Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Inmate atttempts suicide same day as TCJS prevention training

The renewed focus on suicide prevention by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards paid off recently in my hometown, reported the Tyler Morning Telegraph ("March 17"):
Staff at Smith County Jail and others across East Texas saw their training put to the test when an inmate at the jail attempted to hang himself on the same day representatives from the Texas Commission on Jail Standards were in town teaching staff about suicide prevention.

The 34-year-old male inmate from Lindale was rushed to the hospital about 7 p.m. Tuesday night and remained in a Tyler hospital Wednesday, where he was upgraded to stable condition, while jail staff continued their two-day training at the jail. 

Smith said an investigation into the incident so far has revealed the man hanged himself using a T-shirt, not with a towel as staff first believed. The man was found by jailers about 7 p.m. Tuesday during a routine check, which are required by the the Texas Commission on Jail Standards to be conducted every 30 minutes, regardless of the inmate's mental state. 

The jail was cited for failing to make a cell check on time for a 24-year-old man who was found hanging in his cell May 16, 2015.


Here's a bit more detail regarding circumstances surrounding the latest incident:
[Sheriff Larry] Smith said the inmate was being held in a separation cell located in the original portion of the jail, because jailers felt he could be a danger to others, Smith said. Medical personnel had seen the inmate at 3 p.m. Tuesday and did not believe him to be suicidal. The inmate had been in the separation cell for about two days. 

Currently, jailers check inmates who are on suicidal watch every 10 minutes, unless they are deemed at immediate risk. Inmates who are actively attempting to harm themselves are placed on constant watch, with a jailer monitoring them at all times. 

“If an inmate claims to be suicidal, they have to do specific things, such as notify the magistrate, their supervisor and medical staff,” TCJS Executive Director Brandon Wood said. “We encourage them to be as proactive as possible.”

Inmates not on suicide watch are allowed to have personal items in cells, such as clothing and hygiene items. 
That last line makes me wonder if inmates deemed suicidal are routinely stripped naked in their cells? If inmates "not on suicide watch are allowed to have personal items ... such as clothing," that implies suicidal ones don't get clothes. I understand wanting to limit their means of harming themselves, but that's also a pretty big incentive to lie about one's mental health condition if admitting it will get you stripped naked and stuck in an isolation cell.

To his credit, this episode and the one last year that got them cited by TCJS have Sheriff Smith thinking about the issue in a more proactive fashion:
Smith said he wants to go beyond jail standards and put more safeguards in place.

During the jail’s January inspection, the sheriff’s office asked TCJS to return to host this week's training classes on suicide prevention. The instructor taught the class for four groups of law enforcement personnel from around East Texas on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

"That’s part of addressing the issue. … We’re doing everything we can do," Smith said of the training. "I’ve already given (staff) ... an assignment to think outside the box. What can we do that’s not being done anywhere else to get out in front of all possibilities and to limit suicide as much as we can?," Smith said. "Forget about what the jail commission requires us to do with minimum standards, what else can we do to do that?”
Grits tends to credit the Sandra Bland tragedy last year with a heightened focus on suicide prevention in Texas jails. Jailers are more likely now to be held accountable when something goes wrong, especially when they cover it up. And that in turn pressures administrators like Smith to take prevention much more seriously.

24 comments:

Unknown said...

"That last line makes me wonder if inmates deemed suicidal are routinely stripped naked in their cells?"

Poke around in literature about prison conditions for a while.

If having clothing removed isn't enough incentive to lie about one's mental state, look at "four point restraints" in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_watch . Not all facilities allow bathroom breaks.

He's Innocent said...


When I read this post and noted the "stripped naked" portion, I immediately reacted that YES! They do take their clothing! However, I waited to speak to my spouse to confirm this information.

My spouse is both a former law officer of 23 years, and a former guest of the state of Texas in Amarillo, Navasota, and Huntsville - all fine inns.

He confirm that it is indeed policy to take inmate clothing while in ad seg if the inmate affirms suicidal thoughts.

(Personally, my internal heater sux, and I'd be dead from frost bite within 12 hours either from the weather or the A/C.)

So yes, there is plenty of incentive to say one is NOT suicidal. Ad seg is bad enough as is let alone being naked the entire time.

Our incarceration policies are barbaric.

Unknown said...

Not just Texas, but military facilities as well. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/mar/11/stripped-naked-bradley-manning-prison

From Dallas said...

Consider the practice of housing mentally ill citizens or suddenly suicidal folks, in solitary confinement "for their own protection":

Totally alone in a squallid, dirty or rusted, 9-by-6-by-7-foot concrete cell; being stripped naked; either shivering when very cold or sweating when it is incredibly hot in the summer when inside temperatures can reach 110/115 degrees.... often, no other human being visible to the detainee. Assaulted by incessant metallic clanging of slamming metal doors, interrupted only by screams from unseen prisoners in unseen cells; guards yelling orders; strange smelling from human excrements, mold, or just prison; medicines that one has been taking not available, causing withdrawl symptoms....... lights always on as isolation cells are lighted 24 hours a day for the "physical" safety of prisoners. Hungry, thirsty, scared, alone, psychotic. The food, if available, is unedible, the water warm and foul tasting.
Frequent inmates counts, cell checks, lights, noises, fear, hunger or thirst, agitation, or withdrawl symptoms from lack of the meds they may be used to taking and not available... cause sleep deprivation. After two or three days of sleep deprivation, psychosis sets in.

Now imagine: mentally ill, scared, sleep deprived, hungry, totally alone, in a humiliating, degrading, squallid cell guarded by people who just go about their business of seeing you less-than-human and ready to use their tasers, batons, shackles and fists if you show any negative emotions or seem disruptive.... THIS IS A FORM OF MENTAL TORTURE: no way around it.

In addition to the incessant lights, noises, sleep deprivation, hunger, fear (terror), withdrawl symptoms, if the detainees are schizofrenic, they hear voices and have their own demons to deal with. If suffering from bipolar disorder, major depression, and PTSD, and experiencing a psychotic episode, they are already as frightened as it is humanly possible to be. Now add the experience of being placed in solitary as described above, and tell me that it is not torture.

All this for the crime of being mentally ill and in jail — possibly after being arrested and awaiting trial, and presumed innocent; or detained for a minor probation or traffic violation. Many have been disrupting the peace, or trespassing — behavior resulting from their psychosis. Most people who are manic do "disturb the peace." Police officers, however, have no place to take them for protection — other than the jail. Some are truly dangerous criminals, yet, do we need to torture them?

Many jails have repeatedly denied mentally ill defendants the anti-psychotic medications prescribed to them by their outside doctors — medications needed to keep them sane. As a result, the same medical staff hired to protect detainees, is triggering psychotic breakdowns in people suffering from bipolar disorder, PTSD, depression and schizophrenia. Denied their usual medications, defendants suffer paranoid delusions and mania so debilitating that some have tried to commit suicide multiple times in jail, slashing their throats or wrists with county-issued razors, hanging, or any other possible means. Some may need meds for physical illnesses which, untreated for days or weeks, will become deadly. Others may have an undiagnosed mental illness which will flare up under these barbaric conditions.

(Continues below)

From Dallas said...

Continued from above:
WE NEED TO BUILD CARING, PROFESSIONAL, WELL EQUIPPED MENTAL HEALTH FACILITIES, "HUMANE" JAILS staffed with people who have at least two years of college and have been PROPERLY TRAINED and vetted.
WE NEED A SYSTEM OF TRUE ACCOUNTABILITY....

MOST OF ALL, WE NEED A CHANGE OF MIND SET: JAILS AND PRISONS ARE NOT CRIME DETERRENTS. THE WAY WE HAVE BUILT THEM RENDER THEM UNFIT FOR HUMAN HABITATION. This way, true justice is denied and mental torment is inflicted to the defendants, in some cases year after year and with tragic consequences
that include anguish for their families and the incredible cost of having incessant revolving doors.
Training and education of police and guards will help, yet, there is NO WAY that even the most trained guard can screen for these disorders, understand them, address them, or be equipped to properly deal with these detainees/patients. Jails are not hospitals and guards are not psychiatric nurses. Most often than not, guards and police look at acting out during a psychotic break as a "behavioral problem" and not the result of mental illness. Sometimes these "behavioral problems" are deadly indeed and result in needless suicides.

When solitary confinement is the only method for protecting seriously mentally ill or suicidal people from hurting themselves or others, we are back in the 1700's. Jails are not hospitals. This is what was done until the 1850s when Dorothea Dix campaigned for reform. The 1850s folks! And now we are in the 21st century and doing the same thing — in our resource-rich, intellectually advanced, progressive, Texas, and everywhere else.

WE HAVE SOLD OUR COLLECTIVE SOULS, BECOME SPIRITUALLY BANKRUPT, IMPLEMENTED BARBARIC CONDITIONS THAT HAVE RESULTED IN UNTOLD SUFFERING OFTEN LEADING TO SUICIDES.... FOR WHAT?

WE HAVE LOST ALL OF OUR moral or ethical foundation if can't provide all of our citizens, and especially the most vulnerable ones, with some basic human rights. PLACING SUICIDAL PEOPLE, OR ANYBODY ELSE AS A MATTER OF FACT, IN SQUALLID, TERRIFYING, ISOLATION CELLS IS BARBARIC AND PROTECTS NO-ONE.

The few officials willing to talk on-the-record about the jails treatment of the mentally ill say the portrait of an institution practicing “cruel and unusual punishment” is overblown, lacking the proper context and outdated. "What problems existed in the past, they say, mostly have been ironed out."
THIS IS NOT TRUE.Our jail system -- at every level of the counties or State's bureaucracy, from higher levels down to the county administrative officers, the sheriff, the jails medical staff, the county public health officers and guards -- has helped institutionalize a methodology of mental torture, turning it into an ineffective and barbaric institution, most often blind and silent to its deadly consequences.

IT IS AN INSANE SYSTEM.

From Dallas said...

By the way: prisons are worse. The Skyview unit, the Monfort unit and the Michael's unit - all housing mentally ill inmates, use up to 30 days of isolation in unfit cells called "Stabilization Units" - They claim that they no longer use "solitary confinment". NOT TRUE

---- these "stabilization cells are torture chambers. After 30 days of this treatment, detainees are worse off than when they first went in. As a consequence, to keep them from going ballistic, doctors may overmedicate them with powerful antipsychotics that make them zombie-like while in the medical unit. When returned to a regular prison setting these meds are discontinued........ you need not to be a PhD to understand the deleterious consequences of suddendly interrupting these meds. Now the guards take over and give the inmate case after case for "not following orders". More solitary, beatings, abuses.... and the cycle continues. Then the inmate becomes suicidal. The suicidal inmate is sent back to Skyview: 30 days in the "stabilization cell", more meds..... then back to the unit with no meds or changed meds..... and the cycle of abuse continues. Many do not survive: they either commit suicide or have strss-related, deadly illnesses.
BY THE WAY: PHYSICAL ILLNESSES MAY GO UNTREATED FOR YEARS, especially in mentally ill inmates as their physical complaints are not taken seriously. Now: imagine an inmate being overmedicated, zombie-like, at the psych facilities while his heart condition, hep-C, HIV pos, bronchitis and asthma go untreated...... Then being blamed and punished for "acting out" or "being manipulative" or "complaining too much". THIS IS TORTURE.
AND THE GUARDS..... THINKING IT IS ALL "A BEHAVIORAL PROBLEM"!

Anonymous said...

On July 13, 2012, Sgt. James Brown, an active duty Fort Bliss soldier, self-reported to the El Paso County jail to serve a 48-hour sentence for a DUI. Brown, who had served two tours of combat duty in Iraq, wrote on a jail form that he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress. According to a news report, Brown contacted his mother after he checked in to the jail, and explained that the jail now wanted him to stay for a week, and that he had decided that he “just wanted to pay the court fine and get out of here.” His mother sent the money for the fine, but James Brown never returned home. He was 26 years old.

The autopsy report said that Brown died of natural causes related to “sickle cell crisis.” Local news station KFOX14 fought “all the way to the attorney general” to obtain the video showing what happened in the jail in the moments before Brown’s death.

At some point, Brown experiences an episode of bleeding, although it is unclear where on his body he is bleeding. A staff team wearing riot gear storm the cell, restrain and shackle Brown, and perform a forced cell extraction- but Brown is not fighting. He pleads repeatedly, “I can’t breathe.” The staff carries Brown to the ‘infirmary,’ and even though Brown is audibly short of breath and his condition is obviously deteriorating, no ambulance is called. Instead of summoning help, the guards place a spit hood over his head. James Brown’s family attorney B.J. Crow described to KFOX:

B.J. Crow: “When a 26-year-old active military person checks into jail for a court-imposed sentence on a Friday, and he leaves Sunday, you know, in a casket, something went horribly wrong there. … He was bleeding out the ears, the nose, the mouth. His kidneys shut down. His blood pressure dropped to a very dangerous level. And his liver shut down.”

In the end, James Brown dies naked in a cell, not blinking or responding.

The family is suing for wrongful death.

Anonymous said...

Inmates locked up in solitary confinement in Texas remain in those confinement conditions for an average of four years. Over 100 Texas prisoners have spent more than 20 years in solitary confinement. The state also holds at least 2,012 people with mental illness in isolation, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas.

In 2014, the ACLU of Texas and the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP) studied the state’s use of solitary confinement. The organizations surveyed 147 people in solitary confinement. They “interviewed and corresponded with people in solitary confinement.” They “consulted with security and psychiatric experts and interviewed correctional officers.” They also submitted public information requests to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ).

from: https://shadowproof.com/2015/02/10/a-challenge-against-insanity-texas-the-abuse-of-solitary-confinement-in-prisons/


Alex has been in solitary confinement for ten years.

Anonymous said...

What the organization found is that Texas “overuses” the practice. The estimated national average in solitary confinement is one to two percent of the prison population. Texas houses four times as many in solitary confinement.

There were 1,243 prisoners released directly from solitary confinement into Texas communities in 2013. Prisoners subjected to solitary confinement are more likely to “commit new crimes” than other inmates who were held in general population.

Ninety-five percent of prisoners surveyed reported development of “some sort of psychiatric symptoms as a result of solitary confinement.” The survey also found that, of those who met with a mental health worker, “sixty-five percent said their meetings were less than two minutes long.” This probably explains why those in “solitary confinement are five times more likely to commit suicide than those in the general population.”

Nathan, one of the inmates surveyed, shared, “Now I know how the caged animal must feel and why it paces the way it does.”

“I feel so angry at times and I pace this cell for hours trying to get my thoughts and feelings under control,” he added. “I feel suffocating feelings and have anxiety attacks that I feel are going to kill me sometimes—heart attack. I sometimes see things in this cell like ghosts flitting around the floor & walls. I can’t sleep for days at time and the officers count every hour and most of them bang on your door, shine their lights in your face and make you get up and show them [your] ID card—tell you make sure you
are alive.”

“I get so angry I cuss, kick the door & walls and lose any self control I have and I actually start to think about really ending this torment—I sometimes sleep so much I lose track of days at a time—sometimes several. That’s when I really feel disoriented/
confused/afraid.”

Another inmate, Greg, said, “I am an honorably discharged combat veteran diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety disorder, panic disorder, etc. Isolation is torture. There can be no other word for it.”

“‘Isolation’ simply means you are single-celled. You are not removed from the effects of other inmates’ extreme behavior resultant from ad seg,” he added. “People flood the areas by plugging toilets. Fires are routinely started so you wake in the middle of the night choking on black smoke. Electricity gets turned off. People scream, yell non-sensical gibberish all night. They bang doors 24 hours.”

It affects a person’s ability to maintain connections to family. According to Ignacio, it becomes “harder to deal with real life problems. Mainly because I feel suspended in time. No human contact. Very little human interactions.”

““[Solitary confinement] has been the reason I’ve really & truly never gotten any true rehabilitation in getting rid of these problems that have made me so aggressive!” Carlos shared.
*

The report features a vivid story from Alex about what he goes through in solitary confinement. Alex’s cell is “sixty square feet in size.” When his arms are lifted, Alex’s fingertips “almost graze the walls.” Alex is not allowed to put anything on the four concrete walls of his cell.

Alex’s door is solid metal “with a slot for a food tray and two thin Plexiglas rectangles” so prison guards can see him. Alex sleeps on a steel bunk, which has a “thin plastic mattress.” Alex has a toilet in the corner of his cell, which means his cell often smells like “mold and urine and feces and filth.”


Anonymous said...




The only contact Alex typically has with another human is the “hand that slides his food tray through a slit in his cell door. Weeks pass in which Alex never sees another person’s face or looks another person in the eyes.” Alex has no window in his cell. Alex has trouble sleeping at night and typically only gets about four hours of sleep in a night.

There is “constant banging, clanking, rage, anger” from prisoners in neighboring cells. Alex can hear them scream. Some of the prisoners cut themselves or eat their own feces. And, although he is supposed to get an hour of recreation several times a week, guards often go “for weeks without letting people on his block leave their cell for recreation.”

Alex has been in solitary confinement for ten years. Alex, however, is doing better than most. Alex has a journal. Alex picks words out of the dictionary and learns a new word each day. Alex feeds the lizards that enter his cell. Alex still wants more of an education before he is released from prison. Alex is holding it together as best as he can.

“Everyday someone is getting hurt or hurting themselves. Everyday theres fire and floods and complete chaos & hate. Everyday there’s loneliness,” Alex recalled. “I woke up last night to someone screaming ‘Let Me Out of Here’ (again) over and over with so much anguish there was no doubt he was screaming from his very soul. But he was just screaming what we are all thinking.

“Everyday is a challenge here. A challenge against insanity.”

Anonymous said...

SLEEP DEPRIVATION: “I feel so angry at times and I pace this cell for hours trying to get my thoughts and feelings under control,” he added. “I feel suffocating feelings and have anxiety attacks that I feel are going to kill me sometimes—heart attack. I sometimes see things in this cell like ghosts flitting around the floor & walls. I can’t sleep for days at time and the officers count every hour and most of them bang on your door, shine their lights in your face and make you get up and show them [your] ID card—tell you make sure you are alive.”

Anonymous said...

WHY MENTAL HEALTH IS NOT WORKING (HINT! THEY ARE NOT DOING THEIR JOB!) - Ninety-five percent of prisoners surveyed reported development of “some sort of psychiatric symptoms as a result of solitary confinement.” The survey also found that, of those who met with a mental health worker, “sixty-five percent said their meetings were less than two minutes long.” This probably explains why those in “solitary confinement are five times more likely to commit suicide than those in the general population.”

Anonymous said...

SOLITARY CONFINMENT IS TORTURE - Greg, said, “I am an honorably discharged combat veteran diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety disorder, panic disorder, etc. Isolation is torture. There can be no other word for it.”

“‘Isolation’ simply means you are single-celled. You are not removed from the effects of other inmates’ extreme behavior resultant from ad seg,” he added. “People flood the areas by plugging toilets. Fires are routinely started so you wake in the middle of the night choking on black smoke. Electricity gets turned off. People scream, yell non-sensical gibberish all night. They bang doors 24 hours.”

It affects a person’s ability to maintain connections to family. According to Ignacio, it becomes “harder to deal with real life problems. Mainly because I feel suspended in time. No human contact. Very little human interactions.”

““[Solitary confinement] has been the reason I’ve really & truly never gotten any true rehabilitation in getting rid of these problems that have made me so aggressive!” Carlos shared.

Anonymous said...

There is no such thing as a "stabilization cell" at Skyview.

A grieving mother said...

@2:14 - "....no such thing as a "stabilization cell" at Skyview" - really? Changing the name of what you do, makes it no different.

You bastards placed my son, stark naked in a single cell, gave him a small blanket, and kept him in a freezing cell for days in 2014, with NO MEDS. Deny all you want.....

In 2007 my son was declared "100 per cent disabled by the social security office - he was not faking his mental illness. He had a story going back a decade when he received traumatic brain injury in a car accident."

2014 - He had told the folks at the Michael's unit that he was suicidal: They placed him in a small room "for his own protection" after they stripped him and searched him to makew sure he had nothing to harm himself with. DO YOU KNOW WHAT WAS IN THAT CELL? A RAZOR BLADE UNDER THE BUNK. HE DID CUT HIMSELF and almost died. WHO PLACED THE BLADE THERE? Who knows. It was not him, he was naked when they put him there. By the way: the social worker there said to me> "he isn't suicidal, he is just manipulative. And, no, we do not list TBI or PTSD in our charts as UTMB does not let us treat these medical conditions, We don't treat them here.".

So, there he goes to Skyview (2015) where he is placed stark naked in a rathole. I had to call a dozen times for you to get him out of that miserable place. I was told that "the standard is 30 days". You kept him there about a week.

It took you guys over a week to get him his meds, and then they were too many and too strong. The meds he really needed were never given. His TBI ignored, PTSD (What's that?)....He was weak, could barely walk, I knew not why. He was like a zombie and had non-epilectic seizures for a long time as a result of the wrong psych meds. I had to make numerous calls to to get his meds reviewed. When the meds were discontinued or changed, the seizures stopped. But he was losing weight and getting weaker and weaker.

WHAT YOU DID NOT TREAT WAS HIS CONGESTIVE HEART FAILURE which WAS THE RESULT OF A HIGHLY INFECTED PERIODONTAL DISEASE THAT that existed FOR OVER TWO YEARS and was not treated either.

By the time UTMB diagnosed the heart condition, it was too late. HE DIED IN NOVEMBER 2015.

When I went to see him in September of 2015, he was shaking like a leaf. He was cold, but no jacket was given to him. During the phone calls, he would tell me that the guards kept the temperature at the pod at less than 65 degrees.

In Sept. 2015 I let Warden Stanley *Skyview) know that my son was very, very ill. He replied: "He ain't that sick, he is all right". ALTHOUGH HE COULD NOT WALK BECAUSE Of FATIGUE AND LEG SWELLING, THEY REFUSED HIM A WHEELCHAIR NUMEROUS TIMES. EVENTUALLY, THEY LET HIM "PUSH" THE WHEELCHAIR AND USE IT AS A WALKER/ I was told: "this is not a hospital, we don't have wheelchairs. (By the way, that was a lie).

The first week in October, 2015, I saw my son in that prison for the last time, before he was transferred to a hospital unit. His face was swallewn like a watermelon, he could barely breathe, his legs and hands were swallen and petechias had formed as a results of capillaries breaking. FINALLY WARDEN STANLEY AND UTMB BELIEVED ME, but they still denied him a wheelchair. I watched him painfully walk to the phone area. They finally did transfer him to a hospital when he was so swallen that he could not stand up, walk, move or even sit to get his teeth fixed,

HE DIED ON NOVEMBER 22, 2015/ By the time they got him to a hospital, the bacterial infection could not be contained and his heart valve was destroyed.

I DON'T CARE WHAT YOU CALL IT: YOU DO WHAT YOU DO AND IT IS TORTURE.
I ALSO DON'T CARE IF YOU TELL ME THAT AS A MOTHER I AM BIASED/ HELL YES/ BUT THE FACTS ARE FACTS AND YOU CANNOT HIDE FROM THEM. YOU HAVE MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY TORTURED MY SON: I will keep on telling his story.

A grieving mother said...

Continued:
2000: Allred unit - guard: Contreras: hog tied and beat him, his skull open his eyes almost out, required dozens of stitches,.... there was no provocation..... later Allred was sued by two other inmates - the judge at the 5th ct of appl said the brutality was justified. He suffered irreversible TBI *traumatic brain injury - on top if the one that he had already - UTMB NEVER LISTED OR TREATED TBI.

2013-14: Michael unit: punished him over and over for having seizures as he could not stay in line or could not hear orders when they spoke to him. The seizures would last ten or fifteen minutes, then he was disoriented as a result. I was told "there is a fine line between having seizures and faking it, and there are always consequences gor behavioral problems." - THEY FAILED TO TREAT HIS PERIODONTAL DISEASE, PTSD, TBI, HIS HEART FAILURE, HIS HYPO-THYROIDISM - HE WOULD BE PLACED IN ISOLATION IF HE INDICATED THAT HE WAS DEPRESSED. When hi said he was suicidal, someone placed a blade in an isolation cell that was not properly checked.... mental health care was: "he is just manipulating the system."

SO..... SKYVIEW DOES NOT PLACE INMATES ALONE, IN SINGLE ISOLATED CELLS, STARK NAKED? Perhaps it is not the prison that does that, perhaps it is the way UTMB uses the facilities. I don't care. It happens.
Go tell your lies to someone else who still believes in Santa Claus. And, if you or UTMB have changed your policy, I will rejoice, but that information needs to come from someone else. You are not to be trusted. You lied to me too many times.

A grieving mother said...

I am not finished:

Inmates are housed at Skyview in one building. To get to the mess hall to eat they have to walk a few hundred yards from that building to another. If it rains, ... BAD LUCK. The inmates (all mentally ill as Skyview is a psych unit) will walk IN THE RAIN or SNOW or wjatever WITH NO PROTECTIVE GEAR, they will eat in the measly uniform SOAKING WET, then they are returned to the main unit SOAKING WET. No jackets, no protective clothing.
I already said it and I am going to repeat it. One way they keep the inmates "calm" is by lowering the temperature to 65 degrees (guards I know confirmed this). While the guards wear heavy jackets, the inmates at the pod freeze continuosly, shiver and resort to going to bed where they have a small blanket. They are not allowed to take the blanket in the day room. They have no sweathers or jackets to wear. They do have long sleeved shirts they can purchase for several dollars at the commissary; they are supposed to be "thermal" - look at them! They are paper thin.
The food is so substandard I will reserve a separate section to discuss it. While the inmates basically starve or eat garbage to survive, some guards will eat their take-out lunch in front of them, slowly savoring the food an inmate can only dream of. Their sensitivity level is appalling.
Now, tell me it is not true, please. I HAVE WITNESSED THIS MYSELF WHILE VISITING AT SKYVIEW. The guard guarding "the cage" behind the phone, was just doing this, while my son had not eaten for days: the food served is high in added soy protein - he was allergice/sensitive to soy and would go without eating for days.

WHEN HE DIED ON NOV 22, 2015 - CACHEXIA HAD SET IN. HE WAS ONLY 85 LBS WHEN THE MORGUE GOT HIM. CACHEXIA IS THE STARVATION A DYING PERSON OFTEN GOES THROUGH, BUT HIS INABILITY TO EAT STARTED BEFORE THE DYING PROCESS; PERIODONTAL DISEASE MADE IT PAINFUL TO CHEW ANY FOOD; THE SOY MADE HIM FEEL BLOATED AND HE THREW UP OFTEN; THE BACTERIAL INFECTION MADE HIM WEAK.

ALL UNTREATED FOR YEARS.

IT THIS IS NOT TORTURE, WHAT IS?

For Timothy said...


Mental Health Failures in TDCJ

Timothy Bazrowx wrote a report called “The Epithetical Criminalization of Mental Health Patients in the Texas Criminal Justice System” on his experiences as a prisoner with mental health issues(depression, anxiety, and addiction) and the dehumanizing way he has been treated. He describes his experiences being alienated both by other prisoners and the prison staff, and how the prison counselor completely failed him when he needed help. This incident began after he was falsely accused of using a counterfeit stamp, leading to his bunk being ransacked by guards and much of his property, including his writing tools,being taken. This caused him to fall into a very serious state of depression, but he was not able to be seen by his normal counselor, and instead of finding help he was labelled as a threat to himself or others. After his incident with the counselor, he was then sent to a mental health unit where he was kept in an extreme isolation cell, stripped of all his property, outer clothing, glasses, sheets, and even eating utensils and left in a freezing cold cell. He was even forced to use the bathroom without any toilet paper and while being observed by guards. These conditions led him to an anxiety attack and self harm, and his situation only worsened from there. Read the whole story here.

The Texas ACLU report on Isolation, “A Solitary Failure”, also addresses the way isolation exacerbates mental health issues and increases violence and self-harm.
from: https://uncaptivevoices.wordpress.com/2016/03/25/tdcjabuses/

For Timothy said...

https://uncaptivevoices.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/image_00001.pdf

https://uncaptivevoices.wordpress.com/2016/03/25/tdcjabuses/

We would like to publicly document some of the ongoing issues within the Texas Department of “Criminal Justice”. This includes abuse and retaliation, a complete failure at providing mental health care, and violations of human rights and civil rights on Death Row and throughout the prison system. Thanks to letters and discussions from inmates at Eastham Unit, Wynne Unit, and Polunsky Unit/Death Row, we have compiled some of the ongoing problems and resistance here.

Part 1

As we discussed in our earlier post, men at the Eastham Unit took part in a hunger strike to protest ongoing water shortages and inhumane conditions, and have since been retaliated against by corrupt “correctional officers” and a warden with no interest in fixing the problems there. This is a continuing update on ongoing abuses of inmates at the Eastham Unit in Texas:

In November he wrote us about ongoing harassment from Major Sahani. “They gave my neighbor a case for having an empty eye-drop bottle even though they sell them at commissary and give them out at medical. Also, now we have to wait 6 months to get state shoes even if they are all torn, and from what I’ve been told, Major Sahani told them to do this. I feel that this is just so that those of us who can’t afford to but commissary shoes won’t be able to go out to recreation. This major has done nothing but make things harder for us here and made up rules which make no sense.”

In December I received correspondence about a violent attack on an inmate by guards: “Around the last week of November, three officers beat up an inmate in here and left him bleeding on his cell floor; another officer found him there and they were able to take him to the hospital, which was a good thing because if not he would have died. One of the officers got arrested and the other two were sent to population(from ad-seg) pending an investigation. The arrested officer was C.O. Morgan, and the other two were Greoham(sp?) and Holden. But, these officers said that Lt. Torres gave the order…Lt. Torres was only transferred to Population. But this isn’t the first time this has occurred (also detailed in the previous post)…There was another such incident where they ran the team on a young inmate, beat him up, then brought him out handcuffed, and when they were on the third to last step on the stairs they pushed him because he allegedly “struggled”, but the inmate had both eyes busted, and bloodied nose and lips. I’ve been told there’s an investigation on both incidents. Now this all started when Major Sahani got here and instilled this officers vs inmates mentality in his officers. Imagine how we feel to not know when or if we might get pulled out our cells and handcuffed just to get beat up?

On top of this, they have the heaters on when it is 60-70 degrees outside so it feels like 100 in here, and I’ve been getting headaches and small black outs due to this heat, but I can’t even go to the medical department because it’s a $100 co-pay…I’m just so tired of these mind games they are playing…to retaliate against us for complaining. ”

Continued Retaliation and Sleep Deprivation:

In January he wrote, “It’s crazy in here. I’ve been stuck on this cell with my toilet constantly flushing since last Friday. It’s Tuesday now and they still ain’t done nothing to fix it even though I’ve talked to 2 Sgt’s and 1 Lt. It’s driving me crazy because it’s right next to my bunk and I haven’t been able to get a “good” night’s sleep, and can’t even hear my neighbor when he calls me because of this.But it’s their little way of retaliating for my grievances and letters I send out exposing the conditions in here. I am pretty sure anywhere else this would be a violation of my human rights…as a form of sleep deprivation.”

For Timothy said...

