ATTENTION: FAM will be issuing a public statement concerning an important change in position concerning the term and use of work strikes.
Our position on work strikes is about to fundamentally change. This concept has served FAM well but the time has come for advancement. We can no longer embrace characteristics of a labor movement as we are fighting for our lives against a vicious enemy. We must embrace tactics that accurately reflect upon the ideals, principles and objectives of our struggle for freedom, human rights, and human dignity. The concept and ideology of a “work strike” is no longer capable of bringing revolutionary change. We have to assess our position on the battlefield and make changes where necessary to win. A full statement will be forthcoming concerning this important change, and FAM forever remain on the frontline.
We need the entire historical application of this law for every single person it has been applied to. From 2021 backward to 1977. The public cannot participate in the debate if we aren’t informed of ALL of the material facts.
Further debate on Representative Chris England’s House Bill 107 calling for the repeal of Alabama’s Habitual Felony Offender Act is set to take place soon in the House Judiciary Committee.
The Free Alabama Movement is trying to learn more information about the group of people sentenced to life without parole as a habitual offender. This additional information is vital to any legitimate debate about why this law should be repealed. We also need to know more about the historical application of this law.
According to a report by Alabamians For Fair Justice, 75% of all individuals sentenced to life without parole as a habitual offender are Black.
Ronald Mckeithen. Over 37 years for convenience store robbery.
This racial distinction is consistent with other laws enacted during the tough-on-crime era. For example, in 1997, a special report to Congress by the U. S. Sentencing Commission found that Black people accounted for nearly 90% of all people convicted of federal crack offenses, even though the majority of crack users are white. Additionally, from 1988 to 1995, federal prosecutors did not bring a single white person to trial under the crack provisions of federal law in 17 states.
Based on our math from the limited resources we have access to, appx. 750 people in Alabama are sentenced to life without parole as habitual offenders. This number needs to be accurately determined. We also want to know which counties imposed each of these sentences of life without parole.
The ACLU’s Smart Justice Campaign reported that 527 of the appx. 750 LWOP sentences are for non-homicide offenses.
We need to know the demographics of these 527 people sentenced to life without parole for a non-homicide offense. Many of the recent high profile cases where LWOP was rescinded (Archie Hamlet, Jerald Sanders (LWOP for stealing a $16.00 bicycle) Geneva Cooley, Ira Coney, Alvin Kennard, Flavius Henderson, Ronald McKeithen, Derek Jenkins, Stanley Washington, and several more) involved Black people.
Archie Hamlet served over 22 years on a LWOP for 14 lbs of marijuana before his sentence was reduced in 2017.
Of the appx. 527 still serving LWOP for a non-homicide offense, what were they convicted of? What type of prior felonies were used to enhance? How much time has each of them already served? We also need to know the racial composition of this group because data suggests that Black people are disproportionately and over sentenced to LWOP. How many of these non-homicide cases involve Black people?
One of the more well known and egregious instances of injustice concerning a life without parole as a habitual offender involves a Black man, Willed Simmons. Clearly, racial justice is an important factor to consider when debating whether the habitual offender law needs to be repealed.
Willie Simmons was convicted of first-degree robbery for wrestling a man to the ground over $9.00 and sentenced to life without parole in 1982. Simmons, an Army veteran, became addicted to drugs while stationed outside of the United States. He was prosecuted under Alabama’s habitual offender law, which is similar to other three-strikes laws. Simmons had three prior convictions
Furthermore, it appears that less than 250 people combined have life without parole for some form of a homicide or other crime. We are very interested in learning the specifics of each case, what type of prior felony convictions were used to enhance, as well as the demographics of this group, especially as it relates to the 75%?
There are many other unanswered questions about this law that needs to be known. For example, what are the prior felonies used for enhancement purposes? Some enhancement priors, such as minor drug possession, shoplifting, and other theft offenses, are now reclassified as Class D offenses, and can no longer be used for enhancement purposes. How many of these felonies are still being used today to maintain these sentences?
Other important unknown factors include:
1. What offense was each individual convicted of when they received the sentence of life without parole?
2. If convicted today under current Alabama law, what would the sentencing options be?
3. What prior felony convictions were used to enhance and how old were the prior felony convictions?
4. Were any felonies used to enhance that are no longer considered felonies under current Alabama law?
5. How many prior enhancement felonies were for offenses like burglary, shoplifting, check/debits cards, theft, minor drug possession or sales, or other similar offenses?
6. How many people serving life without parole have already served at least 20 years or more?
7. How many people serving life without parole as a habitual offender were sentenced after being convicted for their first felony offense involving serious physical injury or death (all priors convictions were for property crimes or drug offenses)?
We need research help to get answers to these and other questions. If you are interested in assisting, please share information to firstname.lastname@example.org under the title Habitual Felony Offender Act.
On January 30, 2021, four Black men at Donaldson Correctional Facility were targeted for abuse and brutality by officers and sergeants; the four men were Ephan Moore, Robert Earl Council, Wilbert Smith, and Derrol Shaw. Officers attacked and severely beat Moore and Council, who sustained critical injuries.
Moore has reported to his family that officers beat him in two separate locations, once in the dorm and a second time while he was handcuffed to a wheelchair in the infirmary. So far, Moore has had two surgeries – with more scheduled – after being stomped, beaten, and struck in the head with an object that is being described as a meat cleaver wielded by Officer Brown. Moore’s family reports his injuries as an orbital and nose fracture, a broken jaw, two broken hands, and at least 10 staples in his head, among other injuries.
Council’s injuries, which include serious head and face trauma and broken ribs, were so severe that he had to be airlifted to UAB Trauma Unit. As of February 2, 2021, Wilbert Smith’s whereabouts are unknown and his status is the same — he was believed to have been escorted out by members of CERT (Correctional Emergency Response Team) who arrived at Donaldson after the prison was put on lockdown just after the beatings of Moore and Council. Shaw was forced to defend himself from the brutal attack and was able to escape serious injury, although he was overwhelmed by the chemical agent that was sprayed.
A few media outlets, taking word primarily from the corrupt, brutal Alabama Department of Corrections, have begun putting out articles on this attack, but focusing more on two guards who were allegedly stabbed — witnesses say Ofc. Brown sustained injuries from the meat cleaver he used to butcher Moore — and downplaying the injuries of the Donaldson 4 as if they were minor. It is worth reiterating that Ephan Moore was struck three times in the head with an object described as a free world meat cleaver carried by one of the officers; eyewitnesses report seeing his head split open all the way down his face; he was brutally attacked after having a mental health crisis in his dormitory. Sgt. Binder – one of the attackers – had previously beaten Moore, according to a civil complaint about the incident.
Robert Earl Council (also known as Kinetik Justice) was attempting to de-escalate the situation and was pleading with guards to stop beating on Moore before retreating to his cell after being overcome with the chemical spray. Sgt. Milton and several other officers stalked Council to his cell where they then struck him in the face with a metal baton. Sgt. Binder and Ofc. Griffin then proceeded to strike Council in the head with batons, rendering him unconscious. While unconscious, Council was beaten profusely then dragged out of his cell by his feet, leaving a trail of blood. Images of a vast pool of Council’s blood inside his cell were captured in widely circulated video.
Council is the third member of the Free Alabama Movement to be beaten or targeted for attack at Donaldson. In 2016, James Pleasant was beaten while housed in the “hot bay” unit by the same officers.
Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun had a hit put in his life by the warden and captain at Donaldson in 2016. He was also harassed by Officer Binder and others, and was severely beaten by Commissioner Dunn’s hit squad in 2015.
See video of Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun beaten by officers:
Meanwhile, the officers who were allegedly stabbed and received “multiple other injuries” were treated first at the onsite medical facility, and then at a local hospital before being released. These alleged injuries are superficial at best.
In response to the most recent attack, ADOC Commissioner Jeff Dunn has announced his intent to implement the use of body cameras on supervisors at the prison, and is conducting a review of staffing to determine if adjustments are needed. This is an outrageous, ineffective response to the ongoing brutality at Donaldson Correctional Facility, most of which has been documented by incarcerated activists in the facility, led by the Free Alabama Movement. How are body cameras supposed to be effective when officers can walk around the prison with a meat cleaver, brutally beating on other human beings and then facing no consequences? There has been no indication that any of these officers will face charges or even lose their jobs for nearly killing two people.
Meanwhile, officers wasted no time charging men at Donaldson with unfounded disciplinaries related to the assault. This brutality has been documented for years, so what good would body cameras be? Additionally, Dunn has requested the FBI’s Northern District Office assist in an investigation into the incident. But this assault occurred in the midst of a years-long Department of Justice investigation into ADOC which has yet to prevent such brutality from happening.
More than a Decade of Abuse Recorded at Donaldson
For a full understanding of this particularly vicious attack, it is necessary for the press and the public to understand the full scope and long history of brutality at William E. Donaldson Correctional Facility. It took a federal lawsuit to force Donaldson to remove a sign from the back entrance of the prison that greeted new arrivals with the ominous greeting: “Welcome to the House of Pain.” The pain administered at the prison more than lived up to this “creed.”
Most of this brutality has been documented heavily in the last 7 years since the formation of the Free Alabama Movement, but it also goes back before then; in 2009, a class-action lawsuit known as “Hicks vs. Hetzel” was filed on behalf of those incarcerated at Donaldson for the inhumane conditions allowed to persist there — at that time, Donaldson was at 173% capacity, overcrowding that led to illness, an increase in violence between prisoners, and increased brutality from officers. Donaldson is designed to house only 700 people, and is regularly overcrowded and understaffed; as of 2020, the capacity is 1,500 people. In this era of COVID-19, overcrowding effectively turns Donaldson into a petri dish and superspreader for the virus- at least two people incarcerated there have died of the virus, though the number is likely to be higher. This is another failure of the ADOC and more blood on their hands.
On March 14, 2016, following two back-to-back riots at Holman Prison in Atmore, Alabama, five men: Amir Davis, Antonio Spencer, Kendrick Gaskin, Kevin Etheridge, and Tyreke (last name unknown) were transferred from Holman to Donaldson. Upon arrival, all five men were beaten sadistically and sexually assaulted by over 10 guards at Donaldson. In an interview, Kendrick Gaskin describes how they were taken to a back gate at Donaldson, removed from the van in handcuffs, shackles, and body chains, and then, one by one, taken to a shack where they were brutally beaten, sexually assaulted by stomping them in their genital area, and how the nurses in the infirmary either refused to document their injuries or had simply written that they had “fallen off the van.” When word of these horrific attacks reached the family, Commissioner Price and the wardens of Donaldson began another process of a cover up, which succeeded; none of the officers were charged or even terminated for these beatings and sexual assaults.
See interview of Kendrick Gaskin Part 1:
Gaskin Interview Part 2:
This culture and customary sexual abuse at Donaldson is well documented in the lawsuit filed by Sammy Duncan, whose testicle had to be removed after he was sexually assaulted by the “Donaldson Stomp” and beaten.
The officer who carried out this attack, Lt. Jenkins, has a long and sordid history of brutality and violence. Jenkins has been promoted several times during his tenure under Commissioner Dunn, showing a pattern of reward for brutality at Donaldson.
Additionally, there have been multiple lawsuits brought against Donaldson Prison and ADOC on behalf of the men incarcerated there who have been beaten, brutalized, and raped by officers. In 2017, Jeffrey Paul Eugene Stout was severely beaten in the notorious “hot-bay.” A second threat to beat him again, made by officer Charles Willis just days later, was partly captured on video.
See video of Jeffery Stout being threatened here:
There have been multiple murders of men at Donaldson by guards, all of which have been covered up by the wardens, the Commissioner, and the ADOC as a whole; one of the more notable cases was Steven Davis, who was beaten to death by officers in the “Behavioral Modification” or “hot-bay” dorm in 2019, which is a newer, horrific addition to Donaldson. His killer, Ofc. Gadson, was promoted by Commissioner Dunn less than six months after this murder.
Just in the past year, two more at least two other men were brutally killed by institutional malice and neglect. On June 22, 2020 Darnell McMillian died in a suicide watch cell after reports indicate that officers pepper sprayed him and locked him in the cell, where he asphyxiated. And in December 2020, Tommy Lee Rutledge was left in a 101 degree cell in a mental health unit to die of hyperthermia, in the midst of a cold December night. His body was found facing the window and with an internal temperature of 109 degrees.
See video of other men beaten to death:
In the last decade men incarcerated at Donaldson Correctional facility have filed dozens of lawsuits detailing the use of unconstitutional excessive force by prison staff. Below are just two of their stories:
Adrian Dunning: On July 5th, 2018, Officers entered Dunning’s cell in the hotbay to collect him for a visit to the healthcare unit. Upon entering the cell they sprayed him with mace and proceeded to beat him with their feet, fists, and batons. The defendants then dragged the plaintiff out of his cell and into the main area and continued beating him, in view of other prisoners. Fearing for his life, Dunning wrestled free from the officers, and climbed the stairs up to the top tier. Several of the defendants followed. Dunning climbed over the rail, and tried to scale his way back down to the floor away from the defendants. Officer Maclemore hit Dunning’s hand with a baton, causing Dunning to lose grip and fall around 12 feet to the ground. The defendants surrounded him again on the lower level and continued the beating. Dunning sustained the following injuries: broken hand, femur, nose as well as blunt trauma to the front of his head and eyes. He was medi-evacuated to the University of Alabama hospital where he received emergency surgery. This event is described in the federally filed complaint.
Christopher Jordan Jackson:
On April 22, 2016, Captain Baldwin and the CERT team, including Officer Edmonds and Officer Melton came to Jackson’s cell, which was flooded from the toilet. Angered by the state of his cell, the officers ordered Jackson to strip, and then proceeded to beat him while he was naked on the unsanitary floor. The officers used their batons and stomped on his body. The beating was so severe Jackson defecated on the floor. Following the assault, Jackson received 16 staples to his head. Breaking protocol, the nurses and officers refused to photograph any injuries other than his head, and prohibited Jackson from writing an incident report. Two weeks later his hand was X-rayed, revealing broken bones. Prison officials refused to send him to an outside hospital, nor put his broken hand in a cast. Jackson’s efforts to reach the physical abuse department, the FBI, and the DOJ received no response. This event is described in a federally filed complaint.
Also see Dewey Buttram video interview about his abuse at Donaldson here:
Also see video interview of Zachery Wilson here:
The public needs to know that the statements being issued by Commissioner Dunn are damage control and an attempt to cover up a slaughter at the hands of his correctional officer gang. The call for the FBI to get involved in the investigation alongside the ADOC’S Investigative Division smacks of a fraud, as the DOJ has already castigated this agency as part of the culture of violence and corruption within ADOC. The solution to this problem begins with accountability, starting with the termination and arrest of these officers for assault and attempted murder. Additional measures must include:
Return Robert Council and Ephan Moore to a free world hospital where they can receive appropriate medical care and rehabilitation services
Commissioner Dunn needs to be fired or forced to resign effective immediately
The investigation into this matter needs to include advocacy groups, independent counsel and independent media representatives, not simply state and federal officials.
The families of each of these men must be allowed to visit them immediately. The families and/or legal representatives of all four men must be allowed daily contact indefinitely to be assured of their well-being.
The officers involved must be terminated immediately and charged, including but not limited to all wardens and Sergeant Binder, Sergeant Brown, Sergeant Melton, and Officer Griffin.
Each of the Donaldson 4 must be allowed unrestricted access to an independent media source accompanied by counsel of their own choosing pursuant to Adm Reg. to tell their story if they see fit.
Special thanks to our National Freedom Movement Coalition supporter Workers World Party for their outstanding work and commitment to this effort. They can be reached at http://workers.org
Imagine opening your front door and finding a man lying on your porch bleeding from several stab wounds while screaming for help as he’s being viciously attacked. Imagine not being able to open your screen door due to a body that’s pressed against it, beaten unconscious with a sock that had two combination locks inside. Imagine your next door neighbors getting into a heated argument over drugs that caused one to literally gouge the other’s eye out, or your neighbor across the street murdering a guy then carving letters on his forehead after he dies. Imagine sharing a meal with friends in your dining room and someone approaches one of your guests from behind and plunges a knife into their neck, causing blood to gush out and land on your face and food. Or imagine someone’s bottom lip being bitten into and ripped off, and blood flowing between the fingers of the victim. Now imagine such brutality occurring in your community so frequently that you’re no longer shocked or horrified, but instead you find it more an inconvenience than a terrible tragedy. This is the community I’d lived in for over 35 years.
