R.U., Nevada, June 4, 2002
At one point and time in my life here in prison I wanted to just take my own life away. Why? Everything in prison that’s wrong is right, and everything that’s right is wrong. I’ve been jump, beat, kick and punch in full restraint four times…. Two times I’ve been put into nude four point as punishment and personal harassment…. During the time I wanted to just end my life thre was no counseling, no programs to attend. I was told if I didn’t take my psych meds I was “sol.” Three times I attempt suicidal by way to hang myself. I had no help whatsoever days and week and months I had to deal with myself. Depression, not eating, weight loss, everyday, overwhelmed by the burdens of life. I shift between feeling powerless and unworthy to feeling angry and victimized. I would think about death or killing myself daily. For eight months or a year I was not myself. From Oct 2000 to like Sept or Nov of 2001…. I was just kept into a lock cell ready to end my life at any given time. Each [time] I would try to hang myself it never work out. I cut my arms. I really was going thru my emotions and depression…. I would rather live inside a zoo. The way I’ve been treated here at this prison I couldn’t do a dog this way.
C.X., New York, July 28, 2002
I’ve been in the S.H.U. [secure housing unit] for over 6 ½ years where I’ve been locked in a cell for 23 to 24 hour a day 7 days a week. In March of 2002 I had a mental breakdown because of being in S.H.U. and I attempted suicide by swallowing 150 pills. I was saved and sent to Central New York Psychiatric Center for treatment where I stayed for about 7 weeks. I was then discharged and sent to Wende Correctional Facility…. Upon my arrival at Wende I was put in an observation cell in the mental health unit where I was kept for 25 days in a strip cell. I was mistreated and denied everything. There was no heat in the place. I was put in a dirty, bloody cell. I was jumped and assaulted by correctional officers, and was left unattended to by the mental health staff. In the time I was there I continually requested to be sent back to CNYPC for further treatment because I went into a relapses and could not bare being locked in a cell 24/7 again. Instead the mental health staff took me off my mental health anti-depression medication and told me that they was not going to send me back to CNYPC no matter what I did or said. In the course of the 25 days I spent in M.H.U. I attempted suicide 3 times. Twice I was rushed to Erie County Medical Center for treatment and sent back to Wende where I was again placed in M.H.U. and left without any kind of further medical or mental health care. I told the head mental health staff that I can’t stay locked in a cell 24/7 anymore and that if they sent me back to S.H.U. that I’ll kill myself. They said I’ll just have to do that and they sent me back to S.H.U. and was taken to E.C.M.C. for treatment again and then sent back to Wende and back in S.H.U. Right now I don’t know what more to do. I’m writing this letter in hopes that someone will do something about the way these people in the mental health department here treats people, after I’m gone because I simply cannot carry on no more like this I hope that my death will bring about some good, if not at least I’ll finally find some peace.
Y.O., New Jersey, October 15, 2002
Some of our problems…are, but not limited to: physical abuse by staff and custody, verbal abuse, by staff and custody. We are denied adequate clothing for the weather. We have not been issued winter coats, or thermo underwear. I’ve witness state officials beat mentally ill inmates up who were and is incapable of defending themselves for no reasons. The nurse often give us inmates the wrong medications, and have our tier officer threaten or even jump on us if we speak up concerning the matter. It’s currently 43 degrees outside and our housing officer is going to make us stand outside in the cold. We are all sick with flu-like sintums. No one comes to our aid. We get prescribed medications that we never receive. We have no heat. The unit is filthy and stinks.
L.I., Illinois. [letter undated]
I was placed in an situation where I’ve lost a peace of mind within fear frustration depression, the feeling of being helpless I’ve picked up a selfharm behavoir of cutting myself to where I need 5 to 14 stitchies at a time. Or smearing feces over my body to keep officers not wonting to touch me as they always cause me harm, stumping my feet or bending my hand causen pain to my risk, ramming my head to the walls smacking me on my butt after stripping me nude, standing on my arms when I’m strapped down on my back in restraints. Jump on leaven my face and eye swold up. Bouncing on the back of my legs with legcuffs on me cutting my ankles open, when was laid down on my stomatch as my butt was spanked say I sound like a lady bitch from screaming. I’ve been stripped out nude continually that made me loose control of my own actions by security or mental health staff. I’ve been harassed, retaliated on, tortured physically to where it have effected me mentally and physically.
