On Tuesday, May 22, a group of prisoners held in Virginia's notorious Red Onion Super-Max prison began a hunger strike to demand that the Virginia Department of Corrections (DOC) follow its own regulations in regard to meals, sanitation, isolation, safety and procedures for processing prisoner grievances. To support these courageous prisoners, a press conference was held today at 11 a.m. outside DOC headquarters in Richmond, sponsored by the Richmond chapter of SPARC (Supporting Prisoners and Advocating for Radical Change). (See: http://vimeo.com/42634852)
Below is the list of the hunger strikers' demands. As you can see, these prisoners, most of whom are African-American and virtually all of whom are poor, are not asking to be released from prison or for any special privileges. They want enough food calories to be able to survive. They want adequate medical care. They want an end to physical abuse by guards. They want to be recognized as human beings.
Red Onion is one of the most isolated prisons in the entire country, one that has come under special scrutiny over the years for its barbaric conditions. The hunger strikers are depending on those of us on the outside to help press their demands.
Please take just a moment to contact the following officials and demand (1) an immediate agreement to meet the prisoners' just demands, and (2) a pledge that there will be no retaliation of any kind against these heroic fighters for justice.
Virginia DOC Director Harold W Clarke: 804-674-3118
Red Onion State Prison Chief Warden Randall Mathena: 276-796-7510
Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell: 804-786-2211 or email from: www.governor.virginia.gov/AboutTheGovernor/contactGovernor.cfm
And tune in next Monday, May 28, at noon to DefendersLIVE! for a radio interview with members of Richmond SPARC, the prisoner support group that organized todays press conference. WRIR 97.3 FM or online at www.wrir.org.
For news coverage to date, see below.
And for more coverage, look for the next issue of the Virginia Defender newspaper.
10 Demands of the Red Onion State Prison Hunger Strikers
We (Prisoners at Red Onion State Prison) demand the right to an adequate standard of living while in the custody of the state!
1. We demand fully cooked food, and access to a better quality of fresh fruit and vegetables. In addition, we demand increased portions on our trays, which allows us to meet our basic nutritional needs as defined by VDOC regulations.
2. We demand that every prisoner at ROSP have unrestricted access to complaint and grievance forms and other paperwork we may request.
3. We demand better communication between prisoners and higher-ranking guards. Presently higher-ranking guards invariably take the lower-ranking guards’ side in disputes between guards and prisoners, forcing the prisoner to act out in order to be heard. We demand that higher-ranking guards take prisoner complaints and grievances into consideration without prejudice.
4. We demand an end to torture in the form of indefinite segregation through the implementation of a fair and transparent process whereby prisoners can earn the right to be released from segregation. We demand that prison officials completely adhere to the security point system, insuring that prisoners are transferred to institutions that correspond with their particular security level.
5. We demand the right to an adequate standard of living, including access to quality materials that we may use to clean our own cells. Presently, we are forced to clean our entire cell, including the inside of our toilets, with a single sponge and our bare hands. This is unsanitary and promotes the spread of disease-carrying bacteria.
6. We demand the right to have 3rd party neutral observers visit and document the condition of the prisons to ensure an end to the corruption amongst prison officials and widespread human rights abuses of prisoners. Internal Affairs and Prison Administrator's monitoring of prison conditions have not alleviated the dangerous circumstances we are living under while in custody of the state which include, but are not limited to: the threat of undue physical aggression by guards, sexual abuse and retaliatory measures, which violate prison policies and our human rights.
7. We demand to be informed of any and all changes to VDOC/IOP policies as soon as these changes are made.
8. We demand the right to adequate medical care. Our right to medical care is guaranteed under the eight amendment of the constitution, and thus the deliberate indifference of prison officials to our medical needs constitutes a violation of our constitutional rights. In particular, the toothpaste we are forced to purchase in the prison is a danger to our dental health and causes widespread gum disease and associated illnesses.
9. We demand our right as enumerated through VDOC policy, to a monthly haircut. Presently, we have been denied haircuts for nearly three months. We also demand to have our razors changed out on a weekly basis. The current practice of changing out the razors every three weeks leaves prisoners exposed to the risk of dangerous infections and injury.
10. We demand that there be no reprisals for any of the participants in the Hunger Strike. We are simply organizing in the interest of more humane living conditions.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Demands Delivered to VA Department of Correction
Dozens gathered in Richmond to deliver Red Onion State Prison hunger strikers' demands to the Department of Corrections.
Isis Hodari, a hunger strike supporter and family of incarcerated individuals, presented the 10 demands. “It's time for our families and loved ones inside to be treated like human beings.”
