Twice in the past two days, I've had to contact a warden of a "correctional" facility in Alabama about the well-being of an incarcerated citizen. The second email was about the situation of Robert Earl Council AKA "Kinetik Justice" and I posted the email to this blog as well as a Call to Action in reference to his initiating a hunger strike on Thursday morning.
The first email, however, was the result of a call I received Wednesday night from a prisoner in St. Clair "Correctional" Facility where the prisoners were bombarded by an onslaught of no less than 300 "officers" of one kind or another descending on the institution Thursday, February 28th, to track down all the contraband the guards themselves bring in. This prisoner is not a revolutionary organizer like "Kinetik Justice," but he's done twenty years on a twenty-year bit and by not back-dating his sentence the way they should have, the "authorities" intend to claim an extra two years of his life. The reason for this is that this prisoner engages in his own kind of resistance and he's very, very good at it. Which pisses off the Powers-That-Be, though he probably has more folks on his payroll than the ADOC, with some people double-dipping.
I step in like this from time to time and, in this particular case, did so because the prisoner in question has now been taken out of solitary confinement (where he has served the past five years) and put in a housing unit where individuals are placed to be killed. The phone call I received was so fast, furious, and full of background noise that I could barely understand what was said, but as I mulled over what I thought I had heard and did a bit of research, I came across the term "hot bay" and the pieces fell into place.
So I wrote the prisoner a letter I intend to be read by the administration. And then I followed it up with an email to Warden Karla Jones. She and I have had dealings in the past. They went well. I hope this one does, too. But even though I told her I would hold off on publishing about this matter right away, I'm going to go ahead and do it. We're not buddies, after all.
Overcrowding, grossly inadequate staffing, virtually non-existent mental health care, and the overuse of random and brutal force against prisoners appear to run rampant in the Alabama DOC. Worse, ADOC administrators routinely practice the use of such unconstitutional practices as crowding violent offenders into situations where the very real likelihood of their dying or being forced to kill is greatly amplified. This suggests that, rather than being the result of administrators who don’t know how to do their jobs or prisoners who are “uncontrollable,” these practices are actually indicators of collusion to commit negligent homicide, if not intentional, premeditated murder. And the numbers involved would suggest that this case would not be difficult to make in a court of law.
National news media reports make prison administrators in Alabama appear to be incapable of fulfilling their responsibility to keep the people in their custody safe from harm. Every day that goes by seems to prove that what Alabama needs is not more, bigger, and more expensive prisons, but rather administrators who are professionally capable of keeping incarcerated citizens safe while preparing them responsibly for their eventual release. Whether they like the prisoner or not.
NOTE: The graphic above was done by Thomas Silverstein, a prisoner in the federal system who passed away May 11th. His obituary can be read here.