On the Censorship of SF Bay View at SCI Coal Township

by George Rahsaan Brooks

Date: March 7, 2017
Subject: Appeal from decision of Publication Review Committee of 2/23/17 denying Vol. 42, of San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper under DC-ADM 803 Section 3.E.3

To: Thomas McGinley, Superintendent
From: George Rahsaan Brooks,# AP-4884 - Cell, F2-22 - SCI-Coal Township 

The Inmate Publication Review Committee ("IPRC") denied the Bay View Publication because pages 3 & 6 discussed a schedule march for millions of prisoners. According to the IPRC, allowing me to have the newspaper will create a danger within the correctional facility because it advocates, assist, or is evidence of criminal activity of facility misconduct. The IPRC does not say how printing or allowing me to read the newspaper will bring this about. Thus, the IPRC's reasoning for banning the Bay view amounts to a bald accusation without any evidence to support such an outrageous accusation.

I am in direct contact with the outside organizations who are having this discussion and what we intend to do is highlight that Pennsylvania is one of only Six States which does not offer parole eligibility to non-juvenile lifers in spite of empirical data which found that 1.4 of the 395 lifers released from Pennsylvania prisoners returned due to a new crime and that this is the lowest recidivism rate in the nation. The march will address this fact and question why Pennsylvania Lifers are not parole eligible.

In 2015, the DOC established protocols designed to deny and delay even consideration of treatment for Hep C until a prisoner was near death and no longer treatable. The drug being denied prisoners suffering from Hep C is the anti-viral drugs Sovaldi or Harvoni. These drugs have proven 95 percent effective in curing Hep C. While the DOC is willfully delaying these drugs prisoners are suffering and dying from a decease that is curable!

U.S. District Judge Robert Mariana ordered on January 3rd, the DOC to treat political prisoner Abu-Jamal with the Hep C cure within 21 days. Judge Mariani called the DOC's persistent refusal to treat prisoners with Hep C "barbaric and unconstitutional." The ruling to treat Abu-Jamal also extends to 6,000 other Pennsylvania prisoners with the decease. The DOC appealed the Court decision and that appeal will extend Abu-Jamal's and thousands of Pennsylvania prisoners' suffering and dangerous deterioration of health. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says "every prisoner" with chronic hepatitis C should be given the cure immediately.

The DOC's argument is that the medication for prisoners with deadly Hep C cost to much, and the cost should be the basis for rejecting the provision of the cure. Judge Mariani made it absolutely clear that the cost of the medicine cannot take precedence over the constitutional rights of every prisoner with Hep C to get the cure. This march will highlight that budgetary concerns are being placed over whether an inmate suffers or dies.

The march will educate the Pennsylvania public that the Pennsylvania Constitution prohibits counting prisoners incarcerated in areas that are not their official residence, is illegal. Blacks are 9.2 times as likely to be in prison as White folks but a disproportionate number of state and federal prisoners are located in counties that have a larger proportionate of Whites than the state as a whole. There are eight legislative districts in Pennsylvania that would be illegally small were it not for Black prisoners from other counties.

The transfer of power from city to county, from Blacks to whites the way it is presently being done makes a farce and mockery of the "one person, one vote" principle. Pennsylvania counties with a large Black population is losing while counties with White populations are benefiting from an illegal gain. 

The counting of prisoners where they are incarcerated violates the state's voter registration statute that "no individual who is confined in penal institutions" shall be deemed to reside where the individual was last registered before being confined or if there was no registration prior to confinement, the individual shall be deemed to reside at the last known address before Confinement.

Thousands of cases were tainted by the misconduct of chemist Annie Dookhan at the Hinton, Massachusetts state drug lab. A law suit was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, the state public defender agency and Fick & Mark LLP. What is so shocking about this case is that Dookhan tainted thousands of cases on purpose which led to thousands of innocent people being imprisoned. It has been estimated that about 60,000 was wrongfully convicted due to Dookhan's actions but she only got 3 to 5 years.

The vast majority of victims in prison are Black so there is no hurry to correct those wrongfully convicted. Even though the Dookhan case broke in 2012 and she was sentenced in 2013 very little has been done by the D.A.' s Office to release thousands of wrongfully convicted people. In Pennsylvania, my own case will be highlighted: Police posed as prosecutors, manufactured false indictments then had two different grand jury foremans approve charging instruments knowing they both lacked power and authority to do so. Then the Allegheny County Office of the District Attorney did not disclose this evidence to me even though they had an obligation to do so. See the pending cases: George Rahsaan Brooks v. Pennsylvania State Police Docket No. 122 CD (2017); Commonwealth v. Brooks, Docket No. CP-02-CR-8889-1975 (Allegheny County). The IPRC at SCI-Coal Township's reason for banning the Bay View is pretextual. Their real reason is to stifle my freedom of speech along with the free speech of outside organizations. They are also attempting to stifle and interfere with the Bay View's freedom of the press. I am encouraging "all" outside groups, supporters and loved ones to call Secretary John Wetzel: (717)728-2573 or (717)728-4109 and Gov. Tom Wolf (717) 787-2500 telling both to stop this mean spirited, arbitrary and unconstitutional banning of the Bay View and to question both to how they can place budgetary concerns over prisoners' sufferings and wellbeing. I will fight this unlawful ban with every breath in my body. I need all to bear in mind: "the unity of marching antes have consistently destroyed elephants!"


cc: All outside groups; all out faith groups; the media; law makers; the governor; family members, friends, supporters and loved ones.