V.K., New York, August 12, 2002
I am a active mental health patient and I was just discharge from CNYPC [Central New York Psychiatric Center]…. I am not getting no treatment, I’m only given medication and punishment in the special housing unit. I want help, but no one wants to help me.
E.N.X., Illinois, January 24, 2000
I am on the mental health wings. I’ve seen some bizarre acts on these wings. Self-mutilation. Attempted suicides. All types of crisises. The last D.T.Q. self-mutilation were he told the officer he wanted to see mental health or he was going to cut on himself and the c/o replied “so what.” Then thought I was lying to him that D.T.Q. cut himself. It was ten minutes before c/o came down to D.T.Q.’s cell. Another guy had a crisis and was banging his head on the cell door, busting his forehead open. These guards don’t give a damn. Staff crisis member don’t make it a priority to go see inmates who request to see them.
O.D., Indiana, August 22, 2002
I am writing on behalf of several other offenders who are mentally ill and very unstable in my opinion, but these correctional employees at the long term supermax secured housing unit say all they want is attention. The first inmate names is E.L.M., a black male age 22 to 24, has self-mutilation, cut himself on several times on his arms, but also have cup open his sack that holds his nuts, balls or family jewels several different occasion in which require immediately medical emergency attention had to be transported by ambulance…. Inmate D.Y.E. has been on strip cell status for 24 hours on suicide watch just came off today and is on 15 minute watch. This white male inmate has had no suicide watch blanket for over 24 hours, and no mattress either for over 24 hours to sleep on. This inmate is force to lay on concreat with only pair of boxers on, with cold air conditioner 24 hours a day…. U.D., white male is mentally ill inmate that set his cell on fire on May 12, 2001, and received 2nd to 3rd degree burns all over his body, lost al finers on both hands and one thumb. This inmate has been brought back to SHU even after had some skin grafts, he has open wound on his right upper thigh, approx. one foot long, by 4 inches wide and approx. 1 ½ deep infected, is not covered by any bandages at all. Also still has open wounds from the fire burns. He doesn’t have no way to write…. Also has 2nd to 3rd degree burns on his back as well from neck down to buttocks, he’s burn really bad…. O.Y. has cut all over his body and stabs himself with ink pen, and medical staff will not send him out, so they ask him to remove pen imbedded himself…. D.N.V. been sticking pieces of handcuffs up his penis into blader. Also can’t read, spell, write, no education at all. O.D. has been strapped to a bed with metal handcuffs on each arm, 3 set of handcuffs per wrist and laid like this for three days, 72 hours, no breaks to walk at all, in Sept 1999, also 2000, 2001 and 2002…. As for myself, I’ve been in SHU-max since Dec. 9, 1994, have cut myself over 60 times, needed hospitalization for staples and surgery too.
P.F., New Jersey, July 20, 2002
I have a lot to say about the condition that mental ill prisoner got to go throught in here meaning being assault by correction officers because we on psych medication or they feel like beating on a prisoner to bring him to his sence. Sir, you got prisoners who got very bad mental problems and we need help not being beat on by officers. See sir I been in and out of psychiatric hospital from youth. By trying to kill myself and being locked up I’m not receiving the help I need.
M.C., New Jersey, August 1, 2002
My mental illness is said to be bipolar disorder. My medications are depicote and elavil. As for a general history in prison, I can generally say that “I have seen it all.” Everything from receiving what I think is the best medical care to covering myself with pheasis with the hope that corrections officers would be discusted to beat me simply because I am a special needs inmate. Being a special needs inmate is ok from the hrs of 8.00 am till 5.00 pm as long as there are doctors on the wing then police (DOC) will treat special needs inmates with respect. However any time doctors are not on the wing then the DOC begins to treat all special needs inmates less than human at the least. After the doctors leave this prison the DOC has a cornival-type attitude towards special needs inmates by making fun of them even until an inmates becomes upset and untamed. Maybe even to the point that the DOC officer will write the inmate a charge even though the officer excited the problem to begin with.
