Kevin “Rashid” Johnson is a New Afrikan Communist prison organizer and intellectual in the United States and one of the founders of the NABPP-PC (New Afrikan Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter). He has spent most of his adult life in the prison system and continually been subjected to political repression and violence in retaliation for his organizing efforts. He is currently held at Snake River Correctional Inst in Oregon.
A supporter recently received a very distressing letter informing us that Rashid was in a serious medical situation, and was not receiving adequate care. Details from this letter were circulated online, however are currently being removed in order to respect Rashid’s privacy.
On February 22, a lawyer managed to speak to Rashid. This was an invaluable first step, as up until then all we had to go by was a letter from a third party, which was already dated by the time it was received.
The good news is that new x-rays have confirmed that there are no razor-blades in his system and there is apparently no longer blood in his urine. Furthermore, Rashid is now drinking liquids.
According to the lawyer, the two biggest concerns currently are (1) that Rashid receive proper medical monitoring as he gets back to a normal diet, and (2) that he be allowed to receive his mail (which he says has been accumulating for more than a week in a box within sight of his cell).
Rashid explained to the lawyer that he currently has no access to his personal property and mail. Officials have placed him on a security designation that precludes access to these things, so he is unable to contact anyone or publish anything. He believes this is in retaliation for articles he published that are critical of the Oregon Department of Corrections. The pretext that the officials are using to put him on this status is an alleged incident on January 28, 2012, even though he was cleared of any misconduct in that incident after a disciplinary hearing. Furthermore, deprivation of property and mail is not reasonably related to the alleged incident.
Rashid thinks thinks the best people to contact would be Doug Yancey, the security threat manager for the Oregon Department of Corrections, and C. Schultz, the security threat manager at Snake River. They are the ones who made this decision to deprive him of his personal belongings.
As soon as we have phone numbers for Yancey and Schultz, we will post them here.
Apart a brief period in general population when he was transferred from Virginia to Oregon last tear, Rashid has spent close to twenty years in solitary isolation, as a direct result of his activities resisting abuse in various Virginia prisons in the 1990s, and to his political writings and articles documenting ongoing abuse in the prison system since then. Long-term isolation was developed during the Cold War as a method to neutralize political prisoners, both by cutting them off from the outside world, and by inflicting conditions upon them that are designed to inflict severe psychological/emotional distress.
Isolation imprisonment has been described as “clean torture,” for it does its damage without leaving any visible wounds. As Craig Haney of the University of California at Santa Cruz has noted, “There is not a single published study of solitary or supermax-like confinement in which nonvoluntary confinement lasting for longer than 10 days, where participants were unable to terminate their isolation at will, that failed to result in negative psychological effects. The damaging effects ranged in severity and included such clinically significant symptoms as hypertension, uncontrollable anger, hallucinations, emotional breakdowns, chronic depression, and suicidal thoughts and behavior.”
We see both aspects of the isolation-torture regimen playing themselves out in Rashid’s case. He is currently cut off from the outside world, deprived of his mail and of any easy means of informing us of what is going on with him, so that we need to rely on communications from third parties. At the same time, he continues to be held in conditions that are known and intended to be detrimental to his health and recovery.
We will continue to keep you abreast of the situation as it develops.