Back and forth where to?
- SOLITARY CONFINEMENT DISCUSSED ("studiesonsolitary.wordpress.com")Includes: first ever legislative hearing on solitary confinemnet in the US; pdf studies , lawsuits, essays. Follows growing debate over our national overuse of solitary confinement.
- our stranded friends:blog of penpals without support
- founders advocacy blog
- FFUP SEG HELL page linking many pieces of this complex problem
- blog with studies on seg abuse
- blog for prisoners stuck in segregation needing a nurturing note
- back to FFUP main site
- Art Gallery
From Within and beyond this 8” by 14” square foot steel deprivation cell that is designed for my mental and physical and social dehumanization, I bring to you this letter of concern regarding the adverse effects of long term segregation sensory deprivation<After spending 3 years in intensive solitary confinement ,deprived of human contact, I had become super-sensitive to the 5 basic human senses. This deliberate and intentional stripping of the ell down to a isolation cell, then the stripping of the individual down to the basic necessities and even down to the personal effects- then locked within this cell 24 hours a day with barely the bare essentials and where even this wall-mounted stainless steel mirror is the segregation cell is removed from the walls so that even the sight of one’s own image is denied. And no matter how strong a person is , sensory deprivation is depravity at its worst. All 5 basic human sense-sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste-are severely suppressed-when one is slowly but surely and very subtly stripped of all common sentiments of humanity. So once again, I am force d to adapt to a Fucker of situation. Under these adverse conditions of confinement one tends to crave a change of scenery and location, and atmosphere, and environment just so s/he can see new sight instead of the same old everyday mind-deadening routine and faceless faces..hear new and different sounds other than the quiet and indescribable silence that seems to speak louder than noise, smell different scents besides the foul stale and contemptible odor so common to everyday existence in this bottomless pit..one seeks to touch base with and feel and embrace another human in an intimate and sensitive and humane and compassionate and personal way as opposed to the impersonal and inhumane and insensitive and degrading manner..one develops a strong, intense desire to taste various foods besides the same old tasteless and non variety and everyday, recycled meals. One is served just enough good to have a bowel movement and just enough to say alive. Where even one’s sense of taste and appetite, and taste buds is denied and deprived, Torture chambers where absent various forms of social stimuli , the human mind can become so debased and so dehumanized , and sink so low tha if one isn’t so careful , there is a tendency to adjust and conform and accustom oneself to a standard of living that is lower than that which exists within the animal kingdom.
After spending over three years in the intensive solitary confinement, I was transferred back to general population .I have not received, encouraged nor welcomed any outside contact by way of visits and emotional and spiritual and financial support from family members, loved ones or friends in the past 6 years. The most pain is knowing, the feeling of helplessness. The dark corner doesn’t lend much comfort-often the walls are closing in. It’s still dark and cloudy in the midst of the hell the call “the kingdom, of darkness” but with a little love and support, you can supply the sunshine I need to get me through this stormy weather when all else fails. Bring your light to my solitude heart and mind and soul. What you have for me will make my darkness all-light, I understand you help people in prison, can you please help me maintain myself and existence with emotional and spiritual and financial support. Can you please provide encouragement and help me overcome the challenges faced during incarceration and reintegration. Being ungrateful is not a character of mines, nor do I require a lot, I just ask that you provide me enough ,enough of what you honestly have to offer genuinely from a place where your feeling and heart may reside.
Can you please order me some envelopes? Item #8039 at www.JL Marcuswisconsin.com ( 414-438-4999)
It si my heartfelt appreciation. You have my thanks. Hope to hear from you really soon.
Respectfully submitted, Gerald Easterling #564618
Read in original:https://ffupstuff.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/gerald-easterling.pdf
Waupun Correctional Institution
200 S. Madison St
P0 BOX 351
Phone: (920) 324-5571
Fax: (920) 324-7250
Warden- Brian Foster Brian. Foster@wisconsin.gov
November 18th 2016
W.C.I. Segregation and Complaint System
To Whom It May Concern,
Upon entering seg you are placed in a dirty strip cage and made to strip naked to be optically searched, then you are given seg clothes. These clothes are typically worn out and have holes in them and a really worn out pair of orange shoes made of rubber. Then you are handcuffed with cuffs that are not cleaned between uses, if at all, and escorted to A or B range and placed in a cell that has probably never been scrubbed. I personally have scrubbed the walls of all 9 seg cells I have ever been in and each time I have scrubbed blood, spit, food, sweat, dirt, semen, urine and fecal matter from the walls. The mattresses are so worn that it feels like you are sleeping on cement. This is due to the fact that they do not replace the mattresses annually like they are supposed to. They tell us inmates that it is our responsibility to write a request a new one, but most of these men do not know how, and no one is willing to tell them. This prison's officials use loop hole in the system to continue to keep us in seg for as long as possible. They do so by misusing the 21 day time limit for temporary lock up. They are supposed to use the 21 days to hear the ticket, decide on punishment, and move forward. The staff as WCI consistently holds inmates for 21 days when the ticket has already been written, they just wait to go on a hearing. At WCI they also frequently go over the 21 day TLU limit, without taking an extension, or telling the inmates why they are being held over. All of the seg time limits were just lowered by Madison so that inmates spend less time in seg, because inmates that spend too much time in seg become mentally unstable, and less likely to function in general population.
When the staff at WCI manipulates the system it causes an unsafe environment for inmates and staff alike. Most of these men refuses to follow the rules outlined for them, when the prison officials do not follow their own rules, and receive no consequence for it. It breeds a hate culture where there is no respect, and that is dangerous. There are currently many inmates in seg at WCI who have gone on hunger strikes in an attempt to change their situation. As you read this there are two men getting tubes forced down their nose filled with liquid nutrition twice a day, so that WCI can keep them alive to avoid a lawsuit.
Many people, including the staff at this institution, ask why the inmates don't use the complaint system that is in place. The answer is simple; it is impossible for us to get justice
here. Many complaints get ignored for weeks, or we get sent a response like "we are doing everything we can". The inmate complaint examiner at WCI is friends with many of the staff here, in some cases related to some. How am I supposed to get a fair and unbiased trial? The nepotism in this prison makes it impossible for us to get impartial treatment. The inmate complaint examiner should be set up in a separate division from Madison, so that the person reviewing our complaints isn't the same person who goes out drinking with the CO that the complaint is about. It is the only way inmates can have hope that they will receive help and unbiased treatment. I have outlined many different problem and solution scenarios, and I will send them all separately as to not take up too much of your time. I felt it was prudent to see if you respond or help us with these issues before sending you something you might not want anything to do with.
I thank you for your time and help. Jose Gonzalez
Prison is no place for people with mental illnesses
By DarRen Morris
Today is international human rights day, and one thing we can do in the United States to honor it is to stop incarcerating persons with disabilities.
I was the young, urban teen ribbed for wearing thick glasses and hearing aids. I was placed in special education classes. I fought a lot. And I ended up in the juvenile justice system, where about 70 percent of us had mental health disorders.
I am now a man with a floating diagnosis of schizophrenia and bi-polarity.
And at age 17, I was sentenced to life in prison and quickly ended up in solitary confinement, a condition that added to my mental suspicions, my fears and my frustration at not being able to hear or see well.
You, as a taxpayer, now pay $30,000 a year for my care.
Early, effective community mental health and diversion programs could have helped me become a non-threatening, productive member of society — and could have saved you a lot of money.
I don't deny that I should be punished for my crime. I do contend it did not need to happen.
We need to provide access to treatment services for all people. We need to evaluate disabilities early and help families understand the need to get help for their special- needs children. We need programs to help these families pay for the treatment and glasses or hearing aids or other adaptations that their children need.
We need to step beyond the stigmas of mental illness and disability. We need better communication among treatment providers, our courts and corrections.
The goals: a) to end the warehousing of the mentally ill
b) to free from segregation the prisoners who are isolated for years because of their leadership and legal abilities and
c) to force the public to build effective treatment pathways for our most vulnerable citizens. (Treatment not prison)
d) FFUP will also use the data collected by the committees to proceed more effectively with the individual advocacy.
We are looking for help on all levels. Please contact us with your ideas, comments.
DOCUMENTS FOR PRISONERS TO SUBMIT
Wisconsin Committee for the Ethical And Humane Treatment of Prisoners (WCEHTP)
1) Mission Statement:
To monitor , screen and review why prisoners are being held in extreme and uncivilized conditions of confinement for indeterminate periods of time.
A fresh and independent re-evaluation of the psychological and social damages of the “SHU” and “supermax”conditions.
2) Motto: A nation’s standards are judged by its treatment of its most vulnerable citizens. Our present system strips the citizens in prison of the ability to protect themselves. It is therefore our obligation as citizens to be the "watch tower” to prevent and hold accountable all visible and invisible forms of “misprision”.
