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Interview :: Human Rights
Interview: Inmate Darrell Jones Speaks Out Against Massachusetts Prisons
16 Jul 2009
Massachusetts ranks high among those prisons that are overcrowded. There is poor medical treatment, according to the inmates, prison racism, abuses, and poor nutritional food among some of the complaints. What Massachusetts prisons do have is a large number of Correctional Officers. In a state that is suffering from unemployment, and an over loaded budget, the hiring of Correction officers don't seem to be affected at all.

One Massachusetts inmate Darrell Jones (see other article)could see the abuses and racism in Massachusetts prisons, and decided to watch, take notes, and eventually report on an audio tape what he felt was going on. Upon release of the audio tape on the Internet, the next day he was thrown into "the hole." He was soon transferred from OCCC to MCI Norfolk, where he currently housed.
Here is my interview with Darrell, where he speaks his mind on the issues of Massachusetts prisons, and what happened to him when he spoke out against the system. He speaks about a video he and others created to help prevent crime. When inmates try to help young people from committing crimes, their voices should be heard and not stifled. After all, who would know better than someone who has been imprisoned for so many years.

I've been given the opportunity to provide a "BIO" on myself. As much as I appreciate such an opportunity, I know there is something extremely "larger than myself" that this space and time has to eventually unfold.

My Name is Darrell Jones. I'm 42 years old, and I am a brother, father, uncle, grandfather, and son to a family that has be destroyed by a "society of leadership" that has never taken the time to listen and investigate the truth.

I was falsely arrested and convicted in 1985 for the murder or a man I've never even met. This has been done by a system that has denied justice for both my family, his family, and in fact for the victim himself by not providing the closure of truth each of us deserved.

In 1991 I lost my baby brother to violence, followed by the recent murder of my middle son in January 2008 to the violence of Boston streets. I did everything I could to try and prevent that violence from affecting each of my sons (or those around them) yet every door possible continued to be closed on me. My children had as much right to me as I did to them. MY INCARCERATION PREVENTED THAT.

The remarks I've lived through (throughout this incarceration) have been that its been my place to take "some responsibility" for what's happened. My answer (until death) will be that until you can be in a situation
of being taken from the world (AND HELD ) for a crime you never committed, while all the while losing access to your children both physically AND EMOTIONALLY (all behind a lie) — How do you judge how that should be handled? How do you decide what's the best way to stand up for yourself against a system taking all you've got? How do you get across to a system (a prison system) that not only do they not have a right to your life, but that although they may house your body, you will not allow them to house your soul?
The prison system is a situation that was forced upon me, and one that in the last 24 years or so I've had to personally experience to really learn about it.


I've been incarcerated for the last 24yrs. Over those years I have been housed in four different facilities. (Walpole,Shirley Max, Old Colony Bridgewater, and presently MCI Norfolk.)
I understand you was involved in the production of a video, can you please tell us what that was all about?

The production (video) is called "Voices Behind the Walls," it involves myself and eight (8) other men who were able to come together for one common goal and agree that our past should not (and must not) be repeated by the youth of today. These men all "believed" that we owed a debt to our community and stepped forward to pay that debt.

Stanley Pullock of Teen Empowerment helped to record and distribute the message to the youth. In fact.... Although the video itself had Nine men on it, there was a list of young men---of different races---who wanted to take part, and who supported this effort from the sidelines.
The particular idea to do the video started with a vision I had in 1999. The idea was to originally do a "public service announcement" that would air as a small commercial on public television to reach young kids as a "second thought" to what hey may have been seeing on the streets, or hearing in raps (or songs) which are glorifying prison life.

I began presenting this idea as a proposal to the D.O.C — along with a list of others — but it was continually "rejected" and said not to be in line with the "Governor WELD Administrations" goals of punishment. In fact, it wasn't until 2004 that a true attempt to even consider the idea came about. This was during the tenure of prior Commissioner Kathleen M. Dennehy.

Still, the idea remained stuck in red tape following the many issues. surrounding Ms. Dennehy, and a D.O.C Union that was totally against her attempts to enforce the idea of reform. Nonetheless, I wasn't willing to allow this delay to impress on me the idea of denial. So I (again) began to reach out to the community and create avenues using some of the very same concepts in written form. Mainly doing so as a personal campaign (writing letters to youth) in order to send them out to middle and high schools across New England.

