Drugs in prison is a sensitive topic in the convict world. Being that I live in it and that I am STG'd out here in Arizona, I will refrain from speaking/writing about the illegal kind as here in solitary they are not as prevalent as they are out there on the yards. I will not lie though, and say that they are non-existent here, as all convicts know "where there is a will, there is a way." But what I mean is that there is no one all strung out or in debt and so forth.
The number one drug here is the pills that the contract medical provider, Corizon Health, Inc., is giving to everyone, i.e. the legal kind. These prescription drugs that come in the guise of treatment are what reigns supreme here in SMU. You don't even have to wait for visit on the weekends like on the yard. No way not here, here they are passed out on the daily, twice a day, even three times a day to some. These drugs are prescribed by so called "clinicians who use an evidence based approach to treat conditions such as yours which includes maximizing formulary medication use while providing safe and effective treatment," to quote Corizon staff verbatim. This is actually impossible as you cannot eyeball someone and use that as your evidence. That is just a guess, and not an educated one.
Now that they have taken actual pain medication, which is only gabapentin, a pill to treat nerve damage, Corizon staff have been directed to prescribe psych drugs in replacement. So instead of further treatment that include MRIs, EMG treatment, physical therapy, or a range of other options, they are taking away a drug that works, to prescribe you an anti-depressant for pain management as if the depression from you being here was causing you pain and not the stenosis in your neck, AC joint separation, nerve damage, etc. This psych med is like the commercials that you see on TV where the side effect is diarrhea, headache, etc.
The system gives you these legal drugs instead of approving further treatment because MRIs cost money, and outside care visits cost money. So they want you on psych meds to have you walking around like a zombie or not so depressed from being STG'd and housed in solitary. Even the law firms and organizations representing us in Parsons v. Ryan are aware, yet choose to do nothing. Corizon staff and Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) staff actually tell you to seek outside legal representation, like a dare! But while all we want is to be treated for our injuries and not drugs, ADC will not step in nor will our so-called legal team. Instead, our drugs at this unit are more habit-forming and more highly accessible than the illegal kind, and will continue to be supplied by our very own med provider Corizon, and all legally.
ADC will just allow this to continue to take place and protect their mule, Corizon, just like the drug cartels in the motherland. This is ADC's "plaza" and Corizon will continue to funnel drugs all over the state of Arizona, not through tunnels, planes, boats, or on foot but right through the front gate with a badge and a greeting, service with a smile!
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer brings up an important point about drugs in prison. The problem isn't just illegal drugs numbing minds and harming bodies, it's also legal drugs being prescribed by the prison medical teams to keep the population pacified. This pacification happens through the action of anti-depressants and anti-psychotics, which can dull all emotions, and also through addictive drugs like pain meds. Instead of treating the real problems, both physical and emotional, that are caused by years of living in the harmful conditions of Amerikan prisons, prison medical staff just treat the symptoms, if they offer any treatment at all.
From the capitalist perspective, in the short term providing inadequate health care and getting people addicted to pacifying drugs is an effective way to control costs and control the prison population. But in
the long term this makes no sense, even for the capitalists. Health problems left untreated will only get worse as people age, and become more expensive to deal with. Further, releasing prisoners addicted to
pain killers or other drugs does not lead to productive life on the streets.
This only makes sense in the context of a criminal injustice system that wants to maintain a revolving door of an expanding prison population. One that doesn't care if prisoners live or die, as long as they stay
passive. While it may be true that cost is part of the reason good treatment isn't provided, Amerikans are happy to spend lots of money on prisons in general. Spending all that money is justified because the prisons provide an effective tool of social control, targeting oppressed nations and all who resist the capitalist system. The drugs given to prisoners behind bars are just one part of that control.
Nowhere is the necessity for the societal advancement to communism more apparent than in the realm of disability considerations. No segment of society, imprisoned or otherwise, is in greater need of the guiding communist ethos proclaimed by Marx: "From each according to their ability, to each according to their need." This humynist principle applies to no demographic more than the disabled.
When communist society is realized, the intrinsic worth of each and every persyn and their potential to contribute to society will be realized as well. In return, communist society will reward the disabled population by adequately providing their essentials and rendering all aspects of society open and accessible for their full utilization. In a phrase, communism will respect the disabled persyn's humyn right to a humane existence. We communists strive for the elimination of power structures that allow the oppression of people by people. The disabled population, as well as all peoples that have hystorically been subjugated by the oppressive bourgeois system of capitalism/imperialism, can then work toward the implementation of a truly democratic society.
Considering MIM(Prisons) recognizes only three strands of oppression in the world today (nation, class and gender), able-bodiedness is a cause and consequence of class, and in countries with more leisure-time it is intimately tied up in the gender strand of oppression. This essay intends to analyze disability as it relates to class, gender, and the prison environment.
Disability and Class
In the United $tates the greatest source of persynal wealth is inheritance. It can be said the ability to create and maintain able-bodiedness may be inherited also. For the most part, class station is determined by birth. By virtue of to whom and where a persyn is born, their access, or lack thereof, to material resources is ascribed. The bourgeoisie and labor aristocracy have access to nutrition and healthcare the First World lumpen and international proletariat and peasantry do not. The likelihood of a positive health background renders the labor aristocracy and other bourgeois classes attractive prospects to potential employers, lenders, etc. This allows them to continue to enjoy nutrition and healthcare not common to the lumpen, proletariat, and peasantry.
It would be extremely uncommon to find a First World lumpen, an international proletarian, or a peasant with a membership to a health and fitness club. This privilege is reserved for the bourgeois classes, including the petty-bourgeoisie and its subclass the labor aristocracy. This, of course, further enhances the prospect of maintaining good health, and compounded with employer-supplied healthcare, does act as prophylaxis against the onset of debilitating and degenerative physical ailments.
