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Jim Zeigler: Prison lease plan may be a 30-year mistake costing $2.6 billion
By Guest Author -January 25, 2021
We are risking a 30-year mistake that would cost us $2.6 billion.
Governor Kay Ivey is just days away from signing contracts that will saddle taxpayers with a minimum $2.6 billion bill for leasing three new mega-prisons for 30 years. In the end, we will own equity in the prisons of exactly ZERO. The companies that held these lucrative leases will own the prisons, and we, the taxpayers, will have to start completely over and pay for the prisons a second time – pay 100% again.
We would shell out billions of dollars but own nothing in the end. We Alabamians cannot let this happen.
That is why I am calling for an independent management audit of Alabama’s Department of Corrections. I invite my fellow state leaders to join me in this call for transparency.
Is that too much to ask when our state currently allocates a whopping 25% of our general fund budget to the prisons? That’s $624 million in 2020, folks! And you can bet your bottom dollar that percentage will keep rising.
Next week, ADOC will present their proposed budget to the legislature in the budget review committee meeting. I implore our elected officials to thoroughly interrogate the spending practices and promises of the money-eating ADOC.
Given that ADOC is so heavily funded and is about to be hit with an additional $88 million a year expense for 30 years, it seems prudent for legislators to have a chance to evaluate the underlying data that supposedly justifies the prison lease plan.
ADOC says they need new prisons rather than renovate the existing ones. They insist it will be cheaper to pay $88 million in annual rent payments for 30 years–totaling $2.6 billion–than to fix and maintain the existing structures or to have the state build new prisons using bond funds.
ADOC claims that the “consolidation cost savings” associated with closing old prisons and opening new ones will cover the $88 million price tag. Their conclusion is based on a 100% confidential study done for nearly $20 million by for-profit companies Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood and Hoar Program Management.
If the claimed “consolidation cost savings” end up being overstated, ADOC will have to come crawling to the legislature licking their wounds when they inevitably need more taxpayer money. Even if ADOC does manage to scrape together the money within their current budget for the first few years, what happens when these private prison owners hike up the price after 10,000 inmates have been transferred in? The leases must be renegotiated every year. Alabama will have little choice but to pony up whatever amount the owners ask for. This is a 30-year mistake.
Beyond these likely problems, the failure of ADOC to do its basic job — keeping society, staff, and inmates safe — should have us all asking, “What exactly is ADOC doing with that $624 million anyway?” An independent management audit of ADOC finances would allow legislators and the public at large to look behind the curtain and expose any misuse of our tax dollars.
As it stands, the prison lease plan–one of the largest public expenditures in state history–will be pushed through with little opportunity for legislative or public scrutiny unless we halt it now.
Despite ADOC efforts to conduct the entire process in secrecy, anyone who’s paying attention knows enough to see what a terribly wasteful and irreversible deal this is for Alabama.
Our elected legislators have never laid eyes on the ADOC plan, and they won’t be given an opportunity to do so until Alabama is already locked in. The checks and balances by the legislative branch have been eliminated in the prison lease plan.
ADOC Commissioner Jeff Dunn promised they would release the proposed contracts for these prisons by the end of 2020. Here it is, almost the end of January 2021, and nothing. Is it because ADOC doesn’t want to give the legislators any time to address their dealings in their upcoming session?
ADOC insists secrecy is needed to negotiate the best deal possible with the private developers who will build and own the three mega-prisons. The more likely explanation is that ADOC wants to push this lease deal through without answering anyone.
There are no good reasons why we’re jumping into bed with for-profit corporation CoreCivic—a company with a record of abuse and mismanagement. Just ask Kansas, Tennessee, and Idaho if they would ever sign up to work with CoreCivic again.
A brief dive into ADOC public records reveals wasteful, unaccountable spending for decades. Since 2012 ADOC has spent $32.5 million on outside law firms, despite having an internal legal team.
As for wage costs, ADOC pays over $30 million in overtime pay per year–more than four times the next highest paying agency.
How easy it is for these government bureaucrats to spend our money!
Given that we are the only state prison system in the country currently facing a prison lawsuit by the Department of Justice, we must be doing something wrong.
Other states know better than to let their prisons run unchecked. Many conduct needed audits to catch problems before they balloon out of control.
Take Mississippi, a state that recently conducted a thorough audit of its prison system. Like in Alabama, Mississippi’s prisons were under investigation by the DOJ for alleged unconstitutional treatment of inmates. In response, their commissioner called for an independent management audit to root out wastefulness or corruption.
The resulting report detailed hundreds of thousands in wasteful expenses in the Mississippi DOC budget, including massage chairs, Himalayan salt lamps, and six TVs for the commissioner’s executive suite. When the findings were released, the prison system adopted all 18 recommendations within the report aimed at fixing the abuses.
“Without the [audit], it would have been difficult, if not impossible, to uncover some of the misspending here,” Mississippi State Auditor Shad White said. “It is encouraging to see [the DOC’s]proactive approach to fixing the problems.”
So far, Mississippi has avoided a DOJ lawsuit.
Alabama has not been so blessed. In December 2020, the DOJ officially sued Alabama following findings of unsafe conditions, rampant violence, and excessive use of force on inmates. What ADOC conveniently ignores is that buildings will not address the failed ADOC leadership, from Commissioner Jeff Dunn on down.
Before suing, the DOJ tried to negotiate with Gov. Ivey, Dunn, and Attorney General Steve Marshall. That went nowhere. In fact, prison conditions have worsened since the DOJ released its initial investigative report in April 2019. Like moving into a new house to save a broken marriage, new buildings will do nothing to address the real problem: failed leadership.
We are inching closer and closer to the federal government taking over the Alabama prison system — a process that means the Feds call all the shots, but we foot the unlimited bill.
Perhaps the only way to avoid a statewide takeover is to convince the DOJ that Alabama is actually trying to address its prison problems like Mississippi did. And that starts with a transparent and honest conversation about resource allocation.
If the Alabama State Auditor’s office (my office) had the authority to order such an audit, it would have already been done. But a past legislature took away such authority from the Alabama State Auditor’s office. In Mississippi, the State Auditor does have authority for a management audit, and it is producing excellent results for the taxpaying public.
If Gov Ivey really wants to find an Alabama solution to this Alabama problem, she will encourage a management audit of ADOC.
Jim Zeigler has been the Alabama State Auditor since 2015.
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Ivey administration inches forward on plan to lease prisons
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Jim Zeigler: Prison lease plan may be a 30-year mistake…
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Alabama Today will be the first place Alabamians of influence go for an inside look at breaking statewide, political and business news. The Alabama Today team includes freelance news reporters, as well as guest columnists from around the state.
On April 3, 2021, the National Freedom Movement will be mobilizing people around the nation to demand changes to America’s broken parole system. Organizers, activists and advocates are starting to compare notes and are coming to the realization that parole boards across the nation are functioning in the same arbitrary manner and using the same excuses to deny paroles to millions of families.
If you are interested in hosting an event in your state at the parole board or some other location to highlight the abuses of your state’s parole board and the need for change, please contact the NFM and start organizing and planning with us today.
Register here: https://form.jotform.com/210077530275147
Parole board members and governmental offcials must be made to understand that, with Covid-19 and deteriorating conditions on the inside, parole decisions are life and death decisions more than ever before. The inhumane nature in which parole decisions are costing lives must be elevated on a national scale as our loved ones inside US jails, prisons, immigration detention facilities and juvenile facilities are dying directly at the hands of parole board decisions.
Join the National Freedom Movement as we demand more paroles and fundamental changes to parole systems, including the federal BOP. Millions of lives are at stakes, so support the call for Millions of Families For Parole.
There have been over 100 documented prisoner rebellions related to negligence over COVID-19 safety. Its time we step it up on the outside. A quick and massive release of prisoners is the safest and most responsible option. In reality, its long overdue.Feb 1st Call to Action: Demand Mass Clemency on “National Freedom Day”
The Alabama Department of Corrections has responded to Demands from Free Alabama Movement via the call for a #30dayEconomicBlackout from January 1, 2021, to January 31, 2021, by violently attacking and beating Mr. Ronnie Miller, who is one of 11 men on hunger strike at Kilby Correctional Facility.
FAM has called for the boycott of prison contractors and state agencies admidst the ongoing human rights violations and humanitarian crisis taking place inside the Alabama Department of Corrections.
We are being told that a Sgt. Williams cleared CERT team officer Landrum to carry out the assault. As more details emerge, FAM is requesting that supporters please call the Commissioner of ADOC Jefferson Dunn and the Warden at Kilby CF and demand that the violence and harassment against all participants in the boycott stop.
Please contact @ADOCDunn Commissioner Jefferson Dunn 334-353-3883, or email Jefferson.dunn@doc.Alabama.gov and demand that the violent attack and harassment against all participants in the #30dayEconomicBlackout stop. Also demand that Mr. Miller be taken to an outside hospital for an independent evaluation.
PURSUIT OF JUSTICE
“Proposing a Bill for a one-time ‘Pursuit of Justice claim’ that an inmate can file, excusing procedural defaults, that prove Constitutional violations that occured in their case. The issue may be time-barred or previously denied due to procedural default. This one-time claim gives a person opportunity to expose Malicious Prosecution and prove Constitutional claims previously denied by default.”
By: David E. Files Jr.
Through the Innocence Project several states have passed prison reforms and enacted policies that allow inmates to challenge their convictions, and in some cases actually prove their innocence.
Alabama is long overdue for reform not only prison reform but Criminal Justice reform as well. For example the Alabama Rules of Court state that an inmate has only a one year time period after an appeal or conviction to file a Rule 32 Post-Conviction claim. Alabama Appellate Courts have repeatedly stated that a person ignorant of the law is no excuse for not meeting the requirements set forth in the Rules of Court.
A person wrongly convicted in an Alabama courtroom who has no knowledge of law or the Rules of Court and unable to afford an Attorney to pursue Post-Conviction remedies is completely helpless. Upon conviction a person is sent to an Alabama prison system that itself is held in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
A person sentenced to prison in Alabama with no control as to what facility they are sent to is then required by law to litigate their case and file appropriate Petitions within a specified one year limitation or his Constitutional claims are barred from review and consideration in Alabama courts.
The transfer process upon arrival at Kilby Correctional Facility usually lasts approximately 30 days to several months before being transferred to another facility based upon their classification level.
The process of transferring facilities can easily cause a person to lose vital legal papers they may have in their possession. In some cases officers at different facilities will confiscate or purposely destroy legal papers especially if the person is unaware. All too often a person will not realize their legal papers are missing until it is too late. This tactic used by ADOC officers is intended to further hinder and frustrate the efforts of an individual seeking to pursue Post-Conviction claims.
The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the state of Alabama and the Prison System for its unconstitutional conditions. In the lawsuit the Justice Department outlines in explicit detail a corrupt system in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
My question is, how can it be possible that a state in violation of the Constitution turn around and prohibit a person from seeking relief from his conviction based on Constitutional claims in his case?
The ADOC is well-known as the most violent and overcrowded prison system in the country. Sadly this didn’t just start. This reputation has lasted for several years.
The DOJ lawsuit provides information through lengthy and vigorous investigations of widespread violence, inmate on inmate as well as ADOC staff on inmate violence.
The investigations also uncovered corruption throughout the ADOC Administrations as well as an extremely overcrowded inmate population that is warehoused in illegal and inadequate living conditions. These are the findings of the U.S. Justice Department, not baseless inmate allegations.
As these facts come to light how can it be possible to expect a person placed in such conditions to:
1. be provided a safe and adequate Law Library for a person to properly research and litigate his case;
2. if the institution has a functioning Law Library the inmate will have access due to Institutional Lockdowns because of rampant violence in the facility and/or staff shortages that result in the Law Library
3. the overcrowded conditions that severely limit authorized usage of the Law Library;
4. the inmate having proper assistance to help and guide them while pursuing a claim.
All of these factors on top of chaotic, toxic and deadly circumstances that surround the person on a daily basis. These unconstitutional conditions make it nearly impossible to meet the requirements set forth in the Alabama Rules of Court.
The Constitutional violations of the ADOC, as horrendous as they are, still fail in comparison to the Constitutional violations that occur in the Court System. Meanwhile those violations remain hidden and protected through Procedural Defaults that are supported by the Rules of Court in Alabama.
As horrible and illegal as the Prosecuting Attorney General William Dill’s actions in my case at trial are I’m positive there are many
worse examples that numerous other inmates who are entrapped in Alabama’s State of Slavery prison system could also prove if given an opportunity.
I am asking for support in proposing a Bill that would allow Alabama inmates to file a one-time Pursuit of Justice claim to prove Constitutional violations that occured in their case that remain hidden and protected through Procedural Defaults such as being time-barred. How is it that such a request that would allow a person to prove he was wrongly convicted be denied that opportunity because of unreasonable demands in an impossible circumstance. How is that JUSTICE?
The awful discoveries outlined in the DOJ lawsuit against Alabama and the ADOC prove what anyone who has experienced the ADOC already knew. Imagine the discoveries of unjust and Malicious Prosecutions
that have taken place in Alabama courtrooms by over zealous Prosecutors who know the the system is rigged and by obtaining a conviction their actions will likely not be discovered because an Appellate Court will not review the merits of a claim that is Procedurely Defaulted. Thereby protecting their illegal unconstitutional actions to secure a conviction instead of ensuring Justice.
Before my trial I had faith and confidence that the TRUTH would prevail in the courtroom. Sadly this is not always the case in Alabama.
I am asking that everyone who reads this letter share it with people that you know and help promote this proposition for a Bill that at least gives a person the opportunity to pursue Justice in their case.
The injustices of Malicious Prosecutions should not be allowed to stand and their protection through Procedural Defaults should be reversed and exposed. These practices must be exposed and the trusted officials found in violation of unconstitutional and illegal practices be held accountable.
Whose signature is that on this contract for prison slave labor?
Today, December 2, 2020, is International Abolish Slavery Day, and oh my! did it start with a bang. This date is historically important in America because of its historic practices of slavery and due to the fact that the 13th Amendment to the United States continues to have an exception clause that legalizes slavery and Involuntary servitude as punishment for crime.
Imagine waking up this morning to learn that a joint resolution has been submitted in the US Congress calling for a repeal of this Amendment. Wow!!
Over the past several years, many incarcerated organizers, activists, artists and scholars in US prisons have worked to highlight not only the slavery exception clause in the 13th Amendment, but also the institutions this Amendment is responsible for creating (the network of Departments of Corrections around the country.
We’ve also fought the inhumane, barbaric practices that are carried out in these institutions, such police brutality, systemic and institutional racism, human warehousing, human trafficking, selling children to private detention, forced labor, and financial exploitation.
We’ve also fought to build awareness about and bring changes to the laws like the Black Codes, Vagrancy laws, the school-to-prison pipeline, the 1994 Crime Bill, the Prison Litigation Reform Act, and the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, as these are slave laws used to keep the plantations full.
The highpoint to date of this 2020 activism was undoubtedly the October 26-30, 2020, P.L.U.S. Party Initiative #FreeThe13. This four-day virtual panel discussion broke down the history of the institution of slavery and then put it back together for people to understand in its current rendition.
Immediately following the #FreeThe13th event, Free Alabama Movement, in conjunction with Be Frank for Justice, collaborated around hosting an “Abolish Slavery Alabama” day in Alabama on Sunday, December 6, 2020, at a former slave depot in Montgomery, Alabama, to mark not only the exception clause in the 13th Amendment, but also similar slave language in Art. 1, sec. 32 of the Alabama Constitution of 1901. December 6, was chosen because this is the day in 1865, that this Amendment was ratified.
During the course of these conversations around December 6th, Amendment 4 was ratified by Alabama voters on November 4, 2020, which authorizes the Alabama Legislative Reference Service to, among other things, identify for removal all racist language from the Alabama Constitution. The Amendment 4 effort was led by Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform and sponsored by State Representative Marika Coleman.
This, of course, opened the door wide open to conversation about Art. 1, sec. 32 of the Alabama Constitution of 1901. The Paul Cuffee Abolitionist Center then stepped up as the sole fiscal sponsor for this event on December 6, 2020, making this event a reality in Alabama.
According to history, there is no language or law in the Alabama Constitution or criminal laws more racist, dehumanizing, debasing or debilitating than Article 1, sec. 32 of the Alabama Constitution:
Plain and simple, this is a slave law. After the Civil War ended, what must be understood is that slavery was never totally abolished. Instead, only a particular form of slavery was abolished — private ownership of slaves by ordinary citizens was banned. In its place, the 13th Amendment transferred slavery to the government under the criminal justice system.
When that was done, Black people went from representing less than appx 15% of people in US prisons prior to 1865, to over 90% less than 15 years later. Human beings in Alabama (just as in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and many other places) have been forced back into slavery in the Alabama prison system under the 13th Amendment and Article 1, sec. 32.
Since 2018, four States have removed slave language from their Constitution, with Utah and Nebraska being the most recent in 2020.
Free Alabama Movement has been waging a campaign against slavery and slave Plantation conditions in Alabama for some time now. For the most part, we have been alone in this slave state in this endeavor. None of the so-called human rights orgs. or the other lot have joined FAM’s call. Why? And, where are the Alabama organizations today, now that Art. 1, Sec. 32 and Amendment 4, are staring us all directly in the face?
The changes needed in the Alabama prison system start with the historically racist practice of slavery and involuntary servitude that are enshrined in the Alabama Constitution of 1901 Art. 1, sec. 32. Now is the time to remove not only the language from the the Alabama Constitution, but to also abolish the practice of Slavery, its institutions, and the laws used to uphold it.
Please join the call on Sunday, December 6, 2020, at Montgomery Plaza, from 3-5 pm, Cst to remove this racist language from the Alabama Constitution of 1901.
FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT
📢🗣️Support FAM $CashApp: https://cash.app/$FREEALAMOVEMENT
1. 2013-current. FAM was founded in 2013, and officially launched in August 2013.
2. January 1, 2014. Organized first multi-prison non-violent and peaceful work strikes, boycotts and protests in Alabama.
3. 2014-2019. January 2014, several FAM leaders and organizers were targeted by ADOC and placed into solitary confinement, including its founder Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun and co-founder Kinetik Justice Amun, both of whom remained in solitary confinement for the next 5 consecutive years. Despite FAM’s non-violent and peaceful organizing, FAM leaders were retaliated against, beaten, tortured, food poisoned, and arbitrarily denied basic constitutional and human rights, including mail, visits, phone calls, humane housing, deprived of natural light, and more. Even in the face of strong opposition and repression by the state, FAM was able to continue to move ahead in the struggle for Freedom.
4. 2014-2016. Conducted at least one multi-prison work strike every year in ADOC, plus the National Prison Strikes. After the initial strikes on January 1, 2014, all other Strikes, Boycotts and Protests were led by FAM from solitary confinement.
5. 2014-2018. Family members and supporters conducted over 20 protests outside multiple Alabama prisons and other locations, including in Clio Alabama, Donaldson CF, Holman CF, St. Clair CF, Limestone CF, Tutwiler CF, Kelly Ingram Park, Edmund Pettus Bridge, ADOC Headquarters, State Capitol, and the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles Headquarters (#ParoleWatch).
6. 2014 (currently being revised). Published book FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT (known as the “manifesto”) on January 2, 2014.
7. 2014- current. Created first multi-medium social media platforms as part of prison-led organizing strategy, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, WordPress blog, Blogtalk radio, and website.
8. 2014-current. Created Free Alabama Movement YouTube channel. Have since released over 200 exclusive exposè
videos from inside ADOC. FAM’s bold and aggressive tactic of guerilla filming spawned a new era in the Prisoner/Enslaved-led Human Rights Movement. Incarcerated Activists all across the nation began using cellphones as a powerful weapon in the narrative around criminal justice reform, prison reform, and abolitionist freedom struggle.
9. 2014-2016. Created, produced, directed first-of-its-kind inside-led, underground Blogtalk radio show, “THE PEOPLE’S PLATFORM”.
10. 2014. Published “A Flicker Turns Into A Flame”
11. 2014. Drafted the “FREEDOM BILL”
12. 2014-current. FAM leaders and members have conducted over 100 media interviews from inside with outlets such as:
San Francisco Bay View
New York Times
Wall Street Journal
Al Jazerra America,
13. 2014-current. FAM has been featured in several short-documentaries, including two w/ HBO/Vice, and two w/ Al Jazerra.
14. 2014-2019 Hunger Strikes. State retaliation and abuse against FAM leaders led to hunger strikes that spread to multiple prisons over a span of 5 years, exposing ADOC as a barbaric and inhumane institution.
15. 2015. Published “Let The Crops Rot In The Field” and laid out “The Solution:FAM’s 6-Step Plan of Action 2015.” These documents and the plan outlined therein established the framework for building the infrastructure that led to the first nationwide, Inside-led national initiatives and actions based on work strikes, boycotts and protests. FAM’s infrastructure elevated the profiles and voices of Inside-led organizations nationwide and has hosted and facilitated the organizing of EVERY Inside-led national event since 2015.
16. 2015. Nationwide S-TO-P CAMPAIGN against McDonald’s, highlighting the school-to-prison pipeline.
17. 2015-2016. FAM led multiple peace initiatives under the Universal Peace and Unity Summit. Over this period of heightened violence, FAM was the only entity able to lead multiple successful peace accords in the tumultuous ADOC. FAM never had an incident of violence associated with any of its multiple work strikes and boycotts, and ADOC recorded its lowest levels of violence during FAM activities.
18. 2016. Historic September 9, 2016, 45th Anniversary Attica Rebellion Nationwide Prison Strike. Largest prison strike US history. Over 24 states and 30,000 freedom fighters.
19. 2013-2018. During the height of FAM organizing, ADOC saw the total prison population drop from appx. 30,000 to appx. 23,000, before rising again.
20. 2013-2018. During the height of FAM activism, the Alabama Parole Board created an emergency board and granted over 4000 paroles. The number of parole grants began to lessen in 2018, eventually recording record lows in 2020.
21. 2013-2019. As a result of FAM’s exposure of living conditions and intensive media coverage, two Alabama prisons closed (Holman and Draper).
22. 2015 and 2019. FAM witnessed two Governor-appointed Prison Reform/Oversight Committees that were created to address issues highlighted by FAM advocacy and exposure.
23. 2014-2016. FAM saw two conservative sentencing reform measures passed.
24. 2014-2016. FAM’s exposure of ADOC central to class-action litigation filed by Bryan Stevenson and EJI, Southern Poverty Law Centers, and Southern Center for Human Rights.
25. 2016. In an unpredictable and surprising action, in 2016, ADOC correctional officers at Holman CF adopted FAM’s strategy and led their own work strike, where they were protesting, among other issues, the same ADOC leadership and inhumane living conditions as highlighted by FAM. While not all issues were the same between FAM and the officers, the impact of FAM’s influence for change was undeniable.
26. 2016. FAM’s exposure of ADOC, pro se litigation, and advocacy work led to “first-of-its-kind” statewide investigation of all Alabama men’s prisons by the US Department of Justice. These investigations produced two separate reports, both of which found the ADOC to be violating the civil, human and constitutional rights of those serving time in ADOC custody.
27. 2017. An anonymous ADOC employee released a trove of over 1000 graphic, gory photos depicting violence and barbaric savagery inside ADOC. While a select few of these images were made public, many in the mainstream media withheld 800 of these photos, protecting ADOC and collaborating in their mutual interest.
28. 2018. Campaign to Redistribute The Pain 2018, a nationwide bi-monthly boycott of canteen, collect phone calls, visitation vending machines, and incentive packages.
29. 2018 National Prison Strike. Following FAM’s visionary approach to organizing prison labor nationally and relying on the infrastructure put in place leading to FAM’s historic September 9, 2016, 45th Anniversary Attica Rebellion Nationwide Prison Strike/Boycott/Protest, the 2018 Nationwide Prison Strike took place after the Lee County, South Carolina riots. FAM’s leadership and national Campaign to Redistribute The Pain 2018, spanning the entire year of 2018, were integral to the 2018 National Prison Strike. Since that first nationwide effort in 2016, FAM inspired at least 5 other inside-led national events.
30. 2012-2019. Assisted in filing over 250 excessive force, police brutality, ethics complaints, and Section 1983 civil class action lawsuits against ADOC officials.
31. 2014-2020. FAM’s advocacy and activism produced intensive media coverage that resulted in investigations, forced resignations, demotions and firings of at least one ADOC Commissioner (K. Thomas), Associate Commissioners G. Culliver and J. DeLoach), Wardens (Estes, Davenport, E. Evans, and others.
32. 2015-current. FAM’s advocacy and activism led ADOC to adopt policies requiring warden training and rotations. Results are negligible though due to a lack of accountability enforcement, although a few wardens have shown negative pattern behavior resulting in resignations or other forms of termination.
33. 2019. FAM’s hunger strikes exposed and led to the end of ADOC’s secretive and highly inhumane “bucket detail” and extortion schemes by officials at Limestone CF. FAM leaders caused the end of the 25+ year careers of Warden DeWayne Estes and Captain Patrick Robinson, and civil litigation.
34. 2015/2019. FAM jailhouse attorneys, who have filed pro se litigation on his behalf for years, uplifted the story of Willie “Fire Plug” Simmons on their WordPress blog. FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT’s network of activists and contacts who played a vital role in uncovering this story and facilitating Mr. Simmons’ access to press went uncredited when Mr. Simmons’ story exploded and went worldwide.
35. 2019. Launched #ParoleWatch2020 in response to the Charlie Graddick-led Bureau. FAM is the only organization in the State to conduct protests at the Bureau of Pardons and Paroles Headquarters. Graddick resigned effective November 31.
36. 2014-current. FAM’s influence over the course of 7 years has inspired the creation of or brought close collaboration with over 40 organizations, including Unheard Voices, Free Mississippi Movement, APSP, UHURU Movement, Free South Carolina Movement, Mississippi Southern Belles, Free Ohio Movement, FAM Queen Team, T.O.P.S., IWOC, JLS, United Black Family Scholarship Foundation, End Prison Slavery in Texas, Amend the 13th, Decarcerate Louisiana, NABPP, Faith In Action, The Plus Party, Be Frank 4 Justice, Abolish Slavery National Network, EPIC, Ida B. Wells, and many, many more.
37. 2020. Statewide host of August 22, 2020, National Day of Freedom and Justice events.
38. 2020. Co-Presenters for the Harvard Prison Divestment
39. 2020. Co-lead organizers for the October 26-30, 2020 Plus Party #FreeThe13th 5-Day Virtual Rally.
40. 2020. Host of the December 6, 2020, Abolish Slavery Alabama event, marking the 155 year anniversary of the ratification of the 13th Amendment and the exception clause that allows slavery and involuntary Servitude to continue as punishment for crime.
41. 2021. On January 1, 2021, FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT is calling for a #30DayBlackout Boycott and Strike.
42. Our greatest accomplishment is the awareness, education and Spirit of Freedom that we were able to share with over 10,000 men in the ADOC; the tens of thousands of men and women behind cages, walls and fences in America who participated in the 2016 and 2018 nationwide strikes/boycotts/protests; and innumerable others we have impacted around the world. FAM’s banners have hung in four continents around the world, Europe, Africa, South America, and North America.
Special Thanks to the Ratcliff Family and the San Francisco Bay View Black Newspaper. As always, there are some people and organizations that rise above the rest and stand in such a way as to merit special consideration. For FAM, this honor goes to the Bay View and Mr. and Mrs. Ratcliff. We can’t even recount the many deeds or the many ways. All we can do is stand in awe, admiration, appreciate, respect and Love. ❤️
We are not done yet. . .
The price of Freedom comes at a great cost to Freedom Fighters behind the walls.
When will it end? When will Black people be allowed to live in this country in peace and free from any form of slavery? 400 years and there are still laws and constitutional amendments on record that people have been enslaved under. Over 1 million Black Families have a loved one in a prison. This shit is getting to a point where we are going to have to put morals to the side and go down and meet them on a savage level just to see our humanity respected. Slavery must end in this country. Those who profit off prisons must be held accountable. We can’t keep masking this shit in terms that deliberately evade addressing the problem.
We don’t know what the future holds for those who demand freedom, but we do know that the slave’s future will be whatever his master decrees by the whip or nightstick. Our Movement has to unite once again and we must take decisive action. These prisons are turning into mass graves. Don’t wait for death. Take steps to deliver death to the system.
All Power. Unite or Die.
During the holiday season something as simple as accepting a collect phone call may save a life. It is well documented that during holidays people in prison are more vulnerable to suicides, drug overdose, and other acts of self harm. We miss our families. We remember growing up in these moments and the feelings and experiences that we shared while surrounded by family.
Being separated and knowing that we are missing out on these interactions is depressing, and this depression is added onto an already toxic, hopeless and difficult situation. So if you a fortunate enough to receive a call from a loved one who is incarcerated, please take the call. Remind them that they are still loved and not forgotten, and take a picture or share something that lets them know that their place or spot is still reserved for them.
You never know, but that little gesture may save a little few.
Enjoy your holidays. Free Alabama Movement
By Kinetik Justice Amun
Who would invest in the incarceration of other people if only crime, punishment and correcting individuals was the purpose?
By most historical accounts, from the inception of dominating, controlling -incarcerating- enslaving people there has been a central theme to extract their labor or steal their resources.
Today is absolutely no different. There is so much talk about crime rates, rehabilitation programs, etc. But underneath all of the rhetorical statistics, the real dialogue is purely economical.
Prisons are “Cash Cows” and the Cows look just like you.
Stop evaluating the current crisis through the lens of Humanity, Justice, Right & Wrong, if you truly want to understand Mass Slavery /Incarceration.
Look at from a pure Economical perspective –
Try Chattel Slavery… From a Moral and Humanity perspective it was wrong, some even agreed that it was evil. However, from a strictly economical position, a Capitalist HEAVEN-FREE LABOR MEANS A LOT OF FREE MONEY
Chaos is brewing in ADOC as COVID-19 continues to spread and claim lives. Testing of some positive individuals at atleast two State prisons are being redone as the number of positive results continues to rise to crisis levels.
Also, it appears that the entire population at Bibb County CF has been tested. With additional testing, Bibb CF saw a spike in positive results. BIBB CF is one of the institutions where retesting is underway, while residents feel that ADOC is attempting to skew results. ADOC is not saying why testing is being redone.
ADOC’s medical contractors and healthcare professionals are also facing scrutiny. There are serious questions and widespread allegations being made about tampering and discarding testing kits. Meanwhile, no explanation is being provided as to why retesting is being done? Why the need for secrecy over the reason for retesting? Questions also remain about oversight regulations and audit processes regarding tests? There is much to unpack in Alabama DOC.
As infection rates and death tolls continue to mount while testing continues to lag behind, the call and need for more people to be released is growing louder. Alabama remains an outlier amongst other states who are already releasing people in an effort to save lives. With inhumane conditions and a lack of adequate cleaning supplies and PPEs already an intractable problem, COVID-19 remains a serious threat to everyone incarcerated in ADOC and the entire State of Alabama.
Re-post, originally posted by American Litigation Consultant, LLC
November 13, 2020
The new death penalty: COVID has now killed more US prisoners than capital punishment over last three decades.
I am sad to report that we have passed yet another milestone in COVID prisoner deaths, which prompts another one of my series of “new death penalty” posts. The Marshall Project continues the critical job of counting via this webpage of deaths from coronavirus reported among prisoners, and as of Thursday, November 12, this accounting had tabulated “at least 1412 deaths from coronavirus reported among prisoners.”
As I have said in other posts, this considerable and ever-growing number is sad and disconcerting on its own terms, but it is even more remarkable given that it now amounts to more than the total number of prisoner deaths resulting from carrying out formal death sentences in the United States for the entire period from 1990 to 2020. According to DPIC data, there were a total of 1406 executions from the start of 1990 through today.
Of course, as I have mentioned before, comparing capital punishment and COVID incarceration carnage is problematic in many ways. All persons executed in the US in recent times have been convicted of the most aggravated forms of murder. The vast majority of prisoners to die of COVID were not criminally responsible for a death (although, as noted here, some persons on California’s death row are part of the COVID prisoner death count). In a few older posts here and here, I noted that nearly half of the early reported deaths of federal prisoners involved individuals serving time for drug crimes.
