Protest Held Outside of South Bay Jail in Response to Death of Female Inmate

On Thursday a small group of anti-prison activists gathered outside the Suffolk Sheriff campaign office in Nubian Square in light of the latest person to die in custody and under the jurisdiction of the Sheriff Thompkins. The death of Ashley Emma, follows some five deaths in Suffolk correctional facilities in the last year.

Protesters, part of the Families for Justice and Healing, claim Emma, 35, was held in the South Bay medical unit for 4 days before she was pronounced dead by suicide on July 23. She was awaiting trial on charges of Larceny Over $200 with a bail of $500 and Operating a Motor Vehicle Without Authority (no bail).

Activists marched from the captain office to the Suffolk County House of Corrections, also known as the South Bay Jail, chanting “free our people”, “free her”, and “free them all”. Video on Twitter surfaced of inmates inside banging on the windows in support. Tori Bedford reporter for GBH confirmed that in response to the protests the facility is now placed on lockdown.

Although these protests and incidents have gone largely underreported, activists like Romilda Pereira of Project Turnaround use first hand experience to shed some light on the situation. She says her own incarceration experience in South Bay, which she claims was riddled with a lack of resources, encouraged her to be a part of the movement.

This is not the first protest of this nature and most likely will not be the last. In April of 2019 we covered an anti-prison rolling rally as well as numerous other events. Additionally, earlier this year, Families for Justice as Healing and the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls, filed legislation to establish a 5-year moratorium on jail and prison construction and expansion.