Demonstration At Central Prison This Sunday March 25th 2012: Noon

From: Internationalist Prison Book Collective, Chapel Hill:
March 21, 2012

Hello Friends,

Riding on the back of the call-in day last Wednesday there is a demonstration outside of Central Prison, at 1300 Western Blvd. Raleigh, NC 27606, this Sunday, March 25th at noon. The goal of this protest is to bring attention to the “Strong 8″ and put pressure on Central prison to release these men back into general population. We encourage people to bring signs, banners, and drums and noisemaking devices of all kinds.

Some Background Information:

On December 16th, 15 prisoners working in the kitchens at Central Prison, in Raleigh, sat down on the job in protest of the hours, lack of gain time, and working conditions. Prisoners in these kitchens are made to work ten hours a day, seven days a week. The strikers refused to go back to work until questions were answered regarding their hours and gain time. Instead of addressing their concerns, the head kitchen corrections officer told the men to, “get [their] sorry asses back to work,” and called in for backup. Now these 8 men have been sentenced to I-Con status, which is essentially solitary confinement.

You can find more information here.

Support Striking Raleigh Prisoners! Announcing Demo and Call-In Day

From: Internationalist Prison Books Collective:
March 8, 2012

On December 16th, 15 prisoners working in the kitchens at Central Prison, in Raleigh, sat down on the job in protest of the hours, lack of gain time, and working conditions. Prisoners in these kitchens are made to work ten hours a day, seven days a week. The strikers refused to go back to work until questions were answered regarding their hours and gain time. Instead of addressing their concerns, the head kitchen corrections officer told the men to, “get [their] sorry asses back to work,” and called in for backup. This is the same facility where a scandalous media report on conditions in the mental health ward forced Warden Branker into early retirement.

Despite the peaceful nature of the protest, guards soon came and threatened the men into returning to work. Eight of the men, however, continued to refuse to work until their questions were asked. These men were charged with “disobeying a direct order” and “work refusal,” and placed in solitary cells. Just a few days ago, the men were given an abrupt disciplinary hearing, in which they were railroaded into I-Con (Intensive Control) as punishment. I-Con is an intensive form of segregation, typically 23 hours a day in a small solitary cell, with few if any resources available, constantly censored mail, and little recreational activity. Sentences on I-Con often last 6 months or longer. One prisoner wrote about the hearing, “I tried to plead my case to the hearing officer, but it didn’t matter. She didn’t even listen. It was already pre-arranged what the outcome would be. It amazes me what Central Prison gets away with. They don’t even care about policy. They do what they want.”

The men who refused to return to work are calling themselves the “Strong 8,” and have been in touch with outside support groups to spread news of and ask for solidarity in their struggle. It is clear that the attempt to isolate and repress these men’s strike is an effort to intimidate any efforts at organizing on the inside before they start. The struggle to get these men off of solitary is about more than just the freedom of these 8 men – it is about the use of solitary confinement as a tool for political intimidation, prisons as a form of forced labor, and the “new jim crow” of the contemporary prison-industrial complex.

Outside supporters are initially calling for several different approaches to get these men off solitary. First, there will be a mass call-in day to both the prison warden and the NC Director of Prisons on Wednesday, March 14th. This is being heavily publicized both regionally and nationally – we’re hoping that those who are too far away to attend demonstrations will help out in other ways. The contact information for these call-in days is below:

Central Prison Warden Ken Lassiter
ph:(919) 733- 0800
fax: (919) 715-2645

NC Director of Prisons Robert C. Lewis
ph: (919) 838-4000
fax: (919) 733-8272

Second, there will be a demonstration outside of Central Prison, at 13:00 Western Blvd. Raleigh, NC 27606, on Sunday March 25th at noon. We encourage people to bring signs, banners, and drums and noisemaking devices of all kinds. The prisoners have explicitly asked for some banners and signs to read, “Free the Strong 8 Kitchen Workers” and “Fire Mr. Rice.” The protest will be during visiting hours, so we hope to directly spread word of support for the strike throughout the inside via family members, as well as increase pressure on the administration to return the men to general population.

