Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Central Prison - North Carolina

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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.

[Mental Health] [Control Units] [COVID-19] [Polk Correctional Institution] [Central Prison] [North Carolina]
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Stay-At-Home Orders, Solitary Confinement and Mental Health

Solitary confinement is a mental war

There’s been a substantial amount of reports on increases in depression and mental health disorders in the United $tates due to the shelter-in-place orders. In September, Time Magazine cited a study that showed severe depression being reported by 5.1% of people, up from 0.7% before the pandemic. The common explanation for this increase is social isolation combined with uncertainty and fear. Yet we have a prison system that regularly uses more extreme forms of social isolation (for example no internet, and being locked down in a literal cage), uncertainty and fear and people often look at the people in these prisons as being mentally ill. In reality, we are seeing a massive experiment on the larger society that shows this is how most people react in the conditions we face in prison. So what does it mean to be mentally ill, if this is socially induced?

It means this place will drive you crazy. If not by having hardly any contact with the opposite sex, then by isolation in a small cell (including being allowed 3 showers a week and an hour of recreation outside your cell 5 days a week). This is not normal and causes abnormal effects.

As you sit in your dwelling long enough you become a different person. You may find yourself venting or doing things you normally wouldn’t do, like burning down your cell or town.

A person may go a period of time without speaking. An elderly self-disciplined person may stay quiet, longing, but when one does break their silence they will talk for an hour or two until they burn themselves out. This will usually occur once a day in conditions where there’s only one person to talk to, as it is an HCON (high) Control Purpose.

Others began to talk to spirits and demons. In some cases, this is stimulated by them making up stuff in their mind, but there are also diagnosed paranoid prisoners who scream every time the light cuts on and they open their eyes. They also fight demons.

Solitary confinement can also lead to suicide, as an escape. There have been people committing reactionary suicide, like Biscuit from the movie Life, when he ran across the gun line because he “couldn’t go on living.” Psychologists don’t even bother to get to know who you are or talk you through your problems. They either give you some drugs to experiment with or decline to help you altogether. They are unconcerned that abused children are liable to grow up with an attachment disorder which doesn’t necessarily require medication but does require TLC, which a half-dozen psychiatrists can’t provide for the 1200 prisoners here.

On Segregation we receive even less communication with our families who can provide that loving sanctuary and keep us sane, because we have no phone and only one non-contact visit a month (we should be able to receive more TV visits).

Our families mail is sometimes held for a month after it arrives at the prison. This creates depression by worrying about our families and why they haven’t written over the holidays, to later find out devastating news from our loved ones. Talk about fear and uncertainty.

Some people become anti-social in solitary confinement for different reasons. One reason may be that after so much chaos and falling out with people around them in distress, they began to fall back from everyone.

Others find themselves through self-discipline and block out all other worldly distractions to work on their goals.

Some stressed adolescents in solitary confinement turn towards music as escape and begin to sing lyrics at the top of their lungs, others find refuge and entertainment in woofing. With all this racket going on in Restrictive Housing, it will drive a perfectly sane person insane and into an insomniac.

At Polk Correctional Institution in North Carolina on supermax (or HCON, High Risk Security) we don’t go outside because the officials will trash your cell, steal your property, fully restrain you with your hands behind your back connected to chains around your waist, and leave you in a recreation cage with giant brown recluse spiders, all to deter you from going outside again. Similar tactics are practices here at Central Prison.

The air in the building is insufficient for a human being to breathe at times and I’ve experienced shortness of breath. Compare that to wearing a mask that you can easily remove if you choose.

Comrades at that camp have developed bone marrow cancer, and there is probably cause to expect that this cancer may have been caused by the contaminated water they were working in. There was also strong gasoline type chemicals in the food that was being served at the time.

Right now at Central Prison our lunch consists of one bologna and cheese sandwich, 2 crackers and a 2oz (1/4 cup) of fruit with a juice packet every day. Dinner’s no better, and staff will fight and curse you if you speak out, because they have PTSD and other disorders themselves from war, childhood and other experiences. In this way, mental health patients (the staff) are responsibly for the well-being of other mental health patients.

There’s a mental health program called T.D.U. for patients on RHCP (Restrictive Housing Control Purposes) that they can send you to where you can slowly earn privileges like television, canteen, phone, being allowed to come out of your cell, but they never send any New Afrikans to the programs.

By contrast, RHCP pods have 16 cells each, and I have never seen more than 5 non-color people at a time in any pod. At HCON there are four blocks each with two tiers that hold 12 cells each. I have never witnessed more than 2 non-color people on any tier at a time during the 2 years I spent there.

If a non-colored comrade gets in a scuffle on the yard at Central Prison, they may receive a week or two in segregation, but a negro will receive 12-18 months on RHCP. Right now, we are receiving more time at Central Prison on RHCP than prisoners at Polk CI on HCON who spend only 10 months on HCON, but after they do their HCON at Polk CI, Polk may hold them for 6-12 months on RHCP.

Some people haven’t been guilty of any charges to be placed on RHCP or HCON, so Classification will lie and forge paperwork (no due process). They are con artists who don’t follow their own laws.

