Even with my release date approaching, the spread of COVID-19 in prisons means that there remains the very real possibility that not only myself, but many others may not make it out of here alive.
The outside public may raise an eyebrow at this statement, and to an extent I understand why. Their reaction might be, ‘Do the crime, do the time – along with everything that comes with it.’ Granted, prison isn’t intended to be a steel and concrete paradise. From the moment you wake up to the time you close your eyes you can expect to be perpetually stressed, depressed, anxious, isolated – a whole range of negative emotions. But does that mean that we should be subject to a form of roulette that could be tantamount to a death sentence?
Most casual readers of articles concerning incarceration in the U.S. are aware that there is an overcrowding issue in their jails and prisons. The facility where I am housed is no exception. FCI Petersburg Medium has a population of 1,500 spread among three buildings containing twelve housing units of 120 men each. We are housed two, sometimes four to a cell about the size of a handicapped parking space, with a toilet and a sink thrown in. Remaining socially distant is out of the question. Despite the feeling of sitting on a powder keg, prison strangely felt like a sort of protective bubble from the effects of the pandemic raging unchecked on the outside. I never would have perceived it in that manner before.
In mid-September 2020, the first cases were reported in the building furthest from ours. There was a heightened tension in knowing it had finally arrived, yet it was still this nebulous thing that felt like a problem of the outside world. The outer defenses had been breached, but some of us are still safe. We wonder at the fate of the others – who has it? How many? Did they recover or not? Official answers are few, and it seems deliberately so. They do not want to create a panic, so rumors abound.
We immediately enter into a lockdown period, meaning complete cell confinement save for a ten-minute shower three times a week. This experience is psychologically taxing, however it is a reasonable precaution. I am struck by the fact that during this period, none of us are tested for symptoms despite a memo proclaiming daily testing. This is a disaster in the making, but with protocol typically disregarded by staff in day-to-day operations, it does not come as much of a surprise. After fifteen days, we are allowed a degree of freedom once more, to collect our meals, to venture outside … with a sense of foreboding. I found myself wondering, ‘is it too soon?’
Eight days later, on the 6th of October, more cases were reported, this time in the building next to ours. Still a separate place, but nearer now. The feeling it evokes could be compared to hiding from someone with no possibility of escape, and being able to hear each footfall resonating ever louder as they close in… it is unnerving. The protective bubble has turned into its opposite, and we are trapped. We are immediately placed back on lockdown. I didn’t have a chance to let anyone know why I won’t be calling anymore, so I hope they will infer the reason why and not be overly alarmed. Thoughts such as ‘Am I still being thought of? Do they care?’ become amplified, as anyone who has experienced being alone with your thoughts in isolation knows it can be challenging at times. I begin mentally preparing for the days ahead. I look forward to any word from the outside.
Twenty days in, and suddenly, voices emanate from the ventilation system: In the unit above ours, we are informed that someone is showing symptoms. It is here. They have moved the affected person to a separate cell for monitoring, but it is still in the same unit. We all continue to breathe in and share the same recycled air. Is there nothing else that can be done? There is less talking now. My cellmate and I cover up the vent as a precaution, but it does not block out the sound of muffled coughing that has now begun in earnest somewhere above us. I don’t know what will come next, but I’ve prepared for all eventualities.
As Revolutionaries and Communists, we must organize and agitate our fellow captives to demand that our health, safety and human rights be respected by the prison and medical staff. A tall order, knowing that our oppressors are here merely to collect a paycheck and the additional hazard pay that has undoubtedly accompanied these lockdown measures, but a just fight during these trying times.
At the moment, during this pandemic and major outbreak inside prisons, CDCR has decided that it is best to shuffle/transfer prisoners like never before in prison history. There are transfers going on, on a major scale, daily. The administration sent out a memo and order to open up a ‘quarantine’ block in every prison across California designated for people coming in from and going to another prison –- we are being quarantined for fourteen days on our way in and out, at every stop.
Before, if you’d asked any prisoner in California if they ever got transferred out a prison they didn’t wanna be in or got transferred due to their custody points level dropping (therefore belonging to a lower/higher security yard) they would answer ‘fuck no’!!! People would be stuck in a Level 4 yard (high security) while being Level 3 (lower security) eligible for up to years at a time – or at the very least, six months. And now, at this precise moment and time of outbreak and pandemic, CDCR decides to look at each case factor and execute transfers according to their ‘code.’ People are coming in and out of every prison in California to these designated ‘quarantine blocks.’ For the first time ever, Level 1, 2, 3 and 4 are meeting up in these blocks, meeting up from all prisons and transferring out to all prisons. It would be irresponsible to think that this is not an operation by the system with the intent and agenda to exterminate its population.
On paper, the administration is making it look good by conducting and documenting daily medical and temperature checks for the two weeks of quarantine, and doing two COVID-19 swab tests before allowing prisoners on a transportation bus… but what CDCR is not telling the public is that if one refuses to take a temperature check and refuses to take the COVID-19 swab test, you will still be transferred, still get on the bus, still spread whatever you have around, still use the same showers, phone, water fountain, and be allowed to roam around!!! Yes, the ones that refuse do not leave on the 14th day mark, instead they’re documented as not transferring due to their refusal, etc. But CDCR still transfers them after an additional week of being on ‘quarantine.’ In the fifteen years I’ve been captive, never have I ever seen so many transfers myself –- nor seen the prison system shuffled up in this manner where we have about 10-15 prisons in one ‘block.’ We got people from Chino, Folsom, Lancaster, Jamestown, Corcoran, Salinas, Delano, San Quentin, Calipatria, the Bay, Solano, High Desert, all coming in four times a week on a consistent basis, and we are all confined in these newly implemented ‘quarantine blocks.’ How’s this for fighting COVID-19?
