Retaliation Against Aaron Isby-Israel at Miami Correctional Facility

7/20/19

IDOC Watch

To whom it may concern,

This is a letter of complaint detailing several serious violations of the human, Constitutional, and civil rights that Mr. Aaron Isby-Israel #892219, who is currently incarcerated in the custody of the Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) at Miami Correctional Facility (MCF), has been subjected to in recent months. These abuses of Mr. Isby-Israel’s rights are also violations of IDOC policy and Indiana law. We understand these abuses to be retaliation on the part of IDOC authorities against Mr. Isby-Israel for his civil rights lawsuit concerning the IDOC’s practice of indefinite solitary confinement, which violates inmates’ rights to due process, the settlement of which is still in negotiation but will likely result in major changes in IDOC segregation practices and substantial fines for the IDOC’s past abuses. Please use whatever authority or power your office or organization has to remedy these abuses, else we will be forced to take further steps to remedy them ourselves.

Religious Discrimination 

Mr. Isby-Israel has been at MCF since 4/30/19, and as of 6/28/19 still had not received his kosher diet card. Chaplain Fort has refused to issue a kosher diet card, which is a substantial burden on Isby-Israel’s religious practice as a Hebrew-Israelite, because his religion mandates that he keep kosher and be given kosher meals. Without a kosher card Isby-Israel cannot obtain a kosher diet and this violates his rights to practice his religion pursuant to the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA) and the First Amendment right to freedom of religion under the US Constitution! Chaplain Fort has claimed that Mr. Isby-Israel is not in the database as approved for a kosher diet and that his religious preference is not Hebrew-Israelite, despite the fact that he has been a Hebrew Israelite since 1988, and IDOC records reflect that he was approved and has been receiving a kosher diet since January 2016. His kosher diet was approved at the central office level by the IDOC religious director David Liebel, and his kosher diet cards that were issued at Westville Correctional Facility, Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, and New Castle Correctional Facility were sent to MCF with him when he was transferred (or ought to have been), which is clear because the medical department has the cards in his medical packet, which were also transferred from the other facilities. IDOC gave Mr. Isby-Israel his kosher diet in the first place due to a lawsuit he filed, so it is impossible that IDOC does not have a record of his religious preference as being Hebrew-Israelite. His religious preference was clearly set out in his suit as being a Hebrew-Israelite (see Isby-Israel v. Lemmon, et. al., case number 2:13-cv-172), which he filed in order to be provided with kosher meals, as is his right. Chaplain Fort’s job is to issue Mr. Isby-Israel a kosher diet card and not concern himself with what his religion is. All the top officials in IDOC central office know what his religion and religious preference is. This matter is of grave importance and it needs to be addressed immediately.

Chaplain Fort is on notice; Mr. Isby-Israel wrote him on 6/15/19 and 6/25/19, and filed a grievance against him on 6/26/19. He also wrote to Director Liebel on 6/25/19 regarding this matter.

Theft of Mr. Isby-Israel’s personal funds by the DOC in payment for restitution debt which Mr. Isby-Israel has no obligation to pay

Since he arrived at MCF, IDOC has been taking money off of Mr. Isby-Israel’s trust fund account in payment for a restitution debt dating back to 1990. Mr. Isby-Israel has no obligation to pay that debt, as he is bankrupt, and as such the DOC is effectively stealing from Mr. Isby-Israel. Mr. Isby-Israel filed for Chapter 7 in 2015 with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court (in re: Aaron E. Isby, case number 15-80411-JJG-7), about this restitution debt, and the court resolved this case in 2017. Any and all assets Mr. Isby-Israel had (he did not have any assets), were liquidated. The IDOC had no money to collect from him, therefore his debt was terminated! He does not owe IDOC anyting. The Court assigned U.S. Trustee named Lou Ann Marocco to the case, to ensure that the IDOC was not taking money from Mr. Isby-Israel and continuing to violate the law. Apparently the Trustee has been dismissed from the case, and this must be why the IDOC has begun to steal from Mr. Isby-Israel yet again. The DOC has illegally taken the following money from Mr. Isby-Israel on the respective dates: 

$215.04 (4/11/19)

$20.00 (6/4/19)

$30.00 (6/10/19)

$50.00 (6/15/19).

Any money in Mr. Isby-Israel’s  prison account amounting to $350.00 or less is exempt from seizure for a debt per Indiana Code 34-55-10-2(3)), the IDOC is violating the law by taking Mr. Isby-Israel’s money according to this statute. We understand the IDOC’s theft of Mr. Isby-Israel’s extremely minimal funds to be retaliation for the civil rights lawsuit he has against them regarding being held in solitary confinement without justification or proper due process for twenty-six years! The money that has been stolen on the dates listed above must be returned to Mr. Isby-Israel’s trust fund account immediately!

Theft of food order by MCF officials

Officials at MCF stole Mr. Isby-Israel’s food order that his sister purchased on 4/24/19 from Union Supply Direct. The order was sent to him on 4/30/19, the same week he arrived at MCF. The grievance specialist at MCF rejected his grievance (filed 6/7/19) about his missing order, claiming that Heather Claxton, the commissary supervisor, stated that he received this order. He got his grievance back on 6/11/19 in the prison mail, unprocessed (rejected 6/10/19). As usual these officials are lying: Mr. Isby-Israel’s sister looked online at the order tracking system and found that the food order in question was sent to this prison and the commissary people delivered the food package to someone in A-House. Mr. Isby-Israel was not in A-House and has never been assigned to that housing unit since being at MCF. This is a clear case of theft and corruption, as no inmate can get commissary unless they show a picture I.D. with their name on it, give their thumb print, and sign their signature. Under these circumstances no one could be able to get Mr. Isby-Israel’s commissary without being noticed unless commissary staff was complicit in the theft. Where is the invoice showing Mr. Isby-Israel’s print and signature for this food order?! This order needs to be replaced immediately. Again, we understand the theft of Mr. Isby-Israel’s food as retaliation against him for his lawsuit regarding unlawful, indefinite solitary confinement practiced by the IDOC.

Obstruction of right to Attorney Calls by MCF officials

The most obvious example of retaliation, which proves the rest of these incidents to be calculated retaliation, is that since Mr. Isby-Israel has been at MCF, facility officials have been preventing him from communicating with the lawyer on his civil rights case. The lawyer called the prison to schedule a legal call with Mr. Isby-Israel for 5/21/19, and MCF officials told her that she had to get a court order before they will schedule a legal call. This is an outrage! IDOC Policy does not condone this illegal obstruction of Mr. Isby-Israel’s Attorney-Client communications. There is no legal or policy basis for MCF to demand a court order for legal calls to be arranged, nor are any other prisoners subject to such an onerous requirement. This is a direct violation of Mr. Isby-Israel’s right to petition the courts under the US Constitution. 

Please see to it that these violations of Mr. Isby-Israel’s legal and human rights cease, and that he is not subject to further retaliation!

Sincerely,

IDOC Watch

 

 

 


IDOC Watch