Georgia State Prison, Reidsville, Georgia
February 26, 2015

At least four prisoners went on hunger strike to protest various conditions, including beatings and lack of access to sufficient food, sanitation, exercise, and an effective grievance process. They also demanded an end to the state’s Tier Program, a 2013 initiative that created three increasingly restrictive levels of “Administrative Segregation” to deal with prisoners who were deemed a significant threat to security by administrators.

One of the hunger strikers released a list of demands, which are as follows:

(1) I demand an end to the torture of all prisoners unlawfully placed on GA’s Dept. of Corrections prolonged solitary confinement/Tier Program.
(A) No prisoner should be held in a Special Management Unit for longer than 30 days.  Rehouse all prisoners currently in all tier programs throughout GA’s Dept. of Corrections to mainline facilities.
(B) Interaction with other prisoners every day.
(C) Time spent outdoors with space and basic equipment for exercise every day.
(D) Healthy food items with full food portion sizes and clean water every day.
(E) Proper clothing, footwear, and climate/temperature control.
(F) A complete end to the use of and threat of violence by staff against prisoners who have not made any physical threat to staff.
(G) Access to phone calls and contact visits with family at least once a week.
(H) Timely and proper health care.
(I) Access to engage in productive activities including correspondence courses and vocational and remedial education courses.
(J) A meaningful way to grieve any abuses or denial of the stated basic rights.
(K) Weekly access to the satellite law library for opportunity to adequately litigate.
(2) Freedom of association.
(A) No punishment based on what books one reads or has in their possession.
(B) No punishment for jail house lawyering for oneself or for others.  For filing grievances or for any challenges to conditions of confinement through legal means.
(C) No punishment for what outside organizations one belongs to or corresponds with.
(D) No punishment for tattoos or cultural identity practices/beliefs.
(E) No punishment for communicating with other prisoners if not breaking the law.
(F) No punishment for what individuals of the same race/nation/organizational affiliation do unless you as an individual were involved in violating a rule or law; i.e. no group punishment!!
(G) No punishment for affiliation with a gang, security threat group, cultural group, or other organization.  In other words, a complete end to Gang Validation System that punishes people (currently puts people in prolonged solitary confinement/Tier Program for an indeterminate amount of time without being given due process) based on their affiliation and/or ideology without having broken any rules or laws.

Another prisoner wrote a letter to Atlanta Anarchist Black Cross elaborating on the problems of the tier system saying, “Any prisoner who is apart of an organization with any form of political or religious or cultural background is then arbitrarily validated as a gang member, and this is used to justify his placement in the program.”

He further states that inmates are often placed on the high level tiers as a form of punishment with no due-process saying, “According to G.D.C. S.O.P. #IIB09-0003 a prisoner must be sanctioned to this program thru the prison’s disciplinary procedure in order that he is given some form of due process. Yet the majority of prisoners placed on this program have no disciplinary report in their institutional files that sanctions such a placement… we are kept in the program if we complain. It is of my opinion that I’ll be in this program even longer for this letter but people on the outside must know what we go through behind these walls.”

Citations:

Hunger Strike In Protest of Conditions in Georgia Prisons’ Tier Program“, Atlanta Anarchist Black Cross, May 25, 2015.

Hunger Striking Prisoner Releases List of Demands” Atlanta Anarchist Black Cross, May 25, 2015.