End retaliation NOW!

 

Update: 7/20/2018: please see 
deeperthanwater.org/dphretaliation for more.

Update: As of late 3/30, Wayland has been released 
from solitary confinement. He is still being 
charged with organizing (which is a "crime" in 
prison) and has been hit with two disciplinary 
reports for which he may face consequences. 
Please fill out our contact form to get on our 
emergency mailing list if there is further 
retaliation.

 

CALL TO ACTION: GET WAYLAND OUT OF SOLITARY

Update 3/27: DAY SEVEN update click here

Update 3/23: Call governor Baker! click here.

Update 3/22: fax campaign launched as well click here.

MCI NORFOLK: 508-660-5900, extension 299 (operator)
ask for deputy superintendent office in charge 
of disciplinary matters

Wayland Coleman, a friend of and organizer with #DeeperThanWater, has been thrown in solitary for accessing clean bottled water at MCI-Norfolk. Exercising the basic human right of trying access clean water should not be a punishable offense! Wayland will be on water strike unless provided with bottled water – CALL NOW.

Please make these calls daily until Wayland is released from solitary.

**Sample script when calling the prison**

Hi, I am [name], and I am a loved one/family member/concerned citizen calling about Wayland Coleman, ID number W65484. I am calling with the demand that he be released from solitary confinement.

He was placed there this morning for picking up bottled water he bought and paid for at the canteen while the prison continues to provide only toxic, discolored water to those incarcerated.

In solitary, lead and copper levels in the water far exceed actionable levels but prisoners are not allowed access to the canteen to purchase clean bottled water. The DOC is retaliating against this man for exercising his basic rights to clean water!

We demand that you release Wayland from solitary immediately and until that time, provide him with 6 bottles per day of clean water to drink.

[If it’s a message, leave your call back information, please let us know you called so we can keep track of what they are saying. Click here for the form or email info@deeperthanwater.org ]

 

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

We have received word that our friend Wayland Coleman has been thrown into solitary confinement at MCI-Norfolk for going to pick up bottles of clean water at the prison commissary this morning.

Wayland had bottles of water saved in his cell already due to the toxic water at the prison, which prisoners were warned would be particularly bad today and tomorrow as the hydrants are flushed nearby the prison and the sediment in the pipes is stirred up to discolor the water further.

Wayland was told yesterday that if he went to pick up more water, “there would be consequences” because he had “more than a reasonable amount” of clean bottled water. Since Wayland had already paid for the water using money from the #FloodTheCanteen fundraiser #DeeperThanWater held to provide clean water to the people incarcerated at MCI-Norfolk while the state has failed to do so, he went to pick up his commissary order this morning anyway and has now been thrown in solitary.

In the segregation units (solitary), water is notoriously worse. For example, at the DDU at MCI-Walpole, lead levels in the water are 0.70 mg/L (the action level determined by the EPA is 0.015 mg/L) and copper levels are 2.97 mg/L (the action level is 1.3 mg/L). Wayland has committed to a water strike while in solitary unless the DOC provides him with clean bottled water.

March 2018 call in campaign

Email Commissioner Turco:

click here to copy template and compose email

 

Call in script

(please see talking points below to help you get ready for calling)

Hi, my name is [name] and I live in [town/state].

I’m calling about the toxic water crisis in MA state prisons. As a concerned citizen/friend/family member of a prisoner in MA, I demand that the DOC provide immediate access to free, clean, safe, sufficient, and healthy water to all MA prisoners and until that is provided — 6 free bottles of water per day, with backpay for water bought at canteen since January 2011.

Given the disproportionate incarceration of people of color, the statewide toxic water situation can only be described as environmental racism causing a public health crisis.

I’m following up on the plans to build a water treatment plant, when will that be completed? Where is it located? How will you be addressing sediment and erosion in the pipes after the plant is completed? Will prisoners who have had to buy water for themselves be repaid?

Thanks for your time.


[note their response, and fill out our web form saying you called]

 

Thomas Turco:   (508) 422-3330
Fax:            (508) 422-3385

 

Talking points:

If they say…

“The water is clean and safe” – The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Norfolk Inmate Council, Boston Globe, and [other sources] have all highlighted elevated levels of manganese, iron/rust, sediment, and other contaminants in nearly half or more water samples at MCI Norfolk, while public health experts and prisoner accounts  indicate such problems are widespread in MA facilities

“We’re already building it” – Yes, some movement has been made ostensibly to construct a new facility. They were ordered to do this 6 years ago, so everyone is understandably skeptical. Demand that they accelerate the progress. This delay has already caused innumerable health problems and is killing folks inside [see: top images in gallery].

