Support the Demands of People Incarcerated at Hampden County Correctional Center

Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi

On January 20th, 2021, a petition signed by 45 people incarcerated at the Hampden County Correctional Center was delivered to the desk of Sheriff Nicholas Cocchi.

The petition in its entirety read:

"We who are incarcerated at the HCJHOC are asking for dignity, respect, and for our lives to be valued. Over the past few months, we have experienced living conditions that put both our physical and mental health at risk. We, especially those of us in segregation, have gone hungry. Access to enough food is a human right. Hunger is not part of a jail sentence, we ask for enough food. We also ask for more cleaning supplies and more clean masks to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in this jail. Many of us are concerned that people who have tested positive for Covid-19 are being housed with those who have tested negative. We ask that we receive the official medical records of our [covid test] results in order to dispel our fears. We ask that we receive the promised two consecutive hours of recreation time every day [this demand has been met] in order to maintain connection with our families, friends and lawyers and for our mental and physical health. Those of us in segregation have suffered tremendously at the inexplicable withholding of access to phone calls with our families and lawyers in recent months. Many of us have witnessed guards using violent force with people who are incarcerated at the HCJHOC. On December 24th 2020, a young man was thrown to the floor, his arm was bent around his back as he screamed that he couldn’t breathe. Witnessing this kind of violence is very traumatic especially for those of us who are Black and Brown and have witnessed this kind of violence being inflicted on our communities all our lives. We hear the words 'I can’t breathe' too often and ask that you take this very seriously."

Several months later, incarcerated organizers wrote a second petition, this time focusing on the unacceptable environmental conditions in the jail. The petition read as follows: "

Hampden County Sheriff's Department & Correctional Center at 629 Randall Rd. Ludlow , MA 01056

We are housed in this correctional center and there's a list of unhealthy things that is in this correctional center in the showers and pods:

1. Mold

2. Rust

3. Dirt

4. Gloves

5. Recycle washing and drinking water

There is mold in the pod's ceilings in the showers and in the water. We all have to eat and drink that water. There is also rust on most vents. In the months and years we been here we seen them paint over the rust. That's not ok. The shower drains all over the jail. There's rust, mold and dirt all through the drains. The water backs up and touches your feet. That's very unhealthy for your skin. They have recycle drinking and washing water. We all are upset with our living situation. "

Though several months have passed since Cocchi was made aware of this petition, conditions in the jail have barely, if at all, improved. Decarcerate Western Massachusetts, in solidarity with the organizers on the inside, demands that Sheriff Cocchi meets all the demands of this petition by immediately. Sign our petition to let Cocchi know that you will hold him accountable to the inhumane treatment happening under his watch.

To: Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi
From: [Your Name]

Dear Sheriff Cocchi-

We are writing because we are deeply concerned and angry about the treatment of our incarcerated community in Hampden County. Months ago, 45 inmates signed a petition demanding adequate food, access to COVID test results, cleaning supplies, sufficient masks, two consecutive hours of recreation time, consistent access to phone calls, and an end to the use of violent force by guards.

Three months later, the only change has been the return of two hours of recreation time. Each of these demands are for basic human rights which should not be up for negotiation. The Western Massachusetts community is tracking what is happening inside HCCC carefully, and we will not allow abuses to continue. In solidarity with our friends, relatives, and community members on the inside, we urge you to meet these basic demands immediately.