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Jan 25, 20

As Hunger Strike Continues at NC Central Prison, Phone Zap Called Against Torture

Call for continued phone zap in support of ongoing hunger strike and prisoner action against torture in North Carolina, Central Prison.

In Raleigh, North Carolina Central Prison has seen a surmounting increase of prisoners with mental illness being sent to solitary at higher rates. Despite numerous studies showing that the use of solitary confinement causes irreparable psychological damage to the human brain, even more mentally ill people are incarcerated in jails and prisons nationally than there are in hospitals. Reform efforts to improve health services inside North Carolina prisons have only lined the pockets of administration with raises and promotions.

Medical staff continue to show deliberate indifference to the needs of the prisoners housed on Unit One, which is comprised of mostly mentally ill prisoners in solitary confinement. Several prisoners are not receiving their self-meds (medications given out monthly that prisoners keep in their cells, these meds are but are not limited to blood pressure meds and high cholesterol meds, etc.). To receive these meds, the prisoner submits a medication refill request. The medical staff has neglected to submit the requests therefore leaving several prisoners without their meds.

It takes months to be even seen by medical staff when a sick call is submitted. Prisoners are not receiving adequate healthcare. Prisoners are compelled to endure illnesses for months before being seen by medical staff. Furthermore, these prisoners attend a group therapy session every Monday but while these prisoners are in group, Unit One’s guards destroy the cells of these prisoners by searching their cells and throwing their personal belonging all around the cell. This is done to deter the prisoners from attending group, discouraging them from receiving treatment.

And if these victims in Unit One complain, guards use chemical mace against both (level 2) mental health prisoners who receive psychiatric help and (level 3) mental health prisoners who take psychotropic medications. Guards are trigger happy and deploy an excessive amount into the prisoner’s small cell at the slightest disagreement. Pursuant to Chapter F Section 1504 Procedure (d):

“An officer is prohibited from using force solely as a result of verbal provocation. An officer shall not use force against an offender who has abandoned his/her resistance or who is effectively restrained. The use of force as punishment is strictly prohibited.”

This medical neglect and excessive use of force towards the most vulnerable population in Central Prison is cruel and unusual torture and a human rights violation. This is nothing new, Lyle May told Scalawag Magazine:

“CP has also had problems for many years. Unit One, the most notorious solitary confinement unit in the state, was rife with abuse. Brutal cell extractions, beatings out of camera view, and prisoners pushed down flights of steps while handcuffed behind the back were common. The conditions were akin to any dungeon––mentally ill prisoners lived in their own filth, swallowing batteries and mutilating their genitals just to receive medical attention and time out of the cell. Not until a 2013 lawsuit, joined by eight prisoners, did conditions on Unit One begin to improve, but only after a federal judge demanded changes. Although a number of guards implicated in the more egregious abuses were transferred, at least two received promotions shortly thereafter: then-warden Kenneth Lassiter and shift sergeant Brent Soucier, a man as notorious as the unit.”

And many of those incarcerated in North Carolina do not even have money on the books to buy aspirin, anti-diarrheal, or other minor ailments.

On February 5, 2019 former Director of North Carolina Prisons Kenneth Lassiter implemented a new rule in which only depositors who are identified as approved visitors will be allowed to deposit money via JPay for their loved ones incarcerated here in NC. This may not seem like a problem to some of you but allow me to explain:

This is another form of repression as well as discrimination. 79% of prisoners incarcerated here in NC have been profiled as members of Security Risk Groups (SRG), formally known as Security Threat Groups. Being profiled as an (SRG) prisoner you face several restrictions, some that no human should have to endure. Those who are profiled (SRG) aren’t allowed to receive visits from no one but immediate family members. This consists of mother, father, brother and-or sister [Security Risk Group Policy & Procedure Chapter A, Section B (H) (1)]. Children cannot be accompanied by their mother or father to visit a profiled (SRG) prisoner, the child must be accompanied by the prisoner’s immediate family. If there isn’t a healthy relationship between the child’s mother and the prisoner’s immediate family than the child as well as the prisoner are deprived of maintaining a relationship that would ensure familiarity between the child and the parent that is incarcerated. Furthermore, being profiled as an (SRG) prisoner in NC you’re restricted to only two phone calls a month, that’s if you’re not confined to long-stints of isolation in this case you receive no phone calls at all. Two phone calls a month also destroy any familiarity between a child and the incarcerated (SRG) profiled prisoner [Security Risk Group Policy & Procedure Chapter B Section B, (A) (2).

