Grievance System Protects Abuses by PERT Team in North Carolina
In May of 2012, when I was at my previous prison, the "Prison Emergency Response Team" (PERT team) did a full facility shake down. These are regular corrections officers who have been certified to be a member of this "special" group. They wear black t-shirts with "PERT" spelled on the front breast and upper back, with camouflage pants that are tucked into black military boots. They have no name tags, so there is absolutely no way of identifying any officer.
They make you strip naked, squat and cough. Then, in nothing but your white boxers, they handcuff you, and escort you through a metal detector, while other officer tears your cell apart looking for any form of "contraband." If you return to your cell before the search is complete they make you stand facing your cell door. You cannot watch them search your cell! If you try to watch, your get verbally assaulted and/or sometimes physically man handled to the position they want you in.
During the search of my cell a personal property item of mine (electric shaver with trimmers) was broken into 3 pieces. When I asked for the names of the officers involved in the cell search, I was told it was "none of you fucking business." So, I filed a grievance. The first response was that I did not list the names of the officers involved, and there was no proof of the condition of my shaver. (Though they had current paperwork of the personal property that I had and what condition it was in.)
I appealed this response. The second response said that the first response answered my grievance. I had no names of officers, and no proof of the condition of my property before the search. "No further action is needed." I once again appealed the response. The last and final response I received was: "This examiner has reviewed this grievance and the response given by staff in the DC-410A response. My review of this grievance reveals no violation of applicable division of prisons policy nor does it show any evidence of disrespect or abuse of authority by staff. Therefore, this grievance is dismissed for lack of supporting evidence." So my grievance was turned down because I had no names of the officials that changed my property. But there is no way that I could have gotten their names in the first place!
MIM(Prisons) adds: This is yet another example of the failure of the prison grievance system to address abuses and legal violations by prison staff. Grievances are little more than a formality where the very people violating policies and laws are the same ones reviewing the complaints. They back each other up and dismiss grievances based on criteria that they know are impossible for prisoners to meet. This is why the grievance campaign is spreading across the country. North Carolina has a grievance petition customized for that state, as do many others. Write to us for a copy of the petition for your state, or for a generic petition that you can customize if we don't have one already.
We Demand Our Grievances are Addressed in North Carolina