Alex Phillips denied second petition for compassionate release

In the same heartless manner that Thomas Turco III has historically shown, he has elected to turn down Alexander Phillip’s second petition for compassionate release.   Ann Burke, Alex’s mother wrote on The Factual’s Facebook page:

“Good morning, 

We received an answer late yesterday afternoon.. once again Alex was denied release to come home. The answer came in 8 pages of Bullshit. Turco actually said:

 “I do not believe Mr.Phillips is Terminally ill within the meaning of the statute. Specfically, even though Alex’s Oncologist, who is employed by the DOC, wrote that he has less than 12 months to live and is so incapacitated as to not be a threat to public safety, I ( Turco) do not find him so debilitated as to not be a public safety risk” 

Alex is unable to open a package of cookies or a juice bottle. As you heard on NPR, he spends most of his time in bed only up to get medications or food. If you want to do something Call or Write to your local elected officials and ask them to make modifications to the current statue or to create a bill for Alex to let him come home. And Ask them to Do It Now!! Not in January when they are back in Full Session. Call or write the Governor.. who didn’t want this statue and is making an example out of Alex. 

I cannot tell you how sad I am and my family.. This is Not a Political Game, this is someone’s Life.”

 

We at the #DeeperThanWater Coalition join Ann in expressing our profound anger and disgust, not only at this decision, but at a system so soulless that it would make private promises to a family experiencing tremendous hardship only to betray them in a time of need. Turco demonstrates in this decision his unwillingness and disinterest in rehabilitation, as well as the arbitrariness of his decisions and policies. To disregard the professional opinion of doctors, therapists and psychologists, to misrepresent the findings of the 2009 “dangerousness assessment” (as was reported by WBUR) and to then publicly make a statement defaming a dying man is a perfect microcosm of Tom Turco’s approach to “correction”.

A career political bureaucrat, Turco has gone out of his way to silence prisoners who speak out about their rights and to punish those who suggest that there must be a better way to do this.

In many ways, Alex represents a fundamental threat to people like Tom Turco, as he demonstrates the tremendous possibility for self-change that people have. People like Turco, who is dependent on the prison industrial complex for power and wealth, have made an empire out of reassuring the public that the possibility for self-change does not exist. It is because of him that the recidivism rate in Massachusetts is so high. After all, if someone like Alex Phillips, who has been a “model prisoner” cannot receive compassion from the DOC, what incentive do prisoners have to better their lives?

In reporting  on the first time Turco denied Alex’s release, Boston Globe journalist Yvonne Abraham wrote on June 28, 2018:

He has also been a model prisoner, participating in every program he could find, tutoring other inmates, and recently receiving a bachelor’s degree from Boston University. Greenberg says he has not been involved in a single fight in 10 years.

If he is released, Phillips’s mother, Ann Burke, an oncology nurse who has worked in hospice, would care for her son in her home, and would buy him private health insurance, so that his care would not be a burden to taxpayers. Norfolk’s superintendent, who knows Phillips and can well assess whether he poses a danger to society, has supported his release.

 

Abraham’s article was called “At Department of Correction, a Death of Compassion” and can be found here. This past Thursday, Alex and Ann appeared on NPR to talk about the pain of waiting to find out if Alex can come home.

#DeeperThanWater is committed to continuing to fight for Alex to come home and is in the process of organizing a response to the (admittedly predictable) ongoing refusal of the state to act justly.

8/23 day of action in solidarity with the National Prison Strike

Thanks to everyone who came out last Thursday, August 23, 2018 for our demo in solidarity with the National Prison Strike, happening 8/21-9/9. The morning began with a banner drop on the bridge over the Science Park MBTA station, overlooking Storrow Drive/I-93.

The evening had a demonstration at Nashua Street Jail, a county lockup that is also used for prisoners awaiting trial. The evening was kicked off hearing from #DeeperThanWater organizer Wayland “X” Coleman, speaking live from NCCI Gardner, a medium security prison in central Massachusetts. Many of the speakers at this rally were currently incarcerated, whose voices were fed live through a sound system into an array of 3 50-watt megaphones that could be heard for nearly a mile. Participants also included a live brass band, and Siham Byah, who was detained and eventually deported by ICE for her activism in the greater Boston area. Please support Siham here.

We want to thank all our comrades: endorsing organizations, medics, banner droppers, and everyone who supported us with logistics, promotion and running of this event.

Please stay tuned for what comes next in the National Prison Strike and support the strike! Next: IWOC providence is holding an event on Sept. 1st, and IWW CT will be holding another one between Sept. 7th-9th. Also please join our comrades at the Harvard TPS coalition as they fight for Rigoberto, and Hungry4Justice as they rally outside South Bay.

