Solidarity with Virginia Prison Hunger Strikers
A Brief Video on Conditions at Wallens Ridge:
Up The Ridge Documentary Intro
Built on top of a mountain, Wallens Ridge State Prison in Wise County was as part of a major ‘land reclamation’ prison building project. It was built after longer sentences were instituted and parole was abolished. It was built to confine not ‘rehabilitate.’
Approximately 25,000 people are held in solitary confinement in the United States, 1,800 of them are in Virginia prisons. 1 in 20 Virginia prisoners are held in solitary confinement.
Prisoners have been held in segregation – 23-hour a day lock-down – for 2 weeks to 7 years; an average of 2.7 years. Most international human rights organizations consider solitary confinement a form of torture.
Majority of the prison population are African-American men from Virginia cities far from the mountain prison. The prison is 400 miles from Richmond. A portion of the population comes from across the U.S. via state-to-state prisoner swaps or special contracts with states dealing with prison overcrowding.
In June 2000, a prisoner at Wallens Ridge State Prison, Lawrence James Frazier was shocked repeatedly with a stun gun, lapsed into a coma and subsequently died. Prisoner abuse and neglect is widespread and has been documented ever since these prisons opened.
Wallens Ridge State Prison: http://www.vadoc.state.va.us/facilities/western/wallens-ridge/
VA Department of Corrections: http://www.vadoc.state.va.us/