Monday, 31 October 2011

Hearings are over

The Dallas 6 have left Luzerne County. Their hearings have been consolidated and a date has not been set for their trial for riot charges.

Carrington is now at Camp Hill. Send mail to:

Carrington Keys, EF4010
SCI Camp Hill
P.O. Box 200
Camp Hill, PA 17001-8837

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Pennsylvania Prisoners Charged with Rioting After Protesting Conditions in Solitary

From SolitaryWatch:
October 15, 2011
by Sal Rodriguez

A group of inmates held in solitary confinement in a Pennsylvania prison have been charged with various felony offenses, including rioting and aggravated harassment, stemming from their participation in an April 2010 protest against prison abuses. The group, which has come to be known as the Dallas 6, covered the windows of their cell doors with bedding in protest of alleged harassment by correctional officers at the State Correctional Institution (SCI) Dallas. Their protest was met with violent “cell extractions” against all six inmates. Officially, the covering of the cell windows constituted an act which coerced correctional officials to perform cell extractions, therefore making their actions rioting.

According to Human Rights Coalition-Fed Up! investigator Bret Grote, there will be a hearing before Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Judge Nina Gartley on October 21st regarding a defense motion to consolidate the cases of four of the Dallas 6′s cases into a single case. The hearing involves Andre Jacobs, Carrington Keys, Derrick Stanley, and Duane Peters-El, four of the five members of the Dallas 6 who have yet to have their cases resolved. (Anthony Kelly accepted a plea bargain last year, and Anthony Locke will be tried separately). The four are currently held at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility. Carrington Keys was set to go to trial on October 17th, but the trial has been postponed to a later, undetermined date.

The alleged abuses against inmates that inspired the protest are, according to some, reflective of a widespread problem in the Pennsylvania prison system. The most dramatic allegations surfaced last month, when a suspended prison guard from SCI Pittsburgh was arrested on charges that he sexually or physically assaulted more than 20 inmates. Earlier reports suggest less extreme, but nonetheless serious abuses at other prisons.

As of August 31, 2011 there were 51,393 inmates under the jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, in a system with a designed capacity of 44,190. Among them are over 1,500 inmates in isolation units—referred to as Restricted Housing Units. Restricted Housing Units are solitary confinement units where inmates are kept in their cells 23 hours a day during the week and 24 hours on the weekends.

For ten months between 2009 and 2010, the Human Rights Coalition-Fed Up! worked on a report documenting abuses across Pennsylvania prisons, but most specifically at SCI Dallas. A medium security prison in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, SCI Dallas houses over 2,100 inmates, including over a hundred inmates in Disciplinary and Administrative Restricted Housing Units.

According to the 2010 report by the Human Rights Coalition-Fed Up! “Institutionalized Cruelty: Torture at SCI Dallas and in Prisons Throughout Pennsylvania”, written with extensive cooperation of inmates, SCI Dallas was particularly rife with abuses. Among them, the “frequent usage of racist slurs, threats of violence, verbal and physical abuse by guards,” “ retaliation against prisoners exercising their constitutional rights to file grievances,” and “failure to provide adequate or at times any, physical or mental health care.”

One prisoner who corresponded with the HRC described his experience in the RHU at SCI Dallas:
“The conditions were very inhumane…hot, no working vents at all… stuffy and humid… My first cell bugs were biting me all over my body, when I said something about it they (medical staff) played like I was crazy then finally after constant complaining they gave me benadryl then moved me and still didn’t clean the cell. They had a light on all day that felt like a rotisserie lamp. It was hard to sleep because of the hot humid cells and constant bugs biting me all day and night… We had no cups to drink the brown colored water that came out of the sinks and toilets. There was constant screaming yelling kicking and banging…”

Read the rest here.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Summary of Dallas 6 case

1. On April 29th, 2010, 6 prisoners now known as the “Dallas 6” participated in a non-violent protest against the abusive and inhumane conditions within SCI Dallas prison solitary confinement unit. The Dallas 6 covered their cell windows to request outside intervention and resolution by the Public Defenders’ office or other impartial parties.