Another problem with comparing capital punishment and COVID incarceration carnage relates to that correctional staff do not die from administering capital punishment, but many have died from COVID. The Marshall Project reports “at least 93 deaths from coronavirus reported among prison staff.” I am still pleasantly surprised that this too-big number is not even larger, but I will be ever troubled by the thought that all these COVID casualty numbers could have been lower if more aggressive depopulation efforts were taken to move the most vulnerable and least risky persons out of the super-spreader environment that prisons represent.
A few of many prior related posts:
The new death penalty: COVID has now killed as many US prisoners as has a quarter century of capital punishment (from October 2020)
The new death penalty: COVID has now killed more US prisoners in months than the US death penalty has in the last two decades (from August 2020)
The new death penalty: COVID has now killed more US prisoners in weeks than the US death penalty has in over a decade (from May 2020)
The new death penalty: COVID has now killed more than 500 US prisoners and prison staff according to UCLA Law data (from May 2020)
The new death penalty: COVID now a leading modern killer of California inmates on death row
From drug sentences to death sentences: documenting arbitrary and capricious drug war casualties
Memorializing more drug war casualties: updating the federal drug sentences that COVID-19 turned into death sentences.
While the BOP is doing its best to address this pandemic, Congress and the Senate need to do more to ensure that people convicted of victimless crimes like non-violent drug offenders need to be sent home where they can be monitored via GPS. This will reduce the prison population dramatically and save lives. We encourage everyone involved from inmates, to BOP staff members to write your representatives and place the foregoing facts before them. Stay Safe.
Come on out to our November fundraiser! Friday, Nov. 20 and Saturday, Nov. 21, the Bay View National Black Newspaper and friends will be celebrating the history, people and culture of Bayview Hunters Point, featuring the beautiful people of the neighborhood partying, dancing, playing music and indulging in our amazing local restaurants. With words and…Bay View Fundraiser 2020
The need for social justice and the abuses that African Americans face in America’s criminal justice system is no longer capable of being ignored. Every day another innocent person is exonerated, the system is exposed, and the decades of life lost behind prison walls that cannot be returned are grieved. We’ve also learned from […]ALABAMA JUDGE MAKES UP THE LAW AS HE GOES: WHY JUSTICE IS SO DIFFICULT TO OBTAIN FOR BLACK PEOPLE IN AMERICA
One day after FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT calls for peace and unity in the Alabama prison system, several people were injured in incidents of violence. We continue to call for a Truce and an agreement amongst all Tribes and street organizations to work for peace and unity, over self-destruction. I cannot say it any plainer, we are killing each other, thereby killing ourselves.
FAM also wants to point out to everyone that some of those people who many of us consider as our allies in this bottomless pit, the very ones who like to condemn the violence that takes places in the prisons, especially those in the news media, have declined to highlight or publish this call to end violence. Ditto for the non-profits and others who are profiting off the slave empire.
Don’t be deceived my brothers and sisters. We have to be our own best advocates. The system of white supremacy and Black genocide work hand in hand, and those who make a living or profit from it will never collaborate with us to stop the slaughter. Nevertheless, we can do it ourselves ❗❗❗
Stop the Violence in the Alabama prisons and let’s save our communities.
THE VIOLENCE IN THE ALABAMA PRISON SYSTEM HAS TO STOP. WE GOTTA GET BACK TO LOVING OURSELVES, LOVING EACH OTHER, AND FIGHTING IN UNITY FOR OUR FREEDOM. WHEN WE WERE UNITED FROM 2013-2017, WE SUCCESSFULLY FORCED THE STATE TO RELEASE OVER 2000 PEOPLE. WHEN THEY REALIZED THAT WE HAD A MOVEMENT THAT WAS CAPABLE OF ENDING THEIR INSTITUTION OF SLAVERY, THEY SLAMMED US WITH DRUGS. THEIR DRUGS DECIMATED OUR FRAGILE STRUCTURE AND WIPED OUT OUR UNITY. THEY TURNED US AGAINST EACH OTHER AND ALLOWED US TO KILL EACH OTHER BECAUSE THEY KNEW THAT OTHERWISE WE COULD NOT BE STOPPED FROM DESTROYING THEIR SYSTEM. WE GOTTA ACKNOWLEDGE THIS AND BOUNCE BACK. RECENTLY, WE HAVE TALKED ABOUT BUILDING PEACE AND UNITY THROUGH A TRUCE. WE GOTTA STOP KILLING AND STABBING EACH OTHER AND START BACK FIGHTING THE SYSTEMIC OPPRESSION THAT ALLOWS US TO KILL EACH OTHER FOR THEIR BENEFIT. LET’S BUILD PEACE AND UNITY.
AS FOR OUR OUTSIDE SUPPORTERS, WHILE WE APPRECIATE ALL THAT YOU HAVE DONE SO FAR, RIGHT NOW WE NEED FOR Y’ALL TO HELP US DELIVER A MESSAGE OF PEACE AND UNITY. CONDUCT VIGILS AND SHARE OUR DEMAND FOR PEACE AND UNITY. POST IT ON YOUR PAGE. SHARE IT IN YOUR STORY. TELL THE MEN AND WOMEN IN ADOC THAT YOU SUPPORT THE CALL FOR PEACE AND UNITY. AMPLIFY THIS MESSAGE AND ADD YOUR OWN. WE NEED HELP RIGHT NOW WITH THIS. WE CAN’T DEFEAT OUR ENEMY IF WE ARE KILLING OFF EACH OTHER ❗❗❗
PEACE AND UNITY IN ALL ALABAMA PRISONS.
STOP THE VIOLENCE
THE JUDGE AND THE LAWYER Gary McAliley To destroy Council’s last line of defense, Judge Gary McAliley appointed Dale Marsh, as lead attorney to defend Council against the Capital Murder charges. Upon being notified that he was appointed to represent Council, Dale Marsh brought to the attention of the Court that he had personally known […]THE FIXERS
JUSTICE FOR THE GADSDEN 6
October 23, 2020
A Short Introduction to The GADSDEN 6
Gadsden, Alabama. “Justice delayed is justice denied.” Over 32 years have passed since the early morning hours on March 24, 1988, when six Black youth from Huntsville, Alabama.,Fred Brown, Archie Hamlet, Roland Martin, Melvin Ray, Curtis Richardson and Steve Stewart, were arrested for a department store burglary in Gadsden, Alabama. The consequences of those arrests, the magnitude of the injustice, and what corrupt juvenile authorities did that day are only just now being discovered and understood:
Juvenile proceedings where no attorneys or parents are present. Motions filed and ruled on where no one was present except the judge and prosecutor. Transfers to adult court without hearings and, in the end, over 20 felony convictions, 170+ years combined sentences, over 30 combined years served, and the subsequent use of these illegal felony charges as sentence enhancers, resulting in over 70+ years of extra time served.
The wheels of injustice began to spin swiftly the moment the GADSDEN 6 were arrested and taken to the police precinct. Once there, detectives proceeded to interrogate us for several hours. At no point during the interrogations were our parents contacted, nor were we afforded attorneys. When the interrogations ended, the detectives charged us with over 30 combined counts of burglary and theft.
The chicanery did not end with the interrogations.
Later that same morning, all six of us were taken before juvenile court judge Robert E. Lewis, for what was supposed to be an initial appearance hearing. At the initial appearance hearing, we were expecting: a) inquiry into what we were being charged with, b) to be informed of our rights to an attorney and, c) to be advised that our parents would be notified and allowed to be present at all future hearings. But, this is not what occurred at all . . .
Instead, the supposed initial appearance hearing quickly turned into a detention hearing, where it was to be determined whether probable cause existed for any or all 30+ charges. Proceeding in this manner guaranteed that, by the time our families or attorneys got involved, the decision justifying our detention would already be made.
There was, however, a major problem with this impromptu “detention hearing”. There was no legal counsel present on our behalf to examine the probably cause claim and evidence rendered. To remedy this problem, certified court records show that the adults in the courtroom, the judge, police detectives, and prosecutor, came up with their own unique solution: someone “stipulated” to probable cause — meaning that they (the police and prosecutor) conceded the children’s guilt — to ALL 30 charges on behalf of all six children. The act of stipulating on our behalf is illegal, and beyond dispute.
On April 6, two weeks after the stipulation, the same certified court records show that Judge Lewis decided to appoint attorneys. By then, cause for our continued confinement had already been decided. We were simply awaiting our ultimate fate.
April 27, 1988, 34 days later. . .
On April 27, 1988, the matter of the GADSDEN 6 would come to a close in juvenile court. The prosecutor filed a motion to transfer all six of us to adult court, and Judge Robert E. Lewis granted it that same day. Again, though, no attorneys or parents were present when the transfer motion was granted. In fact, no one was even notified that the motion to transfer was filed and had been granted until the next day.
ADULT COURT PROCEEDINGS
Once in adult court, the GADSDEN 6 all received guilty pleas. We were told we could either plead guilty and be sentenced to 10 years, split to time served, or we could risk being taken to trial on each count one at a time, where we could end up with life sentences. Weighing these options, we were all forced to plead guilty. In total, we received approximately 20 adult convictions, over 170 total years, and have suffered a lifetime of collateral consequences as a result of these felony convictions. What we are learning now, however, is that the GADSDEN 6 were never legally transferred to adult court as authorized by law; that jurisdiction over our cases remained in juvenile court; and that all of our adult felony convictions are illegal and void.
2020. Thirty-two years later
The Etowah County juvenile records depict a picture fraught with unethical and criminal misconduct. We now know that the process whereby the “detention hearing” was instituted is unprecedented; we also know that the probable cause “stipulation” entered on that fateful first day in court was illegal and amounts to judicial and prosecutorial misconduct; and, we now know that the supposed “transfer order” to adult court, issued without a hearing, was not done in a manner authorized by Alabama law. It was all a fraud. All a sham. All amounting to an untenable miscarriage of justice.
EFFORTS TO UNDO THIS INJUSTICE BEING MET WITH RESISTANCE
Efforts to undo this injustice have proven difficult. In May 2015, Etowah County Judge and former prosecutor William B. Ogletree, denied a petition for relief seeking to undo and correct Judge Lewis’s order. In denying justice, Judge Ogletree put forth a ruling that basically attempts to rewrite Alabama law.
Judge Ogletree cited Title 12-15-203 (i), Code of Ala. 1975, for the proposition that he was refusing to reverse these illegal convictions on the ground that one member of the Gadsden 6 had been “previously certified” in another juvenile case.
Yet, this statute clearly states that a child must have an adult “conviction or adjudication as a youthful offender” before they can be transferred to adult court without hearings, without attorneys, and without due process. Not a single one of the Gadsden 6 had ever been convicted or adjudicated as a youthful offender in 1988. In fact, at least four (4) members of the GADSDEN 6 had not even been “previously certified” on April 27, 1988, yet they too were transferred without hearings, without attorneys, and without notice to their parents. These irrefutable facts prove that the officials in Etowah County know that what they did was wrong and that they have no intentions of providing justice to the GADSDEN 6
Sign the Petition https://www.change.org/p/kay-ivey-justice-for-gadsden-6/dashboard
I know it’s the trendy term (Mass incarceration) but, in addition to understanding when this term appeared, you must understand two things about that misnomer.
Mass incarceration did not exist as a description for the warehousing of bodies through prisons prior to 2010 and the publication of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Between the launch of twitter in 2007 and 2009, there were only 4 mentions of mass incarceration.
Literally, it didn’t exist before that.
You need to know:
1- Mass incarceration is a misnomer that does not point out the racial and class aspects of the largest prison population to ever exist on planet earth. It implies that this phenomenon is applied equally across national demographics. A burden shared by all citizens. If that were true there would be over 5 million more “white” people in prisons right now.
In reality, this is a textbook example of the fallacy of the average.
2- Mass incarceration is not a crime. There are no laws against mass incarceration. THERE ARE LAWS against slavery. Slavery can be abolished.
It’s true that Michelle Alexander advanced the understanding of our for-profit and race/class based criminal injustice system. What she didn’t do was label it correctly or offer the proper solution to the problem.
The answer to legalized slavery is not reform. It’s abolition.
You can not FIX, REFORM, or REPAIR a crime against humanity. And that is exactly what we are dealing with. A crime against humanity called slavery. The same slavery we’ve always dealt with.
The differences between antebellum chattel slavery and modern 13TH amendment slavery is that A- You are not born a slave but you can certainly become a slave at any moment. Especially if you live in high crime, high poverty conditions. B- Today’s slaves are not owned by individuals. They are owned and operated by the state or private prisons and their shareholders.
Get your language right and your mind will follow.
Join us as we review the dynamics of slavery, past to present, and discuss 21st century abolition efforts to address the 13TH amendment.
#FreeThe13th is part of a national effort of activists and organizers from behind the confines of prison walls, to the community, committed to ending slavery and prison profiteering. Over the course of 4 days, speakers will examine the dynamics of slavery, review the implementation of processes to keep slavery active, and discuss next steps required to truly abolish slavery in America.
FB Event page:
Event video presentation
Partners and sponsors:
Get registered for the #FREE THE 13th Event as the conversation about the 13th Amendment and its connection to the continuation of the institution of slavery and the Abolitionist Movement to end slavery in America builds momentum.
“When the public is told that prisons are overcrowded, the prisoncrats package these reports in a way that has the public thinking that the problem is nothing more than inadequate space to store our property neatly into our locker boxes or that we don’t have the space of a five star hotel. This is all deliberate misinformation and deceitful propaganda.
Without proper visuals to go with the content being disseminated, society don’t realize that, in actuality, we are stacked on top of each other in the same way that our African Ancestors were packed inside of slave ships. These slave plantation-like conditions are producing catastrophic results in environments that are unimaginable in a supposed civilized country. However, these images are hard to come by. The administrators know this and they work to keep it that way. That’s why cameras, reporters, and filming crews are banned inside of prisons, except for the “dog and pony” shows that showcase the few “public consumption” areas of a prison.
Removing the veil of secrecy is a task that those of us on the inside must play a vital role in. If the media won’t come to the mountain, then we must bring the mountain to the media. In other words, we have to continue with the process that we have already started, which is to create our own media. Taking these cellphones that we have at our disposal and using them to expose the system is one of the fundamental principles of Free Alabama Movement. Indeed, no one else can do this but Us. No one else is responsible for this task but Us. Without exposing the system for what it truly is, we are DEAD.
Last year, the commissioner for the Alabama Department of Corrections was forced to admit in a news interview that the infrastructure for the Alabama prison system was not designed to rehabilitate, but to warehouse human bodies.
Alabama Has the Deadliest Prisons in the Country: It Says It’s Looking for Reforms, by Arian Campo-Flores, Wall Street Journal, January 26, 2019:
“Our infrastructure was not designed to rehabilitate. It was designed to warehouse,” said Jefferson Dunn, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections.
Commissioner Dunn says that work is being done to correct these issues. The problem though is that Commissioner Dunn has been on the job for over 5 years now, and human warehousing has been going on in Alabama long before he arrived and throughout his tenure. The same problems and constitutional issues there are being reported on about the Alabama prison system today, are the same as those that were being said about the Alabama prisons in the 1870’s, 1920’s, 1970’s, and now in 2020.
Commissioner Dunn is only speaking now because we have placed these issues into the public sphere of conversation to a degree that he can’t avoid. Human warehousing and all of the evils that are attendant to it remain a part of the Southern culture and way of life, as they have been since Black people were first enslaved in the Heart of Dixie. Prison slavery or public/State ownership and control of the institution of slavery, the successor to the private ownership industry of slavery, won’t end until we end it.
Exposing its existence and disabusing the lies that conceal it are a big part of that process.
When we did our own filming from the inside by cellphones and leaked this information out in wake of the COVID 19 pandemic, especially in Alabama and California, our videos were featured on HBO/Vice News, ABC News with George Stephonopolous, the Tamron Hall show, and a special report by Gail King ABC This Morning. This shows that when the public actually sees the reality of what the insides look like, they will respond to it.
Predictably, the government responded in retaliation. But their reactionary attacks proves the point that they want the truth hidden; therefore, we should go even harder in our efforts to expose them. What we need to do next is to organize something like a National Prison Slavery Exposure Event where we just unleash thousands and thousands of videos, pictures, and testimonies, all at one time, and all across social media for the world to see. In other words, we have to meet the challenge in such a way that the system can’t simply react with their typical forms of retaliation, but instead, they have to bow down to the truth. (More on this later) “
More to come . . .
WHEN CHILDREN ARE EXPLOITED BY THE JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM IN ALABAMA
Thirty-one years ago on March 24, 1988, six Black children, all under the age of 17, Fred Brown, Archie Hamlet, Roland Martin, Melvin Ray, Curtis Richardson and Steve Stewart, were arrested by Gadsden police in the early morning hours around 1:00 am, for a department store burglary. After their arrest, these six children were taken to the police station for a three-hours long interrogation. The children were not represented by attorneys and their parents were not present during this interrogation.
The interrogators were an all-white group of 4 to 6 detectives. When the interrogation was completed around 4:00 am, these children were charged with over 30 felony offenses involving several unsolved burglaries in Gadsden.
Just a few hours after this early-morning interrogation ended, police and the district attorney’s office then marched these children into court for an initial appearance hearing that quickly turned into a full fledged probable cause detention hearing. None of the children were represented in court by an attorney, and none of their parents were present. It was just the judge, police, and the D.A.
At the hastily erected probable cause detention hearing, which was orchestrated by the juvenile court judge, the DA and police, the judge allowed the D.A. to stipulate to probable cause in behalf of all six children to ALL 30-plus charges pending against them. This illegal probable cause stipulation would then be used to justify continued detention of these children and removal from their homes, parents and siblings.
As the above court record shows, attorneys were not appointed until April 6, 1988, two full weeks after the arrest and “probable cause” stipulation were made. Meanwhile, the Gadsden 6 remained in detention for over a month, until April 27, 1988, when the juvenile court judge granted the prosecutor’s motion to transfer these children to adult court. The juvenile court judge granted the prosecutor’s motion to transfer on the same day that it was filed, without conducting a transfer hearing or even notifying anyone that the motion had been filed.
None of the children were present when this motion was heard, no one was served notice of the prosecutor’s motion, the children did not have legal representation to review the motion or present evidence in their behalf, and none of their parents were present when the motion was heard or granted. Injustice was administered behind closed doors when no one was looking. . .
ON TO ADULT COURT . . .
Once in adult court, the Gadsden 6 were given an ultimatum: plead guilty to all charges and go home that day with sentences of time served and probation, or take a chance on trial and spend the next decade of their lives in prison. The authorities in Gadsden saddled these young black children with over 20 adult felony convictions that would follow them for the rest of their lives, and through a process that guaranteed injustice, as no one was present during the juvenile proceedings to protect the constitutional rights of these children or the parental rights of their parents.
These illegally prior felony convictions have been used in subsequent adult proceedings to enhance many of the Gadsden 6’s sentences under Alabama’s draconian habitual felony offender law, resulting in an additional 50-plus years of illegal time being served, including two instances where life without parole was illegally imposed.
Join the Gadsden 6’s demand for justice !!!
All proceedings and convictions be declared null and void and removed from their records.
All records in juvenile and adult court be expunged.
Compensation and acknowledgement of the wrongful nature of the proceedings used against them, including full legal pardons.
Sign our petition to the Alabama Legislature and the Alabama courts to rectify this injustice put upon the Gadsden 6 by the Gadsden Police Department, the Gadsden DA, and the Juvenile & Adult Divisions of the Circuit Court of Etowah County, Alabama.
Follow the GADSDEN 6 on Facebook @ Justice For The Gadsden 6..
(July 29, 2019 court hearing in Montgomery, Al)
On March 24, 1988, six Black children were arrested around 1:00 am, and charged as juvenile deliquents in Gadsden, Ala. for allegedly attempting to break into a department store.
These children were taken to the police station and interrogated for appx. 4 hours by a group of appx. 4 to 6 white police officers. At no point during this interrogation were their parents contacted. There were no attorneys present. When interrogation ended several hours later, the Gadsden 6 were charged with over 30 felony charges for burglary and theft.
A few hours later that same morning of March 24, 1988, the GADSDEN 6 were taken to an initial appearance hearing that suddenly turned into a detention hearing. The GADSDEN 6 was still without parent or attorneys.
At the detention hearing, the GADSDEN 6 were surrounded by appx. 6 white police officers, two white juvenile officers, and a white prosecutor. The record shows that probable cause was stipultaed to on all 30 charges.
Probable cause means that there is reasonable to believe that a crime has been committed and that the defendant committed it. This fact was stipultaed to on all 30 charges.
But STIPULTAED to by who??
The GADSDEN 6 were all children. None of them had attorneys and none of their parents were present. There were only 6 Black children and appx 10 white men present. Who stipulated for the GADSDEN 6 to 30 felony charges on the same day of their arrest ? Children cannot stipulate to anything without counsel and / or their parents present.
The record shows that an attorney was not appointed up April 6, 1988, two weeks AFTER the stipulation was entered.
These cases were subsequently transferred to adult court without a hearing, where the GADSDEN 6 were convicted of adikt charges At least 3 GADSDEN 6 members suffered 4 or more convictions each, rendering all of them eligible for treatment as a habitual offender and subject to a sentence of life or life without parole if they ever charged with another felony offense.
All of the convictions imposed against the GADSDEN 6 are illegal because they were not represented by counsel or parents at all critical.
Join the call for Justice for the GADSDEN 6.
a) Full Pardons
b) Expungement of all records
FACTS OR FICTION
A 30-year-old white, National Guardsman trying to earn some extra money by selling his new rifle, was the picture painted by the prosecutor to portray Ronald Henderson.
A 20-year-old black, drug dealing, gang leader, who orchestrated the robbery and intentional murder of Ronald Henderson, was the picture painted of Robert Earl Council.
From the testimonies of several witnesses, toxicologist reports and other documentary evidence, the facts are clear and speak volumes to the events which ultimately resulted in the tragic death of Ronald Henderson and Robert Earl Council’s sentence to die in a cage.
Prior to the sham, the State of Alabama vs. Robert Earl Council, investigators and prosecutors knew that a robbery in the 1st degree never occurred. They also knew that Council was not present during the alleged theft by deception. Furthermore, the theft was neither committed by force nor by threat or representation of any force. Toxicology reports prove that Henderson being intoxicated as well as under the influence of crack cocaine, were the result of Henderson dropping the rifle while trying to demonstrate its mechanics. Thus, Marcus Neal caught the riffle, gave it to Willie Adams, who then ran out of the house with the riffle. This sequence of events does not meet any form of the definition of Robbery.
Prosecutors and Investigators knew that after Henderson lost his rifle in Dale Green’s house, and watching Willie Adams and Marcus Neal run towards Larry Brooks house, he drove off in a mad rage while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. After circling the block, he saw Brooks car pass through the upcoming intersection, then commenced to chase the car. He, eventually caught up to Brooks car, then forced it off the road.
Prosecutors and Investigators also knew that the death of Ronald Henderson was caused in a last minute effort to prevent him from causing intentional, physical injury to Robert Earl Council and the other passengers in the car. They knew these facts, but yet they completely disregarded what they knew and created a flimsy conspiracy theory, which conflicted with the evidence.
This act elevated a self-defense shooting to a Capital Murder charge- the highest criminal offense in the Alabama Criminal Code.
In spite of the facts surrounding the threat to Robert Earl Council’s life by Ronald Henderson, the Prosecutors Office manipulated testimony, destroyed eye witness accounts of the shooting and manipulated the judicial process in order to give Robert Earl Council a death sentence for the death of Ronald Henderson.
1) Organize prison shutdowns at prisons with major economic industries (tag plants, fleet services, food distribution centers, agriculture, etc.)
Remember, we are working against a half trillion dollar system that is controlled by businessmen and women who are the modern-day slave profiteers. And just like any business, their focus is on the bottom line. From this viewpoint, we must organize work stoppages at prisons with economic industries that are operated by slave labor. The impact of a work stoppage is immediate and significant, as production is shutdown and profit margins plummet around the country.
Believe me, if you want to have commissioners, politicians and the like hunting you down, organize a strike. You won’t have to call them, because they will call you. Prison industry is more than just license plates. Now it includes military, food, clothes, mining, recycling, call centers, car parts, cleaning supplies, printing, and so much more.
And when we organize, we have to demand that real “reforms” take place that will afford everyone an opportunity to earn our freedom, NOT JUST EARN A CHECK FOR OUR LABOR, and that fundamental changes be made throughout the system.
Experience has shown us at FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT that this approach is more effective than hunger strikes, marching and writing letters combined, as those strategies will only bring publicity, lip service and some changes, while work stoppages shut down the entire economic system and gets directly into their pockets, which brings the movers and shakers to the prison for negotiations.
WE MUST LET THE CROPS ROT IN THE FIELD IF WE AREN’T RECEIVING BENEFIT OF THE HARVEST
LET THE CROPS ROT IN THE FIELD is a proven strategy that was passed down to us from our Ancestors from the slave plantations that was used to disrupt the economics of the field. The harvest of the planter season was reaped when the crops were picked from the field and sold on the open market. When the slave master had invested all that he owned into his next crop (prison factories), the slaves would wait until just before the harvest and rebel against the slave system by ‘going on strike’ and causing the crops to rot in the field. This tactic would completely ruin the slave master’s investment.
While these crops were rotting in the field, the slave master would come down from the big house, make nice and beg the slaves to go back to work
But when that didn’t work, the slave master, just like the modern prison commissioners and wardens, would then result to threats and violence. But those determined for their freedom would resist and fight to the end.
In the end, when the crops were left to rot in the field, the slave master would sometimes lose his plantation if he had used it as collateral to secure a loan from the bank to plant. This is what happens to a prison system that is built upon the exploitation and free labor of the people incarcerated: when the laborers stop working, the free labor prison system collapses because there isn’t any revenue coming in to finance the system of 30,000 people in Alabama, 23,000 in Mississippi, 160,000 in California, or 2.5 million nationwide, who still must be fed, still must be provided medical care, still must had lights, water and basic hygiene.
These obligations and costs don’t stop, but the means to pay for them — the revenue that is produced by our labor — stops when we stop.
In 2014, Alabama has a 400 million dollar budget to run its prisons, which is paid by the sale of the products and services that are manufactured by the slave labor from the people incarcerated.
All told, Alabama is making anywhere from 2 to 3 billion dollars each year from our labor, fines, fees, canteen, phone calls, etc. while over $500,000,000,000 dollars is made nationwide off of prison slave labor.
If we are to end Mass Incarceration and Prison Slavery, which only those caught up in the slave system can do, then we must Unify nationwide from inside of these prisons and we must stop our labor and LET THE CROPS ROT IN THE FIELD.
Re-post, by Max Prathas, Abolition Today.org
I often think to myself…
“A bunch of folks talmbout what they would have done if they were alive in the antebellum slavery period are straight up FOS. Full of it.”
You’re alive right now while slavery is legal and in practice. While a dozen states and growing are in the process of abolishing slavery through their constitutions. While the most racist president in modern history is demonizing and criminalizing entire groups based on race and class. While the largest caged population to ever exist on earth grows larger.
While they hunt and kill us in the streets. Brutalize us behind bars. Sell us like cattle through prison stocks and jail bonds.
I know you wouldn’t have done anything then because all you’re doing now is turning a blind eye and practicing willful ignorance.
This message isn’t for those who do, it’s for those who don’t and won’t. I see you. Punk ass. If you were around in 1860 you might be conspiring to get that Tubman bounty money.
CLEARING UP CONFUSION AND MISUNDERSTANDING ABOUT THE SENTENCING COMMISSION AND WHAT IS NOT ABOUT TO HAPPEN ON OCTOBER 1, 2020.
Dear Black Man,
Please know that if you haven’t done anything exceptional or monumental like a shutdowns, i. e., a work strike, boycott and significant protest, then you are not getting freedom.
The posts about the sentencing commission makes two points very clear that we can’t just overlook or ignore:
1) Thr standards only go into effect if approved during the 2020 Legislative Session.
They were NOT approved !!!
This is why Free Alabama Movement starting protesting at the Parole Bureau on June 23, 24 and 25. Parole remained the only path to freedom for many, but Charlie Graddick had virtually stopped all paroles.
2) Just this week, Free Alabama Movement posted again that the sentencing standards must be made retroactive in order to help those who have already been in the system. The information circulating around social media clearly states that the law will apply only to offender “on or after” the effective date.
In other words, if you are already in prison, this law doesn’t apply to you.
Why do y’all think FAM is calling for another Protest on September 29?
Answer: Paroles continue to be denied at historic rates.
Until we do something to make them a) approve the standards and b) make them retroactive, this stuff won’t help ANYONE already incarcerated.
In the song the words go “don’t save her, she don’t wanna be saved.” Family, we are not going to be saved. As the Nation of Gods and Earths say, we gotta Self Save.
WE GOTTA SHUT DOWN !!! Okay ! Keep thinking that the system that is oppressing you is going to save you. Why do y’all think the DOJ is publicly expressing that they are not satisfied with Alabama’s response? Ain’t nobody going anywhere. Just keep thinking you don’t have to support these protests and calls for a shutdown. You will see. . .
There is a lot of conversation about Alabama’s habitual offender law going on these days, but the more these conversations play out, the more apparent it becomes that the current solutions aren’t capable of solving a problem of this magnitude. Simply stated and true to its “street name,” this law is a bitch.
One of the problems that individuals sentenced under this law have with current conversations is the “violent v. non-violent” dichotomy. But not for the reasons they one might think. For example, one recent report went to great lengths to distinguish between those who are sentenced as habitual offenders but who “never hurt anyone.” This myopic view misses several important points. Here are a few:
1. Some people who have caused injury and were sentenced as a violence offender are “first-time violent offenders.” Meaning, they don’t have any prior felony offense or history of violence where they have ever hurt anyone.
2. Some people who were sentenced as a habitual offender for a violent offense where there was physical injury are first-time violent offenders have already served 20, 30, 40 , 50 years or more in prison. That’s enough time. But if the “violent v. non-violent” debate rages on, these individuals will be left to die in prison, regardless of their circumstance. Basically, we have so-called advocates and other professionals calling for the genocide of these people in the most inhumane prison system in America.
3. Alabama judges and prosecutors have used this habitual offender law in a racially discriminatory manner. Seventy-three percent of all people who received a sentence of Life Without Parole under this law are Black. Why would anyone try to defend a law that has been used to oppress Black people on a fictitious “violent v. non-violent” ground when that’s not the only basis that this was enforced on? We can’t gloss over or try to justify systemic racism. If the empirical data shows that this law has been applied in a racially discriminatory manner, then the law should be abolished or repealed. Clearly, the “bitch” law has done more harm than good.
4. Most of the crimes used as enhancers are property offenses, drug offenses, or other crimes without physical injury or a weapon involved. Others are years and decades old, many derived from out-of-state, while others are simply inconsequential crimes like credit card and check fraud. We also know that these laws were passed in the “war on drugs” era at a time when police and prosecutors were incentivized to target Black communities.
When people try to debate these laws and frame the discussion along the lines of “violent v. non-violent”, we should be alerted to the fact that these talking heads are attempting to justify systemic racism. These people are complicit in maintaining systemic and institutional racism. If you are paying attention, you’ve probably already noted that EVERY single platform in Alabama where you hear these conversations, they are either being lead by white people or its a white-only monologue just like the 1994 Crime Bill signing ceremony.
We are fighting against a system that has many interlocking parts. Some who you might think of as an ally is probably sent by those you know as your enemy. The habitual offender law needs to be abolished or repealed in its entirety. If you aren’t hearing that, then you are listening to an enemy not a friend.
FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT
In 2014, inmates across three Alabama prisons, organized by a prison group called the Free Alabama Movement, participated in work stoppages for over 3 weeks to protest deplorable conditions behind bars and to call for an end to mass incarceration and prison slavery.
The Free Alabama Movement expanded its efforts outside of Alabama in 2016 to organize the largest prisoner collective action protest in U.S. history: a nationwide prison strike involving more than 24,000 inmates. Although they did not issue a “single, unified list of demands,” the 2016 prison strikers generally protested for “fair pay for their work, humane living conditions, and better access to education and rehabilitation programs.”
While largely unsuccessful in effectuating major changes to the American prison system, the 2016 prison strike and the prison strikes of the past decade have raised the salience of prisoner collective action efforts on the national level.
