Virginia Prisons Accountability Committee

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Fighting The Wind Mills: The Don Quixote Aspect of Prison Reform In Virginia By William Thorpe

Irrespective of measure of dictatorship and totalitarianism in any system, it's reality resolves on accountability      To whom and how.

The prison system any different and within the Virginia prison context we find the same relative question of accountability, to whom and how.

To the extent reform of the Virginia prison system is pursued and desired by conscientious politician  lawmakers and reform advocate allies the only aspect of its reality that is of any significance is the accountability metric   To whom and how

Despite the obvious antagonistic fulcrum of prison, meaning human beings not wanting to be imprisoned but society demands that they are. There is a contradiction that requires a purity of accountability, from the imprisoned to society and of society to the imprisoned which is a relative factor of the tyranny of the social-contract that places the onus squarely on society through its government function of maintaining the prison system. That does not behave asocially, compromising the very right it is exercising with imprisonment in ignoring whatever logic and reasons the imprisoned might have had for the offensive behavior that resulted the imprisonment.

Yet what we find within the prison context, of which the Virginia prison system and its Virginia Department of Corrections isn't exempt is: Society, Virginia society to be specific its government through its prison officials and employees operate its prisons squarely and unapologetically in a manner violative of the rule of law which permits the practice of imprisonment in the first place.

So what we encounter as the brutality barbarity and ahumanistic conditions of prison that commands efforts of reform advocacy are specific results of violations of the rule of law and it's mockery of that accountability    which Virginia society, as its metaphorical pound of flesh, demands of its imprisoned while simultaneously averting its attention from the lawlessness of its prison officials and accepting the prison official narrative that those facts necessitating and commanding efforts of reform are integral corollarial harshness of prison.

The supremacy of United States Law, when compelled to legitimize itself through the federal court's system has had this dance with prison accountability with the doublespeak sophistry of not involving too much with the prison question assigning that prison officials are the ones who know what is best for prison. Despite the acknowledgment that the reality of imprisonment, its practice is an experiment which comically negates the very supremacy of United States Law.

The issue, however, is not as clouded and distorted as the schizophrenic nature of the prison narrative, from punishment to rehabilitation would have us think. Because as soon as accountability is formulated transparency and not this stylized veneer, this speculated facade of civility and it's resulting socio-hypocrisy, we now struggle against. It reforms prisons and introduces the necessary transparency. But as we assert that accountability, the socio-contract can only collapse into the might is right speech of which the feeble minded and insidious minded among us ascribe to mythical evil, suiting their own suppositionary ends. Thereby enabling that one-dimensional simplistic pursuit of some humans beyond reproach while others are perpetually reprobated, while excusing its existence among Virginia prison officials, who under the privilege of executing societies interest of maintaining a prison system, abuse and misuse the organized violence of the Virginia citizenry and taxpayer, within the operational logic of violating the very law that permits their very own existence.

What I have attempted to underscore is prison reform in Virginia is wholly circumscribed by the extent accountability and transparency can be demanded of the actions of prison officials who have perfected that contradiction and hypocrisy of the "pot calling the kettle black" to which the prison reform imperative in Virginia due to its nature while imploring compassion for prisoner, is always on the defensive. The state of Virginia, its society, and government, per virtue of its social-contract, defines it's social and political-economic relations, with regulations and proscriptions. The mundane misconceptions and suppositions underpinning the social-contract are in turn conveniently and easily exploited by its prison officials who in the quest to ignore the rule of law redefine the Virginia prisoner as a sub-human and what lawless attitude ignores is: imprisonment is not a judgment on the fact of anyones humaness. But instead, imprisonment is simply the result of a conviction of a violation of a law and only the application of the due process of law can result in a loss of life and the relative circumscription of one's liberty which prison officials have the social and political privilege of upholding.

If prison reform is Virginia isn't to become an indulgence of fighting windmills there has to be the uncompromising insight into the measure and its politics of accountability of the Virginia prison official and I have shown that.

By William Thorpe who is in Long-Term Solitary Confinement at Red Onion State Prison

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Send A Letter: Virginians, Tell Your Legislators To Call For An Independent Investigation Of Red Onion State Prison Practices

