Prisoners Report on Conditions in

North Carolina Prisons

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www.prisoncensorship.info is a media institution run by the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons. Here we collect and publicize reports of conditions behind the bars in U.$. prisons. Information about these incidents rarely makes it out of the prison, and when it does it is extremely rare that the reports are taken seriously and published. This historical record is important for documenting patterns of abuse, and also for informing people on the streets about what goes on behind the bars.

We hope this information will inspire people to take action and join the fight against the criminal injustice system. While we may not be able to immediately impact this particular instance of abuse, we can work to fundamentally change the system that permits and perpetuates it. The criminal injustice system is intimately tied up with imperialism, and serves as a tool of social control on the homeland, particularly targeting oppressed nations.

[Organizing] [Campaigns] [North Carolina]
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NC Prisoners File 15,000 Grievances; Organizers Face Retaliation

In 2018, NC prisoners answered South Carolina prisoners' call out coordinating amongst each other in multiple states alongside outside supporters, agitators and Anarchist Black Cross by organizing their POW movement (prisoners of the world).

Three prisoners [names removed] staged a peaceful protest with the support of over 300 prisoners and outside public supporters. They even hung signs on the prison fence made out of sheets. Meanwhile nearly 100 public protesters piled out of dozens of cars, vans, and SUVs, armed with bullhorns, signs, and drums in solidarity with the prisoners while perimeter guards trained loaded firearms at the prisoners and the supporters. Then prisoners submitted a list of demands:

  1. Establish parole for lifers who demonstrate rehabilitation
  2. End life sentences
  3. End all 85% mandatory minimum sentences
  4. End long-term solitary confinement
  5. Abolish article 1, section 17 of the constitution of NC which permits slavery to those convicted of crime through the 13th amendment of the U.$. constitution.
  6. End $10 administrative fees for the guilty disposition of a write up or rule violation
  7. Better food with real beef
  8. Better health and dental care
  9. Allow prisoners to purchase JP4 players/notebooks
  10. End security threat group policies that restrict contact visits with their wives, children and fiances.
  11. Fair wages for our slave labor
  12. End exaggerated censorship policies
  13. More meaningful rehabilitation and educational opportunities

The following day, on 21 August 2018, prisoners at YL women’s FCCW in Raleigh, NC went on strike, refusing to eat our work, followed by prisoners at Craggy CI. Then reports began flooding mainstream media that thousands of prisoners across the U.$. were joining the international prison strike in solidarity with the POW movement.

All four prisoners were then each transferred to separate super maximum security prisons and charged for inciting a riot with the exception of [name removed] who was sent to Butner, NC to a prison that is so violent and popular for 5-on-1 fascist beatings that prisoners call it "baby Guantanamo Bay." After 8 months of cruel and harsh treatment with reports of fascists putting glass in food and feces in another, prisoners [two names removed], with the help of public support, organized their national grievance day calling on all NC prisoners and any similarly situated prisoner in other states who are affected by this oppressive rule to join them and file grievances against their director in their state to end the oppressive rule that prohibits anyone in the public from sending a prisoner money unless that person is an approved visitor on the prisoners visit list.

As a result of this new restrictive discriminating policy, many prisoners whose families are poor and of color who don't have identification or transportation to visit a particular prisoner to show him or her support now cannot send the prisoner any money. This has resulted in a scarcity of funds to go around resulting in an uptick of gang violence and rule violations. For example, prisoners who can't hustle for money due to no artistic skills or other lacking reasons and who's family can't send them any money for hygiene, food, stamps or phone time now are forced to have their families send money gram, western union, square cash app or greendots to pay inside drug dealers for K-2, CBD, marijuana, suboxone, heroine, or other drugs that they can easily sell in order just to survive.

So in response to this intrusive rule, on 21 May 2019 both men and women prisoners stood together in solidarity and sent in more than 15,000 administrative grievances against the NC prison director. Then on June 1, 2019 North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCPDS) reported receiving more than 100,000 phone calls and emails from angry families and supporters internationally backing up email servers and phone lines nearly causing their site to crash, urging the director to repeal his 5 February 2019 Jpay rule. One outside organizer spoke with the public affairs office and reported that "there was an ongoing investigation and the director will be looking into it."

