Control units used to torture mentally ill prisoners
I received your pamphlet on control units and the introductory letter. I enjoyed it and am in favor of any campaign calling for the abolition of such cruelty and torture as is inflicted by the DOC's control units.
These torture chambers are also used to monitor mentally ill prisoners who are at risk of suicide. They force the man (I don't like to use the term "inmate" if it can be avoided - we're human beings who have worth and value. Words such as "inmate," "offender," and any other titles that have been given to incarcerated individuals are very degrading as they have very negative stigmas attached to them) to strip completely naked and put on a suicide smock, which is basically comparable to wearing a cardboard gown. They do not allow the person any tangible items whatsoever to be in the cell with them - not even a bible or some other book - until a psychiatrist determines that he/she is no longer a danger to hself.
Now, let's think about this: How is somebody going to kill themselves with a book? Now, if one wants to play the "what if" game, they could ask, "what if they got a hold of a hard cover book and bashed their heads in with it until they were dead while the guy who gets paid to sit right outside the cell and watch them through a window 24 hours a day takes his eyes off them for a split second for the purpose of looking at the booger on his finger before flicking it?" (And trust me, this is the kind of ludicrous crap these DOC pigs use to justify some of their absurd policies.) But this problem is very easily solved; don't give them hard cover books! Give them soft-cover books.
Anyway, while in the cell the individual is forced to do 3 strip searches per day per IDOC (Iowa Department of Corrections) policy even though he/she may never have left the cell or even had their cell door opened for any reason. In one particular facility of the IDO , the Mt. Pleasant Correctional Facility, the prison officials won't even allow the mentally ill person to shower, on the grounds that they "might drown themselves." I have personally experienced this kind of humiliating and dehumanizing cruelty as I was placed in a control unit cell when I temporarily lost hope in life and became suicidal. They called it "mental health observation status." (MHO)
MIM(Prisons) responds: As we pointed out in the issue of ULK 15 on Mental Health in prisons, the brutality of prisons causes mental health problems. It's no surprise that prisoners, facing daily humiliation, brutality and oppression, and cut off from family and friends, become depressed and even suicidal. And by keeping these prisoners from access to reading material and subjecting them to strip searches, things can only get worse. Join MIM(Prisons) in organizing against this oppression.