PTSD and Prison

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.


Anonymous said...

While PTSD occurs within the prison population. I would like to point out that there are twicw as many military veterans that serve or have served our country that go untreated. I would like that the expenditure of my tax dollars go to first, the more productive and pro-social of our society.
I have spent 15 years working in mental health in corrections. Most inmates are personality disordered and feel "entitled" to receive better medications, treatment and services than those who actually pay for those services in the public sector. Case in point with the individual that complained that he received second rate medications. Medications, (even if they were newer generation medications)that were he on the street, he would never consider taking at all. Many of our antisocial individuals would never consider taking responsibility and get the therapy and actually going to get his medications on a consistant basis rather than when he felt like it (which is more the case than the senario he provided).

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous
Then maybe you can assist getting funds to your selected other social group by helping prisoners WHO do not need meds to NOT get them administered to them while in YOUR custody. These meds are used more for a chemical restraint, which then creates a "need" and "history" for this selected group. This is part of what facilitates the recidivism. Because these people are then convinced they need meds and they look for relief on the streets. For those prisoners who would have otherwise "on the street, he would never consider taking at all" as you say. Your pen may be mightier than your sword in your profession. Think about it?

Anonymous said...

I am outraged by the mental health professional that posted this post. "I have spent 15 years working in mental health" Then you realize that joining the military is not exactly low risk behavior. You are on here discussing the value of money over those that have been victims of child abuse, sexual abuse, violence, etc. is very sad. Your lack of empathy and understanding is one of the many problems with the prison/legal system.
Let us not forget, people are suppose to be there to be rehabilitated. If a service is offered to inmates, then they are "entitled" to that service.
My family member suffers from PTSD. He is looking at 8 yrs in prison for self medication (drugs). He was repeatedly molested, physically abused, and mentally abused in his own home from the ages of 4-10. His brother, who went through the same trauma, is a Veteran who served in Iraq and an addict. I am hoping that you are out of the mental health profession, completely.
No one is saying that Veterans do not need help. Anyone with a mental illness needs help. Everyone has made mistakes, even you.
I understand that there are many who seem to take advantage of the system. I also understand that there are many that really do need, want, and appreciate the help.
Joshua, Keep your head up. You seem like a very intelligent strong person.

Anonymous said...


I was incarcerated and served 4 years (on an original sentence of 14 years) until I was vindicated with an appeal.

My alleged crime was non-violent and economic. I am a white, well educated male.

We have the best legal system and the best country in the world. One of the reasons we have the best country is because our Constitution builds in change.

And though we have the best legal system, it is far from perfect, in some places barely adequate and in others patently unfair and biased. Our legal system needs change.

IMO, if you are an ethnic male with little education and no access to a competent attorney (and even many "paid" lawyers are barely competent or simply don't care about the people they represent, but rather horse trade them like cattle), your odds of anything resembling justice (meaning a FAIR punishment for a crime) is zero.

I had resources and was convicted and lost 4 years of my life (6 if you include the time I spent in pretrial), my economic wealth, my wife and my place in society.

I saw abuses in the trial courts and in the prison system. And I am not someone who feels entitled. I bootstrapped myself from the time I was a boy.

And instead of simply complaining, I have worked with politicians since my release to try to change things.

But the next time you feel inmates are personality disordered and don't deserve competent, humane care, please quit your state or federally funded cake job, as I believe you are a larger drain on resources than the inmates you allegedly care for.

There is a Hippocratic Oath. And there are the words of my Saviour describing the greatest Commandments: "...The second is like it: Love your neighbor as you love yourself."

Even the neighbors who have sinned (I do every day) and the neighbors who have committed crimes.

Crime should be punished fairly. And remember inmates are sent to prison AS punishment, not FOR more punishment.

They shouldn't be coddled - and in my experience, most do NOT want to be - but they should have access to health care and programs which would lead to rehabilitation.

The PTSD which can result from incarceration (sometimes wrongful, sometimes too long with an unjust punishment, and sometimes from conditions an uncaring employee such as yourself likely perpetuates) is not only dehumanizing, it only hurts society in general.

