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Correctional Officers Live by their Own Rules, Says One PAC Member

What happens when C.O.’s don’t want to do their jobs? PAC Member S. Davidson chronicled the incident that contributed to his proposal of an internal, “entity of oversight” which monitors the behaviors of guards and officials.

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“A Blatant Malfeasance,” by S. Davidson.

On January 10th, 2013, at or around 12:45 pm, while at Five Points Correctional Facility, which is located in Romulus, NY, I was being admitted into the facility’s S.H.U. (Special Housing Unit) for an “alleged” possession of contraband.  The contraband being “smoking tobacco,” which wasn’t allowed in a “particular area” of the facility.  The incident began when a corrections officer, C.O. Maloy, was conducting a strip frisk of my person upon my being processed and admitted into the S.H.U.  According to officer Maloy, he “observed a foreign object in, or near my anal cavity,” and as a result to his observation, he ordered that I be escorted to the infirmary to be placed on contraband watch (said area being located in the back of the facility’s infirmary).

7NYCRR, Directive #4910, Section Four, “J” under “Procedures,” (E)(1) and (2) that, “The inmate shall remain isolated for a period not to exceed 48 hours unless, (1) a defecation containing contraband occurs, in which case the inmate will be retained until two negative defecations occur or, (2) two negative defecations occur.”

The Directive (#4910) also states, @ section “J,” (3)(A) thru (C) that, “the cell/or room will be furnished w/ a bed , mattress, pillow, bed linen, blanket and a bedpan.  The inmate will not be permitted his or her personal clothing.  S/he shall be provided w/ hospital clothing or, one set of underwear, one pair of pants or skirt, one shirt or blouse, one pair of socks, or one pair of slippers.”  It further states that, “The inmate shall be issued the following personal hygiene items: one bar of hand soap, one hand towel, toothbrush, toothpaste and/or denture cleaner.  The water supply to the cell/room shall be turned off.  The inmate shall have the opportunity to use issues personal hygiene items either by being provided with a basin of warm water or by being removed from the cell/room as directed, or at intervals scheduled by the deputy superintendent of security.”

Now having had provided such background information pertaining to Directive #4910, which regulates the procedures to be followed during a contraband watch, allow me here to show you how I was inhumanely treated, by both the security staff and also its Executive Team, while being “detained” and subjected to the aforementioned contraband watch.

Moments after Officer Maloy and his immediate supervisor, the S.H.U. sergeant, determined that I was “concealing a foreign object” in my anal cavity, the pair of them escorted me to the facility’s infirmary, where I was processed and admitted into the contraband watch room, and “personal corrections officer” that was assigned to “watch” me for an eight-hour shift or, until a second officer would arrive to relieve the first officer and assume another eight-hour shift, or wait of a third officer to come and relieve the second officer, and so on and so forth.  Thus a complete 24-hour manual guard/watch.  However, my stay there far exceeded the mandates of Directive #4910, (E)(1) and (2), and it did so by four whole days, as I was admitted to the infirmary, “contraband watch” on January 10th, 2013 thought I wasn’t released until January 16th, 2013 – six days later, even though the Directive clearly mandates that I be released after having submitted two negative defecations, which I’d done on January 11th, and on January 12th, 2013 respectively.

Therefore, and by right, per Directive # 4910, (E)(2), I was supposed to have been released from contraband watch on January 12th, 2013.  However, I was NOT released from said intrusive and degrading observation, due to the alternating officers failure to “inspect” and “record” each of my bowel movements within the 48 hour time frame that it had taken me to provide them w/ two negative samples of my fecal matter.  At Five Points Corr. Facility, and certainly at many other correctional facilities across New York State, and throughout this Nation, there are some corrections officers who are averse and opposed to having to “manually handle” the contents of an inmates fecal matter.  And as a direct result to that – pertaining to my case – the corrections officers of whom I handed my fecal specimens to, did “flat out refuse” to inspect, and record the submissions of fecal matter that I submitted to them.  The pair of Officers of whom I had handed my specimens to, had both “warned” me not to “go” on their watch.  In fact, one of the officers explicitly stated to me: “I don’t like playing in shit!  So you better not ‘go’ on my shift, because if you do you won’t be getting credit for it, because I’m not recording it.”  Though when Nature decided to call, who was I to deny it.  So incidentally, and perhaps “spitefully” I did exactly that – “I took a dump” on each of their shifts!  Yet, true to their word, neither of the officers recorded the proffered samples that I’d provided them w/, nor did they notify their Area Supervisor, which is what they are mandated to do whenever an inmate produces a sample of fecal matter.  And as a consequence to their acts of malfeasance – because that’s what it was, “official misconduct” – it appeared that for three whole days I was either refusing to, or couldn’t provide a fecal matter sample, which in turn permitted the Security staff to detain me beyond the “routine 48 hour observational period”, for @ that point I had fallen into the “second category” of Directive # 4910(E)(2).

