We see here a few of the 70 or 80 folks who showed up for today’s rally/march against prison abuse. But for the yucky weather – cloudy and rainy – we might have had twice as many attend. But the turnout was good, there was plenty of press coverage, and the message was STRONG! 🙂 We assembled at Legislative Hall and walked to the Governor’s house about 1/2 mile away. Dover PD blocked off the streets and gave us an escort. 🙂 Several people spoke at both locations, and all made it clear that this is just the start – we are NOT going away! 🙂
Participants: See what the press says about ya’ll? You are “activists”. Damn RIGHT! We are ACTIVE, and we shall remain ACTIVE, until government officials get ACTIVE to end the problem called “prison abuse”!
Excerpts from the Article:
A small group of activists looking to bring about prison reform in Delaware marched in the rain from Legislative Hall to Woodburn, the official governor’s mansion, on Thursday in Dover. The group’s message came through loud and clear as they marched two-by-two on city streets toward Woodburn in an effort to shine a light on the problems they say plague Delaware’s antiquated prison system.
“We’re here to add our voices and perspective to criminal justice reform in Delaware, especially as it pertains to (James T.) Vaughn (Correctional Center),” said Dr. Christopher Alan Bullock, pastor and chairman at Canaan Baptist Church in New Castle. “We are made up of people from the faith-based community and people who have loved ones who have been impacted by injustices in our prison system. We support justice for correctional officers and inmates who are treated poorly.”
Standing on the steps in back of Legislative Hall, Bullock and the group supporting prison reform talked about better conditions and the need for more educational programs for inmates so they are prepared for life outside prison walls when they are released.
The group also talked about issues like pay raises for correctional officers, the need for body cameras on guards and throughout prison facilities, and more training for correctional officers so they can better be prepared for an incident such as the prison uprising that took place in Smyrna on Feb. 1. Inmates at Vaughn say they’ve asked for better programming, access to medical treatment and respect from correctional officers for years, while those working inside the prison walls say short staffing created an atmosphere ripe for such a disaster.
On Thursday, proponents on both sides of the conversation talked about the need for change to a system they say resembles that of the 1950s and 1960s. “The Department of Correction needs a complete overhaul,” Bullock said. “This model is no longer viable.”
Bullock said the march stems from a town hall meeting held April 15 at Canaan Baptist Church, where nearly 400 people “told story after story” about prison abuse in Delaware.
Before Thursday’s march, some of those people spoke on the steps of Legislative Hall, each saying that reform needs to take place to benefit not only inmates, but correctional officers, too. “Prison violence must end,” said Ken Abraham, founder of Citizens for Criminal Justice. “We are here on everybody’s behalf. Until the DOC acknowledges the problems, nothing will be done. Somebody must hold them accountable.”
Enrico Stratton-Bey, the cousin of Lt. Floyd and a prison reform activist, said during the march that he has a personal connection on both sides. Having been incarcerated from 1991-96, Stratton-Bey said he saw things from the side of the inmates. He also knew of the struggles by the correctional officers that led to the death of his cousin.
As they made their way toward Governor’s House, the marchers chanted such slogans as “A threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” and “Put justice and fairness back in our prison system.” They also sang “We Shall Overcome.”
“Until we get our prisons right, Delaware won’t be right.” he said.