In September 2012, copies of a “resistance manual” and flyers promoting “a joyous class war” and sabotage within the prison appeared within Mansfield Correctional Institution (ManCI). According to a conduct report filed against alleged leaders, these materials “instruct inmates to bring the prison system to the brink” by engaging in a wide range of activities. The flyers were distributed by a group calling themselves the Army of the Twelve Monkeys, a reference to a 1990’s science fiction film.
The flyers promote three types of activities. First, wasting resources: “run electrical appliance and flush sink water all day” and “demand all food, clothes and medical/dental you are entitled to”. Second, damaging prison property: “break machines in the kitchen and OPI… pour salt water in staff computers… cut phone and computer lines… put gum, paperclips, and staples in door locks”. Third, broader organizing calls: “gang members to unite against our common enemy” and “steal, sabotage, organize, strike, resist”.
On September 19, three inmates were searched as suspected leaders of the Army of the 12 Monkeys. Searching Leslie Dillion and James Dzelajiljia’s cells allegedly uncovered original documents used to make copies and drafts of further writings. The prison authorities also took a copy of “Errico Malatesta, His Life & Ideas” into evidence from Dzelajiljia’s cell. In Sean Swain’s cell, they did not find anything related to the 12 Monkeys. Instead, they took a copy of a recent article Swain wrote opposing the ODRC’s privatization of inmate accounts into evidence. Swain had sent the article to outside supporters for posting on SeanSwain.org. This essay does not mention prison sabotage or the “army of the twelve monkeys” but was taken into evidence because, according to the conduct report, it has “wording and ideologies that matched the 12 Monkey resistance movement”. Swain also has a tattoo inspired by the science fiction movie that inspired the logo for the Army of the 12 Monkeys.
While held in segregation under investigation, the prison administrators opened the prisoners’ outgoing mail to seek further evidence. They allegedly found Dillion and Dzelajiljia sending letters written under pseudonyms of the 12 Monkeys, but no such letters by Sean Swain. Instead they mis-characterized an intercepted article for posting that merely described the situation and activities of the Army of the 12 Monkeys as a confession.
Dillion and Dzelajiljia are still awaiting a rules infraction board hearing, but Sean Swain has been found guilty. Swain was not allowed to question the investigator at the hearing. He denies having any connection or ideological affinity with the Army of the 12 Monkeys. He describes himself as an anarchist and a “neolithic indiginist” and the 12 Monkeys as a Maoist organization, who never use the word “anarchy”. Swain insists he has actually been targeted because of his opposition to JPay. In the article Swain described how the ODRC released private information of all prisoner visitors, and created additional fees when they hired JPay to administer inmate funds accounts. He characterizes this deal as a “get-rich scheme” to benefit ODRC Director Gary Mohr’s “Florida golf buddies”.
From September 19th – 21st Sean Swain was held in a suicide cell, with no pen, heat, shower, toothbrush or bed. From the 25th until the present he has been in administrative control while under investigation. His incoming mail has been delayed, monitored and withheld. His, Dillon and Dzelajiljia’s outgoing mail has been opened and tampered with. They have been denied access to basic commissary, reading and writing materials, and other necessities they are entitled to while in segregation. During Swain, Dillon and Dzelajiljia’s time in segregation, 12 Monkeys activities continued among the general population.
The Rules Infraction Board’s conduct report admits that they have no evidence of Swain participating in, promoting, or writing for the Army of the 12 Monkeys. They have found him guilty based exclusively on an alleged “ideological affinity”. They have found him guilty of being a neolithic indiginist, a religious belief system that has been approved by the ODRC who granted Swain a religious practice exemption. Swain is appealing the decision on the basis that it does not meet the Rules Infraction Board’s very low “some evidence” standard. He is looking for a new lawyer, as the counsel he had hired only met with him once and offered no real assistance during the investigation. Descriptions of this experience in Swain’s own words can be found online at SeanSwain.org.