For the first time, prisoners are collectively making their voices loudly heard across the country — injecting their viewpoints and demands into our national debates on mass incarceration, forced labor, and other injustices of our carceral state.
By Elisha Macon
When my wife told me that she had watched the documentary the 13th. She now better understand why I am still INCARCERATED in SIDE of ADOC. She now sees that IT’S not the crime that they say that I committed that has me INCARCERATED all these decades. And thousands of more men are in slavery,along with me. Yes, slavery people such as well as myself are TRAPPED into slavery through the courts systems, along with other agencies. HOUSING us worse than ANIMALS and working us SLAVES for nothing, while these different agency’s make billions of dollars off the backs of the SLAVES and our families who dare to stand by our sides and support us. These agencies are so corrupt that they even charge us SLAVES for medical treatments. They charge us SLAVES for disciplinaries. The very same items that our loved ONES use to have the privilege of sending us, we now must buy them from the agency. They have entrapped us into slavery with the new laws that our so called legislatures are passing TARGETING the black men of America. LOCKING us up for long periods of time. So many people are blind to these facts. Please I not only urge you to watch the documentary the 13th but I also beg you to. please don’t take my word for this and watch it for yourself please. Even if you don’t know anyone in prison, I promise you that someone who you love and care about is subject to fall victim to this SLAVES trade that is still operating strongly through the United State court systems. If you care anything about the future of our CHILDREN, PLEASE STAND with me and the OTHERS who are making the necessary sacrifices to change the way that we are being Mistreated and enslaved behind these plantation walls. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!
In the midst of the George Floyd protests for racial and social justice and a call for the end of police summary executions and murders of innocence, unarmed Black men and women with impunity, many people around the world were shocked when a Democratic prosecutor in Utah charged Black Lives Matter protestors under gang enhancement charges that carried a possible life sentence in prison for merely splashing paint across the steps and part of the street in front of the DA’s with red paint.
“George Floyd: US protesters charged as ‘gang’ face life sentence – BBC News” https://www.bbc.com/news/amp/world-us-canada-53698048
While these excessive ‘gang’ charges drew condemnation far and wide, this incident exposed a practice that many Black men know all too well, especially here in Alabama. But, unlike the prosecutor in Utah, who acknowledged that he doubts that anyone will spend even a day in jail for these charges that carry a life sentence, Black men in Alabama have not been so lucky.
In fact, hundreds of Black men in Alabama have been charged with gang-related capital murder offenses that carry the death penalty or life without parole. Although no one has ever received the death penalty under these statutes, hundreds are çurrently serving life without parole sentences after being prosecuted under these gang laws even though none of them were ever charged with actually being in any gang. Many others were originally overcharged with capital offense but ultimately had their charges reduced in plea deals.
HISTORY OF ALABAMA’S GANG LAWS
In 1992, the Alabama Legislature convened to address what was the considered to be a public outcry against gang violence. Among the issues of concern were “drive-by” shooting, where vehicles were being weaponized to carry out gang murders. These gang killings were also taking the lives of innocent children who were outside playing in their yards, or sitting inside their homes when these drive-by shootings were being carried out. In response, the Alabama Legislature added four new capital murder crimes to the Alabama criminal code that were now punishable by death or LWOP:
Over time and after years of these laws being on the books, we have learned that these laws have not been applied as intended. We’ve also learned that the uneven and disparate application of these laws have been applied almost exclusively to young Black men. The facts are undeniable. Alabama prosecutors are intentionally and systematically using gang laws to overcharge, wrongfully convict, and over sentence young Black men for capital murder where the only aggravating factor used to enhance their charges is the fact that they are Black. Excepting a few isolated instances, white people who commit the exact same crimes are not charges with capital murder.
SHIRLEY HENSON: Road Rage and Black Rage
Every fire has a spark.
The case that sparked the fire leading to the discovery of the racial discrimination in how these laws were being used was the road rage case involving a middle-class white woman named Shirley Henson. Ms. Henson was driving down an Alabama interstate when she got into an altercation with another driver over tailgating. When the driver of the other vehicle got out of her car to confront Ms. Henson, Ms. Henson retrieved her gun and shot through her window striking the woman in the face, killing her.
As shown above, under Alabama law, when a person inside a vehicle fires a weapon outside that vehicle and kills someone this is capital murder:
(18) Murder committed by or through the use of a deadly weapon fired or otherwise used within or from a vehicle.
Indeed, firing a weapon from inside a vehicle and killing someone outside that vehicle is exactly how a drive-by shooting is committed. But, Ms. Henson was not charged with a capital offense. Instead, she was charged with reckless murder.
This lesser charge was a revelation to Black men in Alabama because they, unlike Ms. Henson, were told that there crimes were capital based on the factual predicate that a weapon was fired from inside a vehicle that killed someone outside the vehicle or vice versa. This was a fact that, according to their prosecutors and defense attorneys, automatically rendered their cases capital.
Yet, here it was playing out on news stations all around the State that when a white women committed the exact same crime, with the exact same facts, she was not charged with a capital offense. Ultimately, Ms. Henson was famously convicted of road rage and spent appx. 10 years in prison before being released.
Young Black men, however, were receiving life without parole sentences, left to die in the Alabama prison system for the exact same offense.
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION 575
While Shirley Henson, a middle classes white woman received the benefit of white privilege in the Alabama judicial system, Phillip Fondren, a young white male did not. Phillip Fondren was charged with capital murder after killing a man (Fondren claimed self-defense) in a domestic situation after an argument with his wife’s ex-boyfriend. A single gunshot was fired from Fondren’s vehicle:
After his conviction, Phillip’s mother, understanding the injustice done to her son, became a vocal activist, refusing to accept as fact that her son would spend the rest of his life in prison simply because he was charged under a statute that defined the crime and length of punishment based solely on the location of the parties when the crime occured. In order words, if Phillip had stepped outside of his truck and he and the victim were both standing in the driveway when the same fatal shot was fired, he would not have been subject to a capital offense or life without parole.
Phillip’s case and many others highlight the fact that gang affiliation and using the vehicle as an instrument of the crime (drive-by) are the elements that the Alabama Legislature intended to punish. These were the aggravating factors that enhanced the punishment. When those aggravating elements are absent, then what prosecutors are supposed to be punishing is a murder case.
Avoiding absurd results like this is the very reason why gang relation was a critical aspect of the original legislation. If there was no gang involvement or the vehicle was not being used to carry out the crime then there was no aggravating facts that would justify enhancing the charge to capital murder instead of regular murder.
This injustice compelled Ms. Fondren to start writing articles, reaching out to legislatures and taking other proactive actions, all of which ultimately lead to her understanding that her son had been charged under a gang-related statute even though his crime was not gang-related and he was not in a gang.
Her efforts lead the Alabama Legislature to passed a House Joint Resolution 575, which was signed by the Governor, all stating that the gang statute was being misapplied in Alabama inconsistent with their intent in passing the law in the first place.
“Legislative Acts | Alabama Secretary of State” http://arc-sos.state.al.us/cgi/actdetail.mbr/detail?page=act&year=2006&act=642
PHYRRIC VICTORY AFTER THE JUDICIAL BRANCH GETS INVOLVED
The success of Ms. Fondren’s campaign was short-lived. After receiving the Resolution, the next step was to file a writ bringing Phillip’s case back to his court of conviction for sentencing relief. The court, however, refused to grant relief, contending that the Resolution did not have the effect of law. As such, all relief was denied.
Challenges to the Resolution went all the way to the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Judicial Circuit, all to no avail. The United States Supreme Court denied certiorari review and any hope for obtaining relief based on the House Joint Resolution were dashed.
According to the judiciary the problem resided in the fact that the Alabama Legislature omitted certain language from the Bill that was voted on after it was enacted into Law, and the House Joint Resolution cannot be used as an amendment to supply that language.
See, the original Bill submitted to committee and voted on by both houses states specifically that the Bill was intended to punish gang-related drive-by activity. This language is also in the minutes of the debates and conversation about the Bill. But once the Bill was enacted into law, the “gang-related” language, somehow and for whatever reason was excluded. As a result of this snafu, hundreds of people have been wrongfully convicted and no one has been able to obtain relief. This is a travesty of justice.
OTHER CASES INVOLVING WHITE DEFENDANTS TREATED DIFFERENTLY AND MORE FAVORABLE THAN THOSE INVOLVING YOUNG BLACK MEN
Over the years, countless other instances of cases have surfaced involving facts where the defendants were treated differently based on the color of skin. In one the more egregious instances of white privilege, a white man named Steven Bedgood in Georgetown, Alabama, arrived home and noticed a truck leaving the direction of his residence. Upon realization that the truck was being driven by a burglar leaving his home, Mr. Bedgood retrieved a high-powered rifle and shot over 1/8 a mile down the road, striking the assumed burglar in the head, killing him instantly.
Under Alabama’s gang statute, this killing of another person inside a vehicle by shots fired from outside the vehicle is capital murder :
(17) Murder committed by or through the use of a deadly weapon while the victim is in a vehicle.
Unlike hundreds of young Black men before him, however, Mr. Bedgood was charged with manslaughter, a class C felony. Ultimately, Mr. Bedgood was convicted of the lesser included offense of criminally negligent homicide, a misdemeanor, and received 6 months suspended sentence, while each of the Black men mentioned above received life or life without parole. Absent intervention or change in the law, each of them will die in prison, while Mr. Bedgood never served a day in prison.
Oeatha Archie III, Brandon Johnson, Antwaun Phillips, and Jeremy Cattage are just a few of the young Black men who were charged with capital murder pursuant subsection (17), a circumstance where the victim was killed inside a vehicle by a gushot fired from outside that vehicle. Well-known activist and civil rights leader Pastor Kenneth Sharpron Glasgow and his codefendant are two Black men who are currently facing capital murder charges under this racially discriminatory law for a non-gang related offense where the vehicle was not used as a weapon to carry out the crime.
These Black men were all charged with capital murder and sentenced to Life or Life Without Parole even though they were not accused of being gang members or of committing a gang-related killing. The enhancement element in each of their cases was the the fact that they are Black.
Systemic racism and abuse at the hands of law enforcement takes on many forms, resulting in death by different means. While George Floyd met his death in the street, those who protested his death were charged under gang statutes that carry death-inducing life sentences. Prosecutors who routinely overcharge Black defendants are no less guilty that the officers who murdered George Floyd. The manner of death does not remove the certainty of it.
In Alabama, Black men are sentenced to death by incarceration for committing acts that when committed by white people sometimes doesn’t even result in a single day spent in jail. This need to change. The House Joint Resolution makes clear that their intent was to punish ONLY gang-related drive-by killings and/or those killings that uses a vehicle as an instrument of the crime, as a capital offense. Being Black is not a symbol for gang involvement, and being Black should no longer be countenanced as being an element of a crime. Prosecutors should not be allowed to punish Blackness; those who are currently charged or have already been wrongfully convicted as such deserve justice now.
FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT
By Brother Mika’il, a servant to the people and voice for freedom and justice.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 13, 2020
We had a brother, Tommy James Rogers, AIS 246679, go up for parole the other day with a 16 year clear record and multiple program completions, not to mention Mr. Rodgers is a first-offender who has never been in trouble before in his life or since. Nevertheless, his efforts to regain his freedom were denied by the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles.
Mr. Rodgers has shown the upmost remorse for his crime and it shows in his actions. After first graduating himself, Mr. Rodgers went on to serve as an intern for eight (8) years in one of the most dangerous program’s in the Alabama prison system, the TC program at St. Clair CF. Mr. Rodgers further served for eight (8) years as a Facilitator for the Long Distance Dads program, in addition to completing many other programs over the years of his incarceration. (See below)
Mr. Rodgers has also worked as a trustee in the store, kitchen stock room, and on the truck crew for a combined 8 years, all while leading by example and helping others learn from their mistakes as well. Mr. Rodgers has committed himself to serving as a positive example to others entering into Alabama’s prison system. However, the decision of the Parole Board to deny him parole further shows that even with an annual budget of over $600 million, taxpayers aren’t receiving any return on their investment in Education, Rehabilitation and corrections. Indeed, if a person is completing all of the programming available and still being denied parole, what is the incentive to others to even consider engaging in Positive behavior?
Please speak up for Mr. Rodgers, as anyone and everyone who knows him can and will vouch for his character, credibility and integrity without hesitation!
He has been an inspiration to young men like myself for years, always showing and teaching what is right and standing on that even when it is dangerous to do so!
Brothers like him and his situation are never made known to the public or taken into consideration because he will come out, teach, and represent what is right and be listened to, hence stopping the “womb to prison pipeline” in the hood; something the system of racism clearly doesn’t want.
Instead of releasing people who have demonstrated their willingness to be a positive influence once returned back to society, the ABPP has released a man who had a stabbing disciplinary as short as 6 months before parole. But this man with an impeccable record before and after his one and only criminal case in his life, who, after atoning and rehabilitating himself from his one and only mistake in life, gets no justice or opportunity at redemption!!!
What can we do to help?
Well, first we need to start a petition and make calls to the parole board and every office over it, all the way to the Governor in regards to him and others like him that have impeccable proof of rehabilitation and remorse but are still being denied parole anyway.
Second, we all must start documenting our own progress of rehabilitation to present before our peers in order for them to go to bat for us with proper ammunition. No one can help us if we don’t make ourselves candidates for help.
Then, we will have evidence and a leg to stand on in our fight for liberation. Those are really the best and most important things we can do at this point; we must stand up for self and each other, it must be documented and sent through the proper channels with the full support of the Movement on the street to bring about true results.
And please know that what is going on here in Alabama with the Bureau of Pardons and Paroles is going on in most other states around the country. Texas, Ohio, Mississippi and Oklahoma, just to name a few, all have a history of this too. Denying people parole for reasons like nature of the offense is simply a way to keep the prisons full and to keep making profits off of these human warehouses and slave labor ppantatu. There are orgs introducing legislation that encourages transparency in the parole process. When people are denied, the board should explain to them what they can do to work toward going home and set out a clear parole criteria, instead of citing static, arbitrary reasons.
The current methods of denying parole for any reason or for no legit reason at all, creates feelings of hopelessness and doesn’t encourage people to want to stay on the right path, especially if they feel like they won’t make it home anyway. Thus, fighting for changes like FAM’s 12 DEMANDS is the type of legislation and change we should be pushing for.
Cases like this one should be the evidence and ammunition to make it happen. Let’s make it happen today. 🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️
Re-posted from the page of the one and only Max Prathas, the Abolitionist that the enslaved trusts
What’s Really Real?
The fight against intangibles and ideals historically lacks one simple but crucial factor. The fact that the 13th amendment never abolished slavery. It was legalized instead under state actors. There’s entire best selling books that break it all down and oddly, never mention the transfer from personal chattel slavery to state convict leasing, and finally, to the modern warehousing of bodies. Many and varied are the explanations in our heads for currently having the largest prison population ever seen on earth. A narrative which fills that void where “Slavery Never Ended” should be instead.
Harvard professor Khalil Gibran Muhammad astutely observed that the 13th amendment exception clause has never received the adequate academic scrutiny it deserves.
And that is it in a nutshell. Maybe, those studying slavery, will act like they heard.
I’ve listened to entire panels of highly esteemed academics and constitutional experts in grandiose halls discuss the 13th amendment on its anniversaries and never once mention the infamous exception clause. One time, an elderly gentleman from Jailhouse Lawyers Speaks stood up in the audience and asked about the exception as loud and as clear as could be. With living examples of the amendments sections. It was embarrassing to see the responses and sad to know how long they’ve gone without asking any new questions.
To date, 25 other states adopted their own twisted remixed diction of the pro slavery language found in the amendments description. As was intended, many came long after the civil war had ended. Even though all those states used/use convict lease systems in these incidents, it’s supposed to be just a crazy coincidence.
Legal slavery is not an intangible. It’s not an ideal. It’s not what people think and feel. It’s a real thing we suffer from every day which is written into the constitution and exploited nationwide. And it pains me inside to say it was made that way.
But Slavery can be Abolished.
Just do a little research and you’ll see multiple court cases in places where slavery or slave like conditions in prisons was challenged by an inmates appeal and the court threw up the 13TH amendment like Captain America’s mighty shield. “It says right here, slavery and involuntary servitude is allowed, sooo… case closed. Appeal denied. Sorry. At least you tried.”
Even the NCAA grabbed a vibranium copy of the 13th to ward off college players who generate billions in revenue. So, don’t tell me what they never knew. They know, and now you do too.
You can test the truth of every word I say. Laws exist in reality and affect us every single day. Enforced by guns ready to be fired with as much force as is legally required. Punishable by incarceration or execution. By gas, chemicals, or electrocution. A simple traffic ticket violation can end with cops calling a hearse. Tax evasion means prison with potential death or worse. Just walking down the street with sagging pants and underwear showing (for men only) in some counties is punishable by 6 months in jail time and/or a $1,000 fine.
Try and resist the fascist fashion police and you may end up deceased just like Ervin Edwards in Louisiana. Or broken and brutalized like high school sophomore Jonathan Villarreal as was graphically described by his parents.
Muricans like to consider themselves a just and fair society. Generous and compassionate. It isn’t, and they are not, but neither do 99.9% of rappers have as much as they claim that they’ve got.
Thinking you hear coins clinking never filled anyone’s purse and following desert mirages never quenched anyone’s thirst. I guess, like the present president, everyone thinks the laws of attraction works.
As someone who spends all their time finding ways to change the public’s mind, let me chime in with this advice albeit unsolicited.
if you want to combat pink power, It’s easier and more permanent to remove pro slavery language from a states constitution using a voter initiative.
Max Parthas 9/11/2020
Segregation Forever was created by former Alabama Governor George Wallace, when vowing to restrict Black people from entering state institutions. Today that same agenda is
advanced by another Alabama Governor, Kay Ivey, who is refusing to release Black and poor White people from the segregation of the Alabama prison system, a state State institution where segregation is carried out by enslavement.
Author: David Files
On Thursday 9-3-20, Governor Ivey once again stood behind her podium still stained and scarred by the sins of Alabama’s past represented by the confederate flag. As she stood there talking, the same two words, “Segregation Forever”, once declared by a former racist Governor, stil echoes throughout her speech. The similiarities of Wallace’s declaration of “Segregation Forever” and Ivey’s determined actions to build new prisons is clear.
I remember just a few short years ago when Governor Bentley resigned as Governor and Ms. Kay Ivey took over the Governor’s seat. Ivey’s message back then was clear, simple and refreshing to the citizens of Alabama who were embarassed after Bentley’s escapades.
Governor Ivey vowed to clean up the mess. Ivey made promises to end corrupt Government actions and to clean up Alabama. At first nobody gave Ivey a chance at actually being elected Governor, much less even running for office. However, the “Clean Up Alabama” slogan provided the needed momentum to elect Kay Ivey as Governor.
Since being elected, Ivey no longer means to clean up, but instead to cover-up the Alabama mess. Ivey was able to convince the Alabama Legislature to give her complete authority in selecting Charlie Graddick as the Director of Pardons and Paroles. Ivey fooled the Legislature, but she was unable to fool the citizens of Alabama, who saw a power hungry, fascist dictator in the making as they voted down Ivey’s attempt to obtain complete Authority in appointing School Board members.
Gov. Ivey, just because you lead the near worst state in Education in America, doesn’t mean that we all are stupid.
Governor Ivey deliberately allowed the prison crisis to fall below a constitutional standards. Today, Ivey and every member of Government standing with her in these proposals of new prisons represent the meaning of a “Swamp”. The misuse, misappropriation and abuse of funds, unaccounted for amounts of money, a Criminal Justice System in desperate need of reform, a highly suspicious private company contract to build prisons and a skyrocketing ADOC budget, which happens to be the most corrupt department in America, is ridiculous.
With all of these facts staring Gov. Ivey in the face, she continues to blantantly lie to the citizens of Alabama by assuring them new prison facilities will fix the problem. It’s actually rather embarassing that Gov. Ivey and her cohorts stand up there thinking that what they are saying makes any kind of sense. The only thing that Gov. Ivey ever said that still rings true today is “it’s time to clean up the mess in Alabama”. The very first step of that process Governor Ivey, is your immediate resignation as Governor.
Its truly sad that Gov. Ivey would have the nerve and lack of respect as a woman participating in racism, wearing blackface, to proudly proclaim that the 13th Amendment gives her Authority to warehouse and enslave human beings.
The fact is 53% of the prison population is Black, while only 27% of the Alabama population is Black. It seems to be a proud accomplishment of her Authority to warehouse and enslave Blacks in over half of your prisons while Black people only make up a little over a quarter of your state’s population. Thank you for enlightening us even more of your racist agenda Gov. Ivey. This is a perfect example of your “Segregation Forever” campaign to build new prisons.
Governor Ivey took a tragic incident from a “non-violent” parolee named Jimmy Spencer, who sadly killed 3 innocent people while on parole, and continues to hold that tragedy against the rest of us unjustly, while denying us our deserving chance back into society. So now we hold the racist acts of past Governor’s against you Kay Ivey, because you have not only failed to prove that you are not like them, but instead have actually shown striking similiarities. There is a passage of Scripture which reads: Do not Judge others lest you yourself be Judged. It is one of my personal favorites. Today the only acceptable “Segregated” thing in Alabama is You, Kay Ivey, from the office of Governor of the State of Alabama.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) report of the unconstitutional conditions in Alabama prisons is well documented and publicized. “Alabama prisons: DOJ finds ‘frequent’ excessive force against inmates” https://amp.usatoday.com/amp/5496089002
The levels of corruption inside the ADOC, which is disturbing and unacceptable, absolutely cannot be fixed by new buildings. By this assumption and plan of Governor Ivey’s that new prisons is the answer, when it is obviously impossible, raises serious questions of how far the levels of corruption actually reach in Alabama’s system. By proposing a plan indebting Alabama citizens for decades, that doesn’t fix the problem and can only be a solution to ease the DOJ investigation for fear of what may actually be discovered. In light of the DOJ report and their recommendations, the blatant responses from Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, Governor Kay Ivey, and Commissioner Jeff Dunn can only mean one thing: If someone is doing something to the best of their ability and it is unconstitutional, then common sense would say they would gladly receive the assistance of the ones able to correct it.
Otherwise, as true in Alabama, if the operation is illegal in the first place and you are attempting to manipulate the ones telling you how to correct it, this can mean one only one thing:applying common sense, the “Alabama problem does not needs an Alabama solution”. It is no coincidence that this happens to be Gov. Ivey’s slogan used repeatedly concerning the unconstitutional prison crises. The blatantly incompetent responses by the leaders in position in Alabama in response to the DOJ reports is revealing. If you simply place yourself in the Governor’s position and look at the situation as a whole knowing of the corruption, what action would you take? Its simple. I too would propose the new mega-prisons, and welcome the DOJ lawsuit. By doing this I would tie up the lawsuit in court through vigorous litigation for the next two years until I get the prisons built. Then present to the federal court the solution in the form of the new prisons that temporarily relieves the problem of overcrowding and get the lawsuit dismissed. This way, I’ve accomplished the building of new prisons and relieved the burden of the DOJ investigation at the same time, while also expanding the operation of mass incarceration and enslavement.
This tactic currently in process in Alabama only kicks the can of needed and past-due reform, while also enslaving Alabama citizens to foot the bill of over 2.9 billion dollars over the next 30 years. So, what does it cost to cover up the corruption in Alabama? The answer is in the details of Gov. Ivey’s proposal to build new prisons. The fact that recent Governor’s in Alabama’s past have either been disgraced or convicted of corrupt practices serves as a reminder that the corruption hasn’t stopped.
If there are any allegations of corruption, racism and the desire the continue the enslavement of Black and poor white people for perpetuity that Governor Ivey’s office would like to disprove to the citizens of Alabama, we ask that you would open the books to every state agency and department, as well as all supervisors and ranking officials, and invite a Federal audit to investigate all transactions of funds and taxpayer money, fully transparent to the citizens of Alabama and media outlets since you have been Governor.
Furthermore you should release all Parole consideration records along with the criteria and guidelines used in denying the paroles. Along with an Executive Order promising that any and all corruption discovered in any capacity will be fully prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, including your own. This seems like a reasonable request to make of those sworn to uphold the law and abide by the Constitution, who so eagerly wish to enter into a 30 year $ 2.9 billion dollar debt to the citizens of Alabama.
It is the sincere Hope and Prayer of all who see through the scheme of building new prisons that the information in this publication be exposed to everyone. By accomplishing this, everyone needs to pressure lawmakers to prevent the Governor from taking this fascist, racist and unacceptable action. If lawmakers cannot prevent this action, then articles of impeachment should be proposed and pushed forward to remove a Governor for overstepping her Authority in attempting to indebt the citizens of Alabama.
ITS TIME TO CLEAN UP THE MESS IN MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA !!!!
Today, September 5, 2020, organizers with E.P.I.C. org. (Ensuring Parole for Incarcerated Citizens) held their 24th consecutive protest at an Ohio prison is support of Freedom and Justice. E.P.I.C. has protested at 24 of the 28 Ohio prisons, and they have no intention of stopping.
E.P.I.C went LIVE today on social media and FAM and the FAM QUEEN TEAM are promoting and supporting these amazing organizers in every way possible.
FAM and FAM QUEEN TEAM is asking all of our supporters, friends and allies in the Ohio area to reach out to E. P. I. C. and support their amazing effort.
There FB group information is below. We need boots on the ground in other states supporting as well. This is what dedicated activism looks like that changes things. E. P. I. C. is leading by example. Let ALL join in and do something EPIC.
PLEASE SHARE WIDELY.
Somehow, some way, people think this is all a coincidence.
1 Alabama: That no form of slavery shall exist in this state; and there shall not be any involuntary servitude, otherwise than for the punishment of crime, of which the party shall have been duly convicted. Alabama Constitution, Section 32
2 Arkansas: There shall be no slavery in this State, nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime. No standing army shall be kept in time of peace; the military shall, at all times, be in strict subordination to the civil power; and no soldier shall be quartered in any house, or on any premises, without the consent of the owner, in time of peace; nor in time of war, except in a manner prescribed by law. Arkansas Constitution, Article 2, Section 25.
3 California: Slavery is prohibited. Involuntary servitude is prohibited, except to punish crime. Article I, Section 6.
4 Colorado: There shall never be in this state either slavery or involuntary servitude. Colorado Constitution Article 2, Section 26 (Amended 2018)
5 Georgia: There shall be no involuntary servitude within the State of Georgia except as a punishment for crime after legal conviction thereof or for contempt of court. Article I, Section 1 Paragraph XXII.
6 Indiana: There shall be neither slavery, nor involuntary servitude, within the State, otherwise than for the punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted. Article 1, Section 37
7 Iowa: There shall be no slavery in this State; nor shall there be involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crime. Article I, Section 23
8 Kansas: There shall be no slavery in this state; and no involuntary servitude, except for the punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.
9 Kentucky: Slavery and involuntary servitude in this state are forbidden, except as a punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted. Article I, Section 25
10 Louisiana: No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws. No law shall discriminate against a person because of race or religious ideas, beliefs, or affiliations. No law shall arbitrarily, capriciously, or unreasonably discriminate against a person because of birth, age, sex, culture, physical condition, or political ideas or affiliations. Slavery and involuntary servitude are prohibited, except in the latter case as punishment for crime. Article I, Section 3.
11 Maryland: An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery” by a vote of 34 to 21 on March 1, 1870
12 Michigan: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crimes, shall ever be tolerated in this State. Article I, Section 9.
13 Minnesota: No member of this state shall be disfranchised or deprived of any of the rights or privileges secured to any citizen thereof, unless by the law of the land or the judgement of his peers. There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the state, otherwise than as punishment for a crime of which the party has been convicted. Article I, Section 2
14 Mississippi: There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in this State, otherwise than in the punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted. Article 3, Section 15
15 Nebraska: There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in this state, otherwise than for the punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted. Article I, Section 2 (there is a 2020 amendment intended to remove the exception)
16 Nevada: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crimes, shall ever be tolerated in this State. Article 1, Section 17.
17 North Carolina: Slavery is forever prohibited. Involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the parties have been adjudged guilty, is forever prohibited.
18 North Dakota: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crimes, shall ever be tolerated in this State. Article 1, Section 17
19 Ohio: There shall be no slavery in this state; nor involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crime. Article I, Section 6.
20 Oregon: There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the State, otherwise than for the punishment of crime, of which the party shall have been duly convicted. Article 1, Section 34
21 Tennessee: That slavery and involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, are forever prohibited in this state. Article 1, Section 33
The General Assembly shall make no law recognizing the right of property in man. Article 1, Section 34
22 Utah: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within this State. Article I, Section 21 (there is a 2020 amendment to remove the exception)
23 Vermont: That all men are born equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inherent, and unalienable rights, amongst which are the enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety; therefore no person born in this country, or brought from over sea, ought to be holden by law, to serve any person as a servant, slave or apprentice, after he arrives to the age of twenty-one years, unless he is bound by his own consent, after he arrives to such age, or bound by law for the payment of debts, damages, fines, costs, or the like. Chapter I, Article 1st
24 Wisconsin: There shall be neither slavery, nor involuntary servitude in this state, otherwise than for the punishment of crime, of which the party shall have been duly convicted.
Ok Folks! Get ready…another National Event in the works. But, this one will be a FIVE day event! 4 days virtual followed by an on-foot march and a mobile Slavery Exhibit that will be travelling, hopefully, near you!
Get ready for the
FREE THE 13TH NATIONAL RALLY
If interested in helping in your state please contact me
Exposing a system of slavery when slavery was thought to be abolished
Author: David Files Contributors: Toree Jones, Brian Chiarizio
UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION
Sec. 1. [Slavery prohibited.]
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Sec. 2. [Power to enforce amendment.]
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
The thirteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States was proposed to the legislatures of the several states by the thirty-eighth congress, on the 1st of February, 1865, and was declared in a proclamation of the secretary of state, dated the 18th of December, 1865, to have been ratified by the legislatures of twenty-seven of the thirty-six states, viz.: Illinois, Rhode Island, Michigan, Maryland, New York, West Virginia, Maine, Kansas, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania,
Virginia, Ohio, Missouri, Nevada, Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota,
Wisconsin, Vermont, Tennessee, Arkansas, Connecticut, New
Hampshire, South Carolina, Alabama, North Carolina, and Georgia.
What you are about to read will be shocking to some, lived through by many, and unbelievable to others. The informaton in this Newsletter is true and completely factual. It is with full intention to open the eyes of the public and expose the State of Alabama for its corruption, racist ideology, and prejudicial practices. The Alabama Crimnal Justice System was built upon racist ideology. For proof of this fact you should look no futher than the U.S. Constitution Amendment 13 and understand the mindset of that era especially in southern slave states following the Civil War.
In the not so distant past it was the State of Alabama and Governor George Wallace who sadly led the efforts to continue segregation and suppression of African American Civil Rights. In 1978 Charlie Graddick was elected as the Attorney General and proudly served under Governor Wallace. Unfortunately today in 2020 the name of the Governor may have changed but the same racist ideology hasn’t. It is well documented of acting Governor Kay Ivey’s shameful, unacceptable, and racist act of wearing blackface. Governor Ivey was reluctant to come forward and offer an apology for her actions. When she did she asked for forgiveness and to be given another chance denouncing her past. Yet Governor Ivey refuses to miss an opportunity to express her wishes to build 3 new mega prisons. Not only has the Governor’s office kept a racist ideology which is evident by the Governor’s seal still bearing the Confederate flag. It runs rampant throughout the Criminal Justice System. Governor Ivey named Charlie Graddick, former Attorney General under Wallace’s regime, as the Director of Alabama’s Board of Pardons and Parole in 2019. Im sure Graddick is proud to sign his name on documents that still bare images of racism such as the rebel flag which not coincidentally is still to this day proudly displayed on the seal of Alabama’s Board of Pardons and Parole.