3) Committee composition:
a) Ideally an assemblage of independent professionals and citizens with no WI DOC ties .Under no circumstances will these members be employees of the DOC, paid lobbyists or part of the guard union.
b) Members should include a diverse group of professionals with backgrounds in mental health, sociology, education, rehabilitation, penology, corrections reform, community services and prisoner rights.
c) Non professional members of the community should be well represented and efforts shall be made to keep the committee reflective of the ethnicity of the prison population.
d) In the interest of fairness, prisoner's family members and close friends will be welcome to help with processing prisoners' applications and doing other intake work and will be able advocate for their loved ones at committee sessions but will not be part of the final decision making committee.
e) The committee will work with other advocacy organizations to most effectively use resources.
f) All gatherings of committee members shall have a moderator, to be chosen by the committee, to help maintain open discussion.
4) File review Eligibility:
Because a large volume of review requests are anticipated some standard for review must be established. Files will be reviewed of those prisoners in one or more of these categories:
a) have been in segregation or administrative confinement for 5 years or more
b) are being denied programs that would allow them to be released to less confined status or are otherwise needed.
c) are showing “decomposition traits”, i.e. who are showing signs of severe psychological stress
d) have predetermined psychological concerns before being placed in indeterminate segregation status.
e) more shall be added to this clause as the committee become more firmly rooted and oriented to the problems.
a)The committee will review case files of long term prisoners confined in segregation or administrative confinement for five years or more or who otherwise fit the criteria outlined in above section(4).
b) This assemblage will use documents supplied by the prisoner and verify those documents with open records requests. The committee shall review the documents that are being used by the prison to keep the prisoner locked down as well as documents submitted by the prisoner showing why the prison administrations findings are oppressive. This assemblage will have the discretion to request any other documents needed either by open records request to the prison or direct request to the prisoner. For health records, each prisoner must sign a release of information permission form stating that the prison can reveal heath information to the committee.
c) When appropriate, prisoners will be visited by appropriate experts and independent evaluations made.
d) The committee will work with other advocacy organizations to most effectively use resources.
a) The committee shall make their recommendations in a report of the prisoner being reviewed. The prisoner shall also be provided with a copy and shall determine if he would like the committee to send a “certified” copy of the recommendations to the prison administration.
b) If the committee has determined a prisoner is being inappropriately confined or denied programming, and that the placement is damaging to the prisoner, the committee as public policy authority, may file court action in support of the prisoner and his release from inappropriate confinement. Such legal actions will be determined by the committee and at the advice and counsel of the committee's legal consultant.
7) Legal methods:
a) Once the committee is properly fitted and seated, they should seek out the appointment of a legal coordinator from among them or a volunteer who shall serve as a lay person legal consultant. This person or persons can be a member of the committee or not and should have a sound degree of legal knowledge; Volunteer lawyers, paralegals at the lower bar, judges or law professors.
b) The legal coordinator shall provide the committee with the proper venue and assess which cases are worth litigating in regards for humanitarian relief for the prisoners in US courts, the UN, the World Court etc. The legal consultant will apprise the committee of the relevant prison litigation law and the state of the law in germanous to the file on review. As the committee reviews files, patterns will be revealed and class actions are possible.
d) Other non legal actions by the committee are possible such as public reports, advocacy campaigns and the like. These will be determined as the committee gets its bearings.
7) Agency Structure
Once the bones of this humanitarian agency are perfected the committee will have the discretion to add to its staffing, duties and permissions as long as it remains constant to the mission and integrity of the entity.
At base, group order and cohesion will be maintained whenever the committee convenes to discuss a case, file or agency, with these positions:
1) Committee secretary: who in accordance with Wisconsin common laws of incorporation, take notes, dates, minutes.
2) Supply and resource officer: to make arrangements to receive donated materials, funds and services. Shall record all resources the agency receives. Assistants and fill in staff will be available when these people are not in attendance.
3) Intake person//persons- this needs to be a designated person or persons to receive WCEHTP mail coming in from prisoners . If more this task is done by more than one person, there needs to be coordination between them. These people will read incoming mail, designate it to proper volunteers, and report on it at committee meetings.
DOCUMENTS FOR PRISONERS TO SUBMIT
From: Wisconsin Committee for the Ethical and Humane Treatment of Prisoners (WCEHTP)
Subject: Documents to be submitted by prisoners who request public review of their continued long term segregation status.
Date December 7, 2011
Attention: long term seg or / AC or other prisoners:
The following documents would be the initial requirement for this independent public committee to use and assess your long term confinement in segregation status. If you meet the thresh hold criteria, i.e. been in segregation or AC for five or more consecutive years or have psychological concerns, send us the following documents so we can see if we can help.
1) your last PRC results
2) Your initial and last AC recommendation sheet and your initial and last AC- committee decision sheets
3) a six page statement from you pointing out in clear and legible format why you think you should be released and/or why you should not be continuously held in seg/ac. (Note: the 6 page requirement, is approximate and we understand that it is too much for some with disabling mental illnesses. We are flexible. Make the statement clear and reasonably detailed.)
4) A two page outline of all legal and court actions you have attempted to get relief; meaning sec 1983 suits or writs of certioraris etc.
5) to better understand the scope and principles behind this committee, see the accompanying WCEHTP mission statement sheet.
6) This is a volunteer project so we cannot make any promises or commitments to anyone. Time and resources are weak so do not send originals. Only send copies as we cannot afford to send documents back.
7) After our initial assessment, we may then request more detailed information and documents. To keep this simple, anyone who sends more will probably not be reviewed. For simplicity is what is required at this stage.
You prevent us from helping you by not following these pertinent instructions.
Wisconsin Committee for the Ethical and Humane Treatment of Prisoners
Mental Health and Stress Evaluation Form
Note: The purpose of this questionnaire is to garner both individual and collective data. The information here will not be disclosed to anyone outside of WCEHTP without your consent.
Feel free to use extra paper- just write the number of questions you are answering
1) Your name____________________________________ prison ID#__________
2) Prison name and address______________________________________________
3) Your age_______________
4) Any serious mental health conditions already diagnosed ______________________________________________________________________________
5) Any psychological or mental diagnosis
6) Who made the diagnosis? ___________________________________________________ List any diagnoses you got before incarceration And who made theses diagnoses(institution or person)_______________________________________________________________________
7) *List your emotional happiness for the week . for example, 1 is poor, 10 is happy. List week and days. If you experience the same emotion for all seven days or most of the days, what is the determining factor?.
8) How much sleep do you get on the most stress free day?
9) How much sleep do you get to the most stressful day?
10) How many times in the week do you feel hopeless?
11) How long have you been in solitary confinement? How long have you been incarcerated in total?
12) What is the longest period of solitary confinement you have experienced prior to your present confinement?
13) Do you feel you will ever be released?
14) Do you have people outside of prisoner that keep contact with you?
15) If so, how often do you receive mail from them?
16) If you have relatively little contact with the outside, how does this make you feel?
17) When feeling stressful, how do you get rid of the stress?
18) If and when you feel low, what kinds of things do you do to help you get over this?
19) Are you permitted to have photographs of your family, friends and loved ones?
20) Magazines, newspapers?
21) How long does your low period usually last?
22) When watching tv or listening to a story or reading a book that is sad, do you ever empathize with that sadness or ever cry?
23) After having slept for more than 8 hours do you ever feel tired or emotionally exhausted?
24) Have you lost any family or friends or anyone you care for while in the hole? If so, how did you cope?
25) Describe in approximately 6 words how your family and loved ones feel about you being in solitary confinement this long: in words they have personally used with you.
26) Has being in solitary confinement caused disputes between you and those on the outside?
27) Without being too descriptive, describe one example of such a dispute.
28) If you have tried unsuccessfully to used the court system to be released, how does this make you feel?
29) Have you ever said these words in regards to trying to prove you are no longer a threat and should be released:"(explicative)I'm through trying to__________________________
(fill in the blank with your words).
30) How often do you make the above statement ( 29)
31) Will you try again to seek relief from the court system?
The H.S.C. at Waupun is better termed as the New Super Max.. The difference between H.S.C. and Wisconsin Secure Program Facility ( formerly ‘SuperMax’) is the DOC is prohibited from housing the mentally ill at WSPF if they would be a harm to themselves, whereas the conditions of HSC are puportedly worse than WSPF ( I have not been to WSPF, but this is the general concensus), but HSC seems to be filled with the seriously mentally ill. To me it presents itself as a dumping it presents itself as a dumping site for the mentally ill inmates the DOC would like to send to WSPF but can’t. A loophole in the system. ( Myrespects go to Mr. Shaun Matz, Mr. Matthew Schumacher and their recent and ongoing litigation challenging the conditions of Waupun’s HSC.)
