Alabama prison carrying our racist psychological experimental program at Donaldson prison predominately against African American men

The experiment with the “behavior modification” dorm at Donaldson CF in Alabama continues. Hearkening back to the Tuskegee Experiment and other forms of medical torture that have taken place in Alabama against predominately African Americans, the Alabama prison system is again violating basic civil and human rights in the name of corrections by conducting a “behavior modification” experimental program and using over 80% African American men, including many who don’t have any behavior problems.

  Over the past two weeks, the Alabama Department of Corrections has been going to other lower level prisons around the State and snatching up African American men and transferring them to Donaldson CF and placing them into a new experimental program called the “behavior modification” program. The first problem is, most — if not all — of these African American men came from general population at other prisons with no behavior records warranting their transfer.

  Once in this program, all of their rights and privileges are curtailed. Among the most egregious violations has been the denial of showers for six consecutive days and counting, no personal or legal property, denial of all mail, books, and reading material, no visitation with family, and no paperwork or written explanation explaining why they are being placed into a “behavior modification” program; all while housed two to a cell.

  Many of these men have such exemplary records that they qualified for an incentive package at their former prison, only to arrive at Donaldson to have their packages taken from them. In order to qualify for an incentive package, one must have 6 months disciplinary free records for non-violent rules violations and 1 year disciplinary free for violent disciplinary. Some of these men have multiple years of disciplinary free records, while others have never have any prior violent records.

  They are forced to eat, sleep, defecate, and urinate with another person in the cell at all times. These cells don’t have a table to eat on, and if one or the other cellmates is defecating when a meal is being served, both of their trays are passed into the cell anyway. And, because they are being denied recreation time, they are locked down 24 hours every day in a two-man cell. Also of note is that the ADOC elected to start this experimental program in the heat of the Summer.

  Again, the majority of these men, came from the general population at other prisons. Most of them have disciplinary free files, yet they are being placed into a behavior modification program. Some of them have level 4 custody for a medium security prison, yet they were transferred to a level 6 maximum security prison, which is the highest level prison in Alabama, and placed on total lockdown.

  In fact, these men were placed into this experimental program before a S.O.P. manual was complete on how this program would be ran or what the criteria would be to place someone in this program.

  If the majority of these African American men don’t have any disciplinary records to justify their placement into this program, and all of them came from general population at other lower level prisons and have lower custody classification status, why are they being placed into this experimental  “behavior modification” program? The answer seems quite simple: because this racist experimental programs was designed to be tested on and carried out disproportionately against African American men.

This is the same model that was used in the Georgia prison system.

  The Georgia Department of Corrections hired a retired military officer to run their prison system, and he began a “behavior modification ” program that employs these same enhanced torture tactics that were first tested and used by the US military in Abu Gharib prison in Iraq. Alabama has now followed suit by hiring a retired military officer to run the Alabama Department of Corrections, and the new Commissioner is now implementing the exact same “behavior modification” program in Alabama. Georgia tested their program on mostly African American men also.

  Please help us bring awareness to this racist and illegal experimental program at Donaldson CF and protest against its continuous by doing the following:

1) Join our media campaign to help expose this program and the fact that African Amwrican men in Alabama prisons are being targeted and placed into an experimental psychological torture “behavior program” even though the vast majority of them don’t have any behavior citations.

2) Contact Commissioner Jeff Dunn, Sen. Cam Ward, Governor Robert Bentley and the Civil Rights Division of the US Dept of Justice, and file a complaint and demand to know why this experimental program is being carried out exclusively against African American men.

3) Join FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT,  MOTHERS AND FAMILIES,  THE ORDINARY PEOPLE SOCIETY, and IWOC as we plan to organize protests at Donaldson CF against this racist and illegal experimental program.

4) Contact the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners and file a complaint against any medical/psychology professional for engaging in experimental psychological practices and mental torture against African American men incarcerated at Donaldson prison.

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Race Plays A Major Role In Mass Incarceration, by Rev. Robert Turner

minister robert turnerThe quagmire our Alabama Department of Corrections finds itself in has as its source the same cancer that has plagued this state since its inception. As with most structural injustices this, too, can be traced back to America’s sinful incestuous affair with race. It is disingenuous to speak comprehensively about the complications of the prison system in America, let alone Alabama, without speaking on the influence of race.

Consider seriously the debilitating effects of racist policies which create2013-10-27 17.22.24-4
overwhelming racial disparity such as disproportionate sentencing, whereby
blacks get a longer sentence for the same crime as compared to whites, racial
profiling, the ill-fought and wrongly aimed war on drugs, underfunded and
understaffed public defenders and schools in the inner city, and you will see
structural impediments which lay the foundation for the current horrifying
statistic that one in three black males will be incarcerated at some point in
their lives.

