Fighting Destruction of Grievances in Maryland
Just as it is in all of the places that are discussed in Under Lock & Key, the system here in Maryland is a joke. Prisoners in this system who wish to air their grievances have no outlet because the same pigs who were writing them up are the same pigs that handle the administrative remedy process.
In 2008, a memo was put out to prisoners, written by the Prisoners' Rights Information System of Maryland (PRISM). It indicated that a Federal lawsuit had been filed by a prisoner represented by PRISM and that that lawsuit resulted in the division of corrections, revising directives governing the administrative remedy process. One of the changes included the adoption of a two-piece carbon copy complaint form so prisoners can retain a copy of the ARP, thus reducing risk of loss and destruction and providing proof of exhaustion of remedies.
For a while this two-piece carbon copy complaint form was beneficial to prisoners, however, like everything else that has been put into effect to ensure that "justice" for prison inmates is upheld, officers have found a way to undermine the system. At first many officers began to refuse to sign the ARPs, but after prisoners began to complain about this injustice the cowards gave in because they did not want to be written up. Then they created a new system stating that no officers could sign an inmate's ARP, only a Lieutenant (Lt) or a "designated officer" could do so. These Lts and designated officers pick and choose which ARPs they want to sign and which ARPs they want to scrap. We have to give our ARPs to a tier officer to take to the Lt because a Lt will never come get it himself. If the Lt is okay with what you've written it will be signed and the carbon copy will be returned to you. If not, you'll never see it again.
The whole point of the carbon copy is to prevent loss or destruction. It is supposed to be signed and dated in front of you so that the carbon copy can be handed back to you right then and there so that you will have proof that you wrote the ARP if something happens to it.
In the segregation unit of Eastern Correctional Institution, Lt Galligher is one of the leaders of the good ol' boy network. It is he and he alone who is in charge of signing ARPs and he must have worked as a magician before working for the division of corruption because he sure does know how to make a grievance disappear. Not many people write this up because this Lt and the other pigs who put this system into place will not hesitate to retaliate on anyone that attempts to expose them. I, however, am not afraid and plan to attack this joke that they call a grievance procedure from every angle possible.
I agree with the brother from Washington who stated that in ULK 19, "[t]he only way that we as prisoners will be treated fairly and with justice is if a neutral outside company or corporation dealing solely with grievances and our claims is constructed." Otherwise we're just complaining to the same people who are administering the many forms of injustice that we are fighting against. It's a new era, it's time for change, it's time for solidarity. I'm especially speaking to those of you who are in an organization, this is what our energy should be focused on, instead of trying to destroy the many forms of injustice that we are shadowed with on an everyday basis. It's time for change. The time is now. Power to the people!
MIM(Prisons) adds: In response to this sort of injustice around prisoner's grievances, some United Struggle from Within (USW) comrades initiated a grievance campaign. Write us to get a copy of the grievance petition for your state if you reside in California, Missouri, Oklahoma or Texas, or a generic petition that you can customize for your state if you are anywhere else.