Dominque Stevenson and Benjamin Woods of the Friend Of A Friend prison program and Students Against Mass Incarceration (SAMI) joined the show today to discuss further their forced removal from Maryland state prisons, the suspension of the FoF program and larger issues related to mass incarceration, prison reform and abolition. Below we also posted video from today’s attempt to confront Gary Maynard the Maryland Secretary of Public Safety & Correctional Services who was in Columbia, Maryland this afternoon attending a conference ostensibly about “Restorative Justice.” The goal of the current members of the program, some of whom are formerly incarcerated beneficiaries of the Friend Of a Friend program, was the reinstatement of that program to Maryland state prisons. It is as yet unclear if/when that reinstatement will take place despite the contradictory statements from Maryland state officials. Their official statement, as was read this morning on air, can be read below as well. The statement of Marshall “Eddie” Conway in defense of FoF can be read here.
MD Dept of Public Safety & Correctional Services Statement:
The Friend of a Friend program, while temporarily suspended at the Roxbury Correctional Institution, is still ongoing at other institutions within the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. It is not true that the program has been cancelled.
Two individuals associated with Friend of a Friend program including Dominique Stevenson, one of your guests, violated entrance security procedures a few weeks ago when arriving at Roxbury for the program’s meeting. Ms. Stevenson had materials on her person which by institutional procedure needed to be cleared by the prison’s administration. She did not previously ask for permission to bring this material inside the institution so it was confiscated.
Another individual there for the same program meeting attempted to bring in two DVDs without prior authorization from RCI’s administration, another security violation. DVDs themselves are not necessarily a security violation. There are procedures in place to clear video material shown to inmates through volunteer programs, but again in this particular case, they were not followed.
Because of these two incidents, the program was suspended until it can be reviewed. The Friend of a Friend program has been in the DPSCS system for quite a long while now. All parties involved in the program have a full understanding of the security requirements inside our prisons. The Department has reached out to Ms. Stevenson to discuss the matter in an attempt to resolve the situation. To date, we have not heard back from her.
Another incident with the Friend of a Friend program happened earlier this year at a prison in Jessup. In this case a visitor to the program attempted to introduce contraband narcotics into the institution. The program was suspended while the incident was investigated. Once the investigation was complete, and the prison administration thought it was appropriate, the Friends of a Friend program was reinstated. It is currently meeting there on a regular basis.
Director of Communications
MD Dept of Public Safety & Correctional Services
300 E Joppa Rd, suite 1000
Towson, MD 21286
O – 410.339.5007
C – 443.629.0055