To our Committee Members, Followers, family, and friends of prisoners confined at Virginias Red Onion State Prison please write a letter for the Action Network letter campaign "Virginians, tell your Legislators to call for an independent investigation of Red Onion State Prison practices".
Red Onion, a Supermax prison, isolates more inmates than any other facility, which means keeping prisoners in solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day in cells the size of a doctor’s exam room.. As more becomes known about the effects of isolation — on health, public safety and prison budgets — some states, unlike Virginia, have begun to reconsider the practice. The number of inmates that enter the prison with mental illness or develop seriously deteriorating mental health issues is directly correlated to these practices. We are concerned about two issues: One is the recently reported transfer of seriously mentally ill prisoners from Red Onion to Wallens Ridge in which it appears that prison guards, instead of trained Behavioral Health personnel, are being used to transport these prisoners. This is not the protocol and inquiries made to the Department of Corrections from VAPAC (Virginia Prison Accountability Committee) as well as by other organizations and individuals have gone unanswered. Second, is the policy of using OC pepper gas on prisoners attempting suicide. It has been reported that before guards even enter the cell to cut the Prisoner down, OC Pepper Gas (a debilitating toxin that causes a gag reflex) is used before any attempt to help the prisoner. The use of the gas, one would think, is the last thing a potential hanging victim should be subjected to. Red Onion has been under scrutiny for its practices for several years from ACLU, Human Rights Watch, IAHR (Interfaith Action for Human Rights, Solitary Watch, and VAPAC (Virginia Prison Accountability Committee).   We call for an independent investigation on these two issues.  
Please sign and share this message

Thank You
Related articles

Monday, February 26, 2018

Jason Karavias VADOC Prisoner Reported History of Past Abuse leads to 2018 Continued Violence

The following letter was written by Activist Mr. Shaheed Omar revealing a past incident of abuse carried out by prison guards on Prisoner Jason Karavias whom the author of this letter believes is mentally challenged. He was warehoused at Virginia's Red Onion State Prison allegedly brutally attacked then transferred to sister prison Wallens Ridge State Prison where he continued to be abused. This submission outlines the historic actions prison guards take. The attacks, the lack of medical care served afterward with a ladle spoon of indifference by medical staff. In this letter, he along with "vapac" is asking for an independent investigation. Many letters with the same content have been consistently addressed to many of various Virginia Legislators, Governmental agencies, media outlets and advocacy groups.

With this being said we want to follow up with the recent Petition sponsored by vapac we would like for everyone to take a minute to click on this link and sign then as says share and spread the momentum "Virginians, tell your Legislators to call for an independent investigation of Red Onion State Prison practices".

Mr. Omar goes even further suggesting many of Virginia Prisons need investigating which vapac agrees the corruption is widespread in the state of Virginia. We also want to add, this submission delves into the issues of mental health of prisoners, we have received word from "vapac" members and followers that Red Onion State Prison is moving all seriously Mentally Ill Prisoners to specific prisons (Wallens Ridge). As well as other prisons are emptying pods so they can have pods designated for mental health issues, closing one institution that was also designated for those with mental issues. Purported River north is one that’s designating pods for this purpose.  Our committee has been trying to seek an answer to our query from the VADOC but have yet to receive any response not that we expected to....instead of being operated by mental health personnel, will it be operated by regular prison guards, or whether the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services which has oversite over mental health will exercise its oversite because it HASN'T within the current regimen of VADOC. As an update to Mr. Jason Karavias whereabouts now he is being warehoused at Marion Correctional Treatment Center and last but not least? Please take note of the dates of some of our submissions of the alleged assaults there is a small amount of time passing between the assaults as well as the Red Red Onion Suicides and attempted suicides.

By Shaheed Omar & vapac on behalf of Prisoner Jason Karavias

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Kashaun Ricks Describes Assault by Virginia Red Onion State Prison Correctional Officers

The following letter was submitted by Shaheed Omar a prison activist on behalf of Red Onion State Prisoner Kashaun Ricks confined at Virginia's Red Onion State Prison who suffered brutal attack by prison guards followed by the indifference and neglect by medical staff in collusion with their henchmen (women). This letter was also sent to the many claimed Media outlets, prison reform advocates and VADOC Prison officials. Vapac gives voice to issues prisoners are faced with in prison highlighting Virginia prison issues and experiences. This being the case of his civil rights violated by prison officials citing unlawful actions within the U.S. Constitution. We at "vapac" demand Accountability and Transparency

By Kashaun Ricks submitted by Omar Shaheed

Virginians, tell your Legislators to call for an independent investigation of Red Onion State Prison practices

