Humanity for Inmates
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My fiancee is currently a Fair Sentence Inmate, he experiences daily the cruel conditions that these men and women are under daily. The system unknowingly created a segregated situation in the North Carolina Prison System with the implementing of Structured Sentencing. There is a divide inside of the North Carolina prisons not only by Gangs, race, or affiliations but one created by the system based on policies the inmates were sentenced under, either by the Fair Sentence Act or the Structure Sentencing Act. The Fair Sentenced (old-law) inmates have a harder time getting paroled, are targeted by other inmates, when punished may increase their sentence, and do not qualify for some privileges and education that the Structured Inmates may qualify to attend. Please help eliminate the inhuman treatment that comes to these Fair Sentenced Inmates by reading and signing the petition below, that would propose that the Fair Sentenced Inmates be kept in a separate facility. Thanks for your time
Here are his examples.
When the Structured Sentence Law (new-law) was established in Oct 1994, I’m sure no one envisioned or considered that this law would create a major conflict amongst the inmates within the NC DPS, one that’s so one-sided and has created a crisis within NC Prisons. It was thought of to be a “fair” law to help over sentencing and to help resolve prison over crowding. Well over crowding is still an issue and that law has created such a negative impact on the Fair Sentencing inmates, which have placed us in a very dark and demoralizing place.
Not only are our progression, rehabilitation, transition and chance to return to our families and communities at the mercy of the NCDPS, the victims and or victims families, NC Parole Commission and Politicians, but that law has also placed us at the mercy of the Structured Sentenced inmates, especially the ones involved in gangs! We (old-law inmates) have literally become hostages and slaves to these inmates, slaves of a different sentencing law. We are being oppressed, dehumanized and now placed in a hostile, cruel and unusual environment.
This is a violation of the Eight Amendment of the United States of America Constitution. Below are several examples of the issues brought forth that have really happened and continue to exist, these examples will bring truth to our claims of what’s going on within the NCDPS across the state of North Carolina. Due to fear of retaliation, harassment and not being promoted for future recommendations, the names of these inmates will not be identified.
Example 1: During a cell search of an inmate (structured sentenced) whom shared the cell with a Fair Sentenced inmate, a homemade shank was found under the toilet. Everyone knew it was the structured sentenced inmate’s but because he wouldn’t own up to it both were placed in lock up. Both inmates were found guilty on a weapon infraction. The Structured Sentenced (new-law) inmate’s release date was 40 days prior and the Fair Sentenced (old-law) inmate who is a Lifer was eligible for minimum custody 2 weeks prior and parole eligible 4 months prior. Know what happened? The new-law inmate went home in 40 days, where as the infraction was used to deny the old-law inmate minimum custody for at least a year and a half and he was denied parole (MAPP) for at least another 3 years. His last infraction (failure to report to duty) was 3 ½ years prior, while his cell mate had a fighting infraction 27 days prior.
Ok, some may say, he should’ve just told the truth, being his freedom was at stake. Well that brings us to example 2.
Example 2: Same situation, one cell, 2 inmates, one inmate old-law (lifer) one inmate new-law. The old-law inmate was eligible for minimum custody and a MAPP in 56 days; he had been infraction free for 5 years. The new-law inmate, who was also a gang member, had a sentence of 22-31 months and had infractions for disobeying and being disrespectful two months prior to the search in this example. During the search, marijuana and tobacco was found in a brown paper trash bag in the cell. With so much at stake the old-law inmate told the Sgt. that the contraband was the new-law inmates, which they knew. The new-law inmate was placed in lock up. Three days later, 3 gang members assaulted the old-law inmate for “snitching” on their fellow gang member. Knowing it was a gang related hit, the institution transferred the old-law inmate to another facility. Not even a month at this facility, 2 gang members tried to assault him again, in which this time he defended himself. All 3 were eventually found guilty of fighting infractions. The old-law inmate was denied minimum custody and a MAPP basically for defending his life, and by doing so became a target of certain gang members everywhere he goes. As for his first cell mate charged with marijuana and tobacco, well he was given 30 days in lock up, 10 days after the search. He only did 20 because he went home before he could complete the 30 days, due to his release date being set 20 days prior to the incident, he went home regardless of any new infractions he received.
Example 3: While playing basketball with mostly old-law inmates a few new-law inmates, and old-law inmate was constantly being fouled by a new-law inmate. After another hard cheap foul, the old-law inmate told the other inmate not to foul him again: The new-law inmate stated “shut the fuck up nigga, you ain’t gonna do shit, you trying to make your honor grades” (minimum custody). Myself and several other old-law inmates convinced our fellow old-law inmate to just quit and walk away because he was gonna be recommended for minimum custody in a month. Later that day, I went to the other inmate in peace to bring peace to the situation. His exact words in which I will never forget were “I’m good but I started to slap the shit outta his old ass and make him make a decision of being a bitch or making honor grades. I don’t give a fuck, I go home in 8 months no matter what.” In other words, by him knowing an infraction in the least will set an old-law inmate back at least another year for minimum custody and at least three years for parole (MAPP); if he slapped this inmate, either he do nothing and just take it or defend himself and his dignity that will cost him the already slim opportunity to obtain minimum custody and possibly a MAPP contract.
