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A Cry For Help

From those at Sussex 1

For those who may read this letter, this is an urgent cry for help and help for every inmate who is incarcerated at Sussex 1 State Prison. I will describe and detail the horrific conditions of negligence, as well as the human rights violations, all due to incompetent staffing and a negligent shortage of staff (officers).

The first thing I would like to address is the tragic and unfortunate death of an inmate. His death was due to the negligence and indifference of the Sussex 1 officers and medical staff. He died on March 29, 2023 and he could have been saved.

On March 29, 2023 at around 10:00 PM at night, he was screaming and yelling, telling the officer in the booth that he needed his heart medicine because the nurse had forgotten to bring it. I heard him yelling to the booth officer all the way up to 12:00 AM. He was also yelling that he was having chest pains. Up until that point, no medical staff or officers came to assist him. Soon after, I went to sleep.

At around 5:30 AM, I woke up to another inmate who was cleaning the pod, yelling at officers to “Help that man” because he had “fell out” and that “It’s f**cked up the way that y'all letting that man die in there”. Medical finally arrived in the pod around 6:00 AM and went into his cell to find him laid out and dead. Moments later medical staff, as well as an officer, placed him on a stretcher and carted him out of his cell. When I looked at his face, I knew that he had already passed.

In an attempt to cover it up, the pod officers refused for inmates to come out of the cell for pod recreation fearing that one of us would get on the phone to inform people outside about what happened. That man’s life did not have to end like that. He lost his life due to a shortage of officers, which led to no one that could come to save his life when he needed it. Not only does the officer shortage create a dangerous environment of negligence, but the booth officers are not trained to answer the emergency intercom button that is located in our cells. He was pushing his button all night as well as other inmates and none of the booth officers answered his button. In fact, officers never answer the emergency button when inmates need help inside the cells. Most officers claim that they don’t know how to answer the button. If officers would have answered his button, he would still be alive.

Another problem and concern that plagues the safety of the inmates at Sussex is the lack of security rounds and safety checks that are supposed to be done by officers. Officers are supposed to do safety checks in each pod at least once an hour. Instead, officers don’t make any checks at all, especially in restricted housing. All the officers will do is forge fake times on check sheets as if they really did legitimate checks. Hours, at times eight hours, go past without officers making rounds to see if inmates are all right.

All this negligence is due to extreme staff/officer shortages and inmates are paying the price. For some, with their lives.


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