Virginians, tell your Legislators to call for an independent investigation of Red Onion State Prison practices. By writing an Action Network letter.Click here: . Gratitude to all those of you have signed and shared please continue to share. We need your help.
"Virginians, tell your Legislators to call for an independent investigation of Red Onion State Prison practices". Red Onion, a Supermax prison, isolates more inmates than any other facility, which means keeping prisoners in solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day in cells the size of a doctor’s exam room.. As more becomes known about the effects of isolation — on health, public safety and prison budgets — some states, unlike Virginia, have begun to reconsider the practice. The number of inmates that enter the prison with mental illness or develop seriously deteriorating mental health issues is directly correlated to these practices. We are concerned about two issues: One is the recently reported transfer of seriously mentally ill prisoners from Red Onion to Wallens Ridge in which it appears that prison guards, instead of trained Behavioral Health personnel, are being used to transport these prisoners. This is not the protocol and inquiries made to the Department of Corrections from VAPAC (Virginia Prison Accountability Committee) as well as by other organizations and individuals have gone unanswered. Second, is the policy of using OC pepper gas on prisoners attempting suicide. It has been reported that before guards even enter the cell to cut the Prisoner down, OC Pepper Gas (a debilitating toxin that causes a gag reflex) is used before any attempt to help the prisoner. The use of the gas, one would think, is the last thing a potential hanging victim should be subjected to. Red Onion has been under scrutiny for its practices for several years from ACLU, Human Rights Watch, IAHR (Interfaith Action for Human Rights, Solitary Watch, and VAPAC (Virginia Prison Accountability Committee).   We call for an independent investigation on these two issues.   Can you join me and write a letter?

By vapac

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Prison Reform Rally 1/20/18: VAPAC States Hold Prisons Accountable & Demand Transparency!

Greetings...My name is Dee I am the admin of "Virginia Prisons Accountability Committee" [VAPAC] as an endorser of the Coalition for Justice of Blacksburg Virginia Prison reform rally held in Richmond Virginia 2018 I sent them a letter submitted to have been recited by one of our supporters at our Virginia Prison Reform Rally by prisoner  William Thorpe confined in long-term solitary confinement since 1996 and at Virginia’s Red Onion State Prison since its opening in 1998. We at VAPAC greatly appreciate everyone's hard work putting the rally together I wish we could have attended. Gratitude to everyone especially. Margaret Breslau and Phil Wilayto of Virginia Defender for Freedom & Equality We hope to be at the next one.

Greetings Brothers and Sistahs minds and hearts in the struggle. "VAPAC" Virginia Prisons Accountability Committee stands in solidarity. We in Virginia's gulag salute you from Red Onion State Prison where we encounter the proficiency of the state at breaking its own laws and violating its own rules with how its prison officials and guards act.

We state: Vapac is working tirelessly to sharpen the focus on (1) The narrative of imprisonment in Virginia. How we as vanguards characterize its fact, paying particular attention to the words we use, to the inevitability
(2) of holding accountable Prison officials and bringing transparency to their actions.

We at Virginia’s Red Onion State Prison in Solitary Confinement and general population state (1) The conditions of our confinement are specifically based on the relative degree of compliance Red Onion State Prison officials and it's rank and file guards have for Virginia laws and to the extent, they follow procedures and standards of the Virginia Department of Corrections.

A second point we must emphasize is: Contrary to public statements by executive leadership of Virginia Department of Corrections in Virginia's mainstream media about the astounding decrease in prisoner filed complaints and grievances at Red Onion. The truth is Red Onion's grievance department systemically refuses to process and file prisoner complaints and grievances. The point is Red Onion Steals Prisoner filed complaints and grievances. This issue is one, on which we call upon all conscientious minds and hearts help resolve.

Last but not least Brothers and Sistahs we call for Red Onion State Prison to be investigated by an independent agency removed from the Virginia Department of Corrections. Let's not forget our brothers, William "Balagoon" Thorpe aka Sporty Black (photo) who has been confined since 1998 and Henry Gorham aka Bo Billy who was recently released into Red Onion general population after spending over 20 years in Solitary Confinement.

By William Thorpe submitted by vapac

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Part II What the VADOC Really Looks Like As Sister Prisons Continue Abuse & Violations By Shaheed Omar Collaborating Prisoner Terry Ferguson

The following letter is the second in a 2 part series written and contributed by Shaheed Omar who has been a dedicated activist for prisoners and who has played a vital role to preserve the rights of our prisoners. It is a revelation expressed by Mr. Ferguson in 2013 of abuse and violations he has experienced by the hands of Virginia's Red Onion State Prison guards and to this year of 2018 continues as so is reported at Virginia's sister Prison Wallens Ridge State Prison. These are just two of Virginia Prisons we bespeak of but these listed abuses and violations seem to be universal in all of our prisons across these states as well as in many other countries. We at VAPAC assert that no one is above the law especially prison officials who are entrusted with the privilege, of maintaining the imprisonment experiment. We ask members of the estimated 510,000 Virginia family and friends who have a family member and friend imprisoned in the Virginia Department of Corrections 


                              *Note* Click on Pop-Out icon for in-depth reading.       ↓↓↓↓

Written by Shaheed Omar Collaborating Terry Ferguson in contribution with vapac

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Wallens Ridge State Prison Steals Money Then Obstructs Prisoner Shiva Bhairava Complaint Followed By The Right To Access Heat In Cold Temperatures

