February 8, 2018 Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Hearings on IAHR's Solitary Bill on February 13 & 15 in Annapolis

Pen Pal Orientation on Wednesday, February 14, 2018


In the News

Suicides at Red Onion Prison in Virginia

The Gender Divide: Tracking Women's State Prison Growth

Hearings on IAHR's Solitary Bill on February 13 & 15 in Annapolis


Participants in IAHR's 2018 Advocacy Day

Following up on a successful Advocacy Day on February 6, IAHR is calling on its supporters to attend the hearings on its solitary bill (HB 786 & SB 539). The hearings will be held on Tuesday, February 13 and Thursday, February 15. IAHR’s solitary legislation sponsored by Senator Susan Lee and Delegate Jazz Lewis does the following:

  • Implements protections for vulnerable persons
  • Sets clear and graduated penalties
  • Prohibits restrictive housing (solitary) for non-disciplinary reasons, for refusing medical treatment and for self-harm unless approved by a medical professional
  • Includes more humane treatment for people who are in solitary
  • Ensures that persons are not released directly to the community from solitary.

You can read the full bill by clicking here.

The hearing before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee will be at 1 p.m. on February 13. The hearing room is on the second floor of the Senate Office Building, 11 Bladen Street, Annapolis, MD 21401. The hearing before the House of Delegates Judiciary Committee will be at 1 p.m. on February 15. The hearing room is on the first floor of the House Office Building, 6 Bladen Street, Annapolis, MD 21401. 

IAHR invites our supporters to submit written testimony in favor of the bill. That testimony should be no more than one typed written page. The testimony should be submitted to Toni Holness by email no later than Monday, February 12. Toni’s address is [email protected]

IAHR also encourages its supporters to join us at each of the hearing dates next week. We need your support!

Here are the templates for written testimony in support of SB 539 and HB 786:


Correctional Services – Restrictive Housing-Limitations

To: Chairman Robert Zirkin and Members of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee

From: (your name and/or organization)



  • Start with who you are
  • Middle section is the why you support the bill. Include personal reasons as well as moral, health, and public safety reasons.
  • Conclude by respectfully urging a favorable report.

Respectfully submitted,

(your name)


Correctional Services – Restrictive Housing-Limitations

To: Chairman Joseph Vallario Jr. and Members of the House Judiciary Committee

From: (your name and/or organization)



  • Start with who you are
  • Middle section is the why you support the bill. Include personal reasons as well as moral, health, and public safety reasons.
  • Conclude by respectfully urging a favorable report.

Respectfully submitted,

(your name)

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Pen Pal Project on February 14

IAHR’S Pen Pal Program is designed to link members of churches, synagogues, mosques and temples to District residents in BOP facilities. We are asking volunteers from each religious community to sign up to correspond with one D.C. resident incarcerated a federal prison at least once a month for one year. We have started with ten Bureau of Prison facilities, and will expand beyond these residents in other facilities based on our initial success. 

coffee___pen__2.jpgOver 160 men and women in the BOP have already signed up for a pen pal. They are looking for someone who will reach out to them on a regular basis.

As of the end of January 2018, 90 people from various walks of life have signed up to be a pen pal with someone in prison. IAHR has offered four different orientations. The next orientation for the Pen Pal Project will be on Wednesday, February 14 at 1 p.m. at Adas Israel Congregation, 2850 Quebec Street NW, Washington, DC 20008. You can sign up for the orientation, by clicking here. 

We also plan to bring volunteers together periodically to reflect on their experiences and nurture the community of people who have come together to provide support and encouragement to this important segment of our community.

Be part of our effort to be a supportive presence for our incarcerated neighbors by joining this Pen Pal Program. We hope you will find it a rewarding and an enlightening experience.

For more information contact Rabbi Charles Feinberg at [email protected] or by calling 202-669-7700.

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Red Onion prison inmate, killer of two, dead of apparent suicide

By FRANK GREEN Richmond Times-Dispatch    Jan 17, 2018

A Hampton man who murdered two men on New Year’s Eve 2013, when he was 16 years old, has died at Red Onion State Prison in what officials have called an apparent suicide.  Jordyn_M_Charity.jpg

The Virginia Department of Corrections said the death of Jordyn M. Charity (photo at right), 20, on Jan. 7 is under investigation as are all unexpected inmate deaths. The official cause and manner of his death were not available from the state medical examiner’s office Wednesday.