In 2013, the United Nations Human Rights Committee argued that,
“racial disparity pervades every stage of the United States criminal justice
system, from arrest to trial to sentencing.”image

Critics argue the lack of supportive fathers is the culprit for all the troubles, which young black males suffer. Tell that to the parents of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin; both had loving and supportive fathers but were still seen as a menace to a sinfully racist society. Space would not allow me to give an exhaustive monologue on the depth of the historical events surrounding these issues. Suffice it to say, our prison problem began to manifest itself when nostalgic, white supremacist ideologues created incriminating laws such as the Black Codes immediately following slavery, which preyed upon the newly freed slaves. Even businesses profited off the backs of legally entrapped blacks.

Moreover, today according to author Michelle Alexander, the word “felon” is now
seen with the same angst as the word “negro” or “colored” did during the Jim
Crow era. It is extremely hard for former nonviolent inmates to find jobs, vote
and even get a student loan for college.

If people who committed crimes involving no moral turpitude have paid their debt to society why do we feel it efficacious to stigmatize and punish them for the rest of their lives? I am exuberant that God does not still label me based on past sins. For all those who come to Him in repentance, confessing their faults, and accept Him as their Lord and Savior, God welcomes. Hebrews 10:17 says, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”Word press melvin-1

Until we get honest about the source, it will do us no good to try to remedy the problem. Otherwise, we will only be treating symptoms and never cure the disease. Not talking about racism does not make it go away. Likewise, exposing a problem is not the same as creating one. People of faith need to stand up against injustice even if it is being done to the vilest among us. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Let us not just eradicate our prison overcrowdedness and staffing problems. Let’s get to the root and finally address the role of race in our criminal justice system.

If Jesus, a man of color, were in an Alabama prison today, would you care about the conditions, sentencing guidelines and societal stigmatization post-release then? Well, several of His servants are incarcerated, and we are called not to judge, but visit them. Always remembering what Jesus says in Mathew 25:36, “I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

Free Alabama Movement Blasts Racial Make-Up of Governor Bentley’s and Sen. Cam Ward’s Prison Reform Task Force and The Council of State Governments: Cites National Report that Debunks CSG and their Justice Reinvestment Initiative program

On June 10, 2014, Governor Robert Bentley, surrounded by Sen. Cam Ward, Commissioner Kim Thomas, Chief Justice Roy Moore and others, announced the formation of Alabama’s 25-member Prison Reform Task Force and a AM17375-2partnership with the Council of State Governments (CSG), to address longstanding and nationally publicized issues that affect Alabama’s prison system.

According to Gov. Bentley, the solution to Alabama’s prison woes, which include a nation-leading 200% occupancy rate that has led to extreme overcrowding, excessive violence including 4 murders in 2014 already at St. Clair prison, least-in-the-nation investments in education, rehabilitation and corrections, high recidivism, widespread diseases like Staph, TB, STD’S, Hepatitis, scabies, and others, over-targeting of Black men (Black men make up only 14% of Alabama’s total population, but 62% of the prison population) and understaffing, among other issues, can be found in the CSG’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI).

FAMpluslogoAccording to FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT Founder and Spokesperson Melvin Ray, the recipe being offered by Gov. Bentley and lead by Sen. Cam Ward in the JRI is nothing more than bloated political speak and, so far as solutions are concerned, is D.O.A. Mr. Ray says that anyone thinking that the JRI program can solve Alabama’s historic mess need only read the report issued by a national group of researchers, analysts and advocates titled, “Ending Mass Incarceration: Charting a New Justice Reinvestment.”

This National Report highlights some of the very issues that are already plaguing Governor Bentley and Sen. Ward from the start: misdirected focus on “costs” as opposed to corrections, lack of racial and demographic diversity from the communities and leaders most affected by mass incarceration, and failing to acknowledge the racial equation that is so evident in Alabama’s (and the Nation’s) criminal justice system.

Ray says that “throughout Governor Bentley’s speech, not once do we hear the words Education, Rehabilitation or Re-Entry Preparedness. It is these structural deficiencies that are driving mass-incarceration in the first place, along with poverty and unemployment. But, we can’t expect to have that discussion when the PRFT and the CSG board more so resemble a Ku Klux Klan rally than it does the racial balance of the State, or the communities that fuel mass incarceration. The people most affected by mass incarceration — the African American community — needs a seat at the table also.robert bentley

When race has so obviously been at the forefront of the drive behind mass incarceration and prison slavery, the African American community cannot expect a group made up almost exclusively of white men to address issues that they created in the first place. There is a real “human cost” at stake here with so many black men being in prison, but Governor Bentley’s committee doesn’t even pay lip service to that issue. Their plan under the JRI of building satellite prisons in our communities and calling it community corrections just won’t do. African American communities are already devalued. Building satellite prisons in them will only exacerbate that equation even lower.”

FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT CO-FOUNDER Robert Earl Council said that the legislation that will address these concerns has already been written in their “FREEDOM BILL.” Mr. Council says that without a focus on education and rehabilitation that includes re-entry programs, the African American community can stay prepared for more of the same.

The ACLU/SENTENCING PROJECT Report (which can be found on their websites) echoes these complaints. According to the Report, “The Justice Reinvestment Initiative, as it has come to operate, runs the danger of institutionalizing mass incarceration at current levels.”