Vapac has received a disturbing letter from committee member Mr. Shaheed Omar along with a copy of his letter to the proper Prison pfficials. Mr. Omar along with us are attempting to assist Wallens Ridge State Prison~Prisoner Shiva Bhairava. Mr. Omar through correspondence with many prisoners in the Virginia Department of Corrections has received permission to share Mr. Bhairava's treatment by Wallens Ridge State Prison Employees. We seek to help him get his monies back, publicly address hindering his grievance process and last but not least bring to light the prisoners right to access heat in cold temperatures thus exposing the deviousness of some prison guards and their actions. Vapac is aware of prisoners in many Virginia prisons because of the heat being turned down or conveniently leaving doors open having to burrow under a thin blanket nearly all day and night. As Mr. Bhairava has expressed, Its cold outside, ice on the ground, meat-locker temperatures and "they" find it human to "cage me in cold stone walls and steel ". These violations by prison guards must be exposed and issues addressed. Here is Mr. Shiva Bhairava Correspondence.

Mr. Omar,
I am sending you proof that J. Oquinn stole $16.81 from my account for a commissary order never delivered to me. I tried to go through the inmate grievance process, but the grievance coordinator asked for proof that I couldn't retrieve at the time. Finding this proof was like pulling teeth. The Business officer M. William, works together with the commissary supervisor, J. Oquinn, and steal money and hide receipts in a United front. But there is proof, $16.81, taken on 11/3/2017 just as I said (Mr. Bhairava has submitted proof that was pulling teeth to obtain. You will find the proof following This correspondence)

Mr. Omar, please contact the people in reference to this criminal theft offense. I don't have money to spare, I am very poor. Also, Cpt. Carico, the Watch commander, had the heat turned down in the S.H.U. [Segregated Housing unit/Solitary Confinement/] so it is again, ice-cold in my cell. There is a cold front, and ice is on the ground outside, yet they find it Human to cage me in cold stone walls and steel with no insulation in the window, and with such little heat that it doesn't bring up the temperatures in the cell. The heat had been up for a few weeks, but officers would leave security doors open to draw out heat from our cells. I protested the result is the closing of security doors and heat turned down very low in our cells. the heat was turned down again on 16 Jan. and 18 Jan every minute in the torture chamber with no heat is cruel and unusual. It's like a horror movie.

Mr. Omar, please contact the people in reference to the criminal enterprise of J.Oquinn and the meat-locker temperatures in S.H.U. cells
Shiva Bhairava     

                               *Note* Click on Pop-Out icon for in depth reading.       ↓↓↓↓                                                                                             

Sunday, January 28, 2018

What the Virginia Department of Corrections Really Looks Like By Shaheed Omar Part I

The following letter is a 2 part series written by Shaheed Omar who has been a dedicated activist for prisoners and who has played a vital role to preserve the rights of our prisoners. He has shared some very deep soul-baring material that which the contents is an incredible education on the background, and shared history dealing with the Virginia Department of Corrections [VADOC]. 

His compelling scrutinized experience with the VADOC that everyone will be absorbed and gripped by with special emphasis on Virginia's Sister prisons Wallens Ridge State Prison and Red Onion State Prison. His frustration induces action that we all must take lessons from. Yes-Write, call and email your executive powers that be. Let them know citizens, us taxpayers demand transparency and accountability. It is a must-read. Thank you, Mr. Omar.    *Note* Click on the pop-out icon for better viewing.
By Shaheed Omar
vapac member

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Virginia Department of Corrections In Its Operation Unlawful Treatment of Reentry Prisoners At Virginia's Greensville Correctional Center

We at "Virginia Prisons Accountability Committee" have received the following alarming letter from concerned families of prisoners  At Greensville Correctional Center. We have been alerted officials there are not doing their jobs and denying guys their earned good time, overriding their security levels thus keeping them incarcerated longer than they should be. VADOC headquarters in Richmond (atmore) is also not listening to the families when they call the court legal services unit and the correspondence department is not responding to inmate requests, assistance etc. my husband should’ve been home last month and they’re denying him his review and all the things aforementioned. 
We are asking our followers and members to share this post as a step in the process by exposing VADOC violations at Virginia's Greensville Correctional Center. 

Thank you
Submitted Anonymously protecting their identity by a member and follower of Virgina Prisons Accountability Committee.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Appalling Conditions at Virginia's Danville City Jail Needs Action Immediately

I am wondering if you can help me out by letting me know who I need to contact about the conditions at the Danville City Jail.

