A prisoner at Pontiac Correctional Centre, Mark Neiweem, has been sent into solitary confinement for possessing literature from the Anarchist Black Cross, and for writing essays on the prison industrial complex. Following a disciplinary hearing – at which he was denied a lawyer – he was given six months in solitary for possessing ‘gang related material’ (anarchist symbols), and for possessing ‘written materials material that presents a serious threat to the safety and security of persons or the facility.’
Alan Mills, Neiweem’s lawyer, stated that:
“I have been doing this kind of work since 1979 and I cannot think of another case where someone has gotten a disciplinary report for something so obviously political as this. At no point did they even ask him, ‘what is anarchism’? If they actually read what he wrote they would have got a very different impression of what anarchism really means.”
Prison authorities identified Neiweem as an anarchist have been investigating his activities for several months, even using a paid snitch who gathered information on Neiweem’s plans to start an anarchist collective within the prison. Prison authorities are not claiming he has been plotting to harm the screws or other prisoners, just that his ‘beliefs’ are a threat.
Despite being in solitary and having to experience the usual sanctions which come with such a move – no exercise, no visitors, no mail, and no books – he has been given a cellmate (a white supremacist). Giving someone in solitary conditions a cellmate is an unprecedented move, and it is clear by the nature of the cellmate that it is just another move to antagonise and break Neiweem.
In a letter to his legal team, Neiweem says that
“I reach my arms out and touch both walls with room to spare,” he said in a letter to his legal team. “I don’t know the dimensions but it’s by far the smallest cell I’ve ever been in. The front is steel plates with some holes drilled in them and the tiny view is of a brick wall ten feet away. No light but the one they leave on nearly 24 hours a day.”
Prison authorities have stated that Mark Nieweem will remain in solitary confinement (with his white supremacist cellmate) until at least January 2014
Mark Neiweem M36200
Pontiac Correctional Centre
PO Box 99
Pontiac, IL 61764