“We’re not racist” – Regardless of intent or personal beliefs, the fact that the MA DOC’s prisoner population is over 25% Black and over 50% people of color when Black people make up less than 8% state population, and people of color less than 20%,, then deprives them of their health, safety, voting rights, and more through poor facilities, bad food, solitary confinement, inadequate health care, etc maliciously targets people of color and their communities.

“It’s not possible” – we know the DOC is capable of providing free bottled water to prisoners. This was done as recently as June 2017 after the release of the Boston Globe article; our demand is entirely reasonable.

“Where did you hear about this?” – #DeeperThanWater coalition outreach, the Boston Globe, Spare Change News, etc

For news sources: see our press page.

 

optional

A message from Alexander Phillips

“Organizing For A Cup Of Joe”

By Alexander Phillips

“Hey Steve keep a peak for me will you? I need to hop in the shower and I don’t know when the cop last did a round.” This conversation happens countless times a day in the facility that I reside in. One must sneak around and break rules just to shower.  We are on water restrictions ; one shower a day for a set two-hour period, with five showers for a seventy person unit. Not a serious problem, that is until you take into consideration that on a daily basis and at random times of day, our water turns so black and filled with sediment that you cannot see through lt. This is the same water we drink and bathe with. The black water has a name here as a sad joke in an attempt to lighten the mood of our predicament ; It’s called Norfolk Coffee. If the water is black during our specified shower time, tough luck. Either you shower or you don’t! Hence, we must break institutional rules just to clean ourselves. A friend of mine joked the other day that when he washed his face, he got a chunk of water stuck in his eye. We joke, but men have come back from having tumors removed that were laced with heavy metals, and random headaches come a dime a dozen.

During the Holocaust of WWII “camp regulations were designed to make life impossible. Survival therefore depended on an ‘underworld’ of activities, all of them illegal, all of them risky, but essential to life. There was a special word for this, current in all the camps to carry out any illegal action was to organize” (Des Pres, 120).

Today the wording of the D. O. C. rules are as follows 103 CMR 430 inmate disciplinary offense number 3-13: “organizing or participating in a group activity or meeting Inside the correctional institution… 3-30, attempting to commit any of the above offenses…”

I must make it absolutely clear, in no manner am I trying to compare the horrible suffering, tragedy, and genocide of the Holocaust to the experiences of this correctional institution. In no way am I attempting to compare the overall circumstances between the the two either; where one suffered because of their ethnicity and religion, the other because they chose to commit an actual “crime.”

It is just my intent to draw the ironic parallels between this idea of ‘organizing,’ It’s up to the reader to draw any conclusions from it. An Auschwitz survivor explains that “[In] the language of a political prisoner the word ‘organize’ means to acquire a thing you need without wronging another prisoner” (Des pres, 120).1 For the concentration camp prisoners this usually meant food and water, for my 1,500 fellow inmates it means acquiring relatively clean water. When Norfolk Coffee is served via the faucets and shower-heads at random times of day, and the water restrictions are strictly enforced despite these circumstances, one has to find ingenious ways to ‘organize to meet your essential needs. Whether this is drinking, cooking, eating, showering, brushing your teeth cleaning your cell, or laundry, one must ‘organize.’ There is no leniency of the water-use rules since the administration denies the health hazards of our Norfolk Coffee.

Terrence Des Pres describes how the Nazis dehumanized the people in the camps by restricting their “bathroom” privileges to the point where everyone had no choice but to soil themselves. They were then punished for breaking the bathroom rules; this he calls excremental assault. Fast forward to a few summers ago when our water problem here at Norfolk became so drastic that portable toilets had to be shipped in, and eventually after days, we were given bottled water. For the first few days with barely any water to even drink, men
walked around in the 90 plus degree heat with no means of even sub-par hygiene amidst a sea of over full portable toilets. The sight, smell, and overall conditions could only be described as excremental assault; truly a loss of our humanity. Eventually more water did arrive, but our humanity wasn’t on those shipments. We now had a choice: drink or bathe. But bathing would still be to ‘organize’ since it was forbidden. I saw men fight over contaminated water from rain collectors like dogs over a bone. What they and I would have given for some Norfolk Coffee back in those days…

These conditions have been continuing for countless years now and we are experiencing the political side of ‘organizing’ now. Men are fed up with our conditions and are using any available avenue to affect change essential to our livelihood. But now we are prosecuted on both ends breaking rules in order to get water and breaking rules to change our circumstances with the water. We may not be executed for our infractions of ‘organizing,’ but racking up infractions for ‘organizing’ effects our chances for successfully returning back to society. The parole board does not want to hear the “rationalization” that I was just trying to better me and my fellow inhumane living conditions. Why? Because as it was in the past, we must organize to survive!