I’ve done some thinking about what can be improved here for the seg inmates. Right now they are doing groups for us on DS – 1 , DS-2 and HU- 7, DS-1 groups were just started earlier this year and I they they have started doing more on DS-2 and HU-7. They have also begun getting guys out for 30 minutes or so a week to listen to books on tape, but there is not much time for that. They also hand out puzzles on request to whomever wants them. Right now what we need is some educational stuff. They currently offer nothing educational for us except for guys under age 18. I had written to a teacher about 2 weeks ago asking if she could get me some stuff to work on to better my essay and creative writing. She wrote back and said she would and that she is ‘always happy to provide educational materials” but I never got anything so I’m going to write her back and see what’s up. I wanted to give her some time first. She was my teacher in 2005-2007 when I was at Mendota; she started here less than a year ago. If we could get her or others to take some time to teach seg inmates or set up some in-cell study, that would be very helpful for us . Materials on excercises we can do in our cells or in the rec pens outside would also be very beneficial.
One major change that needs to be made is the way CCI’s segregation ‘step’ process works. Here it consists of 3 ‘steps’ ( 1, 2, and 3). I think the privileges/incentives of each step is adequate. It’s the duration I have a problem with. At CCI it works like this : When an inmate recieves their seg time they spend 1/3 of their time on each step. On step 3 you get the opportunity to come out to the dayroom twice a week for an hour to use the phone, watch tv, play cards and converse with other step 3 inmates. You also have the privilege of having either your personal tv or radio in your cell (not both, which I disagree with. On step 3 in Waupun you can have both) . It is a concern that guys without their own tv and/or radio wont get one. CCI does have loaners that inmates may borrow, usually old tv/radio combos that inmates have donated or DOC has confiscated (uusually unjustly) but I’m not sure whether seg inmates can get a loaner. I do know that only SMU inmates get loaners, meaning only units 6 and 7 where they have most of the more seriously mentally ill inmates. But I’ve digressed. Back to my issue with duration of the steps. Usually, whatever amount of seg time a person gets, it is cut in half so an inmate only actually does half of the actual sentence. However, if they place someone on Administrative Confinement Tracking” the seg time is not cut in half and means that the inmate will be referred for A.C. Tracking (such as myself) are doing 360 days of seg.. Therefore they have to wait eight months to get their tv or radio. I think Waupuns’s 3 step program is better in that step 3 inmates can have both their tv and radio and no matter how much seg time you get, you do 30 days on step 1, then 30 days on step 2 and the rest on step 3. I think that is a much more reasonable way to do it and would propose to have it done this way at CCI as well. Note: Waupun used to do it like CCI’s current program but changed it to the 30 days on step l and 2 for everyone at the end of 2007.
I’ll keep thinking about it and write if I have more ideas.
I haven’t gotten around to the survey issue that was raised in the recent Bridge of Voices. Frankly, I don’t think I will. I’ve been putting it off so long that I don’t want to lie to myself or you and say I will do something with it.
On a more productive and positive note, I just started reading a book last night called “Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries” by Naome Wolf. It is fairly new, published in Sept. 2008 and talks about how ‘America’ has changed over the last 200-some years and is no longer what our founding fathers intended it to be. I’ve only just started it but it appears to have some of the same principles we have about getting things changed, eliminating unjust laws, etc.. Have you heard of the author? If not, you should google her name. Her book has been very enlightening and impressive thus far. I don’t know if you have time for reading books, but I think you and everyone else would benefit from reading this one.
By J.M. Lawrence, Globe Correspondent | January 20, 2010
In 1966 at age 21, Judi Chamberlin was locked in a New York state mental ward against her will after the newlywed suffered a miscarriage and couldn’t stop crying.
“A depression is something to get rid of and the goal of psychiatry is to ’cure’ people of depression,’’ she wrote in a 1978 book that became a cornerstone of the “Mad Pride’’ movement among mental health patients. “That my depression might be telling me something about my own life was a possibility no one considered, including me.’’
Ms. Chamberlin, who wrote “On Our Own: Patient-Controlled Alternatives to the Mental Health System,’’ died Saturday at her Arlington home from chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, a lung disease. She was 65.
Described as irreverent and fearless, Ms. Chamberlin’s writings about the dehumanizing treatment inside mental hospitals helped galvanize patients to become “psychiatric survivors’’ and changed social attitudes about their future prospects.
“Her life, her book, her words, her talks were so revolutionary,’’ said Dr. Daniel Fisher, executive director of the National Empowerment Center in Lawrence, which Ms. Chamberlin helped found.
“The mental health system, for a while, was scared of her because she spoke so boldly with no compromise. She would say things that now we accept there’s a certain truth to. But back then, it seemed like heresy,’’ Fisher said.
Ms. Chamberlin, who was diagnosed as schizophrenic, contended patients have the right to make choices about their care, and she argued that their using those rights was integral to recovery.
She liked the name “Mad Pride,’’ and her book became the movement’s manifesto. “Instead of a pejorative word, they were saying ‘No, we’re proud of who we are and so be it,’ ’’ said Robert Whitaker, author of “Mad in America,’’ which chronicles the history of America’s treatment of the mentally ill.
Ms. Chamberlin, who grew up in Brooklyn, first sought help at a hospital but was quickly swept into a series of psychiatric stays. She was committed to Rockland Hospital for two months.
“The experience totally demoralized me,’’ she wrote. “I had never thought of myself as a particularly strong person, but after hospitalization, I was convinced of my own worthlessness. I had been told that I could not exist outside of an institution.’’
In an essay called “Confession of a Noncompliant Patient,’’ she said she learned to hide her true feelings of despair and anger to win her freedom, while she fantasized about former patients evacuating the hospital and burning it down. “In my fantasy, we joined hands and danced around this bonfire of oppression,’’ she said.
Her first marriage ended after her hospitalization. She eventually found recovery in Vancouver at a crisis center run by other mental illness sufferers who had won government funding for alternative treatments.
She came to Boston and helped found the Mental Patients’ Liberation Front in the early 1970s. The group brought a landmark lawsuit against Boston State Hospital. The 1975 case established patients’ rights to refuse treatment.
In 1980, Ms. Chamberlin linked arms with other protesters and blocked the doors at the American Psychiatric Association Conference in San Francisco, said her friend Sally Zinman, who stood with her that night.
Zinman, who lives in Berkeley, Calif., laughed as she remembered how the doctors entered the conference through a side door.
“It’s hard to think of her as gone because her influence will keep going. She has been so influential in social change that she won’t die,’’ said Zinman, who spent 30 years as director of the California Network of Mental Health Clients.
Ms. Chamberlin found little help for herself from psychiatric drugs but did not oppose medication as a possible path for recovery.
In 1985, she helped found the Ruby Rogers Advocacy & Drop-In Center in Somerville, which is run by nonprofessional staff who have had mental health issues.
She also worked on projects with the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation at Boston University and was cochairwoman of the World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry from 2001-2004. In 2004, she was named to a panel advising the United Nations on disabilities.
In the last year, Ms. Chamberlin battled for the rights of the terminally ill to hospice care. She wanted to die at her home surrounded by her books and her beloved cats, Gilbert and Oliver, with frequent visits from her grandchildren. But UnitedHealthcare cut off her hospice benefits at $5,000. She appealed.
“Although I apparently haven’t died fast enough,’’ she wrote on one form, “I do have a terminal illness and will need some method of care.’’
By the time the company extended her benefits, Ms. Chamberlin had found home care from Visiting Nurse and Community Health of Arlington. She chronicled her days on her blog judi-lifeasahospicepatient.blogspot.com.
Her partner, Martin Federman of Cambridge, who met her three years ago, also cared for her. “When I first met her, she was still in the peak of the work she was doing, and my first impressions were of how incredibly focused and committed she was,’’ he said.
On her blog, she wrote lovingly of Federman bringing her meals, including her favorite dessert, Junior’s cheesecake from New York City.
She did not want a memorial service. Instead, scores of people lined up for a chance to praise her work at a celebration of her life held at Boston University in August. Ms. Chamberlin, who was in a wheelchair, took the microphone and issued a call for the rights of hospice patients to care.
“Even at this last second of her life, she was fighting for change, and it was an absolutely beautiful moment,’’ Whitaker said.
Ms. Chamberlin leaves her daughter, Julie of Boston, and three grandchildren. Burial will be private.
"Unfortunately in our society, jails have become the largest mental institutes, and the staff isn't trained for that," says Hamblin. "We'd prefer not to have mentally ill people in jail. It's not an appropriate use of this space, and alternatives are cheaper. But treatment has to be [adequately] funded, and it's not, on either the state or the federal level." From Isthmus article , 2006 Dane county
Our mental hospitals were closed in the 90’s and were replaced in large part by prisons and jails. If you are have little money and have a mentally ill family member, there is little you can do but watch his or her behavior get destructive enough until finally someone calls the cops. Our prisons are filled with the mentally ill and they often end up in segregation because they cannot cope with the dehumanizing prison conditions and act out. There is little treatment and what there is, is almost totally ineffective.
