The Red Onion State Prison in Wise County, VA is identical to the Wallens Ridge prison in Big Stone Gap (pictured). These are Level 6 supermax facilities- general population here is equivalent to SHU time at other prisons. Essentially, these places are SHUs. Punishments at these facilities include being strapped spread-eagle on a steel slab in your underwear and then turning the temperature down while not allowing you up to use the toilet, and leaving you in your own filth for a couple days. This is in violation of federal law, the US constitution, international treaties, and United Nations guidelines on prisoner treatment.
The day I arrived I was…told that I was at Red Onion now and if I act up they would kill me; and there was nothing anyone could or would do about it.
There are no vocational programs, no skill training programs, no group activity of any kind, including religious services. Very little reading material is allowed, and is heavily restricted. Even the length of letters is restricted, to further isolate them from the outside world. Visits are noncontact- through glass w/ intercom phone and the inmate is shackled & chained during the visits.
3 ten-minute showers are allowed per week, but there are no doors or curtains and female guards are used at shower time to humiliate the inmates. When this was done at GITMO, they called it torture and there was worldwide outrage.
Life in segregation is even more restrictive. Nobody really knows how many inmates are in segregation because the facilities don’t disclose it. Segregation in Virginia is indefinite. DOC policies provide no guidance on permissible length of time in segregation. Inmates do not know what, if anything, they can do to secure their release to general population. While the DOC’s operating procedure mandates periodic reviews of an inmate’s placement in segregation, it does not specify criteria for guiding the institution’s decision-making process. Nor does it affirm the goal of safely transferring inmates to lesser custody as soon as feasible.
Human Rights Watch has issued a scathing report on the human rights violations at Red Onion.
Connecticut used to send prisoners to WR, and when CT legislators visited the prison investigating inmate abuse, they discovered the warden’s office decorated with Civil War “memorabilia” and a model of a slave ship. The practice of sending CT guys to WR has stopped as a result of an ACLU lawsuit.
Amnesty International has been unsuccessfully trying to visit Wallens Ridge to investigate inmate deaths caused by tasers and stun belts.
Amnesty International posted:
“A prison system that has nothing to hide and is serious about addressing human rights concerns should welcome scrutiny and advice,” said Dr. William F.. Schulz, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA. “There are long-standing concerns about misuse of stun guns in Wallens Ridge. That misuse may now have resulted in a death, and urgent scrutiny is required if Virginia is to avoid further tragedies.”
Abuse is widespread and heinous at Red Onion.
Donnell J. Blount #300349 posted:
Owens, Tomkins, and Kennedy came to cell after lights out to strip search Blount. Ransacked cell throwing hundreds of pages of transcripts, legal mail, personal mail ect around cell. Lt. Mullins, Sgt. Dat, Sgt O’Quinn, CPL Lee, CPL Nicholson came running placed legal mail /work in orange bag. Blount needed legal materials for court date on April 14, 2005. O’Quinn said “We know. Fuck you and court”. Blount said there was no need for that kind of language. Mullins whispered in Blount’s ear “I’ll Fuck you Nigger!” Then sexually assaulted by Lt. Mullins. Mullins tried to stick finger in Blount’s anus causing scratches around the rectum and broken skin. Officers, medical staff obstructed grievance procedure. Medical staff refused to examine him with cameras around and said to say that Blount refused the search. When Blount asked for legal material back the officers laughed. (Blount is pressing charges. See copy of lawsuit for full details.
Ronald Mitchell #298888 posted:
(Reported by Kevin Johnson #189542) Sgt. O’ Quinn, Sgt. D. Tate and Lieutenant S. Mullins Upon one handcuff being applied to one of Mitchell’s wrists these three guards together yanked his arm out of the cell door’s food access hatch up to the shoulder using a nylon leash that was attached to the handcuffs. O’ Quinn then began yelling repeatedly in an excited tone “Break his goddamn arm! Break his arm!” with his extended fully outside the slot by Mullins and Tate, O’ Quinn began dropping his body weight down onto Mitchell’s arm attempting to break it at the elbow joint. (Sgt. Quinn broke both wrists of another inmate in previous years.) ROSP
Antonio Parker #281203 posted:
Assaulted by LT. Mullins while I was hog tied-They ran in on me with the shield and gas and assaulted me because I was kicking on the door because they were beating another man that was dying of HIV and could not move and because he failed to respond to them in any manner.
Kevin Johnson #189542 posted:
Fowler and R. Phipps had been propositioning an informant white inmate Dennis Webb #151452 to throw feces on me. On July 5th, despite the required search of the prisoner and his items prior to being brought out of his cell for a shower Webb had taken several bloated bags of the feces mixture to the shower. Second, only Webb, I, and one other prisoner were placed in showers in the unit next door to our own (C500 unit), which unlike our own C400 unit showers has no Plexiglas covering the shower fronts or locking covers on the handcuff slots. The C400 showers are designed this way to keep substances from being thrown from them. So, not only was Webb allowed to take the feces bags into the shower, but we were placed into showers in another unit from which Webb could easily throw the feces.