Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Email to GCCC Admin - Summer Festival

On June 12, 2015, Clayton's wife wrote an email to the Superintendent of GCCC about an upcoming event at the prison - the Summer Festival.  She had been discussing the event for the last couple of weeks with other individuals awaiting visitation with loved ones, and had seen the distress around their inability to participate.  She had experienced this disappointment herself.

She decided to write the following email to communicate that experience to staff.  Then, she read her message to a couple of other individuals who had discussed it with her previously, and soon found other individuals asking for a copy of the email, or checking in periodically to see if a response had been received.  Up to the time of this release (June 23, 12:24 pm), no response has been received from staff.

Individuals who had heard the email thanked Clayton's wife for her effort, and expressed that they wish more people understood what it was like to have a family member in protective custody - and the types of hardship they face for that status.  Therefore, Clayton's wife has decided to share this email itself on the blog here, so that more of you can have a glimpse at this experience without the need to experience it yourself.  

COPY OF EMAIL:  Sent June 12, 2015 at 11:38 PM

Dear Mr. Conant,

I wanted to take a moment to share my thoughts with you on the GCCC Summer Festival which, as I understand, will be taking place tomorrow, June 13th.  I have very little information on the event, but understand it to be an opportunity for inmates to arrange in-advance to spend a longer period of time with family in a group-event atmosphere.  I personally believe that family support is critical to inmate success both within your facility and upon release, and I believe that an event of this type is an excellent practice.  

I am writing you this email to communicate that I believe an opportunity of this type should also be extended to inmates currently housed within the K Mod.  The K Mod is designed specifically for inmates in protective custody.  These individuals have not been assigned to K Mod as a result of bad behavior of their own, but instead due to threats of harm or actual harm done by inmates who will get to participate in events like the Summer Festival.  

Families of individuals in K Mod already have to endure additional hardship in relation to visitation due to their status.  Visitation hours are only available from 9-10 pm at night; an exceedingly late time frame for those coming from Anchorage, or whose physical limitations make late-night visitation difficult.  K Mod families are also not afforded the opportunity to request extended 2-hour visits like their counterparts in the general population can request.  While I understand the complications faced by GCCC staff in keeping our loved ones safe and separated from general population, it still results in frequent disappointment for those of us trying to access our loved ones.

Additionally, it concerns me that an event like the Summer Festival would be posted in the K Mod despite their inability to participate.  This results in disappointment for the inmates and families alike.  I visit my husband every night that a visitation is available.  At least 3 different individuals have asked me this week alone, “Do you know what the Summer Festival is?  Do you know if my (son/husband/loved one) can participate?”  I had to watch one woman fight back tears upon hearing that K Mod was not allowed to participate, and she responded with a, “Well i hope he doesn’t know about it then, so it doesn’t make him sad.”

I appreciate everything that GCCC staff do to keep my husband safe.  I understand, and have accepted the fact that this means the opportunities we have are different.  I am writing this in an effort to help you see through the eyes of their families.  Our loves ones are not missing out on this opportunity because they’ve done something wrong in your facility.  They are missing out, and we are missing out, because their lives and safety have been threatened by some of the very people who may be participating.  K Mod houses some individuals who haven’t even been tried in a court of law yet, to have the opportunity to show their innocence.  Others, like my husband, are discriminated against due to media coverage beyond our control.  

I would ask that you take these things to heart when scheduling events and opportunities in the future, and be confident that K Mod is not being excluded due to the extra effort required to make something similar work for our families.  There are many of us who sit in your waiting room on a regular basis, eager to see our loved ones and provide them our love and support.  


CJ Allison

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