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.

[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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