Prisoner Helped By Internet Crusade

US: The Freest country and the watchdog of the world locks people up, threatens a man’s life, to silence free speech.  World-wide Internet-spawned protest and saves his life.

On June 26, 1998, Federal Judge Charles R. Butler, Jr., Southern District in Alabama, 113 St. Joseph Street, Mobile, Alabama 36602, ordered the US  Marshal’s office to place an older inmate who is in ill health in lock-up,  with a gag order, for writing an article disclosing human rights abuses and contract kick-backs at Holman Prison  (See above letter).  “Lock-up” at Holman Prison is a 5ft x 8ft concrete sweatbox with no windows or inadequate ventilation.

Even though explanations of this inmate’s age (53) and poor health were reported to Deputy Marshal, Bill Waggoner (1-334/690-2841), Waggoner said he was under orders to keep this prisoner in lock-up until the federal investigation had been completed.  “The security of the U.S. Judicial system comes first,” said Waggoner.

In spite of explanations of medical emergency, Ms. Kay Woods (1-334/353-3870) at the Alabama Governor’s office declared that their hands were tied, “because of the seriousness of the threat to the federal judge.”

Despite concerns for this inmate’s life, Warden Charlie Jones at Holman Prison, Atmore, Alabama (1-334/368-8173) said, “I don’t care about the letter.  I’m going to treat him like any other prisoner in lock-up.  He’s always writing letters and you [Mrs. Swiney] are always putting them on the Internet.  He got his stuff in it this time with the federal judge, and he gets what he deserves.”

Mrs. Swiney, wife of inmate Patrick Swiney, rallied her organization -the PATRICK CRUSADE — in a world — wide Internet-spawned protest, to help save her husband’s life with letters, faxes and telephone calls round-the-clock.

Responses came from all across the nation and other countries, reminding the Governor’s office, the Warden and the US Marshal’s office that they were responsible and liable for the well-being of people who are in their care.

Several hundred dedicated PATRICK CRUSADE members rose to the challenge of notifying “Alabama” that they had violated Patrick Swiney’s First Amendment Rights and that they would actively support a wrongful death suit if Patrick Swiney (a heart patient) were not released from lock-up immediately.  Through the work of the PATRICK CRUSADE members, several other human rights organizations across the Internet joined the protest.

72 hours later, Mr. Swiney was released.  However, after Mr. Swiney’s release from lock-up, Warden Jones proceeded to pressure the prison doctor, Dr. Harold Quincy Wilson, to remove Mr. Swiney from “no-work” status, so “I can put him to work,” said Jones.  Members of the PATRICK CRUSADE and other organizations waited for two days to see if Wilson would cave in.  On Monday, July 6, 1998, Patrick Swiney was removed from “no-work” status.

The following day, Mr. Swiney explained that because of his heart condition, he could not do hard labor because that would kill him.  He was subsequently charged with violating a direct order and placed back into lockup.  PATRICK CRUSADERS made more phone calls to the US Marshal and Medical Associations.  About 1/2 hour later, Captain Pouncy at the prison released Patrick Swiney, stating, “It is in our best interest and your best interest not to lock you up.  We will just write you up with a disciplinary if you don’t go on light duty cleaning the bars.”  Mr. Swiney agreed to the  work, knowing that there would be retaliation by prison officials if he refused and also felt that the work would not jeopardize his weak health.

Although the rest of the work crew with Mr. Swiney remains inside the prison, Mr. Swiney is forced outside every day in the 100+ degree Alabama sun.  Prison officials know that the heat is dangerous to Mr. Swiney’s health.

  • Sherry L. Swiney

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