Delma Jackson demands justice

 


Delma Jackson’s husband, Miguel Jackson, is a prisoner in the notorious maximum-security section of the notorious Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison, in Jackson, Georgia. Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison, GDCP, houses Georgia’s death row and maximum security for men. Troy Davis was executed at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison. It’s notorious big.

In 1995, Miguel Jackson was convicted of armed robbery. It was his first offense, and he waived a jury trial. According to Delma Jackson, “He was convicted and sentenced by Judge William Daniel under the Georgia Seven Deadly Sins law. Judge Daniel was unfamiliar with the new law and he somehow thought that Miguel would be eligible for parole after 10 years. The seven deadly sins law states that parole is not an option if convicted of one the seven deadly sins.” In 1995, Miguel Jackson was 20 years old.

In December 2010, Miguel Jackson was involved in the historic Georgia prison mass strike. At that time he was in Smith State Prison. On December 31, according to eyewitnesses, photographs and, finally, video evidence, Jackson was handcuffed and beaten by two guards. He was taken to hospital, taken care of sort of, and returned to Smith State Prison. The next day, Delma Jackson and Miguel Jackson’s mother went to the prison to visit Miguel. They were denied entry. They were told to go home and not worry. From then on, no one could see Miguel, not his wife, not his mother, not his attorney. On January 4, 2011, he was moved to maximum security in GDCP.

Jackson complained that he was suffering as a result of the beating. He received little care, and the care he received seems to have been poor. So, on June 11, 2012, after 18 months in maximum, Miguel Jackson decided to stop the world. He and nine other prisoners went on a hunger strike, declaring that they were “starving for change.” Delma Jackson explained, “Georgia is the most locked up state in the country, per capita …These men are more than inmates. They are human beings.  They are someone’s son, husband, father, brother, uncle, and grandfather. Imagine if it were your loved one that was being treated worst than an animal.”

At first, Georgia denied there was anything going on. Then it minimized the scale and depth of the strike. Finally, it more or less admitted that there was indeed something going on. On July 26, Miguel Jackson ended his hunger strike.

In June, all inmates on hunger strike lost visitation “privileges” for a couple weeks. Delma Jackson’s were restored in early July, and then, on July 18, they were rescinded, indefinitely. Delma Jackson was under a permanent banning order.

Throughout the hunger strike, Delma Jackson had been the loud and proud voice and face of the hunger strikers. When she found out that she had been banned, she sued the prison warden and other staff members. Last week, U.S. District Judge Marc Treadwell ruled that, during the hunger strike, the warden and staff were entitled to `qualified immunity’ for their actions. But once the strike was over, so was the immunity. The judge found that the prison warden and his staff had violated Delma Jackson’s right to freedom of speech … and more: “This is of particular concern to the Court. Issues related to conditions inside the SMU [Special Management Unit] are broader than those affecting only this Plaintiff. Justified or not, there has been plenty of criticism of how SMU inmates are treated. If the Defendants decided to make an example of the Plaintiff by permanently suspending her visitation privileges because they did not like what she had to say about their prison and its administration, they have not only retaliated against her but have moved to chill the speech of others who are concerned about the manner in which prisoners are housed in the SMU. As the Plaintiff’s counsel stated at oral argument: “It’s not just what it did to Ms. Jackson, [it’s] what it does to all protests all over the state. If you think something is wrong in the prison system, you’re going to remember Delma Jackson: Delma Jackson got her visitation taken away because she spoke up. That’s what’s going to be sent out there as the message.”

Delma Jackson is demanding justice, and no prison warden is going to shut her up or down. That’s what’s going to be sent out there as the message.

 

(Photo Credit: San Francisco Bay View)

About Dan Moshenberg

Dan Moshenberg is an organizer educator who has worked with various social movements in the United States and South Africa. Find him on Twitter at @danwibg.