Out of control

Murray, B. C.



OUT OF CONTROL Due to incompetence, indifference and outright bias; graft and corruption run amok at FCC-Forrest City-Low. Meanwhile inmates who wish to obey the policies and rules and staff who want to simply do there jobs and go home are made to suffer. On Friday, September 29, 2017, an African-American corrections officer (CO) physically attacked a white inmate who never instigated a confrontation or tried to respond. Staff at the prison wasted no time trying to sweep this incident under the rug. On behalf of a handicapped inmate who witnessed the assault, I typed an affidavit that the inmate then signed. When I presented the affidavit to the prison's investigative officer at SIS on behalf of the handicapped inmate, I had to practically beg the officer to accept the affidavit. Clearly the prison has no stomach for facing up to such abhorrent actions on the part of one of its corrections officers. Use of K2 or synthetic marijuana goes unchecked. Men who are caught while high on this substance for the most part go unpunished. The staff know who not only uses this substance, but which inmates sell it to their fellow inmates. The inmate dealers are given carte blanche to continue to sell this drug that prison memoranda clearly labels as dangerous and possibly deadly. In addition, actual marijuana makes its way onto the compound as well. The CO's routinely announce at the beginning of their shift that they "don't care if you smoke so long as you clean up behind yourselves." Meanwhile, the warden and his staff effectuate a ruse to appear proactive in dealing with the compound drug use. This includes banning tea bags of all things (someone allegedly was once caught hiding K2 in a tea bag) and now banning all incoming mail and envelopes that are not white in color from entering the compound. This means all cards, drawings by children on colored construction paper and other items from family members will not be delivered, all because the prison claims the illegal substances are coming into the prison through the U.S. mail. For those of us who do not use illegal substances, this means our access to mail from family as well as paperback books permitted under BOP policy are restricted while the guilty parties continue to obtain drugs from the primary source that prison officials refuse to acknowledge: their own correction officers. The excuse that drugs and other contraband are entering the prison through the U.S. mail, visitation room, from across across the fence or by drones is frankly insulting to those of us who know better. For example, it is known across the compound that one CO, an African-American male regularly brings K2 and marijuana into the prison. Several inmates have confirmed to me that this staff member brings pounds of marijuana into the facility. I personally witnessed this CO come into our housing unit to which he was not assigned and walk to an African-American inmate's cubicle where he opened the inmates locker, placed something inside, relocked it, and then walked out of the housing unit. Minutes afterwards, the restroom area was filled with the skunk-like smell of marijuana. Another CO, also an African-American male, while working in our housing unit, routinely unlocked the locker of an AfricanAmerican inmates locker after lights out where he placed something inside and relocked it. The locker was never searched as CO's typically do when opening an inmates locker. Instead, it was obvious to onlookers that the CO was placing something inside the inmates locker. The inmate is a known dealer of illegal substances. Another tell-tale sign is the CO's unwillingness to enforce the institution's prohibition against inmates entering housing units in which they do not reside. The prison recently instituted a requirement that all inmates wear their prison ID's around their necks attached to lanyards. Each of the three housing buildings were given different colored lanyards for inmates to wear. The exception is the residents of the Residential Drug & Alcohol Program (RDAP) whose inmates wearing given black-colored lanyards. In spite of these colored lanyards, inmates still continue entering other housing units at will. The overwhelming abusers of this policy are African-American inmates who are known by inmates and CO's alike to be drug dealers and dealers of other contraband. In my particular housing unit, inmates wearing lanyards of orange, black and yellow colors routinely enter my particular building that is supposed to be strictly off-limits to inmates not wearing green-colored lanyards. This "unit visiting" is primarily done on evenings and weekends when fewer and more lenient CO's are working. The other contraband that goes unchecked are cell phones. In my housing units along I can identify five inmates, all AfricanAmericans, who use cell phones. Inmates are seen Sky-ping, posting rap videos on You Tube, and sending and receiving pictures that they share among themselves. I can't swear there aren't Caucasian and Hispanic inmates in possession of cell phones. However, the black inmates are open with their phone use; a sign they clearly do not fear being caught with this type of contraband. Some have been caught with these phones in their possession. However the preponderance of the possessors still go unchecked. The reason? These phones are brought onto the compound and sold for as much as $1000 each to inmates by African-American CO’s. In our housing unit, a black CO who is believed to be a seller of several types of contraband, once was walking directly in front of one housing cubicle during the evening count when a cell phone rang. The CO first tried to ignore the ringing phone. After other inmates began laughing, the CO feigned a search of the two inmates living in the cubicle. Naturally, he claimed to not find a cell phone and declared, "l guess I was mistaken" to a housing unit laughing uncontrollably. Another ' black CO announced to a white inmate that he could get him a cell phone for $100 and the inmate could then sell it for $1000. The inmate was shocked at the CO's admission. If there seems to be a pattern it is because there is one. The K2, marijuana, cell phones and other contraband are being brought into the prison by African-American CO's who provide these items to African-American inmates. Sure, there are many white and Hispanic users of illegal substances. The sellers of these items though are exclusively black. No black CO is going to bust fellow black officers or black inmates for fear of being labeled as "snitches" or "Uncle Toms." White CO's know that if they bust black inmates who are dealing drugs or have phones in the prison they will be marked as "racists." More importantly, with the CO's all knowing each other and living in close proximity to each other, the white CO's particularly are in fear for their lives and that of their family. In small rural communities, these CO's and their families are sitting ducks with targets on their backs for drug dealers and others dealing in prison contraband. These double standards for white and Hispanic inmates and staff and that of black inmates and staff carry over into every aspect of the prison's operation including education, religious services, commissary and help from the inmate unit teams who are primarily black. One black female unit counselor was so brazen she announced to her entire unit, "You [expletive associated with those who fornicate with indeterminate family matriarchs] can't do nothing to me. I got got eighteen years in, I'm union, I got [slang word for breasts that begins with the letter't'], I'm black and Obama is president." The BOP has kept its head in the sand vis-a-vis FCC Forrest City-Low for too long. Serious contraband, personnel and administrative issues have been allowed to fester. Taking away inmate privileges is not the answer (since 2010 twenty-eight privileges have been taken from inmates in the name of "security" and "efficiency"). In light of the recent assault of a white inmate by a black CO, selective enforcement of policy and rules, and blatant examples of the Peter Principle and discrimination, this powder keg of a correctional institution will undoubtedly explode unless corrective action is taken sooner than later.

Author: Murray, B. C.

Author Location: Arkansas

Date: June 16, 2018

Genre: Essay

Extent: 2 pages

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