The ill-treatment we receive from the institution only creates more PTSD and brings unnecessary bad energy towards people. Workers should be focused on taking care of their families and not risking their lives to oppress others for no gain, but of their master’s amusement.

This room becomes our life. At Polk CI on HCON our cells have showers with food being delivered to their doors, and some guys never want to leave. Some people aren’t going home and to some poor men on the street, incarceration provides 3 meals a day. In the County jail I’ve seen people live in the hole and refuse to leave on numerous occasions.

Solitary confinement is the only place I’ve seen a man smear shit everywhere including his face, and eat shit sandwiches. Tell me this is normal and something you see people do. Thankfully they finally sent this particular prisoner to the mental hospital where he may get some help (and not get thrown in a cage for sleeping in some bushes on public property because he’s a poor New Afrikan man who was stripped of his assets).

Comrades, we are not ourselves behind the door, so I’ll leave you with the words a knowledgeable man left with me:

No 2 men get along without respect.

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[Organizing] [Political Repression] [Neuse Correctional Institution] [NC Correctional Institution for Women] [Central Prison] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 71]
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Admin Cracks Down on Organizers as Protests Begin in NC

Revolutionary Greetings!

Just recently, the national grievance petition that I drafted got published in several newspapers. Then our cell block got raided multiple times, and cellphones were confiscated. Well the C.O.’s put the searches off on my organizing and blaming me for the raids. As a result, a XXXX gang member stabbed me 5 times in the back with an ice pick. I am recovering fine but it just goes to show how far these fascists will go to shut me up.

Next, I would like to update you on these petitions. So on 8 May 2020 citizens in Raleigh, N.C. did a vehicle protest blaring horns, marching with signs in front of Central Prison in Raleigh & prisoners on the inside went on a 3 day hunger strike and refused to lock down at the facility.

On 9 May 2020 many protests broke out at the Neuse Prison inside and outside demanding N.C. prisoners’ human rights.

On 10 May 2020 women prisoners at NCCIW also protested on the inside while dozens of cars blared their horns outside of the prison in solidarity and marched in front of the prison until local police from two agencies were dispersed to break the crowd up.

Prisoners are tired of being restricted from writing to other prisoners of the opposite sex. Tired of paying $10.00 for prison rule violations, restrictions on who can send us money, life sentences and all the b.s. time we are being sentenced.

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[Abuse] [Legal] [Central Prison] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 38]
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North Carolina Prisoners' Preliminary Victory on Use of Force Lawsuit

On 27 March 2014, a Federal judge in the United States District Court issued an order requiring prison staff to record any use of force, should force be required on a prisoner.

Some other prisoners and I filed a lawsuit because the pigs at Central Prison in Raleigh used blind spots in the current video system to hide from surveillance so they could beat prisoners. We also informed the courts of the "lack of policy for proper method of investigation in any use-of-force incidents."

As a result, Judge Terrance Boyle appointed an expert (former corrections administrator Eldon Vail) to review the prison's surveillance system. Based on several problems he found, he made five recommendations.

North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS) prisons adopted four of the recommendations but said using a hand-held video camera is not feasible and placed "undue burden upon Central Prison." However, on Thursday, 27 March 2014 Judge Boyle ordered the fifth recommendation be adopted. His order stated "...defendants are placed on notice that if there is not voluntary compliance and implementation of the recommendation, a preliminary injunction will ensue."

The pigs deny any abuse, saying they used minimal amounts of force required to deal with prisoners characterized as the "worst of the worst" among the prison system's population.

Still the state agreed last year to install more security cameras to cover previously unmonitored areas. But Vail's report said the new cameras still don't monitor all the blind spots where prisoners say the abuse occurs. Vail also reported finding lenses so out-of-focus and smudged with grime that it was difficult to make out what the camera was recording.

The recommendations made by Vail that must be followed are:

  1. Adjust each camera that demonstrates a pattern of "freezing" to improve motion detection sensitivity.
  2. Establish a written preventive maintenance schedule for lens cleaning, camera refocusing and replacement of faulty cameras.
  3. Install additional cameras to view the sally ports of each cell block in Unit 1.
  4. Modify the video surveillance retention policy and procedure to clarify the responsibility to provide notice to the video retention officer to preserve a video by the unit supervisor from the investigator's responsibility to request a copy of the video for the investigation.
  5. Change the use of force policy, SOP 4.100, to require that a handheld video camera operator respond to the scene of spontaneous use-of-force incidents and that a camera remain on until the event is over and [prisoner] has been safely placed in a cell.

This fifth recommendation means that during an anticipated use-of-force (any use-of-force) a hand-held camera will be used until a prisoner is no longer in contact with the pigs.

We are now getting ready for a pretrial conference. But we are one step closer to getting justice. We have at least made the prison safer. Now the pigs will not have anywhere to hide.


