More Frequent Updates

We've been using this blog less and our facebook group more often, for random updates and events. So, if you wanna know what we're doing right now, go here.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Statement From Hunger Striking Prisoner Soja [UPDATE]


(thanks to ohioprisonwatch.org)


UPDATE: Just got word that Soja has ended his hunger strike.

I ended my hunger strike Nov 1, 2013, after a long discussion about my property and the harassment, I agreed to come off strike if my property was brought to me, which was given to me a short while later. However, my issues with the harassment wasn't taken too serious in my opinion. I was only told that he would keep his attention on the issue and be fair if something was to happen. At that point  his attention won't stop something happening to me if that's what is planned.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Soja on Hunger Strike Against Continued Torture and Retaliation

Cornelius "Soja" Harris, the supermax prisoner who endured multiple extended hunger strikes early in 2013 is again refusing food. Harris requested a transfer to a safer facility, where he wouldn't be targeted for retaliation by staff, as he had been at OSP for years. The prison administration refused to transfer him in-state, but approved a transfer to a prison in Maryland. Harris initially accepted the transfer, but requested more information about the prison he'd be going to, what conditions were like and whether or not he'd be on 23 hour a day solitary confinement as is the case for prisoners at OSP. 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sean Swain v ManCI Administrators, Round ???

Excerpt from recent letter by Sean Swain:

"Good news: Jesse Williams, North Regional Director of the ODRC, who authorized the illegal monitoring of my mail, has been fired. Warden Terry Tibbals was relieved as ManCI Warden yesterday (the guy who requested the illegal monitoring).
News break: in post escape investigation, it was found that $130,000 is missing from the ManCI budget. The OSHP sought maintenance supervisor Jim Miracle for questioning. At his house they found the trailer for a missing gator (golfcart vehicle) from ManCI. Miracle is M.I.A.
A few days later, Major Ralph Harr was arrested, scapegoated by Warden Tibbals. To save his own ass, Harr turned over on Tibbals. I'm certain that Harr will be an awesome witness when this goes to trial.
Lt Dahlby is gone from R.I.B. Re- assigned.
See that in the rearview mirror? That's a pile of corpses, the careers of fascists.
We did that."

More about Sean Swain...

Monday, August 26, 2013


* Two Nights, Two Events, Both Examining the Role of
Police & Prison in America
*

Join Insurgent Theatre for one night of theatre and another for film.
https://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/u/0/?ui=2&ik=9534021030&view=att&th=140b9ec9f6d8f379&attid=0.1&disp=inline&realattid=f_hktgkmn80&safe=1&zw&saduie=AG9B_P8DJiWgW1WuVOcenTG3hmSc&sadet=1377511122637&sads=D_6a7Ui3ic-cOicw2xEFn-Ybrig

Night #1, THEATRE: KNOW YOUR ENEMY
Insurgent Theatre's newest play examines the role of police using stripped down interactive
 theater, critical understanding of history and the power of silent refusal.

Know your history, 
Know your rights, 
Know your enemy.
Where: The Garden Theatre, 1187 N High St
When: Wed, August 28th, 7pm, $8
Web: http://insurgenttheatre.org/acab/acab.html

* * *
Night #2, FILM: THE SHADDOW OF LUCASVILLE
This new documentary revisits the 1993 prisoner uprising that took place right here in Ohio-- one of the longest uprisings in US history.
 Want to know what the deal is with mass incarceration? 
Or what happens on Death Row.
Well, we'll be discussing it here.
Where: Sporeprint Infoshop, 979 E 5th Ave.
When: Aug 29th // 7pm // Sliding Scale Donation
Web Trailer: http://youtu.be/WJHOU2st_mk
+ People will also have a chance to hear death-sentenced survivors of the uprising call in from Ohio's super-max prison to answer questions.
* * *
 Hope to see you there!
-RedBird

###
Prisoner Art Show in Columbus !!
Join us in celebrating the creativity of Ohio prisoners at the lovely It-Looks-Like-It's-Open gallery on September 20th
+ Art is up for bids in a silent auction.
+ Looking is free and prints are cheap! 
+ There will be music!
+ You'll have a chance to hear from an artist over the phone!
 
