www.prisoncensorship.info is a media institution run by the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons. Here we collect and publicize reports of conditions behind the bars in U.$. prisons. Information about these incidents rarely makes it out of the prison, and when it does it is extremely rare that the reports are taken seriously and published. This historical record is important for documenting patterns of abuse, and also for informing people on the streets about what goes on behind the bars.
Recently I was scheduled a court date on October, 2017 to appear in court at 9am in Hancock County courthouse in front of Judge E. Trenton Brown III. A week before the hearing the Judge dismissed the Writ of Mandamus for no apparent reason with the law mention to support its justified claims. My allegations were against defendants Governor Nathan Deal and his underlings whose occupation is Georgia Department of Corrections officials in the capacity as Wardens, Commissioner, Lt, Sgt, Ofcs, for the violation of my 14th amendment United States constitutional rights, due process of law.
The institution I am confined in doesn't even want to issue any prisoner an Administrative of Courts (AOC) Writ of Mandamus, which is part of their ploy to stop us access to the courts. The Attorney General of Georgia who represents these defendants uses that ploy as their advantage to have prisoners' claims thrown out in court under Donald V Prices that's stating a claim is void when not done on proper AOC Writ of Mandamus form. All Georgia Department of Correction officials and government officials are in a clandestine conspiracy to cover up each others malfeasance.
I've been held captive in a 24 hour lockdown called Tier II program and have been falsely validated a Goodfella, a group of Black human beings who the GDC have placed in solitary confinement indefinitely. This group of individuals are in involuntary protective custody and are supposed to be treated as Administrative Segregation prisoners and have equal access as the general population. But we don't, we are under the same authority rules and regulations and same policy as the disciplinary prisoners and some of us have gradually progressed to 3+ phase which is the "honor" phase. We are not allowed our property (5th amendment violation). We are not allowed compound store only restricted housing food, we are not allowed proper time in the shower nor proper exercise or yard hours. Our 8th, 5th, 14th amendments are being maliciously violated and we are being discriminated upon. Our equal rights of protection is also violated. Me being a prison solicitor I am constantly having vindictive retaliatory retaliation implemented on my well being from filing grievance et al. But I will prevail and keep fighting the machine until it is destroyed and this Tier II program is eradicated.
I'm currently one of hundreds of prisoners placed on tier because of my alleged validation. Please allow me to explain.
Since 2011 Georgia Department of Corrections has declared war against all prisoners validated "MOB" (Goodfellas, young mafia family) by prison officials.
All prisoners validated "MOB" have been on a never-ending lockdown because of incidents that happened amongst prisoners in 2011. Prisoners validated "MOB" have been the only ones locked down as a whole since then. Regardless of participation or if they just coming in the prison system if they validated "MOB" they automatically get locked down and placed into Tier Phase 1.
In 2013 GA DOC implemented what they call "Tier". Which at the time they told us “this is not a disciplinary program". All prisoners validated "MOB" was automatically placed on tier even prisoners just coming in the system go straight to tier because of their validation to the "MOB".
While on this program we've been stripped of all rights, liberty, privileges and some have even lost their life trying to get away from this oppression being administered by GA DOC. Tier was originally a three-phase program each phase 90 days and upon completion of the last phase prisoners will return to population!
On Phase 1 prisoners are not allowed to have no personal property at all: clothing, food, books, magazines, newspapers, radios, and hygiene are all restricted. On phase 2 you can have up to $15 in hygiene but all other items are restricted. On phase 3 you can get a limited commissary but all other items are restricted.
GA DOC implemented a phase 3 plus to hold all prisoners validated "MOB" on this never-ending lockdown. For the past 4 years we're the only group held on tier as a whole, we're the only group not allowed to complete the tier and return to population. And while we're held on tier we still have no rights or privileges. Our visitation is limited to two hours and at some prisons our loved ones have to drive four and a half hours to only see us for 2 hours, no contact. Our visitors are limited to two visitors so if you have more than one child only one can visit with one adult.
Our phone is limited to 3 15-minute calls a month (one call a week). Then miss a week. Our commissary is limited and at some prisons you can only buy sweets and other non healthy items that cause diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Food on trays have been cut back which have caused all prisoners on tier to lose large amounts of weight.
At the prison I'm currently at we only allowed recreation two days a week (Monday and Wednesday) leaving us locked in 2-prisoner cells 24 hours a day 5 days a week in extreme temperatures.
Cells have no sockets therefore we are not allowed to have fans and temperatures often reach high 90s, & every time you move you sweat. Even if you lay still you sweat and in cold months cells are freezing. It gets so cold we don't be wanting to get out the bed to grab the tray out the slot.
Sanitation only get ran when they have visitors coming. Trays we eat off be 1/2 clean and often have food from previous meals stuck in corners. Cells are full of insects, bugs and spiders and some prisons rodents & many other type bugs.