One would be ignorant not to see what these suits and ties at the table are putting in motion here. I’ve been doing my research and talking to people as they come from all these prisons they are coming from and it is amazing to hear how correctional officers and wardens are bouncing people around within the prison itself before shipping them out, how the administration gave out orders to correctional officers to do this, do that, try this under the ruse of combating COVID-19 while putting prisoners in harm’s way via reckless transfers. The stories are lengthy and too many to describe, but I will do so in a future piece and with proper equipment. For now, I’ll just use my case and experience as a small window to provide insight to the public about what the system is doing and to expose their agenda.
First off, I am a radikal intellectual, politikal prisoner, activist, abolitionist, revolutionary, Sureno artist, who has been targeted by the system throughout the years and well-documented. I was housed at New Folsom for three years before the pandemic kicked off and I went under quarantine. I had just got out the hole because the administration attempted to blame and charge me for an attempted murder that I had no knowledge of. I was back on the main line after the long battle of the torture and mental stress of being in the hole, then out of nowhere, the administration kidnaps me once again and I’m placed under another ‘investigation.’ They refused me my due process of signing a liability chrono to go back to the yard, and instead stuffed me in the hole again.
Then, as COVID-19 begins to worsen inside the prison, the administration puts me on a bus … I end up in Lancaster … I’m there for two weeks, then they let me run around the prison for one full day just to come back to my living quarters to be informed that I’m gonna be transferred again!!! I’m like, what the fuck is going on here? I’m telling the counselor, captain, committee, that what they are doing is wrong and how they putting me and everyone else at greater risk of getting sick by doing this. They told me that is not them, its the federal courts who ordered this!! I’m trying to tell them about all they’re doing wrong and how I just got to that prison two weeks prior that, etc. … nope, nothing, on another bus!! Now I get to Calipatria and I come to find out that everyone around me is experiencing the same thing! I was already in a yard of my ‘custody level’ so why continue to shuffle people like there’s no tomorrow? It is clear to see what’s happening here. If there’s a way I can file a lawsuit or join one already taking place I would like to do that. If not, well fuck it, its still fuck CDCR on mine!! Nothing about what this system is attempting to do is towards a healthy California – the only ones making sure we maintain a healthy structure is the prisoners ourselves and our loved ones. The agenda of the system is still more boxes and forms of genocide, war, population control.
On 15 June 2020, swab tests for COVID-19 were performed outside East Block on what is called G yard. Donner’s 1st tier and 2nd tier (now occupied by a group of grade B condemned prisoners from the AC which is being used as a quarantine unit) are now waiting to see who got infected by the disrespectful sows too righteous in their own eyes to cover their snouts.
Since 29 May 2020 forward, less and less care is being seen. Trays went from having no lids to being paper without much if anything protecting them from any number of pathogens during food seizure.
On the morning of 15 June 2020 and throughout early afternoon, locking cuff ports were installed on holding cages. When asked why no plexiglass partitions were installed (because the cages are literally only separated by the grated walls they’re made of) the installer’s response was “they’re doing a lot of stupid things right now.” That rings truer than wanted.
New rules implemented 1 June 2020 got rid of CDCR 22 forms. The purpose of such forms was, according to DOM54.090.1 policy, to document communication between staff and inmates. By getting rid of a way to document communication between staff and inmates it opens up a trap door for things like grievances to fall through. It also shuts down any prisoner’s attempt to resolve problems in a timely manner that could and now will spin out into oblivion. Of course, CDCR must have another purpose for invoking “emergency regulations” as regards the appeals process (see 15 CCR 3084-3086 on http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/regulations/adult_operations). But CDCR hasn’t said what the emergency is concerning appeals and/or CDCR 22 forms. Why not emergency enforcement of 15 CCR 3052(e)(f)? Why not emergency training for disrespectful sows that don’t tuck their snouts into their masks?
On 16 June 2020 Donner condemned is allowed yard with 1/2 of East Block (one day after testing and before results). It turns out EB is getting fed with normal trays that have lids. When confronted, staff explained that it’s because the kitchen doesn’t want to chance spreading COVID-19. Nobody in Donner has tested positive, but 2 prisoners with “symptoms” were moved to the AC. Even still, how does serving food uncovered on a paper tray stop the spread of anything? The bullshit thickens.
On 22 June 2020, ABC News at 5 did a story called “Outbreak at San Quentin”. It did have snippets of testimony and video footage but it was edited to be misleading. It casts CDCR as being proactive and without cases until a transfer of inmates from Chino. Not only is that bullshit, it explains nothing about how death row prisoners became infected having no contact with those Chino prisoners. As of 15 June 2020, at least 30 of the other 300 reported infected prisoners at San Quentin are death row prisoners currently warehoused in Donner Section.
The virus will continue to spread out of control because of staff’s extreme lack of care expressed by their actions and/or reckless disregard for the health & safety of both themselves and others.
Today (23 June 2020) two of the disrespectful sows assigned to Donner RC (Busseman and Peters) began their daily asinine antics by first prepping the RC prisoner food without face coverings. Later, the same two handled the 5th tier’s canteen without face coverings or gloves. Then they handed it to each of the intended recipients. Prisoners continue to be put at risk when exposure is available. This outbreak springs from an extreme lack of care NOT Chino.
According to the news ticker going across the bottom of the TV screen, KPIX 5 reports over 160 death row prisoners have tested positive for COVID-19 (as of 26 June 2020). More than 1/4 of all DR prisoners! In addition to not wearing their masks properly or not at all, the disrespectful sows assigned to Donner continue to follow orders to do other really stupid things which facilitate the spread of the virus. Death row prisoners warehoused in Donner take showers in cages with no way to be more than 3’ from the prisoner in the cage next to them. Here’s another example of stupid from the guy who built them. When drunkard Ron Denis was warden at S.Q. he decided to prohibit prisoners from using the yard showers. Rumor has it that the decision was in response to female employees complaining about seeing naked men. A stenciled sign was also posted on each yard prohibiting “bathing”. That reactionary mole only detracts from what would be an available option. Death row prisoners have been denied yard for 12 days as of 28 June 2020. However, a continuing lack of care blinds the S.Q. administration’s ability to see and implement common sense solutions. The present plan seems to be keep everyone locked in the units (health professions warned have such poor ventilation) until all prisoners are eventually exposed to a lethal dose of bullshit. Appeal #SQ-A-20-01123 recently submitted 29 March 2020 was due 29 June 2020 but continues to be ignored despite the issues cited therein being major contributing factors to the spread of COVID-19.
According to KPIX News (30 June 2020) a 71-year-old man on the row died in his cell last week from COVID-19. CDCR is now assigning blame to outside hospitals to further bury the fact its own employees NOT wearing face coverings correctly or not at all are willing accessories.
The same report mentions 40 prisoners have been transferred to an outside hospital due to COVID. Stepping up enforcement of Newsom’s mask mandate has been and remains a joke as “essential employees” such as Busseman, Peters, Alwhart, Costa and others “on assignment” for now or who returned after being infected themselves remain a vector refusing to properly wear or wear a face covering at all. Unfortunately, it is that same selfish attitude that has led to the sharp spike in this whole state - this whole country. According to every employee asked who returned after a bout with the virus, S.Q. is NOT testing for the virus prior to their return. These employees explained all S.Q. did was basic symptom checks without any requirement to actually test negative for COVID-19.
Now that CDCR says all its employees at S.Q. have been tested it seems as if quite a few of those employees think a negative test means you’ll never get COVID-19. But they could now get it (or give it) walking into any cell block. Here’s another illustration to help make this point more clear: on 15 June 2020 all death row prisoners being warehoused in Donner Section were swab tested for COVID-19. Those who tested positive could have been infected 2 weeks or more before the test was done - BEFORE the transfer of prisoners from Chino even arrived. Those who tested negative could have been infected while en route back to their cell under “hands on escort” AFTER being tested.
On 1 July 2020 Gov. Newsom said nothing about the skyrocketing cases of COVID-19 at S.Q. “Technical difficulties” prevented any questions from the media. The Gov. went on about contact tracing for a moment but the narrative surrounding the cause of the outbreak here remains fictionalized in the mainstream version of events.
On the same day, later that evening it was put out on the wire that another death row prisoner died. From what remains undisclosed at this time. Can Gov. Newsom put a moratorium on the Pestilence Pilot Program?
a CMF prisoner: From California Medical Facility (CMF) at Vacaville, CA, where we have no program.
So like so many Californians I watched the governor’s speech. Sitting in my 8x10 cell I watched yesterday as Governor Newsom spoke on the impact of COVID-19. The spiking of coronavirus in our state and the prison outbreak in California.
He spoke about coming out to Vacaville the day before to oversee the building of a tent city out on the yard. His project is meant to reduce the population of San Quentin State Prison due to out break of coronavirus and all the deaths there by moving them out. Implying the truth with out coming straight out and saying it, that they would move them here. Thereby, jeopardizing an already medically fragile community housed here at CMF, which is in fact a hospital. Most of us here are 55+ years of age with medical issues, many of which are the underlying medical conditions we hear them referring to all the time when discussing the COVID-19 pandemic. I wonder, is this the Governor’s plan to reduce the population of CDCR?
But reducing the population of CDCR by means of population control by euthanization through coronavirus?
They are expecting the virus to spread like wild fire here, now like it did at San Quentin. Even more so because of the medically fragile population here.
But when it does, don’t believe the lies and fairy tales that CDCR will put out on it, and Governor Newsom stories of caring about incarcerated populations. Because his actions prove otherwise.
MIM(Prisons) adds: One persyn recently told eir story of being released from San Quentin prison and dropped off at the San Rafael transit center, as is standard practice. After riding a bus to San Francisco, this persyn got off the bus with flu-like symptoms and passed out on a bench. Ey tested positive for COVID-19 immediately after release.(Snap Judgement on National Public Radio, 25 July 2020)
California, which began the pandemic as the good example in the United $tates, is quickly going downhill as capitalism demands business opens up to “keep the economy going.” Meanwhile, the San Quentin humanitarian disaster is an embarrassment for the CDCR across the country and in the global news. Yet, the staff still seem proud to violate safety procedures and endanger the people around them.
