Transfered, Forgotten, and Running in Paperwork Circles Trying to be Close to Family

Dear Mrs. Sophie Inchains 1-23-11

My name is [name omitted for safety], my inmate # is [number omitted for safety]. I was told to write to you because you may be able to help with my current situation. I have also written to the commissioner and Scott Mcaffery the head of the D.O.C. classification in August and I have not yet received a response.

My problem is that I was shipped out of CCF (Charleston Correctional Facility) with a class C write up for disrespect to the staff. I received the write up on December 31st. I was then transferred to MCC (Maine Correctional Center) and this is where I remain. I am back in the pods for 20 hours a day, it is now the 23’rd of January, and I still have’nt [sic] went to my D-board for my “so called write up”. I’m still classified minimum according to both C.C.F. and M.C.C., yet I’m still being punished. Due to D.O.C. policy they can no longer give me my said write up, because it clearly states that they have 7 working days to do so from the time that write up had been sighned [sic].

Now M.C.C. is giving me the “run around” saying that they’re waiting to hear back from C.C.F because they think the write up may still be applicable. But, because of all of this I’m very well “stuck” and clueless as to what may happen. I cannot be placed on the list to go to Downeast Correctional Center, which is a minimum/medium facility and it is also close to home.

I should of kept my composior [sic] towards the officer at C.C.F. But, however he was also in the wrong, he pointed his finger in my face and in a disrespectful manner, swaring [sic] and putting me down when in fact he does’nt [sic] know me as a person. I should’nt [sic] of lost my temper, I’ll admit it, but he provoked me by cursing and yelling right in my face. They should lead by example where there is a code of ethics in bot of our situations. But, why do they have to play these confusing games especially when they have the “upper-hand” in said situation.

I do realize that I am in fact an inmate, but I’m a human being also. All that I want is this ridiculous conflict resolved, put this all behind me, get back to where I can have contact with my family, and hopefully keep my minimum. Please help me in doing so? Thank you for your time.

Sincerely and Respectively,

[name omitted for safety]

This Voice enclosed three “Request Slip for Information or Interview with Administration and Staff” reports. In order to try to keep him from suffering retaliation I have typed his complaint section and the response from the officer with their name, if legible. Apparently, along with not follow their own policies about write-ups and ethics, corrections officers are also not required to print their names next to their signatures. All personal information on the top of the form has been omitted.
-Sophie

[Sheet One]
1-5-11 [sic]
State in the space below all information or action requested:
I would like to be put on the list for Bucks Harbor please I’m from there its only an hour from my home easier for my family to visit me and I just want to be close to home so please try to get there as soon as possible I just miss my family thank you for your time on this matter I hope to here [sic] back from you soon
Sincerely respectfully

Listed below are the answers, actions and information requested by you on:

1-11-12 Signed: Dahn M Grass [sic?]

Please write to Unit 2. You had some recent disciplinary @ CCF so not sure you’ll be put on a list for DCF until you show some positive behavior & attitude.

[Sheet Two]
1-14-12

State in the space below all information or action requested:
I was brought down on a diciniplary [sic] action however I did not get a wrote up as far as I know and if I did the time has expired to give me a write up I’ve been down here for 2 weeks from C.C.F and I am still classified as minimum I am just wondering if you can give me an IDEA of how long I’ll remain in the pods you see I live 31/2 maybe 4 hours away and I wod [sic] like to get a contact visit with my family its drives me crazy not being able to see them I’m not having them drive that far to sit behind a glass thank you for your time on this matter I hope to hear back from you soon respectfully

Listed below are the answers, actions and information requested by you on:

1/18/12 Signed: Sgt. Klt [sic?]
We will have to look into it further.

[Sheet Three]
1-14-12

State in the space below all information or action requested:
I was brought here from C.C.F on a diciniplery [sic] action 2 weeks ago how ever [sic] I dident [sic] receive a write up as far as I know and if I did get a write the time limit on it has expired C.C.F still classified me minimes [sic] and according to MCC I am still minimem [sic] I’m just wondering if you can give me an IDEA of how long I will remain in the pods you see sir I live 4 hours away and I just want 2 see my family a contact visit not behind a glass I also want you to know capt that I am sorry about what happened at C.C.F I was wrong but I swear to you it was only ½ my fault and I give you my word this no problem from me I hope to here [sic] from you soon sincerely respectuly [sic] and Thank You

[No date of response only what appears to be a V and 12R on that line] Signed: WF [sic?]