The prison I just left prisoners in a 2-prisoner cell can't flush their own toilets and sometimes have to go hours smelling feces or urine because the officer too lazy and don't want to flush the toilet or he get mad at another prisoner and won't flush no one toilet. (Georgia State Prison)
Prison officials have had us writing statements say we don't fear for our lives and we have no enemies on a compound and they still don't let us out. All they do is rotate us from prison to prison with false promises to let us out. The only ones they let out is dudes who not "MOB" but get validated for talking or walking with someone validated "MOB". Some prisoners have been validated "MOB" by prison officials because of where they from (Atlanta Georgia). Prison officials automatically make you "MOB" or blood if you from Atlanta and Young or have a lot of tattoos. You've had prisoners write statements renouncing their validation and prison officials still refuse to let them out.
Many attempts have been made to grieve these issues that's on camera but all our grievances are denied or never responded to. We are in desperate need of any help or advice needed to take these oppressors to court and challenge this "Tier" this cruel unusual punishment and discrimination being administered by prison officials.
Law library is inadequate and prison officials don't have no one trained in law to assist us. They don't have books in law library and it's only one computer and no one show us how to operate it. I can be reached at this address.
For diabetic prisoners, prisons can perform up to 5 fingersticks and insulin administrations per day. A problem is some prisons have blanket policies of only 2 fingersticks and insulin administrations per day, and diabetics are frequently and indiscriminately transferred out to these prisons even though more than 2 fingersticks/insulin administrations per day are necessary to adequatly control their diabetes.
I think the medical treatises, and the other sources cited in the enclosed hand copy of the grievance I have recently filed at my prison will enable diabetic prisoners, as well as prison administrators who are not medical professionals (i.e. the warden, etc.), to recognize when a 2-fingerstick policy is an inadequate regime of treatment.
I also think the illustration of how diabetes and extremely elevated glucose levels harms the body (as evidenced by levels over 300 points, and the accompanying signs and symptoms of elevated glucose) is enough of a showing of physical injury to satisfy the Prisoners' Litigation Reform Act's (PLRA's) "physical injury" requirement necessary to allow a prisoner afflicted by this type of policy to recover additional damages for mental and emotional injury (42 U.S.C.A. Section 1997e(e)).
I am requesting you publish this information so that other prisoners throughout the country will know when their care is lacking and how to pursue proper treatment, through litigation if necessary.
Description of Incident
I am an insulin-dependent diabetic. Lunch is served for diabetics at 12:45 - 13:15 hrs. This is according to the Building Schedule. Like most other diabetics who require 70/30 type insulin, this schedule is too far outside the time frame my pre-breakfast injection of insulin works to lower my lunchtime glucose (by fingerstick at 17:00-18:30 hrs Diabetic Clinic). This is evidenced by the extremely elevated pre-supper glucose level in the 300s, 400s, and 500s. To prevent this, at all the other prisons I've been served lunch from 10:45-11:50 hrs. This is closer to the window period 70/30 insulin is effective to lower lunchtime glucose within. This was evidenced by a lowered pre-supper-time glucose level in the 200s, 100s, and below 100 points. (70/30 insulin is 70% intermediate-acting insulin and 30% short-acting insulin.)
I wrote a grievance on this problem, using information from the Prisoners Diabetes Handbook distributed by Southern Poverty Law Center, and Diabetes Solution by Jorge E. Rodriguez, M.D. On 28 December 2016 Counselor Johnson proofread my grievance for technical compliance before accepting it for processing. I will keep your staff at MIM(Prisons) informed of further developments regarding this.
I also included in my grievance the following information so prison staff can understand the time frames insulin works within. There are 3 characteristics of insulin: onset (when the insulin starts to work), peaks (when the insulin is working the hardest), and duration (how long the insulin works for). The 70/30-type insulin I require is a mixture of 70% intermediate-acting insulin and 30% short-acting insulin. If you take short-acting (regular) insulin, and intermediate-acting (NPH) insulin, you need to eat on time by matching your meals to your insulin injections, so your insulin is peaking at the same time your glucose from your meals is peaking. Here are the time frames of 70/30 insulin:
Onset after injection
about 30 minutes
2-3 hours later
about 2-4 hours
4-10 hours later
*Note: Actual time frames for performance can vary based on each person's own individual response to insulin.
For me, as for many of the other diabetics who require 70/30 insulin, regular peaks about 3 hours after injection. (This is also the same time my glucose from meals is also peaking.) The NPH component peaks about 5-6 hours after injection. This was about the same time all the other prisons I've been to serve lunch. This was an adequate enough time frame to allow the insulin to lower my lunchtime glucose, measured by fingerstick at suppertime. But here at Riverbed Correctional Facility (RCF) lunch is served too far outside the peak performance cycle to lower my glucose at supper time.
The following information is from Diabetes Solution by Jorge E. Rodriguez, M.D., and my past conversations with diabetes specialists and educators, including this prison's own diabetes education facilitator, Registered Nurse Colin.
When you eat, food is broken down to the blood sugar, called glucose, which then enters the bloodstream where cells use it as food for energy. This process is called glucose-cell metabolism, and it can not occur without the hormone insulin. Insulin is made in the pancreas. Diabetes occurs when the pancreas either doesn't make any insulin, doesn't make enough insulin, or for other reasons the body cannot use its own insulin properly. When this happens glucose starts building up in the blood instead. Diabetes is defined as a fasting glucose level over 125 points, or a random glucose level over 200 points.
