Luther Blissett interviews former UFF member Ray Luc Lavasseur on the ongoing situation of Tom Manning, one of two remaining prisoners from the Marxist insurrectionist group (the other being Jaan Laaman).
American prisons try to silence and kill political prisoners slowly and painfully. Right now, that is what Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Warden of FCI Butner Medium II are trying to do to political prisoner and anti-imperialist Tom Manning. Last month Ray Luc Levasseur agreed to an interview about Ray and Tom’s imprisoned United Freedom Front (UFF) comrade Jaan Laaman. While Tom is not facing transfer to a Communication Management Unit like Jaan, Tom’s situation is equally dire but for different reasons.
Tom’s confined to a wheelchair, is locked in segregation, has medical needs, and the prison’s policy seems to be to let him die slowly and painfully. If it wasn’t for activists and supporters, as well as Tom’s lawyer, he would have likely received no treatment or surgery at all. Tom needs our support. Thus far, Tom has already spent 18 of the past 32 years imprisoned in solitary.
This interview with Ray is meant to help readers understand why that support is important. As a prisoner, Ray spent 13 years in solitary — including Marion and ADX. He understands first hand what comrades Jaan and Tom are living through on a daily basis. As Ray indicated in the last interview, it is vital that people keep writing Tom, showing Tom and the prison that he has our support. It’s also a way to consistently keep pressure up on the warden and the guards.
I understand Tom’s been moved to a new prison. What do people need to know about this move?
Tom was moved to a different prison, not a new one. From the Federal Medical Center (FMC) at Butner to the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) II at Butner. This move is intended to punish him. Immediately upon his arrival to the FCI he was placed in segregation, i.e. solitary. He is in Administrative segregation as he has not been charged with any disciplinary violation.This is a man who is wheelchair-bound and has serious medical problems. In segregation he has no access to email and is restricted to one phone every 30 days. He has no access to physical therapy, which he needs. A prisoner in segregation is more likely to have their medical needs ignored than a prisoner in general population.
Is there any reason for us to be concerned about his relocation?
In addition to the above, Tom was at the FMC for almost seven years before being transferred to the FCI. The first three of those years he was keep in a special isolation unit for 23-24 hours a day. Solitary confinement, especially of long duration, is inherently damaging to one’s mental and physical health.
How is Tom’s recovery from surgery going?
His most recent surgery for a badly infected toe was not done as soon as it should have been. It was only done after we had an attorney and medical doctor confront Butner officialdom about the obvious medical neglect.
It is too soon to be certain if there will be post-op complications but as of this writing, he is slowly recovering. But Tom has had other surgeries while at Butner that were done long after they should have been, the result of this medical neglect being he has never fully recovered from them. That’s why he’s still in a wheelchair and experiences so much pain.
How central was outside support in terms of getting Tom’s operation?
Every surgery Tom has had while at Butner required the intervention of outside pressure from lawyers and medical professionals who support prisoners human and legal rights.
Do you know when Tom’s eligible to apply for parole?
Approximately two years ago Tom applied for parole, had his initial hearing, and was denied. (Keep in mind — were he granted parole he wouldn’t be released from prison. He’d be transferred to a state jurisdiction where a long prison sentence awaits him. The fact that the federal parole commission refuses to release him to his state sentence underscores the vindictiveness of the parole commission). Tom is now scheduled for an interim parole hearing in November, 2017.
In our support for Tom, what should we focus on?
Send Tom letters, he appreciates them. Send him downloaded or photocopied articles to read. He’ll read then (he doesn’t have much else of substance to read). If a “call” is issued by Jericho, Freedom Archives, ABCF or others for letters, emails and phone calls to Butner FCI or the federal Bureau of Prisons, send those letters and emails, and make those phone calls.
We don’t request that level of support and intervention unless the matter is very serious. We’re trying to get Tom out of segregation through lawyers. If this doesn’t succeed and Tom remains in segregation we’ll have to try another tactic.
Jaan Karl Laaman #10372-016
P.O. Box 24550
Tucson, AZ 85734
Tom Manning #10373-016
FCI Butner Medium II
P.O. Box 1500
Butner NC 27509″