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North Carolina General Prison Talk, News, Introductions & Chit Chat Topics & Discussions relating to Prison & the Criminal Justice System in North Carolina that do not fit into any other North Carolina sub-forum category. Please feel free to also introduce yourself to other members in the state and talk about whatever topics come to mind that may not have anything to do with prison.

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Old 08-28-2005, 10:44 AM
Retired-101 Retired-101 is offline
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Default Did your loved one get a write up?

We were talking about situations in prison where inmates get write ups and what happens. I wanted to start a new thread, and for any loved ones who has a inmate with a write up, I want you to jump in and ask any questions you wish about this. Again, I do not promise any answers, but I can give you my experience about it.

Before getting started, let me first say that not every officer who is an "investigating officer" is the devil's son. I have had the pleasure to meet some good officers in my time of incarceration, but I have also met a lot of officers who could care less about the inmate, and are there only to get a paycheck. This is the norm, not the exception, that I am focusing on. I assure you, there are some good people that work for DOC (don't laugh). But I am talking here about those that do not consider inmates as human or deserving of their rights. And it is often shown during Disciplinary Procedures, or when an inmate gets a write up.

There is a working hypocrisy about what inmate rights are when it comes to a write up and the procedures therein. When an inmate is given a writeup, he is also told of his rights. An inmate has a right to be told of the charges at least 24 hours before his hearing, so he can have time to get his head right. He has the right to make verbal and written statements to the investigating officer and hearing officer. He has a right to request written witness statements, to request evidence be gathered by the investigating officer, and to request that specific witnesses and evidence be present at the hearing.

Why is that important? Because most times the inmate is put in segregation pending the outcome of his writeup. What this means is that the inmate has no way of finding out the truth of what happened because he is locked in a cell. This is one of the major problems I have had with prisons and their investigations. I won’t argue that it may well be necessary to put a guy in seg for the time being, but what this also does is puts the inmate at a serious disadvantage with the prison. In a case where the inmate might be innocent, he is at a serious disadvantage because he has no options to defend himself, and has to rely on vague emotions and memory.

This is where the investigating officer is supposed to come in. The definition as I checked includes the following:

To question and examine thoroughly and closely.
Consider in detail and subject to an analysis in order to discover essential features or meaning.

There are perhaps 100 million other ways to define it, but the point I want to get out there is the investigating officer’s job is to ….INVESTIGATE. To find the truth, not just gather the facts. By finding the facts you also determine the truth. But fact finding is very relative. Think of it like a court-appointed lawyer to one that is paid. If you had a case over you, looking at a lot of time, who do you think will do more work for you, the lawyer you paid $50,000 for, or the court appointed lawyer, who will make nothing off you?

In the same way, this is what happens often in prison. Again, let me make abundantly clear that I am not talking about every Investigating officer, but I have experienced enough to know that most investigating officers do not put the inmate’s best interest out there. Think about it, if your loved one gets a charge, the prison assigns one of their own to “investigate”. This officer is basically going to read you the rights, and get a statement or two from you, to present to the DHO. But understand that law is based on interpretation, and the facts you choose to present. No different in prison, especially since no officer is a lawyer. Because of that, I strongly think the fairness of the “innocent before proven guilty” is compromised because the person determining the facts is loyal NOT to the inmate, but to the prison, for whom they work and get a paycheck from. In almost all cases, the investigating officer is not of rank, so it is also possible they are working with peer pressure. What investigating officer would go against his sergeant, lieutenant, captain or warden, even if he felt that the inmate might have a strong point?

Again, what I am talking about here is what happens in a Disciplinary procedure, and what your loved one may go through. This is not every situation, because we all know that many times inmates are guilty of what they have done. For example, I got in a fight at Pasquotank, and I was man enough to admit it, and said such at the DHO hearing. But on this post I am talking about the problems that can occur when the inmate has a valid point.

This is further complicated when the inmate is stuck in a cell, trying to rehash what happened. The prison has a distinct advantage if your loved one is locked in a cell trying to make sense out of what happened, while the prison has their investigating officer gathering “facts”. Now, I use that word kinda loosely, because that is relative. To investigate, one must be thorough, and complete. He has to find out not just what one or two inmates said, he has to find the truth. He owes it to that inmate locked up to at least do that for him, if that inmate is presumed innocent.

