Corrections Officer Places Inmates Together Knowing They Will Fight, Punishment Follows

7-27-11

Sophie

On 7-2-11 Sgt Petrino tould [sic] me to move in to [location omitted] to do my D time and I tould [sic] him no that I can not [sic] move into that room because I did not get along with the inmate and that I was going to have trouble in that room and he wrote me up for refusing to go in the room and for threating and I did not refus [sic] to go in the room and I did not threatin [sic] aneyone [sic].  I just tould [sic] him if I go in that room that I am going to have problums [sic].  I don’t know what is going on with the officers and sgts here but thay [sic] are causeing [sic] alot [sic] of the fight’s here at M.S.P.  Just like my room and I got in a fight because sgt Ross would not move one of us and went to another fullcity [sic] with no write up’s.  I got 2 write up’s and go 60 days loss of good time 60 days in seg and $100.00 fine that is not right.  I am going to have to take this to a [sic] outside court.  The offiers [sic] and sgts here at M.S.P need to be invesergated [sic].

Thank you

Jeff

Sophie

Would you please see if you can fiend [sic] me 3 or 4 atteneys [sic] to take a lawsuit for me and write the names address and phone nubers [sic] down for me if you can.

Thank you for your time

Jeff

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Growing up Incarcerated and the Uncertain Future

Sophie,

I apologize for my lateness.  It wasn’t intentional.  It’s more or less what you were requesting.  I understand what your “blog” is.  A tool, for prisoners like myself, to let their voices be heard.  Now, the real question is, what do I have to say that really means anything?  Then it came to me.  I’ll tell you my story.  (What I’ve done, what I’ve been through, and what I’ve learned.)  Here it is:

I’ve been locked up for nearly ten  years now.  It’s become, more and more my reality.  My past, it seems, is more a dream.  That I visit from time to time.  A part of my life forgotten.

I was eighteen when I came in.  Just a kid.  I’ve practically grown up behind bars.  My crime is Manslaughter.  I recklessly caused the death of my neighbor.  I got into a confrontation with him.  Which escalated quickly.  He lost his life.  I lost my freedom.  And I’d do anything to take it back.

I relive my actions from time to time.  I always arrive at the same conclusion…”Why was I so intent on hurting this man?”  I mean, it would have been so easy to just walk away.  But all I was concerned with was proving myself to my friends.  As if that would confirm who I was.  I’ve learned over the years that men are plagued with the idea “to be a man, you must be tough”.  This isn’t far from the truth.  However, we’ve twisted the true meaning of being tough.  There are many forms of toughness.  And only one, in which we senselessly hurt another.  We never truly understand until we’ve grown in mind, body, and spirit.  (In my opinion.)  Unfortunately, there are some of us who have learned too late.

I have a little over two years left till my minimum release date.  “I ask myself, what am I leaving with?”  There is so much uncertainty.  I tell myself that I want to do good.  I want to change, for my families sake.  I tell myself that they’ve been through enough.  I’ve been through enough…

…Then I’m shaken back to my current reality.  As some guard disrespects me.  Treating me like I’m some inferior animal.  Intentionally taunting me because I’m an “inmate”.  Using their authority as a tool.  And depending whether I react to their taunts, will determine if they’ll want to search my cell or not.  In other words, toss my cell, as if a tornado had come through.  Smiles plastered on their faces.  (Which razes [sic] eyebrows when considering the D.O.C. motto…”Integrity, Respect, and Professionalism”.  Hypercritcal [sic] nonsense!)

It’s at these times that I ask myself, what am I leaving with?…”If we refuse to see ourselves as flawed and imperfect; Able to learn from our mistakes.  We will forever remain a destructive and distrustfull [sic] race; suspicious until it is too late for redemption…When we’re all damned”.

(P.S.) Tell me whether you want me to write about something in particular?

Ben

New Hampshire State Prison

6/23/2011

Prisoner Abuse, Bigotry, and Murder in Maine State Prison

The Maine State Prison is plagued w/unprofessionalism and corruption, as well as racial and religious intolerance and prejudice.

I am 13 years into a double life sentence and I have recently decided that silence is no longer an option for me.  I have come to the realization that as a longtimer it is my duty to speak against the mistreatment and abuse of the prisoners I live with.  Especially the elderly and sick.  No longer will I be a silent bystander.

Not all the staff at the Maine State Prison fit into this category.  I would be willing to say that most are professional and realize that a prisoners prison and is their punishment, and understand that it is their job as officers to ensure safety and security; not further punishment.

However there is a substantail [sic] group form the top to the bottom who have their own ideas about how their jobs should be done.  They are very good at covering for one another and act with deliberate indifference.  They use intimidation, threats of violence and retaliation in order to discourage prisoners from issuing complaints against them.  On the rare occasion that complaints are made or acknowledged by the administration they are met with a half-hearted investigation and there is of course never evidence to verify the claims against staff.

Last September I witnessed an older gentleman get his face smashed off of a fence on the way to the chow hall.  Prisoners were told to get on the fence for a random pat search.  The older man looked confused because orders were being yelled by multiple cops including a captain.  Apparently he wasn’t moving fast enough, so the captain grabbed him and slammed him against the fence leaving wounds on his face and head.  When the prisoner later asked for help by other staff to file a complaint he was given the run around.  Does this sound like the behavior of a captain?  What king of example is being set for lower ranking officers?