We at FFUP have long been concerned about conditions in segregation for even mentally healthy prisoners and have advocated without success that all prisoners in segregation be allowed books and magazines from the outside, and that families be allowed to buy programs for them, buy tv’s and that all prisoners get daily exercise and access to the outside. To no avail.
What is happening to hundreds of mentally ill prisoners in Wisconsin is difficult to describe . The healthy prisoners become sick, the mentally ill prisoner harm themselves, spread feces and become forever stuck in an insane cycle of retribution and acting out .
We are starting a blog where I will include letters from prisoners and copies of the DOC rules that mandate mind boggling indifference from prison staff. As soon as the legislature begins their session this fall we will be pushing for a rule change in the admnistrative condinement division of segregation. It will be start toward better conditions. Once we know the route to getting laws and rules changed, we hope to change many.
After 9 years of prison work, we have come to the conclusion that the legislature cannot act to the benefit of prisoners. The climate is too vengeful and legislators fear for their jobs if they take a sane approach to prison insanity. The conditions for some prisoners are dire.Here is an excerpt from a recent letter of a prisoner in Waupun Segregation. It is hard reading:
“We who are confined to H.S.C. unit receive no mental health treatment whatsoever, are subjected to almost total sensory and social isolation. The so-called psychologists never do any rounds and many of us cannot take being housed on this unit and the only way that myself as well as many others deal with it is to hurt ourselves.
I have cut my throat with razors, glass and metal and wasn’t suppose to live through any of those incidents. My arms are so scarred I don’t even look human any more. And yes, I do get teased and laughed at quite a bit by staff and other inmates. However, they don’t understand that the only way I feel alive or human is when I can see the evidence of my mortality flowing from my veins and the only way these people here respond is by stripping me naked and putting me in a cold cell but then a few days later putting me back on the tier declaring me “OK”. But I’m not okay, and I don’t know how much more of this I can take. The doctor cut off my anti-psychotic meds and everyday I want to cut myself but because these people will use it against me to keep me locked in here I try and resist the urge. I don’t know what to do any more.
Honestly , I believe the fight for our rights is the only thing that is keeping me alive right now. Without the cause or the fight I have nothing. Ms Swan, I ask you to please help us to get our voices heard so that we may change things for the better so that no more human beings die in here.”
There is one point in the system where humanity can be inserted and that is Wisconsin Resource Center, (WRC)- A place where real treatment goes on. However, with a 300 hundred bed capacity, prisoners can stay there only a short time before they are cycled back to prison and often, segregation again.
What is important to note is that is not the problem of the Department of Corrections- it is our problem and our responsibility. We need treatment facilities and alternatives, drug treatment centers and good therapy alternatives out here. The DOC is doing what the DOC does best – repress. When We funnel our mentally ill to them , we are saying “do what you will- keep them out of our sight”.
three things you can do today to help :
1)read this blog devoted to raising awareness on the mentally ill. Of particular interest is a court transcript where a psychiatrist is fired for refusing to change the diagnosis of a bipolar prisoner to one that is less serious. See Brain Locke's blog for complete story: We must force the prison to change their practices while we work to open up treatment and prevention alternatives that make prison unnecessary.
2) Write one of the prisoners in segregation we list in our special needs post. You can make all the difference to them whether or not they they survive their solitary ordeal .
Overuse and abuse of solitary confinement
Secretary of Corrections
Po Box 7925
Madison, Wi 53707
Re: Solitary confinement in Wisconsin prisons
I am deeply concerned about the overuse of solitary in Wisconsin prisons. Recently it has been reported that Wisconsin leads the nation in prison suicides, and most of those suicides occur while prisoners are in solitary. We also lead the nation in having the highest per capita ratio of Black prisoners. I realize that the balancing of our present punitive system with treatment and rehabilitation is a long term project and will take the participation of the larger society but there are a few important things that can be done right now to help prisoners survive solitary confinement.
I propose that certain uniform rules be imposed on all segregation units. These are small steps toward allowing the families and friends to get involved. I propose that:
1) All prisoners in segregation be allowed books sent in from the outside.
2) All prisoners be allowed access to GED and other educational programs and that family and friends be allowed to buy correspondence courses.
3) All prisoners, no matter what status they are or if they have a huge legal loan , be allowed embossed envelopes sent from the outside.( as it is now in some prisons, if an inmate has a lawsuit and is indigent, he pays for law copies and postage with a "legal loan" and if that loan gets big enough, he cannot receive money from the outside and gets only one stamp a week for the institution, has no canteen etc. )
4) All prisoners, no matter what status, be allowed to receive at least one call a week from the outside.
5) We ask that this be part of a general turn about in policy to a rehabilitative system.
6) All prisoners get outside recreation time.
Governor Doyle: 11 East, State Capitol; Madison, Wi 53702
Representative Mark Pocan; Po Box 8953; Madison, WI 53708
Rep Tamara Grigsby; PO Box 8952,Madison, Wi 53708
Rep Spenser Black; PO Box 8952, Madison, Wi 53708
As always, FFUP and many prisoners in segregation are making a concerted effort to get informal projects going that can help them stay healthy and find a way out of segregation and finally prison. One of the easiest ways to help is to write a nurturing note to one of the men below. Please contact FFUP if you would like to get involved at email@example.com.
Here is a list of some of the prisoners who need encouragement and we need help badly in helping them.
Timothy Crowley 243754 CCI; PO box 900; Portage ,Wi 53901
Ali Mursal 541673 GBCI PO Box 19033; Green Bay, Wi 54307
Marcus Greer 469316 CCI PO box 900; Portage ,Wi 53901
Al-Amin Akbar 211383 CCI PO box 900; Portage ,Wi 53901
Nathan Gillis 273445 CCI PO box 900; Portage ,Wi 53901
Travis D Coleman 103600 CCI PO box 900; Portage ,Wi 53901
Lorenzo Balli #238265;GBCI ;PO Box 19033;Green Bay. WI 54307
Terrance Grissom, Luiz Ramirez, Nathan Gillis, Samuel upthegrove, Have Photos and profiles on this blog.
To view report on Segregation at Columbia Correctional Institution (CCI), click here. It gives a good idea of what is going on in most prisons.
We will start with these 6 people in Wisconsin segregation units. They are not allowed books from the outside, canteen, t.v. or much of anything in possessions. We are trying to get these rules changed it is slow. In at least two Wisconsin prisons, especially for the mentally ill , There is no fixed date for release from seg because they are on what is called "non Punitive segregation"which allows them top remain in isolation for years.
Shawn Matz is another prisoner who has begun writing us from WCI. I have tried to send in books and been denied. Here is what he says: “Ms Swan, I have cut my throat with razors, glass and metal and wasn’t suppose to live through any of those incidents. My arms are so scarred I don’t even look human any more. And yes, I do get teased and laughed at quite a bit by staff and other inmates. However, they don’t understand that the only way I feel alive or human is when I can see the evidence of my mortality flowing from my veins and the only way these people here respond is by stripping me naked and putting me in a cold cell but then a few days later putting me back on the tier declaring me “OK”. But I’m not okay, Ms Swan and I don’t know how much more of this I can take. The doctor cut off my anti-psychotic meds and everyday I want to cut myself but because these people will use it against me to keep me locked in here I try and resist the urge. I don’t know what to do any more.”
He has more to offer for this blog, Coming soon.
Brian Locke#96897 Green Bay Correctional Institution( GBCI); PO Box 19033; Green Bay, Wi 54307
Brian Locke is fighting for his life and for the betterment of all solitary confinement prisoners. He is manic depressive and writes me several times a week from his cell in Green Bay, pleading for placement in Columbia, where A/C prisoners are allowed property . This is the man who has looked into the changing for the administrative confinement rule and given us all , perhaps , a way to make a very big and positive change in the whole system.
Note: addendum on Brian Locke not included- will discuss on phone call if appropriate. Here is link to article on Locke.
here is the link to an Isthmus newspaper story on him :http://www.thedailypage.com/isthmus/article.php?article=22710
and his blog post::http://mentallyillinprison.blogspot.com/2008/08/brian-lockes-story-diagnosis-illegally.html. In it is the story of the court testimony of Brian's former psychiatrist, who tesitifies he was fired for refusing to illegally change Brian's diagnosis. We have long suspected that convenient changes of diagnosis' were gojng on but here we see proof. Brinsa remains in the most draconian isolation and is manic depressive- a very volitile combination.He also, At minimum,asks to be transfered to a prison where he can have books and magazines tv and property.