U.L., Nevada, June 3, 2002
From July 2001 until December 2001 I attempted to see a psychiatrist and a medical doctor. They refused to see me for months. I had to file 2 grievances and over 7 requests just to see them. The medical unit here in Nevada is a sub-contractor, very inefficient, only concerned about the quick fix and charge you $4.00 per visit plus $2.00 for prescriptions. On the street I had tried several medications. The only one that helped was Xanax or Valium. Zoloft and Prozac made me crazy and even more anxious, that I had to stop taking them after 30 days. So what do they give me here? Zoloft. I almost lost it and had to go see the psyc Dr. on an emergency situation because I hadn’t slept in almost a week. If I’m let out of doors regularly I’m fair for a while. Right now I’ve been in lock down for 120 days for the offense of spilling milk at breakfast and the officers beat me up and gave me a year in the hole. To be specific, the access to mental health professional is terrible at best and needs to be looked into badly. I put in a kite to the psych Dr. 4 weeks ago and I’ve yet to see the Dr. I’ve been refused my medication and my special diet (I’m lactose intolerant) since being in the hole on March 19th…. There is no respect for anyone healthy or mentally handicapped, trust me.
E.M., Illinois, August 18, 2002
When I was transferred to Joliet Correctional Center the psychiatrist locked me in a glass windowed cell on suicide watch. Then I was prescribed more medication in higher doses. And after seven months I was transferred to Menard Correctional Center where I was locked in a freezing cold glass windowed cell naked with nothing on suicide watch. But, I couldn’t cope with being froze naked, so I was released out into cell-house population. The psychiatrist changed my medication and continued to suggest higher doses. Eventually, I began to feel sick with headaches, dizziness, cold sweats, lower back pains and chest decongestion. Then I began having reoccurrences of lockjaw and small type seizures from the medication. I was sent over to the hospital and the psychiatrist stated, ‘oh it’s nothing.’ Sometimes I have episodes of deep depression and frustration and need to be seened by the Crisis Team, but the nurse that occasionally brings my medication says, ‘it’s a Friday night, nobody here is going to see you!’ I spoke to the psychiatrist about the neglect of the nurse and how my depression has become worst from being here. He says, ‘I just think your momma babied you too much.’ After my father died I fell off into a deeper state of depression and swallowed as many cold pills as I could and tried to cut my throat. The med tec (male nurse) stated, ‘you should have swallowed more pills if you want to kill yourself.’ I’ve been written disciplinary reports for acting out when the nurses play games don’t bring me the medication.
J.H., Nevada, June 4, 2002
I’m a Hispanic, grew up poor, and around drugs, and gangs, always did bad in school. As a little child I went through some trauma with my mother, grew up without any mother figure, or any real affection. I was sentenced for attept robbery and was given six years in prison. At that time I was 17 years old. In 1999, while in max I stabbed a correctional officer and in Sept 2001 I was sentenced to four years, and that’s what I’m doing now.
My mental illness is depression, poor impulse disorder, and some scizophrenia. I was diagnosed in December of 2001. Now a general history of my time in prison will be kind of long, I want to ingulf you for a moment so you may possibly feel the madness I went through and how I eventually ended up sick and in a mental unit. I came to prison in “1996” when I was 17 years old, at that time there was no programs for young men like there is now, we were put in general population. As I came off the streets with a cholo mentality I brought it with me. So early in my time I got in trouble for beating on a “child molester” and a “rapist.” I was sent from medium custody to medium max. It was March 14, 1997. I had been on G.P. [general population]for a month and a ½. A yard stabbing went down, and 10 vatos were sent to segregation. I was one of them. I ended up with two years in disciplinary segregation. After this I never got out of the “hole.” Five years in solitary confinement really messed me up. I had no family support, no t.v., radio, or a walkman, and still don’t…. I began to get depressed and have angry feelings all the time. At Ely, they would put mentally ill inmate in the “hole” because the nurses didn’t want to put up with them, and because Ely has no mental facility…. I have seen officers taunt mentally ill inmates by laughing at them, calling them names, and kicking on their cell doors. Instead of giving them counseling the are put on forced medication which is a shot of “dorisien” once of month. At Ely, in solitary we are divided up into three groups, all living on the same tier. G.P.s, P.C.s [protective custody], mentally ill inmates, all doing “hole time,” every day, all day and night, we have to listen to screaming, yelling, shit talking, kicking on doors. This can really hurt a person mentally, such as it did myself. I did four years like that. I began to get angry, depressed, and suicidal all the time, but I kept holding out, until I ended up stabbing an officer. I got beat up that same day, Aug 1, 1999, then on Sept. 24, 1999, I was retaliated on, I was in my cell when officers instigated a situation, and said I refused a shake down. S.Q.U.A.D. was called. They emptied 3 8oz cans of gas into my cell, shot me with a tazer gun, then beat me up repeatedly, and dragged me out of my cell so the nurses could see me, it made no difference because the nurses covered everything up….
