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Incarcerated individual says he is being retaliated against for his activism

Jemison has routinely posted videos on social media attempting to illuminate the horrid conditions and maltreatment in Alabama prisons.

Bernard Jemison says he's being retaliated against over videos showing medical neglect and conditions in ADOC prisons.

An incarcerated prison activist believes he is facing retaliation from the Alabama Department of Corrections after he was recently moved to a new facility and placed in solitary confinement.

The individual, Bernard Jemison, was previously incarcerated at Ventress Correctional Facility but was transferred to the Kilby Correctional Facility on Monday. 

Jemison has routinely posted videos on social media attempting to illuminate the horrid conditions and maltreatment that he believes incarcerated people face from ADOC. 

APR spoke with an attorney who asked to remain anonymous to speak candidly about Jemison’s condition. The attorney stated that Jemison was not physically harmed and was not injured however, he was threatened by guards at the facility to not “do any of that stuff here” regarding his social media posts.

ADOC has clear policies and guidelines restricting incarcerated people from using cell phones or social media. Jemison said he knows this, but he believes it is okay to disobey unjust laws, and as a Christian, believes it is his moral duty to bring attention to the problems inside ADOC facilities.

According to the attorney who Jemison spoke with and a source who is an advocate, there was an incident that occurred which led to his transferral to Kilby. A correctional officer, a woman, was arguing with another incarcerated person and Jemison was there. Due to his reputation the officer assumed that Jemison was recording her action, although he was not, and she became fearful of losing her job resulting in her crying. 

This then alerted other guards who came and apprehended Jemison that were also aware of his reputation. This was the incident that both sources say prompted Jemison’s transferral to Kilby. But according to the attorney, it was just the “straw that broke the camel’s back,” as it was also an accumulation of his social media posts over the past year that ADOC and the correctional officers disliked.

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The attorney also revealed that Jemison had a disciplinary hearing resulting in him being sentenced to six months in solitary. Jemison told the attorney the ADOC was attempting to change his classification status to a maximum security facility. The attorney said this could be a form of retaliation and an example of the facilities being fearful of his activism.

“Yeah, I think it’s another piece of the retaliation,” the attorney said. “Probably one piece of it. The other piece that’s going on, it sounds like none of the wardens and none of the facilities. They don’t. They don’t want him at their facility. And so being a maximum security facility, or to classification is a way for the minimum and medium security to make sure that he can’t be there.”

On August 7, a press release was issued by Janette Jones, an advocate of Jemison’s, regarding his treatment by ADOC. It also calls for the public to follow Jemison’s case and demand accountability from ADOC.

“Jemison, who is currently held in solitary confinement at Kilby Prison, recently went in front of the Central Review Board in pursuit of justice,” the release said. “Despite the board’s decision against his continued closed custody, Warden Cook of Kilby Prison has disregarded their recommendations, raising serious concerns about the accountability and transparency of the ADOC.”

You can read the full release here.

Patrick Darrington is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected].

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