Organizing Against Rights Violations in Ad-Seg
The paramount purpose for this correspondence is to bring awareness to the barbaric, dehumanizing, unacceptable living conditions for us (the offenders) who currently reside in the Restrictive Housing Unit/Administrative Segregation (RHU/Ad-Seg) units of #1 and #2 house here at Southeastern Correctional Center (SECC). These inhumane conditions are inconsistent with the evolving standards of a decent society. We are being abused and oppressed at the hands of the administration. Therefore, I'm hoping that hearing our cry for help may spark a fuse in your spirit and compel you all to help us fight against injustice. These particular injustices are inflicted upon us intentionally and being used as a form of psychological torture for the purpose of tormenting and dehumanizing the prisoners here at SECC.
The staff here at SECC, namely: Warden Ian Wallace, Asst. Warden Paula Phillips-Reed, Asst. Warden Bill Stange, Major Terry White, and HU#2/FUM Bruce Hanebrink, have conjured up a host of sanitation and human rights violations under the umbrella of a recently created "limited property" policy implemented in the Administrative Segregation housing units #1 and #2. These violations are as follows:
1. Equal protection violation (14th Amendment of the U.S. Const.): SECC Administration limited Phase 1 & 2 prisoners in RHU/Ad-Seg to 5 stamps, 5 envelopes, 1 pad of writing paper, and 1 small security ink pen per month. To have the aforementioned supplies is a right and cannot be treated as a privilege in the punishment and reward system to be given or taken away at the staff's discretion based off of behavior and/or placement. Prisoners in Ad-Seg units should be allowed to purchase the same amount of stamps as general population prisoners are allowed to purchase. Having writing material does not pose a potential security threat. It does however, hinder prisoners' access to courts, the House of Congress, our lawyers, prisoner advocate groups and our families if we are deprived, thereof. We have a right to use the mail for corresponding purposes without limitation.
2. Sanitation violation (8th Amendment of the U.S. Const.): The SECC Administration subjected us to cruel and unusual punishment when they sent CERT officers into the housing units of #1 and #2 in August 2015 to confiscate from all prisoners therein all state issued personal pants, t-shirts, boxers, socks, towels and face cloths. Prisoners are no longer allowed to have towels and face towels in their assigned cells. We are given 1 pair of boxers, 1 t-shirt, and 1 pair of socks to be changed out every three days. For prisoners to be forced to wear the same dirty boxers for 3 days straight is such an unsanitary condition that I developed a "jock itch and rashes" around my groin area. When we do finally change boxers they are in exchange for more over-used boxers shared by hundreds of other prisoners. Some of these prisoners have various diseases (i.e. Aids, HIV, Hepatitis, TB, Staph, Shingles, etc.)
Furthermore, we are not allowed to have face cloths in our cells, preventing us from being able to at least wash up in our sinks to get the dirt and stink off of us until shower day. We are only given a wash cloth on shower day, once we enter the shower stall. These items must be given back before returning to our cells. To add fuel to the fire, the same exact towels and face cloths that we are being forced to use on our body, staff are using them for multi-purpose towels (i.e. staff use them to clean the shower walls and doors with; staff use them to wipe the wing food carts with, staff use them to wipe the wing desk down that they sit at while in the wing, staff use them on clean up night — forcing us to wash our walls, sink, and cell floors with, and staff use them to clean up smelly, rust water that comes from the pipes whenever a cell sprinkler busts.) What reasonable minded person uses their dish towels to shower with? This is definitely a serious problem that poses a potential health risk. To sum it all up, we have been reduced to the dark ages. Forced to live like Vikings and cavemen when uncleanliness was an acceptable way of life.
3. Human rights violations: unsanitary conditions: The administration officials decided that Ad-Seg prisoners are not allowed to purchase soap from inmate canteen. Instead, we are issued 1 small bar of state made soap (approx 3 inches in length, 1/2 inch thick) per week. With that 1 bar of soap we have to take a shower twice a week and wash our hands throughout the days. Most of the time, by the 2nd shower day, there is not enough soap left to shower with. Some prisoners, myself included, complain that they limit how many times they wash their hands after using the toilet so that they may have enough soap to shower with by the next shower day.
Furthermore, prisoners in Ad-Seg are not being permitted to purchase toilet paper to adequately wipe with after defecation. We are given only 1 roll of tissue and being forced to make it last a week. Sometimes we have to blow our noses with the tissue due to poor ventilation or various illnesses thereby lessening the tissue supply. Most of the time we run out of tissue and staff refuse to give us any. We use our socks to wipe with and wash them out afterwards. This is grossly unsanitary and also poses a potential health risk.