It would be unreasonable to ignore the possibility that a member of the bourgeoisie might be genetically infirm, or a labor aristocrat debilitated by an accident. But, due to their class position, these classes are better prepared and equipped to minimize the adversities resulting from such an unfortunate occurrence.
Able-bodiedness may also affect upward class mobility. An able-bodied First World lumpen that can find employment might enter the ranks of the labor aristocracy. A blue collar labor aristocrat may be promoted to a managerial position, and so forth. Of course other factors, such as national background, do play a role in one's mobility (or stagnation for that matter), but disability also plays a significant role.
Disability and Gender
Gender only comes to the fore after life's essentials are secured, thereby standing out in relief on its own aside from class/nation. In the First World leisure-time plays a major role in gender analysis. MIM(Prisons) defines "gender" as:
"One of three strands of oppression, the other two being class and nation. Gender can be thought of as socially-defined attributes related to one's sex organs and physiology. Patriarchy has led to the splitting of society into an oppressed (wimmin) and oppressor gender (men).
"Historically reproductive status was very important to gender, but today the dynamics of leisure-time and humyn biological development are the material basis of gender. For example, children are the oppressed gender regardless of genitalia, as they face the bulk of sexual oppression independent of class and national oppression.
"People of biologically superior health-status are better workers, and that's a class thing, but if they have leisure-time, they are also better sexually privileged. We might think of models or prostitutes, but professional athletes of any kind also walk this fine line. ... Older and disabled people as well as the very sick are at a disadvantage, not just at work but in leisure-time. ..." - MIM(Prisons) Glossary
This system of gender oppression is commonly referred to as "patriarchy," which MIM(Prisons) defines as:
"the manifestation and institutionalization of male dominance over wimmin and children in the family and the extension of male dominance over wimmin in society in general; it implies that men hold power in all the important institutions of society and that wimmin are deprived of access to such power."(1)
Professor bell hooks's description of patriarchy in eir work The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love has also contributed to this author's understanding of gender oppression:
"Patriarchy is a political-social system that insists that males are inherently dominating, superior to everything and everyone deemed weak, especially females, and endowed with the right to dominate and rule over the weak and to maintain that dominance through various forms of psychological terrorism and violence."(2)
Professor hooks's definition of patriarchy not only recognizes terrorism as a patriarchal mechanism, but that patriarchal forces do not intend only to oppress, dominate, and subjugate females or even just females and children, but patriarchy's pathology is to hold down anything it regards as weaker than itself. Patriarchy is a bully.
Children are one of the most stigmatized and oppressed groups of people in the world. Patriarchal society considers children physically disabled due to their undeveloped bodies and therefore susceptible to patriarchal oppression — regardless of the biology of the child. This firmly places children in the gender oppressed stratum. Due to disabled people's diminished bodies (and/or cognizance), disabled people can be categorized similar to children subjected to patriarchy, ergo, disability falls into the gender oppression stratum as well as class.
Patriarchy and Prisons
U.$. prisons are, from top to bottom, patriarchal structures. Prisons are institutions where the police, the judiciary, and militarization have crystalized as paternalistic enforcer of bureaucracies of patriarchy; prisons, the system of political, social, cultural and economic restraint and control, are fundamentally patriarchal institutions implemented to enforce the status quo — including patriarchal domination. Disabled prisoners in Texas have long been labeled "broke dicks," illustrative of their "less-than-a-man" status in the prison pecking order.
There are laws mandating disabled prisoners not be precluded from recreational activities, or any other prison activity for that matter. Yet enforcement of these laws are prohibitively difficult for disabled prisoners, especially prisoners with vision or hearing disabilities, or cognitive impairments. The disabled have few advocates in bourgeois society; they have virtually none in prison.
The likelihood that prison officials discriminate against and abuse disabled prisoners is readily apparent. What is most disheartening is able-bodied prisoners are often the perpetrators of mistreatment against disabled prisoners, frequently at the behest of prison administrators so as to procure favorable treatment. In fact, the most telling aspect of the conditions of confinement imposed on disabled prisoners is the abuse of the disabled prisoners at the hands of able-bodied prisoners. The able-bodied prisoners are quick to manhandle and overrun disabled prisoners in obtaining essential prison services which are commonly inadequate and limited. When queued up for meals, showers, commissary, etc. the able-bodied prisoners will shove and elbow aside disabled prisoners; will threaten to assult disabled prisoners; and have in fact assaulted disabled prisoners should they complain or protest being accosted in such a fashion. All this invariably with the knowledge and/or before the very eyes of prison administrators and personnel.
It is far too common for the victims of sexual harassment and assault in prisons to be gay, transgendered, and/or disabled. Whether the perpetrator be prison officials or fellow prisoners, this practice is condoned by the culture of patriarchy and the hyper-masculine prison environment.
In the Prison Justice League's (PJL) report to the U.$. Department of Justice titled "Cruel and Unusual Punishment: The Use of Excessive Force at Estelle Unit" the PJL outlined the routine and systematic abuse of disabled prisoners by prison personnel at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) Regional Medical Facility for the Southern Region, Estelle Unit.(3) Prisoners assigned to the Estelle Unit per their disabilities are regularly and habitually denied medical treatment for their disabilities, ergo oftentimes exacerbating the causes and effects of the disabilities which brought them to Estelle initially; are denied auxiliary aids so as to accommodate their disabilities as required by law; are physically assaulted by prison administrators and staff, or their inmate henchmen; and with egregious frequency are murdered at the hands of state officials.
