Freedom’s Cause # 11 – Feb. 24, 2020


IWOC received this account of the suicide of an incarcerated person, Kristopher Carlisle, at CCI, on January 14: ‘Mr. Carlisle had long been in poor health and suffered from diabetes.  He walked with the aid of a walker, but required a wheel chair for off-unit movement; despite this he was required to navigate stairs, with great difficulty, every time he left his cell tier.  This included meals, medications, blood sugar checks, etc., multiple times a day. Around lunch on 1/14, Mr. Carlisle climbed the steps from his cell on the lower tier to the dayroom. Instead of proceeding into the dayroom, he turned and crawled up the steps to the upper tier of cells. At this point he dove over the railing and landed on the floor of the lower tier (2 floors below).  There was a large amount of blood and the unconscious Mr.Carlisle was taken to the hospital.’ 

A memo from Dr. Persike of PSU confirmed that Mr. Carlisle died from his injuries. 


A contact in WSPF has reported the deaths of two incarcerated persons there. One was found unresponsive in his cell in segregation, while the other died after complaining of chest pain and being told it was only acid reflux. WSPF currently has no doctors. Inmates are assessed by nurses, who can only refer patients to a contracted healthcare provider. This can take weeks, due to long wait lists. 


From a contact in OSCI: ‘Please share with the fellow who was issued a conduct report for his comments about staff in an email: Johnson v. Raemisch, 557 F.Supp. 2d 964 (2008) held that prison officials may not censor speech simply because they deem it inflammatory. Also, Kalafi v. Brown, 16-cv-847 (4/5/18) provided that comments to citizens, even false comments, are protected by the First Amendment (his conduct report was reversed).’


An article in the print/online journal *In These Times* featured the recent lawsuit by 10 prisoners in PDCI for exposure to hazardous materials. The article was based on a phone interview with Nicasio Cuevas Quiles, who also talked about the difficulty of obtaining hygienic products and medical attention in Wisconsin prisons and the retaliation he and co-plaintiffs have faced since filing the lawsuit. The article also mentioned Milwaukee IWOC and its efforts to connect prisoners statewide. 


-On Wednesday (2/19), the Wisconsin State Senate passed a number of ‘tough-on-crime’ bills, including one increasing penalties for stealing cars, reckless driving, and fleeing police. Another would result in the revocation of a person’s extended supervision, parole, or probation if he or she is charged with a crime. (Since the Senate made a change to the latter bill, it needs to be passed again by the Assembly.) Governor Tony Evers, who campaigned on criminal justice reforms to reduce the prison population, is expected to veto the bills. (Source: USNews and World Report). 

-Prisoners at San Quentin are regularly punished for being sick. In early February last year, the 167-year-old Northern California prison was on the verge of an influenza outbreak. Prison officials feared an epidemic because, two years earlier, an older prisoner had contracted the flu and died. West Block was under a quarantine that kept prisoners confined to their cells, with the exception of walking to the chow hall for their meals and to the showers once every three days. In North Block, correctional officers escorted nurses from cell to cell to take prisoners’ temperatures. If a prisoner’s temperature was 100 degrees or higher, he was sent to medical isolation. San Quentin’s medical isolation policy requires that patients be placed in rooms with solid doors that restrict outward-flowing air. North and West Blocks have cells with bars, and air flows freely in and out. Since Carson has cells with perforated steel doors, prison officials use it for medical isolation. Carson, however, was designed to administratively segregate prisoners from the general population pending disciplinary action, for a prisoner’s safety, or for institutional security. It is therefore staffed with correctional officers, not nurses as in a hospital. (Source: The Appeal)

-The West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation is charging inmates to read. As part of their contract with a private company, inmates are provided ‘free’ tablets in which they can access Project Gutenberg, an emporium of free, public domain texts. Sounds great, right? Well, seems like free ain’t free. The per-minute charge of five cents will bring in far more profit than an e-book vendor who charges a set price for downloads, as the cost to read a book far exceeds the cost to purchase one. And that cost will be especially unfair to new readers and people with dyslexia.The prison system receives a 5% commission on the revenue from this program.The average wage for a WV prisoner is 30 cents an hour. Of course, there are layers of censorship, too. How-to guides (carpentry, starting a business, repairing small engines, etc.), contemporary fiction, popular mysteries and sci-fi, African American literature, Native studies, recent autobiographies—will not be available. (Source: Book Patrol)

-A new report shows 8 out of 10 frisks in Milwaukee are not justified.It’s just one of the findings in a report released Tuesday after Milwaukee Police were sued over allegations of unjustified stops and frisks. “If you look at the numbers, we continue to have a situation where black and LatinX people are being frisked,” said Karyn Rotker, Senior Staff Attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin. The ACLU said they want changed behavior from Milwaukee Police when it comes to stops and encounters. To ensure that change happened, MPD agreed to biannual reports done by the Crime and Justice Institute, or CJI. The second report was released Tuesday (2/18). The report showed MPD improved in writing reports to justify their field interviews but is behind in other areas. (Source: TMJ4 news)