Thursday, September 17, 2015

Sept 17 - We Can Make Your Life Hell

Thursday, September 17

We, Clayton's family, didn't hear from him after our final hug Wednesday night until Thursday afternoon, and the conversation was brief.  All the K Mod transfers, who had been moved into the SMU and placed into lock-down, finally had been allowed to leave their cells simultaneously.  They had been advised that their time out would be short.

Clayton got a very brief call out, for only a few minutes, before attempting to race off to the showers.  He had managed to get access to his property that morning, and had gotten a hold of some shampoo and soap.  That night, in video visitation, Clayton was able to tell us more about the day's events, and that there sadly, hadn't been time to get to the showers.

Clayton Directly Threatened by Goose Creek Parole Officer

This morning Clayton was able to access his property and sort through it; deciding what he would keep in storage, and what he would disburse to us.  Ultimately, Clayton was forced to disburse more than half of the property we had paid for with commissary money, because he was no longer allowed to have it in his new location.  Much of what he kept, in storage, he will still not have access to, but he hesitated to get rid of it due to its cost.  For example, the MP3 player and radio his family and friends have helped pay for.  The SMU has TVs, but in contrast to the general population inmates, the protective custody inmates within it are not allowed electronics, and therefore, not able to hear them.

While sorting through his items, temporarily outside of his cell for the process, Clayton was approached by a man he recognized.  It was a Parole Officer (PO) who had interacted with him once before while he was in the Administrative Segregation unit - an unpleasant memory.

Two guards were with Clayton while he was attempting to quickly sort through his property, and were witness to the entire conversation that followed.  Clayton said they generally looked embarrassed, but did not interfere with the PO.

The PO walked directly up to Clayton and began, saying, "I thought we talked about this, Allison."

He was referring to their one-sided conversation about Clayton's family which took place months ago in March.

The PO was insistent and aggressive while telling Clayton, "We do not talk to your wife."  He explained to Clayton that if he did not "get his wife to back off and stop causing problems for us" they could "make his life hell."

Clayton was in shock.

He had no idea what the man was talking about.  His hands trembled as he was forced by the PO to stand there and, "Repeat after me... We. Do. Not. Talk. To. Your. Wife."

Clayton obeyed; repeating the words as instructed.  He said that he felt belittled, and felt like he was being scolded like a child because he had been talking to his wife about the truth of what was going on.  He felt intimidated, and worried about whether they could actually get him in some kind of trouble for talking to her; but speaking with her, and being honest about what was happening to him and everyone else was too important to him.  The PO left, and he attempted to refocus on sorting through his property.

"That's so weird..." Clayton's wife said later, as he described the confrontation across the video screen.  "It makes no sense.  I haven't talked to them at all except to find out what was going on.  Everyone was."

She explained to him that she had been working on preparing social media posts for the Free Clayton Allison campaign until the wee hours of Wednesday morning.  She had been preparing for their upcoming wedding anniversary and the anniversary of Jocelynn's death a week later; knowing the posts would be hard to keep on top of during such an emotional time.  She had woken up late that day, early afternoon really, to a panicked set of voice and text messages.  She had slept-in until long after the chaos had begun, and panic had set in.  The messages were from his lawyers, friends, and families of other inmates - all trying to figure out what was going on.

"I got a glimpse... that Clayton had been moved to general population?... Is this true?"

"We are hearing a rumor that K Mod has been disbanded. Have you heard anything like that?"

"I still haven't heard from my man..."

"I freaked out when I saw it."

Clayton's wife freaked out as well.  The idea that the K Mod would just cease-to-be overnight felt too insane to be reality, and once she was able to confirm it, she only spoke with facility staff long enough to determine when and how she could visit him.  The idea that this PO would threaten him, by singling her out specifically, when visitation staff indicated they had been fielding questions all day was nonsensical.  She was angry that they would imply to him that she was somehow drowning the facility in communication, and use that lie to worry him.  In reality, she was spending most of her time relaying information on what was going on to everyone outside of the facility.

Clayton and Family Previously Threatened by Goose Creek Administrative Staff

This is not the first time that Clayton or his family have been threatened by administrative staff at GCCC, including this particular PO.  His wife remembers the threats initially made while he was still stuck in Administrative Segregation months ago.  She took notes, but did not publish the threats themselves on the blog at that time - even though she did summarize the events in a less direct manner - because she was attempting to establish and maintain positive relationships with facility staff, so that Clayton's heath and safety would be taken care of.

Now she fears that Clayton is at even greater risk if the threats against him are not publicly known.

Back when Clayton first arrived at GCCC, visitation was an early problem.  In a brief meeting in late February, his family spoke with the facility Superintendent about the events that erupted when Clayton arrived at GCCC, his immediate resulting placement in protective custody, and the extreme level of media coverage which had led to many of the issues.  They also requested that Clayton's approved visitors list not be limited to 10 people, because statewide DOC policy (810.02.VII.C.2) states that the Superintendent is the only individual authorized to make exceptions on a "case-by-case basis."  Clayton's immediate family alone is well over 10 people.  The Superintendent requested an email outlining information about Clayton's desired visitors.