 

Wayland “X” Coleman kicks off the festivities for August 23rd demo. X finishes with a salute to a comrade who was stolen by the state, and is currently being held as a political prisoner. One of the main charges against him is the use of the phrase “shut this sh*thole down.”
Second Line Brass Band provides a musical interlude and noise demo at the entrance to the facility.
A #DeeperThanWater organizer addresses the crowd and the guards directly about the hypocrisy of mass incarceration in a country that lays such claim to “freedom” and “liberty.”
Doris, from the Harvard TPS coalition speaks about family separation through prisoners, jails and deportations. Doris connects all struggles for liberation.
Siham Byah, an organizer who was deported by ICE fascists earlier in the year speaks to the crowd from Morocco about the intersection of wage theft, prison slavery and racist deportations.

Heat wave

We are one week into the national #prisonstrike as temperatures rise to 97 degrees in Boston today, with a heat index of 105. An excessive heat warning is in effect until Wednesday evening, schools are cancelling classes or scheduling early dismissals, and forecasters are calling the heat levels dangerous.

Meanwhile, since we forced the state to acknowledge the heat in the prisons last month, we have been hearing from more and more folks inside and from their loved ones that the temperatures in the prisons remain unlivable and inhumane. Today, temperatures are likely to reach 110 degrees inside the prisons, where we also know there is no clean water, no air conditioning, and fan access only for those who can afford it.

Last month, we made enough noise that the Department of Public Health (DPH) conducted inspections of three prisons in MA: Norfolk, Walpole, and Concord. Two of the three prisons were cited for violating ventilation standards. After the DPH inspections it was revealed that the exhaust system was used only sparingly in one facility, as officials cited the noise it makes as a possible security concern. While in at least one facility fans were installed in every block, a couple of fans for a 45 person unit is at best, woefully insufficient.

We know that temperatures are excessive in prisons all across the country and all across the state — and more than just these 2 are violating environmental health standards.

The first demand of the national prison strike is: Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.” In alignment with this demand, it is time to turn the heat back up on the DOC. Please join us by emailing the DPH to demand inspections of ALL state prisons and by calling Charlie Baker to demand Thomas Turco, Commissioner of the Department of Correction, be fired for allowing this human rights abuse to occur.  

 

EMAIL: Rebecca White, Executive Assistant to Associate Commissioner Lindsay Tucker

Dear Rebecca,

Last month, the DPH conducted inspections of MCI-Norfolk, MCI-Cedar Junction, and MCI-Concord after receiving multiple complaints from incarcerated people and their loved ones. We know that the DPH cited MCI-Cedar Junction and MCI-Concord for violations of ventilation standards and made recommendations to the DOC for improving conditions.

We need more.

As temperatures rise again this week to dangerous levels, we demand inspections of the heat and of the water DURING this heatwave at ALL state prisons, including Framingham, Plymouth, Shirley, Gardner, Old Colony, Pondville, and Souza-Baranowski. We demand follow-up and accountability for the DOC to actually improve conditions, particularly excessive temperatures and brown water, by installing air conditioning and fans in all units and providing prisoners with free, clean bottled water and personal fans that they may permanently keep in their cells. The humanity of imprisoned people must be recognized.

Sincerely,

[your name]

Send email automatically (don’t forget to add your name at the end)

 

CALL SCRIPT: Baker’s Office: (617) 725-4005

Hello, my name is __________. And I am a concerned voter in [your town/neighborhood]. I have been informed that prisoners in MA do not have access to air conditioning, fans, or clean water. This is yet another example of environmental racism on the part of the state of Massachusetts and the DOC.

I demand that you immediately terminate Commissioner Turco. Further, you must instruct the DOC to install air conditioning and fans in all units and provide prisoners with free, clean bottled water and personal fans.

Boycott now! Aug 21 – Sept 9


As you know, we launched a poll to ask you all who YOU wanted to boycott for the duration of the National Prison Strike. Per ask from national organizers, we selected 3 companies. However, as the 3rd place was a tie, and we had a sincere request to really target Bank of America based on the role predatory lending and eviction are used as tactics to round up undocumented comrades to fill detention centers, we have agreed that we have no choice but to call for all 4. The “winners” of our poll are Amazon.com, Exxon/Mobil, McDonald’s and Bank of America.