Since the PJL's report and subsequent Department of Justice investigation, there has been a bit of a detente in the abuse visited upon disabled Estelle prisoners by prison personnel. But the pigz are barely restrained. Threats of physical violence directed at disabled prisoners are still a regular daily occurrence, and prison personnel assaults on disabled prisoners are still far too common.
Another recent example of the persistent difficulties disabled prisoners face, even with the courts on their side, can be seen in the American Civil Liberties Union's (ACLU) recent settlement negotiated with the Montana Department of Corrections (MDC), after it neglected to fulfill Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements from a 1995 settlement, Langford v. Bullock. In 2005, the ADA requirements were still not met, and despite the Circuit Court's order requiring Montana to comply with the 1995 settlement, it is not until 2017, and much advocacy later, that negotiations are being finalized between the ACLU and MDC. We can't dismantle systems of gender oppression one quarter-century-long lawsuit at a time. That's why MIM(Prisons) advocates for a complete overthrow of patriarchal capitalism-imperialism as soon as possible.
Another patriarchal aspect to be observed in prisons is ageism. As children are included in the gender-oppressed stratum, so should the aged. As the able-bodied prisoners' ability to work subsides due to age in the First World, especially in the United $tates where the welfare state is minuscule and the social safety net set very low, the propensity for a once able-bodied persyn to be relegated to the ranks of the lumpen is intensified. As the once able-bodied persyn becomes aged and disabled, their physical, as well as mental, health becomes more and more jeopardized, accelerating the degeneration of existing disabilities as well as increasing the likelihood of creating the onset of new ones (e.g. the First World lumpen are notorious for developing diabetes due to poor diet and lifestyle issues).
Disability as a Means of Castration
Holding people in locked cages is an acute form of social control. Solitary confinement creates long-lasting psychological damage. And prison conditions in general are designed (by omission) to create long-lasting physical damage to oppressed populations. Prisons are a tool of social control, and exacerbating/creating disabilities is a way prisons carry this through in a long-term and multi-generational fashion.
Prisoners, who are a majority lumpen population, are likely to already have unmet medical needs before entering prison, as described above in the section on class. Then when in prison, these medical needs are exacerbated because of the bad environment (toxic water, exposed asbestos, run down facilities, etc.); brutality from guards and fellow prisoners; poor medical care including untreated physical traumas, improper timing for medications (see article on diabetes), and just straight up neglect.
Mumia Abu-Jamal's battle to receive treatment for hepatitis C, which ey contracted from a tainted blood transfusion ey received after being shot by police in 1981, is a case in point. Mumia belongs to an oppressed nation, is conscious of this oppression, has fought against this oppression, and thus is last on the priority list for who the state of Pennsylvania will give resources to. And medical care under capitalism is sold to the highest bidder, with new drugs which are 90% effective in curing hepatitis C coming with a price tag of $1,000 per day. In a communist society these life-saving drugs will be free to all who need them.
Disability in the Anti-Imperialist Movement
The fact that people with disabilities will be treated better after we take down capitalism is obvious. Our stance on discrimination against people with disabilities in our society today is obvious. What is less obvious is the question of how we can incorporate people with disabilities into the anti-imperialist movement today, while we are so small and relatively weak compared to the enemy that surrounds us. This is an ongoing question for revolutionaries, who are always pushing themselves to be stronger, better, and more productive. After all, there is an urgency to our work.
Our militancy tends to be inherently ableist. With all the distractions and requirements of living in this bourgeois society, we have precious little time to devote to revolutionary work. We are always on the lookout for things and people that are holding us back and wasting our time, and we work diligently to weed these things and people from our lives and movement. Often when people aren't productive enough, due to mental or physical consequences of capitalism and national oppression, we can't do anything to help them — especially through the mail. No matter how sympathetic people are to our politics, and how much they want to contribute, we just don't have the resources to provide care that would help these folks give more to overthrowing imperialism. Often times all we can do is use these anecdotes to add fuel to our fire.
Disabilities amongst oppressed people are intentionally created by the state, and a natural consequence of capitalism. If we don't take any time to work with and around our allies' disabilities, then we are excluding a population of people who, like the introduction says above, are in the greatest need of a shift toward communism. We aim to have independent institutions of the oppressed which can help people overcome some of these barriers to political work. At this time, however, the state is doing more to weaken our movement in this regard than we are able to do to strengthen it.
[Of note, the primary author of this article has devoted eir life to revolutionary organizing in spite of being imprisoned and with multiple physical disabilities. Even though it is extremely difficult to contribute, it is possible!]
Title II The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), codified as Title 42 of the United States Code, Section 12131 (42 USC §12131, herein after §12131), applies to "any State or local government, any department, agency, special purpose district, or other instrumentality of a State or States or local government..." (§12131[A][B]). The ADA defines a "qualified individual with a disability [as] an individual with a disability who, with or without reasonable modifications to rules, policies, or practices, the removal or architectural, communication, or transportation barriers, or the provision of auxiliary aids and services, meets the essential eligibility requirements for the receipt of services or the participation in program or activities provided by a public entity."(§12131).
Disabled prisoners in state facilities come under the auspices of ADA provisions.
