Saturday, December 10, 2005

Medical Abuse Death Sentence in Prison

We may be the most powerful and richest country in the world, but we’re surely not the kindest, or most humane. No matter how many times we speak out against the atrocities of other countries, when we allow it in our own, we are not a decent humane country, nor one that makes us proud. The proof of that is shown every single day in a prison or jail near you. The proof of that is when the wardens turn deaf ears to the cries of the wounded, raped and beaten inmates. The proof of that is when medical personnel stands by and watches a prisoner gasp for breath and turn their backs to walk away and the proof of that is when Governors of the states let these atrocities happen in their prisons without a word. That’s the America I know.

President Bush urged Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to make sure that any guilty U.S. soldiers be punished for "shameful and appalling acts." It’s too bad that Mr. Bush or Donald Rumsfeld don’t feel the same need to punish those guards who do the same in America.

The people of the US did not authorize torture of Iraqui prisoners directly, but in turning a blind eye we are condoning terrorist acts by our government since these acts are done in the name of the People of the United States, said Candyce Hawk, Workers Federation. “The government's response to these proven acts of torture in Iraq is to bust a couple of non-coms and take them to trial. This is unacceptable because anyone paying attention can readily see that this torture was commanded and authorized by the brass. Torture, murder, and terrorism in American prisons is worse and these problems are more widespread than the torture exposed in prisons in Iraq. Our society assuages its own conscience by reasoning that prison inmates deserve whatever happens to them. How do we come to that reasoning? The same way we come to the reasoning that Iraqi prisoners deserve whatever happens to them; Iraqis have been systematically villainized by the U.S. government.”

”A person in an American prison who has broken a law is punished by removal from society and incarcerated, she continues. “A judge hands down a sentence authorized by law to punish this person. In no sentence handed down in the U.S. do the words "torture and terrorize" appear as punishment for a crime. Yet torture and terrorize are part of almost every prison sentence in this country. The United States Constitution guarantees that every citizen be free from "cruel and unusual punishment." America was defined by these principles delineated in the Constitution. Yet these principles are violated in American prisons consistently while American citizens refuse to take the duty and responsibility, that every citizen has, to ensure that our principles are followed by all citizens. If we, as citizens, refuse to demand humane treatment for all people, we are a society without foundation, a society without a conscience, and a society in its death throes.”

But perhaps it’s because no one cares what happens in our prisons. That’s why not much is ever printed in the daily newspapers about the killings and rapes perpetrated on our prisoners. Not many have the courage to speak out, and when they do, they are silenced. The media lets it happen, our leaders let it happen, and our own people let it happen without a word. As long as it isn’t happening to your family, there’s no need to speak out. That’s why it’s happening every day in the US. Guards know that no one cares about what they do so they are free to commit these crimes.

The Texas prisons are one of the most brutal in the United States, and on October, 1999 a story in the Austin American Statesman detailed how female prisoners in Texas were regularly kept in portable detention cells for hours at a time in summer heat with no water. In fear of more time in the cages, the article explains, "many women submitted sexually to their oppressors and were raped, molested and forced to perform sodomy on their captors."

 
Again, In 1996, a videotape that surfaced that year depicting prison guards brutalizing inmates in the
Brazoria County Detention Center in Angleton, TX. The tape, which was originally shot for use as a training
video, showed riot-clad guards beating prisoners (arrested on drug violations) and forcing them to crawl
while kicking them and poking them with electric prods. Mr. Bush was the Governor of Texas and knew
that prisoner’s attorney Donna Brorby had described Texas super-max prisons as the worst in the country,
where guards reportedly gas prisoners and threw them down on concrete floors while handcuffed.

Horrific abuses, some similar to those revealed in Iraq, regularly
occur in U.S. prisons with little national attention or public outrage.
 
The Jeff Dicks Coalition who was formed after Jeff Dicks, wrongly convicted and sent to Tennessee’s
death row was repeatedly denied medical care until he was killed. After they killed Jeff, I decided to
speak out against the abuses I’ve witnessed over the years, and started the Jeff Dicks Coalition in
my son’s name. I’m appalled that the killing, raping, beatings and tortures that American prisoners
face each day is overlooked and accepted as a natural way of life here in the US of A. We who
demand human rights of other countries sit back and let our own prisoners be abused because they
committed a crime.

Their punishment is loss of freedom and not to be beaten, raped, denied medical
care and killed just because no one seems to care or notice. It hardly raises an eyebrow when the
newspapers report on some of them and surely no one is brought to trial for these deeds and if they are,
they not convicted.

3 Comments:

Blogger conniek said...

hi Shirley - this is a great site - as you know, I am a retired New Jersey trial lawyer - was active in the New Jersey courts for 20+ years, and most of my clients were poor, ill, hard-working, undereducated, and many of them were physically disabled, with many of them suffering from psychiatric disability as well (including depression, anxiety, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc.,).

I only did civil cases - not criminal, as I had gone to criminal court as a law student (on a field trip) and was appalled at the goings-on - corruption so thick you could trip over it. I remember one visit to a local prosecutor's office, with all the junior district attorneys milling around (all male) joking at how they were going to go out and get a confession...with a ball pean hammer!!!
disgusting. and civil court was never better.
my clients, many of them black and hispanic, were treated disgracefully by the Workers Compensation and Social Security judges, and courts, and administrations. Everyone assumed they were looking for "hand-outs" - the facts of their cases be damned.
Walking in the door they were assumed to be not worthy of respect/ not worthy of preferential treatment, and the law firms that stood by them through thick and think were similarly despised. (except of course for the senior partners of these same law firms, all male, all super-rich, and many of them as well not at all interested in their clients as human beings, just as sources of money.)

well, how does this relate? because in criminal court it is even worse. It is assumed that, the law aside, if you are arrested, you are guilty, and should get everything any sadist in ear shot wants to dole out. If you were someone deserving of respect, well, then, you wouldn't have been arrested, now, would you?

and if you have money and powerful friends/connections - well, then - don't worry - you are not going to be treated the way the "ordinary" "fodder" criminals are -

now, I wonder - how does this all come about?

and how come it is so seamless - so hard to notice - until one is ready to notice -

I believe it is because we are, as a society, denied quality education - we are not trained to think for ourselves, we are not trained in logic, we are not educated, so that we can figure out what is going on around us, how the world works, and how we can change ourselves, and our society for the better.

