Author Archives: Sean Swain

Coming Out of Isolation Stronger

This audio can be heard in the April 5th edition of The Final Straw Radio or in Sean’s archive collection (or just right here):

The latest concern that folks are expressing during this zombie apocalypse is their inability to cope with isolation and quarantine. We’re just a few weeks into this thing and already folks are going a little bonkers. This is strange to me, given that I’ve spent years at a time in total and complete isolation. It’s almost hard for me to fathom that someone wouldn’t know how to cope in such an environment. So, this week is going to be something of an instructional video – only, without the video, and maybe not very instructive.
OK, first things first. You gotta stay mentally organized, and staying mentally organized means living in a way that’s organized. You need a routine. Routine is key to long-term segregation. You want to get up in the morning at the same time. Set an alarm. Get up, get out of bed, make the bed. It doesn’t matter that you have nowhere to go. It doesn’t matter that you’re not leaving that living space. You get up at the same time and you make the bed, because the sleeping period is over. Create for yourself set times for eating your meals, or a small range of times for those meals to happen in. Set a time for showering or bathing and personal grooming. It doesn’t matter that you’re not going anywhere.
Laying in bed all day in the same sweater and underwear from last Tuesday is not mental organization. It’s surrender. Yes, I’m talking to you. No, you, there. Yes, the one in the sweater and the underwear. Right.
Break up your day into chunks. Fill those chunks with activity. Maybe you like to read. Designate a period of your day for reading. Designate another part of your day for writing, another part for skyping and twitter and social interaction. Doing this gives you routine, but it also gives you benchmarks as you travel through your day. You can say to yourself “I’ve gotten this done, at such-and-such a time, it’s time to do X.” You are now doing your time,  your time is not doing you.
Your time will move faster, you’ll get more accomplished. Which brings me to my next point: accomplishing. Each day will bring you multiple opportunities to fulfill goals. Get something written. Get something read. Go a certain time on your stationary bike. Dispose of the body of that annoying next-door neighbor… former neighbor. Just kidding. Don’t kill your neighbor. There are security cameras everywhere. I digress.
The thing is: each day you meet some small goal, then another, then another. You take in calories, you move from activity to activity. Most importantly: you survive. Each day you end still breathing is a mission accomplished. You’re not just writing emails or riding your stationary bike, you’re fighting for your very survival, albeit in a mundane kind of way.
Physical exercise. The human body is a machine made for motion. So move. My captivity workout, I do sets of push-ups, crunches and squats, one set after another. It works major muscle groups, gets my heart pumping, gets me sucking oxygen, and helps me to think more clearly. It allows me to release tension. Now more than ever, that’s important, not just for your survival, but for the survival of your annoying neighbor. So get exercise and whenever possible, in a way that’s safe, try to get an hour of direct sunlight outdoors. Go outside and breathe deeply and feel sunlight on your face. It matters.
Now, if you’re all alone, you can organize your day any way that you want. You can modify your routine at will until it works for you. But if you’re not alone, you have to synthesize your routine with the lives of those around you. Urge them to adopt a routine. Socially, it helps keep the peace. You know what other people are doing at given chunks of the day, and they know what you’re doing. You want periods of solitude and periods of social interaction, time set aside for your own projects and time for collective and communal activities.
Through the course of this, you’re going to experience heightened anxiety. It’s easy to dwell on your own situation and let the worry spiral out of control. It’s easy. We all do it. So what you do, to get out of that spiral, you focus on the struggle of someone else. Get out of your own head. Contribute to someone else’s plight. This isn’t just some Mother Theresa kumbaya crap. It’s not just some virtuous selflessness. It’s a selfish act. It’s motivated by your desire to further your own survival. If you get out of your own head and help someone, you’re exiting that spiral of anxiety.
Some other tips: While it’s good to do some planning for the future, force yourself to stay grounded in the now. Daydreaming about when this is over just makes the now suck worse. A little of that can go a long way. Also, be realistic about how long this is. Don’t wake up every day thinking that we’re all going to pour out into the streets like some flashmob dance routine. It ain’t happening, probably for months. So get yourself into a comfortable routine, for months. This is your reality. It is what it is. Also, when that reality feels overwhelming, remind yourself that this is just temporary. It will pass. Even if it takes months, it doesn’t take forever. Nothing is forever.
Don’t forget, however bad you’ve got it, others less capable than you have gotten through longer chunks of time in far worse conditions. I did a year with virtually nothing, on starvation rations, with very little soap, locked in a space the size of a bathroom with another poor bastard. We were both idiots, and yet we both survived. You will too.
Resolve to survive this. Walk around your living space. Tell the walls: “You won’t defeat me.” Tell your couch: “You won’t defeat me.” Tell all your furnishings: “You won’t defeat me.” Then look in the mirror and tell yourself: “This won’t defeat me.” And mean it.
You have two choices, flat-out. You can survive this, or you can sit down on the curb, and sooner or later the dogs and the birds will eat you. It’s your choice. I’ve made my choice. Hope I see you on the other side of this shit.
This is anarchist prisoner Sean Swain in exile from Ohio at Buckingham Correctional in Dillwyn, Virginia. If you’re surviving, you are the resistance.

