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Tuesday, 29 September 2015

U.S. Prisons and Jails Are Threatening the Lives of Pregnant Women and Babies


U.S. Prisons and Jails Are Threatening the Lives of Pregnant Women and Babies

Features » September 28, 2015
Our 6-month investigation reveals the horrific and shameful conditions facing pregnant prisoners—and the inhumane treatment they receive.
Though the United States accounts for only 5 percent of the world’s women, it has 33 percent of the world’s women prisoners.

BY Victoria Law
At 5 a.m. on June 12, 2012, lying on a mat in a locked jail cell, without a doctor, Nicole Guerrero gave birth.
Guerrero was eight-and-a half months pregnant when she arrived 10 days earlier at Texas’ Wichita County Jail. The medical malpractice lawsuit Guerrero has filed—against the county, the jail’s healthcare contractor, Correctional Healthcare Management, and one of the jail’s nurses, LaDonna Anderson—claims she began experiencing lower back pain, cramps, heavy vaginal discharge and bleeding on June 11. The nurse on duty told her there was no cause for concern until she had bled through two sanitary napkins. Several painful hours later, Guerrero pushed the medical emergency button in her cell.
At 3:30 a.m., more than four hours later, Guerrero was finally taken to the nurse’s station. Guerrero says she showed Anderson her used sanitary pads filled with blood and fluids, but was not examined. Instead, she was taken to a one-person holding cell with no toilet, sink or emergency call button, known as the “cage.” At 5 a.m., her water broke. She called out to Anderson, but, Guerrero says, Anderson refused to check on her. Shortly after, Guerrero felt her daughter’s head breach. A passing guard stopped to assist her, and Guerrero, unable to keep from pushing, gave birth on a blood and pus-covered mattress.
The baby was dark purple and unresponsive, with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. When Anderson arrived minutes later, she did not attempt to revive the baby, Guerrero says. The EMTs got there after 20 minutes and rushed the baby to the hospital. Guerrero remained in the cage, where she delivered the placenta. At 6:30 a.m., the baby was pronounced dead.
No data, no problem
The number of women who cycle through U.S. jails is increasing by approximately 1.6 percent each year, to 109,100 in 2014, while the number of women in prisons has risen nearly tenfold in the past 40 years, to 111,300 in 2013. Though the United States accounts for only 5 percent of the world’s women, it has 33 percent of the world’s women prisoners.
There is no current data on how many of those women are pregnant. In 2004, a Bureau of Justice Statistics survey found that 3 percent of women in federal prisons and 4 percent of those in state prisons were pregnant upon arrival. The statistics on pregnancy in local jails is older—a 2002 survey found that 5 percent of women entered local jails pregnant. At those rates, approximately 9,430 pregnant women are incarcerated annually.
There is even less data on what kind of care pregnant prisoners receive: their nutrition, prenatal check-ups and medical attention, which can be a matter of infant life or death in cases like Guerrero’s. Nor do we hear much about the trauma of pregnancy and childbirth under prison conditions, or the heartbreak of having an infant taken away hours after birth.
In a six-month investigation, In These Times reached out to dozens of incarcerated women, activists and advocates, seeking to reach women who had been pregnant behind bars. Twelve came forward to share their stories.
In These Times then requested information about pregnancy care and policies from the prisons and jails where the women were incarcerated. Only four of eight complied. Correct Care Solutions, a contractor that provides healthcare at Nashville’s Davidson County Jail, refused, declaring that private companies do not need to open their records to public scrutiny. Those that did provide records typically took months to do so, and the data was often poor. Phoenix’s Maricopa County Jail records live births, miscarriages and abortions, but not stillbirths. Washington’s Clark County Jail keeps track of the number of medical visits by pregnant women (42 in 2014), but not the number of pregnant women incarcerated.
However, from the 12 individual women’s accounts, a picture began to emerge. Many received no medical care or experienced long waits. Most were constantly hungry. Others were restrained during labor, delivery or postpartum recovery, even in states that ban the practice. The majority of those who gave birth in custody had their infants taken away within 48 hours.
Care and loathing
Medical neglect can endanger the lives of pregnant women as well as fetuses.
Diana Claitor, executive director of the Jail Project of Texas, says she interviewed a young woman whose complaints of extreme pain were dismissed by a jail doctor as morning sickness. But “it was because her fetus had been dead for some time,” says Claitor, who also examined the woman’s medical records. “She was very ill and could have died.” The woman was finally taken to the emergency room, where she delivered the dead fetus.
Bridgette Gibbs says that, despite telling staff of her history of miscarriages, she received no medical attention in two months of pregnancy at the Westchester County, N.Y., jail. She still hadn’t been examined when, early in her second trimester, she went into labor. Before being taken to the hospital, she was strip-searched and shackled at the hands, waist and ankles. She gave birth to twins handcuffed to the bed, and was still handcuffed there hours later when she learned that her premature newborns had died. The hospital told her that the early labor was the result of a treatable infection. (The Westchester County Department of Correction could not confirm or deny her story, saying that it no longer has Gibbs’ records.)
In Arizona, complaints about prison medical care prompted the ACLU and the Prison Law Office to file a class-action suit in 2012. An accompanying investigation uncovered two incidents in the summer of 2013 when officials at the state prison in Perryville dismissed women’s claims that they were going into labor. One woman said that it took two hours to convince the guards to transport her to the hospital. She gave birth 20 minutes after arrival. The other said nurses refused to believe her water had broken even after it tested positive for amniotic fluid. Officers sent her to the hospital only when she began screaming.
‘It hurts to be hungry like that’
Pregnant women especially need nutrient-rich food. It’s typically recommended that they eat three or more servings of fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy and protein each day, as well as several servings of whole grain breads or other complex carbohydrates. Nutritional deficits can, for example, increase the risk of gestational diabetes, which can cause a fetus’s trunk and shoulders to become too big for vaginal birth.
“Withholding healthy food from a pregnant woman is withholding medical care,” says Tess Timoney, a certified nurse-midwife and director of women’s HIV services at New York’s Bronx-Lebanon Hospital.
In jails and prisons, meal times, foods and portions are limited. More than half of the dozen women interviewed by In These Times recalled an overwhelming, unrelenting hunger.
Some jails and prisons specify a special pregnancy diet and an additional snack. But women report that these foods are often inadequate.
Twenty-three-year-old Minna Long was pregnant with twins when she entered the Clark County jail in Washington state in 2010. She received an extra 8-ounce carton of milk with all three meals, but, she recalls, “There were countless times the milk was expired and sour and I couldn’t drink it.” Her pregnancy also caused her to feel revulsion toward many of the foods served. During her four months in jail, she subsisted on milk, fruit and cold cereal, as well as commissary purchases of donuts, candy, trail mix, meat and cheese sticks, and flavored popcorn.
Kandyce (who is still incarcerated, and asked that her last name not be used and her prison not be specified, for fear of retaliation) says that when she was pregnant in prison in 2014, between breakfast and dinner was a 12-hour wait. “It hurts to be hungry like that,” she says.
‘I don’t ever want to be pregnant again’
Even when medical care is adequate, the restrictions and confinement inherent in prisons can make pregnancy and birthing traumatic. It is standard policy in U.S. prisons and jails to strip search prisoners upon entering and exiting, including a squat and cough, with no exceptions for pregnant or postpartum women.