Outside activists and supporters are reporting good feedback from the NCDPS, and folks behind bars. Also an art gallery in New York contacted organizers from itsgoingdown.org and is asking for NC specific art around this extension of our POW movement and wants to get behind NC prisoners to support them.

With the 21 May 2019 national grievance day, in addition, prisoners are beginning to coordinate amongst each other in multiple states, and working with outside supporters; word of the coordinated action was now spread all over the country.

Supreme Court shut down Prisoner Organizing

For nearly 40 years, prisoners in North Carolina have avoided the political arena surrounding prisoner rights ever since the United $tates Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision in Jones v. NC prisoners labor union, inc. 433 u.s. 119, 129 97 S.ct 2532, 53 L.Ed 26, 629 (1977), preventing NC prisoners from unionizing, meetings and solicitation of membership.

The union formed in late 1974 with a stated goal of "the promotion of charitable labor union purposes" and the formation of a "prisoners labor union at every prison and jail in NC to seek through collective bargaining... to improve... working... conditions..." It also proposed to work towards the alteration or elimination of practices and policies of the DOC which it did not approve of and to serve as a vehicle for the presentation and resolution of prisoner grievances. By early 1975 the union had attracted some 2000 prisoner members in 40 different prison units throughout NC.

The state of NC, unhappy with these developments, set out to prevent prisoners from forming or operating a union. While the state tolerated individual "membership," or belief, in the union, it sought to prohibit prisoner solicitation of other prisoners, meetings between members or the union, and bulk mailings concerning the union from outside sources. So on 26 March 1975 the North Carolina Department of Corrections [now NCDPS] prohibited that activity.

Since prisoners were on notice of the proscription prior to its enactment, they filed suit in the U.$. Federal District Court for the Eastern District of NC. That was on 18 March 1975, approximately a week before the date upon which the regulation was to take effect. The union claimed that its rights of its members to engage in protected free speech association and assembly activities were being infringed by the no solicitation and no meeting rules.

The district court felt that since the defendants countenanced the bare foot of union membership, it had to allow the solicitation activity, whether by prisoners or by outsiders and held "we are unable to perceive why it is necessary or essential to security and order in the prisons to forbid solicitation of membership in a union permitted by the authorities. This is not a case of a riot. There is not one scintilla of evidence to suggest that the union has been utilized to disrupt the operation of the penal institution." The warden appealed to the fourth circuit who also agreed with prisoners. The warden appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States who reversed the 4th circuit's decision.

The court deferred to the warden's conclusions that the presence and even the objectives, of a prisoners' labor union would be detrimental to order and security in the prisons. The court held those conclusions had not been conclusively shown to be wrong in this view, and that when weighed against the First Amendment, rights asserted, these institutional reasons are sufficiently weighty to prevail. In sum, the court's decision established that the institutional interest of the prison out weights a prisoner's constitutional rights. The rulings in Jones, in hindsight, defined prisoners' status as "prisoners" and eliminated prisoners' rights to free association and essentially paved the future for correctional czars to place iron curtains between the First Amendment and prisoners with impunity.

Punished for writing a letter to organizers

Update: On 12 June 2019 and still claiming actual innocence as to why he's in prison. Prisoner [name removed] was in his cell writing organizers when a sergeant and two prison guards entered his cell for a search. During the search one of the prison guards picked up his letter and began reading it. The prisoner was handcuffed and charged for inciting a riot for simply stating in his letter to outside supporters and organizers "thank you for helping and put NC prisoners on the map and for giving prisoners a voice on May 21, 2019 and June 1, 2019 as we continue to bring our collective struggles to the battlefront. I look forward to the 2020 strike calling on all us prisoners to stand in solidarity to demand an end to slavery in prisons and to restore our freedoms."

At this time, this prisoner was scheduled to receive his first visit in 11 years from his sister who has no criminal record and who had been unapproved for no reason and was finally approved. Unfortunately, his sister drove over 8 hours to visit and took her vacation time plus a portion of her husband's disability money to cover the expenses. What's worse is that her son was just accepted at university which puts an even worse financial strain on her. Meanwhile this prisoner remains in administrative segregation and faces another 8 month long-term lock up. While in lock up he accused prison guards of putting feces in his tea and poisoning his food. He reported having diarrhea, vomiting blood, inability to hold down food, weakness, shakes, hallucinations, hot cold sweats, stomach pain and dry heaving. He has since recovered after two weeks on a self induced diet of milk.


