Aaron Isby-Israel: Indiana Prisoners Must Unite & Struggle to Change Conditions!

Indiana prisoners need to acknowledge that they have a common cause and struggle. Until we have come to a mutual agreement that ALL OF US have a common cause and struggle, there will never be any progress by Indiana Prisoners! This objective cannot be reached by Indiana Prisoners without education on the prison movements and struggles that have taken place in Indiana prisons since their inception. Most Indiana prisoners do not know the history of the many struggles that took place in these prisons and the lives that have been lost so that many of those who are coming in here now can have basic rights and entitlements. The history of our prison struggle and movement in Indiana prison system is important and this new generation of prisoners  need to know it. 

Indiana prisoners are faced with a generation who has no structure and no political education. The white power structure that operates these Indiana prisons has learned to use this new generation of prisoners’ ignorance and misguidance against them. The poor and inhumane conditions that exist in these Indiana prisons are more the prisoners fault, because we have the power to change our situation but we stand by and allow our human dignity to be denied! Aramark do not feed us nothing! All we get is soy, which is not real meat. Our commissary prices are steadily going up and most of us cannot afford to buy this commissary. The phone calls are too high and we are being overcharged! The medical care system in here is substandard and prisoners are dying due to medical neglect!

My name is AARON ISRAEL AKA AARON ISBY. I am Hebrew Israelite political prisoner being held captive in the Indiana prison system. Prior to winning my release from solitary confinement in a civil suit I filed (Aaron Isby-Israel v. James wynn,et al, no. 2:12-cv-00116-JMS-MJD) with the United States District Court in Indianapolis, challenging my indefinite placement, I spent 28 years under this oppressive regime! My indefinite sentence to solitary confinement was used by prisoncrats as additional punishment for two wrongful attempted murder and battery convictions that I had obtained while in prison in 1990. I was charged for defending myself from white aggression, in which racist white prison guards at the Indiana State Reformatory [now Pendleton CF], instigated and staged an attack to end my life. This attack against me was carried out on October 12, 1990, while I was being held in their segregation unit. I was shot with a four hundred pound pressured fire hose, subjected to k-9 dog attack and tear gassed, while I was in my cell. I ended up being convicted and sentenced to an additional forty years by a state circuit criminal court in Anderson, Indiana, on September 30, 1992, under case #48C01-9011-CF-139. 

For 28 years in solitary confinement, I was housed alone in a parking space size cell, with no windows, under constant illumination, 23 to 24 hours each day. My showers and recreation outside my cell was restricted. I was restrained and shackled and escorted when let out my cell.

My stay in solitary confinement became a fight for my life and others who endured this psychological violence. I could not touch my family, I was essentially deprived all contact or social interaction with other human beings. All visits with family or friends was only permitted on a small video monitor screen. My mail was routinely read, copied, and searched to and from my family and friends. My books were censored, and I remember I could not have any books while being held captive in the Westville Maximum Control Complex (MCC), from 1991 to 1996. I was not allowed to possess my Hebrew TORAH there at that time. I was subjected to all forms of attacks on my bodily integrity and privacy. It was brutal. My food was intentionally reduced as a method to weaken and control me. I was always hungry there. These food deprivation tactics that was used against me by y captors, became a standard operation of procedure, and I suffered substantial weight loss. The guards would not allow us to save our food for later. If they found food in our cells, they would confiscate. While in solitary I had no access to vocational, work, or educational (college) programs offered to general population prisoners. 

These inhumane conditions of confinement lead to a hunger strike beginning on September 23, 1991, that was launched by me and fifteen of my comrades. This was a protest by US to call local, national, and international attention to these human rights abuses and the mind/thought control program that Indiana Department of Correction, was committing against All prisoners including US at MCC!

We was successful in gaining support from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. A class action suit was filed and won following a settlement, this settlement entitled "Agreed Entry", was upheld by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in AARON ISBY v. EVAN BAYH, 75 F.3d 1191 (7th Cir. 1996).

Our hunger strike in 1991 lasted thirty seven days, until the state Agents within the IDOC obtained a court order to force feed US. I was not coming off this hunger strike, so, i was force fed in a prison hospital at westville called A2-South. Tubes was inserted in my nose and pushed in my stomach and I.V.s was stuck in my arms by prison medical staff to force feed me. I stayed in this condition for three additional days. On this 40th day I ended my food strike and the tubes and I.V.s was taken out of my stomach and arms

There has been a book entitled ,"Cold Storage", that was written and released in 1997 by Human Rights Watch, that explains our experience at the Westville Indiana Maximum Control Complex ("MCC" aka "WCU"). My courageous stance and my tenacious writ writing exposing the racist prison and court system in Indiana, has created for me some enemies inside the system, which has caused me to suffer unusually harsh deprivations and retaliation at the hands of my enemies. I am now in general population at the Miami Correctional Facility in a town called Bunker Hill, Indiana. My being in general population, is the result of my lawsuit I won in the Federal courts on my challenge of indefinite solitary confinement. I was granted an Injunction that forced IDOC officials to put me in general population. The federal Judge in my case is monitoring my injunction for Two Years. I am not in general population by the Indiana DOC’s grace, or because they felt sorry for me: if it was up to the DOC I would not have never seen general population. 

The state’s attorney, David Arthur, who represented the DOC  Appealed my case to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. They are tried to get my entire ruling overturn. I have set a Precedent in Indiana Prison system, and my case is an obstacle that is in DOC officials’ way. Their practice of indefinite solitary confinement of Indiana Prisoners is now in jeopardy and the overuse and misuse of holding Indiana prisoners indefinitely in solitary confinement, is not going to be tolerated due to my ruling. The state and IDOC want my case to go away. 

