Coverage

Abolitionists Rally Outside Home of Prison Director in East Lansing. Its Going Down (6/13/17)
‘Ahjamu Baruti, one of a handful recently transferred out of Oaks after over eight months in isolation, described solitary as “the soul breaker,” noting that: “Long term solitary confinement is cruel and unusual punishment, due to the deprivation of basic human needs such as environmental stimulation and social interaction….The psychological effects of long term confinement on the human brain are phenomenal, because the human brain needs social contact like our lungs need air! Zoo animals are being honored with fulfillment of these needs. The cruelty of caging them for long periods of time alone or in tight spaces is acknowledged. Federal guidelines for laboratory animals require more space be provided for them, along with sensory stimulation and environmental enrichment, than what is afforded prisoners in solitary confinement.”’

Group protests solitary confinement in Michigan’s prisons. ABC 10 News (6/12/17)
“A group of concerned citizens held a protest Sunday afternoon in East Lansing outside the home of Heidi Washington, the director of the Michigan Department of Corrections. The demonstration concerned what the protestors referred to as ‘Solitary is Torture.’ The group, Michigan Abolition and Prisoner Solidarity (MAPS), held the demonstration. They asked for the release of 70 inmates being held in solitary confinement at the Oaks Correctional Facility in Manistee.”

Police Respond to “Solitary is Torture” Demonstration at Home of Michigan Department of Corrections Director Heidi Washington. eNews Park Forest (6/12/17)
“A “solitary is torture” demonstration was held Sunday outside the East Lansing home of Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) Director Heidi Washington amid police presence and curious neighbors.”

What’s hidden behind the walls of America’s prisons. By Heather Ann Thompson. The Conversation (6/4/17)
“Prisons are built to be out of sight and are, thus, out of mind. Somehow, even though these institutions contain human beings, including children, and even though we are the ones who cough up the billion of dollars that it costs to run them, we are expected simply to trust that they are operated humanely and that they in fact make our society safer. As a historian of crime and punishment who has been inside of America’s prisons and has documented severe abuses that have taken place within them, I know this trust is not warranted. It is past time that the public has unfettered access to these public institutions so that we can know exactly what happens behind prison walls.”

Michigan Prison Admits Losing Control Amid Inmate Rebellion. U.S. News and World Report (5/12/17)
“Officials at an Upper Peninsula prison have admitted to temporarily losing control of the facility to an inmate rebellion, the Michigan Department of Corrections now says after previously denying any such incident.”

State report shows ‘riot’ shook control of U.P. prison. The Detroit News (5/12/17)
“The Michigan Department of Corrections previously denied a riot happened in September at the Kinross Correctional Facility in Chippewa County, but a 262-page incident report revealed that senior officials referred to the event as a ‘riot’ and admitted to having lost control of the prison for an unspecified amount of time….’It’s a very scary thing to see hundreds of prisoners moving as one body when, already in a prison setting, you are very outnumbered,’ Gautz said. ‘You can’t allow a scenario for prisoners to move as one and act as once voice.'”

The Battle Continues: An Update on Michigan Prison Strike Repression. It’s Going Down (5/8/17)
“In a surprising move, the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) released up to 100 prisoners from solitary confinement sooner than anticipated, while another 80 or more remain….It is also essential to remember that even those released from solitary at Baraga are being returned to the same abhorrent conditions of overcrowding, inedible food, impossible wages, and more that drove them to strike and protest in the first place. In most cases, they are worse off because they have not yet returned to their former low security levels.”

Harold Gonzales, Kinross Prisoner, to Be Released from Solitary. It’s Going Down (4/30/17)
“After about 40 people phoned the prison, on April 24, Baraga staff reluctantly informed H.H. that he will not be kept in administrative segregation (solitary confinement) for two years as originally sentenced, but will be released around May 1st. This is a major victory and demonstrates how pressure from across the state and country can force the hand of corrections departments that are becoming increasingly vulnerable to public scrutiny.

End the retaliation against HH Gonzales, currently in solitary confinement. It’s Going Down (4/17/17)
“However, not everyone is being released from segregation. Some are being targeted for even harsher retaliation at this time. Harold “H.H.” Gonzales was one of the spokespeople for the demonstrators at Kinross on 9/10 who negotiated the peaceful resolution. He wrote, “This action has me labeled as the ‘leader’ of the fall incidents, when in actuality I ended a situation that could have turned ugly for everyone.” H.H. has also spoken out publicly against the abuses and retaliation of the MDOC. Although he had no tickets for the past seven months, he is now being targeted with bogus tickets to justify his ongoing solitary confinement. The biased grievance system provides no relief.”

The origins of the Attica uprising. Rustbelt Abolition Radio, ep. 3 Bonus (4/4/17)
“In this bonus segment, we return to renowned historian Heather Ann Thompson as she elaborates on the multifaceted origins of the historic 1971 Attica Uprising, drawing out their resonances with other prison rebellions across history and geography, as well as their telling implications for our present historical moment.”

