Category Archives: Prisoner death

Mistreatment rife in Dekalb Jail; jail blocks calls to ABC phone

Atlanta Anarchist black cross has been speaking to people outside the DeKalb County Jail and receiving numerous phone calls from inmates and their family members revealing abusive conditions within the jail. Although the phone originally used to accept calls from prisoners was blocked by the jail system, ABC got a new number and has been receiving multiple calls since. They include complaints of inadequate and inedible food, a rampant mold infestation, a standard practice of medical neglect, and violence and retaliation by guards against people who make complaints.

One woman who spoke to ABC on May 17th said she had to call repeatedly to demand that her son receive medical care that he had been requesting; it was one or two months before he received care. She did not want to give her name because she feared reprisals by guards against her son if she speaks out against the abuse. “I wouldn’t want anything to happen to him… You got to protect your loved ones who are in there, the guards can do anything at all.”

Her fear is not without grounds; guards retaliated violently against the men who sparked protests after photos of them with handmade signs went viral in April are in solitary. their families were not able to hear from them for a month after the photos went viral. when one of them, Darnell Thompson, was able to finally get a postcard out, he reported that his solitary confinement will last until June 7th. Other inmates reported that the three were beat up and had their cell ransacked after the photos went viral.

Another mother told ABC that her son was beaten by guards.

A third mother who spoke to ABC also chose to remain anonymous. She said her son has been told that they are going to stop him receiving his medications for bipolar disorder. She does not know why.

A fourth mother also reported making numerous official complaints against the jail and the mental health staff for refusing to take her son’s mental issue seriously.

An inmate named Matthew Burkins called ABC on May 17th. He said that he began having pain in his chest while breathing a few days after he was brought to the jail. He suspected it was due to the mold infestation. He spent four weeks making a medical requests every day or every other day. He experienced delays in being seen and when he did go to the medical floor they just checked his vital signs and made sure they were within normal limits and then decided that he was okay and sent him back to his floor without treatment. Burkins also reported that it was not until six weeks after he arrived at the jail that he began receiving his regular prescribed medication. The jail staff kept saying that they were unable to verify his prescriptions. It was not until he put in a request at the kiosk saying that he was suicidal that he finally began receiving them; he has been doing much better since. Burkins also said the light is broken in his cell and in many others, meaning that he is not able to study and prepare for his upcoming court case. He has filed formal grievances, but he says, “the grievances don’t mean nothing, they [guards] can get away with murder and still be working the next day.”

Another inmate who called and identified himself just as Victor says his area is on lockdown for 21 hours a day, and he is only out on the floor from 11 am to 2 p.m. Victor also says that the food is inadequate. Breakfast might be oatmeal or grits, and lunch goulash or chicken patties, just a sandwich for dinner with nothing to drink. Victor was also concerned about retaliation for speaking out. He said, “a lot of people come up in here missing, a lot of people come up in here dead. Especially if they don’t got no family” outside to advocate for them.

On Wednesday May 15, a spirited demonstration took over Memorial Avenue. The original ABC phone number was announced for protesters who got arrested to call for assistance with bail, and for people already in the Dekalb jail to speak out about conditions. One of the police at the protest made a show of listening to the number, writing it down and then making a phone call. Less than a day later, that number was blocked by the jail so that no one inside could dial out to it.

Shortly after the beginning of the demonstration, heavily armed police made four violent arrests. Protesters were thrown to the ground and charged with disorderly conduct and blocking a street or sidewalk.

During the protest, people incarcerated in the jail were breaking windows and attempting to pass messages through the holes to the crowd below. One person tried to pass out food to show how moldy and inedible it was. Others shouted out of the holes, one saying that a correctional officer named King was choking someone whose hands were cuffed behind his back. Others put up signs in the windows for the protesters to read, one said I love U.