Phil Wilayto, of the Richmond Defenders, said “The most important thing about the prisoners' demands is that Red Onion need only follow their own regulations with regard to meals, medicaal care, sanitation, grievance procedures, and humane treatment of prisoners. In order to press these demands the prisoners have to take the extreme step of risking their health and even lives.”
Also present were the Richmond Defenders, RIHD, Collective X, and the Wayside Center for Popular Education.
The DOC's Director of Communications, Larry Traylor, received the demands and delivered them to Director Harold Clarke.
RICHMOND — A federal jury Thursday found former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, guilty of public corruption — sending a message that they believed the couple sold the office once occupied by Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson to a free spending Richmond businessman for golf outings, lavish vacations and $120,000 in sweetheart loans.
After three days of deliberations, the seven men and five women who heard weeks of gripping testimony about the McDonnells’ alleged misdeeds acquitted the couple of several charges pending against them--but nevertheless found that...
Matt Zapotosky and Rosalind S. Helderman | The Washington Post 04 Sep 2014 Hits:849 Virginia
The federal corruption trial of former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell illustrates the power held by prosecutors to destroy a defendant -- or, conversely, to grant a wrist slap.
As the trial finished its second week, looming large is the difference between the 14 counts McDonnell and his wife Maureen currently face and the prosecution's pre-trial offer of merely one count against the former governor if he would plead guilty.
The difference shows how our legal system grants prosecutors too much authority compared with that of judges and juries.
Juries theoretically decide a case....
Andrew Kreig | Justice Integrity Project 10 Aug 2014 Hits:908 Virginia
Departing House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said he will quit Congress altogether in August, ending a once-promising political career in a bid to give his successor a chance for an early turn in office.
Cantor told the Richmond Times-Dispatch he will resign his seat in the House of Representatives effective Aug. 18.
"I want to make sure that the constituents in the 7th District will have a voice in what will be a very consequential lame-duck session," he told the newspaper in a story published late Thursday.
Cantor had originally said he would...
Catalina Camia | USA Today 01 Aug 2014 Hits:876 Virginia
Geraldine Zenteno knew exactly where she wanted to go after graduation.
Researching universities, the 17-year-old T.C. Williams senior had fallen in love with The College of William and Mary. Zenteno wants to pursue a teaching career and the Williamsburg school’s education program ranks among the best in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report.
But her heart sank when she took a look at the cost of attending. Despite calling Virginia home for years, Zenteno was ineligible for in-state tuition.
“The fact that I had to go from knocking off a...
Derrick Perkins | Alexandria Times 17 Jun 2014 Hits:1286 Virginia
Empowered by their new majority in the State Senate, Republicans have moved to checkmate Gov. Terry McAuliffe in a monthslong contest over Medicaid, passing a budget that does not include the Medicaid expansion the governor sought and forbidding him from unilaterally expanding the health care program for the poor.
Mr. McAuliffe was defiant, declaring that “this fight is far from over” in a statement early Friday morning after votes on Thursday by both chambers of the General Assembly.
But it is unclear how much room the governor has for unilateral action on...
Trip Gabriel | The New York Times 15 Jun 2014 Hits:829 Virginia
The Democratic Party is already signaling that they won’t be solidly backing Jack Trammell, the Democratic candidate for Eric Cantor’s old seat after Cantor announced that he won’t run as a write-in candidate.
Roll Call reported this morning that, “National Democrats are considering competing for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s House seat in the unlikely case the Virginia Republican runs as a write-in candidate in November.” That report meant that the Democratic Party wasn’t planning on getting solidly behind their nominee in the 7th district, Jack Trammell. Those plans became definite...
Jason Easley | Politicus 13 Jun 2014 Hits:1489 Virginia
In a stunning upset propelled by tea party activists, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) was defeated in Tuesday’s congressional primary, with insurgent David Brat delivering an unpredicted and devastating loss to the second most powerful Republican in the House who has widely been touted as a future speaker.
The race called shortly after 8 p.m. Eastern by the Associated Press.
Brat’s victory gives the GOP a volatile outlook for the rest of the campaign season, with the party establishment struggling late Tuesday to grapple with the news and tea party conservatives...
Robert Costa | Washington Post 10 Jun 2014 Hits:868 Virginia
RICHMOND — There was a time when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) sympathized with the tea party’s frustration with Washington.
Now, he’s engaged in open warfare with the GOP’s insurgent wing.
This week, Cantor’s opponent in the June 10 primary — a tea party activist named David Brat — is gaining national attention as a potential threat to Cantor’s hold on his solidly Republican, suburban Richmond district. Brat has won support from some big-name conservatives and has tapped into discontent across Virginia’s 7th Congressional District. On Wednesday, Brat planned to travel...