What is so disturbing about that inmates’ statement and thought process (feelings) about old-law inmates is that those are the feelings and thoughts among most of the new-law inmates. Everyone knows that the simplest and harmless infraction of having an extra pair of socks, not having bunk made properly, having one too many postage stamps, trying to get extra food in the chow hall, etc., will keep us held back.
Whereas, as long as the new-law inmate doesn’t get a criminal charge while in prison, he goes home on his max date no matter what. If he has 20 days left, gets one infraction per day, he still goes home on the 20th day, they can actually be found guilty of an assault on staff/officer infraction and if that staff member or the state doesn’t take out criminal charges, on the 20th day he’s released. Many new-law inmates use our sentence law and guidelines against us to exert power and control, intimidation, oppression and atypical hardship on old-law inmates. These tactics are used in our everyday prison life, whether the enjoyment of the telephone, the TV reports or fitness or commissary lines and chow lines.
Examples of how this issue is hindering old law inmates from obtaining the programs and help needed for us to continue being educated, rehabilitated and better human beings.
Example 4: While there’s been many Fair Sentenced inmates who have taken advantage of the sex offender program, there’s many, many more who not only want to but more importantly need to but are afraid. Not afraid as in shame or guilt but afraid of becoming victims just as those before them (mostly older white me) have. Victims of violence, extortion, theft, robbery and all kinds of abuse. All by the new law inmates (mostly gang members): whereas with the other old law inmates, we don’t judge one another, for we share the same pain, the same frustration, the same fears, and the same goals and prayers of forgiveness. We are a fraternity of brothers with empathy that provides a positive support system, that encourages, uplift and respect one another. Having a sex offender’s program at this Institution, gives these inmates a safe place to open up and get the help that’s needed and that’s recommended by the NC DPS and the NC Parole Commission.
Example 5: Ever since I’ve been eligible for a MAPP contract (2008), I’ve been housed in 6 different prisons, in which 9 different case managers have been assigned to help me obtain information, programs or jobs that suppose to help me continue to better myself and my chances of being promoted to minimum, obtaining a MAPP contract and eventually my freedom. Well, no disrespect intended but out of those 9 case managers, only 2 knew what it (MAPP) was and only 2 heard of it. Sir/Madam, that’s alarming to us and our families, considering a MAPP has become the only way for old-law inmates to be paroled. The case managers that’s being hired now by NC DPS appears to have little or no training of policies, procedures and laws relating and applying to old-law inmates. When we need help or information pertaining to old-law policies, procedures and guidelines, these case managers recommend that we write our Parole Case Analyst in Raleigh in which they in return refer us right back to our assigned case managers. Causing conflict, frustration and tension between us, the case managers, if these policies, guidelines and procedures isn’t presented to them. They are more comfortable and only trained to deal with inmates under the Structured Sentence Law, and those policies, procedures and guidelines.
Which brings us to the closing and final example.
Example 6: Old-law inmates are more than ever, constantly being passed over and denied programs/jobs (particularly those programs recommended for promotion of minimum custody) due to discrimination of the law and guidelines we were sentenced under. Ok, just say, there’s only 2 spots remaining for a Commitment to Change class but there’s 4 inmates who’s trying to take that class. You have 2 structured sentenced inmates, one whom could go home in 4 months if assigned to the class, and the other could go home in 6 months if assigned to the class. The there’s the other 2 inmates, who are old-law. One will be eligible for minimum custody in 9 months and parole eligible in 13 months. The other ill be eligible for minimum custody in 7 months and parole eligible in 18 months. Who do you think is going to get those last two spots? Exactly. The class could already be full of structured sentenced inmates and it wouldn’t matter. Being unfamiliar with the laws, policies, procedures and guidelines, and the fact that by placing the structured sentenced inmates in the class “ensures” them going home in 4 and 6 months was the reasoning they were selected. Whereas the old law would only be “eligible” for parole in 13 and 18 months. That’s the mindset of many if not most case managers. Then the times when the old-law is picked over a structured sentenced inmate, it causes conflict and even more tension between the two different sentencing groups. The new-law inmates belief is that, being that we don’t receive gain/good time, by us taking these, programs is just holding them back from going home sooner. They feel as we shouldn’t have the opportunity to partake in programs/jobs as them because of perception that, they don’t help us go home. And to make matters worse is that, they will tell you that they don’t give a damn about these programs or jobs, and that they are only being assigned to them is for the gain/good time merit that shortens their sentences. And in most of those cases, after they obtain enough gain/good time to lock them in on an exact release date, they quit the program before it ends. None is upset about that, for they are only taking advantage of a flawed system to go home sooner to their families.