The riots will continue. Rustbelt Abolition Radio, ep. 3 (3/13/17)
“In this episode we examine the expansion of the carceral state as a response to anti-racist movements and urban rebellions of the 1960s, the political economic underpinnings of these social transformations, and the ways in which historic instances of prisoner rebellion are continuous with present-day resistance behind bars and point toward upheavals yet to come… We talk with Adine, whose son was recently transferred to Baraga Maximum Correctional Facility following an “inciting a riot” charge in the aftermath of the Kinross rebellion.”

Psychological warfare in prison: Segregation is the soul breaker. By Ahjamu Baruti. San Francisco Bay View. (2/28/17)
Note from a supporter: The article was written by a conscious-minded political prisoner and former inmate of Kinross Correctional….Ahjamu was strip searched, cuffed, locked in leg irons and shipped to Oaks Correctional in Manistee Michigan and thrown in a cell in Administrative Segregation, where he stays 23 hours a day since the events unfolded at Kinross….

Zoo animals are being honored with fulfillment of these needs. The cruelty of caging them for long periods of time alone or in tight spaces is acknowledged. Federal guidelines for laboratory animals require more space be provided for them, along with sensory stimulation and environmental enrichment, than what is afforded prisoners in solitary confinement.”

Kinross Prisoners Facing Up to Two Years in the Hole for Rebellion. By MAPS, It’s Going Down. (2/28/17)
“The full scope of the retaliation against the prisoners who were at Kinross that day is only beginning to be comprehended. Michigan Abolition and Prisoner Solidarity (MAPS), an affinity group organizing in solidarity with prisoners against the violence of incarceration, reached out to dozens of people imprisoned at Kinross last Fall. From their responses to date, a picture of repressive and arbitrary retaliation is taking shape…

We agree with others who have stressed that the full consequences of the prison strike may not be understood for years to come. At this stage, two points are clear: 1) As long as conditions only worsen when desperate people communicate their grievances, the riots will continue. 2) Since none of us are free while some of us are caged, those of us outside who seek an end to the violence of incarceration in the world must continue our efforts in solidarity with those inside….

Larry Baba X-Guy: As an old vet I sensed mayhem coming, block reps would do their jobs and present a list of requests and get sent back and early in the morning get chained up and rode out, not allowed to pack their personal property (otherwise half the property comes up missing, thrown away, etc.). But block reps were glad to get away from those conditions, many inmates would refuse to lock up or sit on their bunks so they could go to level IV, that’s how bad it was. I had planned to run for block rep so I could get rode out.

No walls, no cages: from migrant justice to prison abolition. Rustbelt Abolition Radio, ep. 2 (2/12/17)
“We close this show with two firsthand narratives. One from Curtis, a local Detroiter whose family has been turned upside down by the carceral state and racial capitalism, and another from Harold Gonzales, currently incarcerated inside Michigan’s Kinross prison.”

2017 Has Already Seen Several Prison Rebellions. By Brian Sonenstein, Shadowproof. (2/8/17)
“Although the nationwide prison strike has fallen from headlines in recent months, incarcerated individuals continue to resist abuse and mistreatment while supporters on the outside rally to their defense….Because prison rebellions rarely get coverage of the scale of the Vaughn Rebellion, the public’s unfamiliarity with uprisings may give the impression that they are infrequent. But in reality, prisoners, their families, and their support networks take action against abusive conditions, mistreatment, and a lack of access to programs and services all over the country, on a regular basis. Several prison uprisings have occurred in the first weeks of 2017.”

Michigan prisoners speak out against ‘epic’ abuse and retaliation. By Harold Gonzales, San Francisco Bay View. (2/3/17)
“It is hard for me to write these accounts because they are so numerous in blatant retaliatory actions against us, without any regard or fear of accountability. A lot of the public would not believe a state agency could stoop to a lot of the persecution I’ve faced for standing against past and present inhumane treatment. They count on that fact, as well as the hope that an attitude of “prisoners don’t deserve rights,” or the public turning a blind eye to the mistreatment of prisoners, will be their license to mistreat us….In essence, [MDOC] is “big business” and, like all big business, its goal is to protect its interest. Couple that with a system that creates its own policies, answers to itself and, because its merchandise is prisoners, has no real moral or ethical responsibilities, and you have the Michigan Department of Corrections, or MDOC!….The prison clearly was not ready for human or animal habitation. Every maintenance man was heard to say, “I don’t know why they brought you guys here; the prison is not ready.”…Kinross just created a united mindset to stand against it finally. Suddenly, everyone was an activist, willing to support in any way they could….You have to realize the severity of the situations we face in here. They (MDOC) have literally killed people in here and gotten away with it….We need help, I’m shouting out from this 8-by-10 cell, help us! Don’t let them quiet our voice; be an amplifier for us. Don’t let what they are doing to us and throughout the MDOC fade into oblivion.”