But this brings back the problem, how can an investigating officer truly help in inmate if he is employed by the prison? How many officers do you know that stuck his neck out for an inmate, especially if that inmate had a strong point?

Let me try to create a situation and give you an idea of what I mean. Let’s say I was working as a janitor and an officer who got up off the wrong side of the bed decided to tell me to do something. Now, there is a “failure to obey a direct order” rule in NC prisons which is very debatable, but most officers like to lean on that to get their way. Let’s say that the officer said it in a tone that pushed my wrong button. Let’s say I snap back, not totally out of line, but voicing my frustration. The officer might take offense to it, and get more vocal on me. Instead of arguing with him, as I would want to do, I try to calm down by walking away from him while he is talking. He tells me to get back, and I keep walking, trying to calm down. He calls an officer and they come to me and write me up for a failure to obey a direct order. I get put in seg and an investigating officer comes to “get the facts”

To him, the only facts he will write is the fact that I walked away from the officer while he gave me a direct order…that makes me look guilty. But what about the other facts? Was the officer respectable to me as a person? Did he speak to me as I would like to have been spoken to? I don’t care if this is prison or not, a man is STILL a man, and should be treated as such. But often times in prison, when you have inmates written up in such situations, sometimes is it caused by the officer who has a “chip” on their shoulder. Yet when the investigating officer comes to write it up, he does not add in such details. How can you omit those facts and still say you are “investigating”?

Most times the investigating officer does not look into these things because to him, it is a waste of time. Do they get paid more for doing that? Is it an additional responsibility to their job? If these are true, and you factor in that they are an employee of the prison that is prosecuting them, it leans heavily why most investigating officers don’t cover all the bases. Most just get a statement from the accused, the officer and maybe an inmate or two. But outside of that, they don’t do anything else. If this is all the inmate, who is currently sitting in a seg cell waiting his fate, has to his aid, there is little chance that he can beat his charge.

I have had some failing situations from investigating officers, and knew many inmates who experienced the same thing. Perhaps the only saving grace for the inmate is that they do get a chance to say their part at the actual DHO hearing, and most cases they present things that the investigating officer SHOULD have found, but took no time to do. In other words, when it comes down to it, the inmate has to save himself. This is NOT proper disciplinary procedure, this is injustice.

Again, I am not trying to defend every inmate, many guys mess up and there is no two ways about it. I am also not saying that ever investigating officer is that lazy, but I will wager that most do not do a full investigation because there is no loyalty to fully respect the inmate’s rights. Investigating officers are in most cases regular officers at a prison, paid by DOC and work for DOC. This creates a huge conflict of interest because the inmate has little chance to prove his innocence if he is locked in a seg cell with no way to get facts to save himself. It is the investigating officer’s duty to get those facts, not some, but as much as required. But this means the officer would have to work more, which he in most cases is NOT willing to do.

Think about this, an inmate gets a write up for cursing out an officer. On the outside that sound cut and dry. The inmate cursed out the officer, and that is a write up. But WHY did the inmate curse the officer out? Does it matter? DOC would say that it does not, because a rule is a rule.

But that isn’t true. DOC is not exempt from responsible behavior to other human beings. What if that inmate said that the officer was being too pushy, or had a bad attitude. Does that matter? Yes it does, it becomes a FACT that the inmate may have been provoked. You cannot push an inmate to such an action and claim immunity. What if the other inmates said that yes, the inmate DID curse, but because the officer was being too pushy. Officers must learn to respect inmates, and not treat them like dogs.

What I have presented to you is that there are 2 sides, at least, to every story. Why did the inmate do what he did? Isn’t that factual, since it establishes motivation? That fact is just as important as the actual charge, because it explains why the situation happened.

Or how about this, two inmates get into a fight, the officers break it up and put both in seg. The investigating officer gets the “facts” on one and determine that both guys were indeed fighting, and witnesses say the same thing. Case closed, right?

Well, what if one of the inmates said that he was fighting in self defense? What if he said that to the investigating officer? Would the investigating officer check to see how valid that story was? Would he talk to other inmate to see if that was the case, or only to verify that the inmate was fighting. This makes a serious difference in whether that guy gets a charge or have the charge thrown out.