How Buckingham Medical Made Me A Potential Death Statistic

Sucks to be me.
Back in early February, I got the flu. I hugged the toilet for two days.
Terrible. In the midst of it, a staffer witnessed me puking and insisted I go to medical.
At medical, I was seen by Nurse Amy Starkey who told me I didn’t have a fever despite the sweat pouring off of me… in February. She listened to my lungs and didn’t hear the sludge that was broiling in there. She suggested I had food poisoning– which would only make sense if all eleven hundred of us were puking… since we all eat the same shit.
Medical did nothing for me. Nothing. I shambled back to my cell, an hour older and a lot more annoyed.
So, early March, when I still had the gurgling sludge in my lungs, I signed up for sick call. I wanted to get that cleared up before the zombie apocalypse arrived at the prison gates, since people with
preexisting conditions sputter out at a far greater rate than those who don’t have them.
I got called back to the medical clinic. Nurse Amy Starkey again. I told her I had pneumonia in 2012 and it felt like this lung sludge only more intense. She listened to my lungs and documented the congestion, then got up and left. A few minutes later, she returned. “The Nurse Practitioner says its normal to have that kind of congestion up to eight weeks after you get over the flu.”
I don’t know if the nurse practitioner said that or not. If the nurse practitioner said that, they both need fired. Medical did nothing for me at all.
Days later, another prisoner (who shall remain nameless) told me he had a prescription for an antibiotic. It’s the same antibiotic given to me when I had pneumonia. He let me take his pills.
So, for several days, I took antibiotics. By the time I finished what he gave me, my lungs were clear. Clear. And that means the sludge in my lungs was a bacterial infection, since the antibiotics got rid of it.
Three days after the antibiotics ended, the sludge started coming back.
So, I currently have a bacterial infection in my lungs and I have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting medical personnel to get me the antibiotics I need to shake that off before COVID 19 hits here. And
that’s all bad for me.
I can’t use the grievance process because I’m not an “offender” as defined by the rules; I don’t have a conviction in Virginia. And even if I could use it, I’d be dead before I was ever vindicated.
I want to live through this. So, my “play nice” promise to Virginia be damned. Anyone reading this should feel free to contact Buckingham at (434) 983-4400 . Either Warden John Woodson or Assistant Warden Jeffrey Snoddy are here each day during normal business hours. Ask for one, and he’s not there, ask for the other. Feel free to fax this update to them, (434) 983-4017 . Attach your demand that they do something to clear my infection now.

“I Was Subjected To Torture”: Sean Swain’s Testimony to the OAS IACHR

One blessing of Sean’s transfer to the Virginia prison system is that he’s no longer suffering the petty (and not-so-petty) abuses at the hands of Ohio authorities that have accumulated after decades of Sean’s defense of his dignity. One tangible effect of this can be seen in his access to the mail sent his way. With no fart-goblins hiding or destroying his communications as they were at various Ohio prisons, Sean receives sometimes revelatory communications.

Back in 2012 during the whole manufactured “Army of the 12 Monkeys” kerfuffle, during which he was accused of helping to mastermind a successful prisoner-led sabotage movement in Ohio prisons against privatization and privation, Sean endured torture for his criticism of changes occurring in the ODRC and for holding anarchist beliefs. Recently, Sean was finally able to receive the communications from the OAS that his case was in consideration. He was only able to receive this because his mail was no longer being censored and tampered with by the ODRC flunkies.