In the ’80’s as Alabama’s acting Attoney General Graddick made statements such as “he should have went in there and shot every one of them” referring to Alabama inmates at St. Clair prison. This remark was to then prison Commissioner Freddie Smith who chose to negotiate with the inmates during an uprising concerning inhumane living conditions at the prison. Currently as Director of the Parole Board Charlie Graddick has stated “that no inmate in the Alabama prisons have been rehabilitated”. This quote proves and establishes a prejudicial opinion that cannot go unnoticed any longer. During Graddicks’s tenure as Attorney General in the ’80’s he enacted policies such as the “habitual offender’s act”, the “446 act” abolishing good time that was earned from good behavior by inmates, and established the victims rights organization. This organization known today as VOCAL is allowed to protest and speak against an inmate making parole with no ties whatsoever to the inmate.
At a parole hearing in Alabama the inmate is not allowed to attend. If the inmate has no family at the hearing or is unable to afford an attorney to speak on his behalf at the hearing he will have no voice to speak for his cause at his own parole hearing. Meanwhile VOCAL is granted the opportunity to speak against the inmate even if no victim of the inmate is present to protest. Furthermore Prosecutor’s and the Attorney General’s office are given free reign to basically re-try the case the inmate is serving time for. Often presenting the decision to grant parole would be to find the inmate not gulty of the crime itself. Keep in mind the inmate is not in attendance. The prejudicial practices of the Alabama Board of Pardons and Parole will be further dissected and exposed later in this Newsletter.
The United States Department of Justice ( DOJ ) has found the Alabama Prison System unconstitutional for its overcrowded population, horrible living conditions, and violence at an all-time high. Recently the DOJ also uncovered corruption within the ADOC’s I&I division, intelligence and investigations. This division of ADOC is responsible for investigating violence etc. within the prisons and staff. The DOJ uncovered I&I’s attempts to coverup instances of officers assaulting inmates. These instances haven’t just begun. This type of corrupt behavior has become the norm amongst ADOC. So far at least four arrests have been made as a result of this discovery and no doubt more should be coming soon. The DOJ has repeatedly given Governor Ivey opportunity to fix the prison crisis. However Ivey refuses to find a solution and instead insists on building 3 new mega prisons.
Governor Ivey in her state of the state address earlier this year mentioned the poosible takeover of the prison system by the Federal Government if Congress fails to pass a bill to build the 3 new mega prisons. Now acting Attorney General Steve Marshall has received recent media spotlight for defiantly stating that Alabama will not be bullied by the Department of Justice concerning its prisons and policies. By “being bullied” Marshall refers to the DOJ’s insistence that the ADOC correct the ongoing violations of its inmates constitutional rights against cruel and unusual punishment. Marshall states that Alabama will by no means enter into any agreement with federal officials to correct the ADOC’s conditions or actions. Marshall, the head law enforcement officer in the state, is sworn to enforce the law, which is what one may suppose he believes he is doing. What Marshall states, however, is that while “enforcing the law” he has no intentions of “abiding by the law” as set forth by the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Alabama has been through this overcrowded, unconstitutional prison crises before. The result was a Federal takeover in 1976. The agenda of Alabama is the same now as back then, expanding their operation by building more prisons. Truthfully the problem isn’t about building new prisons. The real problem in Alabama lies deep in her roots. Still on the surface you find in the leaders in Alabama a certain racist undertone. As you begin to dig below the surface into the state’s past the soil becomes rich in racism. It stinks and the smell is unbearableof the sins of Alabama’s past. Yet its in that past where the Alabama Criminal Justice System was born. Also babies were born and raised in a culture whose ancestor’s fought for the Confederacy. They were taught to believe a certain way and over time that mindset is passed on. This truth is evident through numerous documented racial injustices in Alabama’s past. Whether it be Sheriff’s who were members of the ku klux klan and/or their deputies. Whether it was lawyers, prosecutors, judges, Attorney General’s, and even Governors who participate in corrupt, racist, and prejudicial practices.
As a white man I’ve always known about racism in Alabama’s history. I would hate to hear about it or see depictions in a movie portraying events that unfortunately did take place in Alabama. I’ve served over 18 years in prison and i’ve heard it said a million times how racist the Alabama Criminal Justice System is. Always my initial thought would be if its so racist and I’m white then why am I still locked up. It took me going through this experience of such corruption in my case where evidence was created against me, evidence dismissed that would help me, and witnesses produced to lie on me at trial. Over a decade later those witnesses came forward admitting they lied and were paid by the victim’s family. They gave statements and provided sworn affidavits yet I was denied without even a hearing on the issue when I filed a petition to the court. I knew the system was corrupt. In February 2020, I was denied parole and set off for 5 years. I meet all criteria and guidelines to make parole. Not only was I denied parole for 5 more years, the Attorny General, William Dill, who prosecuted my case was allowed to say whatever he wished at my parole hearing. He retried my case stating lies and adding anything he could to make sure I was denied parole. When my family gave me the news of what happened at my hearing I was upset though not surprised. When they told me that my daughter, who was only 14 months old at the time of the incident, was there and she was weeping at what that man stood up there and said about me I was completely devastated. What has taken me my entire incarceration in prison to eventually establish at least a talking relationship with my daughter was destroyed in 30 minutes by what that Attorney General William Dill said. My daughter gave birth to my Grandson over 3 years ago that I was in the process of making arrangements to visit. Since my hearing my daughter not only will not speak to me but my family as well. She thinks we have lied to her about what happened that night. William Dill’s position as Attorney General makes my daughter believe him because she like so many others believe that an Attorney General would not just lie. William Dill though has a history of prosecutorial misconduct since he prosecuted me. Now evidence exist of his corrupt ways of manipulating evidence and failure to produce exculpatory evidence in at least two other cases he prosecuted. State v. Moore 969 So. 2d 169 (2006)… State v. Martin 2017 Ala. Crim. App. Lexis 73 (December 15, 2017)…
Since then I’ve wondered how a system as this can do what they do to countless people and get away with it. The truth is its been happening well over 100 years. This system was not designed for me to be entrapped in. However now that I am I’m no longer a color I became a number. The system way back in 1865 was designed to lock up black men and poor white men after slavery was prohibited who were unable to hire an attorney to weave through the tangles of the Rules of Court especially in Post-Conviction procedures. Are there people who deserve to be in prison today? Absolutely. There are also many who are either innocent, made a mistake as a young man, or are victims themselves of corrupt and racist lawyers, investigators, prosecutors, judges, and an Appellate system rigged to ensure your conviction. Even further than ensuring a conviction the Alabama Parole Board has established a system of prejudicial practices with absolutely no oversight and no accountability. Having had this experience I’ve often thought how many of my fellow inmates, black and white, have experienced these prejudices.
The reason this system was designed and still in operation today is best described in one word, SLAVERY. What better way to camoflauge racism and slavery than mass incarceration. You pass legislature to enact bills that guarantee lenghty sentences for repeat offenders. You establish a prison system full of corruption that initiates violence and covers their tracks. You make it harder for those who are given opportunity back into society to succeed. Until recently it was virtually impossible for a convicted felon to obtain gainful employment. Though today it has improved, the struggle to survive much less be successful upon release is real.
The State of Alabama does not want to relieve the overcrowded prison system. Their desire is to further expand their operation. It worked in the late ’70’s and if this system is not exposed it will work again. The ADOC guidelines state that inmates at minimum- community and community work facilities will not be exploited for their labor. It states that inmates will earn at least the Federal rate of minimum wage. Nowhere does it state that inmates at work centers who work in the community shall only earn $2.00 a day wages. Yet thousands of men are exploited across Alabama who are required to work various jobs for $2.00 a day or risk disciplinary action and have their custody revoked and transferred back to a higher security facility. The ADOC website states that the Red Eagle Work Center is designed for inmates to integrate back into society before their release. It is this statement of hope that men at this facility take to heart along with their families. This concept is also used by ADOC officials who demand that you go to work or be written a disciplinary for refusing to work and transfer you to a level IV prison where chances of making parole drop considerably. The ADOC establishes a mindset of integrating back into society and being released to our families. While exploiting our labor under false pretenses that our release is evident. Instead we are denied parole for ridiculous reasons that are prejudicial and opioniated at best. I am currently incarcerated at Red Eagle in Montgomery, Alabama. Not only was I denied parole and set off for 5 more years, but the majority here just at this facility are done the same way. We are denied parole to live in society with our families. Yet fit to go to work in society for $2.00 a day on behalf of the state. This is how a state of slavery exist. This operation is hidden from the public eye. With no transparency or oversight it is unknown the amount of money the state is allowed to make by exploiting inmate labor through work contracts with cities, counties, various businesses and organizations. By only paying the inmate $2.00 a day the state keeps the remaining amount. Multiply that amount by at least 1,500 inmates, possibly more, who are under this treatment and it becomes clear why the Alabama prison system is overcrowded and looking to expand. How much money is the state making this way? Where does the money go? ADOC’s overall budget for fiscal year 2020 is an obscene $624 million dollars. Why aren’t the public allowed to see their tax dollars at work? Can anyone
answer where is the money?
In the Code of Alabama Title 14, Chapter 8, Article 6 – wages; it outlines the states authority to withhold 40% of the inmate’s earnings at work release. Keep in mind that almost all violent offenders are barred from work release.
§ 14-8-6. Wages. The employer of an inmate involved in work release shall pay the inmate’s wages directly to the Department of Corrections. The department may adopt regulations concerning the disbursement of any earnings of the inmates involved in work release. The department is authorized to withhold from an inmate’s earnings the cost incident to the inmate’s confinement as the department shall deem appropriate and reasonable. In no event shall the withheld earnings exceed 40 percent of the earnings of the inmate. After all expenses have been deducted by the department, the remainder of the inmate’s earnings shall be credited to his or her account with the department. Upon his or her release all moneys being held by the department shall be paid over to the inmate. HISTORY:
Ala. Code § 14-8-6 is not unconstitutionally vague. Ala. Dep’t of Corr. v. Merritt, 74 So. 3d 1, 2010 Ala. Civ. App. LEXIS 291 (Ala. Civ. App. 2010), rev’d, 74 So. 3d 25, 2011 Ala. LEXIS 70 (Ala. 2011).
Work-release inmates’ action alleging that individual State agents improperly overcharged them for transportation costs or withheld more money than was authorized from their work-release earnings based upon misinterpretations of Ala. Code § 14-8-6 was not barred by the sovereign immunity clause of Ala. Const., art. I, § 14. However, because a judgment awarding refunds of the improperly collected money would have affected the financial status of the State treasury, the action for refunds could not have been maintained. Because the inmates could not have recovered damages in the action, the judgment was properly certified as final under Ala. R. Civ.
P. 54(b) and, therefore, was reviewable by the appellate court. Ala. Dep’t of Corr. v. Merritt, 2010 Ala. Civ. App. LEXIS 172 (Ala. Civ. App. June 18, 2010), op. withdrawn, sub. op., 74 So. 3d 1, 2010 Ala. Civ. App. LEXIS 291 (Ala. Civ. App. 2010).
Knowing the information you just read in title 14-8-6 pertaining to wages there was no mention of inmate labor only being paid $2.00 a day. The overwhelming majority of inmates subjected to this treatment is violent offenders who have served large portions of their sentences and maintained a clear record for a specified time. It is these inmates who desperately yearn for their 2nd chance in society. So much so they are willing to fall for the deception portrayed in the description of facilities such as Red Eagle which states: This facility is designed to integrate inmates back into society before release. Governor Ivey always attempts to alleviate the overcrowding issue by enacting policies such as “mandatory release”. This policy excludes violent offenders and is designed for very short time sentences for minor non-violent offenses.
This policy may seem reasonable at face value. However the recidivism rate among that group is extraordinarily high. Studies prove that the recidivism rate among violent offenders who have served large portions of their sentences is extremely low. Do all violent offenders fit this category? No. But there are many that do, especially at Red Eagle. In fact we are trusted enough to be released to work in society without law enforcement supervision everyday. Governor Ivey portrays to protect the community from violent offenders. What she fails to admit is that she uses a class of violent offenders to achieve her plan. It is us, who make up that class, who are continuously overlooked in being released.
As you read Title 14-5-10 you begin to understand why.
§ 14-5-10. Hiring out of labor.
The Board of Corrections is hereby authorized to hire or lease convicts to any department, agency, board, bureau or commission of the state on such terms, conditions and at such prices as may be mutually agreed upon. Any department, agency, board, bureau or commission of the state is hereby authorized to contract with the board for the lease or hire of convicts upon such terms, conditions and at such price as may be mutually agreed upon. Any department, agency, board, bureau or commission of the state contracting with the board for the hire or lease of convicts is hereby authorized to expend any available funds necessary for carrying out the provisions of such contract.
What you just read was the legalization of a state slave trade. This group of inmates are barred from work release placement where they receive 60% of their earnings at a rate of the federal minimum wage. Its this group who is leased out to work and only paid $2.00 a day. You won’t find that fact written in the Code of Alabama. There are alot of men who have been locked up for many years, decades, at this facility who are very appreciative of those $2.00 a day. They come up for parole and time after time they are denied. Its sad that this practice is allowed to continue without allowing us our chance back in society. The wages issue is relevant. However we chose to accept it as a display of our successful integration back into society. All we lack now is the opportunity. The contracts mentioned in this article are unknown by the inmates concerning the amount of money the state makes a day from our labor. It is obvious that $2.00 a day is far less than 60% of the total.
Being denied parole after being allowed to work in society everyday is nothing short of corrupt intent to exploit labor. Obviously they cannot claim our denial for public safety concerns. The only explanation for our denial of parole is our role in the operation. SLAVERY. Who else in human history is exposed to hard labor, paid hardly anything, trusted to leave and then return, given opportunity to escape, treated harshly, held against their will, who deserve to be free other than slaves. Include Alabama inmates to that list. Governor Ivey stands behind that podium bearing the Governors seal emblazoned by the rebel flag as she continues to lie and deceive the citizens of Alabama. She asked to be forgiven when she got caught in her racist acts. Yet she runs an operation of slavery in Alabama absolutely refusing to give others the 2nd chance that she herself desires.
While it is true that incarcerated individuals may not have a “created liberty interest” in being granted parole as set forth in constitutional rights, they do have the right to fair consideration of the facts pertaining to the parole request. Notably, on the denial sheet are reasons #5, #7 and #13, which allow for less than understandable criteria requests to be met.
Reason #5 states that, “severity of present offense is high“. This reason is ambiguously vague to the point of promoting inconsistency. No criteria is set forth to gauge the severity of the offenses, save for the Criminal Code of Alabama created by the legislature. If the Criminal Code of the state does not bar an offense from consideration of parole, then obviously the severity be not too great as to rise to the level of ineligibility, otherwise the legislative body would have deemed so and voted such as to exclude the charged offense from consideration eligibility. Therefore, it can only be inferred that this reason for denial is based solely on opinion and not factual.
Reason #7 states, “negative input from stakeholders (i.e. victim, victims family, law enforcement)”. While it is completely understandable and natural to garner input and consideration of the feelings of an involved party in an incident, it would also only seem reasonable to assume also that, to some extent, involvement may infer a natural bias and partiality. Upon conviction and an incarceration period for a crime, a certain level of restitution has been made for an offense. Ones’ inability to accept recompense for an offense, and to harbor resentment or to long for revenge, rather than to desire for justice, may be so great as to render an involved individuals’ sentiments excessive or extreme. Some involved parties may never accept justice in a case, even long after the entire completion of a justly imposed sentence. Counter point to that, positive input from family members, members of the community, or even from the victims themselves, seem not to carry the same weight of consideration in the eyes of the Board as does negative input.
Reason #13 states, “release will depreciate seriousness of offense or promote disrespect for the law“. Once again, one could only assume that a duely elected legislative body is competent and capable of determining and imposing criteria for defining and punishing criminal offenses. Once these criteria have been approved and implemented, it would only seem to promote disrespect for the law if those policies and criteria were ignored. If such policy has been discussed, approved and implemented concerning the punishment of an offense and the criteria which must be fulfilled to meet eligibility for consideration for parole, then once the criteria is met, how could it possibly depreciate the seriousness of the offense or promote disrepect for the law by abiding in accordance with said law? This reason too falls short of factuality, fairness or meaningful and thoughtful parole consideration.
The denial of parole for these 3 reasons is unjustly prejudicial. Though the inmate meets all required criteria these reasons of denial that are beyond the inmate’s control to correct are used to keep the inmate incarcerated and enslaved.
The sore subject of the real foundational principles that our Criminal Justice System was founded on has been discussed before. However ever effort to expose it has either lost momentum, been bribed or brushed aside to silence. In my opinion those efforts lost traction because they began their fight at the U.S. Constitution. Don’t get me wrong, the 13th Amendment needs to be attacked. According to the 13th Amendment, however, they give the Authority over to individual states. Just like the states were given authority to enslave Black people over 200 years ago. The best tactic to Abolish slavery altogether and force a nationwide Criminal Justice Reform is to expose the individual state who relies on the 13th Amendment. There could never be a better candidate than the Home of Dixie, Alabama. With the DOJ pressuring Alabama concerning its prison system crises there is alot of disturbing discoveries being uncovered. If the shovels were tossed aside and a backhoe brought in to really start digging there will no doubt be some leaders sent to prison and an operation fully exposed. Im sure once this took place and those leaders were subjected to their own policies a reform would take place.
The uncovering of Alabama and its practices that have evolved to a level of sophisticated corruption sparked by racism, now driven by greed, and licensed by the U.S. Constitution Amendment 13. If you are familiar with the Bible, there is a parable taught by Jesus of the “return of the unclean sprit”. Alabama’s unrepented sins of the past have long ago returned and the seven evil spirits with it have infiltrated our Municipalities, Judges, Appellate Courts, Attorney General’s office, Congress, Parole Board, and the Governor’s Mansion. Its no coincidence that the birth of this enterprise began in the era of post Civil War and evolved to a more covert, undercover enterprise in the era following the Civil Rights Movement. That same spirit of hatred and racism that controlled the leaders of Alabama in 1865 was on full display through Governor George Wallace as he was so famously quoted as saying “Segregation today, Segregation tomorrow, Segregation Forever”. Following the Civil Rights Movement and the integration of our schools and businesses as Blacks and Whites were legally mandated to share public restrooms and water fountains. What could a man who so proudly proclaimed
“Segregation Forever” do but further corrupt a Criminal Justice System to help segrgate society. It took Wallace a little time to gather like-minded and trusted officials in position to enact an evil scheme that would portray a system that is “tough on crime”. By dropping the “common law” standard which defines charges and criminal offenses. The Code of Alabama, formerly known as TItle 13 was repealed and replaced with what is now known as Title 13A.
TITLE 13 CRIMES AND OFFENSES [Repealed]
Annotations Editor’s Notes
Acts 1977, No. 77-607, p. 812 adopted the Alabama Criminal Code which was later amended by
Acts 1978, No. 78-770, p. 1110, and Acts 1979, No. 79-125, p. 230. All sections of Title 13 were repealed or transferred, and the Criminal Code has been designated as Title 13A.
Former statutory definition. Under former § 13-1-70, which generally followed the old
Pennsylvania formula, there were four types of first degree murder: (1) by poison, lying in wait (ambush), or any other willful, malicious, deliberate and premeditated killing (common law murder plus the element of premeditation); (2) in the perpetration or attempt to perpetrate arson, rape, robbery or burglary (modified version of common law felony-murder doctrine); (3) same as (1), but intent to kill some person other than deceased (common law rule plus premeditation); (4) by any act greatly dangerous to lives of others, evidencing a “depraved mind” regardless of human life (so-called “universal malice”). Every other common law murder was second degree murder (intentional killing without premeditation). (But death due to resisting arrest, or while committing some felony not specified as felony-murder under (2) uncertain.)
Abolition of degrees. Section 13A-6-2 preserves the basic type of murder—intentionally causing the death of another person—but eliminates the degree distinction based on deliberation and premeditation. Miller v. State, 145 Ala. 677, 40 So. 47 (1906); Warren v. State, 34 Ala. App.
447, 41 So.2d 201 (1949); Miller v. State, 38 Ala. App. 593, 90 So.2d 166 (1956). The premeditation-deliberation formula originated from an 18th century effort, probably initiated by the Pennsylvania Legislature to reduce the number of capital murders. Atkins v. State, 46 Ala. App. 401, 243 So.2d 385 (1971). Originally the provision was intended for calculated killings, e.g., ambush killings which require advance planning. Mitchell v. State, 60 Ala. 26 (1877) (Deliberate — formed with deliberation, in contra distinction to a sudden and rash act. Premeditated — contrived or designed previously.) But later judicial interpretations hold that substantial reflection is not required, and indeed, any existing mental state indicating a capacity to choose between refraining or proceeding with the murderous act is sufficient. See Perkins, Criminal Law 73-76 (1st ed. 1957). Often a finding of a conscious intent to kill is deemed sufficient for, or indistinguishably close to, premeditation and deliberation. “Deliberate” and “premeditated” means only this: If the slayer had any time to think before the act, however short such time may have been, even a single second, and did think, and he struck the blow as the result of an intention to kill produced by this even momentary operation of the mind, and death ensued, that would be a deliberate and premeditated killing within the meaning of the statute defining murder in the first degree. Daughdrill v. State, 113 Ala. 7, 21 So. 378 (1896). “Premeditation and deliberation” may exist and be entertained while defendant was grasping the knife with which the fatal stab was committed, White v. State, 236 Ala. 124, 181 So. 109 (1938), or at the instant in pressing the trigger to fire the fatal shot, Caldwell v. State, 203 Ala. 412, 84 So. 272 (1919).
The deliberation-premeditation formula, undoubtedly, has served as an “escape-hatch” for sympathetic juries in exercising mercy and also as a bargaining device in negotiating guilty pleas, the future utility of which seems doubtful since the general abolition of capital punishment. Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972).
Moreover, the case for a mitigated sentence should not depend on a distinction between impulse and deliberation. Some purely impulsive murders may present no extenuating circumstances: “As much cruelty, as much indifference to the life of others, a disposition at least as dangerous to society, probably even more dangerous, is shown by sudden as by premeditated murders.” Stephen, 3 History of the Criminal Law 94 (1883), as quoted, Model Penal Code, (Tent. Draft No. 9), Comments to § 201.6, p. 70. (Possible modern examples: Out of wanton barbarity, defendant douses victim with lighter fluid and ignites him. When girl repels advances, defendant instantly cuts her throat. Here there is no true deliberation and premeditation unless the term is continued to be used in an unnatural sense, like “aforethought” in “malice aforethought.”)
This action of changing the definitions of crimes seems to most as no big deal. As usual with Alabama policies you have to look below the surface. By changing the wording how a crime is defined it drastically lowers the burden of proof placed on the prosecution to portray a man guilty as charged to a jury. Take the crime of murder for example. As you read under Title 13A they no longer include vital elements such as “with malice, malicious intent, or premeditated etc.”. All of these elements that a prosecutor should be burdened with proving before ensuring conviction and sentencing a man to life in prison is no longer needed. When investigators and prosecutors were tasked with having to do their job that they are paid to do they couldn’t stand Justice prevailing instead of their conviction rate.
The evil agenda that was enacted produced their desired results. What came next was an overcrowded prison system that was taken over by the Federal Government. This resulted in Alabama receiving their wish of new prisons, which were built across the state. One of Wallace’s like-minded trusted officials became Attorney General Charlie Graddick who as outlined earlier not only fit in with Wallace’s agenda, but enacted his own policies with the “lock ’em up and throw away the key” mentality. The evil scheme of Title 13A began to evolve from a hate filled racist ideology to a money producing organization after the building of the new prisons. the “Prison Industrial Complex” mentality took over. By lowering the standard of proof applied to criminal prosecutions the doors of crooked, corrupt, over-zealous, conviction-rate minded prosecutors and their tactics opened wide. This is not an accusation that all are corrupt. There are still honest people with integrity throughout the Criminal Justice System. The message to those individuals is clear, that to remain silent after becoming knowledegable of corrupt, racist, prejudicial, or dishonest tactics used by trusted officials and fail to report them then you are just as gulty. It wasn’t some backwoods District Attorney from the 1950’s who manipulated the courts and spit in the face of Justice who prosecuted me. It was the top law enforcer of the State Attorney General William Dill. The record proves that I wasn’t the only one victimized by his antics. Prosecutors being allowed to operate in dishonesty without any regard to the lives impacted must stop. If a witness were perjured in court they would be subject to a felony. How can prosecutors be exposed for lying and deceiving a Court proceeding as a trusted official and not be held accountable.
Finally another sad reality is the Rules of Court placing time limitations and procedural requirement obstacles in front of Justice. Imagine being falsly accused, an Indictment is produced through an unchallengeable hearsay testimony, evidence that would help you at trial dismissed, witnesses produced to lie on you at trial, you are found guilty, sentenced to Life in prison, barred from Appealing your case because by the time you learn some aspects of law in prison and discover issues that would entitle you to relief you discover that time had elapsed and you are procedurely and time barred, after serving the minimum time required you are denied Parole unjustly, subjected to hard labor and only paid $2.00 a day while incarcerated in the most violent, corrupt prison system in America. Does it seem impossible to fathom? Alabama will make a believer out of you. Looking back I feel foolish for sincerely believing in a Justice System where Truth prevails.
In conclusion of this Newsletter exposing the State of Slavery Alabama. We ask for your support to help bring change to this corrupt and crooked system. The concerted efforts of inmates at Red Eagle helped to provide needed information and input to make the publishing of this Newsletter possible. The goal is to give the reader a better understanding and more detailed inclusive perspective of why Alabama’s prison system is unconstitutional. On behalf of all the inmates at Red Eagle as well as our families, friends, loved ones, and all who are a part of the struggle, we ask that you help in exposing these injustices of a slave state and stand with us to bring change to the Parole System, Criminal Justice reform, change the prejudicial policies of ADOC, and establish a system that operates in integrity by holding those in trusted positions accountable by felony for misconduct in court proceedings where the livelihood of the accused is at stake in Alabama. Go online and sign the Petition at http://chng.it/gRLFqYV5 and forward the link to everyone you know. GOD BLESS!
Final thought: Every time you hear Governor Ivey talk about building new prisons you should now understand she means “SEGREGATION FOREVER”…
INMATES AT RED EAGLE WHO THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT
It’s going to take an ARMY to defeat mass incarceration and prison slavery. Sign Up NOW !!!
Sneak peek at FAM ARMY camouflage.
Pink, purple, navy, yellow, white, L-Blue, maroon, grey.
Plus, we got Khaki and White Ballons for the Ballon Release, same color as ADOC uniforms.
The DOJ investigation found that Alabama corrections officers frequently use excessive, and at times, deadly force in violation of inmates’ constitutional rights in 12 out of 13 prisons reviewed. It concludes the problem gives rise to “systemic unconstitutional conditions” and that “such violations are pursuant to a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights secured by the Eighth Amendment.”
LIFTED W/O PERMISSION FROM A BADAZZ’S PAGE NAMED DANA WHITE, SOUNDS LIKE SOMEWHERE IN RED-NECK ALABAMA
“Here’s the truth about many nonprofits and the harm they cause in the name of social good. As long as white funding is tied to white saviorism, as long as boards function and recruit the way they have historically, as long as exploitative peer support models are sustained without fair pay and clear paths to leadership beyond program roles, these organizations are using Black and brown talent and passion like batteries. We will continue to be burned out, disposed of, and replaced unless all of the above is transformed on a wide scale.
I’m in a much better position and organization than where I started, but I have stories I could tell about my career thus far. And those stories are not uncommon.”
Sounds like he been around one of those”class action”, KKK Confederate, White Power joints. Y’all know which ones I’m talking about.
There was a pro police rally at Eisenhower Park. I won’t even touch the vile racist nonsense coming from them as they don’t need any more attention.
I went to the counter protest event hosted by BWBU (Black White Brown United) and can I just say how tired I am of people hijacking movements? I applaud BWBU’s plan and I love the idea of keeping our backs to the people shouting at us and allowing them to reveal their character without our assistance.
The protest was supposed to be silent, there was a strategy and a purpose. I wasn’t aware of this until about 5 minutes into marching but as soon as I was informed, I adjusted accordingly. Maybe there are other ways to do it but this is what was planned by those hosting the protest. I repeatedly reminded people that we were not supposed to engage directly with any of the people on the other side but to no avail. People (mostly [color redacted]) were shouting nonsensical insults and undermining the strategic direct action that was planned. This is my own intuition and not to be taken as a stated fact however I suspect that there were people marching with us that were not really *with us*.
I even witnessed a Super enfranchised person getting dangerously close and shouting at a Black cop for aligning with their oppressors. Now I agree that cop is most definitely a house n***o but it is NOT the place of a ⚪️ person to shout obscenities at them about their internalized colonial complexion supremacy.
All that’s needed is one wrong move for things to go left. By recklessly antagonizing the police, you are putting Black and Brown lives in danger so you might as well put that sign down because clearly you don’t understand what it means.
To people considering themselves an “Ally”:
If you can’t follow the direction of Black people leading the movement,stay home.
If you don’t know how to respect a space that isn’t yours, stay home.
If you think you are swooping in as some kind of privilege-wielding Super Hero to save the day with us as your magical negro sidekicks, please stay home.
If you care more about your own fragile ego than advancing the agenda of those directly impacted, stay the F home.
YOU ARE *NOT* AN ALLY.
Thank you for coming to my TED Talk ✊🏾
When I first saw the Tweet I was immediately offended.
I also immediately responded to it because I recognized it for what it is. Being exposed to racism and consciously fighting against it, opens ones eyes to the subtle slights and nuances when confronted with it.
Black people are used to this type of racial discriminations when we see them. We know these tigers by their stripes well. We also know that they hate FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT and how this hatred keeps them away from us and our Movement against prison slavery. Their hate sometimes forces them to reveal their hand at times and in circumstances when they can’t help themselves. Nevertheless, their hatred, mixed with their racism will always find outlets for expression. It rips their own mask off, even when we know it was already there.
July 15, 2020, was just the latest example. On that day, FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT was supporting another grassroots organizer, Rev. Sankey and Sis. Kim in the fight against oppression on Black people. Like FAM, Rev. Sankey doesn’t have the watered down message that others have. Like FAM, Rev. Sankey doesn’t tap dance to White Supremacy. Instead,we confront it and call it out when we see it. This means that our access to many media platforms to deliver our message is denied. We are locked out by institutional racism and the individuals who enforce it. In spite of these obstacles, we sojourn on. We simply have to grind harder to get our message out about our oppression as well as our oppressors.
Thamkfully, for that protest, Rev. Sankey and Sis. Kim were able to reach our Sister Ms. Gabrielle Evans. This amazing, strong and courageous Black Queen appeared on stage and delivered a message of pain, loss, courage and Black love for her son just four days after losing her 31 year-old him in an Alabama Death Camp. At the time, she was still planning her son’s funeral.
Ms. Evans shared the stage that day with Ms. Sandra Ray, whose son Stephen died in 2019 in another Alabama Death Camp. Ms. Ray, though, is white. She is also the media darling and go-to person for white media personalities like Beth Shelburne. While they would never cover our events, they keep close tabs on their own. That’s how this story unfolded. Beth Shelburne was trying to support a white woman but without supporting a Black organization.
It was this racist motive to support a white woman and to uplift the story of the white life that was lost, that equated into a difference in the way that these women were shown respect by Beth Shelburne. It took me back in history to the time when Black women were treated as less than animals by medical professionals like Dr. James Marian Sims, a story I included in my response to Beth’s racist Tweet. Dr. Sims is one of the physician who used to perform major surgical experiments on Black women without using anaesthesia because white supremacists ideology premises that Black women did not feel pain.
I thought about my own Black Mother. I contemplated how it made me feel just imagining if it were me instead of Laveris who was dead, and my Beautiful Queen and Black Mother was standing next to a white Mother who had also lost her son, and my Mom was treated with this level of disrespect and disregard. I felt rage at that moment because this same system that took Laveris’ life – and Steven’s — has also tried to take my life for fighting to reunite families just like Ms. Evans and young Black men just like her son back together. I know that racist like Beth Shelburne who have no respect for the pain and love of Black Mothers like Ms. Evans would have handled my Mom the exact same way.
I will defend the pain, the respect, the love and devotion of Black Mothers the World over. Black mothers feel the same sting of death as any other mother. It is not okay for Beth Shelburne or anyone to take liberties to try to highlight one life over another based on the color of skin. BLACK LIVES MATTER and BLACK MOTHERS MATTER too.
