In this episode, we share information about the recent disturbances in St. Louis. Afterwards, we have the second part of a conversation with Balagoon, an Indiana political prisoner who has been locked up for almost 43 years, 31 of those in isolation. In this episode, he first describes the context of the 1985 uprising in the Indiana reformatory, now called Pendleton Correctional Facility.
He describes the lockup units as “our schools of thought and consciousness” prior to the uprising. He tells of guards beating his dear comrade with an illegal baton so hard that it cracked. The guards then dragged his comrade in front of the other inmates, telling them that quote “they were next.” Balagoon says in this interview that it’s the same thing that happened to George Floyd, but the difference was that this were no bystanders able to take video.
He talks about how the violence his friend experienced was not unique at all- that it was common practice for guards to handcuff and shackle a prisoner, beat him or throw him down a flight of stairs, and then transfer the prisoner to another facility, Indiana State Penitentiary, before the inmate’s parents or other family found out about the injuries. Balagoon also discusses the presence of neo-nazi groups like the sons of light, and says the conditions documented in the well-known Gomez case (a prisoner civil-rights class action suit challenging the conditions of confinement at the Pelican Bay State Prison in California) was similar to what they experienced in Indiana.
He said that even though their case against the prison was strong, the prison couldn’t afford to let them out, as it would set an example to the other prisoners. So, as he says, they were used as an example, that as a prisoner, even when you’re right…you’re still wrong.
Special Thanks to Nicholas Greven from IDOC Watch for conducting this interview, and to Balagoon for sharing his story.