Category Archives: Prisoner death

Racist Jailers Watch as Prisoner Burns Alive

This is a letter from a prisoner who witnessed a gruesome, preventable death. He would like all the help he can get in seeking justice:

On June 29, 2018 prisoner Freddie Pickett lost his life here at North Carolina’s Supermax Facility Polk Correctional, due to the deliberate indifference shown daily by the miscreants who patrol these concrete fields. Prisoner Freddie Pickett’s death was documented and reported as a suicide, not as a murder. Mr. Pickett was murdered by the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS) representatives. Mr. Pickett who had an extensive history of mental health disorders, set a fire in his cell. Once the fire began to burn it activated the smoke detector, which the “then” got the attention of the block officer (Gardner). From my time being held captive here at this razor-wire plantation, I’ve noticed that officer is a racist sadist who has no regard for a prisoner’s life and wears his neo-nazi pride as a badge of honor for the world to see. Once officer Gardner visually noticed the smoke and fire in Mr. Pickett’s cell, he then left at a unhurried pace. Gardner returned with assistant unit manager Harriss who looked in Mr. Pickett’s cell window and stated to her subordinates who by this time gathered around, “to not go in and get him until he is unresponsive.”

Several officers from units throughout the facility had made their way to A-Hall of Polk’s Supermax unit to watch a man be burnt alive. The same type of gatherings took place in Springfield, IL when there were anti-black riots in 1908 where New Afrikans were tied up and burnt alive while neo-nazi men, women, and even police officials stood by to watch.

These miscreants stood by and watched Mr. Pickett bang on his cell window and beg that they take him out the smoke filled cell. These sadists’ only response was “once you’re unresponsive we will come in and get you”. The same officers who took an oath to serve and protect stood by and watched Mr. Pickett be burnt to death. It was a full thirty minutes before the officers went into the cell and “pulled” Mr. Pickett’s “unresponsive” body out. By this time it was too late, the smoke, the fire, and the disregard for human life took the life of Mr. Pickett, who had been incarcerated almost 20 years and was to be released within the next year. He was documented as a prisoner who committed suicide.

I could enlarge on the details of this murder but I want to get to the question I’m sure several of you have. Why would a prisoner set their cell on fire knowing that it could be the cause of their death? These fires are being set “to get the attention of the block officer.” I’ve been to many of these plantations here in NC and even the oldest have emergency call-buttons in the cells. These are buttons placed in each cell, that when pushed alerts the officer in the control booth, who then should notify the floor officers that the emergency cell-button has been pushed and the prisoner of that cell is requesting the officers assistance. Here at Polk’s Supermax Facility there are no emergency call-buttons in any of the 96 cells. The majority of these cells house mentally ill prisoners or prisoners with health disorders. There being no cell-buttons isn’t due to complications because when this Supermax Facility was built it was equipped with emergency call-buttons in each cell. But over time maintenance was given the order by administration to disconnect all the call-buttons in the cells. This was done because of the complaints of the officers in the booth claiming it was aggravating but not only is this a health hazard, more importantly it also violates the building codes required by the state contractors that must pass this inspection before the facility can be open. That is why this facility was equipped with call-buttons that were later disconnected.

Being that there aren’t any call-buttons, prisoners are compelled to bang on the window of their cell for long periods of time to get the attention of these sadist overseers. To drown out the noise of us beating on our cell windows these miscreants plug up four industrial sized fans. So when prisoners grow tired of beating the windows they set fires, which then activates the smoke detectors that’s in the cell, and then higher ranking officers such as Sgt.s, unit managers, etc…are notified.

We are being murdered, brutally beaten, denied adequate medical care, housed in cells that are not properly heated, given no phone calls, given no outside recreation and treated similar to the prisoners of war at WWII. The (NCDPS) policy and procedures and the 8th amendment are supposed to protect us from these violent acts. But neither the policy nor the 8th amendment are regarded without care or respect.

How many of us have to die at the hands of these miscreants, be brutally beaten or tortured before these tyrants are demanded to cease these on-going atrocities and be held accountable. We don’t have call-buttons, we don’t have any phones to call authorities to help us. Many of these prisoners don’t have families to care about their well being. But I care about these prisoners, I care about these prisoners with mental health disorders and I vow to continue to fight this oppressive, exploitative, murderous system. But I’m only one man, I need the assistance of those of y’all in society who can protest outside of these razor-wire plantations, who can call the administrators and question these atrocities.

Joseph Stewart

PO BOX 2500

Butner, NC 27509