The following letter was part of a correspondence between a regular anarchist prison news bulletin and a prisoner who was eye (and ear) witness to the events leading up to the death of Michael Kerr. The prisoner’s name has been redacted to protect them from backlash from the administration. Kerr died in (perhaps, up to now) mysterious circumstances en route between Alexander CI and Central Prison. The NC DPS, after initially saying there would be no investigation, has now said there will be. A scanned image of the letter can be seen below.
This is XXXX XXXXXXX, and I am being housed at Alexander CI [in Taylorsville, NC]. I’m writing about the oppression, racism, and injustices that are going on here at Alexander. You’ve got officers and sergeants that will go out of their way to harass you or misuse their authority, that will instigate or provoke inmates to get them on the segregated unit where they will jump you. If you write the superintendent he will do nothing about the injustices that are going on here.
I have also written prison legal services (NCPLS) about a murder I witnessed. I hope you can let somebody know what happened to this mental health inmate, Michael Kerr.
When I came onto the block with Mr. Kerr he was not eating, he was using the bathroom on himself, laying in feces, and I wrote down the date that everything took place with him. On 3/6/14 he ate nothing, and didn’t make any response to officers and sergeants taunting him from the door. On 3/7/14 he was still not eating. They called a code blue because he was unresponsive. The sergeant and officers went into his cell and put him in handcuffs, and the nurse went in. They were talking about how bad he smelled but were doing nothing to help him. When they left his cell they were like, “Mr. Kerr come to the door so we cantake the cuffs off.” [ed note: Once guards leave a cell, they remove the prisoner’s cuffs by way of the door slot.] He still didn’t respond to them, so the left the handcuffs on him.
On 3/8/14 Kerr still didn’t eat anything, and he couldn’t respond or come to the door. The officers left the cuffs on him and told him know to let them know when he wanted the handcuffs off of him. He made no comment or response to them. On 3/9/14 he again ate nothing, and was still using the bathroom on him self. The entire block smelled bad, and he was still left in handcuffs. This was the third straight day in handcuffs, pants around his ankles and smelling of feces.
On 3/10/14 Kerr again ate nothing and still couldn’t respond. The nurse went into his cell; they had nothing with them to actually check him with (blood pressure, stethoscope, etc.), and said he was ok. They still didn’t take the handcuffs off him. That was the fourth day he was in cuffs.
On 3/11/14 Kerr ate nothing, no response. Some lady named Mrs. Simms came and tried to talk with him but he never responded to nobody at tall, and the handcuffs were still left on him. They closed his door back and the Sergeant stated, “Let me know when you want out of the handcuffs.” So they said, “You’re refusing to have your vitals taken.” He never responded so they said, ok, he refused. But he never talked, so how did he refuse? And so they left him with the handcuffs on.
On 3/12/14, they tried to get Kerr to Central Prison [in Raleigh]. He died later that day; that morning he never ate or drank anything or sat up or nothing. I know all this is because Sergeant Johnson and other officers went into his cell and put Mr. Kerr’s clothes on him so they could send him to Central Prison, and on this day he still had the handcuff’s on and this was the sixth day. When Sergeant Johnson and his officers were getting him ready, I heard the sergeant state, “You too dumb to stand up and put your clothes on.” And I heard him tell his officer not to worry about the full restraints because he was already in handcuffs and shackles.
They brought Mr. Kerr out in a wheelchair and were pushing him out. His face was blank and his eyes had a far-off stare to them, like they were wide open but seeing nothing. And he had something white coming out of his mouth. He died some hours later.
Because they thought he was faking, now he’s dead because the staff and the superintendent and the medical staff didn’t do their jobs and get Mr. Kerr the mental health help that he needed sooner. These are things that go on here at Alexander CI. They mistreat us, misuse their authority, and if something doesn’t happen soon the injustice, the racism, and the oppression will never stop. We as prisoners need to help each other and get help from the outside world, because solitary confinement is killing us as a whole. These things that are happening need to be stopped. I hope all the people out there that read this know that this could be your son, sister, brother, mother, father. We need to put a stop to solitary confinement and the racism, injustice, inequality, harassment, maltreatment, and the misuse of authority.