Because of space and time, I can only best give you a "snapshot" inventory of its actual filming. Namely, after some period of time between 2005 and 2008, I was able to get city councilor Chuck Turner on board, along with his two prior aids at the time, and taking flight with incoming aid Darrin Howell. (what most people miss, or remains unknown to them all together, is that the "video" idea was only a part of a much bigger project to hold community meeting with our actual community from the outside, long before the adoption of the whole "reentry" lingo.)

Over all, this connection called for a renewed effort to present the video aspect of the idea (again) to the D.O.C . Following much group negotiation, the first video was produced, "VOICES FROM BEHIND THE WALLS"

The Commissioners office "initially" opened the door for this project, as well as the opportunity to meet with those from our community to find better solutions to our youth and crime problems.
Sadly, without the Commissioner direct involvement, nor his assigning anyone to do so, there became a serious effort to "undermined" this mission of reform by a particular group of correctional staff. This matter remains open to be resolved, as does the production of the next set of videos. Yet, it is the kids who suffer from lack of follow up, and that troubles me most.


I consider myself an "aware-nist." The D.O.C has long survived on the culture of "SECRECY" which it protects. The more I became aware of that, I've found it extremely important to make others aware also. As James Baldwin so correctly once said : "you cannot fix what you will not face." ! How is it possible the public can force transparency on every Government agency except the D.O.C ?(l've never seen the media chasing the commissioner around to get answers----WHY IS THAT? So many people go out their way to find out what's happening to people as far away as Iraq, and forget about their own sisters, mothers, fathers and sons who are in bondage just miles away from them. WHY? Mostly because this is a "society problem" people really don't want to face, and that's sad !

I also understand you challenged the prison system by speaking out against prison abuse and racism, please give us your thoughts on this.
You ask about Old Colony (OCCC) where I was at prior to Norfok. The "racism" in this system is not just reserved to Old Colony, and it doesn't just affect prisoners. This is another part of the misconceptions and lack of awareness that the public (and these head of states) just don't understand. For one, I (personally) just think the racism at Old Colony is just a lot more "dug in" due to the fact that so much of it is family based down there. The relationships are cousins, brothers, husbands and wives, not to mention mother and daughter.

There's also the reverse forms of racism playing out that are not so easy to see as some may expect. There are times, when you have to sit around and just watch how some of the staff of color are treated. Even worse is seeing in their eyes the inability to do anything about those injustices that they can see first hand are based on race.

At the same time, like there was a risk for me, there's a risk for them also. It's asking a lot (in this environment) to have them risk their job security and the way of taking care of themselves and their familles for a group of men who are already in prison. They're almost in a situation where they can't speak out.

The tricky part is that, this same race game can affect a white group of staff just as well. I'm always willing to point out that this whole "culture problem" is not an all staff situation. There are some white staff who go unnoticed, but if it wasn't for them things in this system would have broke all the way down a long time ago. And it is them too who suffer a lot from the "reverse racism" They are either shun by the other group of staff who have the strong hold on the system, or kept out of positions to do anything about what they see. These are the ones this Commissioner should be meeting with and looking to move up the ladder. Locating them is not that difficult. There's a system for doing that, but he's just not using it. That is what concerns me.
The issues about Old Colony itself are many. But I won't elect to lay them all out here today. I am in the process of "ensuring" that the facts stay in place, UN-tampered with! But I will say that those things I addressed on the MINETHAT BIRD MEDIA. COM web site were true and necessary at the period of time I did them.

In fact, when the whole issue of Rep. Fox coming to check in on the facts came about, as well as the issue of me having sexual acts in a visiting room were leaked to the Boston Herald, I thought it would have been clear right then that not on had I done something that touched a nerve with them. But they had in fact thought to retaliate (pay me back) for speaking out. Clear these "sources" were so intent to get back at me that they decided to violate their own D.O.C polices and release to the Herald my CORI information. And as I said, even to the point of forging the information and leaving out the truth. In my mind, they did the "truth" a favor, because those exact same acts only proved that the kind of "corrupt cop" I was talking about does exist.
This is why I released the actual "taped hearing" for that D-report. Which actually serves more than one purpose. It not only confirms they KNEW there was no sexual act when the put up the charge. But it shows how they handle their D-board process, and what your up against even trying to get your facts in. So just imagine what these young kids go through when they are trying to defend themselves at these kind of hearings?