Who can forget Victor Valdez?  I witnessed the beginning of the ordeal that would lead to his eventual death.  He was being served a write-up for a rule infraction.  He didn’t speak English well and the officer wouldn’t allow anyone to interpret.  I heard victor speaking in Spanish and the officer telling him to shut-up.

No mind you, the officer had an opertunity [sic] to de-escalate the whole situation.  Victor was in his cell.  The officer could have closed the door and allowed things to cool off, but instead he charged in; pushing his panic button to summon more officers and slammed the older man who was sick and on dialysis against the concrete wall.  The last time I saw Victor he was handcuffed with his arms being wretched above his head behind his back and was roughly escorted out of the pod.

Ironically, the same officer who initiated this confrontation w/Victor was in an argument with a prisoner in a pod he was working in months prior to this.  When in the middle of the argument he stood up and yelled, loud enough so everyone in the pod could hear, “I use to jump out of planes and kill people!” does this sound like a stable mind suitable for working in a prison environment?

It is not uncommon to hear prejudice or bigoted comments about a prisoners race or religious beliefs.  When African American prisoners are using the music room in the rec. yard, cops refer to it as Jungle day.  It is not uncommon to hear officers question or comment on whether a prisoner looks Native American when going to Native American gatherings.

The intolerance and bigotry doesn’t stop w/the cops.  It is an issue within the prison chaplaincy as well.  The chaplain and the administration make sure every accommodation is met for Christian services and events to go off without a hitch; while Pagans and others are treated like the bastard step-children of the prison.

Over the last few months staff have been more agitated and disgruntled about changes in Augusta.  They do not like the new commissioner and are stressing about budget cuts and changes in the prison.  So the staff have resorted to playing games to try and instigate and generate tensions among the prisoners.  One of their favorite places to do this is in the chow halls.  They will overfill one chow hall knowing that there aren’t enough seats for everyone, while leaving empty tables in other chow halls.

They know that by causing a brawl or potential riot in one of the most volatile places in the prison, they can better argue or quell any questions about over-staffing.

I could go on.  But I feel I’ve made my point.  Change is coming and I welcome it.  Prisoners will most likely lose some things with this new administration and I’m fine w/that if it means we won’t be at the mercy of this circus sideshow that has been running this prison for far too long.

I do know that the only way to ensure change is if we all speak out against staff abuse, treats and bigotry.

Silence and passivity have not worked in our favor!

-John

5-13-2011

Note from Sophie: I am attaching two links to articles about the murder of Victor Valdez that happened in 2009.  The courts ruled in favor of the prison, and inmates remain at the mercy of the murdering guard.

http://www.maineprisoneradvocacy.org/M-PAC_decries_AG_s_ruling_on_death_of_Victor_Valdez.pdf

http://thephoenix.com/boston/news/105972-prison-obituary-the-tragedy-of-victor-valdez/

Falling into the Well of Addiction

In A.A., they say that a person will only be clean and sober once they hit rock bottom; once they are sick and tired of being sick and tired.  Well I cannot imagine being any lower than the situation that I am in right now.  I am the rock at the bottom of the darkest well known to man, Prison!

The question you may ask next would naturally be, how did that happen?  Some would say family trouble.  No, that is not it.  No mother or father?  No, I have two loving biological parents.  AHH, must have had a rough upbringing?  My childhood was fantastic.  Some sort of abuse then?  Absolutely not!  Well, I guess that wouldn’t be totally true, because I put a lot of effort into abusing myself and everyone who has ever cared about me—but no, I had a perfectly normal upbringing.

Before I get into all that, let me describe to you how I was a pebble on a 21-year tumble ever so slowly to the bottom of this well shaft, only to hear  my own echo, a shattered image of myself, where I now speak to you.

I was a happy child with two loving parents that brought me to church every Sunday.  I never missed a day of elementary school and always had good grades.  I was involved in a little lad football, pee-wee baseball, and I took karate classes.  I was the perfect blond haired bambino that everyone adored.  My only childhood trauma was the passing of my uncle ***.  I was at ease with the fact that he was in heaven.  My only disconnection that I lacked in family life was the tremendous age gap of my parents and me.  They loved me to death and vice-versa, but by the age of eight my father was in his sixties and mom was well into her forties.  Looking for the bond that I could not find at home, I looked outside the family and found love, attention, and a strong since [sic] that I belonged in the projects of Portland.

I remember my first teen age friend.  His name was Chris and he was homeless while on the run from the Maine Youth Center.  I really looked up to him.  He ruled his own life and listened not to his parents nor authority, but only to his feelings!  I felt that I was his equal when I’d drink and smoke with him.  His father later turned him in to the youth center where Chris committed suicide.  My fondest memories of him were his laughs when I got in to petty trouble or choked on smoke.  What I could not have possibly realized at that age was that I was a pebble beginning to form into a rock of a long fall to where I sit now.

