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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Subjected to 14 days in hell because of my political activity

By Uhuru B. Rowe
May 24, 2018
E-mail: JPay app

Below is a brief outline of the events which preceded, and resulted in, my placement on Administrative Segregation in the Restrictive Housing Unit (RHU) here at Sussex 2 State Prison (S2SP).

On May 4, I drafted a position paper titled, “A Call To Action,” which described, in detail, the harsh and inhumane conditions incarcerated citizens are subjected to here at S2SP. The position paper called for our loved ones, various activist groups, state legislators, and even the media to hold rally in front of the headquarters of the Virginia Dept. of Corrections (VADOC) to draw attention to these conditions and to demand that they be remedied. LET ME BE CLEAR: This position paper was signed by no other prisoner besides me and was intended solely for the purpose of having our families and other concerned taxpaying citizens to peaceably assemble at the headquarters of the VADOC and demand that steps be taken to remedy the conditions described therein.

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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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Live From Behind Enemy Lines: An Interview with Khali Pyatt, Part 3

The Free Virginia Movement Presents:

Live From Behind Enemy Lines:
An Interview with Khali Pyatt, Part 3
By Uhuru B. Rowe
March 26, 2018

This is the last part of a three-part interview I conducted with Khali, my cellmate. After telling us more about some of his experiences in prison, he’s about to give some powerful words of wisdom to the youth who may be on the road to prison.

Part 3

Uhuru: Khali, in the second part of this interview you were talking about how prison authorities mistreat our loved-ones. I can definitely attest to the fact that these people do, in fact, mistreat our loved-ones when they come here for visitation. Just this past Sunday when my disabled mother came to visit me, she was forced to sit in the waiting room for almost three hours before they allowed her in to see me. What they have to go through in order to visit us — the long waiting periods, the aggressive searches, having to pass through an X-ray machine — it’s all very dehumanizing. And it begs the question: If a strong and positive relationship with our loved-ones is essential to our rehabilitation in prison and our successful reentry back into society after prison, why are prison authorities working so hard to discourage these relationships?

Continue reading “Live From Behind Enemy Lines: An Interview with Khali Pyatt, Part 3”

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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My Continued Efforts To Expose and Resist The Contaminated Water Problem in Virginia Prisons. Part 2.

Part 2

In yet another incident at BKCC on August 26, 2016, at approximately 11:35 AM, the water in my cell turned a dark-brown color and had a foul taste and smell. I again developed severe nausea minutes after consuming about two cups of the water from the sink in my cell.

About ten minutes later, I filed an Emergency Grievance (Log # 013070), dated 8/26/16, demanding to be seen by a nurse as I believed the water was contaminated, and as a result of me drinking it, I had suffered a personal injury.

Continue reading “My Continued Efforts To Expose and Resist The Contaminated Water Problem in Virginia Prisons. Part 2.”

Sentiments of a Conscious Prisoner During Lockdown

By Uhuru B. Rowe

November 6, 2017, Day 1 of Lockdown
It is 3:35 AM and we were just abruptly jolted from our sleep by the screams of a Sergeant making his rounds for count. “I need to see movement,” he screams, “so that I’ll know that you are alive.” Since arriving at Sussex 2 State Prison a little over a year ago, there have been a series of overdose deaths here and at other prions and correctional facilities across the state. The current opioid crisis affects, not just people in rural white communities, but also people in prisons. So during this count, on this particular day, we were instructed to move to show that we weren’t dead.

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