It became a constant madness for me, and that’s how I became ill, I don’t have good social skills, I’m kind of a loner, and I’m scared of the world. I’m going to turn 24 years old in Oct. and all these years without any love, affection or a woman to talk to have kept me depressed. On Nov. 30 2001, I attempted to kill myself. I just couldn’t take it.
T.R., Arizona, August 21, 2002
I am a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenia, I was diagnosed as having paranoid schizophrenia back in early 1992. I was seriously mentally ill probably since I was 13 years old. I also suffer from major depression. I never saw a psychiatrist on the streets but I had many problems, I have had taken been prescribed many psychotropic medications to treat serious mental illness, anti-psychotics, anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications.
I have been housed on Death Row since July of 1995. All of Death Row was moved to SMU II [SMU is the Special Management Unit] on September 4th 1997. SMU II is a supermaximum unit. It is atypical by every means, I am locked in my cell 24 hours a day 7 days a week. I hardly ever get out of my cell…. I have been put on mental health watches around 6 times, wich is inside a small holding cell, striped naked, the light is on all the time, no room to lay down for 3 solid days, no sleep nothing. I would prefer death than to live like this. It’s basically no one cares.
O.G., Indiana, September 3, 2002
I’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness since 1988. My mental illness has caused me to go to prison for a 12 year sentence. My sentence was 8 do 4 with a 4 year probation when I get out. I robbed bank one with a note that had my name signed to the bottom of it. And then turned myself in to the police and gave them all of the money back. I had completed my 8 do 4 with only one writup pending and was scheduled to leave prison this year. When I was sent to I.S.P. for the 4th time that year I sometimes would not get my medication and when I did get it would be the wrong kind. That caused me to dread taking it then the problems got worst for me. The voices I heard kept coming and I could not get any sleep. After I was there for about 2 ½ months I couldn’t take it anymore and started getting write ups. For the next 2 ½ months I was fearing for my life and doing anything to make me feel better. In the process of me getting write ups I got 5 battery on officers. I felt that the officers were coming in my cell at night having sex with me. And that I needed to be transfer to a new facility. I threw cold tap water right out of the faucet on 4 officers and voiced my feeling about them having sex with me while I slept. After every one they would put me on the psyche unit for a while then move me right back to population…. I got 6 years segregation time. And I max out in 4 years. The time that I was on the pcsych unit at Indiana State Prison, they labeled me as suicidal and put me in a seclusion cell with no sheet or blanket for days wearing only a pair of shorts. Due to the cold I suffered nerve damage to my feet and could not walk for days. The first time, I also wiped my waste on the wall in population and in the seclusion cell. The third time I went to the pscyche unit I was beat for spitting by two officers while handcuffed. The last time I was striped down to my shorts and taken out of my cell for cleaning and they shocked me for 15 seconds…. I called a officer to my cell and asked him if he wanted to get spit on he told me to take my best shot. He was standing about 15 feet away. I spit out my cell and asked him did I get him he said no. I wasn’t trying to hit him. Soon after that two officers came and told me to cuff up so I did. When I got off the range where there is no camera they started hitting me in the face and banging my head against the wall. I went down and they made me get up. Then they took me to my cell. I wiped waste on my wall then they came back to take me to see the nurse. My face was bleeding and swollen. On the way back from seeing the nurse they did it again. I stayed completely naked for two days…. I am a born again Christian and I believe god will see me thru this but I am scared to leave my cell. Now I really am getting suicidal they had to rush me to the hospital last week I swallowed 100 pain pills.
