For the last several weeks, an exchange of articles has appeared on Its Going Down, on the value of workplace organizing, including “Nothing to Syndicate”, “Aiming at Ghosts”, “Crafty Ghosts”, and several other pieces. 3,428 more words
One of the most common issues we come across at the stalls is the problems that folk experience after they fail their ESA re-assessment, and are forced into applying for UC. We have come across dozens of such cases since the introduction of UC, and the last stall proved to be no exception.
We met Linda, a 58 year old woman forced to give up her much cherished job as a lollipop woman after she was diagnosed with epilepsy, which added to problems she was already experiencing with her legs and stomach. Despite her obvious health problems, Linda, like countless others, was recently removed from ESA, placed on UC and deemed ‘fit for work’. Since then she has battled mounting anxiety as the JC has increased pressure on her to find work, not least since many of the jobs they are asking her to apply for are clearly looking for…
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Together with London IWOC we organise a meeting in Southall to coordinate support and monthly stalls at Feltham youth prison. It’s working class people who suffer most, both from ‘poor on poor’ crime and from imprisonment. More policing and charity is no answer to our problems, but working class solidarity and stronger ties amongst ourselves where we work and live. Only that can break the cycle…
Dear sisters all over the world, dear comrades and friends, the defeating of Daeshs caliphate will not need a long time anymore. As female fighters of YPJ&YPJ International we dedicate this success to all women of the world for the 8th march. #YPJIntDez#WomensDay#WomensDay2019pic.twitter.com/NIIevHqHck
— YPJInternational (@YPJInternation3) March 8, 2019
YPJ International Fighters Info Office
Official Statement for the 8th of march 2019, International Women’s Day
Dear sisters all over the world, dear comrades and friends,
Since more than 100 years the 8th of march is the day of our common expression of fight
for women’s rights and women’s liberation around the globe. It is the common expression following the everyday fight against patriarchy since 5,000 years. For this we send our warmest regards to you, wherever you may resist on this symbolic day.
We are aware of our historical heritage as well as of the current historical…
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Providence, RI March 5th, 2019 – The RI DOC (Department of Corrections) has held four men for over ten days in solitary confinement at the ACI (Adult Correctional Institution) for allegedly possessing union literature, according to a statement provided to the press. The four men — Joseph Shepard, Ryan Callahan, Anthony Meo, and a fourth whose name is unknown — were transferred from the general population of the ACI’s John J. Moran Medium 1 Facility into solitary confinement between February 21-22, in an apparent attempt by the DOC to prevent legitimate and legal efforts towards addressing the inhumane conditions at the ACI. As of Friday March 1st, at least two of the four men have yet to even be booked for the alleged violations on which they are being held.
While under solitary confinement — or “disciplinary confinement”, as it’s referred to by the DOC — all four are being denied access to legal documents, rehabilitative and therapeutic programs, adequate medical care, and contact with their families and supporters is limited to a single ten-minute phone call each day. A lawyer with knowledge of the case said,
“A filing deadline in one of the men’s cases against the Department of Corrections has already been missed for lack of access to legal documents, and the restrictions will almost certainly interfere with the individual’s ability to show up in court. “
In a preliminary statement about the situation, Callahan comments:
“I was [brought] down here without any answers, without any [of my] property. I’ve been down here for over a week now and have not been booked. […] I have not been able to speak with the psychiatrist whom I have an appointment with and missed. That appointment has not been rescheduled. The orthotic insole to my shoe has not been provided to me. As far as medicine, I have been receiving just the medicine that I’m prescribed. I have basically been kicked out of all the programs I was attending (Providence Center, 9 Yards, CCRI, College Unbound, and parenting).”
Prior to this current solitary confinement, two of the people being held – Joseph Shepard and Ryan Callahan – had filed separate federal lawsuits against the RIDOC. In one of those lawsuits, among other grievances, Shepard cites prison conditions and disciplinary practices that he argues amount to “cruel and unusual punishment” in violation of rights that are supposed to be protected by the 8th Amendment of the United States Constitution. Shepard also recently sent an extensive 150 page letter to various RIDOC officials with detailed grievances about conditions at the ACI as well as problems with DOC policies such as the official grievance process itself and arbitrary requirements which severely restrict access to core rehabilitative programs that many inmates need for parole – programs which Shepard and the other three people are at risk of losing access to due to their placement in solitary confinement. That 150 page letter also included clear requests and proposals for how to address the problems outlined in the grievances.
When Joseph Shepard asked the the Warden about the letter of grievances, “he said that I wouldn’t be getting a response then he smiled and continued to walk off when I further asked him about the progress of the investigation.“ This has led Sheard to view his being placed in solitary as retaliatory in nature “because I continue, in a positive way, to directly address the harsh confinement of prison conditions not only on behalf of myself, but on behalf of the prison population.”
