IDOC Watch has been informed that after persistent pressure from numerous supporters, the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility has relented to the demands of political prisoner Shaka Shakur.
Last month, Shakur began refusing meals after being housed in a camera-monitored cell 24 hours a day. For the duration of his internment, he was constantly harassed and threatened by personnel, his property was confiscated, his mail was routinely opened and read, and his food soiled and debased.
Thanks to the significant response to Shakur’s calls for support, the authorities have moved Shakur to another area of the prison, have granted him through-glass visitation (as opposed to video visitation only), and returned the majority of is property. Shakur is still requesting the return of his illegally confiscated postage and is in talks with administration to have it returned. At this point, however, he is once again taking meals.
Despite the victory, Shakur is still facing four felony charges relating to an August incident in which he was provoked into an altercation with Correctional Officer, Jon Sexton. Last month, an initial court hearing was held at Sullivan Superior Court in Sullivan, Indiana. Shakur was able to attend only on camera and was not moved from the facility. Shakur was formally charged with the four counts and a trial date is set for March.
IDOC Watch and Shakur himself have written elsewhere about the hypocritical nature of these proceedings given that Shakur has already been extra-judiciously punished for the incident. Wabash Valley, internally, has already found him “guilty” of assaulting officer Sexton and has made him liable for $3,000 of undocumented and/or unrepresented medical expenses. In addition, the facility has deprived him of good time, effectively adding 8 ½ years to his sentence. Shakur has stated and will demonstrate that Wabash Valley has no authority to take such a measure and believes that he is being used as a test case for a new regime of oppression in the IDOC, wherein a parallel penal system operates without civilian court oversight, extending the sentences of its inmates at will.
Banners in support of Shakur were hung in 4 Indiana cities.
Supporters of Shakur are now focusing their efforts on the assault case. On Wednesday, November 29th, supporters across Indiana dropped banners in four cities demanding that all charges be dropped as well as denouncing for-profit prisons and mass incarceration generally. The actions emphasize the political nature of Shakur’s case. Long a relentless critic of prisoner abuse in Indiana, the IDOC is determined to silence Shakur by innovating new techniques of oppression. Once it has isolated voices such as his, it will move to apply its new methods to the general population in an a desperate effort to prevent a swelling movement towards reform. Intimidating inmates with the possibility of unilaterally extending sentences will become the new strategy in blocking resistance. Shakur’s case then is a crucial moment in determining the direction of prisoner struggle in Indiana. Prison reform activists and abolitionists will have to unite and put the IDOC on trial instead. IDOC Watch will be closely following this case as it develops.
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