Abuse of power at Wabash Valley Prison

“Prisons are an integral part of capitalism and function as a form of racial and class-based social control beyond mere profit-making.” – From Statement on Prison Abolition adopted by the IWW (International Workers of the World) and IWOC (Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee) at its 2017 Convention

To: Elected officials, Indiana legal organizations and concerned Indiana citizens and families of incarcerated Indiana prisoners

My name is Mr. Leonard McQuay, No. 874304, known and honored as Brother Khalfani Malik Khaldun. I am currently in my 31st year incarcerated inside the Indiana Department of Corrections. There was a very serious need for me to compile this complaint and report to inform you of the many violations existing inside Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, with the hope that you will call for an investigation to substantiate the allegations of violations being exposed to you in my complaint.

Immediate outside oversight and intervention from you is being requested by me with this complaint and report. Please read the following with an objective eye and an understanding heart, because we need your help.

Racial discrimination

As a prisoner inside of the Indiana Department of Corrections, when my rights are violated by an individual employed as a state correctional official or ranking administrative authority, the initial step to document it is to file an informal grievance pursuant to Policy and Procedure 00-02-301, The Offender Grievance Process. If I am not satisfied with the informal response, I then proceed with the formal grievance and exhaust it through the final step.

These efforts have been reduced to perfunctory denials – non-success for us – because having someone admit they violated the law, policy, rules or the Constitution is very rare. Wrongs are covered up or swept under the rug.

Prisoners are targeted, labeled as snitches, or our cells searched and trashed in retaliation against me and other activist prisoners for our filing of grievances or any kind of complaint. So there is a mountain of violations occurring inside Wabash Valley Correctional Facility that go undocumented.

When you have an entire prison controlled by officials and correctional staff who are 99 percent of European (i.e. White) descent, in all of the rulings, judgments, discussions and reviews that involve non-white prisoners, there is rarely objectivity or impartiality.

This reality creates an environment that fosters racial discrimination by all white employed staff members, who are in most cases all friends and live in the towns surrounding this prison. For example, in the mail room at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility is an all-white female staff sorting through a lot of incoming mail from multiple sources.

For the last four years my San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper has been confiscated. This newspaper has been termed “Black supremacy thought,” racist and security threat group material. Ignored is its celebrating and promoting love, empowerment and culture and encouraging economic rebuilding of the poor Black community.

The review of all my Black cultural and political materials would be objective, if there were several conscious, educated Black women employed at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, assigned to review these kinds of newspapers and books.

On the flipside of this example is where I highlight and expose the instances of racial discrimination. When the White mail staff receives White nationalist books and newspapers, they are not labelled as “White supremacist” or related to security threat groups. The White prisoners are allowed to possess these materials, because those White female staff members empathize and relate to said materials. This is an undeniable truth that fosters biases.

Pursuant to both Policy 00-02-301, The Offender Grievance Process, and Policy 04-03-103, Information and Standards of Conduct for Departmental Staff: “Staff shall not harass or retaliate against any prisoner for filing a grievance or complaint against an employee of the Department of Corrections.” When the official receives notice that he or she has been grieved by me, they initiate a cell search, literally destroy my property and leave it looking like it was hit by a tornado. That was them retaliating against me, completely disregarding the mandated policy that guides their conduct.

Program discrimination

Indiana prisoners housed at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility who maintain exemplary conduct adjustments maintain an eligibility for jobs and can have referrals submitted to participate in all rehabilitational programs. Many of these programs result in us receiving a “time cut” once they are completed. Others are self-help and non-time-cut programs; however, we do receive certificates of completion for them as well.

Wabash Valley Correctional Facility has the PLUS Program: “Purposeful Living Units Serve.” According to the program’s mission statement: “The mission of the PLUS Program is to provide participants with an opportunity to explore and choose alternatives to criminal thinking and behavior through an emphasis on spiritual, moral and character development, life skills training and intentional preparation for living as a law-abiding citizen who contributes to the well being of their community.”

This is supposed to be an all-inclusive program encouraging universal rehabilitation. The time we receive helps us get closer to going home and being reacclimated back into society, which is what IDOC claims to promote, that we’re reunited with our families. This is not always the case, because facility staff in positions of power have and will prevent some of us from becoming participants, by influencing the process to prevent us from being selected for an interview. The officials are all one big family here; one hand always washes the other.

