“To expect that someone else will take full responsibility for our own liberation is suicide. We’ll be asked to be patient for another one hundred to one hundred and fifty years! We’ll get stuck with long theoretical explanations on consciousness or objective conditions when it’s clear that consciousness will not grow unless there is someone among us willing to feed it.”
The most insidious thing about repression is how easy it is to grow accustom to it. The first prison was built in 1829, the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. Thirty nine years later North Carolina built its first state penitentiary, in 1868, North Carolina adopted a new state constitution that provided for building a state penitentiary, prisoners built central prison which was completed December 1884.
As early as 1875 private employers could lease prisoners as laborers. Under the lease, businesses had complete responsibility for the prisoners. Many worked in rock quarries and built railways. In 1901 lawmakers changed the system to provide for contract inmate labor. Prisoners worked for private employers but prison officials retained responsibility for the prisoner’s custody. One can only imagine the dispiteous living conditions those prisoners were subjected to.
However, I believe that the policies and procedures that are being implemented today that dehumanize and alienate us and keep us subjugated are harsher than those of the past. The most prominent is the security risk group (SRG) formerly known as Security Threat Group (STG) Policy & Procedures. (SRG) is a label that’s put on prisoners who have been validated as a member of a security risk group. By being validated we’re subjected to harsh restrictions that include but aren’t limited to:
- Longer solitary confinement terms than non-validated prisoners for rule violations that aren’t even gang related.
- Limited to two fifteen minute phone calls per month, if not housed on solitary confinement, in which we’re prohibited to make any calls
- Harsher and often times inappropriate censorship and confiscation and/or destruction or loss of incoming mail, pictures, legal information and outgoing mail without notice
- No contract visitation even when we have not been involved in any gang activity and there’s no evidence to show contact visitation with immediate family would be a threat to institutional security
- No visitation with anyone who isn’t immediate family even when there’s no evidence to show that visitation with non-immediate family & friends would be a threat to institutional security. This restriction prohibits us to visit with our child’s mother. In turn we’re unable to visit with our children, because their mother isn’t considered immediate family
- Discrimination in work assignments
- Discrimination in custody reviews
- Discrimination in housing assignments
- Denied educational and rehabilitate
- Unable to receive financial support beyond immediate family, due to the J-Pay restriction policy that became effective on Feb 5, 2019. Which prohibits prisoners to receive any financial support from any depositor that’s not an approved visitor. As I aforementioned prisoners who have been validated aren’t allowed to receive visits from anyone other than immediate family. Therefore if we don’t have immediate family capable of financially supporting us, we are forced to become indigent.
All of you that’s been validated, I can feel your pain because I’m feeling your pain. Just as you dream of holding your children and hugging your mothers these dreams dance throughout my mind daily as well. As Frantz Fanon recognized, “The settlers work is to make even dreams of liberty impossible.” We’ve been conditioned to believe that dreams don’t come true. But anything is possible if you desire the joy the dream provides.
The way this current (SRG) policy is structured it gives us no hope and keeps us subjected to the enemy’s repression. The only reason these savage unscrupulous individuals that make up these policies continue to do so, is because we are unaware of our rights. Just because we are prisoners we’re still human beings, and as humans and citizens of the United States we’re protected by both the state and federal constitution.
This current (SRG) policy clearly violates the 5th & 14th Amendments pursuant to the equal protection and due process clauses. When we are validated we’re not afforded a notice, hearing, appeal process or review process. These are called procedural safe guards that’s put in place to protect us from punishment that infringes upon our liberty interests. The basic requirement of due process is the right to notice and an opportunity to be heard.
Just as our case managers bring a notice before we are placed on control housing, (SRG) staff are required to do the same before we are violated. Just as we are afforded the opportunity to go before the Facility Classification Committee (FCC) and the Directors Classification Committee (DCC), these are our hearing/process. This must be done before we are placed on restrictive housing for control purposes. (SRG) staff are to provide similar hearing and appeal processes. This is what due process is and validated prisoners are not being offered the opportunity to exhaust our due process.
The 14th Amendment forbids a state to deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. That means that all persons similarly situated should be treated alike, The 5th Amendment requires the federal government to obey the same equal protection standards as the state. Komrades who is more similarly situated than us?
Moreover, the J-Pay policy that restricts depositors that are not on the prisoner’s visitation list to deposit funds into our trust fund account violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, just as other discriminatory restrictions I aforementioned.
There is 8th Amendment violation as well pursuant to the cruel and unusual punishment clause, i.e.…citing atypical and significant hardships beyond ordinary instances of prison life and deliberate indifference. And there are 1st Amendment violations of our freedom of association, this can be but is not limited to visits, mail, and phone calls.
The oppressors will continue to infringe upon our rights as well as our lives savagely until we resist. By letting the enemy know that we are aware our rights are being violated and that we intend to pursue all avenues to assure that they are upheld and respected, than will the oppressor agree that a change has to be made. Because it’s no longer a handful of prisoners who know their rights, but it’s us a whole, and when this takes place we become a threat. Because as Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun of the Free Alabama Movement recognized, “It’s revealing that we are housed in institutions whose security is predicated on our remaining ignorant”.