Amazon’s overwhelming lead in the poll is in large part a result of Amazon’s recent disgusting announcement last month that they are “proud” to continue to provide logistics and material support to the mass incarceration and deportation machine.  Amazon is not only a massive distributor of prison-made goods, but they own companies that directly source to prison workers for pennies an hour. Their role in developing facial recognition software for police, ICE and prisons has been crucial to making the world a substantially more dangerous place for marginalized people.

 

#prisonstrike boycott poll

The national call for action has asked that local groups pick three companies to boycott. We have compiled this list from Popular Resistance , as suggested in the national call. Please pick up to three companies you both patronize and would be willing to boycott for 8/21 – 9/9.

Please note that we have also only included in this poll companies that are locally accessible. There is a shocking number of total complicit organizations. We have also included Amazon.com. We see Amazon’s direct dealings with ICE as a massive pillar of the prison industrial complex and the prison slavery machine. As Cosecha has pointed out undocumented migrants are often forced to work for no pay in private prisons during their detention. This is slavery.

 

Please note that the full list is available at https://popularresistance.org/identifying-businesses-that-profit-from-prison-labor/ For the sake of localizing our boycott endorsements, we have tried to only include companies that people in and around Massachusetts would be able to boycott directly. If something is missing from this list that is of local interest, please contact info@deeperthanwater.org

 

Prison strike actions

On August 21, the 187th anniversary of Nat Turner’s Rebellion, prisoners around the country will participate in an all-out wildcat strike to demand an end to prison slavery. This will involve walk-outs, sit-ins, work strikes and boycotts. The strike will last until September 9th, the 47th anniversary of the Attica Uprising. The strike is being endorsed by over 140 different organizations from around the world, including the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) via their Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC). This strike is a massive showing of prisoner power and all organizations involved must take direction explicitly from people inside. Please see #DeeperThanWater’s endorsement here.

On August 21st, the Boston May Day Coalition will kick off the strike locally with a vigil at South Bay Detention Center. Those of you that have been following Cosecha Boston’s work will know that this site reprehensibly doubles as an ICE detention facility. We strongly encourage everyone to turn out to this event, to kick off what promises to be one of the most important strikes in worker history.

On the 23rd, Deeper Than Water will be holding a second rally and action outside of the Nashua Street Jail in conjunction with the Massachusetts National Lawyer’s Guild. Our local organizers inside have stated that one of the biggest problems facing prisoners right now in MA is the extensive use solitary confinement, particularly against prisoners who speak to the press. The 23rd has historically been chosen as an action date to draw attention to the barbarity of the practice, where prisoners are kept in a miniscule closet for 23 hours a day, only let out for a maximum of 1 hr to walk (in a different cage) to keep blood clots from forming due to inactivity.

Please reach out if your organization is interested in endorsing the Aug. 23rd rally. See below:

CALL FOR ENDORSEMENTS FROM ORGANIZATIONS!
to endorse email deeperthanwater@protonmail.com

Endorsing means:

  • your organization must accept the national strike demands (below)
  • call for the total end of solitary confinement in any circumstance
  • committing to turn out 4-10 (or 100, or 1000…) of your members
  • share this event on your email, social media, etc lists

Coalition members:

Black Lives Matter Boston
Black and Pink
SURJ Boston – Showing Up for Racial Justice
Toxics Action Center
PSL Boston – Party for Socialism and Liberation
Young Abolitionists
individual current and formerly incarcerated organizers

Endorsing organizations [8/23]:

National Lawyers Guild – Massachusetts Chapter
Boston Democratic Socialists of America
FIRE Boston
Workers World Party-Boston
Jericho Movement: Boston Branch
Harvard TPS Coalition

Official endorsement of the #August21 National Prison Strike

 

Endorsement:

#DeeperThanWater is proud to endorse the National Prison Strike and their associated demands called for August 21, 2018. Read the full call and list of demands here.

We recognize prison, police, and parole as primary tools in the machine of white supremacy and white supremacist capitalism. The animating spirit of prison, police, and parole is the idea that Black and brown and poor people are not human, thus paving the road for the reprehensible practice of caging our fellow humans and the specific atrocities that inexorably follow.

Workers held captive in state, federal, and immigration prisons have called on us to support them in withdrawing their labor from the system that grinds down their humanity. As we draw on 500 years of abolitionist movement building from Beacon Hill to MCI Norfolk, we oppose this modern day system of slavery and segregation. In the demands put forward by these held captive  illustrate, there is so much we can do to keep building toward abolition.

To our supporters on the outside, look for an action during the strike (August 21-September 9), follow the strike online and wherever possible direct mainstream media attention to it.

Write to prisoners. There will be retaliation, when there is – show up and hold the jailers accountable.