Diabetes harms the body in the following way: A glucose molecule looks like a ball made of many sharp points. In high levels the points become abrasive which damages the insides of the veins of the cardiovascular system, kidneys, eyes, etc., causing heart disease, kidney disease, blindness, etc. When glucose becomes this dangerously elevated, the body will attempt to pass it off in the urinary tract. A sign of this is frequent urination. Other symptoms of glucose having become this high are blurry vision, extreme hunger right after eating, dry mouth, thirst, etc. This is happening to me right after lunch at this prison. These symptoms persist until my next shot of insulin begins peaking, 3 hours after supper time insulin administration. A sign I am suffering kidney damage is I can feel my kidneys since I've come to this prison.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer is setting a good example for others of sharing knowledge and work ey is doing to help others. Individual medical battles like this one are important for the survival of the individual, and we can make the impact much broader by writing up our successes and failures, documenting information needed by others, and building a movement capable of saving lives while organizing to ultimately dismantle this system of dangerous oppressive criminal injustice.
I am a pretrial detainee for over a year now, since May 2016. I can barely see because they took my glasses. Many laws are broken continuously here, and I am bringing a claim to challenge in the 11th Circuit. Below is a list of some conditions in this facility.
Locked down: 18-24 hours a day. No exercise equipment. Some outdoor yard time with no set schedule. Yard is the same size as a pod (minus 4 tables), about 40-50 paces in circumference. Church, hygiene, razors, free time, law library, are all incumbent of each other in time.
The loss and mishandling of my property:
Prescribed eye glasses, jewelry (very sentimental), my wallet (ID, financial cards, personal info), clothing and boots. I have not signed a receipt.
Defamation of my character:
The proliferation of pictures of me in a "turtle suit" (suicidal) with false information, damaging and harming, marring and scarring my character permanently professionally to career prospects, loved ones, community, publicly, socially on all media.
Attacks on freedom of speech:
Use of courts, protection of the laws, use of media, legal representation, support, networking, resources, by damaging and destroying outgoing mail and material.
Malevolent "medical care":
Mishandling records, medication, evil intent, calloused deliberate indifference causing permanent damage to my psyche, eyes, organs, nervous system, joint and back.
Denied meaningful use of courts:
Would not take a police report. Inadequate representation. The law library at this jail is insufficient.
Denied protection by the laws:
Law library. Tampers with evidence and statements. Denied redress or response to viable grievances.
Subjection to adverse conditions:
No maintenance or cleaning delegation schedule. Air system ducts, vents and filters are filthy, ever dropping debris and water on inmates and in our food and drink. Extremely hot in summer and cold in winter. Busted fixtures. Showers are slick with standing water, mold, mildew, never power washed or properly scrubbed.
Charged at the will of staff, often for services NOT requested, NOT rendered. Taking my funds I need to medical, hygiene, cosmetic, coffee, legal postal.
With pointing tazers at my face for amusement, randomly dropping them.
Failure to supply:
Indigent legal envelopes and postage. Proper law library. Legal defense.
I have ad hygiene, medical, sanitary (toilet paper), religious books, legal books, writings, taken spitefully for grievances, complaints or asking for law library, copies, phone, legal.
I have been passed over the whole time for work detail, I believe because I am considered a "yankee." I begged for better shoes for a year while everyone else got them. Everyone else gets to see their property and sign off for it. It takes weeks or months to get items.
[Comrades in Georgia have been suffering from and fighting against the Tier II program since its inception. Tier II is a long-term isolation program with indefinite terms and severe restrictions on communication and other "privileges." Of course the program is officially not for disciplinary purposes. And of course the program has set terms on paper. Below is a portion of a petition some of our subscribers have signed on to and mailed out to various administrators. It illuminates in detail many of the problems that prisoners in Georgia are facing. In December 2014 another comrade from Smith State Prison mailed us a similar petition with over 30 signatures, which we publicized on our website.
Another comrade in the state is working on a guide on how to fight against the Tier program. We encourage anyone who has successfully won any battle against the Tier program to write in with your experiences, so we can consolidate this knowledge and distribute it to those in need. However, many people on Tier restriction can't even have access to Under Lock & Key or other mail from MIM(Prisons), so those who are in most immediate need of this information aren't even able to receive it. Prisoners who aren't (yet) assigned to the Tier program should take an immediate interest in this topic, so that the knowledge is circulated among the Georgia prisoner population before people can't access it anymore.
As we've been writing about for a long time, we see long-term isolation not only as an atrocity because of the humyn suffering, but also as a political tool that is used by the state to keep the oppressed nations subservient, preoccupied, and broken. We want self-determination of oppressed peoples, and we oppose all tactics that the state uses to subvert this goal. -MIM(Prisons)]
In the name of liberty, life, and human rights the Administrative Segregation population at Georgia State Prison (GSP) is reaching out to you with hopes that you will advocate and intervene on our behalf to put an end to the horrific and inhumane conditions of confinement being forced upon us, through the implementation of the Administrative Segregation Tier II Program, because the grievance system here is a mockery and has rendered us no relief from the oppressive, repressive, and dehumanizing tactics of the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC).