In the midst of a protest that was attended my a majority of Black people, Beth Shelburne took the liberty and exercised her white privilege to elevated the life and loss of white Mother over a Black Mother. These Mothers literally occupied the EXACT same space, yet Beth Shelburne chose to separate them by race. This is unacceptable.
An apology is DEMANDED !!! ACLU must DEMAND that their employee apologize for this racist disregard for Ms. Evans and Mr. Evans. Black Lives Matter is not a slogan to everyone.
FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT
p. s. For those who may want to try to defend these racist actions of Beth Shelburne, I ask you where were you when it was time to defend Ms. Gabrielle Evans and the life of her son?
God hates it when the innocent are afflicted with violence and bloodshed. He hates evil and political corruption. He hates courts that are false and leaders that are abusive of their power. We need to rest assured that he will provide deliverance for his faithful followers and administer justice to those who have abused or harmed other people – if not in this life, for sure in the life to come.
We the “Concerned citizens of Alabama” are seeking help for the incarcerated women and men who have been brutally raped, beaten and murdered by the inside officers.
We are asking that these women and men have proper food (that does not say on its labels “NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION”).
We are seeking help for people with a mental illness who are being “over- medicated” to the point they are unable to function.
For the women and men who are not getting the proper equipment to protect themselves from the COVID-19 virus that surrounds them in the prison facilities; and all the injustices that our people face each and everyday.
At Donaldson Correctional Facility, the individuals with mental illness are housed in the gym of the facility due to overcrowdedness. The gym has very few windows and there is no ventilation flowing through. When it rains, the floors are flooded and these mentally ill men get wet. They sleep on the floor of the gym on a mat that was assigned to them. No beds or bunks but matts on the floors.
Women at Julia Tutwiler Prison are being raped everyday by prison officers and getting impregnated and having their child/children “ripped” from them. Women are also being raped and tortured with “flashlights” by ADOC prison officers.
Men at Bullock Correctional Facility are medicated to the point that when taking the meds administered by ADOC officials, they sleep for two (2) and three (3) days. When awakened, they find CONDOMS in their rectum. This is torture and taking a man’s manhood from him.
Another important factor is COVID-19. There have been many many deaths due to this virus and pandemic that we are all affected by. This virus is in every correctional facility in the state of Alabama. When an incarcerated person complains of feeling sick to someone of authority at the facility, he or she is denied medical attention and has to wait days to see a nurse. When it’s too late, they either die or have tested positive and in many cases are then sent back to their assigned bed (spreading the virus to other inmates) or finally transported to a hospital and in many cases have died upon arrival. That is mere hate and unconcern of human life. There are not enough masks or sanitizer for every incarcerated person.
Staff/employees of the ADOC have been diagnosed with this deadly virus as well. On Wednesday, June 24, 2020 only four (4) ADOC officials reported for work at Easterling Correctional Facility in Clio, Al due to being sick, tested positive for Covid-19 and in fear of contracting this deadly virus. The entire facility is on lockdown with the exception of one (1) dorm and the individuals in that dorm are being forced to work in the kitchen and serve food to everyone in the facility — putting their lives at risk.
Another demand we, the “Concerned Citizens of Alabama” are demanding is the removal of Alabama Parole Board Director, Charlie Graddick. The Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles has become a dysfunctional institution under the directorship of Charles Graddick and is exhibiting signs of institutional racism. Emerging data compiled in a recent report by Southern Poverty Law Center shows that paroles are being granted/denied based on race and that Black people up for parole consideration are being disproportionately impacted.
In May 2020, 160 people were considered for parole. Approximately 51% were black and 47% were white. Of these, only 15 made parole. 11 of the 15 were white, while 4 were black. This is a clear example of Institutional Racism that is being openly practiced by government officials.
Removal of the Director of Paroles, Charlie Graddick, is indeed needed due to there being a conflict of interest on Graddick’s behalf. Graddick sentenced many men and women to prison when he served as a Judge in Mobile, Al, before he was appointed to Alabama Attorney General’s Office. Graddick has now been appointed by Alabama Governor Kay Ivey as Director of Paroles for the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Parole.
Graddick also uses the word “hanging” at press conferences when speaking in regards to people up for parole, and his motto is “LOCK THEM UP AND THROW AWAY THE KEY”. In his position as director of ABPP, the lives and future of many men and women sits rests in his hands.
Lastly, we, Concerned Citizens of Alabama, demand automatic restoration of voting rights upon release from incarceration without having to wait 3 years for a pardon to have their voting rights restored.
This is just the “tip of the iceberg” of some of our concerns for our incarcerated men and women of Alabama.
We are also requesting a meeting with Governor Kay Ivey and Director of Paroles, Charlie Graddick to express our concerns regarding our incarcerated men and women in the Alabama prison system.
Sponsored by “Concerned Citizens of Montgomery, Al, joined in by “Concerned Citizens of Alabama”
Thank you kindly for your time,
Rev. Albert Sankey, Chairman (334) 269-5876
“Concerned Citizens of Montgomery”
Kimberly Garner, Co-Chairman (205) 563-3786
“Concerned Citizens of Montgomery”
Donna Smith – Parole Advocate (256) 404-5394
“A Voice for the Voiceless & “A Hope for the Hopeless”
Yesterday, June 25, 2020, the #AbolishABPP held 36 Parole hearings. According to their news release, only 4 people were granted parole.
However, when you read their parole list from this same website, it shows GRANTED by the names of 5 different people:
1. Jamal DeCosta Short
2. Kandance Leanne Short
3. Anna Maria McNutt
4. Charles Wayne Phillips
5. Terry Wayne Short
So, why is it that the #AbolishABPP is issuing conflicting statements within the same document? Here’s what we think:
As everyone knows, over the first two days of our #J232425 Protest at #AbolishABPP headquarters, FAM and the FAM Queen Team noticed that not a single Black woman had been granted parole. At the time, 72 hearings (35 on Day 1 and 37 on Day 2) had been held. Twenty-five Paroles were GRANTED as of Day 2, 17 to white males, 4 to white females, and 4 to black males.
After publicizing this information across social media, the very next day, June 25, 2020, #AbolishABPP granted its first and only parole to a Black woman, Mr. Anna Maria McNutt. We also noticed that #AbolishABPP was stalking our Twitter account when we sent out an ALERT after Queen Nikki D was blocked from entering the building where the #AbolishABPP is located. Queen Nikki D was attempting to deliver #FAMs12DEMANDS to the #AbolishABPP. So they definitely knew that we were informing the public about the Institutional Racism that was going on at the #AbolishABPP.
It appears that many deserving people are being left hanging for parole by #GraddickMustGo, while there is credible evidence suggesting that racial quotas and Twitter posts are dictating parole considerations. Does any of this have anything to do with the fact that the #AbolishABPP is providing conflicting results in their statements? FAM thinks so.
Why is it that these people can’t count to 5? Is that the reason why parole numbers are so low?
We already know that the#AbolishABPP does not have any criteria or guidelines for granting Parole. Why is it that these people can’t count to 5? Is that the reason why parole numbers are so low?
So, who was #5? When were they added to the list? Are Paroles being granted based on Twitter posts to mask institutional racism? What’s really going on?
For the second consecutive day, FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT and FAM Queen Team lead a Protest at the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles. We will be back at the Bureau tomorrow to complete our 3-Day Protest #J232425, where we are demanding immediate change to the Bureau’s operations and leadership.
Day 2 saw a continuation of the pattern of Institutional Racism that has defined the Bureau under Charlie Graddick.
There were 37 parole hearings today. 21 White, 15 Black and 1 Hispanic. For the second consecutive day, no Black woman was on the docket. The results were as follow:
1) 10 Total Paroles were GRANTED
2) 9 White males were granted parole
3) 1 Black male was granted parole.
This is the second day that people who are White were granted at least 80% of all Paroles.
We are seeing once again that race is playing a significant role in determining who is incarcerated and who is released. FAM, FAM Queen Team and other organizations and supporters will be on site and presenting our #FAM12DEMANDS to the Bureau of Pardons and Paroles.
ALERT: Going on NOW !! Free Alabama Movement and FAM Queen Team Protest in Montgomery at the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles.
Finally, the ADOC has release an updated report of the number of people who have died from COVID 19 inside Alabama’s deadly prisons. According to the ADOC website, 32 men and women have succumb to this deadly virus. But who knew?
From reading news reports you would think that hardly anyone is dying from COVID 19 in ADOC. How is it that 32 people have died from COVID 19 but no one has sounded the alarm that something tragic is going on? Where are these deaths occurring at? Has the ADOC identified a source? Which prisons are having the most outbreaks? What control measures and prevention strategies are being implemented? Is the public aware of the location of any clusters? What is really going on? 32
As many have heard by now, FAM is conducting a Protest at the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles this week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. #J232425. The ADOC and the Parole Bureau have got to release people from these death camps. Let’s work collectively to free our people from these Death Camps before it’s too late.
FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT
OUR LIST OF DEMANDS
DEMAND NO. 1. Mandatory Parole Criteria:
We DEMAND that the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles, in conjunction with the ADOC, immediately develop an Educational, Rehabilitation and Re-Entry Curriculum for every person in ADOC who is parole-eligible. Upon completion of this curriculum and after serving the parole minimum date, this person should be automatically granted paroled.
DEMAND NO. 2 Parole End Date (PED)
The Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles shall develop a Parole End Date (PED). Under current law, when an individual is granted parole, they must serve the remainder of their sentence on parole.
If that person has a life sentence or 99 years, for example, that person would remain on parole for the rest of their Life or for the balance of their un-served sentence.
No person should have to spend the rest of their life on parole. The reason why parole is granted is that the individual has demonstrated a fitness to re-enter society as a productive law-abiding citizen.
Once that person has demonstrated the ability to remain in society by being productive and law-abiding citizen over an extended period of time, there needs to be an ending period whereby this person can move on with their life free from the shackles of parole.
Under Alabama Law, 5 years is the maximum period of probation allowed. Parolees also need a Parole End Date of 5 years.
We DEMAND that a 5-year maximum period of supervision be placed on parole and that any person who has already served at least 5 years on parole be released from parole supervision immediately.
DEMAND NO. 3. Removal of Charlie Graddick
Self-explanatory. The Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles has become a dysfunctional institution under the Directorship of Charles Graddick and is exhibiting signs of institutional racism.
Emerging data compiled in a recent report by Southern Poverty Law Center shows that paroles are being granted/denied based on race and that Black people up for parole consideration are being disproportionately impacted.
In May 2020, 160 people were considered for parole. Appx. 51 % were Black and 47% were white. Of these, only 15 made parole. 11 of the 15 were white, while 4 were Black.
This is Institutional Racism being openly practiced by government officials.
We DEMAND that Gov. Ivey remove Charles Graddick immediately!!!
DEMAND NO. 4. 20-Year Show Cause Hearing for Parole Denial
The ADOC receives over $600,000,000.00 tax dollars every year to run the Department of Corrections. According to ADOC, $22,000.00 is invested annually into each person in their custody.
This is more than the total cost of a four-year college degree from many colleges.
This level of funding is more than sufficient to produce results in areas of education, rehabilitation, re-entry preparedness and corrections or else ADOC is a corrupt Enterprise guilty of perpetuating fraud on taxpayers.
Therefore, We DEMAND that the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles implement Due Process hearings and Show Cause by Clear and Convincing evidence why any person who has already served 20 years or more in ADOC should not be granted parole immediately.
DEMAND NO. 5. In-person/Video parole hearing
The current parole review process does not allow the person being considered for parole to be present at the hearing either in person or by audio/video means.
The potential parolee is given a pre-screening interview with a parolee investigator, who then forwards this information on to the parole board.
The potential parolee is not told what the parole board will consider when making the decision concerning his parole. Nor is the potential parolee afforded access to the files that the parole board will review when considering parole.
Furthermore, once the hearing starts, the potential parolee is limited to only three people being able to speak in his behalf, for 5 minutes each, while the State is afforded an unlimited number of speakers against parole, unlimited time to speak, and the Victims Advocacy Group is allowed to speak as “paid protestors.”
The hearing is unfair and heavily weighed against people who are doing all that we can to return home to our families.
All prospective parolees must be allowed to speak before the board on this important decision concerning our lives and freedom (Please see A GUIDEBOOK TO PAROLE IN ALABAMA by the Southern Poverty Law Center for a comprehensive outline of the parole process in Alabama, in addition to other contact information and resources).
We DEMAND that any future parole hearing be conducted in person or Livestream video.
DEMAND NO. 6. Due Process and Transparency:
Currently, the parole board is not required to provide the reason why parole is denied. Also, the parole board is not required to provide any guidance for the potential parolee as to what needs to done in the future to guarantee parole.
Under current parole guidelines, the parole board can deny parole and set off the next parole hearing date for up to 5 years, all without stating why the parole was denied in the first place, or what the person needs to do over the next 5 years in order to be parole eligible when the next hearing date arrives.
The current system does not offer any due process or fundamental fairness to the person that the hearing is all about in the first place.
We DEMAND that new parole guidelines be implemented immediately, requiring that a parole denial be accompanied by a specific reason for the denial and a specific criteria guaranteeing parole at the next parole review date.
DEMAND NO. 7. Expanded representation on the Parole Board to include a Defense Attorney, Community Organization, and Civic/Religious Leader
The current Parole Bureau is made up almost exclusively of members with a background in law enforcement. This is not a fair representation of the communities who benefits from the Parole Bureau.
There are many stakeholders in the Parole Bureau who are not afforded representation on the Board. The Bureau needs to reflect the community as a whole.
Therefore, we DEMAND that the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles create a Community-based local Bureau of Pardons and Paroles immediately, to include defense attorneys, community organizations, and Civic/Religious Leaders. These individuals will review early termination of parole requests, pardon requests, parole revocation proceedings, and all other post-parole related matters.
DEMAND NO. 8. Waiver of all parole fees
People getting out of Alabama prisons are provided a $10.00 check and one set of clothes upon release. This is hardly adequate for a person to successfully re-enter society.
Parole fees are an added burden that forces the parolee to pay for their freedom at a time when they are just being released from prison, sometimes after decades of confinement, with no resources.
Additionally, taxpayers already fund the parole system, so collecting parole fees is only a windfall to parole agencies. This practice of collecting parole fees from the poorest people in our society must end.
We DEMAND that the collection of parole fees be banned immediately.
DEMAND NO. 9. Automatic restoration of voting rights
The history of disenfranchisement in Alabama is well documented. One need only read comments from John B. Knox at the Alabama Constitutional Convention of 1901 to see the racial intent behind disenfranchisement:
“And what is it that we want to do? Why, it is, within the limits imposed by the Federal Constitution, to establish white supremacy in this State.”
“But if we would have white supremacy, we must establish it by law—not by force or fraud.”
Source: Alabama’s 1901 Constitution: Instrument of Power – Litera Scripta | The University of Alabama “Speech of Hon. John B. Knox, President of the Late Constitutional Convention in Alabama, at Centreville, November 9, 1901.” | Alabama Bicentennial
The Bureau of Pardons should no longer be allowed to be used as an instrument of white supremacy and institutional racism. No person should lose their civil voting right for life due to a criminal conviction.
We DEMAND that the civil right to vote be restored to every resident of the State of Alabama and that the Alabama Board of Registars be ordered to cease and desist for ever denying the right to vote to any person of account of a criminal conviction that does not involve misuse of the right to vote or the voting process.
DEMAND NO. 10. Release All Technical Violators
All persons currently being held in custody for a technical violation should be released immediately. “Technical violations” (T.V.’s) may be for something as minor as a failure to report.
Oftentimes, this comes about due to lack of transportation. They may also be a failed urine tests, failure to pay fees or court costs, etc.
Whatever the cause, a T.V. does not involve committing a new crime. The technical aspect of the violation should be dealt with on the local level, never resulting in a return to an overcrowded, understaffed, underfunded, dangerous and deadly Alabama prison.
In addition, hundreds, if not thousands of people have had their parole revoked and then returned to prison for being charged with a new criminal offenses. Many of these individuals remain even though the new criminal charge was ultimately dismissed or they were found not guilty of the new charge. These people had their parole revoked simply for being charged with a new crime.
While it is sensible to place a parole hold on a parolee pending disposition of the new offense, if the new charge is dismissed then parole must be automatically reinstated.
We DEMAND that the ABPP immediately reinstate all parolees whose parole was revoked due to a new charge that has since been dismissed, or for a technical violation.
DEMAND NO. 11. Grant parole to every person serving time for a drug offense and all individuals with a victimless offense — not involving no more than de minimus physical injury — who have already served 10 years or more
The “war on drugs” has been a war on Black people. The damage has been done. It is now time to heal. Drug task forces and other drug-related law enforcement agencies must be de-funded and disbanded. These funds must be redirected towards retribution and investment into communities and families that have been decimated by the “war on Black, Brown” and other communities.
We DEMAND that any person who has already served 10 years or more for any drug offense or for a crime that did not cause physical injury be immediately granted parole.
DEMAND NO. 12. Defund and Abolish the Alabama Bureau of Parole Board:
The current parole system in Alabama is not working and should be unacceptable to anyone following it closely. Bureau members in Montgomery never meet and actually talk to prospective parolees. Instead, Bureau members are making decisions impacting the lives of 1000’s of people, while sitting amongst themselves in Montgomery.
Bureau members are not using any known objective criteria or proven methods to guide their decisions or to understand them. This lack of process is ripe for abuse.
At most, these decision-makers are reviewing files that were prepared at the Institutional level, where state employees have day-to-day interactions and evaluations with the prospective parolee.
These inside evaluators include social service employees, classification specialist, psychologist, and correctional officers. Oftentimes, these workers have the same or more education than the parole board members, plus, they have the added expertise that comes from hands-on experience from day-to-day interaction with incarcerated citizens. These are the people who are the most qualified to make parole suitability decisions.
Parole decisions need to move closer to the places where the individuals reside, and farther away from Montgomery where the process of evaluating and assessing re-entry readiness is none existent…
The current setup needs to be abolished.
We DEMAND that the Office of the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles and the Parole Board in Montgomery be defunded and abolished immediately.
These are the LIST OF DEMANDS for our Protest demonstrations on June 23, 24, and 25, @ 8:30 am, at the Headquarters of the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles.
Please call Governor Kay Ivey, Legislatures on the Prison Oversight Committee and your State and Local elected officials, and DEMAND that these changes be made Now.
FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT
Grassroots Leadership From The Inside
#CallTheABPP today and DEMAND change NOW!!!
For more information about this Protest or to list your organization as a Sponsor or Supporter, please contact us:
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Alabama prison guards allegedly beat, hog-tied, ignored inmate who later died: Secret report
Billy Smith and his mother, Teresa. Smith died in November 2017 after he was beaten in an Alabama prison. (Courtesy Teresa Smith | Injustice Watch)
By Adeshina Emmanuel | Injustice Watch
Originally published Feb. 18, 2020, this article is the first in an Injustice Watch series detailing problems in Alabama’s prisons. Injustice Watch is a nonprofit investigative journalism organization based in Chicago.
An Alabama prisoner died weeks after he was allegedly beaten by a fellow inmate, beaten again and hog-tied by prison guards, and then denied treatment by a nurse, according to a secret Alabama Department of Corrections report obtained by Injustice Watch.
The report contains shocking details about the death of Billy Smith, including apparent efforts to conceal the timeline of events and obscure the roles that correctional employees played in his fatal ordeal.
Smith, 35, was found dazed and injured on the floor of a bathroom at Elmore Correctional Facility in November 2017 after another man allegedly punched him in the head and knocked him out over a bungled drug deal.
Inmates took Smith, bloodied, to the shift command office, where witnesses said he complained about head pain and refused to wait outside. Officers then allegedly beat Smith, hog-tied him, and left him strapped to a gurney.
Smith lay untreated for at least an hour, witnesses said in the report, bleeding heavily from his nose and pleading for help.
Officers then took him to a nearby prison medical facility, where a nurse refused him treatment. When authorities returned with Smith, he was unconscious and trembling.
Prison officials then sent Smith back to the medical facility, and paramedics took him to a hospital. Smith, who suffered a fractured skull and brain bleeding, never woke up again. He died 26 days later from blunt force head trauma.
Smith’s mother, Teresa Smith, said the Alabama Department of Corrections never reached out with condolences or an explanation. Smith, who left behind three children, was serving time for a 2006 murder.
“For him to have to die like that — he got the death penalty in my view,” Teresa Smith said in an interview with Injustice Watch. “People say he deserved what he got, but nobody deserves to suffer like that. I know that inmates are prisoners, and maybe they are there for a reason, but they’re not animals; these are people’s sons, brothers, and daddies.”
Teresa Smith’s son, Billy Smith, died as a prisoner at Elmore Correctional Facility in December 2017. (Adeshina Emmanuel | Injustice Watch)
The details of how guards allegedly left Smith without prompt care for his wounds and then inflicted more injuries were included in the confidential investigative report that the Alabama Department of Corrections has kept secret from the public. In the report, inmates contradicted the explanations correctional staff gave investigators.
Some prison supervisors first denied seeing Smith hogtied, but later revised their statements or were otherwise called into question by video described in the report. An office log was found apparently altered, with notes about Smith missing and a dubious signature. One sergeant failed a polygraph exam, and an assistant warden edited her time card without explanation, according to the report.
Injustice Watch emailed the Alabama Department of Corrections with a long list of questions and sought interviews about what investigators found. Officials responded with a statement confirming that they had probed the circumstances around Smith’s death and forwarded findings to prosecutors, but declined to say much more, “out of respect for the legal process.”
Bryan Blount, who was serving time at Elmore for a 2002 murder, is scheduled to go on trial for manslaughter next month for allegedly causing Smith’s death. So, too, is former correctional officer Jeremy Singleton, who prosecutors say struck Smith multiple times on his head and failed to seek timely medical attention for the inmate.
Mickey McDermott, Singleton’s lawyer, said his client is innocent. Blount’s attorney didn’t return calls for comment. Neither did the state medical examiner who investigators said concluded that Blount was responsible for Smith’s death. Injustice Watch also reached out to the other officers accused of abusing Smith, the nurse who denied his care, and prison supervisors mentioned in the report. All either failed to respond to requests or refused to answer questions about what state investigators found.
The Shift Commander’s Office
Late in the afternoon of Nov. 13, 2017, prisoners found Smith with a bruised forehead and a bloody nose in a prison dormitory. Two officers were watching the dorm, according to the report, which houses nearly 200 inmates.
Prisoners told investigators that Blount punched Smith in the head about 5:30 p.m., knocking him to the concrete floor. The fight was over money — Blount accused Smith of shorting a package of synthetic marijuana. Prison officials alleged that Smith smuggled drugs for Blount from a nearby trade school where Smith attended classes. Smith, of Arab, Alabama, had struggled with addiction and crime since his teen years, his mother said.
Former Elmore correctional officer Joel McClease told Injustice Watch that an inmate brought him to the bathroom, where he found Smith lying on the floor by a toilet. Other prisoners told him Smith was intoxicated. McClease remembers helping Smith to a shower, saying he was conscious but unsteady on his feet. McClease said guards were typically advised to send injured or sick inmates to the shift office so that supervisors could then take them to a nearby prison health facility where nurses could evaluate their condition and fill out a “body chart.”
McClease said he radioed supervisors and requested that an “ambulance unit” of inmates come with a stretcher and transport Smith to the front shift command office.
According to the report, one of the inmates in the ambulance unit told investigators he remembered finding Smith lying on the floor, possibly intoxicated, wearing only boxers and a sweatshirt after his shower. He had a cut atop his head and a bloody nose.
Smith stood and was helped into the gurney. He was taken to a grassy area outside the shift commander’s office, where it was cool and raining. About an hour had passed since the fight.
Nurse Tara Parker was in the office passing out medicine to a long line of inmates. Singleton had just arrived to work an overtime shift as a transport agent, moving inmates from prison to prison. At least two supervisors, Sgt. Jonathan Richardson and shift commander Lt. Kenny Waver, were in the office as well.
Waver, according to the report, said he threatened Smith with a can of mace when Smith first arrived on the gurney because he refused to sit down. But both shift leaders denied hitting Smith or seeing anyone abuse him, and both failed to return calls and letters seeking comment.
Smith continued to complain that he was cold and that his head was hurting badly. According to what several inmates told investigators, Smith defied correctional officers who told him to stay out of the office for fear he would track blood inside.
As the situation escalated, Singleton allegedly smacked Smith hard in his face and head, punched him twice in the ribs, and swept his feet from under him, causing him to fall on his side, three prisoners who helped guards transport Smith said in the report. McClease told Injustice Watch that he left his post to smoke a cigarette, looked down toward the shift office, and saw Singleton hit Smith.
“Singleton was coming out of the door, and Billy was standing on the wall right next to the door, and Singleton turned around and punched him,” he said. “And everybody who was in the pill call line scattered.”
Several prisoners also accused other officers in the report of attacking Smith. Officer Ramus Johnson allegedly “grabbed inmate Smith by the shirt with his left hand and slapped him twice with his right hand and pushed him to the ground,” according to one account. Another prisoner claimed to have seen Officer Walter Green punch Smith in the ribs after putting on gloves with hard plastic knuckles. Neither of the officers responded to repeated requests for comment.
At some point, witnesses alleged, Singleton punched Smith in the face and then “hogtied” him with help from other officers. They cuffed his hands behind him, shackled his feet, and then connected the cuffs to the shackles. Many law enforcement agencies have banned this sort of dangerous restraint method. Some critics liken it to torture.
Smith was laid on his stomach on the gurney, strapped in, and left behind the office beyond the view of cameras, yelling for help for at least an hour or more, according to the report. After he began to vomit, Waver ordered Singleton and rookie officer Ell White to take Smith to the health care unit down the road at Staton Correctional Facility. White, whose personnel file says he is a motor transport operator for the Alabama National Guard, did not return requests for comment.
Inmate runners said the officers unstrapped Smith and that he walked to a prison transport van near the back gate. Video footage showed the van leaving the prison about 9 p.m. Smith entered Staton under his own power, Singleton and White said. But he didn’t leave that way, according to the report.
On Nov. 13, 2017, paramedics took Billy Smith to the emergency room at Jackson Hospital with a fractured skull and a bleeding brain. He died 26 days later. (Adeshina Emmanuel | Injustice Watch)
Parker, the nurse, told investigators that she left the shift office at Elmore Correctional Facility and returned to Staton to find the officers in a hallway with Smith. Parker said she told the officers that she needed a few minutes to get settled, but would return. The officers placed Smith in a holding cell to wait.
The officers told investigators they saw Smith sitting on a bench with his eyes closed, and that he eventually slid off and began kicking, hitting his head on the floor, and grabbing at Singleton’s legs. They said they didn’t hit Smith or let him fall.
White said Smith collapsed when officers tried to get him to stand up. Smith became unresponsive, so White rapped him lightly on the back of his neck to wake him. It was “nothing ruthless,” he said. White declined to take a polygraph about that account.
In a second interview, White said that he picked up a water cooler inside the cell and began pouring water over Smith to wake him up. He also said Singleton poured water and ice over Smith, but Singleton denied it. Nurses later discovered the sound of water in Smith’s lungs, according to the report.
When Parker got to the cell, she said there was blood smeared on the walls, and that she found Smith rolling around on the floor, thrashing and yelling. Parker remembered the officers saying that Smith was “wigging out” on drugs, investigators said. In Parker’s statement, she admitted that she made two big mistakes: The nurse did not complete a body chart on Smith, and she ultimately refused to treat him, she said, because he was acting erratically.
Parker initially told investigators she didn’t see water on the ground in Smith’s cell and didn’t see anybody pour water on him. More than two months later, Parker gave a second statement, telling investigators that she did see White pour water over Smith in the holding cell.
Once Parker refused to treat Smith, the officers said they loaded Smith into a wheelchair and rolled him to the van. Singleton said that the officers buckled Smith into the van, but that he unbuckled himself and tore at his clothing. But White, in his second interview, had a different story than Singleton: Smith was not moving when they got to the van, and the officers didn’t buckle him into his seat.
The van was captured on camera returning to Elmore just after 10 p.m., about an hour after Smith was taken to Staton. At least two inmate runners helped unload Smith. They saw him lying on his left side, unresponsive, stuck between two benches, with his shirt over his head, his pants around his ankles, and his boxers down to his thighs, according to the report. One of the runners said that he pulled a trash bag filled with ice from between Smith’s chest and one of the seats.
The inmates who transported Smith, as well as a supervisor who saw him after he returned to Elmore, offered the same account: Smith was wet, shaking uncontrollably, and making a strange snoring noise. “Oh my god,” Waver exclaimed when Smith was rolled back to the shift office, according to one inmate runner’s account. Supervisors then ordered him taken back to Staton.
Parker and one of the inmate runners said that Smith returned to Staton with several marks on his body that were not there before. Parker told investigators it appeared Smith had been dragged. After nurses evaluated his condition, they gave him medicine meant to treat drug overdoses, but it had no effect, according to the report. After that, authorities took Smith to Jackson Hospital, in Montgomery, but the report doesn’t say when.
There are discrepancies in different witness accounts. Some inmates, including retired officer Joel McClease, said that they saw Smith walking on his own closer to 10 p.m.
One of the prisoners who helped transport Smith initially declined to talk to investigators until he was transferred to another prison, 25 miles away. There, he gave investigators a statement largely supporting the descriptions of how Smith was mistreated. He later told investigators that Singleton unexpectedly visited him, saying, “I suppose I know why you are up here.”
The prisoner said Singleton confided that “they are trying to pin that inmate’s death on me,” and then told him to “stay strong.”
The prisoner told investigators that he took the statement to mean he should stay quiet about what happened to Smith, according to the report.
John Crow, who was the warden at Staton during Smith’s incident but has since moved on to another facility, didn’t return calls for comment. And nurse Parker, contacted in February by Injustice Watch, refused to answer questions about what happened at the shift office or the medical facility in 2017 when Smith suffered fatal injuries while she was on duty.
“Please respect the fact that I do not want to talk about this case,” she said. “I do not want to be bothered anymore about the situation.”
Department of Corrections
State investigators interrogated many of the correctional employees named in the Billy Smith case at Alabama Department of Corrections headquarters, in Montgomery, Alabama. (Adeshina Emmanuel | Injustice Watch)
The Alabama Department of Corrections’ Investigations and Intelligence Division began looking into Smith’s injuries on Nov. 14, 2017, the day after he arrived at the hospital.
Investigator William D. Favor and a partner, T.A. Wallace, found Smith unconscious, visibly battered, and recovering from an emergency brain surgery when they arrived at the hospital. A nurse told the investigators that Smith had a fractured skull on the left temporal area of his head and a swollen brain that had shifted to the right. Favor wrote in his report that Smith was brought to the hospital “due to a possible drug overdose.”
The investigators reviewed his body and observed: “several cuts to the top of his head, abrasions and bruising on both legs, hips, shoulders, however; he did not appear to have any defensive marks or bruising on his arms nor did he have any cuts to his knuckles and hand that would indicate hitting any object with his fist.”
Then–Elmore Correctional Facility warden Joseph Headley, who didn’t return Injustice Watch’s requests for comment, was among the first people Favor interviewed. Headley, now the warden at Staton Correctional Facility, never indicated that guards or nurses had mishandled Smith, according to investigators. Instead, he helped connect investigators with alleged witnesses to Smith and Blount’s dormitory fight.
When investigators later approached prison leadership with harder questions about what had happened to Smith under their watch and asked whether officers had abused Smith, leaders responded with apparent defensiveness, deception, and a lack of cooperation, the investigators’ report shows.
Assistant Warden Gwendolyn Babers, who refused to be interviewed for this story, denied ever seeing an inmate abused, according to the report. A prisoner, however, alleged that Babers had exited out the front side door in view of the shift office, and spoke to Waver briefly while Smith was hog-tied. Investigators couldn’t confirm that inmate’s account. And Babers’ time card showed that she clocked out about 40 minutes before Smith was brought to the shift office, according to the report. However, investigators noted that Babers’ time card was edited on the day Smith was hurt, and that “the reason for the editing is unknown.”
Waver denied that any officers under his command struck Smith and denied seeing Smith hog-tied on the gurney, though in a later interview he acknowledged seeing Smith handcuffed and shackled on the gurney outside the office for an hour or more.
