“If I don’t get any help from outside, I’m likely to be over here for four or five months. We’ve been race discriminated in this prison, we don’t get medical attention, we don’t get counselor’s request, yard privileges are denied (we are supposed to have one hour every 24 hours), we don’t get ice like everybody else, and we can’t get grievance forms. We’ve been discriminated [against] by every black officer.” - Macon state prisoner Victor Diaz
Mass prison incarceration and police violence are reaching a fever pitch in this country.
The police and prison state apparatus is relying more and more on the use of solitary confinement and torture (e.g. sensory deprivation and lack of human contact) to control and punish prisoners, a barbaric practice more synonymous with Abu-Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay than with any sense of real justice. It is estimated that 80,000 men and women are held in solitary confinement daily in the U.S. prison system.
Among the most glaring cases are the political prisoners like the “Angola Three” in the Louisiana prison system, the largest in the country. The Angola Three are Black Panther Party members Albert Woodfox, Herman Wallace, and Robert King. King was recently released from solitary after 29 years. Woodfox and Wallace are entering their 40th year in solitary confinement for their political beliefs.
Violence and Inhumane Solitary Confinement at Macon State Prison
Since the historic Georgia State prisoners’ strike of 2010 that broke the divisions of race, religion, and gang affiliation in the prison system to demand justice for prisoners and their families, the Georgia State Department of Corrections (GDC) has gone onto the offensive to subdue the prisoners’ movement through violence, harassment, and divide-and-conquer tactics.
This past summer, correction officer Willie Redden and a second former Macon State Prison Correctional Emergency Response Team member Darren Douglass-Griffin pleaded guilty to violating inmates’ civil rights and falsifying records in a federal investigation during the 2010 Georgia prisoners’ strike. There were three separate incidents of prisoners brutally beaten including one prisoner taken to the hospital.
Victor Diaz is one of four Mexican prisoners held in solitary confinement at Macon State prison in Georgia since July 4, 2012. According to the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, prisoners should not be held in isolation for more than 15 days at a time. But in the United States prison system, longer terms serving time in the “hole” are commonplace for disciplinary infractions or at the discretion of the prison authorities towards any prisoner. The “hole” could consist of 30 to 60 days of isolation. This method of torture breaks even the questionable UN limit of up to 15 days at a given time.
In the case of Victor Diaz, who is an undocumented prisoner, he was never served any disciplinary charges or pending investigation. This is clearly a case of segregating prisoners based on their race/ethnicity or nationality, a weapon used by the prison guards and authorities to ferment disunity and hate. Solitary confinement is meant to weaken the physical, mental, and spiritual state of a human being. These conditions have led many prisoners to attempt or commit suicide; Victor Diaz has said that he was considering suicide if his unjust confinement continues.
We must demand justice for Victor Diaz and all prisoners held in the torture chambers of the U.S. prison system. The U.S. prison system under capitalism is not about reform or rehabilitation, but about control, surveillance, warehousing, and cheap labor. A central demand of this developing movement must be to expose and dismantle state-sponsored torture. We are living in a time of uncompromising and militant social struggle by the international working class and poor against the horrors of global capitalism. The prisoners’ rights movement and the struggle against the new Jim Crow are crucial elements in tearing down the walls of oppression and capitalism.
Urgent Action Needed!
We must demand justice for Victor Diaz and other Georgia State prisoners who are being targeted and brutalized for exposing the inhumane conditions they face and standing up for their most basic human rights.
Please immediately make phone calls and send emails and/or letters to Department of Corrections Commissioner Brian Owens, as well as Georgia Governor Nathan Deal (contact info listed below). Also, help spread the word by re-posting this solidarity appeal on blogs, email lists, social media, etc. If you are part of an organization, send letters and make calls in the name of your group.
Please send copies of protest letters to email@example.com. For more information, contact Socialist Alternative at (206) 526-7185 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Register your protest and support for Victor Diaz by contacting:
MACON STATE PRISON
2728 HWY 49 SOUTH
POST OFFICE BOX 426
OGLETHORPE, GA 31068
Phone: (478) 472-3400
Fax: (478) 472-3524
Brian Owens, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections
- Call: 478-992-5258 (This is the number for Owens’ administrative assistant Peggy Chapman. Urge her to give him the message.)
- Call: 478-992-5367 (This is the Office of the Ombudsman, which is the official channel for raising concerns over prisoner treatment)
Nathan Deal, Governor of Georgia
- Call: 404-656-1776
- Send the Governor a letter online by clicking here.
Letters can also be mailed or faxed:
Office of the Governor Nathan Deal, State of Georgia
203 State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334