However, after sending the requested email, Clayton's wife was surprised to receive a phone call from the Superintendent himself the next day, March 2nd.  He was very upset, and complained about the involvement and advocacy of Clayton's family and friends.  Then he shocked her completely.

He explained that there were "various factors" which had to be considered when evaluating whether an inmate would be placed into K Mod after being taken into protective custody.  Keep in mind, the only alternative was permanent placement in SMU or Administrative Segregation under lock-down, while K Mod inmates lived similarly to inmates in general population.  He emphasized to her that one of the considerations was the "administrative burden" of the individual, including "having to deal with their family."

Clayton's wife was stunned.

She could not believe he would threaten Clayton's quality of life, by threatening to prohibit his placement into K Mod, in response to 1 meeting and 2 requested/required emails.  She informed the Superintendent that she was actually actively reigning-in the questions, concerns, and feedback from an entire population of people desperately wanting find out Clayton's status and when/if/how they could see him.

"I am the reason these people are not descending on your facility," she tried to explain, "I am asking them to go through me; to help you."

She emphasized the sheer number of people who were regularly asking her for information, and that she had, so far, been encouraging them not to seek information from the facility itself.  After brief reflection on this information, the Superintendent seemed to back away from his position that the level of involvement they were having to deal with was somehow extreme.

The Superintendent instead emphasized that Clayton should "take responsibility" and "follow procedure" to advocate for himself.  Clayton's wife pointed out that it was nigh-unto-impossible for Clayton to do that when, up to that point, he had never been briefed on any procedures or even seen a Prisoner Handbook, much less the Segregation Handbook, to even know what the procedures were.

"The only reason my husband understands how anything works," his wife explained, "is from A) inmates from Anchorage he is rooming with trying to explain their expectations, or B) from ME, during my visitation time after speaking with your staff and reading the handbook myself."

The Superintendent seemed surprised that this was the case, saying, "Well, that shouldn't be."

Then he assured her that Clayton would be given the opportunity to see the handbook before the end of the day, and that Clayton's visitation issues would be sorted out efficiently; which ultimately they were.  Although, he never approved an expansion of Clayton's visitation list beyond 10.

Later that same day, a guard told Clayton that he had been "chewed out" by his superiors.  He explained very seriously that "only trouble-makers ask for the handbook," and that Clayton needed to "get [his] family to back off" or they could "make life difficult for him".  He only gave Clayton 1 hour to read the handbook before taking it away, but fortunately, Clayton is a speed-reader.  A female PO met with Clayton earlier in the day about the process of getting assigned to K Mod.  She, also, had emphasized that he needed to "reign in his family."

Previous Threat from Thursday's PO

Clayton would continue to hear comments from guards about his family over the next few days, but it seemed to settle down again until his next meeting with a PO on March 23rd.  It would be the first, and only, time Clayton would meet with this particular PO until he was threatened by him again this Thursday, September 17th, on Clayton's 10th wedding anniversary.

After the initial meeting on March 23rd, Clayton described this male PO as very brisk, and explained that the meeting had been extremely short.  The PO turned on a recording device and walked through a pre-determined list of information.  Then the PO turned the recorder off, and expressed that now they needed to "talk about your family," and the problem they presented, "off the record."  Clayton did not remember the PO's name, because he had not been given a pen, and has difficulty with remembering names.

Clayton had left the March 23rd meeting in a panic, convinced that family and friends must somehow be plaguing the facility with phone calls or emails.  His family was surprised by the news, as they had not contacted the facility again, other than daily interactions with the staff at the visitation desk, since the incidents on March 2nd.  He had also explained to his family that the PO made insinuations that "people like you" don't get into K Mod.

"Get the word out, hard core," he had relayed at the time.  "Do not call about me... email... letter.  They’re labeling me as a needy and troublesome inmate.”

Leading up to this meeting, Clayton had been excitedly talking to us for days about how he was preparing a list of questions he would finally be able to ask so he would understand more about how to do things and what to expect.  The PO refused to let him speak.  He was completely disheartened, as he had been hopeful that the meeting would provide much needed information.  Instead, he ended up having a few questions answered by a guard who was kind enough to take the time while bringing him back to his segregation cell.

Moving Forward 

As Clayton's family, we now fear further retaliation from staff at the facility, and are attempting to get the word out about the threats that have been made against him.  We wish to ensure that these events are well-known, so that it is not easy to excuse away failure to protect him or ensure his well-being in the future.  Please share this blog post with everyone you know, on every platform of social media possible, and please pray for his safety and peace of mind.  Clayton is a person who needs physical contact with those he loves, and the loss of contact visitation is devastating.

If the events described in this blog disturb you, and you wish to challenge the behavior of DOC staff against Alaska inmates and their families, please learn more about the issues and speak out.  Inmates are human beings. DOC claims to have "community reintegration" as a goal, but is systematically cutting off inmates from loved ones, and declaring advocacy by family as inappropriate.  This not only hurts inmates, but their innocent mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children, and friends who are caught up in this heartless system.  These are our loved ones.  No one wants to see them become successful community members more than we do. 

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