Letters from behind the walls

The following letters from prisoners were recently sent to Workers World newspaper.

“Remember Trans Power – Fight For Trans Freedom!
Trans freedom means a world free from violence that separates us from our bodies, spirits, communities + the earth. Trans freedom means a world without borders and deportation. Trans freedom means abolishing all prisons, jails, and detention centers!” Credit: Micah Bazant for the Audre Lorde Project.

Dear Workers World,

I hope this letter finds you well. I recently relocated to another state prison. If you are still able to provide me with Workers World newspapers, please send to my new address.

I appreciate you guys, and I support the movement. I admire how united and strong you guys are to fight for real life causes that are happening in our country. The struggles of these issues definitely need to be shined upon for the people that are not aware. I know that I was not the only person unaware of what was taking place. Thank you.

#LightSeeker

David L.
SCI Pine Grove, Pennsylvania

Workers World,

Heard about you from a friend, and I am hoping to get on your mailing list and a subscription to your paper. Any help is appreciated. Thank you!

James N.
South East Correctional Center, Missouri

Missouri prisoner responds to censorship of Workers World in response to workers.org/2023/05/70960/.

As-salaamu alaikum,

The information that’s prominent in your newspaper is highly retained among the aging population here in Missouri, in one of the last free state plantations. It’s been a serious problem with the Directors, stopping Vol. 65, No. 8 of Workers World, along with other censorship. What happened to freedom of the press?

Workers World, I would like for y’all to address this issue with the Department of Corrections Director Jason Lewis, 2729 Plaza Drive, P.O. Box 236, Jefferson City, Missouri 65102.

Again, Workers World, continue to keep us informed on injustices and ways we can make a stand!

Inshallah, y’all can make this state of Missouri no longer a state of Misery.

Sincerely,

Mutula
Potosi Correctional Center, Missouri

I have complained about abuse being applied on the Special Needs Unit here at SCI Forest. These are the actions that occurred.

When I used the phone to report abuse to the abuse hotline and the Bureau of Investigations and Intelligence, I was thrown into the Restricted Housing Unit and told that I was being transferred due to my complaints.

The security office here at SCI Forest determined that I shouldn’t be opening my mouth at anything I see around here — excessive force; contraband smuggling by guards, COs, sergeants, kitchen stewards, etc.

It’s not only that, it’s also because these bigoted employees hate and discriminate against trans women. It is true that transgender inmates are placed in solitary confinement regularly in PA state institutions. Especially by the women employees. These women employees feel threatened by the presence of trans women: kitchen stewards Amanda Smith and Ms. Stic, Corrections Officers Ms. Shadhine, Ms. Hollis, Ms. Swanson, Ms. Cromley, just to name a few.

In some cases, the women do not like trans women, because they feel they’re in competition for the male prisoners. Especially at SCI Forest. I’ve noticed this a lot in the four years I’ve been here.

Then you have the security office which wants to lock up, lie about and transfer trans women out of SCI Forest, claiming we’re “problematic inmates.” The newest superintendent, Mr. Irwin, was a deputy superintendent at SCI Albion. In the past, Workers World newspaper published stories about the men on hunger strikes at SCI Albion, and this Mr. Irwin was employed there during this time. Now male prisoners here in the RHU are on hunger strikes, just like when Mr. Irwin was deputy at SCI Albion years ago. (workers.org/2020/02/46111/)

The security team here at Forest was naturally handpicked by Mr. Irwin when he got here. This is why in the state institutions and across the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, it is asked: “Why is there so much violence among the inmates, staff, guards, sergeants, etc. at SCI Forest?”

It is because these employees talk to inmates, calling them the N-word, “wannabe women” or spies. It is because of the common act of “Go ahead, hit me, I’ll charge you up, I’ll make sure you stay in the RHU forever.” It’s because of all the abusive language hurled at the inmates until they snap.

Then the employees sit there and laugh about it. They get six months or a year [off] with pay for being assaulted. And the inmate who snaps ends up in the RHU for years and is given new criminal charges. The employees get to come back to work, where they’re allowed to work in a “safe” environment, which happens to be H Block: the Special Needs Unit (SNU), Therapeutic Community Program (TC) and recovery program. All on H Block.

These guards and sergeants take their anger out by abusing their authority on the SNU, TC and recovery program inmates. SNU inmates are people with ADHD, autism, learning disabilities and have other mental challenges. It’s easy for these abusive guards to scream, holler and hit the inmates here. When one of the inmates goes to retaliate, guards like Ms. Shadhine, she’ll hit the inmate with a fist. She’ll say the inmate is resisting, which is a lie. Any misconduct written [up] of course is a lie to keep the SNU inmate locked up. The unit managers and counselors laugh about it.

Of course, then at the misconduct hearing, the inmates are not believed. They’ll be placed in the RHU on disciplinary custody. The administration will never move them officers to other blocks. On the other blocks the officers are moved around, even unit managers and counselors. But not on H Block.

They’re so comfortable abusing prisoners, they don’t care about their “code of ethics.” Because of the baggage and bigotry and trauma of whatever happened to them, they bring it into the facility with them, and they take it out on the vulnerable. The most vulnerable inmates. The ones who have mental health problems. Or the therapeutic community and drug recovery inmates who are just trying to go home.

These are racist, transphobic bigots. And this is only a glimpse at the reason why so many at SCI Forest are noted as being  “violent” and “out of control.”

I have 9-10 months before my 32-year minimum sentence to see the parole board. Now, because I am exposing these employees, I am locked up in the RHU with limited time out of my cell. I have one program left to do before I am parole eligible. Now I am told I am being transferred, which may take seven or eight months. After I get there, they’ll tell me they don’t know me and that I am unable to get the institutional recommendation for parole.

All of you workers reading this can stop this violence and hate at SCI Forest. All you have to do is call and email the PA DOC office of Population Management and the Office of Bureau of Investigations and Intelligence. Ask them to stop the retaliation tactics. To stop the transfer of Miley Fletcher (Eric Wolfgang BZ-2211). Tell them that SCI Forest staff are retaliating against me. Put it on social media, on podcasts, to expose the nature of this violence, retaliation and hatred going on at SCI Forest by these employees that work here. Stop transferring inmates who speak out about the violence, abuse and hatred at SCI Forest.

What did they expect me to do with only 9-10 months to see the parole board? Allow this to sit back and happen? No! I never did, I never will. I am an advocate for transgender rights, human rights, worker rights and the right to speak out! I have done nothing wrong. I’m not the same person I was when I came to prison 31 years ago. I speak out for the ones who can’t speak for themselves.

I am that voice. Stop the abuse at SCI Forest! Stop the transfer against Miley S. Fletcher (Eric Wolfgang BZ-2211)!

In solidarity,

Miley S. Fletcher
SCI Forest, Pennsylvania

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