Notes:Case 5:13-ct-03201-BODE's 182, and 198.
News article from www.wnct.com March 27, 2014
News article from www.charloteobserver.com by Gary D. Robertson, Associated Press, 3/27/2014
Letter from Elizabeth G. Simpson, Staff attorney, NC Prisoner Legal Services, 3/31/2014


MIM(Prisons) adds: This update to the ongoing legal battle in North Carolina is good news for this carefully planned and hard fought legal battle. We know that often we cannot win when fighting abuse by employees of the criminal injustice system in their own courts. But sometimes the courts have to pretend objectivity and, when presented with facts that show the NCDPS is violating their own laws and policies, we can win some improvements to conditions. While the courts won't be where we make revolutionary change, for now we can use them as one tool to struggle against abuse. We must always accompany these court battles with publicity and education about the case, using them to expose both the brutality we are fighting and the injustice when the courts rule against us.

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[Abuse] [Legal] [Central Prison] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 37]
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Prisoners' Lawsuit Makes Progress in NC Struggle Against Abuse

north carolina lawsuit victory
I would like to update my article in ULK 33. Our lawsuit against guard assaults on prisoners has gained attention and helped us win some protections. The pigs in Raleigh were ordered to install eleven new cameras and extra equipment to double storage capacity, set up a new policy to investigate assaults, and the court hired an expert to go into the prison to inspect it to see if blind spots are covered and other areas have been corrected. They have also replaced the entire unit staff.

We are now in discovery since the judge refused to throw out the prisoner beatings lawsuit. This case is getting some press, and the Herald Sun reported: "The judge made a not so veiled reference to the practice of punishing inmates by locking them up in dim solitary units." The judge said "your case is about sunlight where you claim there were systematic violations" to the lawyers for the prisoners. "What we need to do with this lawsuit is not bury it in a deep, dark hole and proceed with discovery."(1)

So one damn thing for sure we got a judge on our side. The same way they have taken from us (a little at a time) we all can do the same to them. It's just a matter of team work.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This is a good example of a winnable court battle that will result in some improvements in safety for prisoners. But it will not stop the inhumane abuse that continues throughout prisons in North Carolina. This is an ongoing contradiction of our fight against the criminal injustice system at this stage: we take on reformist battles to try to improve the conditions under which our comrades suffer, but we know that these reforms offer no more than minor adjustments to a system that is based on the oppression and suffering of those locked within.

It is ironic that the prisoners in North Carolina have to go to court to fight for their own safety within prison, while the state's justification for every repressive act is "safety" (including North Carolina's excuse for censoring Under Lock & Key for over three years straight). This exposes the reality of the criminal injustice system: a brutal tool of social control that endangers the safety of all who are captured in its broad nets. We need to take advantage of reform battles like this one, both to gain some breathing room for our comrades and to educate others and build unity. We can't end the abuse until we eliminate the criminal injustice system, but these reformist battles are important steps along the way in our ultimate fight against imperialism as a whole.


Notes: The Herald Sun November 15, 2013.

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[Abuse] [Legal] [Central Prison] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 33]
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NC Prisoners take 23 to Court over Assaults

Sitting here I thought I would touch base and let you know that the pigs in Raleigh got caught red-handed. I'm in an eight-plaintiff lawsuit against 23 defendants, including the former and present wardens at Central prison.

Last year they put a guy in a wheelchair. Pigs were aware that the cameras didn't record or even have the capacity to record in certain areas and would put prisoners in restraints and then beat them down. They broke several of my ribs.

We are working on getting new cameras and a video retention policy, which currently they don't have. I have been working like hell to get a light shown on these corrupt pigs so as the hunger striker said in ULK 24, "Let's Rock!!"

The case is: Stanley Earl Corbett et al., v Warden GJ Branker et al., U.S.D.C. Eastern District of NC Western Division, No. 5:10-CT-3135

Defendants

  1. Warden GJ Branker
  2. Warden Kenneth Lassiter
  3. Sgt. James Reed
  4. Sgt. Mildred Prado
  5. Off. Doyle Holloman
  6. Off. Melanie Lancaster
  7. Off. Timmie Hicks
  8. Off. Samuel James
  9. Lt. Michael Norris
  10. Lt. Brent Soucier
  11. Off. Moore
  12. Off. Press
  13. Off. Summerlin
  14. Off. Arthur Marsh Jr.
  15. Off. Oates
  16. Off. Bidwell
  17. Off. Lassiter
  18. Off. Marcel Colleymore
  19. Off. Tyson
  20. Off. Alexander
  21. Off. Jared Welch
  22. Off. Ben
  23. Off. Hunt


MIM(Prisons) adds: We commend the prisoners who came together to organize this suit against difficult odds in a state where law libraries do not exist. Yet, demanding cameras to address this one instance will do nothing to stop the inhumane, physical abuse that is meted out at a conspiratorial level. Abuse like this has led to multiple hunger strikes and other demonstrations in recent years in North Carolina prisons.

Of course, the Department of Public Safety turns around and accuses ULK of promoting violence and lawlessness, having censored every issue we've put out since November 2011. As the rampant abuse and corruption of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety comes to light, we have comrades struggling against these abuses on many different fronts including censorship, grievance procedures and physical brutality, as well as education and recruitment on the inside. And despite all the censorship, as one reader points out, it seems interest in Under Lock & Key only continues to grow.

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