A five-year study by the nonprofit Correctional Association of New York found that while there were delays in pregnancy care upon arrival, most women in state prisons then received prenatal care at roughly the frequency recommended by the U.S. Department of Health. Waiting for those visits, however, was often painful. Women were seated for up to five hours on a narrow wooden bench with no food or water. Though pregnant women are supposed to move around frequently to ease muscle tension and prevent fluid build-up, the women were not allowed to stand, and were often threatened with disciplinary tickets if they leaned back.
Kandyce saw a doctor regularly during her pregnancy, but the nurses, she says, strictly enforced the prison’s policies and often refused her doctor’s requests. For instance, her doctor asked for a wedge pillow and an extra mattress to supplement the thin prison mattress. “As you get bigger, they get thinner,” Kandyce recalls. “I’m already heavyset and being pregnant was even worse—I couldn’t really breathe if I wasn’t propped up.” The nurses denied her the pillow but allowed extra blankets. Those were confiscated by officers in the monthly room search, however, and each time, Kandyce had to go to the sergeant to get them back. “By the time I was eight months pregnant, I was really frustrated,” she said.
Medical staff told Kandyce that she needed a caesarean section. The night before, she was placed in the prison’s Inpatient Unit. “You’re in a room by yourself—no TV, no book, no nothing,” she recalls. “All you do is sit in this room by yourself. You know that you’re about to have your baby [and] that you’re going to have to give your daughter up. All you have time to do is think about it.” By 11 a.m., when officers arrived to transport her to the hospital, she no longer wanted to go through with it. “I just wanted to keep my baby with me.”
Normally, caesarean sections require only regional anesthesia, but when Kandyce arrived at the hospital, she was so stressed and anxious that the doctor—a man she had never met—decided to put her to sleep. “My daughter was going to be here and everything was wrong,” she recalls thinking. Her daughter was born healthy, but the entire experience was so devastating that Kandyce says, “I don’t ever want to be pregnant again.”
Each time Minna Long went to court, jail staff placed her in handcuffs, ankle cuffs and a waist chain, a practice known as shackling. Then, they stopped. Washington had become the seventh state to pass legislation restricting the shackling of pregnant women. That was in 2010; fourteen states have followed suit.
But advocacy groups in California, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas have found that the practice persists despite bans. Sierra Watts, 37, incarcerated in Washington state just after the law went into effect, learned this firsthand. While she was allowed to give birth without restraints, she was then cuffed to the bed. Her son was placed in a cradle next to her. “I just had to lean over to get him out, but it’s harder when you can’t move that far,” she says.
The Washington State Department of Corrections says that “a post-incident review determined she was not supposed to be cuffed.”
Sierra’s choice
For Sierra Watts, the worst part wasn’t the shackling, but what followed. Although she had granted her mother temporary guardianship, child welfare workers told her that they would not send her son to live with his grandmother. After spending 24 hours with her newborn, Watts was taken back to prison without knowing her son’s fate. Because he was born on a Friday, he was to remain in the hospital until child welfare offices opened on Monday.
As Watts tells this story, her eyes fill with tears.“He was going to stay in the hospital with nobody holding him, nobody knows where he’s going, nobody’s even going to tell me where he’s going,” she says. “Nobody said [to me], ‘It’s going to be okay. We’re going to watch him. We won’t let anything happen to him.’ ” She did not learn where he was placed until the following Tuesday. The next—and last—time she saw him in person was during a prison visit one year later, shortly before he was adopted.
Under the 1997 Adoption and Safe Families Act, if a child is in foster care for 15 of 22 months, the state must begin proceedings to terminate parental rights. Watts says that she initially fought to maintain custody, but finally signed away her rights. “They told me that if I was to take it to trial and lose, then I wouldn’t be able to get photos or hear how he’s doing or send him cards or anything,” she says. She receives photos of her son, age 3, several times a year, but never sees or speaks to him.
That’s relatively common for incarcerated women who give birth; two other women interviewed by In These Times arranged for their babies to be adopted.
By contrast, when Michelle Barton, 37, gave birth in an Oklahoma prison in 2013, she knew that her baby would be safe with her sister-in-law, who was already taking care of Barton’s 3-year-old son until her release from prison. But she still cried when it was time to leave the hospital. Upon her return to prison, she was reminded how little motherhood means there. A nurse had given her a piece of paper with her daughter’s footprint. The officer who strip-searched her upon arrival threw it away. “Getting strip searched is nothing,” Barton says, but watching her daughter’s footprint tossed into the garbage “just tore my heart out.”
Another way
Michelle Barton’s daughter was 18 months old when Barton was released from prison in August. She boarded a bus to Oklahoma City with only the clothes on her back. Although she has a job lined up at Church’s Chicken, she is homeless and cannot reclaim her two young children from her sister-in-law until she finds affordable housing.
The Mabel Bassett Correctional Center spends $14,800 per year to incarcerate each woman. Barton was there for nearly two years. What if that $29,600 had been spent directly on resources for her and her family?
Oklahoma’s incarceration cost is dramatically low. At the Washington Corrections Center for Women, incarcerating each woman costs $44,400 per year. Sierra Watts was sentenced to 40 months. What if the $148,000 spent to imprison her had instead been spent to help her stay out of the prison system?
The UN Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders, known as the Bangkok Rules, recommend that for a pregnant woman or a child’s primary caregiver, “non-custodial measures should be preferred where possible and appropriate.” But pregnancy and parenting are rarely taken into consideration in the U.S. legal system. Across the nation, more than 120,000 mothers and 1.1 million fathers of children under 18 are behind bars. Approximately 10 million children have had a parent incarcerated at some point in their lives.
Recognizing that maternal incarceration can devastate children, some states are exploring alternatives. In November 2014, the Delaware Department of Correction created New Expectations, a group home for pregnant women with drug addictions who would otherwise be imprisoned. The home provides meals, prenatal vitamins, clothing, toys, intensive substance abuse counseling, and classes on infant care, parenting, breastfeeding, nutrition and budgeting. But the facility is run by the Department of Corrections and its healthcare provider, Connections Community Support Programs, and the doors are locked and alarmed.
By contrast, New York City’s Drew House and JusticeHome operate independently of the prison system. To be eligible, mothers must plead guilty to felony charges—but the charges are dismissed once they complete the program. In the meantime, they avoid prison, and their children avoid foster care.
Olgita Blackwood’s youngest child was barely a week old when she was arrested. “I was so worried about my kids,” she told the Associated Press. “They depend on me. They asked for me every day.” The 24-year-old was sent to Drew House instead of prison, enabling her to stay with her three children. Nearly two years later, as she prepared to take her GED, she said that the program made her independent. “I can make decisions on my own, raise my kids. I can’t imagine it any other way now.”
What if such alternatives to incarceration were available everywhere?
The Bangkok Rules recognize that women’s needs are unmet in a prison model designed for men and that women’s incarceration is often a result of layers of gender discrimination. In addition to recommending non-custodial measures for pregnant women, the UN urges countries to establish alternatives to imprisonment for all women.
If the United States took these ideas seriously—or at least took seriously its basic healthcare responsibilities in its prisons and jails—today, Nicole Guerrero might be watching her 3-year-old daughter, Myrah Arianna, scamper around the playground. 
This investigation was supported by the Fund for Investigative Journalism and the Leonard C. Goodman Institute for Investigative Reporting.
Freedom Archives 

