Ethics Crisis In Prison Management: An Activist and Policymaker Resource
I am a prisoner in the Washington State Department of Corrections, or DOC for short. I am serving a twenty-five year term for a 1998 shooting death of an Everett drug dealer during an attempt to get back property he had stolen in a burglary. I turned myself in and this is my first time in prison. I have no drug crime or deviant criminal history. I have an excellent conduct record in prison and I am well respected by most prisoners and staff. But since coming to prison I have been forced to learn how to defend myself through investigative journalism.
I investigate prison policies and practices which do not seem to make sense. These investigations – using public open records laws – culminate in essays and reports. Early and partial versions of these reports are posted on fromjail.com. I’ve proven that our prison system does society tremendous harm through its widespread corruption and mismanagement. My combination of controversial exposure and satire has garnered me a broad underground following of people eager to read my next release. Though these stories usually get the results I was looking for, they are not widely known among the general public; this is due to their controversial nature and vigorous attempts to suppress widespread knowledge of the remedies I have secured.
I was a political activist and underground writer in the free world, promoting ethnic self-determination for my people. When I came to prison in 1999, I was confronted by someone from the FBI and the head of what DOC calls Intelligence and Investigations, or I&I. They agreed I did not fit the profile of a gang member and that my history and views did not pose a threat to prison security or safety. My community activism was strictly legal, it even involved local law enforcement in Minnesota and Idaho.
Several trouble-free years in prison followed while I held the most security-sensitive work positions and provided valuable labor for DOC. When the food became unbearably bad I was forced to find out why, and write about my findings. Then – suddenly – the views I held all along became “evidence” of what DOC calls “security threat group (STG) affiliation and activity.”
My experiences with retaliation in DOC are similar to those in the case of Bruce v. Ylst (9th Circuit, 2003). There, prison staff validated Vincent Bruce as a prison gang affiliate in retaliation for his jailhouse lawyering activity. Similarly, Farid v. Goord (Western District of New York, 2002). In that case the prisoner was punished in retaliation for writing satirical articles on various aspects of prison life. Also Spruyette v. Hoffner (Western District of Michigan, 2001). In this case prisoners had established that in retaliation for writing letters to the editor of a newspaper they lost their prison jobs, were labeled as security threats, and had personal belongings seized from their property.
I was kicked out of the Clallam Bay Correction Center in 2002 for writing a report exposing corruption in Bud Keller’s foodservice program. He promptly retired. A cartoon about this, called Nailhead’s Gulag Nightmares #1 depicts my ouster and arrival at the Washington State Penitentiary (WSP). In WSP, program manager Carla Schettler refused to allow me out of solitary confinement unless I entered a re-education program to change my political views. I warned her that she didn’t want me to take those classes.
I wrote The War Against Whites about WSP’s Cultural Diversity class. This caused the class to be canceled. In retaliation, I was charged with “threatening, extortion and security threat group activity.” This was on the basis of what DOC calls “confidential information.” Confidential information is secret so you cannot defend yourself against it. I beat the charges after five months in solitary confinement. Headquarters staff Steve Ramsey, and WSP hearing officer Ron Andring conspired to keep me in solitary another four months. Andring told me, “Just because you beat us in court doesn’t mean you’re not guilty” (Spring, 2004).
My next re-education class was called Victims Awareness. I wrote a story about the class called, The Cult of Victimhood. This caused the class to be canceled, statewide. In retaliation I was charged with the identical fusillade of threatening, extortion and security threat group activity. But because DOC didn’t take any early release time for the infractions, Washington courts ruled I did not have a liberty interest to appeal. I now have the permanent label of being “STG affiliated.” But by then, in 2007, I had permanently established beyond question that our own prison managers are the biggest threats to prison – and community – safety.
I wrote Washington Prison Holds Lecture by Black Militant when Stafford Creek Correction Center hosted a lecture by anti-white, Marxist domestic terrorist Angela Davis. In response I was threatened by SCCC’s lieutenant Haley, sergeant Roberts, and five other officers to stop writing. I politely referred them to my central file and excellent conduct history. Remarkably, they did not take me to solitary confinement this time. Instead, they trashed my cell, seized copious amounts of my literature, and for some weird reason, photographed my music collection.
