One year 🎉🎉🎉for The Des

Celebrating one year of The Des - a throwback to thank you for sticking with us

This month marks The Des’s one year anniversary. We wanted to circle back to the first story we brought you from one of the worst prison systems in the country. Thank you for being here during the past 12 months. Your support means the world. If you believe in our mission to connect and educate people about the American justice system, consider inviting a friend to subscribe by sharing this email or subscribe yourself. We’re offering a discount to celebrate!!! Much love to all of you. Stay safe and healthy.

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Two weeks after prison officials in Alabama Holman Correctional Facility moved James Beamon to a new dorm, he woke up to his assailant stabbing an ice pick into him in his bunk bed - blood, broken bones, and pain. Since arriving at the prison in 2002, he’s seen conditions progressively deteriorate. The inmate that attacked James this summer was on a combination of drugs called flakka and ice which often cause people to lose their mind and become violent. In the attack, over twenty stab wounds landed on his head, spine, punctured his lung, and on his torso. He broke his ankle, leg, shoulder, and ribs trying to defend himself. He spent multiple stints in the hospital before being moved back to the prison.

But when he returned to prison, he was put in solitary confinement where his wounds wept on his bed sheets attracting ants when he left the cell. Since the attack, he struggled to get adequate treatment. A nurse told him, “You better hurry up and get on out of [Holman]" while he was in the hospital. But James has a life sentence without parole, and now he feels “trapped under their law.” He is still suffering from the injuries this summer – excruciating head pain, reduced mobility in his shoulder, and inability to balance on the leg that was broken. He’s most worried about being unable to defend himself from the ongoing violence in the prison. He feels unsafe and unable to recover behind bars. “That ain't your guys' jobs to play judge and jury with nobodies life,” he said of the prison officials. He feels like the prison doesn’t care about whether he lives or dies. 

From James’ wife Cheryl:

“So if you really look at it, they wanted my husband to die. They didn't care. They didn’t care, listen to me. They didn’t care.” Cheryl Beamon didn’t know that her husband had been beaten until another inmate called her. Since this summer, she has fought to get him better medical care. Last month, he called her with his head pounding – hurting so bad that he tasted blood in his mouth. Cheryl said that the prison isn’t checking on her husband’s injuries. “He’s not going to the doctor like he’s supposed to,” she said. Every time Cheryl leaves from seeing James, she has tears in her eyes, and the prison staff treat her rough when she goes to see him. She said there’s nothing for the inmates at Holman to do. Cheryl advocates for the prison conditions in Alabama and for prison abolition with Unheard Voices OTCJ. She’s also fighting to get her husband out of prison and looking for a lawyer to take on his case. “I feel like I’m fighting for his life because every day, as long as he’s in that prison system, I feel like every day my husband’s life is on the line.” James is still incarcerated in Alabama. Cheryl continues to fight for his release.

COVID-19 resources: State policy changesNewsBureau of Prisons updatesState court changesPrison holistic self care and protection.

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