What Happened at Vaughn Prison? By Heather Ann Thompson, Jacobin Magazine. (2/2/17)
“At Vaughn prison and elsewhere, we should demand transparency and stand with the inmates who dare to affirm their humanity….It isn’t simply Attica’s history that should make us concerned about what might be transpiring now at Vaughn. Just this past September, on the forty-fifth anniversary of the Attica rebellion, prisoners throughout the US went on strike against forced prison labor and the terrible conditions in which they live. Not surprisingly, corrections officials once again tried to spin this unrest by stressing the illegitimacy of the prisoners’ actions: these were but violent criminals who had gone on a rampage, and they would be dealt with accordingly. The men and women in these facilities relay a very different story.”

Prison food contractor hit with $2M in penalties. By Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press. (1/20/17)
“The penalties, first reported Thursday by Gongwer News Service, show significant problems persist with the privatization of prison food services, after the state ended a contract early to replace its first prison food contractor, Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services.”

Prison strike organizers to protest food giant Aramark. By Kamala Kalkar, PBS Newshour. (1/8/17)
“And on Sept. 9, the anniversary of the Attica takeover, thousands of inmates across dozens of state prisons went on strike to rail against it. There were reports of pepper spray, teargas and zip ties at Kinross Correctional Facility in Michigan before hundreds of people believed to be involved were transferred to other facilities. Inmates across the country were also censored, prevented from receiving newspapers and put in isolation. “That was the first wave,” Glasgow said. “This is the second wave.” In 2015, the state of Michigan canceled a controversial, $145 million, three-year contract with the company. In addition to complaints about the quality of food, more than 100 Aramark employees were banned from prison grounds for inappropriate behavior, according to state officials. That year, a judge also found an Aramark supervisor guilty of trying to arrange an assault on an inmate.”

Prison protest cost taxpayers $900K, ‘scariest’ day ever for corrections officer. By John Agar, Grand Rapids Press. (1/5/17)
“A housing unit officer said: “I’m totally different since this, you know, walking in there. I always want to come out the way I came in, and that day really was the scariest ever before since I’ve started working… . It’s really changed me, just being in there, and how (prison officials) downplayed it.””

Kinross prison disturbance cost Michigan nearly $900,000. By Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press. (1/4/17)
“The vast majority of the $888,320 bill was wages, overtime, meals and accommodations for about 100 emergency response team members who were sent to Kinross from around the state and stayed there about a week, Chris Gautz told the Free Press Tuesday. On top of those personnel costs of about $741,000, the cost of repairing damage to the prison was just over $86,000, he said. The department also spent close to $94,000 moving prisoners involved in the disturbance to higher-security prisons, according to records the Free Press obtained under Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act. Gautz said most of those transportation costs were personnel costs and they are included in the $741,000 figure.  Damage in the Sept. 10 incident included at least one fire, smashed windows and sinks, busted-out walls, damage to telephones and other communications equipment, trashed files and graffiti, department records show. One unit was left unlivable for several days. Though nobody was injured, emergency response team officers armed with shotguns and pepper spray guns stormed the housing units and zip-tied  the wrists of nearly all of the more than 1,200 inmates. Corrections officers say it was Michigan’s first prison riot since 1981, and that officials temporarily lost control of the facility. Gautz and other prison managers insist there was no loss of control and the disturbance should not be described as a riot. The department found money within existing budgets to pay the unforeseen expenses, Gautz said, adding he is not aware of any specific cuts made to other budget areas to help cover the cost. The damage occurred after officers stormed the housing units to remove instigators, following what was described as a peaceful march in the yard by more than 400 inmates.”

What do we mean by abolition? Rustbelt Abolition Radio, ep. 1 (1/2/17)
“In this episode we turn to recent news of the deepening impacts of the biggest prison strike in U.S. History, as we look at Kinross Correctional Facility in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  We also speak with Professor Liat Ben-Moshé on our carceral society and the political imaginary of abolition. We wrap with a phone interview with Chaz, an imprisoned trans woman in Michigan who is fighting for queer and trans prisoners’ liberation.”

Protesting inmates refuse meals at western U.P. prison. By Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press. (12/30/16)
“About 80 high-security prisoners at Baraga Correctional Facility in the western Upper Peninsula refused to eat lunch and dinner this week in a protest over prison food, a Corrections Department spokesman confirmed.”

Scandal at Kinross Prison. By Greg Peterson, U.P. Breaking News. (12/12/16)
“Federal lawsuit alleges spoiled and undercooked and raw food is being served to Michigan prison inmates and after the scandal plagued Aramark was booted out but now its people are allegedly running the new company and just as poorly – Named in suit are Kinross Warden, Deputy Warden now Warden at Baraga Max, two food companies, and state prison officials.”

Combating Repression Following the Kinross Prison Uprising: New Perspectives, New Efforts. It’s Going Down. (12/1/16)
“As reports continue to come in from Michigan prisoners who were involved with the uprising, both the scope of retaliation and individual stories of resistance are making their way out. The attempt by vegan prisoners to maintain agency over their own bodies through daily insistence on food keeping with their ethics, is one ongoing avenue of struggle. Even in the most ordinary circumstances, maintaining a vegan diet in prison is very challenging. In the wake of the Kinross uprising, it’s become even more so for some….What follows is another perspective on the Kinross uprising from Lamont Heard, a prison rebel in the Michigan DOC who was active during the protests at Kinross Correctional in March of this year. Lamont was not present at Kinross during the September uprising, but compiled the following account from inmates who were transferred to his current prison after the events of September 9th and 10th.”