Free All Political Prisoners!

Questions and comments may be sent to claude@freedomarchives.org

Elderly Visitor at Florence Federal Correctional Institute's (FCI) Satellite Camp Falls and Sustains Injury During Visiting Hours Despite A Just Cause's Attempts to Alert the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) of the Risks

Source: A Just Cause

A Just Cause 
September 29, 2015 06:00 ET

Elderly Visitor at Florence Federal Correctional Institute's (FCI) Satellite Camp Falls and Sustains Injury During Visiting Hours Despite A Just Cause's Attempts to Alert the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) of the Risks

During a June 2015 DC Trip, A Just Cause Executives Were Removed From BOP Offices; BOP May Face Suit From Injured Visitor at Florence Satellite Camp After Sustaining Injuries From a Fall

DENVER, CO--(Marketwired - September 29, 2015) - During visiting hours on Saturday, September 26, 2015 at Florence Federal Correctional Institute's Satellite Camp, Sarah Harper, a visitor to the camp, fell out of a plastic chair after the legs buckled and gave way. Harper, a 68 year old woman, felt excruciating pain in her lower back after her chair suddenly gave way. Prison officials called an ambulance.
Initially, prison officials asked Harper if she would prefer to be seen in Pueblo or Colorado Springs; she opted for Colorado Springs since she lives there; however, when the ambulance arrived, prison officials told Harper there would be no choice. She was required to be seen in Cañon City, Colorado at the facility of their choosing. Harper became immediately suspicious after this sudden change and friends took her to a Colorado Springs hospital for evaluation and treatment. Soon thereafter, prison officials ended visits early; with no specified reason, everyone was sent home early.
"I wondered why I suddenly had to go so far away from home for treatment after I was initially given a choice and told the guard I wanted to go to Colorado Springs," pondered Harper. "Everyone from the guard to the ambulance drivers seemed in on the plan to get me to go to Cañon City," states Harper. "I found out the Cañon City facility is used by the prison for the care of inmates. I didn't want to risk a less than comprehensive evaluation or limited treatment if I was forced to go to the facility of the prison's choice," says Harper.
"Florence's Satellite Camp recently switched to flimsy plastic chairs, assigned seating, and a multitude of other new rules in the visiting room," says Lamont Banks, Executive Director of A Just Cause. "On Wednesday, June 17, I was accompanied by Cliff and Lisa Stewart to BOP in Washington DC to convey concerns of harassment toward children and families while visiting the prison camp in Florence, Colorado. We contacted the BOP to announce that we would be there on that date, but we were escorted out of the BOP by Federal Protective Services," notes Banks. "We were attempting to warn them about the hazards of the chairs, among other inequities that were occurring during visiting hours. This incident with Ms. Harper could have been avoided," laments Banks.
A June 18, 2015 Press Release details the unfair treatment of A Just Cause executives and how Bureau of Prisons officials in DC failed to meet with them despite the concerns raised with respect to the Florence Federal Prison Camp visiting situation. "A Just Cause remains very disappointed at the lack of response and action on the part of the BOP," states Banks. "Multiple phone calls and emails from our organization have gone unanswered," Banks added.
"When you think about the behemoth organization that is the Federal Bureau of Prisons, with a FY2015 budget of $8.5 billion, there's no reason why visitors are sitting in flimsy plastic chairs," notes Cliff Stewart of A Just Cause. "Ms. Harper is not the first to fall out of the chairs; an elderly gentleman fell in the visiting room a few weeks ago and heavier inmates tend to stack them before sitting in them to reinforce the legs while watching television in the units," says Stewart. "These chairs are clearly a hazard and need to be immediately removed before further injuries occur," warns Stewart.
Visitors, particularly those from out of town, were surprised and very disappointed by visits being cut short. Many are rarely able to visit due to the cost of travel and accommodations, so they want to maximize the time with their family members. The abrupt end was never explained.
"A Just Cause vows to continue to follow this case and attempt to reach out to Director Samuels and other BOP officials about the situation in the Florence Federal Prison Camp's visiting room," affirms Banks.
For more information about advocacy group, A Just Cause, go to: www.a-justcause.com.
For more information about the story of the IRP6 or for copies of the legal filings go to http://www.freetheirp6.org.
Related press releases: http://www.a-justcause.com/#!2015-press-releases/cl69

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Wednesday, 23 September 2015

People's Attorney Liz Fink Dies!

