As many of you know, Mark Clements has been reincarcerated on a parole violation and is in prison in Illinois.
Yesterday Mark arrived at a plea agreement with the prosecutors and he was sentenced to 90 days, 30 of which he has already served.
The next step is that Mark is going before the prison review board on March 7th. Mark’s lawyer said they will likely decide that he will be freed after serving the 60 days, so we expect Mark to be freed around May 7th.
We amassed nearly 40 letters of support for Mark from people all across the country. Many, many beautiful letters speaking to Mark’s character and the impact he has made on the criminal justice front. I want to thank all of you who wrote. I passed off all of the letters to Mark’s lawyer and he is going to begin faxing them to the parole board members — and he said they do read each letter, especially when they get it before the parole date hearing. So thanks again. And it is not too late to write a letter — send it to email@example.com and I will send it to Mark’s lawyer and make a copy for Mark as well.
Mark waved to us from his cuffed hands and blew us kisses. He looked a bit thinner than we remember. His lawyer said he is under a lot of stress because his confinement is so restrictive. He is locked up with his cellmate for 23 hours a day, no TV, no radio, no phone calls and right now he cannot send mail out — so it has been very difficult for him. All parole violators are held in these conditions which is an injustice in itself. Mark details the horrible conditions in a letter below.
Mark is getting everyone’s letters and as soon as he can, he will begin writing you all back. We expect that after March 7th, he will be in a different part of the prison and his confinement will not be so restrictive and he will be allowed visitors and phone calls at that time.
Mark sends his love to all of you. He is grateful that you have all stood behind him. Below is a letter from him that describes in detail some of the conditions he is facing (which is the reason he and so many others are forced to choose plea deals over months and months in these horrible conditions). Although he is behind bars, Mark’s fighting spirit still shines through!
Marlene Martin and Randi Jones Hensley
Campaign to End the Death Penalty
Mark asked us to pass this message to you:
“I have been at Stateville Correctional Center “NRC” Receiving Unit for less than five weeks. I am here for a misdemeanor charge involving an argument with my wife. I served 28 years inside Illinois prisons for a crime I did not commit. I am one of hundreds that were beat and tortured under the command of Jon Burge and served decades inside a decaying prison. I was 16 years old and framed for a crime I did not commit. I was released in August, 2009. Almost immediately after my release I was hired by the Campaign to End the Death Penalty as Administrator and Organizer. I knew this would be a risky job for someone still on parole! But my dying mother, Virginia Clements, told me she loved being a member of the CEDP and she wanted to me to fight hard to achieve the following: 1) Jon Burge imprisonment for lying and covering up tortures he commanded 2) End the death penalty in Illinois because it was only applied toward the week, disadvantaged, and is a racist tool used to silence the cry of Innocent people 3) To end juvenile life sentences. With your help, we did win two of her wishes! WOW!!! She was so happy when I told her Burge was guilty on all counts. She jumped for joy despite her cancer! And I knew that myself and the whole CEDP family had won a big victory.
My mother often spoke of Troy Davis and like so many felt Troy would walk off Georgia’s death row and lead a movement to expose racism on every level. Side by side with Randi Jones Hensley, Marlene Martin, Brit Schulte, Darby Tillis, Ken Richardson, and Tomika and others there in spirit–we went to Georgia prepared to fight! I felt good. I gave my all and more for Troy. I proudly stepped off the plane to media cameras and let them know that the Campaign was there to do nothing less than save the life of Troy and that we would be noisy. As an ex-prisoner, when Troy died a certain part of me died. Believe it or not, when I think of Troy I still cry because I know an innocent man died.
The conditions I am facing here at Stateville show just how rotten the prison system is. Here are ten problems I have with NRC Stateville:
1. Commissary is allowed only once a month, at which time everything that will be needed by an inmate has to be purchased and if the commissary has no soap, deodorant, or writing supplies, the inmate has to do without.
2. There is not televisions or radios allowed.
3. Prisoners are inside their cells 24 hours a day other than for one day where inmates are permitted two and a half hours in the yard.
4. The food portions are reduced compared to what other prisoners receive.
5. There is only one shower allowed per week.
6. The telephones require a PIN which can only be obtained from the counselor.
7. It is next to impossible to see a counselor.
8. The counselor does not make rounds on the galleries as is required by IDOC guidelines.
9. The counselor does not respond to requests made by inmates for a PIN number to access the phones.
10. Prisoners like me, who have court hearings, are not allowed to phone their lawyers nor issued materials to communicate with their lawyers for weeks.
These conditions at Stateville must change now. Contact Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn and demand changes now! All inmates deserve to be treated with respect.”
If any of you would like to communicate with Mark you can do so at:
Mark Clements #N-23123
Stateville Correctional Center
PO Box 112
Joliet, IL 60434