Rattling the Cages: This fall’s prison strikes are a model of how to both survive and challenge an authoritarian, racist order. By Dan Berger, Jacobin Magazine. (11/18/16)
“Numbers aside, the mass action shows that a bold spirit of resistance has once again jolted the American prison landscape. For more than five years now, prison and immigrant detention center officials have had to contend with sustained disruption.”

State Sen. Wayne Schmidt — Kinross incident highlights need for corrections reforms. By Wayne Schmidt, Petoskey News-Review. (11/2/16)
“Some of the conditions that are said to have led to the disturbance add to the call for reforming our criminal justice system.”

Why are fewer Michigan prisoners classified as high-security? By Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press. (10/31/16)
“The classification a prisoner receives is calculated using a score sheet and has more to do with how compliant a prisoner is and how well the prisoner is expected to adjust to life behind bars than to what kind of criminal record the prisoner has.”

Why US inmates launched a nationwide strike. By Max Blau and Emanuella Grinberg, CNN. (10/31/16)
“Officials in Texas and South Carolina denied to CNN that any protests took place. But criminal justice advocates said the scale makes it the largest and most significant inmate strike in American history. ..’We’re bringing this conversation to the mainstream,’ (Austin Community College professor Azzurra) Crispino said. ‘People often say, that’s not practical, there’s no point in talking about it. Now we say the words prison and abolition together, and people don’t laugh.'”

Prisoners say harsh backlash followed Kinross protest. By Aidan Wayne, Detroit Metro Times. (10/28/16)
“Their stated intention was to negotiate for better living and working conditions, including better quality and quantity of food, higher wages, lower phone rates, and to disallow putting up to eight men in a room designed for four. The protest was peaceful, and organizers asked that the response from officials be in accordance with that, without violent retaliation.”

America’s Private Prisons Are Nothing Less Than a System of Modern Slavery. By Donovan Farley, Paste Magazine. (10/27/16)
“For a certain segment of the population, ‘prison’ is an abstract term that perhaps calls to mind an hours-long stint in jail for some youthful indiscretion, quickly forgotten, records expunged. For those people, this may seem a faraway problem—or simply not an issue. (‘These are criminals after all,’ goes the classic dismissal of the prisoners’ humanity.) But for many—especially those in the minority community—the threat of jail in America comes as a fearsome part of everyday life. In a country that has five percent of the world’s population but 25 percent of its prisoners, and doles out far longer sentences than almost every other country, how we treat our prisoners is clearly reflective of where we are and where we’re headed as a society.”

Compliant Prisoners Teargassed without Provocation; Michigan Department of Corrections Withheld Information. By eNews Park Forest. (10/26/16)
“Numerous discrepancies between claims from the MDOC and witness accounts from prisoners and guards alike have come to light thus far. MDOC spokesperson Chris Gautz claimed that only prisoners at Kinross participated in the September 9 nationwide work stoppage. Multiple prisoners contradict this claim and state that kitchen workers at Marquette Branch Prison, Michigan Reformatory, and Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility also refused to work that day. MDOC saidthat only kitchen workers and a few others refused to report to work at Kinross, but [a Kinross prisoner] reports that it was a facility-wide work stoppage.”

Strikes on Prison Labor, Conditions Still Strong into 3rd Month. By TeleSUR English. (10/25/16)
“Even after inmates complied when ordered to go to their bunks, a SWAT team launched tear gas and pepper spray at the inmates…Three inmates have died in Kinross since the uprising, all from questionable causes. Meanwhile, guards told Buzzfeed they support the strike and ‘see it as a moral issue.’”

U.S. Prisoner Protest: Why Listening to the Voices of the Incarcerated Matters. By Heather Ann Thompson, on Newsweek. (10/25/16)
“An estimated 24,000 American men and women behind bars have been trying to call our attention to the terrible state of prisoner conditions since September 9. It matters who the press believes and what it reports. State officials understand the stakes of how this latest unrest is characterized. According to reports out of Michigan in the wake of a dramatic upheaval at a major penal facility there, just how to spin the crisis was heavily debated. As one internal email put it: ‘I think we need to be clear that these are not sympathetic characters and their actions are not something that should be viewed as anything other than destructive and dangerous for staff and other prisoners.’ If we choose to interpret the most recent prison protests as a destructive effort, we will again ignore the thousands of men and women who deserve the right to live with basic dignity.”