Pursuant to Policy 04-03-103, Standards of Conduct for Department Staff: “All staff are responsible for learning and being in compliance with (all) IDOC Policies and Procedures.” There is a group of corrections staff at Wabash Valley abusing their positions of power who engage in “program discrimination” in violation to the following policies and procedures: 1) Policy 01-03-104, Faith and Character-based Housing Program; 2) Policy 01-01-101, The Development and Delivery of Adult Academic and Vocational Programs; 3) Policy 01-01-1021, The Development and Delivery of Adult Educational and Recreational Library Services.

I will now share two specific examples of these abuses of power that lead to program discrimination. A prisoner named Mack Porter, No. 184041, was approved May 30, 2018, to participate in the PLUS Program. When it came time for this man to be moved to the unit that houses the PLUS prisoners, his move was cancelled. He was told by staff member Lt. Kevin Ewers that he stopped his move. Lt. Ewers stopped him from being moved to N-House for the PLUS Program three times. That’s clearly discrimination.

I was placed in G-House population on April 6, 2017. Since that day, I have requested to be referred to the PLUS Program at least five times. I have never received an interview application nor have I been approved to enter the Pre-PLUS, which is a 90-day monitoring process.

Recently, in June or July of 2018, after exposing this practice as program discrimination, I was given a meeting with three staff members concerning my being denied entry into the PLUS Program. Unit Team Manager Ms. Heather Blasingame advised me that she had concerns that I would try and change things up and implement my own agenda.

However, the custody supervisor for housing prisoners on the southside of the prison vehemently swore that if he had anything to do with it, he would never allow me to participate in PLUS. Lt. Ewers is using his position and authority to target prisoners by keeping us isolated on the north side of the facility. I’ve had only two Class C Conduct Reports; that wouldn’t stop me from entering any program.

Heather Blasingame made a point to say she reviewed my case, saw the two Class C Conduct Reports and said she’d rather I had NO conduct reports before I entered the PLUS Program. They are abusing their power and positions to isolate me on the north side of the prison. Their actions are unprofessional and criminally prejudiced. Their conduct is conduct unbecoming staff.

Abuse of power and using positions to retaliate

When I break a rule or policy, I am held to account for it until I am in compliance. But this same standard does not apply to staff members at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility. I was recently in a cell with a prisoner named Thomas, and he got into a brief argument with G-House day shift Sgt. Lyday while we were in the shower.

This Sgt. Lyday came into our cell, G-405, and tore down every picture Thomas had up of his loving family. When I asked why was he doing this, he said because your cellie Thomas was trying to “punk” him out on his unit in front of other officers. I never said anything to him, yet he tore all of my pictures down also, and he also knocked all of my religious books on the floor.

As the Sergeant knows, his malicious actions are not in compliance with Policy 04-03-102, Information and Standards of Conduct for Departmental Staff, which states: “There shall be no harassment or retaliation by staff against any prisoner.” This Sgt. Lyday recently received a promotion in September to Lt. Lyday, to oversee the north side of this facility. Examples of abuse of job position, harassment and unprofessional retaliation exist every day in Wabash Valley Correctional Facility.

Nepotism is perpetuated and promoted

Here at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility exists an environment of Prejudice, and Staff Nepotism, there are people employed at this facility who belong to the same family, husbands, wives, sons, and daughters, cousins, etc. Some of them are regular Correctional Officers, and some are Plainclothes Counselors, Case Managers, Unit Team Managers, and many others hold ‘Ranking Positions’ such as, Sergeants, Lieutenants, and Captains. I will share some factual examples of how Nepotism works in favor of these staff persons, and not in favor of the prisoner.

For example, Lt. Kevin Ewers and his wife Amy Ewers are both employed at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility. This husband and wife duo work on the same shift and the same side of the prison. Six months ago Amy Ewers, who is counselor for Mary Housing Unit, gave my friend and comrade Mustapha Rasheed El-Malik a negative work evaluation on his job as a clerk in the South-Side Law Library, firing him for allegedly photocopying another prisoner’s legal work for free. Amy Ewers was filling in for Mrs. Hinton, who was Malik’s boss.