Again, for Steven, we have asked the DOC that he be allowed to have books and magazines from the outside to start and have not succedded in getting even this for him. He needs letters and cards.
Steven Stewart was a very sane man. Visits with him were much fun. He is now in trouble after years of segregation. There is a cycle here. The treatment is very degragding and most people do act out and are here in segregation in the first polace because they lack self control. The only reaction to misbehavior, no matter how minor , is punishment-i.e.: more degrading treatment. Once you get your coattails into one of these units, it is hard to get out. Some people within the system have tried to help Steven get to population but it has not worked. He has severe health problems and is a difficult case. He needs friendship most of all right now. His mental health has deteriorated dramatically in the years we have known him.
the inhumane, non-professional treatment of prisoners who have went from “patients” to “psychologically tormented inmates” after mental health systems deinstitutionalization of the late 1980’s is staggering and heartbreaking
PTSD and Prison
Joshua Guan 279006-A
GBCI; PO Box 19033
Green Bay, WI 54307
see his penpal post at http://latestpenpals.blogspot.com/2009/12/joshua-gann.html
I have been in segregation for 10 months as of 1/11/10. I was told yesterday that I would be getting put on administrative confinement.
I admit that the initial segregation time was warranted, as I go into a physical altercation w/a few correctional officers, however, this was in part due to a 15 year battle with a mental illness called post traumatic stress disorder, and the system’s reckless handling of my medication. They stabilize you, then they take you off medication/psych therapies that are necessary to maintain that imperative, they often opt out and give medications used to treat mental illnesses in the 1960s-70s over newer more effective (less side effects and more expensive medications).
I was told by a specialist that my P.T.S.D. was like that of a combat war veteran, to my benefit I have been treated by non-prison doctors who have taught me many ways to persevere, however the inhumane, non-professional treatment of prisoners who have went from “patients” to “psychologically tormented inmates” after mental health systems deinstitutionalization of the late 1980’s is staggering and heartbreaking because I am a high functioning ( an overall I.Q. of 139 on the WAIS III 99%)
I try to advocate for those less fortunate who suffer the demons of mental illness , and Green Bay tends to disproportionately house us with an “axis I” mental health issue in segregation. But there is so much one man can do, however, I refuse to let current environment (solitary confinement) demagogic conditioning, or feeble attempts to break my spirit by the officials “in Charge” determine who I am .
I love those who need my sound advice, when I can give it, and live by the more noble virtues- courage, truth, honor, fidelity, hospitality, discipline, industriousness, self reliance, and perseverance. Those of us who realize what my grandma (r.i.p.) told me (regardless of our ethnicity, religion, or political beliefs, who suffer from mental infirmities-spiritual or physical) tough times don’t last, tough people do.” Will overcome oppression and adversity and will by strengthened by the experience.
- by Hakim Naseer
Good morning and good afternoon America.
My name is Hakim Naseer. It is truly an honor to have the opportunity to advise our country of an ongoing crisis which is continuously creating infantile attitudes within the segregation environment, among most prisons, which will dangerously affect the public safety at a catastrophic level! My goal is not to shock the conscience and/or sensibilities of our readers with merely using hearsay. The overall goal is to be modest when expressing intriguing facts pertaining to the constant battle, mentally speaking, of being incarcerated and housed in punitive segregation. My purpose, after personally being subjected to inhuman, barbarous, tortuous punishments and some punishments unknown to common law, is to make a difference and a change by giving back to my community and challenging the minds of those spectators, politicians, prison officials, law enforcement agencies, judges, district attorneys, radio stations, newscasts, etc. My destiny is to become a "Bridge of Voices" participant. Not to mention, I have seen the gates of hell!
By federal and state law, "double punishment" is prohibited. If anyone is caught engaging in such cruel act, they could be prosecuted criminally and/or civilly. Although we may all think, as the less fortunate (mentally ill), that it is a smashing success once we have sued the DOC after 7 prison guards were found guilty of subjecting a mentally ill prisoner to "double punishment" in civil court, in reality, it's just another loss the DOC can afford to lose. As a result, the real smashing success remains a shadow in the dark.
A vital strategy in winning a constant battle against the opposing team is to get every corrupt prison guard arrested as soon as possible for making ongoing attempts in turning a solitary confinement environment into a torture chamber, contrary to Wis. Stats. §§ 940.29 and 940.285. After enough prosecutions/convictions are exposed publicly, the DOC will have to make heroic sacrifices in order to stop a negative frenzy from escalating within the tabloids all over the nation. Furthermore, the power struggle and the huge wall that the DOC continuously holds up to keep us away with all of our questions and concerns will no longer exist. It will allow for a mind that was once sketchy and skeptical of mentally ill prisoners serving time in solitary confinement to be reduced to a level that will change our current conditions of confinement. This particular method can be a stabilizing factor. Have you ever heard of the phrase, "Hard work pays off"? Well then ... give this particular method your best efforts and you will become a thousand steps closer to bettering your condemned lifestyles that are currently jeopardizing your future. However, be advised that help is on the way regardless. If we could come together, this process can be in effect sooner than we think. Nothing is too impossible. Those who are not fighting for a positive benefit, an alternative program, a logical sense of living, a greater satisfaction, equality, essential needs, flexible visualization, preventive medicine, healthier punishments and adequate justice will not only die mentally, but will also continue to go unnoticed like a shadow in the dark.
Solitary confinement is most certainly an abnormal environment, generally speaking. Although such environments should be considered imprudent, there's no other way to contain violent and inappropriate behavior that is displayed by prisoners without segregating them in an isolated place where they can be closely monitored and supervised for their own safety as well as others. Segregation was originally designed to punish and then rehabilitate a prisoner's way of thinking before acting. However, the punishing process became so harsh that it created a disastrous mental affect in the already mentally ill prisoners, which in turn made it highly impossible for the rehabilitation to take place.
They say, "Two wrongs don't make a right," but in solitary confinement such phrase does not exist. If an inmate continuously acts out in a mentally ill manner by using profane and abusive language that is directed at prison staff, within that same week that particular mentally ill inmate will most certainly undergo one or more of the following:
Not being provided an adequate meal serving even after the institution food menu indicates that something is missing from your food tray but that same officer that you disrespected doesn't care;
"Torture ... any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity."
- Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment - (United Nations General Assembly Resolution 46 [xxxlx])
Well, I gave been in the hole now for a little over a month and let me tell you it’s a “hell” of an experience. I’ve never thought that I’d see so much pain, anguish and despair. It’s really hard for some of these men to come to grips with the possibility that they will never go home. And the crazy part is that a lot of the pain the inmates have caused on their “victims”, the inmates suffer or share that same pain. It has been my experience by closely observing other inmates behavior and conversations, that their pasts have been filled with the same hurts and abuse as was carried out on “victims”. And inmates too, try to deal wit this internal pain by physically harming themselves. I’ve “seen” inmates literally cut their Face with scissors (gash themselves literally) swallow razors, swallow glass, swallow screws, slice their wrists, attempt suicide by strangulation etc. The list goes on and on. These poor men can’t deal with the mental trauma so they try to deaden the mental pain by exchanging it for physical pain. I’ve heard men scream for hours!! Trying to wrap their minds around the fact that they may have a life sentence w/no parole and couple with the mental pain they have to live with that was caused from neglect and sexual abuse and physical abuse as a child. I don’t even think a trained psychologist could fully understand the weight or depths of their pain unless you’re able to experience this first hand like I am. It’s really sad and though my heart goes out to each and every victim that has ever been wronged in this world my heart goes out to these men too. It’s strange how the mind works and how the mind, body and soul thirst for affection and love. I’ve witnessed situations where men would go against their own moral , religious and ethical code just to receive love and affection from others because family has abandoned them. I thank God every day that He has given me strength and blessed me with a friend like you. I never judge people with regard to the sexual preference but I am glad I’ve never been in a situation where ii was so weak oat such a point of despair where my moral, ethical and religious belief was compromised due t lack of affection to the point of “me” resorting to homosexuality, and as I said before I don’t judge I just observe with compassion because the environment is unnatural to everyone who is subjected to it. ….
A Letter From Long Ago:
this prisoner' s first letter to FFUP . It gives a good description of life in seg. This man has become an accomplished artist and model for other prisoners.
