This is comrade Uhuru Rowe, prisoner slave number 1131545, speaking to you live from the Greensville Correctional Facility in Jarratt, VA, Virginia’s belly of the beast. This piece is dated October 22nd, 2021, and it’s called “A Case for a Movement to Shut Down Prisons and Dismantle the Entire Prison-Industrial Complex.”
On September 21st, 2021, a letter to New York Governor Hochul and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio by Democratic representative Jerry Nadler, Jamal Bowman, Nydia Velazquez, and Alexandria OCasio-Cortez demanded to close down the Rikers Island jail complex and the release of people in prison there because of conditions with which they described in the letter as “deplorable” and “nothing short of a humanitarian crisis.” They pointed to the 11 people who had died at Rikers since the start of 2020 and brought up the issues as the reason for their demands.
The conditions at Rikers mirrors some of the deplorable conditions at Sussex 2 State Prison in Waverly, VA and Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, VA. When I was held at Sussex 2 State Prison from 2016 to 2018, approximately 20 prisoners died there from suicides, medical neglect, overdoses, and [inaudible], overcrowding and substandard medical care, poor food and air quality, dirty drinking water, critical understaffing, and a general disregard for the health, safety, and lives of prisoners was rampant in the prison that contributed to these preventable deaths.
Three cases of preventable deaths at Sussex 2 State Prisons are on August 28, 2018, William Dempsey, 38 years old, committed suicide in his cell in general population. The following weekend, [inaudible]. By December 23rd, 2018, Shawn Pulley, 23 years old, committed suicide while locked under solitary confinement. Medical staff failed to properly treat his wounds sustained in a fight with another prisoner prior to being put in solitary, and guards said to check in on him on a timely basis. Both William and Shawn had a well-documented history of mental health issues and suicide attempts prior to their incarceration but did not get adequate medical health treatment. On January 11, 2017, Johnny “Tiger” Tran, a dear of friend of mine, was allegedly killed during a physical confrontation with a cell mate. In the days leading of his death, [inaudible] to reassign him to another cell because he wasn’t getting along with his cell mate. The weekend before he died, Johnny told me that they denied his request for a cell change [inaudible]. This denial along with the lack of a guard stationed on the floor during the incident [inaudible] contributed to Johnny’s death.
There have been other preventable deaths at Sussex 2 State Prison such as the deaths of William, Shawn, and Johnny. A preventable death at Greensville Correctional Center, Michael Briggs, [inaudible] years old, used to teach younger prisoners boxing as a form of self-discipline and self-defense. On March 6, 2020, Mike was found unresponsive in his cell. He was later pronounced dead in a hospital, and his death was ruled a heart attack. This news was a shock to all of us who knew him because he exercised on a daily basis with an excellent physical condition, and according to what a friend of his shared with me, he had no history of medical problems. [inaudible] checked in on him and that he was unresponsive in his cell for more than an hour before medical staff was alerted. There have been others preventable death at Greensville Correctional Center since Mike’s death under the deplorable conditions of Greensville Correctional Center.
Greensville Correctional Center is like Rikers on the East Coast: it is chronically understaffed, poor living conditions and staff shortages were serious issues when I was housed there from 2008 to 2013, and these issues have been exacerbated since the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot of the population is denied basic medical and constitutional [inaudible] healthy and nutritious meals, education and treatment programs, inadequate medical and general health care, recreation on a regular basis due to critical staffing shortages. There is an infestation of roaches and bed bugs [inaudible]. After repeated incidents of water pipes bursting and sewage pipes backing up, spilling urine and feces through the drains. There is a [inaudible] for a different period of time. COVID-19 swept through the prisons like a wildfire due to mismanagement and a general culture of disdain toward prisoners. These conditions are similar to [inaudible].