On Thursday June 7th 2012 12:00 Noon several community and student organizations will host a demonstration to demand the immediate reinstatement of Friend of a Friend program at Jessup Correctional Institution following its arbitrary indefinite suspension. The demonstration will take place at 300 East Joppa Road in Towson, Maryland. Please join us, and bring signs and placards that read “Reinstate Friends!”
The Friends program was founded by political prisoner ‘Eddie’ Conway and other concerned men in the prison system to provide mentoring to young prisoners. The program began with an attempt to identify the problems, expectations and daily needs of prisoners – many of whom are of African descent – and excluded from full participation in the social and political process. It is currently operational in five prisons in the state of Maryland.
Following the most recent graduation ceremony of mentees in the program, program officials were informed by prison officials that the project was being “dismantled” with no explanation except that contraband was found on the premises. There is no evidence that the Friends volunteers were involved in the smuggling of the contraband, nor is there any evidence that our incarcerated participants were involved.
On Tuesday, May 29, 2012 9:00AM, ten community members met with Assistant Commissioner Randall Watson who told them that the prison does not actually know who was involved in the incident. Commissioner Watson refused to facilitate a call with the warden of JCI, saying it would be an “ambush”. He described the Maryland Office of Public Safety and Correctional Services as a hierarchical “paramilitary structure”. The commissioner could not provide us with written rules and regulations concerning the policy on program termination when asked to do so.
On the same day, an official letter was received from Warden John Wolf of the Jessup Correctional Institution confirming that Friend of a Friend Program had been “indefinitely suspended.” [Click here for Warden Wolfe's Letter]
This is emblematic of the department’s consistent lack of communication and disrespect for prisoners and those who work with them. We are asking the entire community to attend this demonstration and support our incarcerated brothers. We must get immediate reinstatement of this program that has helped hundreds of prisoners and former prisoners, and we want more transparency in the Maryland Office of Public Safety and Correctional Services.
For more information or to confirm your attendance at the rally, contact Cornell Anderson at 410-323-7200 or 410-500-1897 and via email at email@example.com