The warden refuses to listen to cries for help.

I was just released form the Montgomery Women’s Facility yesterday, 06/07/2016. The medical staff there has got to be the worst in the world. I spent 1 1/2 years in pain and sick only to find out last month I had “some kind” of mass in my side. I was given meds that I was allergic to, causing serious side effects. I have witnessed individuals become ill and need immediate attention and told to put in a sick call.

The heat inside the warehouse is over 100 degrees as we speak. Yet when organizations offer to donate a/c systems they are turned down even though women are falling out with heat exhaustion. Rules change not just on a daily basis but on the same shift from officer to officer. Why? Because the officers are allowed to run this camp, not a warden.

This facility is supposed to be for work release, yet over half are not. This facility currently houses 300 people in an 75 x 95 tin building. It is filthy, over run with rats, roaches and flies. The septic system must be emptied at least once a month and the fumes are toxic. There is a constant gas leak outside the building that causes nausea and head aches.

The water is from the prison next door and is constantly being shut off. State jobs are not assigned to age appropriate individuals. Often women over 50 will be put on outside/inside grounds working harder than some men. Not only are women punished for infractions with write ups they then must do extra duty. Does not matter if you are smoking in an unauthorized area or have a dirty urine the punishment is the same.

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Why we should close women’s prisons and treat their crimes more fairly

Photograph: K C Bailey/NetflixImage from Orange Is The New Black

‘Nearly every incarcerated woman is the victim of a perverse and lazy policy disfigurement that fails to acknowledge the marked differences between female and male offenders.’

By  and originally published by the guardian
 Professor Mirko Bagaric is the Director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Sentencing at Deakin University, Melbourne. Wednesday 1 June 2016 

Women almost never scare us; commit random acts of serious violence; violate our sexual integrity; or form organised crime networks and yet their prisons numbers are now the highest in recorded history.

The homogeneity of the human species breaks down when it comes to criminal behaviour. Women, who constitute slightly more than 50% of population, commit only about 20% of all crime. They commit even a lower portion of all serious crime.

Hillary Clinton is right to assert that the sentencing system should be reformed to reduce the growing number of female prisoners but the changes should go much further than has been suggested. We should implement concrete targets to remove the stains on our landscape and societal ethic that are women’s prisons.

There are remarkably similar patterns of female offending and incarceration in the United States and Australia. In the United States women commit only 17% of felonies, while in Australia they commit about 13% of the crimes dealt with in the higher courts.

Moreover, when it comes to sexual offences, rounded off to the nearest whole number, women constitute 0% of all offenders – that’s right, zero. The crimes they most commonly commit are drug and property offences. Thus, in the US, approximately 30% of female prisoners are incarcerated for property offences, and a further 26% for drug offences. The percentages for these offences are 26% and 17%, respectively, in Australia.

Women do of course commit homicide offences, but nearly always the victim is a relative and the crime was committed against the backdrop of an abusive relationship or depressive mindset. All homicides are heinous crimes but the types of homicides committed by women rarely involve random victims and hence do not engender community fear.

Despite this, the rate of female incarceration in both the United States and Australia is on the increase – far outstripping the increase in male incarceration levels. Women now comprise 8% of prisoners in the United States and Australia, which amounts to more than 200,000 incarcerated inmates in the US and 3,000 in Australia.

Nearly every one of these incarcerated women is the victim of a perverse and lazy policy disfigurement that fails to acknowledge the marked differences between female and male offenders. The differences are so stark that not only should women be treated more leniently because they commit less serious crime but they should also be treated more leniently when they commit the same crime as a man.

There are four major differences between male and female offenders.

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Chow time, Supplies, Scamming Money and Warehouse Living. An inmates account of day to day living at Montgomery Women’s Facility

Chow Time

We have 300 inmates here and roughly 200-250 of us eat in the chow hall. They claim to give us 15 minutes to eat but they give us only 5 -7 minutes. We barely chew our food. We’ve learned just to eat as fast as we can and swallow without barely chewing the food. The food comes out of the server so hot it burns our mouths. All we get are starches. We get 1 apple a month and 1 orange a month. Breakfast, the most important meal, they give us 2 tablespoons of eggs, ¼ cup of grits or oatmeal and 1 biscuit that is the size of a golfball.

Chow time, supplies and warehouse living at Montgomery Women's Facility
Chow time, supplies and warehouse living at Montgomery Women’s Facility

We used to get desserts at lunch and dinner, but they cut the desserts down to 4 times a week. The stewardess alters the menu all the time. We are not fed according to the food pryimid. On 2nd shift the officers argue who is going to feed us. We’re supposed to eat at 04:30 but we don’t get fed till almost 5 and then we are yelled at the whole time whilst eating and are rushed to eat.

SUPPLIES – We’re supposed to get 1 bottle of shampoo, 4 bars of soap, deodorant, 1 razor, 1 tube of shower cream. The black folks get a shampoo and conditioner for their hair as well as hair grease, but the officer in charge of our supplies never orders enough. Today we ran out of the bottles of shampoo for white people and when the officer was asked, what was we who got no shampoo to do, her reply was “I guess you won’t have any shampoo”. We’re supposed to get supplies every 30 days, yet our supplies are every 45 days. This same officer was supposed to give us 3 pairs of state shorts along with 3 t-shirts, but she gave us only 1 pair of shorts and 1 t-shirt.

The other 2 female prisons got their 3 shorts and 3 t-shirts. We’re also supposed to get 2 pairs of shorts pyjamas and 2 pyjama pants, yet we get none of either. We get 6 panties 4 bras every 6 months. The panties tear up within a week and she never has our size. The panties are either too small or too big. The bras for big girls are rarely available, size 40 or bigger. We get sports bras, either too big or too small. I am out of panties altogether but cannot get any for another 4 months, so now i go without, which is against regs, yet its not my fault that i can’t get anymore.

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Officers can scan and insert false and malicious documents into our files

Here at Montgomery Women’s Facility bullies are everywhere. Us who fall victim to the bullies and report it, are told we have to have witnesses to verify the bullying done to us. I was verbally attacked by another inmate right after our PREA (Prison Rape Elimination Act) video. This inmate called me names, made fun of my body and mocked me for some PREA incidents i had reported. She then came to the shower i was in to threaten me bodily harm. I left the shower in tears. The officer right outside the bathroom heard everything yet did nothing.

Experience with bullies at Montgomery Women's Facility
Experience with bullies at Montgomery Women’s Facility

I reported all this to our PREA rep and she called me a liar, said i had no proof, the officer who witnessed it said she heard nothing. I left in tears feeling hopeless. The next day, the inmate who got into it with her employer, the notorious canteen lady, threw my canteen at me for retaliation. I reported this as well and nothing was done. I was told to walk with a “bodyguard” at all times, so if the bullies picked on me again, i would have a witness. What bully picks on another in front of others?

This inmate violated everything that PREA says another inmate cannot do to another inmate, yet that inmate still resides at Montgomery Women’s Facility, bullying still. Overtime she passes me, she bumps into me, trying to instigate something. I say nothing because it does me no good to report to ones who are crooked and cover up stuff.

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We are unable to contact PREA externally

Our telephones are outside. They are in the glass booths from the old days. Some glass panes are missing. There are no doors on them. During the summer we burn up fighting wasps that make their nests inside the phone booths. During the winter we freeze. The winds and rains reach us while we use the phones. When the yard closes we do not have access to the phones and shift officers are supposed to give us 2 phone breaks, but these breaks are only 10-15 minutes, when a phone call lasts 30 minutes.

Inmates at Montgomery Women's Facility cannot contact PREA staff externally (Prison Rape Elimination Act)
Inmates at Montgomery Women’s Facility cannot contact PREA staff externally (Prison Rape Elimination Act)

We have 10 phones for 300 women, so if you’re not in the 1st 10, you do not get to use the phone. Then 2nd shift is filled with very young and very immature officers who give us phone breaks when they feel like it. Then when an inmate is on the phone and its count time or the yard closes, officers come out there screaming “Get off the phone!, Get off now!”. Yet when they get ready to count they warn the inmates in the shower, that they have 5 minutes to get out before count time.

Why can’t we get a warning on the phones instead of all that screaming, which scares our loved ones on the line? Also PREA (Prison Rape Elimination Act) states they are supposed to give us a 15 minute warning to get out of the showers, yet Montgomery Women’s Facility officers DO NOT follow PREA guidelines at all.

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When i reported the abuse, i became an outcast amongst societies outcasts

Montgomery Women’s Facility (MWF) has more problems than a small camp such as this should have. Last month (February 2016) we had another one bite the dust. Our S.P.R (Pre-Release) Sgt. was escorted off premises for having sex with his charges, those female inmates under the S.P.R program. He wouldn’t report their dirty urines (Urine Tests) in exchange for sex.

An inmates account of the abuse that occurs at Montgomery Women's Facility
An inmates account of the abuse that occurs at Montgomery Women’s Facility

This month, March our canteen lady who is employed by the state, picked up a rock and threatened to hit the inmate who was at the window getting her canteen store. Nothing happened of course. She gets to treat us any kind of way, calling us names, cursing us and at times refusing to fill our canteen store because she doesn’t feel like it or is angry at us. Captain said she’ll “investigate” but she is just as crooked as the rest here, who works here.

Captain barters and trades with inmates, even calls some of them her “children”, showing favouritism to some inmates and then others she lets get abused by her officers. Today our visitation building was taken over by our Healthcare, that we call Death care. Their trailer has been condemned over a year and today we inmates who were having art class, we were kicked out and then made to move all the furniture (chairs, tables, a 1000 lb. piano) over to the shift office. The visitation building also held our classes as well as Church. Why can’t D.O.C purchase another building? Where is all the money they claim to have?

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We’re fed up with being treated like cattle at a slaughterhouse

In my entire life, i can count myself fortunate in the aspect that i’ve never had to go to bed hungry, never had to live in filth with roaches and rats, never had to know the humiliating sting of purposefully degrading comments from someone who is supposed to be here for my protection. That all changed the moment i entered the Alabama Department Of Corrections, unprofessional, racist and ineffective custody. Where to start?

Statement of the conditions in Montgomery Women's Facility
Statement of the conditions in Montgomery Women’s Facility

At over 200% capacity, the existing facilities to house ADOC (Alabama Department Of Corrections) inmates are derelict, unsanitary, ineffective and quite frankly dangerous. Julia Tutwiler prison is almost a century old and built to house no more than 400 inmates. ADOC shows no concern for their inmates safety, nor that of their officers or the surrounding publics by cramming over three times the intended maximum capacity in an 80+ year old building that should be condemned.

Montgomery Women’s Facility is no better. Currently MWF (Montgomery Women’s Facility) is a level II Camp designed to hold 150 work release inmates. Double the number of inmates & you’ll have current MWF count, with less than 40 actively working & exercising their custody. At the time this letter is being written, MWF has no warden & the officers are taking full advantage of that fact. They have no one to answer to and unprofessional conduct, retaliation for previous slights and racially motivated incidents run amok.

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Stop The Abuse. Please, We Need Outside Help

Here at Montgomery Women’s Facility we have been suffering sexual abuse, yet when we speak out we get ridiculed by our peers. Officers treat us like its our fault, we walk on eggshells fearing retaliation and the guilty Officers of abuse, are only transferred. Our story becomes well spread between the inmates and other Officers at the other female facilities – Tutwiler and Birmingham Work Centre.

Statement alleging systemic abuse at Montgomery Women's Facility
Statement alleging systemic abuse at Montgomery Women’s Facility

There is no peace for us anywhere. One woman spoke out here about her suffering of sexual abuse form an Officer as well as mental and emotional abuse from his co-workers and she became ostracised from inmates, from all 3 female facilities. The Officer she reported, told her if she ever told, he would make sure that she was protested at each parole hearing.

In Alabama, if one has protesters then the individual is denied parole and put off for 5 years. Here at Montgomery Women’s Facility we also suffer verbal abuse from Officers as well as employees who work here.The employee who runs our canteen, abuses us constantly. She has cursed some of us, calling us “bitches and hoes”. When we report her, she retaliates by “losing our store slip” and prevents us from getting our food and hygienes.

The other day, a girl left the canteen in tears after this employee called her a heifer and told the girl she could talk to her anyway she fashioned. Then a few minutes later this employee was yelling out another girl, telling her to get her greasy hair head away from her. These girls went to the Officer who is a Lieutenant, who is in charge of grievances against Officers/Employess and this Lieutenant told them that she didn’t have time for this trivial crap.

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This place is inhumane and we’ve lost all our rights, but no one should ever lose the right to be human

I’ve heard that Tutwiler is listed as one of the 10 most dangerous prisons in the country and i find it hard to believe that Montgomery Womens Facility is not on that list. Do people not realise that most of those same officers that helped get Tutwiler on that 10 most dangerous prisons list, have now been transferred here to Montgomery Women’s Facility?

This place is inhumane and we've lost all our rights, but no one should ever lose the right to be human
This place is inhumane and we’ve lost all our rights, but no one should ever lose the right to be human

I understand that the equal Justice Department has implemented numerous things to try to make it just a tad bit safer & a little more human (e.g.) Prison Rape Elimination Act, a grievance system for us to be able to report problems we may be having with an officer etc. My question is what good are those things when the person you report to is “friends” with all the officers and assumes the officer is always right, and the inmate is always wrong?

When we report to Lt. Bentford, she just sweeps it under the rug and nothing even goes into the officers file. When officers get promoted to Sergeant after getting into numerous physical altercations with numerous inmates, then something is wrong, especially when we are expected to follow the rules, but no-one  in authority here is made to follow any rules. They do what they want, when they want and we have to accept that because we are just inmates, right?

Wrong! In case society has forgotten, then let me remind you that all of us here are somebody’s daughter, mother, sister, wife and friend. Yes, we have made mistakes that landed us in hell, but we are not any less human because we messed up. I just need to know where the rehabilitation comes from? We have hardly any classes here, no social workers to help with rebuilding relationships with our kids & families, no job training skills – Nothing- And we are expected to get out of here and magically know how to operate in a world that has become so technologically advanced that you can now turn the heat on in your house by using an app on your iPhone.

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