These are just a few of the countless examples of the conditions, hardship, violence, oppression and unsafe environment we’re now forced to endure. This is what goes on constantly on a daily basis within NC Prison System.
We’re not demanding any special treatment or any special privileges what so ever. We’re just asking and pleading to be removed from such demoralizing, oppressive, collusive and unsafe conditions, and hardship, so we can continue to use our time to prepare our hears, minds and spirits on becoming the best Human Beings possible. Doing so while not having our safety, well-being and humanity pitted against our progress and freedom.
The only way that would bring the solution, is to place the old-law inmates in an Institution or Facility among only other old-law inmates. That’s the only solution. Again, we’re not asking for us to matter the most, just asking for us to matter also. For we too are Human Beings!
In the matter of Fair Sentencing (old-law) inmates, now comes the below undersigned petitioners in this presentation of this petition of 100% recommendation and support of this proposal. After reading over the proposal and the petition, we collectively by our signatures affixed hereto do solemnly, highly, recommend and fully support the proposal of housing the old law inmates in an institution only with peers of the same policies, procedures and sentencing laws. Removing them from the negative, bias, discriminatory and collusive system and environment that has failed and hindered the progression, equality and rehabilitation of these men and women, since the Structured Sentence Law was established Oct 1, 1994. Our names will also represent our support and recommendation for parole reform that would include transparency, fairness, simplicity and humanity to all parties involved. Also, some type of reform to the current Parole process and guidelines.
We anticipate that there is going to be city counselors, members of the Executive Legislature, and Judicial Branch and many tax paying citizens will oppose this proposal, pointing out budget, cost and complications of negotiating the construction of such an Institution. Although it would be easier and budget friendly to just renovate and use an older facility, or just use a facility already in use to house these men and women. The number or size of the facility used to house these individuals will depend on the number of Old Law Inmates left in the system. Well to that we answer, First, if it was your family member, friend, loved one or fellow politician in these conditions and if it would benefit you some way to remove them from it, would you still debate and oppose because of budget and cost? We are sure Humanity would mean EVERYTHING then! Secondly, we too are tax paying citizens whose votes also (not just the certain group or class of people) made it possible for you to be sitting behind the desk you are sitting, and if our donations and tax money was contributed to construct Institutions (prisons) in the past that eventually placed these men and women under these conditions, then we surely have NO issues what so ever with our money being used to help remove them from these conditions. Conditions that are now causing Atypical hardship in their everyday prison life which is clearly a violation of the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution (cruel and unusual punishment and personal safety both under the conditions of confinement). We strongly feel, not only will these men and women benefit from this proposal but also long term their families, communities, NC DPS, Structured Sentenced Inmates and their families, citizens and the economy of the communities where this Institution would be located, if constructed.
Obviously, there are those who could care less or nothing for these individuals, their conditions, their opportunity to be rehabilitated and may feel as they deserve such treatment. Disregarding the fact that, through all of the wrong choices, decisions and issues they may have had that eventually lead to incarceration, like you and ourselves they are capable of change. Most of whom have changed. They are still Human Beings! Our sons, grandsons, fathers, grandfathers, brothers, uncles, nephews, cousins, friends, boyfriends, fiancés and husbands. They are our daughters, granddaughters, mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, nieces, cousins, friends, girlfriends, fiancés and wives.
From this moment forward, we stand untied and fully committed to help bringing reform and changes that show 100% transparency of the progress, conditions and transition of them and the effort given by not only the NC DPS and the NC Parole Commission but also the politicians of truly helping these men and women as they claimed to do for the past two decades. A great start can be by placing these men and women in an environment and system of the same policies, procedures, sentencing laws and parole guidelines. Helping them take advantage of all of the classes, programs, support, help and resources needed for them to truly be as rehabilitated and prepared for society as possible
We, family, friends, churches, community leaders, organizations and even victims of crimes ourselves, pledge to lend our support and devote every resource at our disposal to aid these men and women so they can return back to society and our communities as positive, dedicated strong minded and productive law-abiding citizens. We allowed these men and women to be dehumanized, ridiculed, and cast away for to long. We remained silent for too long but now our voices as well, shall be heard. Not only through phone calls, letters, petitions, meetings and potential rallies by most important our votes. For it is not about Democrat or Republican, but compassion or non-compassion for our loved ones. It is not about Black or White, but fairness or unfairness. It is not about Right Wing or Left Wing, but about right or wrong and it will not be about budget or cost, but humanity or inhumanity that is given towards these men and women. No longer will our voices and votes be supportive of individuals that we know have the lock ‘em up an d throw away the key mentality or for individuals who will continue to disregard our voices and continue to treat these men and women as warehouse inventory, because of political motives. Our hope is that enough members and officials of the new elected administration have the same belief to at least balance out those who do not agree, like those who did not in the previous two administrations.
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