Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Arizona State Prison Complex Eyman SMUI - Federal

Got a keyboard? Help type articles, letters and study group discussions from prisoners. help out is a media institution run by the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons. Here we collect and publicize reports of conditions behind the bars in U.$. prisons. Information about these incidents rarely makes it out of the prison, and when it does it is extremely rare that the reports are taken seriously and published. This historical record is important for documenting patterns of abuse, and also for informing people on the streets about what goes on behind the bars.

We hope this information will inspire people to take action and join the fight against the criminal injustice system. While we may not be able to immediately impact this particular instance of abuse, we can work to fundamentally change the system that permits and perpetuates it. The criminal injustice system is intimately tied up with imperialism, and serves as a tool of social control on the homeland, particularly targeting oppressed nations.

[Control Units] [Abuse] [Mental Health] [Arizona State Prison Complex Eyman SMUI] [Arizona]

Arizona Isolation Unit is State Run Psychological Torture

I'm in the Violent Control Unit (VCU) in Florence, Arizona at ASPC Eyman - SMU I, locked away in deplorable conditions far worse than regular isolation. This unit was customarily reserved for the severely mentally ill or for prisoners with unpopular views. "The unmanageable." The cell fronts are covered with a Plexiglas shield. There is no form of human contact in isolation. No window to the outside world. Recreation consists of four concrete (twenty foot high walls), which begins by being strip searched and then shackles are placed behind our back. Visits are non-contact for two hours that are separated by Plexiglas window, no hole in the middle to speak through or phones only a mesh screen about an inch wide along the edges of the window.

One of the many repressive tactics ADC continues to use against me is deliberately placing me in the treacherous shadows of the severely mentally ill who require serious psychiatric care. Their intended purpose is to cause psychological torture. Each prisoner is placed in direct ear shot of each other in small eight man clusters where the mentally ill bang, scream, cry, mutilate and kill themselves. Paranoia, delusions and homicidal rage begins to consume a person's mind. Prisoners are stripped of all personal property and 24 hour illumination is endless. Stripped of all humanity except the right to remain alive.

During my second day in VCU I was food poisoned by ADC staff. The extended days, freezing nights, constant loud noises, cell walls smeared with feces, tasers, sadistic guards and K-9 dogs during this vicious era provided me with a fierce desire to stand up and speak out against inhumane conditions. I was no longer innocent, yet I discovered a deep-seated purpose to survive. For years ADC denied that such unit existed until a seasoned jailhouse lawyer — Mr. James Skinner — magically appeared and dismantled it by using a 1983 civil rights action in 2007.

I've spent the previous fourteen years of my life in prison learning to read, write, survive and acquire enough legal skills to navigate myself and others through the state and federal court system. Most prisoners in state prison can't afford to hire a lawyer and are usually ill-equipped to enforce their own constitutional rights in court. The systemic deficiencies in our court system is designed to deprive us of the very thing it portrays — justice. It instead serves as a smoke screen to legitimize our mass incarceration epidemic. The hyper-technicalities and court rules makes it virtually impossible to overcome this oppressive scheme. Nonetheless, I've made significant progress in locating the barriers that prevents our voices from being heard and I've articulated a path toward reaching equality, to overcome the impediment that has kept us voiceless and faceless. Solitary confinement either brings out the best or the worse in us.

In 2012, I became involved as a class action representative contesting ADC's unconstitutional practice of housing prisoners with pre-existing mental illnesses in isolation. Despite extensive research from several human right organizations and highly qualified mental health experts into my social history and the psychological effect my confinement has had on me including stipulations between the ACLU and ADC condemning the use of long-term isolation, ADC officials continue to profit from this unpredictable choice of rehabilitation. Holding prisoners in long-term isolation is more than inhumane — it's detrimental to our physical health.

The eighth amendment prohibits the use of chemical agents on prisoners taking psychotropic medication because it effects the bodies ability to regulate heat and greatly increases the risk of heat related illnesses. Yet, ADC continues to use chemical agents against me as a form of a sporting event. My day to day regimen depends largely on the uncertainty of suicide. You slowly lose your grip on your willingness to survive, it's uncontrollable!