Georgia State Prison, which for decades has held a large lockdown population with some inmates being on lockdown for 20 or more years, began what is called the "Administrative Segregation Tier II Program" on July 16, 2014. On this date, GDC's tactical squad, along with GSP's correctional officers confiscated all of our personal clothing, hygiene products, health care products, books, photo albums, lawbooks, magazines, newspapers, CD players, radios, drinking cups, bowls, etc., with us only being allowed to keep 20 personal letters, a portion of legal mail, and a Qur'an or a bible (one or the other). Our personal hygiene products were replaced with only state-issue soap, toothpaste, and roll-on deodorant which are of very poor quality.
The guidelines for the Tier II Program (which lasts for a minimum of 9 months) places a ban on all books, newspapers, magazine (novels, textbooks, dictionaries, etc.) and many materials to self-educate ourselves. All books, magazines, newspapers, etc. which are mailed to us are returned to sender without giving us notification or a chance to appeal the prison's decision.
We are not being allowed to continue educational correspondence courses to earn degrees or diplomas so that we can have a better chance of getting legitimate jobs upon release.
Inmates are allowed very restricted contact/access to the "free world" which is perpetuated in part by the ban on books and periodicals and the confiscation of all TVs and radios which effectively blocks us from being kept abreast of current events and aware of the world's happenings beyond the prison's gates. Phone calls and visits are limited to only 3 fifteen-minute collect calls and 3 two-hour non-contact visits for the first 6 months of the program.
We are not being given proper access to the law/courts. Tier II inmates are routinely denied "law-library" by officers. The law library for Ad-Seg inmates only has seven small holding pens and one computer to service the needs of the entire lockdown population, which is approximately 600-700 prisoners.
We are not being given the proper nutrition or portions of food and are not being allowed to purchase commissary as a means to supplement the malnutrition being forced upon us. This is evident in the fact that the number of prisoners being placed on medical diets to increase weight and calorie intake has made a steep incline. Bugs (both live and dead) are often found in the food and the officers still force the trays on the prisoners.
We are inadequately clothed. The prison won't provide us with the proper clothing and won't allow us to purchase the clothing we need.
We are not being given the means to sanitize the cells that we are housed in. The cells are filthy. Most have food, blood, and feces on the walls and there is a serious rodent and insect infestation. We cannot even flush our own toilets; we rely on officers to flush the toilets for us so we may have feces and urine in the toilets for hours at a time.
We are not being allowed to have the hygiene products that we need and are not allowed to purchase any so most inmates have a foul odor because the deodorant the state issues us doesn't work for most of us.
We are routinely denied the right of religious freedom and expression. We are not allowed to practice beliefs that forbid cutting the hair, keeping kosher or other restrictions from eating certain foods.
Prisoners are subjected to brutality, humiliation, and harassment by correctional officers and staff at any given time. Prisoners are often assaulted while in handcuffs/restraints for no reason at all, but most frequently for practicing "freedom of speech." If a prisoner addresses the warden or other administrative staff about anything they don't like, or mistreatment, you are liable to be sprayed with mace, OC spray, any of the other toxic gases, stripped naked and humiliated and be placed on "stripped cell" with no bedding, clothing, or anything else (regardless of the temperature) for 8 or more hours just for exercising your 1st Amendment rights.
Prisoners are forced by the administration to bunk with other prisoners against their will, even when they let officers know there will be a conflict. This deliberate indifference has led to deaths, stabbings and other serious injuries.
Mental health prisoners are often times punished for mental infirmities and deficiencies which are beyond their control and made worse by the conditions of confinement forced upon them. Mental health patients here are suffering because of a lack of treatment and staff. Many are wrongly diagnosed and are either over- or under-medicated.
Prisoners validated by the GDC as being part of Goodfellas, Young Mafia Family or plain and simply as "Mob" are being subjected to group punishment and all prisoners with this validation are kept on Tier II, and most have been on lockdown since November 2011 or even longer. The Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the Tier II program states that prisoners can only be held on the program for 2 years, but those validated as "Mob" are being transferred from prison to prison at the completion of one prison's Tier program requirements and forced to begin the program again at the entry level at the new facility.
We know that prison isn't supposed to be comfortable, but what we are experiencing at the hands of the administrators and staff here is torture and extreme abuse of authority. Regardless of our debts to society, we are no less human than anyone else. Many of us are mentally unstable, indigent, or have no family or friends who are willing to help us fight for our rights to be treated like human beings and not be subjected to such demoralizing and dehumanizing treatment.
I'm writing to give you a brief story of my struggle in this Tier program in Georgia. Now we are not allowed to have cups of chemicals to clean our cell with, it's done by whomever running showers in which they are to spray our toilet down with chemicals. But they stretch with water so it's no chemical only more water. You go around and spray 48 cells only twice a week then come with the broom and mop on another day. Now i wonder why all of a sudden we can't clean our space as in when we really need to during the week as well as on the weekend its all controlling.
Issue #2 now all of a sudden during a search on us it usually be lift our sack show your feet, hands, squatt and cough. Now it's lift you sack show your feet, hands, and spread your cheeks. Yes they want a grown man to spread his cheeks while these offices look at at you. Now if something ain't wrong with that picture I don't know what you call it. These people are mental sexually assaulting us daily.
