Visitor Concerns at MSP
To legislative committee on Law and Justice, and audit committee:
Many visitors of loved ones at MSP are increasingly concerned with the new trends being implemented at MSP. Since the departure of Warden Mahoney, while awaiting the advent of the new warden, a lot of changes have occurred that concern us. We are hearing rumors of visiting being eliminated in order to qualify for a $5 million grant. To qualify, MSP would need to become a ‘lock-down’ facility. Already we are seeing things that seem to point that way. Major Woods has banned paper plates visitors use to cook foods that come out of the vending machine frozen. Even though there are an abundance of paper plates available, which we had to pay 5 cents each for, visitors are forced to prepare frozen foods on paper napkins that disintegrate when wet. We were allowed flavored creamers for coffee and tea, @ 10 cents each, but the flavors have now been banned. A cup of tea now costs 75 cents each. We are being told that the vending machines will be removed completely soon, as the popcorn machines recently were. We were also told that the children’s toys would be soon taken away. There is every reason to believe that visitors will be banned next. One staff member recently quit because of the oppressive rule of Major Woods towards visiting. We have every reason to believe that the careful screening of the new warden was to insure complicity in current policy.
The systematic removal of everything that encourages inmates to become better prepared for life on the outside is being eliminated, the last being family support. The prison has made it so expensive now to provide support for most anyway, by using every opportunity to make money from inmate’s families, increasing the fees that the prison collects on goods the inmates buy, and phone services. On top of this, the job availability has diminished along with the hours they are able to work, and the meager pay of $.25 per hour for most low side inmates has decreased as well. This concentration-camp atmosphere the prison is creating has everything to do with ‘big-business’ – not corrections. It is our opinion that the DOC has lost its perspective for existence and has become a parasite on the indigent of our society in order to capitalize on their misery. Nothing makes this more evident that the fact that there is one employee for every 3 inmates, and many are related!
We are asking you legislators to step in and take charge of the accountability this institution of corrections has managed to evade for so long. Once this institution becomes closed to the public eye, there is no stopping the abuses that already are on the rise. We are asking also that the DOC be compelled to comply with other government institutions by randomly doing a UA on staff. Currently, visitors are being targeted as the offenders of contraband coming into the units, but we know that if the staff were being tested, the truth would be evident! The public is viewed as the enemy at this institution and this should not be. The real enemy is the lack of accountability this institution has been allowed to get away with for so long.
Thank you for considering these serious concerns and issues many, if not all, visitors discuss among each other and their loved ones.
Joy Wellington / 2011