Pennsylvania Prisoners Petition to End Torture and Abuse
MIM(Prisons) received this petition from one of our readers. We print it here in full because it does a good job exposing the neglect and abuse at SCI Albion. We do sometimes engage in petitioning government officials for reforms in prison, though petitions with such a broad scope of abuses do not have a history of success. Nonetheless, campaigns such as this one are important educational tools and we hope this one inspires activists to get involved in fighting the criminal injustice system in Pennsylvania. Our one point of disagreement is with the introductory quote from the Anarchist organizer Anthony Rayson: as we have repeatedly demonstrated, prisons are not "for-profit" and in fact take a big loss subsidized by the U.$. government.
A Call to End Oppression: United We Stand
"Prisons aren't about crime control, they're about for-profit repression. In fact they are a huge, government-run, criminal enterprise wildly profitable, & completely paid for by ripped-off taxpayers." - Anthony Rayson
The State Correctional Institution Albion in Western Pennsylvania, is a notorious prison for frequent abuse & torture of prisoners, some are held years in solitary confinement without any chance to see daylight, medical negligence has led to the suffering and death of thousands of prisoners. Lack of adequate mental health care has driven many to commit suicide. The taxpayer's money is being used to prop up an untamed beast that only the people of Pennsylvania can stop.
We ask that you support the struggle for humane conditions and rehabilitation by signing the attached petition, copying it, and mail it to the listed officials, or sacrifice a few minutes of your time by calling the officials and stating the demands/issues in the petition.
Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W.
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Secretary of Corrections
John E. Wetzel
1920 Technology Parkway
Mechanicsburg, PA 17050
Senator Ronald Waters
6027 Ludlow St - Unit A
Philadelphia, PA 19112
Senator Shirley Kitchen
1701 W. Lehigh Ave, Suite 107
Philadelphia, PA 19132
Senator Le Anna Washington
1555-A Wadsworth Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19150
Governor Tom Corbett
225 Capitol Bldg
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Public Complaint & Petition
To: U.S. Department of Justice
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett
Pennsylvania State Senators
Secretary of Corrections John E. Wetzel
Re: Stop prisoner abuse - inadequate medical/mental health treatment & care - real rehabilitation
This petition comes pursuant to and in full compliance with the First Amendment of the U.S. constitution and Pennsylvania Constitution Article 1 Section 20; the people have the authority to petition government officials and to redress of grievances.
Inadequate Mental Health Treatment
SCI Albion officials are not providing adequate mental health treatment to mentally ill prisoners that are warehoused in the Restricted Housing Unit (RHU) (Solitary Confinement) that exacerbates their mental deterioration (i.e. cutting/self-mutilation, suicides attempts, smearing/throwing of fecal matter & bodily waste, etc.)
Mary Beth Anderson, an unlicensed psychologist assigned to the RHU to provide and assist prisoners with psycho-therapy, fails to comply with the PDOC policy DC-Adm. 6.5.1 that states: "Psychologist is to visit the RHU 5 days a week and evaluate each inmate in the RHU every 30 days," Ms. Anderson clearly acts hostile to, and in an unethical manner towards prisoners under her care who have sought assistance. Two such prisoners under Mary Beth Anderson's personal responsibility committed suicide, Stoney Schaefer on October 25, 2012, and Harry Cooper on December 9, 2012. Prisoners continue to deteriorate detrimentally in the RHU due to the lack of treatment, with no apparent signs of improvement.
Dr. Steven Reilly, (LMP), is the supervisor of all the (so-called) "unlicensed psychologists" at SCI Albion, who allegedly has been known to manipulate a prisoner's diagnoses, and also dictates to the institution's psychiatrist Dr. Gottsman how to prescribe to the prisoner(s), even when it doesn't conform correctly to a mental disorder; a review of a prisoner's dispensed "psychotropic" medication(s) and their joint-diagnoses will bear this out as occurring.
He also allows the (so-called) "unlicensed psychologist" staff to neglect prisoners who seek help. Two cases in point were of James Whitman who committed suicide September 22, 2013, and a prisoner named Myers who set fire to his cell on the Special Needs Unit (housing unit for mentally ill) October 9, 2013, in an apparent attempted suicide as a result of being denied the treatment that's offered by the department.
Officials at SCI Albion house prisoners who attempt suicide in a Psychological Observation Cell (POC) these cells are designed as torture chambers where prisoners arey confined 24 hours a day with no counseling or therapy, the lights stay on round the clock, and they are forced to wear only a smock (cloth dress mode). These torture chambers only intensify their psychoses that only make them worse upon their return to general population, causing them to receive misconducts and then warehousing them in RHU (Solitary Confinement).
