[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----PENN.---action request
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Sep 13 16:11:26 CDT 2007
I have received the following note and request for action......thanks for
whatever help you can offer!
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 13 Sep 2007 16:22:03 EDT
Subject: Muncy Ladies in trouble
Dear Mr. Halperin,
The women of Pennsylvania's death row have been moved to a unit where the
conditions are nightmarish. See below for a description of the move and a
sample letter to send to the prison supervisor. Furthermore I enclose a
letter from Carolyn King about their actual state. Michelle Tharp
suffered already from severe depressions and this move will ruin her
health completely if they don't remove them from the Punishment block!
They need urgently help.
Help for the ladies in Muncy / Pennsylvania
Shonda Walters, Michelle Tharp and Carolyn King are the female prisoners on
Pennsylvania Death row. Recently they were moved to another Unit, Block C.
This is the punishment Block for all prisoners with disciplinary punishment.
They had to clean the extremely filthy cells before they went in and then
they cleaned the cells again to make them more or less habitable. Further
problems with this unit are unrelenting noise (shouting, screaming,
banging), it's dirty and they aren't given regular work detail to clean
up (food spills, the showers, etc.) as in the other pod, their cells have
a rank smell and Shonda's cell has bad plumbing; and because of
insufficient staff the time out of their cells for activities has become
very irregular. The constant high level of noise causes unbearable stress
for the ladies, so please take action and help them!
Ask Superintendent Chamberlain to move them to a better Unit. Further
- That the superintendent find a way to have staff control the noise level
in the pod where the death row women are housed. Despite the fact that the
women have a history of being model prisoners they are subjected to the
constant calling out, shouting, screaming and banging of the youth and
general population disciplinary inmates on that pod.
- That the death row women be given rec separately from A and C pods so that
at least at that time they can experience some quiet and piece of mind.
- That the women be taken out of their cells for work detail and activities
on a schedule or with some regularity.
Send a letter to the Superintendent (you can use the model letter, but
expressing your concern in your own words should be preferred):
Superintendent Dawn Chamberlain,
P. O. Box 180,
RE: Carolyn King, Shonda Walter, Michelle Tharp
Dear Superintendent Chamberlain:
I am writing to express my concern and support for Carolyn King, Shonda
Walter, and Michelle Tharp, currently on Death Row.
Recently they were moved to Unit C and it made things worse for them.
Problems with this Unit are unrelenting noise (shouting, screaming,
banging), it's extremely dirty and they aren't given regular work, detail
to clean up (food spills, the showers, etc.) as in the other pod. Their
cells have a rank smell and Shonda's cell has bad plumbing; and because
of insufficient staff the time out of their cells for activities has
become very irregular. The constant high level of noise causes unbearable
stress for the ladies.
As I'm sure you are well aware, these women have presented no disciplinary
difficulties, despite the privileges they enjoyed before. Conditions
prior to the move served both the women of Death Row and the
administration well. This fact alone determines there is no reason,
other than possible punitive reasons, not to give them their privileges
back and provide for better living conditions.
Please find a way to have staff control the noise level in the pod where
Ms. Tharp, Ms. King and Ms. Walter are housed. They are subjected to the
constant calling out, shouting, screaming and banging of the youth and
general population disciplinary inmates on that pod. Further steps to
ameliorate conditions would be to give them recreation separately from A
and C pods so they can experience some quiet and piece of mind at least
at that time, and to take them out of their cells for work detail and
activities on a schedule or with some regularity.
While I appreciate the difficulties of administering your facility, I
cannot see a justifiable reason to house the women in such a bad
environment after they were always model prisoners. I am addressing this
urgent problem and want to point out in particular that the stress that
is caused by the conditions on Unit C is deleterious to both emotional
and physical health!
I firmly believe a change of housing conditions is necessary to prevent
problems that could be caused by the constant stress; not least we are
talking about human beings. They deserve to live in conditions fit for
Thank you, Superintendent Chamberlain, for your assistance and the action.
I'm sure you will solve this problem soon after I could see in past you are
endeavor to provide appropriate conditions for the prisoners at Muncy.
"Hello Maria & Friends,
I am not sure how this letter will sound, because at this time is one of my
most darkest times. I say this because since they have moved us to another
pod in the same building, things have gone down. My stress level is so high
that, I have pain like, I am developing a ulcer, and I know what you are
probably thinking with all of my other health problems the last thing, I
need is a ulcer.
This place has me at my wits end. The people that we are now housed with
talk of nothing and I do mean absolutely nothing else, but sex and music.
It is like some kind of nasty orgy of vile people. And there is a sense
of darkness that surrounds the pod, because it feels like they are
sucking all of the light and air out of the place. I am just so tired and
worn down, I know that, I have to keep fighting and I have put the word
out there about what is happening here, and I know that the pressure will
be put on the administration, but I am not sure, if we will continue to
hold up under these conditions. I have never in my whole life have been
around any thing like where they have us housed. I thought the mentally
ill and behavioral ones were bad, they were, but on a whole different
level then these are, and this is scary. I say scary, because when you
are following God and this kind of darkness and full on attack comes at
you, you have to set up and stay focused on God for every step and breath
you take. I am used to praying daily and talking with God about
everything, but all of us are not like that, they believe, but do not
always follow. So, please keep all of us in your prayers, we need them
more then ever now.
The last week in August, Kathy Bell came to visit me and at that time, I
asked her to please tour the pod, which she did. Then next day the Deputy
Secretary Shirley Moore, Superintendent Dawn Chamberlain, and Major of
this prison Smith, and there were a couple other people that I do not know
who they were.
Anyway, I spoke with Deputy Secretary Moore and I told her how I felt about
living here with these people and the noise level. She seemed receptive to
what I was saying and also said something to the effect that she would look
into it. Now when I spoke with Dawn Chamberlain moments later, she was not
open to discuss anything, and also said that whenever she has been here
it has always been peaceful. So, I think that maybe the best approach
would be to go directly to Shirley Moore as well as Dawn Chamberlain.
Since I spoke with them, I have found out throught the prison grapevine,
that since the Deputy Secretary visited, they are no longer going to put
lack of housing inmates or out of state parole violators with us. They
said that those people should not be subjected to be housed under these
conditions. Huh! So, they are saying that it is okay to house us with
these people and under conditions why, because we are on death row.
Well, we are not going to stand for that, I would like to put as much
pressure on these people as possible. We should be allowed to move back
to B-pod, if they do not have a segregated area for us, then why can we
not be returned to B-pod??????
It's not fair and it is mental torture what we are having to endure now.
I beg all of you to please call, write, email, Shirley Moore, Angus Love,
Dawn Chamberlain, Prison Society, and any other groups that you can think
I will continue to keep you updated with letters as I find out more. I am
just having a very difficult time now.
I heard that one of you was thinking that maybe this move had something
to do with retaliation. No, I do no believe that is true, because before
they moved us here, it was in talks for months, and also they had to have
cable installed in this pod, which was very costly for them. Also there are
many other ways they could and would have made our lives difficult without
I look forward to hearing from each of you soon. Take care."
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