Life at Sussex 2 State Prison – Revisited

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!

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Politically active Va. inmate, now in solitary, transferred three times after complaints about prisons

Published in the Richmond Times Dispatch, May 6, 2018, by Patrick Wilson

A politically active Virginia prisoner who organized inmates to file grievances about medical care, staffing and water quality was recently transferred to a high-security prison and placed in solitary confinement. Supporters and his wife fear he is being unjustly punished for activism.

Askari Danso, whose legal name is Dale Lee Pughsley, promotes black history and Rastafarian groups in prisons and recently organized a petition asking for better medical care and staffing at Sussex II State Prison, where he formed a human rights committee for prisoners.

After he left the Sussex II law library on April 24, he said he and his cellmate were handcuffed and moved to Sussex I, where they were each put in solitary confinement.


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Wardens at Sussex I & II are out – what does it mean?

Staff report from The Virginia Defender – May 30, 2018
As posted to the Virginia Prison Justice Network website.

In the midst of a prisoner-led campaign to win better conditions at the Sussex II state prison in Waverly, Va., the wardens at both that prison and its sister facility, Sussex I, have been replaced.

Tracy Ray, the warden at Sussex II, has been removed from his position and replaced by Beth Cabell, previously the warden at St. Brides Correctional Center in Chesapeake.

The new warden at Sussex I is Israel Hamilton, previously the warden at Haynesville Correctional Center in Richmond County. Both changes seem to have occurred within the last week.

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Live From Behind Enemy Lines: An Interview with Jadon Artis

The Free Virginia Movement Presents:

Live From Behind Enemy Lines:
An Interview with Jadon Artis
By Uhuru B. Rowe
April 18, 2018

This is interview is with Jadon Artis, also known as Kokomo, a young brother I met one day while walking to a program here at Sussex 2 State Prison. After a brief conversation about the struggle, we instantly cliqued. He describes himself as a black man in Amerika fighting for freedom, justice, and equality and is striving to educate himself so that he can be self-sufficient in a society that’s designed to fail him. When he told me about his traumatic childhood experiences and how he overcame them, it blew my mind. And I am sure it will blow yours, too.

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Psychological Warfare At Sussex 2 State Prison

By Uhuru B. Rowe
February 25, 2018

At first I couldn’t believe what I was hearing: “See, what these dudes don’t understand is that filing complaints and grievances is a form of snitching, too,” one young brother yells to another from behind his door in solitary. Initially, I construed this preposterous statement as simply the crazy talk of a brother whose delusions have begun to set in as a result of being locked down inside of a concrete box for 23 hours a day. But then, two months, I heard something similar: “Man, I’ve never told anything a day in my life,” a young brother blurted out when he was asked to join a group of prisoners in filing a grievance challenging the cancellation of out-of-cell recreation on the nightshift. I suddenly realized I was witnessing an emerging culture in the Virginia prison system where filing complaints and grievances to redress inhumane and unjust prison conditions is viewed as a form of snitching. How did it come to be this way?

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The New Draconian Prison Mail Regulation

By Uhuru B. Rowe
December 23, 2017

“WE WANT the Abolition of any VADOc policy, practice, or procedure which violates the human/constitutional rights of incarcerated people and endangers/hinders their spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical growth and well being and rehabilitation efforts including, but not limited to: …(I) VADOc newly implemented draconian mail policy which went into effect on April 17, 2017…” — Demand #16(K) of the Free Virginia Movement

Imagine this: It is your birthday and your last year in college. And even though you’ve moved halfway across the country to attend college, your mother has unfailingly mailed you a birthday card and a picture every year since your freshman year. So you eagerly anticipate the arrival of the mailman. He finally arrives and hands you two pieces of paper. As you examine it, you come to the horrifying conclusion that the mailman just handed you black and white photocopies of the birthday card and picture your mother has mailed to you. You race behind the mailman. You finally catch up to him — your heart is raising and you’re barely out of breath. But you somehow manage to ask him, “What in the hell are these copies you have given me. Where’s my damn mail?” He turns around, with a coy grin on his face, and replies, “Oh yeah, the government implemented a new policy a few months ago to keep YOU people from mailing drugs to each other. So we’re only allowed to give you black and white photocopies of your mail now. The originals we have to destroy. Oh, by the way, tell your folks there’s a three page limit on letters now. So if they mail you a letter that’s over that limit, I’m obligated to return it.”

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The Visit That Never Was: The Continued Efforts To Destroy The Bonds Between Prisoners and Their Loved-Ones

By Uhuru B. Rowe
September 25, 2017

Anyone who has ever served time in a jail, prison, or a detention facility, or has been an inpatient at a hospital, knows the importance of receiving visits from loved-ones. Visits from the people we care about functions as a temporary reprieve from the drudgery of institutional life. They remind us that we are loved, valued, and cared for in a harsh and punitive environment which seeks to strip away every ounce of our humanity and self-esteem. Most importantly, they remind us that, despite being isolated away behind concrete walls, we are still part of a family unit; part of our community. So, when I was called for a visit on Sunday, September 24, 2017, here at Sussex 2 State Prison, I was overjoyed! But this feeling of being overjoyed was short-lived, and was quickly replaced with anger and frustration. Here’s why:

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The Free Virginia Movement

The Free Virginia Movement
By Uhuru B. Rowe, Founder

REVISED May 12, 2017



The Free Virginia Movement is an Inside-Out/Outside-In all-inclusive, coalition-based statewide movment and organizing effort founded by incarcerated people in the Virginia Department of Corrections in solidarity with the class struggles of Black, Brown, poor, low-income, disenfranchised, and working class people, to redress inhumane and harsh prison conditions; racial, class, and gender bias in the criminal legal system; the effects of mass incarceration and felony disenfranchisement laws on Black, Brown, poor, low-income and working-class communities; and the miriad of other laws, policies, and practices and procedures which discriminates against people because of their race, class, gender, sexuality, nationality, age, or disability. We recognize that incarcerated, Black, Brown, poor, low-income, oppressed, disenfranchised, and working-class people, are all victims of capitalist oppression and exploitation, Inside and Outside of prisons.

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