MIM(Prisons) responds: There are some important lessons in this report from North Carolina. First, the restriction on organizing and even just basic free speech of prisoners is pervasive. It takes the format of transferring or charging with crimes prisoners who initiate protests or even complaints against conditions behind bars. But it is also codified by the courts in rulings like the prohibition of union organizing. These laws and actions amount to telling prisoners that they must accept any and all oppressive conditions, that the so-called "rights" of U.$. citizenship do not apply to them.

We should take inspiration from this oppression. While the threats and retaliation will scare some out of taking action, revolutionaries will understand that our actions must be effective if we have frightened the prison and legal system into enacting rules and policies to stop our organizing work. And so we must continue! These organizers in North Carolina are continuing in the face of serious repression, and providing an example of determination and perseverance for others.

Whether your work is focused on educating others, or directly taking on repressive actions by the administration, it can all contribute to building the United Front for Peace in Prisons. This United Front challenges the criminal injustice system through the unity of the oppressed behind bars. We need more stories like this one about the battles being waged. And for those looking to get involved, write to us for resources, educational materials, and support for your struggles.

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[Campaigns] [North Carolina]
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NC Grievance Complaint Denied by Inspector General

I attempted to participate in the grievance campaign complaint by submitting the form you provided to me to fill out and submit my querimony to the following: The North Carolina Department of Public Safety Division of Adult Correction – Secretary of "corruption", Mr. Erik A. Hook on April 12, 2019 without any response and the enclosed letter from the office of Inspector General on April 9, 2019. And I did not expect nothing less from either agency.

Enclosed letter dated May 2, 2019

Thank you for your correspondence received April 26, 2019. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of the Inspector General, investigates allegations of misconduct by employees and contractors of DOJ, as well as waste, fraud and abuse affecting DOJ programs or operations.

The matters you raised are outside our investigative jurisdiction, therefore no action can be taken by our Office. Please be advised that we have not retained any copy of your material and any additional material you submit regarding this matter will be destroyed.

Of course, if you have new information that involves other allegations or issues regarding DOJ employees, contractors, programs or operations, please feel free to submit that information to us.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to review your concerns.

Sincerely,

Office of the Inspector General
Investigations Division

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[Organizing] [North Carolina]
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POW Organizers Declare National Grievance Day in NC

On Feb 5, 2019 NC prison director Kenneth Lassiter sent out a memo that now limits who can send prisoners money through Jpay. Under this new restrictive policy, only the approved visitors on the prisoners visitation list may send him/her any money. As a consequence, many prisoners who are from out of state or who’s visitors are elderly or impoverished or disabled who do not receive visits can now no longer receive money from their loved ones, friends or supporters on the outside. Just one example of unfairness is thousands of Latinos who are incarcerated and either don’t speak English or who’s family member does not reside in the United States are unable to receive money to purchase food, hygiene cosmetics and health products. Additionally, many of us have lost visitation privileges with our approved visitors for a myriad of illogical reasons which in turn has caused us to be ineligible to receive money from that prison. This is just another exaggerated response from correction czars drunk on their own undeserved power over others. Its bad enough that we are censored to death over who and what we can write or what we can read without some pederast fascist trying to control free societies sympathy and charity for others.

So in response to this oppressive rule, prisoners in North Carolina are organizing what we are calling a “national grievance day” and calling on all prisoners in NC as well as prisoners in other states with similar Jpay rules to file grievances on their directors of prison on May 21, 2019 and regardless of any response received, appeal it as far as it can be appealed. The only remedy we are seeking is to abolish this counter productive rule.

Once everyone has filed grievances, inside POW organizers have coordinated with outside public supporters and organizations from itsgoingdown.org and www.atlblackcross.org who plan on caravaning to Raliegh, NC on June 1, 2019 alongside the Blueridge ABC chapter armed with drums, bullhorns, picket signs and camcorders to record and protest our cause.