Thirdly, we are asking for people to conduct a massive media and internet outreach campaign around this strike and the subsequent punishment of the workers. Administrations get away with this kind of thing in part by sweeping news of any and all prison resistance under the rug, so that family, friends, affected communities, and other prisoners don’t hear about it. Please spread news of this struggle by any and all websites, newspapers, radio stations, and other media outlets you can think of.

The struggle to get these men off solitary won’t stop with these small actions; this is likely just a beginning. It goes without saying that any and all acts of solidarity and support are encouraged. We will continue to post and send out more information as it is available, both from the inside and outside. To see the original post of the story and find future updates, you can go to prisonbooks.info.

Until Every Cage is Empty,

Against Prisons and the Society that Builds Them,

an ad hoc coalition of groups and individuals supporting the Strong 8

Feb 23 Call In Day for NC Prison Rebels

From: Prison Abolitionist:

——This comes via Freedom Archives political prisoner list-serve———

Feb. 17, 2011 Anarchist News

http://anarchistnews.org/?q=node/13961

On Wednesday February 23rd, there will be a national call-in day to the North Carolina Department of Corrections, in solidarity with prison rebels across the state, and in particular those facing repercussions for organizing study groups and collective actions at Bertie Correctional Institution in Windsor, NC.

Organizing in Windsor has happened alongside the now famous rebellion in Georgia, where in mid-December of 2010 prisoners organized the largest coordinated prison strike in US history. For six days, in at least six facilities across the state, thousands of prisoners refused to work in response to the brutality and indignity of prison. Anarchists and radicals responded with call-in days and solidarity demonstrations outside of jails and prisons in their own towns. Similar tactics, low-risk but diffuse and constant, were recently used to great success in conjunction with a hunger strike by four Ohio prisoners on death row for their role in the Lucasville prison rebellion.

Though it has not garnered the attention of the mainstream media or large national organizations and figureheads, this struggle has been consistently growing in North Carolina prisons as well, and has been supported by a number of small collectives, publishing projects, and
individuals on the outside.

Of particular note is the struggle at Bertie C.I. Over the last year, prisoners there have organized large study groups focusing on Black anarchist and anti-authoritarian ideas, as well as the history and politics of gang truce efforts. Radicals there have made the effort to reach across racial and gang-based divisions, and the effort has borne fruit: on at least three occasions in the past few months prisoners have taken collective action around issues of food, clothing, and exercise, successfully occupying yards or refusing to leave their cells en masse until given what they want.

Though achieving small victories in this process is encouraging and important, we see these developments and the practices of solidarity we exercise alongside them not as part of a specific campaign around a particular set of grievances or demands, but as a process of growth and resistance that seeks to destabilize prisons and render them increasingly ungovernable.

Several prisoners have faced repercussions for their roles in this activity. One prisoner, an outspoken anarchist and gang leader named James Graham, has been thrown in solitary confinement on a more or less permanent basis, and was brutally beaten by six guards during a cell extraction several weeks ago. Others have also faced time in solitary, the loss of “privileges,” and other punishments.

February 23rd will be a national call-in day to show support for all North Carolina prison rebels, to tell the North Carolina DOC and Bertie CI officials that we’re paying attention and that our comrades in Windsor are not alone. Call them. Fax them. Email them. The authorities at Bertie feel empowered to beat and isolate rebellious prisoners in part because they think the prisoners have no outside support, and that there will be no consequences; February 23rd is the first step in proving them wrong.

Tell the DOC: Hands off James Graham! Hands off all Prison Rebels!

NC DOC
Phone : (919)838-4000
Fax: (919)733-8272
Email: info@doc.state.nc.us

BERTIE C.I.
Phone: (252)794-8600
Fax: (252)794-4608

Posted via:
Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
415 863-9977
www.Freedomarchives.org

Can the Racial Justice Act Change the Practice of Picking All-White Juries in North Carolina?

Aug 10th, 2010
Cassandra Stubbs, Capital Punishment Project

Last week, five North Carolina death row inmates filed motions seeking to have their death sentences vacated under North Carolina’s new Racial Justice Act (RJA), a law that allows death row inmates to use statistics to show that race played a role in their cases. Buried in the fine print of the inmates’ motions is a story worthy of its own headline: a new study by researchers from Michigan State University (MSU) found that prosecutors in North Carolina removed qualified African-American jurors at more than twice the rate that they removed all other jurors.

