Camera Cells: Tools of Retaliation and Psychological Torture at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility
By Shaka Shakur, Indiana Prison Rebel
The Secure Housing Unit (SHU) at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility in Indiana, which is also called the Secure Confinement Unit (SCU), is a 288 bed supermax control unit facility where prisoners are locked down 23 hours a day on both administrative segregation and disciplinary segregation status. The unit is comprised of 4 pods. Each pod is broken down into 4 ranges that each have 12 cells, divided by 2 tiers per range.
On B-East, 3 of these ranges have 6 camera cells on the lower tier for a total of 18 cells that contain infrared cameras. Normally, those kept on “disciplinary segregation” status are the only ones subjected to such cells. While the impression is given that these cells are meant to house those inmates who are suicidal or suffer some degree of psychosis, these cells are in fact used to abuse inmates.
There is no set criteria or guidelines for use of these camera cells that the lieutenant or prisoncrats must abide by. The lack of such guidelines has allowed for widespread abuses, arbitrary use and retaliatory targeted placement. When there are no checks and balances in a system, those in authority become the law unto themselves.
Generally upon entry in the SHU you’re placed inside of a camera cell until a regular non-camera cell becomes available, which can take months. These cells do not have electrical outlets, and therefore if you have a T.V. it is of no use to you. This is one of tools used against you as a form of unofficial punishment. So instead of being used for their intended purpose, like solitary confinement in general, they have become a substitute for lack of bed space.
While it is true that some misconduct and rule violations can get you assigned to a camera cell, because there is no set criteria or policy that has ever been made available to us or the public, there is plenty of abuse and no consistency. In fact, it has opened the door for political prisoners, jailhouse lawyers, prison rebels or anyone that falls into disfavor with the administration or the good ol’ boys network to be targeted. In fact, as in my case, if you’re deemed to be influential or an organizer, it is used to try and further isolate you from other prisoners and make an example out of you.
These cells are also used for sleep deprivation and cause a type of stress and paranoia. While your every move is under observation and being recorded, it is not uncommon for whatever guard that is in the control booth to automatically flush your toilet (especially in the middle of the night when you’re sound asleep) or shut your toilet off so that you can’t flush it, leaving feces to sit in an open toilet, or to flicker your light off and on repeatedly to cause you more stress.
All of these forms of harassment can cause you to react in a way that can trigger the squad to run in and physically beat the shit out of you while chanting “stop resisting!” In essence, being treated like a lab rat at the hands of prisoncrats.
Orchestrated Human Cockfights in the SHU
On this unit, two prisoners are never to have physical contact or be escorted to and from recreation without shackles, handcuffs and “hands on” by guards.
On April 14th of this year, none of these procedures were followed and I was put into an orchestrated human cockfighting situation with an inmate known to have mental issues, known to attack other inmates without provocation and known to serve the interests of white power. Upon contact I kicked him in his upper chest area reversing his forward motion/momentum towards me. For me, this was self-defense. As a result of this, I was given the internal charge of assault and, after it was exposed, some of the staff involved were reassigned out of the SHU to other posts. The entire incident is on camera—the actions of the guards, the violation of policies and standard operating procedure is all on tape.
Such orchestrated human cockfights are not uncommon.
On the 18th of April, after refusing to speak with Internal Affairs (I.A.), which is my right, and in complete violation of my rights to due process, and in total disregard of my not having been found guilty by an impartial body or having any disciplinary sanctions imposed, the administration decided to retaliate and have me moved into a camera cell. This move was allegedly upon orders of Internal Affairs Officer Storm and Lt. McMillin. I was initially told it was to separate me and another prisoner whom I’d had the confrontation with.
In reality, the move couldn’t have been to separate me from the other prisoner, because both of our ranges still go to recreation together, where he is still free to throw piss and shit on other prisoners. Plus, he was already in a camera cell and could just as easily been moved to another. No, this was about payback and targeting.
I’m asking for people to call and email Indiana Department of Corrections Commissioner Bruce Lemmon and Wabash Valley Superintendent Brown demanding an investigation into orchestrated human cockfights in the SHU (see numbers below). A concrete policy on placement into and exit out of a camera cell should be articulated and made public. We want to know the criteria. We want oversight and a legitimate recourse to address blatant abuses.
Please call, email and post.
Write to Shaka:
Shaka Shakur # 135647
Wabash Valley Long Term Segregation
P.O. Box 1111
Carlisle, IN 47838
Superintendent Richard Brown
Indiana Dept. of Corrections Commissioner Bruce Lemmon