Phonezap for Wabash Valley Hunger Strikers in the SHU!

MAKE THE LINES RING ALL DAY! FRIDAY, AUG 31, sunrise to sunset!

Background

Several inmates in the Secure Housing Unit (SHU) at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility went on hunger strike in protest of their already starvation-level meal portions, their lack of access to basic necessities like adequate clothing, and access to commissary items . Food portions are extremely small, imagine a high school lunch tray where the section for your main course isn't even half full. The food they receive is already lacking in nutrition and comes in boxes labelled "not for human consumption." Food services in the IDOC are managed by the private corporation Aramark, and food served to inmates lacks basic nutritional value and is often served rotten. To make matters worse, Corrections Officers are known to contaminate food with saliva and feces.

The SHU is kept extremely cold in order to limit inmates activity and keep them in their beds. Their bodies burn calories to keep warm that can't even be replaced by the meager meals they are given.

Wabash's Valley's Secure Housing Unit is the end of the line for prisoners facing abuse by the IDOC. It is the most extreme form of isolation, sensory deprivation, mental and physical torture that the prison system can offer. Some inmates are kept under 24/7 video and audio surveillance. They are unable to order items from commissary and must subsist on the crumbs they are given. The SHU has a notorious history of unspeakable abuse against inmates. In the 1990's its commander James Basinger oversaw a cabal of sadisitc guards that engaged in daily torture and even murder of the inmates in their custody. Today, James Basinger is the Deputy Commissioner of the IDOC, extending his techniques throughout the whole system.

 

Being Punished for Refusing Food

Wabash Valley from day one moved swiftly to repress the strike. On the morning of August 27th, Internal Affairs ordered a lieutenant on the SHU to file disciplinary reports against the hunger strikers. IA is charging these inmates with a class B violation "Inmate Demonstration/Work Stoppage" and claims that social media posts led them to this determination. What this amounts to is a flagrant violation of policy by IA and Wabash Valley. It is within the stated rights of inmates to refuse meals and further they cannot be charged with disciplinary action for the work of supporters on the outside.

Administration has however agreed to finally give the promised medical treatment to Kwame Shakur, currently housed on the SHU. The struggle to unfreeze his JPAY account is however ongoing, as is the case with any other inmates who face similar censorship.

Administration has also taken the concerning measure of removing cameras from the pod where the strikers are located. There is reason to believe that guards are attempting to provoke Kwame Shakur in order to do serious bodily harm to him without being filmed. The situation is worrisome on many levels.

We now ask that when people make their calls they make known their awareness that Wabash Valley has violated policy to suppress the strike by writing up inmates for something which is within their rights to do. At this point the inmates will be suspending the hunger strike and move towards pushing back on these policy violations.
 

Sample Phone Script

Pledge to make calls to Warden Richard Brown, IDOC Commissioner Robert Carter, and governor Eric Holcomb.

Wabash Valley Warden Richard Brown | (812) 398-5050, Dial 2 then dial 8
Commissioner Robert Carter | (317) 232-5711
Governor Eric Holcomb | (317) 232-4567

"I'm calling on behalf of Kwame Shakur and everyone else who went on hunger strike and is being written up as a result.
I demand that all disciplinary reports be withdrawn as it is within their right to refuse food.
I also call on you to unfreeze their JPay accounts, reinstall the cameras removed from the pod and promise that no guards will retaliate violently towards these men for standing up for their dignity.
Can I get that commitment?"

 

Reporting Back

You can report how your call went by leaving a comment on this page,  emailing idocwatch@gmail.com or commenting on the fb event: https://www.facebook.com/events/324034711667100/

Also, by sharing that you made the call on social media encourages others to do the same and shine a light on their situation.

