Hello everyone, this is Carol Buckley Frazier, John Calvin’s Aunt. I’ve been involved in John’s case for the past several years, trying to help overturn his unjust conviction, helping to manage his finances and making it very clear that he is well loved and missed. It’s been a while since I’ve written an update, mainly because John has authored most of them over the past 2 years (please visit his Update page)
We have been in the process of waiting on a ruling from the Federal Appeals court about John’s conviction and it has been a very long wait, even longer of course for John. While waiting, John has been gathering information and is in the process of bringing a separate Civil Rights case against the prison where he has been incarcerated for the past two years on behalf of himself and other prisoners for the horrible living conditions, putting both inmates and guards in danger; the usurping of legal prisoner rights to very basic elements– medical care, phone, visits, humane treatment, freedom from a filthy environment and proper hygiene–as well as the broken administrative relief process, leaving inmates without any recourse when penalized behind prison walls. At John’s website, you can read the Open Letter John wrote to decision makers in Kentucky urging them to take immediate action to rectify these prison conditions. While he waits for his chance at freedom, John wants to make a difference in the prison system and in the lives of his fellow inmates. The outcome thus far? Crickets..
As a family member of someone is prison, and especially a person you are close to, there is never a day that you don’t think about them—you hope that they are safe, wish they could be with you for the holidays or come on your beach vacation or you could feed them a home-cooked meal—or even just have them over to sleep in that extra bedroom upstairs with clean sheets, a cozy blanket and plenty of pillows, knowing that they will wake up when they want to/eat whatever they want to/go anywhere they want to. Instead of a too-thin mattress, no pillow, maybe a sheet, the cheapest food available–about 1.40 per meal–,as well as looking over their shoulder every minute… These thoughts and dreams are momentarily warm and fuzzy, but they have a price—a tight feeling in the gut, an ache in the heart, moments of sleeplessness at night, even a sizable dose of guilt for just living a life that they can’t, fearful of their future. There is Hope, there always is, but Hope doesn’t stop the passage of time nor does it lead to freedom.
Before this nightmare started, I knew nothing about incarceration or judicial process from time of arrest to court and beyond, willfully ignorant because it didn’t interest me—but that changed when John was caught up in the system. I used to think courts were always right, convictions were Just, only guilty people went to prison and they always got what they deserved. I didn’t know about the deep, dark hole called Prison, how once your family member goes in, you have no ability to hold prison administrators and state officers accountable for what happens to them. And believe me, we’ve tried. For years. We’ve been ignored. Phone calls, emails, voice mails, registered letters, Fed-Ex packets. You’d think we’d be best friends by now…Most of the media also seems disinterested, unless they are specifically targeting judicial and prison injustices. Prisoners are the forgotten ones and the public for the most part can’t be bothered.
We know definitively thru many prison and jail investigations over the past several years that inmates are harmed and die in prison every day. Many are very ill and handicapped and don’t get the medical care that is needed, and no one in their families have to be informed, records can be falsified, statistics can be skewed– there is no accountability. John has known many of these “incidents” in his more than 10 years in prison.
For instance, last year John told me about an inmate who was a few cells down from him. This young man was very mentally disturbed, to the point where he was sitting in his own filth and feces and refusing to eat. He had been in Solitary for many months (Solitary confinement that lasts more than 15 consecutive days is recognized by the United Nations and various human rights organizations as torture, John’s longest stint was almost a year and many inmates are in isolation for decades). The guards refused to go in and clean this inmate’s cell and nothing was being done to actually help like giving him proper medical and humane care. He screamed and cried all day and the guards either taunted or ignored him. This is not an isolated incident, this happens all the time. It happened to Marcus Penman at KY State Penitentiary and he was killed by guards, something John was a witness to.
https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2022/3/16/2086282/-Marcus-Penman-s- family-files-a-lawsuit-alleging-he-was-choked-pepper-sprayed-hooded-before-dying “The Hole” is filled with cases like this. Prison is not a place you go to heal from your wounds, both inside and out. It is extremely harmful to one’s mental and physical health and there is very little relief, if any. Prison is its’ own prosecutor, judge, jury and court. The American prison system is not designed to be rehabilitative, it is designed to generate income and to house and feed human beings as cheaply as possible. The financial incentive to send more people to prison is real. (Read John’s update about this: https://www.justiceforjohnbuckley.com/update-7-122022-for-profit-prison-contractors/)
This is just what it is.
I want you to know the truth and to help work towards changing the system. We can all call for change, we can advocate on behalf of prisoners—John is very fortunate that he has family who cares for him and has been able to get enough resources together for legal counsel (dwindling quickly..) but so many do not have ANY support, emotional or other. There are not just a few innocent people in prison, there are many. And there are more than a few that are serving incredibly harsh long sentences that should never have received them. If John serves his full sentence (34yrs), he will be in his mid-60s when he gets out, innocent of a crime with a recommended sentence of 20 years. Our criminal justice system from the bottom up is a disaster for so many. This is not what’s best about America and it needs to change. NOW.
I hope you will read, respond and share—thank you for caring about John Calvin!
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