Just so we're clear, the law says the punishment for being convicted of a crime is the prison sentence, but the law enforcement community see the prison as a place to inflict terror and abuse upon its prisoners until all hope for humanity is lost. Prison is an unrelenting machine turning societies under-privileged around and around, faster and faster in a vicious cycle of misery, brutality, frame-ups and assassinations. It is well-documented in my institutional file that my name and number have appeared on a multitude of New Mexican Mafia "kill lists." Despite knowledge of this information ADC has knowingly placed me on the same tier with known enemies, I've been involved in multiple stabbings and vicious assaults.

It's clear as day prison only serves as a basis for recidivism and is designed to encourage violence, drug abuse, to disproportionately imprison people from low-income communities and with time has shown the "war on drugs" rhetoric was in fact propagated to thwart the civilization of a less popular class. State law prohibits educational programs for prisoners housed in solitary confinement, transitional programs from solitary to society or from isolation to a less-restrictive environment are crucial in reducing the recidivism rate, yet they're non-existent. Why? We're deprived of our strongest source of liberation. Lawmakers have an inherited process of discrediting and demoralizing the integrity of the elementary rights of prisoners all across the county. The target of this false premise is not only us but the U.S. Constitution itself.

[Control Units] [Abuse] [Arizona State Prison Complex Eyman SMUI] [Arizona] [ULK Issue 15]

Intentional deterioration of mental health in Arizona DOC

I am currently being housed in a maximum facility in the Arizona DOC where I've been confined to a one-man prison cell for over seven years in 23 hour a day solitary confinement. I was sentenced to precisely 156 years for taking up arms against a corrupt judicial system. One of my ultimate goals is to help shed some light on the inhumane environment that those of us in prison are subject to live in "generation after generation." Those of us who speak out against capitalist, imperialistic injustice are kept silent and retaliated against in prisons all across the world. We're kept isolated in boxes about the size of dog kennels for years. Rehabilitation only comes in the form of one's personal dedication of adopting a military mindset and achieving what is essential to keeping oneself afloat and not consumed by the burden of being taken for granted as human beings.

It's very common to become invisible in any society designed to desensitize and demoralize the average person, designed to corrupt and eat away at some of the greatest minds. Inevitably, the mental disease surrounding this establishment consumes the vulnerable-minded completely and has its effects on those stronger and competent minds. No amount of love or money can ever replace one's lost time or sanity. Oddly, some of these same people return back into society with no real plan on how to cope or withstand even the smallest pressures. Sadly, I witness people deteriorate on a daily basis while imprisoned, what could have been a short-term prison sentence often ends up a lifetime scar.

I've always resented the idea of one resorting to drugs as a means to emancipate oneself from the difficulties, but as you can see when dealing with the shamefulness of the imperialist system, I really do understand why my equals would rather be intoxicated than face a reality in which we're born into a cycle of destruction. However, one fact that will never change is that drug abuse only hinders and destroys one's personal experience to grow in strength and wisdom. Our ancestors weren't quitters nor cowards. We're skilled, imaginative, intelligent engineers and ultimately we adjust to our problems to overthrow our challenges. Yet we remain students to our own neglect; show us a meaningful purpose to our civilization and we will keenly follow.

In July 2003, I returned to the Arizona Department of Corrections to spend approximately 156 years behind bars for taking up arms against a corrupt Tuscon Police Department in self-defense. I was immediately placed in Arizona's super-maximum facility (SMU-I,(VCU)). SMU-I is a facility that publicly houses "the worst of the worst" special management prisoners. Prisoners are able to obtain some personal items but conditions in SMU-I are very restrictive and inhumane. I was housed in VCU, which is considered isolation within solitary confinement. Ordinarily, prisoners who are held in VCU are labeled disruptive while housed in SMU-I or have accumulated serious disciplinary violations while in prison. Most prisoners in VCU are labeled disruptive for choosing not to conform to the collective ways of the prisoncrats and in return are retaliated against.

One of the many tactics used by our oppressor is to place us in the tortuous shadows of the severely mentally ill to help break a person's spirit. I was placed in this unit upon my initial intake into the penitentiary, never once expecting for my oppressors to provide me due process before being admitted into this unusual world. During this particular part of my life a lot of soul-searching was done and ultimately strength was gained. These teachings have allowed me to fully comprehend my ancestry's mantra of "what doesn't kill us only makes us stronger." For long periods of time I debated with the idea of suicide. It was at my lowest point in total darkness and hopelessness that my eyes were truly illuminated to the ways of this injustice system. At this point I chose to continue my life, to have life. The nightmares that keep me from advancing forward, I've confronted and compromised with. But as you can imagine, I found myself in a tight spot, being the VCU unit.