The Report goes on to say that, while the JRI was originally intended to reduce prison populations and pass those savings on to affected communities “to make them safer, stronger, more prosperous and equitable,” the savings have not been realized, and “as it turns out, without significantly reducing corrections populations.”

Despite the fact that the JRI has been implemented in over 28 states, Sen. Ward can only point to Texas as a State that he says the JRI has improved.

Yet, the Report belies Sen. Wart’s comments, and show that Texas’ “prison population went from 171,790 in 2007 up to 173,648 in 2010, then down slightly to 172,224 in 2011.” (p. 6) In the last several years, Texas’s prison population has risen from 171,790 at the end of 2007 to 172,224 at the end of 2011, and is projected to increase further. The JRI trumpets Texas’s “success,” and the Texas reforms were a success in one sense: Texas is one of our toughest-on-crime states, so any progress on criminal justice reform is an accomplishment. However, if the metric is reduced to corrections populations and costs, the Texas JRI program must be viewed as a failure.

Another area of concern for FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT expressed by Mr. Council is “the total lack of representation by a single African American male on either the Governor’s PRFT or the Board of the CSG.”

The 25-member PRTF has 20 white men, 3 white women, 2 African American women, and 0 African American men.

African American men only make up 13% of Alabama’s total population, there are 16,861 African American men in Alabama prisons, who constitute 63% of the total prison population. Based on these statistics alone, Mr. Ray says that the total exclusion of African American men from the PRTF is totally unacceptable, indefensible, and indicative of the systemic racial barriers and white supremacist ideology that continues to exist in Alabama. When Sen. Ward was confronted with this lack of racial inclusion, despite the enacting law (SJR 20  calling for racial inclusion, Sen. Ward said that he is more concerned with diversity of thought than diverse representation.

But as F.A.M. supporter Ms. Barbara Wine states, diverse thought can hardly come from such a homogeneous group:

“A group of white men will always come up with a white man’s idea. Ideas and solutions drawn from a diverse team representative of the population affected, can draw from a range of life experiences, cultural awareness and social knowledge, which will yield better results. White men (especially in the South) did not want to let slavery end, so they kept it alive in the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and enforced it in the prisons. It is a disgrace upon this country that in the Land of the Free we still has a provision in our U. S. Constitution in 2014 that authorizes slavery.”

The National Report supports the need for racial and community inclusion “especially from minority leaders and elected representatives of high incarceration communities (and grass roots organizations, grass-top leaders, among others), WHO ARE OFTEN MARKEDLY MISSING.” (emphasis added)

Rep Barbara Boyd, D Anniston, AL

Rep. Barbara Boyd D-Anniston, who is one of the two female African American’s on the PRTF along with Sen. Vivian Figures, D, Mobile, stated in a discussion with F.A.M. on July 15, 2014, (FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT has over 200 supporters from Rep. Boyd’s district), Alabama already had a prison reform task force that was spearheaded by Rep. John Rogers D- Jefferson (an African American and long-time proponent of prison reform in Alabama) and didn’t need another one. Instead, according to Rep. Boyd, what Rep. Rogers needed, but couldn’t get, was support, funding and a commitment from the power establishment and Alabama Legislature to implement suggested reforms.

Ms. Antonia Brooks (mother of F.A.M. Founder Melvin Ray) says that “the families, friends and loved ones of those incarcerated must be afforded a seat at the table of this debate” and that “Sen. Vivian Figures and Rep. Barbara Boyd owe more to the Black community than to accept a token appointment to a committee that is so obviously promoting a white supremacist agenda and deliberately excluding the group of people most impacted by mass-incarceration – Black people.”

Ms. Brooks stated that F.A.M. has a March planned on the State Capitol next month (August 2014) and that she looks forward to an opportunity to one day sit down with Sen. Figures and Rep. Boyd to hear from them on their appointments and to present them with the “FREEDOM BILL” that is being pushed by FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT.

With over 1.4 million black men in America’s prisons and, as stated by noted author Michelle Alexander, with more Black men under the control of the CJS in 2014 than were enslaved BEFORE the Civil War, Prison Reform in Alabama must address specific issues – – including racism – – that have contributed to mass incarceration, crime, and punishment.

Mandatory GED completion and graduation from a technical school are things that F.A.M. says must be made mandatory in sentencing for anyone serving a split sentence, earning good time, or who hopes to earn an early parole or be placed in an honor camp or work release program (Requirements that are currently lacking in Alabama). Mentoring programs, community volunteer work in sports, arts, and music, and developing Tutoring programs, Gang Intervention and Leadership Programs, and volunteer assistance to elderly, like mowing lawns, etc., which would start at community “Honor camps,” are programs being pushed by the Freedom Bills that F.A.M. says must be included in any Prison Reform if the ills of mass-incarceration are to be seriously addressed.

Under the current model of governance in Alabama, where the community is not made a part of the discussion and white men dominate the debate, we can’t expect enlightenment and diverse, outside-the-box ideas to enter the room

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