Jenna Portnoy and Robert Costa | The Washington Post 14 May 2014 Hits:761 Virginia
In the run-up to midterm congressional elections that both major parties see as crucial, Virginia is again a magnet for political donations as candidates vie for two open seats in the House of Representatives.
Republicans and Democrats are steering money in a big way toward favored candidates in Northern Virginia’s 10th and 8th districts.
Republican Barbara J. Comstock, in the 10th, and Democrat Don Beyer, in the 8th, are far ahead of their opponents in raising funds for their party nomination bids, new federal campaign disclosure reports showed Wednesday.
Comstock, a state delegate...
Antonio Olivo and Patricia Sullivan | The Washington Post 17 Apr 2014 Hits:733 Virginia
Del. Patrick A. Hope, D-Arlington, said Saturday that he will oppose Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones as chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia if Jones still opposes same-sex marriage.
“The chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia needs to reflect our values as a party,” Hope said in a statement posted on the Blue Virginia blog. “This has been a historic year for marriage equality, and we cannot have a chair of the party that does not support this civil right.”
Hope is one of 11 Democrats seeking the party’s nomination...
Andrew Cain | Richmond Times-Dispatch 02 Mar 2014 Hits:641 Virginia
Thank you so much for signing the petition, making phone calls and sending emails; all your hard work has paid off. Tomorrow the Virginia House of Delegates will hear the Equal Rights Amendment in the Elections subcommittee. The bill was placed in this subcommittee so that a woman (Del. Margaret Ransone) could "kill the bill" leaving all the good Southern gentlemen blameless.
But we're fighting back!
Our Chief Senate Patron, Civil Rights Legend, Senator Henry Marsh will present the bill tomorrow morning. There will be a committee debate and by law, we...
26 Feb 2014 Hits:648 Virginia
House Republicans will force a vote Thursday on whether to expand Medicaid, briefly plucking the contentious issue out of a massive state budget bill in a move meant to show overwhelming GOP opposition to Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s top legislative goal.
The House will subject the expansion plan to an up-or-down floor vote — something the measure would not ordinarily get since it is part of the two-year, $96 billion state spending plan.
Supporters of expansion dismissed the planned vote as a meaningless gimmick. Even after its expected defeat Thursday in the House, the...
Laura Vozzella and Michael Laris | The Washington Post 20 Feb 2014 Hits:679 Virginia
The federal judge who struck down Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage Thursday is an appointee of President Obama and in 2011 became the first black woman appointed as a federal District Court judge in Virginia.
Arenda Wright Allen, born in 1960, is a Philadelphia native who spent decades as a government lawyer: first for the Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps, then as a federal prosecutor, and finally as a public defender. She is married to a retired pro soccer player from Jamaica and has two children — one of them named...
David A. Fahrenthold | The Washington Post 14 Feb 2014 Hits:706 Virginia
Del. Charniele Herring said Thursday that she is running for the seat of retiring Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.), adding to a crowded field and leaving a vacancy atop the Virginia Democratic Party.
“If elected, I will continue the good works of Congressman Jim Moran to foster the economic development of Northern Virginia, address the needs of our veterans, work for access to affordable healthcare, and protect the privacy of a woman and her healthcare decisions,” she said in a statement.
Herring, who represents Alexandria in the General Assembly, is at...
Ben Pershing | The Washington Post 24 Jan 2014 Hits:727 Virginia
RICHMOND — Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring announced Thursday that he believes the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, and he joined two same-sex couples in asking a federal court to strike it down.
The action, which Herring (D) made with the support of Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), marks a stunning reversal in the state’s legal position on same-sex marriage and is a result of November’s elections, in which Democrats swept the state’s top offices.
Democrats cheered the move as a victory for civil rights while Republicans blasted it as...
Robert Barnes and Laura Vozzella | The Washington Post 23 Jan 2014 Hits:663 Virginia
Expanding Virginia’s Medicaid program to about 250,000 uninsured Virginians initially would produce savings of $1 billion through 2022, according to new estimates produced by the state Medicaid office.
The estimate represents a swing of more than $1 billion from a Medicaid analysis a year ago, when state health officials estimated a net cost to the state of $137.5 million over the nine-year period. In 2010, the estimated cost of expansion to the state exceeded $2.1 billion over 10 years.
The new numbers were presented to Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Tuesday and to...
Michael Martz | Richmond Times Dispatch 23 Jan 2014 Hits:628 Virginia
Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were indicted today by a federal grand jury on 14 counts stemming from the first couple’s acceptance and solicitation of thousands in gifts and loans from a wealthy businessman during McDonnell’s term.