The sickness that is spreading throughout the population of the United $tates that is due to the COVID-19 virus is just a symptom of a deeper sickness that is the individualism and cruel sadism that has allowed the virus to spread so much more in this country than in others. It is no coincidence that this cowboy, settler, #1 imperialist country in the world sees itself as superior and invincible and enjoys inflicting suffering on others. These characteristics are required to keep imperialism going. Yet, this pandemic is an example of how these characteristics will be part of this empire’s undoing. They are intentionally spreading a disease among their own people, even as the oppressed and the imprisoned suffer disproportionately from their behavior. Recent events have only strengthened the oppressed peoples’ cries for organized resistance that serves humyn need. It is in these conditions that real leaders and servants of the people must act to bring us to a new stage of history.
Greetings, I am writing in hopes you may be able to help and/or advise me. It is my intention to file suit against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) director and employees concerning TDCJ failure to address grievance issues such as:
Denial of insulin to insulin dependent diabetic
Transport Officer Mr. Ballew stated in the court hearing on 30 January 2019 that I must provide my own insulin during transport. I filed grievance #9019034096 on 6 February 2019 concerning this issue and unit grievance office claims to have closed this grievance on 1 January 2019. I must pay for a copy if I want to see the response given. (How is it possible to close grievance before it’s filed?)
When I was released from the UTMB hospital and transferred to this (the Terrell Unit) I requested my property from the Carole Young infirmary unit be sent to me. I was told it was sent to the Byrd Unit and to date I have not received any property from the Byrd or Carole Young Units and my grievances step two, dated 12 April 2019, has been completely forged including the signing of my name to the document as if I wrote it.
It is my intentions to bring suit under violation of government code S.504 rehabilitation act for the following reasons:
I am denied to participate in TDCJ and UTMB programs and services or the benefit of those services provided to all other prisoners.
UTMB Galveston hospital orders that I take insulin three times a day. Note: I am not a type one or type two diabetic. I do not have a pancreas after it was surgically removed leaving me a severe diabetic with an auto-immune deficiency. My life depends on insulin and when I am not receiving insulin as ordered I am denied the right to complain through the TDCJ grievance program.
I request you send me the additional resource application to the federal courts and a copy of TDCJ grievance codes manual and any additional advice or information you may provide will be helpful. Also know that I talked with the Terrell Unit Assistant Warden Mr. Antony Patrict about these issues and he said “Sue me!” And the grievance office refused to allow me to complain about the forged grievance from 12 April 2019.
I want to provide y'all with an attorney's address that is seeking to help Texas prisoners who have been denied dentures, further causing irreversible damages, as well as pain and suffering.
Contact them directly:
511 Broadway St.
Houston, TX 77027
I know he's putting together a class action suit. I don't know if there's a deadline in contacting him or if he's only able to accept so many people, but if y'all can help bring awareness to Texas comrades I'd be very appreciative.
MIM(Prisons) adds: In September 2018 the Houston Chronicle broke a story about TDCJ denying prisoners dentures, and telling them to eat pureed food instead. In December 2018, it was reported that TDCJ will begin using 3D printers to make dentures for prisoners. We're not sure about the status of this class action suit, but we encourage readers who fall in this class to contact Attorney Kallinen directly.
While not directly related to our mission of ending oppression through the complete overthrow of the capitalist economic system, standing up for our humyn dignity in our present moment helps give us more strength to take on such a poweful enemy.
MIM(Prisons) distributes a number of resources for activists in Texas prisons. We ask for donations to cover the cost to print and mail the materials. We can accept donations in stamps or money orders.
Texas Campaign Pack - $3.50
Sworn Complaint Form - SASE or 2 stamps
PD-22 Codes - $5
TDCJ Grievance Manual - $10
(These materials are also available for free online.)
We heard that TDCJ is changing its practice on the grievance manual and will start stocking it in the prison law library. Please send confirmation on this if you know!
The prison's segregation unit at Calhoun State Prison (CSP) has a practical policy of delaying an insulin-dependent diabetic's finger-stick & insulin injection until several hours after meals have already been served and the empty meal trays collected back up. This is even though their medical orders call for them to receive finger-sticks & insulin before meals, not afterward. This is a textbook example (or, in this prison setting, a case-law example) of a prison policy of indifference which exists in violation of both the contemporary standards recognized by the medical profession (medical malpractice), and the federal constitution's 8th Amendment's proscription against cruel & unusual punishments.
A factor contributing to this policy is that at CSP's segregation (seg) unit breakfast is passed out anytime between 4:30 a.m. & 5 a.m. but CSP's administration doesn't have its medical staff clocking in for work until 6 a.m. every morning. By that time (1-1.5 hours after breakfast) the diabetics housed in seg are badly in need of relief from the dangerously high blood glucose/sugar level resulting from their having ate breakfast without any insulin. I know from my own experience as an insulin-dependent diabetic that if I eat without first taking insulin I develop a dangerously high glucose level in the 300s, 400s, 500s, or higher. This is a typical insulin-dependent's reaction to eating without first receiving the prescribed dosage of insulin he requires for the particular meal.
