, from the Warden level down, have contacted the Human Rights Defense Center to express their concerns about the effect Schofield's policy changes have had on both captives and staff in terms of frustration and discontent among prisoners and decreased morale among employees. None of the staff members who spoke with Human Rights Defense Center were willing to publicly identify themselves, citing fear of retaliation. The atmosphere here is very vile and becoming extremely dangerous. As is the case in the state of Georgia, the fights, assaults on captives and assaults on staff have gone up significantly, all because of Schofield's silly unwritten rules.

At Turney Center Industrial Prison (TCIX), captives are targeted to fill up the hole commonly known as segregation. It once held Close Security captives, and once they were transferred to other plantations, the oppressors began to target captives by issuing both arbitrary and capricious disciplinary reports for so-called infractions that the captives have never been informed of, not to mention the unwritten rules are as silly as the individual who implemented them. The ridiculous rules have no penological interest. Moreover, most of the disciplinary infractions issued are fraudulent and without legal authority.

Within the masses of captives at TCIX, you would be hard pressed to find many that are willing to fight against their oppressors for the liberation of the basic human rights. I call them the "i can't crew." I like to say that i am part of the "i can crew." There is a famous saying, which goes like this, "if you won't stand for something, you will fall for anything."

Since the atmosphere here and at all the prisons has become vile, a few of us decided to get together and address our concerns in a petition. We recognize that the oppressor wants for us to riot and that we must first put our struggle out there before we start busting heads.

We got together and put all our concerns down on paper. We then found someone with a typewriter and asked him to type up our concerns. After this petition was typed up it was given to a person in each pod to go door-to-door asking individuals to sign. The only ones not asked to sign were known rats. The signatures were then sent out to be copied and we sent copies to many organizations, State Senators, State Representatives, Turney Center Warden, Commissioner Schofield and Governor Bill Haslam. The petition has also been placed on the internet and Facebook.

To protect the large number of captives who participated in brainstorming this movement, we submitted our demands in the petition. The demands included and were not limited to a meeting between the Warden, Commissioner, Governor and various other officials, with the Captive Counsel Members and different religious organizations. The purpose of having the other organizations present at such a meeting is because the individuals who go to counsel are generally intimidated by the current Warden. Even if they were allowed to speak freely, they are ill-equipped to speak on matters they have no interest in or have no knowledge about. As in the past, a majority of them cannot be trusted. Some are sincere, but most are there to be close to the oppressor to feel some sort of worth.

If the oppressor does not acknowledge or dialogue with us, we will be forced to conduct a sit-down. The sit-down will consist of all of us refusing to go to work, and refusing to purchase commissary items or use the phone. The oppressor can serve the food and make the beds in the metal plant for the new prison that they have built in Bledsoe County. We want all of the captives held against their will in all the prisons in the State of Tennessee to stand up for themselves, before they are unable to fight for their dignity, identity, freedom and justice.

What the captives don't realize is that the fiscal year for the TDOC is July of each year. They can expect more legislation coming that will give the bourgeoisie more authority to take more inmate property and continue to deprive us of basic human rights. The food will become worse than it is presently; there will be less opportunity to access the fresh air; it will be mandated for all to cut our hair in a military fashion, including facial hair; and visits will be by monitor, thus denying human contact with your family, friends and loved ones. There is a laundry list of atrocities that are on the way, and instead of complaining about them, the captives must rise up and do something about it, in every single death camp in this state. If anyone wants to help in the cause and has ideas, please contact MIM(Prisons).

Warden Jerry Lester recently told one of his minions that he does not have to respect the captives. Is this a directive from Schofield, or is this the Warden's mentality and/or the result of Schofield's intervention that is causing this oppressive thinking?

The captives cannot change their condition until they want to change themselves. Every captive needs to realize who their real enemy is and come together so that they can maintain what dignity, respect, manhood and rights they have left.

Note: Private Prison Corporation Offers Cash in Exchange for State Prisons, Huffington Post, February 14 2012

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