Its interesting reading and its all about a Lawsuit settlement that has been in the Courts for years. Strangely, as I read this report there is no mention of any of the Great Attorneys and Law Firms that gave so much time, effort and themselves fighting for the voiceless and in cases the helpless men and women suffering in Illinois Prisons. I asked several people to read the report and asked them who do you think fought this lawsuit and everyone had the same opinion (John Howard Assoc.).
Then I asked why they thought that and they again responded the same, there are repeated statements like JHA has been pushing for these changes for years, If you have any questions about the case please contact John Howard Association.
Interesting that there is no mention of the actual Attorneys from the Rasho case. And let’s be fair: JHA did not say specifically that they were a part of this case or changes. But they sure don’t give credit to those that actually were. JHA did write this report and they are willing to answer any questions about the case even though they had absolutely nothing to do with the case at all.
Then again it seems to be a common practice of certain groups to mislead donors into thinking that they actually had something to do with significant changes that affect groups that are suffering for financial gains. This is so misleading!
On Friday July 1, 2016 the Illinois Department of Corrections released new proposed regulations that apply to the grievance procedures and disciplinary actions. After reviewing the grievance portion again there is nothing that addresses the issue that is heard over and over year after year: disappearing grievances. Every report written about Illinois institutions brings up the problems with grievances never being responded to, being delayed, Counselors “misplacing” grievances and the plain out problem of IDOC employees covering up for each other by throwing grievance away.
The U.S. Court of Appeals (7th Cir.) as well as lower U.S. Courts have repeatedly issued opinions that slam the interference with access to grievances procedures in Illinois prisons that are meaningful. Due to this Courts have been forced to hold Peevy hearings on a lot of case to address the issue of exhaustion of grievances and interference with the procedures. Several years ago proposed new regulations were submitted to IDOC that addressed these issues, yet with the change of Administrations they have been shelved. This issue directly affects the Constitutional Right of meaningful access to the Courts by those incarcerated.Further because of these problems tax payers have to again pay the cost of these extra hearing as well as the cost of Attorneys to address the issues.
The new change proposed does not address the problems with Illinois prison system and the systematic and routine interference with access to the Courts. We should all challenge this farce and encourage IDOC to enact Rules and Regulations that create a meaningful grievance procedure. We have 45 days to submit written objections to the proposed Regulations!
For years while incarcerated I tried to get assistance from a so-called prison “watchdog” group that claims to help prisoners and is bipartisan. I spent years on a psychological experimental program called the circuit. This group told me year after year there was no such program. After a judge ruled on the conditions of the program, this group chimed in.
For over 20 years they have released reports claiming that they help prisoners and their families when in fact they allow the Illinois Department of Corrections to review the reports prior to releasing them. Donors mistakenly give large donations to this group believing they actually do something to help prisoners and change the prison system in Illinois. This is completely false. They collect money, write reports and that’s it! Another twist is look at the history of JHA and IDOC. Look at ranking Officials change from organization to organization.
If you remember history, IDOC Director Donald Synder (serving federal prison time) and the Director of John Howard Mike Mahoney were indicted in a kickback scheme together! Mahoney admitted to taking kick backs during his trial before Judge Zagel. As The State-Journal Registerreported:
Snyder admitted that he took $30,000 from Larry Sims, a lobbyist for two vendors. He said he pocketed up to $20,000 from two other lobbyists, former Cook County undersheriff John Robinson and Michael J. Mahoney.
Sims and Robinson have pleaded guilty. Mahoney was acquitted in a bench trial before Zagel who said he didn’t believe Snyder’s testimony.
The case drew the spotlight not only because of Snyder’s position but because Mahoney had lobbied the prison system while executive director of the John Howard Association, a prison reform organization.
At his trial, Mahoney admitted what he had done but argued that whatever the ethical lapses, he simply had not done anything illegal.
John Howard has an extensive history of telling the public that they are the only nonpartisian prison watchdog group in Illinois fighting for social reform through working with legislative system. But seeing the horrific job they did monitoring the juvenile justice at the Juvenile Detention center in Chicago shows it all. Priest openly criticizes the monitoring job as horrific. How is it they have numerous Attorneys on staff but refuse – or rather have a charter that forbids them from litigating conditions in IDOC? So donors you give donations to them and they publish reports approved by IDOC that have zero authority to enforce reforms.