March 2016:

Most recently, he reported that the conditions have returned to the same degree of seriousness as before the hunger strike and that he is still facing retaliation. There are numerous health related issues happening. An outbreak of illness (apparently Tuberculosis or Chickenpox) is being improperly treated, and guards refused to inform other inmates about what condition the sick men in their area had, despite the threat to all of their health. “When we started asking for answers from the Rank they said we were going on lockdown for Shakedown, so this is their way of retaliating to shut us up!” Furthermore, “They are not passing out necessities or running recreation, and during the shake down they ‘lost’ peoples’ property. They’ll come and tell us we are going to Rec and then 30 minutes later they pull out until the following day. They haven’t exchanged our socks, towels or sheets since last Wednesday(1 week before), and that day was just our socks and towels.” These issues added to the ongoing violence, isolation, and issues detailed above have set the men close to a breaking point. Creating such a hellish, tense situation is not in the best interest of prisoners or guards, not to mention the effects of a long-term traumatic living situation that will follow these men home and into their communities. This retaliation and inhumane situation needs to end now!

For Timothy said...

A Call To Action:

Concerned family, friends, and activists plan to confront the Texas Board of “Criminal Justice” on April 15th and demand changes around isolation and conditions in Texas prisoners. The Board meeting is in Austin, and Houston residents will be carpooling that morning(at 8am) and returning in the afternoon. Each person is allowed 3 minutes to address the Board and there are numerous ‘rules’ as outlined on the website linked above. Will you join us to pack the house and demand change? Contact us to plan the trip and catch a ride. We plan to share on conditions from letters and books written by inmates.

Related Upcoming Events:

Tomorrow, Sat. the 26th, The Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity and People’s Paper Co-op will hold an event on expungement and barriers created by criminal records from 10-12 at SHAPE (3815 Live Oak St., Houston, TX 77004.) They will also be opening an exhibit from their project at the Project Row Houses, Artists Talk at 2:30, reception from 4-7pm. https://www.facebook.com/events/517175618443776/

On Tuesday April 5th, 7-9pm also at SHAPE (3815 Live Oak St.) Death Row exonoree Ron Keine will be telling his story of wrongful conviction, suffering, and redemption. More info here: https://www.facebook.com/events/504096549770054/

From Dallas said...

http://www.timesrecordnews.com/news/crime/plaintiff-testifies-in-allred-unit-lawsuit--2e2e59c6-198d-0d1c-e053-0100007f1531-372272091.html

Allred does it again! Testimony continued Wednesday in the federal civil trial between an Allred Unit prisoner and the guards who he says brutalized him with little provocation.

Prisoner Daniel Moses Scope alleges that Allred Unit staff members were complicit in "maliciously and sadistically" assaulting him in early 2013. The beating reportedly took place after he inquired about why he and other inmates in general population weren't allowed to leave their cells for "chow" and "dayroom."

Scope and his cellmate at the time testified on Wednesday about their recollection of the alleged beating and the events that led up to it. Both men told jurors that the situation began when they were kept from leaving their cells to eat one day at the prison, which is located just north of Wichita Falls.

Scope testified that it wasn't the first time he hadn't been let out of his cell to eat with other inmates, so when he got a chance he began to complain to one of the trial defendants, Sgt. Adam Wright.

"I approach Sgt. Wright, I said, 'This is a problem,' " Scope testified. " 'You need to stop crying like a bitch,' — that's what he told me," Scope said.

Although he felt directing that word at an inmate is a serious affront in the prison system, Scope testified that he tried to walk away from Wright instead of escalating the situation.

"I tried to go out the door — of course I was upset, of course I was angry — but I tried to go out that door," Scope said.

But Wright wouldn't let him leave the room, according to Scope's testimony: "He stopped my way through the door ... He stepped in my way and pulled the gas out. That's when he sprayed me."

In the lawsuit's complaint, Scope wrote that along with being pepper sprayed, he also was punched and kicks in the head by prison guards.

"I had knots all over the back of my head, abrasions all over my face," Scopes said in court Wednesday. "The blood vessels in my eyes were all busted."

After the altercation, Scope was charged with assaulting the guards and was placed in the prison's solitary confinement unit for two years, he said.

Though the complaint initially listed four people as defendants in the case, it appears only two remain: Wright and another guard, Richard Smith. They are being represented by attorneys with the Office of the Attorney General of Texas.

Scope is being represented by Rickey G. Bunch of Wichita Falls.

Deliberation in the trial is expected to begin Thursday.

From Dallas said...

Please, note: "After the altercation, Scope was charged with assaulting the guards and was placed in the prison's solitary confinement unit for two years, he said."

Anonymous said...

So, the guards assault inmate Scope and Scope is punished: nothing new in TDCJ. It happens all the time.