Within two years, there had been 19 homicides in the Alabama prison system, causing it to have the highest homicide rate in the country. There are daily assaults, often so severe that ambulances and helicopters are a constant necessity in order to save lives. Alabama’s prison culture resembles a jungle, where you’re either predator or prey, victim or victor. When a lion jumps on the back of an animal, grabs it by the neck, smashes it to the ground, breaks its back, it’s not doing a bad thing. It’s doing what’s appropriate, what’s in its nature. Survival. We’ve all experienced a fight-or-flight response to danger. But what if there is nowhere to flee, that your life or death is determined by how brutal you’re capable of being. Requests for safety and protection too often fall on deaf ears, and can easily tag you a snitch, which would put you in even greater danger. And if the prison officials are forced to get involved before there’s serious bloodshed, you will be asked to sign a living agreement, promising to end the quarrel or be placed in segregation. But once you’ve seen how someone can magically remove their handcuffs and attack another prisoner who’s still wearing his, you realize that segregation isn’t safe, that you need to learn the trick with the handcuffs. Some of the savagery I’d witnessed would cause an average person to question their sanity, to call their Mama and say I want to come home. It’s as if an apocalyptic beast is roaming these prisons with an unquenchable appetite for blood, mostly black men’s blood. And the officials in Montgomery are contributing to their demise by pretending the bestiality that thrives within the walls is under control, but it’s not. The overcrowdedness, the mind-numbing procedures, the rules and regulations that are enforced by too many racist ego-tripping officers, as well as black officers who believe they must be just as cruel to prove they are not like us, each ill-equipped to handle the unrestrained authority they possess. Prisons are supposed to be about rehabilitation, about preparing us to be productive members of society. But instead it cripples and stagnates growth, causing degradation, anger and frustration, often creating a worse version of the person who arrived. Some may feel that this is what they deserve, that they lost their right to be treated as human beings once they broke the law, not worthy of any consideration nor second chances. But one should not make a final judgment on a person until he or she is dead, because, until then, there’s room for change, to be better and do better. Yes, there are many in prison that should never be placed in society ever again. Yet there are so many good, responsible, changed men who simply want another chance to prove their worth. But the way things look, they may not survive to receive that second chance. The noose was so tight around my, that it took Alabama Appleseed and the DA to pull it. Yet I’m afraid for those that are still there that can’t breath.
Lest We Forget – April 26, 1975: Inmates For Action (IFA) member, Frank X. Moore killed by officials in Escambia county jail in Alabama Alabama’s prisons were overcrowded and prisoners were routinely denied basic items such as clean drinking water and eating utensils, while being subjected to violence and extended periods of solitary confinement. To […]
A $3 Billion Dollar Wasteland is Not What Alabama Needs
Over the past several years nearly everyone in Alabama has heard about the many plans and attempts to build new prisons. We, the now- 23,000+ men, women, and (far too many) children incarcerated in the Alabama Department of Corrections have heard about these new prisons too.
We know that the public does not want them. We know that the Alabama Legislature refused to budget them. We know that families who have been extorted, lost loved ones, or don’t know when their loved ones are coming home don’t want them. We also know that the residents of Brierfield and Tallassee, many college students, and thousands of other Alabamians don’t want them either. I can safely say that all 23,000 of us and our families, who are ALL struggling to survive in these death camps, don’t want them either.
Yet, despite this overwhelming public opposition, private prison corporations have signed contracts to build them anyway. What is really going on? Why are corporations and publicly elected officials willing to defy public sentiment and build them anyway? And, why are they willing to invest so much money into a prison system that is already in a deadly crisis?
We all know that we should follow the money on this one but not just the money changing hands in the secret contracts. No, the real money to follow will be after the prisons are complete. The collect calls, medical co-pays, the fees, usury prices for canteens purchases, incentive packages, and cheap tablets the ADOC is rolling out. These are the associated industries that use tax dollars to build the complexes but then exploit them for every bloodsucking penny they can collect as ransom from families. And let’s not forget the biggest prize of them all: the free labor and the factories that will produce hundreds of millions of dollars worth of goods and services every year. These profit motives render the dissent of citizens as irrelevant.
It is this greed that is causing so many problems, claiming so many lives and contributing to the public health crisis we are facing because we have an outdated ideology running an outdated prison system.
From a humanitarian perspective, the ADOC was a failed institution before COVID-19 hit. Since the pandemic arrived, everything has gotten worse. For those of us living the nightmare, we don’t see how new prisons that will house more people for the next 30 years will make anything better. We haven’t heard how the new prisons plan to deal with the existing problems. Nor have we heard how the new prisons will help us deal with the traumas we are experiencing in the current system. From a practical standpoint, all we can see from the inside is how these new facilities are nothing more than our next death camps; the places they’ll send us to die over the next 30 years. We do not want a $3 billion dollar casket. No New Prisons !!!
We reach these conclusions based on what we are witnessing, experiencing and living through on a day-to-day basis. Under Commissioner Jefferson Dunn’s leadership and his “culture of violence”, the ADOC is now the murder capital of the entire State of Alabama, and the murder capital over all prison systems in the nation. It was not like this before he arrived, and there were at least 6 thousand more people in the system in 2015 than there are now. Commissioner Dunn’s officers are routinely on the news for sexually assaulting or beating men and women to death. There are also weekly news reports of officers arrested for attempting to bring drugs into the prisons, drug overdose deaths, suicides, etc. Alabama’s prisons are so infested with drugs, that drug overdose deaths are now deemed “natural causes” on death certificates.
The U.S. Department of Justice states in a July 2020 Investigation Report that Commissioner Jefferson Dunn maintains control of the ADOC through a “culture of violence.” Every single person in ADOC custody has been harmed by this “culture of violence.” Our concern is that this “culture of violence” is transferable, and building new prisons will only transfer a humanitarian crisis into the new communities instead of solving historic, systemic, racial and cultural problems that have plagued the Alabama prison system since after the Civil War.
Since October 2019, ADOC correctional officers have beaten at least four men to death and gassed a fifth person to death. At the same time, the ADOC leads the nation in homicide rates, while ranking among national leaders in suicide, drug overdose, and COVID-19 death rates in its prisons. This is what a “culture of violence” and corruption will get you. The Alabama Department of Corrections is a place where death occurs frequently. New prisons won’t solve these old problems.
On January 30, 2021, correctional officers beat two men so severely that they had to be ambulance and air-lifted to a hospital just to save their lives. One week later, on February 8-9, in a 12-hour span two more lives were cut short by the “culture of violence.” A third person, over 70 years old and posing absolutely no threat to society whatsoever, died as well.
All of this leads to a great amount of trauma, stress, and other challenges associated with living in an environment like this every day. Many of us are released back into society carrying these invisible and untreated injuries with us. We have yet to see how the $3 billion dollar prison plan will address these longstanding and traumatic injuries.
There are also additional problems that three new prisons will bring to their new communities. For example,
• Officer Matthew Moore, 50, was a serial rapist employed by ADOC for over a decade. Moore was convinced on multiple counts in Georgia, including aggravated sodomy, aggravated sexual battery, and aggravated assault after kidnapping and raping several women. Authorities also state they have DNA evidence implicating Moore in additional sex crimes in Alabama and Florida.
• Over 70 correctional officers arrested for drug trafficking or other attempts to transport illegal contraband throughout Alabama communities and into a prison
• In 2014, the US DOJ found that over a 20-year period, at least half of all correctional officers who worked at Tutwiler Women’s Prison sexually assaulted the women incarcerated there. No criminal charges were filed and not a single officer was arrested. Many of these sexual predators will be roaming around the new communities undetected.
In addition, there are public health issues that routinely emanate from the prisons: ADOC’s abysmal health and safety record, including its Covid-19 response; frequent outbreaks of hepatitis, tuberculosis, and scabies. We are awaiting word of how these new prisons are being designed to deal with pandemics, epidemics, and other widespread infections that threaten closed populations. We don’t see any plan to protect our lives or the lives of those in the communities where we reside in today’s prisons, and we don’t see one in the plans for tomorrow’s prisons either.
The State of Alabama does not need new prisons to address its current prison crisis; instead, Alabama needs to identify the laws, policies and practices that led to the crisis. This starts with historical facts that connect the prison system to the institution of slavery, especially Article 1, Sec. 32 of the Alabama Constitution of 1901 . Article 1, Section 32 of the Alabama Constitution contains the provision that created an exception to the complete abolition of slavery, by preserving slavery as punishment for crime. This new form of slavery would be managed and ran by the prison system. Following passage of this law, Alabama prisons began filling up with Black bodies and became work camps under slave-like conditions for people convicted of a crime.
Then there is Alabama’s habitual felony offender act , a law that has been used to fill up Alabama prisons to the point where we now have the most overcrowded, underfunded, and corrupt system in the nation. Historical data evidences a need for social and racial justice in the Alabama Criminal Justice system, especially with the death penalty being disproportionately used against poor Black people, and the fact that over 70% of all people sentenced to life without parole under the habitual offender law are Black. These and other historical issues extend beyond the prison walls and must be addressed by the Alabama Legislature. This includes removing funds from ADOC’s budget and redirecting those funds towards healing, rebuilding, and rehabilitating those injured by the current system.
Neither Governor Ivey nor any other state leader can show us proof of any improvements made to the ADOC over the past 30 years that justify committing an additional 3 billion dollars to the system for another 30 years. However, the arc of human history shows unequivocally the ability of human beings to evolve, get better and reach higher stages of evolution in life if given the resources and a chance. So why are we going backwards by building new prisons before we first invest in people?
