No protection, no supplies, and now no water?

We learned today from one of our inside organizers that the commissary at MCI-Norfolk suddenly removed bottled water as an item that can be ordered by folks who are incarcerated.

This comes amidst the COVID-19 pandemic that has already killed 3 incarcerated people in MA. Folks behind the wall are forced to pay for sufficient hygiene products, cannot practice physical distancing, are punished for wearing homemade masks, and are confined to their units 24 hours a day under a new lockdown order in all MA prisons this past weekend.

Given well-documented water contamination at MCI-Norfolk, we demand answers and that free bottled water, protective equipment, and hygiene products be given to people inside immediately.

We need your help:

1) Please call MCI-Norfolk using the call script below immediately and magnify our demands. Comment below when you have made the calls!

2) We also amplify our sisters’ demands from Building Up People Not Prisons, take action with them today as well: tinyurl.com/maweekofaction


MCI Norfolk Superintendent
508-660-5900 x211

DOC Commissioner, Carol Mici
508-422-3302
carol.mici@state.ma.us

Hello, my name is ___________. I’m calling because I am alarmed to hear that bottled water has been removed as an option on commissary at MCI-Norfolk. This is unacceptable and incarcerated people and their loved ones deserve answers. Why did this happen?

In light of the pandemic, will you commit to doing everything in your power to distribute sufficient free bottled water, hygiene products, and protective equipment to the people in your care immediately?

Urgent need to #FreeCountry

***Please read this urgent letter from one of our incarcerated friends and organizers, Michael Mauney (aka Country), who is at extremely high risk of dying of COVID-19 once the virus gets into MCI-Norfolk. We ask you to share this post and write to DA Rachael Rollins to secure his release. We must #FreeCountry and #FreeThemAll.***

“To all of my family, friends, and supporters:

I truly appreciate the love and support that all of you have shown to me throughout the years. These almost two decades have been full of trials and tribulations, but also have been marked by some joyous moments of happiness. No matter the struggles, we have been through and almost seen it all, even if only for a moment. I have cherished and learned from you all. For that I am forever grateful.

In the wake of the current Covid-19 pandemic there has been a national conversation around decarcerating the prison population. Due to the inability of incarcerated persons to practice social distancing, the lack of quality medical care and lack of available hygiene resources to combat a potential outbreak inside the walls, prison is ripe and ready to erupt with the spread of the corona virus. Many District Attorneys, Legislators, Community Leaders, Activist, Educators, and Parole departments are in support of releasing incarcerated persons who pose no physical threat to society. They are also in support of releasing incarcerated persons that have been deemed as vulnerable populations due to health issues such as heart disease, asthma, and diabetes among others.

Today I am advocating that I be released from prison on parole in order to preserve my life in response to the danger of the covid-19 pandemic. From the beginning I have taken responsibility and accountability by pleading guilty to the harms I committed. However, due to my ignorance and misguidance of the law at the time, I was given an excessive “from and after” sentence structure which extended my possibly of being eligible for parole after serving 15 years. If my sentence was fixed, it would qualify me to have a parole hearing immediately, but due to the crisis I am asking to be seen earlier than my expected date of 2027.

Because I am a parole eligible lifer, according to pending legislation my case should be screened for possible release on parole. My prison record is impeccable as I have been any thing but short in being a model incarcerated person. I have completed nearly every program the Department of Corrections offers and even have served in leadership roles in most of them. These programs include but are not limited to African American Coalition Committee, Norfolk Inmate Council Education Committee, Restorative Justice Group, Correctional Recovery Academy, and Jericho Circle. I have also successfully completed two vocational programs with earned licences in both (barbering and welding) from Massachusetts Barber Board and the Massachusetts Highway and Bridge Division respectfully. Furthermore, I recently graduated with a Bachelor Degree with Magna Cum Laude honors from Boston University’s Prison Education Program. Therefore, I am fully rehabilitated and do not pose a threat to public safety due to the many tools that have been taught to me in order of not re-offending.

In addition to the plethora of work put into bettering myself for the future, I fit the definition to the letter of what the C.D.C. has determined who is the most vulnerable populations of succumbing to the Covid-19 crisis. On February 15, 2019 at the age of 40, I had a heart attack and a stint was placed into the right-coronary artery which showed 79% blockage at the time. Soon after my hospitalization it was determined that I have heart disease. I am currently listed as chronic care and am being treated with medication for hypertension, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, prediabetes, asthma, and other minor illnesses. If the virus makes it behind the wall
and I contract it it will likely put me down.

Here is where I need you all:

I am asking that you all write letters in addition to emailing and/or calling the Suffolk County District Attorneys Office in support of my immediate release on parole as a result of my vulnerability to the Corona virus. As I am currently housed in the state of Massachusetts which has become a hot-bed for the spread of the Covid-19, I am asking to be paroled/released to my uncle’s and aunt’s home (Mr. and Mrs. Rufus Friday) in the state of Kentucky. I am asking that you all advocate to the District Attorney’s to have my consecutive sentencing structure fixed to concurrent to make me truly eligible now. In your letters I ask you to include not only the language written throughout this call to action but please include some of the following:

  • What is your relationship me?
  • How long have you known me?
  • If any, what impact have I had in your life?
  • Why do you feel I should be paroled earlier than I am supposed to be.
  • How could you support me once released?
  • While incarcerated, how has our relationship grown, or gotten worse?
  • How sure are you that I will honor my parole conditions and how will you assist?
  • Have you seen growth in me and in what ways?
  • How would you feel if something happened to me as a result of getting covid-19?

These are just some prompts to follow but whatever you choose to write or say, you can. I really want to make my request for early parole based upon the outbreak of this virus that could potentially hurt me while being in prison here. I ask that you support me in this cause. I am more than qualified and ready to return home and do not want to die in prison.

You can email me or write me at: mlmauneyII@gmail.com or corrlinks

or

Michael L. Mauney II, W101821
MCI-Norfolk
P.O. Box 43
Norfolk, MA 02056

You can write, email, or call and share your petition and this one with Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins at:

Rachael Rollins
One Bulfinch Place
Boston, MA 02114
617-619-4000
email at: Rachael.Rollins@MassMail.State.MA.US

Thank you all for the love. This matter is urgent. I have a timeline of April 30th. I hope to hear from you soon.

In solidarity,
Michael L Mauney II
aka Country”

COVID-19 Mutual Aid Initiative

As our communities work to identify ways to care for one another during the global COVID-19 pandemic, the National Bail Fund Network has put out a call for organizations around the country to make sure our loved ones inside jails and prisons around the country have access to the supplies they need to stay as safe and healthy as possible during this time. While the ultimate goal is and always will be total decarceration and the abolition of the carceral state, in the meantime there are millions of people around the country who won’t be allowed to come home.

As an answer to the National Bail Fund’s call and following the tremendous organizing by groups like Survived and Punished—  who have already raised well over $6600 to send soap and cleaning supplies to people in New York prisons— Black & Pink Boston and Deeper Than Water are teaming up to make sure that our people inside Massachusetts jails and prisons have what they need and we need your help to do so.

Prisons are inherently toxic, and ultimately, decarceration is the only answer. While harm reduction initiatives like these are essential to maintaining the survival of our loved ones inside, the ultimate answer always has and always will be total decarceration, as this is the only step that can truly mitigate the tremendous harm done daily to our communities.

However, our people on the inside need protection right now from the harms of infectious disease. If COVID-19 gets into prisons and jails, the spread will be rapid and deadly due to overcrowding, poor conditions, and medical neglect. Joining in the call from organizations nationally, we will do what we can do reduce harm now by ensuring our loved ones inside have soap, hand sanitizer, bleach, and other cleaning supplies to follow the public health directive for protective hygiene to prevent disease. 

How can you help?

  • If you only have a moment, please donate to the GoFundMe created for this initiative. All money that is donated will go directly to mutual aid efforts. 
  • Please fill out this form if you are willing to help us send money directly inside. We will get in touch with you with instructions, names, and contact info. We will then reimburse volunteers directly; just send us a receipt and a way to reimburse you. This will help us expedite the process of getting supplies directly to the people who need it. 
  • See this call to action from Families for Justice as Healing to join the movement for clemency now. The more people we can bring home, the safer and healthier our communities will be, both outside and prison walls. 
  • While we can supply funds for personal hygiene items, the state tightly controls what goes in and out of prisons. Only the state has the ability to supply facilities like NCCI Gardner— whose open dormitory layout puts prisoners at elevated risk — with items like face masks and bleach to mitigate the spread of infection. Failure to do so would be unconscionable. Join us in demanding that the state provides soap, masks, and disinfecting wipes at no cost to those who are incarcerated for the duration of the pandemic. Tweet at @MassGovernor and @MACorrections. Or, text “SIGN FBENUE” to 50409 to send a letter directly to his office.

The state has failed and will continue to fail to protect the health and well-being of our loved ones inside jails and prisons. We will continue to step up as a community to provide what the state refuses to provide. Please join us.

In solidarity,

Black & Pink Boston and the #DeeperThanWater Coalition

Prisons and the pandemic: Decarcerate Massachusetts NOW!