Prisons Are Erupting and Why It Matters. By Heather Ann Thompson, The Daily Beast. (10/21/16)
“Kinross, like countless other penal facilities across the country, is overcrowded and the men held inside have been trying to bring attention to the inhumane conditions they live under for a long time now. But this facility, again like so many others, is far, far away from where most of the prisoner families live as well as far from the media’s gaze. People on the outside can’t see the ‘spoiled food, severe overcrowding, indifference to inmate grievances’ that the men inside have been enduring.”

Historian: From Attica to Kinross, we have a right to know what happens in our prisons.
By Stateside Staff, Michigan Radio. (10/21/16)
“‘Whether it’s Attica in 1971 or it’s our own Michigan’s Kinross facility today,’ she said, ‘these are public institutions and we have a citizen’s right to know what goes on behind those bars and behind those walls, and we don’t.'”

“It Is In Losing We Gain”: Reflections on the September 10th Kinross Prison UprisingIt’s Going Down. (10/20/16)
“The September 9th and 10th actions at Kinross demonstrate tactical similarities to the demonstrations that spread through the Michigan prison system in March of this year. Michigan prisoners continue to show that they are highly organized and capable pulling off mass demonstrations that shake the Michigan prison system. This time, they showed they are capable of doing so in coordination with prisoners on a national level.

What’s clear is that the Michigan Department of Rehabilitation and Correction’s (MDOC) go-to solution for managing prisoner revolt seems to be the retaliatory transfer. In March, we saw this tactic blow up in their face when the prison administrators themselves surmised that the strikes most likely spread from Kinross to another facility after an organizer was transferred. Apparently they have not learned their lesson. As 250 prisoners who now have the experience of two successful mass rebellions are transferred throughout the Michigan prison system, there is no way of knowing where the next protest may occur….

From Gilbert Morales: Ain’t no sacrifice greater than that for our fellow brothers. I had a lot going but when the call came only those with courage can live a life of virtue. Even though it cost us plenty and we may not reap the benefits we did something that many have failed at. Sitting in this 8 x 10 cell, it makes a man wonder is it worth it. I’ve heard many of the men yelling, “I shouldn’t of went out there.” It is testing the best of them. They regret making that final call. If they can’t come to terms with the decision they made they will be resentful doing time. They have to realize that only losing everything are they free to do everything. It is in losing we gain. One could wonder what kind of math did God create but it is all about longevity. And from the looks of it, unless it gets overturned, we are going to be here for a while: in Administrative Segregation, Level 5. They read all mail.

2 Inmates Have Died in ‘Preventable Deaths’ at Striking Prisons. By Monique Judge, The Root. (10/18/16)
“Inmates at Kinross Correctional Facility in Michigan and Holman Correctional Facility in Alabama died this month after prison staff reportedly failed to respond on time.”

Two Inmates Have Died Amid National Prison Strike. By Cora Lewis, Buzzfeed. (10/18/16)
“Prisoners have died in two facilities where inmates are participating in a national prison strike, in what organizers say were preventable deaths caused by inadequate staffing. At Kinross Correctional Facility in Michigan, where 400 inmates took part in a protest last month, an inmate named Charlie Anderson died on October 10 in an incident being investigated by local police.”

Michigan prisoners rise up! Overcrowded and underfunded state prisons spawn resistance. By Rand W. Gould, San Francisco Bayview. (10/15/16)
“Not since the 1980s, when the state of Michigan simultaneously ratcheted up ‘tough on crime’ laws and eliminated good time credits have Michigan’s prisons seethed with so much discontent and been so overcrowded…This year, after decades of passivity, Michigan prisoners are finally rising up and actively resisting their oppression – the inevitable ‘chickens coming home to roost’ in a prison system that operates as a human warehouse, offering few programming opportunities (none for lifers), whether teaching job skills or rehabilitation, and slave wages of $.84 to $1.14 per day for the limited jobs available. These slave wages have not increased in decades, but have decreased, as both food service and Michigan State Industries (MSI) workers had their performance bonuses taken, while the quantity and quality of food served in the chow hall declined precipitously and commissary prices skyrocketed due to privatization.”

Prisoner Strike Results In Retaliation, Death, In Michigan Prison. By Rising up with Sonali. (10/14/16)
“An inmate named Charles Lee Johnson has died at the Kinross Correctional Facility in Michigan, one of the prisons that had participated in a nationwide prisoner work strike. Johnson is one of three prisoners that have died within Michigan prisons in just the past month…Prison authorities put the Kinross facility on lockdown for days after a work stoppage in September. Their grievances stem from extremely harsh conditions inside the facilities. Details are now emerging of severe retaliation that includes solitary confinement, transfers to other facilities, and even new charges.”

Three Michigan Prisoners Die Within One Month Amid Crackdown on Prison Strike. By Democracy Now! (10/14/16)
“In Michigan, a prisoner at the Kinross Correctional Facility has died of unknown causes on Monday. Charlie Anderson is the third person to die within Michigan’s prisons within a month. This comes as new information has surfaced about a crackdown at the Kinross Correctional Facility against prisoners participating in the nationwide prison strike. Prisoners say they did not show up to work at the kitchen on the morning of September 9—the first day of the strike—and instead organized a peaceful march of hundreds of prisoners in the yard. They say an armed tactical team then stormed into the yard, handcuffing people and firing tear gas canisters. They also say some of the prisoners were left outside in the rain for up to six hours in retaliation.”