An Inside Perspective on Governor Kay Ivey’s plan to build new prisons.
Reports out of Donaldson prison in Bessemer, Ala, that a second person is dead overnight in ADOC custody. Late last night, a death occurred at St. Clair prison. The ADOC was found to have a culture of violence that extends to all levels of the administration and throughout the prison system. Yet two more lives are now gone while no one in ADOC is being held accountable.
Free Alabama Movement is calling on the DOJ to seek immediate relief in their pending litigation in the form of a declaration of a State of Emergency in the ADOC amidst the humanitarian crisis that is out of control.
On Saturday, April 3, 2021, the National Freedom Movement, in conjunction with other organizers, organizations, activists and advocates from around the US are joining the call to action for a 1,000,000 Families For Parole Rally at Parole Boards, Dept. of Corrections Headquarters, and/or State Capitols in states across the country.
America’s parole system is broken and failing to respond to the humanitarian crisis taking place in prisons across the country, leaving countless lives in danger. In the midst of a global pandemic and a humanitarian crisis throughout US jails, prisons and other places of incarceration, Parole Boards are guilty of exacerbating the crisis by denying parole due to bad parole laws and for political and financial reasons.
To bring our loved ones home, and for real change to occur, we must unite across the nation and demand changes to this broken and ineffective parole system. Federal parole must be reinstated, a mandatory parole criteria must be implemented nationwide to justify the billions of tax dollars being spent for “corrections”, an emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic has to be immediately instituted to save lives, and, among other demands, a 3-year limit on parole supervision must be implemented so that people who have successfully integrated back into society can get their lives back.
Participating states thus far include Alabama, Mississippi, Indiana, New York, Louisiana, Florida, Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, and California.
Anyone interested in participating in this event or assisting in the planning and organizing should contact us immediately at:
We are concerned about Donaldson 4 member Mr. Wilbur Smith, and we need assistance in getting an update on his status and well-being. Please contact the ADOC and demand that they provide an update the status, location and health of Mr. Smith. As of this writing, there have been no reports on Mr. Smith and no one has been in contact with him. Please email us at email@example.com and provide updates.
On January 30, officers at Donaldson brutally beat Ephan Moore, a person known to have a mental illness, and Robert Earl Council (AKA Kinetik Justice), a freedom fighter known for his nonviolent organizing. Following the vicious assault, Moore and Council were left fighting for their lives, and the prison was locked down with officers continuing to beat and harass people incarcerated there, including Wilbert Smith and Derrol Shaw. This is only the latest in a long history of officer brutality at Donaldson CF and throughout the Department of Corrections.
The Department of Justice sued ADOC in December for, among other things, failing to prevent officer violence. They have authority to investigate and prosecute brutality against incarcerated people. We are calling on the DOJ to immediately terminate the officers involved in these attempted murders and to investigate the leadership at Donaldson and ADOC which has allowed this violence to continue unabated. This includes Commissioner Dunn, who has overseen the most brutal prison system in the US for years now without accountability. Read the full letter to the DOJ below, and join us in calling for justice for the men at Donaldson Correctional Facility and throughout ADOC.
To the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama and attorneys with the DOJ Special Litigation Section:
The undersigned organizations and individuals, unified and standing in solidarity around the nation, are calling for the immediate termination and arrest of officers involved in the attempted murders of Robert Earl Council, also known as Kinetik Justice, and mental health patient Ephan Moore, as well as those involved in the beating of Wilbert Smith and the use of excessive force against Derrol Shaw at Donaldson Correctional Facility in Bessemer on Saturday, January 30, 2021.
We further call for DOJ investigators and independent observers to be allowed immediate access to Donaldson to ensure that further retaliatory action is not taken against anyone incarcerated there, and that the family of all four of these men be allowed to visit them immediately, including Robert Council who remains in the hospital, even now, fighting for his life. Finally, the DOJ should immediately investigate the role of Commissioner Jefferson Dunn in responding to this and other incidents and consider removing him from leadership of ADOC.
Witnesses and disturbing video have shown that at least four officers – including Sgt. Binder, Sergeant Brown, and Sgt. Melton, and Officer Griffin – beat Mr. Council and Mr. Moore with batons and kicked them in the head until they were unresponsive. Eyewitness accounts state that Mr. Council was trying to defuse the situation when he was attacked from behind by armed officers. Videos show blood in and around the cell where he was dragged out by the feet, as well as a dislodged tooth that was found in the cell. Mr. Council was evacuated by emergency helicopter to a hospital in Birmingham, where he remains in intensive care. Witnesses stated that the initial blow to Mr. Moore’s head was so vicious that it split his face open, and that officers continued to punch and kick his head once he was on the ground. Mr. Moore’s whereabouts and condition are unknown at this time.
This is an extreme incident, but it is not an isolated one. The DOJ is well aware of the horrific and unconstitutional violence committed by Donaldson staff against the people incarcerated there and in other Alabama Department of Corrections facilities. In the DOJ’s recently filed lawsuit against the State of Alabama, the government acknowledges that ADOC fails to protect people in prison from excessive force from staff. The complaint singles out a 2019 incident where Donaldson officers killed Steven Davis. Mr. Davis was beaten beyond recognition by some of the very same officers that have now tried to kill Kinetik Justice and Ephan Moore, including Sgt. Joe Binder.
Just in the last year at Donaldson, at least two other men were brutally killed by institutional malice and neglect. On June 22, Darnell McMillian died in a suicide watch cell after reports indicate he was pepper sprayed by officers and locked in a cell to asphyxiate. Just last week, reports surfaced that Tommy Lee Rutledge was left in a 101 degree cell to die of hyperthermia, in the midst of a cold December night.
Since yesterday morning’s attack, Donaldson has been locked down and ADOC’s CERT team (Correctional Emergency Response Team) has been committing further violence, assaulting Wilbert Smith and Derrol Shaw, among others at the facility. This only underscores the pressing need for federal intervention.
It is clear that the administration at Donaldson is incapable of keeping the population safe from its own bloodthirsty officers. The urgency of this situation demands immediate action by the DOJ to prevent further loss of life. We call upon the Department to do everything in its power to protect the people incarcerated at Donaldson, starting with the immediate termination and prosecution of the officers involved in this incident. As the governmental agency tasked with investigating and holding ADOC accountable for its unconstitutional conduct, nothing could be more squarely within the DOJ’s responsibility.
Mr. Moore is a mentally ill person who should be receiving treatment, not brutality. Victims Shaw and Smith were innocent bystanders, and Kinetik Justice is a freedom fighter known around the world for tireless efforts to organize people in prison to secure their human rights. Kinetik Justice’s advocacy with the Alabama Resistance Movement and the Free Alabama Movement has resulted in constant retaliation from the Alabama Department of Corrections, including efforts to silence him by putting him in solitary confinement, censoring his communications, and putting his life in danger. Now, it appears they have tried to silence him in the ultimate manner that has always been reserved for Black freedom fighters.
But justice cannot be silenced. We call upon the DOJ to take immediate action against these officers and against the system which has been shown – by your own agency – to enable them.
Imagine being in an Alabama prison with a severe mental health illness. Imagine being raised in foster care. Imagine your Mother being deceased. Imagine being tortured because they knew you had no one to call. Imagine every time you heard a code being called either you were being beaten or someone in your metal health unit was being beaten. Imagine not taking your mental health medicine because no one cared if you took it or not. Imagine hearing a code and being afraid and not knowing what to do. Imagine being beaten unconscious. Imagine being dragged to a medical infirmary only to be beaten some more. Imagine someone seeing you being beaten and their human impulse and empathy compels them to scream “Stop, please.” Imagine your help being beaten without mercy. Imagine your help being dragged out by his feet, face down. Imagine a trial of blood. Imagine the victims and the abusers all being Black. Imagine chemicals being sprayed. Imagine being beaten just because. If you can’t imagine these things, then you have no idea who the Donaldson 4 are. Do something NOW !! What is going on at Donaldson and around the State of Alabama is unimaginable.
Alabama Correctional Officers Respond to Mental Health Crisis With Deadly Force, Leaving at least Four Men Injured, Two in Critical Condition January 31, 2021
On the morning of January 30, 2021, Mr. Ephan Moore, a man known to have a serious mental illness who is incarcerated at Donaldson Correctional Facility, experienced a mental health crisis resulting in an incident with Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) staff that correctional officers responded to with deadly and brutal force.
One of the witnesses to Moore’s beating described seeing him being struck in the head by a Sgt. Brown with an “ax-like” object that split Moore from the top of his skull all the way down his face. Moore, who was immediately rendered unconscious by the vicious blow, was then beaten and stomped by a group of four to five guards, according to the witness. The witness stated that if Moore is still alive it would be a “miracle.”
