[Pnews] Nonviolent Protest in Pennsylvania Solitary Confinement Unit Leads to Seven Years of Prosecutions

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Mar 27 12:21:29 EDT 2017


http://solitarywatch.com/2017/03/27/nonviolent-protest-in-pennsylvania-solitary-confinement-unit-leads-to-seven-years-of-prosecutions/ 



  Nonviolent Protest in Pennsylvania Solitary Confinement Unit Leads to
  Seven Years of Prosecutions


    By Victoria Law <http://solitarywatch.com/author/victoria-law/> -
    March 27, 2017

On Monday, March 13, after a legal battle lasting nearly seven years, 
the last of the men known as the Dallas 6 had his day in court. 
Carrington Keys was one of six men who faced riot charges after 
protesting staff brutality in the Restricted Housing Unit (RHU) at 
SCI-Dallas, a prison in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.

As reported previously in Solitary Watch 
<http://solitarywatch.com/2014/11/10/on-trial-for-protesting-conditions-in-solitary-confinement-the-case-of-the-dallas-6/>, 
people in the RHU are locked into their cells for nearly 24 hours a day. 
People can be sent to the RHU for violating prison rules, including 
various nonviolent infractions. Keys was placed in the RHU for 90 days 
in 2001 after fighting with another prisoner. But staff found reasons to 
extend his stay in isolation. “He kept being written up for things like 
covering his light because the lights are on all night or for verbal 
assault for talking back to a guard,” his mother, Shandre Delaney, told 
Solitary Watch. Keys spent most of his twenties in the RHU. He was 
briefly released in 2009 but returned to the RHU later that year on 
charges of having contraband. He attributes his return to solitary 
confinement to the numerous grievances, lawsuits, and criminal 
complaints he filed against prison staff.

In 2009, Human Rights Coalition-Fed Up! 
<http://prisonerstories.blogspot.com/> began an investigation into 
prison conditions at the facility. Through letters from people inside, 
interviews with family members, institutional paperwork, affidavits and 
civil litigation documents, the group compiled /Institutionalized 
Cruelty/ 
<https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/media/publications/hrc_fed_up_institutionalized_cruelty_torture_and_sci_dallas_and_pa_prisons_2010.pdf>/, 
/a 93-page report detailing “the cruelty, illegality, suffering, racism, 
violence, and despair that constitute the reality inhabited by inmates 
at SCI Dallas.”

According to the report, cells were filthy and the water from the sink 
was often brown. Other complaints included failure to provide physical 
and mental health care, deprivation of water, and routine physical 
violence. Prisoners also reported that staff tampered with their food, 
and frequently refused to feed a person by passing his cell as they 
handed out food trays (a practice known as “burning them for their trays”).

On April 29, 2010, 20-year-old Isaac Sanchez noticed that staff did not 
give the man in the adjoining cell, Anthony Kelly, a food tray. Like 
Sanchez, Kelly had participated in HRC’s investigation, detailing verbal 
abuse, lack of water, and assaults by multiple staff on one person. “I 
said, ‘My neighbor’s not getting fed. That’s not policy,’” Sanchez told 
Solitary Watch. Sanchez and the officer argued, with Sanchez locked 
behind his cell door and the officer in the hallway.

Staff told Sanchez to pack his property and be prepared to move. Seeing 
twelve other correctional officers in the hall, Sanchez said that he 
feared for his safety and refused to move. Sanchez reported that he was 
then sprayed with pepper spray, beaten, and tasered. He said staff took 
him to the law library where they cuffed him into a chair by his wrists 
and ankles.

Others in the RHU attempted to do something about Sanchez’s beating. In 
Pennsylvania’s RHU, when a person covers the window to his cell, a 
supervising officer is called to his cell to ensure that he is not 
self-harming. In the past, people in the RHU have used this tactic to 
call in higher-ups to complain about guard brutality. That day, six men 
covered the windows of their cell doors after Sanchez was beaten and 
taken to the restraint chair. “That was our last resort. We didn’t think 
they [the captain or superior] was going to help, but what can you do? 
You’re locked in the cell,” explained Derrick Stanley.

No supervising officer appeared. Instead, after asking to speak to the 
county public defender’s office, the men say, they were pepper sprayed 
and beaten. Video clips obtained later from the prison 
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vK1wf1CTDYM> and compiled by Keys’s 
mother, Shandre Delaney, show five officers in face masks and body armor 
piling onto and then “extracting” (or forcefully removing) Keys from his 
cell. On the video, Keys can be heard shouting, “I’m not resisting! I’m 
not resisting!” In the debriefing video that followed the cell 
extraction, the five officers as well as the officer acting as 
cameraperson reported no injuries.

Months later, the state filed charges against the six men, accusing them 
of riot and intent to prevent or coerce an official act, which carry an 
additional seven years in prison if convicted. For years, the case 
dragged on. Eventually, Anthony Kelly, who had served his maximum 
sentence but was held in jail pending these charges, pled guilty to the 
riot charges to be released. Stanley, who had been released, pled guilty 
to resisting arrest so that he could move on with his life. Anthony 
Locke was found guilty of disorderly conduct, but his sentence of 
several months was allowed to run concurrently to his current prison 
sentence.

In 2016, the remaining three—Andre Jacobs, Carrington Keys and Duane 
Peters—went to trial. When the jury deadlocked after only a few hours of 
deliberation, the district attorney dropped the riot charges, but then 
charged Keys with six felony counts of aggravated harassment. The 
prosecutor did not charge Jacobs or Peters again; both men were returned 
to prison to continue their sentence.

On March 13, 2017, the judge ruled that Keys was guilty of disorderly 
conduct, a misdemeanor conviction, but not of aggravated harassment. She 
sentenced Keys to four to eight months to run concurrently with his 
current sentence.

For Shandre Delaney 
<http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/39801-revolutionary-love-fighting-prison-injustice-from-both-sides-of-the-wall>, 
the verdict is a relief. “Now he can move on—and hopefully come home.” 
Keys has been eligible for parole since 2012 and has appeared before the 
parole board several times. Each time, she says, the parole board has 
cited his pending charges as one of the reasons to deny his release. She 
hopes that the next parole hearing will result in a release date.

But even if her son comes home, Delaney isn’t done. “So much is 
happening [inside prisons] that needed to be exposed. This case exposed 
a lot of that.” she told Solitary Watch the week after Keys’s final 
court date. She says she and HRC continue working to collect information 
about Pennsylvania prison conditions to bring more public awareness. “We 
have to put an end to solitary in our state. We need to help our 
prisoners have a voice and to support them when they resist torture, 
starvation, and abuse.”

-- 
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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