#3 I'm next door well i was next door to this dude from Colombia and he was going through his crisis so the officers kept on teling him they would get him some help. For 2 days he ask them to get in touch with mental health. So he got fed up at dinner time. He didn't let the office close the flap back so the officer tried to call on the radio to Sarge Lt or OIC. Well this officer didn't get a response so he lost his cool and threw the lock at the inmate as well as trying to break the inmates arm or push it back in the flap.
After the incident took place the officer claimed the inmate tried to grab him by the shirt. But yet it's a camera in the dorm more like 3 of them. Guess what, this officer was gone for a good week. Now today 4/12/17 he's back like new. I don't deal with the Colombian dude period. He took it upon himself to say I was a witness without even asking me. Instead of fighting with him verbal I only did right for a brother in the struggle such as me. I wrote a witness tatement on his behalf and still haven't had 2 words to say to this broher. It's more of a business to stand with my brothers in these predicaments that we are in. I'm a loyal team player with ULK.
This dungeon that is the Tier II program here at Hayes State Prison is horrible to say the least. I am one of three caucasians in this dorm that i am in and this makes my life doubly miserable. As most of the pigs are white and prejudice which means all of the other inmates take it all out on me though I am not prejudiced in any way. They all want to complain and cuss me out but say nothing to the pigs here who are their oppressors. No because doing so will get their phone privileges, tablets, visitation or store privileges taken. No one here has any back bone. They are complacent and are willing to accept cold trays, being talked to any kind of way, being denied yard cells for weeks at a time and shower cells as well.
It has gotten a little better now that I have shown people what I am about but only a bit. I have been sharing my socialistic political views and my revolutionary views with my fellow inmates here. It's been hard and my copies of ULK have been received. I am working towards tarting a study group currently. This place is ripe for a revolution and I would love to help lead it. Viva Revolution.
Hays State Prison (HSP), Georgia's most dangerous and high-profile maximum security prison, is located in the northwest mountains of Georgia. The cold bland setting gives way to its racist history of profiling and beating handcuffed Black prisoners. The media did a great job of highlighting the HSP murders starting in December 2012. One would think it is calm at Hays since the national spotlight has somewhat subsided. Now HSP, backed by the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) is doing something new to make a name for itself. The GDC and HSP are falsely validating non-gang members so to appear proactive in the GDC's phony fight to curb gang violence within the GDC, and specifically at Hays.
I am an educated African-American man with a Bachelor's Degree. I am a member of the National Lawyers Guild as an active "jailhouse lawyer." I have filed numerous lawsuits aginst GDC since being incarcerated in Georgia. I have shown a consistent propensity to be unafraid to challenge the GDC in court when they often violate my Georgia and United States rights.
From the date I entered the GDC, I was not affiliated with any security threat group (STG) gang. However, during my recent court filings, a GDC staff member found a way to retaliate against me, by placing a false STG gang validation on my prisoner profile. In the GDC, if you get validated as a STG gang member, you are looked at unfavorably and often get denied work assignments, safety housing, parole and transitional center placement, and educational and pre-release programs. It's a negative classification. How does a person like myself get classified as a gang member? A GDC staff member, who does not like me being a jailhouse lawyer, created a false narrative that I deny. The STG report reads that I admitted to being a "blood/PIRU" gang member. This is a total 100% fabricated lie.
The validation occurred during a period of July to September 2016, during which I was locked in a one-man segregation cell. Yet the GDC states I joined a gang.
I have almost died by negligence of the prison officials for my serious medical needs. One officer made the statement that "he's just an inmate, I don't care if he dies in front of a nurse and 59 other inmates," which he also said it was not his problem. He did not want to call medical as the nurse told him to do, which he finally did after about 20 minutes of her yelling at him. I was took to medical unconscious and the nurse said later that she thought I was dead, when she came to medical. I woke up with a IV in my arm.
They keep our unit so cold we have to sleep in all our clothes and coat to stay warm.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufference of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present [government] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states." (1)
Underlying the Eighth Amendment is a fundamental premise that prisoners are not to be treated as less than human beings. (2) The amendment is phrased in general terms rather than specific ones so that while the underlying principle remains constant in its essentials, the precise standards by which courts measure compliance with it do not. (3) "It follows that when confronting the question whether penal confinement in all its dimensions is consistent with constitutional rule, the courts judgment must be informed by the current and enlightened scientific opinion as to the conditions necessary to insure good physical and mental health for prisoners." (4)
"The content of the Eighth Amendment is not static but must draw its meaning from the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society. The Eighth Amendment's ban on inflicting cruel and unusual punishments, made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth Amendment, proscribe[s] more than physically barbarous punishments. It prohibits penalties that are grossly disproportionate to the offense, as well as those that transgress today's broad and idealistic concepts of dignity, civilized standards, humanity, and decency. (5)" Thus, conditions which may have been acceptable long ago may be considered unnecessarily cruel in light of our growing understanding of human needs and the changing norms of our society." (6) "The conditions of which prisoners are housed, like the poverty line, is a function of society's standard of living. As that standard rises, the standard of minimum decency of prison conditions, like the poverty line, rises too." (7)
The State of Georgia's Department of Corrections (GDC), a subdivision of the Georgia Government, has fairly recently implemented a statewide long-term segregation program officially labeled the Tier II Administrative Segregation Program (Tier II Program), initially devised and sanctioned by former GDC commissioner, Brian Owens, revised and further developed by the current GDC Commissioner, Homer Bryson, and codified under formal Departmental policy as Standard Operating Procedure II B09-0003 (Hereafter "Tier II Program Policy"). The totality of the practices characterizing confinement in the Tier II Program encroaches upon practically every civil right retained by prisoners by virtue of the state and federal constitutions, and amount to a collection of punitive procedures calculated to inflict severe physical and/or mental pain or suffering and constitutes TORTURE in violation of federal statutory law (8), as well as deliberate TORTURE perpetrated under color of official authority in violation of universally accepted norms of the international law of human rights, i.e., the law of nations.