Officials debated message on Kinross prison disturbance. By Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press. (10/14/16)
“The department’s public disclosures about the incident sparked an internal controversy, with corrections officers saying it was Michigan’s first prison riot since 1981, and that officials temporarily lost control of the facility; while prison managers insist there was no loss of control and the disturbance should not be described as a riot. E-mails obtained by the Free Press show there was an internal debate about the contents of a news release the Corrections Department sent out at about 10:40 p.m. on Sept. 10, after calm was restored. ‘Does the tone of this match what we had to do tonight?’ asked Corrections Department legislative liaison Kyle Kaminski, after the draft news release was circulated among top prison officials. …Corrections Department Director Heidi Washington said she ‘didn’t want to get into specifics’ in the news release. ‘This has been ongoing for over 12 hours and (the news media) haven’t picked up (on) it yet,’ she said in an e-mail to prison spokesman Chris Gautz, after Kaminski’s e-mail was sent to her. ‘I don’t want to send a flare up now that makes a huge public issue.’”

Fiance of Michigan Prisoner Describes Brutal Response to Prison Strike. By Brian Sonenstein, Shadowproof. (10/13/16)
“On September 9, most prisoners at Michigan’s Kinross Correctional Facility took part in the national prison strike against slave labor and refused to report for work. The prison responded by withholding their hot meals and eventually launched an assault against the prisoners for their peaceful protest. Administrators later withheld medical care and a prisoner died.”

Officials probe inmate death at corrections facility. By Detroit News staff. (10/13/16)
“Authorities are investigating the death of a third inmate at a state corrections facility in the last month, officials said Thursday. Michigan Prison Abolition claims medical staff did not arrive for approximately 15 minutes ‘even after he became unresponsive,’ the group said in a statement Thursday. The group also alleges that other prisoners have complained about inadequate medical care at the facility, which last month was the site of a prisoner-led protest.The incident comes weeks after state corrections officials have said about 150 inmates were moved from the prison to other facilities after the Sept. 10 protest. Officials said it started peacefully, with about 400 prisoners marching in the Kinross Correctional Facility yard.”

Justice Department announces investigation into Alabama prisons as US prison strike continues. By Gary Joad, World Socialist Web Site. (10/13/16)
“There has been a wholesale abandonment of the idea that prisoners deserve any good treatment behind bars. In Texas, for example, prisoners are literally locked in cages longer and longer than they have ever been, with no time out of the cell. It’s sweltering, of course, because it’s Texas. It’s hundreds of degrees in these cement cages. They’re serving horrendous time in solitary … mistreated with lack of food (and) suffering lack of medical care.”

Michigan Prison Labor Strikers Release Their Demands. By Brendan O’Connor, Jezebel. (10/10/16)
“According to the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee—an effort by Industrial Workers of the World, an international labor union, to help incarcerated workers organize—Kinross remained on lockdown for nearly two weeks, from September 10 to the morning of September 22. ‘About 150 prisoners accused of being instigators were transferred to other facilities, where an unknown number were charged with inciting a riot and punished with isolation,’ IWOC said in a statement. ‘In violation of MDOC policy, guards destroyed the property of the accused prisoners and encouraged other prisoners to steal their personal food’…’We’re supposed to be rehabilitating these people, but then they take away anything that makes them human.’”

Guards Sympathize With Striking Prisoners: “We See It As A Moral Issue”. By Cora Lewis, Buzzfeed. (10/9/16)
““We see it as a moral issue,” said Andy Potter, chief of staff and executive vice president of the Michigan Corrections Organization (MCO), which represents 10,000 corrections staffers. Hundreds of inmates in Michigan took part in the national strike with a peaceful prison-yard march in early September, leading to a purge by prison authorities, who identified 250 organizers of the strike and relocated them to other facilities.

“The officers basically understand the prisoners’ plight,” Potter told BuzzFeed News. “They don’t outright support the work-stoppage, they haven’t taken a position like that, but almost everyone that I’ve talked to — and I represent them — understand why the inmates would do it.””

Peacefully Marching Prisoners at Michigan’s Kinross Teargassed, Zip-Tied, Left out in Rain.  By Diane Bukowski, Voice of Detroit. (10/9/16)
“The violent assault of the armed officers triggered panic among the prisoners, who feared for their lives. Some reported being shot at directly with tear gas canisters. Others attempted to barricade their unit doors. Reportedly, fires were set in several units, at least one window was broken, and sinks and surveillance cameras were damaged after the officers began their assault. Media reports have focused on who was to blame for the damage to physical property, not the violence done to prisoners in violation of their human rights.”