+ Come take a look and enjoy some food, water, wine, coffee and good company.

Date: Friday, September 20th
Venue: It Looks Like It's Open
Address: 13 E Tulane
Time: 6pm-10pm
Cost: $5 sliding scale donation
Website: http://www.redbirdprisonabolition.org/


MORE ABOUT REDBIRD PRISON ABOLITION:
We are a group of people in Columbus Ohio who want to see the prison system come to an end. RedBird supports prisoners through publishing their writing, setting up pen pals, hosting events and raising awareness. Our activities are guided by correspondence with incarcerated people because prison abolition ought to begin with the needs of those most directly affected by the system.
Visit our website at redbirdprisonabolition.org // Got questions? Call Wes at 513.687.4747

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Billy Slagle's Death

Posted by Ben Turk-

On August 5th, death-sentenced prisoner Billy Slagle was found dead in his cell. I met one of his lawyers, Vicki Werneke, because she is also representing George Skatzes from the Lucasville Uprising. She wrote this piece about representing Billy.

Two things go through my head after reading it. First, how many different ways the State of Ohio is an uncaring, stupid and clumsly beast. Second, how little of the story the mainstream media deem worthy of telling. How anyone can still believe in either of these corrupt and terrible institutions boggles my mind and turns my stomach.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Pelican Bay Hunger Strike Solidarity

Today, a mass HUNGER STRIKE in California has begun and is JOINED BY PRISONERS here in OHIO at the SUPERMAX in Youngstown.

To echo what Boyce D. Watkins says in his support of the strike, "Many Americans believe that the dehumanization of incarcerated individuals has nothing to do with them. But the system affects all of us, as many of our families are devastated by the epidemic of mass incarceration."

Let's fight with these courageous folks !



CALIFORNIA Prisoners want 5 CORE THINGS:
-End Group Punishment & Administrative Abuse (Stop locking down alleged gang members indefinetely)
-Abolish the Debriefing Policy, and Modify Active/Inactive Gang Status Criteria (Stop requiring people to snitch on each other)
-Comply with the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons 2006 Recommendations Regarding an End to Long-Term Solitary Confinement (End torturous Long Term Solitary Confinement)
-Provide Adequate and Nutritious Food
-Expand and Provide Constructive Programming and Privileges for Indefinite SHU Status Inmates.
There are also 40 kick-ass supplemental demands here

WHAT YOU CAN DO for FOLKS in CALIFORNIA
To plan a solidarity action go here
To get involved in the July 13th Mass Mobilization, go here
To add your voice to our updated petition, click here
To learn more about the strike visit: PrisonerHungerStrikeSolidarity.wordpress.com
To take a Pledge of Resistance, go here
To donate, go here



WHAT YOU CAN DO for FOLKS in OHIO
One of the (at least) nine prisoners refusing food at Ohio State Pen, Gary Roberts, has specific demands:
-medical attention (he's being neglected)
-a reverse of recent unjust punishment (he was transferred to a higher security level which basically means he's under more lock and key than he should be.)

Call warden David Bobby at Ohio State Penitentiary at 330-743-0700 ext 2006 
Example: "Hi there I'm calling in regard to a prisoner named Gary Roberts (#388-551) whom I was informed is on a hunger strike right now. I'm calling to strongly encourage you to grant his two demands of needed medical attention and a reduction in security level. As someone who holds responsibility for prisoner rights I trust that this issue will be quickly resolved. Thank you and goodbye."

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Artwork from Prisoners

We've been regularely receiving artwork from prisoners and will be hosting a Third Prisoner Art Show in September. You'll be able to see pieces like these and many, many more.
by J Lockhart

close up

by Chris Shira

Andiamo by Sal Salerno

Knot by L Dillon

Stamped print of a cardinal by Sal Salerno

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Cleveland 4 Still in Prison. Still Need Support. Write em!

