Filed under: Incarceration, Midwest, Repression, US
After over two months in Indiana, Kevin “Rashid” Johnson still does not have access to his property, including documents he needs to meet court deadlines, and the phone numbers and addresses of outside supporters.
Kevin “Rashid” Johnson – a Virginia prisoner – was transferred to Indiana on November 4. This is under something known as the Interstate Corrections Compact, which is used to ship prisoners out of state. Virginia is one of several states that make use of this practice as a tool to repress and isolate prisoners who speak up for their rights.
Beyond isolating prisoners, these transfers are extremely disruptive, and serve as an opportunity for prison officials to violate prisoners’ rights, especially regarding their property. Which is exactly what has been done to Rashid.
Rashid has 24 boxes of personal property. These are all of his possessions in the world. Much of these 24 boxes consist of legal documents and research materials, including materials directly related to pending or anticipated court cases, and his list of addresses and phone numbers of media contacts, human rights advocates, outside supporters, and friends.
At Pendleton Correctional Facility, where Rashid is now being kept prisoner, only one guard is in charge of the property room. This is very unusual, as this tends to be one of the most important jobs, as the property room is where all of the prisoners’ belongings that are not in their cells are kept. The guard in charge at Pendleton, Dale Davis, is known to be inefficient and corrupt. Prisoners complain that property goes missing, and their requests to access their belongings – that by law is supposed to be met within 7 days, or if there are court deadlines within 24 hours – are often ignored, answered improperly, or what they receive does not correspond to what they have asked for.
This is what has happened with Rashid. Despite having a need for legal and research documents for pending and anticipated court cases, his requests to receive his property have not been properly answered. The property officer, Dale Davis, is supposed to inventory the prisoners’ property with them (and a witness) present; this was never done. When Rashid did receive some property, it was a random selection of items unrelated to what he asked for, brought to the segregation unit in a box and a footlocker and left in an insecure area where things could be stolen or tampered with.
To make matters worse, Rashid received notice that Davis had confiscated various documents deemed to be “security threat group” or “gang” related from his property. Rashid has no idea what these might be, as (contrary to the prison regulations) he was not present when his property was gone through. It is worth noting that going through a prisoner’s property in the property room, without a warrant, is illegal. Rashid does not know how much or how little was confiscated, or what the rationale for it being described as “gang” related was; however he does know that this is supposed to have happened on December 19, and that after 30 days it is to be “disposed of”. None of Rashid’s property should be confiscated or thrown out under any circumstances, but it is worth noting that the way in which this has been done contravenes the prison’s own regulations and policies!
Rashid is not asking to have all of his property made available to him in his cell. He is willing to accept only having access to some of it at a time, for instance as he needs it to prepare court documents or for his research and writing. As it is, he has not even been supplied with documents containing the phone numbers and addresses of his loved ones and supporters, effectively sabotaging his relationships on the outside. Rashid is not asking for any kind of special treatment, he is only asking for the prison property room to follow the prison’s own rules.
Dale Davis has been property officer for 8 years. He has boasted about how he does not need any oversight or anyone else working with him, even though it is very unusual for just one person to have this responsibility all to themself. Prisoners’ property goes “missing” or is tampered with, and prisoners’ rights – as laid out by the Indiana Department of Corrections – are not being respected.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
We are asking people to phone Pendleton Correctional Facility, and to ask to speak to the warden or else to someone in the warden’ office. We are also asking people to phone the Indiana Department of Corrections to ask that they intervene to make sure Rashid gets access to his property. In each case, please be prepared to give a name and phone number for them to call you back at.
Here is a sample script:
Hello, my name is __________ and I am phoning about a prisoner at Pendleton Correctional Facility, Kevin Johnson, DOC number 264847.
Mr Johnson is a Virginia prisoner who was recently transferred according to the Interstate Corrections Compact, but there have been problems with his accessing his property since this transfer.
The property officer Dale Davis never inventoried his property in his presence. Furthermore, Mr Johnson was notified that Davis went through his property on December 19th and confiscated things he said were “security threat group” related, without Mr Johnson being present, and without ever informing Mr Johnson of what these things were.
Mr Johnson has been denied access to documents and research materials that he needs, both for his own writing as well as for pending or anticipated court cases. After over two months in Indiana, he still does not have access to the addresses and phone numbers of friends and outside contacts, which are contained in his property.
I am asking that you look into this, and that you make sure Mr Johnson’s right to access his property is being respected, and that something be done about the irregularities in the Pendleton property room. Nobody is asking for special treatment for Mr Johnson, but that the rules of the Indiana Department of Corrections be respected.
Please make phone calls to:
Indiana Department of Corrections
(317) 232-5711 – press 2, press 3, press 2
You may get a voicemail, in which case please leave a detailed message.
Pendleton Correctional Facility
(765) 778-2107; press 3 and then press 1
You will get a receptionist; explain that you would like to convey your concerns to the warden or to someone in charge, about problems Kevin Johnson is having accessing his property.
And please read further alerts about this situation, as we may have to widen the scope of who we are phoning, and what we are asking for.