WE MUST STAND TO ENSURE THAT MY CASE (Isby-Israel v. Wynn, et al,) IS UPHELD! MY CASE IS VERY IMPORTANT TO THE MOVEMENT TO ABOLISH THE PRACTICE OF CONFINING INDIANA PRISONERS IN SOLITARY CONFINEMENT AND THIS WHY PEOPLE IN OUR STRUGGLE MUST COLLECTIVELY SUPPORT AARON’S FIGHT WHICH IS ALL OUR FIGHT!

[In recent weeks, IDOC dropped it’s appeal of Aaron’s ruling, so his case is now fully and finally won. The ruling found that the way the DOC was doing (really, failing to do) reviews of prisoners’ confinement in segregation units (solitary confinement) violated prisoners’ Constitutional rights to due process. Now there is a precedent in case law for challenging indefinite solitary confinement, which is a huge victory for the fight against solitary. More info on the content of the ruling here.]

I am currently being housed at Miami Correctional facility, in general population. I arrived here on 4/30/19. This prison is leaking with many Hidden Human Rights Violations. This prison is unlike any prison I have done time at. It houses over Three Thousand Prisoners. Prisoners here are subjected to the practice of double bunking, although these cells are designed for one person. To worsen this problem, prisoners are forcibly placed in incompatible cell assignments, that serves no penological purpose, and in fact creates only more problems for the prisoners who have not consented to this incompatible cell assignment. I will give you an example, a prisoner who I know but will not mention his name, came to me when I first arrived to F-House and complained about not being able to be in a cell with someone he was compatible with. He had told me he had been intentionally placed in a cell with an individual, who never cleaned the cell or cleaned up after themselves.He said this person that he celled with snored and kept him up all through the night and he couldn’t sleep. He said the person in his cell never left out the cell to give him a peace of mind or any privacy. This behavior by the cellie was so disturbing, that he said when he took a dump on the toilet his cellie would not leave the cell regardless of how bad it smelled. I responded to this, by telling him that maybe smelling Human feces was a fetish that his cellie had? This person told me he was losing patience and he went to the counselor on the unit, seeking a bed move, but, the counselor kept telling him to work it out and she wasn't going to move him to another cell. This situation only got worse and my friend and his cellie got into arguments after arguments and this was about to escalate into physical violence, but, he got moved out of that situation to a more conducive cell situation. This has not always been the case and these incompatible cell assignments have turned into prisoners getting killed!

It is inhumane and clear International Human Rights Violation to double bunk prisoners. Cell assignment should be by consent from both prisoners; this way the prisoner can pick a compatible cellie and not be forced in a situation that would lead to physical violence. 

The water we are forced to drink at this prison is contaminated. I have been told none of the prison guards drink the water at this prison, and there is written memos telling the staff that work here not to drink the water here and if they drink the water it will be at their own risk. The water here has been contaminated for years. I can attest that something is wrong with this water, because it is causing me skin irritation. Every time I take a shower in it I start experiencing an  itching sensation and I scratch my skin and scalp a lot? It feel like bugs are crawling all over my skin! I know the difference between hard water deposits and bad water, and this water here is contaminated!

There is a food issue here. Prisoners here do not receive three hot meals. Monday thru Friday two hot meals, breakfast and lunch, and at dinner prisoners are fed cold cut sandwiches. On Saturday and Sunday prisoners only get two hot meals, one at breakfast and one at dinner.There is no reason to deny prisoners three hot meals each day at this prison, so, why is this practice in place? Is someone in food service at this prison misappropriating funds? 

The medical care system here is not providing proper healthcare. There is an older black man at this prison that I know (I won't mention his name), who has type two diabetes. His condition can be properly treated, but the medical staff here refuse to afford this man the right diet and medication he was prescribed on the outside before he came to prison. They never give him his insulin shots on the right time schedule and it appears these officials are trying to harm this man instead of helping him get better. This man is not cared for. I was told that these nurses here at MCF are not ensuring this man has something to eat after they give him insulin shots? The other day this man almost fainted after getting an insulin shot. I had to get this brother some food to eat. This man is faced with a serious medical illness which if he is not being treated properly for, and he could die as a result of these neglectful medical staff. This brother was a good friend of my mother and this is why I am taking a personal interest in his case. 

We have recently been told MCF officials have issued a policy that prohibits the prisoner law clerks that work in the law library, from aiding other prisoners with there legal matters.This policy is clearly unconstitutional and violates the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Johnson v. Avery, which held Jailhouse lawyers or prisoners have a right to assist other prisoners with their legal work? The administration at this prison is really overstepping their limits! 90% of the prisoners in here have no legal know-how, and without help from prisoners who know the law they are lost.

I have been experiencing attacks from various elements within the ranks of these officials since I been in this prison .It is unclear whether these attacks are by design or whether they are merely the result of official indifference or incompetence. My legal property laid dormant in the property room for at least two months, awaiting to be delivered to the mailroom to be mailed out, and although it was taken to the mailroom on July 3, 2019, I still have no confirmation that my four boxes of property has been mail yet. My family has told me they have not received my boxes as to date. I also had to struggle for two months to get my kosher religious diet card although I been on this diet since 2016! I was denied my kosher food because I did not have my card and on one occasion I was not fed because I did not have an  I.D. card. Is this is a policy here: if you do not have this card they will not feed you?

by Aaron Isby-Israel

You can support Aaron Isby-Israel by writing to him via web.connectnetwork.com, where you can also send him money, or by sending him mail at Aaron Isby-Israel #892219, IDOC, Miami CF, 3038 W 850 S, Bunker Hill, IN 46914.

 


Below are news articles from Indiana, Cincinnatti and Louisville papers covering the historic hunger strike at the Maximum Control Complex in 1991

IDOC Watch