R.I.P. Ray Gauthier
Dear Governor Patrick,
Let me introduce myself to you. I am Carmen Gauthier, a "Highest Honors" graduate with a bachelor's degree in social services. I am a ten year veteran of the Texas Department of Children's Protective Services. I have never been arrested nor incarcerated in my life. Though I am a practicing pagan, I believe in and strive daily to practice the Christians' "Golden Rule." I am also the wife of the late Raymond Gauthier, con number W45176.
As the family member of an MA DOC inmate, I am confused as to why I was not issued a con number. Obviously this was an oversight by Commissioner Harold Clarke, for certainly, during my entire relationship with MDOC, I was treated by MDOC personnel — from Assistant Deputy Commissioner Paul DiPaolo through Superintendent James Saba, all the way down to the Correctional Officer guarding my husband's dead body (so as to protect the public from him) — as if I were in fact a convicted criminal.
Ah! I am corrected! I see from the press releases that you and MA DOC are indeed industriously working toward that very goal with your Proposed Visitor Procedures and Attorney Access proposals.
Governor Patrick, in all seriousness, what happened? I remember the day you were elected as Governor of the Commonwealth. There was so much happiness and so much hope for a better future for the lowliest of your citizens: the inmates of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. You sir, a person of color, who had to have experienced a least some of the ignorant bigotry of prejudice; you sir, who not only was the first in your family to attend college, but attended Harvard. Harvard! You sir, who served as a law clerk with the NAACP and became the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. You were my hope and my husband's hope, as well as that of all the family and friends and inmates who suffered unjustly the cruelties and whims of MA DOC employees.
We weren't asking for a Sunday picnic or tennis courts or gourmet meals. What we were asking for our loved ones was common, human decency. For adequate medical care. For fair treatment. For clean facilities. For nutritious meals. And what you gave us was Harold Clarke.
Harold Clarke, infamous Secretary of Nebraska Dept of Corrections during the Nebraska state Ombudsman's Office's 1999 report, which found the prison health delivery system wanting in "every aspect." Since Mr. Clarke has been Commissioner, I personally know of two cases of MA DOC medical malpractice resulting in deaths: Edward Tavares and my husband, both incarcerated at NCCI-Gardner. Neither of these men was sentenced to death, but both received the death penalty.
My husband had been feeling ill for, not days, not weeks, but for MONTHS. Time and time again he was turned away from receiving medical care by the nurse at Gardner. His chronic care appointment was unduly delayed. And by the time he was in so much pain that he couldn't stand or walk, it was too late. He had Stage Four Lung Cancer which had spread to his spine and liver. His back bone was so riddled with cancer that one of his vertebrae had crushed.
Governor Patrick, you may not like the idea, but as head leader of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, you are responsible for every person in prison or jail in Massachusetts, as well as for the free people of the Commonwealth. When you accepted the job of Governor, you accepted responsibility for every citizen of the state. And you have not delegated authority wisely by appointing Harold Clarke as Commissioner.
Whether or not you were aware of his history while working for Nebraska DOC, you should be aware of the violation of human rights being perpetrated within MA DOC now. It has been brought to your attention, and therefore it is incumbent upon you to rectify the situation.
You cannot restore Big Ed to his family. You cannot restore my husband to me. But you can correct a mistake, by having Commissioner Clarke resign immediately. If you do not do this, then truly our hopes were misplaced and your ancestors' honor has been tarnished.
February 6th 2010
See also Carmen's related letter to the University of Masschusetts Correctional Health Program.