We are, therefore, victims of cunning propaganda, and the systematic infliction of fear upon the populace, so that our ability to think and reason is even more clouded.

so, I say, Enlightened Education is needed more than ever in our society - in our country - in our world.


would love to hear from others.

2:31 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

Hi Shirley,
I've been reading your site this afternoon, I came across it in search of help for my son who is in county jail in the rural town that I live in. I just started receiving mail from him after two month, he has been in RHU for several months. The jail system has punished him for bad behavior ( he has mental illness and was on meds upon going into jail, which were changed at least once, maybe more, and it's alleged that he was denied his meds at times. He also has Hep. C which he is getting no treatment for , and he gets chest pains if over exerted. this is from some time of valve problem,not sure the name) anyway the forms of punishment they've used is inhumane. He somehow got a not written on a napkin in pencil out of the jail, he informed us that he was restrained for 53 hrs, had no mattress or pillow for over 7 weeks and had to sleep on a metal frame which caused bruising of his hips, and back pain. (he is only 22 yrs old) later when an article came out in our local paper about a 19 yr old inmate (who happened to be my neighbor) was restrained and zapped while restrained with a taser gun an "investigation" is on going. this inmate has since been released. I found out from other people that witnessed some of the abuse of my son and another inmate at one point were strapped and handcuffed to their metal bed frames for three days, later that day I found out that another inmate witnessed my son restrained while being verbally teased by guards, and then zapped in the stomach with a taser gun, I heard that he was left for 13 hrs to sit in his own urine and feeces for 13 hrs. I spoke with a lawyer and he helped me to write letters to the warden (the warden would not return our phone calls) telling him that he was vioalating my sons rights. well the day the letters arrived (they were sent certified, had to be signed and dated)the warden gave my son back a pillow and mattress and pencil and paper and allowed him to write. I received a letter from my son today, the warden was back to see him and told him that if he behaves he will give him some visits next week, the warden also said to my son "I know you are probably going to sue me, and you probably have every right to, but I didn't know what else to do.
I have written to the media, aclu, human rights, senators, Pennsylvania Attorney General, U.S. Attorney General, my local paper, and my county commissioners (who i know read my email,because they both sent a read receipt, time stamped back to me)No one responds to me, its like no body cares. I am going to keep fighting for him, because someone will listen eventually. These people that treat our loved one inhumanely in our jails need to be exposed for what they really are. In my opinion the guards and wardens that carry out, allow, or turn a blind eye are just as bad if not worse (because they use their power of authority in a negative way)than the inmates. We pay these jail employees their salaries and all the while they are abusing our loved ones.

1:52 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

Hi Shirley,
I've been reading your site this afternoon, I came across it in search of help for my son who is in county jail in the rural town that I live in. I just started receiving mail from him after two month, he has been in RHU for several months. The jail system has punished him for bad behavior ( he has mental illness and was on meds upon going into jail, which were changed at least once, maybe more, and it's alleged that he was denied his meds at times. He also has Hep. C which he is getting no treatment for , and he gets chest pains if over exerted. this is from some kind of valve problem,not sure the name) anyway the forms of punishment they've used is inhumane. He somehow got a not written on a napkin in pencil out of the jail, he informed us that he was restrained for 53 hrs, had no mattress or pillow for over 7 weeks and had to sleep on a metal frame which caused bruising of his hips, and back pain. (he is only 22 yrs old) later when an article came out in our local paper about a 19 yr old inmate (who happened to be my neighbor) was restrained and zapped while restrained with a taser gun an "investigation" is on going. this inmate has since been released. I found out from other people that witnessed some of the abuse of my son and another inmate at one point were strapped and handcuffed to their metal bed frames for three days, later that day I found out that another inmate witnessed my son restrained while being verbally teased by guards, and then zapped in the stomach with a taser gun, I heard that he was left for 13 hrs to sit in his own urine and feeces for 13 hrs. I spoke with a lawyer and he helped me to write letters to the warden (the warden would not return our phone calls) telling him that he was vioalating my sons rights. well the day the letters arrived (they were sent certified, had to be signed and dated)the warden gave my son back a pillow and mattress and pencil and paper and allowed him to write. I received a letter from my son today, the warden was back to see him and told him that if he behaves he will give him some visits next week, the warden also said to my son "I know you are probably going to sue me, and you probably have every right to, but I didn't know what else to do.
I have written to the media, aclu, human rights, senators, Pennsylvania Attorney General, U.S. Attorney General, my local paper, and my county commissioners (who i know read my email,because they both sent a read receipt, time stamped back to me)No one responds to me, its like no body cares. I am going to keep fighting for him, because someone will listen eventually. These people that treat our loved one inhumanely in our jails need to be exposed for what they really are. In my opinion the guards and wardens that carry out, allow, or turn a blind eye are just as bad if not worse (because they use their power of authority in a negative way)than the inmates. We pay these jail employees their salaries and all the while they are abusing our loved ones.

1:54 PM  

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