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Shut Down Control Units Wherever They Exist!

November 11, 2005


In speaking of Delaware’s infamous segregation unit, commonly known as the Security Housing Unit (SHU), immediately images of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and Attica Prisons come to mind. Such images arise similarly in speaking of every other prison with a SHU or control unit throughout fascist Amerikkka and abroad. Daily, prisoners in control units are subjected to mistreatment, suffering, brutal beatings, tear gas and mace, state sponsored terrorism, strip cells, and confinement to small cells 23-24 hours a day. They are fed a diet of cold, measly meals, psychological abuse, death threats, oppression, repression, depression, and insanity. These conditions breed emotional breakdowns, self-mutilation, and suicide attempts (occasionally successful).

Thus it is my hope that you—the people, the public—will not only become well informed about these instruments of torture, but also enraged, inspired, and poised to join with others who are just as furious and ready to ACT using whatever means are available to CLOSE DOWN these torture chambers that serve only to isolate, warehouse, and destroy.

Inside Delaware’s SHU, as an example, there are no educational or vocational programs, no jobs (except one tier man job that pays only $9.60 per month), and no religious services. Nor is there access to typewriters, computers, or the law library (except occasionally via a written request). Medical care is poor or none at all. Indoor/outdoor recreational facilities are inadequate. The designated area consists of five small, empty cages strongly resembling dog kennels or some other animal confinement. Prisoners are strictly forbidden to interact with one another. Other than the pigs/guards, there is not human contact. Only one or two ten minute phone calls are allowed per month, and only one or two forty-five minute visits. All visits are through a plexiglass window. No brooms, mops, or buckets are available for prisoners to clean their cells. Etc. Etc. Whenever a prisoner is taken from the cell, he is forced to undergo a bondage ritual in which he ends up handcuffed in the back or front, chained, and shackled. This degradation is inflicted during visits with friends and loved ones even though they are through a plexiglass barrier.

This character of Delaware’s SHU is shared, with local variations, in SHUs and control units across the country and around the world. To merely denounce SHUs and Control Unit Prisons will not suffice if out aim is to shut them down. We must do more than just speak out against these monstrosities. We have to communicate and coordinate, work diligently and vigorously to assure that we are effective and taken seriously. Verbal denunciation by itself will at best rattle some nerves or perhaps even achieve some cosmetic changes. At its worst, however, verbal denunciation alone will get us laughed at, dismissed, and ignored. Unless our protests are supported by ACTION, the chances of ending this inhumane policy of locking people up and throwing away the key will be slim to none. This is about a system that is ineptly formulated, incompetently administered, and now out of control. In addition to brutalizing prisoners, this system lowers the humanity of the people who operate it and oversee it and the citizens who condone it.

The system also breeds dishonesty. For instance, the Delaware Department of Correction in general, and Delaware Correctional Center’s administration in particular, have become well known for their cleverness and treachery in falsifying, covering up, and deceiving both the media and the public about conditions and practices in the SHU. They thus paint a false picture on which to maintain support for continuing the SHU operation in which the state has already invested millions and for which the prison authorities will get millions more. Wasting this money on such a demonstrably counterproductive use hurts the public, and doing so on these false pretenses insults it.

Society should be just as concerned with shutting down control units as those it keeps in them. This is especially true considering the Patriot Act, the “war on terrorism”, and the ever-rising police state amerikka. The powers the police have assumed under them are a clear indication of the erosion and infringement of basic consitutional, civil, and human rights. Many of the attitudes that allow the police state to treat the public as an enemy to be controlled at any cost can be traced to the treatment of “crime” and prisoners. Fewer rights and more repression means that everyone is closer to an SHU or control unit cell than they may think.

The problem SHUs and control units represent is not a black-white problem, nor a Latino or Asian problem. It is not about one religion against another or whose politics are more credible. Rather, it is a human problem that calls upon all of humanity to change the course of history, to bridge the divide and secure a culture that will enable future generations to live lives of real peace, democracy, and freedom.

All power to the people!

Gary Watson #098990
Unit SHU17
Delarare Correctional Center
1181 Paddock Road
Smyrna DE 19977 USA

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