All Out for Shaka Shakur!
*Shaka's next court date is Wednesday, September 26th at 9am at Sullivan County Courthouse in Sullivan, IN. Please rsvp at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to attend or want to know how you can help out*
Shaka Shakur is a long term political prisoner currently held captive in Wabash Valley Correctional Facility in Carlisle, IN. It's no accident that Shaka has ended up in Wabash Valley, it's a notorious destination for prisoners who demonstrate an unwavering commitment to challenging the formidable repression meted out by the Indiana Department of Correction. Shaka has been fighting this fight for a long time. In the early 90's when the prison system across the country saw the metastasizing of lockdown units and Supermax prisons, Shaka was on the front lines in MCC-Westville coordinating inmate solidarity and outside support to reverse the tide. Before his current incarceration he also had a previous stint on the SHU (Secure Housing Unit) at Wabash Valley. Back then, the SHU was run by a cartel of corrupt administrators and fascist jackboot CO's who starved, tortured, and murdered inmates almost at will. The ringleader of this good ol' boy outfit, James Basinger, was rewarded for his efforts by the IDOC with a promotion to Deputy Warden of Operations, a position he currently holds.
Now, while the old network of torturers and murders have climbed the ranks to wield command over the day to day operations of the whole IDOC, Shaka is back at Wabash Valley still fighting with the same tenacity he has demonstrated for the last thirty years. The IDOC, naturally seeing every challenge to its authority as an existential threat has seen to it that Shaka will remain in its grasp for the foreseeable future. One year ago, August 31st, 2017, Shaka was charged with assault on staff following an altercation with now retired CO John Sexton. The response of Wabash Valley administration following this event presents a detailed picture of the modus operandi of the corrupt system of (in)justice that holds nearly 30,000 people in its grasp.
By the end of September, 2017 Shaka was brought before the misnamed Disciplinary Hearing Board (DHB) to be officially charged and sentenced for the August 31st incident. The DHB is in fact not a board but a single individual assigned to given cases, often a person with dubious qualifications. Cases are heard by the DHB once disciplinary reports are reviewed and verified by the presiding Lieutenant on the range. The report then heads to another staff officer tasked with approving the report. In Shaka's case, and for the SHU as a whole, both of those officers had the name Littlejohn. Teresa Littlejohn was expected to impartially review the credibility of her own husband! Once the rubber-stamp was put on Shaka's report the case moved forward to the DHB. He was given no representation and afforded no opportunity to view the (video) evidence against him. The whole proceeding was a formality, that he would be found guilty was a foregone conclusion.
The sentence: 8 and 1/2 years of earned credit time gone. For those who don't know the IDOC has a classification system wherein certain inmates can receive multiple days credit for each day actually served. Policies like this have long been the targets of hawkish politicians who push ideas like "truth in sentencing" supposedly in the name of victims advocacy. One such politician is Commissioner Robert Carter who inaugurated his new administration by issuing Executive Directive #17-09 ordering that any inmate found "guilty" of assault on staff lose the entire account of their earned credit time without possibility of reinstatement. Shaka is one of the first to be hit hard by this new draconian policy. On top of this, he has been ordered to pay restitution for Officer Sexton's medical bills despite never being provided with an invoice for any charges. Every dollar which has gone to his account since then has been confiscated by the facility leaving him without means to purchase stamps, food, or hygiene products.
The story would be bleak enough if it all had ended there but Warden Brown of Wabash Valley and his coterie had more in store for Shaka. Charges relating to the same incident were also filed in Sullivan County, where Wabash Valley Correctional Facility is located. Having already lost 8 and 1/2 years of his freedom Shaka faces being sentenced once again for the same charge. For the last year he has been fighting to challenge the clear bias he faces in Sullivan and to expose the utter hypocrisy of a "democratic" system that will try him in a 98% white county on an incident for which he has already been sentenced. His three successive attorneys have refused to pursue his motions for discovery (obtaining records on Officer Sexton, video and audio evidence), and for a change of venue.
If nothing else Shaka's case has exposed the bankrupt judicial system as it applies to prisoners in Indiana. Inmates being charged in the counties where they are held are at a clear disadvantage given that many of the same people who work in the prisons also live in the county and local politicians have deep ties to those people and the institution itself. Inmates have no right to appear in the court and must attend hearings through video conference. They are unable to view the evidence against them , the excuse being the inability to bring electronic devices into the prison. This was at least the excuse given by Shaka's last attorney who suddenly passed away last month. Yet this rule seems selectively applied. Inmates have no rights in these counties yet they are subjected to their system of justice. All of this after the prisons have already declared their guilt and punished them accordingly.
As the case inches closer to trial, mass exposure is needed to signal to the IDOC that people are waking up to this corruption. If the IDOC can get away with putting inmates in a position of double jeopardy and do so with impunity, it will only expand this practice as widely as possible. Thus insuring a steady supply of filled beds in its facilities. The citizens of Sullivan County go about their days with no knowledge of this process being done in their name. We must bring their attention to what is happening in the Sullivan County Courthouse and in Wabash Valley Correctional Facility. Shaka's next court hearing is 9am, September 26th. Please consider spreading the word and coming out to show your support.