Richardson denied seeing any officer strike Smith and said he could not confirm if he was hog-tied. The corrections sergeant said he had only been outside the office once during Smith’s ordeal — when other witnesses said he was being beaten — but video later showed he had been outside at least six times, according to investigators.
Investigators also found that the original copy of a shift office log was missing notes about Smith’s first trip to Staton that a clerk remembered entering, and it lacked a required signature from a supervisor. A copy of the unsigned, incomplete log was found on a clipboard in the women’s bathroom. The purported original was later found in a locked file cabinet bearing Richardson’s signature.
Richardson denied knowing whether anyone had changed the shift log and insisted that he had signed the log. He failed a polygraph exam when agents asked him if he had seen Smith hog-tied, if he had signed the shift log after it had been altered and if he knew who had made the changes, the report shows.
A state autopsy concluded Smith had died of blunt force trauma. After hearing investigators describe the details of Smith’s fight with Blount and witness statements about Smith’s contact with officers, a medical examiner with the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences attributed Smith’s fatal injuries to his fight with Blount.
In February 2019, one of the investigators referred a manslaughter charge against Blount to the Elmore County District Attorney’s Office.
Investigators declared the Smith probe “exceptionally cleared” and closed it in October 2018, due to the case against the inmate. But in July 2019, the grand jury returned indictments against both Blount and Singleton, who had been promoted to sergeant a year prior.
Prison officials put Singleton on mandatory leave after learning of the indictment, and he resigned about a week later, in August 2019, according to a statement from the Department of Corrections.
Both Singleton and Blount are scheduled to begin trial in December.
McDermott, Singleton’s lawyer, said “the state of Alabama can’t have it both ways” by charging both men with manslaughter even though a state autopsy concluded Blount was at fault.
He accused inmates of making false statements, and blasted corrections staff at Elmore for allegedly scapegoating Singleton while other employees got off the hook.
“Mr. Singleton has been sued civilly, he’s been charged criminally, yet if you read the report, the person who denied medical treatment to Mr. Smith was a nurse,” McDermott said. “The nurse has not been charged, she has not been sued, but clearly she refused medical treatment to this inmate, and I’m sorry, but if you look at it, it looks like her delay contributed to this man’s death.”
Smith’s mother, Teresa Smith, also rejects the notion that only Blount and Singleton are responsible. That is one reason why her family filed a civil lawsuit against Singleton, Warden Headley, who transferred to Staton last year, Waver, state prison chief Jeff Dunn, and former associate commissioner Grantt Culliver, who retired in 2018 amid a sexual misconduct scandal.
She hopes that the story of how her son died can help spur greater accountability at Elmore Correctional Facility and other Alabama prisons, and urge consequences higher up the organizational chart when corrections employees mistreat inmates.
“I want to save another mama, or another child, from having to feel pain like this,” she said. “I don’t really blame the prisoner, because I don’t think he killed my son. I know that the guards did it, and it wasn’t just one person involved.”
Click here to read the rest of Injustice Watch’s Alabama Prison Crisis series.
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JUNE 6, 2020
PUBLIC (PLEASE SHARE)
FROM: FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT, FAM’S QUEEN TEAM, NINE DIVINE
RE: PROTEST TO BE HELD AT ALABAMA BUREAU OF PARDONS AND PAROLES ON JUNE 23, 24 AND 25
ALABAMA DEPT OF CORRUPTION, STATEWIDE.
To all concerned citizens in the State of Alabama, all incarcerated individuals, to our elected and appointed State officials, and to all of our supporters around the World:
On June 23, 24 and 25, at 8:30 am, FAM and a Coalition of organizations, including FAM’s Queen Team, Nine Divine, family members, activists, attorneys, and supporters are calling for a 3-day Protest at the Headquarters for the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles in Montgomery, Al.
We are making this Call to Action to address the ongoing humanitarian crises taking place inside of the Alabama Department of Corrections, as well as to address decisions being made by the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles that are only exacerbating these issues.
Enough is enough !!!
Under the current leadership of Commissioner Jefferson Dunn, Alabama’s prisons are the most deadly, overcrowded and underfunded in the nation, and the unfathomable lose of life cannot continue on as usual. In May alone we mourned the death of six more men (and presumably women too) due to violence, suicide or other negligent acts while in ADOC custody.
At the same time, there were many more struggling to survive stabbings, self-mutilations due to mental health issues, and officer use of excessive force and brutality. As we release this statement, Donaldson prison was placed on lockdown due to another episode of violence that has been brewing for three days while ADOC staff stood by and allowed it to happen. We are sick of the savagery and barbarian that is the leadership of ADOC Commissioner Jefferson Dunn.
Enough is Enough !!!
Enough of the murders and drug overdoses. Enough COVID-19 deaths (Mr. Hershell Moon died from COVID 19 on June 3, 2020). Enough physical and sexual abuse. Enough of the suicides. Enough of the preventable medical deaths. And enough of death by incarceration. Enough !!! This level of suffering cannot continue to go on.
Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles.
Meanwhile the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles is denying parole at a staggering rate. In May 2020, 160 people were afforded parole hearings. Of those 160, only 15 people made parole according to a new SPLC report. Also according to SPLC, 11 of the 15 were white, while only 4 people granted parole were Black. These four Black people made parole despite the fact that 51% of those up for parole were Black. These numbers reveal yet another example of the systemic racial issues that plague the Bureau of Parole under Charles Graddick.
Many deserving individuals who have served decades in Alabama prisons or who will serve decades more are being denied parole even though they are deserving of freedom. Yesterday, June 4, 2020, according to Beth Shelburne, the Bureau denied 37 out of 38 paroles, including a man who has already served 33 years for 2nd and 3rd degree burglary charges. This is outrageous misconduct and a waste of tax dollars. Arbitrarily denying parole to over 75% of all eligible people reveals systemic issues and an addiction to incarceration and oppression. This Must End !
Moreover, the parole process is a complete sham. There are no objective criteria by which a person is reviewed for parole. No one knows what the Board members consider as evidence of rehabilitation and parole readiness. The person being considered for parole is not even allowed to be present to speak at the hearing or to speak via video. This does not make any sense. It is 2020, where judicial proceedings, visitation and other important business is conducted via video technology; yet the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles conducts their business as if we were still living in 1901..
These outdated practices, outdated ideas, and outdated leaders must go. The time for change is now, and Charlie Graddick Must Go!!!
Enough is Enough !! #WeCantBreatheInADOC, either.
In the past, the “Alabama solution” to these same problems has always been the same: Build more prisons !!! Well, building more prisons has not solved our problem; it has only solved theirs.
Today, we must send a message to Montgomery that we reject their solutions.
No more waiting for a Special Session. No more backwards Bills by Rep. Chris England and the other Prison Reform Study Group members. No more Prison Reform Study Groups. By the time these things come to pass, we will be dead in the Alabama Department of Death.
If you are a family member or support person for someone up for parole on June 23, 24 or 25, please contact us at the information below and provide us with details of accomplishments and any other information that you feel supports your loved one’s release.
FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT
FAM’S QUEEN TEAM
If you or your organization would like to be added as a co-sponsor or supporter, please email us at:
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WE CAN’T BREATHE: ON THE LYNCHING OF GEORGE FLOYD (2020)
by Kevin “Rashid” Johnson
On May 24, 2020, a crowd of onlookers witnessed the slow death by asphyxiation of a handcuffed Black man in Minneapolis. This was a public lynching.
Only, unlike in times past, this crowd didn’t cheer, but instead pleaded over and over for the cop who murdered George Floyd, to let him breathe; to take his knee off his neck and let him up. Several times onlookers tried to physically intervene, only to be themselves threatened with pig violence.
Also, unlike days of old, this murder was filmed for the world to also witness. And Minneapolis exploded! Thousands poured into the streets in protest.
Until just a few years ago, the world and Amerika at large denied that Black and Brown people in Amerika were routinely murdered by the cops.
The advent of cellphone technology and social media enabled everyday people to force a world in denial to bear witness to the reality of our lives under racist imperialist occupation.
Proportionally, more of us are murdered today by cops than were killed by lynch mobs during the Jim Crow era. And just like during Jim Crow, our killers are protected by a system that closes ranks to villainize the victims and portray our abusers as well-intended arbiters of justice. They’ve even crafted language to recast these killings as benign and something other than murder. Instead of calling it what it is, they’ve coined the euphemism, “police involved shootings.”
What they are is a continuation of lynching. The cops have always participated in this sort of violence. They’ve never been a source of service or protection in our communities.
Black and Brown people have always been corralled into marginalized spaces of American society where we’ve lived a suffocated existence. We were suffocated to death by everyday Amerikans at the instigation and participation of their elites, political leaders and often the cops, when we were hung from trees.
The lynching by suffocation of George Floyd, like that of Eric Garner in 2014, as they protested over and over “I can’t breathe!”, is but a continuation of the same in a racist capitalist society that must be fundamentally overturned. We’ll never be able to breathe free until it is!
Dare to Struggle Dare to Win!
All Power to the People!
Dear Rep. England:
In 2000, the Alabama Legislature passed an amendment to the Habitual Felony Offender Act, which granted people serving time pursuant to this act potential sentencing relief, including people who were sentenced for a violent crime. This law ultimately became known as the Kirby law.
Pursuant to Kirby, any person who had been sentenced after March 1, 2001, as a habitual offender could file a motion seeking a sentence reduction, including people who had been convicted of a violent offense. The burden was on the convicted person to demonstrate that, even though they had been convicted of a violent offense, they were not a violent person, per se. Meaning, they didn’t have a history of prior violent felony convictions and they had demonstrated during their incarceration that they were not or no longer a violent threat to the community. The individual was also allowed to show rehabilitation.
After granting less than 700 such motions, the so-called Kirby law was repealed in 2014 by Senator Cam Ward’s SB84.
One does not need to rehash the issues that have been caused by overcrowding or over-sentencing in Alabama. Nor is it necessary to discuss the prominent role that the Habitual Felony Offender Act plays in all of this.
Here is the issue that we have with all of this and what we are requesting that you respond to and explain:
On February 26, 2020, after the conclusion of the Prison Reform Study Group, you co-sponsored a Bill, HB329, which you proposed as a solution to Alabama’s prison issues. However, your Bill offers less of a legal remedy to suffering families who have already gone decades without a loved one than the Kirby law that was repealed. The reason why Kirby was repealed was because it was no longer being used to grant relief to anyone, violent or non-violent.
The Bill you sponsored states that it applies only to people who have been convicted on a “non-violent” felony.
This means that a person whose current felony conviction is for a violent offense is not even eligible to apply for relief under your Bill.
In comparison, pursuant to the since repealed Kirby law, even a person whose current conviction was for a violent offense could apply for the relief because, as the Alabama Supreme Court stated in Kirby, many people whose sentences were enhanced by the HFOA were enhanced by all non-violent prior felonies.
One of the many questions we have for you is, why are you sponsoring a law for non-violent applicants only, when a more stronger law that included relief for violent and non-violent offenders has already been enacted and repealed?
Surely, you have to know that most non-violent offenders have already received the benefit of the Kirby law? This makes your legislation seem very suspect.
In addition, it appears that you didn’t learn much from your participation on the Prison Reform Study Group. Anyone who followed that process closely knows that Alabama has an aging prison population that is filled with appx. 6000 people who were sentenced as a habitual offender. Your Bill will help less than 600 of them.
Also, your Bill is discretionary. This means that the decision of whether to resentence someone or not would be left in the hands of the judges and prosecutors, some of whom already had discretion in the first place and used it to hand out the maximum punishment.
In no way does your Bill propose to solve a problem. It does not speak with the decisive and mandatory language that is needed for this crisis. Instead, you seem to want to pass the matter of coming forward with a “solution” on to someone else, in their discretion. If that is so, then why should the People from your district continue to look to you for leadership and solutions to problems when it is clear from your actions that you are incapable of providing such results?
To say that the “war on drugs” and “tough on crime” legislation of the past has been a war on the Black community is an understatement. All you have to do is look at the prison population and the grave yard for that proof. Our Elders and Ancestors, and our allies fought for Representation is the government so that we could have people from our own communities in positions of power to stop the abuses that were being inflicted on us.
Knowing these things and viewing them in light of your legislation begs the question: how does your Bill push forward the process of remeding these problems?
Rep. England, we are asking that you withdraw your Bill and to resubmit a more robust Bill that will repeal the Habitual Felony Offender Act and make the current sentencing guidelines retroactive. In addition, we are asking that you craft legislation that will create a criteria for parole that will make parole mandatory for every person who completes their parole curriculum.
The Alabama Department of Corrections has a $620,000,000.00 million dollar budget. It is inconceivable that, if appx. $22,000.00 is spent each year per individual incarcerated, those $22,000 dollars can’t be invested in a way that rehabilitates over a specific period of time. Even our colleges and universities have a curriculum established that, upon completion, over a set course of time, renders one capable of graduation. Many of these degrees cost less than $22,000.00 dollars, total, let alone $22,000.00 per year.
Otherwise, we will ask the Black community to repeal you.
FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT
I Don’t Want My Child Dead But What Do I Do ( Please Read This Now )
Many prison inmates extort families from behind bars. One mother says she occasionally gets phone calls from inmates where her child is serving time. The phone calls are simple: Send money, or your child could die.
She says she sent $300 last time. She’s sent larger sums over the years – $400, $500. The money is sent through, Pay Pal, Western Union, or Walmart cards. She reports the calls, she says, to the Department of Corrections and to federal authorities. Her story of extortion is similar to those found during an extensive two-and-a-half-year federal investigation of all prisons, released this month by the U.S. Department of Justice. “The inability to prevent and address the extortion of prisoners and prisoners’ family members leads to a substantial risk of serious harm,” the report stated.
The federal findings provided seven examples, along with screenshots of texts with threats, painting a picture of criminals behind bars able to extend influence on innocent relatives beyond the walls.
They say, don’t pay it,” she said. “I said, ‘I don’t want my child dead over money.’ I’ve spent nearly everything I’ve got trying to keep them alive, any time he’s out in the prison population.”
‘It’s horrible’ In addition to the extortion threats, she regularly pays money for debts her son may incur behind bars. But the extortion calls are the worst. They’ve been standing over my child, fixing to kill them, sometimes when they call,” she said. “It’s horrible. It’s because he’s on drugs. But it’s happened in different prisons. I never know who it is.” She says the calls began more than 15 years ago, at different prisons, but with the same threats of violence and death. This mother documents her child’s time in prison, writing letters on notebook paper to wardens, prison officials, and others advocating for her child. Her letters, in a flowing cursive script, turn bold when she repeats a familiar phrase: “He is in fear for his life.” It is that devotion that drives her to continue to pay the extortion money. But she knows this could actually turn around against her and kill her child instead. Another prisoner with her child because of their failure to pay, the victim was beaten and threatened with rape. Over the last few months, the department of corrections has initiated several high-profile contraband sweeps through its prisons. Last week, more than 300 law enforcement officers staged a predawn raid at William C. Holman Correctional Facility, beginning about 4:30 a.m. at the maximum-security Atmore lockup, which houses 870 inmates. Officers seized 356 makeshift weapons, 91 grams of meth, 98 grams of marijuana, cocaine, more than 400 assorted pills, and 16 cellphones. This needs to happen in our entire penal system in America and needs to happen now. If you think your child is either doing this crime themselves, or having it done to them and their families, report it right away to the Department of Justice, Attorney Generals Office, your local Congress, and local Senator. The more reports being reported the quicker the problem will be resolved before more prisoners and families are killed. Yes, I said families being killed because of their child’s choices, it happens every day.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of the Warrior Moms out there dealing with Mass Inc. and Prison Slavery. Whether you have a child inside or if you are a Mom on the inside, please know that you are a Blessing and Loved by many. Neither of you are alone.
FAM loves our Moms because without them none of this would be possible. Our Moms come to visit, write letters, accept phone calls, call lawyers, bring the children for visits, know just what to say when we are down, fight the lawyers, send money, purchase incentive packages, etc.
They also edit stuff, attend press conferences and rallies. Lead protests, call legislatures, governors and Wardens. They are the best and they do their best to bring us home. Their Prayers and their kisses are irreplaceable. We loved our Moms.
Many people are tuned in to the most recent media coverage of events about the murder of an innocent and unarmed Black man in Georgia and another incident where a Black woman was body-slammed by an officer for not wearing a face covering in a public storefront. However, another attack by a peace officer against an unarmed Black man in Alabama, Mr. Andre McKinney, has not made its way into the news cycle. Why? Probably because Mr. McKinney is incarcerated, and these types of stories rarely ever make the news.
Nevertheless, there are certain facts about this incident aside from the fact that Mr. Kinney is a victim of unprovoked police brutality that are news worthy.
Many activist and others who are following the Alabama prison system know that late last year two men, Stephen Davis and Micheal Smith, were beaten to death by Alabama correctional Officers. No arrests have been made in either incident. Additionally, the officer involved in the Davis murder, Kendrick Gadson, has already returned to work and been promoted by Commissioner Dunn to the rank of Sergeant.
These were the second and third reported incidents of a person in custody of ADOC being beaten to death by correctional Officers. Rocrast Mack III was also beaten to death in 2010, and his attackers were convicted and sentenced to federal prison.
At the same time, the ADOC is currently being investigated by the United States Department of Justice for, among other things, violence levels in Alabama’s men prisons. Coincidentally, the ADOC stalled federal investigators for over one year, refusing to turn over internal documents and reports relating to use-of-force by correctional officers, which turns directly into this latest attack against Mr. McKinney.
Lt. Ronald Carter, the officer involved in the attack and beating of Mr. Kinney, is no stranger to such accusations.
In a class action lawsuit filed while Lt. Carter was a Sargeant at Donaldson Correctional Facility, Carter was accused of beating multiple individuals, all while in handcuffs. In addition, then-Sgt. Carter was once relieved of duty when other officers turned on him in a lawsuit after it was uncovered that Carter was running an illegal racketeering operation using cigarettes and coffee to extort incarcerated individuals, their families and to conduct other illegal activities.
Carter, however, is a second generation officer who was able to get rehired after resigning when his racketeering activities were uncovered. His mother, Mary Carter was a long-time ADOC correctional officer officer and served as a warden for many years during her tenure with ADOC. She is now retired.
By 2014, Carter had risen to the rank of Lieutenant, and his reputation for violence was well documented. At that time, he transferred to St. Clair prison from Donaldson prison, where he served under notorious warden Carter Davenport. As an enforcer for Davenport, Carter carried out a reign of terror that lasted for several years.
Three incidents bear mentioning here.
1. Jermaine Tillman.
Jermaine Tillman was beaten and asphyxiated by Lt. Carter while handcuffs. Mr. Tillman had to be resuscitated multiple times to survive. This incident resulted in a civil settlement of tens of thousands of dollars.
2. Ventura Harris.
One day Ventura Harris was called out of his assigned living area by two officers. When Mr. Harris stepped into the corridor, Lt. Carter was waiting. Lt. Carter had the two officers to place Mr. Harris against the wall and handcuff him to the rear. While Mr. Harris was handcuffed to the rear and defenseless, one of the officers took a set of handcuffs and delivered a blow to the back of Mr. Harris’s head. The blow was so violent that it busted his scalp all the way to the skull.
Harris also settled a civil rights lawsuits for tens of thousands of dollars.
3. Xavian Austin (April 17, 2014 PRESS STATEMENT https://freealabamamovement.wordpress.com/2015/05/01/press-release/)
Mr. Xavian Austin was apprehended for allegedly possessing a cellphone. The officers who apprehended Mr. Austin placed him in handcuffs to the rear and proceed to escort him out of the dorm. Once outside, Mr. Austin was roughed up and his head was ran into a concrete wall.
From there, Mr. Austin was taken to the shift officer, where Lt. Carter was waiting. Mr. Austin was summarily beaten by Lt. Carter and then taken to the infirmary. After being screened by medical staff, Mr. Austin was taken to a remote location where he was beaten again by Lt. Carter and his crew.
BUT . . .
Later this same morning after the Austin attacks, Lt. Carter himself would be stabbed multiple times, have his jaw broken, and suffer multiple other injuries. This incident set off a wave of violence in the ADOC that has not dissipated to this day.
Lt. Carter was absent from the ADOC for over two years, before finally resurfacing at Childerburg Work Camp. Apparently, Commissioner Jefferson Dunn has positions for violent officers like Lt. Ronald Carter.
Lt. Carter seems to have learned a few things after watching how the Stephen Davis murder played out. Recall that the officers who beat Mr. Davis to death claim that Mr. Davis attacked them with two knives in hand. Mr. Davis was beaten beyond recognition, forcing his mother to hold a closed casket funeral.
In the disciplinary report filed in the McKinney assault, Lt. Carter claims that Mr. McKinney took a 1×4 and struck himself in the head while “handcuff[ed] to the front.”
The Alabama Prison System under the leadership of Commissioner Jefferson Dunn is a bottomless pit of moral decay and hell-on-earth that knows no sin or evil too great. It is time to STOP making demands for change to Commissioner Dunn and start making the DEMAND that #DunnMustGo!!
Please follow us for details of actions being planned to demand Justice for Mr. McKinney.
On April 9, 2020, FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT released a Press Statement calling for the release of all children being held in Alabama’s Juvenile Detention Facilities.
F.A.M. issued this demand in wake of the COVID 19 pandemic and in light of the fact that there was no public discourse concerning the fate of these children or details about their safety.
In response to our efforts, the executive director of the Alabama Department of Youth Services, Steven P. Lafreniere, issued a public letter four days later on April 13, 2020, detailing a few details of ADYS’s COVID 19 plan of action.
Noticably missing from this public letter by Mr. Lafreniere is any plan on the part of ADYS to release any of these children from custody. In addition, this letter fails to identify how ADYS plans to deal with children who are especially vulnerable to COVID 19 due to pre-existing mental and/or physical condition.
In response to one of the many questions that we posed in our Press Statement (please review these questions in our Press Statement), Mr. Lafreniere states the number of phone calls allowed to each child will increase, but he falls to state how many calls are currently allowed, or what that amount will be increased to? Furthermore, Mr. Lafreniere states that “all staff wear a mask and practice social distancing from youth to the degree practical”, but he Mr. Lefreniere doesn’t mention what efforts are currently in place to provide our children with PPEs or whether their environment will allow them to practice government mandated social distancing. The letter from Mr. Lefreniere does not allay any of our concerns about our children in custody and does nothing to assure us of their safety.
Also, since FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT released our Press Statement, other organizations have joined this important conversation. “The Youth Advocacy” Programs, Inc. has issued a letter to Governor Ivey, and FAMs Queen Team has initiated a Call campaign to demand that these children be released.
At this time of uncertainty, we can only expect this situation to get worse and more dangerous for children in juvenile detention facilities, which is why the only remedy is their release. The State of Florida recently reported 4 cases of children testing positive for COVID 19. The plan outlined by Director Lafreniere mentions that “screening” is being done on personnel daily, but fails to state what type of screening is being done, or whether any staff member has been tested or quarantined. As we have learned, COVID 19 is asymptomatic in some carriers, so testing – not screening- is critical.
F. A. M. also wants to remind everyone that these children are not criminals and they do not have criminal convictions. When Director Lafreniere says that regular cleaning and sanitizing will be done, we have to wonder who will be responsible for this vital labor because uncompensated child labor is illegal. In the immigration detention facilities, multiple class action lawsuits are pending because the people in those facilities, none of whom had felony convictions, were performing labor without compensation. Juvenile facilities are no different. Children are required to work in the kitchen, lawn care, trash details and other functions without being paid. This definitely will not continue to be allowed on our watch.
The focus amid this crisis has to remain on the preservation of the lives of our children, not preservation of children in detention facilities for deliquent acts. The public letter from Mr. Lafreniere does not indicate that the lives of our children detained in ADYS custody are being prioritized over continued detention. As such, FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT will intensify our demand for release as we continue to seek answers and transparency during this crisis. This response from ADYS needs to be independently verified and, since these children are no longer allowed visitation with their families, volunteers and attorneys needs to be allowed in to speak privately with these children without fear of retaliation. We will update this post and we look forward to hearing from you about your efforts in this matter.
FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT
Please contact Director Steven P. Lafreniere @ 334-215-3800 to convey your concerns.
Alesia Allen, Executive Assistant to Director, 334-215-3836 or email email@example.com.
POSTED BY A INMATE :
Public Service announcement for K.Ivey and her heartless unprofessional and careless administration, an inmate has died today at St. Clair correctional facility because of your lack of effort to protect those that are incarcerated and unable to protect themselves from this virus. One more thing, I have a declaimer for the mask and other ppe that the public is being misinformed about, their not in any prisons! Your taxpayers and voters think they are in, nor is anything being provided to inmates for their protection, and the federal law of social distancing is a joke in the unconstitutionally overcrowded facilities you preside over as the head of this state. Some of your voters have family incarcerated too, I pray that their vote next election will not be in your favor! It’s truly sad that the leadership and how it came into power by exposing former governor Bentley and his darkness, ironically resides in that same cess pool of racism, historical mass incarceration, and the habitual behaviors of traditions that were only designed with one race of people in mind( Former governor G. Wallace made a declaration that I’m sure you remember very well, segregation now, tomorrow, and forever”). Now someone will comment outta ignorance will say “oh he’s playing the ” race card” lol well friend when it’s the only card you’re been giving and it’s been the determining factor for over four hundred yrs of oppression, hatred, hardship, inequality, and systematic mass murders and incarceration even to this day, what other choice do you have being a woman or man of color? This doesn’t apply to all whites, just those who support and demonstrate White Supremacy through laws and the justice system here in the Alabama.
Unmasking the Lies and Deceptions about the distribution of PPEs by the Alabama Department of Corrections
FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT, Alabama Prison System, Ala. Over the past several weeks, the Alabama Dept. of Corrections has been gradually changing the prison uniforms that it issues out to the incarcerated citizens in their custody from the familiar white shirts and pants to the new khaki uniforms.
The old piles of worn and soiled uniforms were hauled off to never-never land, presumably never to be heard from again. Or so we thought. Recently, though, these old white uniforms seem to have made an ignoble return.
Anyone watching the news lately would know that family members, advocacy groups and others have been putting tremendous public pressure on Commissioner Jefferson Dunn and Governor Kay Ivey to protect the lives and safety of the incarcerated citizenry by proving PPEs to those in custody. Commissioner Dunn has admitted publicly that the ADOC is ill-prepared to deal with the COVID 19 pandemic in the overcrowded prisons system. Along with this pressure was the request that the ADOC allow faith-based groups and others to donate PPEs to the ADOC for the appx. 24,000 people in state custody.
In response to this pressure, the ADOC began to be more transparent about conditions inside the prisons and, among other things, the request for donations to be allowed was approved by Commissioner Dunn.
It is now being report by media that PPE packages, including the donated material are being distributed to the prison population. Pictures of masks, gloves and hand sanitizers are said to be issued out across the ADOC. These reports are FALSE !!
It is true that the ADOC has provided masks to the prison population, but these masks are the only material distributed thus far, but not every prison has received them. There are no reports of gloves or hand sanitizer being distributed at any Alabama prison that F.A.M. is in contact with.
Instead, the people on the inside are wondering, where is the news media getting this FALSE information from and why are they reporting it without confirmation from those on the inside?
Additionally, there hasn’t been any accounting for or distribution of the donated PPE supplies. Instead, the only product issued by the ADOC thus far has the masks that were made at Tutwiler and Holman Correctional Facilities.
Speaking of these masks, any incarcerated person who wants to receive one must first sign a release of liability form absolving the ADOC of any liability. This liability contract comes with the following warning:
“WARNING: Use this mask at your own risk. The ability of this mask to protect the user and the effects of its use on health are unknown. The mask is not guaranteed to be effective against the spread of any illness or virus including COVID 19.”
A thing or two about these masks
Clearly, these masks are made from the same material that were previously used to make the white uniforms that the ADOC collected up and hauled off from the prisons.
We cannot tell if the masks are merely recycled material from the old uniforms or if they were made from excess material left over in stock. What is clear is that the ADOC has now entered into the business of creating medical products but with the caveat that recipients waive all liability if the product doesn’t protect the user. One of the problems with this arraignment is that the user, in this case incarcerated people who are at the mercy and under the control of the ADOC, don’t have any other option in the matter – either sign the waiver releasing ADOC of all liability or you are refused a mask. Second, the ADOC is responsible for the safety of each human life that it incarcerates. In fact, if the deadly virus enters into the prison system, it will definitely come from an ADOC employee because they are the ones trafficking in and out of the prison system and, so far, they are the only ones who have tested positive for the virus.
The ADOC’s responsibility to protect the citizens who are in custody is part of the mission statement of the ADOC and is a duty owed to all 24,000 of us that cannot be waived.
“The mission of the Alabama Department of Corrections is to confine, manage and provide rehabilitative programs for convicted felons in a safe, secure and humane environment, utilizing professionals who are committed to public safety and to the positive re-entry of offenders into society.”
Furthermore, the masks clearly don’t provide protection against transmission of COVID 19 because the material used to make the masks won’t keep the virus inside the mask, nor will it prevent the virus from entering through the mask. . . These masks provide a false sense of security to the user and affords the ADOC opportunity to make a public claim that they are fulfilling their duty to public safety, while in reality the ADOC is doing less than the minimum required during this public health emergency.
We are DEMANDING the protection that we are owed relative to the threat being posed by COVID 19. And we are DEMANDING this protection without precondition and without being required to sign a release of the duty that is owed to us by Commissioner Dunn and the ADOC. We receive mattress, clothing, towels, and other necessities because the ADOC is required to provide these same for anyone in their custody. We are not required to sign a release of liability to receive any of these articles. The reason why we are being required to sign a waiver before we can receive a protective mask in clear: the product is ill-equipped to deal with the COVID 19 emergency at hand, and Commissioner Dunn is more concerned with public perception that he is with protecting human life.
The conditions that were already in existence inside Alabama prisons are testament to the fact that Commissioner Dunn does not care about the 24,000-plus in his custody. Tax-payers already expend in excess of $600 million dollars to support the prison system with little to show in return. Thus, not only is Commissioner Dunn unable to provide adequate protection and safety for the prison population, including during this COVID 19 pandemic, but Commissioner Dunn also seems to be untrustworthy with facts concerning the supplies that citizens and the Faith community have donated. The Faith-based communities have entered into Alabama prisons and distributed foods, hygiene and other items for many years, and those of us on the inside are well aware of how misuse of public funds are common place in ADOC.
Finally, although Commissioner Dunn accepted the request for donations that was initiated by Free Alabama Movement (F.A.M.), F.A.M. did not then and does not now support Commissioner Dunn’s protocol to have the supplies donated to ADOC for them disperse. Instead, in our press statement FAM called for the Faith-based community and non-profit sector to be declared “essential personnel” during this crisis and that they be allowed back into the prisons to distribute the supplies themselves, as this appears to be the only way to ensure accuracy and a realistic account of how these donated PPEs are being distributed. We continue to have the same concerns respecting the donated PPEs that caused us to request that the Faith-based community and non-profits be allowed to disperse these supplies that we initially had.
FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT
Please call Commissioner Jefferson Dunn and ask him to provide a detailed account of the donated material, and ask him why is ADOC reporting that a package of PPE material that includes hand sanitizer and gloves are being distributed to protect those inside ADOC when no such packages are being distributed? Also, please request that Commissioner Dunn provide a detailed and accurate account of which prisons have issued masks and when does the ADOC plan to have a mask issued to everyone in ADOC custody?
APRIL 9, 2020
IMMEDIATE PUBLIC RELEASE
FROM: FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT
TO: GOVERNOR KAY IVEY AND CONCERNED ALABAMA CITIZENS, JUVENILE ADVOCATES AND STATE LEADERS
RE: CHILDREN IN JUVENILE DETENTION FACILITIES DURING THE COVID 19 PANDEMIC: WHERE IS THEIR ADVOCACY AND WHY ISN’T ANYONE DEMANDING THEIR RELEASE??
