Prison Radio
Dontie Mitchell

“Where’s Governor Cuomo?”

New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo once said that New York state will be the progressive beacon for the nation. That’s all well and good, governor. But when it comes to New York state prisons, respectfully, that is a broken promise. New York State prisons are some of the most reactionary in the nation. I mean, Alabama has a more progressive prison system than New York. California has been progressively pursuing prison reform. All around the country other states are getting it, but New York is not.

Where are you at Governor Cuomo? I have written to you several times about the abuse and mistreatment I and other prisoners suffer at the hands of belligerent correction guards who verbally and physically assault us. But your office never respond. Acting Commissioner Anthony J. Annucci, who has been in that acting position almost your entire tenure as governor, doesn’t do nothing.
The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision has become great at suppression and control policies. They’re masters at appearing tough and hard on prisoners and taking things away from us. And are masters at covering up abuse and corruption.

Where are you at Governor Cuomo? I had a conversation a few weeks ago with a correction sergeant who confirmed for me the truth of what I suspected: that they’re hard and tough on prisoners not because it enhances safety and security, but because when shit does hit the fan, none of them wants to appear as if they’re responsible for being “too soft.” This has been New York state’s approach to correction management for the last two decades and under Governor Cuomo, it has gotten progressively worse.

Just the other day I had another correction Sergeant, the one actually responsible for helping to resolve prisoner complaints. I had that guy—yeah, that guy—yell and scream at me for writing a complaint with suggestions to improve phone access for prisoners. He was ranting and raving like an unhinged lunatic, just because he could. Then he has my cell property ransacked by two correction guards who left my property in disarray, scattered on the floor and piled on my bed. All in retaliation over a letter.

Where are you at Governor Cuomo? When it comes to staff misconduct and corruption, Great Meadow Correctional Facility is one of the worst in New York state. The superintendent here, Christopher Miller, is a tobacco-chewing, shoot-from-the-hip kind of guy who turns a blind eye to what goes on here. He allows prisoners to be beat down and violated. He has no human compassion and is complicit in what goes on here.

Where are you at Governor Cuomo? I’m just wondering when Governor Cuomo will step up and hold prison officials like Anthony J. Annucci and Christopher Miller accountable for allowing so much corruption to fester under their watch. I thought corrections was about public safety and correcting criminal behavior. Instead it’s a jobs program for political appointees and sadistic correction guards who know nothing about effective correction management.

This is Dontie S. Mitchell, better known as Mfalme Sikivu, reporting to you from Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Comstock, New York. Follow me on Facebook @FreeDontieMitchell. Thank you for listening and God bless.

(Sound of a cell door closing.) These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.