The MSU study looked the use of “peremptory strikes,” the practice by which attorneys for both sides remove jurors whom they don’t want on the jury. The MSU study found that prosecutors in North Carolina, by overwhelming numbers, don’t want African-Americans on their juries, even if they are not opposed to the death penalty and are fully qualified to serve. Even more revealing, the MSU study found that prosecutors statewide removed African-American jurors at even higher rates in cases where the defendant was African-American: proof that prosecutors are even more intent on reducing the number of African-American jurors if the person to be tried is African-American.

The disturbing results of the MSU study are unfortunately not limited to North Carolina. A report issued by the Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama just last month documented racial discrimination in jury selection in death penalty cases across the South.

What is unique about North Carolina is that it is the only state in the country that has a law in place to address the problem of discrimination in the exercise of peremptory strikes. Although the Constitution prohibits racial discrimination in jury selection, the courts have not developed an effective way to stop the problem. In North Carolina, for example, the appellate courts have never reversed a capital case because of discrimination in jury selection.

The country will be watching closely to see if North Carolina’s law can remove the historically fused link between race and jury selection in capital cases. African-Americans were excluded historically from jury service first by laws directly prohibiting their participation, and later by poll taxes, property and literacy requirements. The racially based use of peremptory strikes is the on-going legacy of this history.

Kenneth Rouse’s case will be one of the key tests of the new law’s force. Rouse, one of the first five to file his motion, is one of 33 North Carolina death row inmates sentenced to death by all-white jury. One of the white jurors chosen by the prosecutor to serve on Rouse’s jury routinely referred to African-Americans as “n—–s” and later stated that “bigotry” was influential in his decision to vote for death. In Rouse’s county, the prosecution struck African-American jurors at almost three times the rate it struck all other jurors.

The RJA gives the North Carolina court the power to commute Rouse’s death sentence to life based on the evidence of bias in jury selection in his case. The court’s ruling could be the leap forwarded needed to finally prevent prosecutors from sending home African-American jurors.

(Originally posted to The Seminal.)

Link to ACLU article Here

Five North Carolina Death Row Inmates File Petitions Under North Carolina’s Historic Racial Justice Act

08/04/2010
Updated: 17 Dec 2012, on the ACLU site: http://www.aclu.org/capital-punishment/petitions-filed-under-north-carolinas-racial-justice-act

On August 3, 2010, five North Carolina death row inmates filed claims under their state’s landmark legislation, the Racial Justice Act. The law, which passed in August 2009, requires that courts enter a life sentence for any death row defendant who proves that race was a factor in the imposition of his or her death sentence.

North Carolina’s handling of the cases will be watched closely around the country, as it is the first state to undertake a comprehensive effort to sever the historical ties between race and the death penalty. The law allows capital defendants, for the first time, to use statistical evidence to show bias in the death penalty.

Examples of Racial Bias

The cases of the five inmates are based on specific incidents of racial bias as well as statistical evidence from three new comprehensive studies of the death penalty in North Carolina.

One of the inmates, Kenneth Rouse, was sentenced to death by all white jury, which included a juror who later admitted that racial bigotry was an important factor in jury deliberation, and who said that “blacks do not care about living as much as whites do.”

In another case, death row inmate Guy LeGrande was also sentenced to death by an all-white jury after the prosecutor in his case dismissed all of the qualified African-American citizens from the jury. A witness described Mr. LeGrande at his trial as a “N—– from Wadesboro.”

Petition of Kenneth Rouse

Petition of Guy LeGrande

Statistical Studies
The claims of racial bias in these cases are supported by new, comprehensive studies of the death penalty in North Carolina by researchers from Michigan State University (MSU). These studies show:

Racial Bias in Jury Selection

The MSU study of jury selection found significant evidence that North Carolina prosecutors select juries in a racially biased manner. Prosecutors used peremptory strikes to remove qualified African-American jurors at more than twice the rate that they excluded white jurors. Of the 159 inmates now on death row in North Carolina, 31 were sentenced by all-white juries, and another 38 had only one minority on their sentencing juries.

Racial Bias in Prosecutorial Charging Decisions and Jury Sentencing

The MSU study of capital charging and sentencing found that those who kill whites are more likely to get the death penalty than those who kill blacks. The MSU study found that a defendant is 2.6 times more likely to get the death penalty if the victim is white.