The Cleveland4 kids could really use your support! The FB page is facebook.com/freethe4, We're on twitter as well (@Freecleveland4) and we have a website cleveland4solidarity.org. You can also email letters to cleveland4letters@gmail.com and the support group will mail them out for you. (Just include a return address if you want them to write back) We also have letter writing parties every month. (: , On our website you can find all the info for writing, donating, and buying shirts. Along with other various form of info and updates!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Induced Failure, An Article by Siddique Abdullah Hasan

S. A. Hasan

The current penal system in America is not working. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to come to the conclusion that it predisposes prisoners to recidivism (a relapse into a life of crime). Since man is ultimately a product of his environment, the current system's products speak for themselves: failure. The system's practices set its occupants up for exclusion from the mainstream success stories of society.

Except for the families, friends, and loved ones of prisoners and ex-prisoners, most Americans have not really considered their plight and daily struggles. Though various studies show that from one-half to two-thirds of parolees return to prison for violating the conditions of their release, or for re-offending, few (taxpayers, prosecutors, politicians, or CEOs of corporations) seem to have really pondered the critical question: Why is this colossal recidivism taking place on our soil?

Reintegration Circle in CA
Have the citizens of this great industrious nation become so detached and desensitized that they could care less about prisoners' lives? I hope not, because prisoners desperately need your assistance in reintegrating back into society and upholding the anticipation that they will become an asset to their respective communities. According to Richard Gustafson, a columnist and retired teacher who taught 30 years at Miami Valley Career Technical Center, "National statistics indicate that recidivism is cut in half with support from the community."

It is my unyielding belief that recidivism is also tremendously reduced when the system pursues its once-desired effect: rehabilitation. However, rehabilitation is a thing of the past. It was in 1790 that the first penitentiary in this country opened its doors to house criminals. The purpose of this new creation was to place criminals in a confined area, where they might ponder over their crimes, repent, and reform themselves. Hence, the term "penitentiary." Much has changed in the last three decades due to the influences of tough-talking, opportunistic politicians who reduced funding for rehabilitative programs to almost nil. So much so that rehabilitation, or producing a repentant person, is no longer the desired objective.
 
...The current objective is to warehouse prisoners and deliberately create the circumstances for their failure. 
This crude objective is being perpetrated to perpetuate "job security" for parole officials, individuals in corporate America, and the like, who benefit financially from the prison boom, which currently incarcerates 2.1 million people in our nation's prisons. This new trend of merely warehousing and punishing prisoners is not conducive to the security and stability of this nation. All it does is mentally crush prisoners' wills and doom them to inevitable failure.

As a result of this new trend, prisoners are being released with no skills, no education, no support system, no job, and only a few dollars in their possession to try to make it in this dog-eat-dog world. Indeed, a recipe for disaster. It's implausible for ex-prisoners to survive under these bleak conditions. Let us not forget that unemployment, poverty, exclusion, and a lack of education and guidance are the ingredients which led to their imprisonment. So how can the system, or any rational human being, expect ex-prisoners to succeed when they're still caught in a catch-22 cycle?


Although a job is an essential means of support that helps people acquire the things they need, trying to secure a job is an ex-prisoner's greatest obstacle. Except when family or friends have been able to secure them employment, ex-prisoners are refused work due to their criminal history, something they can't change. With this revolving door being slammed in their faces, how do we expect them to react when they're stuck between a rock and a hard place? They then end up adopting the only culture they know: survival of the fittest. In plain old English, they resort to exploiting their old ways of living -- that is, victimizing others to survive. Because of this induced failure, I share the below sentiments of El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz a.k.a. Malcolm X: 
"I have no mercy or compassion in me for a society that crush[es] people and penalize them for not being able to stand up under the weight."
Yet, it is my yearning hope that society will come to realize that in spite of their crimes, prisoners have the same tools, the same potentials, the same basic human desires, and the same capacity for change and positive development which all other citizens possess. They just need assistance in effectively developing their latent potentials. People change -- even I have changed. In fact, life itself is a process of transformation.
With this said, it is my prayer that people will call on their elected officials to push for rehabilitative programs in prisons, as well as re-entry programs in society, that will help prisoners reintegrate in their communities and become law-abiding citizens.