But don’t take our word for it, check out his segment from The Final Straw Radio airing on September 15th, 2019 explaining his experience. Content warning, it contains descriptions of sexual violence by ODRC employees.

Below is a recording of his testimony to the Organization of American States Inter-American Commission of Human Rights. Please give a listen and help Sean to get these words into the hands of competent legal workers who can help him gain justice in this case.

Sean Swain Testimony to OAS IACHR

And moved again….

Sean in feb, 2019

Sean has been transferred again, this time to Dillwyn, VA, in the center of the state. We just got word that he’s sitting pretty at Buckingham Correctional Center and can be written at:

Sean Swain #2015638
Buckingham Correctional
PO Box 430
Dillwyn, VA 23936

Interstate Transfer

After 27 years of incarceration in the state of Ohio, Sean Swain must bid a fond “fare-the-well” to his former wardens and jailers. Sean has been transferred to the Commonwealth of Virginia, given a new number and is sitting pretty at Nottoway Correctional Center near to Burkeville, VA. You can write to Sean to let him know you care and let his captors know you’re watching at the following address:

Sean Swain #2015638
Nottoway Correctional Center
P.O. Box 488
Burkeville, VA 23922

We’ll post more updates as they come up as to what this means for his security status, his legal challenges, his options for programs and parole.

Stay Solid,

Sean Swain Supporters

PS: if you feel like checking with his warders in VA on his status, that he’s in good health and getting what he needs, you can ask here:

David Call, Warden

2892 Schutt Road
P. O. Box 488
Burkeville, VA 23922
(434) 767-5543

Sean’s back at OSP Youngstown

A few supporters were able to get over to Youngstown and in to visit Sean in mid February. Sean seems in good spirits and in good health. While at Warren C.I., a certain fartgoblin in the mail room continued to mess with Sean’s mail but no such issues have arisen in the month or so back at OSP and his phone access is up and running. Sean is, however, still without email access for some reason.

A couple of interesting developments have also occurred in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitations and Corruptions (ODRC); Director Gary Mohr has retired and threatened to move to North Carolina to cunsult the NCDHS, which oversees prisons there; and counselor Trevor Clark is no longer employed by ODR, a change which occurred within days of Sean’s public announcement that he had been genitally groped by Clark in 2013. Details will be published as we get them.

He’s also begun producing new segments for The Final Straw, so give a listen to the latest segments!

Update on Sean

From Friends of Sean:

Sean is currently facing increased scrutiny and repression from the ODRC in retaliation for his published writings, including loss of privileges and a possible increase in security status. 

On October 1, 2018, Sean ended a 29 day hunger strike. It is no longer necessary to call in to the prison, but it would be a great time to send Sean warm words of encouragement as he recovers from his strike. If you’d like, you can include a couple embossed envelopes in with your letter, available at the post office.

 

Update on Sean’s condition

From Friends of Sean:

We have gotten confirmation from Sean that he is off hunger strike and has been in negotiations with the Warden.

Thanks to those who called and otherwise reached out to support Sean. That solidarity means a lot to his continued well-being.

Sean Facing Repression, Requests Support

From Friends of Sean:

We have not heard from Sean in a week and have received word via a proxy that he is 6 days into a hunger strike.

We have also heard that Sean is facing repression of various kinds, such as false conduct reports, unnecessary/unexplained cell changes, and limitation of his communications.

Although as of yet these issues are unconfirmed, we would like to request that supporters take a moment to call Warren Correctional and inquire about Sean’s status and raise concerns about how he’s being treated right now.

Warren Correctional Institution:
(513) 932-3388–press 7 to be connected to the Warden’s office.

 

 

Fuckweasels Ryan Applegate, Ryan Dolan, and Antonio Lee Continue to Terrorize Sean’s Mail

It just never ends.

On February 16, Mailroom fart-goblin Ryan Applegate– whose personal war against all anarchist literature made him globally famous –sent me another notice of withholding. This notice indicated that what was being withheld is a CD.

The notice does not indicate who sent the CD, or where it came from, or what is on it, or why it was sent. It also does not indicate any criteria for withholding which is required on the form.

The notice was signed by Ryan Applegate, the same guy who has made it his full-time job to fuck with my mail.

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