‘Am I truly without rights yet still subjected to the obligation of a citizen?’

The writer is in state prison, but many if not all of his observations, questions and analysis also apply to the county jail.

To whom it may concern,

My name is B. E. D., and I am writing to you in hopes of enlightening you, and in turn, you enlighten others of the public to the devious and borderline illegal actions of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety–Adult Corrections Division. While I am Moorish-American, I am writing this letter in conjunction with a fellow ‘inmate’ who is of European descent to show that this letter raises issues that not racially based because the two majority groups are experiencing this treatment in equal amounts. Over the previous quarter century, the D.O.C. (and now NCDPS-AC) has been systematically cutting the lifelines of those that it is given custody of. Whether by forcing family and friends to jump through hoops just to come visit, or even talk on the phone, to dismissing any programs that created hope in those locked away. The theory of ‘rehabilitation’ has ceased to exist, and in its place we, that are inside these barbed-wired gates, are relegated to cheap labor and forced to partake in programs whose instructors are more concerned with federal funding than with the actual growth of the individual. But that alone isn’t enough, no, by seeing that the love of family outweighs distance and detraction, the NCDPS-AC has been forming new methods to punish, not only those inside, but also those who offer support from the outside. This letter is intended to elaborate on just two attempts, though more exist, to overplay the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, as well as tiptoe the federal guidelines.

First, the 13th Amendment section 1 states verbatim: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” So basically put, anyone who is convicted of a crime can be enslaved. From my history classes, no slaves were ever paid for their labor, so it’s quite obvious that Congress felt that some form of payment was due those ‘enslaved’ by the state because in the 1970s they created the Incentive Wage Pay for those ‘duly convicted.’ This allowed people incarcerated, to work and produce funds to purchase items needed to properly survive inside prison. The basic pay scale goes as such: .40; .70; $1.00 per day. With the majority of “inmates” being paid 1970s incentive wages in 2013 purchase power has significantly decreased. Examples, I feel, are in order: At the rate of .40 a day, it will take two (2) days of work to purchase a stamp just to write home; how about a week for a stick of deodorant; Maybe this’ll resonate even deeper, two (2) weeks for deo and a tube of toothpaste. Sure, a dollar is better than 40 cents, but barely. As prices and cost of living have increased, the Incentive Wage Pay has remained frozen in place for over 35 years; even as the state’s been able to boost revenue through “inmate” labor, and various fees charged to the “inmate.” Medical co-pay fees of $5.00 for sub-par medical care and a $10.00 fee for bogus disciplinary costs give light to the fact slavery is alive and well inside prison gates. As a result of the prison industry “boom,” newer jobs have been created that pay a whopping $3.00 per day, but it’s only because the inmates’ labor is producing millions of dollars a year in revenue for NC. Take for instance, Correctional Enterprises, which consists of various inmate worked factories that produce items ranging from soap and cleaning supplies to rad signs and license plates to a cannery that distributes food to the various prisons…at a cost. Selling to yourself is legal isn’t it? Let’s go a bit further, ICP (Inmate Construction Program) is a prison program that pays $740,000 per year to inmates to build prisons that would normally cost millions if a contractor were hired. This all adds up to a ‘Racket’ being maintained through the cooperation of various law enforcement, judicial agencies, and political parties.

The second prong of this letter deals with the injustices placed upon you, the unsuspecting citizen. As a taxpayer, the citizen is passed along any bill by the state, correct? Well, what if the state were perpetuating bills that didn’t exist, or evne worse, double-taxing its constituency? If the taxpayer is already on the books for the prison system, how is it then that they are being charged for services provided by or for the prison system? If I go to sick call (the nurse), I am charged a $5.00 co-pay, but since I have no money, due to my decision to go to school while inside, my wife pays the co-pay for me when she places money in my trust fund account. Before I ever see the money, the co-pay fee is already taken out, along with any debt previously charged to my account, i.e., write-up fees, postal costs, etc… Not only that, I am also still forced to pay taxes on purchases out of the prison canteen (store). In essence, my wife is being ‘triple-taxed.’ Knowing how hard it is for families already to send any funds, why is the NCDPS-AC placing further strains on those incacerated and their loved ones? Question, if at my sentencing, I became a “ward” of the state, how is it that my loved ones are doing all the paying? How am I being taxed when there is to never be taxation without representation according to the NC Constitution Declaration of Rights section 8. Who represents ‘inmates’ in congress? Am I truly without rights, yet still subjected to the obligation of a citizen? And finally, through ‘back-room’ deals with out-of-state companies the NCDPS-AC is no doubt receiving kick backs for brokering seemingly unnecessary deals. Recently, the “inmate” population was informed that beginning November 1st all money deposits will be conducted through a company named JPay; a company based in Florida. What would have normally taken 2-3 days for a money order to reach an “inmate” will now take 7-10 days. Elongated processes and extra fees for the, now available, electronic deposits is evidence of another blatant attempt to drain families of scarce funds. All that I’ve written i ask that you research for yourself.

In closing, I would liek to say that I know that there will be those citizens who say, “Well, you shouldn’t have went to prison blah blah blah,” but as recently, and not so recently, (has been) discovered that all who are in prison aren’t necessarily guilty of a crime, correct? Also, according to the NC Constitution Declaration of Rights section 28 “No imprisonment for debt,” there should never be imprisonment for debt except in the case of fraud, yet I am, as all prisoners are, ‘paying’ my debt to society through incarceration. Even though it’ll never be “paid” because upon my release my past will forever be a blockade to a true future. Though I haven’t been in long (7 months), and won’t be here too much longer (appeal pending), I fully recognize that this is a trap that awaits my son, as well as future generations, if we don’t do something to correct a system that has diverted from its original mission. I would like to thank you for your time and consideration in this matter, and sincerely wish to say…God Bless You.

Sincerely,

B. E. D.

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