In our experience, no matter what the state, prisons and detention centers are hard to get a hold of. We want to help fix that! Have you interacted with someone in a state/local prison? Detention center? Please fill out this form, and help us grow a crowd-sourced open directory. Entries will be cross-checked before they go live, so please include a source if you can!
Update: November 13, 2018
Thank you to everyone who came out to support Roger and call for an end to the medical neglect that is killing our loved ones and community members inside.
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Sophia Bishop-Rice held the ashes of her uncle, Roger Herbert, who was incarcerated at Norfolk and died from cancer two and a half weeks ago. He had been requesting treatment from the prison since April after experiencing a bad cough and jaundice. He was repeatedly denied treatment or sent away with Tylenol until he collapsed in the shower in September. He was then taken to Lemuel Shattuck and diagnosed with untreatable stage 4 cancer. His doctor at Shattuck said that had he been brought in earlier, the tumor on his liver would have been easily treatable. Red balloons, his favorite color, were released in his memory. Shot #onassignment for @bostonglobe.
Balloons for Roger [ Vimeo ]
original post: November 1, 2018
Medical neglect is prevalent in Massachusetts Department of Corrections and killing prisoners – our loved ones and family members. This week, we heard Roger Herbert’s story through his niece, Sophia Bishop-Rice. We demand justice for our fallen.
Roger has been held prisoner by the DOC for 28 years, and died two weeks ago at age 48. He is remembered by Sophia, his twin brother Ronald and found family inside prison as a role model, loyal, deeply compassionate and self-sacrificing.
Roger’s health began deteriorating noticeably in April of 2018, suffering from jaundice, a persistent cough and rapid weight loss. At $4 per visit, he consistently chose repeated medical visits over purchasing necessities like food and hygiene products at canteen or purchasing phone minutes to communicate with family members.
The DOC refused to provide any further testing until Sophia demanded it directly from the DOC Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner. Even then, Roger and his family received no diagnoses or further information for weeks after an MRI was conducted. It was only after he collapsed in the showers at MCI Norfolk in September that he was finally told he had angiosarcoma. Although she was his health care proxy and emergency contact, Sophia was only informed of Roger’s hospitalization after she tried to add money to his phone account and found he was at Lemuel Shattuck Hospital.
In his final weeks, Roger and Sophia were granted just one visit per week at the hospital. The superintendent granted one additional visit per week, but denied Sophia’s attempt at a third visit the week of Roger’s death because it was not “imminent” by the DOC’s definition.
During his “compassionate care treatment” at the hospital, he suffered inhumanely: medication affecting his bowels caused him to have diarrhea all over himself and his attempt for five minutes to use his nurse call button, which was found to be broken – even though he was supposedly on fifteen minute eye checks and two hour in-room service. During Sophia’s Wednesday visit, his required oxygen supply was not in place and he fell once the week before and once the week of his death due to inattention and consistent neglect.
His found family inside prison, his brother, and his niece all describe how he spent his 28 years in prison working tirelessly to support the other people inside. Those of you who follow our work know that those 28 years were also marked by deteriorating and toxifying water conditions at MCI Norfolk and other Massachusetts prisons. Directly or indirectly, environmental contamination and medical neglect and abuse led to Roger’s death.
To get at the magnitude of the person who has been taken from us: In a beautiful act of solidarity, his loved ones inside – those with jobs making at most $3/day, or receiving cash assistance from family member who find it difficult to make ends meet – pulled together enough money to cover his cremation and memorial expenses, a little over $2,000.00. Sparing his neice the daunting task of trying to raise the money.
We hold close all of those who escape the clutches of the Massachusetts DOC. And we grieve those who die at their hands.
We also call you to action – on Sunday, November 11, immediately following Roger’s memorial service, we will host a vigil and speak out to share the stories of those we have lost and fight like hell for the living.