For the past several years in every report published by John Howard and IDOC about a prison there is the condemnation of the overuse of solitary confinement in IDOC. Yet as the years pass nothing has ever changed. Solitary/segregation is still over used report after report. JHA makes strong recommendations for change yet that is all it is – hot air. Tamms was okayed by JHA because IDOC wanted it. Then the Governor decided to close Tamms and JHA changed their position – not because of Human Rights abuses happening at Tamms but only because of the excessive cost of having a completely solitary confinement prison. JHA never once issued a report that condemned the torture happening inside Tamms even as men cut off parts of their bodies and went crazy. The prisoner didn’t matter to JHA.
Now is 2016 and a bill was entered by Illinois Representative La Shawn Ford that would limit the use of solitary confinement. JHA at first was some what supportive and brought up every report they have written about the over use of solitary/segregation. A week later after what I can only term as talking to IDOC (I say this because of the wording) JHA used the exact same words as IDOC why this House Bill should be stopped. JHA is now against the Bill to limit the over use of solitary/segregation. Makes no sense.
So I have to ask what is the actual function of this alleged prison watch dog group. They don’t represent or help prisoners, in fact they seem to actually be another arm of IDOC. So a false representation!
Please listen to Pleasant Encounters radio show about the Isolated Confinement Restriction Act, solitary confinement and the John Howard Association with formerly incarcerated host Geraldine Smith and guests Brain Nelson and Gregory Koger.
As we fight torture in the State of illinois (solitary confinement) on several fronts and we have struggled to work with other groups and like minded activist to abolish solitary confinement we have struggled with being misled, let standing alone or utterly disrespected. So to clear the murky waters Greg Koger created this page and this page is not controlled or ran by any group except:
We have been helped by Uptown People’s Law Center, United Voices for Prisoner’s and Greg Kulis & Associates (Brian Orozco) but not by Illinois Coalition Against Torture. ICAT has not assisted us in any way at all in creating the web page or helping us film survivors, family members and loved ones of those still being torture in solitary by Illinois Department of Corrections.
John McCullah has been on hunger strike at Pontiac Correctional center for 102 days as of today. John is protesting the horrific torture he has been subjected o since arrival in Illinois Prison system.John has not violated any Illinois prison rules yet IDOc placed him in solitary confinement immediately upon entering the prison system. John is also protesting lack of medical attention by IDOC How can IDOC justify torturing John by placing him in indefinite solitary confinement even though he has not violated any prison rules? It baffles me how Illinois is so quick to torture human beings by the overuse of solitary confinement without justifiable reasons. Support John McCullah Y10200 P.O. BOx 99 Pontiac, Illinois 61764 and demand Illinois ceases this barbaric torture practice.
“As we shed light on the torture of solitary confinement in prisons all over the nation, remember that here in Illinois there are at present 100 women and roughly 4000 men enduring this torture. Right now, there are men and women in solitary confinement and segregation in this state. Two detainees died in one week in Cook county Jail, men and women beat, degraded and dehumanized by the “Orange Crush” Tactical Team acting unchecked in southern Illinois, refusal to treat prisoners with mental illnesses and/or medical problems… this is happening here too, in Illinois, everyday. It is good to acknowledge that the abuse and torture of solitary confinement must stop everywhere, let us not forget about the men and women here in Illinois. To ignore the problem in Illinois, which arguably has set precedents in the use of solitary confinement, is to show a disregard for the humanity of the 4000 men and 100 women suffering at present… it also shows a disregard for those who have suffered this torture and are still putting themselves out there, reliving their own trauma in trying to save others from the torture of solitary confinement.”
After a hostile Solitary Confinement meeting last Wednesday numerous people agreed to work together to prepare for the fight to end solitary and support legislation restricting the use. We planned to gather today to film testimony’s of family members and survivor’s of solitary confinement. I was honored to work beside everyone that honored their commitment to helping today and endure the pain solitary is inflicting upon them and their loved ones. Thank you from me and all My Friends and those being tortured I left behind. THANK YOU!
Torture Survivors united in the fight against all TORTURE. Darrell Cannon was torture by Commander John Burge and then again TORTURE by spending years in Solitary Confinement. Brian Nelson (Prisoners’ Rights Coordinator at UPTOWN PEOPLE’S LAW CENTER) was torture for 23 years by the state of Illinois in Solitary Confinement.Juan Mendez suffered torture in Argentina and is now the Special Rapporteur against Torture for the United Nations. Together they seek to stop all forms of torture.
Its an honor to be a part in the fight to end torture(solitary confinement) I was tortured for 23 years in solitary confinement and now I am honored to be apart of the fight out in the free world to end the suffering of all men and women being tortured by governments all over the world especially here in the United States. I fought this torture from inside Tamms Closed Supermax prison for twelve (12) years and my friend and BROTHER Greg Koger is working beside me in this endeavor to end the torture especially in Illinois where we were tortured. Please join us and help us end these horrific crimes against humanity.