Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Court Report - Press Release: Ruling in case of Carrington Keys of the “Dallas 6”

UPDATE

Date: March 15, 2017
What: Ruling in case of Carrington Keys of the “Dallas 6”
CONTACT: Shandre Delaney, mother of Dallas 6 defendant Carrington Keys; Human Rights Coalition 570-763-9504.  Phoebe Jones, Justice for the Dallas 6 Support Campaign and Global Women’s Strike  610-505-4944 
Victory: Judge’s Decision Ends Nearly 7 Year Fight to Exonerate the “Dallas 6” Prisoner Whistleblowers
In what supporters have proclaimed a victory for the last remaining “Dallas 6” defendant Carrington Keys, on Monday March 13 Judge Lesa Gelb sentenced him to no extra prison time.  Mr. Keys had been facing 6 felony counts of aggravated harassment by a prisoner. The Judge ruled that Mr. Keys was only guilty of lesser charges of disorderly conduct and sentenced him to 4-8 months, concurrent with his current sentence. (Mr. Keys waived his right to a jury trial and withdrew two motions he had filed to dismiss and quash the charges.) With this ruling, none of the Dallas 6 have been found guilty of riot or of (in Mr. Key’s case) aggravated harassment in the 2010 incident in which six African American prisoners at SCI Dallas staged a peaceful protest and were viciously beaten by guards in response. See background on case below.

On Tuesday, there were misleading headlines and articles in the Luzerne County Times Leader and Citizens Voice saying that Mr. Keyes was found guilty of slinging feces.  He was not.  He was found not guilty of aggravated harassment which was based on the allegation that he threw feces.  He was found guilty of the lesser offense of disorderly conduct, which does not include in its terms that he threw anything. The family states they are requesting a retraction of these “alternative facts.”
Mr. Keys said:


“It was important that we fight this case to send a message of inspiration to other prisoners who are falsely accused.  There are far too many people who have been pressured by a system to plead guilty to false allegations due to the fear of the consequences of what may occur if found guilty by a jury.  Secondly it was important to stand up for all prisoners in solitary confinement, all people of color and all oppressed people who have been singled out by tyrants in this government.  In the beginning we were all charged with riot and in the end it was only one Dallas 6 found guilty of riot – Anthony Kelly, who plead guilty in the very beginning so he could go home (he had maxed out).  More of us in the Dallas 6 came out unaffected by any punishment imposed as a result of misdemeanors and two were exonerated after years of fighting. In the beginning, I was charged with riot and six felony counts of aggravated harassment.  In the end I came out with a disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor conviction.  That is the result of standing up for myself, and the support from my mother and all other people who rallied together for justice.  It may not be everything that I wanted but, hey, this is the price that men pay for standing up to an injustice system.  All power to the people!”

Shandre Delaney, Mr. Keys’ mother and coordinator of the Justice for the Dallas 6 Campaign, said,

"My son is happy that it’s over, but it’s bittersweet. He blew the whistle on torture he witnessed by prison guards and for that he was dragged through court for almost seven years.  It is an outrage.  The guilty ones are the guards who abused their power and the racist justice system that covered for them. As his mother along with supporters we intend to continue to fight for the rest of the prisoners trapped in this torturous system.  I just got some letters from prisoners at SCI Dallas, and there was another coerced suicide, just like the case of Matthew Bullock which sparked the men to take action in 2010. So we take this victory to the next level now.”
Attorney Michael Wiseman, who acted as Mr. Keys’ standby counsel at this proceeding, and during the first trial that resulted in a hung jury and dismissal of the riot charges, was pleased with the result:


“In comparison with the brutality and inhumanity of the conditions under which Mr. Keys and his fellow prisoners were held in solitary, it is hard to see how Mr. Keys violated the law.  Nonetheless, we are pleased that he was not convicted of any felony counts, and, most important, that the outcome will not result in any additional prison time for him.”
“We are very pleased that at least partial justice has finally come for this courageous man, and his tireless mother who has organized support for him all these long years,” said Phoebe Jones of the Justice for the Dallas 6 Support Campaign and Global Women’s Strike.
“But who will be held responsible for the hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers’ money this trial has wasted going after these innocent men, instead of investigating the abuse they brought to light?  And what about the money and resources spent by family members and supporters in fighting for justice in this case? What about the emotional and mental stress suffered by these prisoner whistleblowers and their families? The prison guards and prison officials must be held accountable for what they did and continue to do.”
Fifteen supporters and a documentary film team were present in court to hear the good news. Shandre Delaney added,


“I want to thank all the loyal supporters who came out to the hearings over so many years, got the word out, put us up in their homes, invited me speak to their congregations and synagogues and at rallies, signed the petitions and made calls to the prisons when they retaliated against the men. It was the families, the supporters and mainly the grit of the men themselves that led to this victory."
Background
Who are the Dallas 6?  On April 29, 2010 six courageous African American prisoner whistleblowers held in solitary confinement at SCI Dallas staged a peaceful protest against the widespread abuse, violence and torture by guards against Black, Latino and white prisoners which they had documented and took a stand against.

The abuse they documented included:
 beatings; mental abuse; foreign objects in food such glass, metal, feces, spit, semen and urine; mail and legal document tampering; deprivation of human contact; withholding medication; starvation and cutting off water; and coerced suicide. 

When they covered their cell doors and windows in protest, prison authorities responded by viciously beating them in so-called “cell extractions” and four months later charging them with “rioting” after the official complaints they had filed were publicized.



Breaking news from Wed, Day 7 and final day of the trial
VICTORY: No conviction, hung jury ending in mistrial!!!

After closing arguments Wednesday, the jury came back deadlocked, resulting in a mistrial. Andre, Carrington, and Duane have not been convicted on any charges. PLEASE STAY ALERT FOR ACTIONS TO TAKE NOW TO PUBLICIZE THIS VICTORY!

Full report from Wednesday's closing arguments and jury results coming soon.
Duane Peters, Carrington Keys, and Andre Jacobs being led out of courthouse after mistrial declared on Wednesday.
“A win is a win,” Keys said, adding that the men plan to continue fighting their charges “all the way.”
“A win is a win,” Peters repeated.

Court report from Tuesday April 12 [2016] - Day 6

The judge rejects outrageous proposal by the DA for jury instructions

·     The judge rejected the prosecutor's outrageous proposed instruction to the jury that prisoners don't have the same constitutional rights as other people, along with other biased instructions.
·     Re. the prosecution’s claim that Carrington threw feces at guards during the incident, the judge ruled that both Carrington's jury instruction regarding the DOC's failure to produce evidence, and the DA's jury instruction that the Commonwealth is not required to present "chemical evidence", can be given. 

