Update: Political Prisoner Richard Williams
For eight of the past ten months, Richard Williams, a Euro-American anti-imperialist political prisoner, has been held in isolation at USP Lompoc in Central California. He is the only political prisoner remaining in administrative segregation since the events of September 11, 2001. Yet, there have been no misconduct charges against him, so we ask, "Why is he in the hole?" See background information below.
Richard remains in good spirits. In fact, the harsher repression seems to have strengthened his revolutionary resolve (see the attached front-page Santa Barbara News-Press article about his case). But the violations on his civil liberties continue. When Richard's children made the long trek from the East Coast to visit their father a month ago, suddenly and without any explanation, his visits were cut to 2-hour sessions. In an unusual move, the visits took place beyond the visiting room, in a separate room inside the prison with a guard constantly present. This now continues for all Richard's visitors.
Despite having suffered a heart attack in February 2002 and having ongoing symptoms, the prison authorities have erected obstacles to his getting adequate and timely medical care. See the attached letter from Richard's son.
The most recent violation is that all reading materials, save one book and one magazine, have been taken away from Richard as well as others in the hole. Richard can no longer receive books that are mailed to him from family and friends. Instead, he can only select one book from the prison book cart--a form of censorship no doubt--which comes to his cell about once a week. This is highly unusual, but appears to be another way to break the spirit of those in isolation. Since Richard has been allowed just one 15-minute phone call per week, his method of survival during these months of 24/7 isolation has come through reading. An avid reader of history, he can go through a book a day. What is he supposed to do the other six days? Why is he being subjected to this cruel and unusual treatment when there are no disciplinary charges against him?
We, as a community of people concerned with social justice, can keep the public eye on Richard's case and prevent Richard's personal isolation from becoming the silencing of voices of conscience.
Please call, fax, and write the following people. Voice your concern about Richard's case. Present the following demands: (a) that, according to prison regulations, Richard be allowed to have multiple books in his cell and to receive books mailed to him; (b) Richard be given prompt and adequate medical treatment; (c) that Richard be immediately returned to the general population at USP Lompoc; and (d) that Richard not be transferred. Inquire about why Richard has been put in isolation all these months and if there are any plans to transferred him to an even more repressive prison. Be sure to refer to Richard Williams, inmate #10377-016.
Write, call and fax: Western Regional Office Bureau of Prisons 7950 Dublin Blvd., 3rd Floor Dublin, CA 94568 Tel: 925/803-4700 Fax: 925/803-4802
Kathleen Hawk Sawyer, Director Federal Bureau of Prisons 320 First Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20534 Tel: 202-307-3198
Congresswoman Lois Capps
1428 Chapala Street Santa Barbara 93101 Tel: (805) 730-1710
Fax: (805) 730-9153
Or your local congressperson
Or other progressive persons, including Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney
Also, write letters to the editors, hold public events, and in other ways keep the public's eye on Richard's situation.
Also, receiving letters from the outside lessens the sense of isolation. Your letters and support really do make a difference to those in prison, especially in the hole.
Immediately following September 11, 2001, several political prisoners, including Richard Williams, were put in isolation, even though there was no evidence of any kind linking them to the attacks. Richard was the last political prisoner to be released back to the general population on February 11, 2002. He spent 5 months in isolation, in freezing cold conditions. He was put in shackles and had a video camera fixed on him every time he left his cell, even to take a shower. He had virtually no contact with any one, not even his family, as his phone calls were restricted to one 15-minute call per week.
The day after Richard was released back to general population, he suffered a minor heart attack. It seems quite reasonable to presume that the physical and emotional stress of being isolated for five months is related to the onset of his heart attack. While in the hospital in the city of Lompoc (outside the prison), Richard experienced the "worst treatment of my 17 years in prison." The guards blocked normal health care by keeping Richard in 3-point restraint in the hospital bed, training guns on him, and intimidating the doctors and nurses. Richard's health is much better today and he remains in good spirits despite all.
Then on April 30, 2002, he was unexpectedly put back in isolation. This is not a matter of misconduct. In fact, on May 2, his lawyers were told that Richard was put in the hole for "reclassification," with implies that the prison authorities were trying to label him a dangerous prisoner in need of a higher security classification. Richard interprets this as an effort by USP Lompoc or Bureau of Prison authorities to transfer him to an even higher security prison USP Lompoc, which is already a level 6 super max prison. If transferred, he will face horrendous conditions--the equivalent of being locked down 24/7. After suffering a heart attack, it seems even more imperative that Richard not be subjected to such harsh conditions. Richard, his family, his lawyers, and his supporters and friends do not want Richard transferred.
Free All Political Prisoners and POWs!
Diane & Matef
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