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Please Stop Group Punishment

This petition had 798 supporters

We are tired of everyone being punished for things the majority of the men are not involved in. We do not understand why so many men who are following the rules and doing what they are supposed to be doing are being punished for the actions of others. There are more men being punished for absolutely no logical reason than there are men being punished for breaking the rules. Not only are the men being punished for no logical reason, but their families are being punished as well. We feel this practice constitutes cruel and inhumane treatment/punishment for both the inmate and their families, especially the children of these men and women who cannot understand why mommy and daddy are unable to write, call, or have visits. These babies are left wondering what they have done wrong despite their mom and dad following rules in order to be the best parent possible while incarcerated. We do not see any way that it is going to help any problem MDOC faces to punish the innocent (abiding by MDOC rules) along with those guilty of breaking the rules. Many of us have reviewed MDOC’s disciplinary policies and do not see where the department of corrections has the right to punish those men who are abiding by MDOC’s rules when there are RVR procedures for punishment. 

Is it not enough punishment that they are separated from their families and real life? What is it that you are looking to accomplish with this practice? There has been an increase in aggression, it is less likely for men to obey MDOC rules since they are being punished already for things they have not done or have any control over, and there has been an increase in depression, anxiety, and possible suicides. I am no doctor or expert but when you take away everything the ones behaving are behaving for, what is left to motivate them to behave? Why are all the men being punished for the actions of the few? We do understand that there is a standard 72 hour lockdown that is to occur after any major situation for investigation and are not fighting that, but this is weeks and months of lockdowns when the ones breaking the rules obviously are not concerned with losing their privileges, despite the suffering of the ones that are obeying them. There are significant problems with over punishing which is why the military and our own department of corrections (before Marshall Fisher) stopped these practices years ago.

Marshall Fisher’s statement was that the inmates need to learn to police themselves. They do not get paid to do that and it puts them in danger if they decide to become snitches and tell on everyone. The CO’s look down on them for that just as much as the other inmates do and in the long run is it really going to change the outcome? There will still be contraband, assaults, thieves stealing from others, and so on regardless of whether or not all the inmates that behave tell on the ones that misbehave constantly. It would just cause more problems for the department, inmate, and the families of the inmates.

The inmates are not the only ones being punished. The families of these inmates who live visitation to visitation to see their husbands, brothers, cousins, fathers, and sons are being punished as well. We live visit to visit and phone call to phone call. Our lives revolve around our visits we are becoming extremely frustrated that despite the fact that only certain inmates are causing trouble, they are all being punished. Parchman Unit 29 has barely had any visits over the last year. All communication with their families has been cut off and the reason being because a handful of inmates refuse to follow the rules. For medium custody inmates, who are obviously obeying the rules or they would not be medium custody, that just makes no logical sense. What message does that send? Do we really want to tell these men that it does not matter what they do, they are still going to be disciplined and have all privileges taken away? 

On top of losing visitations, their ability to buy hygiene, food, and writing supplies is taken away. They cannot visit, cannot call home, cannot write home, cannot buy soap and deodorant, and cannot eat anything other than what the prison provides when it is provided. These men are barely fed. If the families want to buy them extra food so they are not going hungry, they should be able to, especially when said inmate is obeying the rules of the department. This is cruel and inhumane treatment and needs to be stopped.

No good can possibly come of all of this group punishment practice MDOC has chosen to incorporate. Why are we not cracking down punishment on the ones misbehaving and showing them that there are privileges available if they behave as men instead of animals? If they are going to have everything taken anyway, what is to stop them from becoming caged animals, rioting, and worse? There are people just being moved that were not on restriction or lockdown when they were moved being punished because of things that happened before they even arrived at the prison. There has to be a better way of handling things of this nature. There has to be a way to punish only those that are doing wrong and stop punishing those that do their best to stay under the radar and out of trouble.

 We are asking that this practice be reevaluated and that the Mississippi Department of Corrections stop punishing every one for the mistakes of few. Everyone makes mistakes, some get caught and end up with a prison sentence while others never get caught and become politicians, attorneys, journalists, and other successful members of society. Once the inmate enters the department of corrections they begin paying for their crimes. Their behavior should determine the harshness of their treatment while in the department, not the behavior of others whom they probably never met before and have nothing to do with. Please think this through before our men get to a point of feeling there is nothing left to lose and everyone ends up with more problems than we started with. Justice is supposed to be fair. Humans are supposed to be treated as humans not animals that are not important.

 Whether we make mistakes or not, we are still all human and not a single one of us means more to God than the other. We do not see any reason why the people who receive rule violations cannot be punished without everyone else being punished because of their violations. A man who misbehaves should pay for his own crimes and rule violations not everyone else’s crimes and rule violations and no one else should be made to pay for his mistakes. This practice is no different than if God were to set fire to the entire world right now and force us all to burn in it because of one or two men’s sin.

 Please stop making the families and inmates suffer for things that have nothing to do with them. We are asking for you to exercise empathy and integrity. We are asking that you do the right thing in our Mississippi Department of Corrections. Let each man make their own bed instead of trouble makers being the ones making the beds for all men. There are many men suffering the consequences of those men that lack integrity. We are asking that this group punishment be dismissed and that the real trouble makers be made to suffer their own mistakes instead of everyone suffering. What if God decided to punish all humans this way? I think we would be in a world of hurt. Can we please find a better way?

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