John Hamilton

DOCs Inability to Stem the Flow of Contraband – Look Inward Before You Look Outward – by John Hamilton –

I find the current state of affairs very troubling with regard toward the Commonwealth’s efforts to fight the drug epidemic in its prison system. More than a year ago the Virginia Dept. of Corrections implemented extraordinary measures to combat the flow of contraband coming into its prisons. I can attest from personal observation, their efforts have failed miserably.

What’s so disheartening is not just the misappropriation of tax dollars spent on special visitation clothing for inmates, which has not prevented the flow of contraband – but the punitive measures taken to remove most vending machines from visitation which provided offenders an opportunity with family and loved ones to share in a nice meal with each other. Additionally, what use to be a 10-15 minute check-in process for visitors has now become a 20-30 minute or longer entry process that subjects family and loved ones to increased security measures and potential dangerous levels radiation exposure.

The availability of contraband (drugs and cell phones) is just as ever present today as it was prior to enhanced security protocols being introduced. I have never witnessed the ease of accessibility to illicit contraband as I have since the heightened security implementations were put into action. The only rational explanation is either 1) compromised staff are smuggling in the contraband, or worse, 2) corrupt employees are supplementing their income by willfully engaging in illicit activity.

I am a model inmate, merely trying to right my wrongs, and peacefully do my time, but everyday I’m subjected to criminal behaviour and acts being routinely conducted – in violation of state law. What’s reprehensible is the propaganda being spewed by administrators who publicly denounce the opioid epidemic but then turn a blind eye to the reality of what’s happening right under their noses. I have personally expressed concern and outrage to administrators over what I’m forced to endure on a daily basis. No action has been taken to rectify the problem.

Complicity is also a crime. When administrators fail to act, they have to acknowledge their own culpability in contributing to the problem. The director for the Virginia Dept. of Corrections knows he has a staffing dilemma. Instead of enhancing security on his own staff, he publicly placed blame on offenders and their families, and by proxy, on its tax paying citizens by wastefully finding new ways to spend unnecessary funds to combat an out of contol contraband issue that has persisted for decades.

The Virginia Dept. of Corrections is constantly ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul.’ It is by far one of the worst, if not the worst managed governmental agency in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Money evaporates just as quickly as it is appropriated. And yet, everybody is willing to ignore this gross mismanagement because of the public service the DOC performs, keeping the incorrigible away from constituents.

But who’s more incorrigible? The offender’s caught, charged, convicted, and incarcerated, paying their debt to society, or, the conniving, manipulative, dishonest, and corrupt staff, misusing the $1.4+ billion dollar budget appropriated for the DOC – money paid for by honest, hardworking, tax paying citizens who deserve more from their elected and appointed government leaders.

Admonishment and punishment is swift for the impoverished or incarcerated, but attempt to impugn the actions of a corrupt government official, a severance package or reassignment will be their only penance to pay. It’s time transparency reigns over government affairs and beyond appropriate to start holding all equally accountable for their misdeeds.

John E. Hamilton, #1442949
Nottoway Correctional Center
2892 Schutt Rd / P.O.Box 488
Burkeville VA 23922

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