By Uhuru B. Rowe
April 14th, 2016
On the 10th of April, 2016, at approximately 11:50pm, I was awaken to the sounds of a correctional officer banging on my door who commanded in a loud voice for my cell parter and I to stand up and approach the cell door. In my efforts to regain my senses after being startled from a deep sleep and amidst the commotion, I nearly fell off my top bunk in order to comply with the guard’s demand.
Upon approaching the cell door, my cell partner and I were forced to strip naked and forced to bend over, squat and cough as the guard and his cohorts examined our bodies.
We were handcuffed, removed from the cell, escorted around a cell phone detection machine, and seated – with our hands cuffed behind our backs – in two different chairs in front of the cell.
Four guards, C.M. Rhodes, A.D. Yuille, M.F. Allen and D.L. Amburn proceeded to search our cell while Sergeant B. Walker stood watch at the cell’s entrance.
In less than five minutes, officer Rhodes emerged from the cell with a cell phone and handed it to Sgt. Walker, who then asked who the cell phone belonged to. After a brief moment of silence, I spoke up and claimed ownership of the phone at which officer Rhodes asked where the phone’s charger could befound. When neither of us responded, Officer Rhodes, in a fit of rage, starting tosssing my personal possessions around the cell like a maniac. All of my legal papers, mail, pictures and study literature were thrown all over my bed and floor. Officer Rhodes was so driven by madness that Sgt. Walker had to call (order) him out of the cell.
Around 12:45am, I was taken to the Restricted Housing Unit (RHU) to a cell that had no running hot water, infested with bugs, and with urine and feces splattered across the top and inside of the toilet. The food that is served in the RHU is alwasys cold from sitting in an unheated food cart, under-prepared, putrid to the taste and smell, and portions purposefully down-sized so that we lose the maximum amount of weight. None of my personal property was issued to me until days later. So I set in a filthy, cold, empty cell with no reading or writing material.
At around 2pm on April 11th, I was issued a Disciplinary Offense Report, offense Code 131 (possession or use of unauthorized communication devices, to include, but not limited to, cell phones…) I accepted the Penalty Offer, pled guilty, and received maximum $15 fine which is the most common penalty issue in the VA D.O.C. for extortion purposes.
The next day, on April 12th, I was brought before a panel of the Institutional Classification Authority (ICA) which voted to place me in a three-step step-down program (SDP). At the completion of the SDP the ICA panel will vote again to determine whether I should be transferred to a higher security prison.
This SDP is just another system of thought control and brainwashing designed by the state to extinguish the spirit of the most rebellious prisoners who refuse to fully conform and comply witha system that is bent on the genocide of poor and oppressed people. In order to pass (graduate) from the SDP, I am required to write in “Inter-Active Journals” about my inner-most, intimate felings and thoughts about my life decisions and experiences, which are then read, shared and talked about by the Unit Counselor and other staff members.
It is unclear whether this situation will adversely affect the out come of my clemency request. All I know is that it is the privatization of the prison commissary, telephone and video visitation servies which has resulted in the price-gouging of us prisoners and our lived-ones. This in turn causes prisoners to seek other means of survival in prison and to maintain contact with our family without causing them too much of a burden.