In the same heartless manner that Thomas Turco III has historically shown, he has elected to turn down Alexander Phillip’s second petition for compassionate release. Ann Burke, Alex’s mother wrote on The Factual’s Facebook page:
We received an answer late yesterday afternoon.. once again Alex was denied release to come home. The answer came in 8 pages of Bullshit. Turco actually said:
“I do not believe Mr.Phillips is Terminally ill within the meaning of the statute. Specfically, even though Alex’s Oncologist, who is employed by the DOC, wrote that he has less than 12 months to live and is so incapacitated as to not be a threat to public safety, I ( Turco) do not find him so debilitated as to not be a public safety risk”
Alex is unable to open a package of cookies or a juice bottle. As you heard on NPR, he spends most of his time in bed only up to get medications or food. If you want to do something Call or Write to your local elected officials and ask them to make modifications to the current statue or to create a bill for Alex to let him come home. And Ask them to Do It Now!! Not in January when they are back in Full Session. Call or write the Governor.. who didn’t want this statue and is making an example out of Alex.
I cannot tell you how sad I am and my family.. This is Not a Political Game, this is someone’s Life.”
We at the #DeeperThanWater Coalition join Ann in expressing our profound anger and disgust, not only at this decision, but at a system so soulless that it would make private promises to a family experiencing tremendous hardship only to betray them in a time of need. Turco demonstrates in this decision his unwillingness and disinterest in rehabilitation, as well as the arbitrariness of his decisions and policies. To disregard the professional opinion of doctors, therapists and psychologists, to misrepresent the findings of the 2009 “dangerousness assessment” (as was reported by WBUR) and to then publicly make a statement defaming a dying man is a perfect microcosm of Tom Turco’s approach to “correction”.
A career political bureaucrat, Turco has gone out of his way to silence prisoners who speak out about their rights and to punish those who suggest that there must be a better way to do this.
In many ways, Alex represents a fundamental threat to people like Tom Turco, as he demonstrates the tremendous possibility for self-change that people have. People like Turco, who is dependent on the prison industrial complex for power and wealth, have made an empire out of reassuring the public that the possibility for self-change does not exist. It is because of him that the recidivism rate in Massachusetts is so high. After all, if someone like Alex Phillips, who has been a “model prisoner” cannot receive compassion from the DOC, what incentive do prisoners have to better their lives?
In reporting on the first time Turco denied Alex’s release, Boston Globe journalist Yvonne Abraham wrote on June 28, 2018:
He has also been a model prisoner, participating in every program he could find, tutoring other inmates, and recently receiving a bachelor’s degree from Boston University. Greenberg says he has not been involved in a single fight in 10 years.
If he is released, Phillips’s mother, Ann Burke, an oncology nurse who has worked in hospice, would care for her son in her home, and would buy him private health insurance, so that his care would not be a burden to taxpayers. Norfolk’s superintendent, who knows Phillips and can well assess whether he poses a danger to society, has supported his release.
Abraham’s article was called “At Department of Correction, a Death of Compassion” and can be found here. This past Thursday, Alex and Ann appeared on NPR to talk about the pain of waiting to find out if Alex can come home.
#DeeperThanWater is committed to continuing to fight for Alex to come home and is in the process of organizing a response to the (admittedly predictable) ongoing refusal of the state to act justly.
Thanks to everyone who came out last Thursday, August 23, 2018 for our demo in solidarity with the National Prison Strike, happening 8/21-9/9. The morning began with a banner drop on the bridge over the Science Park MBTA station, overlooking Storrow Drive/I-93.
The evening had a demonstration at Nashua Street Jail, a county lockup that is also used for prisoners awaiting trial. The evening was kicked off hearing from #DeeperThanWater organizer Wayland “X” Coleman, speaking live from NCCI Gardner, a medium security prison in central Massachusetts. Many of the speakers at this rally were currently incarcerated, whose voices were fed live through a sound system into an array of 3 50-watt megaphones that could be heard for nearly a mile. Participants also included a live brass band, and Siham Byah, who was detained and eventually deported by ICE for her activism in the greater Boston area. Please support Siham here.
