How many of you have ever heard of a Potemkin Village? According to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th Edition), a Potemkin Village is “an impressive facade or show designed to hide an undesirable fact or condition.” It is named after Grigori Aleksandrovich Potemkin (1739-1791), a Russian field marshall and statesman, who supposedly built impressive fake villages along the route that Catherine II (i.e. Catherine the Great) would often travel. The fake villages served to conceal all of the cruelties and injustices that existed during her reign as Empress of Russia from 1762-1796. I maintain that the same “impressive facade or show” exist to conceal the cruelties and injustices taking place behind the walls of Sussex 2 State Prison (S2SP).
May 29th, 2018
NOTE: JPay, the app/program that is basically prisoner email that you have to pay for, indeed, pay more for then it costs to mail a letter, and the Virginia DOC censored the following. But here it is in its entirety.
Well, it finally happened! The harsh and overly oppressive conditions we are subjected to at Sussex 2 State Prison (S2SP), which I described in a similar-titled post back in December of 2016, made the front page of a mainstream newspaper. But it didn’t get there without sacrifice. Dale Lee Pughsley; also known as Askeri Danso, upon arriving at this maximum security prison in march of this year, was appalled by the level of passivity among the prisoner-class in the face of inhumane prison conditions. And so he did what any politically active prisoner would do when confronted with similar circumstances: he organized others to peacefully challenge those conditions by filing complaints with the prison’s grievance department. As expected, retaliation was swift. On April 24th, while on his way back to his cell from the prison’s law library, he was accosted and shackled by guards and immediately shipped across the street to Sussex 1 State Prison – a level 5 security prison – and placed in solitary confinement. Because he is supported by several activist and human rights groups such as – the Coalition for Justice, the Defenders of Freedom, Justice and Equality – his ordeal made headlines in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on May 7th. The front-page article, titled “Politically Active Va. Prisoner Moved Three Times Since ’16,” allowed Askari to expose conditions like poor water quality, substandard medical care, and overcrowding. He was quoted as saying that S2SP “is the worst prison in the state.” I agree!