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Unrestrained Influence

Updated: Jan 13, 2023

No one teaches prisoners how to fight against an oppressive system which is designed to fail. In fact, many measures are put in place to restrict their ability to create positive change. For this reason, I always promised myself that when I was released from my imprisonment, I would never forget where I came from, and all I had to endure. I knew that I would never ride off into the sunset without a backward glance. Prison is in the marrow of my bones, the scars of my experience indelibly etched into my soul.

I realized that a prisoner's only power comes through influence, specifically, the ability to influence free citizens to get involved and speak for those who have no voice. A letter to a politician from a prisoner means nothing and only leads to retaliation for the brave or foolhardy soul who attempts to bring attention to his plight. An inmate cannot circulate a petition. This act is viewed as sedition and subject to charges for inciting or creating a disturbance. A prisoner cannot organize a rally. For that act he or she will be charged with one of the most egregious Corrections charges—Inciting a riot.

The sad truth is, a letter from a prisoner to a politician is a pointless endeavor because politicians are influenced only by votes, and prisoners do not have one. A prisoner petition or rally would get no media coverage. The media’s interests are not in fixing this broken system. If their professional relationship with SCDC is damaged, then their ability to garner information from administrators is compromised.

A prisoner’s voice is not only ineffective in advocating for change it is a liability to a politician or media outlet who might be inclined to listen. Yet these truths are not meant as deterrents to prisoners who rightly attempt to do something to improve their conditions. These truths are only a reality check. An encouragement to shift their focus to the true source of their power. Their power resides in their ability to persuade the voting public to advocate on their behalf.

 If the public understands their best interests are not being served by this broken system, they might be compelled to act. If they understand their tax dollars are being spent to warehouse and further criminalize the men and women sentenced to the correction systems, only then will the true force of meaningful change be persuaded to mobilize to achieve these ends.

Sites like this one are necessary. The uncensored inmate perspective has to escape the confines of prison fences. The loved ones of prisoners have to show their love by investing time and resources to an effort to educate the public about the failing system that is Corrections. This is the only path that will lead to positive change.

In future articles, I will delve into the endemic problems that exist within our prison systems and the steps that must be taken to overcome them. I will share how taxpayers are being done a disservice by a system designed to fail, a system that ensures that a select few politically elites profit at the expense of taxpayers, and the men and women sentenced to what is supposed to be a rehabilitative experience. But those are topics for another time. For now just know that all hope is not lost; there is a path forward. With your help that path will lead to true rehabilitation.

 

Enigma is a writer from South Carolina who asked to remain anonymous and his exact location not be revealed. Men and women in the prison systems have to be careful about their identity because of the reality of retaliation and policies that are in place to silence their voices.


GA-02.01, “Employee and Inmate Relations with News Media, Legislators … https://www.doc.sc.gov/policy/GA-02-01.htm.pdf


4.5 News media representatives will be prohibited from taking photographs and/or audio/video recordings of inmates that may identify the inmate at any time. The Agency Director’s Office may authorize news media representatives to photograph and/or audio/video record buildings, property, or other “inanimate” objects provided that when doing so no inmates are identifiable. Any camera or video equipment approved to be brought into any institution/building will be subject to search pursuant to Agency policies and procedures. (Changes in BLUE amended per Change 1 dated February 9, 2021).

 

8. REQUESTS FOR INTERVIEWS WITH INMATES: Personal contact interviews with any SCDC inmate, untried county safe keeper, or death row inmate by anyone will be prohibited. (NOTE: This prohibition does not apply to internal or external law enforcement, Agency officials, internal and external auditors, or legal professionals who may need to interview inmates for purposes of an investigation or pending legal action or to researchers approved pursuant to SCDC Policy/ Procedure ADM-15.07, “Research Conducted Within the SCDC.”) (4-ACRS-7F-03, 4-4279)

 

The South Carolina Department of Corrections has all of their policies up for public review. It is important for the public to be aware of these policies and procedures and to think about if they are consistent with the constitution and if they are humane. This link brings you to the page that has the entire list of SCDC’s policies:

 

Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions in the comment section. We also encourage readers to add their experiences with the department of corrections in our forum.

We are willing to answer any questions you may have concerning the location of information needed to start advocating for your loved ones. We serve the Southeast Region of America and research those states specifically. We are willing to offer our assistance to those outside of that region, if we are able. We are not offering legal advice because we are not lawyers and can not effectively provide that assistance at this point. We are just researchers that can point you to the information that can assist you and offer practical advice for what you can do as a concerned citizen.

 

Please fill out this form if you are interested in making changes and being informed about how your tax dollars are being used (or unused) in the department of corrections.


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Justin Babb
Justin Babb
Jan 16, 2023

Enigma, if you could make the public aware of one policy that violates your constitutional rights which one would it be?

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