Link to Article Herehttp://www.aclu.org/capital-punishment/petitions-filed-under-north-carolinas-racial-justice-act

North Carolina v. White – Advocates for the Wrongfully Convicted Amicus Brief in Support of Defendant Melvin White’s Racial Justice Act Motion

———
Information on jails in North Carolina: http://www.jailnation.com/nc/

Handling With Care: Dog Trainer Yvonne Fehr

Read full story on NCOC’s daily blog

Brown Creek Correctional Institution is a medium security prison for adult males. “A New Leash On Life” program allows minimum and medium custody state prisons to partner with local animal shelters and animal welfare agencies to train dogs in preparation for adoption. Inmates are given a chance to serve the community by training dogs to become well-behaved pets. Selected dogs, some of whom are hours away from being euthanized, are placed with inmate handlers in the prison for eight to twelve weeks.

The handlers are responsible for teaching basic and advanced obedience, house training, and socialization through positive reinforcement and repetition. Dogs are taught to walk on and off the leash and to respond to basic commands. There is a waiting list to become a part of the program. Very strict regulations for participants are employed, any violation of the rules will result in prompt removal from the schedule. The North Carolina “A New Leash On Life”program began at Craven Correctional Institute in 2007 and has since expanded to include Eastern Correctional Institute and now Brown Creek Correctional Institute.

Yvonne began teaching her first series of classes with the program last year. Each class had four dogs and ten trainers, the most recent class has six dogs and fourteen trainers. There are two inmates assigned to each dog, with two alternates that shift positions with the other guys. Yvonne is assisted by Monica Timmons and Donna Miller.

Donna Miller is the Correctional Case Manager and “A New Leash on Life” Coordinator for the Brown Creek facility. She is in charge of supervising the daily operation of the program at that institution. Donna knows the inmates in this facility well, she is there to keep an eye on the handlers and their dogs during the week. These three women work together to direct and supervise the group. Yvonne and Monica come to Brown Creek from Charlotte each week. They meet with Donna and gather the trainers and their dogs into the gymnasium. Once the equipment is brought out and set up, they do on-leash training,agility exercises and obedience training.

There is not a script by which they work.Yvonne created a rough plan before she began working the program, but once she started she ended up working with the guys like she would work with her private clientele. Adjusting the training to the dogs and handlers is important because the animals can have on and off days similar to people. Mental balance is a focus for training. The dogs come into the program from all different kinds of backgrounds, achieving mental balance becomes each handler’s essential goal for their dog. Yvonne says that when the dogs are mentally exhausted, they are allowed to run and do agility obstacles. However,when they are in work mode, tackling new commands or working on behavior becomes the focus of the session. This form of training is only possible with input from Donna and Monica—Yvonne insists that there is noway that she could focus on all of the small behavioral details of all six dogs.

They teach the proper way to handle and work with the dogs. Donna, Monica and Yvonne assess the inmates, as well as the animals to find the right chemistry. During the eight week courses they may change the match up to challenge the animals, perhaps their handlers, too.

The objective is to train these dogs in preparation for transferring them to an adoptive family. The inmates become attached to the dogs, and the dogs become attached to the inmates. The handlers work together in cooperation for the good of the animals. They are responsible for the dogs from 6:30 am to 9:30 pm. The dogs are with them from the time they come out of their comfortable kennels to stay with their handlers throughout the day until they are brought back to their sleeping quarters at night.

Continue Reading…

North Carolina, Mental illness and the Death Penalty

————-From the Equal Justice Initiative Newsletter————
5.26.10

Greetings,

North Carolina’s slogan is ‘first in flight’ but will it one day take on the title of ‘first in fairness’? 

Last year the state passed the groundbreaking Racial Justice Act, designed to counteract the unfair influence of racism in death penalty cases. Now it is considering a bill that would exempt people with mental illness from the death penalty.
Bill and David in North Carolina
Mental illness can prevent defendants from understanding their charges, participating in their own defense and ultimately getting a fair trial. With limited help and services available, mental illness can become a nightmare for families and a threat to public safety. No one knows that better than David Kaczynski and Bill Babbit. Find out why in this issue of the EJEdition…