They are making the inmates sit in their underwear both female and male inmates and this process is taking 5 to 6 hours each time they come to ask the inmates if they want a new jumper.  Also, they are not turning the heat on but maybe once a day and so the inmates are cold as well and many of them don't have underclothing because the jail doesn't provide it for them.  The food amounts that they used to get are being cut in half as well, many of the inmates are not receiving their commissary as well because they keep telling them that there is a mix up of their funds even though the inmates were handed a receipt showing that money was put on their accounts.  They are being denied their religious rights as well, many are not being allowed to go to the bible studies or even able to see the Chaplin when they ask to see him.  There are several of them that don't have hot water in their cells and many that barely even have any cold water.  

If you could point me in the right direction as to who I need to express my concerns to that would be very much appreciated.

Thank you
Submitted Anonymously protecting their identity by a member and follower of Virgina Prisons Accountability Committee

Monday, November 27, 2017

Victims Ploy Or Accountability

Are the various victims "Rights" enactments actually designed to address issues confronting victims of crime or are the enactments political ploys exploiting victims for the benefit of politicians in the pursuit of speculative power?
Let us hear from you!

By vapac

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Virginia Tax Payers and $30,000

How many Virginia Taxpayers understand that the approximate $30,000 per year spent on imprisoning a prisoner within the state's Virginia Department of Corrections approximate 38,000 plus prisoner population is comparable to the Commonwealth of Virginia giving 30,000 citizens $30,000 per year.

There would be an uproar and a revolution were Virginia taxpayers and voters to realize 30,000 of its members have the privilege of such a yearly stipend.

If law, order, and justice are the logic of society, it's social contract and compact and if, imprisonment besides sanction of execution is the absolute social imposition on the sovereign individual. Then there cannot be any abstractions of nuances in its cognitive determination as it is voted for and funded by the taxpayer.  Virginia taxpayers and voters have to understand what is being done IN THER NAME.

The question isn't what is to done with citizens who run afoul of Virginia's criminal laws. Rather what we have to come to terms with is: If the Virginia taxpayer is unwilling to spend $30,000 on citizens in mitigative expenditure on the probability and possibilities of imprisonment in the first place, why then do we gladly spend it to imprison the citizen?

Why should a Virgina citizen convicted of larcenous activity to the tune of a $1,000, given a prison term of 5 years cause a $150,000 financial outlay by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Which is what it would approximately cost Virgina taxpayers and voters to imprison the convicted citizen. There isn't an argument or reasoning that defends such political fact. yet taxpayers and voters glibly participate in this social insanity. Particularly when those same taxpayers and voters criticize and are antagonistic towards the various governmental programs giving assistance to laid-off workers and disabled taxpayers in need.

Imprisonment is a governmental function that is practiced by the state as voted for by taxpayers and if society is a constituent progression of enlightenment. Then citizen-voters have a specific obligation: to recognize what is practical and what is idealistically-speculative.

By William Thorpe
At Red Onion State Prison Solitary Confinement.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

On The March 30th 2017 Tour of Red Onion State Prison [ROSP] By Interfaith Action for Human Rights [IAHR]

On Thursday, March 30th, 2017; a coterie of self-styled advocates for prison reform in Virginia including members of the group, Interfaith Action for Human Rights [IAHR] toured Virginia's Red Onion State Prison [ROSP].

The group walked past cells in c-building ROSP's primary solitary confinement building. Cells which held and hold prisoners who are denied outside exercise, showers and sometimes meals. They walked past cells improperly and inadequately holding mental health prisoners. [it is noteworthy that since 2014, 3 prisoners in solitary confinement in ROSP's C-Building have committed suicide], They walked past the cells holding prisoners, some of whom have been in Solitary Confinement over 20 years and the walk through, tour for them was a festive affair. Their voices rang giddy with the excitement of being inside the ROSP environment. As one asked their tour guide [a member of ROSP's investigative or intelligence department] could they go out into the outside exercise cages! Then a prisoner's voice yelling through a cell door, in C-Buildings 3/pod called to account the spectacle that prisoners are not animal exhibits or displays in a zoo.

IAHR in its subsequent newsletter/email titled "Report on visit to Red Onion State Prison" gave itself the proverbial congratulatory pat on the back.

