(A Friend of a Friend is a prison based mentoring program founded by Marshall Eddie Conway and a number of men dedicated to changing their communities. A Friend of a Friend is a transformative process that is designed by prisoners to help other prisoners become self-aware. The program began with an attempt to identify the problems, expectations and daily needs of prisoners - many of whom are of African descent – and excluded from full participation in the social and political process. From this came a commitment to help women and men reclaim their culture and history, and ultimately their lives by incorporating their experiences and knowledge into the program. )
On October 31, 2012 Ms. Stevenson, program director for Friend of a Friend took a disk into the lobby of Roxbury Correctional Institution. She was unaware that she had the floppy disk in her possession; it was inside of a plannner. When Ms. Stevenson placed her belongings in the XRay machine it obviously showed up, and was asked about the object by the officer on duty. She stated it was a disk that she forgot was in the planner and asked if she could place it in a locker. The officer ignored her request and notified the Cheif of Security who confiscated it. Ms. Stevenson did not protest and was cooperative, informing the Cheif of security that the disk contained a manuscript written by a FOF member in another prison. The manuscript is for a planned book about Street Organizations/Gangs and it was being used by FOF for a curriculum guide.
Ms. Stevenson and Ben Woods were allowed to go into the prison, but the next day were informed that they could not attend sessions in four Maryland prisons where the program is offered. In addition, Bashi Rose a program volunteer who facilitates a theater project was denied access even though he was not present. While it would be understandable that they might deny Ms. Stevenson temporary access while they sort through the situation, shutting down the program at every prison and denying Mr. Woods and Mr. Rose access is harsh and uneccessarily punitive. FOF staff have been told that there is an investigation pending, but have not been contacted or questioned since the incident occured on October 31, 2012.
At this time we are seeking the support of individuals and organizations that care about peace and justice. A Friend of a Friend is an effective program; public safety staff have even had to acknowledge this fact. The program is needed in the prisons, and many of our members effectively negotiate potentially violent situations between individuals and gangs/street organizations. However, it seems as if every few months or so, there is some problem and this leads FOF members to believe that there are some people who are threatened by the progress of the program. Afterall, there are not many programs that bring together members BGF, Bloods, and other members of street organizations; Christians, members of the Nation of Islam, Moors, and Sunni muslims to work collectively. Please sign the following petition in support of our work.
On Thurs. Nov. 8th and Friday Nov. 9th we are asking all supporters of FOF to contact the following DOC officials:
GARY D. MAYNARD, Secretary of Public Safety & Correctional Services
Office of Secretary
Department of Public Safety & Correctional Services
300 East Joppa Road, Suite 1000, Towson, MD 21286 - 3020
(410) 339-5005; fax: (410) 339-4240
Gregg Hershberger Warden of Roxbury Correctional Institution
John Wolfe- Warden of Jessup Correctional Institution
-The immediate reinstatement of A Friend of a Friend.
- An independent community liaison/board to address conflicts between the Department of Public safety and corrections and volunteers/community groups, families of prisoners and prisoners.
-All FOF volunteers will be allowed entry to Maryland Correctional Institution.
On October 31, 2012 Ms. Stevenson, program director for Friend of a Friend took a disk into the lobby of Roxbury Correctional Institution. She was unaware that she had the floppy disk in her possession; it was inside of a plannner. For this infraction, Ms. Stevenson, Benjamin Woods, and Bashi Rose are currently denied entry into Maryland Correctional Institution. The disk was not in the possession of the disk, he is now denied entry. In addition, Bashi Rose a program volunteer who facilitates a theater project was denied access even though he was not present. We demand Justice!