Imprisoned Author Denied Access to His Own Published Writing
In order to survive being subjected to nearly three decades of solitary confinement, William “Billy” Blake turned to reading and, more importantly, writing.
“A Sentence Worse than Death” is an essay Blake wrote for inclusion in an anthology of narratives about solitary entitled Hell is a Very Small Place: Voices from Solitary Confinement. The book was screened by the Facility Media Review Committee (FRMC) at the Great Meadow Correctional Facility where Blake is housed and, like thousands of other books sent to prisoners across the country, was deemed detrimental to the prison’s security. Jean Casella, the book’s co-editor and co-director of Solitary Watch, reported on September 20, 2016 that Blake had been denied access to his own writing.
According to the FRMC’s Inmate Disposition Notice, Hell is a Very Small Place is a “[p]ublication which incites disobedience towards law enforcement officers or prison personell [sic], presents clear and immediate risk of lawlessness, violence, anarchy, or rebellion agianst [sic] governmental authority.” The notice flagged 14 pages in the book. Surprisingly, three pages of Blake’s own essay were determined to be too dangerous for him to read.
According to Blake’s correspondence with Solitary Watch, he was instructed to transfer the book to a visitor or have it destroyed. He commented, “All my essay does is tell of my life in the box, what I’ve seen, what I’ve been through, what I’ve felt.” He added, “That essay is about as gentle as I could be.”
More from this issue:
- Culture of Abuse and Corruption Plagues Jail in Denver, Colorado, by Lonnie Burton
- Texas: Complaint Filed Over Contaminated Water, Conditions at Eastham Unit , by Panagioti Tsolkas
- Michigan: Contract for Prisoner Legal Writer Program Results in Controversy
- Rundown on California Propositions 57 and 64, by Kent A. Russell
- Illinois: DNA Evidence Exonerates One Man, Implicates Another
- Imprisoned Author Denied Access to His Own Published Writing
- Seventh Circuit Tells Wisconsin Probationer with Gender Dysphoria how to Proceed, by Matthew Clarke
- Georgia Prison Guards Face Sexual Assault Charges
- Judge Rips DOJ Lawyers for “Series of Misrepresentations,” Orders Ethics Training, by Derek Gilna
- Krome Detention Center has Long History of Detainee Abuse, by David Reutter
- $28.1 Million Jury Award after Eighth Circuit Allows Conspiracy Claims in Nebraska Wrongful Conviction Suit, by Matthew Clarke
- New York: Nearly $10 Million in Settlements Over Denial of Medical Care at Rikers Island
- Michigan’s Wayne County Jails Plagued with Inhumane Conditions
- Michigan: Corizon Audit Finds Deficiencies, State Extends and Expands Contract Anyway
- Model Mental Health Care Diversion System Started by Miami Judge, by David Reutter
- Nebraska: Portions of Lawsuit over Guard’s Sexual Assault Allowed to Proceed
- BOP Prisoner’s FTCA Wage Suit States Cause of Action
- Three California Jail Guards Charged with Murdering One Prisoner, Assaulting Another, by Christopher Zoukis
- Constitutional Amendment Ensures Executions will Continue in Oklahoma , by Christopher Zoukis
- Two Fulton County Jail Employees Subject to Liability in Detainee’s Suicide
- FCI Danbury Prisoners Finally Transferred to New Women’s Facility
- Increased Access to Higher Education Programs for California Prisoners, by Christopher Zoukis
- Deaths Due to Neglect in U.S. Jails Reflect Nation’s Values , by David Reutter
- Mississippi: Hinds County Jails in Crisis, Face Mandated Reforms, by David Reutter
- New York DA Supervisor Engages in Kinky Fetishes, Wife Claims, by Derek Gilna
- Report Finds Charging Criminal Justice Fees Perpetuates Mass Incarceration, by Matthew Clarke
- Hawaii Warden Subjected Female Prisoners to “Shame Therapy”
- Correctional Medical Care Pays $425,000 Settlement in Prisoner’s Opiate Withdrawal Death
- Securus Phone Rates Spark Uprising at Alaska Prison , by Joe Watson
- Georgia’s Supreme Court Rules on Private Probation Services
- State University of New York “Bans the Box” on Student Applications
- Dear Librarian: Filling the Information Gap for Prisoners with No Internet Access , by Christopher Zoukis
- Jail Official Convicted of Illegally Recording Phone Conversations Loses Appeal, by Christopher Zoukis
- Shackled South African Prisoner Beaten by GEO Guards Wins Lawsuit, by Derek Gilna
- Recurring Injury Subsequent to Lawsuit Settlement No Bar to New Claim
- Ninth Circuit Vacates Generalized Order to Shackle Pretrial Defendants, En Banc Review Granted
- $325,002 Award to Michigan Prisoner Denied Medical Care for Joint Pain
