This article is copied from our fellow CURE chapter in North Carolina. Thank you!

An article sent out by a NC Prisoner- these events/issue are not recent NC-CURE reported these incidents to the US DOJ several years ago. Re-posting these issues along with several more recent events are in hopes of drawing media attention to the on-gong human torture and abuse within our prison system..the media chooses to ignore. 

Above the Law: How the NC DPS Gets Away with Murder
(from a prisoner and comrade in Bayboro, NC)

Timothy Helms was beaten into a quadriplegic state while on a security control status at Alexander CI. By policy, he could not come out of his cell for any reason unless handcuffed and shackled. No inmate had access to him. The Iredell County DA’s office saw no reason to investigate. The SBI couldn’t figure out what happened.

Joshua Overton died of three inoperable brain tumors while at Pamlico CI. His treatment regimen in the months before he died: Tylenol. His last days were spent in solitary confinement for failure to report to his ABE-GED class due to his increasingly frequent blackouts and seizures (some of which occurred during class). When other inmates began to complain about the smell emanating from his cell, officers found Joshua catatonic, dehydrated, incontinent, and completely unresponsive. It was then decided he needed further medical treatment. Joshua supposedly died en route to the hospital on the feces-smeared mattress officers carried him on in the cargo section of an inmate transport van. The tongue-in-cheek investigation revealed nothing out of the ordinary.

Andre Houston was diagnosed by the NC DPS “doctor” at Nash CI as having “bronchitis” for nearly three years. After his release to South Carolina, where Andre had a new sentence to serve before going free, doctors in SC informed him that he had lung cancer so advanced that there was no hope of treatment or survival. SC prison officials sent him home to die, which in fact he did shortly after.

This same “doctor” at Nash CI diagnosed Clifton Hayes with “indigestion.” Clifton’s condition continued to worsen over the course of many months until he couldn’t get out of bed because of his pain. He was finally taken to the local hospital where he learned he had cancer so advanced he wouldn’t live more than a few weeks. Clifton died one month later. Neither the AMA nor the NC Medical Board chose to respond to or investigate complaints made on either Hayes’ or Houston’s cases on their behalf.

The above cases are in no way unique or isolated incidents. This type of abuse and neglect occurs daily within the NC DPS (formerly the NC DOC), yet is almost never brought to justice. On the rare occasion an “investigation” is done, it is inevitably a dog-and-pony show where whatever asinine conclusion the DPS puts forth is accepted unquestionably by the investigating authority, no matter the evidence or the corpses.

How does this happen? The answer is simple: No one holds the NC DPS accountable for their actions, nor are various investigatory or regulatory agencies held accountable for their inactions. Here are a few examples:

  • The NC SBI refuses to properly investigate a wide range of crimes and civil rights abuses committed daily by the NC DPS. For example, in response to a complaint supported by ample physical evidence and facts, all the SBI did was send a copy of my letter to the NC DPS, who in turn said my allegations lacked merit. This was good enough for the SBI, who never saw fit to even respond themselves. Ask the perpetrators if they are guilty. If they deny it, case closed!
  • Neither the AMA, NC Medical Board, or the NC Board of Nursing have ever, to my knowledge, held any NC DPS-contracted doctor or nurse accountable for even the most egregious cases of malpractice, incompetence, or violations of the professional or ethical standards they are charged with enforcing.
  • The FDA refuses to rule on whether or not I can eat the “food” given to inmates for 22+ years and suffer no serious adverse health effects.
  • Both the US and NC Departments of Health and Human Services habitually ignore inmate complaints of unsafe or unsanitary conditions, no matter how serious or life-threatening.
  • On the rare occasion a case does make it before a judge, the court is so openly biased against inmates that even the most oppressive dictatorships would be ashamed to do likewise.
  • NC Prisoner Legal Services, Inc. is such a bad joke amongst inmates that the prisoners themselves are suing to get rid of them.

So-called human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the American Red Cross go up in arms when a book is burned halfway around the world, but cite lack of time and resources as an excuse for their failure to take action when state and federal prisoners in the US suffer torture or death at the hands of their captors on a regular basis.

Until these agencies and organizations are held accountable for their inactions, the NC DPS and prison systems around the country will fail to be held accountable for their actions. This pattern of abuse and torture will continue to result in the needless suffering and deaths of prisoners at the hands of their captors.

No one shrinks from holding inmates accountable for their crimes. Why, then, are governments and prison officials not held accountable for their crimes? Are prisoners held to a higher standard of conduct than prison officials and politicians? Apparently so.

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