The State Correctional Institution Forest, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PA DOC) and the institution’s administration ordered the Correctional Emergency Response Team into SCI Forest on Sept. 2 for the second time within a three-month period. The CERT consists of guards from other institutions within the state correctional institutions.
The guards on this CERT Team were from SCI Somerset, SCI Smithfield, SCI Albion and SCI Greene. They are a bunch of goons who use racism, bigotry and discrimination. They violate inmates’ rights by destroying property, reading court transcripts, drawing penises on family photos and asking inmates what they are in prison for. They take commissary food, smearing it into court appeal papers. They made racist comments about African American inmates.
This CERT Team taunted me about my sexual orientation of being a transgender woman. The CERT Team guards do not wear name tags, so we aren’t able to identify them. On the back of their black shirts, “Pennsylvania Department of Corrections CERT” is in white letters, along with a white skull and two military machine guns crossing each other.
On Sept. 2, approximately 50-60 CERT Team walked into the Special Needs Unit at SCI Forest with no name tags to identify them. They came in and started harassing people, destroying property, treating us with disrespectful attitudes, racism and discriminatory treatment of transgender women, and asking what we were in jail for, which is none of their business.
Being transgender, I should only be strip-searched by a woman, not a bunch of bigoted men, ignorant about the transgender community.
Three inmates with mental health issues were taken to the restricted housing unit (RHU), because these CERT goons taunted them until they snapped back at them. This is a cowardly act against inmates on a special needs unit block. These goons went cell-to-cell on the unit, terrorizing mental health-affected inmates, destroying property, writing and drawing inappropriate sexualized pictures on their personal family pictures. This is terrorism.
Three of the inmates with mental health issues were physically grabbed and forced to the floor. They were dragged to the RHU with physical force, hurting them. This is failure to protect. This is not care, custody and control. The backs of their shirts say it all. They say, “this is a dictatorship, not a democracy. Get used to it.”
Complaints, grievances denied
When you complain to administration and/or file grievances, you are told: Denied, lack of evidence. The PA DOC has the same response on their grievance appeals. They say: Do you have their names? But they know the CERT goons don’t use name tags. They also know there is no camera footage in the cell area when the CERT Team goons are there.
The PA DOC and Administration snub their noses and deny any wrongdoing, even when they know it’s true. They deny it ever happened, because they know inmates with mental health issues cannot do the paperwork or write to organizations to help them — and these attacks have happened twice in a 90-day period.
I ask your readers to send a letter, email or phone call to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (Department of Corrections, 1920 Technology Parkway, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050; 717.728.2573, firstname.lastname@example.org) and ask why this is being done to inmates during CERT Team searches. Ask why they wear these black shirts with such a logo on the back, and why they don’t wear name tags.
Say something because what these goons are doing is wrong.
Miley Fletcher is incarcerated at SCI Forest.
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Cover Photo Credit: Kevin Rashid Johnson