What IAHR and its ilk ignore is: 1. Prison officials work for citizens of society which also includes prisoners. 2. Advocates for prison reform shouldn't be motivated by friendship with prisoners or prison officials. What I mean by prison reform shouldn't be motivated by amicability with either prisoners or prison officials is this: Prison reform is necessary because prison and imprisonment stand at the accountability apogee of society, playing a crucial and pivotal role to the social contract and compact. Because when society practice of imprisonment is done in an idealistic and reactionary manner, society as a whole suffers and pays the price. Because prisoners, once released from the imprisonment, who have been brutalized and dehumanized while in prison will now interact with an unsuspecting society in alienating and destructive ways and daily news accounts bear this out. to which prison officials are quick to shift the narrative and blame prisoners and the released prisoner for whatever stupid mayhem the released prisoner brings society. But the reality is prison officials are squarely and primarily to blame because of the idealistic conditions and sadistic treatment they subjected that imprisoned human to. Conditions which if the prisoner before the imprisonment was deviant, prison officials and their prison experimentation have now catalyzed and enabled the maturation of the deviancy. So society's interest in prison reform is primarily all about society's self-interest because to put it simply, accountability irrespective of the subjective is the objective of the social-contract and compact.

But as it related to IAHR and their March 30, 2017, ROSP tour, IAHR is oblivious to all that I have said. If Government is, to quote Abraham Lincoln, "of, by and for the people", prison officials are functionaries of government and are not exempt from the"..... by and for the people" nature of government and the only dilemma [which IAHR in its "Report on visit to Red Onion" describes itself as facing] was when it was confronted with the inadequacy and immaturity of its understanding and perspective of what is the prison official in a modern American prison. Which was starkly exposed by IAHR's behavior, its interaction with ROSP officials prior to and during the March 30, 2017, tour within the fraudulent context that it is about prison officials and the gentility of their sensibilities.

IAHR doesn't see the prison officials as a functionary of government which then means it doesn't understand that the only interactive operative prison officials have with society is that of accountability, specifically treatment of the imprisoned and how it readies and prepares them for release in a practical manner and not self-serving sloganeering for budgetary opportunities.

Instead, IAHR's behavior on March 30th, 2017, revealed it has a fantasy, an idea, a supposition that prison officials are to be reasoned with, cajoled or implored. Which then upends the only relevant fact: Which as I've stated, prison officials are functionaries of government and are bound by law, procedures, and policies to which they must and can only be held accountable.

Had IAHR interacted with ROSP officials within accountability imperative and context it wouldn't have accepted Virginia Department of Corrections and ROSP's  pre-condition for the tour, that it shouldn't talk to prisoners, whom it claims its advocacy is for?  Maybe prison officials wouldn't have permitted the tour. But then IAHR could have challenged such a decision and the obvious lack of accountability by 1. Legal action to obtain access to ROSP and 2. Politicizing the issue of access to ROSP and if it took a ballot initiative to specify public access to prisons which are governmental function funded by tax payers, so be it.

Instead on March 30th, 2017, IAHR and advocates for prison reform walked right past cells holding prisoners at Red Onion State whose conditions and experiences are the self-claimed basis and motive-force for the advocacy. Once again IAHR and prison reform advocates toured Solitary Confinement building at ROSP, walking right past cells that held and hold prisoners who experience daily violations of the United States, Virginia Law, and Prison procedures and policies. But because of a pre-condition that only mocked and undercut the very reason for prison reform advocacy, IAHR rendered itself impotent.

By William Thorpe

William Thorpe is held in Solitary Confinement at Virginia's Red Onion State Prison.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Accountability, Prison Reform Advocacy and the 13th Amendment

The focus on the 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution as an educational tactical tool by prison reform advocacy is idealistic.

"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime where of the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." 
13th Amendment circa 1865

Focus on the above 13th Amendment places prison advocacy on the defensive and at a disadvantage. Because for example, let's take the state of Virginia. Virginia does not have specific laws of what it's imprisonment practices are. Despite the existence of Virginia Code Title 53.1 which deals with: Prisons and other methods of correction, it has consciously and purposefully omitted specificity of its prison related law.

What Va. Code 53.1 does is, it sets up parameters. So for example, Va Code 53.1-32 "treatment and control of prisoners; recreation; religious service speaks to employment, training, and education of prisoners and Va. Code 53.1-32-1 references payment or wages but in a pedestrian manner. Meaning Va Code 53.1-32.1 do not embrace the 13th amendment, nor does Virginia Legislative Action specify wages       what it does codify at Va. Code 53.1-32.1 "Classification system; program assignment; mandatory participation" @ F, is..."inmates employed pursuant to Article 2 (53.1-31 et seq.) of chapter 2 of this title shall not be deemed employees of the Commonwealth of Virginia or its agencies and shall be ineligible for benefits under chapter 29 (sec. 2.2-2900 et seq) of title 2.2, Chapter 6 (sec. 60.2-600 et seq) of title 60.2, chapter 5 (sec.65.2-500 et seq) of title 65.2 or any other provisions of  the code pertaining to the rights of state employees. "[unquote] 

What is significant and noteworthy is the degree of specificity to which Virginia keeps at arm's length any hint of prisoners being employees of the state, despite the fact in all other regards Virginia prisoners are subjects of the state. On the question of wages, Virginia leaves its response to the undemocratic and non-legislative speculations of the State Board of Corrections and the Director of the Virginia Department of Corrections.

