Letters to the Editors

Dear Editors,

On March 3, 2019 yet another preventable prisoner death occurred at SCI Rockview in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. While walking the track in A-Yard and joking with his buddies, Randy (last name unknown) suddenly collapsed with no warning. Prisoners began yelling, “Man down,” which the officers stationed not 100 yards away ignored at first, then, reluctantly began walking to the scene. Upon their arrival on the scene, Medical was notified, but medical staff took no less than 15 minutes to arrive. By that time, Randy was dead. 

Since then, I’ve learned the following:

  1. Department of Corrections (DOC) staff (other than medical staff) are not provided CPR training as part of their mandatory and ongoing academy training.
  2. Prisoners are not permitted to perform CPR on any person, regardless of their possible CPR training and possibility of saving a life. Prisoners who violate this rule can and will face the most severe consequences possible by the DOC, including murder and attempted murder charges.
  3. I overheard a nurse saying that if Randy was attended to even the slightest bit faster, he probably would have lived.
  4. This is the second preventable death of a prisoner in 30 days here at SCI Rockview.

I will not be silent! Prisoner lives do matter, no matter what others may say. The DOC needs to be held fully accountable, and I will not rest until justice is served. How many prisoners must die preventable deaths at the hands of the Prison Industrial Complex? This is a call for the real United We Stand! Who’s with me?

—Tamara Angelique Allenbaugh-Thomas

Write to Tamara:

Smart Communications/PADOC

Thomas Flick #LJ9467

P.O. Box 33028

St. Petersburg, FL 33733

Dear Editors,

The famous physicist David Bohm wrote, “To be confused about what is different and what is not is to be confused about everything.” (Wholeness and the Implicate Order, 1980) There is confusion in the public mind, in which it is generally trying to make different what is not different, and make what is not identical, the same. The one percent who exploit and profit from the labor of the other 99 percent have been using the weapon of ideological fragmentation to weaken working class consciousness. Utilizing the mass media, think tanks and the educational system, the political economy of capitalism has promoted, propagated and perpetuated thinking that magnifies what is different and minimizes what is the same. This propaganda system promotes exclusive, political identity politics such as religion, ethnicity, caste, culture, nationalism, race etc., among members of the working class despite the fact that all workers must sell their labor power and all workers share 99-plus percent of the same DNA.

Ending this confusion in the minds of the working class requires struggle to demonstrate that the differences are more similar and the similarities are less different.

—Nayvin Gordon

Nayvin Gordon is a retired physician who has written many articles on health and politics. He can be reached at

—April 18, 2019

Dear Editors,

I first want to thank you very much for sending me Socialist Viewpoint magazine. I love receiving it.

I spent six years on New York’s death row unit. My appeal to the Court of Appeals abolished the death penalty in this state on June 24, 2004.

Today I am serving a sentence of Life Without Parole (LWOP). Prior to September 1, 1995, the top charge for murder in New York State was Murder in the Second Degree. After September 1, 1995 when the death penalty was placed back on the books, the top charge was Murder One, punishable by the sentence of death, or LWOP.

When my case abolished the death penalty in 2004, why didn’t LWOP go with it? I have written numerous letters to Governor Andrew Cuomo, as well as letters to Representatives, and to countless State Assembly members and law makers.

My letters fell on “death” ears, New York State looks down and treats their inmates as sub-human. In their eyes, who really cares what an inmate has to say, especially one who spent years on death row?

Other states are trying to change the LWOP sentence. State Senator Sharif Street and State House Representative Jason Dawkins have recently proposed bills SB942 and HB135, respectively, that would eliminate LWOP in Pennsylvania thereby enabeling thousands of inmates the abilty to appeal for parole.

The LWOP sentence is just another form of the death penalty in New York State. “Death by a Cell.” I’m working hard to abolish yet another death penalty sentence in New York State and I won’t stop until it’s done.

Thank you very much for your time,

—Stephen LaValle, March 18, 2019

Write to Stephen:

Stephen LaValle #99A5003

Shawangunk Correctional Facility,

P.O. Box 700

200 Quick Road

Wallkill, NY 12589