Friday, August 05, 2016

1-Year of Solitary Confinement for HIV+ Inmate Michael Johnson?

A letter from my prison pen pal Michael Johnson arrived this week and I'm unhappy to learn he's still in the hole and may be there for a year. This is the second letter he's mailed from solitary confinement. He doesn't say why prison officials have put this unhealthy punishment on him, but his spirits seem upbeat.

I'm getting in touch with Michael's support network, to coordinate my letter-writing to and support on behalf of him and learn if anything can be done to return him to the general population. There's also the matter of making sure any magazine subscriptions I pay for, to further his education and maintain good mental health, reach him.

Prison regulations state the following:

"Can magazines or newspapers be purchased for an offender? After an offender leaves the diagnostic center and is permanently assigned to a facility, you may make gift subscription purchases of magazines and newspapers for an offender. Prior to doing so, however, you should verify the magazine or paper is allowed and you have the complete and accurate mailing address which includes the offenders name, number and housing unit. You may also deposit funds to an offender’s account and the offender may then, in turn, subscribe to a periodical of choice."

Sounds great on paper, but let's find out if Michael is already getting any publications and is able to receive and send snail mail from the hole.

Michael has provided written permission to share his correspondence and I'm selective about what to share, in order to not give prison guards any new reasons to restrict his privileges or his harm legal appeals.

Briefly, for those new to Michael's plight, he's serving a thirty-year sentence for reckless HIV criminal transmission in Missouri's criminal system, is a 24-year-old black, gay HIV positive student and wrestler. He was prosecuted under AIDS laws passed at the height of hysteria and his case is a grave miscarriage of justice.

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