On April 17-18, a phone zap targeted the warden of Baraga Maximum Correctional Facility in Michigan, where Harold “H.H.” Gonzales was facing stepped up retaliation. Even while others who were charged with participating in the strike and protest at Kinross Correctional Facility last September were being released from administrative segregation (solitary confinement), H.H. was targeted to remain for at least two years. He was determined to begin a hunger strike if not released from segregation.
After about 40 people phoned the prison, on April 24, Baraga staff reluctantly informed H.H. that he will not be kept in administrative segregation (solitary confinement) for two years as originally sentenced, but will be released around May 1st. This is a major victory and demonstrates how pressure from across the state and country can force the hand of corrections departments that are becoming increasingly vulnerable to public scrutiny.
In H.H.’s own words:
Let me start by saying I’m truly humbled by you guys willingness to help me in these trying times, and your efforts have not been in vain. Yes they are changing the seg block currently housing 88 Kinross prisoners into a G.P. unit on May 1st 2017, and until recent events I was not on the list but because of the mass efforts from everyone I’ve been told I will be released from seg on, or about the 1st, but that I will not be housed with the others, who are all really level ones and twos housed in a level 5 facility but kept separate from the level 5 prisoners, I will be placed among the level 5 prisoners even though I too am a level 2, soon to be level one prisoner, but hey, ‘one brick at a time.’
Considering the unchecked entity we are battling, I consider this a major victory. Your right also that this early release is not due to ‘good behavior,’ when I was called out on the 24th and told I would be released, I was told that it was not their choice if it was left to them we would have had to do 2 years in seg. It was you guys, all the support that has been given to us caused it. You had an entity that thrives on invisibility and obscurity, public attention is the last thing they want.
H.H. writes on to describe that after filing a grievance, he finally got some of his mail from earlier in the month.
Another victory, but these victories worry me because this entity is not one to let go or that can stand to be challenged much less lose! Also you can attach my name so that those who have supported me will know how much I, personally, am grateful to them.
He also requested that his photo be posted with his words.
Harold “H.H.” Gonzales
We must remain vigilant in H.H.’s case, and also for the nearly 200 other prisoners sentenced to solitary in the wake of the Kinross uprising. Watch this space for more:
- Reports from H.H.
- Words of gratitude from others who we hope will soon be released from solitary
- Actions to demand that all Kinross rebels be released from solitary
Family members and friends of prisoners, and others, are encouraged to contact MAPS (Michigan Abolition and Prisoner Solidarity) to connect and learn more.