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SCI Camp Hill Update—Call for Action, Increased Monitoring, Constant Vigilance
SCI Camp Hill Update—Call for Action, Increased Monitoring, Constant Vigilance
As Pressure Fades, Retaliation Escalates
Prisoners in the Camp Hill Special Management Unit report that the retaliation against them has escalated again. The timing of the reports indicate that the last action alert stayed the hands of the guards for a while, but once the calls died down, the threats, deprivations of food, fabricated misconducts, and other forms of harassment and torture have escalated again.
Michael Edwards, Damont Hagan, and Gary Tucker have been targeted most heavily by prison guards as a result of their efforts to expose racist brutality and maintain their dignity while being subjected to systematic dehumanization.
These men, and the others listed below, need the following from all of us:
1)—Take immediate action (detailed below)
2)—Establish channels of communication with these men; write them letters
3)—Committed and strategic thinking for a long-term battle with the DOC and the Governor's office, involving intensive monitoring, visitation, legal battles, media work, community organizing, and—not least of all—transformation of an unsustainable, oppressive social order.
There is no other way to begin to address the conditions in the Camp Hill SMU, or any other solitary unit in PA or the country for that matter. Please take a deep breath and make a commitment right now to make a phone call and write a letter sometime in the next couple of days.
24-Hour Lockdown for Months
Several recent prisoner reports indicate that the following individuals are currently locked in their cells 24 hours a day, deprived of access to shower and yard, and frequently denied food and water.
Name and # Time since last shower Time since last yard
David Smith #FZ5168 4 months 4 months
Terry Brooks #DD3814 7 months 6 months
Damont Hagan #DS9488 10 months 5 months
David Crews #DC0924 16 months 7 months
William Meekins #EF3877 11 months 4 months
William Kulp #GK7562 3 months 3 months
Ronald Jackson #CF3994 13 months 12 months
Angel Santiago 18 months ?
Michael Edwards #CM8086 6 months 6 months
Gary Tucker #FG8520 10 months 5 months
To cover up this flagrant violation of law prison personnel have been fabricating documents to make the situation appear otherwise, falsely claiming that prisoners have been participating in Program Review Committee meetings and leaving their cells on occasion.
Repercussions of the Last Action Alert—Prisoners Targeted for HRC Affiliation
Initial reports indicated that the severity of threatening and violent behavior by SMU staff under the command of Unit Manager Chris Chambers eased during and immediately after the issuance of the last action alert.
Since that time has faded, however, the abuse has been escalated again.
According to Mr. Tucker:
"I want to place emphasis on the fact that me and the others are glad to know that there are people like yourself who realizes that in spite of our situations we are still human beings. These people treat us very inhumanely in here. It is evident that you and your staff are making a statement. The reason I say this is because now me, Edwards and Hagan are being taunted daily by Sgt. Jones and his flunkies. These taunts come by way of Sgt. Jones, C/O Flynn, C/O Brandt and several others walking past our cells saying, 'you better not mess with them they're gonna call HRC.' They even be getting on the loudspeaker taunting us, which is very unprofessional. It's cowardly as well.
This is but one of several accounts we have received in which prisoners have been taunted for their efforts to expose conditions of torture inside the SMU.
Efforts to Obstruct Justice in the Jacobs v. DOC Case
At the trial Jacobs v. DOC, in which state inmate Andre Jacobs was awarded $185,000 for violations of his constitutional rights, prisoners in the SMU at Camp Hill testified in front of Judge Conti to being threatened and assaulted by prison guards in an effort to silence them.
On Wednesday, November 5th, state's attorney informed the judge that Michael Edwards and David Smith were refusing to leave their cells to testify on Andre's behalf. When Mr. Jacobs asserted his disbelief, Judge Conti ordered them brought from their cells to the videoconferencing room on Thursday morning. On Thursday, November 6th, Michael Edwards testified that he feared for his safety due to repeated threats from guards in the SMU and David Smith being assaulted the day before. Mr. Smith confirmed this testimony, alleging that his head was slammed against a wall by prison guard Uler the day before, and that he still had not received any medical attention. Both men agreed to proceed with their testimony as witnesses for the plaintiff, helping Andre win a victory for prisoners' rights.
Actions to Take
(1) Contact the Governor—Demand an Investigation
Governor Rendell has command responsibility for what occurs in these prisons. In the attached letter HRC/Fed Up! demands that Rendell initiate an investigation into criminal practices in the SMU at Camp Hill. Join us in sending a clear message to Secretary Beard, Superintendent Palakovich, Unit Manager Chambers, and Sgt. Jones that the SMU is being monitored, and that they will be held accountable for any harm visited upon the prisoner population.
Call Governor Rendell at 717-787-2500 and demand the following:
1)—That Rendell initiate an investigation into the allegations of prisoner abuse contained in the documentation sent his office by the Human Rights Coalition.
2)—Gary Tucker, Michael Edwards, and Damont Hagan need to be transferred immediately, as their safety cannot be guaranteed in the SMU.
3)--If you want to write Rendell, he will no doubt be thrilled to hear from you on this issue at: Governor Rendell, 225 Main Capitol Building, Pittsburgh, PA 17120
(2) Contact the Harrisburg Patriot—Demand an Investigation
A press release (attached) has been sent out to media in Pittsburgh and others in Pennsylvania, and we are asking that it be forwarded widely. We are asking our allies to join us in concentrating our attention on one media target, pressuring them to investigate and report on prison conditions in the SMU at Camp Hill.
Call the Editor, John Kirkpatrick, of the Harrisburg Patriot at 717-255-8161 and demand the following:
1)—That the paper initiate an investigation into and report on allegations of prisoner abuse and torture in the SMU at Camp Hill
2)—Ask that the newspaper contact HRC/Fed Up! in order to be put in touch with prisoners and their families willing to talk with the press.
(3) Write the men in the SMU
Please take the time to send a letter, however brief, to one of the men named above. We need constant monitoring of the situation, and our capacity to do this will improve significantly if everybody agrees to make contact with at least one prisoner.
Please call and provide some cover to the men held captive in the SMU. It is much harder to assault, starve, or kill a prisoner when you know you are being watched by hundreds or thousands of people.
Please write one or more of the men held in the SMU at the following address: SCI Camp Hill, P.O. Box 200, Camp Hill, PA 17001. We need constant monitoring and to develop a strategy for protracted struggle. This is only possible by making more contact with those on the inside.