Additionally, we are asking supporters and family members to blow up the NC DOC public affairs phone numbers on June 1, 2019 by calling them and expressing their dissatisfaction with the Jpay rule. The DOC numbers at the PAO is 919-716-3700 919-716-3727 919-716-3733 919-716-3713. Supporters and family members are also encouraged to send emails and letters to the director asking him to abolish this rule at [email protected] or by mail to: Director of Prisons, 831 W. Morgan St., Raleigh, NC 27699.

We are hoping that with thousands of grievances from prisoners flooding their administration alongside negative emails, letters and phone calls followed by hundreds of public protesters on June 1, 2019 that we can beat back repression by attacking on all sides. Family members and friends of incarcerated persons are encouraged and invited to stand with us on behalf of their incarcerated loved one during this public event. All letters welcome.

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[Abuse] [Lumberton Correctional Institution] [North Carolina]
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Infraction for Organizing Study Group in NC

On Sunday April 7th, 2019, the prison administration blessed me with an infraction for trying to assemble a group study regarding the materials you forwarded to me; plus, for having all of the state prisoners names I submitted to receive Under Lock & Key. And unfortunately I cannot file a grievance to challenge. The [material] alleged to have been found on my bunk at 6:30AM—in the dark. (Hum). I will keep you appraised of the grievances procedure scheduled for April 17, 2019. I am totally pissed off.

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[Organizing] [Alexander Correctional Institution] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 66]
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Writing Campaign Works

I have been fighting for better conditions in my current prison since I got here in June 2017. Tell the prison masses they have to write en masse to their unit managers, warden and director of prisons in their state. It's free!! There is no excuse.

The easiest thing to do, which I did, is to write up your declarations and remonstrations using carbon copy paper. Make 2-3 copies for each block/pod in every unit. Pass them out to comrades in those blocks, so they can encourage/force/persuade the masses to take 15 minutes to recopy and post it out. Done.

The first time I initiated these shots the warden called me to his office for a meeting with him, the unit manager, and assistant warden. He stopped the early counts, the 9 p.m. count, and turning off of phones. This sh!t works. On the second salvo he initiated recreation seven days a week. We are still pounding.


MIM(Prisons) responds: More reasonable hours for count, more contact with the outside world, and more recreation are all related to our anti-imperialist struggle, even though they may seem like petty reforms. Better sleep makes us mentally sharper, for writing, self-control, and creativity. Interaction with the outside world can give us motivation and positive social contact. And exercise (especially outdoors) helps with our physical as well as mental health.

We'd love to analyze a little deeper the benefits of running a campaign like the one described, because it's not just good for changing conditions. The people who are copying the letters and seeing results are at a special place in their recruiting. They might not be ready to initiate a campaign like this, and they might not even identify as part of "the struggle." But they have some interest in this work and are putting in some (albeit relatively small) effort.

At this stage, the best thing we can do for them is help set up "easy wins." They probably aren't dedicated enough to remain committed after a big setback. So asking them to put in a ton of effort for no reward is just not realistically going to inspire them to stay engaged. Whenever we can devise campaigns or activities that give this positive feedback to the people participating, with minimal effort, we should jump on those projects. These folks might not have learned the relationship between working hard and reward, so we can help teach that association. "Without directly experiencing the connection between effort and reward, animals, whether they're rats or people, default to laziness."(1)

Also keep in mind that all is not lost on the folks who are not participating, and are watching the campaign from the sidelines. Like we wrote in our response to "Sack the Sack Lunches," this type of campaign can help spark people's interest, just by witnessing and experiencing the results. Let's not condemn these folks for not participating, and instead let's try harder to inspire them with our successes, and then help them with easy wins when they are ready to participate.

In some states like Texas, where even indigent mail is restricted to 5 letters per month, it's not free to write to these administrators to change conditions. There are plenty of excuses (or reasons) why people can't engage in this type of campaign. Still, whenever possible, we agree that we should be pushing campaigns like these. It just means we have to get more creative in developing them.