I have gotten several pms from people who have a problem with their loved one getting a write up, and their loved one swears that proper procedures were not followed. At first one could say that the inmate is crying wolf, but when the facts are presented, often times I see that DOC dropped the ball. And the main reason why they dropped the ball is because that inmate was not represented fairly. Loved ones have to gather all the facts, write letters to prison officials, state officials and legal representatives to get the charge dropped…and all this could have been settled if the investigating officer did his job…and collect the facts.

I hope you guys understand what I am saying, because I don’t want to make this sound like a rage against all prison officials. That would not be fair. But understand that unless you on the outside understand what REALLY goes on with disciplinary procedures, and the inmate rights, a loved one could get a bogus write up and have it stick, because he has no one helping him. I have gone through these situations more than once, and helped many inmates while I was in prison. Certainly I am no lawyer, but what I could never stand for was a one-sided hanging jury. Prisons specialize in gathering facts to help the prison, not necessarily the inmate.

Of course the easiest way to avoid write ups is to be perfect….anyone know of such inmates?

You see, even if you do everything you can to avoid difficult situations, in prison it may come to you. Sure there are inmates with nasty attitudes, but guess what, there are a lot of officers to with an itchy trigger finger to write up an inmate if they don’t jump when they say jump. When those kind of things happen, it is a natural tendency for a stressed out inmate to react. Unfortunately, prison’s are too quick to prosecute them, rather than reason with them. It’s times like these when disciplinary procedures aren’t all they are cracked up to be. If your loved one gets a write up that he feels was not fair, keep that in mind, and be ready to help him. In most cases, you will be the only ones he can ask for help.

I hope to get some reactions on this, so we can chat more on this.
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Old 08-28-2005, 12:51 PM
ItsMichelle ItsMichelle is offline
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Yea!!! I get to be first!!

All of this is very true. And as Masonik will tell you himself, you need to gather the facts, the proof, before you can take any action at all with this.

What was not said, was that your loved one may also paint a prettier picture about what went on versus what really went on. Not always, but sometimes. This is very hard to say without saying, your loved one is lying to you. He may be to a degree, but that is not the point. Referring back to another post, they don't want to lose you so they may sugar coat the truth to keep you waiting with them. So, having the facts in front of you will help you decipher all of this.

My man did not sugar coat the facts with me. When he received his class x write up and told me of it in his letter, he was literally dumbfounded because he didn't have a clue what they were talking about. I even went back to his letters from 2 weeks earlier when he originally told me about the institutional shakedown.....He had only said there was a shakedown that day so he didn't get to write and send his letter that day and that during the shakedown, there was nothing found.

I got him to send me all the facts concerning this. The offense report, the contraband/evidence tag, the hearing report, etc.... Then after reading the inmate disciplinary rules set up for the prison, I had a case.

I wrote to people outside, he followed his procedures inside, and now, his class x was thrown out and he will be home in less than 30 days!!!

Just letting them do something to our loved ones because we fear retaliation or think we can't do anything about it is wrong. There is power in numbers and I am proof that you can beat them.

I might also add, that before being in prison this time....he came from a halfway house. He did mess up there and knows he fully deserved being sent back to prison. He also admits when he is wrong.

And concerning this class x thing and Masoniks comments about investigating officers.........The co who "found" the contraband was also the investigating officer, so basically, she was investigating herself. LOL, you just can't do that as a neutral party.
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Old 08-28-2005, 02:26 PM
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You know ItsMichelle, you make a very strong point that should be repeated for anyone out there that does not fully understand the disciplinary procedures or grievance procedures. There is no substitute for the help you can get from a loved one, it is truly immeasurable.

For anyone reading this with a son, daughter, husband, cousin, ect, I think what ItsMichelle pointed out is most important; the need to get the facts. Not just what happened, but to insure that your loved one isn't bending the truth a bit. Let's not forget, it happens a lot, and often times inmates are too embarassed to let their loved ones know they messed up again. But in some situations where a write up might be bogus, they really need your help.

