Monday, December 21, 2015

None of Us Are Free as Long as Some of Us Are Caged


Dina Bezgranitz

Janika and Kayla only lived to be 25, both dying this year at Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti Township.

I have never been incarcerated in any prison. The information I deal with in the following pages includes reports by others, some of whom have also never been incarcerated. If truth is a value, a beauty, then prison is the antithesis of truth. Prison officials lie routinely.[1] What we do know is that the Huron Valley prison exists as a site of mundane torture, as a tool of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. I want the women to be released immediately and tell their own stories. I want the next generation of women to tell stories that are not about abuse, repression, and torture, but about the good things in life. This is not too much to want. Two young women died in Huron Valley this year. They will not be able to tell their stories, they will never be released.

Masthead of the August–September 1984 issue of D.A.W.N., a newspaper written and edited by women incarcerated at Huron Valley
Kayla Renea Miller was pronounced dead July 16; the cause of death, released in September, was “heroin toxicity.”[2] WNDU reporter Mark Peterson, having interviewed her mother and her attorney, reported that Kayla “went to prison for drug treatment.”[3] In August, the police were still saying they were waiting for an autopsy report.[4] I would like to have the autopsies made public; autopsies not just of the bodies (were there signs of trauma, pregnancy, malnutrition?), but of the prison as well.

Janika Nichole Edmond died four months after Kayla. As reported by Darcie Moran, the Michigan Department of Corrections says she died on Nov. 11, while her death certificate states Nov. 6. The cause of death is missing from the death certificate. The autopsy report is not yet available, but “an attorney for Edmond’s family said inmates told the family she was taken to the hospital after hanging herself in a shower area.” Both attorney David S. Steingold, as well as Carol Jacobsen of the Clemency Project, stated that other inmates have reported that Janika was feeling suicidal and was denied the help she was asking for.[5]

When a Black person is killed by police, corporate media is ready to speak of everything but the direct cause of death—as if Eric Garner choked himself to death, as if Aura Rosser shot herself in the heart.

Continue reading this excellent and well-researched exposé of Huron Valley Correctional Facility.