Defendants take the stand in their own and others' defense


graphic by Molly Crabapple
·     Andre Jacobs described in detail the abusive conditions he faced at SCI Dallas, and the lack of avenues for complaint both inside the prison and outside. He was transferred to SCI Dallas in retaliation for his winning a lawsuit against the DOC. He faced further retaliation for participating in the Human Rights Coalition (HRC) report documenting abuses, testifying on behalf of another prisoner, and filing many grievances, complaints and lawsuits. Several of his grievances and lawsuits, as well as misconduct reports against him, and a “grievance restriction” order were submitted as evidence and used to illustrate the conditions the prisoners faced.
·     Andre stated that the guards use the grievance system to trap prisoners into misconduct charges. He described an absurd process of repeatedly filing grievances, appealing, and being rejected up to the superintendent of the prison, which leads to retaliation by guards, and another cycle of rejected grievances. It got to the point that he didn’t even go to the grievance hearings – not only would it accomplish nothing, it was risky to even leave his cell at this time because guards would attack him or otherwise trap him into another misconduct charge. He didn’t come out of his cell for three months straight in late 2009 for this reason – not even to shower. Some of the other retaliation he mentioned was deprivation of food, yard time, water, toilet paper; reading out his mail; and not respecting his religiously-based diet, citing him for having cups that the guards did not come by to collect. One particularly vicious form of retaliation was his "counselor" telling his aunt who had tried to visit that he was not allowed visits, which was not true, and prevented him from seeing loved ones. Guards also slandered him to a nurse and other inmates totally falsely saying he committed a sexual offense with a child and that he “liked little boys”.
·     In early 2010, Andre with the help of HRC filed a criminal complaint against Dallas prison.  Andre had been in weekly contact with HRC since June 2009, and he recognized Shandre Delaney of HRC who was present in the courtroom. (Duane’s aunt was also present.) On April 16, 2010 a judge ordered a hearing on this lawsuit, and after this point the guards ramped up their attacks. In March 2010, Andre also was placed under a “grievance restriction” which prevented him from filing any grievances or lawsuits for 90 days.
·     Andre testified that after Isaac Sanchez was tortured in the restraint chair on April 28, Sgt. Buck threatened all the prisoners mentioned in the HRC report with the same treatment. His intent in covering his cell door was to speak with a supervisor. He had covered his cell doors “at least 10 times” while at SCI Dallas, and never faced a cell extraction. The prisoners had no opportunity to confer with each other ahead of time, nor communicate across their separate cells, their actions were not planned, but taken in response to the escalation of the situation by the guards.
graphic by Molly Crabapple
·     Carrington Keys testified that he had covered his door in response to Isaac Sanchez’s continuing torture in the restraint chair, to retaliation and threats against himself and others, and to get the attention from the outside, not to coerce cell extraction which he had no expectation of until it began. He had also been involved in the HRC investigation of some of the same guards that attacked him in the cell extraction – they accused him of this while they were beating him. He had pursued relief not only through grievances and criminal complaints, but through HRC, his state representatives, state police, federal representatives, and US Attorney General, among others. Guards retaliated against him by destroying his legal documents, tampering with his mail, denying him access to the law library, assaulting him on the way to yard and showers, turning of water to his cell, sometimes for days. When they cut off the water, prisoners had to pass water to each other under their doors.
·     Carrington explained that he had smeared his clothes with feces to keep the guards from carrying out their threat to pull out his hair (which was in dreadlocks) and bash his teeth in. He said he knew from experience that these were not idle threats. He never threw anything. He was trying to block the pepper spray by blocking the door. He didn’t put his hands through the door slot to be cuffed as commanded because the guards were already pepper spraying. Like Andre, he had covered his cell door many times before (20 times or more) and never had faced cell extraction. 
Duane Peters
graphic by Molly Crabapple
·     Duane Peters testified that there were two separate times they had covered their cell doors on April 29. First, Isaac Sanchez was being tortured in the restraint chair and they had covered their doors to get the attention of Lt. Mozier to release him. Isaac was screaming through the night that his arms were turning purple, and that he was freezing. He was naked, it was cold outside, and they had the outside doors to the prison opened.
·     Once Isaac was released from the chair, the prisoners took down the coverings from their doors. Duane was helping calm down the other prisoners, when Sgt. Buck came by and escalated the situation, accusing him of giving legal advice and threatening him and others. The prisoners put up the coverings again to defend themselves. Prior to his extraction, Duane had called out for the public defenders, as they were supposed to be their guardians, according to the DA who had refused to act in relation to their complaints and grievances – but to no avail.
·     Duane also added to the list of retaliations by saying that Sgt. Buck had read out aloud to all the prisoners a letter Duane had written to his mother, and then ripped it to confetti in front of him. He had also tried to cut off Duane’s arm in the door slot.


News coverage of the trial outcome on Wednesday April 13 [2016]


Times-Leader (Luzerne County):

Dallas Post (Luzerne County):