The DOC doesn't know we have rights!
SCI Houtzdale has implemented a new pilot policy that will be pervading every facility in Pa soon if it hasn't already. This new policy, DC-ADM-801-HOU-2 or "VRS" (Violence Reduction Strategy) has the objective to punish an entire unit/block for the actions of any. An example would be: On J-unit at SCI Houtzdale, a mentally ill inmate was sitting on the officers desk, a sergeant from within the officers bubble began flashing his flashlight at him, yelling to "move"! Adverse words were exchanged and this Sgt. yelled "if you think your tough enough, come in here" then opened the secured locked door to the officer bubble. The mentally ill inmate excepted the challenge but when he went in the door he was met with pepper-spray. Pursuant to this new policy they locked the entire block down. The initial punishment includes being locked in our cells for (3) days, followed by (3) days restricted movement, without showers, visits, religious services, law-library access, employment pay, visits, or telephone,(if your family comes to visit you, they will be turned away, and you couldn't warn them). If another incident occurs the duration is extended (incidents include; fights between more than two inmates, assault on staff or drug possession). When you fill out a grievance it is given to a member of this policy, A group called "VRC"(Violent reduction committee) which is made up of the entire staff, see this policy section 1. We are told that justification for these lock downs are "limited state of emergencies", and your grievance will be denied. I suggest; in order to combat this violation of our rights, and abuse of power by the administration, we must file grievances and appeal to harrisburg, then, when denied (it will be denied) you must file a "petition for review" in the commonwealth court. Citing the constitutional violations, First, Eighth, Fourteenth Amendments, etc. You must send a copy certified to the attorney gen. and the PA DOC (same address in Harrisburg). This policy has already hit SCI Benner and Rockview, and has locked down many of our blocks here over and over. One inmate lost his relationship with his family because they didn't believe that he kept gettin punished for someone else. During the lock down the administration did their round to make sure none of us killed ourselves, and I asked them "don't you think this policy violates our constitutional rights?" they responded with "you have no rights in here." This should make sense to us now; the entire administration is made up of individuals that began their employment as a C.O., which has the same requirements to serve fast food (with all due respect). none of them needed Law degree's or Law training. It is up to us to show them we do have rights. They deny our issues because they are all related or friends, but the judges in the courts are not related or their friends. And they have to go by the law. Don't just give up when the DOC denies your grievance. you have my permission to publish any/all of this forementioned statement as I am the original author. sincerely, Mark Rokita, Jr.
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