Inmates: officer tactics escalated peaceful protest at Kinross. By Stateside Staff, Michigan Radio. (10/4/16)
“Last month on Sept. 10, there was an incident at the Kinross Correctional Facility. It started with a peaceful demonstration by prisoners and ended with a fire, smashed windows, and other vandalism. 250 inmates were moved to higher security prisons. The spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections, Chris Gautz, said call it an incident, or call it vandalism. But don’t call it a riot. But the union for corrections officers saw it differently. Tom Tylutki from the Michigan Corrections Organization joined Stateside and felt confident calling the incident a riot.”

More Details Emerge on Kinross Prison Riot. By Barb Hall, Patch. (10/4/16)
“Some are saying riot, others say skirmish, but it’s becoming clear that an incident at Kinross Correctional Facility last month was bigger than originally reported, and some are blaming prison authorities for the escalation. A Kinross inmate told the Detroit Free Press that the prisoners were under control and had returned to their units on Sept. 10 until more than 100 armed officers arrived and fired pepper spray. “It could have been settled,” Kinross inmate Anthony Bates told the Free Press in a telephone interview.“When the officers came in, they caused chaos,” said Bates, 39. “It sparked the flame … (and) started a wildfire.” “It was a riot,” Tom Tylutki, president of the Michigan Corrections Organization union told the Free Press. “For anybody to describe it as anything other than that is just amazing to us.” Nobody was injured in the incident.”

Kinross inmate: Raid with pepper spray sparked vandalism. By Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press. (10/4/16)
“An inmate at Kinross Correctional Facility says hundreds of prisoners had returned to their housing units and were peaceful on Sept. 10 until more than 100 officers, armed with shotguns and firing pepper spray, stormed the units and triggered anger and acts of vandalism. ‘It could have been settled,’ Anthony Bates…told the Free Press in a telephone interview. ‘When the officers came in, they caused chaos,’ said Bates, 39…. ‘It sparked the flame … (and) started a wildfire.’ Bates’ story that the housing units were peaceful and inmates thought their grievances were being investigated until armed officers poured into the facility is corroborated in letters written by two other inmates, which were provided to the Free Press by friends or relatives who asked that the inmates not be identified.”

The Largest Prison Strike in History is Being Largely Ignored by Major Media Outlets. By Spencer King, Paste Magazine. (9/30/16)
“Media co-chair of the IWOC Azzurra Crispino told Democracy Now the following:
Less than two days ago … at Kinross unit in Michigan … The warden had come out and was speaking to the inmates, over 400 of them, which had peacefully marched in the yard. But after the warden left, basically, a riot repression team came in and dragged prisoners out of their showers and out of their cells, zip-tied their arms behind their back and threw them out in the yard and left them out there for five to six hours in the rain without any access to bathroom facilities. So the repression that prisoners are facing around the country for having participated in the strike is real, and it’s very severe.

Hunger Strikes, Marches & Work Stoppages: Unprecedented National Prison Strike Enters Third Week. Democracy Now! (9/28/16)
” Well, certainly, the history here bears repeating. When George Jackson was assassinated 45 years ago, he had been calling for a prisoners’ union and a nationwide prison strike. So it’s fitting that on September 9th, on the 45th anniversary of the Attica uprising, that we were finally able to deliver the largest prison strike that has ever been seen in U.S. history. In terms of the momentum, certainly now there has been a shift towards dealing with repression.”

Riot? Disturbance? What really happened at Kinross prison. By Stateside Staff, Michigan Radio. (9/22/16)
“On September 10, there was an uprising at Kinross Correctional Facility in the Upper Peninsula. According to the Michigan Department of Corrections, it’s the most serious incident inside a Michigan prison anyone can recall since the 1981 riot at what was then called Southern Michigan Prison in Jackson. MDOC says there were no injuries to corrections staff or inmates. Approximately 250 prisoners have been transferred out of Kinross since the incident, the department says. As first reported by the Detroit Free Press, there’s a dispute over just what to call the incident at Kinross.”

Riot or reined-in? Prison officials disagree on U.P. skirmish. By Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press. (9/21/16)
“A Sept. 10 uprising at Kinross Correctional Facility was much more serious than initially described: The Department of Corrections lost control of the prison before retaking it with armed force after inmates did their best to wreck the place, says the president of the Michigan Corrections Organization. ‘It was a riot,’ Tom Tylutki told the Free Press on Tuesday. ‘For anybody to describe it as anything other than that is just amazing to us.’…It was the first time armed officers were sent into housing units since the Michigan prison riots of 1981, Tylutki said… Tylutki said there were warning signs at Kinross, including a 1,000-prisoner food protest in March.”

Attica’s Lessons Went Unlearned: Our Prisons Are Still a Disgrace. By Heather Ann Thompson, The Daily Beast. (9/13/16)
“Back in 1971 when the prisoners at Attica protested—when they were begging for help from state officials—they ended up being shot, tortured, and traumatized. And because the nation ignored the problem then, and indeed made it much, much worse, prisons are once again erupting. This time we can’t respond with even more abuse. This time we must all listen, and act.”

