Since returning to Virginia’s Red Onion State Prison (ROSP) on October 30, 2023, I have witnessed an environment where racist abuses continue, and little has changed in this regard since the earliest days of the prison’s history when it earned national notoriety for these same conditions. (1)

The physical abuse is ever present. And it is targeted almost exclusively at Black prisoners, who, not coincidentally, make up the vast majority of the total population of the prison. A prison whose staff by contrast is almost totally white and drawn from the area’s segregated rural white communities. This demographic contradiction and cultural clash has ALWAYS served as a recipe for racist abuse at the remote prison, and its sister supermax Wallens Ridge State Prison (WRSP), which is located just a few miles away from ROSP.

The polarization of race and power is itself scandalous and repeats a feature of Amerika’s most openly racist eras of chattel slavery and Jim Crow segregation: with a staff of armed and politically empowered rural whites versus a prisoner population of unarmed, disenfranchised, powerless Blacks. But the violence inflicted on the prisoners is particularly sinister and enraging when one observes these lopsided dynamics at play.

This because the violent abuse almost always consists of white mob attacks on single defenseless Blacks, EXACTLY like a lynch mob. And this is by no means an exaggeration nor sensational description. Here are two examples taken from two assaults that occurred in the B-3 solitary confinement cellblock where I’m housed less than 3 days apart. Both of the victims were Black and the guards who assaulted them were all white. And yes, there were mobs in both cases. Indeed every stage of uses of force at the prison is racially charged and reminiscent of slave- and Jim Crow-era abuses of Blacks.


The first victim was Randy Lassiter #1490582, who is diagnosed with schizophrenia and a bipolar condition. I witnessed guards antagonize and threaten him, then when they had agitated him into a state they could say was belligerent, gas and beat him.

On the morning of November 23, 2023 guards took up a list of prisoners in B-3 who wanted to either go outside in the cold and stand idle in bare cages that look like dog pens (which is what passes as “outside recreation”) or sit chained like slaves to bare steel tables in the middle of the cellblock (the alternative so-called “inside recreation”).

There was an intent to provoke Randy from the beginning. He asked to go outside. A guard Mullins refused to take him out. He complained to the building sergeant Osborne who did nothing. So he covered his cell door window in efforts to summon other ranking staff in hopes of being taken outside. Another sergeant, Fleming, came to Randy’s cell and with his body camera turned off proceeded to threaten and taunt Randy. All ranking VDOC guards are required to wear body cameras and have them turned on whenever they come into contact with prisoners. Pod surveillance cameras will show Fleming at Randy’s cell door for some time with his camera off.

Fleming proceeded to call Randy names, threatened to throw all of his property away, and to beat him. Predictably Randy refused to uncover his window, so guards now had a pretext to take all of his property for “misusing” it and to use force to achieve this.

At this point another sergeant named Looney came to the cell WITH HIS BODY CAMERA ON and ordered Randy to allow himself to be handcuffed to be brought out and placed on a strip cell status. Because of Fleming’s threats Randy refused. Fleming had antagonized him just so he would refuse and force could be ‘justified.’ So Looney sprayed him repeatedly with tear gas from a 46oz canister – far in excess of the 5-6 grams which federal courts have designated to be the “estimated lethal dose” of gas when sprayed into closed in cells. (2)

After some time Randy relented and was handcuffed and brought out by a group of 5 guards in riot body armor, all of whom had body cameras on but never activated them. He was manhandled by the group, along with about 10 other guards of various ranks, into a hallway outside the cellblock, where he was slammed down onto his knees abrading them. His clothes were cut off with shears. A cloth bag (so-called “spit mask”) was put over his head. The “spit mask” is actually used to cover a prisoner’s head to conceal facial and head injuries inflicted during routine beatings (particularly from videos used after uses of force).

A nurse refused him aid and the mob brought him back into the block and took him into a steaming hot shower to be “decontaminated” of the gas. Which is a whole other layer of torture and abuse. Not only does hot water add more suffering to the effects of the gas, but water does not decontaminate one at all. Water actually spreads and activates/reactivates the gas across one’s entire body. This was revealed to me on October 30, 2023 by captains Ingram (a chemical weapons trainer for the Virginia prison system) and Johnson after I was gassed at Sussex 1 State Prison, both of whom had their body cameras on when telling me this. They revealed that milk is actually supposed to be used to decontaminate those exposed to gas and all Virginia guards are trained to know this. At ROSP and WRSP prisoners are tortured with hot water showers instead of being decontaminated with milk.

I witnessed on the night after Thanksgiving, Charles was suffering and complained of chest pains. A nurse named Tibbets took over an hour to come to his cell, and once there he did nothing except tell Charles to mail a request form to the medical department.

Charles very well have been having a heart attack. The nurse didn’t care and blew him off without any assessment as medical protocol requires with ANY prisoner complaint of chest pains. In Charles’s case, we’re talking about someone with severe heart disease. The medical staff here aren’t just content to let him suffer without needed care, they sit waiting for nature to run its course and Charles to suffer the inevitable cardiac episode that there is no available medical help to respond to. Murder by medical neglect.

Dare to Struggle Dare to Win!
All Power to the People!


1. See Jamie Fellner, “Red Onion State Prison: Super Maximum Security Confinement in Virginia,” Human Rights Watch, 1999 <>

2. See Williams v. Benjamin, 77 F.3d 756 (4th Cir. 1996)

3. See Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, “Abu Ghraib Comes to Amerika: Torture Unit Under Construction at Virginia’s Red Onion State Prison” (2010) <>; Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, “Under New Administration Torture Unit Closes Then Reopens at Red Onion State Prison, and Abuse on the Rise” (2011) <>=317

Write to Rashid at:
Kevin “Rashid” Johnson #1007485
Red Onion State Prison
10800 H. Jack Rose Hwy
Pound, VA 24279


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