Mental Health Programs Just Expanded SHU
UPDATE: On 9/17/2009 the comrade who wrote this letter was killed in Attica Correctional Facility
I commend MIM and Reel Soldier for the successful release of Unlock the Box. You comrades are relentless in the struggle.
For well over a decade now, the NYSDOCS (New York State Department Of Correctional Services) has been developing housing units and programs to confine mentally ill prisoners who are serving penalty terms in the SHU (Special Housing Unit). These programs/units were created and developed to counter a lawsuit (Disability Advocates, Inc. v. OMH) against the NYSDOCS declaring the confinement of mentally ill prisoners in SHUs to be cruel and unusual punishment. The law firms who brought forth the suit have accepted these programs and subsequent legislation as part of an "out-of-court" settlement (take not that the mentally ill prisoners within the NYSDOCS were not given any consideration in the matter of the settlement, as they were never consulted as to whether they agreed to the terms themselves).
Simply put, units such as the GTP (Group Therapy Program), BHU Phase One (Behavioral Health Unit), and the STP (Special Treatment Program) amount to no more than glorified Special Housing Units (SHUs). They are being used arbitrarily as warehouses for prisoners whom they (the NYSDOCS) wish to keep locked down but must "accommodate" due to the settlement agreement and new legislation.
I have been confined to such programs since late May of 2005 (due to diagnosis of PTSD and Antisocial Personality Disorder). These programs have proven generally to be anything but therapeutic, primarily because they are only slightly modified SHUs structurally and are subject to the automatic efforts of security and administrative staff to assert control over prisoners/patients during the therapeutic process. Much of the "programming" (especially Dr. S. Samenow's "Commitment to Change" video series) is blatant brainwashing administered to induce total subservience to prison and state authority.
What is most disheartening is the vanishing of the general political consciousness of prisoners in the NYS prison system, that was given birth during the 1960s & 1970s. How many prisoners are even aware of the history of the Black Panthers, or that ideologically they were Maoists?