A.O., Illinois, September, 2002
I’m currently diagnosed with Deppression & Anxiety. Upon arriving here I have only been seen by a psychiatrist 2 times in a 6 month period, during which time my condition has gotten worser!!! I’ve made the psychology staff here aware of my continued deteriorating conditions, but they have ignored my cries for help. The suicide watch cells are deplorable!!! With human feces and urine all over the cell as well as the food tray box where they hand you your food along with depriving you with utensils to eat with. You are treated like a dog and have to eat your food with your hands. The suicide cells are being used as a form of punishment. The windows are kept open on purpose to allow cold fridged air to freeze you while you are without any cloths. You are not even given anything to put around your private parts or anything to sleep on while you are without clothing. There has been 2 actual successful suicide hangings while being on suicide watch since I’ve been here along with 100s if not 1000s of attempted suicides. The staff here has absolutely no concerns or regards to mental health or human life…. Doctor-patient confidentiality is totally disregarded. The psychiatrist comes to your cell for less than 2 minutes and discusses your confidential mental health problems out loud for everyone on both sides and below your cells can hear exactly what you are discussing with psychiatrist due to cells being open bar cells.
U.L.T., Indiana, June 21, 1999
All afternoon most of the range [the cell bloc] is taking jabs at an ignorant, loud mouthed ‘know-it-all,’ who is known as a persistent snitch. He has been on the SHU for over 5 years and calls most of the officers by their first names. Not a smart thing to do. This idiot then gives O.Y., a schizoid in the cell next to mine a large paper clip. O.Y. is a known self mutilator. Needless to say, before I can even begin talking to O.Y., he has taken this five inch piece of wire in the paper clip and stuck it all the way up in his penis. Now the idiot that gave it to him is calling for officers to come back here and check on O.Y. O.Y. is bleeding and sore, but there is nothing they can do. They go out to call for a nurse. The shift changes and about an hour later a nurse comes in. The officers take O.Y. out to see the nurse and the nurse gives O.Y. a shot, probably Haldol; but O.Y. isn’t sure. The nurse says she’ll try to get hold of the doctor. The paper clip is still imbedded in O.Y.’s penis. Now, it is after supper and half of the range is threatening to throw shit on the snitch, and he is threatening to throw it right back. Since every one is locked in these cells, there can be no fights, so they resort to slinging shit…. Our clean laundry is returned at around 8.32pm. Then medications are passed. O.Y. is told that the doctor will check him tomorrow. The paper clip is still where he left it! Everyone is so used to O.Y. doing this stuff it is just like it is part of everyday. O.Y.’s arms are nothing but scars, his neck is just as bad. I have seen him led out of his cell with half of an inkpen sticking out of his neck. I have a pretty strong stomach and I have seen many types of trauma, but this is still extremely gross. Around here, it is ‘just O.Y.’ There is no regular Psychology staff back here in the SHU. The custody staff has no special training when it comes to mental patients. There is quite a variety of them here in the SHU. But the mental problems are treated the same as the rest of the offenders.
R.V., Alabama, June 12, 2002
I am and inmate at W. E. Donaldson prison locked up in seg, and have been for the last 10 years. I have no people left on the outside to help me most all of them have died over the years. I have a very serious problem and need help very bad it’s what you could say a matter of life and death. Either during an syst operation or while getting two teeth pulled side by side some type of transmitter and or computer chip was slip into my body without my permission nor me knowing about it till years later. And inmate told me I was being monitored on some kind of super computers, once I found out whoever the monitors are started using it to put me threw living hell, and experimenting on me against my will. I have ask prison staff and medical staff why this was being did to me and they denied it exist. I can not get them to stop what they are doing and it could kill me…. For the last year I have been trying to get help, I have been writing lawyers trying to get them to take my case and file the suits for me but so far I have been unable to get one or get any help. Who ever these people are they have put my mind and insides threw so much hell that at times I have suicidal thoughts, I have also cut my self very bad with a razor blade I stayed in the hospital for 6 hours then sent back to segregation…. In closing I hope and pray that some way you get and investigation into this also get the FBI in Birmingham Alabama to come out here and talk to me befor its to late.