2. The conditions being protested included prisoners dying from medical neglect, being beaten. Routinely retaliated against, suffering obstructions of communications by prison staff withholding incoming and outgoing mail – especially mail from the Human Rights Coalition.

3. Instead of offering a solution or even agreeing to try resolving the matter(s), DOC officials at Dallas directed that the “Dallas 6” …”be beaten, electroshocked, pepper sprayed, and left nearly naked in chains for hours or days in unwarranted cell extraction initiated by the same officers who triggered the entire ordeal, complained about in a 93-page report titled: “Institutional Terrorism.”

4. Video evidence, photographs and medical reports show undisputed evidence that the “Dallas 6” were assaulted, however in order to provide cover and justification for the unwarranted brutality, SCI Dallas officials falsified reports about being assaulted during cell extractions. However, none of the prison officials reported any “physical injuries” caused by anyone of the “Dallas 6.”

5. In May 2010, the Human Rights Coalition filed a Criminal Complaint on behalf of the “Dallas 6” in regard to officers brutally assaulting the “Dallas 6”. This Complaint was filed with the State Police and the Luzern County District Attorney’s Office.

6. The Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office and the State Police (C.J. Wilson, and Assistant D.A. David Pedri) created a false report as basis for denying the Criminal Complaint. The stated reasons for denying the criminal complaint was: a lack of “witness corroboration.”

7. However, none of the “Dallas 6”or officers named in the Complaint were ever interviewed by the State Police and D.A. Pedri.

8. In June 2010, one of the “Dallas 6” members, Carrington Keys, sued SCI Dallas and the D.A. of Luzerne County for turning a blind eye to assaults by guards at SCI Dallas prison.

9. On the date of August 2nd 2010, Bret Grote of the Human Rights Coalition attended a Senate Judiciary Hearing on Solitary Confinement Conditions at SCI Dallas and other prisons. At this hearing, D.O.C. officials were criticized about abusive conditions at SCI Dallas based upon reports containing statements from “Dallas 6” members.

10. In early August 2010, the Human Rights Coalition released a report entitled: “Resistance and Retaliation” critiquing SCI Dallas prison officials for their roles in cell extractions, and also critiquing Luzerne County’s State Police and District Attorney’s Office for turning a blind eye to assaults committed by SCI Dallas officials.

11. In retaliation for the various complaints, and release of the Human Rights Coalition Report (Resistance and Retaliation, see exhibit), Luzerne County D.A. David Pedri, State Police Wilson and D.O.C. conspired together to prosecute the “Dallas 6” with false “riot” charges in the District Justice Court [8-18-2010].

12. The Department of Corrections (DOC) nor any of the staff involved perceived this incident as a “riot”, despite riot charges being available to DOC per their handbook and 801 policy; the D.A. waited nearly 4 months to seek charges against the “Dallas 6”only after the “Dallas 6” filed complaints against them.

13. Immediately after the Human Rights Coalition’s released internet report, which gained media attention, DOC and Luzerne County initiated criminal proceedings against the “Dallas 6” to silence the “Dallas 6” and to punish the “Dallas 6,” and also to re-categorize the April 29th 2010 incident as a “riot.”

14. The prosecutors and DOC re-characterized the incident (4/29/2010) as riot in an attempt to conceal the obvious fact that the prosecution is in direct response to the publications released by the Human Rights Coalition.

15. Video evidence also contradicts the DOC and the Luzerne County Prosecutor’s attempt to re-characterize the “Dallas 6”’s motive as unlawful “riot”, where Dallas 6-member Duane Peters clearly stated on record, that the “Dallas 6” wanted to resolve the matter, and prison officials refused to negotiate and instead initiated violence against the “Dallas 6.”