From the desk of Baba Zayid Muhammad
Ä turtle cannot go forward unless he first sticks his neck out…”
Malcolm X
September 23, 2015
A legend among American ‘Radical’ lawyers, and a quintessential New Yorker, Liz Fink has passed away. 
Fink passed away on Tuesday evening September 22nd.
Mentored by the late William Kunstler, Fink was a gladiator in the ring for people’s causes.
            She is probably best known for her representation of the ‘Attica Brothers,’ survivors of the vicious state repression of the Attica Uprising.
In 1971, from September 9 to September 14th, prisoners at upstate Attica New York took over that facility to demand the end of cruel and abusive treatment by prison guards and its administration. Well organized, very disciplined and incredibly eloquent, the uprising’s leaders went to great pains to take good care of the prison officials who they held hostage to demonstrate the humanitarian essence of their concerns. It drew media attention from all over the world with its humane and eloquent character.
However, NY Governor Nelson Rockefeller, an aspirant for the 1972 presidential election, decided that the uprising was getting too much good press and that he was getting too much bad press.  He then ordered the military assault on the nonviolent uprising that resulted in 38 deaths and legions of prisoners being seriously injured. The brutality of the assault is also well documented as many prisoners, especially the participants in the uprising, were stripped naked, lined up and savagely beaten after the facility was re-secured.
It was this graphic abuse that brought a class action lawsuit against the State of New York that put Fink in the forefront of critical legal human rights battles in the Black Liberation Movement. Fink stayed with the case and fought tirelessly for their justice until the courts granted the surviving victims a 12 million dollar settlement.
“The Attica Rebellion truly needs to be appreciated in the most serious terms,” said Zayid Muhammad of the Malcolm X Commemoration Committee.
“Not only did it trigger key reforms in prisons throughout the country, including educational and training opportunities and the hiring of Black and Latino prison guards, it was an amazing display of the humanity of the Black man in America from the lowest position in this prison nation.
“When those men, when they finally needed someone to speak for them and what they faced, they were ferociously represented by the incredible Liz Fink,” he finished emphatically.
In addition to the Ohio 7 case, Fink and Bob Boyle also represented Black Panther legend Dhoruba Bin Wahad. Bin Wahad, one of the few Panther political prisoners to secure to his release from the COINTELPRO convictions facing so many of his comrades, said bluntly and greatly pained that "ïf it wasn’t for Liz Fink, I would have never been released."
She also negotiated a shorter prison for another people’s lawyer Lynne Stewart, when Stewart was charged with aiding the “terror activity” of her client Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman from Egypt.
            She also negotiated the transfer of political prisoner Sylvia Baraldini back to her native Italy whereupon Baraldini was ultimately released.
            Most recently, she secured the acquittal of a Jordanian college student, Osama Awadallah, from 9/11 terrorism charges. The prosecutor in the case was so enraged by Fink’s trademark ferocious defense of her client, he personally charged her with “jeopardizing the republic” in the middle of the case.
            Fink laughed and mocked that she would like “that one on my tombstone."
Free All Political Prisoners!

At Louisiana’s Angola Prison, Lawsuit Claims, the Sick Face Neglect, Isolation, and Death