With each passing day, the clamor about a potential human rights nightmare taking place inside America’s overcrowded prisons and jails grows louder. We are seeing more and more videos emerge from inside these facilities by courageous (and sometimes sick) men and women showing the world that the structure and conditions inside of the human warehouses are tinderboxes for COVID 19. As a result of these images and stories and advocacy, thousands of men and women across the United States have been released, with the promise of more releases to come. Just yesterday, Alabama’s Parole Bureau announced plans to re-start parole review amid mounting pressure from public discontent.Despite these positive, though belated development, the loudest noise emerging from this crisis is the silence that is emanating from the lack of dialogue about the thousands of vulnerable children who are detained in Alabama’s Youth Detention Facilities. Where is their advocacy and why is no one demanding their release ? It’s time to start asking ourselves a few questions:
- How many children are currently in the custody of Alabama’s juvenile detention facilities?
- What are the conditions that these children are being detained in as it relates to COVID 19?
- Are any children at any facility being subjected to a heightened risk of exposure to COVID 19 as a result of their housing/living conditions?
- What type of safety precautions are in place to protect these children from COVID 19?
- Has Alabama released any children from juvenile detention facilities due to COVID 19? If not, why?
- Are these children being provided masks, gloves, soaps, hand sanitizers, and other PPEs?
- In this State of Emergency is the media allowed into these facilities to assess the conditions that these children are being house in and to verify any account given by juvenile authorities?
- With COVID 19 now having a disproportionate impact on African Americans, what are the demographics and racial make-up of Alabama’s juvenile populations overall and at each facility?
- Who is responsible for devising and implementing emergency planning as it relates to children in juvenile detention facilities?
These questions obviously lead into the most important question of them all: Has anyone (staff/judicial official/case worker) who has come into contact with these children tested positive for COVID 19 ?, or has any child tested positive for COVID 19? Indeed, has any testing at all been done? Are temperatures being checked? What protocols are being followed to protect these children?As I said, there is a deafening silence coming from this segment of the COVID 19 prison/jail commentary. When we talk about the most vulnerable people in society to COVID 19, who is more vulnerable than a child? These children lack the mental acumen to fully grasp and comprehend this once-in-a-lifetime type of pandemic. Then, we have to take into account that some of these children suffer from mental health and emotional issues, psychological trauma from being in these facilities that weaken their immune systems, physical disabilities, etc. Are they being allowed phone calls every day to contact their families? Are they in school or has their school been suspended? We have all of these children locked up in these juvenile detention facilities that look and operate just like jails and prisons, yet we aren’t receiving any information on their well-being and we don’t know what the plan is for their safety.We have to keep in mind that these children are not criminals. They have not been convicted of any crime. No, instead, many of them are simply juvenile delinquents and have sentences that range from maybe a few days to less than six months. This is because their delinquent act may have been running away from home. Acting out in school. Shoplifting or stealing a bicycle or car. Etc. You know, the very things that juvenile are apt to do. Some, of course, may have committed more serious offenses, but the issue is, should these delinquent acts now carry a potential COVID 19 death sentence because they so happen to be in a juvenile detention facility when this deadly virus emerged? The answer to that question is, emphatically, no !!! So, the final question is, what should we be doing to #FREEOURCHILDREN?Many of us in FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT have travelled through these juvenile detention facilities in the past on our way to these adult prisons. That is why it is easy for us to notice the silence across the spectrum of conversation when it comes to children in detention. These children, most likely, are living in the same squalor and moral decay that we now find ourselves living in in these adult prisons. In our opinion, which is supported by studies on the school-to-prison pipeline, the juvenile justice system have served as a feeder system for the adult prisons. In fact, many of these facilities don’t prepare these children for a successful re-entry into society; instead, they prepared us for successful entry into the adult prison system, all the way down to the (illegal) free labor. These juvenile facilities are an important part of the overall carcearal eco-system, as the adult prison system depends on these juvenile facilities to keep turning out assets for future capitalization. Thus, we should not only be fighting to save the lives of these children from COVID 19, but in doing so we will also be saving them from a dysfunctional juvenile system that will only serve to prepare them to spend time in an adult prison – namely, the new facilities that Governor Kay Ivey is planning to build.SINCERELY,FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT
APRIL 5, 2020
FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
RE: Deadly conditions inside of Alabama prisons and the need for decisive actions by Governor Kay Ivey and the Alabama Legislature in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic
TO: GOVERNOR KAY IVEY, THE ALABAMA LEGISLATURE AND OTHER STATE LEADERSHIP
Dear Governor Kay Ivey, the Alabama Legislature and ADOC Commissioner Jefferson Dunn:
We are releasing this statement from inside the Alabama prison system on behalf of ourselves, and on behalf of our families and those who are impacted by the Alabama prison system, including the employees and their families. All facilities within the Alabama prison system are facing a new crisis involving Covid-19. Because of the limited information we were provided, we’ve only recently become aware of the two ADOC employees that tested positive for this deadly virus. Meanwhile those of us on the inside, inclusive of less than 20 individuals total, only recently began being tested.
We, our families, the employees, and their families, are fearful for our lives and well-being in the midst of this crisis. We are looking to our state leaders to take actions that reflect (show) value for our lives equally to that of any other human life.
For the past several years, much attention has been paid to the Alabama prison system, but very little has been done to remedy the problems that the prison system is faced with. Now, with COVID-19 looming as a threat projected to kill approx. 250,000, experts, legal professionals, and others, are forecasting catastrophic results for America’s overcrowded prisons.
These pressing issues dictate that it is time for politics to take a backseat and for sound-humanitarian action to be placed in the forefront concerning the lives of those of us who are incarcerated in the Alabama Department of Corrections (as well as those whose lives that are directly or indirectly connected to the prison system).
It is well established that Alabama’s state prisons are severely overcrowded, underfunded, and understaffed relative to the overcrowded population and are already dealing with substantial issues. With much of the disaster still ahead of us, we have yet to receive any protective supplies to help combat this deadly virus, and it is well-known that there are few ventilators available in the prison system.
Based on the response that we have seen so far within the ADOC, it is a legitimate question to ask: Do the leaders of this state care about our lives inside of these prisons?? Are we nothing more than commodities being used to fund the canteen and incentive packages, and for the use of our free labor?
On January 26, 2020, Alabama prison Commissioner Jefferson Dunn stated during an interview with the Wall Street Journal the following:
“Our infrastructure was not designed to rehabilitate. It was designed to warehouse.”
Consistent with that statement, one federal judge after another has described Alabama prisons as deplorable and in violation of the basic human rights and moral decency of those incarcerated with the ADOC facilities. U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson, who is currently presiding over class-action litigation Duke et al., v. Dunn, et al., Civil Action No. 4:14-CV-1952-VEH, (Equal Justice Initiative) concerning Alabama prisons, recently approved a private settlement where over $600,000.00 in attorney fees was paid to attorneys from Equal Justice Initiative finding that systemic overcrowding levels were creating problems that rendered St. Clair prison (and many others) uncontrollable, and that the ADOC must reduce the population of the prison in order to meet the federal constitutional standard.
Already though, this order and private settlement are being reviewed for non-compliance by ADOC. In addition, on April 4, 2019, the US Department of Justice stated that after investigating the ADOC for nearly two years, the conditions of Alabama prisons violate the Eight Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.
Furthermore, there are multiple class-action lawsuits pending in federal court concerning these and other conditions, including inadequate mental health care and inadequate medical care; plus an additional 70-plus lawsuits pending against ADOC officers for using excessive force, sexual assault by corrections staff, inhumane conditions of confinement, and for retaliation by ADOC against those individuals who have exposed these conditions inside the prisons. These issues point to clear signs that Alabama’s $600,000,000.00 prison system is out of control and a failed state institution.
Just this past Monday, March 30, 2020, yet another person was killed due to violence inside an Alabama prison. This death is compounded by the fact that in 2019, the Alabama prison system recorded more deaths due to violence than in any year prior. In addition to violent deaths, Alabama’s prison system leads the nation, or ranks near the top, in suicide deaths. Reporter Beth Shelburne recently described the culture inside of ADOC as criminogenic, meaning that it engenders criminal behavior. This is substantiated by the fact that over 70 officers have been fired in the past two years for trafficking drugs into the prisons. Several other officers have been convicted for violating the rights of incarcerated citizens, and last year two individuals (Stephen Davis and Michael Smith) were beaten to death by correctional officers. Both incidents remain under federal investigation.
Despite this grim reality, solutions to these problems have not been forthcoming, and countless people continue to be negatively impacted by this failed institution. Based on current empirical data from how the government has responded to previous conditions in ADOC, we are posing the question: how many of us will be left to die in this COVID-19 pandemic?
In the event of an outbreak, what, exactly is the ADOC’s plan to respond? Why has this plan not been communicated to us? When will testing begin in earnest? Where will we be quarantined? While test results are pending, where will these patients be isolated ? How many ventilators are available? How many nurses are available?
HISTORY REPEATING ITSELF
In 1971, Alabama’s prisons were facing the exact same issues that, like today, lead to class action lawsuits in federal court. As you all know, those federal lawsuits lead to a federal takeover of the Alabama prison system that lasted until 1985, when federal oversight ended. (Newman v. Alabama and Pugh v. Locke, 349 F. Supp. 278 (M.D. Ala. 1972); James v. Wallace, 406 F. Supp. 318 (M.D. Ala. 1974).
The “solutions” offered back in 1971, are the cause of the problems today. Alabama approved a plan to build new prisons – St. Clair CF, now the deadliest prison in the entire United States, being one of them – and for passage of the draconian and oppressive Habitual Felony Offender Act. This law is acutely responsible for the unconstitutional overcrowding that drove the prison system off the cliff today, and lead to excessively long sentences that have produced an aging population of men and women who have served 20, 30, 40 or even 50- plus years consecutively. These men and women are now elderly, in poor health from decades of incarceration, and the most vulnerable to the COVID 19 virus.
Building new prisons back then did not solve those problems, and building new prisons today will not solve these problems. Instead, the prison system has a problem with culture, leadership and with coming to grips with issues of race in the criminal justice system that have yet to be resolved. These cultural and structural issues transferred from the old prisons to the new ones, and that is exactly why the exact same problems exist today. There is a current opioid crisis, a methamphetamine crisis, a synthetic drug crisis, as well as biological diseases like TB and Hepatitis running wild in ADOC. As all of you know, these facts have been confirmed by the April 4, 2019, U. S. Department of Justice Report on Alabama prisons. COVID 19, with its potential to explode on our overcrowded prison population, threatens to bring an unimaginable and unfathomable death toll if we don’t act.
A VIABLE SOLUTION IN THE ALABAMA PRISON LITIGATION REFORM ACT
One option available to us it litigation pursuant to the Alabama Prison Litigation Reform Act, Title 14-15-10, Code of Alabama 1975, which authorizes a judge to issue a release order to address prison conditions where “(1) Crowding is the primary cause of the violation of a right” and “A court has previously entered an order for less intrusive relief that has failed to remedy. ” Failure to act by State leaders will only ensure public shame in the near future for the deliberate, malicious sentence of death imposed upon all the unfortunate who eventually succumb to Covid-19 while incarcerated in facilities that were deemed unconstitutional and uninhabitable long before there ever was a Covid-19 pandemic. (It should be noted here that only around 200 of the 24,000+ people the ADOC houses are under court ordered sentences of death).
A recent poll conducted by the ACLU indicates that 63% percent of taxpayers support releasing people from jails/prisons and 72% support clemency for elderly incarcerated people in the face of the COVID 19 pandemic. Governor Ivey and Alabama Legislatures, a failure to act now to save as many lives as possible, after so many citizens have already expressed approval of release, will extract an additional financial cost on taxpayers in federal court for wrongful and preventable deaths, and will come at a huge political cost during the upcoming election cycle. We will not stand by and be silent and forgiving for such a callous disregard for our lives. The ADOC lacks sufficient ventilators and lacks the necessary space to quarantine off the virus, which convinces us that the plan in place is a plan for COVID 19 to slaughter. It is well-known what will be needed to stave off this virus, and we know that those types of resources don’t exist in these prisons.
As people on the ground who are experiencing this crisis in real time, we offer the foregoing plan in effort to save our own lives and the lives of those who, as a result of their contact with us and ADOC, are affected by the pending COVID 19 crisis in the ADOC.
DETAILED ACTIONS NECESSARY TO SAVE LIVES IN ALABAMA PRISONS:
As an act of compassion and in order to prevent humanitarian catastrophe, Governor Kay Ivey and the Alabama Legislature should take the following actions immediately:
1. Order medical leave for all employees working within the ADOC who are elderly, having a medical condition that makes them vulnerable to COVID-19, and/or who may be immuno-compromised;
2. Grant compassionate release of all chronic-care, cancer treatment, dialysis, and patients suffering from respiratory issues, who are elderly, disabled, and/or immuno-compromised;
3. End parole revocations that are not based on the commission of new crimes, and release all current technical violators and those incarcerated because of drug addiction, or because of an inability to pay fines or child support obligations.
4. Immediately abolish the Habitual Felony Offender Act, and
5. Immediately release all juvenile in Alabama’s juvenile detention facilities, and anyone serving a sentence after being convicted as a youthful offender, as such sentences only carry a maximum of three years.
6. Release every person fitting the following criteria:
ii. Is under the age of 21 and serving a sentence of 20 years or less
iii. Has served 20 consecutive year or more in prison for a non-capital offense, not involving a child and not a violent sexual predator
iv. Has served 25 years or more for a capital offense
v. Is over the age of 55, has already served 10 years or more, and is especially vulnerable to COVID 19
vi. All individuals already deemed parole-eligible in 2020 and can provide a sufficient home plan, job plan and re-entry plans;
vii. Is currently under deferral after being denied parole over the past 5 years, but was otherwise eligible for parole pending completion of further programming;
viii. Any person currently serving a split-sentence, where the split sentence is for five years or less.
ix. Any person who qualifies for mandatory parole pursuant to Title 15-22-26.2, Code of Alabama 1975, but who hasn’t been released yet.
x. Any person who has already served over 50% of their current sentence.
The failure to act will further expose Alabama taxpayers to civil lawsuits due to the deliberate indifference to human life that would be displayed by a failure to act immediately on the part of Governor Kay Ivey and the Alabama Legislature.
In addition, Governor Kay Ivey should Order Commissioner Jefferson Dunn to allow all Faith-based Prison Ministries, Civic Organizations, and Volunteers who are already approved to enter into an Alabama prison back into the prison system to assist us by donating, or leading donor drives to receive gloves, masks, hand sanitizer, soap and other protective material recommended by the Alabama Dept. of Public Health and the CDC, in effort to protect and preserve human life as much as possible. Currently, these organizations and people are deemed non-essential, thus their access is being denied. However, anyone following the news in Alabama knows that the Faith communities like Church of the Highlands are, in fact, taking leading roles in combating COVID 19, and are, indeed, essential personnel. To date, those of us incarcerated inside of Alabama prisons and juvenile detention facilities do not have access to such protection, while the corrections and medical staff– who are the ones who will bring the virus into the prisons — have immediate access to these materials.
We implore you, Governor Ivey and the Alabama Legislature, to act swiftly and immediately to all necessary action to reduce our State’s prison population down to no less than design capacity (Alabama’s prisons are currently packed beyond 160% of their design capacity, as a whole, while some prisons exceed 200% or even 300% of design capacity), and to enact legislation abolishing the Habitual Felony Offender Act, which, as this COVID 19 crisis proves, has outlived its purpose and now poses a real and substantial threat to the lives and welfare of thousands of citizens of the State of Alabama.
To continue to employ or incarcerate the above people while the deadly virus spreads through the system would effectively be sentencing too many to death. Moreover, a release of the said people would instantly reduce the ADOC population, thereby meeting the constitutional standard; in effect allowing our humanity to supersede all politics. With the Institute for Health and Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington predicting that Alabama will have the highest COVID 19 death rate in the U.S., the outcome for those of us left behind in these steel barriers, fences and cages is a foregone conclusion if we don’t act Now !
FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT
FAM Queen Team Standing In Solidarity
A non-violent and peaceful Civil and Human Rights organization founded inside of the Alabama prison system in 2013.
FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT
P.O. BOX 186
New Market, Ala 35761
(We can be reached inside of the death camps also)
FAM Queen Team
P.O. BOX 404
Decatur, AL 35602
(We can be reached standing in solidarity with our family inside the death camps also)
FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT, the FAM’s Queen Team, and other activists and inside organizers are in the process of developing a comprehensive strategy and press statement to present to Governor Kay Ivey, the Alabama Parole Board, the Juvenile Division of the Courts, incarcerated citizens in Alabama, and family members, friends, and loved ones, in our efforts to combat the spreading and potentially deadly consequences of the COVID-19 virus in the Alabama prison system.
In the meantime, we are providing our immediate recommendations, as time is of essence.
Among other demands, F. A. M. will call upon Governor Kay Ivey to release all incarcerated persons serving split sentences. Under Alabama law, the maximum time required to be served on a split sentence is 5 years. All fairness dictates that no person serving such a sentence should be subjected to a potential death sentence courtesy of COVID-19 and the State of Alabama’s inhumane living conditions inside the prisons.
Additionally, F.A.M. will call for the release of all incarcerated persons who fit the eligibility requirements for mandatory parole release pursuant to Title 15-22-26.2, Code of Alabama 1975. Currently this law, which was enacted in 2016, is suffering the same fate as the “Kirby” law: there are no clear guidelines for enforcement and no formal process or forms in place to request release by eligible persons. For the most part, Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) employees at the institutional level lack any knowledge of the mandatory parole release laws and procedures. Thus, many potentially qualified individuals who should be at home right now have been bypassed for release, and currently languish somewhere within the Alabama State prison system under a potential death sentence courtesy of COVID-19 and the State of Alabama.
F.A.M. is further calling for the release of society’s most precious asset – our youth – along with the mentally ill from juvenile detention facilities and adult prisons around the State. Our youth, including those suffering from mental illnesses who are the most vulnerable, are left out of reports, surveys, etc….. related to the pandemic, but F.A.M. will never forget about these precious beings who are for the most part not even capable of understanding the gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic.
F.A.M. will also be calling for the discontinuation of the sale of any and all tobacco products within all ADOC facilities. These products affect the respiratory system and lungs of users and those exposed to second hand smoke, thus exacerbating the potential for further complications in relation to COVID-19. Known carcinogens and products known to negatively affect the respiratory tract should not be sold in overcrowded jails and prisons where COVID-19 is sure to attack the body and its organs. It is critical that everyone be in their best possible health condition in order for them to combat this deadly virus and fight for our lives.
Finally, F.A.M. will also be calling upon religious, civic and community volunteers to assist with maintaining a healthier and safe environment for the incarcerated by donating gloves, masks and hand sanitizes, cleaning supplies and any other necessary supplies recommended by the CDC to the prisons throughout the State. Many of these type organizations and citizens already perform prison ministry work inside Alabama prisons and jails. But, in light of COVID-19, prison authorities have restricted access to all prison facilities to only ADOC employees and essential personnel.
What these times show is that prison ministry is extremely essential in the Alabama, and needed now more than ever before. We need bold and innovative leadership from the body of Christ, as well as the Islamic, Jewish, Catholic, Odinist, and other communities, because the Alabama Department of Corrections simply does not have the capacity or ability to take the necessary steps required to stop COVID-19 from “spreading like wildfire” within the overcrowded prisons.
Join F.A.M. and FAM Queen Team on the Frontline as we battle to save lives in Alabama prisons and jails.
FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT
FAM’s Queen Team
Dear Governors, Directors and Commissioners overseeing the DOC:
As the Covid-19 continues to spread, it is of utmost importance to focus on the jails and prison systems just as much as we’re focusing on the public communities. I have researched as well as spoken to an Infectious Disease nurse. I’ve compiled a list of suggestions that will help to keep our incarcerated people as well as the communities safer. The goal is to PREVENT the virus from entering facilities. Due to small spaces, it’s practically impossible for the incarcerated to practice social distancing. So, we as a whole need to brainstorm other solutions for added protection.
I’m happy to say that Virginia has been very receptive to these ideas, including but not limited to: Seeking addition medical personnel through a temp agency so that there will be extra health care workers present at facilities, ordering extra and FREE soap for all inmates, serving fruits, some facilities are requiring workers to wear gloves facilities and some facilities are requiring timely cleaning/sanitizing in pods, chow halls and bathrooms several times a day. That’s a great start. It is our great hopes that other states will follow suit by implementing some of the following suggestions.
- ANYONE who enters a jail or prison (including staff and vendors) be required to wear the supplied masks, gloves and shoe covers
- Routine Temperature checks of not only the employees but the ones incarcerated as well
- More fruits and juices in their diets as well as a Vit C regimine to boost their immune systems
- All states to order extra soap to make sure soap for proper hand washing is readily available for all incarcerated.
- Make any necessary repairs or replacements of sinks so there are ample amounts of functioning sinks for hand washing
- Allow showers daily
- Implement a plan that individual pods go to chow hall, outside, etc. separately
- Hand sanitizing stations in all common areas or hand sanitizing wipes if the concern of liquid sanitizer is an issue of contraband
- Lysol Disinfecting wipes be available for use to clean cells
- For people in open bay pods, I recommend sleeping head to toe to expand the breathable space between each person. In other words, one person sleeps head at top of bunk, the next person sleep with head at the bottom of the bunk
- Test kits readily available on site
- A separate area to be used for quarantining people who have symptoms
- All kiosks, tablets, pen-pads and phones to be sanitized after each use (Lysol wipes would be handy for this)
- For all facilities who have stopped commisary services due to fear of vendors bringing the virus in, there are several ways to address and work around this issue.
A. Wear masks, gloves and shoe covers
B. Designate a different, less populated area for check ins of vendors
C. Check vendors in OUTSIDE the doors.
- Reinstate the commisary. The result of indefinitely disallowing the incarcerated to order commisary is the #1 reason for riots to erupt. By taking away that right to order, whether its a priviledge or not, is blatantly asking for disaster. For most of the people, commisary is the only thing they really have to look forward to.
- Extra mental health or group counseling to address the virus and the fears of many. It’s important for the incarcerated to know they will not be forgotten during this pandemic and that every precaution available is taken for their protection.
- Last but certainly not least, look into releasing anyone who has immune deficiencies, the geriatrics, the handicapped, anyone who is at a low risk to re-offend, anyone who is due for release soon and speed up the parole process so that parole eligible will be released if parole is granted. The goal is to reduce already over crowded facilities to help prevent the spread of this deadly virus.
I hope these suggestions are feasible for your individual state and that they will be implemented in as many facilities as possible.
We have to keep in mind, should the virus enter a facility, with the close contact/distancing, it will spread like wild fire. This is not only a huge concern for those incarcerated but also for the workers who enter these facilities everyday: then leaving to take the virus back out into the communities.
Thank you for your time and for implementing all means necessary to protect each and every citizen, incarcerated or not. Please don’t hesitate to contact me for further information as desired or needed.
Post by Scott Frye on Facebook
Just got a call from an inmate/friend in the faith dorm in Ventress Correctional Facility. They had a stabbing. This has not hit the media yet. Supposedly, one guy bled out before the Lifeflight arrived. They say it is getting worse by the day. The CERT team or “Goon squad” is there shaking down with the Sheriff trying to find the knives. Evidently there were a couple of free world knives in there. 3 officers have given up their keys and quit. He wanted to get this to me in case something happens to him. I guess this goes along with Judge Cobb’s post of trying to get the Governor to step up and release folks. We actually have a solution to protect public safety and allow inmates a safe release at a fraction of the cost. I have a mobile app called ARComply and also an electronic monitoring bracelet system which we are using with various judges and offenders. Actually, there is a law on the books that all you attorneys who are my Facebook friend need to be filing habeas corpus or certiorari’s on sect. 15-22-26.2 which states that inmates can or “SHALL” be released up to 24 months early to their EOS or end of sentence dates as long as they are on intense supervision with Alabama Bureau of Pardons & Paroles–it does say “SHALL” so it is not a review process and I have let the Commissioner know but due to the COVID-19 scare, it seems ADOC is not doing anything right now.
“all individuals” within ADOC who have been in direct contact with the positive case are now in “self-quarantine for a 14-day period.”
This statement from ADOC is a lie. . .
The mental health office is located inside of the infirmary. This means that those individuals who were scheduled for a mental health appointment had to go to the infirmary. In addition, those individuals in the infirmary who are already on the sick ward were exposed every day as well as those who were scheduled for medical screening, testing appointments, etc. This means that both direct and indirect contact traffic has happened throughout the prison. These people are lying. . .
A mental health worker at St. Clair prison tested positive for the COVID 19 virus last week. As is now, we don’t know many mental health patients she came into contact with. What we do know is that no testing has been done. Also, we know that two additional correctional officers have taken off and that one nurse exhibited symptoms but ultimately tested negative.
So far, no testing has been done. ADOC is conducting temperature checks for officers entering the prison for each shift but no such testing is being down for those incarcerated. Also, while several officers have been seen sporting protective masks and gloves, no protection of any kind is being offered to the incarcerated population.
In addition, we are unaware of the impact that this positive test has had on the surrounding community, as ADOC staff routinely stop as convenience stores and local businesses prior to reporting to work. We don’t know if ADOC has alerted local establishment that this mental health worker may have visited.
We will update this post as further details emerge as well as update actions that are being planned to protect the lives of everyone potentially effected by this situation.
With news of the closing of Holman prison after many years of civil and human rights violations caused by overflowing raw sewage, lack of clean running water, and many other structural issues, many of the men incarcerated there and their families are anxious about where their loved ones will be transferred to and how they will be impacted by these changes. These men will be adjusting to new locations and new environments, as will the men at the prisons where these 600 individuals will be arriving at.
Many are pondering how this influx of more bodies will affect the already distressed and overcrowded prison system. Also, there are unique challenges and psychological issues that will have to be factored into this process. One, for example, is the fact that Holman was an open-bay style prison, where there was no restraint of movement in the living quarters. Now, these men will be housed in prisons with cells that they will now have to share with another person, sometimes for days at a time. This will increase anxiety and tension, with results that we won’t know about for some time. Many of these men from Holman who have been locked up for a long time have never shared a cell with another human being. This will be a major adjustment for many.
Another concern that some have expressed is the question of violence. As in, what is the ADOC’s plan to address issues that arise when men come into contact with people they have not seen in a while but have unresolved beefs with? What type of indicators will the ADOC be looking for to get out in front of issues instead of being reactive to them? The ADOC already can’t address violence caused by overcrowding and limited resources. What are they going to do when an already crowded system becomes even more crowded? Finally, who is going to be held accountable if this plan doesn’t work?
For the people from the southern part of the State, many families will now have to travel to Donaldson or St. Clair or even Limestone to visit their loved ones. This will pose an additional strain and financial burden on families who can least afford it. Men who had become accustomed to regular visits, which helps with rehabilitation and staying connected to family, will now be dealing with this additional frustration. With visitation and communication with family being a proven means of effective rehabilitation, the impact of separation is not going to be easy to detect.
The Prison Study Group also released its recommendations right after the announcement of this closure. Many people feel as though this closure was done with very little foresight into the impact that this abrupt change will have on the issues currently affecting Alabama prisons.
Also, the fact that the Study Group’s report was not done in anticipation of these new developments appears to render the report as just another waste of taxpayer funds.
In addition, the Study Group report was anticlimactic to the people on the inside who were looking for change and real solutions. Again, though, the report made clear that the solutions will have to come from the Inside — the one segment that was excluded from the process.
In the short term, it’s too early to tell what the full impact will be. With reports of beds being erected in gymnasiums, which will reduce recreation time, the prospects for heightened tensions are a realistic expectation. The organizations and individuals who are leading the calls for change to the ADOC have to become more hands on and reiterate their demands for access to the people on the inside of these prisons. If overcrowding caused the infrastructure of Holman to wear down, then this move seems calculated to tear down more infrastructure in order to justify building news prisons.
We will be updating on this concern as it develops with the hope that the men are wise enough to turn this into a positive opportunity to be heard now that there is one less prison that has to be reached in order to organize for change.
The Gadsden 6. Clockwise from Top Left to Right: Roland Martin, Melvin Ray (Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun), Fred Brown, Steven Stewart, Curtis Richardson (not pictured) and Archie Hamlet.
On March 24, 1988, at appx. 1:00 am, these six Black men were arrested in Gadsden, Alabama, for the burglary of a Belk Hudson department store. At the time, we were all 16 years of age or younger, and considered children by Alabama law.
After our arrest, we were taken to the police precinct, where we would be questioned for several hours, without any attorneys being present and without any of our parents being notified of where we were or what was going on.
When the interrogation ended around 4:00 am, the police officers, appx. four to six, all white, were satifised that we could be charged with over 30 felony counts of burglary and theft offense, not only for the burglary of that night but for several other unsolved burglaries as well.
Later that same morning of March 24, after spending a few more hours being processed into the youth facility, we were hauled into court for what was supposed to have been an initial appearance hearing. The only adults present for this hearing were the judge, the prosecutor, several of the police officers, and a case worker.
What transpired next . . .
Once in the courtroom, we were supposed to have a what in Alabama is called an “initial appearance” hearing where we received an explanation of the charges against us and be informed of our rights, including the right to have attorneys and to have our parents present with us in court to contest the charges.
Instead, something else happened that would affect us for the rest of their life.
The judge, prosecutor and the police held a private conference outside of our presence and beyond our ability to hear what was going on. When they adjourned, the prosecutor and the judge did all of the talking. The prosecutor stated that there would be a “stipulation” or admission of probable cause by the state in behalf of all six of us — to all 30-plus charges. The police officer concurred. The judge then stated that he accepted the stipulation and entered the stipulation into the official record of the court. We never spoke. Never knew what the word “stipulation” meant of what was going on.
This stipulation is extremely unethical and highly unusual. First and foremost, no one, not a judge, prosecutor, or police officer can stipulate to a criminal charge for anyone on their first appearance in court. And even worse, this was done to children who did not have attorneys and whose parents were never notified and were not present.
The imagery of this scene and how these adults committed these acts against these children is undeniable: A white judge. White prosecutor. All white police officers. Both case workers white. The only Black face in the room were those of six children. We were not viewed as children but as feeder stock for the system of Mass Incarceration. With the stipulation, we could now be transferred to adult court where we could receive real felony convictions and all of the disabilities that come with that.
It hard to imagine that in a period of just a few short hours, six children could be arrested, interrogated for over three hours by a group of all- white police detectives, charged with over 30 felony offenses, and then taken into a courtroom without an attorney or even a parent present, only to have the prosecutor and police make an admission of guilt for them, which a judge then dutifully accepts before ordering the children detained.
After this stipulation was made, all six of us would ultimately be transferred to adult court were we would suffer convictions that would be with us for the rest of our lives. The problem is that we never should have been in adult court in the first place. The proceedings in juvenile court were illegal and unethical. Today, we are fighting for the justice that we were entitled to in 1988.
Join the fight for Justice for The Gadsden 6 as we demand that the judgement and orders issued by Juvenile Judge Robert E. Lewis and the actions of the prosecutor be declared unconstitutional and void. The record of these convictions still stand today, and they must be corrected.
Every time a major incident occurs in a prison in this country like what we are experiencing in Mississippi, the first thing we see are statements calling for more guards and more security. But what we need to see more of are statements calling for mass releases and less people incarcerated in these hell holes and dungeons.
The problems in Mississippi have gripped Alabama, South Carolina, Delaware, Texas, Oklahoma, California and other prison systems. There is a disconnect between reality and the source of the problem. Human life was not intended to be lived in a cage, a steel and concrete cell, or a prefab building. It’s telling when we have so many “advocates” and reformers, etc calling for better living conditions. This is a symptom and reflection of the “kind slave master” who believes that the institution of slavery can be humane with proper amenities, a full staff of corrections officers, and technologies that will allow for the system to “keep an eye” on the plantation warehouses.
But . . . these ideas have to be rejected as well, because they reflect acceptance of the institution, which is predicated on white supremacy, social control of black and brown people and the racist belief that Black, Brown and poor white people are somehow less human and , therefore, deserving of being separated from society and caged like the brutes and beasts of burden that they allegedly are, and whose best purpose is the be directed and guided towards forced labor to enrich the rulers of society.