When nurses clock in at 6 a.m. all of the diabetics housed in prison general population have not ate yet. However, instead of first proceeding to seg to promptly attend to those diabetics who are in acute distress, nurses are instead choosing to administer insulin to the diabetics in general population. Next, they are choosing to perform pill call for the entire non-diabetic general population.
Depending on the efficiency of the particular nurses working on a given day, by the time it's all said and done nurses aren't arriving in seg with glucose meters & insulin until anywhere from 7-10 a.m. every morning, sometimes even later. Delays are also occurring at lunchtime & suppertime, even though nurses are already clocked in and on duty, and so there is really no explanation apparent to justify these additional delays. I kept a record of the delays between meals & insulin, and the nurses responsible for the worst delays are Nurse Williams, Nurse Deefe, Nurse Gilbert, Nurse Porter, and Nurse Mills.
To clear the air on how dangerous hours-long delays are, I am going to quote to you from page 54 of Dr. Jorge E. Rodriguez's book Diabetes Solution, where he explains the dangers of high blood sugar, also called hyperglycerin:
"Hyperglycemia, by definition, is a level of sugar in the blood above the accepted normal range... the normal range for a person's fasting blood sugar ("fasting" means after 8 or more hours without eating anything) level is below 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) of blood, and the normal range at any other time should be below 180 mg/dl)... Elevated blood sugar in and of itself causes tissue damage but having a blood sugar that is extremely elevated can cause life-threatening changes in the body in a matter of hours. An extremely high blood sugar level, and I mean at least 300 — remember, normal is under 100 (fasting) or 180 (any other time) — can cause an imbalance in the delicate acid-based structure in the tissues of the body. When the body can no longer use sugar as an energy source it starts breaking down fat and protein, one of the by-products of these two alternative sources of energy is ketones. A high level of circulating ketones not only damages tissues, but can cause confusion, unconsciousness, and coma."
The above medical expert's opinion sufficiently shows how diabetics housed in CSP's segregation unit are in imminent danger of serious physical injury and/or death. Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) will try to remedy a prisoner's medical complaints by transferring him to another prison. In just 3 years my complaints of improper diabetic care has caused my transfers to 8 different prisons (there is also a deficiency in the diabetic care at my present prison, Wheeler Correctional Facility).
These repeated failures are evidence which supports a civil complaint, not only against these individual prisons, but against the entire GDC, under the litigation theory that there's no prison in the GDC network it can transfer me to where I won't be in imminent danger of serious physical injury or death, due to a lack of adequate diabetic care. I will keep you informed of all the latest developments.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This is a followup to the articles "Insulin Indifference Endangers Prisoners", and "Fixing Insulin Indifference", which we published in 2017 on this same insulin problem in Georgia. These medical battles are literally life and death for some people. Just a further example of the indifference and negligence of the criminal injustice system.
The enclosed letter is submitted to you for follow-up to "Insulin Indifference Disables Prisoners".(ULK 57, p. 6) The publishing editor of that letter omitted the solution to that problem. Does anyone have time to comment on if mine compares to the grievance guides presently available? Or is my method in conflict with the advice in other manuals? I want to know how I compare with other grievance methods.
The problem in the article is a policy of no lunchtime fingersticks/insulin injections. The prison serves lunch so late it is outside the timeframe that a pre-breakfast shot of 70/30 insulin works for some diabetics within the prison.
For diabetics having this problem, immediately following lunch they may have symptoms of extremely elevated glucose, like hunger (even though they have just ate lunch), blurry vision, dry mouth, thirst, pins and needles (like tingling nerve pain), and frequent urination. In addition, at next fingerstick before supper their glucose may be extremely elevated.
"Extremely elevated" blood sugar is dangerous because it "can cause life threatening changes in the body within a matter of hours. An extremely high blood sugar level... And I am talking at least 300... can cause an imbalance in the delicate acid-based structure in the tissues of the body."(1)
So if you take 70/30 insulin (and your prison doesn't do lunchtime fingersticks/insulin injections) and you have the above symptoms, and/or if your suppertime glucose level is still over 300 several hours after lunch, then you should first try a medical request. Then, if necessary, a grievance explaining the problem. If filing a grievance (the formal step), then include the illustration of how extremely elevated glucose harms the body, located in the last paragraph of "Insulin Indifference Disables Prisoners." This way the warden, or other prison officials signing off on the grievance, cannot claim they were unaware of the damage that was occurring due to that they "are not medical professionals." (This is a popular excuse used by non-medical prison officials to escape liability in prison medical care cases.)
Two solutions to the problem are: 1. For the prison to start serving lunch earlier, or 2. For the prison to start providing lunchtime fingerstick/insulin injection, at which time you should receive a small dose of regular-type insulin, also called "mealtime insulin." Immediately following these two suggested solutions on your grievance, you should write "To do neither would constitute deliberate indifference."
In your medical request or your grievance, you should also explain that staff should periodically adjust your new lunchtime dose of regular insulin to determine exactly what amount is required to lower the residual glucose from lunch so it is at least somewhere between 200 - 300 by suppertime fingerstick. This will keep your glucose out of the danger zone between lunch and supper.
