"Stand Together as a Wall" Against Solitary Confinement with Aaron "Israel" Isby
On Tuesday, September 25, at 8:30am in room 307 of the Birch Bayh Building, United States Courthouse (46 E. Ohio St., Indianapolis, IN), an extraordinary civil rights trial will take place. Aaron "Israel" Isby #892219 is suing the State of Indiana and Indiana Department of Corrections for holding him in solitary confinement in Indiana prisons for 26 years, without an adequate review or explanation for keeping him solitary confinement. IDOC Watch, in solidarity with Aaron "Israel" Isby, calls on all socially and politically conscious organizations and individuals to attend the trial, to let the state know that we are watching and won't continue to stand by quietly if they continue to torture this brave and indomitable freedom fighter. The DOC has failed to provide an adequate justification for the conditions of confinement they have imposed on Aaron - indefinite solitary confinement - because there is no explanation that is justified by law or DOC policy. Maintaining Aaron in solitary confinement is a political decision designed to repress and isolate Aaron and other politically conscious prisoners who have worked hard under the worst conditions to raise the consciousness of other prisoners, and defied the rampant abuse in the DOC with hunger strikes, lawsuits, and other protests.
You can read more about Aaron's history of political struggle inside Indiana prisons here
Here is Aaron's call for solidarity, starting with attending his civil rights trial in Indianapolis on September 25:
Shalom na Umoja,
My name is Aaron Isby (AKA Israel), a Hebrew Israelite political prisoner and human rights freedom fighter. For the past two decades or more that I have spent in the Indiana prison system, these years have been spent in the brutal confines of solitary confinement, in which I am locked in a cell not bigger than a parking space, for 23 hours a day, under constant illumination, with essentially no contact with other human beings. Like a majority of young Black men, I entered the prison system at the youthful age of 18. Early in my prison sentence, I had some difficulties (and still do), adjusting to and coping with the twisted and perverted sickness of solitary prison life. Coming from a healthy environment free of abuse and full of love, protection and trust, being forcibly taken from my loved ones and cast into this state of racist hate and violence has had a devastating emotional, mental, and financial impact on my life.
As a young man trying to find and establish my own sense of purpose and identity, my path was gradually guided toward changing my sense of direction. My steps during my growth and development by transforming my state of mind from a criminal colonial mentality to a revolutionary mentality and desire for self-determination, self-governance, and Black nationhood came when I was introduced to the teachings, writings, and historical examples laid down by my predecessors: Malcolm X, Yehweh Ben Yahweh, Kwame Nkrumah, W.E.B DuBois, George Jackson, Assata Shakur, Angela Davis, Maya Angelou, Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner, David Walker, Toussaint L’Ouverture, Jaque Dessalines, Hannibal and many others of my forefathers and mothers who stood up and struggled for Black nationhood. These legendary Black men and women were my teachers and educators who gave me the spiritual and political foundation and helped me affirm my black manhood, my humanity, and my self-respect. Their influence on me taught me to put my family, community, and nation first, and was the ultimately the catalyst for my righteous path, and the man of principles I have proudly become.
These prison conditions and the oppression on the inside have compelled myself and others, as a collective body of prisoners, to organize challenges against it. Our protest and hunger strikes all culminated into examples of collective resistance. A movement of young aspiring revolutionaries were born. As they say, repression breeds resistance. The rest was history.
My examples of courage have caused many young men behind the iron curtains of America to transform their lives and consciousness, by dedicating my life to educating other prisoners and helping these men to affirm their human dignity. My decision to raise the consciousness of other men around me, by encouraging them to speak truth to power and resist inhumane treatment and the negative habits, vices, and colonial opportunist mentality which was responsible, to a large degree, for our past, parasite-like behavior we exercised against our people and communities, had made me a target. This decision would forever change my life, and the way top-level officials who control the Indiana prison system, would treat me. My struggle to change a system that is inherently racist and brutal only merited me repeated threats, retaliation, torture, and abuse at the hands of sick, sadist prison officials sanctioned by a predominantly white class/group of power drunk good ole boys who were/are bent on bringing about my demise.
In October 1990, a team of racist rogue prison guards, armed with K-9 dogs, gas, and a 400 lbs.-pressured firehose who threatened my life at the Indiana Reformatory (AKA Pendleton Correctional Facility), and carried out a violent assault against me, were injured in a cell extraction.
The Indiana Department of Correction came after me in 1992, claiming I attempted to murder two guards. I was taken before a criminal circuit court in Anderson, IN, to be lynched. I was forced to stand trial before an all white jury that was purposefully selected from white towns heavily made up of Reformatory employees and Ku Klux Klan members, such as Pendleton and Elwood. The town of Elwood was so racist, they had a sign on the outskirts just before you entered that stated, “No N***ers Allowed in Elwood.” There was no way a black man accused of assaulting two white male prison guards could obtain a fair trial before such a racially tainted jury. Most of this jury consisted of friends and relatives, to either my Judge, Prosecutor, and/or prison guards who worked at the Reformatory. My court-appointed attorney’s performance in defending me was ineffective, he failed to challenge the all white jury or to call a key witness who had overhead some of the prison staff who were involved in that cell extraction plotting to do me harm before the attack. I was wrongfully convicted for this offense [attempted murder during the cell extraction attack by guards] and given an additional 40 years in prison. My trial attorney jumped ship and left Indiana to Naples, Florida, and he was never seen in Indiana handling another criminal case again. The Euro-Amerikkkan Kourts have affirmed my conviction and passed the buck at every turn thus far, despite the overwhelming lack of evidence of intent to kill, and the numerous constitutional and human rights violations apparent upon the face of the trial record.
