VIDEO VISITS TO INMATES AT WAYNE COUNTY JAILS SHUT DOWN, ACCESS TO FAMILIES, COURTS CURTAILED

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY–WE’RE SHUTTING DOWN YOUR VISITS–Sheriff

Prisoners’ constitutional right to access to the courts denied; law library already closed; Telmate tablets were being used for legal research

Shutdown follows elimination of recreation time, in overcrowded conditions, with grossly inadequate medical care, unsanitary conditions

Prisoners have been in jail for up to four years pre-trial in violation of state and federal law

Africans freed after the Civil War had their own Memorial Day ceremonies, remembering actions such as this victory by an all-Black unit during the Civil War.

By Diane Bukowski

May 28, 2022

The Memorial Day week-end is in full swing, but detainees in the Wayne County Jails will not be able to celebrate with their families and friends with on-line video visits.

Telmate kiosks and tablets which allow them to do so, and to use the law library’s research tools, were abruptly shut down a week ago, according to multiple sources. Prisoners now must line up to use the sole phone provided on each “rock” or unit containing 10 men, a situation which has engendered fights. No notice was given to them or to the public.

“The deputies just came through and snatched the tablets,” one prisoner told VOD. “They cut the wires, took down the whole station (kiosk), now we can’t have visits anymore. Video visits substitute for in-person visits [stopped at the beginning of COVID-19]. People are getting messages, ‘Sorry for the inconvenience, please try again later.'”

Message displayed on Wayne Co. Telmate visit attempt.

No notice was given to prisoners or the public.

Many said their one-hour a day recreation time, in a gym with exercise equipment, and sometimes outside in the yard was eliminated months ago, and that showers are not cleaned and black mold is growing

“They’re making the whole environment hostile—nothing for guys to do except look at local channels on TV, read a newspaper,” another man said.

The law library’s physical location was previously shut down. But prisoners have been using the tablets instead for legal research.

This is a federal constitutional right guaranteed to prisoners by the U.S. Supreme Court under Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. and 813 1977, and Hampton v. Hobbs 106 F. 3d 1281, 6th Circuit, 1997. The rulings “require prison authorities to assist inmates in the preparation and filing of meaningful legal papers by providing prisoners with adequate law libraries or adequate assistance from persons trained in the law.”

Erika Erickson, Director of Communications for the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, responded to VOD’s request for comment, “I have learned that we are undergoing major repairs and relocating many of our phones due to destructive behavior by some of our inmates. We have not disabled the service. Access to phones and video, however, will be limited for approximately a week, but still available to all inmates during this time. In-person visits are still prohibited to protect the health and safety of our inmates, staff and visitors during the Covid-19 pandemic, as recommended by the CDC.”

Erickson did not address VOD’s request for a copy of the directive ordering the shut-down, or to requests for comment on the shut-down of prisoners’ access to legal research, the cancellation of recreation time, or the number of prisoners in the jail, including the time they have spent there.

VOD covered Wayne County’s illegal detention of prisoners for periods up to four years, awaiting trial, with no conviction, in previous stories at:

UNLAWFUL, UNJUST! RALLY THURSDAY MAR. 17 TO FREE WRONGLY HELD PRISONERS; OPEN VISITS, COURTS, FILES | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought and

FAMILIES MARCH FOR MEN HELD WITHOUT TRIAL UP TO 4 YEARS IN WAYNE CO. JAIL; DEMAND “OPEN THE COURTS” | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

Additionally, Michigan Radio has been publishing an excellent series of stories on the Wayne County Jail, including the video above, by Beenish Ahmed, and Nisa Khan:

“Was this gonna be a death sentence for me?” Inside the pandemic at the Wayne Co. Jail (michiganradio.org)

Podknife – Jail Time Grows in Wayne Co. During Pandemic by Stateside

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 VOD’s staff lives either on limited fixed incomes or is incarcerated. We are not paid; we publish the newspaper pro bono. Help keep us afloat by chipping in so stories on this Prison Nation and Police State, and related matters, coming! Any amount is appreciated.

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(Contact editor for details on other ways to send funds, at 313-825-6126 or diane_bukowski@hotmail.com.)

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One Response to VIDEO VISITS TO INMATES AT WAYNE COUNTY JAILS SHUT DOWN, ACCESS TO FAMILIES, COURTS CURTAILED

  1. Rebecca Connole says:

    My cousins wife just died in the wayne county jail two days ago due to them giving her medication that she had a reaction to. News should pick up on that story.

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