EDITOR’S NOTE: This post in no way reflects the viewpoints of Joanna Marinova or Representative Gloria Fox, nor is it representative of any organization or individuals except for By Any Media Necessary and Cara Lisa Powers
Bill O’Reilly likes to call his show the “spin-free zone.” While that is laughable, Boston the last 48 hours has been in the spin-cycle. With pressing concerns about the economy, the MBTA, summer opportunities for the city’s tens of thousands of youth, the Herald’s incomparable (unless your comparison is Megyn Kelly, Michele McPhee or any other blonde republican bigot) Jessica Van Sack chose to focus on a meritless account of State Representative Gloria Fox’s visit on May 7th to the Old Colony Correctional Facility in Bridgewater, MA to visit inmate Darrell Jones. The name may sound familiar if you do any youth work or community organizing in Boston. In fact, you may have even been to OCC yourself or at least received a letter from Darrell, pressing for more accountable youth services and opportunities for youth as well as restorative justice.
Just over a year ago, Jones and other inmates made headlines for working with Teen Empowerment to create the Voices Behind the Wall video, an effort for prisoners to make amends to their community and not just do their time, but also give back to the families and communities that they’ve hurt. More recently, Jones and other inmates have come up against powerful prison unions in claims that they have been unfairly treated and retaliated against for drawing negative attention to the prisons. If you scroll down on this site, you’ll see that a community rally was called to make demands by the prisoners for their fair treatment. The rally, to be held May 11, was postponed because all of the demands were met.
May 7, Representative Gloria Fox and Joanna Marinova, a member of the End the Odds Coalition, a colleague and good friend of mine went to the prison to visit Darrell Jones, who had for two days been in solitary confinement and had the night before been taken to the prison infirmary for treatment for a supposed hunger strike. By the weekend, Darell had been moved (which was not one of the demands) and the demands of the coalition met. Those of us in the community thought that this was the end of the abuses of power.
The irony that the Herald would run with “anonymous prison sources” and claim some sort of abuse of legislative power is laughable. if anything the Herald and WHDH (which I’ll get to in a minute) should be cited for their abuse of the power of the press. As a community journalist and a media educator, I want to thank Jessica Van Sack and the crew at WHDH 11 o’clock news for keeping me in a job. With the submission of this unfounded diatribe, Van Sack has exposed a dear friend of mine to attacks from the press and unwarranted visits from reporters at her HOME. This character assassination is based on either (1) arrogant and willful exaggerations about the nature of Jones and Marinova’s relationship or (2) uninvestigated claims that Van Sack took as word from her anonymous sources without any proof.
But I expect all of this from the Herald, and anyone replacing the ranting Michele McPhee as their crime reporter. It takes a special brand of bigotry, allergy to facts, and terrible pun making to fill those pretty shoes. NBC’s Boston affiliate may have a bit more credibility (which they are rapidly losing), but they also ran with this story, claiming:
Marinova was turned away by a prison guard who said she’d been caught having sex with the prisoner in a visitor’s area several months ago
They also asked
Did Roxbury State Representative Gloria Fox use her special priveleges to try to unite a convicted killer and his girlfriend by sneaking her in?
The short answer: No. To be sure, Representative Fox did not arrive at the prison unannounced, nor did Joanna Marinova. I am speaking for neither of the women, or for anyone but myself. But I have seen the phone records and observed the phone call by Marinova to schedule a visit with Jones per prison policy (see here). So prison spokesperson Diane Wiffin misleads when she says that any representative can show up at the prison unannounced. While this policy exists, Fox was not using, and therefore definitely not abusing that privilege. As for allegations by WHDH insinuated by Van Sack’s hateful sensational article that Marinova somehow had sex with Jones in a prison visitor’s area, I challenge either to find a place in the visitor’s auditorium (think your doctor’s waiting room times 4) under constant supervision by prison guards to do anything more than talk. Having been in the visiting area at OCC I am shocked that someone would even have the gall to suggest such a thing is possible, let alone happened. Surely someone who investigated claims made by her story would know this, unless she’s willfully abusing the power of the press to her own opportunistic career gain… wait, I think I may have pin pointed what this is all really about.