Despite threats to stop writing or face time in solitary confinement, I continued, hoping that as staff got to know me they would be less likely to retaliate against me. I wrote Understanding Religious White Nationalism to demystify ethnic self-determination as expressed by white people. Before this, it was common to punish prisoners for expression of their white Folk religions. Now, hearings officers are refusing to punish white prisoners for what nonwhite prisoners can say and do with impunity. Double standards about “racism” and “hate” have been exposed.
I confronted DOC’s sick practice of deliberately placing two prisoners in the same cell – when they know they will not get along. Over the years this has resulted in brutal assaults and several deaths; all in the name of ‘diversity.’ Fortunately for everyone, by the time I wrote Calculated Integration the DOC had a black man in charge. Harold Clarke was not burdened by white guilt or silly notions of political correctness. Clarke adopted policy 420.140 in response to the essay. DOC policy now requires prior determinations of cellmate compatibility before housing prisoners together.
Therapeutic Community Programs was a report issued in three versions: legislature, mass-media, and general public. This was commissioned by Liberty Rights Advocates (LibRA) in Ohio. We exposed DOC’s ten million dollar per year sociology experiment as a waste of taxpayer dollars. Forcing prisoners into these programs was revealed as contrary to legislative intent and the Sentencing Reform Act’s prohibition against “coerced rehabilitation.” Even our State legal system cooperated in reversing a prisoner’s punishment for refusing the program.
Washington’s Prisoner Clothing Scam exposed DOC’s elimination of prisoner personal clothing as a money laundering operation to profiteer – at the taxpayer’s expense – off of manufacturing and laundering prisoner clothes by a for-profit “Correctional Industries.” Getting rid of personal clothes cost one prison 300,000 dollars in just one year. Despite our “budget crisis,” the public and legislature haven’t caught on to this yet.
The Government Policy E-mail Project shows prisoners and their community support how to scan and e-mail proof of corruption and mismanagement to the media, legislature and DOC officials. When this is fully implemented, prisoners throughout the system can expose corruption in DOC with the speed necessary for a policy-changing retort. The goal is to e-mail all DOC employees, the whole Washington legislature, and a few dozen media outlets proof about what is really going on – as opposed to what DOC wants people to believe. Only holding public servants accountable, with ruthless honesty, stinging satire, and documentary evidence work to change foolish policies.
Property Disposition Appeal Process shows prisoners and policy makers the limits regarding controversial literature. This is most important when cell search property seizures are retaliation for activism, or when they are discrimination against unpopular views. Declaration Accompanying Tort Claim takes this one step further in a fill-in-the- blanks form for when staff stubbornly refuse to give back property. Similarly, Prison Mail Rejections teaches staff the limits of censorship while it shows prisoners how to overturn mail rejections.
Dozens of other writings pepper the website – fromjail.com – showing prisoners and policy makers how to behave, and how not to behave. The common thread among all these is an ethics crisis in prison management. These stories do not depict honest mistakes. Prison staff lie to, cheat, steal from and torment prisoners at every opportunity. They could do their jobs with half the staff if they didn’t work so hard at keeping prisoners pissed off.
“Government derives its powers from the people. Ethics in government are the foundation on which the structure of government rests. State officials and employees of government hold a public trust that obligates them, in a special way, to honesty and integrity in fulfilling the responsibilities to which they are elected and appointed. ... Only when affairs of government are conducted, at all levels, with openness as provided by law and an unswerving commitment to the public good does government work as it should.” This is a quote from Washington’s statute laws, called the Revised Code of Washington, RCW 42.52.900.
RCW 72.09.010 defines legislative intent for corrections. Its section (2) states punishment is to be limited to the denial of physical liberty. Prisoners are in prison as punishment, not for punishment. Section (4) states prisoners are to be treated fairly and equitably regardless of race, religion or social condition.
Even DOC policy itself prohibits discrimination or the unfair treatment of prisoners on the basis of race, religion or political views (policy 100.500). Decisionmaking on the bases of biases, stereotypes, grudge-holding and negativism has got to stop (all forbidden by policy 850.030, directive C).
Most DOC employees could be criminally prosecuted for gross misdemeanors for violating RCW 9A.80.010, if the attorney general charged with protecting them would also prosecute them: “A public servant is guilty of official misconduct if, with the intent to obtain a benefit, or to deprive another person of a lawful right or privilege, he intentionally commits an unauthorized act ... or intentionally refrains from performing a duty imposed by law.”