I was placed on a gurney while four correctional officers escorted me to my new cell. I was strip searched, placed in extra-tight handcuffs with an additional dog chain that offered my captors an object to manipulate.The officers who were escorting me decided it was essential to assert themselves aggressively. I was pushed face down on the gurney and was advised if I looked sideways or moved even just slightly I'd be pepper-sprayed, tazed and neutralized by the police K9. I knew in the back of my mind this was a familiar tactic embraced internationally by my oppressors so I closed my eyes and kept my mouth shut. It is these types of incidents that inspire me to vigorously overcome fierce adversity. In prison, life goes on but one never gets comfortable with the demeaning environment, the torture, the food poisoning, the searches, the depression, the yells, and the screams. It is what brainwashes us into what we are.

I was wrongfully convicted by a judicial system that clearly favors the police, the state's prosecutor, and biased, corrupt judges. My best friend, my little brother and myself are all sentenced to die in an institution that shows no compassion. This is the same institution that as a child you become so dreadful of as you watch your father travel through the same system. Just when I thought my childhood couldn't become any more tragic, reality set in. The temperatures in solitary confinement have a strong tendency of remaining freezing cold; my captors figure if we stay under our blankets all day, wishing upon falling stars, the odds of becoming productive prisoners will diminish. I say productive in the sense that we as prisoners should take up the obligation of combating what is inhumane within the injustice system. This becomes a lifetime struggle while imprisoned. What actually appears to be meaningless, in the long haul is actually morally fulfilling. Yet challenging! What we consider to be productive, our captors refer to as "disruptive." In the end all we want is equal opportunity.

Many tactics and well practiced strategies are put up like road blocks. This has given our captors an everlasting advantage. One important method of abuse is the placement system. Our captors have the authority to move prisoners at will. The sycophants usually end up in "Disneyland" while the "disruptive" end up in "Alaska". With this tactic our captors maintain control. The majority of prisoners housed in VCU are seriously mentally ill. Banging on cell doors creates insomnia, the lights stay on all the time, and some prisoners become extremely delusional and schizophrenic. Mental illness has a strong desire to befriend the next prisoner's addiction, as if the air was contaminated with dementia. All different types of crazed thoughts are fabricated in these prisoners' minds, where everyone around you acts suspiciously like an assassin. These types of delusions commonly progress and eventually their pressures become too overbearing to hold inside, forcing these prisoners to act out. Prisoners lose their minds and begin mutilating themselves to ease their mental pain. Suicide is still viewed as cowardly, but some are too overwhelmed to escape its treacherous snares.

The main instigators are often the ones who are employed to implement corrections. They introduce this type of behavior to intensify the mental strain, giving the vulnerable a reason to simply attend to their anger, frustration and pain. Sometimes they even use seduction as a defense mechanism or to infiltrate the lumpen organizations to create conflict. This misconduct usually creates disagreements, cell extractions and the like. I myself have continuously remained in long-term isolation. No effective adjustment programs have ever been offered to us in this Arizona maximum facility, so obviously this type of behavior continues to worsen. The truth is solitary confinement is creating its own demise. Since I have been in isolation, the VCU ward I spoke of has been deemed unconstitutional by the higher courts and has publicly been shut down.

I am grieving the techniques implemented by the Arizona Department of Corrections in regards to long-term isolation without adequate recourse for mental health treatment. It is detrimental to one's comprehensive health and in due time deteriorates one's ability to function as a human. ADOC utilizes a detrimental structure which it abuses in its discretion to maintain order, rather than to address rehabilitation/recidivism concerns. Long-term isolation without adequate and the effective recourse increases the risk for prisoners to develop extensive mental health disorders and physical health problems as well. This also recruits and increases additional mental health cases for those prisoners isolated amongst the severely mentally ill population for long periods of time. ADOC has neglected to provide adequate mental health services in their maximum custody facilities. What this atrocity does to the environment is create a breeding ground for psychosis. ADOC has strongly neglected to conform its system to reduce recidivism and in fact has demonstrated through their actions, a crime against humanity by converting prisoners into mental health patients, consciously capitalizing on prison enterprise by neglecting to provide adequate recourse for their maximum facilities. This makes prisoners worse off than when we initially arrived, creating a more fortified cycle of sociopaths. This is a logical fact and is very inhumane. Without the adequate learning tools this process is going to keep creating insanity.

Also see An Alternative to the SHU
and U.S. Prisons Prove Maddening

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