It should be addressed.

OlympiaAdvocate said...

I live everyday with the results of an absurd prison system. And I have never seen a prison except from the road. But I see the damage that a man who had severe trauma as a youngster, let go unaddressed and esculate to a criminal justice problem. I have to agree with the comments regarding giving the prisoners meds and taking them off. This is like a ticking time bomb. I know from my personal experience with anti-depressents and the 2 long years of withdrawl. To put mentally ill people in isolation and torment them is INHUMANE. And we critize the human rights violations of other countries? Wow do we need to take a look at ourselves.
If the prison system can't provide appropriate health care maybe they should just stay out of that business. Many of these poor souls would be less bad off with less help that makes more long term problems.
And when in this country did the system go from you do your time for your crime and get on with it. Why are all these people persecuted for the REST of their lives? So many are so young when they get in trouble, why does it have to ruin the ENTIRE rest of their lives. NO ONE IS EVER ALLOWED THE SLIGHTEST MISTAKE? without it affecting forever.
This philosphy has sure changed in my life time. And I grew up with an LA cop for an uncle. Even he crazy as he is, didn't believe no one should ever have another chance.
So come on America, WTF are we doing here?
And what can the rest of us do to change this mess. I have a great guy who struggles daily as a result of all this trauma, but he has a soul, a conscience, and love in his heart, as I am pretty sure most(and I am not saying all) of the others being tortured by a sick system do to.

Anonymous said...

For every action there is an equal and or opposite reaction. No one takes time to consider the general nature of the act of incarceration and what significance it holds from ground zero. we live in a society where violence is glorified and all the wrong things are portrayed as right. We live in a world where our heroes are John Gotti and Scarface and yet when we see the results of our various skewed ways of thinking we want to to oust someone and esteem the animals not worthy of coexisting with the good and proper people. We only use them to define who and what our justice system is or isn't and I have not seen the righteousness of the court nor the honor or wisdom in decision that differentiates the letter from the spirit of the law defined for the benefit of the people in a land where justice is supposed be an inalienable right thus calling for sound and blind justice in America. A society is not defined by its socialites. It is defined by its sociopaths. Prison is the rod by which this country will ultimately be measured. Just as white blood was shed in the civil war and where brother fought brother for the rectification of the atrocities that the white race committed upon the black race so will this nation be called to account for all of the innocent blood shed and lives lost to this corrupt system. The minority population in prison is not a coincidence. It is and has been a plan for ages. Justice is not blind she just sees in black and white while our real life problems are played out in 10-80i HD. Justice does, however, see many shades of green. I am both a Marine and an ex-con and I know full well the extent of PTSD from both points of view. I served in Somalia and in Iraq. I also served time in Folsom and Corcoran State Prisons. Neither experience should be lessened. They both have significant trauma on the human psyche but, I would honestly have to say that prison weighs much heavier than the grenades. The slamming of the cell doors were much louder than any IED i ever heard. The prison guards were as cruel or more so than any guard in any POW camp. In war the bombs and gunshots can actually mean silence and peace in death. All prison offers is redundancy and repetition, hence, insanity because insanity is 3 parts repetition and one part hope. Hope kills in prison. In war... it gives you the need and drive to kill or be killed which will eventually lead you home. In prison there is no hope. there is only darkness, death and the dreaded sunrise that means absolutely nothing. In war your enemies are non-persons. In Prison they are the man you sleep and eat with. in war there is intelligence and the ability to defend your position. In prison there is no intelligence and no position to defend. you are walking dead. Some people, I admit, belong there. But, we are not in a place mentally or spiritually to be able to judge impartially so... why is it that we assume and give our assumptions so much creedence when it comes to the judgment of those who step outside of our societal norms which are not really boundaries but gray areas and depending on your bank account, the color of your skin, whose child you are or what movie you played in the amount of leeway given to u will vary. Everyone is "ENTITLED" to humanity not just the ones who are deemed worthy by Kim Kardashian, Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama.