Fighting For Our Dignity And Humanity

My name is Tony Enis, and many of you know me or are familiar with me. I am currently incarcerated on the condemned unit at Pontiac Correctional Center.

I fully understand and appreciate the fact that you are a group whose main objective is the abolition of the death penalty. However, what good is a life if one must exist without some of the most basic tenets of humanity: honor, dignity and common decency? It is in this vein that I wish to speak to you now.

I was recently put in segregation, and it has given me time and the opportunity to seriously consider what has been and is going on around me. The gradual and not-so-gradual implementation of rules, policies and punishments are specifically designed to dehumanize and discourage the inmate population. Over the past several months, the administration and the Department of Corrections have systematically chipped and hammered away at our last vestiges of refuge: our dignity and our humanity.

We are no longer allowed to clean our cell as needed but only when they wish us to -- which is once a week, and that includes sinks and toilets. We are no longer allowed to cover ourselves, and we are forced to suffer the embarrassment and indignity of having men and women walk by as one is having a bowel movement. We can no longer call our attorneys after 2 p.m. on the only phone that (supposedly) provides us with some form of privacy. Our access to the law library has been greatly reduced, and we are not even allowed to take books back to our cells to do additional research.

I could go on, but I see no need to belabor the point. These examples standing alone should be enough to force anyone to understand why I use the words indignity and dehumanize.

There are many men here who wish to stand up and speak out against these draconian tactics and, I dare say, tyranny. But they are concerned about reprisals and rightly so. I'm sure that these words sound hauntingly familiar, as they should, for where there is repression, revolution is born.

I have often quoted or possibly misquoted Emiliano Zapata, but whatever the case, I certainly believe that "it is better to die on my feet than to live on my knees." I hope to hear from you soon.

Tony Enis N82931
P.O. Box 99
Pontiac, IL 61764