With 24yrs in this system, I've grown up with the majority of these guards and administration heads. A majority of the new one's are basically (their) sons and daughters, or even cousins. So what remains are the culture of "codes" in the system, where some guards feel they can write you up and punish you. must never write up, or file reports on their activities of wrong doing. You are simply supposed to except whatever treatment you get.

There are severe consequences for any other type of thinking. Basically, I knew the retaliation would be heavy. Nonetheless, what's occurring behind these walls (the hopelessness) just can't be continued. To me, the price is too high for our community, as well as for us behind these walls. Even sadder is the fact that complaints that should invoke investigations, instead just "expedite" retaliation.

Still... I see the long term affect—the bigger picture — and with that I remind myself that "no fist is big enough to hide the sky." Therefore, I'm not allowing myself to be blinded or intimidated !(I have to do this for a purpose larger than myself----Via Self-sacrifice.)
How did they punish you for speaking out?
Besides the regular harassment's, and trying to provoke me into a "reactionary" stance. The main idea is just to silence me, using various tactics such as allowing the false slander against me to go on uncontested as they did with the Heralds "Sexual acts" scam !)

They were hoping to withdraw my credibility and stop people "externally" from listening. But when they are allowed to do that, they don't just punish me, they prevent a community from receiving the truth needed to stop a cancer growing from all sides. What many people have failed to really understand, is that this (prison) system has long concealed vital information which the community has been unable to access, or to process. Therefore, its not only important to the community to hear what those in authority are saying, BUT, to hear as well from those they are trying hard to silence.
Silence and secrecy has been the real "ROSWELL EXPERIMENT" going on behind these walls, which has been sending these young men back to the public more "alien" to both their communities, families, and themselves.


This system is made up of the same people, the same mentality as before continues to run ramped here. The separation is no longer just being away from our old communities, but for many of these young men incarcerated there's been a separation away from the whole idea of "Humanity," "Spirituality," and even a sense of what's right. There's far more than a one-sided "self-esteem" issue within this system. There are (some) who are charged with watching over these lives who are condoning and basically fostering self-defeating attitudes.

Because I've been so detailed, and was able to tolerate so much in order to maintain the facts, they done all they can to take the focus off of what has been the important questions such as: What's really occurring in this secret society called prison? How does it remain so "closed off" from the public's view? If I couldn't prove, or provide the truth on the issues I've been raising they would care less.

Nonetheless, they fail to realize that my not saying these things won't make them any less true. I'm not afraid to tell the truth, but at the same time, the community has to want willing to demand to hear it! (I mean, its their families I'm in here talking about as well.)


The Boston Herald began their "source said" campaign on May 28,2009. They ran back to back articles to enforce their original accusations of myself and Joanna Marinova having engaged in "sexual acts" in the prisons visiting room. But, what those "sources" said, and the Herald promoted was 100 percent NOT TRUE! They also stated that there was a "plot" to sneak Ms. Marinova into the segregation visiting area by way of state Rep. Gloria Fox. That too was a lie.
Still, most concerning to me is "why" the paper would blatantly keep repeating accusations against me, even after coming into information that the "source" had provided fraud material? There's been a very collective "plot" to silence me from getting out the truth. Why does a major newspaper decide to help in that effort? To date, this paper has yet to fully retract these lies----Why? Don't they have any kind of obligation to meet the public's expectation for truth?


Because I've been so detailed, and was able to tolerate so much in order to maintain the facts, they done all they can to take the focus off of what has been the important questions such as: What's really occurring in this secret society called prison? How does it remain so "closed off" from the public's view? If I couldn't prove, or provide the truth on the issues I've been raising they would care less.

Nonetheless, they fail to realize that my not saying these things won't make them any less true. I'm not afraid to tell the truth, but at the same time, the community has to want willing to demand to hear it ! (I mean, its their families I'm in here talking about as well.)
Click for documents posted.