Amy Ewers called her husband Lt. Kevin Ewers, who is the custody supervisor over prisoner housing, for advice on what to do. They teamed up to have Mustapha Rasheed El-Malik moved to a Restricted Housing Unit. With husband and wife working together, how can we win? If one of us files a complaint or grievance on Amy Ewers in her capacity as a counselor, her husband, Lt. Kevin Ewers, will be targeting us in some way. Our cells will be trashed or we may have a false conduct report filed against us. They can have me placed in segregation or restricted housing.

The second case involving staff nepotism is Capt. Eric Brewer, who is custody supervisor and lead captain over all sergeants and lieutenants who work day shift at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility. He has 100 percent influence over what happens during the day shift. His wife, Kay Brewer, has total control and in charge over the largest rehabilitation and time-cut program at this facility.

She runs the PLUS Program, “Purposeful Living Units Serve.” Since April 2017, I have had referrals submitted five or six times. They were all rejected without any explanations or justifications for it. Her husband, Capt. Eric Brewer, told me to my face that I need to stop writing and receiving all that “Black Power” shit, indicating that he has advised Kay Brewer, his wife, not to let me become involved in the program. So, it is about what I believe in and not whether I qualify to participate.

Between July and August 2018, I requested a meeting to find out who was not for my entering the PLUS Program. Heather Blasingame, unit team manager in charge of the southside of the facility over prisoner management, advised me to my face that she saw my name and removed every referral submitted for me requesting to enter the Program, because she “feels” that I would try to launch a campaign to change how things were being run, that I would try to promote my own agenda.

So, Capt. Eric Brewer, Kay Brewer, his wife, and their best friend Heather Blasingame, used their position to openly engage in subjective reasoning and discrimination against me. They are doing this to many prisoners who are unable to articulate what’s happening to them. Some remain silent for fear of becoming a target of theirs.

On my speaking out for prisoners right now on the nepotism and abuse of positions that’s happening here, this empowers officials to be prejudiced and discriminatory against me and others, in violation of policies and procedures pursuant to: Policy 00-00-101, The Organization and Operation of the Department of Correction; Policy 00-02-301, The Offender Grievance Process; Policy 01-01-101, The Development and Delivery of Adult Academic and Vocational Programs; Policy 01-03-104, Faith and Character-Based Housing Programs; and Policy 02-03-101, Searches and Shakedowns; also Policy 04-03-103, Information and Standards of Conduct for Department Staff.

Targeting, harassment, unprofessional conduct and prejudice against prisoners

The Indiana Department of Corrections is an entity governed by the United States Constitution, the Indiana Constitution, federal and state law, and administrative and operational policies and procedures; it is the duty of every employee to know all of the above.

While housed on the (SCU) Segregation Confinement Unit here from 2003 through 2011, what I experienced was that several did, and many would commit suicide in an attempt to escape the targeted harassment, unprofessional conduct and racial prejudice. After spending a total of 20 years housed in segregated confinement units, though I am no longer in the (SCU), I know that deplorable conditions still persist back there.

I’m currently being held on restricted housing status by Internal Affairs at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility. The G-Housing Unit used to be general population, but in September of 2018, it became the Restricted Movement Housing Unit, isolating US from the general population. It’s all about control, and it’s 23 hours in the cell and one hour recreation. The officers operate on a code of conduct that is not in compliance with any policy or law I know of.

I can attest that they have regularly put the lives of prisoners in harm’s way. While I don’t promote or condone anybody harming children, the officers are supposed to protect these guys from harm; instead, they reveal their charges to other prisoners, creating an environment by which these guys will most certainly be extorted for food and money. The officers know that doing so violates established standards of conduct. They do it anyway, so this constitutes unprofessional conduct.

The second targeted harassment example I raise was on Jan. 15, 2016, when my cell was the target of a search for drugs by Sgt. Brian Mifflin, who filed a false charge for Obstruction of Justice A-100. It was alleged that I swallowed the drugs, but a drug-screening came back negative.