4. Human rights violation: Ad-Seg prisoners are not allowed to have any pants in our cells. Prisoners are forced to walk around in their cells with only boxers and t-shirts on with cellmates who often times are convicted sex offenders, homosexuals and prison booty bandits (prisoners who rape other prisoners) which opens the door for a Prison Rape Elimination Act claim. It's as if the administration are promoting homosexuality or setting the stage for one of us to possibly get raped. Prisoners are also being forced to attend our Ad-Seg hearings as well as sick call appointments without pants. Prisoners are also being forced to walk across the yard in only our boxers and t-shirts amongst other offenders, sometimes in the cold or rainy weather, while being escorted between #1 and #2 house which is approx 150 feet apart. Not only is this inhumane, these boxers have a loose opening in the front of them and if a prisoner's penis just happens to flop out through the opening then we are subject to sexual misconduct violations.
Furthermore, sometimes the Ad-Seg laundry doesn't get cleaned on time in which case prisoners are forced to choose between going to rec in the outside cages in only boxers and t-shirts in 30 degree weather or simply to refuse our rec.
5. Sleep Deprivation: The administrative staff has approved staff in housing units #1 and #2 to conduct a number of activities during 1st shift (midnight) which include:
- Passing out our mail after the 12 a.m. count when lights are out.
- Passing out HSRs (Health Service Request forms)
- Passing out cell cleaning supplies at 3 a.m. to clean our cells with.
- Picking up sheets and blankets to be washed, which is also picked up and given back around 2 a.m. and 3 a.m.
There's no movement count between 10:30 p.m. count and the 6:30 a.m. count because prisoners must be allowed to have at least 7 or 8 hours of undisturbed sleep. The reason for this critical consideration is because physiological and psychological degradation caused by the lack of sleep or insufficient amount of sleep. Disturbing our sleep throughout the night creates an even more stressful environment.
Suggested Remedies to Violations
1. Allow prisoners in Ad-Seg to purchase the same amount of stamps and envelopes as general population are allowed to purchase. These items are not a privilege but a right.
2. Allow prisoners in Ad-Seg to have our own state issued personal towels, face cloths, and boxers back in our cells so that we can at least wash up in our cells until shower day. Good hygiene habits are to be practiced everyday, not every 3 days.
3. Allow prisoners in Ad-Seg to purchase at least 4 or 6 bars of soap per month. General population prisoners are allowed to purchase 2 per week, totaling 8 per month. Also, allow prisoners in Ad-Seg to purchase at least 4 or 6 rolls of toilet tissue per month. General population prisoners are allowed to purchase 2 per week, totaling 8 per month. (Soap or tissue should not be treated as a "privilege" either).
4. Prisoners in Ad-Seg should be allowed to have at least 1 pair of their state issued personal pants or 1 pair of orange Ad-Seg pants to keep and wear in our cells, to be changed out once-per-week. We have a right to adequate clothing supported by the 14th and 8th amendment clause of the U.S. Constitutional.
5. For prisoners in Ad-Seg mail should be passed out on the 3rd shift (like it used to be) so we can read it and respond back if desired to do so. It's unreasonable for staff to pass out our mail after lights are cut out. Cell cleaning should be done on the 2nd or 3rd shift using the proper supplies instead of the towels we are currently forced to shower with, and laundry should be picked up after breakfast and given back before the 10:30 p.m. count. HSRs should be passed out by the nurses on the 2nd or 3rd shift since they only pick them up on the day shift.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade is initiating a campaign around a very reasonable set of demands. The lack of writing materials and unsanitary conditions are all too common in Amerikan prisons and these conditions expose the reality of prisons as a tool of social control and in particular the use of long-term isolation (Ad-Seg) for this purpose. Denial of the materials necessary to maintain contact with people on the outside, and creation of conditions that will cause mental (denial of sleep) and physical (unsanitary conditions) health problems are clearly counter to any possible rehabilitative goals of prisons. Instead, these conditions serve to reduce the likelihood of successful reintegration into society by prisoners released from Ad-Seg. It is because of this that we can say prison control units are clearly tools of social control. This sort of long-term torture must be struggled against. In the short term this comrade's demands are a good basis to organize around. But we cannot lose sight of the need to shut down control units altogether. We must demand an end to long-term solitary confinement for any and all prisoners. Of course, in the longer run our fight is for an end to the criminal injustice system entirely, and we should frame these battles against the torture of solitary confinement around this broader struggle so that we are clear about the fact that the injustice system cannot be reformed into justice.