The indictment, spelled out in an extensive document filed by the United States Attorney for the Eastern District, paints a detailed portrait of how the governor and his wife accepted more than $135,000 in direct payments as gifts and loans from then-Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams Sr., in addition to...
Jim Nolan | Richmond Times Dispatch 21 Jan 2014 Hits:704 Virginia
Gov. Terence R. McAuliffe pledged to find common ground after officially taking the oath of office Saturday and becoming the state of Virginia’s 72nd governor on a rainy day outside the state Capitol building designed by Thomas Jefferson.
“It is humbling, and the highest honor of my life, to stand before you today,” Mr. McAuliffe said before a crowd of thousands.Mr. McAuliffe devoted his approximately 16-minute inaugural address to highlighting the history of obstacles the state has overcome, first during the American Revolution, and now, as the commonwealth works its way out of the throes of an economic recession.Mr. McAuliffe praised the...
Dave Sherfinski | The Washington Times 12 Jan 2014 Hits:600 Virginia
State Sen. Mark D. Obenshain (R) conceded the race for Virginia attorney general to Democrat Mark R. Herring on Wednesday, bringing the election to a belated end and giving Democrats a sweep of statewide offices — but throwing control of the state Senate into question.
The move allowed Herring to claim victory for the third time since Nov. 5 in a contest that on election night was the closest statewide race in Virginia history. It also spared a three-judge panel in Richmond from having to continue slogging through more 100 ballots...
Laura Vozzella and Ben Pershing | The Richmond Times Dispatch 18 Dec 2013 Hits:633 Virginia
Rep. Frank Wolf announced Tuesday that he would not run for reelection in 2014, ending a distinctive three-decade career in Congress and instantly making his bellwether Northern Virginia seat a prime November battleground.
Though the 74-year-old Republican has been a perennial subject of retirement rumors, his decision came as a surprise — as recently as last week, leaders in both parties fully expected him to run for an 18th term. But in a statement issued by his office, Wolf said he planned to continue his longtime work on humanitarian issues.
Ben Pershing | The Washington Post 17 Dec 2013 Hits:629 Virginia
RICHMOND — The state Board of Elections on Monday certified Democrat Mark R. Herring as the winner of the Nov. 5 election for Virginia attorney general, even as the board chairman raised questions about the “integrity” of the vote tallies.
A recount seems likely in the closest-ever statewide election in Virginia history, although the losing candidate did not immediately call for one.
Herring, a state senator from Loudoun County, beat state Sen. Mark D. Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg), by 165 votes out of more than 2 million cast.
Herring had 1,103,777 votes to Obenshain’s 1,103,612,...
Laura Vozzella | The Washington Post 25 Nov 2013 Hits:1053 Virginia
Already shaping up to be one of the closest races in state history, a last-minute rule change is stirring up the recount to decide who will become Virginia's next attorney general.
The Daily Press of Newport News, Va. reported Friday that Republican candidate Mark Obenshain had an unofficial lead of just under 1,300 votes over Democratic challenger Mark Herring. That tally did not include full provisional ballot totals, and as of Saturday, a fresh rule change was complicating matters.
(photo: The two major party candidates for Virginia Attorney General - Democrat Mark Herring,...
Chris Gentilviso | Huffington Post 10 Nov 2013 Hits:891 Virginia
Fairfax County election officials said Friday that they believe nearly 2,000 votes went uncounted after Tuesday’s elections, a technical error that could affect the outcome of the still unresolved race for Virginia attorney general.
The error stemmed from problems with a broken machine at the county’s Mason district voting center, officials said.
The machine, known as an optical scanner, recorded 723 votes on election night before it broke down, election officials said. Its memory card was then placed in a working machine, which recorded 2,688 votes.
But that tally was not included in...
Antonio Olivo and Ben Pershing | The Washington Post 08 Nov 2013 Hits:604 Virginia
Less than 24 hours after winning Virginia’s governorship in a bitterly contested campaign, Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe on Wednesday announced his transition team and reiterated his pledge to govern in a bipartisan manner over the next four years.
Del. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, will lead the transition team, along with Republican John Chichester, a former state senator from Stafford County.
McAuliffe said the first executive order that he signs will prohibit discrimination in the state workforce based on race, gender or sexual orientation. He said his second executive order will bar the governor or...
Jim Nolan | Richmond Times Dispatch 07 Nov 2013 Hits:744 Virginia
Capping a day of electoral twists and turns, Republican Mark Obenshain last night clung to a narrow lead over Democrat Mark Herring in a contest for attorney general that appears headed for a recount.