I was then given a hearing, found guilty and received six months in disciplinary segregation. Then a subsequent appeal was denied. The second appeal I then filed to the commissioner, and the charge was modified on April 27. 2016, by Robert D. Bugher’s Legal Services Division; it was reduced down from an A-100 to a B-235 – Resisting. No drugs were found in my cell area or in my urine sample I willingly provided a week after my cell was targeted by Sgt. Mifflin. He was promoted following that to the position of correctional counselor and assigned to the G-Housing Unit that I am housed in and unit counselor for the left side of G-House!

Sometime in June or early July 2018, Counselor Brian Mifflin entered the left side of G-Unit, walked up to an offender during day recreation, who was playing cards with other offenders sitting around him, and whispered to him that he knew Leonard McQuay, No. 874304, owed him money. Doing this crossed so many lines: First, he never received this information from me, and instantly made it appear that I provided him with that information, causing all the prisoners at the table and unit who were within earshot to identify me as a snitch. He created an environment of suspicion, distrust, evil intentions, literally sanctioning harm being done to me or my possible death. For two days I never knew he had done this to me, until an elder prisoner advised me that he witnessed Counselor Mifflin do this.

Counselor Mifflin totally disregarded my safety or the damage he would be doing to my reputation or relationships with other prisoners. This obviously was his motive for such unethical and unprofessional behavior. He never came to me to admit what he did. I confronted him and he admitted it, and friends of mine called for his firing or demotion. Nothing was done; he still remains a correctional counselor as you read this.

What Counselor Brian Mifflin did was to create a safety and security concern, and his actions violated policies and procedures for Policy 02-03-105, Security Threat Groups; Policy 02-03-115, High-Risk Offenders; and Policy 04-03-103, Standards of Conduct for Departmental Staff. His actions concerning Black prisoners are very subjective and extremely objective towards White prisoners. And he is prejudiced when it comes to Black prisoners moving to better progressive units than G-House.

Criminal behavior by staff, violations of code of ethics, conduct unbecoming of staff, fraternization

Wabash Valley Correctional Facility is a Level 3 and Level 4 facility, which is home to a lot of serial killers and people who have caused a lot of harm to people in their respective communities, yet many of them become victims of some very disrespectful people who have been trained to be supposedly courteous, professional, responsible and respectful to prisoners in their custody.

Not all of the staff here are bad or criminal, so when we know the rules and their consequences and break them, we get a conduct report and a sanctioned punishment for it. However, this standard does not seem to apply to Wabash Valley Correctional Facility officers or administrative staff. Just recently, while on a four-week lock-down on Sept. 20, 2018, Correctional Officer Frye, assigned to day shift G-Unit Restricted Housing, approached my cell with my lunch tray and stated, “McQuay, No. 874304, doesn’t have no balls.” I asked him, if I had no balls, what is he saying that I have then? He stated that I had a vagina. All of this came out of nowhere. Prior to this, I never had any issues with Officer Frye.

I filed a PREA (Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003) complaint against him, and on Sept. 28, 2018, my complaint was ruled unsubstantiated; these facts I asserted were true, yet it was simply swept under the rug. Things such as this happen every day to various prisoners, who rarely report them for fear of being labeled by officers as snitches. Some fear being set-up on false charges or having their cells searched and having keepsake items and property destroyed or confiscated; had I been reactionary about it, I’d have come out of my cell and beat him up. I would be surrendering to my life being over, my lot would be dying in prison.

Pursuant to policy Executive Directive 17-09, IDOC can take all my earned credit time from me for assaulting any staff volunteers working at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility. Meaning, if I have 60 years straight, I can’t give them no more of my life.

Officer Frye and all the staff who engage in his kind of criminal behavior, who violate the Code of Ethics or display conduct unbecoming of staff, are the real criminals here. Their actions are not in compliance with and violate policy and procedure for Policy 01-05-101, Staff Development and Training; and Policy 04-03-103, Standards of Conduct for Departmental Staff.

These violations continue to persist under the watchful eyes of their superiors. The officers engage in selective games of fraternization with various prisoners, by providing information to them on negative gossip circulating about other prisoners. This is intentionally done to keep us divided as a prisoner class. Having us at odds with one another this way has proven to keep our eyes off the real violations that permeate this prison environment. I am not afraid to speak up and speak out against these human and civil rights violations that aren’t being challenged on my watch at this facility.