Robert Earl Council, also known as Kinetik Justice, attempted to intervene and pleaded with the officer to stop beating the unconscious and critically injured Moore. After making the plea and retreating to his cell, Sgt. Melton tracked Council to his cell, struck him in the back of the head, and, along with COs Bryant and Griffin, as well as Sgts. Brown and Joe Binder, beat him for several minutes. He was dragged, unconscious, out of his cell by his feet, leaving a pool of blood, as well as a trail of blood as he was dragged. The aftermath of the brutal assault was captured in a widely circulated video taken from inside the prison.
Mr. Council is currently in the Trauma Unit of the University of Alabama – Birmingham (UAB), where he was airlifted from William E. Donaldson Correctional Facility. As of 5:30 p.m. CST on Saturday, his condition is listed as stable. The whereabouts of Mr. Moore and his current condition remain unknown at this time and no known family contact has been discovered.
Shortly after Kinetik and Moore were removed from the dorm and Kinetik was airlifted to UAB hospital, a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) group was called to Donaldson Correctional Facility, where at least one other prisoner, Wilbert Smith, was beaten as well. Both the conditions of Ephan Moore and Wilbert Smith are unknown at this time. Derrol Shaw, who shared an assigned cell with Kinetik Justice, was also sprayed with chemical agents and placed into solitary confinement. His condition is also unknown.
Additionally, family members of Kinetik were able to locate him and dispatched immediately to UAB trauma center, where ADOC and UAB staff denied them access to see him. Advocates and organizers in Birmingham have been gathered outside of UAB for hours demanding that the hospital allow Kinetik’s family in to see him.
Multiple attempts to contact Donaldson Correctional Facility by prison abolitionists, concerned citizens, and other advocates in order to demand answers have been rebuffed throughout the day; as of 3:00 p.m. CST on Sunday, advocates were reporting that the guards answering the phones at Donaldson were laughing at them and then hanging up on them. Donaldson prison remains in full lockdown as Sunday evening. The ADOC has not released any details concerning any of the men’s conditions.
More updates, as well as a joint statement by advocacy groups, are expected to come in the following days.
Sign in SIGN IN Welcome!Log into your account your username your password Forgot your password? PASSWORD RECOVERY Recover your password your email
Home Opinion OpinionSlider Jim Zeigler: Prison lease plan may be a 30-year mistake costing $2.6 billion By Guest Author -January 25, 2021 Jim Zeigler2 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.
Share this: Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) Like this: Related
Ivey administration inches forward on plan to lease prisons May 18, 2020
Alabama gov seeks 3 private built mega prisons, names sites September 5, 2020
Kay Ivey calls for prison overhaul, lottery study group February 5, 2020
TAGSJeff DunnJim ZeiglerKay IveyShad WhiteSteve Marshall Previous article Time, transparency needed as Joe Biden inherits frazzled census Next article Birmingham VA expands vaccine program; more doses still key
Guest Author RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR
2 in 5 Americans live where COVID-19 strains hospital ICUs
Joe Biden to reinstate COVID travel rules, add South Africa
Birmingham VA expands vaccine program; more doses still key – Advertisement –
MOST POPULAR HOT NEWS
2 in 5 Americans live where COVID-19 strains hospital ICUs
Joe Biden to reinstate COVID travel rules, add South Africa
Birmingham VA expands vaccine program; more doses still key Jim Zeigler2 Jim Zeigler: Prison lease plan may be a 30-year mistake… Copyright 2016 – ALToday.com | All Rights Reserved. | Login
ABOUT US 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. FOLLOW US
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.
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.
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.
“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 remaining closed; 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.
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 LA Times BBC China NOW Wall Street Journal Al Jazerra America, Democracy Now, Roland Martin Montgomery Advertiser al.com Huffington Post
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.
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.
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…
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 […]
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 ❗❗❗
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 […]
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
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.
The history: 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.
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) “
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..
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 AFTERthe 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
HISTORYOF 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 OCT 26-30th 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 Amendment 13
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.
TITLE 13A Criminal Code
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
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.
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?
News Alabama prison guards allegedly beat, hog-tied, ignored inmate who later died: Secret report
Billy Smith 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 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.
Jackson Hospital 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.
Note to readers: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links we may earn a commission.
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!
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 applyfor 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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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?
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.
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.
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.
The ADOC continues its efforts to muzzle the voices that are raising up behind prison walls. In their latest move, the ADOC has finally put into writing what it has been unwritten policy for the past 18 months: banning the San Francisco Bay View Newspaper from all ADOC prisons.
The pretextual reason for the ban, according to the ADOC, is that the newspaper is “racially motivated.” What the ADOC ignores is that its own existence is “racially motivated.” As many readers of the Bay View know, this newspaper extends its platform to the entire Black community, including those incarcerated in America’s prisons.
It was the Bay View Newspaper that started the coverage of FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT, when no other news agency would, and their support never wavered. In addition, Bay View has continued to support ALL Movements being lead to end prison slavery in America, including in Alabama.
As a result of the current ban, a subscriber to the newspaper, Michael Williams, who is incarcerated at Holman prison, has went on a hunger strike in protest. The ADOC has banned many other publications over the past 3 years of any entity that covers the corruption and scandal that is the ADOC.
We encourage all of our supporters to make phone calls to the prison in support of Mr. Williams, and to demand that this unconstitutional ban be lifted. In addition, we encourage our supporters to contact legislatures in the House of Representatives and request that they investigate these attempts by the ADOC to stifle free speech and press, where ADOC officials are attempting to ban critique of their illicit practices from being exposed, while they seek over 350 million dollars in taxpayer funds to build new houses of horror and torture.
If ADOC wants to ban “racially motivated ” activity or ideology from spreading, perhaps they should start with the death penalty and habitual offender laws, which are used to disproportionately incarcerate Black people in the State.
The Department of Corrections, more specifically St. Clair Correctional Facility, has reached a new low this week. The Warden has decided to enforce a policy that prohibits Correctional Officers from bringing in normal items such as mesh backpacks, can sodas, and even sealed bags of chips. Correctional Officers are being required to work 16 hour shifts on a regular basis and are already being forced to work with their hands tied behind their backs due to the lack of security equipment. This new policy restricts Officers to using only plastic bags/backpacks not to exceed 16” x 12” x 4”, prohibits sealed / unopened / unsearchable opaque or Styrofoam food / drink containers, and even goes as far to state that a wallet cannot exceed 4” x 8”. Once Correctional Officers enter the facility they are not authorized to leave during their shift, even if their 12 hour shift has been involuntarily extended to 16 hours. With no designated lunch period or official breaks, Officers rely on the food and drinks they bring to last their entire shift.
Ever since the facility’s x-ray baggage scanner stopped working (and was later removed) approximately a year ago, the flow of contraband into the facility has increased exponentially. The regular occurrence of “packages” being tossed over the perimeter fence has mysteriously stopped. One can only imagine why. Why not replace the x-ray scanner, instead of relying on inconsistent and substandard hand searches of Officer’s property? If stopping the introduction of contraband is the Warden’s concern, why not do it the most effective and proven way possible?
The department’s regulations and this policy also prohibit cigars of any type. This has always been enforced at the institution. Approximately two years ago, a Correctional Officer was handcuffed, interrogated, and forced to resign upon the discovery that he had given an inmate some Black & Mild cigars. Yet nearly every day, a Warden brings in Black & Mild cigars, openly smokes them, and gives them to inmates. If this is illegal for an Officer to do, what makes it acceptable for a Warden to commit? Why prevent Officers from bringing food and drinks to work? Why are Officers the only ones being held to the regulations and policies? At what point does one realize how irrational their policies and decisions truly are?
”I have witnessed more than my share of young men that have been sucked into the modern-day plantation. Young men that have been abandoned, forgotten, and alienated. Young men that have been discarded like the trash in our every day households.
I’ve witnessed the transformation of these young men from someone’s son, brother, grandson, father, or husband/boyfriend; to an animal!! What was once hope in their eyes turned to hate, and despair.
I’ve watched and witnessed the lives of young men drain from their eyes, and their soul when they were forced to adapt to this cruel, and violent lifestyle of the concrete jungle. I’ve watched and witnessed the lives of these young men be taken from them because the concrete jungle engulfed them and claimed their blood.
I’ve watched and witnessed these young men laugh to keep from crying for way too long.
But one thing I’ve yet to witness is, the mass majority of society see what I have witnessed!
I WAS ONCE A YOUNG MAN!”
Received via a letter from Swift Justice.