  1. Des Pres, Terrence. The Survivor: An Anatomy of Life In the Death
    Camps. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1976.

Let us know that you called!

Did you send an email? Please let us know! We want to be able to estimate the size of the volume going to the DOC, filling out this form after you've sent an email or called helps us do that!
optional

Email and Call-in Scripts

On this #HumanRightsDay, Sunday, December 10, 2017, #DeeperThanWater is asking you to join us in flooding the email inbox of Massachusetts Department of Correction (DOC) Commissioner Thomas Turco to demand clean and safe water for everyone incarcerated in Massachusetts. And then follow up Monday, December 11, 2017 with a call-in campaign.

 

Email template for Commissioner Turco:

click here to copy template and compose email

Commissioner Thomas Turco,
 Department of Correction
 Thomas.Turco@MassMail.State.MA.US

I am writing to follow up on a letter that was mailed to you on November 28, 2017 regarding the urgent needs of prisoners currently held in Massachusetts prisons, by members of the #DeeperThanWater Coalition. To date, no reply has been received. As has been expressed numerous times by prisoners, public health and environmental experts – and at times even those employed by the DOC – the water at MCI-Norfolk and surrounding facilities represents a fundamental failure of the Department to live up to its most basic mandate.

We know that the DOC also considers the water to be dangerous, reflected by your provision of bottled water to employees and millions of dollars allocated but unspent for the overhaul of the plumbing system. We demand that you release a portion of these funds immediately to provide prisoners with the relief outlined in #DeeperThanWater‘s letter: the equivalent of 6 16.9oz bottles of water per day and back pay to all prisoners who have bought the overpriced water since January 1, 2011. We also want to make sure that you and your officers know that the public is watching; the ongoing retaliation against prisoners inside for talking to the public is an unacceptable act of despotism that must end now. For as long as prisoners are being targeted for standing up for their basic human rights, you will continue to hear from us.

Signed,

[your name]
 #DeeperThanWater

 

Email template for Governor Baker

coming soon

Call in scripts

 

Hi, my name is [name] and I live in [place].

I’m calling because last week you received a letter from the Deeper Than Water coalition demanding that the Massachusetts Department of Correction effectively and immediately address the ongoing water crisis in its facilities by providing all state prisoners with clean, safe, sufficient, and healthy water within health standards, and until that is accomplished, provide 6 bottles of water per day to all affected prisoners at no cost, and provide them back pay for all water bought at commissary from January 2011 through the present.

DEP reports and prisoner accounts show the DOC has known about this problem for years. Neglecting the health and safety of MA state prisoners, who are disproportionately people of color, is environmental racism.

Will you commit to this course of action and not retaliate against prisoners through lockdowns, solitary confinement, and cutting off phone access and other resources?

Thanks for your time.

[note their response, and fill our web form saying you called]

 

Thomas Turco:   (508) 422-3330
Bruce Gelb:     (508) 422-3495
Charlie Baker:  (617) 725-4005

Talking points:

If they say…

“The water is clean and safe” – The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Norfolk Inmate Council, Boston Globe, and [other sources] have all highlighted elevated levels of manganese, iron/rust, sediment, and other contaminants in nearly half or more water samples at MCI Norfolk, while public health experts and prisoner accounts  indicate such problems are widespread in MA facilities

“We’re not racist” – Regardless of intent or personal beliefs, the fact that the MA DOC’s prisoner population is over 25% Black and over 50% people of color when Black people make up less than 8% state population, and people of color less than 20%,, then deprives them of their health, safety, voting rights, and more through poor facilities, bad food, solitary confinement, inadequate health care, etc maliciously targets people of color and their communities.

“It’s not possible” – we know the DOC is capable of providing free bottled water to prisoners, this was done as recently as the June 2017 after the release of the Boston Globe article; our demand is entirely reasonable.

“Where did you hear about this?” – #DeeperThanWater coalition outreach, the Boston Globe, Spare Change News, etc

For news sources: see our press page.

