These are copies of the 3-page petition from the Sussex II Human Rights Committee. A copy of the petition was found in Askari Danso’s cell after he and his cellmate were transferred to Sussex I from Sussex 2. Askari says that this petition was the basis for his being convicted of planning some kind of group demonstration, which it absolutely does not. Askari is a founding member of VAPOC (Virginia Prisoner of Conscience), a member of the Coalition for Justice steering committee, as well as a member of the Defenders for Freedom, Justice, & Equality. Askari and his cellmate D. Braxton should not be in solitary and should be removed from Sussex II.
About the Sussex II Human Rights Committee:
The committee’s petition outlines “grievances” the committee members say are particular to Sussex II. It states that when prisoners have attempted to use the facility’s grievance procedure, staff members have “circumvented” those efforts or “many times outright refused to respond.”
So the committee is asking the public to raise their grievances for them to the director of VADOC, Board of Corrections, Director of Public Safety and governor’s office. The committee’s petition is addressed to “individuals, citizens and organizations” and asks them “to take our issues to VA DOC Headquarters and request that they remedy the following grievances by implementing our requests outlined herein:”
Note: The proposed solutions are framed as “requests,” not “demands.”
The requests are for:
1 – “Better quality medical care” Petition claims prisoners have died because of “slow response times” to medical emergencies.
2 – “A clean source of drinking water” Claims the Town of Waverly (where both Sussex I and II are located) receives “boil water advisories” and staff is told not to drink the water at SUssex II, but prisoners have no alternative to water that “is oftentimes ‘mud puddle’ brown while carrying a strange, indescribable odor.” Claims that, as a result, prisoners suffer from diarrhea, headaches, nausea, skin irritations and rashes.
3 – “Adequate law library” Claims that, unlike at other Level Four VADOC prisons, prisoners at Sussex II are not allowed the use of computers or typewriters to type legal documents and so must write them out by hand.
4 – “An end to “arbitrary group punishment” Claims prisoners are often locked down “for many hours” when a single individual commits a minor infraction, such as not standing for count or cursing at a guard.
5 – “A clean and healthy environment” Issues listed include moldy showers, vents that go years without being cleaned, holes in windows that allow insects to enter cells, and indoor temperatures between Oct. 1 and May 1 that are below 65 degrees.
6 – “More programming to help us to become more productive and healthy” Claims that despite many drug overdoses there is no drug program; despite many “violent assaults and fights,” there are no appropriate programs. Request is for “more work, religious and educational programs.”
7 – “More time with our loved ones during visitation” Claims that the combination of a small visiting room, overly lengthly visitor screenings and “where the prison is located” (near cities with large low-income and Black populations) all contribute to shorter visitations. Requests a more efficient screening process.
8 – “A fair and just implementation of the grievance procedure” Claims officials arbitrarily refuse to process or give receipts for written grievances.