FEAR ! Fear (combined with a lack of support to help challenge those who are oppressing them.) I'm not the first incarcerated to speak out, the D.O.C has a history of silencing inmates. Most of these guys would rather "hold it all in" until they're released, rather than having to have their cells shaken down daily, or getting written up for false charges and losing access to the few privileges available to them for pointing out the truth, others have yet to learn the many "politics" of this system, and are led to resort to acting out "physically" --Not understanding the exact reasons "why" various staff are willing to risk those physical outburst. (The "appearance" of a violent prison system raises pensions and ensures job security—the only loser is the unaware inmate !)

Still.... Fear leads the day as to why they accept it. Not to mention that many are so oppressed they've lost even their ability to defend themselves (even in the most peaceful of ways). Sadly, it's our community, our children, who reap the harvest of this fear put upon those who are oppressed. (Isn't it odd that there are men here who once would kill a man for stepping on their sneakers, or for eyeing them the wrong way at a club, now suddenly won't even whisper about someone having a foot on their neck? Think about that!


Having been incarcerated so long, I've seen so many forms of inmate (and staff) abuse. But...The worst would have to be the MENTAL & SPIRITUAL "atmosphere of defeatism" being bred in here today. The physical violence often just leaves a scar. But, this updated "passive violence" being applied to their sense of self, along with the built up anger (they hold) seems to be carried around "internally" like luggage. This "hopelessness" issue needs to be revisited...and often!


The overcrowding of the prison system isn't by chance. It's been a "systematic" agenda playing itself out. I'm not going to reinvent the wheel of dialogue talking about what we already know. What's interesting is that the only reason there is a focus on the whole over crowding and CORI issues (is because) of the "cost" prison has become to the state? There was a time they (alleged) to do things because they were the "right" thing to do. Now, its simply being done because it cost to much to continue the wrong thing.

The only prevention---at any level---for this system is demanding that 'TRANSPARENCY at other levels of government being called on, also have to occur "HERE" as well, (the truth is in the details——this has to be clearly understood!!)


The answer here is simply...NO !! Both the "physical" (medical situations) AS WELL AS THE ("mental Health") end of things are no more than herding cattle, and a lot of FAST FOOD PSYCHIATRY.
Eventually---! believe--- "that too" will become a big issue as more inmates "age" and the cost of the care goes up. Remember, doing the right thing is secondary in this system to what's cost effective. (Aging inmates will soon be the new "CORI LAW GAME———Count on it!


Short of just saying "everything," I think the two most important would be: Culture of the system, and the public's understanding of the system, and how it affects them daily and personally.


It's funny you ask that question? Because I've often asked myself "What is the opinion the Commissioner has of himself since doing this job ?"

George Bernard Shaw once wrote :"If a man cannot look evil in the face without illusion, he will never know what it really is, or combat it effectively."

Oddly, regardless to the findings of the Commission on reform report ^presented in 2004) by former Attorney General Scott Harsbarger which clearly stated that the first thing that has to be accomplished is a list of "managerial" changes. Yet, that agenda hasn't even been met half way. Somehow, only in the D.O.C does it seem expert opinion is solicited and, then totally ignored. The "problem" is as well known with this Commissioner, as it has been with all the rest. The problem is the "cultural gatekeepers." (Those who are fighting harder to see things stay the same, then any of the so called reformers ever do.}

I read some where a year or so ago that the Commissioner had a black belt in the martial arts. I too grew up in and around martial arts. (Sonny dee's B.A..D) Still, although I don't consider myself a lead on martial arts, I did learn a long time ago that you can have all the degrees of black belts in the world, but you can't do anything good (or right) for mankind with a white belt spirit! It amazes me that even when someone else is willing to take all the retaliation to give him the truth about this system, he's afraid to even be seen taking it. In here those same old "spirits" that haunt us are the same ones that hung Jesus up on a cross, slashed the tires of the prior Commissioner Dennehy, and has him talking to us about reform, while they demand "conformity" of him.

Every cry of abuse, retaliation of discrimination is met with a stern "there's no evidence of that," or an outright rejection that an inmate must be lying. If President Bush can tell the world there's weapons of mass-destruction (when there's not) and the head of Boston's F.B.I John Connolly can go undetected helping a corrupt Mafia culture, why is it so impossible to believe something in this system has gone wrong?
How is it that in 2007 the ACLU and the U.S. Human Rights Network (a coalition of more than 200 social justice organizations) can find that discrimination persist at every level of Government, the Supreme court Justice Sandra Day 0'Conner can be quoted saying "race unfortunately, still matters," and even president Bush in a June 2003 statement can say race is a reality in American life. I can't get a word out of this commissioner about the culture of his prison system?

