Letter from Michael: April 2020
This is the twelfth installation of a column previously composed solely by MarQui Clardy Jr, one of our pen pals incarcerated at the Lawrenceville Correctional Center in Virginia.
This letter is by Michael Thompson writing from the Special Management Unit at the American United States Penitentiary in Thomson, Illinois.
I recently received a response to my correspondence inquiring about IAHR's mission statement. In your brochure, it indicates IAHR's focus (Maryland, VA, DC) & also BOP [the Federal Bureau of Prisions]. Does this mean I can't be a part of IAHR's services being that before my incarceration I resided in Kansas City, Missouri? I pray not.
I am a 34-year-old Moorish American male currently serving an 180-month sentence for possession of a firearm. I just recently have been sent to what is called the SMU, Administrative United States Penitentiary. Here we spend 23 hour weekdays in the cell, if all goes well we get an hour outside in a cage. Three showers a week. On weekends we remain in cell for 24-hour days.
I have been designated to the SMU due to an altercation where another inmate told COs in USP Pollock, LA he was disturbed by being celled with me. Instead of officers acknowledging this inmate's attempt to be called elsewhere, they forced him in the cell with me. In result he later, in the middle of the night, hit me in the head with a Masterlock & lost his life amidst the scuffle. I was seriously injured with my pinky finger bitten off & lacerations to my head that required stitches in this incident. I was placed in segregation from the event of this incident on 5/13/19 to 2/28/20 for "investigation" then, though it was evident my actions were self-defense at most, I was sent to the SMU for this while officers' malfeasance go unpunished. I don't even have a disciplinary infraction.
Now here in the SMU, I am forced back into the situation of a cellmate not wanting to cell with me & when we attempt to make a cell exchange, we are told to fight or get along. They refuse to make the cell swap & to deter us they have an inmate here in cell G03-037 that's lost it completely. The inmate that gets on officers' bad side is taken to that cell. The mentally unstable inmate panics & officers use this facade to justify inmates bruises, etc. after officers have assaulted them: spraying them with mace, etc., etc. This administration promotes violence by saying "if you not fighting, you're not moving" & there's tension so high, when forced with a random inmate they may panic. Administration refuses to resolve this by allowing inmates to cell with who they are in agreement with.
Who will believe us? We are supposed to be the worst of the worst.
As one may gather, I empathize with the [family of the brother who's deceased]. All this could've been prevented by administration acknowledging our attempts to resolve issues in the proper manner.
Either way, let this reach you guys in the best of spirits & I hope to be a part of the mission to address the deteriorating condition of human rights.