Note:
1. Angela Duckworth, Grit, Scribner: 2016, Ch. 11 "The Playing Fields of Grit."
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[Prison Labor] [Pender Correctional Institution] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 66]
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Standing Up Against Work Extortion in NC

Myself and two other prisoners currently being held at Pender Correctional in North Carolina have founded a band of like-minded brothers that are fed up with the way the state and prison systems have found a way to excuse slavery. They are preying on people's downfalls, and use them for their own gain. In North Carolina there is a lot of overcrowding and the only way to get on good time is to work, which saves them money, not having to pay prisoners minimum wage. This work also makes income for the prison at their enterprise plants, where prisoners work for 40-55 hours a week for $10.50-$21.30 in pay (for the week). They have the workers making officers' uniforms, chemicals, working farms, making eye wear, and a laundry service that not only cleans prison clothes but also hospital and rest home clothes.

If you are one of the lucky ones that gets to go to a minimum camp and go out on work release to work an outside job, they charge you $150 a week for room and board. Hold on, that's double dipping. They get paid by the federal government to house us. Then they write us up for every petty thing they can, such as too many clothes, disrespect, profanity, etc. and take $10 from us each time. They also invented a way to charge us every time we receive money from our family.

We decided that we won't go for it anymore, but we are limited to what we can do while we're in here, for fear of retaliation. We're already suffering because we refuse to work. We are building steam every day by spreading the word. We need help from someone that knows the best ways to organize and lead. So can you please help us with advice and resource list and materials to pass out? Also we could really use law books to help further some various lawsuits we have filed and need to file. Please help in any way you can. We are a band of your fellow brothers seeking guidance. Thank you for your time!


MIM(Prisons) responds: These comrades organizing against the extortion of their labor are setting an example for others. Getting like-minded people together and coming up with a unified plan of action is an accomplishment in and of itself. We will send some materials, grievance petitions and other resources that may be useful. But we also call on other prisoners to respond with any advice you have for these organizers. What can we do to have the best chances of success? Are there problems these comrades should look out for? This is the dialectical process that revolutionaries use, summing up our practice to learn from successes and failures. And sharing that learning with others makes an even bigger impact. Turn your own organizing failures into successes by learning from them and helping others to avoid the same mistakes.

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[Abuse] [Tabor Correctional Institution] [North Carolina]
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Fighting False Charges for Staff Negligence

I am waiting to see the D.H.O. for an 'A' charge. I could go to the hole for several weeks, so I'm writing to you now. The following may be published.

On November 4, Ms Jackson, a unit manager, refused to allow this political prisoner to go to work. The record does not clearly reveal whether her violation was racially motivated or relation for the victim's First Amendment activities. It subjected him to possibly being fired or written up for a Rule 25 violation, so he filed a grievance. A step One response was due but not received on November 24.

On November 8, the guards again abandoned their post at the pod sally port so I was unable to go to work. I waited a quarter hour in the designated location. Frederick Shaw, of the same race as Jackson but not me, showed up for "work" a couple of hours late. Instead of giving me a pass per policy, he wrote me up!

Gwenda McDuffile was assigned to "investigate." She gave me a statement form and stared into space and played with a computer mouse while I tried to defend myself against unknown allegations. I later was formally charged with three "offenses."

I was given two charges because of lies in Shaw's statement: a B3 for interfering with a locking device (the block slider?) and a B2.5 for being in an "unauthorized" area (the cell block instead of my assigned job location). The D.H.O. properly dismissed them but continued a more serious 'A' charge for investigation.

Frustrated by my refusal to plead guilty, McDuffie had written me up for writing a statement. Having some knowledge of constitutional law and State policy, I had briefly stated what I knew about McDuffie's "investigation" (she stared into space and played with a computer mouse) while not expressly contradicting my statement. McDuffie concluded, without citing any statute, rule or precedent, that my allegations could expose McDuffie to criminal liability.

I saw the D.H.O. again. The D.H.O. explained that a defense statement about a non-resident employee even if true and made in good faith is punishable per policy by a $10 fine, 30 days in the hole, 60 days sentence credits, 50 hours "extra duty" (slave labor), loss of three "privileges" for 90 days, and $10 trust fund withdrawal limit for 90 days. I know I also face added custody points and probable "demotion" back to close custody.

Officer Grainger was assigned to investigate McDuffie's write up. McDuffie's prior investigation having been unauthorized and otherwise in violation of state law. Although artfully worded, his report tended to corroborate my reports and proved that McDuffie's allegation was a lie. It further showed that I had been denied due process of law by collaborative efforts of McDuffie and Sgt. Gerald. The D.H.O. continued the case again, indicating that he would be discussing Gerald's illegal interference with an assistant warden before leaving the building. Such ex parte communications are unprofessional if not illegal, but common in North Carolina.