We want to thank all our comrades: endorsing organizations, medics, banner droppers, and everyone who supported us with logistics, promotion and running of this event.
Please stay tuned for what comes next in the National Prison Strike and support the strike! Next: IWOC providence is holding an event on Sept. 1st, and IWW CT will be holding another one between Sept. 7th-9th. Also please join our comrades at the Harvard TPS coalition as they fight for Rigoberto, and Hungry4Justice as they rally outside South Bay.
|Wayland “X” Coleman kicks off the festivities for August 23rd demo. X finishes with a salute to a comrade who was stolen by the state, and is currently being held as a political prisoner. One of the main charges against him is the use of the phrase “shut this sh*thole down.”|
|Second Line Brass Band provides a musical interlude and noise demo at the entrance to the facility.|
|A #DeeperThanWater organizer addresses the crowd and the guards directly about the hypocrisy of mass incarceration in a country that lays such claim to “freedom” and “liberty.”|
|Doris, from the Harvard TPS coalition speaks about family separation through prisoners, jails and deportations. Doris connects all struggles for liberation.|
|Siham Byah, an organizer who was deported by ICE fascists earlier in the year speaks to the crowd from Morocco about the intersection of wage theft, prison slavery and racist deportations.|
We are one week into the national #prisonstrike as temperatures rise to 97 degrees in Boston today, with a heat index of 105. An excessive heat warning is in effect until Wednesday evening, schools are cancelling classes or scheduling early dismissals, and forecasters are calling the heat levels dangerous.
Meanwhile, since we forced the state to acknowledge the heat in the prisons last month, we have been hearing from more and more folks inside and from their loved ones that the temperatures in the prisons remain unlivable and inhumane. Today, temperatures are likely to reach 110 degrees inside the prisons, where we also know there is no clean water, no air conditioning, and fan access only for those who can afford it.
Last month, we made enough noise that the Department of Public Health (DPH) conducted inspections of three prisons in MA: Norfolk, Walpole, and Concord. Two of the three prisons were cited for violating ventilation standards. After the DPH inspections it was revealed that the exhaust system was used only sparingly in one facility, as officials cited the noise it makes as a possible security concern. While in at least one facility fans were installed in every block, a couple of fans for a 45 person unit is at best, woefully insufficient.
We know that temperatures are excessive in prisons all across the country and all across the state — and more than just these 2 are violating environmental health standards.
The first demand of the national prison strike is: “Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.” In alignment with this demand, it is time to turn the heat back up on the DOC. Please join us by emailing the DPH to demand inspections of ALL state prisons and by calling Charlie Baker to demand Thomas Turco, Commissioner of the Department of Correction, be fired for allowing this human rights abuse to occur.
EMAIL: Rebecca White, Executive Assistant to Associate Commissioner Lindsay Tucker
Last month, the DPH conducted inspections of MCI-Norfolk, MCI-Cedar Junction, and MCI-Concord after receiving multiple complaints from incarcerated people and their loved ones. We know that the DPH cited MCI-Cedar Junction and MCI-Concord for violations of ventilation standards and made recommendations to the DOC for improving conditions.
We need more.
As temperatures rise again this week to dangerous levels, we demand inspections of the heat and of the water DURING this heatwave at ALL state prisons, including Framingham, Plymouth, Shirley, Gardner, Old Colony, Pondville, and Souza-Baranowski. We demand follow-up and accountability for the DOC to actually improve conditions, particularly excessive temperatures and brown water, by installing air conditioning and fans in all units and providing prisoners with free, clean bottled water and personal fans that they may permanently keep in their cells. The humanity of imprisoned people must be recognized.
