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Sunday, June 26, 2011

FCI Elkton Food Strike Update #1

A few weeks ago we learned that there had been a mass protest demonstration in FCI Elkton. More about that here.

We've been pursuing information about this and unfortunately, we haven't got much to report at this time. Either something big went down or they're really paranoid about sharing any information at all. I expect the latter.

After calling almost daily for over a week, as media, because I was planning to write an article for Street Speech I finally got through to the PR person. He simply told me he doesn't think Street Speech fits his criteria for being media and therefore he would not talk to me.
You can call this jerk at 330 420 6200 and tell him what media is, maybe even talk about the media's role in a "free" society, and how his actions prove we ain't livin in one. Or, even better, you can do what I did and call his boss's boss at 215 521 7301. That way Joe can ignore your call too!

Anyway, all the PR guy would tell me is that the public is safe and the prison is good. Not exactly the questions I was asking. When asked about the inmates all he would say is "they're walking and talking". When asked what happened on May 18th, he told me to wait for a reply from the warden. I told him that I expected the warden's reply wouldn't be satisfactory. He told me there was nothing else I could do. I said good bye and hung up, like a polite docile citizen.

What I had written is below, feel free to write a similar letter, in fact, please do. More pressure and attention can't hurt. The Warden's reply finally came the other day, and it was beyond not satisfactory. He acknowledged that I wrote a letter, and told me that Bureau of Prisons Program Statement 1351.05 says I need to file a Freedom of Information Act request. Then he said "I trust this information will be helpful in addressing any questions you may have. As a concerned tax payer, I can assure you we continue to protect society as our institution is safe, humane, cost efficient, and appropriately secure." Nope. Not helpful at all.

Fortunately, I have already filed a FOIA request. It's been "appointed to a representative" and is "being processed." I called the representative and haven't heard back. Now, I know from our FOIA request workshop that the Freedom of Information Act is a joke. Request are often simply ignored, especially if they're not coming from a large and legit organization. Well, we're anarchists, so we don't have a large legit organization. Instead, I suggest we be a large illegitimate disorganization and flood the BOP FOIA request office with letters. Send them an email at or write to: 


Be sure to ask for specific records, otherwise they'll pretend nothing happened. Here's my request... 

Hello, I am seeking information about the food strike and protests at FCI Elkton in Lisbon OH on May 18th and May 23rd. I'd like to know the reasons the facility went on lockdown, how many times it was put on lockdown and for how long. I'd like to know which inmates were involved in the actions, whether or not they've been disciplined or punished by the administration for the participation, and how the facility has responded in general to these protests. Specifically, I'd like to see shift logs, officer reports, and any incident reports filed between May 16th and May 25, 2011.
I understand there was a sit down protest on May 23rd where inmates demanded the release of other inmates from the SHU. I'd like to know which inmates where in SHU and for what reasons, whether or not the released inmates where later returned to SHU or otherwise punished, and i'd like to see reports from the officer or officers who negotiated with these protesters and reports of when and why they were sent to SHU.
Thank you,
And here's the ineffectual letter I'd written to Warden Robert Farley. I addressed it to Sarely, cuz his name isn't publicly available anywhere (until now) and i misheard the operator. Maybe if your letter has the right name he'll take it more seriously. Yeah, right. 

LISBONOH  44432 Hello Warden Sarely,
 I recently discovered there were some incidents of inmate protest and unrest at your facility last month. There is very little public information available about this. I called to see if anyone from the administration could tell me what happened and they told me to write you a letter. Could you please answer these questions?
 1. When and how did you find out the protest was being planned? What did you do in response?
2. What happened on May 18th? I heard there was a food strike. How many inmates participated? How many inmates are currently housed at the facility? When and why did the facility go on lockdown? How long was it on lockdown?
3. What happened on May 23rd? I heard the lockdown was lifted and a group of inmates sat down on a basketball court refusing to return to their cells until negotiations led to some inmates being released from SHU. Can you confirm that this happened? Why were those inmates in SHU to start? Who were they and why were they released?
4. Did the facility go on lockdown again after that sit-down protest? For how long? Why?
5. Are the inmates making demands? What are their complaints? Why have these actions happened?
6. I heard you’re a relatively new Warden at this facility and that there is an unpopular new captain as well. Can you describe changes you’ve made in your policies that may have contributed to this inmate unrest?
7. Could you please confirm or deny the following complaints I have heard from inmates? Lights being left on 24 hours in the housing units. Earlier curfews and reduced access to the library and other common spaces. Inmates being forced to lie down on the dirty floor whenever an alarm goes off. Overcrowding of inmates.
 I am concerned about conditions in your facility and how the unrest is being dealt with. As a US citizen it is my right to know how my tax money is being spent and how people incarcerated in your facility are being treated. I am especially concerned about how inmate unrest and protests are being dealt with. Please send me a thorough reply, as attempts to call your facility have proven fruitless.
 CC: Joe Norwood, Northeast Regional Office

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