Updates 
On August 27th, several inmates in the Security Control Unit (SCU) of Wabash Valley Correctional Facility initiated a hunger strike to protest nearly every aspect of their conditions of confinement. The SCU is the most extreme lockdown unit in the state of Indiana. It became notorious in the early 90's for its reputation of torture, starvation, and murder. It's former commander, James Basinger, is now Deputy Commissioner of Operations for the Indiana Department of Correction, making him responsible for policy throughout the entire system. Had it not been for the organized and sustained resistance of the prisoners the world may never have learned the truth of what was happening there. The SCU is the "end of the line" in Indiana prisons. It is where those political prisoners whose influence threatens to arouse the resistance of the prisoners around them are sent to be "broken". Recently, the conditions there have deteriorated to a point that rivals the days of Commissioner Basinger's command. The inmates who initiated the strike on August 27th were met with immediate reprisal. That very night they were informed by Corrections Officers that Internal Affairs was directing them to write disciplinary reports for "group demonstration." This is a direct vioaltion of policy which permits any inmate to refuse meals whenever they so choose. Inmates were cuffed and taken from their cells where they were served with their disciplinary paperwork. CO's made it explicity clear that they believed inamtes were striking in coordination with the national events which are ongoing. This despite the fact non of the hunger strikes were even aware of the national strike due to Wabash Valley's draconian restriction on inmate to inmate correspondence and censorship of political literature. Prisoners have been held on disciplinary segregation merely for receiving information on potential work stoppages and demonstrations. IDOC Watch received reports of overwhelming support coming from several states and outside the country. Many people emailed us to report on what happened after they called Wabash Valley Warden Richard Brown, Deputy Commissioner Basinger, and Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb. Callers were told by Wabash Valley administrators that inmates diets are regulated by policy and receive 2500-2800 calories per day. They expressed confusion as to why the inmates were striking at all. The reality of the situation is that no outside verification of proper following of policy or of the amount of food received by the inamtes is possible and the only information we have is from the inmates themselves. Moreover, despite the supposed number of calories food is often served rotten, undercooked, compromised by CO tampering, and delivered in containers "not marked for human consumption." A few days in to the strike we received a longer list of demands that extended far beyond food policy. Almost all aspects of life in the SCU were being challenged by the inmates. Unfortunately, by the time this list was received the strike had more or less been broken by intimidation. At this point, around day 4 of the strike, we encouraged callers to voice opposition to the disciplinary measures being taken against the strikers, citing violation of policy. It was on this day and the following that the majority of calls were made, undoubtedly due to the strikes amplification by IWOC. We are pleased to report that the pressure has succeeded in forcing Internal Affairs to relent and the strikers were informed that the Disciplinary Reports have been "torn up." This is a rare occurrence and without the support nationally would likely not have been possible. Additionally, one of the strikers, Kwame Shakur, who is also the highest profile political prisoner in Indiana has finally received anti-biotic treatemen for his autoimmune deficieny. Shakur contracted this medical condition following a Tuberculosis outbreak in Pendleton Correctional Facility some years ago. He and the other effected inmates have yet to received their just compensation for this incident. At this point things have returned to "normal" on the SCU. "Normal" as in the expected daily suffering of isolation, starvation, and torture. However, we believe that this wave of repression has passed and for now the strike leaders are out of immediate danger. Gratitude and Solidarity to IWOC for amplifying this event and making it possible to prove that repression can be broken through resistance.