"[S]tate prisons fall squarely within definition in 42 USCS §12131(1)(B), of 'public entity' subject to Title II, (2) text of ADA provides no basis for distinguishing recreational activities, medical services, and educational and vocational programs provided to prison inmates from 'services, programs, or activities' provided by other public entities ...[.] [T]itle II's definition of 'qualified individual with disability' [...] which refers to 'disability' requirements and 'participation' in programs, does not exclude prisoners."(Pennsylvania Department of Corrections v. Yeskey, 118 S.Ct. 1952)
In the landmark case Ball v. LeBlanc, 792 F.3d 584, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit held: Under the ADA, Louisiana state prisoners on Angola's death row were to be considered disabled if:
"[They have] 'a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.' (42 U.S.C. § 12102[A]). The statute defines a major life activity in two ways. First, major life activities include, but are not limited to: caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, thinking, communicating, and working.
"Second, a major life activity includes 'the operation of a major bodily function.' Such functions include, but are not limited to: the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, endocrine, and reproductive functions. The prisoners can prove themselves disabled if their ailments substantially limit either a major life activity or the operation of a major bodily function."(42 U.S.C. § 12102 [A][B])
The ADA requires prison officials to reasonably accommodate disabled prisoners in regard to all activities afforded able-bodied prisoners. "[D]eliberate refusal of prison officials to accommodate inmate's disability-related needs ([in] virtually all [ ] prison programs) constituted exclusion from participation in or denial of benefits of prison services, programs, or activities. '[P]ublic entity' under 42 USCS §12131(1) includes prisons."(United States v. Georgia, 126 S.Ct. 877; Loye v. County of Dakota, 625 F.3d 494)
Though the ADA bestows on disabled state prisoners the right to reasonably participate in all prison activities, probably of paramount importance to disabled prisoners is participation in requisite programs that must be attended per consideration for early release from prison to limited liberty on parole. The ADA ensures disabled prisoners access to these activities as well.(United States v. Georgia, supra.; Yeskey, supra.; Jaros v. Illinois Department of Corrections, 684 F.3d 667; Gorman v. Bartch, 152 F.3d 907; Paulone v. City of Frederick, 787 F.2d 360; Raines v. Florida, 983 F. Supp. 1362)
An organizational tactic that disabled prisoners might employ in combating discriminatory exclusion from prison programs, activities, and/or services, could be to pursue litigation as a class, or group, of plaintiffs pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (FRCP) Rule #23. To identify as a class, disabled prisoners must establish "numerosity, commonality, and typicality."(Kerrigan v. Philadelphia Board of Elections, 248 FRD 470; Marcus v. Department of Revenue, 206 FRD 509)
In short, a contingent of disabled prisoners must convince the Federal court there is a significant number of "similarly situated" prisoners being denied their rights and entitlements guaranteed by the ADA, thereby identifying a class the court can certify as such.(Armstrong v. Schwarzenegger, 261 FRD 173) Once a class has been certified, any injunctive relief enforcing the ADA encompasses all prisoners identified as the class of prisoner plaintiffs.(Schwarzenegger, supra; Benjamin v. Department of Public Welfare, 807 F.Supp.2d 201)
Monetary damage awards can be obtained if the state actors are deliberately indifferent to prisoners' disability or if violations of the ADA are intentional.(United States v. Georgia, supra; Tennessee v. Lane, 124 S.Ct. 1978; Panzardi-Santiago v. University of Puerto Rico, 200 F.Supp.2d 1).
The ADA enjoins prison systems to provide disabled prisoners auxiliary or adaptive aid devices ensuring disabled prisoners are reasonably able to participate in prison programs, activities, and/or services. (Robertson v. Las Animas County Sheriff's Department, 500 F.3d 1185). This means if you are disabled or impaired as recognized per the provisions of the ADA, the state must provide you with implements and apparatus so as to assist you in participating in common daily and required programmatic activities.
In sum, to prevail on an ADA violation claim, a disabled state prisoner would submit to a Federal district court with jurisdiction a civil rights violation complaint pursuant to 42 USC §1983 (United States v. Georgia, supra) (a §1983 form can be obtained from the clerk in the district in which the civil suit is to be filed) citing §12131 as statutory provision authorizing the claim. In the complaint a prospective plaintiff must show they are a qualified person with a disability, they were excluded from participation in or denied benefits of a prison system's programs, activities, and/or services, and the exclusion and/or denial of benefits was due to the prisoner's disabilities.(United States v. Georgia, supra; Panzardi-Santiago, supra; Constantino v. Madden, 16 FLW Fed D 321)
Prison administrators are to be trained, and to train or to have trained prison officials and personnel that are to supervise and have contact with disabled prisoners.(Gorman, supra) Moreover, it is important disabled prisoners be aware non-medical prison officials can in no way supersede any medical directive affecting a prisoner's disability or accommodation thereof. (Chisolm v. McManimon, 275 F.3d 328; Beckford v. Irvin, 49 F. Supp. 2d 170; Saunders v. Horn, 959 F. Supp. 689; Arnold on Behalf of H.B. v. Lewis, 803 F. Supp. 246)
The above is a very brief and truncated overview of the ADA as it applies to state prisoners and should not be construed as a comprehensive examination of disability law as it pertains to prisoners. This article is no more than a primer meant to initiate disabled prisoners with their legal rights and remedies. If a disabled prisoner is experiencing abuse and discrimination at the hands of prison officials, the disabled prisoner should take it upon themselves to research pertinent precedents and authorities necessary in remedying the situation and pursue those via the various avenues of relief.
The U.S. Department of Justice provides a free 211 page booklet entitled "ADA Title II Regulations: Non-discrimination on the Basis of Disability in State and Local Government Services." The booklet can be had in large print, audiotape, Braille, and DVD. The booklet can also be provided in Cambodian, Chinese, Hmong, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese. Or it could be, that is until the Jingoist xenophobe Trump took the imperialist helm. The DOJ can be contacted at:
Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights Sec.
