Prison Radio
Peter “Pitt” Mukuria

Hey, this is Comrade Pitt, Peter Kamal Mukuria. This piece is titled “Prisoners’ Lives Matter: Lack of accountability at the expense of prisoners’ lives.”

I’ve been incarcerated at Jessup Correctional Institution [JCI] in the state of Maryland since April 20, 2022. Prior to that, I was incarcerated in the state of Virginia since 2006. In the brief period of time I’ve been at JCI, more prisoners have died in the 17 months I’ve been incarcerated in this prison, than in comparison to the 17 years I’ve stayed in the custody of Virginia.

The fact that a number of deaths in a period of 17 years cannot be compared to a number of deaths in merely 17 months, is not only alarming, warranting a thorough investigation, but it also speaks volumes on the conspicuously illustrated deliberate indifference by guards, lack of de-escalation training, lack of training on ways to deal with prisoners who may be experiencing some sort of mental illness, an overtly hostile environment, and obvious medical neglect. These are only some of the factors which lead to prisoners’ death, be they suicide or homicide.

But before blame is shifted to the guards and supervisors, mental health staff, and the nursing staff, accountability must begin at the top; the governor’s office, from the governor who oversees the entire Maryland Division of Corrections [MDOC] , to the MDOC Commissioner, on down to the warden at JCI, Robert Dean.

In the 17 years I’ve spent in the Virginia Department of Corrections, nowhere do I recall a prison where prisoners were dying at such an alarming rate, and the warden of that prison was allowed to hold on dearly to their position.

Under Robert Dean’s leadership, or lack thereof, there are conditions or circumstances which drastically increase the number of deaths outright. To those housed in solitary confinement, where more suicides and incidents occur, these master plans to save space by warehousing prisoners in solitary confinement involves housing two prisoners in what is intended to be a single cell. These are conditions known to deteriorate and exacerbate prisoners’ mental health. Housing two prisoners for an undetermined amount of time in a cell intended for one person is an ingredient for disaster.

Additionally, there are no outside recreation cages for those in solitary confinement, hence depriving prisoners of the right to environmental stimulus as well as a violation of our Eighth Amendment constitutional rights to not be subjected to cruel and inhumane practices.

At times I find it mind-boggling how a warden of a prison is this much uninformed, unaware, to downright ignorant, making decisions which cause incarcerated human beings their lives. And yet, accountability isn’t part of the equation. Accountability always must begin from the top and trickle on down. Otherwise, if those at the apex, i.e., Gov. Wes Moore, who are actually elected; if they cannot be held accountable for the steady consistent deaths of human beings held captive at this and other prisons across the state of Maryland, then it begs the question, what is the point of election?

October 4, 2023. I woke up to a familiar message on my institutional tablet which read, quote, “This tablet is not available to you,” unquote. Instantly I figure there must be some, there must be either another suicide or homicide, and the Wi-Fi has been shut off in order to prevent word from getting beyond these prison walls without Dean first pre-releasing the news in order to control the narrative.

See, this article isn’t about a prisoner making pseudo claims against the warden, RD (Robert Dean) and the leadership (agenda?). And by no means is this some dash up against them intended to make them look bad. They do a great job at that themselves. Facts are simply facts, and they cannot be twisted to fit one narrative. The number of suicides and harm (?) at this is prison, just in the nearly two years I’ve been warehoused at this prison, are indeed facts, and not some conjured-up figment of my imagination.

What taxpayers must keep in mind during any election cycle is that the people they elect are responsible for ensuring the safety and well-being of their incarcerated loved ones. And just as the people have the power to put these individuals in high places, they also hold the veto power by ensuring their re-election again, before they begin. Dare to struggle. Dare to win. All power to the people. This is Comrade Pitt, Peter Kamal Mukuria, checking in from Jessup Correctional Institution in the state of Maryland. Thank you for your time.

These commentaries are recorded by Prison Radio.

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