Comments

Nancy Little (not verified)
Called all numbers. Left VM with gov Holcomb and Indiana DOJ. Called Wabash Valley facility and got transferred to different people four times. Was asked if I was press. I’m not. I asked what they are doing about inhumane conditions there. They just repeated that they are following proper procedure. I asked if that means they are admitting to not following proper procedure prior to the hunger strike. No response. They said, “I’m not going to argue with you.”
IDOC Watch (not verified)
Update: We have learned that Wabash Valley from day one moved swiftly to repress the strike. On Monday morning Internal Affairs ordered a lieutenant on the SHU to file disciplinary reports against the hunger strikers. IA is charging these inmates with a class B violation "Inmate Demonstration/Work Stoppage" and claims that social media posts led them to this determination. What this amounts to is a flagrant violation of policy by IA and Wabash Valley. It is within the stated rights of inmates to refuse meals and further they cannot be charged with disciplinary action for the work of supporters on the outside. Administration has however agreed to finally give the promised medical treatment to Kwame Shakur currently housed on the SHU. The struggle to unfreeze his JPAY account is however ongoing, as is the case with any other inmates who face similar censorship. Administration has also taken the concerning measure of removing cameras from the pod where the strikers are located. There is reason to believe that guards are attempting to provoke Kwame Shakur in order to do serious bodily harm to him without being filmed. The situation is worrisome on many levels. We now ask that when people make their calls they make known their awareness that Wabash Valley has violated policy to suppress the strike by writing up inmates for something which is within their rights to do. At this point the inmates will be suspending the hunger strike and move towards pushing back on these policy violations. Wabash Valley Warden Richard Brown | (812) 398-5050 Commissioner Robert Carter | (317) 232-5711 Governor Eric Holcomb | (317) 232-4567
S. "Big Bird" Gull (not verified)
Slavery may have been abolished on paper 152 years ago, but in practice it continues to thrive. It never left it just changed it's greasy cheap suit. Forced unpaid labor, and the obscene profits made from government to house, feed, and care for prisoners is BLOOD MONEY! Profits made on the perpetual misery of others. The guards are on the take. The warden is on the take. The evaluation board gets a cut. When you treat people like they're inhuman and worthless eventually they will believe it with actions. Its then spun by the gaurds to reinforce the label. Meanwhile, some Wall Street Asshole is counting his money. SUCKS!
David Snyder (not verified)
Prisoners should be treated with more respect in prisons. They shouldn’t block their JPay money as punishment... We need true prison reform and incentives for prisoners that allowed time served for outstanding behavior... Treat them like people with dignity and RESPECT...
Kyle (not verified)
Called, got an answer and when I mentioned the strike got transferred to an eventual voice mail. Left a message and will try again in a couple of minutes to talk to a real person.
Lauren M (not verified)
I called the first number, and reached an office employee who told me to call the second number. That one went to voicemail so I left a message following the script. I'll try calling the governor's office later.
Anonymous (not verified)
Got through to the wardens office but they said the warden is out today. .....gave me a different number to call and leave a message with my concern...
S Ericson (not verified)
Called all three numbers. I got a person on the line from both the warden's and the governor's offices, they both said that they would "pass along my concerns" or something like that. I believe the person from the warden's office told me they would call me back. If I had to guess though, they probably won't given that I don't think I've ever gotten a call back from a phone zap. I wasn't sure which numbers to press in the phone tree for the commissioner's office, but I went to "concerns about an offender or a facility," but Wabash Valley wasn't explicitly listed, so I went to "all other offender information" where I got voicemail and left a message and my name. The voicemail message said they'd call me back, but again, I doubt they will.
Good Opsec mean... (not verified)
I got Patty at the Warden's Office and she just directed me to the second number and then hung up. Couldn't get through to the commisioner and so left a message. The Governor's office got me to someone named "Sam," and I again left the script. They all seem pretty tense and overwhelmed, not particularly sympathetic, but definitely stressed out by all this.
Christyx (not verified)
Made three, back to back calls to all numbers listed above - Only reached live person on Holcolmb's #. Keep calling!
Dan (not verified)
Called Wabash Valley, was asked "Is this about the strike?", said "Yes," was told I needed to call the second number (the commissioner's) to voice my concerns. Called that number, eventually got voicemail, left message more or less following the script. Called the governor's office, spoke to a live person (receptionist?) who said my message (the script) would be passed along.
lemmingeater
8/31, 1:51 PM, MT. Called warden Brown, pushed, #2, then #8, wento recording. Did not leave message. 8/31, 1:53 PM, MT,Called Comm Carter, pressed #2, then #3, then #0, transferred to recording,"Ms. Carter, please leave message." Did not leave message. 8/31, 1:55 PM,MT, Called Gov. Holcomb, Sam answered the phone, would nor give full name but took message.
Lisa (not verified)
Wabash Valley Warden Richard Brown - left voicemail Commissioner Robert Carter - left voicemail for "operator" Governor Eric Holcomb - left message
Anonymous (not verified)
I called and left a voicemail for the Warden, saying that I pray the accusations are false and we demand the inmates retain the right to refuse food, reactivate JPay accounts, and reinstall the cameras removed from the pod. And ensure that no guards will retaliate violently. I ended with this is not right.
Apu (not verified)
1. With Governor Eric Holcomb | (317) 232-4567, I was able to get a live person in the governor's office. She said "thank you" and presumably noted my concerns. 2. With Wabash Valley Warden Richard Brown | (812) 398-5050 and IDOC Commissioner Robert Carter | (317) 232-5711, I didn't have much luck getting anywhere, though I was able to leave a voicemail in the latter case.
Dave (not verified)
Called Warden Brown & Commissioner Carter & left message speaking the script however, having called after business hours was unable to speak to anyone or leave a message at the governor's office.
Isabelle (not verified)
Called all numbers. /// Warden Brown - left message /// Commissioner Carter - left message /// Gov. Holcomb - talked to secretary, who redirected me to voicemail