According to the Department of Correction's policy "All Correctional Officers shall receive an annual psychological evaluation," yet SCI Albion officers completely ignore this policy, guards at SCI Albion have not had their psychological evaluations done in years, for some decades, the resulting neglect ramps up the intensity leading to abuse and guards assaulted. The psychological evaluation is also necessary for guards who are active in the military that go to war and return to work with prisoners seething with a combat mentality. Data collected by the International Academy of Suicide Research indicate that prison guard's suicide rates are 39% higher than similar averages for other jobs. If proper psychological evaluations are carried out, it may prevent suicides of guards.
Inadequate Medical Treatment
Prisoners at SCI Albion are being denied proper health care. Prisoners held in the RHU (Solitary Confinement) that send in a request for medical treatment (sick call) get a physician's assistant at their door who attempts to diagnose them based on a brief conversation. Because of this, most prisoners are misdiagnosed, thus violating federal law (Privacy Act), by openly allowing prisoners' medical information disclosed within earshot to everyone on the "pod" (including prisoners).
Many prisoners who request medical treatment in general population and go to see the doctor or physician assistant, are often told to come back or are briefly seen and misdiagnosed. Derrick Jones, a former SCI Albion prisoner won a $312,000 lawsuit for medical negligence at the prison due to a misdiagnosis of a broken ankle as a sprain and inadequate treatment.
Many prisoners with serious medical conditions remain in general population in unsanitary conditions (housing) where they spread their diseases to other prisoners. Prisoners who are on the verge of their demise get housed in the infirmary where they are met with hostile nurses who don't have much regard for life. Dennis Austin died at the infirmary with bed-sores that were grossly infected, confirming a clear disregard for life even at the infirmary. Prisoners continue to die/suffer to death due to lack of adequate care.
No Access to Courts
Valarie C. Kusiak (CCPM) and acting Deputy Melinda Adams are both in charge of the law library at SCI Albion where prisoners' access to the courts and law library are denied. The law library sessions mostly are canceled with no make-up dates; also prisoners are allowed only one 30 minute slot per week access which hinders their research abilities to type up documents and make copies. Also, Ms. Kusiak and Ms. Adams took all the law books out of the law library denying prisoners vital information needed for research. In times of court deadlines, prisoners are not granted extra time to prepare documents and are denied the means to make copies, often leading to losing appeals.
Prisoners at SCI Albion are given unhealthy food. The food served to prisoners is uncooked, and the meat is old and freezer burnt. Vegetables and fruit are rotten; milk is 3 days past its sell-by date that most prisoners throw away. Prisoners are getting sick due to these unhealthy food diets.
Inhumane Working Conditions
Prisoners at SCI Albion who are assigned jobs work without proper safety gear to protect them against many dangers. Prisoners working as plumbers do not wear any suits to protect their skin from exposure to the dirty pipes and water that carries Hepatitis C, HIV-Aids, and other viruses from others' body waste that they can be infected by due to a lack of appropriate safety gear. Painters that have to stand on ladders to paint do not have hard hats or eyewear that can protect them from a fall, or paint going in the eyes causing damage to sight. Warehouse workers do not have any hard hats, gloves, eyewear, or safety belt that puts them in great danger. Work related injuries happen quite frequently as a direct result of non-safe standards; also there are other various jobs without any safety measures.
Inadequate Programming & Education
Programs being offered to prisoners at SCI Albion have proven to be ineffective to a prisoners' rehabilitation. Prisoners are lectured in groups (i.e. Violence Prevention, A.O.D., Thinking for a Change, etc.) by coordinators who read from books and do not engage prisoners in critical thinking necessary for rehabilitation, also they allow prisoners to just sit around and talk amongst themselves, when they don't feel like reading and dismiss the group early; this happens a lot. Valarie C. Kusiak and Melinda Adams, who are in charge of programming, do not investigate the efficiency of the groups or prisoners' complaints that the groups are not beneficial.
There are no vocational programs/courses offered for prisoners that coincide with or compliment outside job market trends for ex-felon hiring's at sectors with available openings, leaving an unprepared prisoner upon release to continue a former life of crime that's due to the lack of proper occupational/preparatory instruction. SCI Albion has a 3-in-4 prisoner recidivism rate within a years' time.