Memories of Holman

The following post is an excerpt taken from a letter sent shortly after the recent rebellion at Holman. The author (name withheld) is a prison rebel currently housed at Donaldson Correctional facility in Bessemer, Alabama who has also spent some of his sentence at Holman.

March 21, 2016

…We were so excited about demonstrations at Holman, that we spent most of the time talking about that, and how the transfer of many of the brothers who were involved up here to Donaldson will help our cause. That brings me to the other reasons I am in high spirits! I don’t know if you have heard or not, but it’s been all over the news here in Alabama. I also read a small excerpt on the events in Wednesday’s 16th USA Today news paper. In the ‘State by State’ section. I will get the Youtube link from a video ________ told me some guys posted when they had absolute control of the prison and they were running around setting things on fire and whatnot.

As I understand it an officer or group of officers jumped some guy down there, and the men standing by who were witnessing it just went in flip mode! They smashed those officers, and the responding back-up unit. For like three days the inmates had complete control of the camp. They had to call in “emergency response” police from around the state to come in and gain control.

I was there in 2011 when we had a similar situation. The warden at the time was Warden Patterson. That time the revolt spawned from the prison having been on complete lock down for two weeks because of an isolated stabbing between two inmates. Patterson had the practice of punishing the entire prison because of the acts of a few. He also liked to walk around the prison during these lock-down periods and give speeches about how these kind of “behaviors will not be tolerated”. On one of these such speeches in A-dorm a guy threw a AA battery at him and screamed for him to “shut the fuck up”. Although the battery missed him, the act enraged him and feeling emboldened by the thirty or so officers he had accompanying him, he ventured deeper into the open bay unit, which houses 114 men, to try and confront the guy who he thought threw the battery. The man he chose to single out is one who is not to be messed with, and was not the one who threw the it. Nevertheless, Patterson was convinced it was him. We will call this guy “Red”. Once Warden Patterson was within arms reach of Red he attempted to grab Red by his shirt, I guess to direct him our of the dorm. However as soon as he touched him, Red fell into a crouch and came up with a devastating upper cut that knocked Patterson out cold. Red straddled him and began what was an MMA “ground pound”. LOL All the present officers converged on him, and the entire 114 inmates fell on them with sticks, fists, locks in a sock. To this day I can’t tell you how none of those officers weren’t killed. I know over half of them quit that day! LOL The prison officials didn’t have enough personnel to subdue the revolt that resulted so they called in State Troopers, County Sheriffs, and any police that were willing to come help. Once they made it into camp, they began shooting guys with rubber bullet loaded 12 gauges, throwing bang grenades, flash grenades, and teargas everywhere. They also had some machine which pumped teargas into the ventilation units so that the entire prison shortly became filled with the stuff. There was a big cloud of it outside the building. That stuff is what caused guys to submit to the orders of the police. With no escape from teargas, men were having asthma attacks, vomiting and even passing out. Remarkably no one died.

When it was all over, Holman went back to business as usual with about twenty fewer officers. The commissioner of ADOC gave a press conference outside the prison about contraband cell phones. He got on TV and just flat out lied about how “officers were trying to collect contraband cell phones”. There was no searching or shake down period during this revolt!!! But in the shift office they have a large file cabinet where they keep phones that have been collected during past searches. The commissioner filled a large see-through bag with maybe 100-150 phones and gave a speech about how detrimental they are to prison security and that the only way to combat the problem was to jam the cell signals around the prison, but that the public should contact the state legislature about approval of the more blah blah blah… I believe there are maybe more than 20,000 cell phone bills being paid from jails and prisons in AL, because the backlash from activist and different community leaders was beyond what any prisons could have cooked up.

Anyway, man I got off track there. The demonstration that recently took place causd them to bring in these same “emergency response” officers. After they left, the rebellion crank back up. And they were called in again. This happened three days in a row to my understanding. The prison went through many warden changes after Warden Patterson. There was Warden Hetsel, then Miles, Rayborn and now Davenport. I have been here at Donaldson since 2015 so I missed Warden Davenport, but he is known throughout the Alabama prison system to be one of the most cruel, strict, and oppressive wardens in the state.

After the demonstration which took place with Patterson in 2011, wardens never ventured into the housing units there at Holman again. Except GG. She is an assistant warden who likes to play the good cop role of the good cop bad cop act her and Warden Miles created. I have seen potential revolts be ended time and time again by GG. Actually, Warden Miles came in G-dorm once that I know of and a young guy from Prichard, AL we call ________, who is maybe 110 pounds if he is hiding a 10 pound weight, threw a can of shaving powder into his face and told him to get out of the dorm. LOL. Miles ran into no less than 15 beds trying to spring blindly out of C-dorm, LOL.

Well, Davenport is one of these wardens who really thinks he is tough. He walks into C-dorm in Holman, which might I add is the most turnt up of all the housing units at Holman. He walks into C-dorm during this pause in the revolts that took place earlier this week to address the men there. Predictably, they stabbed him up. Say they really fucked him up too. Him along with one other officer who was brave/foolish enough to accompany him. That sparked another rebellion which caused the police to be called in again. Might I add that the state HATES to call in extra forces, even the DOC CERT (Corrections Emergency Response Team) team because that shit costs so much money. Bringing in outside police is substantially more expensive, and ALABAMA IS BROKE!!! since the state has the most overcrowded prison system in the country. The feds have been cutting their general fund for the past 6-7 years. They even closed down all the state parks in order to have enough money to keep the prisons running last fall or last year. As of right now, Governor Bently is complaining for money to build four new state of the art prison facility which he claims will allow them to better manage the prison population.

Anyhow, lots of drama going on right now. Would make for an entertaining reality show. LOL Along with the group of guys who were transferred here from Holman this week I have heard is one of my dear friends. He is really much more than a friend to me. Bruh is my family! And ________ when I tell you he is ’bout that life! Man, G all the way with it. Anytime something jumped off when we were at Holman he was right there in the middle of it, or he was the one to jump it off in the first place. I hate they sent him up here to Johnathins House, but I am going to love to see him and talk with him and ultimately have him stand along side me when we finally get to launch the demonstrations against our oppressors here. Can’t wait to talk to you, man. Till then I will keep you posted, and _________, write me back bruh.

Sincerely,

Your Comrade