Friday, 8 April 2016

Testimony to the court: Press release from Human Rights Coalition/Fed Up!

The following press release from 2009, before the 2010 incident for which the Dallas 6 are charged with "riot", was read by Bret Grote as testimony to the Dallas 6 trial on Thursday, April 7, 2016.

RELEASE: Retaliation escalates as human rights group files criminal complaints against SCI Dallas guards

In two separate criminal complaints submitted to the District Attorney of Luzerne County, Jacqueline Caroll Musto, investigators for the human rights coalition have asked that charges be brought against SCI Dallas staff for their role in the suicide of Matthew Bullock and in acts of retaliation against Andre Jacobs.

“We have submitted over half-a-dozen eyewitness reports to the DA’s office regarding guards tormenting Bullock, encouraging him to kill himself, and subsequently boasting of their success,” said Dominique Reed, an investigator with the Human Rights Coalition/Fed Up! chapter, an advocacy organization that has recently exposed conditions of control unit torture and criminal conduct on the part of staff at SCI Dallas.

A separate complaint describes prison guards retaliating against 27 year old Andre Jacobs, a jailhouse lawyer whose civil actions against prison staff and officials have led to four jury trials in the last few years and made him the target of animosity and retaliation by the PA DOC all the way up to Secretary Beard.  Just last month, Andre was awarded $115,000 by Federal Judge Joy Flowers Conti, a ruling which lessened but upheld the decision reached by a jury in the Western District of PA Federal Court in Pittsburgh last November. 

In a letter received later in the week after a visit human rights activist, Jacobs reported that five minutes after returning from the visit, guards destroyed his legal documents and he was placed on a series of restrictions.  “Andre had his water turned off for days, was denied yard and showers, issued death threats, and had his hand slammed in the tray slot by guards,” reports investigator Bret Grote, who has documented human rights violations committed against Mr. Jacobs throughout the PA DOC during the past two years.  “Perhaps most cruel of all is the fact that Andre was placed on ‘food loaf’, which is a policy whereby the PA DOC grants itself the right to use the withholding of food as a form of coercion.  Prisoners on this restriction are given a processed, scarcely edible loaf of indeterminate origin.” Furthermore, Andre was told by Sgt. Buck and Lt. Bleich that he was being targeted for his affiliation with the HRC.  Andre and several other inmates have reported receiving death threats in recent days and weeks due to their efforts to resist and expose control unit torture. 
Although HRC/Fed Up! continues to request that the administration launch a public investigation and formally announces such in a press release, criminal complaints are being prepared to send to the Department of Justice as soon as next week.

“We will continue to press for accountability at every level,” said Hannah Grace, an HRC member.  “Crucially, we will continue to expose the reality of illegal and abusive conditions inside Pennsylvania prisons to the public so that people understand the social and economic damage this system creates and demand change.”