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.