The general restrictions of confinement conditions typifying a prisoner's confinement in the Tier II Program include mandated solitary confinement (9) for twenty-four hours a day; the utilization of isolation cells (akin to sensory deprivation (10) tanks) intentionally stripped of their furnishings (including even the wall-mounted mirrors so that the prisoner is deprived of the sight of his own reflection); the deprivation of virtually all human contact and environmental or sensory stimuli due to not only the prisoner's solitary confinement, but also the metal strips welded to the window on the doors of the cell in the Tier II Program housing units and metal coverings over the windows located at the back of those cells which are intended to prevent the prisoner from being able to see outside the cell itself, the limitations on phone calls and visitations (all visits for Tier II situated prisoners are non-contact), the denial of access to group religious worship services, the general and law libraries, educational and vocational programs, televisions, radios and other information dissemination medium, and the restrictions on any personal photos, books of any nature, magazines, newspapers, periodicals, religious literature, educational and legal materials, etc. Moreover, a prisoner, upon being assigned to the tier II program, is also denied all access to the prison commissary, including the ability to purchase hygiene related items, and is deprived of virtually all of his personal property. And Tier II situated prisoners are subjected to extreme, harrassive, if not absurd, security measures.
For example, prisoners in the Tier II Program are, with increasing frequencies, being made to strip completely naked whenever they're required to leave their cells for any reason, such as for a brief trip to the in-house medical unit, or to be escorted to the shower. Once naked, they are then instructed to turn their back to instructor, bend forward at the waist "at a ninety degree angle," reach backward—while still bent forward—and spread their buttocks apart so as to provide the instructor with a view of the inside of their rectum. Refusal usually results in a brutal assault involving various uses of force (e.g. physical, chemical agents, tasers/stun guns); it always results in the denial of some basic human necessity and right, such as showers or opportunities for out-of-cell exercise. And when such incidents occur, prisoners are afterwards denied the proper mediums through which the report these nature of abuses.
Now, to return from our digression, a prisoner's assignment to the Tier II Program—and, therefore, his subjection to the conditions and restrictions by which his confinement in Tier II Program housing units is characterized—is of indefinite duration. We deduce this not only from personal experience, but because the Tier II Program Policy has, throughout its existence, contained a clause limiting a prisoner's assignment to the Tier II Program to 24 months maximum. However, the latest revision—in fact, the third revision—of the Tier II Program Policy excludes this proviso. The nullification of this stipulation is, indeed, the only change in the latest "revision" of Tier II Program Policy; everything else remained the same verbatim from the second revised version.
Tier II Program Policy explicitly states that the Tier II Program "is not a punitive measure." (11) however, this same Tier II Program Policy squarely contradicts that statement revealing that prisoners are assigned to Tier II Program "for long-term disciplinary sanctions." (12) Therefore, although it is dubbed "administrative segregation"—which, in legal theory, isn't supposed to be punitive in nature (13)—the Tier II Program is actually punitive isolation, or, euphemistically, disciplinary segregation. We suppose it worth mentioning here that the restrictions and conditions characterizing confinement in the Tier II Program are significantly more severe in degree than those characterizing the punitive measures defined by the GDC as "disciplinary segregation" and "high max", and admittedly employed by it as a means to discipline or otherwise punish prisoners.
The Tier II Program is also, in word and practice, a compulsory behavior modification (14) program. (15) Upon placement of a prisoner in a Tier II Program housing unit, that prisoner is isolated, stripped all personal property, deprived of virtually all contact with other people and environmental or sensory stimuli, and not allowed any reading material, including religious materials. It is under these circumstances that positive and negative reinforcements are applied on the prisoner to recondition his "behavior" and "attitude" to be submissive and subservient towards his captors. This procedure goes on for as long as necessary until the prisoner "breaks". Of course, the prisoner is subject for reconditioning any time the prisoner authorities may feel they are losing cognitive influence over the brainwashed "inmate". And the language of the Tier II Program Policy clearly indicates that if a prisoner refuses to participate in this dehumanizing ordeal, he will never be considered by prison authorities for reassignment to the general prison population. (16) Additionally, in the Tier II Program, practically all privileges—most of which are available to prisoners in the general population as a matter of right—are allocated on the basis of their behavior.