In fact, Governor Deval Patrick speaking on CNN in Febuary 2009 said that" "race continues to be a factor in many personal decisions."
So why is it Mr. Clarke won't accept these facts about his work place? WHY ?? Because there's always a consequence for the truth, but not always someone who's willing to pay it.

Do I believe there's a business plot to keep these prison systems going? Yes, But what I don't prescribe to is the idea that it's some great white conspiracy by all white people. I think its more like an outright disassociation. We didn't get a Black Governor in office (or a president for that matter) if that was the case. Neither would many of them had marched with Martin Luther king Jr., or helped with the underground railroad. I think their votes were a chance to say---ok--"here you go, now do something for your own people." They didn't vote for a Black man thinking he wouldn't address and help his own people. Of course they expected that! But what they must be wondering is why the hell they don't?

Recently I was asked, why keep risking myself, losing privileges in retaliation, if even the Commissioner won't accept the facts? Many inmates see what happen (with me) as his allowing me to be separated from my son, taking me away from all my program involvement's, as well as excluding me from my own ideas that took the blood of my own family to get activated. BUT...what is unknown to them, and the Commissioner himself, is that although he has reacted like pharaoh on behalf of his regime to punish me, and require that I (somehow) be forced to now "make brick without straw" (so to speak). Be sure that if I have to, I will ! (all the way to the standard of not one_ tally less) In life its not always a loss to be up against the ropes of life for long periods of time. Its how you "recover" that counts. Let us not forget Over all, I'm fully aware that I am still facing the same structure as before. That's common sense for anyone wanting to face it. NEED PROOF? Try writing a complaint to his office and see how quickly it gets referred (or designated) for reply from somebody else who has been in this system long before he got here. So . . . If the people already in place were able to address the issues, deal with the culture and self investigation why bring him here? THAT DOES'NT MAKE SENSE TO ME.

My question is, if I'm wrong, if former Attorney General Scott Harsbarger was wrong (about the managerial changes having to come first) and those who were already in place in this system were already qualified to deal with the culture and internal investigations of this system, then why did this Governor spend money to bring in this Commissioner from Washington ? Why not just work with what he already had?

Most recently, ( June 11,2009 ) the Commisssioner came through the prison system with the Governor stopping at both Bridgewater (Old Colony) and MCI Norfolk. He and the Governor spoke briefly with inmates at both facilities. But guess who they didn't speak to? OF COURSE.... ME .Why do you think they would make such a tour and request to speak to a particular group of inmates here at Norfolk, but not the one who's questioning and pointing out the most recent difficulties? Because they don't want the truth, because they already know it---and it's not pretty.

So to your question, I don't have an actual "opinion" about him. I've seen Commissioners here come and go. My thoughts are "when all of these kids keep dying on the streets, and those he had a true opportunity to reform go right back to what they know, what kind of opinion will he have of himself to know he avoided years of study [based on facts) that I tried to greet him with just to maintain the popular vote.

It reminds me of when the people had a choice between Barabbas and Jesus. They chose to save Barabbas and said to persecute Jesus. It's the same old FEAR !!


The only way the Public can really help me, which is to help all of us in the in (the community and the violence cycle) is to start demanding the truth. I am asking those involved to just say, "Ok, we'd like to see if Mr.Jones is telling the truth ourselves. We'd like to see this commissioners talk with him face to face in a town hall meeting held behind the walls." I believe people can just flood his office with such calls, as well as maybe write me letters of support requesting this, we have to stop letting him avoid the truth.

Darrell Jones can be contacted at the following address:
Darrell Jones (W-42827)
2-Clark St.
P.O.Box 43
Ma. 02056

I encourage everyone to visit his website, and listen to the audio tapes. He has put a lot of thought and concern for others in his words for this interview. I don't think this is the last time that you will hear about Darrell Jones, since he has much advise and issues to offer the administration and Massachusetts DOC.

Correspondance with Darrell Jones
Minethatbird media
Associated Content

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