The point I'm making and the motive-logic behind "vapac" [Virginia Prisons Accountability Committee] is people, the citizenry needs to know and understand that what goes on in Virginia prisons or any prison system for that matter [because the lack of specificity in-laws governing the prison condition isn't limited to Virginia] are consequences of ideas, prison officials [who are no more qualified than any drunken bum under a bridge] have about how to treat a prisoner.

So, for example, the idea and practice of Virginia prisoners confined in Solitary [segregation] only permitted 2 phone calls a month are simply that "ideas," the Virginia Legislature neither debated it as law nor it passed it. Virginia prisons officials enacted it because Va. code 53.1-10 "powers and duties of Director" permits the Director of the Virginia Dept. of Corrections statutorial authority to "speculate" on what his administration and governance will be. So regardless and irrespective of how the 2 phone call a month idea was concluded and decided on, the fact remains: That it is simply that someone's idea.

On the question of ideas, let's take for example the idea why drivers and passengers should wear seatbelts in cars. It's an idea based on scientific and measurable fact. Meaning science-physics instructs that if one is in a vehicle unrestrained by a seatbelt and there is a crash, you will keep moving forward till you smash into the dashboard or windshield, incurring injuries beyond the initial crash. So the requirement seat belts are worn in vehicles is based on science and not idealistic-speculation.

So on what science is the practice of 2 phone calls a month for Virginia prisoners confined in Solitary [segregation] based on? Despite whatever logic prison officials dredge up, what is ignored as prison officials experiment on prisoners, is the prisoner, not proxy for exercising and playing out fantasies by the state as it develops the social-contract. Virginia prison officials bandy about a term "evidence based program" to cloak their speculative treatment of prisoners as science based. But none of it is. Which is why the Virginia Legislature, left the notion of what is the imprisonment condition up to prison officials with a wink and nod, understanding that the social-contract mandates of the state can be one-dimensionally and superficially pursued by the surrogacy of un-elected prison officials.

What prison advocacy the reform movement has to orient from is the position: If people are imprisoned as a result of the social contract and if prison is a function of government and if government is "off, by and for people," then the people have every right to question determine whether treatments being done to prisoners in their name are valid and not the sadistic ideas of less enlightened minds for the sake of mere gratuitous cruelty. Because in all other aspects and facets of society and its consciousness, the trend and imperative are towards enlightenment. But, only when it concerns prisons and the treatment of prisoners do we encounter a speculative, idealistic hodgepodge. So what happens is: The one facet of society that requires society's full throttled enlightenment, it its treatment of its members who violate and run afoul of its laws      is where we find society retreating from enlightenment and behaving and displaying the exact impulses that resulted its citizens to do that which landed them in prison [regardlessof reason] In conclusion. Yes as we do the work of demanding accountability of social-contrast, as we focus on the antagonisms of the 13th Amendment and its endorsement of the par none ahumanistic relation, slavery. Nonetheless, as a tactical response to the struggle of holding the imprisonment practice and it's prison official subjective, accountable, it's merely an intellectual speculative exercise.

Constitutions, laws, procedures, policies, and practices do not precede the human condition. Instead the human condition defines constitutions and laws, naturally, the dominant narrative will frame their utility    and redefining the narrative, not constitutions or laws but the socio-narrative is the work of prison reform advocacy, because once there is a cleansing of the narrative of its status quo impulses that have nothing to do with the practice of justice, then our political action will be practical and up to the task.

By William Thorpe held in Solitary Confinement at Virginia's Red Onion State Prison

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Prisoners Wife By Asha Bandele: A Review

The book is supposedly A Love Story. But I don't know what to make of it---It's too full of recriminations, regrets, resentments, and condescension to be a result of love, as love is understood by the human condition.

The setting for this "Love" is Prison, not any prison for that matter but the insidious and
Machiavellian enterprise of an American prison, The Department of Corrections of The State of New York. The story is a reflection of the tumultuous state of American cultural expression and it's subjective, American Hearts and Minds, because if the cultural and emotional expression of the human is simply a sum of character, then love as the ultimate value of emotion and its medium culture will reflect the state and nature of its subjective. Emotion in the most sublime of conditions and environment is still a strange and mysterious beast, add the ingredient of the most alienative and perverted environmental condition known to humanity, prison and what will you have? What you should have is the sum value of human character, that baptism by fire through adversity, that qualitative redemption from the disjointedness of chaotic quantity but Ms. Bandele fails to even have an inkling of the maxim "I'm Solitude made Man" ---- Solitude which in this context is anguish, that accomplice of love, love which she claims.