With regard to the process by which prisoners are assigned to the Tier II Program, the Tier II Program Policy's own procedural safeguards, the observance of which is mandated by the policy before a prisoner can be assigned to the Tier II Program, are, in our experience, never followed. This means that prisoners' assignment to the Tier II Program are based on the arbitrary and capricious whim of prison officials to begin with, and are, consequently, violative of the "touchstone" of due process, which is protection of the individual against arbitrary action of government. (17) We do not hereby imply by pointing out this deficiency that, if procedural safeguards were being observed by prison officials, we would be of the opinion that the state of Georgia would then be authorized to subject its prisoners to type of treatment described herein—and indefinitely at that. It is well-settled by this country's highest legal institution—the Supreme Court of the United States—that certain forms of punishment are considered cruel and an unusual without regard to the conduct for which they are imposed. (18) Thus, "[i]t is not enough to cite a prisoner's history of misconduct and conclude that any measure of restraint is appropriate. Even recalcitrant prisoners are entitled to the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities. The question is whether even inspite of misconduct, the deprivation does so much harm to a prisoner that it is intolerable to the sensibilities of a civilized society no matter what the circumstances." (19)
We have so far labored to paint for you as objective a picture as we could concerning the general restrictions and confinement conditions to which the state of Georgia subjects, at any given time, a considerable portion of its prisoner population, and to which the remainder of that populace may, at any time, be subjected based, again, on the arbitrary and capricious whim of prison authorities, restrictions and confinement conditions that, when taken together, unquestionably constitute punishment beyond the original, ordinary, incarceration of prisoners in the Georgia Prison system. We've said nothing of the other many and diverse cruelties and inhumanities tacitly endorsed, sponsored, and perpetrated in Tier II housing units statewide by an acquiescent state of Georgia, such as the intentional denial of adequate portions of nutritional foods to Tier II situated prisoners as a punitive measure of attempting to modify their behavior through systematic starvation; the excessive vermin infestation in already decrepit Tier II housing units and shower areas; the punitive, retaliatory, and harrassive use of "stripped cell" (20); the inadequate provision of medical care; the general degrading, demeaning, and dehumanizing day to day treatment of prisoners by prison authorities; the punitive, retaliatory, malicious, sadistic, or otherwise unjustified various uses of force (several of which are noted above) being carried out, with impunity, by rogue correctional officers acting under the aegis of both supervisory and administrative prison officials—and we could go on. But our primary intent at this point in our discussion is to reveal that, in addition to the intrinsic egregiousness of the Tier II Program practices, these conditions starkly contrast with those experienced by prisoners in the general prisoner population.
Extolled by Commissioner Bryson as the Tier II Program's ultimate objective, the goal of "preparing [prisoners] for reentry into society." (21) To say that it should be difficult for any rational, civilized mind to conceive of how refusing to allow prisoners to possess photos of their loved ones—and, in the instance of some prisoners, indefinitely—relates in any way to this stated objective would be an understatement, especially when considering the reality that the bulk of prisoners do not even receive visitation due to the discouraging Tier II Program visitation policies. (22) And what can be said of a system that refuses to allow prisoners to possess religious literature?
Prisoners "rehabilitation" has been identified by the Supreme court as a "legitimate" function of a correctional system. (23) It is, in our collective opinion, clear that prisoners required to live under the circumstances expounded herein stand no chance of leaving a correctional institution (24) with a more positive and constructive attitude than the one they brought in. Since the advent of prisoner civil rights litigation, courts in general have repeatedly found that conditions much less severe than the totality of those described herein not only shocks the conscience of reasonably civilized people and offends in a fundamental way contemporary standards of decency, but create an environment that not only makes it impossible for prisoners to rehabilitate themselves but makes dehabilitation inevitable, as well as contributes to their mental and physical degeneration and decreases their chances of successful reintegration upon release. And because in the Tier II Program so many basic aspects of a prisoner's daily life are arbitrarily labeled "privileges," the Tier II Program actually breeds disrespect for authority and fosters a malicious compliance which undermines the relational skills needed for rehabilitation. "Not only is it cruel and unusual punishment to confine a person in an institution under circumstances which increase the likelihood of future confinement, but these same conditions defeat the goal of rehabilitation which officials have set for their institutions." (25)
In the light of the foregoing, what the Tier II Program irrefutably amounts to is a collection of procedures that effectively operate to create societal liabilities of men in a country that propagates to the rest of the world at large that its aggregate citizenry constitutes a "maturing society".
The several definitions of "tyranny" include "cruel and oppressive government or rule; a nation under such cruel and oppressive government; [and/or] cruel, unreasonable, or arbitrary use of power or control." (26) A "tyrant" can be defined as "a cruel and oppressive ruler, [or] a person exercising power or control in a cruel, unreasonable, or arbitrary way." Some of the many definitions of "official" include "of or relating to an authority or public body and its duties, actions, and responsibilities; having the approval or authorization of such a body; [and/or] employed by such a body in a position of authority or trust." (26)
And one of the several definitions of "public" includes "of or provided by the government...." (26) And, according to the Declaration of Independence, the government of this country derives its power from the consent of the governed. (1) Because, as noted above, the judiciary of this country—including the highest judicial authority in the land—are more or less in unanimous agreement that the confinement conditions outlined in this dissertation—singly in some instances, collectively in others—constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the United States Constitution, this same judiciary has by virtue of its authoritative, decisive holdings condemned as tyrants those public officials employed by the GDC who are perpetrating these unconstitutional conditions as a matter of regulation and practice, and the Georgia government itself as one of Tyranny—the quintessential form of government that preceded the American Revolution and, consequently, the establishment of the United States of America, for that tyranny was intolerable to the founding fathers of this country.
