Update on anarchist political prisoners Jeremy Hammond.
It’s been a little while since I’ve written an update on Jeremy and his current situation (previous updates can be found here and here), and a lot of little things have happened in that time, so I decided to write another update to keep everyone informed of what has been going on. Some of it is positive, but, unfortunately, the overwhelming amount is negative, as it often is in these situations. So, without further ado…
Jeremy’s Release Date
Last week, upon checking the BOP’s website, I noticed that Jeremy’s release date had been pushed back a significant amount – over a year, in fact. His new release date is now 17 March 2021. Previously, it had been February 22, 2020. I did not announce this when it first happened because I had been expecting his release date to be pushed back when he was kicked out of RDAP. One of the reasons Jeremy chose to participate in RDAP was because it gave him a year off his sentence. Before his enrollment in RDAP, his release date was 22 February 2021, and with the time given to him for his participation in RDAP, it was pushed forward to 22 February 2020. When he was kicked out of RDAP, I expected his release date to change, but it was quite the shock to see it change in the midst of this situation with extra time added on. While I cannot be certain, I assume the extra time is punishment for the disciplinary infraction he is currently facing.
People can always check for themselves Jeremy’s most current scheduled release date by visiting the BOP website and searching for Jeremy via his name or register number (18728424).
Legal Call to Jeremy
As I tweeted on December 7, a legal call was able to be placed to Jeremy. While this was encouraging, and it was wonderful to be able to hear his voice, it was discouraging the process that had to be gone through to get the call placed. The lawyer who placed the call, Nancy Norelli of Free Anons, who has acted on Jeremy’s behalf numerous times in the past, had to escalate her request all the way up to Washington, DC to have it honored, being denied numerous times along the way. Also highly concerning was the fact that, while this was intended to be a legal call and was requested as such in all correspondence with the BOP, the BOP chose not to honor the confidentiality that is standard when clients converse with their lawyers, instead forcing Jeremy to call from standard prison phones, which are monitored by the BOP.
Jeremy’s Case Manager
Jeremy was recently assigned a new case manager. This, too, is highly discouraging, as it means all the letters that were sent to his old case manager pleading with her to let him stay at FCI Milan are now sitting with a person who has no power to make decisions on his behalf. Make no mistake – this was most likely done intentionally, and new letters will be going out to the new case manager.
Sending Books and Mail to Jeremy
While Jeremy originally thought he was going to be allowed to receive books while in SHU, it now looks like that may not be the case, and it may all be because of the whims of one person who got annoyed that too many prisoners had the audacity to want books. Jeremy had requested a specific book from a friend, and when other SHU prisoners heard that Jeremy was getting books, they also wanted books. This is a completely understandable response – prisoners in SHU are often locked in their cells for up to 23 hours a day with very little to do. The prison official who manages the SHU became annoyed at the number of book requests and instituted a new rule – no books for SHU prisoners. This seems to be a rule that is being applied to all prisoners in SHU and not just Jeremy. This is incredibly cruel, not only for Jeremy, but for all prisoners isolated in SHU. Jeremy is lucky to have a broad support network and plenty of people to write him and help keep his mind occupied. For those that are not so lucky, books serve as not only a form of diversion, but as education, comfort, and freedom. Banning books for prisoners already suffering torturous levels of isolation is inhumane. There is no other word to describe it.
As for letters, while we know that at least some of the mail that is being sent to Jeremy is reaching him, we have no way of knowing if all of his mail is reaching him. Last time he was held in SHU at FCI Manchester, a large portion of his mail was withheld and given to him upon his release from SHU. We can only hope that all mail that is being sent to him us being delivered. If mail sent to Jeremy during his stay in SHU is ever returned to you, please contact me. It is helpful to know if mail is returned so we can watch out for mail being improperly rejected or rejected too frequently.
As far as outgoing mail, we strongly believe that mail that Jeremy is attempting to send out is being purposely held and delayed by FCI Milan. Jeremy has said that he is sending letters to people, and, so far, none of those letters have materialized. With the removal of Jeremy’s phone privileges, this is highly concerning, as snail mail is the only way for Jeremy to communicate with people on the outside. (Prisoners do not have access to e-mail while in SHU.) While FCI Milan did allow Jeremy to purchase some stamps, all the stamps in the world mean nothing if the prison refuses to send the letters he writes. Purposely delaying mail is common repression tactic used by prisons to isolate people (especially activists) and silence news of both their own activities and the treatment they are receiving during their incarceration. Because we know it is happening with Jeremy, it is a situation we will be monitoring closely.
Conditions in SHU
Overall, Jeremy says he is well. He was able to get soap, was given a new pair of pants when they let him shower, and they allowed him to purchase some socks and boxers. However, he is not being given a pillow and, while it may seem trivial to us on the outside, the lack of a pillow is causing him pain. With no clear indication on when he will be released from SHU, it is vital that his health remain good. Medical care in prison is substandard at best, with prisoners often waiting years to have the most trivial of problems cared for, if they are ever cared for at all. Back problems from poor sleeping conditions could follow Jeremy for the rest of his life. There is no reason why he cannot be given a pillow. The BOP’s own program statement on special housing units states, “You will receive a mattress, blankets, a pillow, and linens for sleeping.” As per the program statement, only mattresses may be removed “during non-sleeping daytime hours as ‘loss of privilege’ sanction imposed by the Unit Discipline Committee (UDC)/DHO. Removal
of an inmate’s mattress is otherwise prohibited, absent life or safety concerns as specifically documented and authorized by the Warden, or his/her designee.” The program statement says nothing about a pillow, and it seems nothing more than yet another deliberate act of cruelty to remove one of the small comforts SHU inmates have in an attempt to cause them pain and discomfort.
These are all the updates we have for now. While the circumstances remain uncertain and challenging, we are still remaining hopeful and Jeremy is remaining strong. Please, keep Jeremy in your thoughts and keep writing to him. His address is:
Jeremy Hammond, #18429-424
P.O. Box 1000
Milan, MI 48160
Thank you all for your continued support.
Love and Rage,