Tag Archive: mental illness

Record 346 inmates die, dozens of guards fired in Florida prisons

Jerry Washington (left); Latandra Ellington (middle); Randall Jordan-Aparo (right). All died in prisons at the hands of guards in the most unjust ways imaginable.

Jerry Washington (left); Latandra Ellington (middle); Randall Jordan-Aparo (right). All died in prisons at the hands of guards in the most unjust ways imaginable.

From Daily Kos

The United States has a prison crisis of epic proportions. With just five percent of the world population, but 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, the United States has, far and away, the highest incarceration rate, the largest number of prisoners, and the largest percentage of citizens with a criminal record of any country in the world.The highly respected Prison Policy Initiative breaks it down:

The U.S. incarcerates 716 people for every 100,000 residents, more than any other country. In fact, our rate of incarceration is more than five times higher than most of the countries in the world. Although our level of crime is comparable to those of other stable, internally secure, industrialized nations, the United States has an incarceration rate far higher than any other country.Nearly all of the countries with relatively high incarceration rates share the experience of recent large-scale internal conflict. But the United States, which has enjoyed a long history of political stability and hasn’t had a civil war in nearly a century and a half, tops the list.

If we compare the incarceration rates of individual U.S. states and territories with that of other nations, for example, we see that 36 states and the District of Columbia have incarceration rates higher than that of Cuba, which is the nation with the second highest incarceration rate in the world.

Now, what we are learning is that the United States is not just imprisoning people at an outrageous pace, but that men and women are dying in these prisons at all-time highs, often at the hands of guards, in the most awful and brutal ways imaginable. The state of Florida, it appears, is ground zero for the deaths of prisoners, and the crisis is so deeply corrupt and out of hand that it needs immediate national intervention.In 2014, Florida recorded at least 346 deaths inside of their prison system, an all-time high for the state in spite of the fact that its overall prison population has hovered around 100,000 people for the five previous years. Hundreds of these deaths from 2014 and from previous years are now under investigation by the DOJ because of the almost unimaginable role law enforcement officers are playing in them.

Below the fold I will highlight some of the most egregious stories.

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Prison worker dismissed for inmate’s death has new position

michael_kerr_webFrom The Indy

At least one North Carolina prison official who lost his job following the death of inmate Michael Anthony Kerr has a new position in the Department of Public Safety.

DPS spokeswoman Pam Walker confirmed this week that John Monguillot, the former assistant director of mental health in the prison system’s western region, received a demotion after Kerr’s death. He is now the psychological services coordinator at Marion Correctional Institution in western North Carolina, where he oversees mental health services at the facility.

As a result, Monguillot’s annual salary dropped from $93,786 to just under $80,000. Walker did not offer any additional comment on Monguillot’s demotion. (more…)

NC agencies lock down info on inmate’s death from dehydration

kerrFrom News and Observer

Michael Anthony Kerr spent the last five days of his life handcuffed in a prison cell, unresponsive, off his mental health medicine, and lying in his feces and urine. An hour or two before the former Army sergeant died, officials at Alexander Correctional Institution put him into a wheelchair and drove him 2-1/2 hours east to a prison hospital in Raleigh.

When Kerr, 53, arrived at Central Prison, his body was cold.

Somewhere between Taylorsville and Raleigh, as the prison vehicle passed emergency rooms at eight hospitals, Kerr died of dehydration.

“They treated him like a dog,” said Brenda Liles, his sister.

The state Department of Public Safety has released almost no information to the public on Kerr’s March 12 death. Secretary of Public Safety Frank Perry declined to discuss the facts of the case but said he called in the State Bureau of Investigation to look into the death. (more…)

Mentally ill North Carolina inmate held in solitary confinement dies of thirst

michael_kerr_webMedical Examiner’s Office said Anthony Michael Kerr died of severe dehydration in March of this year

From The Guardian

A North Carolina inmate with mental illness who had been held in solitary confinement died of thirst, according to an autopsy report released Thursday.

Anthony Michael Kerr, 53, was found unresponsive in the back of a van on 12 March after being driven roughly three hours from Alexander Correctional Institution in Taylorsville to a mental hospital at Central Prison in Raleigh.

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety subsequently fired a captain and four nurses at Alexander. A nurse and a staff psychologist resigned.

At the time, Public Safety Secretary Frank L Perry pledged an “an aggressive, yet thorough internal investigation” into Kerr’s death. However, nearly nine months later the agency has not made public any results of that probe.

In the North Carolina Medical Examiner’s Office report, pathologist Dr Lauren Scott says a senior prison official allowed a “witnessed review” of an internal review into Kerr’s death, though the medical examiner’s office was not permitted to keep a copy. Scott wrote that the report left unanswered key details about the circumstances leading to Kerr’s death, including when the inmate last had access to food and water. (more…)

Time does not always heal: state violence and psychic damage

Above all, I want to stress that the way in which the state uses time is a method of punishing, even before it seeks to actually penalize you, what I have elsewhere called ‘the weaponisation of time’.

This stretching out of time is a central feature of what punishment is, from the slowness of bringing someone to trial, to the trial process itself, to prison, the purest manifestation of time used as a weapon, against the very nature of what it means to be human.

My partner Alfie Meadows was nearly killed when a police officer hit his head with a truncheon at a demo. After Alfie was charged with 'violent disorder', I was so viscerally angry I stopped being able to feel temperature.

My partner Alfie Meadows was nearly killed when a police officer hit his head with a truncheon at a demo. After Alfie was charged with ‘violent disorder’, I was so viscerally angry I stopped being able to feel temperature.

By Nina Power/ From Open Democracy

The individual is only a symptom of the broader social whole. For decades now, (anti-)psychiatrists, activists and political thinkers have said that mental health cannot be dissociated from the pathologies of the culture in which individuals are deemed to be unwell.

Any supposed polarisation between ‘the mental’ and ‘the social’ is torn apart in situations where political activity puts you in direct confrontation with the state.

When the state’s actions are directly responsible for injury, stress and mental illness, it is imperative that we do not dissociate one from the other. We cannot continue to blame individuals for profound structural wrongs.

I want to talk about the personal impact of a serious, prolonged encounter with the criminal justice system, and the collective impact this continues to have on friends and family. Above all, I want to stress that the way in which the state uses time is a method of punishing, even before it seeks to actually penalize you, what I have elsewhere called ‘the weaponisation of time’.

This stretching out of time is a central feature of what punishment is, from the slowness of bringing someone to trial, to the trial process itself, to prison, the purest manifestation of time used as a weapon, against the very nature of what it means to be human. (more…)

New ACLU Report Examines Devastating Impact of Solitary Confinement on Women

ross-hawaii-youth-correctional-facility-kailua-hawaii-2009By Victoria Law/ From Solitary Watch

Today, the ACLU released Worse than Second Class: Solitary Confinement of Women in the United States. Recognizing that women in solitary are often ignored, the report examines the gendered impact of solitary and issues a series of recommendations. These recommendations assume that vulnerable populations will continue to be incarcerated and focus on ameliorating the harmful effects of solitary.

Further Harming Those with Mental Illness

Nearly seventy-five percent of incarcerated women have been diagnosed with mental illness, a rate much higher than that of their male counterparts. The report notes that a disturbing number of women with mental illness are held in solitary, sometimes for behavior that is beyond their control. Mental health experts recognize that long-term isolation is harmful for anyone, but particularly for those with pre-existing mental illness.

Recommendation: People (of all genders) with mental illness should never be held in isolation. Furthermore, women should be evaluated by competent and qualified practitioners to assess their medical and mental health conditions before being placed in solitary.

Re-Traumatizing Survivors of Past Abuse and Increasing Likelihood of Future Abuse

The majority of incarcerated women have reported past physical or sexual abuse. The lack of contact, human interaction and mental stimulation contribute to psychological deterioration for people who have experienced abuse. In addition, across the country, women in solitary are regularly supervised by male guards even when showering, changing clothes and using the toilet.

Solitary confinement also places a woman at greater risk for physical and/or sexual abuse by prison staff. Isolated from the general population, these abuses are easier for staff to hide. (more…)

Suit: Mentally ill NC inmate often pepper sprayed

Questions have been raised about the treatment of inmates in Unit One, a special 192-bed section at Central Prison known as "The Hole."

Questions have been raised about the treatment of inmates in Unit One, a special 192-bed section at Central Prison known as “The Hole.”

by Michael Biesecker/ from WNCN

Lawyers for an inmate who suffers from a serious mental illness say he was abused at North Carolina’s Central Prison by guards who repeatedly doused him with pepper spray while he was locked in a tiny cell.

Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and a victim of childhood sexual abuse, inmate Jerry C. Williams has spent much of his 57 years in state psychiatric hospitals and prisons. He was first arrested at age 10 for shoplifting and began hearing voices in his head in his late teens, according to his prison mental health evaluation.

He was most recently sentenced in 2002 by a judge in his native Wayne County to more than 28 years in prison for being a habitual felon, following a lengthy record of convictions for trespassing, assault and burglary. He has an IQ of 76 that provides him with “borderline Intellectual functioning,” according to prison records. (more…)