Men incarcerated at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, commonly known as Angola, are suing prison officials and the Louisiana Department of Corrections for failing to provide adequate healthcare to the more than 6,000 people currently held there.
In a scathing, 63-page complaint, lawyers representing Angola’s prison population allege that men are routinely denied appropriate medical care, resulting in “unnecessary pain and suffering, exacerbation of existing conditions, permanent disability, disfigurement, and even death.” The class-action suit, Lewis v. Cain, was filed in the United States District Court in the Middle District of Louisiana and alleges violations of the Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment as well as violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires that disabled prisoners receive reasonable access to programs, services, and activities.
The complaint was filed in May by the Promise of Justice Initiative, the Advocacy Center, the ACLU of Louisiana, and the law firm Cohen Milstein. It details dozens of examples of inadequate care culled from the experiences of over 200 poeple, painting a picture of callousness, neglect, and even cruelty. According to the complaint:
  • Lead plaintiff Joseph Lewis, who is 81 years old, was experiencing chronic throat problems for over two years, including coughing, spitting up mucus, and burning sensations. The only remedy prescribed by the prison doctors was Q-Tussin, an over-the-counter spray. After a visit from his attorneys, Lewis finally received a biopsy and was diagnosed with throat cancer.
  • Plaintiff Kentrell Parker, who is quadriplegic and cannot move any body part below his neck, was placed in solitary confinement in 2014 for complaining about his lack of care – despite the fact that he is totally incapable of notifying prison staff from his isolation cell should an emergency arise. Mr. Parker also alleges that he has often missed meals because, while food is delivered to his cell, medical staff is frequently unavailable to feed it to him. He claims he is regularly left to sit in his own feces for hours at a time due to chronic understaffing, and as a result he was recently diagnosed with a blood infection from bacteria entering his blood from his stool.
  • A 75-year-old man believed he was having a stroke due to numbness in his body, but was only examined after his fourth request to prison officials. Early intervention is critical during a stroke, and as a result of the delay in treatment, the man is now blind, unable to walk, and has difficulty chewing.
  • Plaintiff Otto Barrera, who is missing his lower jaw as the result of a gunshot wound and is unable to eat or take medication without an enteral tube, was referred for reconstructive surgery in 2014. Prison officials denied the request, deeming the surgery “cosmetic.” Mr. Berrera has been prescribed a “soft diet” but is given the same food as the other prisoners, forcing him to tear the food up into small pieces and place it in the back of his mouth to attempt to swallow.
  • James Johnson received treatment for multiple myeloma until 2012, when it was determined that the cost of treatment was prohibitive. His chemotherapy was replaced with steroids, which caused his legs to swell and his blood sugar to remain elevated. Mr. Johnson died last year, shortly after noting that doctors were only making the rounds once every month or two.
The complaint goes on to describe, in its words, “horror story after horror story” – a paralysis that could have been prevented, a torn knee ligament that was identified then ignored, a softball-sized hernia that required but did not receive surgery, a degenerative joint condition that has awaited surgery for a decade, endlessly delayed biopsies, and even a 16-year wait for a cane for a blind man.
This is not the first time that Angola has been accused of having inadequate health care. In the early 1990s, the Department of Justice intervened as a plaintiff in a class action lawsuit called Lynn v. Williams that accused prison officials of many of the same deficiencies that are currently at issue. The DOJ summarized its findings as follows: “The medical care at LSP is grossly deficient. The medical care delivery system at LSP fails to recognize, diagnose, treat, or monitor the serious medical needs of LSP inmates, including serious chronic illnesses and dangerous infectious and contagious diseases… As a result of inadequate medical care at LSP, inmates have suffered and continue to suffer serious harm and even death.”
One of the areas of particular concern to the DOJ was the use of solitary confinement to house sick prisoners. As they noted at the time, “Defendants’ use of isolation rooms in the infirmary is improper and dangerous. Defendants place seriously ill patients in locked rooms that may adversely affect their medical conditions. Nurses in the nursing station are unable to see or hear inmates in the locked isolation rooms and infrequently check on the inmates in these rooms.”
Michael Puissis, who served as the plaintiffs’ medical expert in that lawsuit, observed that sick prisoners were often kept in locked cells unnecessarily. “These rooms have heavy gauge steel doors with a small (approximately 6 inch) viewing panel. Patients must gain the attention of nursing staff by screaming and banging on the door. Nurses sit behind an enclosed viewing area, which muffles sound from the ward. There is no nursing call button in these rooms. On the day of my visit, an infirm AIDS patient, who had difficulty walking, was locked up in one of these rooms because he was described as an escape risk.”
Fast-forward 23 years later, and it would appear that little has changed. The current warden, Burl Cain, is the same warden who ran the prison in 1998, when a consent decree was temporarily issued to resolve some of the problems enumerated by the DOJ. According to the Lewis plaintiffs, medical assistance is constantly delayed or denied, or offered only after individuals bring in attorneys and threaten litigation. Prescriptions go unfilled. Medical devices are virtually nonexistent. Record-keeping is inadequate. Men are threatened with disciplinary action for seeking medical care if they are deemed to be “malingering.” Untrained staff and prisoners are doing the work of doctors. And the list goes on.
The lawsuit even points out that one of the Defendants, Stephanie Lamartiniere, who is responsible for oversight and supervision of the entire medical staff at Angola, has no medical background. Her previous job? Warden Cain’s secretary.
What the complaint does not mention is the fact that many doctors working in state prisons have had histories of disciplinary actions that preclude them from practicing medicine in non-institutional settings. The problem is particularly prevalent in Louisiana, according to a 2012 investigative journalism piece by the Times-Picayune.  The newspaper uncovered that 60 percent of the doctors practicing in Louisiana state prisons had been disciplined by the state medical board for violations ranging from possession of child pornography to dealing methamphetamine to sexually abusing patients. This compares to 2 percent of the state’s non-prison physicians. Four of the doctors named in the article were working at Angola at the time of publication.
The plaintiffs in Lewis are seeking to force Angola to beef up their medical staff, provide patients access to needed surgeries, offer timely and competent responses to emergencies, improve sanitary conditions, and better accommodate the disabled, among other objectives. If successful, the suit could catalyze improvements at other correctional facilities seeking to avoid similar litigation.

Freedom Archives
Free All Political Prisoners!

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Which Side Are You On? REMIX - Rebel Diaz ft. Dead Prez and Rakaa Irisci...

We are living historic moments of oppression, to which the people
have the right to respond with historic moments of resistance. The Which
Side Are You On REMIX came out on our Radical Dilemma album, but the
time is NOW for the song and the message it represents. It was an honor
to link with Dead Prez and the comrade Rakaa Iriscience of Dilated
Peoples, artists whose shoulders we stand on, who have paved the way for
a Rebel Diaz. From #Baltimore to #Ferguson to #Chicago to
#TheSouthBronx to #LosAngeles and beyond.. #WhichSideAreYouOn?!

Which Side Are You On? Remix. By Rebel Diaz ft. Dead Prez and Rakaa Iriscience

Produced by: G1 of Rebel Diaz and Sam Jones

Additional Instrumentation: Rude Mechanical Orquestra, Grupo Raiz

Album: Radical Dilemma

Directed by: Sense Hernandez

Monday, 21 September 2015

Benefit cap is a housing benefit cut. It hurts families with council tax benefit & other cuts. Together they are fatal Please re-tweet and share.