To me, the best investigating officer is not in prison, rather outside...that is YOU. Why? Because you have their best interest in mind. You actually care about the inmate and you are not employed by DOC, so you aren't worried about the Captain or Warden retaliating against you because you stuck up for an inmate.

How many inmates lost an unnecessary write up because they were poorly represented? How many inmates lost gaintime, privileges, visitation, or custody levels because they were poorly represented? How many of these guys were unfairly treated because prison officers did not honor their responsibility to present ALL the facts, rather than just the ones that help the prison make their case? It is a very rare thing for an inmate to go throughout his sentence and not get a write up. Yes, it DOES happen, but it is rare. That is because it is too easy for an officer to write an inmate up, often on a very simple action that could have been avoided. Yet when an officer has done something wrong, there is no mention of it.

If your loved one tells you that he got an unfair write up, there are many things you can do. The first thing to do is tell him to appeal it; in most cases he probably already has. The next thing you need to do is get the facts. He has to send you something tangible. Don't try to fight this battle without ammunition; you will always lose. DOC is used to justifying things on the simplest terms. There is a joke I used to use when I was in prison, which says that if I said 2+2=4, and an officer told me I was wrong, that 2+2=5, I could write a grievance on that. But when I did, arguing that the officer is misleading me and telling me a lie, I guarantee you the first response from the prison will be something like:

"We believe that mathematics is important to the rehabilitation of the inmate"

They won't admit they are wrong, but come up with some left-field answer to keep from admitting a fault....or they will twist the words to their advantage...I have seen that many times.

So you must get the info. If the inmate was written up, there has to be a paper trail. If the inmate appealed, there must be a paper trail, if he wrote a grievance, there must be a paper trail. Something documented must be available to sent to you so you can see what he is talking about.

What I would do once I got that info is study it, with the rules of the prison and DOC, and determine if my loved one was wronged or not. If so, then every single person involved in that write up is immediately responsible, and I would make that abundantly clear. From the officer that wrote him up, to the investigating officer who failed to do his job, to any officer involved, I would list them BY NAME and send that letter to any person willing to read it.

This sounds aggressive, and maybe it is, but let me back up a sec to say that you must keep in mind that those people are humans, like us, and are subject to mistakes. And as I said before, not every officer is like that. But in my experience, once a mistake is made by the prison, they will rarely fix it, and let it ride. If you don't catch it, that's YOUR fault. If you do catch it, you have to fight to prove your point. It's not easy most of the time, heck, it can get very depressing fighting for a loved one when DOC won't budge, even when they are wrong. But I assure you, it's worth it when your loved one beats his charge, and prison officials are exposed for cheating these guys out of a fair trial. To most prisons, inmates are guilty unless they can show that they are innocent. And in most cases, they don't get much help from any officers. That's why you are so important; they can at least TRUST you.
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Old 08-28-2005, 02:47 PM
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Masonik, every time you post I feel that you know what's going on with my man. I feel at times that I am fighting a losing battle. I will fight until I have no fight left in me. Thank you so very much for all your input. I build more determination and gather more information with each post you make. You truly are a God send!! I know I have said it before but it comes from the heart. THANK YOU!!

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Old 08-28-2005, 06:28 PM
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Ok...the fficer that found the contraband by policy can not investigate it...
so even if he was found guilty it would have been overthrown on appel....
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Old 08-28-2005, 06:40 PM
ItsMichelle ItsMichelle is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowjack69
Ok...the fficer that found the contraband by policy can not investigate it...
so even if he was found guilty it would have been overthrown on appel....
But, it wasn't.

The point was, no where in this whole thing did they follow policy.

The point was they didn't think anyone on the outside would interfere with what they were doing on the inside.

The point was, they tried to get away with it. If they already know that the officer who found it cannot be the investigator, why would they even let them do it in the first place?

edited per PTO policy
*****

Last edited by marcsbaby; 08-30-2005 at 02:54 PM..
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Old 08-28-2005, 08:00 PM
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I am not upset....I am pointing out that on appel the discpliary action would
have been dismissed....because even if the inmate doesnt know policy people
within the prison who are over the c/o (and or sgt/lt/capt) know policy and
if for no other reason the risk of a lawsuit will ensure policy is followed.
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Old 08-29-2005, 04:39 PM
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*****edited per PTO policy****

Cynics have asked me why I bother trying to change anything or talk about injustice, when it's the way of the world and has been forever. Well, that may be the way of the world, but it's sure not the way I choose to walk within it.