In 2011, The United Nations UN Special Rapporteur on Torture “called on all countries to ban the solitary confinement of prisoners except in very exceptional circumstances and for as short a time as possible … saying the practice could amount to torture.” The Rhode Island DOC plans to hold the men for up to 90 days while investigating them, where the same UN report recommended an “absolute prohibition” of “solitary confinement in excess of 15 days”, citing scientific evidence for lasting mental damage beyond a few days of social isolation. The 90-day detention policy also flies in the face of RI’s own 2017 legislative commission report recommending that “only those who commit the most serious predatory offenses will be subject to segregation for more than 31 days [..] Non-predatory Class 1 offenses would be limited to 30 days and Class 2 offenses would be capped at 20.”
The four individuals stand accused of attempting to ‘organize a demonstration’ because of their alleged possession of literature produced by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), an NLRB-certified labor union with a significant membership in prisons across the country. Additionally, they are also being accused of ‘signing into an illegal contract’ for filling out union membership forms. Others at the facility report having been threatened with the same “disciplinary confinement” if they are found in possession of IWW or IWOC literature, or caught talking about the union, indicating that the union’s literature is being treated as contraband by the RIDOC.
Shepard expressed further thoughts in his statement to the press:
“I use my words on paper to articulate these harsh conditions of confinement and here I sit in segregation, wasting away. My programs have been taken away from me, my CCRI classes, my phone calls, my rec, my visits. I’m on 23 hour lockdown. I deal with PTSD and anxiety and I feel as the days go by that it’s just getting worse. I’m trying to change things for the better but they are specifically trying to deter me and other inmates from filing grievances and from being outspoken about the conditions of confinement.”
About Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee: The Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) is a prisoner-led section of the Industrial Workers of the World working to end prison abuse and exploitation.
Servio (401) 401-484-7288 or Liam (401) 649-0579
PO Box 27913 Providence, RI 02907
Notes to editors
 Ryan Callahan – Statement for the press (3-1-2019): https://drive.google.com/open?id=1cdakPOcLRwBDM73mSg4apOIi897Zvam1
 Joseph Shepard – Statement for the press (3-1-2019): https://drive.google.com/open?id=1lzzwRvNTbp0eajeAFMObs-GgoDhB7QyF
 UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, 2011 report https://news.un.org/en/story/2011/10/392012-solitary-confinement-should-be-banned-most-cases-un-expert-says#.UdsQoT5gaBg
 Packet of Grievances About RIDOC and ACI Medium 1 by Joseph W Shepard: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Ey4qDfsiQizQxCI3aTD6uNOEyQyshN7W
 Rhode Island legislative committee report on solitary confinement: http://www.rilegislature.gov/pressrelease/_layouts/RIL.PressRelease.ListStructure/Form/DisplayForm.aspx?List=c8baae31%2D3c10%2D431c%2D8dcd%2D9dbbe21ce3e9&ID=13084&Web=2bab1515%2D0dcc%2D4176%2Da2f8%2D8d4beebdf488
 The Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) is part of the Industrial Workers of the World, a grassroots union for all workers. More information about IWOC is available on the website, https://incarceratedworkers.org
 On Monday February 24th, the Deputy Warden of ACI Medium confirmed that at least one of the men was in “disciplinary confinement as part of an ongoing investigation” during a phone call with a union volunteer.
On 13th March, the Justice for Kevan Thakrar campaign will demonstrate at the Ministry of Justice to mark the ninth year of Kevan’s solitary confinement in Close Supervision Centres.
Kevan was first placed in the CSC after suffering an assault by four prison guards in his cell at HMP Frankland in 2010. He defended himself, for which he was charged with attempted murder and GBH. Despite being acquitted of these charges in court, he was sent to a CSC as a punishment and remains in the CSC system to this day, with no indication of when he may leave.
Kevan is regularly held in his cell for 23 hours per day and is prevented from speaking with other prisoners. Numerous studies and papers have pointed out the severe damage solitary confinement can cause for those placed in it. As a 2006 paper in Washington University Journal of Law & Policy put it, it has ‘long been known that severe restriction of environmental and social stimulation has a profoundly deleterious effect on mental functioning’. To quote from a paper in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, ‘psychological stressors such as isolation can be as clinically distressing as physical torture’.
Kevan’s indefinite isolation clearly contravenes the position of the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and on these grounds we request his immediate release from the CSC system.
Şehid Şevger Ara Makhno, martyred March 4, 2018 in the fight against fascism in Afrin, Rojava. In memory of Ş. Şevger Ara Makhno, written by friends of Ş. 583 more words