My long-term or indefinite placement in solitary confinement since 1990 is a political move by top-level DOC officials to impose additional punishment on me for these wrongful attempted murder convictions and to obstruct due course of justice in my efforts to challenge my unlawful custody in the DOC. I have filed litigation to obtain my release from solitary confinement in case Aaron Isby v. Richard Brown et., al., No. 2:12-CV-116 with the Southern District of Indiana, United States District Court in Terre Haute. I am scheduled for trial in the Indianapolis, IN Birch Bayh Building, United States Courthouse, 46 E. Ohio Street on September 25, 2018, at 8:30am.
Those in the DOC have moved me to another solitary confinement unit called the Westville Control Unit (fka Maximum Control Complex) in retaliation for not dropping my suit. My due process claim challenging my indefinite placement in isolation was sent back to the District Court by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on May 10, 2017 (See Aaron Isby v. Richard Brown et., al. Appeal No. 15-3334). There are disputed facts as to whether the reviews of my confinement have been meaningful, non-pretextual, and meet Constitutional due process standards.
Having me sent to the Westville Control Unit was solely done to obstruct my litigation efforts and prevent me from garnering support from those on the outside and to effectively break or seriously weaken close emotional ties and support structures that I have with my family and friends. To carry out these measures against me, my visits have been restricted to a video monitor, I am being denied legal and personal mail, and all my mail is being read, searched and photocopied, my phone calls with legal counsel are being monitored, recorded and obstructed, and my access to legal papers is being restricted. I have no privacy, I have been threatened with K-9 dogs, and I was held on strip-cell the first 60 or more days after arrived to this unit. I am awakened every 20 to 30 minutes by flashlights in my eyes. I haven’t received a hot meal in a year, and it’s taking a toll on my health.
I have been litigating in Indiana courts to gain my release. The law that I was sentenced under states that I must serve 20 years of my 40 year sentence in credit class 1, and I shall be released from prison to parole. My earliest release date was on February 25, 2009, and my maximum release date was on September 30, 2012. The IDOC refused to give me any credit time toward my sentence for the time I served from September 30, 1992, until February 25, 2009, causing my projected release date change from 2009 to 2029, and my maximum release date to change from 2032 to 2049. This pushes my maximum release date up 17 years which exceeds the statutory maximum and renders my sentence and confinement illegal. I should have been released 9 years ago. DOC officials are refusing to recalculate my credit for time I have served and adjust my time to reflect my correct release date. I have sought legal redress from the state court under my cause #48col-9011-CF-139 in Madison circuit court but they are passing the buck and refusing to intervene. My current illegal imprisonment offends both United States and international standards of justice.
I make this conscious effort to bring light to my struggle against a racially and politically motivated conspiracy to falsely imprison me past my release date. Black life and our Freedom, Justice, Equality, and Human Rights in the State of Indiana are held with little or no regard. Historically, Black men, women and children have never received their Human Rights to equal protection under racist Indiana law. The collective power of the majority of whites in Indiana has always been bent on keeping Blacks in check by disenfranchisement and incarceration. Indiana lacks a stable foundation of support capable of confronting this crisis. I make this national call for the collaboration of West coast, East coast, northern, southern organizations and student activists to bring attention to my injustice in Indiana.
Your initial show of support can start with attending my trial and letting the powers that be know that I’m not alone in this fight. This is a fight that I cannot win alone; I need a strong force to confront these violations occurring in this prison and court system. The genocidal murdering of our black men, women, and children by the racist penal, police, and court system by gun, long and disproportionate sentences and shammed legal process must no longer be tolerated by members of black, Latino, white, Asian, etc, local, national, and international communities. We must stand together as a wall against this modern day Jim Crow lynching of another Black man!
I am severely in need of support no matter where it comes from. However, as most Blacks in other states already have local networks to confront the many contradictions they face, Blacks in Indiana are not well-organized and have little structure. This has made us sitting ducks and wild game in a system that is bent on annihilating us, like Hitler annihilated the Jews. This is why I am also seeking support outside the state. So in relation to building across state-to-state lines, I hope to be able to set the tone and wake up the sleeping Black Giant, to join our fight in the backwood racist Klan state of Indiana. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “If a man hasn’t found something he is willing to die for, he ain’t fit to live.” Let us confront this crisis as a team and as a family!
Aaron “Israel” Isby #892219
Westville Correctional Facility
5501 S. 1100 W.
Westville, IN 46391