The next night, May 16, there was another loud demonstration. Protesters banged on drums outside the jail, while inmates banged on the windows to the beat. Police outnumbered protesters by a factor of about two. The sidewalks were lined with barricades. A new phone number not yet blocked by the jail was written in chalk on the sidewalk so that prisoners on that side of the jail would be able to see it–several who called had seen it that way. The number has also been circulating in the jail by word of mouth.

Protesters have decided to return each day with a table and literature to speak to people coming and going from the jail.

Knockin Doors Down For The Mental Health

“The primary cause of suicide is not individual temperament but forces in the social environment. In other words, suicide is caused primarily by external factors, not internal ones.”
~Revolutionary Suicide – Huey P Newton~

Revolutionary Greetings,

In adherence with the beloved Komrade Keith “Malik” Washington, Deputy Chairman of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter. This is the year of “knockin doors down”, and we must start with the doors of solitary confinement. It was estimated in 2017 that over 87,000 prisoners across Amerika are being held in solitary confinement. Despite the many studies done by neurologists around the world proving that solitary confinement is a neglected social-ecological-environmental risk factor that worsens and causes mental illness.

I ask the readers to take a ride with me to North Carolina the home of 56 razor-wire plantations, where a prisoners life can be measured with a grain of sand and the tyrants rule with atrocities. Where the walls of several of these razor-wire plantations snatched the life away from nine prisoners in the year of 2018. According to North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS) news release nine prisoners died in 2018 by suicide:

Benhamin Williford, died Dec 18 at Mary Correctional, Williford was serving a 35-year sentence for arson and second degree murder.

Brandon Lineberger, died Nov 2 at Pasquotank Correctional Lineberger was incarcerated for assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, inflicting serious injury. He was to be released in 2033.

  • David Atkins, who died Oct 1 at Piedmont Correctional, was serving two years for a probation violation.
  • Larry Bowman, died Aug 30 at Maury Correctional, Bowman was serving a life sentence for first degree murder
  • Matthew Howlett, who died Aug 9th at Bentie Correctional was serving time for breaking and entering
  • John Dalton, died April 19 at Central Prison, he was serving seven years for habitual felon
  • Jermaine Johnson, died April 7 at Marion Correctional, he was serving a life sentence for first degree murder.
  • Michael Grant, died Feb 5 at Maury Correctional, he was serving a life sentence for first degree murder
  • Robert Spricer, died Dec 31 at Nash Correctional, he was serving a 77-year sentence for first degree sexual offenses

These are the nine prisoners that (NCDPS) claims died from suicide, but there is one prisoner that (NCDPS) doesn’t list as a suicide for the year 2018. That’s the komrade Freddie Pickett, who died April 29 at Polk Correctional, he was to be released 2021 after surviving twenty years within these razor-wire plantation. In a previous article I wrote are the details of his gruesome murder, it can be read here. But (NCDPS) officials documented his death as a suicide. Komrade Pickett’s family was told by (NCDP) officials that his cause of death was suicide, (NCDPS) officials told reporters that his cause of death was suicide. If this was true at all then I question why isn’t Freddie Pickett’s name amongst the other nine prisoners? Because Komrade Pickett didn’t commit suicide he was wantonly murdered.

Suicide Nothing New

In the last 28 years there have been over 93 suicides reported (I’m sure there were may that weren’t reported) to had taken place within NC razor-wire plantations. Since 2015 there have been 25 suicides in NC prisons, three in 2015, seven in 2016, six 2017 and nine in 2018. All these prisoners were being housed in solitary confinement. Take note that three out of the nine prisoners listed above were being housed at Maury Correctional. Maury Correctional is one of the only three close custody camps in NC to provide mental health services; there were four but Lanesboro Correctional is in the process of being shut down and transformed into a womyns facility due to the corruption of staff and the many deaths that occurred there. Maury Correctional is said to have adequate mental health services that provide programs that focus on serving prisoners suffering from mental health disorders. Being that the prisons are over populated and there is a staff shortage, a majority of prisoners suffering from mental health disorders are impeded from participating in these programs. They’re forced to be house at facilities that don’t provide adequate mental health services. Being that Maury Correctional houses regular population I was housed there for a brief stint in 2017. I know it to be factual that there is a security risk due to the lack of staff. A reporter for the Charlotte Observer reported that in 2018 Maury Correctional had an average monthly vacancy rate of 14 percent. But there are several staff psychiatrists employed there. So why are there more suicides at this facility? Simple…neglect.

