Eighteen months after Georgia Department of Corrections employees brutally suppressed a non-violent work stoppage led by inmates in as many as eleven of the state’s 34 prisons, it is believed that the “Hidden-37″ have been in solitary confinement ever since. The Georgia Green Party today called on Governor Deal to end the torture; and on Georgians to join hunger striking Georgia inmates in a one day solidarity fast.
“On Monday, July 2nd, if the state has not met the very reasonable demands of these hunger strikers, it will be time for us to share their hunger for justice,” said incoming Georgia Green Party Chairman Bruce Dixon. “We ask Georgians of faith, and Georgians hungry for justice to join our one day solidarity fast as we work to share the story of these Georgians whose ‘starving for change’ will take them into their fourth week without food.”
Party officers are responding to news that ten inmates at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Center have been on a hunger strike since Sunday, June 10th, 2012. Among their number is Miguel Jackson, who was assaulted by multiple DoC employees while handcuffed. According to Mrs. Delma Jackson, his wife, “Miguel suffers daily for the injuries he sustained at Smith State Prison. He has chronic migraine headaches, a broken nose, and he suffers from post traumatic syndrome. Â He still has the hammer indentions in his head.”
On December 17th, 2010, in a meeting with representatives of over a dozen advocacy and community groups in Georgia, Timothy Ward, Facilities Director with the Department of Corrections acknowledged that 37 inmates had been subjected to ‘protective custody’ on suspicion of having served as instigators of the December 2010 strike, based on evidence that contraband cell phones had been confiscated from their personal property. A story has emerged from correspondence with inmates and their families about the tortuous conditions at the Segregation Management Unit (SMU) at the Jackson Georgia facility. Inmates there are subjected to months of ongoing deprivation of access to showers and exercise. Party activists have reports that these human beings are subjected to life under 24-7 video surveillance in a 4′ x 6′ plexiglass cell.
The Georgia hunger strikers are believed to include several among the Hidden-37, referring to the 37 men whom Mr. Ward mentioned in December of 2010, although since that statement Shawn Whatley was later added to their ranks.
Last month the Center for Constitutional Rights, representing many of the leaders in last year’s hunger strike involving thousands of prisoners at California’s Pelican Bay, brought litigation challenging as inhumane 8th Amendment violations, the extreme abuse of solitary confinement used at that prison. CCR argues that “Solitary confinement for as little as 15 days is now widely recognized to cause lasting psychological damage to human beings and is analyzed under international law as torture.”
Earlier this week, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights in the U.S. Congress held hearings on the subject, “Reassessing Solitary Confinement: The Human Rights, Fiscal, and Public Safety Consequences.”
Meanwhile, the Butts County prison which hosts the Georgia Solitary Management Unit and its death row as well is now home to hunger strikers who are demanding (1) medical attention for Miguel Jackson; (2) and that their custody be subject to the published standard operating procedures of the Department of Corrections, inclduing providing inmates (a) access to their property; (b) open visitation with the families; (c) access to the commisary; (d) regular access to exercise; and (e) classification reviews at thirty day intervals.
“Miguel has been on hi max for eighteen months,” said Mrs. Jackson. “He is being punished for officers beating him and the officers are going on with their lives as if nothing happened. Where is the justice in that?”
“Its time to dismantle the prison state built with our tax dollars and populated with our families and neighbors,” said Bruce Dixon, state Green Party chairman. “When addiction is treated as a criminal matter rather than a health concern, you have stepped out onto the slippery slope which now seeks ways to normalize abuse and torture. But even when our family truly offend us, they are still our family. The Green Party intends to explain, confront and curtail the carceral state with the power of organized people.”
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Senate Judiciary Committee
Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights
“Reassessing Solitary Confinement: The Human Rights, Fiscal and Public Safety Consequences”
Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)
Lawsuit Challenges Solitary Confinement at California Prison
The Georgia 37 are at least 38. And we now know one of their names
GA Prison Inmates Stage 1-Day Peaceful Strike Today