Our loved one, their ward

Please share this story widely, this family needs answers.


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Donna and her son Chuck Coma

On February 27, 2016, I received a devastating phone call from my mom. My mom is almost 74 and was diagnosed with metastatic bone cancer about a year ago.  It has been a tough road for her.  I could hear my mom’s voice crack when she informed me that my brother, Charles Coma, was involved in a incident at the Lewisburg Federal Prison in Pennsylvania.

My brother, also known as Chuck, is a Desert Storm veteran who was diagnosed with 100% disability due to post traumatic stress disorder. Because he never received the proper treatment, he made poor decisions and one of them was robbing a bank which landed him in a federal prison. 

Mom told me that they did not expect my brother to survive. My heart dropped. Was this a nightmare? If so, I desperately needed to wake up. She said a chaplain from the prison called and told her. The chaplain refused to tell her anything else and said on Monday we would be told more. The devastation in my mom’s voice was painful to hear. To be told that your child may not make it is any mother’s worst fear. Over the weekend, my family called to tried to get answers but no answers came. So we waited… our fears were overwhelming. To inform a family that someone they love may die and then make them wait without any updated information was immoral, uncompassionate, and apathetic.  That act alone let me know what type of facility we were dealing with. 

When Monday finally arrived, I was so angry. No phone call came. We finally called them.  We talked to my brother’s counselor. He told us that Friday night Chuck was found with no heart beat so he was moved to an off campus medical facility. He refused to tell us what happened. I said my mother is my brother’s power of attorney; therefore, under the law if my brother is incapacitated, she would make all of his decisions and you have to tell her what happened. He said that he did not. He claimed that Chuck is their ward and they will make all of his decisions.

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Letters From Prison: Integrate Now!

zshakur for blog

We’re working to match up veterans (or active duty) on the outside, with veterans on the inside. This comes from Zion, a veteran serving time in a California prison.


 

I am a US Navy veteran and would like to see a program specifically geared towards ex-servicemen that would place us in a separate environment from mainline incorrigibles that would focus on rehabilitation, avoiding prison mentalities and re-entry preparation. Service people have a  life-long fraternity, an unbreakable bond that aids in encouragement to change. Many county jail programs are now offered for vets. I think it would really go a very long way in helping those of us in the state penitentiary.

Most of the programs in my prison are inmate-run, thus the quality is generally nil. Programs facilitated by free-staff and experts from the outside provide much better curriculum and offer greater hope.

College programs at the Bachelor’s or Graduate level would be of greatest help in making this time productive. Not every inmate fits into a “vocational training” category. Higher education would increase my chance of staying out of prison, guaranteed!

Lastly, but of incredible importance would be the ending of forced segregation in state prisons. Housing white inmates only with other whites, blacks only with blacks, etc., is a terrible holdover from bygone days that only serves to make divisions deeper, prison more dangerous, and re-adjustment to the real world that much more difficult. It effectively stifles the social development of every inmate subjected to it. INTEGRATE NOW!