The author's emotional consciousness is either objectively malnourished or her alienation from the objectivity of her femininity is so complete that she is confused, She mistakes the adventurous inclination of her Eros with that most consuming of emotions, "Love". Whether or not she wants to face up to and has the presence of mind to acknowledge it, she simply had a stimulating adventure with a prisoner, a test in that most simplistic and primitive of human urges, self-gratification in its motive of one-upmanship. As she tongue in cheek, succinctly puts it "I wanted to be important to someone again" [ pp.27]

For starters, Rashid her beloved, lover and subsequent husband is too one-dimensional and acquiescent, an emasculated corollary of collateral damage from the war between the sexes submitting disgracefully to his wife Asha's each and every undisciplined desire an infantile idealism for whatever it is and was, that was between them to be of that higher human emotion, Love, The only excusable rationalization for his behavior is the stimulus of the relationship in-it self and its satisfying impact on his "...Scorched-Earth" [pp.165] psyche was enough to overlook the dominance of his wife and that spells eunuchism.

Asha, on the other hand, would have us, readers believe that her most yearned for desire and sought for reality is to have her imprisoned mate free and with her, yet when she is impregnated, granted the germinating testimonial seed of their love, she has no problem aborting the fetus.

What is striking and revealing is at every turn of the way, their way and obstacles crop up, which in the general sense, with its solution or how they contend with it would enable their humaneness to define and give credibility to the love they purportedly share both fail its qualification pathetically. Rashid the prisoner and husband for being effeminate and obeisant to his wife's each and every indulgence and Asha the wife for misplacing her need for self-affirmation and its redemptive catharsis with love.

The author presents an unstated and treacherous premise that the pursuit of emotional, mental and physical communion between the imprisoned human and a free one is utterly unrealistic, futile and its fidelity is unattainable--- this premise itself raises the question of what role if any those higher sentient and sapient potentials of humanness plays in the condition of love, not as we misconstrue it to be but as we aspire it to be. If as we are wont to say that love has many facets and conditions then Rashid and Asha's rank at that, no greater than the sum of their undeveloped psyches. What then is Ms. Bandele telling us, "that the spirit is willing but the body is weak"? Or the whole relationship was nothing more than an academic project that is now bearing fruit with her writing a book about it.

To make a long story short "The Prisoners Wife" is a story of relationship between male and female and their dishonesty and inability in coBming to terms with the fact that they lacked the manhood and womanhood to develop, nurture and sustain love in that most stifling of environments------Prison.

I close with Asha Bandele invoked Assata Shakur's
"...If I know anything at all
it's that a wall is just a wall
and nothing more at all.

It can be brought down."
And for 219 pages made a mockery of it with erecting that most noxious of walls       

By William Thorpe, I am detained in Solitary Confinement at Virginias Red Onion State Prison

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Prison Phone Calls Hustle-Priority Alert

One of the results of Donald Trump becoming the President is he either doesn't care or favors (whatever the reasons are) phone companies jacking rates and policies back up on prison phone calls

During Obama's Presidency, the FCC made phone companies price down rates on prison phone calls. Naturally, phone companies squealed, hating it because the prison phone call business is an extremely lucrative hustle, squeezing every last hard earned penny from families and friends of prisoners.

So phone companies appealed the Obama FCC rule and in early June 2017, the United States Appeal Court for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the FCC exceeded its authority by regulating intrastate prison phone call rates. To which the Donald Trump FCC will let stand and not appeal. So prison phone call rates can or will be jacked back up to those outrageous rates pre-Obama.

As it applies to Virginia we need to know this: Virginia has a Special Law, Va-Code 53.1-1.1

  • Telephone systems within Correctional facilities the Department of Corrections shall offer debit or prepaid telephone systems, in addition to any existing collect calling system, which allows telephone calls to be placed to the telephone number or numbers on an approved call list. Such telephone systems may be established with the lowest available rates.
The law quoted above requires the Virginia Department of Corrections [VADOC] provide prisoners with the cheapest call rates available.

During the Obama FCC prison phone call rate decrease. The average rate of intrastate (within) state calls in Virginia averaged $1.10 for 20-minute call  This is very important. Because it reveals it was a low rate phone companies would provide prison phone calls and still make a profit. Which was a dramatic decrease from the pre-Obama ruling of approximately $5 for a 20-minute phone call?

So if phone companies providing prison calls within Virginia want to return to their $5 rates, VADOC will have to square it and explain why it isn't in violation of VA. Code 53.1-1.1.

So, people, we must be vigilant and use every means at our disposal to ensure that phone rates for prison calls are not slyly increased by phone companies with a wink and nod from VADOC.


In Strength,
By vapac

Monday, June 26, 2017