In the struggle for prison reform,
Siddique Abdullah Hasan 
 
ABOUT: Siddique Abdullah Hasan is the founding editor of Compassion, a newsletter to develop healing communication between capital punishment offenders and murdered victims' families. The respected Sunni Muslim prison Imam was sentenced to death for his alleged leadership in the 1993 Lucasville prison rebellion. 
WHERE: He is currently on death row at Ohio's supermax prison, in Youngstown, and is appealing his sentence. 
WHY: For more on his case, see Staughton Lynd's Lucasville: The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising (Temple University Press, 2004). 
CONTACT: To contact Hasan about writing a column on issues relating to incarceration and prison life, send inquiries to:

Siddique Abdullah Hasan (Carlos Sanders) / # R 130-559 / OSP/ 878 Coitsville Hubbard RD / Youngstown, OH 44505

Friday, April 19, 2013

This was read at OSU's Take Back the Night



RedBird was asked to speak on prison abolition and how it relates rape culture and sexual assault. Here's the reading.
*  *  *
     Hi, I'm Kate and I'm part of a group called RedBird Prison Abolition here in Columbus. We support prisoners in Ohio. And I'm here because I love taking things back. I wanna take this night back. I wanna take it back to my mom and grandma and say look at this bad ass shit we're doing, (except I wouldn't swear, because they don't like that.) I wanna keep having nights like this, and I want to hold them up to rapists as a threat and as an example of the power that us here have to not only defend ourselves but take the offensive against a culture that's been steeped in rape for so long that some of us are way past bitter. Because we deserve a hell of a lot better, and you bet we can get it.

The first step being that we ‘get it’. All around us it's like we're standing in the middle of a big connect the dots drawing where the dots are things like the justice system, crime, education, prisons, the war on drugs, rape culture, the military... and the lines connecting them all are colored white for supremacy, are exclusively straight and cis in their direction and happen to be drawn by primarily male and able bodied men. It's despicable. And I hope you all wanna smudge up this drawing as much as I do. (Am I in the right place for this? Yeah? Alright.)

I'm also here as a prison abolitionist because prison is an integral part of keeping those dots connected, of upholding patriarchy and white supremacy. Now you might be like, prison, Abolition, isn't that kind of at odds with halting sexual assault? I mean, what about all the rapists who are in prison? And that is an excellent question cuz the prison and justice system do as much to halt or even diminish sexual assault as a fraternity. What about those rapists? They're coming right back into our communities with less stability and fewer opportunities to do much else than what gets people sent back to prison. And this is of course if they even went to prison in the first place. Often times people, especially white money men aren't even convicted.

Marissa Alexander
Courts deal with rape and sexual assault on an individual level, which is not without it's benefits, though the state daintily steps over acknowledging systemic problems which often result in the severe detriment of survivors. There is the case Marissa Alexander, who in 2010 after giving birth nine days previously to her son defended herself against assault that, from previous experience, she feared may be deadly. She fired a warning shot into her ceiling. The court thought she didn't need to. It also thought her assaulter's history of convictions and testimonies from others were inadmissible. The prosecutor asked for a 20 year sentence, minimum, for Marissa and got it.

There is also the recent case of CeCe McDonald who's assault wasn't specifically sexual assault, but an assault where in court, the assailant's swastika tattoo and three previous convictions for violent assault were ruled inadmissible as evidence that attacks against her were motivated by her race and gender identity. (CeCe is a Trans woman of color.)
CeCe McDonald

To hell with this justice system, police and prisons. We can do better than this.

Cuz here's where it stands now. The criminal court process has a penchant for re-traumatizing people who choose to go that route, and many do not for that very reason. The threat of conviction makes it less likely that a ‘perpetrator’ will get past denial and own up to what they did, which is often what one needs as a survivor to begin moving on.

This increases rates of PTSD and even sometimes ends up incarcerating the survivor themselves.

The prison system does not rehabilitate people, it traumatizes them, presents a sparse few opportunities upon release, save the opportunity to do something that'll put you back in prison. All the administration has to do is sit back and wait. It's quite the racket. Or rather, industry. Ohio is one of the only states left with “rehabilitation” still in its name. Most everybody else has dropped it.