 

optional

Letter to Commissioner Thomas Turco

Thomas A. Turco III
Office of the Commissioner
Central Headquarters
50 Maple Street, Suite 3
Milford, MA 01757-3698

Dear Commissioner Turco,

We call on you today to immediately and effectively address the environmental crisis in MA prisons. As you know from multiple Department of Environmental Protections (DEP) orders, there is a longstanding toxic water problem at MCI Norfolk; we also know from prisoner accounts and further reports that toxic, unhealthful water is a widespread problem in many of our state prisons.

Therefore, the #DeeperThanWater coalition calls upon you to immediately provide all MA prisoners with clean, safe, sufficient, and healthy water within health standards. Until that is accomplished, we demand that prisoners be provided 6 bottles of water per day at no cost, and receive back pay for all water bought at commissary from January 2011 through the present.

The MA DOC’s failure to address this environmental crisis statewide is an example of environmental racism, demonstrating a blatant disregard for the health of communities of color. The public health implications of incarceration and fundamentally racist nature of prisons and police indict this outdated institution. Below, we offer you a path to addressing the immediate crisis and the problems of incarceration in MA:

  1. Immediate provision of clean, safe, sufficient, and free water for drinking and daily use to all prisoners in MA
    1. Unless and until DOC provides clean, safe, sufficient, and free water re-institute furlough programs and/or release all affected prisoners
    2. Ensure the DOC complies with DEP orders to install a filtration system at the well, and take additional measures to ensure clean, sufficient, safe, and free water at the tap.
  2. Immediate end to solitary confinement and similar practices, to allow those prisoners access to clean, safe, sufficient, and free water
  3. Release all prisoners in affected prisons who are held on bail.
  4. Reduce the population of MCI Norfolk and other all MA prisons to originally intended levels, without building more prisons.
  5. End life without parole sentences that in particular subjugate elderly and disabled prisoners to a lifetime of environmental and health hazards.
  6. Restore voting rights to all prisoners in MA
  7. Begin to dismantle all prisons in MA and reallocate funding to addiction recovery programs, mental health services, education, housing, and job assistance.

We will continue to work for the freedom of our people, and look forward to your cooperation.

Sincerely,

 

Emancipation Initiative Showing Up for Racial Justice Boston
Black and Pink Boston Party for Socialism and Liberation
Young Abolitionists The City School
Jericho Boston Toxics Action Center
Black Lives Matter Boston ANSWER Coalition

 

A message from Wayland Coleman

A message from Wayland Coleman, currently incarcerated at MCI-Norfolk, read at yesterday’s press conference:

I want to take a moment to thank everyone for taking the time to listen and for allowing us to have a voice. The Massachusetts Department of Corrections is a monstrosity that is designed to label, dehumanize, and warehouse men and women who are primarily from lower class, poor, and poverty-stricken communities, while keeping society blind and ignorant of the inhumanities of incarceration. It propagates fear in the public through the process of negative labeling, stereotyping, and stigmatizing. Its fear-based tactics triggers society to willingly pour hundreds of millions of tax-payer dollars each year into a criminal justice system that has proven to not work. The repressive nature of incarceration is in direct contrast to society’s beliefs in a penological system that properly rehabilitates, and the actions of the criminal justice system as a whole contradicts society’s naïve belief in a criminal justice system that properly convicts.

The #DeeperThanWater coalition was motivated by the exposure of chronic water issues at MCI-Norfolk. The June 18, 2017 Boston Globe article by reporter David Abel revealed the tip of an iceberg of issues related to the institutional treatment of incarcerated men and women. The members of the #DeeperThanWater coalition recognize the violation of basic human rights and chose to step up to do something about it. They began to network with those of us who are incarcerated and with those who had been incarcerated before and discovered that the issues of the incarcerated were much deeper than just the water issues at MCI-Norfolk. The administrator and staff treatment of the incarcerated as less than is a cornerstone in the system of punishment, often resulting in the deprivation of basic human and civil rights. Society often doesn’t know about the abuses of incarcerated men and women through beatings, gassings, harassment, and psychological torture, not to mention rape and sexual harassment in women’s prisons.

Our purpose is to make you aware and to challenge you to step up and be a voice to change and bring an end to such draconian practices. Therefore, the goals of the #DeeperThanWater coalition in part is to bring public awareness to the inhumanities that exist within the system of incarceration, destroy the dehumanizing label of “inmate” in order to restore the concept of “person” to the incarcerated, and to reconnect people outside of prison to those inside. In conclusion, consider this: the wall of a so-called “correctional institution” is not there to keep the incarcerated from getting out. It’s there to keep you from looking in.

Thank you.

Wayland Coleman