There comes a time when a person in oppressed conditions must wake up, stand up and speak up about the conditions that we find ourself in. I'm being held in a minimum facility that's being run like a super max and I realize the social and psychological effects that this has on a person. Twenty two hours trapped inside a unit with no interaction with other prisoners, except in passing and chow, living in a dorm unit that doesn't have enough seats for everyone to watch TV, not enough restroom stalls, and the numerous mental states that a person has to deal with while living in this boiling pot of confusion, depression, and aggression.
A director of Colorado's Correction Department, Rick Raemisch, spent the night in an isolated cell as an experiment and he said it left him "feeling twitchy and paranoid." He also said he suffered mental anguish after spending only 20 hours in solitary confinement on 23 January 2014. Some of our brothers spend 20 months in these confined conditions, and some 20 years. Most people who get tossed into solitary confinement already have mental problems and these places are dumping grounds for the mentally ill.
There was a prisoner here in the Nebraska state pen who did most of his time in confinement. He told the staff that he had mental issues and that he needed help before he got out but they refused to help him. He told the staff that if he didn't get any mental health programming or help that he just might get out and kill someone, but they didn't help him, they just made him do his full time and tossed him back into society. Within 30 days he went and killed 4 people. This is just one issue out of many and our problems run deeper than just mental health and substance abuse treatment. There are issues that need to be addressed like political interest, job skill programs, and community development. The prison overcrowding issues needs to be addressed as well because this overcrowding is causing prisons to put these institutions on a modified lockdown status which is why our minimum institution is run like it's one big Ad-Seg.
So let's wake up, stand up and speak up, about these issues and conditions. Much love and respect to the brothers on the east coast, fighting in the belly of the beast, stay strong to my family in the Midwest and down south and to all my comrades on the West, go hard till ya go home.
MIM(Prisons) adds: Colorado Executive Director of Correction Rick Raemisch wrote an editorial in the New York Times about his experience in solitary confinement that this comrade describes. In this article he quotes Terry Kupers on the psychological effects of long term isolation.
He admits that "I would spend a total of 20 hours in that cell. Which, compared with the typical stay, is practically a blink. On average, inmates who are sent to solitary in Colorado spend an average of 23 months there. Some spend 20 years." But he still tries to justify the use of solitary confinement as targetting the "worst of the worst", those who "act up" when in reality it is often those who are politically aware and organizing that get slammed behind the isolation door.
Not only does Colorado have formal control units, but they also have Restricted Privileges units which are on lockdown 22 hours a day. Further, Colorado prisons, like those across the country, continues to refuse to address prisoners' grievances, a battle taken up with a grievance campaign in that state. We are not optimistic that Raemish's words will translate into fundamental change in the Colorado prisons. Until we eliminate the basis of prisons as a tool of social control, even the best sentiments of one executive director will not have a significant impact on the system.