950 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20530
There are a number of non-governmental organizations that assist disabled prisoners on a pro bono basis. The DOJ can provide contact information for disability rights advocates in your area.
Finally, the law library at your facility may have available for review the annotated version of §12131. This annotated edition of Title II of the ADA provides synoptic court rulings of the rights afforded disabled prisoners.
Very important is to document and keep records of all acts of disability discrimination and violations of the ADA — incidents, names, dates, witnesses, etc. This can best be accomplished via the administrative grievance procedure at your prison, while at the same time executing the required exhaustion of administrative remedies prior to filing suit.
In closing, it is my sincere desire that this overview proves to be of effective utility to those disabled prisoners facing the barbarous conditions of existence imposed on them by the enforcers of the carceral state.
To any able-bodied prisoners that may read this brief overview, I would remind you, an injury to one is an injury to all!
For diabetic prisoners, prisons can perform up to 5 fingersticks and insulin administrations per day. A problem is some prisons have blanket policies of only 2 fingersticks and insulin administrations per day, and diabetics are frequently and indiscriminately transferred out to these prisons even though more than 2 fingersticks/insulin administrations per day are necessary to adequatly control their diabetes.
I think the medical treatises, and the other sources cited in the enclosed hand copy of the grievance I have recently filed at my prison will enable diabetic prisoners, as well as prison administrators who are not medical professionals (i.e. the warden, etc.), to recognize when a 2-fingerstick policy is an inadequate regime of treatment.
I also think the illustration of how diabetes and extremely elevated glucose levels harms the body (as evidenced by levels over 300 points, and the accompanying signs and symptoms of elevated glucose) is enough of a showing of physical injury to satisfy the Prisoners' Litigation Reform Act's (PLRA's) "physical injury" requirement necessary to allow a prisoner afflicted by this type of policy to recover additional damages for mental and emotional injury (42 U.S.C.A. Section 1997e(e)).
I am requesting you publish this information so that other prisoners throughout the country will know when their care is lacking and how to pursue proper treatment, through litigation if necessary.
Description of Incident
I am an insulin-dependent diabetic. Lunch is served for diabetics at 12:45 - 13:15 hrs. This is according to the Building Schedule. Like most other diabetics who require 70/30 type insulin, this schedule is too far outside the time frame my pre-breakfast injection of insulin works to lower my lunchtime glucose (by fingerstick at 17:00-18:30 hrs Diabetic Clinic). This is evidenced by the extremely elevated pre-supper glucose level in the 300s, 400s, and 500s. To prevent this, at all the other prisons I've been served lunch from 10:45-11:50 hrs. This is closer to the window period 70/30 insulin is effective to lower lunchtime glucose within. This was evidenced by a lowered pre-supper-time glucose level in the 200s, 100s, and below 100 points. (70/30 insulin is 70% intermediate-acting insulin and 30% short-acting insulin.)
I wrote a grievance on this problem, using information from the Prisoners Diabetes Handbook distributed by Southern Poverty Law Center, and Diabetes Solution by Jorge E. Rodriguez, M.D. On 28 December 2016 Counselor Johnson proofread my grievance for technical compliance before accepting it for processing. I will keep your staff at MIM(Prisons) informed of further developments regarding this.
I also included in my grievance the following information so prison staff can understand the time frames insulin works within. There are 3 characteristics of insulin: onset (when the insulin starts to work), peaks (when the insulin is working the hardest), and duration (how long the insulin works for). The 70/30-type insulin I require is a mixture of 70% intermediate-acting insulin and 30% short-acting insulin. If you take short-acting (regular) insulin, and intermediate-acting (NPH) insulin, you need to eat on time by matching your meals to your insulin injections, so your insulin is peaking at the same time your glucose from your meals is peaking. Here are the time frames of 70/30 insulin:
Onset after injection
about 30 minutes
2-3 hours later
about 2-4 hours
4-10 hours later
*Note: Actual time frames for performance can vary based on each person's own individual response to insulin.
For me, as for many of the other diabetics who require 70/30 insulin, regular peaks about 3 hours after injection. (This is also the same time my glucose from meals is also peaking.) The NPH component peaks about 5-6 hours after injection. This was about the same time all the other prisons I've been to serve lunch. This was an adequate enough time frame to allow the insulin to lower my lunchtime glucose, measured by fingerstick at suppertime. But here at Riverbed Correctional Facility (RCF) lunch is served too far outside the peak performance cycle to lower my glucose at supper time.
The following information is from Diabetes Solution by Jorge E. Rodriguez, M.D., and my past conversations with diabetes specialists and educators, including this prison's own diabetes education facilitator, Registered Nurse Colin.
When you eat, food is broken down to the blood sugar, called glucose, which then enters the bloodstream where cells use it as food for energy. This process is called glucose-cell metabolism, and it can not occur without the hormone insulin. Insulin is made in the pancreas. Diabetes occurs when the pancreas either doesn't make any insulin, doesn't make enough insulin, or for other reasons the body cannot use its own insulin properly. When this happens glucose starts building up in the blood instead. Diabetes is defined as a fasting glucose level over 125 points, or a random glucose level over 200 points.
Diabetes harms the body in the following way: A glucose molecule looks like a ball made of many sharp points. In high levels the points become abrasive which damages the insides of the veins of the cardiovascular system, kidneys, eyes, etc., causing heart disease, kidney disease, blindness, etc. When glucose becomes this dangerously elevated, the body will attempt to pass it off in the urinary tract. A sign of this is frequent urination. Other symptoms of glucose having become this high are blurry vision, extreme hunger right after eating, dry mouth, thirst, etc. This is happening to me right after lunch at this prison. These symptoms persist until my next shot of insulin begins peaking, 3 hours after supper time insulin administration. A sign I am suffering kidney damage is I can feel my kidneys since I've come to this prison.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer is setting a good example for others of sharing knowledge and work ey is doing to help others. Individual medical battles like this one are important for the survival of the individual, and we can make the impact much broader by writing up our successes and failures, documenting information needed by others, and building a movement capable of saving lives while organizing to ultimately dismantle this system of dangerous oppressive criminal injustice.