MIM(Prisons) responds: The problem with timing insulin injections with mealtimes is not lack of education or medical expertise. The problem of indifference is built in to the capitalist, white supremacist power structure. Imprisoned people, and oppressed nations in general, are not thought to need or deserve to have access to proper medical care. Prisoners' right to their eyesight or to keep all their toes is of absolutely no concern to the imperialist power structure. In fact, from the imperialist system's perspective it is probably better for prisoners and oppressed nation people to continue suffering, and be kept busy filing grievances. That way it's even harder to fight back.
We're glad this author wrote in with more details on what people could do to resolve the individual problems they are having with administration's approach to diabetes management. If we're talking about real remedies, though, and about fixing a problem, we need to acknowledge that capitalism and national oppression are the real cause of extremely elevated glucose levels. We need to struggle on our individual problems so we can be stronger for our revolutionary work. Don't lose sight of the bigger picture!
On 26 October 2017, U.$. President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency. The declaration should lead to more federal funding for grants to combat opioid abuse.(1) As we explain below, this epidemic disproportionately affects euro-Amerikans. Trump linked his campaign to build a wall along the current Mexican border to the battle against this epidemic, despite the fact that prescription painkillers are at the root of it. This is consistent with the Amerikan government's solution for drug problems created by imperialism. For the crack epidemic of the 1980s Amerika responded with mass incarceration of New Afrikan men as the solution. As opioid addiction continues a steady rise, Trump offers further militarization of the border.
Opioids have been used by humyns for thousands of years both medicinally and recreationally, with many periods of epidemic addiction. Use began with opium from poppies. Morphine was isolated in 1806. By the early 1900s heroin was promoted as a cure for morphine addiction in the United $tates, before being made illegal in 1924. There was a lull in heroin use during the 1980s, when cocaine and crack overshadowed it. Various prescription pain killers began to come back into vogue in the 1990s
after the "Just Say No!" mentality was wearing off. Since then, use and abuse has been on a steady rise, feeding a new surge in the use of heroin as a cheaper alternative. This rise, in the economic centers of both the United $tates and China, is directly linked to capitalism.
While K2 is one dangerous substance plaguing U.$. prisons these days, partly due to its undetectability, opioids are by far the biggest killer in the United $tates, and we expect that is true in prisons as well. Drug overdoses surpassed car accidents as the number one cause of accidental deaths in the United $tates in 2007 and has continued a steady rise ever since. The majority of these overdoses have been from opioids.(2)
While the increase in deaths from opioids has been strong across the United $tates, rates are significantly higher among whites, and even higher among First Nations. One reason that use rates are lower among New Afrikans and [email protected] is that it has been shown that doctors are more reluctant to prescribe opioids to them because they are viewed as more likely to become addicted, and Amerikan doctors see them as having a greater pain threshold.(3)
We did see some evidence of this trend in the results of our survey on the effects of drugs in U.$. prisons. The most popular answer to our question of whether certain groups did more drugs in prison than others was no, it affects everyone. But many clarified that there was a strong racial divide where New Afrikans preferred weed and K2, while whites and usually [email protected] went for heroin and/or meth. Some of these respondents said that New Afrikans did less drugs.(4) A couple said that New Afrikans used to do less drugs but now that's changing as addiction is spreading. In states where K2 has not hit yet (CA, GA, CO) it was common to hear that whites and "hispanics" (or in California, "southern" Mexicans) did more drugs. The pattern of New Afrikans preferring weed and K2 seemed common across the country, and could have implications for strategies combating drug use among New Afrikans compared to other groups. In particular, stressing that K2 is completely different and more dangerous than weed could be part of a harm reduction strategy focused on New Afrikans.
If prison staff were doing their jobs, then we would expect rates of both overdoses and use in general to be lower in prisons. But we know, and our survey confirmed, that this is not the case (78% of respondents mentioned staff being responsible for bringing in at least some of the drugs in their prison). In hindsight, it may have been useful to ask our readers what percentage of prisoners are users and addicts. Some of the estimates that were offered of the numbers using drugs in general were
20-30%, 90%, 75%, and many saying it had its grips on the whole population.
Deaths from opioids in the general U.$. population in 2015 was 10.5 per 100,000, double the rate in 2005.(5) This is higher than the rates in many state prison systems for overdoses from any drug, including Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania that all reported average rates of 1 per 100,000 from 2001-2012. California was closer at 8 per 100,000 and Maryland exceeded the general population at 17 deaths from overdoses per 100,000 prisoners.(6) At the same time,
prison staff have been known to cover up deaths from overdoses, so those 1 per 100,000 rates may be falsified.
In our survey of ULK readers, we learned that Suboxone, a drug used to treat opioid addiction, is quite popular in prisons (particularly in the northeast/midwestern states). Survey respondents mentioned it as often as weed as one of the most popular drugs, and more than heroin. Suboxone is actually used to treat heroin addiction. And while it is not supposed to be active like other opioids, it can lead to a high and be addictive. It is relatively safe, and will not generally lead to overdose until you combine it with other substances, which can lead to death.
Prescription drugs are not as common as other drugs in most prisons, according to our survey. Though in some cases they are available. We received a few responses from prisons where prescription drugs prescribed by the medical staff seemed to be the only thing going on the black market. Clearly there is variability by facility.
