“OPEN LETTER TO THE COMMUNITY”
The New Directive #4911-A is Anti-Family Support
The principle problem with DOCCS new Directive #4911-A is that it is pro-business and anti-family. It will increase revenue for those businesses DOCCS has designated as approved venders, with alleged kick-backs in the contract. Also, it will be more expensive for families to support their incarcerated loved ones. Directive #4911-A restricts the ability of the incarcerated to maintain any semblance of societal normalcy; rather it serves to dehumanize the incarcerated into a collective of uniformity, and denies any sense of individuality. DOCCS has been incrementally taking away all of the gains won by those who sacrificed their lives during the Attica insurrection. It is time for family, friends and the community to resist and prohibit the implementation of Directive #4911-A.
Here I am listing the most noticeable changes in comparison with the January 1, 2014 issue of Directive #4911:
1. The Directive #4911-A totally eliminates any food or any packages being brought to the facility by family or friends during visiting hours.
2. The weight of packages ordered from DOCCS-approved vendors has been reduced to 30 pounds from 35 pounds per month. However, families/friends may order up to three times per month to accumulate the amount of 30 pounds. A 35-pound package of food has been severely restricted to only 8 pounds of food per package. The resulting effect is a family member or friend would have to only 8 pounds of food per package. The resulting effect is a family member or friend would have to spend additional shipping and handling for the equivalent of 24 pounds of food for the month.
3. The purchase of Bread(s), Canned Foods, Fresh or Dried Fruit and Fresh Vegetables is PROHIBITED!
4. No item with a logo will be permitted, including clothing, plastic containers, etc. Prior to the new Directive, clothing could have a logo no larger than 1 inch.
5. Clothing: The maximum cost of clothes has increased from $50 to $80 an item. The colors of clothing have been severely restricted to WHITE, PINK, TAN and GREEN solid colors. Previously, the only restricted colors were Blue, Black, Gray and Orange. The restrictions now include: Yellow, Gold, Brown, Burgundy, Purple, Maroon, Red—essentially every color that is not white, pink, tan or green. All briefs and underwear must be white, with the exception of the waistband. The same for thermals—no more underwear with colors, all must be white. Furthermore, all footwear must now be a solid color; no more multi-colored sneakers or shoes, which restricts the selection of footwear of any kind.
6. Belts of any size are no longer permitted.
7. Sweatshirts and Sweatpants: No more hooded sweatshirts, no more sweats with a stripe down the side, no sweats with a logo or with a zipper, and only in the colors of white, pink, tan or green.
8. No longer able to receive carbon paper, a clip board, scotch or masking tape.
9. Women are no longer permitted to order a hair/blow dryer. All Incarcerated Persons are no longer able to have key chains, extension cords, floor rugs (with the exception of a prayer rug), no linens (sheets, pillow cases, blankets, towels, washcloths).
10. All religious items permitted in Directive #4911 have been removed, with the exception of a prayer rug, religious chain w/pendant. Because of the limited vendors, there is no indication from where or how incarcerated persons can obtain books, magazines, newspapers and other reading materials. Furthermore, there is no indication that clothing, footwear and other items currently possessed by the incarcerated person will be permitted to be kept or must either be sent home, donated or destroyed or if, upon transfer to another facility, they will be confiscated as contraband.
The issue of DOCCS eliminating many of the hard fought and won possessions of incarcerated persons serves to negate to what extent formerly incarcerated persons fought to achieve the humanization of the prison system. It also further establishes DOCCS intends to develop business relationships which will prove exploitative to the family and friends of the incarcerated person(s).
This issue is not insignificant or minor in NYS DOCCS, rather it points to efforts to further undermine incarcerated families’ ties, and generally create a system in which the majority of interactions will be business transactions. Similar to how DOCCS sought to restrict visiting to weekends only, and having already removed hooded sweatshirts from the population, this is another DOCCS conservative attempt to isolate, alienate and eventually eliminate all family and community relationships between incarcerated persons and the outside community. This nefarious effort by DOCCS must be vehemently opposed by every segment of the community, and to further demand any future proposed changes MUST be based on advice and consent by the community. Keep in mind, it is the community that will have to deal with the end product of DOCCS alleged mandate to rehabilitate the incarcerated person. Therefore, it is the community that must be engaged in this process to ensure the rehabilitation process is successful. I ask that this open letter to the community be widely distributed and given serious consideration in opposition to the implementation of DOCCS Directive #4911-A.
Written by: Jalil A. Muntaqim
December 8, 2017