Even in the conversations about prison reform, you never hear the “benevolent reformers” mention the forced labor endemic to the slave plantations. Sure, they will point out the fact that Black people are disproportionately targeted for Incarceration, but they never delve into the issue of forced labor and the history of slavery. Why? Because the reformers are the descendants of the former slave masters. The reformers habor the same racist thoughts about the “bad nigger” and those who “need to be there.” They call these the “violent offenders” or the “murders” etc, yet they don’t want to acknowledge the intentionally created social and economic conditions that are major contributing factors to these social crimes in the first place.
The reforms don’t need to start at the Prisons or the criminal justice system. It needs to start with the cultural norms, the ideologies and ingrained values of the reformers that lead to the creation of slave plantations and prisons in the first place. But to start here would require the “reformers” to take a look in the mirror. To look at the family tree and their ancestry . And the “reformers” don’t want to start there because then they have to look at the values that they hold dear; the institutions that they pledge allegiance to, and the fears that they habor about people simply because of the color of their skin.
The easy way out is to blame the victim in the cages for their own problems. And say that their prisons only need more guards to keep those who deserve there. When the reality is that prisons are so inhumane that not even the worst that a racist, hatful, deranged society has created deserves to live in a cage – no matter the size of the cage, the level of security, of the wages , cameras and extra safe locks on the doors. Mississippi has shown, once again, that the worst of society are those who try to maintain, reform, and select who should stay and who should be released on parole, receive good time in, America’s cages. Ain’t no way to fix or reform it. It’s time to FREE ALL AMERICAN SLAVES !!!
F. A. M
WILLIE JUNIOR SUMMONS AIS: 00112862
A Dorm, Bed 57
3700 Holman Unit
Atmore, AL 36503-3700
Today I talked to Willie Simmons, who has spent the last 38 years in prison for stealing $9. He was convicted of 1st degree robbery & sentenced to life without parole in 1982, prosecuted under Alabama’s habitual offender law because he had 3 prior convictions. He told me his priors were 1 grand larceny and 2 receiving stolen property. I could only locate the grand larceny from 1979, but court records in Alabama are spotty. He did a year in prison for that conviction, and thinks he did about the same for the other crimes. “But I really can’t remember,” he said.
Mr. Simmons was 25 when the state said he should die in prison. Today he’s 62. When I asked his age he paused & laughed. “Been so long since somebody asked me that,” he said. He hasn’t had a visitor since 2005 after his sister died. “Haven’t heard from nobody since then.”
Mr. Simmons is incarcerated at Holman, one of the most violent prisons in the country. He is studying for his GED and “tries to stay away from the wild bunch.” He got sober in prison 18 years ago, despite being surrounded by drugs. “I just talked to God about it,” he said. Mr. Simmons told me he was high on drugs when he committed the crime that landed him in prison for life. He wrestled a man to the ground and stole his wallet which contained $9. “I was just trying to get me a quick fix,” he said. Police arrested him a few blocks away. He remembers his trial lasting 25 minutes and his appointed attorney calling no witnesses. Prosecutors did not offer him a plea deal, even though all of his prior offenses were nonviolent. “They kept saying we’ll do our best to keep you off the streets for good,” he said.
Mr. Simmons told me he grew up poor in Enterprise, Alabama. He started using drugs in high school, but dropped out at age 16. “It was real bad,” he said about his drug use. He was using hard drugs when he committed his crimes. “It was all stupid. I was messed up.”
Over the years, he’s filed appeal after appeal, with no lawyer. All were denied. “In a place like this, it can feel like you’re standing all alone,” he told me. “I ain’t got nobody on the outside to call and talk to. Sometimes I feel like I’m lost in outer space.”
“My hope is to get out of here, settle down with a woman and do God’s will,” he continued. “I’d like to tell people about how bad drugs are.” Mr. Simmons said he sees men doing drugs all the time in prison, but he stays away. He hasn’t gotten a disciplinary citation in a decade.
In 2014, lawmakers removed the last avenue of appeal for people like Mr. Simmons serving life without parole under the habitual offender law. I asked if he had hope that leaders would reconsider that. “Yes, I’ve been hoping and praying on it,” he said. “I ain’t giving up.”
Mr. Simmons did not deny his crimes & I am not writing this to argue that he’s innocent. He has paid for his crimes with his entire adult life, cast away like he wasn’t worth redemption. It sickens me to think about how many other people are warehoused in prison, forgotten. When tough on crime people say everyone in prison deserves to be there, think of Mr. Simmons. We should be ashamed of laws that categorically throw people away in the name of safety. We should question anyone who supports Alabama’s habitual offender law. It needs to go.
You can write to Mr Simmons at:
WILLIE JUNIOR SIMMONS AIS: 00112862
A Dorm, Bed 57
3700 Holman Unit
Atmore, AL 36503-3700
Don’t forget to add your return address (that is the prison policy) in the top left corner of your envelope, thank you.
Justice for The Gadsden 6
When Children are exploited by the Juvenile Justice System in Alabama
Thirty-one years ago on March 24, 1988, six Black children, all under the age of 17, Fred Brown, Archie Hamlet, Roland Martin, Melvin Ray, Curtis Richardson and Steve Stewart, were arrested by Gadsden police in the early morning hours around 1:00 am, for a department store burglary. After their arrest, these six children were taken to the police station for a three-hours long interrogation. The children were not represented by attorneys and their parents were not present during this interrogation.
The interrogations were conducted by an all-white group of 4 to 6 detectives. When the interrogation was completed around 4:00 am, these children were charged with over 30 felony offenses involving several unsolved burglaries in Gadsden.
Just a few hours after this early-morning interrogation ended, police and the district attorney’s office then marched these children into court for an initial appearance hearing that quickly turned into a full fledged probable cause detention hearing. None of the children were represented in court by an attorney, and none of their parents were present. It was just the judge, police, and the D.A.
At the hastily erected probable cause detention hearing, which was orchestrated by the juvenile court judge, the DA and police, the judge allowed the D.A. to stipulate to probable cause on behalf of all six children to ALL 30-plus charges pending against them.
This illegal probable cause stipulation would then be used to justify continued detention of these children and removal from their homes, parents and siblings.
Juvenile Court Judge Robert E. Lewis’ order states:
“At detention hearing probable cause stipulated to and child ordered detained. . .”
As the above court record shows, attorneys were not appointed until April 6, 1988, two full weeks after the arrest and “probable cause” stipulation were made.
Meanwhile, the Gadsden 6 remained in detention for over a month, until April 27, 1988, when the juvenile court judge granted the prosecutor’s motion to transfer these children to adult court. The juvenile court judge granted the prosecutor’s motion to transfer on the same day that it was filed, without conducting a transfer hearing or even notifying anyone that the motion had been filed.
None of the children were present when this motion was heard, no one was served notice of the prosecutor’s motion, the children did not have legal representation to review the motion or present evidence in their behalf, and none of their parents were present when the motion was heard or granted. Injustice was administered behind closed doors when no one was looking…
On to Adult Court…
Once in adult court, the Gadsden 6 were given an ultimatum: plead guilty to all charges and go home that day with sentences of time served and probation, or take a chance on trial and spend the next decade of their lives in prison. The authorities in Gadsden saddled these young black children with over 20 adult felony convictions that would follow them for the rest of their lives, and through a process that guaranteed injustice, as no one was present during the juvenile proceedings to protect the constitutional rights of these children or the parental rights of their parents.
These illegally prior felony convictions have been used in subsequent adult proceedings to enhance many of the Gadsden 6’s sentences under Alabama’s draconian habitual felony offender law, resulting in an additional 50-plus years of illegal time being served, including two instances where life without parole was illegally imposed.
Join the Gadsden 6’s demand for justice !!!
- All proceedings and convictions be declared null and void and removed from their records.
- All records in juvenile and adult court be expunged.
- Compensation and acknowledgement of the wrongful nature of the proceedings used against them, including full legal pardons.
Sign our petition to the Alabama Legislature and the Alabama courts to rectify this injustice put upon the Gadsden 6 by the Gadsden Police Department, the Gadsden DA, and the Juvenile & Adult Divisions of the Circuit Court of Etowah County, Alabama.
Follow the GADSDEN 6 on Facebook @ Justice For The Gadsden 6.
July 29, 2019 court hearing in Montgomery, AL
For Immediate Release Press contacts: Unheard Voices O.T.C.J. Unheardvoices78@gmail.com Attorney Richard Rice 256-529-0462 firstname.lastname@example.org Nikki Davenport FAM Queen Team 256-221-7658
Recently, Ella Fassler, writing for Truthout, released an article in relation to a piece published here shedding light on the torture practices used by ADOC officials at Limestone Correctional Center in Harvest, Alabama (find that post here). The piece was instantly retweeted and attracted significant outrage among its readers (you can read it here). We now want to update you on the situation at Limestone C.C. following the release of that story and the actions taken by Kenneth Shaun Traywick, AIS 177252. Traywick, as well as Robert Earl Council, AIS 181418, not only led Unheard Voices O.T.C.J. to the initial knowledge of the existence of the “Bucket Detail,” but Traywick also went on a 14-day hunger strike demanding Limestone C.C. administration stop the bucket detail and the…
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Part VIII: Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018
by Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun, formerly known as Melvin Ray, Free Alabama Movement
Originally published in the SF Bayview, May 27, 2018.
On Jan. 21, 2018, our loved elder, revolutionary leader and teacher Hon. Richard “Mafundi” Lake joined the Ancestors. Baba Mafundi left us with knowledge, love and an example of how to live a life of truth, integrity, conviction to struggle, love for his beautiful, faithful and devoted wife, Mrs. Carolyn Weyni Njeri Lake and family, and with an understanding that sacrifice is necessary.
For the many of us who had the privilege of being in the classroom of life with Ancestor Mafundi, let his transition serve as yet another lesson to us of the immediacy of our situation behind these walls and serve as a reminder of why we can’t wait to commit our all to the struggle to end slavery in America. We are, without any doubt, still slaves and chattel here in America for no reason other than the color of our skin.
While others may suffer as collateral consequences due to the class struggle, racism serves as the primary driver behind capitalism’s parasitic greed and the genocidal tendencies being waged against Black people in the U.S. and worldwide.
America has never known any purpose for Black people except domination of our labor. In the document “David Walker’s Appeal,” we learned that American slave owners devised a plan to send all “free” Blacks to the colony Liberia so that they could not mingle with or educate and influence the enslaved Blacks who were to remain in America.
The slave was to remain isolated, totally uneducated, and forever surrounded and contained by a society and system that offered only one option for Black people: forced slavery, with no hint of humanity. The only knowledge we were to have was who we were owned by and what our job was.
Very little about this model has changed under the prison slave system that has been erected under the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. As slaves, we are separated more and more from society every day.
Some states offer up to five free letters each month to indigent slaves. In Alabama, you receive two free legal letters each week – that’s it. If you can’t afford stamps to write your family and you lack legal representation, you are effectively cut off from communicating with society.
In the solitary confinement units, you get one phone call every 30 days, except in disciplinary seg, where NO phone calls are allowed. We receive one visit every 90 days in administrative segregation and one visit every six months in close or maximum custody.
Otherwise, we talk to these walls, toilets or to ourselves. The outside world is something that exists only in our heads. How can a prison system in Alabama or anywhere prepare a person to return to society by cutting us off totally from society?
The mind-altering effects of such oppressive conditions cannot be denied. In the groundbreaking book “Understanding the Assault on the Black Man, Black Manhood and Black Masculinity” by Wesley Muhammad, Ph.D., Dr. Muhammad cited from a report in the Chicago Tribune about how poverty, neglect or sensory deprivation of the kind we experience in solitary confinement can negatively affect and reset the brain’s chemistry.
Chemical manipulations of the mind and bodies plays a vital role in social control. Nowhere is that more evident than in the prison system.
The food, water and medicine that we are exposed to on a daily basis plays an important role in how we develop behind these walls. Our bodies are constantly polluted with toxic food, processed meats, genetically modified products, contaminated water, cheap or experimental medicines, etc. which adversely affects not only our physical health but also our mental health and disposition.
These chemical weapons disrupt important biological functions, including the biochemistry of the body and the endocrine system, which affects moods, stress, aggression, impulsive behavior, addiction, social interaction, violence etc.
Dr. Muhammad goes on to point out how drugs like K2, ice, marijuana and cocaine were designed and manipulated to produce a desired result. The drugs always seem to come along at the height of struggle and civil disobedience. Alas, in the midst of the current Prisoners’ Human Rights Movement, we see new drugs seeming to originate inside of the prison.
So, understanding and being involved in the movement also entails knowing the seen and unseen strategies and forces that are being employed against the struggle. Drug overdoses and suicides have gotten so bad that they are hardly news any more.
And as the death tolls continue to climb, the sedatives, downers, opioids and Flacka and Suboxone drugs are being endlessly introduced into the prisons to keep our eyelids closer to being closed. Stay woke, people. Please Stay Woke! Our survival is at hand.
As we move further along into 2018, we have to continue to plan, strategize, mobilize and bring all of our forces closer to being One. From the inside, we continue to need more artists, authors, activists and organizers to step forward.
Our sister Queen Tahiyrah and others just launched the #BarzThroughBarz magazine. This is yet another platform that we can use to reach the people. In addition, our brother Kwame Shakur has worked to create several social media platforms, including YouTube Channel Live and a blogtalk radio show to help spread the movement.
And, as I have stated previously, we still have room for even more innovations, because we still have work to do in forming a National Coordinating Committee to establish a national organization that will be all of our factions together, as well as our need to find an app developer so that we can create an app that will make all of our platforms just one click away.
Also, we need to monetize all of our content and create an e-business so that we can sell our products, leather and crafts, books, poetry, art, cards, calendars and whatever else we create from inside these prisons so that we can finance our own operations within our movement.
One Brother who recently reached out from Missouri, C.I. Ballard, expressed frustration with the “slave mindset” that he continues to encounter: “I ain’t getting involved with that. I’m just trying to go home” or “I’m just trying to do my time” etc.
Well, while we continue to try to reach this “mindset” head-on, we also need to be constantly creating alternative content, music, books etc. to reach these people. This is the work of the National Committee, to help devise plans and tactics that can be used to recruit and help change minds.
Actions like the Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018 help to identify candidates who are willing to sacrifice for freedom and are committed to ending slavery and to stop funding the system. These are the people who will help lead, guide and direct the national organization and volunteer to be part of the National Coordinating Committee being proposed by Brother Kwame Shakur of Prison Lives Matter.
Those who refuse to wear the chains will not financially support the very system of slavery that, paradoxically, relies on that same financial support to afford and buy the chains. We can accomplish this only by making those tough decisions that call for separation.
Separation from the system … By doing this, we won’t get caught up in the abyss of organizing just for the sake of creating another organization, while continuing to act in ways that are counterproductive to our livelihood. We have to organize around the problem, only, and create an organization that constitutes the solutions.
I will close this article with words of encouragement to all of the men, women and young adults who have made a sacrifice behind these walls for your/our freedom, including C.I. Ballard, Kwame Shakur, Manuel “Chase” M., Omar G. (freeourbrothers.com), Kwanetta H. (Texas), Mary Shields (Mississippi) and the many others who have contacted the Free Alabama Movement at our P.O. Box.
We are four months into a one-year bi-monthly (February – April – June – Black August – October – December) boycott campaign against collect phone calls, canteen/snack line/store draw, incentive packages or visitation vending machines. Our objective is to defund prison systems by disrupting departmental operating budgets by removing these funds from government budgets and redirecting these funds towards building a national organization whose agenda and purpose will be to end mass incarceration and prison slavery.
These redirected funds will help generate and disseminate educational material and books on mass incarceration, prison slavery and the 13th Amendment; help incarcerated freedom fighters publish books, articles, poems, arts and crafts, and other material needed to fund our movement; help to develop an e-business platform to centralize funding; and, among other things, help finance development of our own app so that we can consolidate and organize all of our movement information into one click of a button. We can never be an independence movement if we don’t establish an independent structure.
Our family at Bay View has put out a call notifying us that it costs $7,000 in printing costs each month to produce our Holy Scripture. This is a cost that we should be covering from behind these walls with ease.
The fact that we are connecting through this newspaper only shows how important it is to us. The fact that we are not supporting Bay View financially in the same way that Bay View is supporting us, while at the same time we give unconditional support to the collect phone companies and canteen to the tune of billions each year, merely shows our shortcoming as a movement and, more important, why we need to step up to another level and organize nationally.
April has ended. May is here signaling that June is near, which means that, once again, it’s time to Redistribute the Pain 2018.
Bennu Hannibal Ra Sun
Free Alabama Movement
Book of the Month – June 2018: “Understanding the Assault on the Black Man, Black Manhood and Black Masculinity” (2017), by Dr. Wesley Muhammad, Ph.D.
Newspaper of the Month: Bay View newspaper
Magazine of the Month: #BarzBeyondBarz
Send our brother some love and light: Melvin Ray, 163343, Limestone CF D-70, 28779 Nick Davis Rd, Harvest AL 35749.
February 2, 2018
Part VII: Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018
by Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun, formerly known as Melvin Ray, Free Alabama Movement
Published in: SF Bayview, Feb 2nd, 2018
Last month, on Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, millions of people diverted their collective attention to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game in Atlanta, Ga. At the same time, on the other side of the country in Las Vegas, Nevada, almost 250,000 people congregated for the start of the week long CES presentation (formerly Consumer Electronics Show), the world’s largest tech trade show. On display will be the latest technological innovations that will influence and dictate the future of the world that we live in.
Unfortunately, most of us will be more in tune with the sporting spectacle – which will afford us an emotional discharge and escape from the reality of our problems – than those of us who will be focused on learning what technologies will be available for us to continue to advance our struggle towards a solution in our digital world.
The theme of the CES platform is directed towards consumers. Ultimately, though, these technologies will be refined for policing purposes and will be used to control our lives behind these walls. And just like the consumer show, corrections agencies have their own “tech” convention every year, hosted by the American Correctional Association, where they exchange ideas and shop for products.
Commissioners, wardens, officers’ union representatives etc. shop for locks, new restraint chairs, tasers, body armor, biometric devices, surveillance equipment, new prison architecture and designs, prison movement and population management software, body cameras, cell extraction gear, riot control ammunition, leg monitor systems, all the way down to the toilets, sinks and typewriters related to controlling their lucrative hundreds of billions of dollars’ prison slave industry.
The theme of the CES platform is directed towards consumers. Ultimately, though, these technologies will be refined for policing purposes and will be used to control our lives behind these walls.
Notoriously missing from this equation is us, the very people who are being controlled by these technologies. To a degree, we have been able to make effective use of social media to wage our fight to end mass incarceration and prison slavery.
In several of my articles throughout this series promoting our Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018 boycott, I proposed that we utilize this year-long bi-monthly February-April-June-Black August-October-December boycott to develop a national organization and put forth a national agenda and plan of action; create a digital storefront so that we can generate revenue from our talents, skill and abilities (think eBay, Amazon-type store); and most importantly, we need to get us an app created so that we can collect, organize and disseminate all of the information that is critical to us building awareness to our struggle and what people can do to join, support and share information about our movement.
Information on hunger strikes and work strikes pertaining to our movement all needs to be one click away on the app. Planned protests at prisons, state DOC headquarters or private companies that profit off of prisons, like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Nintendo, Starbucks, CoreCiv, Access Secure, J-Pay, AT&T, Canteen and Verizon, all need to be one click away on our app. Companies that contract with DOCs like the collect phone companies and their revenue and profits need to be one click away. And every product made or service provided at each individual prison needs to be one click away.
Information on hunger strikes and work strikes pertaining to our movement all needs to be one click away on the app.
Right now, all of this data is scattered out all across the internet, in various books and in reports that people have no idea where to start looking for.
According to a research study by the Institute for Advancing Justice Research and Innovation at Washington University in St. Louis, in 2016, the true cost of incarceration is estimated to be $1 trillion per year, and the researchers also found that more than half of those costs are being shouldered “directly by prisoners, their families, and their communities.” That’s a lot of information scattered around.
If we, indeed, are shouldering the burden for over half of these costs, which amounts to $500 billion, then isn’t it reasonable to expect that we should do a better job of collecting this information and tracking this money so that we can better organize our movement towards bankrupting prison slavery?
I would surmise that if we contribute over $500 billion in direct financial contributions, then the other half is probably coming directly from our labor. In Nas’ song, “N—–”, he said that in relationship to our problems, we are both the question and the answer. Well, if we are the financial pillars of this system, we are both the problem and the solution. In prison slavery, we are the slave and the master.
In the December 2017 issue of Bay View, our Brother Terrance Amen stated the following: “We all know what the problems are, but very little energy and effort are focused on the solutions. We are not the ones who put ourselves in this situation, but we are the ones who continue to stay in this situation because of the way we spend our money.”
Our Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018 focuses all of our energy and effort on the solution to the problems that we perpetuate from the way that we are spending our money while in prison. Invariably, solutions create issues because solutions call for sacrifice.
Talking about a problem is easy. In these prisons, even in the Bay View, we see much talk devoted to the problem. The solutions that are offered – if one can waddle through all of the talk and find one – usually deviate far and wide from any sacrifices being made. The norm usually reveals signs of the “savior complex,” where we are calling for the politicians to fix it.
But Brother Amen also said: “Politics will not solve our problems. Black economics will.” That’s why the most important aspect or feature of the Campaign 2RTP is the incorporation of our family members and others who make financial contributions to us in prison.
Our Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018 focuses all of our energy and effort on the solution to the problems that we perpetuate from the way that we are spending our money while in prison. Invariably, solutions create issues because solutions call for sacrifice.
A lot of people in prison simply don’t want to make any sacrifices whatsoever, and have no problem exploiting the people who love them for funds. They don’t dare educate their people about this movement, our boycotts or otherwise. This Campaign 2RTP is designed for us to be able to bypass those negative elements and engage these family members directly. Getting our app created will only make this process that much easier.
Those of us on the inside know that prisons have an economy too, as well as a culture set up to exploit those just entering the system. With prisons across the country being so overcrowded and understaffed, administrators have resorted to alternative methods to control such large populations.
One of the things that wardens and officers do is select collaborators from the population to help them control the masses in much the same way that slave owners used to do. These collaborators are allowed to control the drug, liquor, cigarette, gambling and other markets.
When the youth enter the prison, they are immediately preyed upon. Those youth who have money or financial support are steered towards drugs and other vices. Those who have nothing are recruited to gangs, the “armies” that the dealers use or, lacking these, they are turned out and forced into quasi-prostitution or they become labor slaves.
Those of us who recruit them for education and self-development are targeted by the system. When we try to build our movement and open the eyes of the youth and the people to what is really going on with mass incarceration and prison slavery, we become subject to “hits” like our ancestor Hugo Pinell and so many other warriors.
The collaborators work with the police to stop the movement but they never work with the movement to stop slavery. These are dynamics that people in society don’t know about, but the Campaign 2 RTP 2018 will serve many purposes before it is done.
Once again, I strongly recommend that as many of you as possible reach out to Queen Tahiyrah of Sign o’ the Times blogtalk radio and connect your/our families to her. Queen T hosts shows where incarcerated brothers and sisters call in from prison along with family.
Our Warrior God from Free Alabama Movement, Dhati Khalid, and the rest of the F.A.M.ily are also always tuned in. Call her at 513-913-2691 or reach out to F.A.M. and Bro Dhati at P.O. Box 186, New Market, AL 35761 and let’s all get connected.
Family support in prison requires devotion of a tremendous amount of time, money, sacrifice and other resources. Those of us on the inside have a duty and obligation to make sure that their sacrifices are worth it and appreciated.
If an incarcerated person does not have a GED, then there is no legitimate reason why they should not be in GED school after six to nine months in prison. Once they complete GED, if they don’t have an employable skill or trade, they should enroll in trade school.
These accomplishments will only help with parole eligibility and other release programs. And more importantly, they will help with self-development and with returning an asset to the community instead of a liability.
Families should encourage, support and ultimately demand as much in return for their sacrifices and support. We need to make sure that these important messages are reaching everyone, because we can’t continue to fund the institution of slavery.
Family support should also set a hard budget on how much money they can afford to send into a prison and stick to it. Too many people in prison are young when they enter and, thus, have no real concept of paying bills, child care, emergencies, elderly care, unexpected repairs etc. All they know is their needs. And, the vices in prison are strong, too, and expensive.
Family support in prison requires devotion of a tremendous amount of time, money, sacrifice and other resources.
If an incarcerated loved one can’t stick to their budget and is constantly calling home for money, pay pals and green dots, then this is a red flag and warning sign that something is wrong. Gambling, drug abuse and wasting money in prison trying to portray an image are real problems, and the opioid crisis that is claiming so many lives in America is alive and well in the prison, too.
All of this is being financed by someone or being facilitated by someone. If this someone is you, please stop it now and help us bring everyone home from prison as soon as possible, starting with the defunding effort being spearheaded by our Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018.
Families should encourage, support and ultimately demand as much in return for their sacrifices and support.
We have talked about the problem ad nauseum. We have cried enough tears to fill up many rivers. Our complaints have been noted and ruled on, and we have held on and endured for many seasons. As my Aunt Mary in Mississippi DOC would say, “Enough is enough.” Now is the time to Redistribute the Pain in 2018.
Our Campaign 2 RTP 2018 kicks off on Feb. 1, 2018, to begin Black History Month. It is time to not only celebrate Black history but to also show that we have learned from the lessons of history that is part of our heritage by using those lessons to help solve our problems.
Dare to struggle! Dare to win!
Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun, Free Alabama Movement
Book of the month: “We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement” by Akinyele Omowale Umoja
Literature of the month: “Liberation or Gangsterism” by Russell “Maroon” Shoatz/s
Newspaper of the month: Bay View
Word of the month: Sacrifice
Send our brother some love and light: Melvin Ray, 163343, Limestone CF D-70, 28779 Nick Davis Rd, Harvest AL 35749.
Boycott, Defund, Bankrupt – Say NO to canteen, incentive packages, collect phone calls and visitation during February, April, June, Black August, October and December in 2018
December 30, 2017
Part VI: Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018
by Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun, fka Melvin Ray, Free Alabama Movement
Published in the January 2018 issue of SF Bayview
Fire burns off the dross of the hidden gem to reveal the precious metal. In struggle, it is the call to action that burns off the negative habit, distorted values and laziness of those who answer that call to reveal the precious jewels of humanity. With 2018 just a few days away, the call to action that is the Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018 is set to kick off Feb. 1, 2018. Let the fire burn bright.
Queen Tahiyrah of the National Freedom and Justice Movement, F.O.M., and Sign o’ the Times blogtalk radio has created a flier for the campaign, in addition to our https://redistributethepain.wordpress.com blog, and our email@example.com email. Queen T can be reached on Facebook in the SignOTheTimes group (https://www.facebook.com/QueenTahiyrah), by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 513-913-2691. You can also write to her at 1623 Dalton St. #14393, Cincinnati, OH 45250.
As 2018 draws near, over 2.5 million people remain behind bars, walls, steel and cages. The burden of changing our circumstances remains squarely on our shoulders. We have to change our thoughts about how freedom is possible to attain, then change our actions.
Many of us know about completing our sentence as a way to freedom, or an appeal, post-conviction petition or parole. We have to amend this paradigm to include the collective actions that we can take as a unified body to bring about freedom as well.
There is no escaping the fact that we, as a body, constitute a significant sector of the economic pie chart that funds and fuels mass incarceration and prison slavery. For purposes of this call for a nationwide boycott campaign, we have identified four sectors of the Prison Industrialized Complex that serve as some of the main economic drivers for prison budgets, which generate billions of dollars annually to fund prison operations:
- Collect phone calls
- Canteen / store / snack line
- Incentive package purchases
Visitation vending and electronic visitation
The collect phone call industry is, by far, the most exploitive monopoly of the four enterprises. I don’t want to speculate on the amount of money we spend nationwide on phone calls, other than to say that this figure has to be in the billions of dollars.
The prison companies contract with the phone companies to carry out this extortion scheme through legal kickback schemes. We are locked up in these closed environments. If we want to maintain contact with our families, we have to pay a ransom to the phone company.
The prison system charges the phone company a cut (kickback) for being able to set up shop inside of the prison. The prison system’s cut or kickback percentage becomes part of the overall operations budget used to pay salaries, buy equipment, pay for water, electricity etc.
So, not only our slave labor, but also our financial contributions are helping to keep this empire running. Therefore, we have to boycott these ventures to help defund prison operations budgets.
Just as easily as a habeas corpus or appeal can free you, so, too, can you gain your freedom if a DOC has to close down prisons due to insufficient funds in their budgets to fund operations.
The fact that these industries generate billions of dollars each year merely attests to the enormous power that our families have over U.S. prison operations. Every time that they reject a collect call, they empower themselves by sending a message to the phone company that they will no longer assist in funding prison operations costs.
For those of us on the inside, when we stop picking up those phones, we send the message that we are ready to talk to our families at home in the living room and on the porch. These conversations are free and priceless.
The distinctively unique feature about these prison monopolies, as I’ve stated before, is that as incarcerated and enslaved people, we are their only customers. This makes it clear, without any doubt, that as much as organizations and groups grapple and fight with the FCC and the phone companies over prices, the POWER to effect change, immediate change, lies exclusively in our hands alone.
And always keep in mind that while it may cost $5, $10 or $20 to make a call, it don’t cost a penny to boycott for a month.
Casting a wide net!
Many of the owners of these cottage industry companies are former corrections officials. They either own the companies outright or are major investors. Others are family members, business associates or political contributors.
So, boycotting incentive package company Union Supply, for example, has ripple effects on many balance sheets. In addition, the employees of these companies feel the heat from participating in this evil industry. There’s plenty of pain pent up and caged inside these prisons, and we need to #RedistributeThePain in 2018 so that others can feel its intensity.
Beginning Feb. 1, 2018
When the campaign kicks off, I recommend that we invest approximately 25 percent of whatever you/we save into a fund to purchase books, stamps, newspaper subscriptions and office supplies to help print material, all to support the campaign. IWOC has indicated that their main body has donated $4,000 for book purchases.
Free Alabama Movement is contributing $750 to T-shirts, plus $250 to help purchase ink. If you have a submission for a T-shirt design, please send it to: Free Alabama Movement, P.O. Box 186, New Market, AL 35761 or email email@example.com. If we choose your design, you’ll win $50 for books or newspaper subscriptions, tuition payment or other educational need.
Book of the Month – February 2018:
“Prison Profiteers: Who Makes Money from Mass Incarceration” by Tara Herevil and Paul Wright
Newspaper Subscription of the Month – February 2018:
SF Bay View, one month $2, one year $24
Publication of the Month – February 2018:
Prison Legal News, six months $18, one year $30
These are just a few of the recommended reading materials that you will find on our WordPress blog. I suggest that those who can, make these purchases, and those who can’t, reach out to FAM, IWOC, Queen T or Bay View, and collectively we will try to handle the request or send it to someone who can.
One other request that I would like to put out there personally is the need of assistance in developing an app that helps us to better analyze and break down each state’s prison system, each individual prison, and each prison’s industry and labor force, just to name a few. A person should be able to click on an app and at least get the following information at any time:
- Total jobs worked by incarcerated
- Each job description
- Paid jobs / amounts
- Unpaid jobs
- Total canteen sales
- Total collect calls
- Total incentive packages purchased
- Total visitation vending
- All products made by prison labor
- All services provided by prison labor
(Other factors may be included)
Creating our own app in aid of our movement is not cost prohibitive. We already have the funds to pay for it, but we are spending it on potato chips, cookies, candy, collect phone calls and processed food instead. For the most part, all of this is public information that is available to us through Freedom of Information Act and Open Records Act requests. In addition, we can use survey questionnaires, civil litigation, and other methods to start culling information out of these prisons and start painting a picture of what the business of prisons is really all about.
Wherever there is unity, there is power. So, let’s utilize 2018 as the year to continue to strengthen our unity, so that we can make 2018 a very powerful year for our movement, while also making it a very painful year for prison profiteers, human traffickers and the institution of slavery.
Our circumstances absolutely will not change until our thoughts and actions change. We have been spending, funding and enriching the system long enough. Now it is time to Boycott, Defund and Bankrupt.
Stop financing our own oppression. It’s time to Redistribute the Pain in 2018.
Bennu Hannibal Ra Sun, Free Alabama Movement
Send our brother some love and light: Melvin Ray, 163343, Limestone CF D-70, 28779 Nick Davis Rd, Harvest AL 35749.