Two Paths to Recovery
The increases in opioid abuse in the United $tates has been staggering, and they cause a disproportionate amount of the deaths from drug overdoses. About 10% of opioid addicts worldwide are in the United $tates, despite only being less than 5% of the world's population.(7) At the same time, only about 1% of people in the United $tates are abusing opioids.(8) This is not the worst episode in U.$. history, and certainly not in world history.
Around 1914 there were 200,000 heroin addicts in the United $tates, or 2% of the population. In contrast, some numbers for opium addicts in China prior to liberation put the addiction rate as high as 20% of the population around 1900, and 10% by the 1930s. That's not to dismiss the seriousness of the problem in the United $tates, but to highlight the power of proletarian dictatorship, which eliminated drug addiction about 3 years after liberation.
Richard Fortmann did a direct comparison of the United $tates in 1952 (which had 60,000 opioid addicts) and revolutionary China (which started with millions in 1949).(9) Despite being the richest country in the world, unscathed by the war, with an unparalleled health-care system, addicts in the United $tates increased over the following two decades. Whereas China, a horribly poor country coming out of decades of civil war, with 100s of years of opium abuse plaguing its people, had eliminated the problem by 1953.(9) Fortmann pointed to the politics behind the Chinese success:
"If the average drug addiction expert in the United States were shown a description of the treatment modalities used by the Chinese after 1949 in their anti-opium campaign, his/her probable response would be to say that we are already doing these things in the United States, plus much more. And s/he would be right."(9)
About one third of addicts went cold turkey after the revolution, with the more standard detox treatment taking 12 days to complete. How could they be so successful so fast? What the above comparison is missing is what happened in China in the greater social context. The Chinese were a people in the process of liberating themselves, and becoming a new, socialist people. The struggle to give up opium was just one aspect of a nationwide movement to destroy remnants of the oppressive past. Meanwhile the people were being called on and challenged in all sorts of new ways to engage in building the new society. There was so much that was more stimulating than opium to be doing with their time. Wimmin, who took up opium addiction in large numbers after being forced into prostitution in opium dens, were quickly gaining opportunities to engage at all levels of society. The poor, isolated peasants were now organized in collectives, working together to solve all kinds of problems related to food production, biology and social organization. The successful struggle against drug addiction in China was merely one impressive side effect of the revolutionizing of the whole society.
In contrast, in the capitalist countries, despair lurks behind every corner as someone struggles to stay clean. The approach has ranged from criminalization to medicalization of drug addiction as a disease. "Once an addict, always an addict", as they say. Always an individualist approach, ignoring the most important, social causes of the problem. That drug addiction is primarily a social disease was proven by the practice of the Chinese in the early 1950s, but Western "science" largely does not acknowledge the unquestionable results from that massive experiment.
It is also worth pointing out the correlation between drug abuse and addiction, and capitalist economics specifically. Whether it was colonial powers forcing opium on the Chinese masses who had nothing, in order to enslave them to their economic will, or it is modern Amerikan society indulging its alienation in the over-production of prescription pills from big pharmaceutical companies marketing medicine for a profit.
And now, opioid addiction is on the rise again in capitalist China after decades. A steady rise in drug-related arrests in China since 1990 are one indicator of the growing problem.(10) As more profits flowed into the country, so have more drugs, especially since the 1990s. We recently published a review of Is China an Imperialist Country?, where we lamented the loses suffered by the Chinese people since the counter-revolution in 1976. It goes to show that when you imitate the imperialists, and put advancing the productive forces and profits over serving the people, you invite in
all the social ills of imperialism.
In China drug addiction has now become something that people fear. Like it did with its economy, China has followed in the imperialists' footsteps in how it handles drug addiction. Chinese policy has begun treating addicts as patients that need to be cured to protect society. Rather than seeing those who give up drugs as having defeated the oppressor's ways, they are monitored by the state, lose social credibility, and have a hard time getting a job.(11) Under socialism, everyone had a job and no one needed recreational drugs to maintain themselves mentally. The path to combating drug addiction and abuse is well-established. Attempts under imperialism that don't involve liberatory politics of the oppressed have little to no effect.
6 September 2017 — I am writing this letter to inform you of the recent adverse reactions of offenders to a new batch of a K2-styled substance. About a month ago a new batch of "2uece", "K2" or "tune" arrived on the unit. I was in the prison chapel and overheard a conversation that 9 people that day had been taken away in an ambulance. A few days later I saw 2 people fall out at work in the kitchen after smoking it. The user will experience temporary paralysis, unable to move or even speak. Users will watch their "friends" pass out, then laugh at their friends and continue smoking the same K2. Another prisoner bragged to me of his smoking prowess. He said, "I already had 3 people who smoked this shit with me get stuck. They think they can smoke like me." Later that day after having that conversation, that offender collapsed, unconscious and was rushed to medical. He may have died for
all I know.
Then the next day as I was leaving the shower area, they shut down the hallway for an emergency and they were carrying 2 paralyzed prisoners to sickbay (medical). I personally have seen more than 20 people carried away in stretchers this past month. I would estimate well over a hundred people have been transported to the hospital due to this new K2. I further estimate 1/2 the entire unit are users. About 80% of the people I work with smoke. Unlike other products such as ice cream, that might get contaminated with listeria and recalled, with this so-called "2uece" there is no recall. People will continue to sell it and smoke it, and there will be more adverse reactions. Shame on the local media for not reporting this! Shame on TDCJ for not locking down the prison, instead being more concerned with the Estelle Unit textile plant profits!