Benefit cap is a housing benefit cut. It hurts families with council tax benefit & other cuts.
Together they are fatal.
The benefit cap is a housing benefit caps that hurts families. It was smuggled into public acceptance by the coalition government with the misleading strap line " It is not fair on hardworking families that the unemployed should have a higher income than the employed".
David Cameron in the Daily Mail; "Hard-working taxpayers were left to pick up the tab – and often they had lower incomes than those they supported on welfare. This is about ending that injustice".
The real injustice is that benefits are being cut to the bone to enable tax cuts for those who could afford to do much more to reduce the deficit.
They will now reduce the benefit cap from £26,000 to £23,000 which cuts the housing benefit ever deeper as rents rise.
It is vital to understand and broadcast how the so called benefit cap works. I have posted a detailed explanation on the TAP website.
Please re-tweet and share.
Taxpayers Against Poverty

M1 From Dead Prez comes to Baltimore and Live Stream

For more information, please visit www.BoyceWatkins.com
from Dead prez come to Baltimore for a lecture/ concert with Watoto
From the Nile for more info hit us on daddywatoto@gmail.com

Sunday, 20 September 2015

MORE QUESTIONS POLITICIANS REFUSE TO ANSWER People For Schapelle Corby #Icare4innocentSchapelle

Why did the Australian government seize Schapelle Corby's book royalties under ‘proceeds of crime’ legislation whilst she was still going through the courts in Indonesia, directly undermining her case with its obvious signal to Jakarta, and at the same time depriving her of the funds for another appeal and for vital medicines?
Why is she the ONLY Australian in history to have royalties seized, when outright criminals like Chopper Read, and others imprisoned abroad, have had no problems whatsoever?
Why was this determined behind closed doors, via a secret kangaroo court which she wasn't even AWARE of, let alone represented in?
Why were the provisions of the act extended beyond its legally defined boundaries, thus subverting the judicial system itself?
Why did the AFP expend so much effort and money on this case, including extensive surveillance of multiple individuals?
Why was income of her sister Mercedes seized, when she has never been charged with any offence in any nation?
Why was she targeted with exactly the same legislation again in 2014, when the AFP spent over a $1 million raiding offices of Seven Network and Mercedes Corby's lawyer, and in the process directly LYING to a magistrate?
The Proceeds of Crime Act states that its objective is:
"to deprive persons of proceeds of offences, the instruments of offences, and benefits derived from offences, against the laws of the laws of the Commonwealth or the non-governing Territiories"
Given that Indonesia isn't a "non-Governing territory", why did the AFP and the Australian government even initiate a case against Schapelle Corby, let alone seize her money?
But that's not all. Make no mistake about it, in Australia it's perfectly OK for those convicted of a crime to write books about crime and keep the proceeds.
For example: Mark Chopper Read: No fewer than 11 books. David McMillan: 'Escape'. Christopher V.V Parnell: 'Hell's Prisoner' & 'The Sunday Smuggler'. Roger Rogerson: 'The Dark Side' . And many many others. This also extends to individuals who allegedly trained with al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, like David Hicks ('Guantanamo: My Journey').
Schapelle Corby is the ONLY PERSON in the history of Australia to have book royalties seized under proceeds of crime legislation. No-one else ever has: not one single person.
Why is this?
Why can criminals, convicted of every crime from murder to rape, from armed robbery to drug smuggling, happily derive revenue by exploiting their own activities, whilst one and only one person is vigorously and ruthlessly pursued at every turn?
It is because she is innocent and will never make a false confession. It is because the truth of her case threatens politicians, the AFP, the commercial interests of SACL, and those in the media who have poisoned public opinion.
It is because she is a threat to the corrupt individuals within the establishment who pull the strings. The contents of her book itself actually confronted them.
There is no proceeds of crime issue at all, because she committed no crime. In fact, she didn't even write about a crime in the first place, just her experiences in prison.
There is, however, a desperate need to gag her, to stop her talking, to close down her line of communication to the people as effectively as possible. To marginalize her.
When the state of Australia stole her book royalties in 2007 there was even more to it than this. They actually stole it whilst she was still going through the Indonesian courts... a clear signal from Canberra to Jakarta that she was considered to be guilty by Australia. A direct decision to undermine her case.
One day, those responsible for this wilful and flagrant act of theft and sabotage must be brought before a court themselves, to face justice.
How the Australian government stole the means for medication and further legal appeals from an innocent woman:
 People For Schapelle Corby


Saturday, 19 September 2015

People For Schapelle Corby #Icare4innocentSchapelle

  People For Schapelle Corby

Whilst this was first published almost a year ago, it is incredible that nothing has really changed since. The media still haunt her with their lies and smears, and the politicians hide.

All Schapelle wants is peace and tranquillity: to be left alone by those who hound her and malign her with smears and lies. She wants a life.

But she is locked away in her own room, fearful that any appearance in public will be used against her in some way, and that anyone she meets will be the next to be used against her. She is scared of the snoopers and the leaches, who will take secret photographs of her private moments, and sell them to the exploiters. She is still not free.

She is a sitting target: she has no right of reply to anything they print or broadcast about her, because she is illegally gagged. Her human rights are openly breached. She has nowhere to turn.

Her tormentors are the Australian media, whose obscene and sickening campaign is endorsed from Canberra itself.

Make no mistake about this: the politicians have been informed time and time again. They have been sent details of the most terrible of abuses. People have BEGGED them to intervene, to defend her, to protect her human rights. They don’t even bother to reply.

Her torment is a win-win for them. The media’s illegal activities and abuses spanning nine years remain hidden. The proven corruption of the politicians, and the involvement of the AFP, remain buried. To them all, Schapelle Corby is a problem because the truth is a problem. The tacit support for the undermining of the victim and her credibility, therefore spans the entire establishment.

These are the actions of weak and tiny men. They are the actions of cowards. They are the actions of criminals. Schapelle Corby’s dignity and courage in standing up to this, in surviving, shames every one of them.

Schapelle Corby and her family will never stand alone in facing this. All of us, supporters and friends, will stand by them, and will confront the perpetrators at every turn.

The truth will prevail, and when it does, Schapelle will truly be free.



