Columbia: Info From Inside

Columbia Info From Inside
Letters on Recent Toxic and Arbitrary Regulations at Columbia Correctional Institution
From Incarcerated Workers at Columbia

6-7-17
Earlier this year unit 2 had to be locked down because there was a food strike. Dissatisfied with the new rule that we could no longer choose where we sat for meals, inmates unified and refused to eat. Several other units chose to follow suit to some degree. For days on end administrative staff had to be present on the units to ensure that inmates were adjusting to the new rules.

7-2-17
Warden Bitmann redid the rule book. As a result a push back occurred. People were protesting the assigned seating and other smaller causes. Staff had no sense of what the new rulebook stated but yet they tried to enforce it. Unit 2 started the protest. No one was coming out to eat or they were tossing their trays. When the whole strike started they had at least 20 staff on the unit. Every high up, white shirts, and a lot of officers. They were on high alert. After everything was done and over with the warden said he didn’t think anyone was going to do anything (they underestimated our resolve). The unit 2 hunger strike led to units 4 and 5 then 8 and 9. No one held out very long and staff just locked down the units who were involved.

2-10-18
What are your concern about current prison policies?
They keep changing them all the time and we either don’t know them or the COs don’t know them and implement their own and then write you up for it.

2-23-18
What would you like to change? Focus on small change that have a change to be won eg some recent rule changes.
Procedure in handling mentally ill inmates. There is a pattern of indifference practiced in DOC especially CCI where a seriously ill prisoner cries out for help and wants to hurt himself and is ignored or actually encouraged to proceed with attempting suicide. And DOC (CCI) is giving people like me 90 days in seg for disruptive conduct and disrespect.

Is seating at meals an issue for you?
Absolutely. I won’t sit by a pedophile. There are people who will want to fight me for sitting at a table with them. If I don’t I get a ticket.

What are your concerns about current prison policies?
That they are exceedingly dangerous and cause prisoners to be driven insane and put everyone at risk

3-19-18:
What one or two things, if they were changed, would make a difference for you?
The warden (Michael Dittman) and security director (Lucas Weber)

What are your concerns about current prison policies?
High, because some of them were made to be violated civil and criminal laws

What do you see as threats in trying to make policy changes at your prison?
Retaliation to a level where you may get killed.

Do you have ideas for specific tactics that might result in policy changes?
Of course, preliminary injunctions pursuant to rule 65(a) of the Federal rules of civil procedures.

What tactics have you seen used in the past that didn’t work? (that resulted in little or no change)
Exhaustion of legal remedies, prisoner to prisoner supports, criminal investigations, church supports, family supports, etc

Is seating at meals an issue for you?
Yes, because my anxiety problems

What kind of help would you like for making changes in your current conditions?
Political pressure and media publicity.

What opportunities do you see for making changes?
Lawsuits.

4-4-18
Is seating at meals an issue for you?
Yes, because there are inmates that have jumped me and I’m forced to sit with them at meal times. I don’t go to some meals just so I don’t have to sit with some people.

What one or two things, if they were changed would make a difference for you?
The way seg is being misused by staff. I know just for writing you I could end up in seg tomorrow for nothing but some lie they come up with. They could do more for people other than lock them in seg units like they always do. People have been pushing to change this but they can’t stop or they will keep miss using seg in prison.

The only thing the DOC understands is lawsuits…That’s how policy gets changed.

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Contact us: iwoc.milwaukee@gmail.com P. O. Box 342294, Milwaukee, WI, 53234
Want to help fight prison slavery? Fill out this survey form to volunteer for specific tasks: goo.gl/oRSHmq

3/1/18 IWOC Demand Delivery to DOC

Read as attachment: 3.1.18.demand.delivery.statement

Read as text:

On 3/1/18 members of the Milwaukee Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee made a demand delivery to the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. They delivered the following document at the meeting of the DOC Committee on Inmate/Youth Deaths and the office of DOC Secretary Jon Litscher, and afterwards delivered this to the offices of every member of the Wisconsin Assembly Committee on Corrections, and the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety. Members from EXPO, Madison GDC and Freedom Inc also showed up to help with this demand delivery.

——————————————————————————————————————-

This committee is meeting today to evaluate recent deaths of people incarcerated in Wisconsin. Too many people have died, and there is a pattern of abuse and toxic conditions that has led to these deaths. We are concerned with the future deaths that will happen, and the practices in the DOC that lead to this.

 

In order to stop future deaths, it is urgent that the Wisconsin Department of Corrections:

  1. Shutdown the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility, where 17 people have died
  2. Reverse arbitrary and toxic regulations imposed at Columbia Correctional Institution started in 2017
  3. End longterm administrative confinement
  4. Stop force-feedings imposed for political protest
  5. Release parole-eligible and aging prisoners, who are given inadequate medical treatment

Failure to take these concerns seriously will lead to continued stress, erosion of incarcerated people’s mental health and further deaths. Continued indifference towards the human lives sacrificed in your prisons is intolerable. We hope to see the star of meaningful changes made towards ending these abusive structures by 4/1/18. We will not accept this situation continuing and if changes are not made we will take further action.