Make sure Charlie Baker reads this message: tweet | email

Full text:

Dear Governor Baker,

This correspondence is to inquire into whether or not the Massachusetts Department of Corrections(DOC)have any strategic plans for dealing with an outbreak of the coronavirus in the prisons.

As an incarcerated member of our community, it is important for me to be concerned, considering that I am forced to remain housed in an environment that is perfectly suitable for the spread of viruses, especially when we consider that NCCI-Gardner is a dormitory setting where eighty people are closely housed in the same unit. This puts us at a greater risk of spreading contagious illnesses such as the coronavirus, and in addition, puts us in a poor position for possible effective treatment. Our lives are at stake.

It is not reasonable or intelligent to assume that the coronavirus will not make its way inside of the prisons. Staff alone will more than likely bring it in. We are able to assume that due to the limited testing abilities in our free society, that we will not even be considered for possible testing, which means that our situation will only be made relevant in the event of an internal epidemic, which for some, will be too late.

Since I, along with the rest of the incarcerated community of Massachusetts, are directly at stake of having to suffer out this virus without being considered for any medical testing, and by extension, care or treatment, it is in my (and all incarcerated people, and society as a whole) best interest to present some possible, intelligent, and practical solutions:

  1. Release all incarcerated people who have one year or less to serve on their sentences.
  2. Release via emergency parole, all incarcerated people whom are eligible for parole.
  3. Release all incarcerated people whom have a preexisting medical condition that falls within the criteria for being high-risk for death related to the coronavirus.
  4. Release all incarcerated people whom are over the age of fifty (50) years old, or whom are within the age range that would be considered high risk for death due to the coronavirus.
  5. Release all incarcerated people whom are in county jails.
  6. Release all incarcerated women within the state of Massachusetts.
  7. Provide the appropriate disinfectants that the medical specialist believe are effective for possibly preventing contamination of surfaces.
  8. Provide bottled water for all incarcerated people in Massachusetts, especially within those prisons that do not provide any clean drinking water sources (i.e., NCCI-Gardner).
  9. Provide medical facemasks to all incarcerated people in Massachusetts.
  10. Since incarcerated people are not considered in this emergency matter, those who are at high risk should have the human, and humane freedom to fend for themselves. Other suggested reductions in the incarcerated population would create an environment that may make it easier for those such as myself–who would have to stay and endure–to minimize contamination and survive an outbreak.
  11. Finally, the reduction, or complete closing of some institutions, i.e. MCI-Framingham and county jails, would make it possible to disinfect these institutions, which should be, in the least, a consideration.

Thank you for your time and attention to this very relevant emergency matter, and I do anxiously await your reply.

Submitted and signed,

Wayland “X” Coleman

call in for Juan, report back

(optional)
(eg, how did the call go? did they offer any information?)

Call-in report: phone zap for James

This is to help us track the DOC’s responses. While the calls are most important, these also help us shift our messaging and adjust as we need.

Phone zap: demand that James be allowed to help his family bury his sister

CALL TO ACTION: MAKE A PHONE CALL & SHARE

The MA DOC is at it again. 

We received word earlier this week that one of our friends at MCI-Norfolk, James Horton, was denied access to his sister’s funeral. James meets all of the qualifications required under the DOC regulations for a 24-hour transport to attend the funeral of a relative. While these regulations allow funeral passes, the DOC regularly denies such requests, preventing people inside from being able to grieve the loss of family members in person. 

In this case, not only was James forced to miss his sister’s funeral, he was also forbidden from sending out $400 to help his family cover the funeral costs. This is a new DOC regulation within the last year that attempts to separate people from their communities further by preventing them from providing financial support with what little wages they make inside. 

It’s been a while since we’ve asked you all to make phone calls. James has asked for our help. Can you make a call today to demand he be allowed to help his family grieve? 

Please leave a comment when you’ve called to let us know how the superintendent responds.

**CALL SCRIPT**

Call MCI-Norfolk superintendent Steven Silva at (508) 660-5900 x 211

Hi, my name is (your name). I am a friend/concerned citizen calling on behalf of a prisoner there, James Horton, W108660. James’s sister recently died. He was denied the ability to attend her funeral and to send out $400 to support funeral costs. This is in violation of the very regulations the DOC claims to follow. I am calling to demand that he be allowed to help his family grieve. Can you confirm that he will be allowed to send $400 to the funeral home?

 

Hands up! Mics on! …and more

We are so excited to promote this amazing event that Black Lives Matter Boston is generously holding to support our work! Please please turn out if you are able, it will be an awesome show with amazing live music and tickets can be purchased in advance or at the door. Please RSVP so organizers can know what kind of turnout to expect.