In response to the article in ULK 55 titled "Correction to Deadly Heat in Louisiana Article," I am equally compelled to struggle my point across to my Texas comrade and all other comrades within the jurisdiction of the 5th Circuit. Our Texas comrade has committed the error of "seeing only a tree instead of the forest," please allow me to explain.
While it is correct that the 5th Circuit remanded the case back to the District Court with an order to apply the injunction to only the three plaintiffs in Angola's death row – Ball, Magee and Code – if one would read and digest the discussion of the 5th Circuit's ruling then one would see that it is obvious that in order for "all" prisoners to receive this relief then "all" prisoners would have to file! And I am fairly sure that most comrades can "come up" with a medical condition! In section 3 of the opinion under "disability claims" the court stated in the last paragraph that because the plaintiffs failed to properly introduce their ADA claims that it was fatal as to that claim, therefore "reading between the lines" one can grasp the nugget of wisdom!
So in conclusion there has been and is a victory against the deadly heat in Louisiana, so I urge all comrades to flood the courts with their own "personal" suits and bypass the stacked deck of the PLRA, entiendes? Please read the "entire" case with footnotes etc.: it was declared that the heat can be a violation of the Eighth Amendment. (The ADA provides "endless" major life activities and functions so everyone can find a niche). So if the heat is a violation of a federal right then – (quote from opinion) "such relief shall extend no further than necessary to correct the violation of the federal right of a particular plaintiff or plaintiffs!"
Be that plaintiff!
Please read the case: Elzie Ball, et al. v. James M. Leblanc, et al. U.$. District Court for the Middle district of Louisiana, 988 F. Supp. 2d 639; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178557 Civil Action No.: 13-00368-BAJ-SCR. This is on order from Ball v. Leblanc, 792 F.3d 584, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 11769 (5th Cir. La. 2015).
MIM(Prisons) responds: In "Correction to Deadly Heat in Louisiana Article", another writer responded to this writer's original article on this lawsuit from ULK 53. The responder pointed out that the 5th Circuit Court's decision only afforded people with pre-existing medical conditions relief from the dangerous heat in Louisiana prisons. And so ey clarified that the ruling does not automatically apply to all of Louisiana's death row. We are glad that both writers chimed in on the topic, to clarify the ruling and the suggested tactics.
We need to think creatively about how to use this court decision to expand protections to anyone with any medical condition. In conditions like this that are truly dangerous (as we approach summer once again) we encourage people to follow this comrade's lead and look for ways to use the legal system to improve safety of your conditions.
Perhaps others will disagree with this tactic and propose other better uses for people's time and legal research. It's slow to engage in debate through the pages of a bi-monthly newsletter like Under Lock & Key but this is beneficial to all readers and a part of the unity-criticism-unity process. It's a healthy debate over tactics that will keep pushing our work forward, so write to us and let us hear your thoughts.
I am writing with a texa$ prison medical copay update. Here on the Alfred D. Hughes plantation, the medical department's Senior Practice Manager Valencia Pollard-Fortson's attitude is that every procedure is a valid charge. Aspirin, bandaids, blood sugar checks, clipper shave, whatever. You're going to be charged $100. Her idea is if you charge 10 people a day for sick call, that's $900. Because only one will do the paperwork for 90 days to get his money back. Now they've gone a farther step.
In Ad-Seg/SHU building, we cannot buy fingernail clippers off store. To be caught with a pair is a major offense. We have to submit a sick call request to medical to trim our nails. Even diabetics who must keep toenails trimmed. Well, that sick call costs $100.
Say January 1st you go to medical for chronic care. It's charged $100. Then you go January 15th and again January 28th. You file a grievance Step One with medical about copay of January 1st. It's denied February 10th. You file a Step Two appeal to Regional Medical Supervisor. It's granted March 13th. Your monthly invoice will not show up until April 15th showing March 13th $100 was refunded for medical copay of January 1st. BUT a new charge for January 15th appears and the $100 is taken on March 13th. You start all over again, stretching out for months just like I'm doing now on a charge from March 2016. These pigs are determined to keep your money.
MIM(Prisons) responds: There are many tactics the state uses to enact medical neglect, and to create and exacerbate long-term health problems for prisoners. In some states they just throw the sick call in the trash. But in Texas they are frustrating people using the financial angle. Our Texas Campaign Pack has instructions for how to fight against the $100 medical copay. We can use this information to make ourselves a little bit stronger while we struggle to overthrow the horrible social and economic system that makes such an exorbitant copay possible in the first place.
The stressful conditions of imprisonment, through its tactics of oppression and the aggressions of the prison system, not only take a toll on our minds, but on our bodies as well. Lockdowns and constant hours confined in a cell erodes our bodies through inactivity. It's important to work on our physical stamina to aid us in our struggle against this oppression and this can be seen as an effort against this tyranny, furthering our revolutionary efforts. So exercise is important and one should do some kind of exercise every day as an action against our confinement.
Here are some simple exercises that can be done in a cell or the yard and shouldn't take more than 5 minutes.
Warm-up: This is an easy warm-up to try when you feel you're not in the mood to exercise yet. Do some calf raises, they're fairly easy. Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart, then get up on your tip-toes, then go back to standing normally; that's one. Do this about 10 or 20 times, or however many you feel is enough; it's a great way to get your blood flowing.
