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Also see. SOA Watch

URGENT ACTION ALERT ~ PLEASE DISTRIBUTE BROADLY- August 20, 2002

UPDATE: 9/24/2002

UPDATE: Reply from R.E. Holt

They Spoke Up for Us and Now it's Time That We Speak Up for Them!

On July 12th, 2002, a federal court in Georgia found 36 SOA Watch activists guilty and sentenced them for speaking out against the School of the Americas (SOA) in a nonviolent protest on the Fort Benning military reservation. Twenty-nine received prison terms ranging from three to the maximum of six months - one more attempt to silence the movement to close the SOA, and to prevent others from speaking out.

Toni Flynn, 56, a Catholic Worker and mother of four from Valyermo, CA, Peter Gelderloos, 20, an activist from Harrisonburg, VA, and Father Jerry Zawada, 65, a Franciscan priest from Cedar Lake, IN were taken to Crisp County Jail in Georgia. It was assumed that this was to be a brief stop in transit to a federal prison near their homes.

Now, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has designated Crisp County Jail as the location where the three will serve the remainder of their six-month sentence. The three have reported deplorable conditions in this jail including dangerous medical neglect (see an excerpt of a letter from Toni below). The Crisp County Jail does not comply with federal standards for the treatment of prisoners. The Crisp County Jail does not permit visits on weekends and the visitation facilities do not meet the BOP criteria (see federal code citation below).

Here's what you can do:

- Write a letter to the Southeast Regional Director of the BOP to demand that the SOA Watch Prisoners of Conscience be moved to a facility near their home and that the situation at Crisp County Jail has to change for all prisoners! In doing research on the net it appears that there has been more litigation concerning Georgia County Jails than any other state.

Please fax and snail-mail your letters to:

R.E. Holt
Southeast Regional Director
Federal Bureau of Prisons
3800 Camp Creek Parkway, S.W.
Building 2000
Atlanta, GA 30331-6226
Fax: (678) 686-1229

Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., M.P.H.
Director, Division of Public Health
Georgia Department of Human Resources
Two Peachtree Street, NW
Atlanta, Georgia 30303-3186
Phone: 404-657-2700

Crisp County Health Department
111 East 24th Avenue
Cordele, Georgia 31015
(229) 276-2680
fax: (229) 276-2683

Also seek to find a Pro Bono attorney willing to file a writ of mandamus to asking the federal court in that area
to compel BOP and the Jail to enforce federal laws in this regard.

- Contact your Congressperson. Point out that while SOA-trained killers continue to act with impunity, nonviolent people of conscience are in prison under harsh conditions. Urge your Congressperson to contact R.E. Holt to inquire about the conditions in Crisp County Jail which are in violation of federal law, and to demand that Peter, Toni and Jerry be moved to a facility in compliance with federal standards. If your representative is a co-sponsor of HR 1810 (the bill to close the SOA), thank them for their support. If not, take this opportunity to ask them to sign on. Click here for more legislative information and a list of co-sponsors.

- Come to Fort Benning, November 15-17, 2002 and take the place of those who have been incarcerated.

A letter from Toni Flynn dated August 13th includes the following:

"Day # 16 here at Crisp County Jail and no sign of the U.S. Marshals. Things have worsened: A woman in my cell block has for weeks complained of "sores and bugs" on her body. She and I and the other 5 women have all complained and asked for intervention. The only response was to be given a can of Lice Spray for us to use on our bodies. Upon reading the label, it says 'dangerous for humans & animals' and further instructs that it is toxic if inhaled or absorbed. Our cell was nonetheless sprayed & some women sprayed their bodies. The infected woman was isolated for 1 day and then returned, still infected. We are all at risk and the woman is as yet untreated or at best treated ineffectively. I filled out a complaint and everyone signed it. The woman has voiced that she has "lice, crabs, and canker sores as well as a rash that has spread (neck and wrist). I feel this is gross negligence and that the Health Dept needs to know. I really (underlined twice) want out of here! Is there anyway to nudge the Feds?..."