Broken Promises

In 2016 (NCDPS) claimed that they were releasing a plan to curb prison suicides. The plan was to train staff to recognize suicidal tendencies, teach staff how to respond to suicidal attempts and better monitor prisoners who are released from suicide watch. Reported by a reporter for News & Observer starting Sept 1 2016, apart from the aforementioned plan (NCDPS) would ensure that (Level 2) mental health prisoners seeking psychiatric help and (Level 3) mental health prisoners taking psychotropic medications would no longer serve more than 30 days per year in solitary confinement and are not to be housed on Super-max (H-Can) where I’m currently being housed. To the contrary, there have been no changes but only increases in the number of suicides. This is supported by the fact that 2018’s suicides marked the highest in the state’s history. So much for the plan to curb suicides. Prisoners aren’t monitored after being released from suicide watch, they aren’t’ even being monitored on suicide watch. Prisoners who attempt suicide are placed in a cell with video surveillance (with a camera that may or may not work) for twenty-four hours or until a psychiatrist comes to ask the prisoner if he is having suicidal thoughts. Often times the prisoner tells the psychiatrists no even though he may still be having suicidal thought because being that he has been stripped naked, placed in a cold cell that’s filthy, forced to eat his food with his fingers and often humiliated by the officers, telling the psychiatrist that he is not having suicidal thoughts means the prisoner is then placed back in his cell. Still there he’ll have to fight the demons of solitary confinement alone. 70% of the prisoners housed here at Polk Correctional Super-max unity are either (Level 2) mental health seeking psychiatric help or (Level 3) mental health taking psychotropic medications. This is a unit where prisoners are confined to a small cell (6×9) 23 hours a days and the 24th hour is spent in a small sally port to pace back and forth. No outside recreation, no phone calls, and no contact with others besides your sally port roommate. 63% of the prisoners housed in solitary confinement here in NC are (Level 2) or (Level 3) mental health who are being forced to serve long-stints in solitary confinement.

The Oppressors Recipe for Killing a Prisoner-dies-in-cell-fire-as-guards-watch

Of course the dispiteous living conditions of solitary confinement is a main ingredient. No socializing, no contact with family members (only via postal mail), and idle time to hate the past and fear the future. A majority of prisoners housed in solitary confinement are prescribed some type of psychotropic medication. The most common drug prescribed to prisoners is Zoloft. It’s prescribed to prisoners who suffer from depression, obsessive compulsive problems; its used to treat post-traumatic stress and to treat social anxiety problems. All the aforementioned disorders derive from long-stints in solitary confinement. Do we really believe that the oppressor want to cure us? Of course not, there has to be a hidden agenda, but its only hidden to the unconscious one.

According to Clinical Drug Information LLC, Zoloft has an FDA Warning! This is due to the side effects and cautions of taking this drug. It raises the chance of suicidal thoughts or attempts. This risk may be greater in people who have had these thoughts or actions in the past. Some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking Zoloft. Taking this drug may cause low sodium levels like headaches, trouble focusing, memory problems, feeling confused, weakness, seizures or change of balance. Signs of bleeding like throwing up blood or throw up that looks like coffee grounds, coughing up blood, blood in the urine. Taking this drug can cause very bad health problems that may not go away and could cause death as well. All the aforementioned side effects and cautions were provided by Clinical Drug Information LLC. Other drugs such as fluoxetine and hydroxyzine have FDA Warnings and have similar side effects as Zoloft and are also prescribed to prisoners. If the oppressor cant mentally murder us then they count on the prescribed drugs to physically murder us.