The qualifications required to be profiled as an (SRG) prisoner is at the discretion of the same miscreants who patrol these concrete fields daily. There isn’t a professional process that would ensure that prisoners being accused of participating in (SRG) activities receive a professional investigation to determine if the prisoner is or isn’t a member of any (SRG) formation. The smallest things such as having a tattoo of a five-point start can get you profiled as an (SRG) prisoner. All it takes is for the “trained” (SRG) officers to say the prisoner is a gang member and its over for you.

Now if you bereave the only means a prisoner has to receive financial support from others beside immediate family, this only engenders robbery and violence amongst ourselves. A lot of us who are profiled (SRG) don’t have immediate family who financially support us. This restriction is to ensure we stay divided and forces us to work the concrete fields of these razor-wire plantations. Because we’re not going to be provided with the necessities. The average man isn’t going to go without, so he is left with two choices, work for pennies a day or oppress and rob your own people. This added restriction will not only impede (SRG) profiled prisoners from receiving money to purchase the necessities, but also will impede us from making phone calls to our family members and friends as well. No money equals no phone time. This restriction doesn’t have our or our families well-being in mind, it’s all for the betterment of the plantation. These (SRG) policies and procedures must be redressed, not only does it serve as an instrument to destroy family values, but it will also cause us more harm.

Sixteen folks incarcerated at Central Prison in Raleigh, NC have been on a hunger strike since Monday January 20, 2020, as an act of comradery to the 200 prisoners being tortured in Unit One (a mental health/solitary confinement unit). They need your help to make the calls until their demands are met and those sixteen hunger strikers can eat again. This is a humanitarian display of unity for those inside who face injustice by the very same who face injustices enslaved right there with them. This solidarity is inspiring. Please help them to expose these human rights violations and meet their basic, humanitarian demands by joining the phone zap and calling in to amplify their voices!

Suggested Script and Demands:

I am aware that Central Prison’s guards and medical staff are directly torturing the prisoners and there are 16 hunger strikers exposing these human rights violations that will not eat until the following issues are addressed:

1. The excessive use of chemical mace on prisoners who have not been a threat to staff or others.

2. Stop the targeted searches of mental health prisoners who attend weekly group on Unit One. We know that this is an attempt to discourage from attending group to receive treatment.

3. Address the deliberate indifference shown by medical staff not refilling prisoners’ self-meds and neglecting to answer sick calls within a timely manner

Who to Call:

  • (919) 733-0800 Central Prison, Request to speak with Deputy Warden Steven Waddell, Unit One Manager Tenbrook, and/or medical personnel.
  • (919) 838-4000 DPS Office; Request to speak with Commissioner Todd Ishee and/or Dr. Gary Junker
  • (919) 838-3861 Gary Junker
  • (919) 743-4101 Stephen Waddell

Who to Email:

Who to Write:

North Carolina Department of Public Safety
512 North Salisbury Street
Raleigh, NC 27604



Hot Tips:

  • You don’t have to give your name or any other information if you don’t want to. In fact, put them on the spot and immediately ask them: “who am I speaking to?” And when they ask you who you are, say: “That doesn’t matter, what matters is…(demands).”
  • Entering *67 before any number may block your caller ID. Demanding a statement to human rights violations is not “harassment.” If you wish to protect yourself further, use Tails to download Skype or use a prepaid phone bought securely.
  • Don’t worry about anyone giving you the runaround, not getting through or having to leave a message. Just pursue it to the point that you can. We are calling to apply pressure and every call counts.
  • Please report back on calls made by emailing: [email protected]
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Atlanta IWOC

Atlanta, Georgia chapter of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC).

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