Not withstanding, the entire six days that I spent on contraband watch, I was never allowed, nor was I ever given access to any of the toiletries or to the facilities that Direction #4910 allows an inmate to have access to.  For six whole days I was w/out soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, a hand towel, socks, slippers or underwear!  Upon my admission to the contraband watch room, I was issued a drab – green colored hospital “smock” or in prison terms: a “Barney Rubble suit”!  And nothing else.  For six days I had to walk across a cold and dirty tiled floor, w/out socks or slippers, to and from my bunk to the feed-up-hatch on the room’s door, in order to pick-up and put back the feed-up-trays which contained my daily meals.

Yes, I was provided w/ bedding material.  However, the bedding I was provided w/ was dirty and soiled, as if it has been used and slept on by another inmate just minutes before it was issued to me.  Sounds “appalling,” don’t it?  Though it becomes even more appalling when you realize that atrocities of these kind are taking place right here in the state of New York, a state which is suppose to be one of the most liberal and democratic states in the world!  Yet, it’s happening people;  inhumane and sadistic treatment is being practiced and imposed upon your prison populace by none other than your very own public officials and it’s being done w/ impunity, too.

Well, on the fifth day of my six-day stay, I had decided that after having submitted five fecal matter samples, but only having received credit for “one sample” that, I was done playing game w/ these officers, and wouldn’t provide any more samples of fecal matter until I was able to speak to a captain or a higher-ranking official.  After having made up my mind to desist playing these officers’ games, a captain appeared in the area to make his “rounds”, Captain Signor, I believe his name was.  Well, whatever his name was, as soon as he set foot into the Contraband Watch Room Area, I immediately called out to him, explaining in a loud and rushed manner the things that I’d been subjected to by his subordinate officers, and how I wouldn’t cooperate any more w/ Directive #4910, until he brought a halt to the “shenanigans” that were being done to me by his officers.  After hearing what I had to say, the captain asked one of the officers that was there: “How come this inmate is w/out socks or slippers? The officer shrugged his shoulders and said that he didn’t have an answer to that b/c that’s how he saw me when he first came on duty.  I then pointed out to the Captain that on each of my submission attempts, barring the submission that had been “accounted” for, the corrections officers had been refusing to accept and count my proffered submission as a satisfactory submission, stating that: “It’s not a ‘significant amount’ to be counted a ‘satisfactory submission.’  Upon hearing that, the Captain asked the officers if what I had said was true or not.  Ironically, the officers answered in the affirmative, and stated that: “until the inmate is able to submit a ‘significant amount’ of fecal matter, it is not to be recorded.”  At that the captain replied, “Where is that written?”  Again the officers shrugged their shoulders, but then said that they were instructed by their Area Supervisor, “not to count or record a proffered submission, unless it was that of a significant amount.”  The captain then said “Well, that’s’ what the Sergeants are for.  It’s not on an officer to make that determination.  The Sergeants are trained to determine what’s sufficient or not.  Whenever the inmate proffers a submission, you are to retrieve it, notify your Sergeant, and allow him to take it from there.”  The very next day I was released from the contraband Watch Room, and was escorted back to the S.H.U.  I ended up receiving 30 days keep lock (cell confinement) for possession of a balloon full of tobacco that, one of the S.H.U. officers claimed to have “found” outside the S.H.U. Strip Frisk Area, 45 minutes after I’d been escorted and admitted into the contraband watch room!  They never found me in possession of anything.  Though I was forced to please to the 30 days of Keep Lock, due solely because the video tape that I had requested to use @ my hearing – as evidence – was “dubiously” unavailable;  on that particular day the camera wasn’t working!  I was requesting the video to establish that I never possessed, nor did I ever get rid of a balloon of tobacco that was “allegedly found.”  So b/c I couldn’t prove – through the aide of the video tape – that the officer was lying in his report about me possessing, and then getting rid of the tobacco, I was forced w/ the dilemma of taking the 30 days on a cop-out or receive 90 days for daring to challenge the facility’s authority.  And to add insult to injury, the same captain that reprimanded the officers (the ones who were on duty the night I’d been making “noise” about what was being done to me on contraband watch) was the hearing officer for the possession of contraband ticket that was written against me by officer Maloy. 

Thus, in the end, it was he – Captain Signor – who had come to “vindicate” his officers for my having had him “show them up” for abusing their authority that night in the contraband watch room.  “What a coincidence,” a “fool” would think!  And though it should be surprising, it’s actually not, for the majority of people – though sad to say – do in fact fall into the category of a “fool!”  As it’s clearly the “foolish” who sit and believe that, atrocities of these kind don’t happen in Amerika’s prisons.  But they do, and will continue to happen until an “entity of oversight” is established and allowed to monitor (from the inside) the behaviors of society’s public officials, b/c the majority of them are corrupt, it’s either that, or we idly sit and wait for another “71’ Attica Riot” to occur.

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The Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP) works to guarantee that all people are free to self-determine gender identity and expression, regardless of income or race, and without facing harassment, discrimination or violence.

This blog, which features letters from our Prisoner Advisory Committee (PAC) members, is just one way we overcome the enormous state-created barriers to communication and political participation for the people who are most affected by the prison system.

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