Counts by the Virginia State Board of Elections are pending final certification on Nov. 25.
Both candidates expressed optimism that they would win the contest but asked supporters for donations to help fund possible legal challenges.
As of 9 p.m. Wednesday, Obenshain led by 681 votes out of more than 2.2 million cast, according to the Board of Elections....
Markus Schmidt | The Richmond Times Dispatch 07 Nov 2013 Hits:781 Virginia
Terry McAuliffe, a businessman and former head of the Democratic National Committee, captured the Virginia governor’s seat Tuesday, defeating Republican Ken Cuccinelli II, the state attorney general whose conservative crusades made him an icon of the tea party movement.
With 95 percent of the precincts reporting, McAuliffe edged ahead of Cuccinelli by about 25,000 votes, or about 1 percent. By 10 p.m., Edison Media Research, NBC, CBS, CNN and Fox News had projected McAuliffe as the winner.
The Democrat was far ahead in Northern Virginia, according to early returns, while Cuccinelli had...
Paul Schwartzman and Jeremy Borden | The Washington Post 05 Nov 2013 Hits:785 Virginia
The students greeted the boyish-faced man in the charcoal suit as the stranger he is to Virginia politics.
“Hi — Rob Sarvis, running for governor,” the Libertarian said, wading into an auditorium of seniors at a Northern Virginia high school’s “Meet the Candidates” day. Polite smiles. Handshakes. Giggles. Silence.
Sarvis sat alongside stand-ins for his opponents, Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli, who apparently had more important places to be than a gathering of teenagers, many of them not old enough to vote.
Libertarian candidates have never made much of a dent...
Paul Schwartzman | The Washington Post 04 Oct 2013 Hits:814 Virginia
A Republican congressman from defense-rich Hampton Roads has emerged as the point man in a push for congressional approval of an Obama administration military strike on Syria.
“Though consulting with Congress is helpful, it is in no way an adequate substitute for President Obama obtaining statutory authority from Congress prior to the use of military force, as required by the Constitution,” said Rep. Scott Rigell, R-2nd, who also condemned the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons.
Rigell, an auto dealer and Marine veteran first elected in 2010, represents a heavily military and...
Andrew Cain | Richmond Times Dispatch 02 Sep 2013 Hits:795 Virginia
More than 300 chanting, sign-carrying marchers streamed through downtown Richmond on Saturday in a local commemoration of the historic civil rights protest in Washington 50 years ago this past week.
“Somebody said Jim Crow is dead,” the Rev. Thurman Echols Jr., pastor of Moral Hill Baptist Church in Axton and a veteran activist, told a rally at the state Capitol. “But his children and grandchildren are still alive.”
The March on Richmond for Jobs and Freedom was organized by the local chapters of the Urban League, the NAACP, Living the Dream Inc....
Jeff Schapiro | The Richmond Times Dispatch 02 Sep 2013 Hits:808 Virginia
Attorneys for Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, will spend Monday locked in separate hours-long meetings trying to convince federal prosecutors that the first couple should not be charged in the gifts scandal that has dominated state politics.
The meetings open a new, critical phase of the investigation, timed to help prosecutors decide over the next few weeks whether to file charges, according to two people with knowledge of the investigation.
Federal authorities have been investigating whether McDonnell (R) agreed to take official actions to aid nutritional supplement company...
Rosalind S. Helderman and Carol D. Leonnig, | The Washington Post 19 Aug 2013 Hits:858 Virginia
PDA is organized around several core issues. These issues include:
Each team hosts a monthly conference call. Calls feature legislators, staffers and other policy experts. On these calls we determine PDA legislation to support as well as actions and future events.
Email us at: email@example.com
Central Virginia (CD-03 and CD-04)Progressive 10thPDA CD-07PDA SW Virginia (CD06 and 09)PDA Virginia Beach/Hampton RoadsRoanoke/Southwest VirginiaVA Peninsula Progressive CD-01
Want to bring progressive change to Virginia? Start a PDA chapter; send us an email and we'll get you started.
SenatorsMark Warner (D)Tim Kaine (D)
Congressional DistrictsCD-01 Rob Wittman (R)CD-02 Scott Ridgell (R)CD-03 Bobby Scott (D)CD-04 Randy Forbes (R)CD-05 Robert Hurtt (R)CD-06 Bob Goodlatte (R)CD-07 Eric Cantor (R)CD-08 Jim Moran (D)CD-09 Morgan Griffith (R)CD-10 Frank Wolf (R)
Governor Bob McDonnell (Virginia)