The Heart of the Hydra

Kenneth E. Lassiter has been employed by (NCDPS) well over 20 years and was promoted to Director of Prisons after serving many years as the Superintendent (Tyrant) of Central Prison, where many prisoners have been murdered at the hands of his subordinates and where neglect and the rooms of solitary confinement have cause the death of many mental health prisoners. Kenneth Lassiter cooks up false information and serves it cold to the press and other concerned members of society. He claims that progress is being made, this so-called progress just continues their repression. And I’m duty bound to let you know what is really going on without allowing his reprisals to deter me.

I am being held captive at N.C.’s only Super-max Facility by his call, because I advocate for the suppressed prisoners and I strive to expose these miscreants for the vampires they are. Vampires hate the light and with this ink pen and the assistance of my komrades on the outside I intend to shed light on all their atrocities. The facts are that mental health services aren’t being provided, mental health prisoners are being neglected and wantonly abused. There are 96 prisoners housed on this Super-max unit where 60 of them are wither (Level 2) or (Level 3) mental health. But Kenneth Lassiter and his cronies would have the public to believe that there are no mental health prisoners housed on Super-max, that would lead the public to believe that their 2016 plan to curb suicides is being implemented. But its not and until outside organizations and activists start applying pressure on the outside nothing will change but the surmounting number of prisoners who kill themselves with each passing day.

As long as the oppressor is allowed to lie prisoners will die. As Huey P. Newton “suicide is caused primarily by external factors, not internal ones”. The external factors are these dispiteous living conditions: no outside recreation, no phone calls, and long term solitary confinement, all the above are a part of life in solitary confinement. So let’s start “knockin doors down” and liberate these prisoners’ suffering from the mental health disorders. For those of us who are resilient and strong of mind and body this is our duty. If you are not prepared to sacrifice then you’re not serious and if you’re not serious its best you get out of the way because the Panther and the Elephant are on the loose.

Postscript: A Call to Action

Komrades, its a must that I echo the call of the Komrade Keith “Malik” Washington. All activists, human right lawyers, organizations, non-profits, cadres and revolutionaries who support the marginalized prisoners held captive within the many razor-wire plantations I entreat that everyone answer his call. He and komrade Jason Lenard are leaders and both are members of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party – Prison Chapter, which serves the people and is duty bound to transform these slave pens of oppression into schools of liberation. To quote our Minister of Defense “Cointelpro is alive and well. The political police are as active as ever in repressing dissent and the liberation struggles of oppressed nationalities within Amerika”.

People we must protect our leaders, by allowing the oppressor to suppress the voices of /Komrade Malik and Komrade Jason you are allowing the voice of over 2 million prisoners to be suppressed for they are the voice for those who don’t have one. I was transferred last year to N.C.’s Super-max facility for echoing last year’s Aug 21 prison strike. I don’t have many outside resources that support my cause. So I ride the wave of our leaders and strive to serve the prisoners here in N.C. to the best of my ability. Komrade George Jackson said, “it should never be easy for them to destroy us” so please help by offering a small amount of time to our struggle.

Dare to Struggle Dare to Win
All Power to the People
Joseph “Shine White” Stewart
Deputy Minister of Defense
White Panther Organization
NC-Branch

Racist Jailers Watch as Prisoner Burns Alive

This is a letter from a prisoner who witnessed a gruesome, preventable death. He would like all the help he can get in seeking justice:

On June 29, 2018 prisoner Freddie Pickett lost his life here at North Carolina’s Supermax Facility Polk Correctional, due to the deliberate indifference shown daily by the miscreants who patrol these concrete fields. Prisoner Freddie Pickett’s death was documented and reported as a suicide, not as a murder. Mr. Pickett was murdered by the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS) representatives. Mr. Pickett who had an extensive history of mental health disorders, set a fire in his cell. Once the fire began to burn it activated the smoke detector, which the “then” got the attention of the block officer (Gardner). From my time being held captive here at this razor-wire plantation, I’ve noticed that officer is a racist sadist who has no regard for a prisoner’s life and wears his neo-nazi pride as a badge of honor for the world to see. Once officer Gardner visually noticed the smoke and fire in Mr. Pickett’s cell, he then left at a unhurried pace. Gardner returned with assistant unit manager Harriss who looked in Mr. Pickett’s cell window and stated to her subordinates who by this time gathered around, “to not go in and get him until he is unresponsive.”

Several officers from units throughout the facility had made their way to A-Hall of Polk’s Supermax unit to watch a man be burnt alive. The same type of gatherings took place in Springfield, IL when there were anti-black riots in 1908 where New Afrikans were tied up and burnt alive while neo-nazi men, women, and even police officials stood by to watch.

These miscreants stood by and watched Mr. Pickett bang on his cell window and beg that they take him out the smoke filled cell. These sadists’ only response was “once you’re unresponsive we will come in and get you”. The same officers who took an oath to serve and protect stood by and watched Mr. Pickett be burnt to death. It was a full thirty minutes before the officers went into the cell and “pulled” Mr. Pickett’s “unresponsive” body out. By this time it was too late, the smoke, the fire, and the disregard for human life took the life of Mr. Pickett, who had been incarcerated almost 20 years and was to be released within the next year. He was documented as a prisoner who committed suicide.

I could enlarge on the details of this murder but I want to get to the question I’m sure several of you have. Why would a prisoner set their cell on fire knowing that it could be the cause of their death? These fires are being set “to get the attention of the block officer.” I’ve been to many of these plantations here in NC and even the oldest have emergency call-buttons in the cells. These are buttons placed in each cell, that when pushed alerts the officer in the control booth, who then should notify the floor officers that the emergency cell-button has been pushed and the prisoner of that cell is requesting the officers assistance. Here at Polk’s Supermax Facility there are no emergency call-buttons in any of the 96 cells. The majority of these cells house mentally ill prisoners or prisoners with health disorders. There being no cell-buttons isn’t due to complications because when this Supermax Facility was built it was equipped with emergency call-buttons in each cell. But over time maintenance was given the order by administration to disconnect all the call-buttons in the cells. This was done because of the complaints of the officers in the booth claiming it was aggravating but not only is this a health hazard, more importantly it also violates the building codes required by the state contractors that must pass this inspection before the facility can be open. That is why this facility was equipped with call-buttons that were later disconnected.

Being that there aren’t any call-buttons, prisoners are compelled to bang on the window of their cell for long periods of time to get the attention of these sadist overseers. To drown out the noise of us beating on our cell windows these miscreants plug up four industrial sized fans. So when prisoners grow tired of beating the windows they set fires, which then activates the smoke detectors that’s in the cell, and then higher ranking officers such as Sgt.s, unit managers, etc…are notified.

We are being murdered, brutally beaten, denied adequate medical care, housed in cells that are not properly heated, given no phone calls, given no outside recreation and treated similar to the prisoners of war at WWII. The (NCDPS) policy and procedures and the 8th amendment are supposed to protect us from these violent acts. But neither the policy nor the 8th amendment are regarded without care or respect.

How many of us have to die at the hands of these miscreants, be brutally beaten or tortured before these tyrants are demanded to cease these on-going atrocities and be held accountable. We don’t have call-buttons, we don’t have any phones to call authorities to help us. Many of these prisoners don’t have families to care about their well being. But I care about these prisoners, I care about these prisoners with mental health disorders and I vow to continue to fight this oppressive, exploitative, murderous system. But I’m only one man, I need the assistance of those of y’all in society who can protest outside of these razor-wire plantations, who can call the administrators and question these atrocities.

Joseph Stewart

PO BOX 2500

Butner, NC 27509