And just a quick fact on prisons and female prisons, nearly 80% of people inside are mothers. Just think of what an effect this has on families. In some states, women give birth to their children while restrained in shackles. Talk about abuse. Women, men and people who prefer neither of those genders get thrown in female prisons for all kinds of reasons, but the fastest growing segment of the prison population is women of color.
 When someone first asked me to take a guess at this percentage (of growth) I failed utterly. The number of women of color have increased in prisons by over 80, no, sorry, 800% in the last 36 years. That's from 1977. And this is NOT because black or latina women commit more crimes than say white women. In fact, studies have shown that with regard to drugs, whites have more of a habit. Communities of color are intentionally targeted (by police and law enforcement) for incarceration-- making them basically shit otta luck when it comes to expecting anything but slow torture from the justice system.
This is the system we're working with now. And I don't want these things to stop us from doing the very best that we can with it when we do use it. Especially when it benefits the survivor and is what they want. But I want us to see it for what it is, as a system that makes money off of actively destroying people's lives. And not just other peoples'. It effects all of us.

And, just to be clear, good riddance to rapists who get locked up per survivors wishes, because this is an accountability. But let's strive to do better than relying on prisons, police and prosecutors that support the very things we're fighting against. People have done better in the past using practices like restorative justice, talking circles, and even societies that utilize vigilante justice deal with harm more satisfactorily than the pervasive violence the prison system wreaks on our communities today. Let's work toward accountability on our own terms and that meets survivors’ needs. Let’s learn to trust one another, as much as we can anyway and take back our night.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Heinous & Humorous


Heinous & Humorous

GUNS 4 PENNIES from Field & Stream Mag
Warden Johnson at Madison Correctional in Londond OH is no longer allowing books, magazines, and religious cassette tapes to be sent to prisoners who are blind. For 20 years the Cleveland Public Library provided these to blind prisoners, but not anymore...
funny thing is
Dispite the fact that this clearly violates the American Disability Act--
One prisoner informed us that he is still permitted to receive Field & Stream magazine where there's advice on how to make a 1,000 yard shot with a rifle. It also advertizes where to buy cheap ammunition and assault rifles.

David Hughes, the prisoner who got the magazine says, "It's ironic that I'm allowed this kind of literature since I'm in prison for shooting a Muskingum Co. sherriff car with the sherriff in it." 

He says he would prefer that access to the Cleveland Library be returned, as what's going on now is humorous, yes, but he'd like to read something else.

from Madison Correctional Institution
Note: David wrote in a complaint that "Sighted prisoners have access to books, magazines and written religious material [...] through the prison library," which doesn't provide much for prisoners who are blind.  

He also says that Disability Rights Ohio has been willing to do little about protecting prisoners' rights.




Friday, April 12, 2013

Four Lucasville Uprising Prisoners on Hunger Strike.


From LucasvilleAmnesty.org

April 11th, 2013, Youngstown, OH- Four prisoners housed at Ohio State Penitentiary began refusing food today. Greg Curry, Siddique Abdullah Hasan, Jason Robb and Bomani Shakur, who have been housed at OSP since it opened, are demanding that media outlets be allowed to come for sit-down on-camera interviews with them. In a recorded announcement, Bomani Shakur described the hunger strike as a "protest [of] the state's unfair and unreasonable refusal to grant us access to the media... I am an innocent man. This is injustice, the state of Ohio is trying to kill me."

Numerous news sources have recently contacted the prisoners because of their involvement in the Lucasville Uprising twenty years ago. The hunger strike was timed with the anniversary of the uprising, along with a conference focused on taking another look at what happened in 1993.

"There are two important reasons for media access. The first is to humanize the prisoner... the second... [is to give] the prisoner a way to contribute to the search for truth about his alleged crimes" wrote long time prisoner advocate Staughton Lynd. "[When] a journalist and a prisoner can speak face to face... the reporter [can] ask follow-up questions as in a courtroom cross-examination." Lynd also cites legal opinions that advocate a right for prisoners to speak to the media. See Staughton's full statement at Re-ExaminingLucasville.org.
The prisoners announced the hunger strike during a brief informal telephone interview with The Associated Press, who ran an article on the eve of the hunger strike. Siddique Abdullah Hasan and Jason Robb were convicted of complicity in the murder of the hostage guard officer Vallandingham and condemned to death. They maintain their innocence and argue that as negotiators of the agreement that ended the uprising, they actually avoided further loss of life.  Bomani Shakur (also known as Keith Lamar) and Greg Curry both surrendered on the first day of the uprising, but were charged and convicted of killing perceived snitches in the first hours of the disturbance. They both also maintain their innocence. Curry is serving a life sentence. Shakur has appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