See his art at : http://darrenmorrisartist.blogspot.com/
read his guide for urban youth: http://guidebydarrenmorris.blogspot.com
August 17th 2006
Darren Morris #236425
Waupun Correctional Institution
Post Office Box 351
Waupun, Wisconsin, 53963
My name is Darren Morris, and I am an inmate here in Waupun Correctional Institution, where I am currently being held in a Segregation Cell. At the age of 17, I began to have "more"severe psychotic episodes, in which I had to be hospitalized for more than once. I was put on the medication called Haldol. I would hallucinations and delusional thinking that would lead to violent acts. I was arrested for PTAC of first-degree intentional homicide, and once in prison I continued to have these psychotic episodes. I would go through periods with no episodes, and then it was like someone snatched the rug from under me. I had numerous disciplinary actions taken against me, more so since being in Waupun Correctional. I have been shocked with some kind of electrical device It was around 1999 some time. I'm sorry my memory can't come with exact dates.. I thought I was in danger, that my medication had been switched and laced with poison, so I stopped taking them. Soon I had a psychotic break and I was put into segregation, though I cannot remember the charge and my delusions continued. They put me into the "Naked Man Cell", (observation). they chained me to the cell door, cut my clothes off, they put me in the cell naked. I don't remember much, though I do remember I was cold and crying. I was given two squares of tissue to clean myself with after using the toilet. I could not sleep because I was naked, it was cold and there was no mattress. Instead of a mattress there was a hard rubber mat, and the lack of sleep only made things worse. I started to pound on the door, at which I was given a direct order to stop, and I did not. In turn they gassed me and came in with these black suits and helmets, and when they attacked me I fought back. I was choked until I blacked out. When I woke up I was handcuffed to a concrete slab by both wrists and my feet. I began banging my head on this slab. They came in and put a strap on me to hold my head down. About a day later i was let out of restraints, I was still naked, I began pounding on the door, and told them if they gave me a blanket I'd stop. They gassed me again, they came in with the suits on and when they had me pinned down to the floor some electroshocked me. i went to Wisconsin resource Center- twice. I had many situations where my illness caused me to get a ticket and put in the hole. I'm also hard of hearing, I'm supposed to have a hearing and for both ears. I came here from the outside with two- they lost them, and claimed not to be responsible. They gave me only one hearing aid and told me to make due as best I could with that. i got two tickets once for sleeping during count, I never heard the buzzer and they put me ion the hole for, I think, 90 days that time. Now I am stable on my medication and had been doing okay, but I got a ticket again for disobeying an order. They gave me 60 days in the hole. Since I been here I tell them I can't hear the buzzer for meals or medication or other things. Here, when the tone sounds you must stand at your cell door to get that meal, medication, showers or whatever if you are not at that door, I don't get to eat or my medication for the schizo effective bipolar type. I keep telling them, I can't hear the buzzer, They have 2, one in the hall, which is the one I can't hear. Then there is one in the cell which they use sometimes- that one I can hear just fine. They should not be able to pass me for meds and especially medication- if I can't hear the sound then I can't react to it. I have about a 7th or 8th grade reading level and I'm trying to figure out the law because I'm knowing what they do is wrong. I want to teach them that it is not okay to let a person go hungry, and to discriminate against people. I want to change the rules and the way they do things here(..her he asks for help) .. They never ask how to help me, they leave the lights on all the time, my brain don't get a chance to rest, the people argue, and pound all day long and the COs pick on them when they get quiet to make them argue again. Every time I hear keys I get worried they coming with them suits again and shock me and cuff me up or gas me up. I tell them I hear voices and they give me no counseling or help with my issues, and I try to tell me self it's in my head, nothing to fear, but when I hear them keys I get ready to fight cause I think they coming to get me.
If you cannot help. will you please find someone who can. Thank you for your consideration.
This is DarRen Morris , with his story- many people in prison have similar stories of neglect and abuse through out young lives, then in courts. DarRen has made his way out of the darkness and is determined to make a better future. Here he gives testimony to a legislative audit on the mentally ill in prison.
Legislative Audit Bureau
22 E. Mifflin Suite 500,
Madison, WI 53703
Re.: Mental Illness Testimony
Date: October 28, 2008
Darren Morris (#236425)
Columbia Correctional Institution
P.O. Box 900,
Portage, WI 53901
Peace and Love
Recently Peggy Swan has informed that you are conducting some sort of audit on the Mental Health treatment of inmates, I will share with you my experiences and hopefully it will help you to help us, and help people like Peg. I truly believe that Peg saved my life, had she not gotten involved and let the prison know that someone was watching they would have killed me, because I was in a place in my mind that I would act without regard for my own well being or fore thought what they would do to me.
I am not sure what all you need to know so I will give you a short history of how I got here. My mental health problems seem to have plagued me from the beginning. When I was about 3, I was playing with my father´s pistol, and when my mother seen me, she went to take the gun from me; as she snatched it, it went off, hitting my mother. From that point on I was not very well liked among family members. My mother lived, and gave the story to the officials that when she set the gun down on the dresser, it went off accidentally, this was to keep the State from taking her children. My brothers and others would often do things to me to punish me. I will not go into specifics, most of it was physical, and restraints (home made), different types of isolation, there was some sexual from both older males and females.
I accepted what ever they did without complaint, I felt that I deserved it for shooting my mother.
Until I was about 11, one of my mother´s boyfriends done something to me that was a wake up call, I do not remember how I understood it but I knew that if I did not do something, they were going to kill me in that house. I began to retaliate whenever and however I could. This sudden violence shocked many people that were not in the home and did not know the situation, because I was a very silent person, I read a lot and tried as best as I could to not be seen or heard. This change in them, or rather in me, brought a change in that they became even more violent, if that was possible.
I went through a very long depression by the time I was thirteen, I was hearing voices and it would be like I would see somebody on the side of me out of the corner of my eye, but when I would look, they would be gone. I would be fine for a while, and things would just change, I did not understand what was going on and what was happening to me. I was sent to a special school after seeing the school shrink who sent me to another doctor, who diagnosed me with Schizophrenia, and they put me on medication
In 1993 I was released from boys school (Lincoln Hills), they sent me to a group home before sending me home. When my medication ran out I stopped taking it. I never told my mother. She noticed that I began to change and thought that I was on drugs. She felt that “we” were in need of a fresh start. She moved me to Green Bay, where a family friend had moved to and told her that they had more resources to help me up there than they did in the inner city.
Within a few months, I was convinced that people were trying to kill me, I even lost weight because I was certain that my mother was poisoning my food, so I would only eat can goods, but I went through great lengths to ensure that I picked my own cans from the store. My weight went from about 220 to about 185, maybe 190 pounds, I worked out and ate a lot of beans, I had to be ready for when they came.
I eventually hit a breaking point. First I tore up my mother´s apartment, trying to figure out where these voices were coming from. I was taken to Brown County Mental Health Center, I was there for a day or so and they let me go, I was convinced that I had been drugged, so I told them that I was drugged and that is what they went with.
Two weeks later I felt I was being followed in school and the voices were telling me that they were going to kill me, I kept trying to get away. I got trapped in a hallway that had only one way out and these two guys that I thought were about to get me had just entered the hallway. I didn’t know who they were, but I knew what they came to do and I started to fight for my life, several teachers attempted to restrain me, I hate to be grabbed! They were unable to restrain me. They let me leave rather than attempt to try and fight with me. I was picked up by the police, I fought with them, with additional officers; they were able to restrain me.
I was taken to the hospital, which referred me to the psych. hospital. They took a urine sample, because they were sure I had to be on drugs I was not. They told my mother I was dangerous, something needed to be done. My mother asked me how I felt, I said I was fine as long as she did not let them tie me down again. The first night I was in there they strapped me down to a bed and left me in there alone. I told my mother that, she refused to sign the commitment papers.
I was taken to court and they sought to get an order from the court, but because I was 17, the judge did not want to place me in an institution without trying everything else first. I was released on a 90 day consent settlement. I was put on medication called Haldol. I was sent to counselling. I got better.
By 1994 I was so good that I thought I was cured and I stopped taking the medication. March 22 I had fallen back into the same pattern, but I had not peaked yet, I was at an apartment with my then girlfriend and either because it was true or these people thought it was funny to mess with the crazy guy, the people in this apartment started talking about gang members with guns outside wanting to kill us, people were running this way and that way, screaming, they would go to the window and say stuff like there they go and run away from the window. I use to be in a gang and many of my childhood friends in the Kenosha and Northern Illinois area were shot and stabbed by members of a gang called Latin Kings and these were the same people they said were outside. This went on for 1 maybe 3 hours, I was convinced I could not get out.
Eventually, I was backed into such a place mentally that I began to hear stuff, and I became fearful that it was true that they were going to kill me. I could not stay in that apartment any more, I had to get out, armed with a knife I went out. There was a man in a red truck. This man lost his life there in some dispute about what actually happened. Witnesses told police that I stabbed the victim 3 times. The next day I was arrested and I could not remember stabbing the victim. I remembered going outside with the knife and then waking up.
Over the next few months I began remembering things, each memory about that night, and each one was as real as any memory I ever had, if not more real. The county jail had me see a psych. doctor and put me back on medication (Haldol). My attorney was told about this, I pled a special plea, of Not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. The Judge signed an order to have me evaluated for mental responsibility, but they never did the evaluation.