“Hands up! Mics On!” is Friday, September 13th, starting at 5pm at the Democracy CenterFor accessibility information, click here.

 


We also want to acknowledge that so much is happening this weekend in so-called “New England” and we want to promote the excellent work of other groups challenging the carceral state. We know that it is literally impossible to be at everything but we want to encourage everyone who is able to do so to come out. 

This entire weekend, Cosecha Massachusetts will be taking the State House to task for 15 years of false promises to the immigrant community for the ENTIRE WEEKEND from Sept 13 at 10am – Sept 15 at 7pm. On the near endless list of crimes this state has committed against our neighbors, the refusal to provide drivers licenses has been one of the clearest affronts to so-called “sanctuary” status. For those who are unaware, traffic stops are one of the single largest entry points into the criminal legal system for people of color, with the added threat of possible detention and deportation for undocumented immigrants. Parents have been kidnapped by ICE just for taking their kids to school, and plutocrats like Charlie Baker have been making empty promises around providing a license option to immigrant groups for going on 15 years. There are a panoply of events within this weekend of action. 

ALSO: Tomorrow at 5:30pm, the Donald Wyatt Detention Center is holding their regular board meeting, which they cancelled this Monday due to fears of mass protest. This was unsuccessful as resistance is already mobilizing. There are currently threats of selling the facility to a private group like GEO or CoreCivic, both of which are companies that run concentration camps for ICE (see our #NoMoreCages posts for more). It is ESSENTIAL that potential buyers see that there will be no end to the opposition they will face if they move forward with this bid, and that NO ONE is backing down. Support groups like AMOR, FANG and Never Again Action as they continue to throw down to make sure business as usual is impossible. 

Press release: Boston March Against Cages / Marcha Contra las Jaulas

 

Boston March Against Cages / Marcha Contra las Jaulas Demands the American Correctional Association Stop Accrediting Abusive Prisons and Migrant Camps

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 4, 2019
Contact: (617) 315-4299, nomorecages@protonmail.com

BOSTON, MA- On Sunday, approximately 500 people shut down Boylston Street in a march to condemn the American Correctional Association (ACA) for supporting mass incarceration and immigrant detention.The ACA, a professional organization for the prison and detention industries, is in Boston August 1st-6th for its annual conference at the Hynes Convention Center. “We’re out here because we believe no one should profit off of caging human beings. We want an end to incarceration, whether it’s at the border or in our backyard,” says Mike Cox, an organizer with Black and Pink. The event was organized by a coalition of prison abolition groups and immigration justice groups, including Deeper Than WaterBlack and PinkBoston, Black Lives Matter Boston, and Boston Immigration Justice Accompaniment Network.

The group carried signs that read “No Cages, No Camps” and “No Profits from Prisons” and chanted “Free the prisoners free them all, brick by brick, wall by wall.” When they reached the Convention Center, the group played recordings and read testimony of prisoners in Massachusetts prisons and ICE facilities. “I’ve suffered medical neglect and humiliations that have had serious consequences to my health,” said Jose Marco Tapete Gonzalez, who is currently detained at GEO group’s Adelanto Detention Facility. “I am sad and I feel very bad, but I’m not giving up. On the contrary, I’ll use this opportunity to expose the negligent treatment, horrible conditions and humiliations that we have to endure in ICE jails.” On Thursday, the ACA will host an awards banquet for the Senior Vice President of GEO Group, which runs the majority of detention facilities at the border and has earned $450 million in ICE contracts in the past two years. “It’s terrible, the psychological and emotional torture that’s happening at the detention facilities. It will take the effort of good people in this country to change the laws,” said woman seeking asylum and recently processed through the port of entry at Nogales, Arizona.

In their speeches, the protesters demanded that the ACA 1) shut down all prisons and detention facilities, 2) stop accrediting or rescind accreditation of facilities with documented human rights violations, and 3) make the credentialing process public. The ACA is the largest accreditor of for-profit prisons and immigration detention facilities in the US, and its accreditation process has recently come under national scrutiny for being little more than a rubber stamp. ACA-accredited facilities have been found guilty of widespread human rights abuses, including the recently re-accredited NCCI-Gardner, where prisoners have raised concerns that the water runs brown. “We can and we must build a world without cages,” said Elizabeth Rucker, an organizer with Deeper Than Water.

Around 500 people shut down Boylston Street in front of the Hynes Convention Center to protest the ACA Banner that says "BREAK THE CAGES... WE WILL FREE THEM ALL"