The question which must unavoidably be posed at this point is: Are we men, or are we property; are we men, or are we something less than animals? Even an animal, kept as a pet, must legally be afforded the "minimal civilized measure of life's necessities." If the owner of that animal neglects to do so, he or she stands in violation of the law of this country, and is subject to the penalties concomitant with being adjudicated a criminal, including up to imprisonment. Of how much more valuable—of how much more worth—is sentient, thinking man? And as for those who are not presently incarcerated—including those who never have been—keep in mind that, as inhabitants of this country, you all, too, by that very fact may, at any given time, potentially be susceptible to some form of the type of treatment described herein.
The supreme court said of Nineteenth Century solitary confinement that "[a] considerable number of prisoners fell, after even a short confinement, into a semi-fatuous condition, from which it was next to impossible to arouse them, and others became violently insane; others still, committed suicide; while those who stood the ordeal better were not generally reformed, and those in most cases did not recover sufficient mental activity to be of any subsequent service to the community." (27) The pertinent ruling went on to reveal that as far back as the 1850s the prison discipline of solitary confinement was "found to be too severe". (27) Even as far back as Great Britain's George II (1683-1760), solitary confinement was statutorily considered as an additional punishment of such a severe kind that it was spoken of as "a further terror and peculiar mark of infamy" to be added to the punishment of death. (28) In Great Britain, as in other countries, public sentiment revolted against this severity, and during the reign of William IV (1830-7) the additional punishment of solitary confinement was repealed. (28)
If, during the particular period in man's history when public lynchings were sanctioned by the state, the punishment of solitary confinement was considered intolerable to the sensibilities of the society of those days, how is it, then, we find ourselves well into the Twenty-First Century and solitary confinement is not only being rampantly promulgated across the nation as the ideal means of discipline within the correctional context, but those being thrown into these meticulously designed psychological torture chambers are being kept there indefinitely? Is it that the authoritative power of the supreme court's gavel is waning? Or is this cancerous spread of the use of solitary confinement—and the multifarious tortuous practices associated therewith—by prison authorities nationwide are simply the natural result of a contemporary American regime that displays, by the increasing audaciousness of its day to day activities, its insolent disregard for both civil and human rights of its nationwide citizenry?
Even if we were to presume, in yet another alternative, that the living conditions and the overall treatment to which the State of Georgia is currently subjecting its prisoners confined in Tier II Program housing units do parallel with the "evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society," such a view would, for reasons already explained above, be inherently contradictory, and, therefore, wholly untenable; for how can the contemporary society of this country on the one hand embrace forms of punishment that were publicly condemned by the society of this very country as early as approximately two centuries ago, and on the other hand still be afforded the high esteem of being considered a "maturing society" marked by "evolving standards of decency"?
Our intent, in composing this letter, is simply to appeal to humanity for both a definition and appraisal of itself. For, based on our collective perspective, far too much time has elapsed since the last time in this land that age-old nemesis of man—that leviathan known as Tyranny—was sternly confronted and called to account by the people for the myriad injustices with which it is infamously known to plague the various human societies, almost incessantly. (May the courageous souls of the patriarchs of this country forever rest in peace!) It has not been our intent to attempt to cast ourselves in the light of the blameless; for we are humans with just as many shortcomings as any other human. It is true we have been adjudicated "criminals" by the Georgia government—albeit the same of which itself has been shown herein to be tyrannical—but we are humans nonetheless.
The late Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall, once opined:
"When the prison gates slam behind [a prisoner], he does not lose his human quality; his mind does not become closed to ideas; his intellect does not cease to feed on a free and open interchange of opinions; his yearning for self-respect does not end; nor is his quest for self-realization concluded. If anything, the needs for identity and self-respect are more compelling in the dehumanizing prison environment." (29)
In conclusion, "[p]ersons convicted of crimes deserved to be punished, but this does not give the state license to make prisoners objects of unguided behavior control experiments." (30) This is because, as noted above at the onset of our discussion concerning Georgia's treatment of its prisoners, underlying the Eighth Amendment is a fundamental premise that prisoners are not to be treated as less than human beings. (2)
We, the undersigned, are currently contesting our confinement conditions by means of the Federal Judiciary in the cases of Nolley v. Nelson, no. 5:15-CV-75-CAR(M.D.GA, Reid v. Bryson, no. 6:16-CV-116-JRH(S.D.GA), Grazeta v. Bryson, no. 6:16-CV-141-JRH(S.D.GA), and Quintanilla v. Bryson, no. 6:17-CV-4-JRH(S.D.GA), respectively. With the exception of Mr. Reid, we are all currently confined in the Tier II Program housing unit of Smith State Prison in Glennville, Georgia. (31)