As you do these, if you want, you can hold your arms out to your sides, about shoulder level, for two counts, then straight up over your head for two counts. Then back to the start position. You can do this anywhere with any type of footwear.
Isometrics: Isometrics are when an exercise position is held for a few seconds in order to gain stamina at exercise. It's a great way to strengthen your core.
Here is a simple set of three exercises that shouldn't take more than 3 minutes to complete.
Forward Lunge - Starting with your feet shoulder width apart, step forward with your left leg until it is in a 90 degree position in front of you, your back leg bent forward it's lower leg (or calf) parallel to the floor. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds, then go back to the standing position. Next do the right leg. If you need to, between each exercise you can rest for 10 to 15 seconds, or until you have recovered. When doing the forward lunge try not to rest your hands on your leg or knee, as this will weaken it during the exercise.
Front Leaning rest - Get in a push-up position, and sink to the floor as if to do a push up, holding yourself just off the floor (or down and hold it, as it's known) then hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds.
Squats - Stand with your legs shoulder width apart; then bend your knees, bringing your upper torso down while keeping your back straight, until your knees are bent at 90 degrees, or what you can manage. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
During these exercises you can take small breaks of about 15 to 20 seconds in between each one, but it's best to do them one after the other, with as short a break as possible in between. If you want you can extend each exercise to 60 seconds and see if you can finish the whole set in under 5 minutes.
Quick Cardio: here are some exercises to work on your cardio. The whole set can be done in under 5 minutes.
Push-ups - do as many push-ups as you can in 30 seconds. Later, if you want you can increase this to 60 seconds.
Jumping Jacks - do as many jumping jacks as you can in 30 seconds, you can also increase this to 60 seconds.
Flutter kicks - lie on your back, on either the ground or your bunk, put your hands under your hips, on either side of your spine, so that your pelvis doesn't touch the floor (the best way to do this is to ball your hands into fists). Then bring your feet up so they and your legs are about 2 inches off the floor. Lift your left leg up until it is in a 45 degree position from your body. Then bring it back down to the start position. Next do the same with your right leg. Keep alternating legs at a steady pace (like walking or jogging) for about 30 seconds. This exercise can create stress on your back, so it's best to build your strength by doing the exercise moderately before you increase the time to 60 seconds.
Remember directly after your exercises you should walk or pace around for a few minutes, or do some calf raises. This is so your body can adjust itself to having been active after being in a cell all day.
Make time in your schedule to try some of these exercises. To strengthen your body is an action against the tyranny of imprisonment and a demonstration of determination against the actions of imperialism.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this writer's analysis of the importance of exercise to a strong mind and body, especially when both your mind and body are under attack in prison. A physical exercise program should be combined with mental exercise of political study and struggle as well as political organizing work. Some comrades have used exercise programs as a tool for political organizing, building unity in the yard by bringing together groups to work out together and then conducting education classes after these workouts.
It has been a while since I've sent you anything due to all the time involved with fighting the Texa$ Legalized Mafia (Texa$ Department of Criminal (in)Justice) in Federal Court. But I've got to the point that I had to make a report on the advances I've made in our struggle.
1. I sent a letter (which a copy of is enclosed) to the Medical Practice Manager on my Unit who works for University of Texas Medical Board (UTMB). I was reimbursed $100 of the $400 I owed them. Upon his response I sent him another letter informing him that though I was thankful for that, it was not enough, I wanted it all back. The next day it was done. Enclosed is a copy of the first letter I sent to the UTMB Practice Manager. I only have one stamp right now, so I will send the rest of the paperwork when I get a chance.
2. My lawsuit against the Texas Board of Criminal Justice is going great. The Court shot down the Ass. Att. General Leah O'Leary's Motion to Dismiss and her Supplemental Motion for Summary Judgment and gave me until September 9, 2016 to have all my Despositive Motions in. I've already done that and filed two complaints of Bad Faith on the Defendants' part for attempting to defraud the Court on several occasions. I've asked for two separate sanctions ordered and for the Court to order a Default Judgment in my favor. It won't be long and we will get the Revision to Board Policy-03.91 Correspondence Rules repealed.
My next 1983 Lawsuit in Federal Court against the Texas Board of Criminal (in)Justice is going to be over them violating our 14th Amendment right of equal protection under the law, which prohibits sexual/gender discrimination, due to their grooming standard policy. Women who are incarcerated in Texas can grow their hair as long as they want to, but men can't have it very long at all. This is a gender-neutral act and the state is discriminating between the sexes/genders. I've already gotten my informal resolution back from Warden Butcher at Terrell Unit and filed my Step 1 grievance. When it comes back I will file my Step 2 and so on into Federal Court.
Once I finish that one I am going to file against them for slowly but surely denying us due process by removing the tools we need to fight against unconstitutional acts. First in September 2014 they hid the Offender Grievance Operations Manual, and now I read in your latest ULK that they banned the Jailhouse Lawyers Handbook.
It is unbelievable how people watched me struggle day in and day out every day with this fight, and started donating paper, pens, envelopes, and documentation to help me. Please send me everything you can on the ban on the Jailhouse Lawyers Handbook and the Offender Grievance Operations Manual. Right now I'm in Ad-Seg because I was given 5 bogus major cases and an illegal use of force. They didn't use a chemical agent; they had it on hand but instead just beat me for 30 minutes on tape.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We commend this comrade on eir commitment to continuing eir lawsuits which benefit all prisoners in Texas, even though ey is facing persynal physical retaliation from prison staff.
