(A statement for the June 11th International Day of Solidarity with Long-Term Anarchist Prisoners)
First, I’d like to give warm revolutionary greetings to all those who have shown solidarity and supported me. Without that solidarity and support, I don’t know how I would have survived for so long.
As one who has spent 30 years in U.S. prisons, I’ve become intimately acquainted with control units, whether we call them Security Management Units, Special Housing Units, or Administrative Segregation – all euphemisms of penological sophistication in an attempt to disguise the true purpose and intent of such sinister tools of control and torture. Let’s be clear: they are torture chambers.
Former director of the Bureau of Prisons and now shareholder in the private prison firm GEO, Norman A. Carlson, stated that Marion’s control unit’s purpose is to “control revolutionary attitudes in prison and society” as well. Marion Federal Penitentiary is considered to be the first control unit in the U.S.
Now, across the globe, from Alabama to Colorado to Greece and beyond, control units are being established for those who refuse to conform to the regimen in prison and the normalcy of every life outside of prison, and most definitely for those who carry out revolutionary activities. Like the C-type prisons in Greece, designed explicitly for anarchist guerrillas. The design and intent is to minimize human contact through isolation and to exact an immense cost in human suffering.
In most control units, prisoners live in almost total isolation, far away from family and friends. It means restrictions on communications; censorship of incoming and outgoing mail and visits; constant harassment; and sadistic brutality from prison guards.
A few years ago it was reported that almost 36,000 human beings were housed in solitary confinement prisons in the U.S.
A study by the National Immigrant Justice Center and Physicians for Human Rights stated in their report that conditions of immigrant detainees placed in isolation not only endangered their health and safety, but also pressured them “to abandon their options for legal relief, their families, their communities, and often the only country they have ever known.” The study cites multiple examples of immigrant detainees who were placed in isolation solely because they belonged to “vulnerable populations,” such as being gay, bisexual, transgender, or mentally ill. Here in Alabama’s Holman prison segregation unit, three prisoners have committed suicide in the last eight months, and there have been numerous other attempts to commit suicide that were unsuccessful.
Most control units consist of cells without windows, to cause sensory deprivation and reduce visual stimulation, and those with windows are not able to be opened, causing stifling heat in the cells during the summer months.
On February 19, 2016, Albert “Shaka” Woodfox was released from prison after 44 years in solitary confinement. Woodfox was a prisoner who joined and co-established a chapter of the Black Panther Party at the notorious Angola prison in Louisiana in the 1970s and was charged with the murder of a prison guard. Woodfox is now 69 years old.
Hugo “Yogi Bear” Pinell was confined in California’s inhumane solitary confinement units for 43 years. He was recently murdered by white supremacists in collusion with prison guards after being released to general population on August 12, 2015. He had been a leader and prison rebel and a prime organizer of the Prison Movement in the 1960s and 1970s.
Whatever name they are called, control units’ primary purpose is control, to break the will and sanity of those who rebel and refuse to conform to an oppressive social order in or out of prison.
What we have to do is get angry and bring ourselves into direct confrontation with this most sinister aspect of the Prison Industrial Slave Komplex that is destroying human beings and suppressing revolutionary movements. We have to continue to do the million things we already do to attack the state, but we also have to be creative and create new ways of attacking the state and its institutions. Again, these institutions of the state are torture chambers designed to break and destroy the human will to rebel against that which oppresses them.
Shoutouts to all prison rebels and anarchists of action. Keep up the good fight!
Special shout to the Plateau Crew!
Fire to the prisons!
(Watch My Smoke)