My desent [sic] into the well was a blurry twenty plus year addiction spree.  I replaced all of my morals installed in to me as a good child by my parents with drugs and alcohol.  All of the affection given to me by my family was transformed in to the monster of addiction that I had become.

At ten years of age I had to be removed from my home by the police for fighting with my mom and dad. I was put into a jail cell for the night.  Now you would think at age ten a jail cell would be a rude awakening and a reason to quit my rebellion without a purpose, but no in that cell I was introduced to the thugs that I now call family.  I was fighting a war that I had no reason to be in, a war against my family and all authority for putting me in that cell.  Jail only solidified my stance of war against all that have cared for me.

At twelve the pebble was rolling at an incredible speed.  I assaulted my mom, dad, and older sister.  I was sentenced to the Maine youth Center until my eighteenth birthday.  I was in and out of that door until that very day.  I took L.S.D and got into cocaine use by the age of fort teen [sic].  By the age of sixteen, cocaine and any narcotic pill I could find would be ingested in to my system.  It was the only escape to the reality of addiction that I have come to love.

The Maine Youth Center did nothing but let me know that the state had become yet another target in my war against the world.  I was discharged at eighteen worse than I went in.

When I was nineteen, I found the downtown side of drugs, (opiates, benzos, etc.) which helped me deal with the pain of my seventy-year-old dad’s death and a year later my best friend Jimmy entered heaven.  My every move was a calculated step to place me to an early death.  I vowed to Jimmy through my prayers that I would be joining him very soon.  If I did have a spark of life in me, it was surely gone now.  I became a heroin addict at age twenty.  I would consume as much heroin as I could to escape the reality of life.  I used my addiction as a shield.  Instead of dealing with myself I ran.  It was all I knew.  The love of family was only a distant memory.

I was arrested for robbing a pizza man, which led me to a halfway house in Bangor, where I stayed eighteen months clean.  I was in love with my childhood sweetheart, but even my love for *** could not help me escape from the prison of addiction.  Heroin was my warden.  After ten years, my relationship with *** ended.  I felt close to death in body and in spirit.  I had crumbled!  In the back of my mind, I had a distant voice of my youthful childhood asking me to return.  At this point, it was only an echo that I could barely understand.  I thought the only freedom from this sickness was to overdose, and I did just that on 6-28-02.

To me my imprisonment was a reality to myself.  My addiction was an escape from my imprisonment to a deeper cell.  Only I could not see the difference.  I was blind to all reason.

At the age of twenty nine in a haze of fift teen [sic] or more 2mg. klonipin and a daily dose of 170mg. of methadone I walked into a sports store on Dec. 01, 2002 with the intent to shoplift and was chased a block and a half down the street with the end result of homicide.  I hit the bottom of my well.

Now I am sentenced to a term of 35 years with all but 25 years to serve in prison, for the crime of felony murder and robbery.  I wake up everyday [sic] wondering if my sentence is a blessing or a curse.  I did not mean to take a life on that morning of December.  I lost my life the second I started falling into the depths of the well.  I cannot bring back a life and knowing that I will be in torment for the remaining of mine.  I can only hope to reach others through my story and stop the fall before it’s too late.

I’ve been locked into addiction since I was eight years old.  I’ve been a prisoner all of my life and now I am actually a prisoner, I feel free in a sense.  Life is better now than I ever thought it could be.  There are no gray areas in a free fall into a well.  I can only hope that I am able to stop one pebble from falling before its [sic] to late.

–Johnny

Excerpt from a Complaint an Inmate at MSP is Working On

Prison personnel were advised several times by inmate H and his cellmate R that an ongoing conflict between them could not be resolved and the situation was becoming more intensified by the minute.

Officer G attempts to resolve the conflict by informing Sgt. R of the hazardous situation that is progressing quickly.  Sgt. R decides to willfully fail at his duty to protect these inmates by not separating them.  Instead he makes the choice to promote violence as he allows officer G to lock them in a 8-12 [sic] cell together, knowing bodily harm was inevitable.  In esense [sic] R and G sets the inmates up in a dangerous situation with no excape [sic].  R and G refuses to enact prison protocol that calls for separation of inmates if danger exist between them.

Its documented that these inmates made several attempts to end this conflict by asking for staff intervention.  They ask staff for protection and they [the staff] do the opposite.  They [the staff] directly incourage [sic] violence by locking them in a cell together.

The inmates were overwhelmed with stress, anxiety combined with fear knowing that a future violent altercation was inevitable.  When they were locked in the cell together fight or flight instinct was prominent.  Flight was deprived by prison staff and there was only one option left.

H was left with no choice but to commit a simple assult [sic] purposely in the presence of prison staff knowing he then would be separated from his cellmate and it would end any further altercations and future violence.  Its ovious [sic] prison staff influenced this violence and then discriminated against H for only filing a report against him, but not R that was just as much involved with the altercation.  Then blames only H for not turning on the light during count when R was as much at fault.

This situation could have been resolved at the beginning.  Its because of staff’s incompantcy [sic] that its gone this far.  I ask you now to drop any futher [sic] actions and put a final end to this unreasonable disciplinary report.

–Henry