CALL SCRIPT: Baker’s Office: (617) 725-4005
Hello, my name is __________. And I am a concerned voter in [your town/neighborhood]. I have been informed that prisoners in MA do not have access to air conditioning, fans, or clean water. This is yet another example of environmental racism on the part of the state of Massachusetts and the DOC.
I demand that you immediately terminate Commissioner Turco. Further, you must instruct the DOC to install air conditioning and fans in all units and provide prisoners with free, clean bottled water and personal fans.
As you know, we launched a poll to ask you all who YOU wanted to boycott for the duration of the National Prison Strike. Per ask from national organizers, we selected 3 companies. However, as the 3rd place was a tie, and we had a sincere request to really target Bank of America based on the role predatory lending and eviction are used as tactics to round up undocumented comrades to fill detention centers, we have agreed that we have no choice but to call for all 4. The “winners” of our poll are Amazon.com, Exxon/Mobil, McDonald’s and Bank of America.
Amazon’s overwhelming lead in the poll is in large part a result of Amazon’s recent disgusting announcement last month that they are “proud” to continue to provide logistics and material support to the mass incarceration and deportation machine. Amazon is not only a massive distributor of prison-made goods, but they own companies that directly source to prison workers for pennies an hour. Their role in developing facial recognition software for police, ICE and prisons has been crucial to making the world a substantially more dangerous place for marginalized people.
The national call for action has asked that local groups pick three companies to boycott. We have compiled this list from Popular Resistance , as suggested in the national call. Please pick up to three companies you both patronize and would be willing to boycott for 8/21 – 9/9.
Please note that we have also only included in this poll companies that are locally accessible. There is a shocking number of total complicit organizations. We have also included Amazon.com. We see Amazon’s direct dealings with ICE as a massive pillar of the prison industrial complex and the prison slavery machine. As Cosecha has pointed out undocumented migrants are often forced to work for no pay in private prisons during their detention. This is slavery.
On August 21, the 187th anniversary of Nat Turner’s Rebellion, prisoners around the country will participate in an all-out wildcat strike to demand an end to prison slavery. This will involve walk-outs, sit-ins, work strikes and boycotts. The strike will last until September 9th, the 47th anniversary of the Attica Uprising. The strike is being endorsed by over 140 different organizations from around the world, including the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) via their Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC). This strike is a massive showing of prisoner power and all organizations involved must take direction explicitly from people inside. Please see #DeeperThanWater’s endorsement here.
On August 21st, the Boston May Day Coalition will kick off the strike locally with a vigil at South Bay Detention Center. Those of you that have been following Cosecha Boston’s work will know that this site reprehensibly doubles as an ICE detention facility. We strongly encourage everyone to turn out to this event, to kick off what promises to be one of the most important strikes in worker history.
On the 23rd, Deeper Than Water will be holding a second rally and action outside of the Nashua Street Jail in conjunction with the Massachusetts National Lawyer’s Guild. Our local organizers inside have stated that one of the biggest problems facing prisoners right now in MA is the extensive use solitary confinement, particularly against prisoners who speak to the press. The 23rd has historically been chosen as an action date to draw attention to the barbarity of the practice, where prisoners are kept in a miniscule closet for 23 hours a day, only let out for a maximum of 1 hr to walk (in a different cage) to keep blood clots from forming due to inactivity.
Please reach out if your organization is interested in endorsing the Aug. 23rd rally. See below:
CALL FOR ENDORSEMENTS FROM ORGANIZATIONS!
to endorse email email@example.com
- your organization must accept the national strike demands (below)
- call for the total end of solitary confinement in any circumstance
- committing to turn out 4-10 (or 100, or 1000…) of your members
- share this event on your email, social media, etc lists
Black Lives Matter Boston
Black and Pink
SURJ Boston – Showing Up for Racial Justice
Toxics Action Center
PSL Boston – Party for Socialism and Liberation
individual current and formerly incarcerated organizers
Endorsing organizations [8/23]: