This is Peter Kamau Mukuria, the Minister of Labor for the Revolutionary Intercommunal Black Panther Party. I’m currently over here at Jessup Correctional Institution from the state of Virginia through the Interstate Compact transfer.
So 06/03/23 I had a scheduled in person visit for my mother and my six year old niece. Even though I’m currently at a prison in Maryland and my family resides in Richmond, Virginia, they departed at 11 p.m., and the visit wasn’t until 5 p.m. However, due to the ever constant and heavy northern Virginia and DC traffic, a trip which is typically a two to three hour drive turned to a seven hour drive stuck in traffic. My mother had the presence of mind to call Jessup Correctional Institution and notify them that she would be late due to heavy traffic. Lieutenant [name] was the person who my mother spoke to; she was also known as Lieutenant [name], and she explained to my mother that if they were 30 minutes late, they will be okay to get there. Despite the possibility of them being late, they actually were the first people to arrive for the evening visit.
Right after clearing the metal detector, as my mother and niece had sat waiting for me to arrive at the visitation room, visitors who arrived after my visitors began being processed into the prison while my visitors were made to wait. Despite being the first ones to arrive, seeing other people who came after my visitors being processed into the prison without any delay, my mother inquired as to why other people are going in before her and my niece. Lieutenant [name] responded to my mother that verbatim, “He’s in a cell asleep which is why he’s not here yet.”
What was unbeknownst to her was that I had spoken to my mother minutes prior to that blatant lie. At 6:52 was the time which the tier guard in Echo-Bravo tier brought me up fast to the visiting room. I asked the guard why did they didn’t open my cell door at 5 pm, and I stayed in the cell to ensure that I wouldn’t be hard to find as they had claimed before. And according to the tier officer [name] no one ever called for me to go to the visitation room until 6:52 when my cell door was opened. This was also corroborated by other guards who were working in the unit.
Routinely, as is part of the procedure, when someone’s visitors arrive at the prison, they must first be processed into the system and clear the metal detector prior to entering the prison. Once this process is complete, the officer processing the visitors, in this case Lieutenant [name] will call the housing unit which the prisoner’s housed in and request that the prisoner be sent to the visitation room. When my visitors arrived, she did not call the building to let me go to the visitation room. She opted to not make the call, which meant that my visitors were to wait until I either arrived at the visiting room or they ran out of patience and left. Upon arriving at visitation room, I sat down with my mother and niece and I was still wondering why the visit was nearly two hours late, and the treatment or lack thereof they experienced.
While I was being updated, I also learned that as my mother was being processed into the prison, [name] asked my mother who they were coming to visit, and once she said Peter Mukuria, her entire demeanor shifted to a more hostile, rude, and confrontational one. In overstepping her rank and powers, once my visitors’ processing finished, she told my mother that the visit would only be for 10 minutes. This is despite my visitors being one of the first people to arrive and travel from out of state in heavy traffic.
After spending time with my visitors, I’ve learned [name] entered the visiting room while simultaneously speaking to my mother, saying “Didn’t I tell you that you only get ten minutes?” She proceeded to walk to the front desk, grab the visitation pass and walk directly to where I and my visitors was seated, slammed the pass on the table, saying that the visit was over. And [name] was speaking to my mother in front of me and my niece as though she was speaking to an inmate or a child.
Now typically, when the visits are over, the guards working inside the visit room will take the visitation pass from the desk and walk to where I’m seated and hand me the pass, indicating that the visit is over. [Name] furthermore undermined those guards assigned to working the visitation room by not allowing them to perform their duties as they do each week. What I also learned was that after the visit was over and I was no longer in the visitation room, [Name] continued speak to my mother in the most unprofessional, rude, disrespectful manner one can conceive of. Every my niece said that she was bullying her and my mom. Not only did she disrespect my mother and niece, but also disrespected all the other prisoners who were in the visitation room along with their families and loved ones.
The bottom line is that just because one is a high ranking individual working at a prison doesn’t mean that they are mentally and emotionally equipped to deal with the public. Now [Name] just illustrated that she’s incapable of dealing with people who don’t work or are in prison. When people come to visit their loved ones at prison, the guards that they encounter at the gate before getting processed into the prison, those are the face of the prison. So they are met with hostility. What does that say about the prison itself?
Her unprofessionalism didn’t stop there. But as she was speaking to her supervisor after the visit was over and I was no longer around, in the presence of my mother and niece and other visitors, she continued to slander my name talking about me, “Oh, you know, Peter Mukuria, he always gives us a lot of shit.” She continued to talk about me in front of my mother, my niece, and other people that do not even know who I am. This wasn’t the first time nor was it the second or the third time that people come to visit me and were treated in a similar way [inaudible]. Upon leaving the prison the only thing my niece kept repeating was, “Is uncle Peter going to be okay?” My biggest issue slash concern was the impact this will inevitably have on my niece when she gets older because for a six-year-old observing [name]’s conduct, it can be traumatic—so much for giving a fuck about public safety as they hypocritically claim.
The Maryland Department of Correction headquarters has been made fully aware of this individual’s unprofessional conduct which violated policy. I’m certain that whoever’s in charge of the public engagement will say something along the lines of response, of a scripted response, that goes something along the lines of, “the actions of this individual is not a reflection of the men and women who work for the Department of Correction and show up to work each and every day. They conduct their duty with professionalism, honor, and integrity.” This is an individual who has worked in this corrupted cell for far too long and should have known better, and at what point does training, decency, understanding kick in?
It’d be a much easier tactic to place all blame on this one individual, but it starts from the top, from the commissioner’s office to the warden’s office, trickling on down to the rookie guards. One rotten apple can make the whole tree rotten. In-person visits are special for incarcerated people and their loved ones. It’s a way of them checking on their incarcerated loved ones and ensuring that they are fine, but if they are met with hostility as they do and as they left, what does that tell them about the environment, safety, well being of their loved one inside that prison that they are incarcerated in?
This is Comrade Pitt, Peter Kamau Mukuria. I appreciate your time, this is my commentary. Thanks.
These commentaries are recorded by Prison Radio.