Prisoner Hatred: The Psychology of Justified Torture in America 2/11/17
Millions of Americans are currently being held in modern day concentration camps on American soil. We call them “prisons”. Prisons are being ran “for profit” and have become torture chambers and “legalized” slave labor camps. Similar to Germany during the Nazi regime, Americans have been “trained” through media sources to look the other way, continue in complacency, mind our own business, and remain apathetic. We have naively believed whatever they, the prisoners, receive, they deserve.
In an ego driven society, where personal gain and self preservation is cherished above consideration of our neighbors, whether we know them or not, projection, scapegoating, and superiority are the “ego defenses” used most often when directing hatred toward prisoners. It is how we justify the torture of millions of people, whether they are guilty or innocent. We do not stop to consider the aspects of “guilt versus innocence”, “crime”, or “authority”.
In order to justify the torture of millions of people, held in these modern day concentration camps, called prisons, we project onto them everything we hate about ourselves (projection). Whatever quality of ourselves that we “secretly” hate, we see it perfectly in prisoners. Therefore, we believe, “whatever they receive, they deserve”.
Even as we project our self hatred onto a group of people we deem as worthy of hatred, we say to ourselves, they deserve to die, or be tortured, or suffer, or be locked in a cage for the rest of their lives, they are less than human (scapegoating). We become sadistic abusers.
And after all, we are the “superior” group (superiority). We believe we deserve all good things and they don’t because they are less than human, less than deserving, less than worthy of love….etc.
Because we blindly trust “authority” and are taught to “worship” “authority”, we do not consider if the prisoner is innocent or guilty by doing our own research of the “crime”. We really do not care; our ego needs someone to hate and blame. And, we do not consider if a “crime” was even committed at all, as in “conspiracy” charges. We continue to project, blame, and criticize. We do not consider what the “crime” is…again, we need somewhere to place our self hatred.
We need someone or some group to be our “slave” so that we can keep up our superiority ideals. We need someone or some group to oppress so that we can feel good about our intelligence, our college degrees, our material possessions. We need someone or some group to place our “hatred” so that we can continue our denial systems, our lack of accountability, our own slave mentality.
“In Deep Love and Eternal Kindness”,
Angela Clemons, LAC
The Governor is playing politics with the location of the proposed new prison sites. Closing down 17 prisons will affect the economy of alot of communities in Alabama. Thus, to disclose a location would influence the vote of many legislatures.
“Faced with unfavorable political decisions necessary to adequately fund its prison system—such as raising taxes or letting out low-level offenders early—Alabama instead backed civil actions and a U.S. Department of Justice investigation that raised questions about the state of its prisons, Arthur Rizer, justice policy director at libertarian think tank the R Street Institute and a former assistant U.S. attorney, told Bloomberg BNA on Jan. 19.
State officials were hoping that the results of the investigation would allow them to blame former President Barack Obama’s already unpopular administration for any unpopular actions, Rizer said.”
Repost by Don Shula in Prison Reform Movement:
This is a post from Debra Hernandez. What she is saying is so important and true.
SILENCE AND INACTION IN THE FACE OF ALL THIS INJUSTICE IS CONSENT, IS COMPLICITY.
Here she comments on the reasons behind the prison abolition movement.
I love it.
Been involved since 1978. The pendulum definitely swung way way right. I hope to see it in my lifetime.
The problem is that the Legislature and system that created the system will put up a fight due to the profiteers. I believe like in Arizona the same people who started to put this in motion in the late 80s are the exact same who are the ones who profit. Many in AZDOC administration now work in conjuction with the private prisons we have here. It continues to grow.
Actually, Arizona is in a teacher crisis. They are down thousands of teachers. Several thousand class rooms don’t have teachers that are credentialed. They have babysitters. Governor Ducey who gave his address at the beginning of the year started all about education being a priority. It is smoke and mirrors. He have condemned buildings that used to be the classrooms, next to what was supposed to be temporary.
He proposed, get this a .04% raise for teachers. What a joke. Minimum wage gets more than college educated professionals.
Now, if journalists want to uncover what’s underneath the smoke and mirrors, they would find it is criminal how our education system has been raided over the last 20 years. The politicians stole from the kids and made a crime and punishment industry that gets billions. Here in Arizona, the budget for prisons is extremely high. Like I said a couple ofbillion or more.
Now, over the years they have put the costs onto the prisoners families.
They pay $25.00 for an application to visit per adult and children who become teems then have to get a back check even if they have visited for most of their young lives. Azdoc took control through the AZ Legislature, years ago, the inmate account and made it the property of AZDOC. So, once it goes on their books it belongs to Department of Corrections. They receive the interest. They get kick backs from the telephones, the commissary . They have to buy there own clothes which are orange AZDOC uniforms. They don’t actually own them, they rent them. Doc will take them back once you are released if they are so lucky to get out. They pay electric, they pay for Doctors appointment and there are fees that have nothing to do with inmate. Those fees are expenses for other parts of the prison system, like programs for drunk drivers who are serving time. There are no programs, no incentives to learn and better themselves. They say they do but in reality that is another smoke and mirror.
WHAT I AM GETTING AT IS,
WE HAVE AN EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM SET UP HERE IN ARIZONA THAT GUARANTEES THAT MORE PRIVATE PRISONS WILL BE NEEDED.
THE PROBLEM IS THE POOR SCHOOLS ARE ATTROCITIES.
THE PRISONS DON’T HAVE THE STAFFING. THEY ARE SO SHORT ON STAFF THAT WOULD BE CONSIDERED A CRISIS. REMEMBER THE LONGEST PRISON HOSTAGE SITUATION HAPPENED IN LEWIS PRISON, THE EXACT PRISON THAT MY HUSBAND AND SON ARE IN.
THEY DON’T HAVE ENOUGH FOOD TO FEED THEM THE FOOD PACKAGE LIMIT HAS GROWN OVER SEVERAL YEARS. THE AMOUNT THEY CAN BUY IN COMMISSARY ALSO HAS GONE UP.
THE FAMILIES OF THE INMATES ARE SUBSIDIZING THE MEALS, THE CLOTHES, THE DENTIST OR DOCTOR APPOINTMENTS. THEY PAY ELECTRICITY, FEES ARE PASSED ON AS WELL. WE THEN PAY OUR TAXES AND WE PAY FOR THE BILLIONS IN AZ DEPARTMENT OF THE BUDGET.
WHERE IS ALL THE MONEY GOING TO? NOT TO SCHOOLS, OR PRISONERS CARE AND NOT SECURITY OF THE PUBLIC.
I WOULD LIKE AN INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER USE THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT AND FOLLOW THE MONEY TRAIL.