The day of trial my attorney told the court that he had written a letter and I signed it wanting to withdraw the plea. The court asked me one question, if that was true, to which I said yeah.
I was convicted and I was sent to prison. In Dodge they put me back on medication. I had stopped taking it before trial, because I could not think on it. I went into a long depression. I was sent to Green Bay Correctional. I was okay for a while, then I was sent to Waupun Correctional Institution and they had a very different way of doing things. I was placed in segregation.
They locked me in this room, and before long I had attempted suicide, I could not take it anymore, and the only way to escape that I know was to hang myself, but fortunately for me, I did not brake my neck or crush anything, I was choked unconscious. But that was only the beginning. I would fight with them, they would fight back, they would gas me, and as punishment, they would leave the stuff on burning, and they would tell me to remember that feeling. But sometimes they would attack me when I had not done anything.
Once I was placed in observation, after I told the psych doctor that I was hearing voices. They took all my clothes and placed me in a cell with big windows and a camera, naked, I did not have a blanket or a mattress. They gave me this rubber mat that looks like the mat that they put on the back of them trucks to keep from scratching it up. I was up for 2 days. It is extremely cold in there even in the summer time, which is not normal. I had fallen asleep finally, when the psych doctor came to see me. I told him to go away, I did not want to talk to him anymore, I refused to talk with him, so they gassed me, they then shocked me with a taser, they came in with the gorilla suits on, they beat me up and then tied me down to a bed, and every few hours, the nurse would ask if I had to go, and when I did have to go, the nurse would come in while 2 blue shirts and a white shirt stood watch, the nurse would take my penis and place it into this thing that looked like a big clear plastic coffee mug, or if I needed a bed pan, they would leave me strapped to that bed and just slide it under me without letting me up to clean myself, or give me the privacy to go.
This would be a revolving cycle, at times I would be blessed to get out of seg, but it would
not last long. I would be written up for some sort of rule violation, some times it was legit, I had done something wrong, and sometimes, the officers would bet on a pool on how long a “Seg. rat”, which is a name they use to call inmates that spend a lot of time in the hole. The pool would be based on how long it would take before they could make me snap or act out. In population there is no one to talk with who can help you through the rough times. Every 3 months I would be seen by a head shrink to see how I was, but he would have 4 or 5 guys scheduled for one hour, and he would push you back out of the door as quick as you came in.
There were times, I wanted to learn what was wrong with (me) and have some one to talk with and help me do that. I eventually learned from some very special people and funny enough I met them all about the time, Peg, a lady named Jamyi Witch, who was a chaplain at Waupun Correctional, and George Kammer, a crisis intervention worker at Waupun. These people really cared for me, and no matter how long it took in some cases that meant hours, they would talk with me, explain things to me, and the helped me reconnect with something that was lost. These type of people are not well liked in here. The guards make life very hard for them, and the women who want to help and actually care, usually get accused of having some kind of inappropriate relationship with one or so inmates.
Peg helped me reconnect with painting and drawing, as a way to distract and soothe. No one had ever taken time to explain simple things like that. Those seg units are not right. I understand that if I do something wrong, I should be held to answer for that.
The place usually smells of urine, and I do not mean the gas station bathroom kind, this is the kind that when I first smelled it, I got sick, partly because it is usually fused with other smells, body odor from guys that have not washed in a while, and at times fecal matter. There is an endless attack of noise, banging and yelling, but if I take out my hearing aides to escape the noise, then I do not get fed. There are no real programs to deal with the needs of the mentally ill, the staff do not know how to deal with us and often times they do things to intentionally make it worse and sometimes it seems unintentional.
They cannot make an accurate diagnosis of what is really wrong, because they see so many people they just give you pills and send you on your way, and they will change that diagnosis to suit their needs. I had been in a single cell for nearly 14 years. When I got here as a way to get even with me and punish me, they took my single cell status and doubled me up.
I have a very real fear about contact with an adult male, if I think he is peeking at me, with any hint of funny ideals, I can not handle that. But I have to remind myself to think first. I was fortunate, I was blessed to meet people that helped me brake the cycle. I have been stable for about 3 years on medication. It helps when there is a real check and balance, when Peg let them know that someone was watching out for me and willing to go to bat for me, it made them back off me long enough for others who want to help, to help.
I have many medical records and will do whatever I need to do, to help you help us. Most of the time I am fine, from time to time I need a little extra help, as I have gotten older, I am now being treated for Bi-Polar, manic-depressive type.
Be at Peace, Be Blessed
See DaRen's art at : http://darrenmorrisartist.blogspot.com/read his guide for urban youth: http://guidebydarrenmorris.blogspot.com
Call for an InvestigationNovember 20, 2008
I’m incarcerated at Waupun Corr Ist. In Waupun, Wiscosnin. I came to this institution in February 2007 and I’ve been in the segregation unit since March 2007 til today. I’m supposed to get out to general population December 24th, 2008.
I believe it’s my duty to bring in the hearts and minds of Wisconsin citizens in society and let them know that us prisoners are not rehabilitated and treated but instead we are being punished and mistreated. I’m currently assigned to a psychiatrist Dr. Callister cause I’ve been diagnosed with major depression, anxiety disorder, anti-social behavior, explosive disorder and I take psychotropic medication for depression and anxiety daily.
My psychologist has referred me to Wisconsin resource Center but for some odd reason I’ve been denied mental health treatment twice. There are 180 inmates that can be housed in this segregation unit at full capacity. Out of that 180 at least 80 of the inmates have some sort of mental illness.
And instead of sending them to mental health facilities for help they locked them up in the segregation unit for months and years without any treatment or programs that will help them cope with their mental illnesses and or behavior problems, so once they are released to general population they can follow rules and once released to society become law abiding citizens.
There’s a high number of past civil suits and pending lawsuits against WCI and GBCI staff. There’s several suits for abuse of discretion. Lawsuits for( guard negative retaliation). There’s been several suicides in the unit and , I was in the same hallway where one suicide took place this year. There’s been several self-mutilating attempts on a regular basis.
See the following case sites:
Matz v Frank, 05-C-1093
Matz-v- Frank 08-CD-0491
Gidarisingh v McCaughtry, 2007 Lexis 28117
Sanville V Mc Caughtry, 266 F.3d 724
The staff are continuing to be unprofessional and malicious on duty.
People are abused, slammed down with handcuffs on them in the hallways, inmates are being gassed with pepper spray and OC Gas, stripped down with no clothes on, unregistered officers who are not doctors or nurses are handling and distributing medications, untrained officers are dealing with mental patients.
I’ve personally witnessed inmates smear their own feces on themselves, the doors, windows, shower stalls. I’ve seen inmates keep medications to commit suicide. I myself have attempted to do so. Waupun Correctional Institution is a living hell and I have the names of inmates who can attest to this with supported paperwork, conduct reports, incidents reports, psychological files, lawsuit paper-work, etc, as well as state representatives who have information regarding the unprofessional and many times criminal handling of people, situation s and mental health crisis’s.
There are numerous incidents of prisoner abandonment, they don’t do security rounds on the inmates in segregation hallways every thirty minutes as protocol except on 3rd shift. There’s cases of food tampering, mail tampering, professional misconduct. Staff make-up situations/Rule infractions to lock certain inmates up to keep them in segregation and administrative confinement. Also, to keep the inmates controlled, afraid and intimidated.
The infraction/disciplinary hearing officer-captain O Donovan has been named in a lawsuit seg unit and there are retaliation suits against staff that still work here.. If you get a ticket, they will make it stick regardless of how ridiculous the alleged infraction. The staff appointed advocate will tell you, “I am not your lawyer not is it my job to search for your innocence.”
There is clearly a racial issue here. Majority of the inmates locked up in seg are black. White inmates are given the best jobs I the institution, most people would concur. The segregation unit at this time , 1-20-08 is like 265 inmates and I bet there is at least 120 inmates who are Black or Latino. 85% of tickets are wrote on African Americans. The complaint system is very inadequate, they don’t question inmate witnesses only the person being complained about. They don’t believe in doing a full investigation. If inmates were questioned, this would be a clear cut exposure. I can provide names of all races to concur what is being written here.
The housing in segregation and general population is terrible. The plumbing is out dated, bed mattresses are old, cracked and mildewed. Sheets and blankets are old and out dated , canteen prices are high, visits in segregation is very unfair – on a screen , not in person.
Segregation inmates are not allowed any personal books or law books , no magazines, no newspapers, no pictures of Family members , no canteen food items. You’re locked in the room alone 3 days a week for 24 hours a day and 4 days a week for 23 hour a day. When we go to the outside rec cages ( dog kennels) in the winter months we are only given a coat, no gloves and hats at all . It’s crazy here.
The warden is the captain of the boat along with the security director. It is them who allows and condones the behavior of the staff. Here at Waupun Corr. Inst. You’re guilty and they don’t care if you’re not. They never investigate to find the truth , only to find out how many can be determined guilty.