- Second Circuit Expands Protections from Sexual Abuse by Prison Staff, by Derek Gilna
- Orleans Parish Jail Settles Prisoner Suicide Suit for $1.75 Million, by Derek Gilna
- Merits Ruling on Procedurally Flawed Grievance Satisfies PLRA
- Child Support Relief Coming for Incarcerated Parents
- Tennessee Sheriff Indicted, Suspended and Jailed Over E-cig Business
- Michigan Jail Subject of Wrongful Death Lawsuit and PLN Censorship Suit
- New York Prison Scrutinized, Employees Charged Following High-profile Escape, by Derek Gilna
- ICE Deportations Peaked in FY 2012, Declined from 2013 to 2015, by Derek Gilna
- Continued Need for Prison and Criminal Justice Reforms
- CCA’s Rebranding May Violate Trademark Rights
- NTSB Faults Texas Prison Guard, Road Crews in Transport Bus Deaths, by Derek Gilna
- California County Settles Class-action Lawsuit Over Jail Medical and Mental Health Care, by Matthew Clarke
- PLN Goes Undercover to Bust CCA Employees’ Misuse of Prisoner Labor
- Too Little, Too Late: Prosecutor Remorseful for Sending Innocent Man to Death Row, by David Reutter
- “Natural Causes Killed Victor: A Death in Solitary,” a folk opera by George Swanson (DVD, 55 minutes), by Lance Tapley
- From the Editor, by Paul Wright
- News in Brief
More from these topics:
- Culture of Abuse and Corruption Plagues Jail in Denver, Colorado, Jan. 10, 2017. Misconduct/Corruption, Guard Misconduct, Police Misconduct, Jail Misconduct, Corrections Audits, Racial Discrimination, Retaliation for Filing Grievances, Retaliatory Segregation, Failure to Treat, Drug Overdose, Retaliatory Discipline, Interpreters (Disciplinary Hearings), Prison/Jail Murders, Failure to Protect (General), Staffing, Jail Specific, Guard Brutality/Beatings, Stun Guns/Tasers, Restraints, Witnesses, Wrongful Release, Overdetention, Interpreters, Failure to Train/Supervise, Failure to Protect (Wrongful Death), Control Units, Failure to Treat (Mental Illness), Suicides, Guards/Staff, Failure to Protect (Staff), Staff Training, Racial Profiling.
- Texas: Complaint Filed Over Contaminated Water, Conditions at Eastham Unit , Jan. 10, 2017. Retaliation for Filing Grievances, Retaliatory Segregation, Conditions of Confinement, Totality of Conditions, Failure to Protect (General), Toxic Fumes/Chemicals, Eighth Amendment, Plumbing, Sewage, Water, Sanitation, Control Units.
- Imprisoned Author Denied Access to His Own Published Writing, Jan. 10, 2017. Publications/Books, Mail Regulations, Control Units, Censorship, First Amendment.
- Nebraska: Portions of Lawsuit over Guard’s Sexual Assault Allowed to Proceed, Jan. 10, 2017. Staff-Prisoner Assault, Guard Misconduct, Threats by Staff, Retaliation for Filing Grievances, Retaliatory Segregation, Failure to Protect (General), Failure to Train/Supervise, Control Units, Staff Training.
- Mississippi: Hinds County Jails in Crisis, Face Mandated Reforms, Jan. 10, 2017. Jail Misconduct, Corrections Audits, Gang Policies, Prison Gangs, Prison Reform, Conditions of Confinement, Failure to Protect (General), Eighth Amendment, Plumbing, Sewage, Jail Specific, Excessive Force, Guard Brutality/Beatings, Dogs, Overdetention, Control Units, Failure to Treat (Mental Illness).
- Dear Librarian: Filling the Information Gap for Prisoners with No Internet Access , Jan. 10, 2017. Prisoner Privileges, Education, Computers, Law Library Access/Adequacy, Publications/Books, Media, Access to Media, Internet, News, Family, Fathers in Prison, Mothers in Prison, Children of Prisoners.
- “Natural Causes Killed Victor: A Death in Solitary,” a folk opera by George Swanson (DVD, 55 minutes), Jan. 10, 2017. Commentary/Reviews, Reviews, Immigration, Control Units, Tapes/Music.
- “This Man Will Almost Certainly Die”, Dec. 8, 2016. Private Prisons, GEO Group/Wackenhut, Contractor Misconduct, Guard Misconduct, DOC/BOP misconduct, Medical Misconduct, Government Misconduct, Seizures, Private Contractors, War on Drugs, Cost of Prison Systems, Failure to Protect (General), Collateral consequences of prison, Immigration, Failure to Protect (Wrongful Death), Control Units, Suicides.
- Corizon, CCA Settle Lawsuit Over Solitary Confinement of Elderly Woman, Dec. 8, 2016. Geriatric Classification, Corrections Corporation of America/CoreCivic, Corizon, Cancer, Failure to Treat, Sanctions (Disciplinary Hearings), Evidence, Drug Testing, Failure to Protect (General), Control Units, Failure to Treat (Mental Illness).
- Prison Survival Guides Find Audience Beyond Soon-to-be Prisoners, Dec. 8, 2016. Conditions of Confinement, Education, Publications/Books, Prisoner Media.