My name is Peter Kamau Mukuria, Currently confined at Red Onion State Prison in the state of Virginia.
For the past five and a half years, I’ve been housed in solitary confinement under a so-called rehabilitation program titled [inaudible] step down program. On this program, prisoners are either classified as special management, SM, or intensive management, IM. For those classified as special management upon the completion of the program, they’re eligible to be released back to the general population. Whereas those classifies intensive management, only a select few are released every couple of years.
I’ve been classified as intensive management status, put me in solitary confinement five and a half years ago. I’ve maintained positive behavior, infraction-free, completed the entire program, and done absolutely everything required of me in hopes of being released back to general population.
But in reality, it’s very obvious that I will not be released no matter how much progress I make or how much my behavior ameliorates. For those who have no comprehension of solitary confinement, it is the most torturous and brutal punishment a human being can be subjected to every day is a fight to maintain my sanity.
Anxiety, insomnia, panic, paranoia, depression, hopelessness, and stress are some of the greatest [inaudible] for having spent five and a half years locked in a cell for 22 hours a day, locked in an outdoor dog cage for two hours, and there’s some days I’ve been locked in a cell 24 hours a day with no release in the foreseeable future.
The American Bar Association standards for the use of solitary confinement stipulate that such confinement and I quote, should be for the briefest term under the least restrictive conditions [inaudible] which should include meaningful forms of mental, physical, and social stimulation, and forbid all instances of extreme isolation, unquote.
And Virginia is quite [inaudible]. Prisoners like myself who are classified intensive management, the majority of us will be housed in solitary confinement for the duration of our sentences, be it 3 days, 3 years, 30 years or life sentence, under the most restrictive conditions and status in the entire state of Virginia, more restricted than death row.
That in itself says a lot. I filed a civil action challenging the practice, but the Roanoke General District Court Judge James Jones dismissed the case. His rationale was not only full of hypotheses and exaggeration, but he completely overlooked the merits of the case to the point his response was full of contradiction.
I appealed that ruling and it was heard by a panel of three judges. Ultimately, they decided to dismiss the case. The decision seemed more of a cover-up rather than legal justification. They too, like Judge Jones, ignored evidence, overlooked the legal merits and their responses were more contradictory than Judge James Jones.
During this process, I reached out to ACLU seeking their assistance but to no avail. Obviously since the- since this case isn’t of public interest. Had this been off public interest ACLU would have rushed to assist in the judges involved with it wouldn’t have been so biased. What I’m insinuating is very obvious that these organizations, namely ACLU and District Court Judge Appeal Court Judges only pick up cases and rule fairly in cases that will gain them attention.
Appealing to the Supreme Court is useless given that they only pickup 1% of the cases, and those are cases of public interest. Public involvement is the key here. We cannot change the global condition without people in public getting involved. I ask anyone and organization that is able to, interested, and willing to assist me in this matter.
Contact me at this address: Peter Mukuria, 1197165, Red Onion State Prison, Pound, VA 24279. And I’ll be more than glad to share my experiences and any information that may be helpful.
Us prisoners aren’t animals; we’re human beings just like you. You know, we all make mistakes, some worse than others, of course, but no one deserves to endure or be subjected to any torture, be it physical or psychological. Many, like myself, have learned from our mistakes and our better people. But all we should ask is humanity, not to be ostracized and marginalized permanently due to- due to mistakes we made decades ago.
Thank you for your time, and thanks for listening.
These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.