As one of our beloved friends and incarcerated organizers is fond of saying – we see this strike as the loosening of nuts and bolts in the prison system. Eventually, it will collapse.

And with it, so will one more leg of white supremacy.

 

Demands as laid out by Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, April 23, 2018:

  1. Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.
  2. An immediate end to prison slavery. All persons imprisoned in any place of detention under United States jurisdiction must be paid the prevailing wage in their state or territory for their labor.
  3. The Prison Litigation Reform Act must be rescinded, allowing imprisoned humans a proper channel to address grievances and violations of their rights.
  4. The Truth in Sentencing Act and the Sentencing Reform Act must be rescinded so that imprisoned humans have a possibility of rehabilitation and parole. No human shall be sentenced to Death by Incarceration or serve any sentence without the possibility of parole.
  5. An immediate end to the racial overcharging, over-sentencing, and parole denials of Black and brown humans. Black humans shall no longer be denied parole because the victim of the crime was white, which is a particular problem in southern states.
  6. An immediate end to racist gang enhancement laws targeting Black and brown humans.
  7. No imprisoned human shall be denied access to rehabilitation programs at their place of detention because of their label as a violent offender.
  8. State prisons must be funded specifically to offer more rehabilitation services.
  9. Pell grants must be reinstated in all US states and territories.
  10. The voting rights of all confined citizens serving prison sentences, pretrial detainees, and so-called “ex-felons” must be counted. Representation is demanded. All voices count.

Download demands: PDF

NPS resources:

Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) – A revolutionary arm of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) comprised of formerly and currently incarcerated workers collaborating to abolish prisons and the prison state. Statement on @IGD_News here.
[ site: 
https://incarceratedworkers.org/ | twitter: @IWW_IWOC ]

Amani Sawari/Sawari MI – Organizer with the #August21 movement, home of the Solid Black Fist newsletter, the official National Prison Strike newsletter (see issue 1 for a recap of May 19 rally in honor of Malcolm X). Listen to an interview with Amani talking about the strike on Final Straw Radio here.
[  site: http://sawarimi.org/national-prison-strike | twitter: @sawarimi ]

 

 

 

prison heat update

Despite Wayland being thrown in solitary and transferred to another prison, he has been provided with no explanation nor means of redress. Meanwhile, the state has released their inspection reports of the three facilities chosen by DPH.

The reports leave out copious details, and selectively include pieces of irrelevant information, such as the placement of air conditioning in a single room out of hundreds. The one very notable detail not subject to debate is the inside temperature reading. As you can see, the inside reading placed MCI Cedar Junction at 89°F, despite the inspection having been carried out on a 78°F day. Remember that heat amplifies in enclosed spaces. Consider that a car in 100°F heat has an internal temperature of 116°F after one hour. While the space inside units is larger, the experiments were conducted on vehicles with silver exterior, similar to the sheet metal and concrete that comprises Cedar Junction.

Additionally, the reports do, in fact validate prisoners allegations that the ventilation systems weren’t working.

Many of the units at MCI Cedar Junction are largely windowless. Broken ventilation/exhaust units means that there are 45 people in a small enclosed space with no climate control and no moving air in the middle of the heat wave.

Read #DeeperThanWater’s 8/3 statement on Facebook here:

 

Thanks to hundreds of phone calls you made to the Governor’s office and Department of Public Health starting July 9, we forced the state to act.

DPH inspected MCI Concord, MCI Norfolk, and MCI Cedar Junction. The inspections were conducted on a 74 degree day and produced citations for ventilation issues at Cedar Junction and Concord and reported indoor temperatures 10 degrees higher than outdoors.

Within one week, the Boston Globe published the story, and two weeks later we heard from prisoners at Cedar Junction, where our people report temperatures of 115 degrees heat index at the height of the heat wave, that they were being moved cell by cell to allow for fan installation.

Our comrades doing long bids and life remind us that conditions have been scorching in the summer and freezing in the winter for decades. It is your work and dedication to following the leadership of prisoners that resulted in this marginal gain…and we do not stop here.

Today, the National Weather Services has issued a Heat Advisory from 1-3 pm this afternoon; heat index values outside will climb into the high 90s. This means we can reasonably predict that people inside will experience heat in the 100s, again.

Fans will help some people bear it. But we know that this is nowhere near enough.

We know that elderly prisoners will not be moved to cooler areas, that people suffering from heat exhaustion will be punished for requesting medical care, and that the inhumanity of the prison system will continue.

We must keep fighting – join us for the long haul. This is #DeeperThanWater.