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Communication Is Suffering In Walpole Prison Controversy

By William G. Mattson

Communications between prisoners and the administration of Walpole State Prison have virtually broken down, the Ad Hoc Committee On Prison Reform, which coordinates the Walpole State Prison Citizen Observer Program, reported Tuesday.

The nine-member panel composed of former Walpole inmates, citizen observers, and the Reverend Ed Rodman, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee, held a press conference to discuss the relationship between the function of the National Prisoners Reform Association and the presence of the State Police at Walpole.

The Black American Nation Towards Unity (BANTU), whose function was briefly discussed by Arnold Coles, a former inmate, has been unable to persuade the prison administration to adopt certain proposals it has offered for the improvement of prison conditions.

For example, one of the goals of BANTU is the provision for transportation of relatives of inmates on visitation days who, because of financial inability, would otherwise be unable to visit those inmates close to them. This proposal has not been implemented at Walpole Prison, according to Dorothy Dennis, a member of the Committee.

The proposal enjoys the enthusiastic support of the entire inmate population at Walpole, which includes the NPRA, she said.

Inmates, through their duly constituted and prison-authority-recognized reform organizations, NPRA and BANTU, have been petitioning for the improvement of the visitation transportation situation as well as many other conditions since September 1972 when the two organizations were chartered.

At the press conference Nolan, attributed much of the heightened tension at Walpole to the failure of the Walpole State Prison administration to consider inmate reform requests.

Communication has for all intents and purposes ceased at Walpole with the presence of the State Police, Nolan and others said.

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