All of these allegations need to be looked into and investigated fully by an outside person. If you need manes of person, I have them. But I need support for outside people because they are going to retaliate against me for writing this letter so I need addresses and phone numbers of people I can write to on a regular basis.
(WVCF A-701 SCU)
P.O. Box 1111
Carlisle, IN 47838
Forum For Understanding Prisons (FFUP)
I do hope that this letter reaches you in the best of health. It is my intention to explain the ongoing abusive treatment being inflicted upon me and those being held in solitary isolation at the infamous Secure Housing Unit (SHU) at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility in Carlisle, Indiana.
On October 23, 2006, with a hearing or charge, I was removed from the prison's general population, and isolated in the SHU. This occurred three weeks after I had been released from the segregation unit at Westville Control Unit following my completion of a six-month term. There was no justification to isolate me in the SHU. I was placed here and continue to be held in solitary confinement because of my long history of litigation (writ writing), complaint filings and as a way to frustrate my constitutional rights to obtain legal redress from the courts on my wrongful and illegal custody. The IDOC officials are attempting to keep those who support my cause and the public from knowing my plight and issues, as well as prevent widespread sympathy from those on the outside. I am being held under a status IDOC officials call, "Departmental-wide Administrative Segregation." In order for one to be on this status, he must demonstrate an extraordinary security concern. There is no evidence that I meet this criteria. I've never been involved with drug trafficking, riots, hostage crises or takeovers, nor am I a leader of a gang, etc. The IDOC is claiming that my past conduct (that I was already punished for) is the reason I was placed on this status. The conduct reports being used are anywhere from ten to twenty years old. IDOC officials are punishing me for the case that I was convicted of in the Madison County Circuit Court. I have spent over 17 years in solitary confinement, including more than three years in this SHU for a Case that I was convicted of and sentenced for in Madison County Circuit Court. Isn't this double jeopardy or an ex post facto violation?
I truly need your help in gaining my release and transfer out of this facility. We are being subjected to non-consensual scientific experimentations of physical and psychological torture IN THIS SHU. I assert that on the watch and with the implicit and explicit approval of Edwin Buss, J. Wynn, J. Basinger, Major Russell, Lt. King, and various food and medical staff, we are subjected, deliberately and without any possible justification, to extraordinarily harsh, or restrictive and potentially harmful conditions of detention, which is causing me considerable physical and psychological pain and suffering. Although the state agents herein and those working in concert will deny it, I believe that certain, as well as our (my) conditions as a whole at the SHU or supermax violates our (my) human, civil and constitutional rights and amounts to torture and crimes of genocide. The violations or ill treatment of those of us housed in the SCU (SHU) include, but are not limited to the following:
The SHU serves no penological purpose or justification. It is a Unit being used by state prison officials and their agents herein for the sole purpose to met out their vengeance against those who they find undesirable and to disable these men through spiritual, psychological and physical breakdown. In carrying out this objective, we are subjected to prolonged and indefinite solitary isolation and sensory deprivation, which is used as a weapon of behavior modification and torture against us.
The conditions that contribute to our abuse are the arbitrary placements and indefinite retentions in solitary confinement without any objective means for release. The decisions as to whether a prisoner is transferred out of SHU rests exclusively on the subjective judgment of staff. Although we have no contact with each other or other human beings (except for the prison guards during escorts), we have been commonly subjected to a practice of routine sexual harassment, dehumanization, humiliation and abuse.
Some SHU guards have singled out selective prisoners, without any reasonable suspicion (belief), to strip stark naked and make them spread their buttocks before they could go to solitary outdoor recreation in the SHU pens. These unreasonable searches have been used as weapons of retaliation, punishment, intimidation and a means of behavior modification against those of us who are followers of the Islamic and Hebrew Israelite faith, and those of us who file complaints or lawsuits.
We are being subjected to secret drugging of our food, forced to drink contaminated water and intentional nutrition and food deprivation tactics as behavior and thought control measures to punish and torture us against our will. As a result of these calculated measures, 90% of us on this unit are suffering from severe weight loss and deteriorated health. I have lost forty pounds.
Because of my many complaints about the tampering of my food by SHU guards, on 11/7/09, one officer was given instructions to single me out for harassment. At supper time this officer was distributing meals when he reached my range (701 A-West SCU) and intentionally left my food tray in the hallway so that other staff could tamper with it. He gave trays to the other prisoners in cells 702-706. I asked officer Mohmed why he didn't give me a tray. He responded, "Your tray is sitting in the hallway. You will get it later." When I received my tray it appeared as if someone had been playing with my bread and cookie. The next day (11/8/09) at breakfast, another officer the same act with my breakfast tray. When I confronted him about it he told me to "Stop crying," and that if I continued to complain I would not get fed.
It is obvious that someone is instructing these guards to nit pick and target me because these crimes of abuse are continuing to escalate. I have filed over 300 complaints since I've been on this unit. Officers Thomas and Mohmed have been among the many staff that I have brought racial harassment complaints, etc., against.
The rampant institutionalized racism, cronyism and nepotism that permeates the hidden confines of this unit has allowed these staff to commit these violations with a license.Our lights in our cells stay on 24 hours a day as a weapon to punish, torture and modify our behavior.
They use the air conditioner and exposure to extreme outdoor weather during the fall and winter months as weapons of torture and behavior modification. We are commonly left shivering in our cells under this refrigeration.
We are experiencing routine reading and searching of our incoming and outgoing legal and personal mail, as well as systematic withholding and rifling of our incoming and outgoing personal and legal mail by staff as a means to inflict sensory deprivation, retaliation and behavior modification. I have not been allowed to write or receive letters from various family and friends on the outside for the past three years. We are not allowed any opportunity to develop social bonds or emotional support structures with our fellow prisoners or our families.
Due to the limited phone access and the draconian practice of video-only visitations, my ability to communicate with my family and friends in the outside world is virtually nonexistent. For the past three years I have been denied all phone calls to my family and friends. Officials here have placed restrictions on all of my phone numbers to prohibit me from calling out to my family.
We do not receive adequate health care. The health care that is provided to us is substandard at best. I am supposed to get a chest x-ray every three years. When I question the medical staff here they claim that they have no knowledge of this information, even though it is reflected in my medical records.
Our access to education, worship (especially those who adhere to non-Christian religions) and vocational training are extremely limited or non-existent. We are denied monthly idle pay. We are frequently subjected to entrapment and petty power plays, verbal harassment and antagonism by guards and staff.
I am not allowed due process of law. I have not been allowed to file grievances on many occasions. When we are allowed to complain nothing is ever done. The grievance procedure here is useless and for most of us has been suspended.
These punitive conditions and allegations of ill treatment herein are not accidents but instead are accepted practices of torture by these state officials who use them to intentionally cause us unnecessary pain and suffering that is geared to ultimately destroy or profoundly disrupt my human capacity, senses or personality. I assert that many aspects of the SHU conditions are tortuous and exceed what is required to meet reasonable security or other penological goals.
By choosing to subject hundreds of SHU prisoners to prolonged periods in extremely harsh and potentially harmful conditions that cannot be justified as reasonably necessary to ensure security or serve the legitimate goals of punishment, the state officials herein have violated the prohibition on cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, non-consensual scientific or medical experimentations contained in the international covenant on political and civil rights, as well as the United Nations' Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. The state of Indiana's commitment under the charter of the United Nations is clearly being violated herein. Article II of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the crime of genocide, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1948, defines genocide as "causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group" or deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part and any intent to destroy in whole or in part a national, ethical, racial or religious group. I feel the U.S. government would certainly recognize these human rights violations herein if these men in SHU were held in any other country. I further assert that people on the outside should demand a full investigation of our conditions of confinement by the U.S. Department of Justice who has jurisdiction in this matter pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. §1997, the Torture Victim Protection Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 241, 242, 1702 and 1708 and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. §2000, sections 2 and 3.
I want to point out to the public that these SHU experiments , involving prolonged or indefinite solitary isolation, psychological and physical torture against us raises serious cultural, legal, political and ethical questions for the same reasons that the human radiation and biochemical experiments conducted on Oregon state prisoners from the 1940s to the 1970s were found to be troublesome. I need the public to urge the U.S. Department of Justice to intervene on my behalf, and also urge Edwin Buss and J. Wynn, of the Indiana Department of Corrections, to transfer me out of this prison to ensure my safety and to ensure that I am no longer retaliated against for speaking out about these hidden crimes.
It must be made clear to IDOC officials that the continued abuse by their SCU (SHU) staff will not be tolerated by the public!
Spread the word .
A-701 SCU (SHU)
P.O. Box 1111
6908 S. Old U.S. Hwy 41
Carlisle, IN 47838