16. Missing from State police reports is the long history of complaints filed against Dallas R.H.U. guards, which DOC officials refused to address for weeks and months leading up to the incident.

17. Aside from the State police ignoring all of the evidence including video footage of guards assaulting the “Dallas 6”, even the cursory comparison of the alleged facts of this case with a riot charge will show that no such “riot” ever occurred.

18. Under 18 Pa Cs paragraph 2 (“riot”) it states: “A person is guilty if he participates with 2 or more others in a course of disorderly conduct with the intent to coerce official action.”

19. Since the State’s position is that the “Dallas 6” coerced “official action” by covering cell doors, they must produce at least some evidence of the “Dallas 6” engaging in “disorderly conduct” before coercing the “official action.”

20. In other words, the disorderly conduct must have prompted the “official action” – it is a prerequisite as clearly set out in 18 Pa Cs paragraph 5503 “Disorderly conduct.” There are 4 elements of disorderly conduct: A person is guilty of disorderly conduct if he:

(1) Engages in fighting or threatening, or in a violent or tumultuous behavior
(2) Makes unreasonable noise
(3) Uses obscene language, or makes an obscene gesture; or
(4) Creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose, of the actor.

21. Covering a cell door with a cloth does not fit within any of these categories. By the DOC’s own written policy/handbook. Covering a window prompts a misconduct, not a cell extraction.

22. The protest was peaceful so far as the “Dallas 6” were concerned - no loud, threatening noice, violent or tumultuous behavior – the DOC voluntarily engaged violently against the “Dallas 6.” The DOC made it violent on their own accord, and in violation of their own use of force policy, code of ethics and abuse policy.

23. Secondly, the only evidence ever presented into record as to the “intent” (the motive for the protest) is found on camera (video) but also in court testimony by Andre Jacobs, Carrington Keys and Duane Peters (Unrebutted evidence) protesting abuse with hopes of finding an impartial party to end it.

24. Thirdly, there was no “assemblage”. Each “Dallas 6”-member was locked behind a cell and no “congregation” is permitted for solitary confinement inmates, or even possible. In the R.H.U., exercise and showers are separated, which is all designed to prevent “assemblage.” Each individual acted and was treated as individuals by prison officials on 4-29-10 not as a group.

25. Finally, the essential element of “riot” is assembly together with two or more persons in a riotous, tumultuous, and disorderly manner, proceeding with a common intent and purpose to the commission of unlawful acts which tend to alarm and terrify law-abiding citizens engaged in the peaceful exercise of their constitutional rights and privileges, Com v. Apriceno 189 Atlantic Reporter, page 518 (1938).

26. Basically the “Dallas 6” are charged with “riot” for putting a cloth on a prison cell window, and prisoners are never charged with riot for covering their cell windows, or for engaging in cell extractions, organized or not.

Questions for State Prosecutor

1. Why are the “Dallas 6” the only prisoners who have ever been charged with a riot for covering their cell doors? Coincidence or retaliation?

2. Why did Prosecutors wait 4 months to file riot charges, only after the “Dallas 6” filed civil and criminal complaints against State officials? Coincidence or retaliation?

3. Why is there no documentation in prison records about a riot occurring in SCI Dallas on April 29th 2010? Coincidence or Fabrication?

4. Why did Luzerne County District Attorney and State Trooper Wilson falsify a report in regard to pursuing and investigating assault claims against guards? (State Trooper Wilson and Assistant DA David Pedri stated there was no witness corroboration, however none of the witnesses were ever interviewed).

5. The Human Rights Coalition releases a report in early August 2010 criticizing District Attorney Pedri and Christopher Wilson for turning a blind eye to guards’ assaults on the “Dallas 6”.
On August 18th 2010 District Attorney Pedri and State police Wilson filed a Criminal Complaint with district Justice against the “Dallas 6” for “riot.” Coincidence or retaliation?