On Sept. 9, 2016, prisoners participated in the largest prisoner work stoppage in the history of the country. Prisoners in at least four facilities in Michigan joined in the workstoppage,including Kinross Correctional Facilitynear Kincheloe in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The next morning, after retaliatory actions from staff, Kinross prisoners held a peaceful demonstration in the yard. Since then, hundreds have faced harsh, unjust retaliation.Michigan Abolition and Prisoner Solidarity (MAPS)formed to help amplify the voices of prisoners brave enough to speak out publicly against the abuses of the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC). Harold “HH” Gonzaleswas a spokesperson for the prisoners at thedemonstration at Kinross and wrote the following account.This photo illustrates a Jan. 9, 2017, story broadcast by WCMU Radio, a NPR station, headlined, “Disturbance at Kinross cost almost $900,000.”It is hard for me to write these accounts because they are so numerous in blatant retaliatory actions against us, without any regard or fear of accountability. A lot of the public would not believe a state agency could stoop to a lot of the persecution I’ve faced for standing against past and presentinhumane treatment. They count on that fact, as well as the hope that an attitude of “prisoners don’t deserve rights,” or the public turning a blind eye to the mistreatment of prisoners, will be their license to mistreat us.I will try to give you a brief, concise description of events that precipitated the fall event, the event itself and the actions ofMDOC afterward. Before I do so, though, I would like to share a perspective that I believe will help people to understand our plight.When people hear prison or Department of Corrections, they think of a system of incarcerating criminals; they relate through what they’ve seen in movies and so forth. They see it as a state agency run by a pseudo-government, governed by a system of checks and balances.It’s an “easy on the eye, mind and soul” vision. What it really is, is a multi-million-dollar corporation. I believe it accounts for one of the top three largest parts of the state’s budget. It outsources to outside bidders for contracts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, for huge kickbacks.It is now beginning to monopolize the sale of goods and services to the inmate populations. In essence, it’s “big business” and, like all big business, its goal is to protect its interest. Couple that with a system that creates its own policies, answers to itself and, because its merchandise is prisoners, has no real moralor ethical responsibilities, and you have the Michigan Department of Corrections, or MDOC!It is hard for me to write these accounts because they are so numerous in blatant retaliatory actions against us, without any regard or fear of accountability. A lot of the public would not believe a state agency could stoop to a lot of the persecution I’ve faced for standing against past and presentinhumane treatment.Now I can begin the story of the events at Kinross that culminated in the fall work stoppage, and the subsequent actions taken by the department.All the inmates at what is now known as Kinross were transferred as a whole to that facility in the fall of 2015. The “new” facility was abhorrently below the health and safety standards required to open it. When we arrived, there was no heat, the plumbing didn’t work, the room and cell furnishings that are required by Correctional Facilities Administration (CFA) policies could not be met, i.e., blankets, sheets, washcloths, towels etc.The ventilation system, when turned on, caused three people to be rushed immediately to the hospital and 26 people ended up going in time. The chow hall was woefully inadequate to facilitate 1,150 inmates, the cable didn’t work, and there were not enough outlets for the eight men required to live in cramped cubes built for four men – in fact, there were only two outlets. There were no shelves for the inmates’ bunks, no curtains, no fans, no sprinklers for fire safety, and we were fed well beneath calorie and nutritional standards!There is more, but I will stop here. As you can see, though, the prison clearly was not ready for human or animal habitation. Everymaintenance man was heard to say, “I don’tknow why they brought you guys here; the prison is not ready.”This actually sparked a previous protest that was blamed by MDOC on Trinity, one ofthose outsourced, privately-owned, kickback-giving companies that was supposed to feed us. And so the onus of the cause of the protest was placed on Trinity, and the overall general conditions that it was really about were conveniently overlooked by the MDOC Public Relations Department.The prison clearly was not ready for human or animal habitation. Every maintenance man was heard to say, “I don’t know why they brought you guys here; the prison is notready.”We lived under these conditions for most ofthe time we were there. I’ve been doing time for almost 30 years and in all that timeI’ve never seen conditions so bad they united 1,150 prisoners: Bloods, Crips, GDs, Vicelords, Red Teams, Blue Teams, Five-Pointed Stars, Six-Pointed Stars, Christian, Muslim, all united in the common cause of ending the abusive conditions, mental and physical, that all inmates are subjected to, not just at Kinross, but all overMichigan.Kinross just created a united mindset to stand against it finally. Suddenly, everyone was an activist, willing to support in any way they could.We exhausted all the avenues for legal redress on the issues to the kangaroo judicial system – it just happened to be the same system we were seeking redress from: “Big Business MDOC,” the same people who approved and allowed us to be transferred there. Clearly, they were not going to answer in our favor and give in to the most hated enemy of Big Business: “liability.”So they took us on the roller coaster of “spins,” false promises, creative interpretation and bureaucratic red tape! It reached the point where we were clearly able to see the nature of the animal we were dealing with and the futility of seeking justice from the system built, owned, written by and answering only to itself, without outside assistance. There were many solutions to go about getting it, but the one that held was the work stoppage of Sept. 9, 2016.Kinross just created a united mindset to stand against it finally. Suddenly, everyone was an activist, willing to support in any way they could.Suffice it to say the work stoppage was organized and put in effect the morning of Sept. 9. The protest had taken on a nationalaspect, where it was no longer just about Kinross, but the idea and concept of mass incarceration, built with racial overtones, unfair and unethical sentencing practices, unjust taxation without representation, suchas the 6 percent sales tax on anything we order except food from store, even shippingand handling, “the New Jim Crow.”The warden knew of the protest and the truth of why it happened at his facility, a fact that can be logically proven by his stance of inaction against it. He instructed his staff not to write tickets or fire inmates for not working. If you check the records, no tickets were written and no one lost a job for not working that day. Clearly, he knew we had legitimate gripes against his facility.His staff, however, were of a different opinion. They chose to try and exorcise the protest out of us through mistreatment: malicious shakedowns, breaking property and underfeeding us with dated, spoiled food; and when seeking redress, we were told to “deal with it.”This sparked off the assembly on Sept. 10, 2016. In short, against my will I ended up out there. I blame no inmate for their actions. These were men who were desperate and believing they had no other option. While I did not agree with some of the methods used, I believed in the principles at their core.The warden knew of the protest and the truth of why it happened at his facility, a fact that can be logically proven by his stance of inaction against it.You have to realize the severity of the situations we face in here. They (MDOC) have literally killed people in here and gotten away with it. They were basically starving us, had us living in filth, no bleach, watered down sanitizer, with lying and abusive staff, and the only people to complain to would rather protect the interests of “Big Business” than the rights ofsome prisoners!So I ended up out there and, yeah, when things started to turn dark (mindsets, not the time of day) and people – scared, tired, frustrated, with hope almost gone – asked me to be the spokesperson for the inmates with the administration, I did it, and peacefully ended the assembly. This action has me labeled as the “leader” of the fall incidents, when in actuality I ended a situation that could have turned ugly for everyone. I thought I did a good thing for us: no one hurt, good discussion with the warden, a positive tone all around.You have to realize the severity of the situations we face in here. They (MDOC) have literally killed people in here and gotten away with it.But “Big Business” couldn’t allow it to end like that. It had too much attention and theycouldn’t allow the focus of the incident to be on the issues, so they literally sent in the guns to an already agitated, anxiety-filled, desperate group of individuals who were barely talked out of violence, to aggravate and intensify their aggression.They intentionally incited a riot-type atmosphere so the department would back their past transgressions – they would haveno choice! They intentionally collage all the events together to paint the picture of a bunch of inmates storming out of units rioting, when in fact the assembly had been over for at least two hours, inmates were in their units in their cubes and peaceful whenthey sent in the “storm troopers.” Inmates in my unit were on their bunks and still they gassed us repeatedly.They intentionally incited a riot-type atmosphere so the department would back their past transgressions – they would haveno choice!We were taken out of the unit and myself and 102 other inmates were taken to Marquette Prison, to a condemned block that had been closed down for four years prior to our arrival. We were placed in filthy cells here also, plumbing didn’t work, and supplies and treatment were below standards. We were always fed the same bag meals, although they had a functioning kitchen with workers, and already fed everyone else there in their cells hot meals.After the second day, I was separated from the rest of the transferred Kinross prisonersand placed in another block, where I was informed that they “knew” I was the “leader”and I had nothing coming. They meant my property was “lost.” Everything I possessed – hygiene, legal transcripts, coat, shoes, appliances, photos etc. – everything gone. Iwas denied toothpaste the whole time I was there.Twenty-severn days later, 88 of us were transferred again to Baraga Maximum facility, where again I was separated from the rest of the inmates. I was immediately called into an office, told they “knew” I was the “leader” of the “rebellion” and that I should plan to be there in segregation for two years.After this event, my security classification was raised up four levels and I was placed in administrative segregation where they can keep you for as long as they want. HereI was denied blankets, washcloths, towels and laundry bags for the first 10 to 12 days, an extra set of clothing for 27 days, the right to buy things from the store for 70 days, and none of these things did they end up giving me without me first having to go through the lengthy grievance process.I was immediately called into an office, toldthey “knew” I was the “leader” of the “rebellion” and that I should plan to be therein segregation for two years.These are all things that another prisoner is given by procedure, but here I have to grieve to get them. They have an “incentive”program here that allows inmates to earn privileges and even though I do all the things necessary to gain the privilege, I have to grieve to gain them. This is a process that can be stretched out to 60 days, so I’m always behind in anything I earn. They have still not “found my property.”As of Aug. 19, 2016, I was a level one-one prisoner, the lowest security achievable. I was a father with an 8-year-old son I have never seen face-to-face, not living in the best of circumstances, striving diligently to reach him. I had three years left on an 11-year sentence.Men like me are the perfect “patsy” for the MDOC. We are supposed to take the abuse and make no waves. They pit our desire to go home against our desire for humane treatment. Ninety percent accept the abuse,but the abuse throughout MDOC is reachingepic levels! Sure, on the surface they have asystem of checks and balances, but the checks don’t balance the scales. They cover up the transgressions, so in essence the checks balance the scales so that they ever favor “Big Business!”We need help, I’m shouting out from this 8-by-10 cell, help us! Don’t let them quiet our voice; be an amplifier for us. Don’t let what they are doing to us and throughout the MDOC fade into oblivion. We were not angels, but we don’t deserve this!We need help, I’m shouting out from this 8-by-10 cell, help us! Don’t let them quiet our voice; be an amplifier for us. Don’t let what they are doing to us and throughout the MDOC fade into oblivion.I cannot express adequately my appreciation and gratitude or the humbling effect that knowing I’m not in this alone hashad on me. I’m thankful for the strength andinspiration that your support provides at thetimes when things get overwhelming. I will not run from this or hide. There are too many inmates that are counting on me to be their voice, and since that’s where this started for me, that’s where I’ll be until the end!