MIM(Prisons) responds: In our survey of ULK readers about drugs in prison, K2 (Deuce, 2euce, Spice, or synthetic marijuana) stood out as the most popular drug. While in the chart below, other drugs aren't too far behind in number of mentions, K2
was often highlighted as the #1 choice, with one Texas prisoner stating that everything else there is now irrelevant. Suboxone was the other one that really stood out, because it was less familiar and being reported a lot. Suboxone is actually used to treat drug addiction to opioids, but has more recently proven to be addictive itself even though it does not have the same effects on your body that opioids do.
The states of California, Nevada, Colorado and Georgia differed from the rest of the states in not really mentioning K2 or Suboxone. Instead in those states the combination of crystal meth (ice, sk8), heroin and alcohol were popular.
Many of these drugs are a serious health risk, and we address opioids in a separate article. However, K2 seems to deserve special attention right now due to the prevalence and risk. The risk is partially due to the variability in what you are getting when you purchase "K2", as the comrade alludes to above. While it is referred to as "synthetic weed" because of the receptors in the brain that it acts on, it is very different from weed with very different effects. In the prisons where it was reported as easiest to get, our respondents reported death from drugs at their prison 50% of the time. In contrast, the prisons where K2 was not listed among drugs easiest to get death was only reported 19% of the time. This difference was statistically significant. While this correlation does not establish a definitive link with K2 as the cause of excess deaths, anecdotal responses like the reports above and below seem to indicate that is the case. In the last two years, news stories about group overdoses from bad batches of spice have become frequent. Our correspondents talk about people being "stuck" when they are on K2. This drug can be completely disabling and can lead directly to death.
The K2 epidemic is not limited to Estelle Unit, but is across the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) system, where our respondents consistently listed it as the most common drug. As the map above shows, the problem extends to many other states.
A comrade in Larry Gist Unit in Texas reported on 14 September 2017:
"I want to file a lawsuit against the Sr. Warden and American Correctional Association (ACA) who pass the Unit Larry Gist inspection because the speaker communication do not work and about 7 to 10 prisoners died smoking K2 from heart attack and other sickness. Speaker communication is very important and maybe if the speaker communication had been working 1, 2 or 3 of the prisoners that died could have been
A comrade at Telford Unit in Texas reported on 23 August 2017:
"My brothers in here have fallen victim to K2, which is highly addictive. They don't even care about the struggle. The only thing on their minds is getting high and that sas. I mean this K2 shit is like crack but worse. You have guys selling all their commissary, radios, fans, etc. just to get high. And all these pigs do is sit back and watch; this shit is crazy. But for the few of us who are K2-free I'm trying to get together a group to help me with the struggle."
We had a number of surveys filled out in Texas, all of which put the majority, if not all of the blame for the drugs entering the TDCJ on staff. Prisoners are a vulnerable population due to the degree of control that the state has over their lives. The injustice system leads to a disproportionate number of people in prison with substance abuse histories. It is completely irresponsible and tragic that people are then put in conditions where there is an epidemic of dangerous, unregulated drugs when they enter prison.
Under a socialist society, where we have a system of dictatorship of the proletariat, with those in power acting in the interests of the formerly oppressed peoples, individuals responsible for mass deaths through negligence or intentional actions will be brought to justice. Prison administrators who help bring in drugs known to kill people need to face the judgment of the people. These deaths are easily prevented.
In the meantime, we commend the comrades at Telford Unit who are starting to organize support for people to stay out of this epidemic that is affecting so many Texas prisoners. It is only by building independent institutions of the oppressed, which serve the people, that we can overcome this plague.
On 15 September 2017 my neighbor died smoking K2 and after the pigs saw I was the last person to speak with him they locked me up under investigation. The first interrogation was conducted by the Arkansas state pig and it seemed as if all was well. The next week another death, same cause. Then my neighbor's mom appeared on the news saying she was gonna get to the bottom of his death (apparently they told her he had a heart attack), and bring a lawsuit before the court.
So when the internal affairs came and conduct their interrogation the pressure had been put on ADC (Arkansas Department of Corrections) and the woman resorts to some dirty ass tactics as soon as I walk in. She starts by telling me she's been doing her thorough investigation and listening to my phone calls, and that she knows about my girlfriend that I tell that I love her and then call my wife and turn around and tell her the same. I ask her if it was some type of threat she was implying because what she was talking about had nothing to do with my neighbor's death. She then starts her backpedaling and starts questioning me about $ I had moved in the "free." That's where I decided to end our conversation.
Right before the time period for investigation ran out I received a disciplinary for possession of contraband even though I was never in possession of anything and it was at this point I realized ADC had their scapegoat in the form of myself. That week topped off with another death, same cause. That's 4 deaths from K2 in this prison within 90 days (there was one about a month before my neighbor).
I was found guilty in kangaroo court, given 30 days punitive and 60 days restriction on phone, visits, commissary. A few days later, the Arkansas state pig comes back. The only reason I could see was to fish for some more circumstantial evidence and bring some type of formal charges to cover ADC's ass. I've been in the hole for about 40 days now and as far as that situation, that's where things stand.