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Professor Kim Wilson says the inmates are reporting destruction and confiscation of their private property

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EDDIE CONWAY: Welcome to this special edition of Rattling the Bars. I’m Eddie Conway, coming to you from Baltimore. Last month we looked at the situation in Vaughan’s Correctional Center in Delaware, in relationship to the riot that happened there. And so, I have with me today Professor Kim Wilson, who is an educator and an activist, and has studied mass incarceration, to give us an update on what’s happening in Vaughan. Kim, welcome, thanks for joining me. KIM WILSON: Thank you for having me, Eddie. EDDIE CONWAY: Could you ,kind of like give me an idea of what’s been happening since our last program, in relationship to Vaughan? How… what kind of treatment is going on? KIM WILSON: Well, a few things have happened since the last time that we talked. There was a protest, a small protest, the day after the rebellion. And also one about a week or two weeks ago, which I did not attend, but there were a number of people who did attend. So, there’s a lot of movement to support the incarcerated people at Vaughan. Another major event that happened, was the announcement of an investigation by the Governor, and it’s supposed to be an independent panel investigation, and he appointed two retired judges to look into the situation that gave rise to the rebellion. The third thing that happened, and perhaps might be of interest, and is important to your viewers, is that the Warden was placed on administrative leave with pay, as of February 21st. So, we have these three major things that are going on. In terms of the treatment that people have been getting, I mean, it’s been very limited. There have been reports, particularly in the Delaware on-line, where they describe, you know, only a handful of incarcerated people who were in building C, having received treatment. And at this point, we know that it’s very minimal. It’s things like getting an aspirin, perhaps. It’s not for the treatment of, you know, broken bones; and we know that there are a number of people who received extensive injuries in the aftermath of the rebellion, when they broke through the barricades, and basically brought the siege to an end. So, these people have not received medical treatment, and we have heard from multiple families. We have heard from people on the inside, that, you know, who saw what happened, that people are not getting treated. There are people with broken bones, bruises, fractures of various types that have been in the SHU, in the Secure Housing Unit, since February 2nd without any medical treatment. EDDIE CONWAY: Oh, well, is Legal Aid, or the Civil Liberties Union, or anybody up there in the Delaware Region, like, legally looking into this? KIM WILSON: I can’t speak to that directly. I’m sure that there have been, or that there are efforts by different groups to look into what’s going on. So, since last week, when the lock-down officially ended, we have not had much information that was coming out of the facility. What we had been getting, had been trickling out through a variety of different sources, including family members who are incarcerated, and were calling their loved ones on the outside. To let them know that, you know, they had been beaten up, and had not received any medical treatment. We’ve also received calls and reports from, you know, someone who is incarcerated at Vaughan. And they saw what happened, they were an eyewitness to what happened and they were passing along messages, to let us know that their loved ones are still suffering. EDDIE CONWAY: Hmm. So, now when is this special investigation commission supposed to be holding their hearing? And is it open to public? KIM WILSON: As far as I know, there are no public hearings. As far as I know, the panel will only consist of these two judges, that were appointed by the Governor of Delaware. And beyond that, we don’t have any sense that there is going to be, you know, a transparent process in place, so that we know what happened, and what is still going on, in the aftermath. EDDIE CONWAY: Okay, so what, if anything, can the public do to aid those families with loved ones behind the walls? KIM WILSON: We have an organization called the Delaware, Delaware CADBI, DE C-A-D-B-I(?), and that stands for the “Coalition against Death by Incarceration”. This is a group of people, including myself, and I’m the mother of two men who are incarcerated at Vaughan, serving life sentences. So, this group of individuals and various groups has come together. We have a Facebook page DECADBI(?), and people can go there. If they have a loved one at Vaughan they can give us their SBI number, preferably not on the public page. You can contact me, Kim Wilson or Sandra Joy, who is my colleague and partner in this effort, as well. And let us know what is going on with your loved one so that we can, you know, include them in our efforts. We’re going to be rolling out a call-in campaign in the next couple of weeks. We are continuing to apply pressure on the Governor and other officials regarding, you know, the lack of accountability at Vaughan. We don’t take it lightly that, you know, the Warden was placed on administrative leave. And we don’t believe that under the Deputy Warden, now the Acting Warden, that things are going to change. In fact, we know that things have not changed. We have heard from multiple people on the inside that the beatings have continued, that the destruction of their private property, their personal property, has continued. We have eyewitnesses who have watched, you know, corrections officers throwing televisions and radios out of the buildings, and smashing them on the ground. We have reports from a number of incarcerated people at Vaughan that, not just people who were in Building C, right — so this is a broader systemic problem — their property has gone missing. So, clothing items have gone missing, photographs have been destroyed, personal mail has been destroyed, as well. So, this is a big problem, and it continues, this sort of retaliatory actions that began, and probably lead up to the rebellion. EDDIE CONWAY: Uh huh. Well, is this effort open to the public, concerned citizens, or people that might not have loved ones in Vaughan, but are concerned about the treatment of people behind the walls and might want to participate, or might want to get involved to give support? Is this effort open to the public? KIM WILSON: Absolutely. Absolutely, anyone who’s interested in participating and lending a voice, and learning about what’s happening, not just at Vaughan, but in prisons in general, can join the group, or ask to join the group and, you know, we will certainly include you in that. In the coming weeks, as we’re organizing and getting things set up. You know, this is a brand new group to Delaware, and we were actually in the process of organizing before the rebellion began. And, you know, it just so happened that here we are, almost a month minus a day, to when the rebellion happened, and we’re setting up the infrastructure. We’re figuring out the process for, not just getting information out, but really providing meaningful support to loved ones on the outside. But also looking for specific ways that we can create change on the inside, meaningful, sustained change for the people who are incarcerated at Vaughan. So, all of those things are part of what we’re doing. And like I said, this is the coalition of individuals, and various groups who have come together, and who have been working in Delaware and around the country, on various issues related to mass incarceration. For my part, my contribution to the group is not just from the personal standpoint, as the mother of two incarcerated men at Vaughan, but also from the perspective of someone who has been working on prison abolition for quite some time. So, I’m coming at it from an abolitionist’s perspective. EDDIE CONWAY: Okay, well thank you for that update, and please keep us informed as the coalition grows, develops. Any future activities that come up, we would like to know about it. Our public would probably appreciate a report on it. So, I’m inviting you to get in touch and let us know what’s going on. KIM WILSON: Thank you so much for having me, and I appreciate everything that you’ve done. EDDIE CONWAY: Okay, well thank you for joining me, Kim. KIM WILSON: Thank you for having me, Eddie. EDDIE CONWAY: And thank you for joining the Real News. ————————- END

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Kim Wilson holds a Ph.D. in Urban Affairs and Public Policy from the University of Delaware. Her research and activism focus on the impact of mass incarceration on communities. You can follow her on twitter @phillyprof03.