Supporters of the Lucasville Uprising Prisoners have planned a three day conference memorializing the Lucasville Uprising and re-examining the investigations and prosecutions that produced these convictions. The Re-Examining Lucasville conference will take place at Columbus State Community College on the weekend of April 19th-21st.

Advocates are also encouraging supporters to call Warden David Bobby at OSP and request that he negotiate with and allow media access. Warden Bobby can be reached at 330-743-0700 ext 2006. Supporters can also write to the prisoners at the following addresses.

Greg Curry 213-159
Siddique Abdullah Hasan R130-559
Jason Robb 308-919
Bomani Shakur (Lamar) 317-117



###

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Trans Identities and the Prison Industrial Complex


Members of RedBird will be presenting at the Trans Ohio conference on April 27th


Trans Identities and the Prison Industrial Complex by Alec Armstrong and Genelle Denzin
Our workshop will begin with a short presentation on the ways our justice system has historically affected and still affects transgender folks in the US. We will include discussion of current ODRC policy on housing and healthcare for transgender people who are in prison. We will examine recent instances of transgender people’s experiences with the criminal justice system and instances of support and organizing to address these issues. The rest of the workshop will be facilitated discussion with the goals of thinking critically, creating meaningful connections between people, and collaborating on ideas for action.

Four Lucasville Uprising Prisoners Start Hunger Strike

Greg Curry, Siddique Abdullah Hasan, Jason Robb and Bomani Shakur will begin refusing food on April 11th. They are demanding that media be allowed access to sit-down interviews with them. These interviews are essential to  humanizing the prisoners and allowing them to contribute to the search for truth about his alleged crimes. A face to face interview permits follow-up questions and a more direct and thorough interaction than other forms of interview.

The Associated Press Columbus has written an article on the hunger strike, which is getting national attention.







 RedBird has been involved in setting up The Re-Examing Lucasville conference Re-examiningLucasville.org this conference on the Lucasville Uprising. Please come, learn, participate.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Voices from Solitary: A Sentence Worse Than Death
Reposted from Solitary Watch 3/11/13elmira

“I’ve read of the studies done regarding the effects of long-term isolation in solitary confinement on inmates, seen how researchers say it can ruin a man’s mind, and I’ve watched with my own eyes the slow descent of sane men into madness—sometimes not so slow. What I’ve never seen the experts write about, though, is what year after year of abject isolation can do to that immaterial part in our middle where hopes survive or die and the spirit resides.”
 .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
“You deserve an eternity in hell,” Onondaga County Supreme Court judge Kevin Mulroy told me from his bench as I stood before him for sentencing on July 10, 1987. Apparently he had the idea that God was not the only one qualified to make such judgment calls.

Judge Mulroy wanted to “pump six buck’s worth of electricity into [my] body,” he also said, though I suggest that it wouldn’t have taken six cent’s worth to get me good and dead. He must have wanted to reduce me and The Chair to a pile of ashes. My “friend” Governor Mario Cuomo wouldn’t allow him to do that, though, the judge went on, bemoaning New York State’s lack of a death statute due to the then-Governor’s repeated vetoes of death penalty bills that had been approved by the state legislature. Governor Cuomo’s publicly expressed dudgeon over being called a friend of mine by Judge Mulroy was understandable, given the crimes that I had just been convicted of committing. I didn’t care much for him either, truth be told. He built too many new prisons in my opinion, and cut academic and vocational programs in the prisons already standing.
Read the rest HERE.

This is an essay by William Blake, who has been held in solitary confinement for nearly 26 years. Currently he is in administrative segregation at Elmira Correctional Facility, a maximum security facility located in south central New York State. In 1987, Blake, then 23 and in county court on a drug charge, murdered one deputy and wounded another in a failed escape attempt. He was sentenced to 77 years to life.