As I sit here sipping hot chocolate and listening to 90’s tunes I find myself thinking about a letter that was posted in a newsletter I get called UltraViolet. Its an anti-prison or at least a prison reform newsletter. In this latest issue there was a man who is having trouble with a staff member harassing him.
I have had a similar encounter with a staff member just flat out harassing me. My heart goes out to that man because dealing with a DOC officer is daunting, they are the most solidly built and designed prison gang that there is. There is not another prison related grouping that is larger, or as well funded as the staff. They have each other’s back’s at the very least and will lie for one another quickly to keep the hand of control.
I don’t blame them, look at who they are guarding. Look at how many of us there are compared to them, we outnumber staff at about 200 to 1, give or take a few. So I don’t blame them for keeping solidarity. However, I do blame them for keeping solidarity at the expense of righteousness or morality. When you see a person being bullied and/or being discriminated against I would hope that you would absolutely step in and intervene.
How many television shows are there that highlight human behavior and the whole “WWYD?” movement. To their credit, if a staff member here openly targets a particular race they are quickly reprimanded and corrected. However, when it comes to the LGBTQ community there is little action we can take against them. It is difficult to prove targeting took place. When a staff member says mean and hateful things to a gay man, things that no man should hear, like “where I come from, we hang faggots like you” or finding potential gang members to “take care” of us. Both of which have happened in the last 6 months to me.
If you have a friend or loved one in DOC custody and they are having trouble with staff harassing them, tell them this: Find the stickler for the rules in your institution. Find that one C/O who just cracks you for everything. You know the one i’m talking about, the one who when you see them you immediately feel self-conscious because you may have just done the world an injustice by not making your bed. Yeah, that one…then tell them what is going on. Don’t hold back, tell them your part in it as well, even if it incriminates you. Then expect to be held accountable for your end, if there is accountability to be had. But rest assured that if they hold you to the book, they are more than likely to hold their peers accountable to.
There is always someone who is willing to stand up against racism and discrimination in all it’s ugly forms. There is always someone that still believes in the kindness of humanity. Hopefully you will learn something from them helping you, helping us. Hold yourself to a higher standard of living and each other, improve our lives together and love one another indiscriminately.
Love, Your Brother
Jeff Utnage 823469