Federal Code citation:

28 Code of Federal Regulations Sections 540.41 and 540.42 provide requirements for proper visitation facilities and visiting times for inmates. "At a minimum, the Warden shall establish visiting hours at the institution on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays." (Section 540.42(a)) It is the policy of the BOP "to encourage visiting by family, friends, and community groups to maintain the morale of the inmate and to develop closer relationships between the inmate and family members or others in the community." (Section 540.40)


ACTION ALERT – September 23, 2002

SUPPORT THE PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE

SOA Activists Are All Considered Federal Prisoners

Toni and Jerry remain in Crisp County Jail. In response to your efforts, they have each been moved to less crowded cells. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) officials have interviewed them on two occasions as part of an investigation into our complaints. They have also had a personal meeting with the sheriff in his office to discuss conditions at the jail. At this time, correspondence from the BOP gives no indication as to whether or not they will be moved.

Both Toni and Jerry feel that the sheriff is listening to their concerns. They still hope to be moved to federal prisons closer to home where they can receive visits from their families.

The move to less crowded cells and other small changes in conditions seem to be limited to Toni and Jerry specifically, not reforms that will address overall conditions and benefit other prisoners there. We now have an opportunity to force a real and lasting change in the conditions at Crisp County Jail. Act now to ensure that conditions will change not just for our friends but for all those imprisoned at the jail without access to a network of support like this one.

There are approximately 2 million people in US prisons and jails and 6.3 million people under state supervision. The number of inmates increased more than 5 times from 1970 to 2001. 46% in 1999 were African-Americans, even though African-Americans compose only 12% of the US Population. 18% were Hispanic. Today our rate of incarceration is the highest in the world.

The Prison Industrial Complex and the School of the Americas/WHISC are both symptoms of a broader system of exploitation and oppression, a system that is dependent on repressive institutions to stay in power.

HERE'S WHAT YOU CAN DO:

- Fax , email or snail-mail letters to the following local officials expressing your concern over the conditions at the Crisp County Jail (see below for specific information). Demand that they launch a full-scale investigation of the conditions at the jail and implement reforms before one more person is sent there. Toni and Jerry ask that letters be written in the spirit of nonviolence and refrain from personal attacks. Write to:

Superior Court Judges:

Judge Whitfield R. Forrester
(229) 276-2652 (fax)
210 7th St. South
Cordele, GA 31010-0701

Judge John C. Prigden
(229) 276-2629 (fax)
PO Box 5025
Cordele, GA 31010-5025

- Continue the phone calls and faxes to R.E. Holt and the other officials listed below  at the Federal Bureau of Demand that Toni and Jerry be moved to federal prisons close to their homes and that conditions be improved at Crisp County Jail for all prisoners there.

R.E. Holt Southeast Regional Director
Federal Bureau of Prisons
3800 North Camp Creek Parkway, SW  Bldg. 2000
Atlanta, GA 30331
(678) 686-1205 ext. 204 phone
(678) 686-1229 fax
rholt@bop.gov

Thomas Kane, Asst. Director
Information, Policy and Public Affairs Division
Federal Bureau of Prisons
320 First St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20534
(202) 514-6537
(202) 616-2093 fax
tkane@bop.gov

Maryellen Thoms, Ass.t Dir.
Federal Bureau of Prisons
Health Services Division
320 First St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20534
(202) 307-3055
(202) 307-0826 fax
mthoms@bop.gov

Michael Cooksey, Asst. Dir.
Correctional Programs Division
Federal Bureau of Prisons
320 First St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20534
(202) 307-3326
(202) 307-0509 fax
mcooksey@bop.gov

Sal Seanez, Asst. Dir.
Community Corrections and Detention Division
Bureau of Prisons
320 First St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20534
(202) 514-8585
(202) 307-0215 fax
sseanez@bop.gov

Dr. Kathleen Hawk Sawyer, Director
Federal Bureau of Prisons
320 First St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20534
(202) 307-3250
(202) 514-6878
ksawyer@bop.gov

Dennis Barrick, Chief
Community Corrections
Program Review Division
Federal Bureau of Prisons
320 First St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20534
(202) 616-2071
(202) 514-8546