Last edited by marcsbaby; 08-30-2005 at 02:54 PM..
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Old 08-29-2005, 04:49 PM
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Quote:
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Reminding myself I am the bigger person here.........
Yes Michelle!!
My It didn't get dropped until you let them know that you knew they were in the wrong.
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Old 08-30-2005, 02:46 PM
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I have to agree, because the solution comes only when you as the loved one intervenes. If your loved one has a write up, and feels that he has been wronged by DOC or the prison, you will likely stand as the strongest measure of help he will get. Why? Because you are not inside the "ceiling" of prison. You have far more resources and are not tied to any officer, prison or system. This works heavily in your favor.

Remember what is likely going on with the inmate during this time of "investigation". He is locked in a seg cell, awaiting his trial. He has absolutely no access to any information. Sure, the rules say he can request it, but that does not mean that he will get it, whether it is available or not. The idea I really want to hammer home to anyone with a loved on in prison is that the disciplinary procedures are not designed to work for the inmate, even if he is falsely accused. It is purely designed for the prison to make a stronger case and condemn the inmate once he goes to his DHO hearing. This does not mean that the inmate will always lose, because sometimes they do win, but from my experience, I have never won a case because of an investigating officer, and I don't know of any inmates that have. Again, this is not to say that it has never been done, because I am quite sure it has.

But for you that got a phonecall, or letter from a loved one who is upset at a recent decision, the first step is to get the facts. This is exactly what the investigating officer was supposed to do for the inmate, but often gather only part of it, and gives that to the prison, not the inmate. Often times when an inmate goes before the hearing, he hears things that the investigating officer never told him...but likely told the prison. But for you, you must obtain the facts; that means the write up, the decision, the appeal the grievance, anything you can get. You also need to brush up on the procedures of the disciplinary procedure. You will need to be the real "investigating officer" for your loved one, if he is to receive a fair trial.

When I was at Sanford Correctional, I was shipped out to Guilford Correctional on two "A" charges. When I was read my "rights" by an officer, he did the routine and asked if I had a statement. I told the officer, "what am I being charged for?" His answer was, "I don't know, but I think you do"...

WHAT KIND OF ANSWER IS THAT?

I had no idea why I was being put in shackles and put in a state car to be shot out of one prison to another. And when I say I had no idea, I mean I had no idea on the planet why they were sending me out. I had wrote a grievance about some things going on at Sanford, and I was called to the warden's office given his "reasons" as why certain things were going on. I knew that to argue would be fruitless, so I simply agreed calmly, and let him dismiss me. I think he knew that I was not satisfied with the answer, so inside of about a half hour or so he sent an officer to pick me up and have me clean out my locker. By the end of the day I was in seg at Guilford County.

There were many things the camp did to drop the ball on my rights, none of them helped by the "investigating officer". I just believe that these guys are loyal first to the prison, and as such are not neutral enough to really gather facts. Facts are like baseball stats; you can twist them to say anything you want. No different in prison, and unfortunately, inmates don't have anyone they can trust to help them, even when they are 100% right.

Simply put, get the evidence in writing, as much as you can. If you need help after getting the facts, you have people here at PTO that have been through it before, they might be able to help. After getting the REAL facts straight, sit down, write that letter and get the ball rolling. I wish I could promise a victory for every person that does this, but I cannot. But I assure you, you give your loved one a better chance than relying on the help of the prison. Most often, it won't be enough to help overturn a false charge. It takes the aid and courage of people like ItsMichelle, and others who are willing to stand up for their loved one, to make things work.
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Old 08-30-2005, 03:16 PM
ItsMichelle ItsMichelle is offline
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If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention.

Last edited by ItsMichelle; 08-30-2005 at 03:30 PM..
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Old 11-26-2006, 01:48 PM
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I wanted to bring this back up since it deals a bit with a question about a write up. It speaks volumes about what goes on in DOC, though the eyes of one who has been there.
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