 

To speak to the problems of the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility we quote one of the many stories of abuse experienced by someone currently imprisoned there:
“I was arrested with all my psychiatric medicine on me, however when I told the psychologist about it at intake, he told me all he could do was tell the psychiatrist to make an appointment. It took 45 days to be seen by the psychiatrist despite the many requests I put in begging for my medication. After I was finally seen I was denied my medication for security reasons, even though medication is passed at controlled times by a certified nurse and a CO to stand guard. To this day I am not receiving my prescribed medication despite my many complaints. I am being housed in a cell that is smaller than my segregation cell at Fox Lake. Not only is it smaller but I’m forced to be in here with another individual. Not only that but at least every other week we get a third person on a boat [plastic sled bed] for a few days. We are locked in the cell for 19.55 on the days we have long dayroom and on the other days we are locked in for 20 hours. Another cruel and unusual form of punishment I am forced to endure while being held hostage at MSDF is I have no access to sunlight or outdoor rec nor even fresh air!”

 

To speak to the need to reverse the toxic and arbitrary regulations at Columbia Correctional Institution, we quote several of the stories of abuse experienced by people currently imprisoned there:
“Warden Bitmann redid the rule book. As a result a push back occurred. People were protesting the assigned seating and other smaller causes. Staff had no sense of what the new rulebook stated but yet they tried to enforce it.” “They keep changing prison policies all the time and we either don’t know them or the COs don’t know them and implement their own and then write you up for it.”

 

To speak to the need to end longterm Administrative Confinement, we quote one of the many stories of abuse experienced by someone currently held in this condition:
“Every time I come to seg I lose myself a little more. I have my religious freedoms completely denied. I’m subject to psychological torture, which leads to my continual deterioration of mental faculties. I am denied human contact, which leads me to further anti-social behavior, which in turn causes me more problems. The public needs to be aware of the damage being done to so many prisoners across the state and nationwide, and to act to correct the problems of long term segregation sentences.”

 

An injury to one is an injury to all.

 

Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee of

Industrial Workers of the World

Milwaukee local

iwoc.milwaukee@gmail.com

 

                                                               

All Milwaukee IWW newsletters & resources, as of 2/9/18

These are all newsletters and related collective resources of the Milwaukee branch of the IWW and its committees, as of 2/9/18.

Direct Actions
Direct Actions is the newsletter for the Branch as a whole. In this newsletter you can see the breadth and reach of our organization. Articles includes a range of organizing, including workplace campaigns, prisoner organizing, anti-fascist mobilization, campus presence and equity caucus.
Issue 1 of of Direct Actions, Mke IWW Newsletter, Fall 2016 http://bit.ly/2kBZYi3
Issue 2 of of Direct Actions, Summer 2017 http://bit.ly/2AGYxFX
Issue 3 of Direct Actions, Fall 2017 http://bit.ly/2Bu8RkG
Issue 4 of Direct Actions, Feb 2018: http://bit.ly/2C1kkZ2

CapTel Disconnect
Captel is a large employer in downtown Milwaukee with nearly 800 workers. Milwaukee IWW members have built a committee and engaged in direct actions on the shop floor to improve conditions. This newsletter helps to spread our union at Captel and empower workers to fight back.
CapTel Disconnect #1: http://bit.ly/2BO1lFy
CapTel Disconnect #2: http://bit.ly/2G17lZG
CapTel Disconnect #3: http://bit.ly/2EUveCA
CapTel Disconnect #4: http://bit.ly/2BO5pWk

Voices From Beyond Wisconsin Prison Gates
Voices is the newsletter compiled by the Milwaukee Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee. This newsletter is an organ for prisoners to communicate with one another. It consists of statements and articles written by those on the inside. It is mostly used in mass-mailing to the contacts within Wisconsin prison system.
Voices From Beyond Wisconsin Prison Gates Issue 1, May 2016: http://bit.ly/2BPMPgH
Voices From Beyond Wisconsin Prison Gates Issue 2, September 2016: http://bit.ly/2leH8vM
Voices From Beyond Wisconsin Prison Gates Issue 3, Summer 2017: http://bit.ly/2nVtfpT
Voices From Beyond Wisconsin Prison Gates Issue 4, Fall 2017: http://bit.ly/2GAgCJe

Radio Free Milwaukee
Radio Free Milwaukee was a weekly short wave radio show on Riverwest Radio, produced by several Milwaukee IWW members. The two regular hosts interviewed guests on current events, ongoing campaigns, and discuss radical history. It produced 57 episodes between 4/16/16 and 7/19/17. You can listen to all episodes online at: http://bit.ly/2Edh2I6