Send our brother some love and light: Harold Gonzales, 194496, Baraga MaximumCorrectional Facility, 13924 Wadaga Rd., Baraga, MI 49908-9204.
“Some of them was still sleep in their bed so she lying!!!!!! They came around and did a walk list and then start running up in their cells jumping on them!!!! Was asking one time or two and spaying in there cell!!!!!!”
*Attention Emergency Confined*** ***********Citizens Alert**********Prisoners in the segregation unit (lock up) at Holman Prison are currently being attacked and sprayed with a chemical agents by the CertTeam. It has been reported that prisoners are having trouble breathing due to the harsh chemicals and no ventilation. Staff are refusing to open doors to vent out the strong smell. The Prisoners were conducting a peaceful protest against inhumane conditions. Inmates are complaint of non functioning toilets, showers, refusal for daily walks . It has been reported that are having trouble breathing due to the harsh chemicals and no ventilation.These type of attacks are a violation of Prisoner Rights according to the 8th Amendment under Crueland Unusual Punishment.A use of force is excessive and violates the Eighth Amendment when it is not applied in an effort to maintain or restore discipline but is used to maliciously and sadistically cause harm. Where a prison official is responsible for unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain, the Eighth Amendment has been violated.Please contact the A.D.O.C and the Alabama Governors Office demanding that prisoners are provided proper treatment and that their current inhumane conditions need to be addressed immediately.
Holman Correctional Facility1240 Ross Rd, Atmore, AL 36502
As an inside/outside supporter standing in solidarity of the FAM, it is my duty as a comrade and supporter of FAM to respond to the critique of the FAM post on January 25, 2016 on the site, Its Going Down. This response is by no means to disregard the opinion of the author; however a response is much needed to clarify the actions, works, and accomplishments of the FAM.I would like to begin by addressing the opening quote by the author of the article.
It was stated, “Non-violence is itself just an insidious hypocritical form of violence, a sign of certain people’s inability to stand up for themselves as human beings. “ As a comrade of the FAM I know that the members have been taught, studied, and duplicated the works of many leaders such as; Civil Rights Leaders, Revolutionaries, Political and Spiritual Leaders from our history and current times. The actions of such leaders were not always supported by violencebut were effective forms of actions that led to manyaccomplishmentsthat brought change. Leaders such as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and The Black Panther Party were of great minds that were often met with a level of violence; however, in most cases they chose to use their minds versus violence. This choice did not deem them as unable to stand up for themselves nor the rights of the people.One of the easiest things for the inactive to do is criticize works of the active without suggesting or offering any form of a solution. It is also the actions of a reactionary to cause more damage by using violence, especially if the violence is not being used in effort to defend a cause or for protection.
To criticize the works of FAM in such a blistering manner suggest hate and envy towards FAM, the movement and its supporters inside and out. After carefully reviewing your article, what “you” considered to be a critique of the actions of FAM, was more so an attack geared towards discrediting the works and accomplishmentsof the FAM. Also, I do recall that you mentioned that you “sincerely” hoped that FAM changes its mode of action and incorporate a diversity of actions into its tactics when it came to fighting the state. You continued to state that you hope that FAM abandons it reformist goals where strengthening the state. I am very curious to know, how effective would it be to approach the state in a violent manner in effort to change, reform, or repeal laws. It is the right of the people to hold those who are place in these offices accountable for their actions, policies, and procedures without jeopardizing the safety of those of the movement inside and out.The use of the non-violent approach being used by FAM is based on multiple reasons, one, as I stated, is the safety of the members and supporters (insideand out), using the knowledge gained by extensive research in its proper manner, and attacking this system on the economic basis in which this system is thriving on.
The sole reason why Mass Incarceration exsist is due to a profit based agenda.It was the portrayal of violence and violent related crimes that led the majority of those incarcerated to end up behind prison walls. “You” being a previous participant and observer (as you so stated)have knowledge that the strategic planning, organization mobilization of the FAM in January 2014, cost the state of Alabama millions of dollars during days of the work stoppage, also sparking the attention of the state and the awareness of the nation to finally recognize that changes needed to be made in the system. This system capitalizes on the suffrage of the men, women and their families not only in the state of Alabama, but across the nation. The only thing the system (naming the ADOC, law makers, corporations, and politicians, etc.) understands is the bottom line (money). The only way to fight this profiting system is to attack its investments and industries economically (non-violently)by the use of work stoppages, labor strikes, sit downs, and more importantly boycotts with the aide and assistance of the outside ( family members, organizations, and those who view this draconian system as unjust) standing in solidarity, once again non-violently.
Now if met with violence, it would only be of human nature to defend one’s self “by any means necessary”, in the words of Malcolm X. It is unfortunate that you and the media have mislabeled and misinterpreted the so called “riot “that occurred on August 1, 2016 as an act of violence instead of resistance to the unjust actions of the ADOC. However, FAM and its supporters deemed these actions as “the language of the unheard”, as stated by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It isevident that you have not paid close attention of theplans of the ADOC and state officials that it is more important to build more prisons to combat the over crowdedness instead of repealing laws, revamping the parole system, and implementing rehabilitation programs (as stated in the FAM Freedom Bill) in effort to lower the recidivism rates and restore families and communities.
It is the lack of knowledge and ignorance of those, including yourself that aide in the efforts of the state to allocate money to be allowed to build more prisons. My question to you is what other way do you think they will get this money? Simply put, it is to create situations of violence to show and prove that it is necessary to provide money for the building of new prisons to continue this profit making process. It is also amusing that you have missed this concept considering you are a part of this process just as much as those who participated in the “riot”. Furthermore, it is sad that those who work for this system recognize the acts of the administration and have expressed to the members of FAM in conversation, documentation, and participation of the movement that they too agree that some actionneeds to be taken not only on the behalf of the inmates, but also themselves, as they suffer as welldue to lack of pay and their safety. Unbeknownst to you, FAM is in possession of this proof and this information. This information has been dispersed tothose who are trusted to disclose this information to assist in bringing awareness to this situation.One thing that I do agree is that FAM has been excellent at spreading the information and raising the awareness to people on the outside. However, I do not agree that they have failed to spread and articulate this same awareness inside the prisons inthe state of Alabama, January 2014 Shutdown, May Day (May 1st), and September 9 are indications thatthe information were well disseminated and well received in the inside for those who were receptive of the information. FAM has and will utilize continuous efforts to continue spreading the word about their goal, which is Freedom and Humane Treatment. I will admit that it will not reach everyone, but it will not stop them from trying nor will it stop this Movement.
To say that the work stoppages that occurred on the fore mentioned dates were ineffective is ludicrous due to the fact that the work stoppages cost the state millions in lost revenue, brought the awareness of the Alabama (tax paying) public, and the nation that there is a serious problem. It also revealed to the prisoners that are being used as slave laborers that we the people have the power to change this system.More importantly, FAM recognizes that the people must be educated as to the root cause of Mass Incarceration, Prison Labor, and legalized slavery can only survive under the protection of the U.S. Constitution by way of the 13th Amendment which states that: slavery is abolished with the exception of one duly convicted in a court of law. This education must be applied to those on the inside and outside in order to raise awareness so that this can be effectively combated.You stated, “In order to end prison slavery, prison society must be destroyed and the same goes for Mass Incarceration. I would advise prison rebels to not allow so-called free-world allies to dictate how we fight. We really don’t need allies, we need accomplices, conspirators.” This is the rhetoric of a fool! Until FAM organized the work stoppages, labor strikes, and shut downs, NO ACTION had been taken by the masses of prisoners to bring raises awareness about the system of Mass Incarceration and Prison Slavery on a state, national, and even international level.
My questions to you and those who you have “talked” to, what organizing and plan of actions have “you” taken to attack the very conditions you are currently under?In closing, your attempts to slander and denigrate FAM are without merit and support. Also in regards to the “Peace Summit” you referred to, the peace that was brokered at Holman was done so by members of FAM, UPU (Universal Peace and Unity) religious communities, militant communities, and those affiliated with youth organizations this peace was brokered by THE PEOPLE working in unity and solidarity. The person, to whom you are attempting to slander, Kinetik Justice, has worked tiredly and effortlessly on the behalf of the people to be a voicefor the voiceless and to bring awareness to the squalor, pain, and suffering of the incarcerated in Alabama and across the nation. You do NOTHING and have done NOTHING, yet you attempt to slander and discredit a movement based assumption that only Facebook post is the cause of being placed him in solitary confinement for the past three years and as of current date. Kinetik Justice, Ra Sun, and Dhati Khalid (FAM 3) have duplicated the actions of our most prominent leaders for the fight for Freedom, Justice, and Equality which definitely constitute them as being leaders.