“We are humans”

We received the following letter from a prisoner at the Bristol County House of Correction in Dartmouth.

July 26, 2018

Dear [omitted],

At this time I am incarcerated at the Dartmouth House of Corrections of the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office. The whole jail has been on a hunger strike due to the injustices we are faced with on a daily basis here. Today is day two of the hunger strike and there is still no change. I am here to give you an account of what is actually going on in this jail.

I’ve witnessed inmates with severe medical issues such as epilepsy get violently assaulted by Corrections Officers. What was said by AG Maura Healey is true. They are giving inhumane amounts of time in segregation (the hole). I personally have been to the segregation unit. They took my food, all of it, and said I was running a “store.” They coerced me into taking 20 days in segregation with threats, saying I will remain there for the remainder of my time in the jail. I had receipts for all my food and they still took it. As inmates, we have few liberties, such as: food; health care; and earned good time. We don’t get any of those things.

The food we get is not enough to feed a five year old child. We get nothing but soy products with either rice or mashed/scalloped potatoes every day. Never mind breakfast: it’s either one of three things — grits, oatmeal, or tasty-ohs. Some meats that they give have hundreds of tiny little bones that break your teeth. We all put in grievances bu they said it’s just fat and it’s healthy.

To see the doctor or dentist you must put in a medical slip. By the time you are seen it is approximately 4-6 months after you put in said medical slip. This is exactly why this county jail has the highest amount of suicides. There is no health care. We inmates are supposed to be allowed to get good time, yet there are very few programs that you can actually earn good time. All of the programs that are stated online that are here haven’t been in this jail for over ten years.

For god’s sake, we sat in our rooms without electricity for two days. I don’t make commissary so when they took my few belongings it really hurt. We are humans and we are not being treated as such. Something has to change. Sheriff Hodgson is not doing his job. He is focused on building a wall at the border. Where are our programs? Where is our healthcare, and where is our food?

The injustice we face every day is inhumane and it has to be against the law. This is my testimony on the inside of DHOC. I don’t mind if you quote any of this but make it anonymous because time is hard here with constant threats by Corrections Officers.

I am due to be released on [omitted] and I am willing to do what I can to make sure no one has to endure what I’ve had to endure for over a year. Make copies of this and send it to whoever can help our cause. I hope [omitted] because reform needs to be made because DHOC is not a House of Correction. That’s why the recidivism rate is beyond compared to every other county jail in MA.

Sincerely,

[prisoner’s name withheld]

P.S.: So far the jail said they will lower the cost of commissary and make the food better because of the article in the Standard Times this morning, but only time will tell.