Friday, 18 September 2015

A Prison Inmate Housed in Solitary Confinement at the Florence Federal Correctional Institute (FCI) Dies of Apparent Suicide Renewing Questions #IRP6

SOURCE: A Just Cause
A Just Cause
September 18, 2015 06:43 ET

A Prison Inmate Housed in Solitary Confinement at the Florence Federal Correctional Institute (FCI) Dies of Apparent Suicide Renewing Questions about Director Samuels' Testimony before Senate Subcommittee, Says Advocacy Group, A Just Cause

A Just Cause investigates and contends that Michael A. Andersen's death contradicts the claims by BOP Director Charles E. Samuels' during his Senate Subcommittee Testimony on the Use of Solitary Confinement in the Federal Prison System
DENVER, CO--(Marketwired - September 18, 2015) - The Federal Bureau of Prisons has yet to announce or release any public details around the September 7, 2015 (Labor Day) death of Michael A. Andersen, 44. Records on the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Inmate Locator simply note Andersen's status as ‘Deceased: 09/07/2015'.
A source familiar with the matter and speaking on condition of anonymity stated that Inmate Andersen had been housed in the medium security FCI in solitary confinement, known by inmate's as ‘the hole', after an alleged disciplinary infraction at the adjacent minimum security satellite camp for chewing tobacco. Visits to the FCI were delayed Labor Day morning and cars lined the street just beyond the entry gate after Andersen's body was discovered. The guard who found the body radioed, "We have a ‘hanger,'" the source concluded.
"We were shocked to find out a non-violent, minimum security camper was sent to the solitary confinement and housed in ‘the hole' alone. If someone was with him, maybe he would be alive today," ponders an executive from A Just Cause (AJC). This finding stands in direct conflict with the August 4th statements during the Senate Subcommittee testimony made by Director Samuels where he stated, 'We (BOP) do not practice solitary confinement...nor have we ever, had the practice of placing individuals in a cell alone.'
"If Samuels' testimony was true, how does the BOP explain Michael Andersen's death? Why was a non-violent camper placed in a cell alone? Could he have been given a ‘shot,' the prison equivalent of a disciplinary write up, since he was not a hard core criminal? How does chewing tobacco warrant solitary confinement? There are so many unanswered questions; unfortunately, Andersen's solitude proved too much for him and also made it impossible for anyone to intervene or call for help until it was too late," stresses the AJC Executive.
Reliable sources note that Andersen's family had recently moved from Wyoming to Canon City, Colorado to be closer to the institution for visits. "His death is a tragic reminder of the toll solitary confinement can take on the human spirit. It also reinforces that the Federal Prison System requires immediate transparency, accountability and reform," contends the AJC Executive.
According to the National Journal, "At a hearing of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on Tuesday (August 4, 2015), activists clashed with prison administrators over the level of mistreatment in the federal prison system, especially when it came to defining 'solitary confinement.'" (Emma Roller, National Journal, The Problem with Defining 'Solitary Confinement,' http://www.nationaljournal.com/congress/the-problem-with-defining-solitary-confinement-20150804). The National Journal went on to report, "But in a confusing exchange with Democratic Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey at the hearing, Samuels denied that the Federal Bureau of Prisons even practices solitary confinement."
According to The Hill, Director Samuels claimed, "We do not practice solitary confinement...Our practice has always been to ensure that when individuals are placed in restrictive housing, we put them in a cell with another individual," [Samuels] continued, adding that "staff members periodically make rounds to check in on them." (http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/250247-dems-grill-federal-prisons-chief)
The National Journal report states that the exchange between Booker and Samuels continued with, "'I'm sorry, I just really need to be clear on that,' Booker cut in, sounding baffled. ‘Your testimony to me right now is that the BOP does not practice solitary confinement of individuals singularly in a confined area?' 'You're correct,' Samuels said. 'We only place an individual in a cell alone if we have good evidence to believe that the individual could cause harm to another individual and/or if we have our medical or mental health staff given an evaluation that it would be a benefit to the individual to be placed in a cell alone. We do not under any circumstances, nor have we ever, had a practice of placing individuals in a cell alone.'"
Michael Andersen was a non-violent offender housed at the minimum security satellite camp. He met none of the criteria outlined by Director Samuels for single occupancy. "Director Samuels did not tell the truth. He and the BOP Staff is further complicit and liable in the death of Inmate Andersen because the ‘periodic rounds' to check on him were clearly insufficient. Director Samuels is simply misleading members of Congress and the public when he states the Federal BOP does not practice solitary confinement," the AJC Executive emphasizes. "I contend that solitary confinement is as real today as it ever was and Congress needs to independently investigate the hidden things that are happening in our prison system with unannounced inspections to uncover the truth," declares the AJC Executive.
BOP Program Statement 5270.10, Special Housing Unit, section 2, § 541.21 Special Housing Units, states, "Special Housing Units (SHUs) are housing units in Bureau institutions where inmates are securely separated from the general inmate population, and may be housed either alone or with other inmates." "The very policy statements that govern the BOP standard operating procedures conflict with Director Samuels' account of never placing anyone in a cell alone and flies in the face of Michael Andersen's death," the AJC Executive exclaims.
"I contend that the BOP, namely Director Samuels, must stop mincing words. The BOP simply adopted the term ‘SHU' or ‘Special Housing Unit' as a nicer and more politically correct phrasing for the very unpleasant and horrid place called, solitary confinement, but the simple truth is that ‘the hole' has not changed, nor has it ever been done away with. The Special Housing Unit implies a favorable place that affords advantageous of some sort. It is special, exclusive, elite or privileged place for a select few who are chosen with a plush couch to kick back on, a TV, and some creature comforts; but, the reality is that ‘the hole' is a very dark place. It is a place used far too often with detrimental effects to a person's psychological and physical well-being. It is a place of hopelessness furnished with a bed, sink and toilet, and rarely much else," bemoans the AJC Executive.
It is a known fact that suicide is a major concern with solitary confinement. "A study of the federal prison system found that 63 percent of suicides occurred among inmates locked in "special housing status," such as solitary or in psychiatric seclusion cells. As one inmate cited in the study explained:
‘The Hole and Segregation cells are depressing enough to drive many men to take their lives in order to escape. For some it would appear to be the only way out. After years of living in the cramped confines of a segregation cell with no hope of getting out, it is easy to see why a man would prefer death.'" (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/criminal-justice/locked-up-in-america/what-does-solitary-confinement-do-to-your-mind/)
"A Just Cause vows to continue investigating the untimely death of Michael Andersen and expose inhumane conditions and solitary confinement practices in the prison system in spite of disingenuous accounts by Director Samuels and other BOP officials who would rather see such news go away," affirms the AJC Executive.
A Just Cause made several calls to the Florence FCI requesting comment; however, no calls have been returned.
For more information about the story of the IRP6 or for copies of the legal filings go to http://www.freetheirp6.org.
Related press releases: http://www.a-justcause.com/#!2015-press-releases/cl69


Contact Information

A Just Cause
(855) 529-4252, extension 710

Thursday, 17 September 2015

DISL Automatic - Classic Man Remix (Jidenna ft. Kendrick Lamar)

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This song will be featured on the upcoming mixtape "Power to the People Vol.2" from DISL Automatic, which drops 12/21/15.

