Posts Tagged ‘wallen’s ridge’

Supporting Prisoners and Acting for Radical Change (SPARC) is pulling together to raise funds to get folks to visit incarerated loved ones at Red Onion State Prison and Wallens Ridge State Prison. Due to the fact that these prisons are so far away, it is nearly impossbile for family and friends to visit.  Together we can raise funds we need to buy a van, and we need your support to do it!

SPARC has been renting a van every couple of months to make these rideshares happen, but it has now become a regular enough event that it just makes more sense financially to purchase a 15 passenger van and use that for these trips.

Owning a van will also allow SPARC to possible expand the rideshare program, or offer rides for members and supporters to various other related events and meetings.

Any funds that are raised above and beyond the purchase price of the van we buy will be put towards the insurance and registration and fuel for these trips.

Link to the fundraiser page here:

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/we-need-a-sparc-mobile-to-support-prisoners-and-their-families/x/957048

From: http://virginiaprisonstrike.blogspot.com/2013/04/hunger-strike-begins-at-wallens-ridge.html?m=1

Solidarity with Virginia Prison Hunger Strikers
Solidarity with Virginia Prison Hunger Strikers has been formed to supportand publicize the hunger strike being launched by prisoner comrades at Wallens Ridge State Prison beginning Monday April 15th when men in segregation refused their first meal.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Hunger Strike Begins at Wallens Ridge State Prison

On Monday, April the 15th it was brought to the attention of the Solidarity with Virginia Prison Hunger Strikers Coalition that a hunger strike has been initiated at Wallens Ridge State Prison located in Big Stone Gap, Virginia.Based off inside information there are at least 16 individuals participating in this hunger strike. The status of the strikers is unknown at this time. Last May a hunger strike was initiated at Red Onion State Prison, which is located 30 minutes north of Wallens Ridge State Prison and could be considered its sister site. Between the prior hunger strike and the current one, the VADOC has conducted a new effort to transport many of the prisoners formerly held at Red Onion to Wallens Ridge. Although Wallens Ridge is a lower-level security prison it is commonly said by prisoners and ex-prisoners that Wallens Ridge is a more brutal and corrupt prison than Red Onion. Even though the technical status of Wallens Ridge is security-level 4 there has now been a new security-level designation within Wallens Ridge, in correspondence with Red Onion transfers, known as security-level S. According to the VADOC January newsletter the reasoning behind this campaign is to “give…offenders more programmatic opportunities and more pathways to lower security prisons” and that it has resulted in “..a reduction in the number of Administrative Segregation offenders, a reduction in incidents, and a reduction in offender grievances.” The fact that these young men are compelled to risk their lives in order to gain a little more fairness, a little more decency, refutes whatever the official line of the VADOC may be in its efforts to keep the population under its thumb.

The VADOC and its agents are culpable for all torture and brutality that is inlicted upon generations of young black men who are living at the mercy of a justice system that specifically targets them based on their race and class. We support these hunger strikers and their demands against the oppression they face daily at the hands of correctional officers and the negligence of the VADOC itself.

Suport the Hunger Strikers!

Meet Their Demands!

End Prison Torture!

This Friday, July 1st, marks the start of a hunger strike by prisoners at the Pelican Bay Prison in California.

“Therefore we have decided to put our fate in our own hands. Some of us have already suffered a slow, agonizing death in which the state has shown no compassion toward these dying prisoners. Rather than compassion they turn up their ruthlessness. No one wants to die. Yet under this current system of what amounts to intense torture, what choice do we have? If one is to die, it will be on our own terms.
Power concedes nothing without demand.” –  James Crowford, Mutop DuGuya (a/k/a Bow Low)

Specifically, the prisoners of the Security Housing Unit (SHU) are the ones calling for this strike.  An estimated 50-100 prisoners on Corridor D, are going on an indefinite hunger strike.  The D corridor (also known as the “short” corridor) has the highest level of restricted incarceration in the state of California and among the most severe conditions in the united states.  The rules of their confinement are extremely harsh in order to force them to “debrief” or offer up information about criminal or prison gang activity of other prisoners.  Most inmates in the SHU are not members or associates of prison gangs, as the PBSP staff claims, and even those who are put their lives and the lives of their families and other prisoners at risk if they debrief.

Back in California, the prisoners going on Hunger Strike need support from the outside. They are fighting for very, very basic rights. They are struggling against conditions that should NEVER have been allowed in the first place. If you are interested in supporting this hunger strike, or learning more about similar issues in Virginia, please get in touch with the Richmond Anarchist Black Cross – a local prisoner support and prison abolition organization. rvaabc@gmail.com or 804 303 5449

These are the five core demands of the hunger-striking prisoners:

  1. Eliminate group punishments. Instead, practice individual accountability. When an individual prisoner breaks a rule, the prison often punishes a whole group of prisoners of the same race. This policy has been applied to keep prisoners in the SHU indefinitely and to make conditions increasingly harsh.
  2. Abolish the debriefing policy and modify active/inactive gang status criteria. Prisoners are accused of being active or inactive participants of prison gangs using false or highly dubious evidence, and are then sent to longterm isolation (SHU). They can escape these tortuous conditions only if they “debrief,” that is, provide information on gang activity. Debriefing produces false information (wrongly landing other prisoners in SHU, in an endless cycle) and can endanger the lives of debriefing prisoners and their families.
  3. Comply with the recommendations of the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in Prisons (2006) regarding an end to longterm solitary confinement. This bipartisan commission specifically recommended to “make segregation a last resort” and “end conditions of isolation.” Yet as of May 18, 2011, California kept 3,259 prisoners in SHUs and hundreds more in Administrative Segregation waiting for a SHU cell to open up. Some prisoners have been kept in isolation for more than thirty years.
  4. Provide adequate food. Prisoners report unsanitary conditions and small quantities of food that do not conform to prison regulations. There is no accountability or independent quality control of meals.
  5. Expand and provide constructive programs and privileges for indefinite SHU inmates. The hunger strikers are pressing for opportunities “to engage in self-help treatment, education, religious and other productive activities…” Currently these opportunities are routinely denied, even if the prisoners want to pay for correspondence courses themselves. Examples of privileges the prisoners want are: one phone call per week, and permission to have sweatsuits and watch caps. (Often warm clothing is denied, though the cells and exercise cage can be bitterly cold.) All of the privileges mentioned in the demands are already allowed at other SuperMax prisons (in the federal prison system and other states).

There is a petition online supporting these demands, which you can sign here: http://www.change.org/petitions/support-prisoners-on-hunger-strike-at-pelican-bay-state-prison

Signing a petition is the least that one can do, and we would encourage people to take other actions in solidarity with these striking prisoners. Solitary confinement already makes humans very invisible, and the interests of the state in this case will be to make these prisoners and their struggle even less visible. These prisoners are offering up their lives in opposition the conditions they face on a daily basis, they deserve our attention.

More about this Hunger Strike is online here: https://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/

And a good explanation of the reasons for this Hunger Strike from one of the inmates is here: https://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/voices-from-inside/why-prisoners-are-protesting/

If you don’t know about Security Housing Units, you can look a lot closer than California for examples. Virginia had 2 Super Max prisons, Wallen’s Ridge is now down graded to Maximum Security Prison. The remaining Super Max prison, Red Onion, has many practices similar to those of the SHU in California. (more…)

As part of May in Memory of people killed by cops and the state, the Wingnut and the Richmond Anarchist Black Cross is showing films each Monday about the police state, state oppression, COINTELPRO, and the Prison System.

May 10th, 8pm

Up the Ridge is about Wallen’s Ridge Prison located in Wise County, Virginia.

So come on out to watch this film and talk about it too, if you want. Bring snacks if you have some, the WIngnut is a sober space.

New Movie: “Up the Ridge: A U.S. Prison Story”

Appalshop’s

“Up the Ridge: A U.S. Prison Story”

A shocking new documentary of urban prisoners in remote rural prisons

Up the Ridge: A U.S. Prison Story is a one-hour television documentary produced by Appalshop’s Nick Szuberla and Amelia Kirby. In 1999, Szuberla and Kirby were volunteer DJ’s for the Appalachian region’s only hip-hop radio program in Whitesburg, KY when they received hundreds of letters from inmates transferred into nearby Wallens Ridge State Prison, the newest prison built to prop up the region’s sagging coal economy. The letters described human rights violations and racial tension between staff and inmates. Filming began that year and, through the lens of Wallens Ridge, the film offers viewers an in-depth look at the United States prison industry and the social impact of moving hundreds of thousands of inner-city minority offenders to distant rural outposts. Up the Ridge explores competing political agendas that align government policy with human rights violations, and political expediencies that bring communities into racial and cultural conflict with tragic consequences. As the film makes plain, connections exist, in both practice and ideology, between human rights violations in Abu Ghraib and physical and sexual abuse recorded in American prisons.