We know that unfortunately the retaliation is more consistent than the victories. So while we support this comrade's efforts at this stage in our struggle, we also know that legal action alone won't put an end to the litany of abuses. What we ultimately need is to organize for self-determination of all oppressed peoples worldwide, including the internal semi-colonies within U.$. borders. Until we are free from Amerikkkan imperialism, we will always have a need for these lawsuits, and face even worse conditions. In the meantime, we organize, educate and try to carve out space for our survival.
I am contacting you to make you aware of my "Hunger Strike," and my demands and to ring the alarm about the oppressive administration here and to make sure my strike is "Documented."
Being falsely incarcerated since the age of sixteen years old for a crime I didn’t commit, sentenced to 100 plus years, and fighting for my liberation has been no easy task against this racist regime here at Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF) in Lukkkasville, Ohio.
At this time due to the continuous oppressive and outright abusive behavior of the administration, and harsh penalties for basic rule infractions, they have forced me to protest for change. This is my only means to protest nonviolently and peacefully to change the conditions and practices of this administration by laying my life on the line and going on a "Hunger Strike." I am only one voice and my sacrifice will be in vain without your support and the Power of the People. I'm nothing so I enlist your support and assistance to bring attention to this struggle and compel the power that be, to change and meet the hunger strike demands.
I will need for you and the people to make calls to Central Office 614-387-0588, so that my Hunger Strike is documented and changes are made.
To the world you are just one person, but to one person you may be the world. Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter and pray all is favorable to all concerned. I exit in revolutionary spirit. Shields up!
Hunger Strike Demands
1) A complete end of denying prisoners the right to basic hygiene necessities or property (soap, toothpaste & deodorant) which is required while in the hole [solitary confinement].
2) A complete end of denying prisoners the legal right to have access to their pending legal work to litigate the case while in the hole, and the immediate end with tampering with prisoners' incoming and outgoing mail.
3) A complete and immediate end to the recent arbitrary practice of handing down excessive and severe penalties for drug violations, and termination of visiting privileges when the Rule Infraction Board (RIB) have already handed down a penalty for Rule 39 and Rule 40. A 3-year non-contact visit from family and the outside world is unheard of for violation of Rule 39 & Rule 40, and extremely inappropriate and not healthy and destroys any possible chance to be rehabilitated to re-enter society. For this reason, favorable consideration shall be given and the penalty for violations for Rule 39 and Rule 40 shall be reduced to a reasonable amount of time that will not undermine the violation of the offense.
4) An immediate stop of violence against prisoners when cuffed, and stop the excessive use of force and spraying of prisoners with O.C. spray which causes severe health problems. Also, stop the embellishment of violation of Rule 4, to justify the physical assault of prisoners while cuffed. This prison has a very ugly history of "Excessive Use of Force" and this abuse must stop.
These are the more important things that we expect to accomplish as a result of this "Hunger Strike." There are other issues, some more important, others less.
As of 10 July 2016, there's a total of 3 that's on hunger strike.
MIM(Prisons) responds: In another article reporting on this hunger strike, there were 20 people participating as of July 18. This comrade rightly frames the hunger strike as the last possible nonviolent option. When officials do not respond to a hunger strike, they are saying that they'd rather have a violent uprising than meet the demand to stop torturing prisoners.
A public campaign such as a hunger strike is good to build organizing around a need: in this case, an end to solitary confinement, and adequate care for prisoners. In order to fight for an end to all conditions of torture and unnecessary suffering, our education needs to connect the hunger strike to a larger battle for justice worldwide, in other words, an end to imperialism.
Survival in this imperial dungeon is a must. Survival is more than looking over ya shoulder wondering when a shank will be placed in your back. Survival in these walls has a broad base.
First, we must be vigilant in what we eat, the reason why is food nourishes the body, mind and soul. There are so many chemicals added to our diet that it kills or destroys us over a period of time. We must change our diet or balance it with more fruits and veggies. What I have done was get on a kosher diet rich in fresh produce, and cut back on a lot of mystery meat. How can we fight with all our strength if what we eat is making us weak?
Another survival method I use is peers. I connect to those held captive in the system of snakes, and politic with them so we can all be on point. Staying away from negative energy which brings chaos. I try to apply "each one teach one" as my everyday survival method, cause once you help your brother-comrade in need it brings a feeling of joy.
But the enemy can come with all kinds of tricks, and once they see you are a fighter for justice, then you're hauled off to a solitary confinement unit. Now that's when you must use all the tools to survive. One method that I currently use now while housed here is reading a lot of material and applying the principles to my everyday life. And spreading literature helps so us comrades can chop it up (conversate) amongst each other and figure out ways to find solutions rather than being a problem. But I keep a simple program so I can survive in this imperial prison. Stocks of peanut butter in case food supply doesn't come. Batteries for fuel, radio to keep up with current events. And learning more about self, so I can be prepared mentally to overcome this injustice.
MIM(Prisons) responds: On the topic of survival in solitary confinement, we distribute excerpts from the "Survivors Guide for Solitary Confinement" pamphlet that was released by the American Friends Service Committee. It is primarily authored by prisoners and gets into many mental health tactics, including meditation, setting a schedule, and regular exercise. These tactics are useful for any comrade who's serious about political organizing, whether locked up or not.
Sometimes our oppressors will put us in a strip cell with no bedding, no warmth, no food, no water, no medical attention. In those moments, there's little we can do as far as relying on peanut butter reserves. But maintaining everyday practices that keep us healthy and strong, and with a strong ideological understanding of the reasons we're facing these horrible conditions, will help us remain strong and make it through this torture. Our survival tactics may be individual at times, but our struggle is vast.