Sign up to the mailing list at http://DISLautomatic.com to receive a direct link to the FREE download as soon as it's available, and subscribe to http://youtube.com/DISLautomatic to stay updated on all the new releases.



a real Hip Hop head / stop spreading the truth? never! I'd rather drop
dead / I know I'm dope but you rarely hear me brag about it / confidence
is silent if you got it you don't have to shout it / wait a minute tho,
sometimes it's fun to flex / sometimes I must confess / I know I'm one
of the best / not competing with nobody so there's no contest / got a
healthy mind and body so I know that I'm blessed / DISL Autometiculous /
intricate when I'm spittin this / whether freestyle or written you know
the flow is ridiculous / when they talkin best MCs they mention me up
in the top ten / I don't rock gems 'cause I be droppin 'em too often /
I'm off in my own zone / kind upon my own throne / when I spit this flow
homie you know I leave your dome blown / I make cool to be intelligent /
I'm schoolin 'em with knowledge, all that foolery's irrelevant / the
general's a veteran / I'm only getting better and if love can heal the
world then I be peddling the medicine / kind and compassionate with my
actions and sentiments / if you ask anybody they'll tell you DISL's a
gentleman / I'm a classic man, I don't disrespect the women / maybe
that's why ladies love me and they wanna have my children / wait a
minute tho, I ain't tryna be arrogant / I'm just keepin it real, this
how I feel so I'm sharing it / got a bleeding heart, you see it on my
sleeve where I'm wearing it / when I die they should bury me like the
pharaohs in pyramids / my spirit's BIG / I got an unbreakable will /
they say that I'm ill / amazing 'em with lyrical skill / when it comes
to the rhymes, god damn it I'm hard / I don't spit punch lines, I drop
body slam bars / I got love for everyone, yeah my heart is that large /
I'm the boss, call me Charles because I am in charge / I'm the ruler of
my own state / creator of my own fate / if you getting love then you
know the trolls are gon' hate / I take it as a compliment, I'm confident
I'm so great / blossoming my mental with an exponential growth rate /
Get BIG Gainsta Click / I'm grateful for the thanks I get / from the fam
who understand the work I put in daily with / the movement, we're doing
it together as a family / classic man, I have to stand and fight for

- Six Years Later and No Answers #MitriceRichardson

Six years ago today Mitrice Richardson went missing after being released from the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff's station. Her skeletal remains were discovered 11 months after her disappearance. A $30,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction of those responsible for her death.


Mitrice Lavon Richardson was a 24-year-old African American woman who went missing after being released from a Malibu, California, jail on September 17, 2009, and was subsequently found deceased 11 months later in August 2010.


Bring Mitrice Richardson Home


Mitrice Richardson - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Albert Woodfox - A Third Chance for Justice in State Court

A Third Chance for Justice in State Court - The Critical Importance of Setting the Right Evidentiary and Procedural Scene for a Fair Retrial

Though it is an incredibly unusual, and often confusing situation, the legal reality is that Albert is fighting for permanent, unconditional release concurrently on two separate legal tracks - one in federal and the other in state court.  As we all wait to hear whether the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will uphold federal Judge Brady's June 8th "unconditional Writ," a third attempt to prosecute Albert in state court for the crime he continues to maintain he's innocent of is already, simultaneously, underway.

Next Monday, September 21st at 9:30am at the Courthouse in St. Francisville, the state court track will take a huge leap forward as Judge Carmichael of West Feliciana Parish's 20th Judicial District Court decides what a new playing field will look like after each side presents what they believe to be the key ingredients needed to ensure a just potential third trial.

Over the summer, Albert's state court legal team (Rob McDuff and Billy Sothern) filed a slate of 16 motions that began this process of defining the evidentiary and procedural ground rules for a potential retrial.  In addition to a comprehensive and convincingly argued request for change of venue, the bulk of the filings seek to construct a legal landscape where Albert has at least a chance of being fairly retried--where all of the now impeached, debunked, and discredited testimony, statements, and evidence presented at previous trials is excluded.

Albert's team also asks the court compel the State to allow modern DNA testing of all remaining physical evidence and to compare the potentially exculpatory fingerprints from the crime scene, already proven not to be Albert's, against the prison's own inmate fingerprint archives from the 1970s and the FBI's recently expanded AFIS fingerprint identification system.  Though it seems obvious that these simple tests could have long ago helped to identify the real culprit, the Attorney General told NPR as recently as 2008 he didn't see a need.  "A fingerprint can come from anywhere," Caldwell explains. "We're not going to be fooled by that."

Most fundamentally though, Albert's legal team argues that the 2015 indictment should itself be quashed and the case dismissed because all the key prosecution witnesses have passed away, as have all the key witnesses for the defense and the leaders of the initial investigation, making it impossible for Albert to exercise his constitutional right to confront and cross-examine them about the many inconsistencies, obfuscations, and procedural missteps later uncovered.  His attorneys conclude:

"Albert Woodfox is 68 years old, less than two years away from turning 70. He has been severely punished for the last 43 years for a crime in which none of the physical evidence implicates him and the State's proof is highly questionable. The circumstances of this case are such that he cannot receive a fair trial 43 years after the fact. The motion to quash should be granted and this case should be dismissed."

We will keep you updated as to how these issues play out if you are unable to attend on the 21st and won't stop fighting until justice for our friend is finally realized.
Write Albert:
Albert Woodfox #72148             
West Feliciana Parish Detention Center
PO Box 2727
St. Francisville, LA 70775

International Coalition to Free the Angola 3 | 221 Idora Ave. | Vallejo | CA | 94591

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