I´m writing in regards to Isolation and possible Human Rights violation. Which brings a very strong and enduring question to my mind: Do you consider us Convicts Human? Do you care or just give us an ear – a hollow ear?
I´ve been in and out of the system over ½ my life. I´ve been in the system almost 20 of my 36 years. I was there in the mid-late 80s when child abuse was a plague, not only in Society but within the System. I was there when – as an adult – they threw you in the Den and if / when you stepped out you were the wolf and they stabbed at you with spears of Contempt, Fear, Hate and all-round Disgust that you made it out alive. My whole life I´ve been shit on by Society´s indifference towards a small boy begging your help with a fat lip & black eye and a sister that still has nightmares at the age of 38.
So it was only natural I learned from you. Society that only cares to punish me for the occasional lashing out & taking away the proverbial stick and beating you back with it. Instead of caring enough to see my problems and be civilized with a man that has learned from his isolation, his societal perceived mistakes. Did anyone ask me?
There´s that word again. Ya know even the prisoners at Guantánamo Bay had yard time, cigarettes, coffee, their religion, top notch lawyers. And Society cried out about the abuses so loud the Most Powerful Men among you shut it down. Meanwhile in Your own Country, Your own freedoms are being taken away slowly, one at a time. And still you see us in priso with a Blind Eye, a Judgemental eye that we´re all Animals. But even the Dog you kick every day learns with time. Isolated Time – Time is endless here in 23/1 lockdown. Abuse is an ever present threat. Days turn to years.
I´ve been here in Ely State Prison Nevada for 11 years (12 years soon). I´ve been in isolation 9 of those. But I´ve only had a few months on an open yard. The level system only works for Bootlickers. I´ve done my time and did as they asked and still stayed in the cage. Sure I´ve stumbled now and then. But who among you can cast that stone? I´ve grown up (literally) in the System. I know another life, but it gets further and further away. I don´t cry about it anymore. I´ve thought about my stumbles every day. I´ve seen myself bare and made myself take a look in the mirror. These are only part of how I have grown to a man who knows who he is. Isolation has helped in that. But then that was several years ago. Now I just want some yard.
Isolation detaches you. Everything but “The Man” becomes a detachment – wives – loved ones – your mind – life. This is not like other prisons “hole”. This is a place I´ve known men to come in on a dirty U/A (urine test) from camp with 4-5 points stay for 18 months. A Maximum Security Prison with killers, rapists & yeah a fella on his 3rd DUI!
Or one with Burglary who got in a fight – denied parole and stayed another 5 years, because a cop spit on him & he spit back and was charged with assault & got 3 years more. Your Tax-paying Dollars at work folks.
Isolation does these things. All you see when you look out the window are the guards – who abuse you – threaten you and sometimes whoop your ass with the proverbial stick. Isolation & prison abuse are hand in hand here in Ely. You can do good and there´s no end. There´s no incentive. There´s nothing to work towards. There are 8 units here: one is open… until last month March/April 2010. Now only ½ Unit 8 is open at all time. That´s over 1,000 with their Rights being violated every day. 23/1 lockdown. But this isn´t bad, if they obeyed their own level system and rules. But I´m getting off track.
Isolation does that. Years and years of isolation brings about the same kind of behaviour & thinking only one description can be compared/applied. PTSD. It´s said it takes a man year to year (one year in Prison, one year on the Streets) to readjust to Society when released. For prisoners with 5 or more years of lockdown? Is there even a stat for that? Has anyone ever cared to check? How can I have a job interview when I haven´t had no conversation in 10 years? How am I suppose to react to other convicts (if I am ever on an open yard again), if I´m filled with so much anger from being locked down for so long?
Some of us lose our communication skills, our ability to engage in Human contact. Some have broken minds & spirits. The reward for telling on people is to go to an open yard – what kind of program is that? When a person not telling starts doing good. They come by with that stick – poke – poke – poke. “That´s another 2 years in the Hole for STG – Safety & Security – Pending Investigation.”
All it takes is one of us to mellow out & try to get out of this Prison. But for most like myself with Life… If I tell on people – hurt them – ruin their time – I can go to an open Yard. If not – the warden says I can get a chance when he dies, I die or he retires. I have not had a violent episode in 5 years. A cell extraction because a Rookie tried to yank my arms through the food slot and wrench them up in the air. That´s one of those times I took that stick and poked back.
The wardens say we can get change when we take them to court.
I point out a lot of these side issues because Mental Abuse is more present than any other. I do bad: I get my ass kicked. I do good: I get mind-fucked until I do bad. This is Ely State Prison. A tiny prison built in a valley 5 to 10 miles out of a tiny little town. And every officer that comes through that door is a part of these abuses and this continued Isolation. Because they either participate or look the other way. The ones that take part are encouraged by admin. to make certain inmates’ lives miserable.
One inmate was not fed for 3 days.
One inmate was pissed & spat on, kicked until his balls swelled to twice normal. Broken arm from being wrenched behind with handcuffs on. And left there, in cuffs for two days.
They (the cops) play games like opening the door a crack and letting it slam shut at intervals throughout the night.
Turning on the speaker and tapping or yelling into it all day.
Keeping you in the shower for several hours. They use yard and showers as excuses to threaten retaliation – shakedowns – no water out on Rec. yard (where they leave you for 3-4 hours), clamp down on shackles so you can barely walk. Sharpen the shackles so they cut into the ankle.
They regularly keep mail or give it to known sex offenders.
The nursing staff must know. How can a person plea for medical treatment and be ignored for days or “forever.” I was shot several years ago and had 86 pellet holes. No Aspirin, no Ibuprofen. I still have 22 pellets in me, 18 in my left arm alone.
It comes down to Human Dignity. It comes down to you… Society! I am not an Animal. But if you treat me like one long enough, don’t be surprised when I bite. Isolation for long periods stops being a tool & becomes a weapon. Isn’t my use of weapons what got me here? Yes. Then why is it okay for you to do it? What more do you want from me – you’ve already taken my life of liberty. But never my freedom. Never my self/worth. That you can not have. For if that day comes, Society, then you have truly broke me.
Sent in to us in June of 2010. If you want to do something to make programs, rehabilitation and healing possible, let us know.