Support the struggle of prisoners in Georgia

Recent years have seen repeated protests and hunger strikes in US penitentiaries, as prisoners in the world’s largest and most brutal system of incarceration desperately attempt to highlight the consistent use of solitary confinement as a form of torture, together with a sea of other abuses which, had they taken place anywhere else on the planet, would have resulted in an international outcry. The persistence of protesters in California has succeeded in galvanising some national and international attention; however similar actions in Georgia have been largely ignored. In December 2010 tens of thousands of Georgia prisoners participated in the biggest work strike in US prison history, alongside a hunger strike (see ‘Georgia prison strike’ in FRFI 219). There were further protests in 2011 and earlier this year. FRFI has received a letter from Tamarkus Wright, setting out the background to the February/ March 2014 protest in the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison/Special Management Unit (GDCP/SMU).

‘I’m from Long Beach California and moved to Georgia about 15 years ago...On 25 September 2008, I was wrongfully convicted for a murder that I had nothing to do with at all. There were no witnesses who testified in my trial of my being the shooter. Even the lead detective gave her testimony that there was no physical evidence nor any other evidence to place me at the crime scene but I was still convicted to life and come up for parole in 2020. Right now I’m at my Habeas Corpus petition...I have found so many errors that are going to get my case overturned. So I should be out of prison by 2015-2017. If God’s Will.

Over 69% of prisoners in the Georgia prison system have been wrongfully convicted of crimes that they didn’t commit nor having evidence to conviction. In Georgia if the person doesn’t like you they can lie and say that you did something, or think that you’ve done something and you will be convicted. This system is very, very crooked and they’re what you call the real definition of the new “Jim Crow Law”* oppressors, and I am against the oppression.

On 20 September 2012 at the Smith state prison in Georgia while watching two correction officers beating this poor white guy just because he was married to a black woman, I jumped in to stop the oppressors continually beating the guy for no reason, but because of the respect that I have throughout the prison system those who were around jumped in as well. But it only started a small riot...after the riot was under control by staff, I was taken to an area and beaten with black sticks and with the fist of the staffs, while in handcuffs. I was beaten very badly but I didn’t care because I was willing to die that day just to save that poor harmless guy’s life.

On 21 September 2012 I was transferred here to the SMU and have witnessed so much oppression by administration and staffs. Such as prisoners being beaten by staffs, thrown on strip cell for days without a mattress to sleep on. Nor being fed, threatened by staffs, fed bugs in food, fed cold food, fed less calories than 1,200 calories on a good day when the policy requires to be fed 2,800 calories daily. Prisoners being sexually assaulted, sexual harassments, and these things are being hid from the public.’

On 20 January 2014 prisoners at the GDCP/SMU submitted a list of their grievances to the prison administration, naming a specific member of staff as responsible for sexual misconduct towards prisoners, and demanding an independent investigation. In the time-honoured fashion of covering up institutional abuse, the prison appointed an internal investigator who, unsurprisingly, conducted a cursory inquiry, rejected every one of eight prisoner complainants’ testimony that they had been the victims of sexual assault by the staff member and did her best to brush the whole matter under the carpet.

Prisoners in the GDCP/SMU continue to seek support for their struggle. Readers are encouraged to write to:

Tamarkus L Wright GDC# 1070891

Robert Watkins GDC# 1245402

Rodrick Henderson GDC# 294536

Isaiah Meadows GDC# 1202688

Ernesto Castillo GDC# 1291603

Ricky Mosley GDC# 1218550

Gregory Lawson GDC# 1000792447

at GDCP/SMU, PO Box 3877, Jackson, GA 30233, USA.

* The Jim Crow laws, enacted between 1876 and 1965, enforced, at state and local level, racial segregation in all public facilities in the southern states of the US.

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 240 August/September 2014