The first step of action should be a coordinated grievance campaign, everyone that’s been validated as a member of a security risk group should submit a grievance and encourage those around you to do the same. The grievance can’t be written in any way, just as the courts search for and use loop holes so will the miscreants who make up the grievance committee so I’ve included an example grievance:
I was validated as an (SRG) level 3 offender on (DATE) for reasons I am unaware of and was not given any notice, hearing, appeal process, or review process. Which I am permitted to participate in to present mitigating evidence in my favor and to my credit to show I am not actively involved in any gang activity and to have my level dropped. Because I am not afforded to any procedural due process to present evidence or to know why my level has remained the same for the past __years I am suffering violations that include but are not limited to:
- Longer solitary confinement terms than non-validated offenders for rule violations that are not gang related.
- Limited to two fifteen minute phone calls per month, if not being housed in solitary confinement
- Harsher and often times inappropriate censorship and confiscation and/or destruction or loss of incoming mail, pictures, legal information and outgoing mail without any given notice.
- No contact visitation even when I have not been involved in any gang activity and there is no evidence to show contact visitation with immediate family would be a threat to institutional security
- No visitation with anyone who is not immediate family even if there is no evidence to show that the individual(s) is a threat to institutional security
- Discrimination in work assignments
- Discrimination in custody reviews
- Discrimination in housing assignments
- Denied educational and rehabilitative opportunities
- Unable to receive financial support beyond immediate family because of the J-Pay depositor policy. As a level 3 (SRG) offender I can only have immediate family on my visitation list and most if not all of my financial support comes from friends or other family members.
Due to these violation and restraints placed on my liberty interests for indefinite lengths of time DPS Director Kenneth Lassiter and head/chief of security Chris Rich are in direct violation of my state and federal constitutional rights.
Give me a review process similar to DHO or FCC – DCC and provide me the opportunity to have my level reduced. Everyone cannot attend one small gang program at Foothill’s Correctional. Do away with the aforementioned indefinite restrictions and sanctions on my rights. Give me due process.
Komrades, the above example is how the grievance should be written. I know what some of you are thinking “man we don’t get no justice by writing grievances”. I agree, but pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act: “ no action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under [42 U.S. C. 1983] or any other federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted”.
This means we must take this problem to the prison grievance system, before we can file a suit. The prison’s administration must be offered an opportunity to address our issue before we can seek the assistance of the courts. Many prisoners are not educated in the litigation of prisoners’ rights, but there is a Jailhouse lawyer incarcerated at each of these razor-wire plantations here in NC. If that’s you than it’s your duty to educate those around you for those who are not capable to do so for themselves.
If you have to write up a number of grievances yourself and just have those around you to sign them and turn them in this will suffice. There are many forms of resistance, this is one that doesn’t demand much effort or sacrifice, so there shouldn’t be no reason why this is should not be done.
There will be the naysayers who will say this won’t work, that’s when you ask them what are they going to do then? Continue doing the same that we’ve been doing? Nothing…nothing has gotten us nothing. I entreat that you don’t allow the poltroons that’s around you to pass on their cowardice to you, because it’s contagious. We must try something different other than continuing to take part in the counter acts that’s only assured that the enemies repression will continue to constrict around our windpipes until they have choked the life from our should.
There is a quote by Martin Luther King Jr. that inspired me to break loose from the lumpen ideology and to struggle with those who struggle and sacrifice for those who are unable to defend themselves. It reads like this, “Cowardice ask the question is it safe? Expediency asked the question is it politic? But conscience ask the question is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but because conscience tells one it’s right”.
Komrades, we are conscious we know what we been doing isn’t right, but yet we continue to be puppets for the enemy, let’s cut the puppeteers strings and move to our own accord. In support of my beloved Komrade Keith “Malik” Washington’s them knockin’ doors down, this (SRG) policy is only one door I got my foot on. Stay tuned for there are many doors that need to be knocked down here in NC.
Dare To Struggle
Dare To Win
All Power To The People
Joseph “Shine White” Stewart
Deputy Minister of Defense
White Panther Organization NC-Branch
Postscript: CALL FOR ACTION
Komrade Keith “Malik” Washington, Deputy Chairman of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter, has created the NASAM Foundation which is geared towards providing advocacy and services for the mentally ill. We’re in need of some psychologists and psychiatrists that would be willing to espouse the NASAM Foundation. Inadequate mental health services, is the course of many deaths/suicides here in NC razor-wire plantations as well as across the nation, that Komrade Malik as well as myself desire to address/redress. But we’re only able to do so much due to our confinement. So anyone that is interested can contact Komrade Malik at Keith Malik Washington #1487958, McConnell Unit, 3100 S Emily Dr., Beeville TX, 78103
I can be contacted at Joseph Stewart #0802041, 22385 McGirts Bridge Rd, Laurinburg, NC 28352 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Also keep in mind that the brother Jason Renard Walker and Komrad Malik are in need of legal representation, they’ve both been and continue to be subjected to a coordinated campaign of harassment, reprisal and racial hatred by the unscrupulous individuals who are employed by Texas Department of Criminal Justice, any civil or human rights lawyers are needed.