Listed below are the answers, actions and information requested by you on:
I currently have no discipline reports on you from CCF or anywhere else. I am not in charge of your housing. Write to Captain Emmerson or Asst. Sgt. Libby please

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Systemic Silencing: Maine State Prison Inmates in Danger for Publishing on Voices

14 September 2011

 

Dear Blog Readers,

 

On September 2, 2011 Commissioner Joseph Ponte issued a memo stating that Maine State Prison (MSP) will no longer allow inmates to send mail or pictures to people that post them to “Facebook and other social networking sites”.  The commissioner went on to say:

 

          “Any prisoner who is already engaged in this activity is to notify the person(s) who did any posting to remove them immediately.  Any prisoner who is discovered to have engaged in this activity after this date or whose prior posting(s) remain on Facebook or other social networking site [sic] two (2) weeks from this date will be subject to disciplinary action”.  [emphasis mine]

 

Ponte’s desire to silence inmates is so intense , he is threatening them with “disciplinary action”.  The Commissioner’s behavior is exactly the reason why Voices from the Cracks is necessary to the inmates and the community at large.  If the Maine Department of Corrections (MDOC) has nothing to hide, why are they in such a hurry to silence inmates?  If Ponte believe the MDOC is wholly innocent of: murder, physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, excessive use of solitary confinement, hundreds of instances of gross misconduct, and systemic abuses of power– than why is he threatening “discipline” for any and all who write to people who post online?  Moreover, many of the pieces that are submitted to Voices consist of: poetry, short stories, memoir, and political musings, which enrich the community while giving inmates a positive create outlet and a chance to make meaningful contributions to society.  All of which promote successful reentry and reduced recidivism.  Isn’t that suppose to be the goal?

 

Furthermore, Commissioner Joseph Ponte does not give a definition, outside of his Facebook reference, as to what he feels “other social networking” is.  However, Warden Patricia Barnhart made it clear in her personal letter to me that the she and Ponte believe Voices from the Cracks qualifies as “other social networking”.  After accusing my colleague of being Sophie Inchains, Barnhart says, “Sophie Inchains is not a verifiable name and we are asking you to use your proper first and last birth name or legal name on all correspondence with prisoners”.  Using a pseudonym in a field that is wrought with various kinds of danger and retaliation from prison officials is a common practice.  Regardless, Sophie Inchains is a “verifiable” person.  She has a post office box, three email accounts, a Facebook, a Twitter, and a Blog.  For months I, Sophie Inchains, have been communicating with inmates at MSP and it was not until recently that I became UN-“verifiable”.  In fact, I have even spoken to the commissioners office and the MSP mailroom.  Continuing with her rally against me, Barnhart went on to say:

 

     “Prisoners will not be permitted to send/receive correspondence to/from Sophie Inchains.  Prisoners are not permitted to provide photos and information to persons outside the facility to be uploaded to Facebook and other social networking sites.  I have attached a copy of the memorandum issued by MDOC Commissioner Joseph Ponte regarding this issue for your review”.

 

Clearly, Barnhart and Ponte are collaborating to silence and punish inmates.  Barnhart’s letter says inmates “will not be permitted to send/receive correspondence”, however, Ponte’s memo says prisoner need to “notify the person” that is posting to “other social networking” sites within “two weeks from this [September 2] date”.  How are inmates going to “notify” anyone if their mail is confiscated?  Moreover, Ponte’s memo is dated for September 2 but Barnhart’s letter was not postmarked until September 12.  I believe Ponte and Barnhart strategically timed the staggering of the memo and letter in order to illegally hold all incoming/outgoing mail to/from Sophie Inchains for at least ten days.  Although, if you take into consideration the length of time since my last MSP letter, I am guessing that MSP has been illegally holding mail for up to twenty days.

 

Commissioner Ponte and Warden Barnhart I am asking that you research the definition of a Blog [weB-LOG] and reconsider the position you are taking by calling it “other social networking”.  There are thousands of prisoner sites, which are run by: advocates, family members, lawyers, human rights activists, and even inmates themselves in facilities where the officials are not terrified that their abuse will leak to the media.  It’s funny how when prison officials have nothing to hide, inmates are treated like the humans they are.

 

Furthermore, incarcerated men at MSP do not send ANYTHING to be published on Facebook or “other social networking” sites.  The internet is a vast and mysterious thing, which allows people to post LINKS, on Facebook, or other pages.  A link on Facebook does not denote inmates sending materials for posting to Facebook, it simply means that someone liked what they read and shared it with their own friends via a link on Facebook.  I would also like to point out that no original work from an MSP inmate has ever been published to Facebook. Links are a part of everyday internet life, holding an inmate accountable for a process they have no control over is wholly criminal.  If an inmate is published in “The New England Journal of Medicine Online”, and someone posts a link to that on their Facebook page, are you going to punish the inmate?

 

In closing, Commissioner Ponte and Warden Barnhart’s uses of systemic silencing are so blatant they would be comical, if not for the over 800 men who are at the mercy of vindictive guards, the MDOC, and the Prison Industrial Complex as a whole.  Since MSP has proven repeatedly that inmates will be beaten death, psychologically abused, or keep them in solitary until they hang themselves temporary action must be taken to assure prisoners safety.  Therefore, in an attempt protect all the Voices I care so deeply about, all blogs posting from MSP prison inmates are suspended until further notice.

 

But rest assured readers…there will be a further notice.

 

Sincerely,

 

Sophie Inchains

Verified Prison Advocate