#PrisonStrike Resistance to Slavery Across the World. It’s Going Down. (first published 9/8/16)
“This resistance comes not from the Democratic Party nor the pro-capitalist labor unions that support it, the NGOs or non-profits which act as a wet blanket on revolt during every uprising, or the self-appointed activist leaders who seek to manage and contain social movements and struggles, but instead has built itself from ground up through endless and tireless hours of letter-writing nights, noise-demonstrations, community meetings and conferences, call-in campaigns, bloody riots, nights spend wheat-pasting and spray painting, and mass strikes.

Now, this force awakens. This grassroots and horizontal confederation of collectives, organizations, crews, individuals, and networks; organized for the purpose not of speaking truth to power, electing a politician, or creating a third party, but instead in breathing life into a movement aimed at the destruction of prisons, policing, white supremacy, and the capitalist State that protects their existence.”

UPDATE: 400 inmates protest at U.P. Prison. ABC 10 News Upper Peninsula. (9/11/16)
The Michigan Department of Corrections has released more information in connection to Saturday’s protest at the Kinross Correctional Facility in Kincheloe. MDOC spokesperson Chris Gautz says 400 inmates began marching Saturday at 8:50 a.m….Officials and staff at the prison had the inmates back in their housing units at 12:30 p.m….Some housing units were damaged and a small fire was reportedly set while prison staff removed these inmates. Emergency response teams and officers from other prisons were sent to Kinross to help restore order. No injuries were reported.”

Inmates in Upper Peninsula set fire, damage housing units. By Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press. (9/11/16)
“Instead of regular hot meals, inmates at Kinross received bag meals all day Friday and again Saturday morning, he said. The bag meals — which Gautz noted were a result of the inmates’ actions — were among the grievances prisoners raised after about 400 of them peacefully marched and chanted in the yard on Saturday morning, he said. Other issues raised were wages paid for prions jobs — 74 cents to $3.34 per day — and access to the commutation process, he said.”

Downtown protest tonight supports nationwide prison strike. By Michael Jackman, Detroit Metro Times. (9/9/16)
“Here’s something you’re unlikely to learn about from the mainstream media today: Prisoners across the United States are striking today. They will refuse to work in protest of “modern day slavery” — a demand that is backed up by facts showing the injustice of the modern-day “carceral state.””

Why 1,200 Michigan Inmates Are Protesting Their Prison’s Food.  By Tom Perkins, Munchies. (3/25/16)
“On Monday, all but 30 of 1,300 inmates in northern Michigan’s Kinross Correctional Facility skipped meals as part of a peaceful demonstration, according to a prisoner who spoke with MUNCHIES.

“The portions are smaller. The food is nasty and not thoroughly cooked. Young, old, and multiple races are involved in this,” Lamont Heard…told me.

He adds that the food protest followed a Sunday demonstration over the prison’s conditions, which he says include broken/overflowing toilets, poor ventilation, broken heaters (January’s average low temperature is 12 degrees in Michigan’s upper peninsula), problems with visitation, and other issues with prison services.”

Michigan prisoners still protesting foul food. By Michael Jackman, Detroit Metro Times. (3/23/16)
“One of the groups most concerned about these protests and prisoners not getting quality food is the Michigan Corrections Organization, the labor union representing more than 10,0000 corrections personnel in the state of Michigan. See, they don’t like it when any grievance is so undeniable that it gets 1,000 prisoners to agree to engage in protest.”

Prisoners protest food under new contractor Trinity. By Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press. (3/22/16)
“About 1,000 of the Kinross Correctional Facility’s approximately 1,300 inmates staged a silent protest Sunday, before a similar number refused to eat meals on Monday.”

Something still stinks in Michigan and Ohio’s prison kitchen. By Tom Perkins, Detroit Metro Times. (2/17/16)
“”The only thing they did was switch the employees’ shirts,” Lamont Heard, a prisoner…in Michigan’s Kinross Correctional Facility, tells us. “It’s the same people— they just switched the title, but the food is worse. Everything is worse than with Aramark.”…The food is so bad that some are skipping meals even though they’re hungry, say Heard and Randy Jones, another Kinross prisoner. “The food is worse. Somehow, the food got worse. Whatever they cook, no matter what it is, it’s always worse. Now, everyone has a negative attitude toward Trinity. It’s the same as before,” Jones says.

The prisoners claim inmates who file grievances face retribution from Trinity staff. If a prisoner reports a problem, then he’s likely to end up with the smallest slice of cake on the next run through the chow line. And the grievances go to Trinity’s food boss, so little is resolved. “It’s like complaining to the wolf about what’s going on in the hen house,” Heard says, adding that the staff is on its best behavior if Trinity brass is visiting the site.

Kenneth Williams, also a prisoner at Kinross, deals with kidney issues that require a special diet. He tells me that Trinity refuses to consistently feed him that diet, and that led to a recent hospitalization. “I’m angry. This could cause me to be on dialysis, and that’s what I keep telling them,” Williams says. “I’m trying to avoid being on dialysis. Once your kidneys start failing, then everything starts failing. “A lot of times I end up going without eating. I go hungry.””