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[Abuse] [NC Correctional Institution for Women] [North Carolina]
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Women's Prison in NC denied AC, food

I would like to continue receiving these subscriptions. I am in a North Carolina prison that is probably more different than any others across the U.S. I say this because women are so different than men. We let everyone treat us any way.

We are the only prison (I think) that doesn't have air conditioning for 1600 inmates. Some dorms didn't have working water fountains this summer and if the officer didn't make someone get ice coolers at a certain time we have nothing cold to drink. The officers response, "it isn't me I have my water in a ref."

I noticed this summer after 7:30 PM or 8 PM they started seeing what the temperature was. The food we get is less than a child would eat. And big cockroaches as big as my pinky, well fatter but that long. If you don't have money you starve. They throw away food but don't give seconds. There is almost 16 hours between supper and breakfast.

And the officers lie on you. All the staff does what they want. They will lock you in Seg for someone telling them you have drugs or anything and it don't have to be true. Just because you pissed someone off. I went to seg for them telling me a white powder substance tested positive for crack or crack-based. I know for a fact that it was a norotton pill and do you think I could fight it? No! Cause the inmate always lies and the staff is never wrong. The medical here is a joke. They just cut you off your medication for no reason. Even when the outside doctors say not to. We are so overcrowded but I'm pulling the same amount of time for habitual felon as people who has killed.

Oh! If you don't brown-nose with the police then you're just going to have to take what they dish. Oh! But let them hear about an inspection everything changes. This is the worst run prison, every shift something changes. And why can't we smoke? Damn, it's not illegal. But I guess I am venting because this place beats all I've ever seen. Thanks for listening.

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[Abuse] [Polk Correctional Institution] [North Carolina]
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Guards cause prisoner death and abuse in NC

Around June a Mexican prisoner jammed his door and got out his call and stabbed an officer back here on high security maximum control when the officers came to feed him. The prisoner ran to the end of the hallway with a shank in his hand and he grabbed a nearby broom stick. The prisoner ut his back against the wall. The officers came to enforce order and beat the Mexican prisoner unconscious. The officers to retaliate kept beating the prisoner saying stop resisting after the inmate was already unconscious.

You can look it up on the news report of June in North Carolina prison of Polk Correctional Institution. Not long after that an inmate back here on high security maximum control started a fire because the prison staff denied him and other prisoners their food. The other prisoners joined in on the fire. The officer took the other prisoners out their rooms but the person that started the fire was left inside his cell. The officer told the prisoner in his cell that he was going to get him out after he passed out. The prisoner suffocated with the smoke and died.

The prisoners who were his neighbors were questioned by the SBI to know the situation. The officer was supposed to be put in investigation but came to work the following day like nothing happened. A prisoner died because the prison staff didn't get him out until he passed out suffocating by the smoke. When it's the prison staff duty to serve and protect the lives of the prisoners housed in these prison facilities. How many more lives and families have to suffer because of the corruption of the government system?

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[Abuse] [North Carolina]
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Gang affiliation guilty by association

I am writing with concerns pertaining to the (SRG) gang issue that's been hindering so many individuals in the North Carolina prison institutions. Guilty by association has been at the forefront of bestowing gang affiliation. I feel a person should only be labeled if caught in the act of any malicious behavior with a gang member.

One thing that stands out from this whole ordeal the most is how the gang intelligence officers use confidential information to gain a guilty verdict against you with the hearing examiner.

How are you supposed to face your accuser when you don't know anything about the source from which it came? It's a violation of your constitutional rights no matter what type of label is placed upon you. I feel the situation should be taken seriously due to the fact that, as a human being, it puts restrictions on one's life, as well as scrutiny in the public eye.

I am currently going through these circumstances and it is very frustrating knowing that you have to be accountable for someone else's actions even when the evidence speaks for itself. I fully overstand that being black in amerikkka is an everyday struggle, especially when it comes to judging an entire race. My mindset is to overcome these obstacles and maintain a sense of focus on being successful.

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