Abuses in the selection and use of administrative restrictive status housing units in violation of Policy 02-01-111 and Facility Executive Directive WVC 02-01

Recently, Wabash Valley Correctional Facility converted G-House into a Restricted Movement Unit, which was the brainchild of shift custody Lt. Scott Fisher, whose wife is a correctional counselor and case worker in the P-Housing Unit. They both were responsible for selecting everyone for placement into this unit and decided who would leave for a new general population assignment or be left in the newly converted G-House.

Many of us who are currently in the G-Housing Unit and on Restricted Movement Status are here unjustly, because the criteria don’t apply to those of us who have good conduct records. Lt. Fisher and his staff have deprived me and other prisoners of the following:

1) religious services;

2) educational services;

3) rehabilitation programs;

4) outside food sales;

5) three-four hours of recreation reduced to one hour;

6) jobs.

Like most prisoners in Indiana and hundreds more around the country who subscribe to the Bay View, Khalfani’s papers are frequently censored, so it was a treat to get this one, the May 2017 paper. Here at the Bay View, we are working to develop techniques that will get the papers delivered to all who subscribe. The most effective technique we’ve found so far is to ask supporters on the outside to call the warden’s office and politely request your paper be given to you. Enough of those calls has often stopped the censorship.

I am a Sunni Muslim who has attended my religious services and participated in congregational prayer every Friday, consistently. This denial of congregational worship is a clear First Amendment violation of the U.S. Constitution. Plus, it violates Article 1, Section 4, Freedom of Religion, of the Indiana Constitution.

I have currently prepared a class action for myself and all prisoners who are similarly situated and affected by this abuse of power and harassment. They’ve rushed to get these beds that a lot of the prisoners left behind in G-Unit’s Restricted Movement and shouldn’t be housed here. Also, many moved in from general population were improperly selected, pursuant to Policy 02-01-111, Restricted Movement Unit, according to Facility Directive WVC 02-01.

They are advising prisoners and our families that we are appropriately placed, but how is that correct, when I don’t fit the criteria by having no current conduct infraction? By not having the outside oversight that would ensure the actions of every employee at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility who played an active role in this placement process had done so in compliance with policy and procedure. And also, that these placements weren’t unlawfully used as discriminatory or retaliatory excuses to pursue certain prisoners not favored by those administrators who were chosen to prepare the list for placement in Restricted Movement.

We are all filing grievances getting ready to exhaust all of our administrative remedies. Many of the staff members I have chosen to be named in this press release and report have targeted many of us who are now housed in G-Housing Restricted Movement. I feel they exploited this moment to isolate me and the others from being in positions to excel and be successful in our pursuits of higher learning and productive self-help programming.

Indiana political prisoner calls for outside independent investigation into the violations named in this long-awaited complaint

I am individually and on behalf of all other prisoners in G-Housing Restricted Movement, similarly situated, calling on you to read this release and report completely, and help us launch an investigation against the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility staff members named below:

1) Capt. Eric Brewer, shift supervisor

2) Kay Brewer, PLUS Program

3) Lt. Kevin Ewers, custody supervisor

4) Amy Ewers, correctional counselor

5) Lt. Scott Fisher and Counselor Fisher

6) Heather Blasingame, unit team manager

7) Kevin Hunter, unit team manager

8) Brian J. Mifflin, G-Unit counselor

Sincerely submitted,

Mr. Leonard McQuay, No. 874304, (Bro. Khalfani Malk Khaldun)

cc: Indiana Senate, Speaker of the Indiana House, Office of Gov. Eric Holcomb, IDOC Commissioner Carter’s Office, Douglas S. Garrison, Robert Bugher, Todd Tappy, Jack Hendrix, Indiana ACLU Director Kenneth J. Falk, Indiana State Sen. Ben Carson, U.S. Department of Justice

Compiled and researched by Leonard McQuay, No. 874304, also represented today as Bro. Khalfani Malik Khaldun, who spent a complete 20 years inside Indiana Department of Corrections’ Solitary Confinement Units. I have been incarcerated inside IDOC since the age of 17, in 1987. The affect of this release and report unavoidably will result in the filing of a U.S.C. §1983 federal class-action lawsuit.

Send our brother some love and light: Khalfani Khaldun (Leonard McQuay), 874304, WVCF Q-512, P.O. Box 1111, Carlisle IN 47838.

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