Red Onion was built in 1998 as the state’s first “super-max” prison to house the system’s most dangerous inmates. It held roughly 850 inmates last year. It is not known whether Charity was being held in solitary confinement or segregation.

Officials said last year that the use of solitary confinement at Red Onion had been greatly reduced since 2011. The Legal Aid Justice Center in Charlottesville said it is still receiving complaints from inmates about the use of solitary confinement at the facility in Wise County.

Charity was serving a 168-year sentence for two counts of murder and related firearm charges. Hampton Circuit Court records show he pleaded guilty last September and was sentenced on Nov. 29.

According to the Daily Press newspaper, Charity was convicted of the murders of Donivan K. Walker Jr., 21, and Kenneth Wilson, 20, in an argument that began over BMX bike parts.

The newspaper’s account of his Nov. 29 sentencing said his lawyer, Lawrence H. Woodward Jr., told the judge that Charity had tried to commit suicide three times while incarcerated and that he suffered physical, emotional and sexual abuse as a child.

Hampton Commonwealth’s Attorney Anton Bell was quoted describing Charity as “pure evil.” Bell told the judge that Charity got into an argument with Walker at the Woodlands Skate Park, left the park and stole a shotgun from his stepfather’s home.

He returned to the skate park, where he shot Walker and Wilson. After they were down, he shot them again, Bell said. Charity carjacked a vehicle and fled. He returned to the scene and fled again when spotted by police. The police pursuit ended in a crash, the newspaper said.

According to the Daily Press story, before he was sentenced, Charity apologized to the families and said he did not believe he was worth a second chance.

Woodward did not return a call for comment Wednesday.

With roughly 38,000 state-responsible inmates in Virginia jails and prisons, there were five suicides system wide reported in the year that ended June 30, 2015, according to the most recent figures available.

[email protected]   (804) 649-6340

Gay Gardner, IAHR’s secretary, has been corresponding with over 50 Red Onion prisoners for several years. Recently, she received two different accounts of Jordyn Charity’s life and death at Red Onion.

One prisoner wrote: "I don't know if you have heard, but there was a suicide here at Red Onion on Sunday, Jan. 7th.  A guy named Charity (nickname Mi Amor). He was in cell B-309 in a so-called “mental health safety cell”. He hung himself on the light fixture. He was on psychotropics. He just seen the mental health doctor Fri the 5th and asked for treatment other than drugs. The Doctor (name withheld) told him VDOC in Red Onion do (sic) not offer much other than drug therapy.  Mi Amor was 20 years old. Has been lock-up since he was 15 years old with a sentence of 100 and 60 something years. He hung himself at about 4:00 pm. At 4:30 they found him dead or hanging. They called the nurses they got there around 4:40 they were not doing nothing but standing around until 4:45. When they finally brought the body out the cell the guy was blue. I didn’t know black people could turn blue until I seen Mi Amor.”     

Another prisoner wrote this: “Jordan Charity was from Hampton Virginia. When he arrived at Red Onion, he was beat up pretty bad by correctional officers and put in B-3 pod in B-building where he was refused showers, recreation, phone calls and they had refused his meals for about 3 days. I also heard that they were harassing him and telling him that they were going to kill him or starve him to death!”   

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 The Gender Divide: Tracking Women’s State Prison Growth   

By Wendy Sawyer
January 9, 2018

Published by the Prison Policy Initiative

The story of women’s prison growth has been obscured by overly broad discussions of the “total” prison population for too long. This report sheds more light on women in the era of mass incarceration by tracking prison population trends since 1978 for all 50 states. The analysis identifies places where recent reforms appear to have had a disparate effect on women, and offers states recommendations to reverse mass incarceration for women alongside men.

Across the country, we find a disturbing gender disparity in recent prison population trends. While recent reforms have reduced the total number of people in state prisons since 2009, almost all of the decrease has been among men. Looking deeper into the state-specific data, we can identify the states driving the disparity.

In 35 states, women’s population numbers have fared worse than men’s, and in a few extraordinary states, women’s prison populations have even grown enough to counteract reductions in the men’s population. Too often, states undermine their commitment to criminal justice reform by ignoring women’s incarceration.


Women have become the fastest-growing segment of the incarcerated population, but despite recent interest in the alarming national trend, few people know what’s happening in their own states. Examining these state trends is critical for making the state-level policy choices that will dictate the future of mass incarceration. 

Click here to read the rest of the article

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