Rev. Pinkney in danger – faces prison harassment, cut off from telephone

Lansing, Mich. — Michigan political prisoner, the Rev. Edward Pinkney, was transferred on Oct. 6 from a prison close to his wife and attorney to Marquette Branch Prison, 483 miles north. Pinkney, a victim of a frame-up trial and conviction by an all-white jury in Berrien County in western Michigan, was also deprived on Oct. 22 of access to making telephone calls.

On Nov. 2, supporters from around Michigan rallied at the doors to the Michigan Department of Corrections in Lansing, the state capital, to demand an end to the harassment of Rev. Pinkney. They ask supporters to send letters and call prison officials.

Dr. James Anderson, Second from left, speaking outside the Michigan Department of Corrections in Lansing, Nov. 2.Photo: Lou Novak

Dr. James Anderson, Second from left, speaking outside the Michigan Department of Corrections in Lansing, Nov. 2.
Photo: Lou Novak

At the rally, Workers World talked to Dr. James Anderson, who made the long trip upstate to visit Rev. Pinkney on Oct. 30 and 31 at Marquette Branch Prison. According to Dr. Anderson, “Rev. Pinkney doesn’t know why he was rushed to Marquette Prison. He noticed the transfer document carried in the MDOC van said ‘Expedite’ in large bold letters.

“He feels extremely unsafe. Prison officials tolerate, if not encourage, fights among prisoners. He felt much safer in Lakeland [downstate prison].

“His phone service was cut off without a hearing. He has received four ‘tickets’ but flatly denies the charges, saying they are trumped up. He can lose his phone privileges for up to 6 months!

“Rev. Pinkney reported prison misconduct and harassment against him. Mail from his lawyer has been opened before it reaches him. A fellow prisoner recommended that he conduct church services, but the assignment was suddenly withdrawn without explanation.

“He reports that he is being subjected to name calling by prison staff, with guards telling other prisoners that he is a ‘scammer’ and cannot be trusted. Clothes sent to the prison laundry for washing were never returned to him. He has only one set of clothes to wear.

“The first location in the prison where he was housed had extensive black mold which made him ill. One guard, noting his weakness early in the week, told him ‘Well, you won’t be around here very long.’ Over and over again, sometimes 20 times a day, he is summoned over the public address system. When he reports as ordered, they tell him simply to return to his cell.

“Rev. Pinkney said that at Lakeland [a higher security facility] there were five prisoner headcounts per day. Marquette prison is doing 18 counts per day, including hourly counts through most of the night. [The guards] shine flashlights on the inmates trying to sleep. Rev. Pinkney says he is often awakened by the flashlights and is getting little sleep. This process is known to be destructive to one’s health.

“Rev. Pinkney expressed how grateful he was for the large number of birthday cards sent to him. [His 67th birthday was on Oct. 27.] He urges people to keep sending him cards and letters.”

Readers can write to Rev. Edward Pinkney, NE-93 #294671, Marquette Branch Prison, 1960 U.S. Hwy. 41 South, Marquette, MI 49855. They can call Michigan Department of Corrections Director Heidi Washington at 517-241-7238 to urge that phone privileges be restored to Rev. Pinkney and that he be transferred downstate to Lakeland Prison.

Readers can also call Marquette Branch Prison to urge that Rev. Edward Pinkney’s phone privileges be restored and that harassment of this political prisoner stop. Ask for the Deputy Warden’s office 906-226-6531.