• John & Vivett Dukes

Prisoners Are Walking Targets For Correctional Officers

The average member of society has no clue how prisoners get treated, and sometimes members of the public think that they're treated better than they really are. That's been a prevailing truth that my husband John, a man currently incarcerated in a maximum security prison, repeatedly reiterates to me. It is a reality of his and millions that he needs for me and all who read this blog to understand as best as we possibly can without experiencing incarceration firsthand. 

Recently, John wrote me a letter wherein he recounts one of his personal experiences with prison injustice at the hands of those in whose care and rehabilitation prisoners are entrusted -- correctional officers. As I read it, my heart swelled with anger, fear, sadness, and so many other emotions. Here is an excerpt from that letter. May your reaction move you to a place of activism for currently and formerly incarcerated individuals.

June 14, 2017

Dear Vivett,

        Prisoners are walking, living targets for correctional officers. Oftentimes, the officer's discretion is used to humiliate and punish inmates simply for the officer's amusement.

     In fact, some officers abuse their authority, especially since there's no accountability for how they treat us. Yes, we have grievance complaints but they rarely solve serious issues. Occasionally, officers will jump on a prisoner and report the incident as if he/she was the victim. Being in prison is very stressful because even the model prisoner isn't exempt from being called out by an officer.

     I remember going to the yard one night and I happened to be last in line. The correctional officers doing the frisk randomly picked me out. Being a so-called model inmate at the time, I complied and followed the officer's request. The officer wasn't interested in my ability to comprehend the verbal command ordered. I was pulled out of line solely for the officer's recreation and for that of whoever else wanted in on this sick sport.

     I remember the officer acting like I moved my hands off the wall. Anybody that has spent time in prison knows that moving off the wall can get you hospitalized (jumped by many officers). Thank God I stayed calm and somehow got the sergeant on duty's attention; however, that was after the officer threatened me, cursed me out, and had my leg up in the air. Listen -- that situation had me wondering: "I might not make it home ever again...there's a good chance I might be disfigured after these cops jump me." Still to this day, I thank God for His Divine Intervention. All it would've taken was one false move and my life would have been different in prison. Working in the infirmary here, I've seen men hurt real bad by officers...real bad.

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